What has come before: Intro, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

~~~ A reaver ~~~

Blood, hunger, pain, slaughter. The motivations of the beast were simple, transparent to the casual observer, or would be in short order if the observer didn’t run far and fast. A reaver was an efficient killing machine in all respects; vicious claws and razor fangs were designed to tear through flesh, bone, and chain mail with equal ease. The fact that Syraph’s outer perimeter had been breached and that Isonians were ravaging the populace within the Keep’s walls did not faze it at all; in fact, the easy availability of prey was pure bliss.

Long loping strides carried it swiftly through the shadows of the underground passageways, navigating the twisting and turning passages at breakneck speed. Flecks of spittle trailed from the reaver’s lips as it ran, short sharp breaths leaving droplets of vileness in its wake. Oily black flanks heaved with each intake of damp air, the beast’s enhanced metabolism demanding a vast quantity of oxygen.

Slowing to a silent stop, the reaver cocked its head forward, putrid green eyes gleaming as the sound of nearby humans tickled its ear cavities.

“I think we lost them,” a deep male voice announced from up ahead, “bloody Isonians and their thrice-cursed ilk can rot before they catch us.”

Though blessed with only a remedial intellect, never the less the reaver knew that this was not the enemy.

“Oh thank the fates, James,” a female voice gushed, the rustle of cloth on cloth punctuating her words, “but where can we go now?” The reaver stood deathly still, the shadows embracing it, only the dull green glow of its eyes hinting at its position.

“Out of here, of course!” The male called James said, “the soldiers will be entertained looting, and so we should be able to slip out undetected.” The sound of soft footfalls approaching causing the beast to press close to the wall, eyes dimming to twin crescent slits.

“What of your wife and child though?” The woman questioned, no hint of concern touching her silky voice. “Are you just going to leave them?” The couple drew into view, walking arm in arm, the man gripping a guttering torch in front of him like a sword. A soft rumble issued from the beast’s belly, animal instinct pressuring it to feed.

“Hush Annabel, this is the opportunity we always dreamed of. We can start a new life, leave the past behind, and not have to worry about anything ever again.” The reaver’s lips curled up in a hunter’s snarl, an unconscious reflex, while a single tri-clawed foot pawed silently at the ground.

“Mmmmm…… I’d like that……” Annabel crooned, her free hand stroking across James’ chest. Twenty paces away the reaver crouched down, muscles tensed, great strings of drool wetly dangling from its mouth.

“As would I,” the man replied, turning to his lover, his lips pressing to hers in a passionate kiss.

With a howl the beast leapt at the pair, claws flashing in the dim torchlight, knocking them backwards, the burning brand flying from James’ hand and snuffing out against the cavern wall. Annabel screamed, a shrill terrified sound, but was cut brutally short as the viselike jaw of the reaver clamped down on her neck in a ruby shower of vitae. “Sweet mercy,” her lover stammered as scrambling to his feet, “]I didn’t mean it, I was just joking, I really love my wife,” he pleaded with his invisible assailant. The sharp cracking of bone, and the wet tearing of flesh were all James’ mind could take, and turning he fled the way he came, sobbing and screaming as he ran.

One disinterested look in the direction of the cowardly man was all the disturbance the beast allowed itself as it tore into its fresh kill, warmth filling its vile frame as it feasted.

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