The moment Verz's words left her mouth, the small clearing erupted into fierce battle as an assortment of brightly coloured spells and arrows exploded from the treeline, hissing through the air as they descended upon the group.
Without a seconds hesitation, Rock slammed his fist to the ground, causing a large wall of snow infused earth to rise, blocking the majority of attacks, as Velcea fired a storm of arrows towards the opposite side, causing the barrage of spells to falter as a few shouts pain erupted from the woods.
"Defensive positions; I will disrupt the casters," bellowed Verz as her figure flickered, disappearing into the tree line only to be shortly followed by foreign, chilling screams.
In the timespan of a few seconds, over a hundred lethal spells and projectiles had been launched into the clearing, most too fast for Mors to see, let alone respond to, causing him to have a confused, almost dumb look on his face.
As his brain tried to comprehend what was going on, a fireball hit the ground in front of Mors, exploding and sending him flying into the wooden wall of the cabin, knocking the wind out of him along with a significant amount of blood, before sliding to the floor with a dull thud.
Beth had already managed to bury herself in the snow, near Velcea's feet, in an instinctual attempt to hide. However, as her long, thin tail was sticking out, even though she tried to disappear, not only was it not very effective, it also ended up causing Velcea more trouble as she nearly tripped over the tail as she dodged elegantly around the goblin while attempting to retaliate against the magical onslaught with her bow.
While this was happening, flames surrounded Ethemeusa, majestically swirling as she caused arrows and spells to combust in midair, sending those close to it off course with a simple flick of her wrist. Elegantly backflipping, the Lamia raised both her palms into the air causing the flames dancing around her to erupt upwards in an awe-inspiring column, illuminating the surrounding area.
Although it was not completely dark, the sun had almost set causing the dark grey clouds, blocking out its dying light, to feel extremely oppressing but this all changed when similar pillars of fire broke out in the distance giving the skyline an eerie glow.
Ethemeusa briefly revealed a relieved smile before yelling out to the others. "Five minutes until reinforcements. These crazy bastards will regret ambushing us so close to Flatner."
By this time, Mors had struggled to his feet and was leaning on the remains of the burning building.
Clutching his head, his vision swimming, Mors' body convulsed as he tried to draw a breath. The warm sheet that had been wrapped around him burnt at an alarming rate, turning to ash within seconds but was completely ignored. His affinity with fire was high enough to protect him, the flames and heat causing only a mild itch.
After what seemed like an eternity for the winded demon, Mors was able to draw a breath, however, instead of relief, his mind jarred as his pupils fiercely constricted.
A smell, one that he would never be able to forget, caused his top lip to rise in a feral snarl and his head to snap towards the woods on the right as he released a terrifying hiss that caused the nearby Huntsmen to shudder. Beth released a small whimper from her hiding place under the snow.
Vivid memories of the blood red summoning room surfaced in Mors' mind. The agonising screams of his daughter as her soul was shredded, the feeling of utter despair and rage at his powerlessness, the smirking, cloaked man that this scent matched perfectly as he disappeared in a blaze of green flame, escaping from Mors' retribution.
Mors' struggled to not lose himself to his anger but, when the wind carried a familiar chuckle, he finally lost all reason. Shaking violently, Mors released a bestial roar and charged towards the forest in a mad dash, dissolving into a black mist as he entered the treeline.
"MORS!" screamed Ethemeusa, currently using a firewall to evaporate two ice spears heading for Velcea, as she spotted him enter the woods. "Vel, Lockdown!"
"Damn it." Spotting Ethemeusa sprinting to where Mors had just vanished, Velcea quickly grabbed the goblin's tail and dodged back towards Rock, dragging the crying girl as she covered her face.
"Whats going on? Why have you broken formation?" rumbled the Elemental as he continued to repair his earth wall while hurling stones into the woods at such a tremendous velocity, any tree trunks caught in its path were instantly obliterated, sending debris flying outwards.
"The fucking demon ran. Eth went after him," shouted Velcea, discarding her bow, now she had run out of arrows, before drawing the sword on Rock's waist. "I am going after her; she's a glass cannon."
"Fuck," grumbled Rock, "That shit is going to get someone killed with his antics."
