“Nerick, my friend. Do not move a muscle.” Simon said with a pale expression as the young Wyvern lay hissing at them. With long dark-blue spiky scales, hook-like claws on its hind-feet and scissor-like claws sprouting out of its winged front feet. It was hugging Nerick’s waistline, hanging onto his belt and armour.
It showed off its dark green fangs while its poisonous spiked tail whipped about anxiously.
“Take. It. Off.” Nerick slowly spoke, trying his best to stay still.
“How in the hells did this happen anyway?!” Thea exclaimed as she came out of the wagon once more, this time clothed.
The Wyvern, hissing at her reappearance.
“The spearman tried to kill it, I warned him not to…” Erik explained, “Then this occurred.” He gestured at the scene before them.
Thea glanced about, the entire line of carriages had stopped and villagers lay hiding behind them, glancing their way but trying to stay out of the situation. All but the village mayor, George, who stood at the reins of the carriage behind them. Staring at them with amusement.
“So, uhm…How do we get it off him?” Kayle asked as she hid in their carriage. Wanting nothing to do with the little monster.
Everyone glanced at Erik, who seemed to be looking for something in the sky above. “What are you doing?” Simon asked in confusion.
“Looking for the parent.” Erik responded as if it was obvious, looking down to see their incomprehension. “That,” He gestured at the creature as it hissed at his pointed finger, “Is a barb-tailed forest wyvern. A two-month-old new-born by the looks of it too. Its fangs, claws, tail and even scales can be highly noxious. Now usually new-borns hunt with their mother but…Does anybody see a twenty feet tall winged reptile?”
“No…” Thea was the only one to respond.
“Then that means this little guy, lost its mother. And is currently highly unstable. Which is why I warned you not to engage it rashly.” Erik explained while looking at a pale and frozen Nerick, “As for getting it off you…” he smiled while approaching him.
Nerick shook his head “No, No don’t piss it off more!” he hissed, and the creature attached to his side hissed back.
Erik crouched down before Nerick, unafraid as the highly poisonous creature bared its fangs at him. He stared into its eyes, ferocious but not from anger or hunger. Erik saw the fear looming within its eyes.
“Ohohoh…It’s ripping the chest plate…” Nerick whimpered as he heard the wyvern’s sharp claws pierce through his chest piece.
Erik slowly forwarded his hand to the wyvern, his eyes never looking away from its also frozen gaze. Yet it kept hissing, it kept baring its fangs. Right up until Erik’s hand gently lay over its head, he caressed its scaly snout and it pushed into his palm.
“Is…Is it purring?” Nerick asked, not daring to look down.
Indeed the wyvern was purring, enjoying the safety of Erik’s hand laying over its eyes and snout. As he pet it, scratching between its eyes. “Young wyverns are highly susceptible to affection, show them that you are unafraid and they are fairly safe to approach. Unless it’s a swamp wyvern, they attack on sight young or not.” Erik explained, forwarding his other hand beneath the wyvern.
He slowly pulled the right hand back, and it followed him. Moving onto his left hand and then arm so he’d continue petting it. It settled over his left shoulder, as he rose back to his feet. Purring loudly as he continued to caress its snout.
Nerick let out a long sigh of relief, finally glancing down at himself he felt his chest about, even finding the bit of plate that the wyvern had managed to slice through. “You.” He said, turning to face Erik. “Are full of surprises, aren’t you?”
“Knowledge, in this scenario.” Erik corrected, “You could say I’m very close to these creatures.” He chuckled in amusement.
Nerick hummed in thought, “So, what you gonna do with it?” he asked.
“Keep it obviously, wyverns make the best of guard dogs. Deadly, loud, fast and eat just about anything.” Erik explained, continuing to pet the creature as it stared hungrily at Nerick. Who stepped away warily. Simon only chuckled in amusement and amazement.
“He’s insane.” Kayle said as she peeked through the curtains.
(“You don’t even know the first part…”) Thea sighed, “Move out the carriages!” she then shouted, letting everyone know it was safe to move on.
Two Hours later
Erik sat at the carriage’s front, staring at the approaching city. Tall walls of stone reinforced with iron, towers with mechanical armaments and anti-siege weaponry along every ten meters. With this much defence around one city, he garnered that the fortresses were similarly defended. Which explained why the villages were so weak and without a guard.
