Aeric Dalia/Vol 2 Chapter 4
A ragged Bandit leapt of his horse running up the short staircase of the town hall. The guards at the doors opened them as the man rushed past nearly out of breath. Down the hallway a large armored man sat in a glorious throne at a large table. The seat of a governor that was long deposed by the Hidden Blades. He Seemed to be resting, with his head propped up on his hand. The bandit caught his breath long enough for him to 'wake' his lord. “My Lord! My Lord!” The metal man slowly came to life. “ Our spies may have spotted the group that attacked us yesterday!” He didn't seem to care what the pathetic man had to say. “ Was there a demon with them?” he said apathetically. “They didn't say, but there were at least four paladins, and one of them was remarked as 'The most beautiful woman they saw.” He jumped from his chair knocking it over causing the sounds to echo though the empty hall. The sound of his heavy metal footsteps on stone carried just as far. “Where are they?” He shouted terrifying the bandit. “Th-They were spotted at the city of Di, no more than two days ride....” The dark clad man walked passed the bandit causing the air to follow him. “Get on your damn horse, you are taking me there, NOW!” The morning dawned over the City of Di. The morning dew slowly evaporated on the blood soaked mud and corpses. The city was strewn with signs of celebration and death. The peasantry had one their first great victory in their ad-hoc revolution sprung by the idealistic Voren, who still slept in his bed accompanied by the two women who tended to him the day before. He started to wake slowly, his vision still blurry and his head still throbbing from his wound. He tried to move but found himself almost held down by the young women on either side of him who likewise began to stir. "Good Morning M'lord, I hope you slept pleasantly." The brunette spoke in a soft voice. "I...I guess I did.... What was your name again?" The young lady giggled and reached across the paladin to wake her sister. She woke without speaking a word. They both left the bed and began to dress themselves. Voren couldn't resist watching, despite his best attempts to remain pure of thought and body while he attempted to do the same The Paladin staggered out of the building using a stick to aid his walk. His nose was immediately greeted by the smell of death and drunken slobs. The sight of a battle was completely new to the inexperienced Paladin. Memories of the battle were flooding back in his mind. The first man he killed in his life, to the last one he killed that day. He looked at his shaking hands and feared they wouldn't be the last to die by his hands. His tremors turned to nausea, causing him to double over. He couldn't contain himself any longer as he saw a peasant carting off a wagon of corpses. He vomited into the bloody ground. In Alistar's estate, Dalia was waking, when she did she found herself alone on the mattress. The confused succubus looked around momentarily to look for signs of Aeric. His Armor and weapon remained, so she felt comfortable in knowing that he might still be close by. She forced her aching body up to look for him. She walked slowly along the elaborate hallways dragging her fingertips along the embellished carpentry. She closed her eyes and reminisced about times she'd spend in such lavish places and be treated like a queen; until she devoured the unfortunate noble who resided in. She broke from her daydream. Those days were behind her, and there they would stay. Dalia held no more reservations about maintaining a disguise. She continued down the hallway allowing her true self to be seen. She was curious and wanted to explore the mansion, but the smell of food enticed her more. She figured Aeric wouldn't be far from the food or Faline. Both happened to be in the same direction. The closer she got the stronger the smell became, she could almost make out what was being served. Aeric and Alistar were at a very simple table eating their meals and discussing random adventures or anecdotes. Alistar was telling a tale when his eyes caught the seductive form of Dalia. He stopped mid word and only got out a shocked gasp as Aeric turned to see what startled him. “Put some clothes on!” Aeric placed his face into his hand ashamedly. He was secretly trying to avert his gaze. It was as if she was putting forth the effort to seduce him as she did when they first met, and it was working. He didn't feel it was malicious, but this side of her he wasn't fond of making public. She knew she had captivated the two men, and even the female cook that was seen off in the distance, though she was more frightened then enticed. “You didn't complain last night.” Dalia walked over to Aeric's side and leaned against her adept. She placed a hand over his ear and whispered quietly. “ You didn't complain about a lot of things.”
The Paladin placed his utensil and his drink down forcefully, causing the succubus to jump slightly. It was as if she enjoyed making the same problems for Aeric over and over. There was something 'innocent' in her mind about teasing the grizzled Paladin. Aeric acted quickly and shot a deadly gaze at his demon acolyte. He whispered something back to her that Alistar could only just hear, but not understand. Dalia blushed and bolted off, gaining the attention of everyone as she left. Alistar was still entranced until Aeric 'woke' him up.
