I was deeply dissatisfied with how the original story was going but I will leave it up as an old archive. Hopefully this new version, which is combining the old one and the one I had written on Ao3 (Shudders in sleep deprivation), is a bit more sensible for some folks.
The Night Unfurls
"We are born of the blood, made men by the blood. Undone by the blood."
Kyril Sutherland had lived by those words for an eternity. He was certain that he would die by them as well, as he stood to his full height. Swinging his weapon, the Saw Cleaver to rid its blade of unworthy blood the Hunter felt nothing as he looked at the remaining greenskins. Dark crimson eyes coldly calculated the strength of his adversaries and found them wanting. They were nothing more than wild beasts. Three of them were left out of twenty strong.
The Hunter darted forward, pistol barking and taking an orc's face off. His other arm, holding the Saw Cleaver tight, sliced off his target's head with a wide sweeping slash. The Hunter kicked the body out of his way with a brutal shot of his boot then turned his murderous attention on the last remaining orc as it turned to flee. The Hunter was impressed, perhaps this orc had learned that discretion was often the better part of valor.
Unfortunate that the orc was running so damned slow...
The great cleaver swung through the air, cutting a greenskin down in a swift brutal arc. Orcs were tough, Kyril respected that strength for orcs were usually very strong, with some even able to overcome a squad of ten soldiers if they were old enough. But for a Hunter, adept in his purpose, merciless and half-cut with blood? It would be like comparing a rusty table knife to a greatsword.
Kyril let out an exhale as he swung his Saw Cleaver down, folding it into a more compact form as he holstered his worn flintlock pistol. The Hunter stared up at the dark gray skies and he resigned himself to looking for the war chief that he had slain; a big bastard called the Arch-Arsonist...or something like that. He had slain three others with ostentatious names, like the Defiler or Gruzbad the Warlord. All of them died like the unlucky bastards that they were: butchered like pigs.
Irritating that it had started raining just as he finished hunting down the final war band itself.
The Hunter found his target's corpse and picked up one of the crude blades the orcs liked to use. He chopped off the war chief's head with a practiced motion, not even bothered by the still bleeding neck, or the stench of offal and waste that permeated the battlefield. Kyril looked into the orc's rolled up eyes, acknowledging his dead foe with a brief nod, before he put it in the rucksack with the others tossing aside the orc blade with disinterest.
A year had passed since he had been in this kingdom. Eostia, ruled by the Seven Shield Alliance, once the home of the goddess gentle Laurendau. Her descendants held her power for generations, the current holder of the title 'Goddess Reborn' was Celestine Lucross the Fair, High Elf Queen of Eostia, the reincarnation of the gentle Laurendau.
To the north, where the orcs came from, was Garan the land of the Dark Elves so named after its cruel and haughty goddess. The inheritor of the power of Garan wore her Jagged Crown and it was the current inheritor that had made war against Eostia. Olga Discordia, the Dark Queen of the Jagged Crown was the second belligerent in this centuries old war.
Kyril had done his studies on both sides, and hadn't really bothered with joining up with the army. Mercenary work was booming, however, and it was a steady source of income despite the dangers of being slaughtered by orcs. Kyril had gotten good at hunting greenskins down by himself. The Night of the Hunt had taught him a lot of skills. Skills that made him a nightmarish foe for those that stood against him.
Skills that sometimes made him hate himself.
The rain had begun to intensify but he had made it back to the village he was staying at. Idoun was situated at the borders of Feoh, one of the seven kingdoms that made up the Alliance. Its twin, Ur, was the home of many nobles and was very close to its sister Feoh. Kyril waved an idle hand at the guards at the gate, both men staring at him with awe and suspicion. Indeed, the folk of Eostia were distrusting of strangers and foreigners. Perhaps that was why many of them stayed in Thorn. Even then, Kyril was a stranger there too and he wanted to cause no trouble so he kept to himself, wandering from place to place selling his blade-work to those that needed it. Patrons for bloodshed was plenty, and business was booming indeed.
