Author by Zerb
The clear winter sky was mesmerizing, made even more so by the full moon. The gentle snow had stopped falling mere moments ago.
“Adventurers huh. People who live by travelling from one town to another. They slay beasts that threaten the people. They go to far off places to retrieve rare ingredients. No matter what the task, it seemed that there was always an adventurer willing to take it.
In the clearing of the forest, a campfire dimly flickered.
Just in front of it, a figure wearing a fit dark grey coat sat. Pieces of armour plating reinforced it’s coat, covering mostly vital areas and spots that wouldn’t hinder movement. Even the weave of the coat itself was of high quality.
“Though, no matter how many great adventurers there are” the figure raised it’s hand.
Gauntlets made of the same material as the armour plating covered the ends of the figure’s sleeves.
“The beasts would never disappear no matter how many times they were wiped out. No matter how many times they would go to retrieve those rare ingredients, only a pitifully small amount was always brought back.”
The figure’s face was obscured by a steel mask underneath his hood. Where the figure’s eyes would be, white glowing circles were present. Due to the mask’s shape, the top half of the glowing circles were also obscured from view, twisting it’s expression into a furious gaze. Only made more frightening by the smiling jagged fang-like shape where the figure’s mouth should be.
“Isn’t it odd? While the soldiers and guards are busy keeping order and peace within the towns, while they’re busy keeping our borders secure. Adventurers monopolize the wilderness within the country.”
The figure’s glowing eyes gazed at the campfire in front of it. His words held weight. It was true. The military never dealt with, or rather they didn’t have time to deal with, smaller tasks like hunting for herbs or small pockets of monsters.
The only times that they intervene would be when towns were actively sieged by monsters or when major roads were in peril. Otherwise, they left it to the adventurers.
“Adventurers.” The figure turned it’s head. “Adventurers like you.”
Glowing white eyes slowly became visible to a lady behind the figure. She wore a white, hooded, coat. Though, something was off. Her breathing was more like panting. A cold sweat ran down her face. Grasping a piece of crimson soaked cloth, her hand was firmly held onto her side.
It was hard to notice, but as the campfire flickered, it became obvious. Crimson snow was just below her. The colour traced up her side and back, up to where her hand was pressed. On closer inspection, her coat was slashed open at her side. A crimson soaked bandage was visible underneath.
Even the light blonde hair that was in contact with the snow below her was corrupted by the crimson colour of her blood.
The lady’s beautiful face grimaced. “W-… we’re only-…”
Before she could finish her words, the figure pulled out a small crimson vial. It then stood up and walked towards her.
“Here” the figure uttered as it knelt in front of the lady.
The lady’s silver eyes stared at the glowing eyes of the figure, who was offering the vial to her. With little choice, she opened her palm and accepted the vial that the figure just opened.
“It’s a healing potion to ease the pain and help you recover. Though, it’s not like any other you’ve probably seen before.”
The lady hesitated. Indeed, the vial in her hands was small, miniscule compared to the healing potions that she’s seen before. Not just that, even the colour was different as most potions had a murky mix of colours from the different herbs. She glared at the figure.
After a few moments, she drank the vial. Suddenly, her vision became blurry as her head felt like it was about to explode.
“Hack- Cough- W- What di-.” Her arms lost their strength, dropping the vial onto the snow. Less than a moment later, her vision faded, then her consciousness.
A few seconds pass.
A few moments.
A few minutes.
Before long, it felt as if almost an hour had passed, but in reality it was only a few minutes. The figure was now standing in front of the lady. As her consciousness came back, she immediately took a deep breath.
Her eyes had regained their vigour. She moved her hand across her body, specifically onto her bandages. To her surprise, the pain disappeared. It felt like she wasn’t injured at all. Though, once she looked down, it was clear that the bandages were still there. Soaked in her own blood.
“T- Thank you.”
The figure simply nodded in response. A few moments pass as the lady thought to herself. She opened her mouth, yet no words came out. This occurred for a couple more times before she finally put together the words in her head and spoke.
“We’re- Us adventurers- Most of us are only trying to help where we can. Help the ones in need. Not all of us are like-… not all of us-… most of us are-”
“Not like these people huh” the figure’s voice grew much colder than before.
Around the two, around the campfire. Dozens of bodies laid unmoving in the snow. Majority of them had what looked like black jagged spears impaled into them. Looking outside of the camp, even more bodies were scattered across in different areas.
“That’s what most people would like to think as well. But you saw didn’t you?” The figure turned it’s head towards the lady. “You saw something that you shouldn’t have seen.”
The lady’s face slowly turned grim, her eyes narrowed. She turned her gaze away from the figure beside her.
“You saw a glimpse of the true nature of the great adventurers. You saw them at their most base. Didn’t you?”
The figure didn’t move. It’s glowing eyes gazed straight at the lady. Though, she did not return the gaze and simply looked down at the snow. She clenched her first. The figure’s words weighed heavily.
“And- in fact- didn’t you also experience first hand exactly what their true base nature is? Or are you going to deny that?”
The figure began to walk around the camp. Passing by the bodies of adventurers. Traces of a battle were evident. Shattered swords, fragments of armour. Even some shields that looked like they had taken a beating.
Below the bodies, the snow was also dyed a crimson red. Patches of snow around the area near the bodies were also splattered with the crimson colour of blood.
Walking around, the figure stopped just in front of a smaller body than the rest. Unlike the others, this one did not wear armour and had no spear impaled into it. Instead, a dagger was dug deep into the girl’s leg.
“Not all adventurers are as great as you think. Not all are as you imagine. Most are despicable and corrupt. Most are-…” The figure sighed.
Just past the girl’s body, a man wearing light armour was propped up against the rock. His hands were tied behind him. Just like the girl’s body, this one had no spear impaled into it, instead, a sword was plunged in his chest.
Both him and the girl had the same wrist band. It was because the two were lovers. The girl was made to suffer just in front of him. The girl died as he watched helplessly.
“If they are so noble- so great-… tell me why” the figure turned around. “Why is it that adventurers fought other adventurers. Why is it that one side had slaughtered the other and even had the gall to make the ones who surrendered suffer.”
Of course, the figure knew why. Greed corrupts. That was a simple fact. In reality, it would have been easy to just call these adventurers as bandits. If it weren’t for the fact that it was the adventurer’s guild itself that sent them to slaughter their own.
The figure walked towards the lady, kneeling just in front of her.
“Adventurers- humans- at our most base, at our core, we are the worst monstrosities that this land has ever seen. You’ve seen it, you’ve experienced it.” The figure raised it’s hand towards the lady. “And you shunned it, fought it.”
“So, that’s why I ask you this. Will you join me?”
The lady’s eyes glared at the figure. Every word that it said was true. No matter what she wanted to believe- even if she ignored the figure’s words- it would still be shattered by the events that occurred on this night.
“You make it sound like I have much of a choice…”
A weird response- or so it seemed. Just above and behind the figure, two black jagged spears floated in the air, aiming at the lady. Similar to the ones that were impaled into the bodies of the adventurers around them.
The figure tilted it’s head slightly. It wasn’t visible but, behind it’s mask, a slight twisted smile was on the figure’s face.
“You do have a choice.”
To be blunt, the answer was obvious. No matter how either side looked at everything that occurred that night. No matter how either side tried to reason, the answer for the lady was simple. Yes. To join, to accept the figure’s offer.
I will. The only logical answer. The only-
The opposite answer came from the lady as she smiled. Slowly, the figure lowered it’s hand. It seemed that time slowed down as the two stared at each other. Or- it felt like it until the two spears behind the figure immediately lunged forwards.
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