Categories > Original > Fantasy > Brutal Fates

Village of the Dead, and Healing

by Blood_and_Gore 0 reviews

Four years have passed since the incident in Stratton's Hometown. Now Stratton has changed due to the trauma. Can anyone help save him?

Category: Fantasy - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Romance - Warnings: [!] [V] - Published: 2006-02-11 - Updated: 2006-02-12 - 8750 words

Four years later... A Village known as Azure a mysterious man had just entered the village and his wavy silver hair and his three feathers made him stick out. Dedric smiled as he stood in the village. He had recently found an orb of great terrible power. The only problem was he couldn't use it. For one of the requirements was that you have to be dead. So he came to this village for not only thanks to a great war was there a lot of bodies buried but a couple of months earlier a Minotaur had been slain and was left to decay in the opening of the graveyard to apparently ward off evil.

Dedric smiled as he walked towards the graveyard. Many hadn't forgotten about the atrocities at Dedric's former kingdom. But no-one could figure out who did it all they knew was that there where no survivor's.

As Dedric walked along he smiled at the fact of how many people he was seeing. For if what he had heard about the power of the orb was true then whatever controlled it could create an unstoppable army. A smile formed on his lips as he began to approach the gates of the Cemetery.

Even as he approached the horrible smell of decay washed over his senses. He just smiled wider and kept walking forwards. As he stepped foot into the graveyard he looked out and saw hundreds of graves already. That's where he found two trees that where leaning down and the decaying Minotaur slumped against it. 'Humph this is too easy.' Dedric thought as he began to walk over to it.

As he got really close he covered his mouth with his right arm, the thing had flies all around it and maggots living in holes in its flesh. Dedric just laughed though. He reached into a little bag he was carrying and pulled out a glowing green orb. He then put it on the creature's chest and pushed it in. Dedric then leaned in closer to see if it was working. At first nothing really was happening. 'Maybe I had to put it into something that wasn't a monster at one point.' Dedric thought but as he turned its hands twitched. He looked back and its eyes opened to show a freaky milky whitish grey color.


The Inn was horrible to say the least. All the boy could do was toss and turn as he tried to sleep. "No..." He muttered as he turned and then lay on his back and then suddenly woke up in terror. "No!" He screamed again and then covered his face as he began to breathe softly.

"Stratton?! Are you alright?" He turned to see Emy looking at him concerned.

"Yeah I'm fine. It was just... that dream again." He said looking ashamed. "That monster still haunts me Emy." He said pulling his knees close to him and hugging them. Stratton was now sixteen years old and 5'6".

Emy just flew over to him. "You want to talk about it?" She asked and he just shook his head.

"No you've heard it all before." He said and grabbed Ozma and slung it back over his shoulder. "Come on Emy. This Inn sucks." He said and began to walk out. Stratton's appearance hadn't really changed except for the fact that now he wore a brown half cloak that he used to hide himself.

Stratton still adventured, but feared that the Narl he met that night would come looking for him. Even after four years the images of that night where still as vibrant as if it had just happened. And due to his fear he rarely slept soundly anymore, and due to it he had turned into a coward and changed him for the worse.

As he walked he looked suspiciously at everybody around him from under his cloak. Stratton's life had become very dark since that night. He rarely trusted anybody and was always paranoid. Emy though depressed by how he changed could tell that the real him was still in him, and in knowing that she stayed with him.

Stratton walked out of town Emy on his shoulder. For some reason even daytime seemed to lose its light after seeing that true monster. But this was Stratton's life ever since then. Wandering around helping as many as he could along the way, Stratton sighed and found a bar on the road and went inside. As he walked in he noticed that the place was pretty full.

Stratton immediately walked up to the bar and sat down on one of the stools. He looked to see the barkeep staring at him. "Give me your strongest ale." Stratton said as the barkeep nodded and grabbed a bottle of the stuff and put it down in front of Stratton.

"That'll be ten gold, mate." The barkeeper said his breath smelling something fierce. Stratton just reached into his pocket and put the gold on the counter. As he took a huge swig of the stuff and sat it back down he heard the door open and saw a girl who couldn't be too much older than he was walk in.

"Pardon me." She said loud enough that everyone in the room could hear. "But I am looking for any adventurer's or brave souls who would do a job for me." A bunch of the people in the place laughed but Stratton and a few other's didn't. She walked over and sat at a table and Stratton grabbed his ale and stood up and noticed about five others were walking over to the table as well. All of them sat down and looked to her.

"Ok as of recent we've lost contact with a town that's not even a day's walk away. We've sent about four messengers to try and assess the situation and return with their findings. Yet not a single one has returned and now I am beginning to fear that they may never return. So I was sent to hire any willing heroes to help..." Before she could finish Stratton spoke up.

"How much does it pay?" He asked his voice cold sounding. Emy just looked at him and got depressed.

"Stratton we don't need to..." She started but was cut off.

"Well?" He asked looking at the girl. The girl even seemed taken back by his request to be paid.

