GFD Battle of Gods: Chapter 6

Power

Power! It was this unbelievable power that was the reason for his existence. He had felt it that first night all those centuries ago and he even became stronger with every life that he took. It wasn’t only for the nourishment that he needed the blood of humans, but also this power their blood was giving him. He could feel the essence of it, filling his body and his mind. The small flame of life that had burnt in the human that he just had drained from his blood was now burning in himself. Making his own fire burning brighter and hotter. Bright and hot as the everlasting sun and like the everlasting life he lived.

He looked down at the body on the ground in front of him. The man had tried to fight, but never had been a match for his powers… for his strength. When the victim finally had realized the inevitable, that there was no hope for survival the fear swept in. Fear of death. And it made the blood even sweeter… more delicious.

He looked back at the man’s last memories. Memories oh his wife and young son he both had lost during the last outbreak of the Black Death. Like many other European countries the conquered and occupied Bulgaria suffered from the same terrible decease that killed thousands of innocent people. With his last thoughts the man had the image of his lost loved-ones burnt into the mind of his predator. But there was also a slight relief. And the last whisper on the lips was still in his ears ‘soon I’ll be with you again, my dear’. There was no pity for his prey and he would have forgotten him in no time. It was this game he liked. It was fun to hunt them and take their lives… to make him stronger. Humans were so weak. But their weakness was now his strength.

He wandered around in the small town. It wasn’t big enough to call it a city, not any more that is. After the Ottoman conquest and the Black Death there were only about fifteen hundred souls left that mourned for their loved-ones and struggled with their every day life.

He enjoyed the emptiness of the streets. They were not paved with stones like in bigger towns he had been to, there was only the earth that had been tramped in rock hard. When it rained this had to be a really muddy walk, but the night was clear. There was no cloud that irritated the look on the half moon. He didn’t feel the cool air like the humans would have done it. For him it was a nice feeling. And a good night for late October. Soon there would be the first snow of the year and more people would die because of the cold or they just starved. The Ottoman occupation tried to nourish the people, but they didn’t try hard enough. Most of the food was needed for the thousands, ten thousands of soldiers the Ottoman Empire maintained for this war.

He looked around at the empty wooden houses with their roofs made of straw. He didn’t know how many people had died in this town but from the amount of uninhabited domiciles it must have been quite a lot of men, women and children. It was such a waste of life. Life that could have been useful for his purposes.

He moved on. He knew what he was looking for and he knew that he could find it in this town. The humans were desperate enough. He smiled to himself, his dark brown eyes were beginning to glow again. Not the crimson color they had several minutes ago during the hunt and the feeding afterwards, but in an almost shadow like dark grey or maybe even black tone. He was excited.

The others he had chosen before were weak but now he knew how to make it right. To make them perfect. To make them strong… like him. Well not exactly as strong as him to ensure his superiority. But they would be his servants… and his soldiers. The Ottomans had a monstrous military machine to conquer the whole European continent, but at last they wouldn’t have enough power and internal strength to go all the way. It was the Moloch of an army that hindered them to fulfill the task at hand. But he knew how he could do it; how he would do it. Once the Ottomans were gone it was his destiny to take over. And if the Ottomans didn’t leave their garrison and then this country shortly he would make them leave.

When he came around a corner he could smell it before the scene came into view. There was the faint smell of burnt flesh… and blood. But it was different. It wasn’t that type of blood he had tasted so many times before, it was the blood of a lower creature. He walked on and with his sensitive ears he could hear a fire burning somewhere before him. It was still hidden behind some corners but there was a shimmer of red and orange that illuminated the rooftop of a house several feet away. There also were some silent whispers. He grinned. This was definitely a good night.

His feet made no sound on the ground. It was a gift to every predator. Using every shadow he could get he moved forward and crept up to the small group of people that were surrounding the tiny fireplace in the alley at the end of the street. He screw up his nose from the disgusting smell that blew across the small square directly to his hideout in the shadow. The rat was quite big but not fully grown. It was even bigger than a small cat. Even now while rotating on a stick above the fire it was as if there was still hatred in its small dark eyes and its claws seemed to try to grab something, to rip something. It was awful to watch. Once more he screw up his nose while he observed how the dead rat continued rotating, its body fat pouring in long melted filaments out of the small body, spluttering in the hot fire. It was a disgusting idea that this rodent should be eaten in the next minutes or less. He looked at the group of pinched children that kept close to the fire. They looked at their meal with anticipation. No it was more than just a meal, it was a feast. Their small bodies made it hard to guess, but the group of eight was sure to be about twelve to fifteen years old. He grinned again. It had been a good decision to use a younger appearance this specific night so he could reassure them of his good will.