He headed towards the bounty board, where a man was sitting behind a booth. There was a large sheet of cloth and leather above his head to ward off the rain. The man was balding, a representative of the adventurer's guild that was usually responsible for paying off bounties like this one. He gaped at the baleful figure that was approaching. Kyril was tall, lean and sinister. Garbed in nondescript clothing underneath a gray coat, the Hunter's features were hidden under a tattered tricorne hat and his bandanna covered the bottom part of his face. His youthful looks, if one could catch a glimpse underneath his hat, said that he was in his twenties. His terrifying crimson gaze told of a man who had seen far, far too much to be so young.
Kyril blinked then turned his terrifying gaze on the bald man behind the booth. "I have a bounty to turn in." He said, his voice muffled by his cloth bandanna. The Hunter then presented the bloody haversack containing the head of the Arch-Arsonist. The bald man took out a monocle and examined the head, keeping it a fair distance away from him. He then checked the bounty poster to see if the greenskin actually was the same one that had died at Kyril's hands.
"Bloody, hell. You did it!" The receptionist said in astonishment. "You killed the Arch-Arsonist!"
"Huh." Kyril's reply was nonchalant, as if he hadn't killed off an infamous orc warlord who had the penchant for burning captive Knights of Iris alive. There wasn't much he could do for those poor men and women, just burying them in a marked grave somewhere was the best that he could manage.
"What do you mean 'huh'?" The receptionist was surprised at the tone. "Few men and women are able to kill such strong foes, let alone doing so alone!"
"I suppose I should show you the other two I have killed." Kyril said nonchalantly, although not unkindly. "I've been out there for three whole nights hunting down these greenskins."
"Y-You mean there's more!?" The old man gaped at the Hunter who offloaded the cargo in the rucksack. Two more heads of Orc Chieftains rolled out, one of them ended up on the wet grass. Kyril quietly picked that up and let the old man inspect the bounties.
People were starting to gather. Kyril waited patiently for the man to finish his confirmation of the bounty, and for the gold to finally make it into his gloved hands. The Hunter ignored the whispers, the gossip...it was all meaningless to a Hunter like him. Kyril counted out the gold, a not so insignificant amount from the guild and put it away before he attracted even more unwanted attention.
He needed to return.
Kyril took his leave of the receptionist even as he praised the Hunter for his bloody work. The thought that slaughtering these greenskins was something he was given praise for was amusing for some reason, he was thankful that the cloth bandanna he wore over the bottom half of his face hid the grim smile that threatened to form on his gaunt features.
"Welcome home, Good Hunter. What is it do you desire?"
Kyril bowed to Her. His closest and dearest companion. The Plain Doll was the caretaker of this Dream, the very same that Gehrman once held sway over. With his death at Kyril's hands, the Dream was now his to control, with all of the mystery that entailed.
A dreary old workshop surrounded by a field of white asphodels and a small graveyard. It was a lonely but ultimately calm soothing place that Kyril used as a place to gather his thoughts and to rest. Someday, he thought to himself, there would come a time that he would finally bring this place to life and live the rest of his life here in peace.
"Rest." Kyril said, wearily now as he dropped his guard. "I wish to rest for a little while, my hunt was long but successful."
Both ended up kneeling at the grave of Gehrman, the First Hunter. Kyril had slain his master in single combat, freeing the old man from the Dream. Gehrman had sought to free his pupil from the Night of the Hunt but Kyril had elected to stay. Not for the Blood, but because those secrets he had uncovered during that fateful night deserved to die with him.
Now...Now, he was the master of the Dream. And the Hunt was over. Kyril Sutherland had decided to make his way to the Waking World, ending up in the Kingdom of Eostia as a result of his wandering. Misfortune followed the Good Hunter it seemed, for of all of the places he could have ended up he walked into a place where there was a war going on.
The Good Hunter sighed through his nose. At least he had employment, dangerous but one suited to his set of skills. A Hunter must Hunt after all, and the greenskins he cut down in their numbers were his current prey.
"Are you troubled, Good Hunter?"
