Chapter 99: The Fall of the Corpus Veritorum

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"An old reservoir," one of the guards said. That explained it. The city of Saefel Caeld had few wells, and got most of its water from melting glaciers. Since Caeld was often too cold for the glaciers to melt naturally, reservoirs and melting chambers were set up to melt the glacial ice. Not all of them were in constant use, and they made a good hideout.

"Is that enough proof to engage?" Skaria whispered.

The guard next to her nodded. "Yep." He slowly drew his sword from the sheathe, slow enough to hide the rasp of the blade on leather. "Men," he said in only a faintly louder breath, "we attack on count of three."

"Three." One of the members must have heard them. His dark, peaked hood turned towards them.

"Two." He started walking, grabbing a sword handle protruding from his belt, breath misting in front of him.

"Three." With that, twenty people charged out of the shadows, swords shining in the lantern light.

One swung at Skaria, and only her lightning fast reflexes let her keep her head. She brought up her blade as the cloaked Corpus Veritorum member swung his heavy blade down at her. Fortunately, at the angle she held her viper blade, his heavier sword slid down the length of steel. Her arm went numb from the shock of the blow. He was surprisingly strong for a homicidal surgeon.

She sidestepped his next blow -he had little, if any, discipline with his blade- and rushed past him. Her numb arm would be useless. Time for her knife. Her left hand whipped to her side, wrenching her knife free, and she struck, punching through the fabric, feeling it sink through cloth and flesh and grating on bone. She yanked it out and struck again before he could ready his own blade, again and again, until the dark cloth glistened with blood.

He sank to the ground, bleeding out onto the stones, and Skaria moved onto the next one. She could picture nothing, nothing but Amshara's deformed face, staring back at her, as if she was accusing Skaria. More. More had to die. It wouldn't be right, it wouldn't be over until every one of them was dead or rotting in jail. Then, it would be over in truth.

Then Skaria would have peace.

But that peace would be bought with bloodshed. Slaughter. Death. She rushed at another member, about to stick his sword in one of the guards. Her blades flashed in unison, her viper blade piercing his back above his heart, the knife sinking into the small of his back. It cut his spinal cord in three pieces, and he dropped like a stone. She felt hot blood on her face, burning as hot as her wrath. The guard seemed shocked by her, but that wasn't important now. He was superfluous, useless to her. Karik'ar, however, wasn't.

She saw her friend facing down two of them, his giant blade keeping them back. He was skilled; the Kai'Draen didn't use brute force alone to overpower their guards. But it would only be a matter of time before one of them scored a lucky hit.

And that time came.

The member's blade tore into his shirt, and when it came out, the length of steel was stained red. That was it. The last straw. No more of her friends would die by these monsters. She charged in, gathering her power. "Stop bleeding!" she commanded, throwing her hand towards Karik'ar.

The stain on the rags of his shirt stopped growing, and one of his opponents screamed. Blood welled at the seams of his fingernails, down his nose, and he wept the crimson fluid from his eyes, the whites of which were now red. He screamed, a wet gargle, before thrashing on the ground in a spreading pool of red.

His friend might have been about to scream, but Karik'ar's massive blade erupted out of his back, and he slumped over, the scream dying in his lungs. The Kai'Draen turned his blade to the side, and the dead body slid off it and landed with a wet thud.

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