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|When a world lies in ruins due to an apocolypse, it is inhabited by a handful of survivors who will fight until the death of the world.||
PROLOGUE: Part 1
The world as we knew it is non-existent. Villages are no longer a center for trade and merry-making, but rather a breeding ground for rotting corpses and slithering insects. The skies have turned from azure to ashen gray, and the only way we can determine if night has fallen upon the land is by listening to the sounds of the creatures awakening to feed. Every night I sit inside a ring of fire within a ruined city, listening to the sounds of dying animals and watching the red eyes that peer at me through the sunburst flames. They are getting smarter. Soon we will have to find a better method to keep them at bay.
I think back about the old times now and then, but not too often. I try to forget memories I can never relive, promises I can never redeem. Yes, this is my life now, amongst the rubble of a ruined, post-apocalyptic world. The dust and bones of the dead are my companions, the scorched trees are my shelter, and the bloody ground is my home. Suffering is my sustenance.
Don’t take me the wrong way. There are other survivors, who are my true companions that fight side by side to survive in this death trap. To be honest, though, they have not been the same since all of this happened. The worst thing is that I know why.
It seems distant in some ways, but in actuality, the apocalypse lasted approximately nine years. It’s been two years since it ended. We all tried to stop it. By “we,” I mean the Resistance: a team banded together through pain, brothers and sisters of servitude, spending our childhoods either rotting away in a brain-washed state or dying mining the deepest and darkest parts of the underground.
The Azurites were the ones who brought us together, in some dark macabre sort of way. They were a race of divine beings, their bloodlines passed directly down from the gods. Their blood may have been pure, but their hearts were tainted. They enslaved thousands of elven children to mine their lands for ancient artifacts, and hundreds of angelic children to guard their precious jewels against possible thieves. While mining, they unleashed hordes of demons from the deepest pockets of the underworld, setting off a chain of events that soon led to the apocalypse that destroyed the world. Most of the Azurites are dead now, but they have been overtaken by a deadlier and more sinister force. Demons may not be able to choose from right and wrong, but at least the Azurites never ripped open our bellies to feed upon our entrails while we are still conscious to feel the pain. As long as I have a bullet in the chamber, I know I can either save my life or end it before that could ever happen to me…
So it has been eleven years of running. How can you run from evil, if the whole world is infested with hatred and drenched with pain? I know I could save myself, with or without my gun. It’s the others that I’m worried about.
Saren, my lover and my childhood friend, is the one who is taking the change the best. Born in the high altitudes of Valhalla’s mountainous regions, she was raised to be a strong companion and killer. Taught by the greatest masters, she was well learned in white magic and the art of assassination. She was a fair child, with lavender blonde hair and indigo eyes, and she is still that fair and innocent to this day. The only changes that I can detect are that her eyes have gotten darker with age, and that her crippled wings have left a scar above her shoulders when they shriveled up and turned to dust. She is still as strong as she used to be, and will be until the day she dies. I am still awed by her strength, just as I was when we were both young, and the same as I was when she accidentally slit my throat during her team’s attack on our mines. I am alive because of her…
Fayrie, of course, hasn’t changed a bit. In fact, I almost think she is in love with our new world. Being of both dark elf and wood elf descent, she is both fiery and morbid. She laughs in the face of danger, and seduces pain, her emerald green eyes glittering with sheer pleasure when she brandishes her beloved weapons: two silver pistols with spiders engraved on the side. Her husband, Dessemian, who is of dark elf and fire elf descent, taught Fayrie to be a Gunslinger when she was a rebellious teen just after she had escaped from the mines. To be honest, our dear Fayrie is still a rebellious teen at heart. I think that is what Dessemian was attracted to, her little spit-fire of a personality. Of course you would never guess the match if you met him: he is the most timid male I have ever known. But him and his feisty wife travel together as gunslingers, spending their special, but probably limited, years of matrimony with us to help rebuild the world.
Shanta has changed considerably. She used to be a divine creature of the woods, a golden-haired nymph. Once the demons were released, her soul began to die. Her use of magic is limited because the earth that she was born from is in agony, and now her soul only lives within the music she creates. When she plays it is the only time when you will see that glimpse of magic return to her blue and violet eyes, and in the corner of my eye I see a small figure dancing within the flames. It flickers in and out like a dying candle, but it is reassurance that the world is struggling to stay alive. Lately though, she sits alone by the fire, gorging herself on cigarettes that she purchases on the black market, making smoke rings through her pale lips.
