|Bounty x Hunter
Author: Jax Creation PM
The Crossroads Bounty Hunter is famous for taking down the most dangerous of marks, so when the thief, Roland, is captured, he expects to wake up in a cell. But the Hunter has no intention of cashing in on his bounty; Eliah's looking for someone and needs Roland's help to find him—and if he refuses, he's going to be tied up and dragged along anyway! [Comedy / Action / Romance]Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 6 - Words: 13,558 - Reviews: 63 - Favs: 14 - Follows: 17 - Updated: 02-19-13 - Published: 10-16-12 - id: 3065981
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
BOUNTY X HUNTER
The gales howled as they swept through the Aerie, carrying the metallic scent of spilt blood to the open floors of the ancient tower. The dead littered the great stone halls, silver blood spilling from their veins. The tower's inhabitants, the ancient Clan of Ae'ren, were sprawled across the tower's stone floors. The great, feathered wings that sprouted from between their shoulder blades were torn, broken and limp, their skin a pallid grey and their silver eyes dull as the stone floor.
So much for being Immortal.
He looked down upon his handiwork, amber eyes flashing with a grim sense of satisfaction as he ascended the Aerie's winding outer staircase. So this was the power of the Fal'mor, the Children of the Fallen God. Cursed with bodies that had no shape, and flesh that secreted acrid, black ooze, they were as foul and twisted as the legends said, and born with a thirst for death and destruction.
Mere hours it had taken them to tear through the tower, carving a path of blood and destruction until the great, stone halls were stained black with the slime that dripped from their skin and not another living creature drew breath. He had watched it all in awe. Indeed, there was no greater force to be reckoned with than that of the Fal'mor. But he had not sought them out simply to massacre the Ae'ren.
He turned as one of the creatures approached. If the legends were to be believed, Fal'mor such as this one, those that could think and speak for themselves, were few. They were remnants of the first generation of the Fallen God's Children, those that escaped being sealed within Oblivion with their creator. This one, Falere—or so it called itself—claimed to be one of the very first Children of Chaos. Whether that was true or not was unclear. Regardless this 'Falere' was the leader of the brood, and so it had to be treated with respect.
The Fal'mor had assumed the face, neck and shoulders of a human with long, black hair, crimson eyes, and plain features that left its sex to interpretation. The remainder of its flesh, however, was left free to bulge, shift and warp, leaving small puddles of sizzling, black liquid wherever it went. So long as he focused only on its face, he could converse with the creature without feeling nauseated by its shape-shifting body.
"Have you found it?"
The Fal'mor nodded, its features twisting into a mockery of a smile. "It is above."
"Then retrieve it and let us be on our way. Some of the Ae'ren fled during the battle. They will fly to Sera and the Mortal Realms to alert the other Aeonari. We must be away from this place before that happens."
Gooseflesh rippled across the man's skin as the Fal'mor formed an arm and placed its hand on his shoulder. "Do you think I did not try? It is protected, warded against my kind. A dozen I did have try to take it and they dissolved, muscle, sinew and bone into bubbling black puddles. It is you who must retrieve it."
He pulled out of Falere's grip. "Let's not waste any time then," he said curtly and proceeded climbed the stair to its end. Several times he had to kick a winged body out of his way, watching silently as the corpse rolled over the edge and plummeted a thousand metres to the Mortal Realms below, until at last he stepped out onto the circular platform at the tower's summit.
In the centre of the open chamber gleamed an iridescent orb of wafer thin glass the size of a single gold sovereign, suspended in a pillar of pale, silvery light. He smiled. There it was, the First Key—the Lumin, the Light of the Goddess.
"It is there," commented Falere unnecessarily as its Master walked over to examine the pillar more closely. "Take care not to be melted."
He reached out experimentally but did not flinch as the light flared and scorched his fingers. He withdrew his hand and regarded the barrier calmly while Falere muttered worriedly in the background, he had expected as much from the Ae'ren.
At the pillar's base he could make out a several warding sigils. While his knowledge of the arcane arts was minimal, it was easy to assume that the Ae'ren High Council had barred all but the members of its own order from removing the artefact from its resting place. It was a powerful spell, but not infallible.
He cast an eye over the bodies that littered the platform. There would be a High Councillor amongst them, dressed in high-collared white robes and bearing the crescent moon mark on their skin. But it was difficult to tell, Fal'mor acid had eaten away at both cloth and flesh. He walked through the carnage, using his boot to turn over the dead, until at last he found a woman with a bloody hole in her abdomen and a silver moon tattooed on her cheek.
"Here, Falere. Help me," he said and moved to lift the corpse into his arms. He cursed and jumped back as dripping black tendrils shot past him and embedded themselves in the dead woman's spine. He turned to find Falere behind him with an arm-like limb extended, fleshy, oozing tendrils growing from where fingers should have been.
"I am helping," said the Fal'mor in response to the disgruntled look on its Master's face face.
He watched in disgusted fascination as the corpse rose unsteadily to its feet and staggered towards to the light, its broken white wings dragging along the ground, leaving trails of silver blood on the stone. It stood before the barrier, head bowed, shoulders slumped, a puppet awaiting its next order. Falere twitched its fingers and the corpse-doll raised its arm and reached for the Lumin. The barrier flickered as the doll paused, fingers hovering millimetres from the glass orb, as if hesitant to remove the ancient artefact from its resting place.
"What are you waiting for? Take it!"
"It is not I," replied Falere. "The Ae'ren has residual… feelings. It resists. It feels… trepidation." The Fal'mor's black eyes caught hold of its Master's amber ones. "Perhaps removing the Lumin is… unwise."
"What nonsense are you spouting? The dead feel nothing," the man snapped impatiently. "Take the Key, Falere! Or have you forgotten our purpose for coming here?" He faltered a little as the Fal'mor's gaze tightened into an icy glare.
"I have not forgotten, Master Aramir, but the dead know more than you think. Sometimes their words should be heeded." But despite its words, the Fal'mor forced the doll's hand closed and yanked the Godslight from its resting place.
The effect was instaneous.
Beneath their feet, the Aerie rumbled and groaned like a stone giant awakened from its slumber. Before their eyes the barrier flared in an explosion of brilliant white light. Then…
A/N: Prologue added: Jan 28th, 2013. (Apologies for the haphazard updating!)