“You are a very lucky man, if I do say so myself.” “She's more of a hassle sometimes, pleasant to look at, and incredibly loyal, but she enjoys making trouble for herself.” Aeric took a bite of his breakfast. “Ah, but one could say she is as her teacher allows.” Aeric attempted to ignore the old man. “How long will Faline's recovery take?” “Three days at the most. She should stay resting, but the antidote was administered and she'll make a full recovery.” Pleasant words for Aeric too hear. It almost consumed him losing Selena, losing the last remains of his past, and his memories of her would have an unknown effect on his well being. He finished the last bit of his meal and walked to the room where Faline was resting. It was such a strange sight for him, seeing her so frail and weak. He had know her for the greater half of his life, and never once did he ever see her as the elf she was. She was far to rash and stubborn. Aeric had her to thank for how he was, and developed as a man, and a paladin. He sat next to her bed and caressed her soft cheek brushing away her blonde hair from her face. “You're such a hopeless romantic sometimes.” Dalia jeered playfully. “ I think its adorable to see you when you show emotion.” Aeric stayed silent, ignoring his acolyte. Dalia pulled up a chair and sat beside him placing her hand on his arm followed by her head on his shoulder. He surprised Dalia by placing his hand on hers. He turned to her with open eyes. “Please, can you give us a moment?” Dalia nodded reluctantly and quietly left the room.
Jenis stumbled around the city with a drink in one hand, and woman in the other. The acolyte was a celebrity for being associated with the hero Voren. He was also an inexperienced drunk and didn't know how to keep his mouth shut. He would yammer on incoherently to who ever would listen to. Eventually his drunken shamble had him cross paths with his Adept, who was once again being escorted by his maidens. Voren reprimanded the acolyte for being drunk, and asked him if he knew where the others were. Jenis mistakenly started speaking about Aeric and Dalia taking Faline to Alistar. “You mean another warrior went to deal with the monster Alistar? How blessed we are by your sudden appearance M'lord!” “Well... He isn't going to kill him. Our friend needed his help.” His words confused his beautiful escort. “So about this feast?” He quickly tried to diffuse the situation. As the day dragged on; the denizens of Di gathered in the lower city for a slightly more 'formal' celebration in Voren's name. The Humble paladin kindly tried to refuse many requests to give a speech, but was slowly pushed towards a quickly erected stage, with many near self appointed officials in the rebel ranks. Many people began to cheer as the paladin came to the stand, hurting his head. Eventually giving into to his fame he too a deep breath while thinking of something to say.
Dalia walked softly toward the study where the old man spent the greater part of his day. She was hoping to find something interesting to read to pass the time. Alistar sat at his elaborate desk with his head buried in a book, lest he be captivated by the demon again. After an uncomfortable silence Alistar took a pause from his reading, and was consumed with curiosity. “So, How did a demon such as yourself decide to become a paladin?” Dalia was somewhat startled by the question. She was completely unprepared for the question and simply let out a confused grunt before she began to think on how to answer. She tried to politely refuse saying "It's a long story."; Those were Alistar's favorite. She mused back several months when she had her life changing moment. "I know I am a bit nosy, but ask anyone here, I just like to know everyone's story." This was a new tradition of his, as he felt learning the stories of the people he knew might somehow undo the silencing of so many others stories. "If you don't wish to tell me then I am fine with that, I have my books." He chuckled.
Dalia's face drifted off. She never had to tell this story before and she wanted to get her memories right. She told Alistar she didn't know where to start, and almost like a mentor he coached her though how to recollect events; adding that it helped him due to his old age.
"For a long time, I used to work for the king of Varvistahd as a sort of assassin. He knew what I was, as well as my sisters. He'd present us with many wealthy people to 'assassinate'" She placed an appropriate emphasis on the last word. "Before his death in battle, he tasked me and my sisters to kill a great warrior in his employ to get out of paying a hefty bill for his service. He wasn't the smartest man, but he had his reasoning." She paused and looked off to the side. "The warrior was distant, he spoke of the great many people he killed. He kept repeating the words that still resonate with me to this day. 'And to think, they will never come back.' Something about it just made me think. I don't know why." "What do you mean?" Alistar was intrigued. "I never looked at it the way he did. I don't expect you to understand my perspective either but I have 'died' many times in my long life, only to resurface. Death for me was temporary, an inconvenience at best. I never figured differently for other beings. It was naive of me to believe, of course. I never considered myself to be evil until that point."
