Chapter 2. Soul taker

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“Well, you look mean.” came a voice.

Cyme felt the needle pierce her skin. Compared to the torments that these dead men had done to her, it was nothing but an annoying fly. She could do nothing but whimper as the thought of their touch and the humiliations they would bring upon her disgusted her.

Hippolyta help her, she would do anything for just a sip of water. This is what they had done to the great warrior, they had finally broken her.

As the needle left her bruised skin, power the likes she had never know burnt its way through Orian woman. Strength and energy cut through her self-disgust and ate away at her exhaustion. It cleared her mind, caused her body to spasm. Not even in the lusts of war and battle had Cyma ever felt like this.

She opened her eyes in time to see a flash of light that cut the shackles that bound her strength. “Ahhhhhhhhh.” she screamed in rage and defiance. The gods, as if listening to the roar let out a thunder clap. The horn of war and victory.

Ready to spill blood, Cyme stood and looked to her nearest foe, ready to strangle the life from him with her bare hands if she must. What remained of her chain hung from her wrists and ankles, she was free to extract her revenge on any and all men.

Another burst of thunder caught the warrior’s attention. There, she saw a man holding a broken sword guard.

At first Cyme thought about only killing this despised cur, and imagined her thumbs gorging out his eyes, and her teeth ripping our his throat. Her ears rang as the man’s broken handle exploded.

Cyme jumped back. Shocked at what had just happened she reevaluated her foe.

Her eyes drifted downward and saw that below the stranger’s feet was one of her captors. The man was at the top of the Orian’s woman’s kill list, he and his friends had hurt and humiliated Cyme over and over again. He had gloated that he would be the one to break her and he almost had.

Now her tormentor lay there, tears dribbling down his cheeks, his kneecaps and arms bleeding on the cage floor. He was still alive and was sobbing like a baby.

To Cyme’s surprise the stranger picked up a discarded broadsword and handed it to her. “Friends?” he asked.

Instead of replying, she accepted the sword and got ready to slaughter both men. While she did not recogniser his existence along made her vision red with fury. She watched as the stranger exited her cage, leaving her and bleeding out swine to communicate their problems.

Fighting between the urge to cut down the stranger and allow him a chance to escape, Cyme chose to take some petty joy from the monster who had ritualistically assaulted her. Wanting to enjoy the suffering in the bastard’s face, she put him on his back. She wanted him to know who had killed him.

He must have seen what was about to come because he held up his arms, “No. Please. Ahhhhh”

The man’s screams could be heard from the other side of the hills.

She regretted her actions almost immediately. She had planned for days on her revenge, imagining the horrors that she would inflict upon this monster for his crimes against her. Her eagerness had cost her possibly years of mutilating her prey, now she would have to settle for seeing this pig bleed out.

Another thunder clap drew her attention and she saw the stranger turn his bizarre tool towards a man with an axe. The Enseen soldier staggered under the magical blow of some unseen force.

Too fuelled with rage at the loss of both his allies and his precious toys, the man drew closer. The stranger’s cocked his head at the man who was bleeding from his leg and his shoulder.

The man with the axe assumed that the stranger’s reluctance was a sign that his magical tool was empty or had malfunctioned in some way. Within range, he lunged for Cyme’s saviour, his axe held high, his face red with fury.

The stranger simply stepped into his attacker’s strike and then, though Cyme refused to believe it, threw the man with the axe over his shoulder and onto the ground without effort.

Winded, the imperial swine was able to look up into the barrel of the stranger’s bizzare weapon.

“You know, I’m starting to get the impression that you don’t like me very much.” The stranger said as he squeezed his weapon’s trigger.

Cyme jumped as the axeman’s face turned into meaty pulp, his brains being tenderised into the ground.

The stranger with the explosive tool looked to Cyme, who moved back, fearing that she would join her tormentor’s fate. “You done?” he asked.

The Orian woman gazed down at her molester’s corpse. She felt a wave of guilt strike her, not for what she did but that she could not do it again. The man had deserved far worse.

Now able to fully appreciate the battlefield, Cyme looked on in awe at the destruction that her rescuer had caused.

While this particular unit of men was not large compared to Enseen’s legions, it was not a scouting party.

Five hundred men had been stationed in this block. It was a fighting force that could level any normal village. It was the mere tip of Emperor Seloga’s forces. And it had meant nothing to this single man.

