The sound of quiet sobbing, leather creaking and heavy footsteps resonated along the narrow corridors as Ethemeusa and Rock carried Mors and Ryen, occasionally changing direction as they avoided the small groups of demons hunting them, towards the citadel's northern exit.
Without being detected, a testament to Ethemeusa's sensory skills, they finally managed to lose their initial pursuers and, after fifteen minutes, they had crossed the small expanse that connected the two fortresses at the peak of the mountain before beginning their decent.
As they leapt down the twisting stairwells and sped through the sparsely traversed corridors, the group was in a jovial mood.
Well, Ethemeusa and Rock were. Not only was this relatively exciting, most of the ice demons not being a match for them, but Mors was alive, and thus, the mission was not a complete failure. However, the other two were anything but happy.
Ryen was still mumbling about how unfair her life was, cursing Mors between small sobs, as Mors' reptilian pupils were rapidly dilating as his expression revealed him to be on the verge of panic.
It started off as a small, niggling feeling when Ethemeusa was wrapping him in the blanket, pinning his arms and tail to his side, however, as their escape had progressed, it had multiplied to the point where his breaths were ragged, and a sheen of sweat had appeared on his brow. His pride was the only thing stopping him from screaming out and having a complete meltdown.
Feeling the chill of darkness energy slowly gathering in her arms, Ethemeusa, who was continuously scanning in front of them for threats, hissed at the trapped demon. "I told you not to use any darkness skills. I have you, and you're safe."
"I am going to rip your throat out," whimpered Mors, not realising that his own demonic abilities were consuming his fear as well as multiplying it, making things much worse.
Ethemeusa's brow twitched at hearing Mors' panicked voice, and she looked down, her eyes going wide in astonishment and confusion. Why is he panicking? He's completely safe.
Struggling with all his strength, which at this point was even too weak to break free of the blanket, Mors' tail escaped the sheets confines, and with the ability to move it freely, his irrational fear reduced significantly enabling him to regain some of his senses.
Mors glared at Ethemeusa intensely causing her steps to slightly falter, feeling as she was dropped into freezing water, before he spoke in a cold, terrifying tone. "I will kill you for this."
Resisting the urge to drop Mors, Ethemeusa gaze returned to their surrounds. "Even though I don't know what I have done, I am sorry."
The sorrow in her voice made Mors momentarily regret his threat, but his rage overwhelmed it.
DAMN YOU ADAM. YOU AND YOUR CURSED MEMORIES!
Mors had the creeping suspicion that his personality had somewhat shifted and from his recent behaviour, he was now certain.
In the last thirty minutes, Ethemeusa had shown some kindness, offered reassuring words and had done what was in his best interests, and he found it comforting to the point where even though he threatened to kill her, he had no intention of acting on it. Something that had never happened before. He was always semi-serious when he threatened Verz and Kelora, accepting that he was nowhere near strong enough to carry it out.
Mors' aura flared as ground his teeth in anger, thinking about what might happen to his sense of self as he regained his memories. Suddenly Grims warning that he needed to solidify his personality made sense. Even just the limited memories of past deaths and Adam's life was enough to drastically changing his character. The fear that he may cease to exist as another personality took over started to form. Mors was brought out of his dark thoughts as something cold touched his head, realising it was another aura restricting headband and immediately felt his mind clear.
Without looking down, Ethemeusa, still running at top speed, the doors and hallways blurring as they passed, tried to calm him. "Calm your temper for now; they will find us. Once we are safe, we can talk."
Mors' face scrunched up as he attempted to keep the hostility out of his voice. "Why? I can rage all I want with this bloody girlish headband on. Are you tired of living or do you just enjoy watching me suffer?"
"I think it looks rather cute," said Ethemeusa as she took a glance down before almost instantly regretting it and turning away, repressing the shiver felt when looking into Mors' enraged eyes.
Mors ground his teeth but said nothing, for the first time grateful he had been restrained, as he imagined gouging out Ethemeusa's beautiful, reptilian eyes.
Mors shook his head as if to dispell the thought as a low rumbling sound could be heard below them, small amounts of ice shaken from the window ledges.
The crystal on Ethemeusa's armour flickered to life, and Verz's voice rang out. "The gates have been sealed, we are outside, but they know you're coming. You need to find another way."