The rat seemed to be ready or maybe the youngsters couldn’t wait anymore. One of the boys, he saw that he was the tallest in the group, took the charred stick from the fire pit and then pulled a small knife out from under his ragged shirt. He used it to push the rat from the stick and the other seven came even closer to the fire. Almost close enough to burn themselves. The portion of the rat, although it was so big, wouldn’t be a large one for everybody, that was sure. It was the right moment.

He moved out of the shadow and into the opening. Slowly walking over to the fire. He could see a head being raised and the young boy that looked at him shrieked of fear. Then all the other heads followed and turned into his direction. The eyes not only filed with fear but also with angriness when they finally recognized his young appearance.

They were really quick – for humans that is – when they gathered in front of the fire, protecting their meal like a wild animal would do. Suddenly there were more knives than just the one he had seen before. They didn’t know who he was, what he was capable of. If they knew they wouldn’t try to stand in his way. But he wasn’t here to hurt them.

He looked closely at the small group of youngsters. All of them were covered in dirt but he could clearly identify two girls among them, also equipped each with a knife. The children were young, he was right about that and they definitely had to be orphans. Their parent either killed by the Ottomans or the Black Death. He let his senses wander around while he came closer. He could feel the strain in all of them, could hear their fingers moving even tighter around the haft of their knives. There was no barrier at all when he invaded their minds and learned everything about them. They were perfect. Perfect for his purposes.

He raised his empty hand to soothe them. He knew it before he could feel it that it wouldn’t work.

“I’m not here to hurt you.” His young voice sounded strange in his own ears. “I am in the same situation you are.”

The boy that had been preparing the ‘meal’ moved a step forward, holding the knife up as a protection. “What do you want?” he snarled, his voice a tone deeper than the voice of his vis-à-vis. It was a sign that he had to be about fourteen or maybe fifteen years old. He looked at the boy. He had dark, almost black hair. It was to dirty to define the natural color, though, but somehow it remembered him of his own brother. It hung down to the cheeks that were still soft. No sign of a beard, yet. Again, the guess of his age had been right.

“I would like to use your fire to warm up a little. It’s a cold night,” he said pointing towards the small fireplace. Then he added, “And I don’t want to steal your food, if that’s what you worry about.” He had read their thoughts. He took a step forward himself, always being watched by the boy and the other children in front of him. They didn’t move.

He continued to walk over to the fire in a small sweep, being followed by eight pairs of eyes. He smiled to himself because he could feel their irritation. They didn’t know what they should make of him, how they should react.

They observed him closely, readying themselves to act on the slightest signal of their leader. Because that was what the boy was for them… and maybe even some kind of father figure. He looked back over his shoulder and stared back into the eyes of the older boy. Older by physical appearance. The boy nodded to the others and all of them came closer to the fire, still being mistrustful and observant and clinging to their pathetic weapons.

The fire gave him indeed a warm feeling. He crouched down and held out his hands to make it look like as if he was warming them up.

“Who are you, and what do you want from us?” The boys asked again. He still kept his distance although he was more than a head taller than him.

“Nothing like I said. I just saw the fire and thought maybe I can warm up. These are dark and cold times.” Truth spoken. “Is that everything you’ve got to eat?” He pointed at the paltry meal the rat was going to be and with a look of pity in his face.

“That’s not your concern,” the boy hissed, but the mistrust and the wild resoluteness to defend himself and the others was slowly beginning to fade away from his eyes. Though, he could feel the ice was still thin.

He sighed and rubbed his nose. “Maybe you could have something better to eat.”

The boy raised one of his eyebrows. “Better? There is no ‘better’ left. Everything is gone. They took it with them.” His voice sounded angry and he stared back. He didn’t need to explain the meaning of the word ‘they’. For everybody in this town, yes even in this country – except for the collaborators – ‘they’ was always the reference to the Ottomans.