Ahmri is the hardest to figure out. He is the only one who has not shown any symptoms of sadness, nor happiness, since we first met. I don’t blame him. He had promised to save his younger sister, who had been taken into bondage at the age of ten, and turned into one of the Azurite’s mistresses at the age of thirteen. She was considered a rare gem to them, being of a magnificent feline bloodline. Her mind and body became tainted with the thirst for dark magic and blood. Ahmri did not say much about what happened to her, but from what I gathered, she was so infected with evil even her physical appearance had changed: her lips were as dark as garnet, her eyes as black as night, and a large veining scar snaked its way across her ashen skin. From what I imagine, she was once a copper-skinned beauty with soft pink lips and amber eyes. He never told me how she died, but I wonder whether he had to watch her kill herself, or if it was done by his own hands.
Leilan is the one who is taking the change the hardest. Born in the mines, she was a love child between an Azurite and a young elven slave. When the child was born, the Azurite male took her away from the mother, who was soon killed thereafter. Leilan was raised as a pleasure toy for the guards, and never had a happy living moment until she placed a sword to her own throat. Seeing that she had the intent to kill herself, one of the angelic guards forced the sword out of her hands and into the fire. A month later they had become secret lovers, making nightly visits to each others’ bed chambers. Leilan became pregnant with a child soon after; a son. Once discovered, the father was killed due to the “unclean” act of interbreeding, and Leilan was left alone to raise the only entity that she could keep close to her heart. The apocalypse induced labor, and Leilan gave birth to her child while the whole world rotted away around her. She was only able to spend one night with her son, who died within hours of birth due to the foul saturation of evil. He had looked exactly like her, and like her father before her, possessing the deepest blue eyes, dark mahogany hair, and pearly white skin. Leilan rarely speaks of her child, but in her eyes you can see burning hatred and the lust of revenge, the three of them intertwining to become demented lovers for eternity.
And I guess I should at least mention the Triple Six: the band of mercenaries, all female, and all the last of their kind, except for one. An odd match, I might say: a killjoy ice elf, a bloodthirsty werewolf, a solemn dhampir, a naïve desert fey, a feisty white demon, and their leader, one of the very last descendants of the Azurites. They will do anything if it involves money, and lots of it. They will trap, hunt, stake, impale, decapitate, all for the love of currency. We recruit them from time to time, but their presence is very unsettling. They always reek of demon blood and pheromones. Fayrie especially dislikes them, always keeping her hand on her pistols, hips pivoted in a provocative manner as if to say, “come hither, baby, and you can see what your own brains look like.” We only recruit in dire emergencies, and we make sure there are few of those. I have a deep sort of chill in the base of my spine when they are around, like the feeling you get when you just wake up from a nightmare. There is something just not quite right with that lot.
As for me, I have lived almost my whole childhood in servitude. I was abducted, you might say, at the age of nine and was raised to be a guard in the Azurites’ elite sentinels. I have flashbacks from time to time, and I remember fragments of what had happened to me in those horrible seven years of servitude. I recall receiving a brand on my lower back, which has now become shriveled and black over the years. They placed a collar around my neck, which controlled not only my mind, but my ability to use magic against my “masters.” If it weren’t for Saren, I might have died in those mines. She is the one who removed my collar after she slit my throat. I would have been left for dead if it weren’t for her looking into my eyes as she attacked me. She tells me my eyes are the only attributes that haven’t been affected over the years. My skin has grown pale, my hair lost its sun-fire qualities, and my wings turned black and rotted out of my body, leaving behind a large black scar running down between my shoulder blades. Not like it matters, because I still have my cyan eyes for everyone to remember me by. So what? It’s a pathetic attribute to have survived.
And here we are on this shell of a planet, living each day with a gun to our heads. Those damn demons ravaged and raped our land to the very bones and marrow, leaving behind nothing but open wounds and eternal pain. Who knows if we will survive, and if all our struggles will be in vain. But what else can we do but die trying, rather than giving up on our last fleeting hope.
|Night Maiden||Alien Report|
|Chapter 1: The Woods Mansion|