Without responding, Velcea rolled to the ground, narrowly avoiding an earth spear, and within half a breath's time, had disappeared into the dark woods.
Not even two hundred meters away, still in his shadow form, Mors narrowly dodged a sword that had been aimed at his head, that had materialised out of the shadows, spinning his body in a clockwise motion and dodging two arrows that were glowing with bright, white light. DAMN IT
A cold, haughty voice echoed outwards as, Mors briefly materialised to kick off a tree, rapidly changing direction as the area he would have been exploded in ice spikes, sending splinters of wood flying everywhere. "Seems we overestimated you demon. Who knew you would come looking for your own death?"
Mors did not respond, not because he was still lost in his rage, but because even a millisecond's hesitation would end his life.
His shadow ability far outclassed most movement skills, enabling him to put up some semblance of a fight, as proven when facing Verz, who was so much stronger than him. But even though he might be able to dodge a few knockout blows, it was still like comparing heaven and earth, and even when she was half-hearted, he would still lose in less than a minute.
Grinding his teeth in frustration, Mors could instinctually tell the people surrounding him were weaker than Verz. However, they had similar abilities to him and were without a doubt, elite killers with the blood of countless people on their hands.
Mors realised it was only a matter of time until the cold slowed him down, or he made a mistake; both would result in his death. The only things keeping him in the fight, if one could call dodging fighting, apart from his skills, was his instincts and his secondary vision.
He had discovered it when Verz had blindfolded him. It was only faint at first, but within a few hours, Mors could see the blood vessels, organs and heat signature of every creature, as long as it was bathed in darkness, and he couldn't see it via his normal, human-like sight.
Although it initially seemed powerful, due to only being able to see the blood and heat of living creatures, he was blind to any inanimate objects like weapons, armour or projectiles but he still had some idea, if he used his imagination, of what people were using by their body's actions.
Mors sighed in his mind. Even though they said they had overestimated him, judging by their actions they were extremely cautious. Mor suspected this was due to the foxkin not knowing that he was using his soul's power in the summoning room and thought Mors was pretending to be at a disadvantage.
Shit. Mors' momentary lapse, thinking about what they had meant caused him to hesitate slightly, and the second he did, four swords appeared from the shadows, each targeting a separate vital point. This wasn't as bad as it first looked, as there was a way that he could get out of it with minimal damage, however, that would put him in the path of two, glowing arrows that had just been released to his right. Instinct told Mors to dodge the swords, as the arrows would deal less damage but it also told him that is what they were expecting him to do. He didn't even know what magic those arrows were imbued with.
A voice broke Mors from this thoughts. "INFERNO!"
Everything around Mors, including himself, was engulfed in a pillar of fire, instantly destroying the arrows and sending the swordsmen screaming into the shadows. Although it had saved him from the first threat, it also put him at an extreme disadvantage, as the bright light had illuminated the area, forcing Mors out of his shadow state.
The sudden, unexpected change, along with his momentum, caused Mors to smash heavily into a tree, where his shoulder was instantly impaled by a black arrow, the force causing him to spin before falling to the ground.
"KILL HER NOW!" screamed the voice as Ethemeusa appeared next to Mors, just as his tail was about to be grabbed by a cloaked figure.
Twisting the man's wrist, causing it to snap loudly, she flipped the man over her back and slammed a small dagger into his eye socket. Without stopping she kicked off the floor, twisting her body in midair to avoid two spikes made of earth, that carried on, disappearing into the darkness with a loud thud.
Still spinning, a dagger flew from her leg and into the darkness, eliciting a scream from the shadows as an arrow barely missed her head.
As she landed gracefully and was about to grab Mors, her face contorted in pain as a large chunk of her chest, just below her left armpit, was torn away by an earth spike.
Blood splattered over Mors' face as he stared, not understanding what had happened as the attack had been much quicker than the rest, giving no warning.
Without pausing to inspect the damage, Ethemeusa span around, crossing two thin daggers that appeared from her sleeves, meeting the long, heavy sword that crashed downwards, barely stopping just above her head.
Arms shaking from the strain, Ethemeusa's green eyes looked up, glaring at the middle-aged man with orange hair and two, fox-like ears protruding from his head, as he revealed a haunting smile. "Looks like I caught a Lieutenant."
