Another man fell to the ground but Esif was nearly dragged with him. She took a moment to catch her breathe but it only made her realize how tired she was. The battle had raged for too long now. Still, she would kill. Kill until she was worthy of death. So when another figure appeared, she readied her blade. Only to see an all too familiar face. Right before she could question how he was still walking, Ghoran spoke. No, not Ghoran. That became clear with the first words that came out of his mouth. Esif readied her weapons again. That was not Ghoran. It wasn’t even human. Nor was the portal behind him. The spectacle extinguished the fighting spirit around Ghoran. Raiders and tribesmen stopped fighting as they could feel the strange, dangerous power radiating from the portal.
But when Esif was spoken to in person, as the thing that took over Ghoran’s body spoke of Ragnagedon, she fell down on her knees. Her blades dropping into the ground next to her. For a year now she had fought to get the attention of her god. Only to see another appear. One that wanted nothing but her dead. Was that her fate? To have worshipped a false god for a year now? To have killed in the name of someone who would never look at her? She was too tired for all of it. Esif fell to her knees. Ready to embrace her dead. At least she had lived a full year. Free from the sins of others. Free to live her own sinned life.
Fir watched it all unfold with staff and blade in hand. Much like Esif he felt his body aching. The grip on his items began to falter. When Esif fell, he knew all was lost. They would lose it all. In a way he wanted to give up as well. He too fell to his knees. The brazier-staff dropped, spilling it’s content before Fir. Setting the grass and mud ablaze. Maybe they had killed enough. Maybe it was time to sleep. But when he closed his eyes he could still feel the heat of the fire before him. No, it all felt wrong. This surrender. There was no hope but Fir did not want to surrender. He opened his eyes again to witness the helpless situation, and then he looked at the oil burning before him. Maybe everything was hopeless. Maybe everything was desperate. But maybe that was what was supposed to happen. Fir was not sure about anything he was about to do. Nobody had preceded him in this. Yet he was armored in faith. He pushed his blade into the burning oil before him. Coating it in fire. Before he turned the blade around, aimed for his heart and pushed.
The kill was instant and the oil began to eat away at his skin already. With glass, lifeless eyes a corpse fell over.
Esif opened her eyes again. Expecting to stand before some death god or worse. She did not expect a mountainside looking over a land of sooth and molten rock. Where the sky was black of smoke. A bit further from where she laid stood a figure with fiery red hair. “You’re a awake.” The figure said in a gentle, almost fatherly voice. “I will be honest with you. I never thought a human would make it so far so fast. My mother often told me you were a very surprising race but I’d bet she does look terrified now. Alas, enough about monsters. You and I have other things to talk about.”
When she opened her eyes, she stood amid the bloody battlefield once more. This time not afraid to die a worthless death. She was the first of his Chosen. The demons no longer scared her. One clearly didn’t get the message. With gnawing teeth and a sharp bronze sword he charged straight for Esif. She grabbed one of her swords and one fell, upwards sweep Esif send a wave of fire. It didn’t travel very far before it collapsed onto itself and into embers. Yet it had engulfed the demon who screamed in pain. To Esif, it was the most beautiful thing in existence.
It had to be shown more. Another sweep hit the demon and it dropped down, dead. Esif took his sword and charged the other demons. With newborn savagery she jumped in the air and stabbed the back of a demon. Fire ate away from the inside. Veins of ember grew over its skin before it collapsed in ash. With every hit, with ever slash she commanded the flames. Demons were soon to realize that she was no mere mortal.
In fact, she wasn’t the only one with suddenly inexplicable rule over fire. Almost broken figures were rising up again. Burning away man and demon alike. The demons, afraid like a kicked dogs, whimpered and made way. Opening up a path towards one of the two blood mages. Who locked its glowing eyes with Esif’s. It turned its fully body towards her, lifted up his arms and began his chant. Esif began to feel her blood coursing through her veins. Once she realized that the thing was practicing magic, she began to charge it. With every step her skin opened up. Letting the blood flow from her. Still, she came closer and closer. The demon continued its chant, louder and louder. The bloody lines in her skin began to form hexing patterns. Once complete she’d be doomed to a paralyzed fear. One that wouldn’t last long with this many demons around her, ready to gnaw the flesh off her bones.
Yet Esif charges one. The demon tried to chant louder and faster. He began to see the white in her eyes and then a single blade. It pierced its chest. The blood mage clutched at the wound once the blade was out but the time was already won. Esif delivered a devastating blow to one arm that tried to block it. She slammed down another. Every time bathing the ever further falling blood demon with fire. Until the arm and bone gave way. Esif grabbed the thrown blade and began to cleave its neck. The heated bronze failed to make a clean cut. The demon tried to crawl away but Esif didn’t allow it. She grabbed a horn of its heat and cleaved further. With every hit fire spewed from the blade and the creature let out a pained cry. Until the fourth cleave but Esif was still not done. It took four more hits and one of her blades got dulled by the bone. But she upheld her trophy high. The decapitated head of the demon. She stepped towards the demon and her own people. “Tell your god there is a new power to fear!” She screamed and as she screamed, the remain demons began to flee at the sight of their fallen blood mage and the other demonic corpses heaping up.
Then she turned to the human survivors. “Where are you gods now! Where are they!? Did they come to your aid in this battle? Did they bless you in your fight?” She stepped forward. Still clutching the head at a horn. “If you still believe your gods care about you then leave and never turn back. Run to your village! Run!” And so the tribesmen began to run back north. Abandoning their camp. Yet not all ran. A very few remained. “Why are you still here?” Esif asked.
“The gods abandoned us. Yours hasn’t. Why should we pray for those that don’t care?” One tribesman answered. He was young and fearful. Yet as he shook in his entire body, he tried to stand tall before Esif.
She observed him. Up and down. Much like Fir had done when he first found her. “There will be a price. A steep one. And there is no turning back from this. I’ll let you run back to your village now. Don’t expect me to be this merciful in the coming days.”
Yet the man di did not move.
“Very well. You’re a raider now.” When she said the words, fire engulfed the severed demon head she held. The flames ate away the flesh and blackened the bone beneath. Eventually, the flames faded and revealed the black skull. Like instinct, Esif dropped her blade and put the skull on her head. It fitted perfectly. “All hail the Chosen!” one veteran raider yelled as he raised his weapon. With the second cheer all raiders, young and old, joined in.