Great burning creators were all that were left of tents and supply wagons. Corpses saturated the area, some of the men looked to have been cut in half while others had bloody holes through their skulls.

There looked to be no order to the trained men’s actions. Their attempts to rally had turned into burial mounds and it appeared as if they were trying to shoot arrows in all directions. It being broad daylight there should have been some organisation, instead there were only corpses.

The birds and worms would feast well in the coming days.

While his weapons gave him an unfair advantage, Cyme could not help but appreciate her rescuer’s methods. He had come in as harsh and as suddenly as a hurricane, carving his way through the slavers.

Keeping her senses on any potential threat, the Orian knelt down to examine one of the man’s victims. She had never seen this type of wound before. What appeared to be something round at entered the man’s head. Maybe a spear as there were no arrow shafts. What was curious was that the back of his head was gone.

Lightning nor thunder did this.

The stranger viewed the carnage before him, “So. Which one was Jagon?” he asked aloud.

At first Cyme didn’t understand the man’s words. Then, realisation hit her. That man she would not end so quickly. She scanned the area but did not see the demon anywhere. She kicked and stabbed as mounds of the dead and dying but found no sign of the worm. “He must have escaped.”

“No one escaped,” the stranger said certain that he had performed his grizzly task effectively. He noticed Cyme searching the bodies, “Um, do you want to put something…” he gestured to the naked woman who he had just saved.

The Orian looked down at her naked body and was shocked to discover that her wounds and scars were gone.

Her previous hosts had not been kind. They had gone to great lengths to wound and keep the warrior woman from gaining an advantage as well as punish her for knocking out a few of their teeth. Except for some soreness and some blood stains, Cyme was fully healed.

As her tongue rolled around in her mouth, the warrior’s eyes shot open. She touched the insides of her mouth and stepped back in shock. Over her years of being in the Orian army, she had lost a number of teeth in brawls and skirmishes. Not she had teeth that she had lost years ago.

Examining herself further, the Orian saw that her many scars had vanished, and her tattoos had aged and become warn as if she had aged.

“Did you do this?” Cyme asked, tapping at her newly formed teeth to make sure that they were real and that this was not a dream nor hallucination.

“Yes. If you want, could you help me loot these losers? I’m not exactly getting paid to do this.”

It did not take long for the pair of them to take what goods they could, “Filthy pigs.” Cyme spat as she futilely searched for her belongings. While she found her sword and bow, her armour had been scraped.

Needing armour no matter if it fit correctly or not, the Orian put on scout’s leather gear. She moved to the stranger, “I am Cyme of the Red Spears.” she bit her lip, “Former Red Spears. Warrior of Orian. And you have not only saved my life, but I fear many nights of humiliation. And you stranger?”

“Frank. I was with…” Frank stopped himself, “I’m a retired soldier just trying to make a living selling drinks. Now I’m just a bartender.”

Cyme could not help but smile. Frank had to be one of the tallest men that she had ever seen, tall enough that she suspected that he might have giant blood in him. Judging from the destruction and magic that he wielded it was possible that he might even be a demi-god.

“A solider is a solider, no matter what he says or does to convince himself otherwise.” she viewed the bodies around them, their weapons and purses now Frank’s and Cyme to negotiate for. “You have done me and the world a great service and I seek to make us even. If it is trade or work you seek, go to Penthesilea. Or better yet, find Ajax. There will find you work and hospice.”

“As for me. I must search for my sisters. Not all of the Red Spears would have been captured and sold as slaves.” She placed her hand on her bosom, “I hope to never find you an enemy, Frank.”

“Actually,” Frank gave the woman a cursory glance, and Cyme found herself standing taller.

No doubt the male was considering her as a mate and she could not fault him. She was stronger than any puny mouse that he was likely to find. Her restored skin was a light bronze with lighter shades showing were healed scares had been.

The Orian would no consider herself pretty as far weak Thebe men were concerned. She was taller than most men, with heavy muscles and stern features. She had also been naked.

Cyme did not fault the man his desires but after what she had been through she doubted that she could not look at another male without vomiting.

Frank’s next words took Cyme off guard, “I was wondering if I could get you a drink?”

A hard laugh erupted from Cyme, “I am flattered,” her face turned melancholy, “but it is too soon for me.” she rubbed at her wrists at the memory what had happened in that cage. No, she was sure that she could ever enjoy a man’s company ever again.