Several seconds passed by and he could read the word ‘spy’ in the thoughts of the boy, but then the other one came to a conclusion and lowered his weapon, coming closer to the fire himself and looking into the flames. The other children turned their attention to the meal that had been interrupted. One of the girls began to skin the rat and then cut up the small amount of meat with her knife and handed it to the others. He could hear some stomachs growling in anticipation of the food although it wouldn’t be enough to still their hunger.

The boy sat down next to him. “The name’s Grigor.” He turned his head. “And those over there are my brother Sergei and my sisters Mariya and Mila.” He pointed at three of the children. The girl with the name Mariya looked up when Grigor said her name and then continued to hand out the food. There was only a bit left.

“The others are some friends we met out here. We’re all in the same situation, you know. So… I assume you’re not from here.” It wasn’t a question. “You look different than the normal town folk.” He was a good observer. His name fitted, because it meant ‘watcher’. Grigor leaned forward to push a branch back into the fire and turned his head once more into his direction. The dirty, dark hair half covering his left eye because of the angle.

“No I’m not. I came here some days ago.” He had to gain their trust. Mariya came over with the rest of the rat and handed it over her brother. He gave her a thankful nod. Mariya had to be about thirteen years old and her dark hair looked so similar to her brother’s but was longer. And her eyes were green like his own sister’s eyes, but she and his other brother had vanished, fled from him. There was a slight surge of anger deep inside of him, but he controlled it before it could be seen in his face. They would get what they deserved soon enough. First he had to do this.

“You want some?” Grigor offered him some of the chewy, grey meat while he observed Mariya returning to the others. He looked at Grigor’s hand. Even the smell of the meat was disgusting. He shook his head. “No, thank you.”

Grigor grinned. “Used to something better? He emphasized the word ‘better’ and shoved the meat into his mouth, trying to chew hard on it.

“In some way, yes.” He nodded. He thought back at the man. That fellow had been a good meal. “I’m not quite used to rats.”

Grigor laughed and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, as though as it had been a feast. “Neither are we, but we got lucky today. This one wasn’t as fast as the others.” He thought about these words and asked himself if the children had wondered why the rat had been slow. Maybe it had been sick. But they were too desperate and too hungry to think about something like that. They were perfect.

“You and the others live around here?” he asked Grigor. The brown eyes, similar color to his own, looked back at him.

“Sometimes.”

“I saw many empty houses when I walked along the streets. Why don’t you go there? It would be much warmer, especially at night.”

Grigor looked back at him in disbelief. His words had the effect he was hoping for and the thoughts he could read made him grin innerly. “Are you out of your mind? Do you know why these houses are empty? Do you know who lived there or better died there? They’re all infested!”

He looked back at the fire to make it look like as if he felt guilty for his own naivety, for his lack of knowledge. From the corner of his eye he could see Grigor shaking his head in disapproval and then cocking it before he said, “My, you really are not used to this style of live, are you?” Little did he know. Everything worked perfect.

“As I said I came here some days ago.”

Grigor looked at him thoroughly. “You can’t be the son of a rich merchant, because you don’t look rich.” That was the intention when he had chosen these clothes of a boy he had killed about a month ago. “So where are you from? And where are your parents?”

“I’ve been to Egypt for some time. And my parents are dead.” There was no emotion in his voice when he said that, but it was for their ‘sacrifice’, their blood, that he had truly become what he was.

“Egypt, he? Never been there myself.” He knew that already from Grigor’s mind, but if he hadn’t the ability to read the humans thoughts he wouldn’t have been surprised if Grigor had told him that. In fact, the boy never had left this town before; neither did the others.

His sensitive ears heard something. He concentrated on the distant sound of four small feet that tried to run away. Probably another rat that didn’t want to be ‘invited’ to dinner.

“Egypt is a nice country… or maybe it was… before they came.” He used the same word Grigor had used before. In fact, Egypt was owned by the Mamluks and not the Ottoman Empire, not yet that is, but for these children there wouldn’t be any difference.

“You know, I wanna fight them… throw them out of our country!” With the last words he hit his right fist into the left hand’s palm.

“What are you talking about, Grigor?” Both boys turned their heads into the direction where the voice came from. Mariya came closer to them. Now there was no knife in her hands, only more wood for the fire.

“You heard me!” There was a silent conflict between brother and sister and he could tell from their thoughts that they were not fighting it for the first time.

“You know, Grigor, that it’s dangerous to speak about something like that. There are spies everywhere.” She gave the new one in their midst an accusing look. Her expression, her eyes were really hard to decipher. Yes it was an accuse, mistrust as well, but there was something else, too. He tried to read her thoughts but couldn’t find a hint for what he was maybe or maybe not seeing.