Only a handful of buildings were visible from behind the large wall, important landmarks he guessed. But one stood out among the rest, several dozen storeys high, it was Druvia’s royal estate. The castle, defended just as expertly as the outer walls, also had a complex and expensive Germanic design to its masonry.
“So, this is Druvia?” Erik asked, unimpressed. Having seen the Dwarven cities and laid waste to the Elven kingdoms of old, he had seen better.
“The capital, yes.” Simon answered, as he appeared from the wagon’s back. Sitting down to Erik’s left, but keeping his distance as the wyvern slept while coiled around his neck. To his right was Nerick, manning the horse. Thea and Kayle lay inside, watching from behind the pulled open curtains.
“Where you from anyway, mage?” Nerick asked, trying to break the silence that had permeated through most of the ride. Neither Simon nor Kayle were much for words at the moment, Nerick didn’t blame them but talking always calmed his nerves somewhat.
Thea choked on the bread she was eating in reaction to the question, causing Kayle to stand up and check on her.
But Erik remained calm, “Nowhere in particular, I was born on the road. Lived most of my life travelling with my mother, who taught me everything I know.” He answered truthfully, albeit leaving out some…details.
“Must be harsh.” Simon said, “Having no place to call home I mean.”
Erik smiled weakly, “Home is where you make it. Doesn’t need to be a place or time.” he said, moving aside the wyvern’s tail that had begun constricting around his arm. Waking the creature, as it hissed in protest of having its tail touched.
Both Simon and Nerick leaned away further, the conversation seemingly dying there as they approached the city gate.
Erik watched as their convoy of twenty-two horse, mule and cattle pulled carriages and wagons came to a stop, lined up in front of the closed shut, massive metal doors. Five hundred or so villagers were once part of Beckton, three hundred men and women had fought in its defence and now only two hundred and thirty-four remained. Thirty-four of which survived the battle, while the other two hundred consisted of children, elderly, the sick and the injured.
Thea stepped out of the carriage, still sore from having slept for so long she was thankful Simon knew healing magic else even she knew she would’ve died of thirst or starvation. She glanced at Erik briefly, then at the remaining three members of her platoon. Making up her mind over something she had been pondering over the entire trip. She clenched her insignia, a mark of her rank, then approached the gate.
“Who goes there?!” exclaimed one guard from the wall’s top.
“This is Colonel Selene Thea of platoon 274, under the jurisdiction of Marquis Major Bjorn Klein! We return with survivors from the village of Beckton!” Thea shouted back.
The guard glanced between her and the carriage holding her remaining platoon, sighing, he nodded before turning around “Let them in!”. The gates opened slowly, only enough for them to pass through.
“They must be close.” Erik spoke under his breath, glancing back at the forest in the distance. The wyvern squeaking as it followed his gaze.
“Who is?” Nerick asked as he watched Thea walk up to George, saying her goodbyes. Whipping the reins once she climbed back into their carriage.
“The demons.” Erik answered, awkwardly waving back at George and Lioness who waved at them as they took their wagon by first. “The gates were closed, the guard did not look like he expected us at all.” He turned to look at the rest of the guard as they watched them go by, “Then look at their faces.” Erik said, pointing out the nervous guards.
Simon hummed in agreement, “Nowhere is safe anymore…”
“Do you believe Druvia will fall?” Erik asked as he glanced about the city’s first district. Not quite your average medieval city. The usual stone buildings lay about, housing, taverns, stores and all. But the entire place was so overpopulated that Nerick had to rein back the horses a bit so pedestrians would step out of their way.
“Fall? Maybe, maybe not.“ Simon answered, ”The demons are a vile enemy, their dark magic comparable to the Cathedral’s holy spells. They number in the many, more than we do even while condensed like this. Except that, not even half the populace are fighters. Most people are here to evacuate the continent entirely, escaping by ship to the eastern continent.”
“Cowards.” Kayle added bitterly.
“Smart, unlike us.” Nerick chuckled sourly, but Kayle had no interest in arguing, saying no more.
“Stop over there.” Thea said, pointing out an open area where the guards rested their horses. Nerick complied, manoeuvring the carriage through the crowd. “And it has nothing to do with being brave or stupid.” She then scolded the both of them, “The less mouths we have to feed that cannot fend for themselves, the better chances of us surviving this. Let them leave, more space for us to move around.”
All of them silently agreed with a nod, even the wyvern.
Once Nerick had parked the horses before the watering trough, they gathered their equipment and headed off. “What you going to do now mage?” Nerick asked, as he carefully held his spear as not to poke someone’s eye out or worse.