“Too bad,” Frank said and reached out his hand and grasped at an invisible door knob. In the blink of an eye a wooden door baring the symbol of a black cat materialised before him. “I make one hell of a drink.”

With a simple pull, Frank opened the door. Beyond the portal, an gob-smacked Cyme was able to see a well lit chamber. An entire room just sitting there, right in the middle of a massacre. And in that room she saw fourteen women, all huddling together, fear in their eyes.

As he began to toss in the mounds of swag that he had captured from the soldiers, Cyme began to circle the door like a buzzard on a corpse. She discovered that while she saw the door when she was right in front of it, the construct disappeared when she moved to the side or got behind it.

Only when she peered directly at it did the gateway exist

“What is this?” Cyme whispered.

“It’s called a pub,” David said and stepped inside. Looking back, he held his hand to the warrior, “Come on. You look like you could use that drink.”

Mesmerised by the magical doorway, Cyme reached out her hand. Frank’s hand felt as soft as a newborn’s, but despite the lack of calluses there was a hidden strength behind it. He smiled as he guided the Orian inside the Abstract.

Cyme had never seen magic before. Orian was a kingdom that that had been built upon the creed of strength and bronze. And while it was rumoured that the queen held court with mystical and spiritual advisors, Orian was a kingdom that no sorcerer would find safety in. As for the Gods, well that was a different matter. But real magic was something that Cyme had no experience with.

“Why have you brought us here?” a woman with a single arm cried out, brining Cyme back from her wonderment.

It took a second but the Orian recognised the woman that she shared the room with and she sneered. While Frank had saved her, he had also saved the other slaves that the Enseen men had gathered, and while Cyme approved, in theory, she would have preferred to have her unit here instead of a crowd of simpletons.

“Welcome to the Abstract,” Frank said as he moved to the counter. “Before you ask it is a tavern, slash inn, slash general store. Don’t worry about the price, the men outside politely paid for everything. So what can I get you all?”

Cyme snorted at hearing that the slavers had paid for her drinks. While she had been initially taken off her feet by the sudden show of such potent magic, the Orian, especially the soldiers, were not unbalanced for long.

“If I am to have a drink on those filth mongers’ accounts. I shall have the most expensive wine that you have.” Cyme declared.

Frank moved his down under the counter and pulled out a glass bottle filled with a purplish red liquid. At first Cyme didn’t know what she was looking at until she saw a hunted face appear within the container.

“This is Pleo’Vale’Sic soul taker. The wine is made from extracting the dung of an extra-dimensional god. The creature feeds on the souls of the most twisted, self-righteous, disillusioned motherfucking priests in the multiverse. Their consciousness is digested in a cosmic thunderstorm. Meaning the creature’s stomach. Their vile essence compressed into a single tear drop which my supplier then bottles.”

“I would recommend that you take your time with it. The hangovers have been known to include headaches and thoughts of mass genocide.” Frank added.

Cyme stared at the bottle for a long moment. The ghostly face of the monster inside bottle stared at her and then smiled as if daring her to try and drink him. Having heard the description of this particular vintage, Cyme was not eager to request a drink.

“Or.” Frank trailed off and pulled out another bottle, “This is a bottle of Merlot. Nothing special about, but it’s generally well liked.”

“I’ll take that one.” Cyme said.

“Good choice.”

Wine was more of a status symbol among the various peoples of the land. With water from rivers and ponds being known to harbour disease, wine was the safer option.

Personally, Cyme detested the drink, preferring to remain sober and sharp. But, as this was a tavern and her throat was as dry as a desert, the warrior relented.

Overall, she had had worse drinks.

Drawn by the smell of alcohol and thirst, the slaves drew closer. “Don’t, he put a spell on her.” the one armed woman said.

Cyme stopped drinking.

“Oh, for crying out loud.” Frank cried out in exasperation. He was quickly getting sick of this. He looked at the state of the women and calmed down. “Turkish bath, large, festive.” the bartender called out and clapped his hands.

On the other side of the bar, a door appeared. The wizard pointed at the door, “You’re lucky I’m in a good mood. Go in there and wash up. Come out when you feel more civilized.” He waited for all the women, including Cyme to go through the door before letting out another sigh. “Why am I doing this again?”

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