1707 - CHAVIAS - Going Hunting
1707 Gilwynn Village, Netherlands
It was another brutal afternoon of Chavias forced to do errands in the caves. Hammering metal into blades. A long leather apron his only shield against the hot coals leaping from the stone pit. The hole carved in the stone wall and rising to the surface was narrow and didn’t allow any heat to escape. Smoke lingered, stinging his nostrils as he brought down the ringing hammer again.
“Udora!” Radix’s shout tore through the caves.
A yellow haired woman with curls heaped atop her narrow head skittered down the stone corridor towards Radix’s chambers.
Risking Okine’s torture blades, Chavias set the hammer down on the ridge of the coal pit along with the partially shaped blade. Wiping his palm on the apron he leaned into the stone walkway to see her stumbling into Radix’s scant cavern.
“Where have you been?”
“I’m sorry Liege. So sorry.”
She’s probably already dropped to her knees kissing his withered hands. Chavias had seen it plenty but still the thought made him shudder.
Radix was murmuring quietly enough, even Chavias couldn’t grasp his words with the hiss of coals simmering behind him. He blinked against the curtain of smoke.
Chavias’ lip curled, and he jerked from the hall. Knowing the ogerish yellow man would come lumbering from further into the caves. Chavias could already hear the scrape of his step.
“Bring me the slave!” Radix roared down the corridor.
Grunting, Okine turned his heel and spotted Chavias with a lifted hammer, pretending he was still hard at work.
They exchanged a hate-filled look.
“Come.” Okine grunted. Tossing his head.
As Chavias headed toward the entryway, Okine lifted heavy chains from a spike on the wall and snapped a shackle around Chavias’ thick neck. Yanking the chain made Chavias stumble a few steps toward Okine before instinctively jerking away until hitting the end of the length of metal. Chavias clutched the thick shackle binding his throat. Struggling against it like a wild animal as Okine half-drug him to Radix’s chamber.
“You will guard her.” The demon ordered.
Chavias’ gaze slid sideways to the curly haired blonde. She was thin. Ugly. With slitted yellow eyes. Like a serpent.
Some kind of a Dread. Someone able to wield magic. Dark magic, in her case. Chavias suspected.
“I will send Firoque to ensure you do.”
Chavias growled low in his throat, edging away from the woman. She exuded the foul odor of cimmerii.
Death. Rot. His contempt curled his lip.
“For what?” He spit on the stone in disgust.
Radix’s eyes flitted to Okine who wrapped a fist nearly as large as Chavias’ head and cuffed him soundly by bringing that fist backward across his jaw. Snapping Chavias’ head and dislodging his jaw at a painful angle.
Chavias grunted, tilting away as he cupped his jaw. Trying to ease it back in place but it was obvious tendons were torn.
Udora gasped in shock.
“He will be fine.” Radix dismissed. “He heals remarkably fast.”
“Master tells what Master want.” Okine snapped.
Chavias straightened. Standing pridefully despite his injury.
“Take the boy.” Radix said.
“He’ll be of no help.” Chavias argued.
The weaving walk down from Peak Mountain in the dark was a dangerous jaunt. Marked by the boy’s refusal to ease against Okine’s grip.
Okine is losing patience with him. He could hurt him. The boy’s frame was still very small. Okine could snap his back in an instant. Chavias swallowed. Walking behind them as he considered ways to try and help the child if Okine moved to hurt him.
Between the snuffling sounds of driters, the hazardous hooves of wild horses, and the talons of rare giant birds, there were many dangers in the mountains. And at the bottom was the Netherwood. Walking through the mass of dense trees, held additional dangers. The lights of tiny flying fey, whose neon hearts were visible beneath their translucent skin.
Vicious little creatures. Chavias watched them warily. Knowing they had a ferocious bite when incited.
He swatted one away from his bicep. Snarling in agitation.
“Quiet, Beast.” Udora snapped reaching for him as though to cuff him as Okine had earlier.
Chavias caught her wrist savagely. Reflexively tempted to snap it. But startled by the frailness of it, he refrained.
The trees opened into the path to Gilwynn Village which their troupe of targue and Firoque took.
Nonis straggling behind.
Rustling so loudly every creature this direction must know we’re coming.
Chavias couldn’t help wondering. What are we after?
But he was given no clue until the path reached the NetherRunnel Bridge. One of the few crossings over the rushing river was constructed of wood and stabilized with giant boulders on each side. Ropes strung across as rails.
Looking precarious as hell. Chavias eyed it askance.
In the pitch darkness Chavias’ gaze had been fixated on that bridge and the water surging underneath it. But now he caught a whispering footstep and realized the cimmerii had parted and tucked into the trees. We’re waiting on prey.
What are we hunting? Chavias’ stomach had begun to sink. That steps too quiet to be human. Too quiet to be cimmerii. And Chavias realized what he so badly didn’t want to believe.
We’re hunting another of my kind. As he thought it, he saw the flash of white brightening the dark. His eyes flashed yellow to focus on what he saw.
A returning shine of light blue sparked from the trees toward the bridge.
And Chavias realized that they were in a standoff. He was staring into the gaze of Teverius. His white-haired Forever Knight brethren.
Tev was fast. Unholy fast. But Chavias watched the cimmerii pouring out of the trees and taking the bridge and knew there were too many.
He heard a hissing cry from the sky and looked up. Catching sight of sarabis in the air. Descending toward Tev who had to leap from their reach. Skidding toward the bridge.
They’re driving him toward us.
Tev looked up at the black cloud of devil birds and then to the ground littered with nonis and targue. His gaze lifting to meet Chavias’.
Udora Novavax crouched next to him. Her body distorting until she appeared half feline, half serpent, covered in striped hair. The sound emerging from her was clearly inhuman.
He’s the target.