“Mariya, I think we can trust him. He’s just a boy like the others.” He was so wrong. “You didn’t act so rejecting when we met them. You said yourself that we have to stick together.” Grigor said looking tenderly at his younger sister.

That girl had something, that was sure. Although she was still young, maybe thirteen or fourteen years old she seemed to be much more mature in her behavior. Like a mother who was keeping her children safe… or a mother hen? He grinned to himself.

“We’ll see that, Grigor.” She put the wood on the ground and turned around, walking away back to the other youngsters.

“I didn’t want to make any kind of trouble,” he said. This was far better than expected.

“You don’t! Well, she’s right about one thing. You have to prove yourself worth of our trust… and then, maybe, you can stay with us. If you want to, that is.”

He looked at Grigor and then at the seven children that were now playing around, arguing, caring for each other and so on. His decision what to do was already made when he heard another distant sound. This time is wasn’t the sound of small paws, but the sound of human feet. Several human feet that were put in leathern boots. He also could hear the rustling of fabric and the clinking of metal. Someone was coming and that made him being pissed of, because they were ruining his plan. He inhaled deeply and although they were still far away, the light breeze brought a faint odor of sweat. No sweat of fear that is. Those who were there thought they were superior, more powerful.

He listened closely and then could make out their heartbeats. He was a perfect predator that found his prey over a far distance. And that knew how many beings he had to face.

“Fifteen men are coming,” he said calmly.

“What?” Grigor sounded alarmed. “Where? How do you know?”

He looked around. There was no possible way out. It was a dead end for them. So he had to fight them. Change of plans then. His eyes turned black when he stood up and turned to the empty street. He could feel the nervousness in Grigor when the boy stood up as well.

“Mariya, keep the others safe,” he ordered his sister. She looked at him puzzled but called everybody to order.

He knew the action before Grigor could have tried to lay his hand on his shoulder. He swang around and faced the boy.

The look in Grigor’s face changed from concern to scare when he realized the different color of the eyes. He had no time for the questions Grigor had in his mind and was about to ask. He turned back to the front in the exact moment when the men came past the corner. They didn’t hide in the shadows like he had done it before. They walked straight ahead. The small fire in the opening just bright enough to illuminate the green trousers and red jackets of the Ottoman soldiers.

It were fifteen like he had expected, but not all of them were Turks. Among them was one collaborator. But he didn’t work for them because he thought what they did was right or because he believed in the same god. No, he believed in something more profound, something more… material. He believed in the gold that his Ottoman employers paid for his services. The man was an open book to him, with every sin that he had committed in his pathetic life… and that he didn’t regret. He would have liked the man under different circumstances but now he and his soldiers were in the way.

“Who do we have here?” The man’s voice was deep and rough. He came closer and looked around, obviously happy about the situation at hand. He let his eyes wander over the young infants and rested just a bit longer on those two he also recognized as girls. His thoughts were distinct.

“We didn’t do anything,” Grigor said less self-confident than he had been before. The man turned his head and looked at the two boys. His breath, although he was several feet away, smelled of wine. Normally, alcohol was a taboo for Muslims but obviously this was no rule for their foreign employees.

He came even closer. “And what is it that you didn’t do?” Grigor’s thoughts gave away his irritation. He didn’t know what the man was referring to, but the one who had read the thought knew exactly why the soldiers were here. They had found the body.

“What do you mean?” Let the ‘watcher’ show what he can do. “We can look for a different place if you want us to.” Grigor the watcher was concerned about the well-being of his ‘family’. That wasn’t a surprise.

To make it more interesting he said, “These men have come to look for a murderer that killed a man a few streets away.” All heads and eyes focused on him in an instant. The thoughts of Grigor increased their pace. Mariya’s were the most interesting ‘I knew he was trouble!’.

The man hesitated a bit before he spoke out again. “So, you do not happen to know as well who did that, do you?”

He didn’t respond. Just staring from his black eyes into the man’s soul. It must have been the soul because of the stare’s severity. Then he answered.

“Yes I do. We all killed him.” The shouting began immediately. Grigor and Mariya simultaneously denied his statement and other children were supporting them.

“Don’t listen to him!” “We just met him today!” “We haven’t killed the man!”