“I’ve given it much thought, if Druvia is going to engage the demonic armies then here is where I must be. Although I’m not so sure your military is trustworthy enough for me to volunteer.” He glanced over at Thea, meeting her eyes, a silent understanding went through between them.
“Then the mage clans?” Kayle offered, as she followed on the far side of the group. Staying as far away from the curious wyvern as possible, while the creature’s head spun about, alert and nervous.
“No human mage can teach me more than what I already know. No, I think I’ll remain a mercenary.” Erik snorted in amusement, if humans couldn’t progress their lifestyles over a thousand years then their magical knowledge must have been sorely worse.
“Then the adventurer’s guild is for you my friend.” said Nerick, he gestured at the large building a few roads to their right. “You’ll be free to take on any task you wish and get paid for it. Plus some nice bonuses that come with each rank.”
“Adventurer’s guild huh?” Erik mused.
“Tough job to start out though, you can only pick up certain missions depending on your rank. Someone of your calibre, probably won’t enjoy rising through their hierarchy.” Simon added, “From what I hear, it is also a pain to get someone to raise your rank outside of their set dates for rank ups.”
Erik hummed in annoyance, “Sounds like a bother.”
Their conversation continued from there, Simon and Nerick being the main speakers while Erik stepped in from time to time. As they walked through the packed streets, onlookers glancing in fear and confusion at the hysterical wyvern that gripped tightly onto Erik’s arm with its tail. Baring its fangs at anybody who got too close.
Until they reached their destination, a large building surrounded by guards wearing much fancier sets of armour than the gate guard. “Well, here is where we break off.” Said Nerick as he turned to the Erik, “Gotta…report in. See you around eh?”
“I’m afraid you will, your captain promised to show me around the city.” Erik casually pointed out.
“Oh?” Kayle hummed, glancing over at her now reddening sister.
Thea barged through them, “Wait here, I’ll be right out.” She said before pushing open the wooden doors. She walked inside, “You three coming?” her tone seemed annoyed.
Nerick, Simon and Kayle watched her walk down the hallway awkwardly, “Is it that time of the month?” Nerick asked with a sigh.
Cut off by Kayle who kicked him in the shin, “Hmph.” chasing after her sister right after.
“Sh-S***!” Nerick swore, grabbing hold of his unarmoured leg. They were carrying the armour in bags over their backs.
“You never did have common decency Ner.” Simon chuckled, nodding at Erik before walking inside too.
“The hell is that supposed to mean?” Nerick asked, waving at Erik before chasing after them, stumbling over the step on his way in.
Erik rolled his eyes, turning away from the building, he then walked back to the road. (“Now while I’m alone, what is this…”) He had been sensing something within the city ever since approaching it, many things actually. But one specific feeling caught his attention the most.
A familiar feeling, yet ancient.
He walked out into the street, the crowd having thinned out severely around the military command barracks it made it not as difficult to move about. Erik stood in the middle of the dirt road, concentrating on the sensation that he was strangely so attracted towards.
(“Just what are you…”) He thought, glancing about as he felt it approaching. He suddenly turned towards where he sensed it coming from, slamming into someone as he did.
“Ugh!” Erik fell backwards, the wyvern leaping off his shoulder briefly, gliding back into its spot once his ass hit earth. “What the…” Erik moved to rise, seeing that he had bumped into someone carrying a large basket.
A basket full of jewellery, which now lay spilt onto the ground, as a hooded figure was nervously picking it all back up. “You dumb wench!” exclaimed a man that had been walking with the cloaked woman, as he angrily stepped to her and kicked her in the side. “Watch where you’re going ugly bitch!” the man spat with an eastern accent, a brown-skinned human with dark hair and light green eyes.
The man turned to Erik, “Many apologies for my servant’s blindness good sir!” he gave a quick bow towards him. Noticing the woman moving back to continue collecting her master’s dropped possessions, he kicked her aside once more. “Apologise to this man!” he shouted at her angrily, stomping on her fallen form three time as she cried in pain, before backing away.
Erik had risen to his feet at this point, noticing that three other servants stood behind the man, each of them wearing a black cloak hiding their features. Alongside five armed guards with similarly brownish skin, wearing full black plate armour and fingering their sheathed blades. Scimitars, Erik noted.
He glanced down at the fallen servant, as she rose to her knees and kowtowed several times. “This one apologises.” Her solemn and cold tone was not what surprised him, but her face as she glanced up at him from under her hood.
