Chapter Seven - Death Walks Among Us

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A'TREAL MOVED SILENTLY THROUGH THE GLOOM beneath the trees. Just ahead a small group of Elves crouched at the edge of a clearing. To others, they would have been all but invisible among the shadows but with his heightened senses, each body glowed brightly in the darkness.

The daemon had been tracking them for a while now, hoping they would lead him to the hidden portal that led into their world. A'treal had so far avoided several of these patrols as they crisscrossed the woodlands in search of him.

 He stayed low, concealed in a thicket of tangled brambles. Strange patterns writhed across his armoured skin blending him in with the surrounding vegetation. Soon, he hoped, this group would return to the portal and reveal its location.

He glanced upwards to where a small patch of sky showed through a break in the trees. Stars glimmered brightly on its dark surface and he wondered briefly if any of his race still survived out in the cold depths of space. He found it incomprehensible that others had not survived the destruction and that even now somewhere out there they had forged a new powerful empire.

Another group of Elves joined the first, A'treal watched as they whispered and gestured among themselves. One who appeared to be in charge pointed to a trail on the far side of the clearing. The group set off once more and soon vanished into the shadowy undergrowth.

He continued to observe the Elves recalling the histories of his race that were stored in the libraries deep within The Crypt. From their homeworld they spread out across the galaxy, conquering planet after planet, adding them to their vast star-spanning empire. But even that was not enough for the Magus Lords. Each of the twelve clans craved power and soon began to fight among themselves. He remembered stories of the endless wars that were waged between the clans of the Magus. Stories of The Dark Fall Crusades that had devastated their worlds rendering them uninhabitable. And how the last of the Magus priests used their power to create the huge stone ships that were to carry the survivors away from the dying planets. 

They awoke on this world only to find it already populated. So began a war for control of the planet. But the rigours of space travel and the impact of the crash decimated their numbers and it proved a futile war. They were forced back into their underground city and sealed away with magic.

Now he was free of the confines of that prison. All that remained was for him to break through the barrier into the Elven lands. He could then discover the source of the magic and find a way to counteract it.

Finally, the daemon thought as the Elves began to move off through the trees. A'treal hated the waiting. He stood and stretched the kinks from his muscles. He was a warrior, he longed to tear into the Elves and flay the flesh from their bones, feel their blood running over his jaws. But he had steeled himself against the rising anger. The killing would come later. This called for patience, something he had little of. 

He followed from afar, keeping to the shadows. The Elves were expert hunters and trackers and he had been lucky so far. His skin rippled, changing colour and appearance as he moved through the trees. The smell of Elf was stronger now, he could almost taste it. Poison dripped from between his jagged teeth in anticipation. He could not afford to be caught now, not this close to his destination.

Kelan Shea clapped the tall skinny Elf walking alongside him, on the back. 'See, Lael,' he said. 'I told you there was nothing to worry about. There probably never was. The Council got their leggings in a bunch over nothing.'

'But they told us a daemon was out here killing Elves,' Lael Helmon replied. 'Why would they lie to us.'

Kelan let out a booming laugh and shook his head. Lael was not the sharpest Elf in the forest. But he was the best friend anyone could ask for. They were hive brothers and did everything together, schooling, training, joining the army and best of all drinking and making merry.

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