Kyril's musings were interrupted by the Plain Doll's question. He shook his head in reply as they continued their stroll through the gardens. He remained silent, before he reassured his companion that he would be alright. He would be leaving after this to get another bounty.
No rest for the wicked.
The townsfolk were in a state that the Hunter could describe as excited. Kyril finished the rest of his breakfast before pushing the empty plate away from him. Pulling his hat off and setting it next to his left hand, revealing unkempt black hair, the Hunter was in an isolated corner of the tavern that served as his temporary place of rest.
It was not the Dream but he was not about to reveal that part of his life to anyone was he? It was not a smart move to do so with a war going on. Kyril was not looking forward to an extended stay and interrogation with Eostia's finest thank you very much. The Good Hunter listened in on the gossip, apparently someone very important was coming here. Two someones if he was hearing correctly.
The Seven Shields were the preeminent leaders of Eostia's alliance between the kingdoms that Celestine the Fair ruled. Two of them were here in Feoh for some reason that he could not ascertain. Kyril grumbled and leaned back, the back of his head on the wall as he realized that maybe killing off three high profile targets was more trouble than it was worth, but then again he really couldn't complain about the pay and the opportunity to make more.
Oh well...Perhaps, there might be an opportunity for contracts in another town with another guild. Kyril picked up his hat and placed it back onto his head. He then picked up his Saw Cleaver, strapping the weapon to his back on its usual harness. His pistol was already in its holster.
A bandolier of freshly sharpened throwing knives, poisoned and not poisoned, hung over his left shoulder. Useful in a pinch, and during occasions where stealth won out over head on assaults. Kyril counted out the coin, dropping it at the bar for the tavern owner to peruse. The old man didn't complain but he shot the Hunter a wary glance all the same.
Kyril just kept walking, making his way towards the market to find merchants. He had to buy provisions for his next trip out. The greenskins weren't going away, and staying here was proving to be too static for someone like him.
He had just finished wrapping up his rations of both hard bread and dried meats when he heard the voice.
"You there! The one in the hat!"
Kyril briefly paused before finishing his organization of his supplies. All he had taken from the Dream was in a worn bag. The Messengers were certainly the most helpful, if grotesque, servants he had in regards to keeping him stocked with ammunition and blood vials but everything else he had to handle by himself. The Good Hunter exhaled then stood to his full height before turning around to regard some new acquaintances.
His dark crimson gaze caught the eyes of the Princess Knight of Feoh, the celebrated Alicia Arcturus. The blonde princess rode atop a proud warhorse, barded for battle. Dressed in a set of light blued plate and mail, she looked every bit the noble she presented herself to be. Unfortunate that Kyril didn't see much of the glory.
Grimly, he realized that it wouldn't take much to knock her off of her horse.
Kyril watched as she dismounted, followed by two of her subordinate knights. One with brown hair who gave him a wink that he did not return, and the one with the red hair scowling at him. It was an expression he ignored, just like the woman who owned it.
He did not reply to the call. He merely waited for Alicia Arcturus to get within speaking range. She was quite a beauty but the Hunter only saw a potential opponent. He did not know what he did to offend this woman.
Still, work was work. Maybe she wanted him to clear out a den or something.
This was the man who hunted down greenskins in her land?
Alicia would have scoffed at the sight of the man in the strange tattered hat. His garb, consisting of nondescript clothing underneath a great gray longcoat, boots, bracers and gloves spoke of a foreigner. And yet she did not ignore the bandolier of throwing knives hanging over his shoulder or the strange weapon she caught sight of on his back.
She had expected a grimy mercenary...or the noble demeanor of a knight errant, not some scrounging, sinister stranger.
The Knight of Iris saw the blank stare she was given. Was this man an oaf of some sort? She looked into his eyes, noting with growing concern that he was a head taller than she was.
"Yes?" The man's voice was muffled by the cloth mask he wore. There was no mistaking the lack of respect in his tone. No...he sounded tired, apathetic even.