Alistar made note to ask her about the experience of death. He knew his time was running short and had many questions about what fate awaited him. Dalia looked as if she wanted to continue and he had the manners to wait.
"Needless to say, I didn't kill the man, but my sisters held no such reservations. They still felt the same, despite the mans tales. I had to fight them off, I couldn't let them kill. I 'won' but now word has spread through the void of my treason, I guess. Now when I look at all the pain and suffering in the world, and all that I caused, I get sick, and feel I must do something to stop it, somehow." She choked subtly and paused to recollect herself. "I found myself starting to fight for people to prevent others from killing. I never got far, but I was noticed one day, for my 'gallantry'. So I guess to answer your question, I never decided to become a paladin, they decided to adopt me." "And do you believe in the path that you have chosen?" The old mans words were heavy on the demon.
Dalia started to speak. She had gotten the first syllable out when the loud sound of footsteps ended at the doorway. Aeric stood, breathing heavily. His eyes showed the faint hint of panic. Dalia wasn't used to reading Aeric's facial expressions, mainly because she rarely got to see it. She knew something terrible must have happened for the stoic Paladin to show such concern. "Doctor! Follow me NOW!" His words full of rage and worry.
Without a moments hesitation, both of them shot from their seats and hurried towards Aeric. Alistar wasn't as mobile as the impatient paladin hoped. After an agonizing journey to the infirmary, the cries of pain made it obvious what the problem was. Faline was wreathing in pain, tossing and turning under her sheets. She tried to maintain her composure but the pain was less intense if she moved. Aeric gazed a look of pure evil to the old man, who seemed to be unconcerned at the whole issue. Alistar grew closer to the afflicted elf and placed the flat of his hand on her forehead and grabbed her wrist with his fingers. "Now before you strike me, I forgot to mention this because I normally work on humans." Dalia started to move between the two. "You see Elves have a different constitution than we do. It effects us both differently, for humans this treatment is somewhat painless, but for an elf... well you can see."
Dalia conveniently grabbed Aeric's clenched fist attempting to sooth the fire in his heart. "What does this mean!" "She will recover, but the treatment is going to be painful for her. Have you ever spilled alcohol on a wound? Lemon juice? The reason it burns is because its 'cleaning' your wound and burning away damaged tissue so it can heal better. Well this is what is going on in her whole body." Aeric started to calm, even if Alistar's unwillingness to get to the point was growing on the Paladin. "Is there anything we can do to ease her suffering?" Dalia spoke for Aeric. "Rest, water, and more rest. I am sorry but intoxicating her could cause more problems. The pain should subside within ours, or by the morning... I'll stay with her to make sure that nothing else pops up." "I'll stay as well." Aeric demanded, as Dalia started tugging at his arm. "Aeric, I know its tough, but listen to your gut, does this man want to harm her?"
Aeric knew he didn't sense any evil or malicious intentions from Alistar. He worked against his better judgment and decided to leave with Dalia, before he made a rash decision. She lead him to the study, the only area with a couch to lay on. Aeric laid on the couch and Dalia sat on the ground by his feet, instead of trying to hop on him like she wanted. "So tell me a story... about anything." Dalia's transparent attempt to distract Aeric made him smile slightly.
Voren's fame had finally caught up to him, and he learned about his natural showmanship. From his soapbox he preached his moral values, and beliefs in right and wrong and how all peoples should do what is right, not what is easy. His words would be misinterpreted and the rabble would grow more impetuous, more willing to besiege the now sealed off upper city.
"All people have a right to free sovereignty. No one should go hungry just so a few can profit!" The crowd cheered. " A Leaders place is to serve his people, so that they may live better lives than the ones they had before." He paused for his praise The Idealistic man continued to preach his gospel till the sun would dip bellow the horizon. By then he started to feel woozy and a cautious official noticed this and cut his speech short, to add on his own take of Voren's speech, as the Paladin was escorted off the stage by his maidens. The rebel leader twisted and turned Voren's words, but he was tired and lightheaded to care. Public speaking seemed to be a new entertainment for the young man. His escorts took him to their house, where they would feast on a banquet prepared by the townsfolk.
