"What a fu*kin' odd fellow he is, indeed... Just watch him... i wouldn't want us to get in some trap... I will go behind you..."
"He's got quite the ego, yes. Still, it seems he leads us in the right direction." Ja'quar said as they continued to follow Drefan.
The little shaman wasn't that pleased with the man either. He started to snarl at the newcomer, yet Ja'quar silenced him. "Don't show that you hate someone." he lectured "the best way to kill someone is when in their trust, not in hostility. Besides, if he doesn't want help that means that there's less work for us."
The keep's battered doors hung from their hinges like torn flesh from a wound. The debris laden hallway housed deaths both friend and foe. The smell of rotting flesh punctured the nose, yet Ja'quar wasn't that affected. At some days, the swamps would smell just as bad.
He crept forward past the walls, raising bodies as he went on. He didn't know what the darkness would hold, but it wouldn't be nice.
Dagon explained his situation, stressing his unhappiness with it. It seemed he didn't want anything to do with his father, but the thing that calmed him most was knowing that his mind was always the same.
Suddenly there was a yell coming from the street. "Azriel" Ja'quar exclaimed as he turned around, "forgot about him." Dagon suddenly ran forward to Azriel's body. He returned with his body, which had a terrible wound at his ankle. As Seddrik healed him Ja'quar apologized, "I'm sorry to have left you there. I was a confused with a demon standing in front of the church."
A man suddenly shouted and charged towards the group. He seemed keen on eliminating Dagon, yet was persuaded from it by tactful negotiations. This man, Drefan, seemed to accept their word that Dagon was harmless. "Even strangers seem to like him" Ja'quar pondered, persuading him more and more.
The new guy talked about his house being burned down with his wife still inside. He wanted to make sure if she was all right, after which he would help the group to the other possible survivors.
A band of fallen appeared, yet their arrival was short-lived. In a rush of demonic fury, it seemed, Dagon charged one of the fallen. With one sickening strike his hand eviscerated the fallen's face. He then let loose some demonic yell which scared the fallen. Once again it was the party was alone.
"See, that's the problem." Ja'quar said, "You're a good guy, I know that. But did you really mean to mangle that fallen? And the yelling afterwards? Do you have any idea of the power your father might have over you?"
Drefan dashed off, probably in search for his wife. Ja'quar took a deep breath and said, "anyway, I guess we need to follow him. I'll hang on for a while longer. I still need to get paid anyway." He then ran and followed the new man.
With his eyes closed, Ja'quar only sensed the energy flowing from his minions to him and vice versa. The strain it put on him was nigh unbearable, but he kept on going. He breathed slowly, keeping the bodies alive for as long as possible.
A scream pierced the air. The assault stopped.
Ha didn't know what that inhumane sound had been, but the assault stopped. He opened his eyes. The fallen were scrambling all around, desperately intent to steer clear from the church. The moved his minions into a ring around him to let the fallen pass. As they raced past, he looked at his own fallen.
The undead demon was horror-struck. His eyes were wide and it seemed it took al his strength to keep himself from running away. Ja'quar laid a hand on the shaman's head, calming him. They then braced themselves for whatever had struck so much fear into the fallen.
When the fallen had cleared, he saw members of his party standing in front of the church. What shocked Ja'quar was that they were accompanied by what seemed like a demon. It seemed that the two sides were talking with each other.
The lack of a fight eased Ja'quar a bit. He only kept a handful of his minions alive and started to walk towards the church. He saw the demon and Jerfuth shaking hands. And where's Dagon? He asked himself he has to be around here somewhere. As he got within earshot he heard Drangar say, "you will always be my brother... and I will always be your greatest ally."
That can't be Ja'quar pondered as he walked on more firmly Dagon? Demon? It would seems so, because with every passing moment the being started to look more and more like Dagon.
"Dragnar... I think you've just had a moment of genius. It makes perfect sense now, I am most likely the son of Abbadon himself. Why else would I suddenly be changing around demons, unless these were his minions? "
Ja'quar had finally caught up with them.
"Wait, wait, wait. You're the son of a demon lord, whose minions we happen to be killing around here? Seriously, I should have never helped you out of that trap! Well, sure. You seem like a nice character, but that big tail of yours isn't the nicest thing around, you know? How do we know you're not going to turn on us when daddy comes around?"
The first fallen looked around. A bloodthirsty scream. Others looked as well.
Ja'quar turned around, straining his mind for the last time. Soon it would be better. With his arms stretched out in front of him he ran. Like a spring returning to his original shape, he felt the tension that had built up inside him dissipate.
He ran on, slowly immersing himself in sweet bliss. He completely forgot where he was, slowly getting high on the lack of stress his body had to endure.