"You will show respect, cur!" Kendra, the knight on Alicia's left, snapped. "You address the Lady of Feoh! Alicia Arcturus herself!"
The stranger was not impressed in the slightest. But he straightened. "My apologies." He replied neutrally. "I was busy with securing provisions. I aim to hunt more Greenskins when the night has come."
"All by yourself?" Vera, the brunette, asked looking concerned.
"A foolish action." Alicia's tone brokered no argument. "But there have been stories of a strange man in your garb cutting down orc war bands by himself. What I see in front of me is not impressive in the slightest."
She expected a reaction. Not the complete apathy displayed by the stranger in front of her.
"I don't do this for your accolades." The stranger replied, his apathy clear to all that witnessed it. "If I have offended you, I do apologize, but I must get going." He gave a short, curt bow. "Have a wonderful afternoon."
The man moved on without another word.
All three knights looked at him. Alicia was flabbergasted at being put aside while Kendra had the same expression. Vera rubbed her forehead.
"Milady...I think it would have been prudent to be more polite." She deadpanned. "Especially to someone who hunts down orcs by himself."
"A lowborn mercenary who can't even be bothered to show proper respect to Lady Alicia is not someone worth bothering with." Kendra said scowling. "I should teach that boor a lesson."
Alicia raised her hand. "Enough, we shall go with him." She said. "He hunts the orcs and so do we. I still have to fulfill the task the Goddess has given me."
"Is this wise milady? Surely this man is not who the Goddess requires?" Kendra asked.
"We shall see what he is capable of." Alicia replied. "Come. Let us see where he takes us."
The Hunter moved at a sedate pace, even as he heard the sound of hoof beats behind him. He knew the three knights were following him, he just didn't know what Alicia Arcturus wanted with a mercenary like him, considering her attitude he did not know why he didn't give them the slip. Kyril kept his eyes on the road until he stopped at the edge of Fierarch Forest, the possible location of an orc den according to the bounty. Kyril adjusted the strap on his bag as he looked around. The sun was beginning to lower in the sky, and it would take a good march to get near the den.
Kyril looked down at the forest path, saw tracks and exhaled. This was where the orc den had to be. He knelt, unsheathing one of his throwing knives. He picked up something with the small blade, a lock of hair.
The hoofbeats stopped. Kyril dropped the hair and sheathed the throwing knife. He turned to face the women following him.
"We're coming with you." Alicia Arcturus spoke curtly. "I hope that you won't refuse."
Kyril shrugged. So be it, he wasn't about to say anything to a noble and her loyal knights. "There's an orc den here." He said and pointed into the forest. "It seems to be recent, judging from these tracks, but they may have villagers in there." He didn't have to tell these knights that if these villagers were women their fates were sealed the moment the orcs got their hands on them.
"Accursed bastards…" The redhead snarled.
"We can't just charge in there all hotheaded, Kendra." Her brown haired counterpart chided. "Lady Arcturus, your orders?"
The Knight of Iris stared at Kyril. "These two are my knights, Vera and Kendra. May I have the honor of knowing your name?" Alicia asked.
"Kyril Sutherland." The Hunter replied as he reached for the harness on his back. He brought out the Saw Cleaver in its more compact form. He did not miss the disturbed looks all three knights gave him when he pulled out the weapon.
They can mock it all they want, but it was the most reliable weapon he owned. It felt...right in his hands.
"The Hunt has begun." He said to himself.
Despite her reservations, Alicia saw that Kyril was an exemplary and capable scout. More than once, the unlikely companions would have stumbled onto traps that Alicia would have completely missed on a good day.
On one occasion, Kyril had shoved Kendra back. The redhead was about to make an angry shout when Kyril pointed at a crudely placed tripwire and indicated the log hanging from the trees, waiting to swing right into her had she triggered it.
It was large enough that Kendra's sternum would have broken instantly had it collided with her body. Vera gulped as Kyril carefully dismantled the trap and waved them all to follow him. They did so more carefully this time. That was the thing about orcs, they were dumb brutes but sometimes they showed a simple cunning that caught even the most seasoned knight off guard, a talent that deserved its own respect.