The house itself was nothing fancy, albeit a bit larger than the other shacks and old brick buildings of the city, but inside many people were gathered around a large table. Some were the officials from before. Others made their appearance later on. His escorts father addressed himself as the homeowner and a proud patriot of the old kings, as well as how humble he was to have Voren at his table. Voren was seated at the head of the table with his companions on either side of him, and the most important people were placed closer to him. "Such a great pleasure to see the spark of our revolution. A toast to our Champion of Freedom, and defender of justice, Lord Voren of the Sacred Order!" Everyone but Voren thrust their cup into the air as he tried to correct him on the name.
After the toast several servants began to serve them food. Voren found it odd that the people who fought against tyranny would have servants themselves. He though little of it at the moment as his stomach dictated his actions at this point. "I cannot wait to depose the Governor of his unlawful seat of power, it is US, the appointed leaders of this new regime, that should rule." A man spoke " I have been meaning to ask, but who appointed all of you? I don't remember seeing any of you in the battle." Voren was ignored as the other began speaking over him. "I say we besiege the noble districts, we can raid the armories and mount a full assault." Another spoke. "No, enough blood has been spilled, attempt diplomacy." Voren interjected. "I agree! We demand their surrender, upon which they will be granted a painless execution!" The host boasted in his deep voice. " No!" He was drowned out again.
The conversation continued as so for a long time as they began to gorge their faces with decadent meals that Voren knew the peasants weren't eating. He nibbled on his food and tried to excuse himself for not feeling well. He was rebuffed and instead handed more to eat. he chose to sip on soup, a mean he figured the true people were eating that night. "So when will you grant my daughters with a mighty child, noble paladin?" Voren tried to appear indifferent. "We took the honor of doing so last night, father." The brunette spoke with elation. Voren chortled on his soup. Voren Jumped from his seat and bolted out of the man's house. He was accosted only by harsh comments at his manners. The Paladin could no longer take the opulence of the corpulent leaders. He rushed out into the dark streets that still smelled of death. he bent over resting a hand on the side of a building trying to catch his breath. "What have I done?" he whispered to himself. "M'lord?" The soft voice of his apparent lover was painful to him. Voren forced himself up as he tried to escape the woman and her sister. In his flight he saw armed guards at every corner, he peered into many houses and saw people eating little more than bread. What irked him the most, was all the smiles. The people were happy. 'Nothing had changed couldn't they see that?' he thought desperately. He was chased by his lovers and he forced his ill body onward until he finally collapsed, on the spot where he slew the captain. He rolled onto his back, as the women were trying to help him to his feet. Their worried looks did little to comfort Voren. He whispered one sentence to them before he passed out. "What have I done..."
Dalia was sitting on her feet, almost wagging her tail as Aeric was telling her stories of his adventures. She was less interested in the stories themselves, and simply in exuberance that she managed to get Aeric to ramble on for more than a few seconds to her. Granted with a considerable effort on her end. She knew that staying in the mansion wasn't doing any good to Aeric, and it would take a bit of effort to drag him away, but she felt that getting him out and about might help clear his thoughts. Aeric agreed saying that Voren needed to be checked up on. Though Dalia could hear the reluctance in his voice. Aeric would fall asleep on the couch and Dalia would find his legs to be a comfortable pillow as she fell asleep at his feet. Alistar walked into the study and saw the sight. He let out a contended sigh and left. The night was peaceful, but there was a storm brewing. The peasants spoke of an attack in the morning. More death would occur, if nothing was done, the city of Di would be plunged into greater despair. Voren woke at his bed with his faithful supporters at his sides changing his bandage. They were startled to see him wake. Their faces showed soft smiles, as Voren's face resembled that of a Paladin he did not trust. "If you truly feel anything for me, you will have my armor and weapon by my side in the morning." "You wish to lead us in battle?" She smiled. "Yes... lead you on the right path."
The sun crept over the hills and touched the walls that lead to the upper city, where the remaining defenders started to take up defensive positions. The whole city was alive with motion. Peasants armed themselves, ate what could be their last meal, they readied themselves for the coming battle. The mob marched towards the walls with ladders and a ram to break the gates. Voren was standing at the gates facing the approaching army with his sword drawn.