A terrible shriek brought him back to reality. He neared his V-shaped zombie wall. He knew what to do, and slowly searched for the rifts he needed. The few bodies he needed to close the wall began to stir. He regained his posture at the tip of the trap, his arms spreading to the sides of the V.
"This is gonna get rough" he yelled, "Azriel, I'm going to need help."
When the fallen reached the trap, his mind took a hit like none before. Fallen began to claw, slash, bite, and bash their way through the wall of flesh in front of them. The amount of energy it took him to keep the bodies standing nearly knocked him over. He regained his posture, but was barely able to make the zombies attack. That was just beyond his powers.
At least the little shaman was able to stab the fallen.
Ja'quar stretched his left arm behind him. His mind went clear and he felt his minions standing in the shape that he had crafted.
He advanced towards the church. With each step taken he distanced himself from the zombies; they should remain there while he lured the enemy. At first it had seemed easy, but the farther he went away, the more energy it drained.
He stretched his right arm, trying to relieve the pressure. It helped, but only slightly. There was still a long way to go.
The shaman felt his strain and tried to help him, yet the fallen was weak. The magic inside of him was still upset from the recent rising; it needed time to recover. The shaman had no option left but to empathise, yet that was all Ja'quar needed.
He took another step.
Luring them would be only half the strain, Ja'quar knew. Controlling the trap would be just as stressful, but that's a problem he would face later. He needed to distract the mob around the church.
He hoped that those inside would strike when their enemy was at its weakest.
He knew they would, and it strengthened him.
The amount of bodies slowly increased, forming a small wall as a secondary protection against the oncoming horde.
"When will we head to the church then?"
Azriel was eager to strike, but Ja'quar was hesitant. He reached for his scarred hand and thought, "the last time I blindly ran into the fray it nearly cost me my life."
He stepped back to look at the church. Beside from the crowd he also saw a small tower rising near the church's walls. As some sort of demonic mold the fallen climbed on top of each other to reach the stained windows. "The fallen seem to have found their safehouse's weak spot: the windows," Ja'quar said curiously, "that'll might cause the doors to open. I'll have to prepare some of the bodies before we leave, though. When we get back I want to be prepared."
He slipped into his trance-like state and found it pleasantly surprising that it seemed to be less taxing than before. It didn't take long before seven bodies had regained consciousness. "This'll do. Now to lure the prey..."
"We're leading them to something, but what are we leading them to?"
"Think of it as a powerful jaw. The enemy gets funnelled into this shape, where it's easier for us to strike them then for them to hit us. We slaughter them from both sides and devour them whole."
He sighed deeply.
"But, it's going to be hard to control them. Maintaining the separation from life and death is tasking, especially when swords and axes are slicing their way through it." He looked to the little shaman. "Except when they're a bit magical themselves."
"Thank you, friend. Repayment will be made in due time, but we should hurry to the church."
Ja'quar looked around and saw it looming not too far away. "You're welcome, but we should indeed hurry. We don't want to keep them waiting."
They hurried down the street towards the church but as they moved closer, Ja'quar saw the square getting redder by the second. It was as if floodgates had breached and red, demonic beasts flooded the the plaza, only stopping when reaching the stone shelter.
They slowed their pace, knowing that rushing into that mass would be suicide. Even the shaman, who had once been among that horde, saw their chance of success being slim. They should not search their battles, but their battle should come to them.
Azriel seemed like-minded, as the three of them sought out the dark alleys for protection. Yet it seemed the madman wasn't as useless as Ja'quar thought he was. Casting a spell causing a fallen to choke to his death, Azriel quickly changed from an old fool into a grim mage.
The shaman walked towards the fallen, carefully placing its body in the shadows. Ja'quar said to Azriel, "you certainly seem to enjoy yourself." He then signalled for the shaman ,"we're going to set up some traps. Dagon and the rest can't stay inside forever and when they come out I hope they'll see our preparations."
He heaved bodies onto the street, creating some sort of macabre V pointing away from the Church's plaza. "Too bad I can't make them shout surprise."
The yell cut croakily through the air, shredding the thrill Ja'quar felt from his newest creation. He stood up, looked around and saw the body of Azriel a couple of yards away. The man needed help and being one of his companions he was obliged to provide him that, even if he was just a raging lunatic.
As Ja'quar approached the fallen man, he saw that he was in bad shape. it only took one brief glance of his face to see the scaly lips and dry skin. "What happened with you?" Ja'quar asked, "Never mind, we first need to patch you up."
He mentally instructed his new pet to open the nearest door. As he heard a crash he remembered that deep inside the minion still was a fallen; to him 'open' was pretty much the same as 'break down'. In any case it would be safe there.