He still felt the calmness in his own action. This was going to be a game that provided a lot of fun. He liked that. “Like you said, Grigor, we should throw them out of the country.” He hadn’t said it loudly, but Grigor and the man had heard it anyway. Grigor fell silent immediately. The word ‘spy’ ran again through his thoughts, circling around a big ‘why’.

“I don’t know if you’re speaking the truth, boy, but we will find out.” The man said. “Bring this vermin to the garrison,” he ordered his soldiers. “All of them.” Fear swept into every child’s body except Grigor and Mariya. The soldiers began to move forward. Then some of them drew their scimitars; the others followed when they recognized the knives in the hand of several children, Mariya had been the first. She really was special.

“And take care of the girls. We don’t wanna harm them… Not yet, that is.” He began to laugh and some of his men followed his example.

Still calmness. “No!” He said to the leader. “You won’t harm them. I tell you, retreat or you’ll regret it!” His voice was no more than a whisper but he knew everybody could hear it, even the youngsters that stood far away. He made them hear it.

The man’s face got an angry expression. “Oh pretty boy, just wait, I will do you good as well. You will like it. But first, we have these girls… after we bathed them, that is.” He gave off a loud laughter and then grinned. “Take that boy! He will be perfect for the devşirme. The military needs boys like him and they will educate him to be more respectful.”

Two soldiers were approaching him and he let them come. One of the men laid his hand on his shoulder and then it happened. He had waited for this.

His eyes turned crimson and his fangs dropped down. They wanted to play but now it was time to make the final move. The Ottomans had a game they called chess. Now he would make his checkmate move. The two soldiers must have seen the change. They tensed up when they recognized the red glow the boy’s eyes emitted and that was illuminating the soldier’s face that had put his hand on the shoulder.

He just stared at him. His look full of anger.

“Captain?” the soldier asked. The question was directed to his leader but he wasn’t able to hear the response anymore. Both soldiers were dead before their minds even got to know it and the flame of life ceased to burn. Their bodies fell to the ground; their heads dangling from side to side on the broken necks.

“Allah!” screamed one of the other soldiers who had seen what had happened. It was his last word, too.

He was too fast for the human eye. He moved over to the soldier who just had screamed and with a single grasp he ripped out the man’s tongue. Blood was splattering to the ground, landing next to the organ it had supplied before. The man wanted to slap him but he caught the hand in midair and broke the wrist. A groan of agony escaped the soldier’s blood filled mouth just before he dislocated the shoulder. He wasn’t fun at all, so his life ended with his head being ripped off from the torso. He held the head in his open hand, looking into the now lifeless eyes and feeling the remaining blood flooding down onto the ground. He shook his head and threw the useless caput away. It landed next to its former body that was still jerking and the heart still pumping blood through the veins. Only that these veins now ended at the neck and the red liquid shot out in small regular jets until the last drop was spilled on the now blood-muddy way or the heart finally gave in.

The other soldiers had kept their distance so far. The metal of their scimitars was reflecting the light of the fire and myriads of little light spots were dancing in the dark. Their breathings went heavy, their hearts almost beating in a life threatening pace. He was going to give these poor hearts their rest. That meant, no one would leave this scene alive. He smiled at them and they could clearly see his fangs. They tried to keep their formation when they heard the order “Take him down!” but they were not able to maintain it for long.

He came for them. The first two got several punches to their collarbones and rips. They fell backwards. He ducked to evade a saber swing and nearly ripped the whole arm off from the man’s body when he caught it during the backswing. It was too easy. He kicked at another soldier’s leg and could feel several bones shattering; their pieces piercing the surrounding flesh. There were screams. He could hear them, identify their origins, some of fear and some of agony, but he didn’t hesitate to move on. One soldier was lucky enough to get a swing through his defensive movements and the blade cut through the skin on his face. Time stopped for a second when the soldiers observed him. Their eyes doubled in size when they saw how the fresh wounds reabsorbed the blood and healed themselves immediately. Their fears went wild. They wanted to flee but they couldn’t. He wouldn’t allow it.

The soldier who had cut him threw away his sword and knelt down on both knees. “Shaitan! Allāhu Akbar!” It was such a waste. He punched him so hard on the chest that it bended inwards. The rips broke and pierced the lungs. He didn’t wait for the man to die; there were still others that had to be dealt with.

