Chapter 1: The Smell of Smoke
A raven flew overhead, pushing the smoke around it away. The bird had four red eyes and four decrepit wings that looked like they wouldn't even be able to fly.
Raven sat on top of a brick wall that divided the town from the fields. The back of her heel thudded against the wall at random successions. Smoke filled her nose and lungs, and she actually welcomed the burning sensation that she had since grown used to. The wind pushed Raven’s dark brown hair to the side, some strands falling to the front of her face. Her eyes were a dark brown, matching her hair almost perfectly.
One of her thumbs tapped against her leg and the noise of that soft tapping along with the inconsistent thuds of her foot was the only noise that she allowed to enter into her head. The other hand moved a player on a board game.
The board was in the shape of a crudely cut circle. The players were scattered about the board and were various shapes. The weakest player was the shape of a half dome and the most powerful player was a tall tower. The smaller the player, the weaker it was. The bigger the player, the more powerful it was. Certain parts of the circle were scratched out while others were left how they were, resembling spaces.
Sighing, her eyes left the game and stared blankly in front of her at the field of wheat, well, now it was more of a field of ash.
Raven breathed out deeply and watched as the thick cloud of smoke in front of her dispersed in random directions. It clouded back together in front of her again. By now, her eyes were slightly burning, but she didn’t care.
An ember landed against her hand, and the slight pain made her snap out of her daze. Screaming of various sorts entered into her ears. She turned her head in the direction of the noise, and her eyes slowly scanned over a burning village. Some of the houses were still on fire while others had been reduced to ash minutes before.
It was almost sad for her to look at the town that she had spent months in, now reduced to ashes, almost. She had to remind herself that this was the enemy, and she was doing what was best. It was a necessary action that needed to be taken, it was something that had been thoroughly thought out and planned. Now that it was finally in effect, it was a weird experience.
Luckily, this village didn’t have an abundance of dangerous Monstro’s, mostly because it was a farm village and on the outskirts of the Monstro Kingdom. So far the reputation of the Kingdom hadn’t been portrayed in this village, thankfully.
Her foot and hand stopped tapping when her eyes saw a group of people through the thick haze of smoke. Raven tossed a player back onto the board and stood up on top of the wall and placed her black hood over her head. She walked onto her horse, Herbert, who had been standing next to her the entire time.
He was an obedient horse that Raven had known for years, and she loved him dearly. He had seen her go through her lowest points in life and Raven liked to think that he held a certain compassion for her that most people didn’t. Even with the smoke surrounding Herbert, his naturally shiny reddish-brown coat and black mane still managed to stand out.
Sitting down on Herbert, she lightly kicked him in his side, and he took off. She redirected him towards the village and ran over the ashes that remained, causing them to rise and swirl around in the air and blow away the remains of the once-thriving life that had been there minutes before. The smoke and the ashes blended into the dark grey dirt and sky that was just naturally part of the Monstro Kingdom.
Pulling back on the reigns, Herbert came to a stop as he shuffled and moved slightly.
“Richard!” Raven said in her thick Britannica accent.
“Ay?” Richard responded as he dropped what he was doing and looked up.
He had grey, wise eyes that resembled the smoke faintly. His dark brown hair, with grey scattered throughout it, was shorter and more straight on the sides while the front of his hair was slightly wavier and messier. Accompanying his hair was thick stubble that was in the shape of a beard. He had a slightly worn face, but he didn’t look over thirty-five or under thirty. Truth be told, Raven had no idea how old he was and she assumed that he didn’t know the same about her.
Richard’s clothes were torn, worn, and dirty. Brown leather pants, an oversized white shirt, a fitted dark brown leather vest, and a few weapons accompanied him.
Black markings could be seen on his hands, which represented the tips of his wings. Intricate designs covered the tops of his hands before his shirt covered the rest up. The designs continued to the tops of his arms and covered his shoulder blades and upper back.
“Knights ar’ here! I’ll stall, ya round-up tha men.” Richard nodded before he ran off and disappeared behind the smoke.
Raven kicked Herbert again, and he took off. She rode through the smoke as she pulled her hood over the right side of her face more. As she neared the Knights, they looked at her questioningly as a few readied their weapons.
“Help,” Raven cried out in a breathless mannerism as she made Herbert stop. They all looked up at her. “Tha village . . . it is undar attack.”
“Who did this?” The leader's proper Britannica accent rang out.
Raven ‘choked’ out a sob as she looked away. Just from the quick glance that she had gotten of him, she knew he wasn’t a strong Monstro.
The color of his eyes were different colors of blues that swam and swirled together. His hair was completely black, and dark blue scales could be seen on the top of his hands. He was most likely a Water Nymph, rare to see in daylight or away from water but he looked harmless, well minus his sword, armor, and the other Knights that accompanied him.
“I don’t know.” Raven felt as he grabbed her arm roughly. She looked down at him, and his grip on her arm lessened slightly.
“We are trying to help you, just tell us what happened.”
Raven looked over to the town and saw Richard give her the signal. Raven looked down at the man. A gust of wind blew, blowing the smoke around them away and forcing the hood on Raven’s head to fall off.