"Come on, let's get you inside. There's bound to be water there." said Ja'quar as he helped Azriel get up. But as he touched the man, he felt a curious sensation in his body. All the blood seemed to start to flow towards the point where they touched, which ironically were the wounds he had acquired in the duel.
Trying to uplift the man's spirits Ja'quar said, "You're like a walking dowsing rod." He then made way towards the house where his minion was gathering all the water he could find.
Ja'quar found another troop walking down the street searching for survivors. They spotted him, and off they went. As he turned around to run, he heard an odd sound. it was a sort of roar and when he looked around he saw a fireball flying straight towards him. He dropped down and felt the flames licking his back, and was relieved that he had evaded sudden injury.
He got up to look at his assailant. The charging fallen had separated and stood still on the sides of the road. On the other end of the walkway there was a fallen leaning on a stick; a shaman. The demon looked a bit older and a lot wiser than the rest of his kin, and he enjoyed their respect.
Ja'quar wanted to walk away, but whenever he would put a step back the shaman held his staff forward and fire started to form at its tip, ready to explode in his direction. He was trapped, but still the simple imps did not advance into his direction. Only the shaman got closer and drew his blade. He pointed with it towards Ja'quar sheath, commanding him to do the same. Ja'quar obliged.
The shaman dropped his staff and snarled some orders to the simpletons, who promptly formed a ring around the two mages. It was at that moment that it dawned to Ja'quar what was happening; "A duel...", he said and couldn't help but smile. The shaman snickered with him.
Suddenly the little upstart charged; now it was serious! The fallen had caught the trapper by surprise and left a nasty gash in his left arm. They ended with their backs towards each other, but the swampdweller was the first one to take advantage of the situation by creating a nasty wound across the elder's back.
The shaman turned around and they looked each other in the eye. Ja'quar saw the proverbial fire building up in his nemesis' eyes, one that seemed to have died out ages ago. The red-skinned demon charged once more, but this time Ja'quar was less surprised. He acted as if he was, resulting in a second gash to accompany his first one, but this time he turned around more swiftly and planted his dagger deep in the shaman's shoulder.
The fallen screamed of agony, rage and delight as his blade fell from his grip. Ja'quar kicked it away and looked into the fallen's eyes, trying to discern his train of thought. He didn't know what went on in that head of his, but it didn't matter anyway. Ja'quar proceded with killing the shaman and looked around. The other fallen had dissapeared, their morale broken when they saw their leader die.
He laid the demon down, and then said, "Your talents are too good to be wasted. You will be my special servant." He went into the trance he knew so well and searched for that illusive veil. He found it, but this time, it was different. Another power besides life and death raged around this one, and that one was the power of magic. Ja'quar tried to harness this power, trying to not let any of it go to waste. He couldn't for it somehow had a natural affinity with the shaman. It did seem to aid Ja'quar's reviving procedure, removing some of the stress it caused to the necromancer. The magic continued to interfere with his work, until it seemed to do everything on its own.
As Ja'quar finished the rite he was astonished with his creation. The magical reserves the shaman had tapped in to in his lifetime were also the reserves he tapped in to in his death. The result was a zombie more akin to the real deal than anything he had ever created before, whilst costing no energy at all.
"You are special," Ja'quar said to the shaman, "and you are mine."
As they reached the desolate outskirts of Olenta, Ja'quar could only think of one thing, "Blergh, now I have to enter the city once again and fight there. Stay calm, don't get to ballsy."
The doors were opened and in front of them was a sea of bodies. Human remnants with horror-struck faces huddled in piles. An exquisite banquet for the fallen, or a playground for a necromancer. As soon as fallen charged the group entering the city, Ja'quar dashed away from the brawl. He had to find the poor man's district. The tight alleyways would be perfect for ambushes.
At last he found one that suited his taste; with bodies aplenty it would be almost too easy. He reanimated as many as possible, but ordered them to keep lying still all across the alley. Ja'quar then went out to find danger. He would be the bait, and the dead would be the trap. Once again, a sly smile of irony enveloped his lips.
The fallen he found did not need much encouragement. They snarled and raged as each of them wanted the honour of eviscerating the still living human. They ran through the streets of Olenta, not knowing the danger that laid ahead. The human stopped, perhaps he knew it was futile, but suddenly the bodies around them started to move. Limbs stirred and heads twisted. Hands grabbed arms and mouths gnawed on ankles. This man had trapped them! They were fighting for their lives, but now it was them who realized it was futile. The last vision they had was that of a small human, watching them cold eyed and smiling.
