Continued from 86/366 – The Shadow Realm (Cont.)
Saoirse watched Peyton breathing heavily as he stumbled toward her. Sweat beaded on his forehead, and each step seemed more difficult for him than the last. He lifted the sword just as another shadow jumped from a wall and tackled him.
“Wait!” Saoirse yelled, extending a hand. She felt her gifted power surge, and the shadow erupted into a fine mist, leaving Peyton untouched. “I’m sorry, Peyton.”
“W-What are you doing here? How did you do that?” Peyton asked, the tip of his sword landing on the floor. He limped toward her but stopped when her servant floated between them. “Y-you’re working with them?”
“I don’t know, Peyton. It’s all happening so quickly. Myrkul chose me. He gave me a shadow to keep me safe,” Saoirse replied. “He gave me power so that I’m not at the mercy of everyone around me anymore.”
“You can’t accept his power!” Peyton said, pointing out the window. “Look at all the death he’s causing. He’s evil!”
“Death is inevitable,” Saoirse whispered.
“What was that?”
“Death is inevitable,” Saoirse repeated, loud enough for him to hear. “Death is not evil or good. It is something that no one can escape.”
“Look at this town, Saoirse,” Peyton said, taking another step toward her, his grip tightening on the hilt of his weapon. “Tell me this is death. Tell me this is isn’t evil. Can you hear their screams?”
“I don’t care about these people,” Saoirse shot back.
“What do you care about?” Peyton asked, turning toward the window, “You are right about one thing. Death is something that comes for everyone eventually, but this is mass murder. This is taking people before their time. It’s not as neutral as you think.”
“The scales are being rebalanced,” she replied, “you wouldn’t understand.”
“I understand that you need to be stopped,” Peyton said as he swung the sword around.
Saoirse’s servant jumped between them, pushing her out of the way as the blade sang through the shadow creature and bit into the wood. Saoirse watched as the shadow rushed up the sword and wrapped itself around the barkeep. She looked away from the fight out the window where the distant screams of the people of Malton were echoing.
A thud on the tavern floor brought her attention back inside as she looked over at the shadow draining the life from the old barkeep.
“That’s enough,” Saoirse said, mentally commanding the shadow to return to her.
The shadow peeled itself from Peyton’s body, leaving him unconscious and breathing shallow in the middle fo the floor.
“What do you know?” Saoirse asked no one in particular as she sat at a nearby table.
Her mind wandered through the things Peyton had said, interspersed with the things Edri and Myrkul had told her. She wanted the power, she knew that much, but she still had questions.
“Go to the commander,” Saoirse said, looking at her servant.
The shadow vanished through the wall, and she willed herself to see what it saw. The vision of the Iron Trumpet melted away and was replaced by the view her servant had high above the rooftops as it moved. It flew over the wall and then the roofs of North Cross until it reached the fields north of the town.
Saoirse could see her commander sitting atop a horse made of shadow. He looked on to the battle and waited, a smile on his face. Her servant turned and looked back toward Malton, and on the road, she saw four figures with another flying high above.
The flying figure resembled an in its head and wings only. The rest appeared to be some sort of man covered in feathers. She had heard of a humanoid bird species before but had never seen one in Dobrigh. He carried a beautiful longbow with him already knocked with an arrow. He fired the arrow at her commander with deadly aim, but it passed through and sank into the earth behind him. The other four arrive a moment later, drawing their weapons. The commander began laughing at the sight of them.
The group consisted of a half-elf, drawing a whip, a goliath wielding a massive sword, a devil-girl, and a blue figure she couldn’t identify. The bird person still flew above in a small circle. It was at this point that she recognized them as the group that had been at the Iron Trumpet the day she had arrived. They had fed her and given her water.
The half-elf rushed forward, striking out with the whip for the horse’s legs as the goliath swung his massive sword. The whip passed through the horse, and the commander easily dodged the sloppy attack from the goliath. The commander began laughing harder at the group.
“What’s so funny? Why are you laughing? Who are you? What are you?” the devil-girl asked.
The commander stopped laughing for a moment to reply. “My master will claim your soul.” His voice was like ice rolling over the ground.
“What master? Who’s your master?” the devil-girl asked.
“My master is Myrkul,” the commander replied.
“But why are you here? Why are you taking these people?” the devil-girl asked.
“My master has commanded it,” he replied.
“But why?” she asked as the blue person came in suddenly, swinging wildly with deadly accuracy.
Saoirse watched the strikes pass through the commander but still find some purchase against the commander, making him lurch backward on his horse.
The commander drew a blade that Saoirse hadn’t seen before. It looked white with black ribbons coming from the edge in the greyscale world. He swung it across the chest of the goliath with a seemingly effortless stroke.
Saoirse’s stomach back at the inn twisted as she watched the goliath collapse. He didn’t have so much as a scratch on him, but something about the sword had still managed to injure him.
The bird-man fired another arrow as the half-elf rushed forward, drawing his sword. Saoirse saw a flash of white in his eyes just before the blade hit the commander. The blade swung clean through, and as it left the side, a small explosion turned the commander to dust.
“Not now,” the devil-girl said, looking down at the goliath, whose eyes popped open, slightly confused.
Saoirse watched as they gathered themselves up.
“What happened to Chad?” the half-elf asked, panic in his voice as he began running back toward Malton.
Saoirse felt a hand on her shoulder, bringing her senses back to her body.
“Hey, are you okay?” a guard asked, standing next to her in the tavern. Peyton was still no the floor.
“Y-Yeah,” she said, blinking up at him.
A shadow darted from the wall toward the guard. Saoirse closed her eyes tightly, wishing the attack would stop. When she opened her eyes again, the guard was gone, and so was the shadow. The screaming out in the street stopped almost as fast.