The gentle light of the two moons, partially obscured by cloud, fell upon a large, well-maintained graveyard, casting long, twisting shadows from the countless headstones.
High stone walls surrounded the Cemetery, separating it from the rest of the fortress. Not even the slight breeze blowing overhead disturbed the unnatural stillness and the almost silent, repetitive knocking that echoed emanating from one of the newer headstones at the top of a small hill.
As he had done every night since the funeral, a little over four weeks ago, Mors was leaning against the back of Ethemeusa's tombstone, lightly hitting the back of his head as he stared emotionlessly into the sky.
I hate this world... no, I guess I just hate life.
Dark, almost black, bags hung heavy under his eyes while his simple pants and shirt had been reduced to rags, displaying large, purple bruises and deep cuts that littered his worn out body, a testament to the training he had put himself through every day in the nearby forest. Combined with his extensive scars, the most notable being the one on his face, in the cold light of the moon, he almost looked like an undead creature that had crawled from its grave.
Mors had not spoken to anyone since the ambush, not that he cared. Even Verz refusing to look at him or the shadow bolt, that had launched him across the clearing from Velcea could not elicit even a simple reaction. He simply stood back up, dusted himself off and waited for the next blow.
Rock had looked like he was about to do something dangerous but, after stomping up to Mors, he simply spat on him and walked away, cursing the day they met him.
Having nowhere else to go and knowing that the Sun Clan would kill him the first chance they had, he followed them back to the fortress, keeping to himself as best he could.
Understandably, the Huntsman who tried to help Ethemeusa had told everyone of Mors' actions during her final moments, ensuring that he was treated as an outcast; at best ignored, at worst a punching bag to vent their anger and grief.
Eventually, a female huntsman, her eyes filled with disgust, threw some clothes at him before cursing under her breath and leaving. That one encounter, excluding the hate-filled glares and seemingly random beatings from unknown huntsmen, which Mors had subtly used both as training and a warped sort of repentance, was the only acknowledgement his existence had got.
Shakily, Mors lifted one of his hands and stared at the blisters and welts before letting it sink back to his side, carefully tracing the small intricate scales of a snake charm he had taken from Ethemeusa.
Not a fortress but an island ... HA. This is what I get for caring. This is what I get for being so stupid and weak, nothing but pain and misery. What did he know? Failure. After all he was just yet another pathetic moron who excelled in getting those close to him killed.
Smashing his head with a larger amount of force, causing a small circle of blood to stain his white hair, Rock's words floated into Mors' mind. He now understood what he meant when he said that the Huntsmen were more like a large family than a military organisation. Not only in hierarchical structure but in how, to most of the huntsmen, they acted similarly to if he had personally killed a close blood relative yet they could do nothing about it without disrespecting the wishes of the dead.
He had considered leaving, but from the few bits he overheard, he knew the Sun Clan were waiting for an opportunity to make their move and he would rather chew his own legs off than make things easy for them... again, hell, even if he wanted to die he knew he wouldn’t have the luxury of staying dead and he knew that he would be unable to let bygones be bygones.
Mors also had no intention of carrying out Grim's command, wiping out the entire clan, and had only put two of its members onto his list.
Fuck Death and his plans. I am done with this shit.
Going back to hitting his head, Mors started reliving his life once again, something he did most of the nights to simply avoid seeing Ethemeusa's last moments or the visions of his past.
Mors clenched his hands, his nails tearing into his damaged skin and drawing fresh blood.
Why am I such a fucking moron? Why do I have to let emotions and instinct rule me? Like this, I am no better than a common, unthinking beast. I might as well put a collar on my neck and tie myself to a tree.
Trying to redirect his thoughts away from his over abused, self-loathing, Mors idly remembered that the Huntsmen initiation was in three days, although he doubted he still had the right to attend. He had not even received a status stone yet which, from eavesdropping on some potential recruits, was required to enter the arena.
Who cares. All I need to do is get stronger. Strong enough to survive on my own and prote- to destroy the whims of both mortal and god. If the Huntsmen are a dead end, I will need to look elsewhere. It's not as if they are the only ones in this messed up world that can teach me how to live... kill with these strange abilities.
Holding the charm into the sky, in front of the Moon, Mors repressed the burning desire to lose himself to his rage one last time and see how many Huntsmen he could drag to hell with him.
I am sure the only reason why they haven't really tried to kill me is because it would be like spitting on Ethemeusa's memory.
Letting out a dark chuckle, Mors placed the charm in his pocket.
It's not like I could actually do it at the moment anyway. All bark and no bite. Pathetic. Totally and utterly pathetic. No wonder I have been nothing but a puppet, dancing easily to everyone else's tune.
Mors let out another sigh, this time, laced with a fair amount of anger.
Perception is reality and reality is perception. In their minds, I am as guilty as the person who cast the spell and in a way, I guess they are right. If I only paused a moment and controlled my temper, I would have known it was a trap.