Voren saw the massive warhost approaching him. His throat welled up and he tightened his grip on his sword. He was scared, the young man had never faced inevitability before, and there it was staring at him with thousands of bloodthirsty eyes. The Paladin had made his choice, he would hold his ground, no matter the odds. Just to stall the coming bloodshed long enough for a few to escape. That would be enough, in his mind, to atone for all the suffering he caused, and the men he slew. The peasants saw their great champion staring them down, and were urged forward by their new masters. The thunderous roar of thousands of footsteps overwhelmed the young Voren.
"HALT! You will stay where you are!" His voice trembled as his fear started to leak into his words.
A man from the army steeped forward in a surprisingly ornate set of armor. It was his host the night before. The man had appointed himself as the leader of their 'revolution'. The Paladin pointed his sword at the man. "Why do you stop your loyal warriors Paladin? We are here to bring about a new order!" The throaty words carried to the ramparts above where many Archers were watching carefully, waiting for a signal to attack.
"New! New? Whats new here? I sought to help the defenseless of this city, and you seek to help yourself! Now you are their leader?" Voren was sickened at the man's arrogance. "You feed yourself with lavish feats, while the people are still hungry, and YOU have the gall to say you fight for freedom and equality?" Voren spat at the mans feet.
Many of the defenders listened into the strange turn of events. The man who had kicked off the revolution and unleashed the bloodthirsty rebels onto their underfunded guard was now seemingly willing to fight on their behalf. Though Helplessly outnumbered the valiant paladin held his ground, for whatever reason he had, for people he did not know. Many of the defenders morale was lifting and they were inspired by Voren's actions. "You fight for nothing but yourself. When every last person in the city above is dead, then what? You'll rule with your 'council'? And do what? What will change? What has changed?" The besiegers were taken by confusion. Their hero was calling out their leaders as liars and hypocrites. They didn't know what to think. "You are no different than those you wish to depose, and everyone who died, every last one, All died in vain! Something tells me you are comfortable with this fact, and it makes me sick!" Many more men gathered at the ramparts, and many besiegers started to lower their weapons. "These people are fighting for their freedom, for a better life, that you don't care about! The people behind have every right to that life your soldiers do. Turn back your army and let them leave peacefully. So if you wish to order them to their deaths, then do it! Just know that I will hold my ground here, I will die where I stand..."
Behind Voren the mighty gates lurched to life opening widely, and a slew of soldiers appeared at the opening. They seemed to be lead by a large fully armored man. He stepped behind Voren and placed a hand on his shoulder, starling the paladin. "He will not fight alone. We will stand with him!"
Voren tried to call off his supporters, but as he turned many of the peasants broke ranks and started to fall in place along side Voren. More and more started falling in from both sides. Soon the new battle-lines were drawn. The leader of the revolution was distraught and called his supporters traitors and condemned them to death. Though Voren's words were inspiring many still sided with the greedy man.
Aeric and Dalia entered the city finding it eerily vacant, save for some rumblings far in the distance. It didn't take long for Aeric to recognize the familiar stench of a battle.
"Damn it.. what has the boy done now?
It wasn't long before they two found the commotion and the very large armies staring each other down. At the heart of the lines stood Voren, his white armor shined through the grime he had accumulated, giving away his position. "Well so much for a nice calming break.." His acolyte commented sarcastically
Aeric made his way to the rear of the mob ready to attack. He wasted no time shouting and intimidating his way through, cursing and yelling at the peasants to let him through. His horse slowly waded though the crowd with Dalia close behind. The hardy Paladin jumped off his horse and marched to Voren. Aeric glanced him over quickly and noted the bandage on his head.
"This is why you wear a helmet. What did you do.." His tone was that of an angry parent."
"And who are you?" The self appointed leader of the rebels called out to Aeric.
He was ignored as Aeric continued to scold Voren for his impetuousness, and critiquing his actions, almost as if the situation didn't hold any weight on the paladins shoulders. Voren was almost more scared of Aeric than the coming battle.
"What do I do now....?" Voren's voice was full of fear and worry.
Aeric turned to the rebels and drew his sword. " You sleep in the bed you make." He stared into the crowd, then turned to the Captain of the guard.
Aeric organized a hasty defensive formation of shields, as more soldiers pored from the gates. Soon many of the peasants were deserting their ranks, but the haughty old man wasn't about to be defeated, not when his dreams were so close to fruition. He ordered the attack.