Short snow white hair, golden eyes, greyish violet skin and patches of white scales seemingly part of her own natural skin. Erik stared down at her briefly, before glancing at the other three servants. Noticing the same features on each.
“Now pick it up!” The slave’s master shouted, bringing Erik out of his daze, as the man went to kick the kneeling woman once again.
“Slicing breeze.” Erik chanted, as his left hand moved without a care for the consequences. Sending a silver blade of wind towards the man’s preparing leg. The slaver screamed in agony as the wind sliced through his flesh with ease, shattering his bone on its way through. His right leg, falling uselessly to the ground. He fell to the dirt himself, blood gushing out of his new stump.
The guards rushed to unsheathe their dual blades, three of them coming to stand between Erik and their fallen master as two of them tended to him.
Erik ignored the man’s screams and swearing, as he kneeled down before the slave, now frozen in surprise as she stared at her master’s chopped off leg. Noticing him, she turned to face Erik as he pulled back her hood. Revealing long pointed ears and severe scarring all over her neck, slightly hidden by a crimson red metal collar, etched with magical runes.
“Xilfir?” Erik spoke in elven, the complex words sounding like gibberish to anybody else but elves.
“You speak our tongue?” The woman asked in surprise, glancing at his ears before meeting his eyes once more.
Erik did not respond, as the memory flooded in. His large draconic form standing before a ruined city of trees, an elven king kneeling before him, begging for mercy. The king’s entire clan kneeled behind him too, trembling before the destroyer.
Erikathyr saw an opportunity here, uninterested in giving mercy, he did though see potential in these elves as they prostrated before him. “Elven king, you beg for mercy but instead, I shall give you something more.” Erik spoke in his memory, as the blonde-haired king looked up. Meeting the monster’s gaze.
“More?” The king asked in his exceptional elven accent.
“You bow, therefore you serve.” Erikathyr explained, lowering his snout before the dozens of kneeling elves. “You shall offer me your eternal servitude, in return I offer you my protection.” He said, gazing directly into the king’s silver eyes.
The king bowed once more, “We of clan Xilfir, will eternally serve.”
“Then speak my name, clan Xilfir!” Erikathyr exclaimed, sparks of blue energy surging through his body as he spoke.
The king did not falter like the rest, “Erikathyr, the guardian, the white. We pledge.” he spoke sternly and sincere. Followed by the rest, who trusted their monarch before anything else.
“I accept your plea.” Erikathyr said, as the violent blue lightning that covered his body suddenly surged forwards. The memory began to fade, the sound of agonized screaming as the elves physically changed.
Changed, to what stood before him now. An Elf, whose bloodline was altered by Erikathyr’s magic. Bringing out an elf’s true self from within, while imbuing them with his power.
A Dark Elf.
Erik was shaken out of his daze, as the slaver shouted even louder than before, a language he did not speak. He noticed the man pointing at him, his eyes full of rage. Erik sighed, as the three front guards stepped towards him, the first one lunging forward with both blades.
“Upward Gust.” Erik chanted, pointing his right index finger towards the ground beneath the three guards. Suddenly an explosion of air occurred beneath them, sending each of the three guards flying upwards. So high that, not even he could make out their silhouettes anymore.
His gaze fell back down to the slaver, as his last two guards stood with weapons ready, guarding their master.
(“Hmph, guess I’ll pull back for now.”) Erik thought of making his exit, he could find Thea and…these four Xilfir later.
“Hold!” exclaimed a rugged man from the barracks, as a small army of guards surrounded Erik and the slaver’s party. Spears held tightly and aimed mostly towards Erik, who turned to face the speaker. His eyes widening in surprise and fury, as he saw the well-armoured man stand behind the line of guards.
Erik’s lips twitched into a wicked grin, (“One after another…”) his furious eyes meeting the man’s stern gaze. Greying dark hair and short beard, sun-darkened skin and blue eyes. The knight looked like a common human, all but his armour and weapon. Equipment whose material, did not go unnoticed by Erik.
Red dragon scale plating over dragon leather made up the man’s crimson armour, while long golden dragon claws melded with dragon leather and mithril created his halberd. This man was a Slayer.
(“I’m sorry Mother…I might mutilate a couple hundred humans before I can get to understanding them…”) Erik thought ferociously, as he mentally prepared himself to burn the entire city to the ground.