High above the ground, lazily wedged in the fork of an enormous tree that towered above the canopy of its counterparts, Mors casually flicked his tail side to side as he bathed in the warm, golden sunlight. It had been two days since he had met Verz at the Huntsmen's graveyard and although their encounter still annoyed him, he had calmed down significantly after returning to the forest and resuming his personal training.
Revealing his sharp, curved teeth, Mors released a growl at the memory. It was not aimed at the woman herself, but at how stupid he had been, somehow managing to perform yet another subconscious magic ritual that had seemingly bound him to the lamia twins. If Verz was to be believed, and with her mocking tone and how she phrased her sentences he wasn't sure, they now had the power to command and summon him at their will if they ever found out about the pact.
If they knew, they would probably have attempted to kill me by now. That or Verz was lying.
After releasing a deep breath, Mors's face returned to its lazy expression. Although it initially seemed like fate had once again screwed him over, there was an unexpected positive. Mors was now able to tell the location and state of mind of the twins and thus, had made his vow to the late Ethemeusa much easier. "A debt that goes beyond blood must always be repaid but, to be bound in servitude while caught in the moment... pathetic."
As Mors recalled his conversation with Verz, he suddenly frowned, vaguely remembering her saying that it was only fair as he had enslaved someone else. Concentrating on the two bonds, weird, warm feelings that seemed to emanate from the centre of his chest, Mors started looking for something and it wasn't long before he discovered a much weaker, almost invisible link. However, he could not get an exact location or emotion from it like the other two. All that he knew was that whatever it was, it tugged at him in the direction of the Huntsmen's fortress.
Puzzled, Mors closed his eyes and started focusing on the feeling, trying to work out what it could be but, whenever he felt close to grasping whatever it was; he would feel a sense of fear before it slipped out of his grasp, like water flowing from cupped hands.
I can't take too much for granted. Maybe this feeling is some sort of tracking spell, and Verz only told me that I had another 'bond' so I would not look for a way to break it if I noticed. Sighing Mors resolved himself to finding the answer when he completed the initiation. Urg, I am going to get myself killed not knowing this world's natural laws and that is only made worse with the presence of magic. Until I know the limits, anything is possible. I am nothing but an ignorant fool, in a world of magic and beasts.
A bird, about to land on the same branch as Mors, spotted him at the last moment and let out a panicked cry before fleeing. It was surprising it took the bird that long to notice him as, even though the dirty remains of his tattered clothes broke up his outline, his white skin, littered with small injuries and bruises, stood out against the tree's dark bark making it almost impossible for him to hide. Not that he was worried about being spotted from the dense vegetation of the forest floor below.
Eventually, the sun peaked in the sky, and Mors stifled a yawn as his head lolled to the side, watching small plumes of smoke rising in the distance; his makeshift blindfold from two nights ago nowhere to be seen. "What a waste of good meat. Seeing as they are almost done cleaning up, I guess it's time to get a move on."
Mors' hand slowly rose in the air as he focused on the small green ball it held, no bigger than an egg with tiny brown lines that littered the rough surface, giving the orb a marbled appearance, causing him to make a disgusted face. "Great, Nature and Earth."
Momentarily hesitating, Mors grimaced as he dropped the ball into his mouth and started chewing. The birds roosting nearby startled and fled at the loud, chilling crunches and the massive burst of residue mana that rippled outwards with each bite.
Making a pained expression as he swallowed, small beads of sweat formed on Mors' brow as the small cuts on his body started knitting together, healing at an astonishing rate and the bruises all but disappeared.
Mors lay motionless for a few moments before rapidly rolling over and retching, sending a bright green and brown liquid, the colours refusing to mix, tumbling to the ground.
Leaning back into the fork of the tree, Mors wiped his mouth as he panted for breath. "I know what I am doing is breaking this world's common sense but, why does the reaction have to be so... painful? And on that note, why can't more people have fire or darkness affinities? Bloody naturists."
After resting for a couple of minutes, muttering under his breath to take his mind away from the excruciating pain coursing through his veins, Mors pried himself from the fork, his tail wrapping around the branch, and sat up before scanning the canopy as he rubbed the bags under his eyes. "Time waits for no ma.. demon. It has been a good training field, but I have already outgrown this place."
A wicked, merciless smile grew on Mors' face. "I guess it is time to end this game of cat and mouse. Letting them hunt me to improve my skills was fun, but they have learnt too much and with their strength, they should provide the perfect graduation ceremony. The only question is, what cheese should I use?"
With a nostalgic, almost regretful sigh, Mors stood up and without a moment's hesitation, stepped off the tree, plummeting down over two hundred feet as his thin legs glowed with red runes.
Twenty meters from the floor, two huge, black wings erupted from his back and beat downward and, despite the membrane being badly torn and full of holes, making them unusable for flight, substantially reduced his velocity as he crashed through the ferns and landed in the soft mulch with a loud thud.
The ferns surrounding him shaking from his decent, Mors remained in his crouched position, slowly retracing his wings back before closing his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he wiggled his toes and fingers in the damp soil and flicked his tongue out as he strained his senses.
Suddenly, Mors' head snapped to the left, his reptilian eyes opening and locking onto something far in the distance even, though it should be impossible for him to see more than a couple of meters through the endless sea of greenery. With every hint of laziness gone, replaced with the aura of a predator on the prowl, his body shivered with excitement. "I spy with my little eye, something beginning with T."
Mors had spent the last four weeks getting used to, and training, his body and mind, fighting the forests beasts, monsters and resident sentient species mercilessly. Apart from finally having a better understanding of himself, Mors had received an unexpected benefit; he had remembered most of his previous life's memories, and with that, his mood lightened significantly, even if he had become prone to spouting seemingly nonsensical sayings. During those four weeks, he would hunt, and sometimes toy with, every creature that could be a challenge, pushing his body, skills and abilities to their limits.
Initially, he only stopped at night to recover and reflect what he had learnt that day at Ethemeusa's grave, but since Verz's rather tempting, if infuriating, proposal, he had been in overdrive, only pausing to raise his body temperature to offset the coldness created by using his dark affinity skills.
This would not have been possible if not for his accidental discovery upon leaving the fortress. After a death match with an ogre, Mors had discovered he could ingest mana cores, or at least some parts of them, enabling him to heal his body and replenish his stamina, turning him into quite the literal, killing machine. He was still mentally exhausted as the core did not seem to be equal to a good nights sleep, but he reassured himself that he could rest after releasing his pent up anger at the huntsmen initiation the next day.
Resisting the instinctual urge to let out a roar, letting his prey know that their death approached and giving them at least a chance to entertain him, Mors used the shadows from the foliage and activated his ability causing his body to turn into a black blur and quickly disappeared, barely disturbing the fauna as he passed. However, as Mors no longer could not be bothered to hide his aura, his training over, the local wildlife, their instincts heightened over millennia of evolution and adaptation to mana, fled in every direction as if fleeing a raging inferno.
It wasn't long before guttural, bone-chilling screams, filled with terror, echoed through the ancient forest accompanied by the stench of death as it drifted on the gentle, uncaring breeze.
- 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]