As the rebels charged the formation, the archers on the wall let loose their arrows into the mob. The gates behind their defensive line slammed shut, cutting off any chance of escape. Aeric stood firm as many soldiers placed their shields into a defensive line. Within seconds the rebels that weren't cut down by arrows clashed onto the shields. The roars of men and the sound of metal striking heavy metal became deafening, but the shield line managed to hold. Aeric raised his hand, and threw it down violently, and the shield line thrust forward, knocking many fighters over. The wall opened up and the rest were greeted by spears. The battle broke out into a frenzy as Aeric could no longer maintain the discipline of the battle lusting warriors. Instead of trying to fight the fates he joined the battle. His skill in battle far outmatched any peasant with a sword. He almost found it to easy to disarm and render an opponent unconscious. Aeric almost refused to kill. Every time his blade landed off mark and cut into flesh, his hand shot to the wound, giving off a healing light. Voren saw this, but was too caught up in his fights to do similar. instead he opted for the easier course of simply dispatching his enemies.
Aeric watched Dalia closely as she fought. Her movements were as fluid as he had hoped, but he would intervene before she could make contact with and opponent. He saw the fear and confusion in her eyes. The demon was overwhelmed at the massacre before her. She had been the reason of so many deaths before, but could never have imagined such wholesale slaughter.
Despite the overwhelming numbers the defenders were holding their line. Every time they seemed to falter Aeric would reprimand them for being cowards. Whenever a soldier felt he could fight no longer, The paladin fought along side the man giving him a renewed vigor. Though not once in the battle did Aeric take a life. He couldn't say much for the Paladin who not long ago had claimed he was a bloodthirsty brute. To his surprise, Dalia seemed to have the same reservations he felt. At times she even broke up a grapple and knocked both parties unconscious.
Archers emptied their quivers into the field, and the rebels fought on, even against their 'treasonous' comrades. It son became apparent to Voren that his former host was nowhere to be seen. He started to call him out in the fight. His carelessness let a fortunate rebel get the drop on him, and with a quick swing to his calf, Voren dropped to his knee. He tossed his sword up to deflect the next blow. once his vision returned to normal he saw his attacker was the brunette that so eagerly attended to his every need. He faltered as the next attack came.
The succubus almost danced about the battlefield, bobbing and twirling around. At points she even used Aeric as a springboard to launch herself into the crowd, with a burst of her wings. This left her dangerously exposed. Aeric finished with a rebel, he turned to his acolyte just before she was surrounded. He charged violently towards her. Dalia fought off what she could, but she stopped mid swing; letting out a pained gasp. She was run through. A sword had pierced her from the back, exiting her gut. She collapsed to her knees and fell to the ground as the peasant pulled out his sword. Aeric panicked.
The Demon heard her name shouted by Aeric. The word he seemed to almost refuse to use. It sent a shock down her body and her eyes flew open. The rebel above her was raising his sword high for a final blow to kill the demon. As his sword fell his Aeric's sword plunged deep into the man, all the way to the hilt of his sword. He spat fiery curses at the man, and quickly withdrew his blade. The rebel fell to his knees and Aeric dropped his sword catching the man and holding his hands on both wounds. Aeric focused much of his will onto the man, quickly healing the damage. The rebel was confused, and turned to show his gratitude to Aeric, but before he could a steel fist was embedded into his face.
"Damn it girl, you can't be down this easy..." His voice held obvious tones of worry.
Before he could reach for her, the rest of the men surrounded him, charging. He dove for his sword evading a swing by one man. His heavy gauntlet slammed into the handle of his greatsword and he flung it up to deflect a mace swing. Aeric was rather agile in his armor, rolling to his feet as he avoided man spear thrusts. He was fighting off his desire for bloody revenge as he fought off Dalia's attackers. He shattered one man's shield with a powerful swing, and using the downward momentum twirled himself around to toss his sword down on another's sweeping axe, knocking it from his hand. They backed off and renewed their attack. Aeric stepped out of the thrust of one, and grabbed his arm, tossing him behind the Paladin. As the next charged Aeric lunged his fist forward from his stance, hitting the man in the gut. He slashed his sword catching the armor of another man, His sword followed through to hit the second man on the head with the flat of his blade. Aeric dealt with each man until they were unconscious, but as he dealt with the last man, another jumped into the ring and charged at a vulnerable Aeric. He closed too quickly for Aeric to counter, but his advance stopped as a spear plunged into his thigh. Dalia's spear.
