Wind and rain battered against his cloak. No one walked the street, no one dared to leave their homes at this hour, all but him. He walked slowly down the muddy road, careful not to step into the water filled rivets torn into it by various wagons and carriages. Clad in simple leather and a long brown hooded cloak he would pass as a traveler to most, though one thing always attracted attention to him. His eyes they were black as night, as if his pupils had expanded and been taken up all but the whites.
For seventeen years he’d lived, and in many ways he was far older than his appearance suggested. The taste of bile filled his mouth as he recalled what he had just done. His Grandfather had been next to useless, he’d left him beaten and bloodied but alive, which was what truly bothered him. He’d left good warm blood go to waste on floor boards.
A poor pastor had found him in the wild, a child of no more than seven, and despite his eyes he’d taken him in. Instantly the Pastor and his wife were shocked by his remarkable intelligence, and memory. They had given him the name, Azriel, it was a variation on the name for the Angel of mystery, as the Pastors wife would tell him, along with the infinite bed time stories. The pair was deeply religious and had taught him everything about their God and his greatness. They had fascinated him when he was a child.
He had lived with them for four years, in that time he had become their son. They had somewhat tamed him, but constantly despaired at ever exercising the wild that had been ingrained in him for the first seven years of his life. He had lived in the wild where that man had left him. One day an older kid in the town had started taunting him about his eyes. This wasn’t uncommon but this time the kid start physically threatening him and even made fun of his adopted parents, calling them maniacs and worshipers of a false god. The boy and his family had recently moved to the town, and worshiped the southern Gods. The worship had begun in the kingdom of Swu’nar to the south of the Empire, and had strengthened with the success of their assault upon the Empires southern borders. Azriel attacked the boy, despite being two years younger than him. His strikes were both stronger and faster, in just seconds of fighting he’d suffered one blow to the temple but the older boy lay on the ground unconscious and bloodied.
Aziel’s hands were coated with blood and out of some primitive instinct he licked them. The taste was thrilling. He had cleaned off both his hands in this manner, at first not noticing the small crowd of kids and several adults that had just witnessed this.
“Is he…?” a kid nearby was trembling.
Someone grabbed His arms making him aware of his soundings. It was the father of a kid in the village. The Man’s hands gripped his arms like vices.
A woman had rushed over to the motionless body of the boy he had just fought. She placed her hand on the bloody mess around his temple. Her hand quickly recoiled, and she then checked the boy’s wrist for a pulse.
“O’ God,” the women’s voice was shrill. “He’s dead,” she glanced into black eyes trembling with fear.
Azriel felt fear ripple through his surroundings. They will kill me, he thought. He was a murderer. Most of the town already thought he was strange. Some even called him demon under their breath. They would kill the pastor and his wife too if they tried to stop the towns peoples.
Fear emptied Azriel’s mind. He wrenched one of his arms free from his captor, shocking him with his strength. The man tried to grab his other arms with both hands, however Azriel stomped on his foot and shot free into a full spring. He was faster than any grown man in the village could have ever have dreamed of running.
Adjusting his hood Azriel continued down the road. His grandfather had told him one thing though. When his mother had fled his grandfather she’d hopped on the first trade caravan leaving the town heading towards Ware and the thickly populated area of the empire around Eelier lake. He was now headed in that direction. He left the border of the town without any hassle. The guards had locked themselves up in their guard houses and wouldn’t bother a lone wanderer tonight.
Now outside of the sight of anyone who could be watching him he slowed. Inhaling deeply he shut his eyes and focused purely on the rain. It had been a month since he’d discovered the identity of his mother’s father. He’d been on his way north for no apparent reason, he’d drifted into a bar where he heard and old drunk, his Grandfather, ranting about how his life had fallen apart, and all about the daughter that had left him. His description of her perfectly matched the memory. It had taken him a month to decide what to do. He didn’t know if he wanted to know about her or her fate, but curiosity won out. He wanted to know his what he was.
Returning to the present he readjusted his sword belt. The single sided curved cutlass bounced on his thigh as he moved it out of the way of his legs. Inhaling again he started to run. The wind quickly whipped the hood off his head revealing long disheveled blond hair and the strong features of his face. His jaw was solid though his chin which was gently curved. His cheek bones were strikingly high against his usually narrowed eyes.
He could run for hours. The road was poor in quality full of ditches and holes, but none of this bothered him, even in the dead of night his senses were keen enough to keep him from tripping. Despite that he was moving far faster than any horse would dear go on this road.
The sun began to rise. by now he was far into the vast Forest that separated Ware from Brenar. The rain had ceased several hours earlier and the world awoke around him replenished. He removed the last slice of bread from the small pocket near his back. Sitting on a rock at the edge of the road he ate.
His attentions were drawn to the awakening world around him. His senses picked up various rodents scurrying around as well as birds and insects. Some were close, some he hear from a mile away. He’d have to hunt soon. He listened carefully trying to detect something larger. He sat there for several hours listening and resting at the same time. He’d not slept for a long time normally a short rest would be sufficient.
