This chapter has been modified to fit Wattpad.
Half the time, we're dealing with the aftereffects of the Eight's evil, the way it ripples out and inspires. Not all evils are cut from the same fetid cloth, but the greater evils of the Eight are able to elevate the baser evils of those around them. The Eight must be fought, yes, but the evil left in their wake must be stopped as well.
-The Necromancer's Notes, Mission Statement, Section 3
9 Years Ago
Skaria crouched down, hiding from the pool of lamp light. The man in front of her, a guard of the Corpus Veritorum, remained oblivious to her presence. That was good, that was very good. Almost a miracle, seeing as he didn't notice the half-dozen guards in a combination of plate and mail behind her. They had wrapped some of their armor in rags to muffle the noise, but even with that, they still were too noisy for Skaria's liking.
He turned, moving back to a doorway, and that was when Karik'ar move. All she saw was his broad-shouldered frame keep low to the ground, in the dyed grey canvas shirt he wore. One second the man was trying to peer through the darkness with a weak flame, shivering inside its lantern. The next, Karik'ar had wrapped his meaty forearm around his neck. He didn't crush hard enough to do any permanent damage, but it was more than the man could fight. His limbs kicked out sporadically, dancing as he struggled for a breath.
After a few seconds, he went slack. Karik'ar kept choking him just to make sure, but after about five seconds, the Kai'Draen released him. He locked eyes with Skaria.
It was her fault that they were in this mess. They would walk free if they fought alongside the guards, at the front of the assault, the first to die in a fight.
It was efficient. If they died, then possible criminals were dispatched by fate in the course of dispatching other criminals. If they lived, they had proved themselves to the Caeldari guards by putting their lives on the line, and were useful (well, at the very least not harmful) to the populace of Caeldar.
The guards -a dozen and half of them- were clustered behind them. They had crept through the darkness of the sewers, following a path determined by several surveys into the labyrinthine, tomb-like sewer passageways. Blood kept washing out, too much to be some sick man's contribution to the sewer. This much blood came from a dead body. Probably several.
"Move." Skaria and Karik'ar moved forward, every step the mercenary took making her wince. Her hobnailed boots scraped against the flagstones of the sewers. Any small noise could betray them. And if Skaria wanted to get out of here alive and in one piece, she would have to use that element of surprise.
They crept through the door, making sure their equipment didn't scrape on the doorframe. The guards, one at a time, followed them through. They flanked the two of them, their impersonal, mass-forged helmets and uniforms making them look surreal, like some army of identical beings, different only in height.
Skaria stared at the heart of the Corpus Veritorum.
This lair was something dreamed out of a scholar's blackest nightmare. An operating table, with grates emptying into water channels, dominated the room, and Skaria saw someone on it, a hooded figure ministering to them, no doubt with a scalpel or bone saw. Worse yet, Skaria saw the grate at the base of the altar-like operating table weeping a thin stream of dark blood.
Around them, suspended on cord-like chains, dozens of wooden boards hung, with yellowed papers and inked black diagrams staring down at the victim on the table. The chamber, somehow, was taller, threw stories high. Large columns supported the ceiling, and lanterns cast overlapping light across the hooded figures around the operation table. And in the shadow of those columns, the guards stared at the scene.
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When Laidu, a half-human, half-dragon Ranger, rescues a mysterious girl from slavers, he doesn't know it but he's in for a world of trouble. Teaming up with an insane scholar, a chatty assassin, and two mercenaries, they go to take the girl -Kyra- h...