He didn't hesitate, as the spear withdrew, Aeric struck the man, sending him to the ground. The Paladin turned to his acolyte who was slowly pulling herself up. Aeric flung his arms under hers and pulled her to her feet. He wrapped his arms tightly around, and embraced her. Just as quickly as she pulled her close, he pushed her back. "Don't you ever scare me like that again!"
Her wounds were healing fast, but she was still woozy from her injury. Aeric placed himself between her and an angry mob that noticed them in the fight. Aeric slowly backed up forcing Dalia to move towards their lines. Aeric fended off many attacks, and kept pushing her back until they were safely behind a wall of shields.
Voren watched the next attack draw down on him, and he closed his eyes. The attack never came. He looked back at his former lover. She was frozen in her stance with several arrows piercing her chest. She shook for a moment then collapsed. Voren stared at her for a moment. He started to weigh the options of saving her. The fact that he even had to consider it made him sick. He reached for the brunette to pull the arrows, but by the time he got one out, she was already gone. He wanted to mourn, but an aggressor was charging him, he recognized him from the banquet the night before. Voren grabbed his sword, and thrust it into the air Catching the man in the heart. His blood spurted out onto Voren soiling his now marred armor and face. He got to his feet and pulled out his blade, spiting on the corpse. His hand began to shake violently.
Elsewhere in the city, Jenis and Hale woke in a random building with a few women. They complained of their aching heads. "Oh it feels like there's a battle going on in my head." Hale spoke in pain.
The battle was dieing down, many of the peasants were fleeing, and the rest had turned on their former brothers in arms. The leader of the rebellion was nowhere to be found, not as a corpse of a coward. Voren cursed his name. He walked about the corpses and found his lover covered in mud and bodies. He tried to pull her out desperately, and clean her. He felt she shouldn't have been used by her father the way she was. He fell to his knees holding her corpse in his lap, a few tears trickled down his face. Aeric stepped up behind Voren and placed a hand on his shoulder. He didn't need to turn to know who it was.
" All I did was just try to help a hungry man... Just to do right." He turned to look at Aeric with a tear streaming down his cheek. " I never meant for any of this.... Now everyone is dead, I- I'm a monster.... Tell me I did right, Aeric. Tell me I did the right thing." The young Paladin turned away looking at her corpse.
"You did what you felt was best. Things will turn out they way they will."
"Then what point is there in doing what is right?" The emotional Voren yelled at Aeric.
"Faith...." Voren looked back at the armored man. " Faith, that no matter how unpredictable the events that follow, or how unrewarding it is, Doing what is right will make a better world."
"What god would allow such horrible carnage to be the result of righteous action?" Aeric turned and walked as Voren spoke to him.
"You need to rest."
Dalia had never seen a battlefield before. He was used to seeing dead bodies, but when she made them, they were clean and 'peaceful'. The scene before her reminded her of visages in the void. Twisted and mangled bodies strewn about. Those not fortunate enough to die right away were clawing to try and get away, or moaning as the soldiers finished them off with their mercy. She was still weak and sat down on the only unstained mound of dirt she could find. She didn't know if she could vomit, but she felt she would find out. Many soldiers kept a wide berth of the demon and they went about their duties to recover their fallen. Aeric placed himself next to Dalia, towering over her. Before he could say anything to her the Captain of Di addressed him.
"Lord Paladin, I don't know who you are, or where you came from, but you have the City of Di's thanks. I trust you are friends with the noble man who gave us reason to hope for victory?"
"Man? He's just a boy who got caught up trying to play hero. He learning just how cruel this world is."
"I...understand, but if it wasn't for his actions many innocent people would have died." Aeric nodded and sat next to his shaking acolyte.
Her nerves started to come back to her, the rush of adrenaline she felt was fading and she started to feel the many cuts and bruises she didn't notice she took. Her amber eyes were closed tightly, and her head was buried in her crossed arms. Aeric found her reaction odd for a demon. 'She probably saw much worse images than this'. He thought to himself. He placed an arm around her to comfort her. "Now I understand... I understand what he meant..." Dalia spoke into her legs. " They won't come back. So much evil can be done by men.... Aeric, is it weird for a demon to feel that she needs to do something to stop this?" "Yes.... That feeling, its called being human."