Kyril, it seemed, knew that already. That meant he was doing this for a long, long time.
"How did you know?" Alicia had asked him.
"I would have done the same thing." Was the quiet answer as the unlikely party moved into the woods. He didn't even show concern for his companions.
The Princess Knight did not like that answer as she shared a glance between her subordinates. Kendra looked like she was considering putting her sword into the man's back. Vera was looking quite thoughtful but focused on the task at hand.
Kyril raised a fist and stopped. He moved up first, at a crouch, to a tree before he beckoned Alicia forward. The Princess Knight kept quiet but she looked at her two knights and told them to stay back.
"Ten orcs in total. One of the bastards seems to be bigger than the others." Kyril reported as he pushed some brush away. Alicia took stock of the situation. She saw people tied to upright poles. The Princess Knight shivered as she saw the still forms, mutilated and exposed to the elements. There was no doubt that the two village girls were dead, such was often the result of the orc's abuse that their minds quickly followed their bodies.
Alicia hoped their deaths had been quick. That would have been a small mercy. She looked at the cave, wondering if there were others inside. No, there had to be and it was her job to rescue them from danger.
"There must be some of them alive in the cave." Alicia said. "I will rescue them, even without your help."
Kyril nodded in agreement, much to Alicia's surprise. She had expected him to leave the captives to their fates. "We should hit them from four sides, milady." He suggested. Exhaling through his nose, Kyril grabbed two of his throwing knives. "I'll go for the front."
Before Alicia could even try to convince him out of doing something so suicidal, the mercenary stood up and walked into the clearing. The first things he did was to send both throwing knives into the foreheads of a pair of orcs that turned to face the approaching man. As both greenskin bodies hit the floor, the Hunter Kyril readied his Saw Cleaver and pointed it at the bigger orc in charge of the whole mess, a brazen challenge to any orc that saw it.
The big orc bellowed at the challenge and grabbed a large hacking blade. With eight orcs left, Alicia directed Vera and Kendra to take the right flank, she would have to take the left. The clash of blades alerted her to the fight between Kyril and the big orc bastard he had chosen to fight. As Alicia saw Kyril slam his madman's weapon into the orc's shoulder, she shivered at the gristly sound of steel cleaving through bone and muscle. Orcs were unreasonably tough for even the most seasoned knight to take head on.
For someone like Kyril to just cut a big orc's arm off in one swing…
Alicia shook her head. Now was not the time to dawdle. She saw Vera and Kendra engaging, their swords flashing and cutting chunks out of the greenskins they charged into. Alicia had done the same, her blade hacking deep into the gut of a greenskin. The orc bellowed in rage as Alicia tried to pull back.
Her blade was stuck. Alicia pulled again but the blade was stuck. How could she-
Alicia ducked the orc's mad swing as it tried to get at her. It gave off another bellow before a gunshot rang out and the orc's head slammed forward. Alicia felt blood spray onto her face and she let go of her blade, sidestepping the falling corpse of the orc.
Off to the side, Kyril holstered a worn flintlock pistol and yanked his Saw Cleaver out of the corpse of the orc leader he had just killed. The thing's head had been cracked open. Alicia didn't vomit, but the blood drained from her face as she saw the gruesome wound the stranger inflicted on his enemy.
And the corpses of the other dead orcs Kyril had most likely killed by himself.
"Lady Alicia are you hurt!?" Kendra approached Alicia already reaching for the healing supplies on her belt. Vera watched their rear, head on a swivel as she held her bloody sword. They had made a good accounting of themselves having slain two orcs each. Kyril had slain the rest, while Alicia only got one.
"I-I'm fine." Alicia said hoarsely. "The mercenary saved me…"
Kyril had walked into the cave, intent on finishing off whatever was inside, but he instead found several other villagers. As always when it concerned orcs, they were female, some barely ten years old. Their empty eyes tore at Alicia, knowing that she had been responsible for protecting her people and had failed to do so.