Mors scrambled to his feet and backed against the tree, releasing a deep growl. This scent, this aura. This is the cloaked man from the summoning cave. The one that had escaped in the green mist after laughing at me.
The flickering flames from Ethemeusa's inferno spell, still burning on the tree trunks, caused the shadows to dance as the man's creepy smile continued to grow, his gaze still on the lamia kneeling in front of him. "I always knew a child would get you killed; I never expected it to be a demon, though."
A defiant smile crept onto Ethemeusa's lips. "I am not dead ye-"
Her words stopped as a dozen black arrow shafts protruded from her back.
"What was that?" laughed the foxkin as he kicked Ethemeusa in the right side of her chest, spinning her around sending her toppling forward, landing at Mors' feet.
Lifting her shaking arm, she reached out to Mors and let out a whisper, the fear of her impending death evident in her eyes. "Mors... run."
Just as her hand was about to reach Mors, he stepped back, letting it fall weakly to the floor.
"My, my. How cold. This woman sacrificed everything to protect you and yet you can't even bear to give her some comfort in her last moments." cackled the man, his smile contorting into a mocking expression as he looked at Mors. "Not that it matters. You can work it out in the afterlife."
Just as he was about to step forward, he vanished in a blur as a sword passed through where he had been moments before, leaving a wide arc of blood, showing the sword had done at least some damage.
Suddenly, black cloaked, white-masked figures flickered past the small fires as they engaged the unseen enemy, steel and explosions resonating through the woods.
"RETREAT" bellowed the man, his figure nowhere to be seen.
Verz, foreign blood covering her body, stood where he had been moments before, her sword dripping as a gruesome testament to its recent actions, before she quickly moved beside Ethemeusa and rolled her over. "ETH!"
"G..g..kill them... kill them all," stuttered Ethemeusa, struggling for breath, panic and hatred dancing in her eyes.
Hesitating for a moment, Verz stood up and glared at Mors before disappearing into the shadows, letting out a wrath-filled scream.
Mors, not a single trace of emotion on his face, stood as if he were a statue, staring down at Ethemeusa.
One of the Huntsmen suddenly appeared and placed their hands over Ethemeusa's gaping wound as they started glowing in a dull green light. Almost instantly, they shook their head and let out a mournful breath. They knew that the damage was too severe and the only thing they could do was to try and relieve some of their comrade's pain before death inevitably took her.
Ethemeusa looked up, her reptilian eyes locking onto Mors. "I-"
"Why do you care?" Mors' voice was beyond cold, even causing the Huntsman to flinch.
A pained smile appeared on her lips, blood streaming out of her mouth, coating Ethemeusa's white teeth. "What does it matter... you're alive. Even in defeat, I am victorious."
Ethemeusa's body convulsed in pain as the panic in her eyes increased. "Promise me... you will look out for my daughters. I need to know they will be safe."
Mors stared down, his face locked in his emotionless mask.
"Ple...se. Promise......me." Ethemeusa's pupils relaxed as the brightness from her green, reptilian eyes faded and her head rolled to the side.
Standing up, the huntsman looked at Mors with utter disgust and hatred before walking away and disappearing into the shadows to join his comrades, leaving the clearing in near silence.
As the small fires crackled and hissed, Mors continued to stare into Ethemeusa's eyes before he slowly knelt down, and for a reason, he did not understand, he closed her eyelids.
Mors reached down and curled his fingers around an ornate neckless, cast in the shape of a snake eating its own tail, before breaking the chain with a small tug and standing up, slowly walking back towards the cabin. After a few steps, he paused and looked back over his shoulder, his eyes almost as emotionless as his expression. "Idiot. One life does not equal another, thus you have given me a debt that can never be repaid."
- He who stares into the abyss
Bio: Company Director, Software engineer, gamer, snowboard instructor, proud father of two insomniacs and all round philomath. My Works: The Book of Mors: Summoned [http://royalroadl.com/fiction/8312/the-book-of-mors-summoned] The Summoned: [http://royalroadl.com/fiction/11348/the-summoned] The Forgotten Hero: [http://royalroadl.com/fiction/11721/the-forgotten-hero]