I couldn't sense a single creature and I guess the others couldn't either or else we wouldn't have been ambushed so easily. Then all of a sudden I could smell him, exactly the same as in that damn pit and lost all reason. I fell for it like the idiot I am and it cost the life of someone who seemed to care for me.
Mors shook his head.
Why am I getting so worked up? I am no toothless baby angel... It's not like I knew her well enough to really care and I cannot change the past. I guess it's because I owe her my life. She saved me from my own stupidity, and I can't stand the fact I couldn't even offer an ounce of sympathy or compassion.
Mors took a deep breath, letting it out and watching the rising vapour.
It doesn't matter. It is clear what I must become if I am to gain enough strength to exact my vengeance, even if it is only a selfish desire to make myself feel better.
Mors' red eyes glowed menacingly as his jaw clenched.
First of all, I must acquire a status stone and know my own strengths and to gain power. Only after that will I be able to kill the black and silver knights, the Sun Clan's Patriarch and that foxkin bastard that killed Ethemeusa.
Mors knew he was doing nothing different than before but at least this time, he understood his actions would have consequences and there would undoubtedly be collateral damage, His rage would no longer be his master, it would be his tool. Their lives didn’t matter excepting that their death laid no further burden on him.
With the information from Grim, lack of sleep, his past deaths and the new memories unlocked by Ethemeusa's passing, where he failed to save or protect those he held dear, Mors was teetering on the edge of insanity as his personality was rapidly warping.
Though the new memories did not directly cause him pain, in a way, he felt they were a thousand times worse.
Watching yourself die is one thing, watching the ones you love, or you feel like you should love, that something completely different, mused Mors as he tried to distract himself, not noticing a dark line of liquid that was rapidly gathering under his eyes
DAMN IT! Why couldn't I say anything? Why couldn't I just say yes? Even if it was a lie. She fucking saved my life and even when she was at death's door, she did not blame me and did I do... not a god damned thing.
Regret, fear, death. That is all that I am... I am like a damn Wraith. A cursed being that only brings death and destruction to those around him.
Mors release another, dark, soul-chilling laugh the lines of liquid rapidly gathered into pitch black teardrops, slowly streaking down his face. If that is what this world wants me to be, so be it.
The image of the two despairing lamia twins flashed in his mind causing him to snap one of his pointed teeth as he violently ground his jaw, the teardrops flicking off and dispersing into small puffs of smoke.
I guess I have other responsibilities than lighting a match and watching the world burn.
Mors' strained, worn-out body screamed out in agony as he stood up and slowly walked around the headstone, before stopping in front of it.
"Goodbye, Ethemeusa. I will not be returning to torment your resting place anymore," whispered Mors, his face twitching as the emotions he was bottling up threatened to pour forth. "I am sorry I could not comfort you in your last moments. I accept, though I will only be able to act from the shadows, I will protect your daughters as if they were my o-" Mors' voice caught in his throat, "better than I would my own, and hopefully, if anything does happen, I will have acquired enough strength to pay you back, even though the price of a life can never truly be repaid, even when saving another."
Stepping back, Mors took a deep breath. He knew he stood out too much and that if he was going to have any chance of survival, especially on his own, he would need to blend in with the world.
A phrase popped into his head, causing him to frown as he contemplated its meaning. The nail that sticks up, gets the hammer.
Mors' hands flickered with dark energy as he slowly raised them to his head and grasped hold of his horns, pulling with all his might as he let out a deep, beast-like roar.
For a few seconds, it appeared like nothing was happening, but as the dark energy in Mors' hands exploded, bone-shattering sounds echoed outwards as blood poured down his face, his horns snapped roughly down to his skull.
After taking a moment to compose himself, Mors gently placed the horns beside the grave and started channelling dark mana into his hair, steadily turning it black, stemming the flow of blood as well as obscuring the bony stumps that had, moments ago, been his horns, before ripping the sleeves off his shirt and wrapping them around his head and tying them together. If he was going to survive, he needed to train every ability at his disposal while fading into the background. His eyes had caused him enough trouble so far.
"Goodbye," said Mors as he turned and started to walk away blood still dripping from his skull and violently frothing upon the cold graves of the fallen.
"Now that was something I was not expecting to see." A hard, feminine voice resonated in Mors' ear, causing him to jump. "Do you know what a demon removing his own horns symbolises?"
Snapping his head to the side, Mors saw a familiar figure with his secondary, heat-sensitive sight and quickly stepped backwards into a crouch, rapidly absorbing the dark mana around him, as he prepared to flee. “Like I give a damn about this cursed world and its ridiculous culture. Well, I guess you couldn’t ignore me forever. A fitting location for a final battle, don’t you think?”
"If I wanted you dead, I wouldn’t stain the resting place of my comrades with your idiotic blood," snarled Verz, her huntsmen's mask reflecting the moonlight as her black cloak almost entirely disguising her amongst the twisted shadows. “We need to talk."