"The man is a brutal killer, Vera!"
"I know, Kendra, but how else were we gonna rescue those people on our own!? There were ten orcs with that big burly bastard in the lead we would have been crushed. I'm not saying we should be friends but…"
Kyril could hear the arguments and deigned to ignore them. He instead concentrated on sharpening his weapon. All they had to do was wait for a wagon from the village and that was it...the job was done and they rescued most of the village women. The two dead ones were laid out on a bed of leaves, surrounded by weeping women and children. Kyril let their grief wash over him, his detached manner leaving a distance between him and the others.
He was enraged at the outcome, yes, but he had seen that there was a limit to the imagination of atrocity. Kyril was not surprised about it at all. Yharnam had taught him the meaning of horror, and whatever fear he had felt that night was already long since gone. The Good Hunter continued running the whetstone over the gigantic blade in his hand. The Saw Cleaver had made a good tally today, and a good warrior respected the tools that he ended lives with.
"You there, mercenary!"
Kyril blinked as he heard the call from Alicia Arcturus. He quietly folded the Saw Cleaver into its more compact form and clipped it to the harness on his back. He then stood up to his full height and walked towards the princess knight.
Alicia looked up at him, her blue eyes narrowed. Kyril in return looked down at her, not in the disrespectful sense no, but because he was a head taller than she was.
"You did good work out there, sir." Alicia's tone was curt although the Good Hunter could hear the tremor in her voice. Perhaps her near death at the hands of an orc still affected her. "But our work is not yet done. Once we enter the village, we will discuss your payment...and an opportunity to do more in our Goddess' name."
Kyril didn't reply for a while. "She is not my goddess." He said quietly.
Alicia prickled at the casual blasphemy. "Our Goddess." She reiterated. "Has been looking for capable agents, it is her gift of foresight that has kept our lands safe for centuries."
The Hunter idly glanced at the people they just rescued. It was a pointed gesture that caused Alicia's scowl to deepen.
"Your lack of respect is only tolerated because of the nature of your skills." She warned him.
Kyril shrugged apologetically.
"Are you certain that this is the man you have to bring to the Goddess milady?" Kendra asked as they escorted the wagon full of refugees back to town. "He's...dangerous. Far too dangerous to even be in the Goddess' company."
On any other day, concerning any other person, Alicia would have agreed with Kendra and she would have apprehended the mercenary Kyril Sutherland for questioning. Now that she had witnessed his skill with the massive blade he carried on his person she thought otherwise. The knight of Iris made a glance behind her at the mercenary sitting in the front of the cart with the driver. In the back were the refugees and the dead. Kyril Sutherland kept his head on a swivel, his facemask and tattered tricorne making it hard to get a read on him. His pistol was in hand, freshly reloaded.
Alicia turned her attention back on the road, unsure of the decision to bring this man to Feoh. But the Goddess decreed her intentions to find the most trustworthy agents to help her in an upcoming task.
She trusted Her Holiness.
Ken, the Capitol of the Kingdom of Eostia
Part chapel, part keep the Grand Cathedral was the seat of the Seven Shields Alliance and the home of the Reincarnated Goddess herself.
Celestine Lucross walked away from the meeting with a tired yawn. The High Elf Queen shivered as flashes of the last vision she had went through her mind…
He stood in a field of white asphodels, unbowed and unbroken. Garbed in a gray coat and tattered tricorne, he held a madman's weapon in one hand a saw fused with a cleaver. He looked away to the distant horizon, as if knowing his fate lay elsewhere other than these lonely fields of white flowers.
His dark eyes were tired, so so tired that Celestine wished that she could reach out to help shoulder whatever burden he bore.
Celestine let out a gasp.
The vision changed. This time, the gray garbed stranger stood in a field of corpses. Men, bearing swords and leather armor, lay at his feet broken and torn asunder. The great cleaver that he carried was stained with blood. Much like its wielder, the weapon had fed well.
