“Please. Please I beg of you.” The poor man crawled away through the mud. His legs were broken. A trail of blood followed him wherever he crawled. Following it was the Ember Huntress. Esif. In the past months, she had grown in zeal and power. From a distance the ever wizened Fir witnessed the spectacle. The raid had been carried out swift but with the proper amount of blood. Soon the sacrificial pyres would be stacked and the dead and living would be burned.
For the last few weeks he had kept his eye on Esif. She was no longer the girl he had found and handed a knife. Under his own care, she had grown into a vicious weapon. A hound he just had to point at anything and she’d chase it with a mad need for its death. Except she was nothing like a hound. She was the grace of flames. The swiftness of spreading fire. When the times were calm she carefully drew lines on her body, though kept the space just below her neck free and unmarked. When asked why she drew the lines, she just said she wanted to leave behind a pretty corpse for the flames. When at war, she let someone make small cuts on her back. Each scar became a memory of the kill and Esif was very good at remembering her kills. The girl had grown into a warrior and cared for herself in that way too. Her hair on the side of her head was shaven clean. Giving no opponent grip of it. The hair on top of it she kept in a tight braid.
“You want trinkets! I can give you many! Beautiful baubles! I know a place! I can show you!” The man kept begging. Esif didn’t flinch. Like a cat she carefully approached her prey. Ready to pounce. “Or people! I can give you people! I know of a village. Far north!” This stopped Esif for a moment. She looked up towards Fir. Who had heard the man as well. They’ve been marching north for a while now. Searching for a village with a rather odd name. Those who shared a close connection to a certain Goddess they called Iva’Krorh. But Fir shook his head. The man had seen it too. “No please! I can tell you about magic! I can-“ But it was too late.
Esif jumped into the air. The torches on her back moved the fire with her. Before the man fully understood what happened a spear pierced his belly. As quickly as she struck, Esif pulled her weapon out of him again. Know fully well she hit him perfectly. Blood poured out of the wound. Muddying the ground beneath him.
“A ruthless kill. Very good.” Fir noted as he walked up beside Esif. He crouched next to the man. Then looked into Esif’s eyes. Despite the moon hanging high in the heavens he saw only the reflection of burning fire. “You’re ready.”
Esif sat kneeling before a large pyre. Another village was burning around them but this time the raiders had made sure to take as many captives as possible. Sobbing mothers and wailing children encircled the ever more twitching raiders. Only the hands stood in cold discipline. Esif kneeled before the great fire in the center and absorbed the cries, wails and the occasional brave insult. She heard how much she was hated. How much she was despised. The bravest of the men were rounded up. With no punishment following these desperate fools kept hurling their insults. Then Fir appeared behind him. The hands forced the men away again to let the priest pass. Fir threw a stone knife at Esif’s feet. “Embrace your fate.”
She picked up the blade and rose from her knees. For a minute she observed it. Thinking, for just a second, that it was the same blade she had used for her first kill. No, that was ridiculous. She had thrown away that knife. It meant nothing to her. Nothing could ever really matter to her. With cold hate in her eyes she marched up to those hurling their abuse. “You’re right. I am a monster.” She said with a chilling calm voice as she slit the first man’s throat. “I want you to despise me. Hate me.” She slit a second throat. “It just means that I’m right.” A third throat began to bleed. “Right in wanting power.” A fourth. “And knowing that you want it.” A fifth. “Tell me. What would you do if you had seen me alone. In the forest? Near a stream?” She asked the biggest, strongest man of them all. The chieftain no doubt. He just spat in her face. Esif smiled a devious, vicious smile. “I’ll take this one.” She uttered right before she jumped the man.
Around her fury broke loose. Hands descended on the captives. Who weren’t even bound. Panic gripped the villagers. They tried to rush away but the raiders, frenzied, were close upon their heels. Esif had seen many raids. But now, on top of this big brute of a man and dominating him whole through her power, she knew this was very different. There had been an unusual viciousness building within the raiders. A twitch that nobody could quite satisfy. Yet here and know she felt that vicious hunger and she fed it. Again and again. Her brothers and sisters did so too. Those greedy for baubles and trinkets were raiding and looting. Those filled with lust dragged the most voluptuous women by their hair. Wrath, hate, and envy all descended into a bacchanal of murder. It was chaos in the truest sense of the word. For the raiders it felt like a moment in a twisted version of their own heaven. For the villagers and victims, this was their personal hell. As the night carried on the flames fanned high and the very based desires were given in to.
At dawn the raiders were asleep amid broken people still breathing and those fortunate enough to die during the night. When they slowly rose from their slumber, all felt the same thing: the twitch was gone. For now. Fed to excess. Esif rose with a new mark, just below her neck. A hand and no memory of how she got it. She felt nothing but pride for it though. It was a slow dawn for the raiders. Some had to gather their clothes which were spread quite literally everywhere. By the afternoon they were gone. Leaving nothing but the dead and the broken behind. In a strange way there had never been so many survivors of a raid.
Ragnagedon was pacing restlessly back and forth in his own hall. The corpses of three Verzakian Dragons adorned it. The God of Fire was disgusted with his own creations weakness but even more disgusted by his supposed siblings. First Anu’Varr has the gal to torture one of his slaves with his own gift. Then Dirka turned it into an abomination altogether. Even Rai, the foolish hoarder, thought a slave was better off with a voice. All this stopped the dragons in question of fulfilling its purpose: to hunt down and destroy all life. Still, as he had watched the world through the slit eyes of his slaves he saw it was not enough. No, he needed more than mere villages to burn. His visions needed entire forests to burn. The entire world! Sadly none of his siblings would allow it apparently. Even those who’d let him raze in peace seemed to have a need to meddle. Well, Ragnagedon had a long memory and his human servants were doing quite well. It wouldn’t be long now before they were ready. He could feel the fate of the supposed prophet near its end.
But the God of Fire had little patience left. He stepped out of his cave. Blue fire engulfed his body and from it the blue dragon crawled. Screaming with hatred for all existence he took flight. His wings quickly carried out of Verzak. A thick trail of smoke followed him. Verzakian Dragons within Verzak remained there. Chained to the defenses. Those roaming the desert felt a strong, irritable urge to go north towards the pass. They began to converge towards the black trail formed in the clear, desert sky. Ragnagedon was calling his slaves. Ruin flew once more into the world.