He turned back to the soldier whose leg he had broken. The man had wet himself in fear and stared at the creature that came towards him. ‘Broken-leg’ wanted to look back at the others, to beseech them for help, but they were in behind him and he couldn’t see them. That could be arranged.

He took hold of the man’s head and turned it around to the back. By doing so the poor fellow’s neck broke, but at least he was now able to observe his comrades before his body went limp.

In the blink of an eye he was again among them. He ripped out a jaw and the man that had owned it broke down.

He became a shadow. He was too fast for them. Another soldier went down when a scimitar that was supposed for the enemy hit him. Blood was everywhere. The soldiers tried to fight for their lives but they were no match for him. They were weak. Humans. He kicked a head and the man span around. His skull being cracked up.

“Kill him! KILL HIM!” The leader, their captain, screamed. He was going to be the last one to die; it was a promise.

He swirled around and caught a punch directed at his head in one hand and the blade of another soldier’s scimitar in the other. He grinned. He increased the pressure of both of his hands until first the bones broke and then the metal. The cut from the sharp blade healed in an instant, the hand of the man didn’t. While ducking under the now shorter sword he kicked out at the attacker’s chest and sent him flying several feet away.

His hand still in the tight grip the first soldier sank down to his knees, feeling the terrible pain not only in his hand but also spreading throughout his whole arm.

He took him by his throat and lifted him up from his kneeling position. The weight was nothing; he was like a feather. He swung him around and threw him against two of his comrades.

When he looked at another soldier his still crimson eyes turned black again and the man shrieked in deadly terror. He made him see his deepest fear, scorpions crawling all over his body. His heart rate increased. He tried to struggle them off, but more and more scorpions were running over his legs, his arms, his chest and even over his head. They were everywhere. He used his hands to wipe them off; they wouldn’t go away. He threw himself to the ground, rolling around to crush these arachnids. The fear was so real; it was too much for his heart. When it reached a beating rate it couldn’t stand, it just stopped. The scorpions vanished, as did the light in his eyes.

He was bored. These soldiers lost their attraction. He had to finish them and then do something more interesting, something more fun. A courageous soldier came running towards him, screaming aloud and swinging his scimitar. Before he sent the man to the ground with several punches and a kick to his right leg, he took control of the mind of another soldier. Being not more than a puppet to his new master the man sliced open the one next to him before he threw himself into his own sword.

The other soldier recovered from the punches and kick and his comrades helped him to stand up. Those four remaining troops retreated into a corner, their captain always trying to be covered by his men. They were bleeding and limping. Two hold their rips, although he hadn’t put to much power into his punches and the other one couldn’t use his hand at all. Now he was going to end this.

They died quickly, only seeing a blur before their vision was lost forever. Before their bodies had sunk down to the ground he already was standing at the exact spot where he had stood before his attack.

The captain, the leader, the collaborator was alone now. Well, he soon would accompany his dead soldiers.

Checkmate.

He moved a step forward and the man sank down to the ground. He began to cry, begging for his life. “Don’t! Please don’t kill me!” It was pathetic. He was pathetic.

He took another step forward.

“Wait!”

He stopped. Mariya’s voice sounded calm. She came closer. The whole time she and the others hadn’t moved, although the shattering of bones, the ripping and slicing, the whole massacre didn’t last long.

She observed him closely and moved around in a small sweep. She went to the man, standing right in front of him and just staring at the small ball he had curled himself into. He raised his head, looking up at the dirty face of the girl. He sobbed. His tears leaving clean tracks on his own now dirty face. He tried to lift himself up, tried to grab the girls little hand for protection.

For several seconds she stared at him. Nothing else.

“Traitor!” she said then and with a single stroke she cut open his throat. The man’s eyes got wide when he realized what she had done. The knife still in her hand she retreated a step while the man tried to stop the blood pouring out of the deep cut. He had no chance. His grip around his own throat loosened and there was this familiar sign of giving in in his eyes. He had seen it countless times before, but this time he wasn’t the cause.

Mariya walked away, back to the fire. The bloody knife sent droplets of the man’s life essence to the ground and marked her path back to the other children. She was special!

He turned around to look Grigor in the eyes. His own eyes now returned to their natural dark brown, slightly glowing color.

“Proof enough?” he asked.

And now Grigor spoke out what he wanted to say before. “Who are you? What are you?”

He smirked. “My name is Kirwen. And I’m here to make you an offer.”

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