The stranger turned to look at her. Celestine screamed as he reached out with a bloody hand-
The High Elf stumbled, knocking over a vase which caused it to shatter.
Celestine turned suddenly to the voice that called to her. Claudia Levantine was the leader of the Dawn Templars, the stalwart paladins who swore to defend her life and honor with their very lives. Garbed in harsh steel plate, Claudia was tall and uncompromising. Celestine's eyes widened as she saw what had happened.
"O-Oh…" She started as she saw the vase, shattered all over the floor. Claudia walked to her side, steering clear of the field of debris. "M-My apologies I should clean this up."
"You are troubled, your Holiness." Claudia said in concern. She waved over a couple of servants, maids who were under Celestine's employ. "Please, take care of this."
As the maids obeyed the command, Claudia helped Celestine to her quarters. Claudia had never seen the High Queen look so troubled and tired. Celestine's lovely green eyes were dilated and she seemed to regard every shadow with fear.
"I'm sorry, Claudia." Celestine whispered. "The last vision was...well, it was bad." The High Elf shivered as they reached her private quarters. The two Templars bowed their heads and opened the doors.
Claudia let Celestine sit on her sofa while she took a chair to her left. Celestine removed her shawl and closed her eyes. Claudia frowned. While Archbishop Grishom was the physical representation of the church, Celestine was its spiritual leader for even longer than he was. Claudia could see the effect of the burden of a thousand years on Celestine Lucross.
"Is it...about that stranger you spoke to me about?" Claudia asked.
"...Yes…" Celestine whispered. "I do not know whether he has a part to play in this war, for good or ill, but the vision was real enough for me to seek him out."
"A bloodstained stranger, surely this could be an omen of sorts." Claudia said looking at her liege with much concern.
"But I saw a different version as well." Celestine told her.
"What did you see?" Claudia asked.
At that question, Celestine gave a sad shake of her head. "He stood in a field of white flowers, looking ahead...as if he knew his fate lies elsewhere." She said. A ghost of a smile formed on her fair face. "He was just as tired as I was."
Claudia was wise enough to know that Celestine's visions were often correct, but this seemed to have an awful premonition about it.
"Milady, I do not think this person is a savior at all." Claudia said. "If he shows up, permit me to have him detained."
Celestine shook her head gravely. "No Claudia, do not act so rashly." She said. "I do not wish to lose any of my dearest friends."
Claudia frowned again, but she relented.
For now at least.
"You have my sincerest thanks, Lady Alicia."
The village leader, an old man, bowed in respect to Alicia. To her left, Kyril Sutherland had already walked off to report to the guild representative. Alicia had Vera keep an eye on him while she and Kendra spoke to the leader of Idoun.
"I still failed to rescue two others." Alicia said, returning the gesture. "It was my fault for not doing enough."
The village leader sighed. "The Goddess protects all, but we must be careful when we venture out into the wild." He saw the figure of the Hunter and shivered.
Alicia noticed. "What do you know of that man?"
"The stranger?" The old man glanced at the Hunter briefly. "Aye, he came in a few weeks ago. Said he was traveling the land, looking for work. He's...terrifying but he hasn't given us any trouble. He leaves us alone and we do the same. Cordial, but real quiet."
"I hear he's good at killing orcs." Kendra remarked. "I wonder if it's all fanciful stories."
"No, milady." The old man replied. "Albert Finnegan, one of our farmers, had been chased back here by a marauding band. The stranger went out to find poor Albert; The orcs...he-he killed them all in the span of a single night!" The old man's voice became a whisper.
"The guild's also seen what he brings to the bounty board, he's done in some war chiefs as well. Big names too like the Arsonist, the Defiler…"
Alicia had heard of those names. High value targets that she had wanted put down for weeks, each one responsible for the deaths of not just the common folk but for a few knights as well...
And this...this stranger had put them down by himself?
"My lady…?" Kendra asked.
"We must return to Feoh." Alicia said to Kendra. "And after that, we will bring this stranger before the Goddess to receive her judgment."
Alicia just hoped that she didn't make a mistake by doing this.