Even though it was a moment of respite, their target of Olenta was still ahead. Fallen aren't the most intimidating of demons, yet Ja'quar was uneasy with the idea of attacking an encampment full of these creatures. He walked towards Dagon to express his concern, "Dear leader. You know, I'm not entirely sure about this brunt attack. Well, not for me that is. I think I can help you more when..."
Suddenly there was a yell from the time witch. Ja'quar looked around and pondered her cry, "Evil? Here? Odd beasts indeed."
He then turned back towards Dagon and hastily finnished his sentence, "...when I trap the ones fleeing the scene. Just send a small party to the forests between Olenta and Melayu, it'll be fun."
Then the so-called angel seemed in pain. He screamed and his hands bled. "This seems serious," Ja'quar said to no one in particular.
Ja'quar sat in the cart and looked at his hand. The healer had done a nice job patching his hand, it was as useful as it had ever been. They went to Olenta, he and his new companions, where they would assault a fallen camp. It was an odd thing for him, but he would get paid so that didn't matter. Also, darkness was his ally, as it had been for a long time.
The sky somehow seemed disturbed. Ja'quar stood up and looked in front of their path: the storm was malevolent. A flash of lightning bolted down and the clap that followed made him feel rather uneasy.
A man's voice bellowed, but Seddrik and Dagon did not seem alarmed. Instead, they willingly walked towards its source: a shadowy figure on top of a hill. Even though this had to be a trap, the two brave men did not budge from their course. Either that, or they were entranced. Or just plain nuts.
The man began to tell a tale of being the son of an angel. Also, he was trapped and wanted revenge. Well, whatever it was, this man seemed both extremely dangerous and ridiculously weak. Ja'quar assumed the first, for underestimating anything is the same as inviting death into your home. He had forgotten that when he stormed out of the bar earlier today.
The man was greeted by everyone and not to be left behind Ja'quar said, "Greetings stranger. Your strength seems formidable and your goal brave. I'm Ja'quar." Once again, making every statement a bit more flattering seemed all too easy.
It was an onslaught. As soon as Ja'quar had stepped outside of the tavern the cacophony of war intensified to a height he had never heard. Everywhere he went he heard the sound of swords slashing, axes cleaving and a thousand cries from both human and beast. The silence of the trees was nowhere to be seen.
Yet, he did not feel unsettled. He was the master of an army, the same type of army that had invaded the city mere moments ago, an army of fallen. Of course, they couldn't match in size but these undead versions were much more resistant to death than their human counterparts. Well, if he could sustain them that is. The energy it consumed was constricting and the only thing he could do was stand in the centre of a ring of undeath, maintaining his concentration to keep his minions fighting fit.
He then heard Drangar yell, "SHIT!!!!! HELP HELP!!!", but he didn't know where it came from. He steadily looked around, maintaining his trance, and when he saw him, he saw Dagon standing there with him with a bloody mess at his feet.
Getting back up after what must have been a pretty hefty fit of rage, Dagon rallied everybody near each other. Ja'quar spread his hands to convey the message to his minions. Even walking was intense with the dozen or so fallen under his command so he slowly made his return to the group.
While walking his hand suddenly felt the piercing sensation of an arrow. The pain that emanated from it shattered his concentration and in a blink of an eye his defences were gone. "NO!" he yelled angrily, "WHY? I'M USELESS NOW!"
He knew the others barely trusted him, but they were his only hope. "HELP," he screamed while the fallen advanced, "I'M TRAPPED!"
As the battle raged on, Ja'quar fenced with all his might to keep the onslaught of fallen at bay. His minion did its part as well, but the battle seemed to be taking its toll. Flabs of flash were abundant as the little demons clawed and slashed their way into the undead body. Ja'quar felt that it drained more and more of his energy to keep the body walking and soon it was reduced to nothing more than a pile of flesh and bones.
Ja'quar looked around for bodies that could be animated, but most of them were disembowelled beyond recognition. The entire floor was red with blood as more and more fallen met their death in this little room. In his disparate search for possible meat shields he didn't see the fallen leaping at his face. With horror Ja'quar saw the fallen flying towards him with his axe held high.
But then the most peculiar sensation came over him. The fallen's progress seemed to slow down mid-flight and as he looked around, he saw all other fallen experience the same thing. Seeing the opportunity he stabbed the fallen in the heart, but being frozen in time the beast neither died nor lived. Slowly time seemed to resume himself and the body slumped to the floor.
He then sheathed his blade to concentrate on the summoning. His mind emptied and he felt that more than familiar connection with death. He raised the fallen and promptly the little rascal ran outside, into the fray slaying as many of his former kin as he could.
"I don't know who has control over time, but I like it!" Ja'quar said to no-one in particular. He then proceeded to walk outside and form his own fallen army.