Dalia broke down, clinging onto Aeric she began to cry into his arm. He was reminded of the first time he had been in a battle before. The absolute terror, the noise and smell, the uncertainty of survival. War was truly an ugly thing. He was only fifteen when he and Selena came out of their first battle, she had the same reaction as his current companion. Aeric felt the urge to break down, and let his will shatter, even after being apart of so many battles. He couldn't allow that to happen, just was it was true then, he needed to remain strong, for his friends, or he would lose them both.
Aeric sat still with a calming Dalia still attached to him. The captain approached him again.
"Lord Paladin, it would be a great honor if you could join us in rooting out the remaining rebels, restoring order to the city."
"No." His cold monotone confusing the soldier.
"No? But you fought valiantly for us. I'm sure a Paladin understands the value of order and justice."
"I fought with you, not for you. Now you want me to assist you in killing more people? You will leave them where they are, and return to your city. Not a drop more of blood will be spilled!"
"Bu-" Aeric cut off the captain.
"They are in disorder, and their will is shattered. Attack them now, and they will unify. leave them and they will give up. I need to return to my friend, if I find out so much as an animal was hurt." Aeric pointed his cold and inhuman helmet at the man. " I will kill you."
It was several hours before Aeric felt that his group was ready to move. He shared many drinks with them to help calm their nerves. He was worried by how much Voren was consuming. Hale and Jenis eventually found themselves in the group again. Aeric parted with the captain giving him express orders to withdraw into the upper city, he waited till every soldier had retired. He saddled up with drunken friends and began to lead them back to Alistar. He intended to leave them all there while he made sure Di didn't fall into chaos once again. As they left the gates of the city, Aeric found the death free stench to be pleasing. He saw a couple of figures riding hard towards the city. He payed no heed at first, but then he felt a tinge of something shiver down his spine. He hadn't felt this sensation in a long time. He knew something ominous was approaching.
Its horse was coughing and its joints were bloodied from overuse. Still the poor creature was forced onward, behind it another rider tried to force his beast forward but it was fast giving up. The man on the first horse was clad in a heavy dark suit of armor. The horses rushed past Aeric and his group, causing the air to become turbulent as he passed. Aeric looked to see the man turned his horse violently towards them. He now remembered what he was feeling. The dark markings on the mans armor, the foul aura of a dark influence. He raised his hefty sword in the air readying for an attack. Aeric remembered this type of foe very well. A Blackguard.
Hale and Jenis charged blindly at the man, and he quickly tripped both of them and lunged out of the way of an attack from Aeric. Dalia kept trying to get behind him to attack, but he managed to keep everyone to his front. "Who are you?" Aeric grunted under his visor.
"I am not here for you, brother." The Blackguard spoke in a harsh deep voice. He pointed at Dalia. " You should know there are those you seek you."
Dalia's heart sank. She knew exactly what he meant. she feared this day would come, her sudden rise from the darkness wasn't going to go unnoticed. She felt the fear build in her, but it started to turn to anger, the thought of being dragged back into a life of murder, deception and evil. She let her anger substitute her courage and charged the man. Everyone followed suit. Almost as if he could play their strengths against them, he fought back not letting a single blow reach his armor. Voren was struck. Hale and Jenis rushed to his aid, but only his bloodied armor was dented. Aeric attacked one last time, but the man caught his blade and with a quick motion Aeric was unarmed. and a blade pointed at Dalia's throat.
"Battle must have made you tired, Paladin. Your friends are drunk, and Dalia is weakened." Her eyes opened wide and her heart skipped a beat. She grew more afraid that the man knew her name. "You weren't at your best."
The Blackguard lowered his weapon and sheathed it. Turning from the group he mounted his exhausted horse. His backup arrived late, and he started to leave, causing them to pull their tired horses to follow.
"I will be watching you, I will find you again, before you reach Halmar. You better prepare yourself." The Blackguard withdrew along with the bandits behind him.
A ways down the road the Blackguard was stopped by a demon appearing in the middle of the road. It was a smaller demon than anything that would threaten the man. kit cleared its throat and started to speak in a high scratchy and whiny voice.
"She was in your grasp, then you simply let her go? As well as the paladins that she is with? Geroth I hope you understand where your powers come from. He will not be happy."
"I could give a damn about what he wants! He'll get his damn bitch back. All I am concerned with is defeating that paladin when he is at his best."
The demon hissed and whined some more before Geroth's sword found its way into the creature's brain.