He heard something, it was coming from the road back the way he’d come. Confused as to how the cart had caught up to him he scanned his memory trying to see if he’d passed a cart the night before and not taken notice of it. Disturbed he undid the black cloth that was tied around his sword belt quickly he tied it around his face covering his eyes. It was thick enough to cover his eyes but thin enough so he could still somewhat see out from it. That wasn’t important, his other senses were good enough for him to operate as well if not better than any normal human could. He could have just taken off running but he was curious as to where the wagon had come from. Lifting up his hood he started walking down the path the way he’d been heading. He made sure that he was going slowly enough for the wagon to catch him.
The sound intensified, and with it he discerned two additional noises. Horses walking separate from the horses dragging the wagon. He adjusted his hood over his head as the wagon came nearly close enough for people to notice him. Several minutes later it was no more than a hundred feet behind him.
“Hey there!” A Large male’s voice bellowed from behind him.
Turning he carefully avoided eye contact, he had decided to act blind. There were two well-armed men mounted on horses that flanked a wagon in which sat a large man with a very expansive gut. Next to him sat a green hooded figure, he couldn’t make out a face. The man on the right side of this arrangement rode a bay horse while the other rode a chestnut. The man on the bay spurred it forward till he flanked Him.
“You headed to Ware?”
“Yes,” he spoke quietly nodding his head adjusting it to acknowledge the horseman.
“Your eyes have a problem sir?” he spoke noticing his blindfold.
“You might say that,”
“You know it’s not wise to carry a sword while blind,”
“My other senses are quit fine, thank you,”
He stopped walking letting the rest of the caravan to catch up with him. He was aware of the beats of their hearts and scent of anxiety. There was a women in gree. The large man smelt of grease and salt. The other two radiated anticipation and carried themselves as confident fighters.
“Why do you cover your eyes traveler?” The Big man spoke. The female in the green turned and looked at him.
“Did some animal claw them out or something?” The man on the chestnut spoke this time. They are a strange crew, Azriel thought.
“Something like that,” answered.
“I would like to see them,” The Female spoke, her voice was slightly worn. The collective pace of their hearts increased slightly. Then he saw it, rather he smelt a strong whiff of burning leafy plants. There was another smell, something like garlic. It was coming from inside the wagon. Quickly he scanned through his memory. Then slapped himself mentally, he had smelt this before last night when he’d been running. It had distracted him for a split second that’s why he hadn’t noticed them. Damn it, oh well it’s worse for them than for me.
“You really want to?”
“I would most definitely like to,” The green cloaked old women spoke calmly, but her heart beat betrayed her.
He undid the cloth slowly making sure his eyes were shut when it was off. He wrapped it around his belt before he opened his eyes, slowly to add to the tension, making sure to stare directly into The Women’s eyes.
“I thought so,” She smiled. “Though I must say you’re not what I thought you’d be,”
“What are you talking about?”
“Don’t worry you will be dead soon,” In response two swords were drawn, and a hammer hefted. Glancing around him he noticed that all their weapons were coated in silver. They are so bizarre. Backing up he drew his sword.
The women threw something at him, quickly he side stepped it. The sound of a shattering vial rang behind him as the chestnut horsemen charged. The Man on the Bay horse was already beside him. He swung his blade missing Azriel as he side stepped further away into the path of the chestnut. Squatting for a moment, he sprang into the air catching the Horseman off guard. Swifter than a human eye could see he swung his sword cleanly removing the horseman’s head.
Landing on the ground near the rear of the chestnut he heard another object coming his way. He slapped it away with the flat of his sword. It was another vial, it shatter releasing water that streamed across his face. Surprisingly it burned slightly but it was hardly enough to distract him. The woman’s eyes went wide as she realized he was perfectly fine.
He sprinted forward closing the distance between him and the wagon in far less than a second, the big man was already on his feet, launching himself towards him. He swung at the same time as the big man but his weapon hit home far quicker. His expansive gut opened up spilling out blood, lard, and guts. His hammer fell from his hands in mid swing harmlessly bouncing of Azriel’s thigh.
The old woman lunged at him wrapping a strong smelling necklace around his neck. The Garlicky smell clogged his sense of smell, but did little to bother him as he let the woman fall in two separate pieces off the wagon.
The horses on the wagon had spooked, he jumped off as they took off down the path along with the chestnut that still held its headless rider. The man on the bay came at him now. Azriel Threw his cutlass, the man tried to deflect it but only managed to lose his sword hand. Jumping into the air again, Azriel swung his left leg around kicking the horseman on the side of his head breaking his neck.
Taking a deep breath the stench of garlic reminded him about the necklace. He ripped it off quickly. He walked over to his cutlass, picked it up and sheathed it. Another deep breath and he was running down the road once again.