Rock looked out the window. "Two gold I can get out in twenty seconds."
"Four if we all survive," responded Ethemeusa before feeling momentarily weightless as the elemental wrapped his free arm around her waist, in between her and Mors, and pulled them towards him.
Rock's grey skin seemed to darken as he jumped sideways before turning his back towards the window, shattering the ice easily and tearing large chunks from the wall as they burst through.
As they started to fall, the wind whistling past their ears, Rock let out an explosive shout. "INCOMING!"
Below them, Verz and the rest were all looking up with an astonished expression before scattering in every direction.
During a battle, massive sheets of ice would cover the windows making up for their aesthetic weakness, however, as the gates had only just been closed, the other defences had not yet activated, and as the windows were only a foot thick, Rocks empowered body easily smashed through.
Slamming into the floor and kicking up a huge snow cloud, Rock stood up with Ethemeusa slung under one arm and Ryen under the other. "I think it's time to leave. Four gold to me."
The huntsmen immediately broke into a run, leaving afterimages as crystal-like roars erupted from the ice citadel, the gates slowly starting to re-opening with a deep rumble.
Ethemeusa spat out snow as she shivered slightly from the cold. "Rock.... I am not paying."
Rock laughed. "Sorry Eth, a deal is a deal. Four gold when we get somewhere safe unless you want to have another bet?"
"I think I'll pass," said Ethemeusa. "I have had enough for one day."
After hours of running, the group slid to a stop in front of a small hunting lodge, a white mask hanging above the doorway, looking strikingly similar to the ones the Huntsmen previously wore.
Verz let out a relieved sigh. "Well, all things considered, that went pretty well. Kelora, take the demoness back to headquarters. Who knows how far the branch families will travel for the chance to become royalty."
Kelora glared at her Captain as she grabbed Ryen from Rocks arms and purple, bat-like wings erupted from the two slits in her leather armour. "I am not some sort of courier service. I expect compensation for this."
Slightly bending her knees, she jumped into the air and, almost silently, started flying into the distance with Ryen dangling precariously from her arms.
Clapping her hands, Beth, the demonic goblin, laughed before retrieving more food from her mismatch of clothes, crumbs spilling onto a vexed Velcea, before shoving it into her mouth and giving Ethemeusa a thumbs up.
After watching the two disappear into the distance, Verz turned around and walked towards Ethemeusa, holding out her arms. "I think it's time we dealt Mors' body, it stinks."
Ethemeusa looked down at Mors, who's head was hanging limply, his face slack apart from the small hint of a smile at the edge of his lips before shaking her head in pity and subconsciously holding him away from her body.
Just before Verz was about to take him, Mors opened his eye "Bo-"
Mors is sent flying, head first slamming into the snow and sliding a good couple of meters away.
A smile twitched on Verz face but was rapidly concealed as she marched towards the demon.
"Ahh... I am so scared. He has come back from the dead," said Verz in a flat, emotionless tone. "Who would have thought that a wolfkin, who has the best natural senses in the world, would have been tricked by such a shoddy performance."
Walking forward, Verz cracked her knuckles. "Who do you think I am, little demon? Now, hold still... this might hurt a bit."
"Captain, he hasn't recovered yet!" shouted Ethemeusa.
Verz stared at Mors as he struggled to stand. "Ha, I hit him with at least five percent of my strength and he can still stand, he's fine. I have the feeling he is spoiling for a fight so might as well get it done before we rest."
Mors staggered to his feet. "Bring it; Maybe I'll kill you and leave your body behind."
Verz stared at Mors for a few seconds before bursting into laughter. "Aww, are you upset I didn't put your smelly corpse above the lives of others?"
Grinding his teeth Mors glared at Verz. However, he didn't have a reply, causing her to laugh even harder. "What a wimp of a demon. Kelora would be having a field day at this."
Mors turned and slowly walked to the cabin's door, his feet being freed when he was knocked from Ethemeusa's grip, muttering under his breath. "Tell me about it... absolutely pathetic."
As they were about to follow him, the huntsmen quickly drew their weapons, Velcea dropping Beth to the floor, and Verz released a bone-chilling growl. "You must be tired of living!"