The Knights stared at Raven in shock at what her hood was hiding: half of her face was made up of scar tissue. Burn marks covered the right side of her neck and went up to her mouth, causing the right side of her lips to form into a small smirk. The mark strayed away from her nose slightly before it went under her eye and flared out to her ear. The scars were somewhat redder than that of her natural skin tone
and she had brown eyes that matched her hair.
She raised her arm and brought it down as she grabbed the leader's arm, put it through the stirrup, and grabbed it again before she kicked Herbert. Herbert took off, and the man was dragged after her before he had a chance to grab his sword. Raven naturally allowed Herbert to stop, and when he did, she turned around and saw that the Knights were on the ground, most dead, a few groaning and moving in pain.
Two of Raven’s men came up and grabbed the leader before he had a chance to attack.
Raven hopped off of her horse. She ran her burned hand up and down Herbert’s nose, and he seemed to lean into her surprisingly soft touch. Faintly smiling, she pushed herself away from him and walked to the group of Knights that had arrows littered throughout their bodies. The ones that were dead were staring at her.
She grabbed her sword that was strapped limply against her left hip. The sword belt was crooked due to the sword weighing down the left side. Black leather pants and black leather boots covered her legs with a mixture of grey dirt and blood splattered on them. Occupying her upper section was a dirty white, oversized shirt and a black leather long sleeve shirt that had metal latches going down the middle of it. A cloak topped off her entire outfit, it fell down to her mid-thigh and covered up her left arm and part of her right. A sliver latch connected the cloak over her right collarbone.
Raven rotated her wrist in a circular motion, making the sword follow the movement creating a beautiful swooshing sound, at least that’s what Raven thought.
Her sword was made out of Shifter metal so it was very light, so light in fact that she could fight with just one arm. It was also virtually indestructible.
When she finally made it to the Knights, she looked down at them before she plunged her sword into them, killing the last of the group. She breathed out deeply and inhaled the thick smoke once more, watching as their dead eyes stared into hers. It was a disturbing event that would happen to Raven anytime anyone around her was killed.
“Oy!” A familiar voice yelled behind her.
Raven took her sword and slid it into the sheath. She turned around and faced the voice. Her eyes immediately landed on Colt, who was standing over the leader.
She walked back to Colt and raised her eyebrows.
Colt had a strong set jawline and olive-tinted skin, however, the main thing that caught Raven’s attention were his eyes. One eye was a dark brown while the other was an ocean blue. He had dirty blonde hair that was a mixture between curly and wavy. Strands fell on his forehead while the others went in random directions. The length of his hair extended down slightly past his ears.
Colt’s clothes were similar to that of Richard’s and Raven’s. The only real difference was his weapons. A small crossbow was strapped to his wrist, and that was all he had. Faint metal lines could be seen on parts of his bare skin, where his blades would most commonly come out.
Like Richard, Raven had no idea how old Colt was. However, if Raven had to guess, she would say that he was around her age; no older than twenty and no younger than sixteen. Honestly, Raven only had a close estimate of how old she was, not particularly caring about her birthday or keeping track of the months that blurred together.
“Eh?” Raven asked when she finally reached him.
“Want ta rotate on this one?”
Raven thought about it for a second as she looked down at the leader. His hands were bound behind his back. He had been stripped of his armor and was left in his undershirt and leather pants; he looked all around pathetic at this point.
“Sure,” Raven finally responded.
“Tell ya what. I’ve already searched through things so I will start?” Raven nodded her head and walked back to the ash-ridden town.
“Oy, Richard!” Raven yelled. Richard came walking up to her with a raised eyebrow. “Go, make sure we will have no more surprises.”
Richard nodded as he rolled his shoulder blades in a circle. The tattoos on his hands faded to a light grey. Out of nowhere black wings appeared on his back. They reminded Raven of bat wings with a black, thick mist on the top and in the grooves, matching his eyes. His wings flapped a few times before he flew into the air.
Raven watched him for a second before she walked towards the town.
Looking up into the sky, Raven saw vultures beginning to circle overhead. They had dark red eyes and their wings had razor-sharp feathers on the tips. Behind their beaks were teeth as sharp as a knife.
Her eyes slowly left the birds and went back to the town. Taking the toe of her dirt-covered boots, she kicked aside a pile of ash and burnt wood as her eyes scanned for anything. Her men had already scavenged the majority of any good loot. Raven moved onto the next house and the next until she saw something shiny that caught her eye.
She walked over to a barely standing house and saw the source of what she had seen. A few coins were in the skeletal lap of a man; his charred hands were holding a few coins. Raven couldn’t help but snark at the man. His last pathetic action in life was to hold on tight to his money.
Reaching down a scarred hand, Raven saw that he was staring at her. Quickly grabbing the coins, she walked out of the house, trying to escape his gaze.
She continued this method of looting, only managing to find a coin or two more. As she walked back, Colt was walking to her. When they finally met, Colt was wiping some blood off of his hands. He shook his head, and Raven knew that he couldn’t get any information out of him.
“He’s all yars.”
VP IS NOW PUBLISHED SO GO BUY AND REVIEW IT ON AMAZON AND GOODREADS!!!!