"Well I can give you six hundred gold." She noticed that he didn't seem happy. "Please it's all I have to my name currently." She said and he still didn't look to happy but he didn't stand up. "Thank you." She said and bowed slightly to Stratton. "Now does anyone else require pay?" She asked looking at all the others and all of them just shook their heads. "Ok. The town is called Azure. And to get there all you need to do is take the northern trail out of town and just follow that till you reach it. May all of you have a safe trip and return unharmed as well." She nodded to them and all of them stood up.

Besides Stratton there were three guys and two girls. The girls had Mage outfits on and were smiling just at the thought of being able to help. One of the girls had short blue hair and the other short green hair. One of the guys had the looks of a Ranger and he had a huge broadsword and eyes that looked sharp as a hawks. Another had an elvish look to him almost like he had elven blood within him but his ears weren't pointy enough to be a full blooded he had long blond hair and had a nice bow on his back. The Last guy looked as though he was just your average adventurer and he had a smile on his scarred face.

Emy got onto Stratton's shoulder and they both started to walk out of the bar with the group of other adventurer's. As they walked out they noticed that there was a bunch of horses and a man was standing there. "You guys those adventurer types?" He asked and they nodded. "Well these here Horses are for yall to get there faster with." All the other's nodded in appreciation and Stratton just hopped on one of the horses and began to ride off.


Dedric started to walk out of the Village a smile on his face. His mission was a complete success and it seemed as though the Minotaur was afraid of him. As he neared the exit a group of five Zombie villagers stumbled forward and blocked the path.

Dedric just smiled at them and moved bangs of his hair that covered his face making his feathers move. "Are you all gonna move?" Behind him there was about fifty other Zombies lurching forward. "Fine! I'll make you move."

Dedric leapt forwards and kicked one in the middle of its face then with his right arm chopped at its neck and when his hand connected a loud crack echoed and the Zombie fell. As he landed he quickly reached up and grabbed another by the sides of its head and with a quick jerk it fell to the ground motionless. He then smiled at the three that was only about three feet away. He leapt into the air and started to spin forwards when he came down his feet smacked two of them back and his elbow landed on the top of the one in the middles head. As his elbow connected the head collapsed and the Zombie dropped.

As Dedric looked at the other two Zombies he just got a frown and with a quick roundhouse took one of there heads completely off. He looked to the last one and as it grabbed on to his clothes and pulled itself forwards he quickly smacked both his arms together in front of him breaking the Zombies arms. He then punched it in the chest sending it flying through the front door of a house.

Dedric just smiled at how his path had been cleared and he didn't even need to use his power. He just put his hands in his pockets and started walking. As he left the village he began to grumble to himself.

{Flashback} "I've got some personal business to take care of, so I'll meet back up with you when I'm finished." Kratos said to Dedric with a quick wave of his hand. "You can manage to create a Giant Zombie without me, am I correct?" Dedric just grumbled to himself. "After I return we will continue our search for true power." With that Kratos walked through a patch of trees and disappeared from site. 'Ignorant Bastard.' Dedric thought. {End Flashback}

'Wonder what sort of personal business he was talking about.' Dedric thought as he walked. 'Well it better be worth delaying our search.' He thought angrily. He just flicked the hair out of his face and continued walking.


As they rode the other Adventurers conversed with each other except for Stratton he just stayed further back from the group and eyeing them suspiciously. 'If I let my guard down, they'll take advantage of it I can tell.' He thought scowling at the group in front of him.

After they got within about three miles of the place a strange fog was hanging in the air and covering the ground. "I don't like the looks of this." The Ranger said as they began to continue through the fog. Soon they found a hill that at the top lay the village. "Well come on we're almost there." The half elf said as he rode up the hill towards the entrance to the Village. As they rode into town Stratton was the only one to dismount.

The place was covered in fog and the town had an eerie presence to it. The other adventurer's looked around suspicious then they all heard a groan and turned to see a figure stumbling out of the fog. "Excuse me are you alright?" One of the mage girls said and as the figure moved closer its features were becoming more evident. It had a torn shirt on and what looked like a large amount of dried blood on it the figure was a girl and the skirt she wore had been torn slightly too but had tremendous amounts of blood covering it. Her eyes were a sick milky white and her skin had turned a nasty dark greenish. It was peeling off and on certain parts you could see muscle and bone.

The entire group of Adventurers were at a loss of words. Then it made a long drawn out moan and more figures were beginning to appear. "Shit!" The Ranger yelled and as he began to turn around he noticed that they had been flanked and more of the Zombies had snuck up behind them. "We'll have to fight our way through!" He yelled pulling out his huge sword. The Elf pulled his bow and the two Mage girls brought up their staffs and the adventurer pulled out his sword. Then the Elf shot an arrow into ones head and it dropped like a rock. The Mage girls were casting fire spells at them and the Ranger was hacking them in two then finishing them off. The other Adventurer leapt in and hacked one's head clean off and started to attack and hack at the other nearing zombies.

Stratton just stood and stared at them fighting for a moment, he hadn't lifted even a finger to help aid any of them against the increasing Zombie horde. Emy eventually looked up at him. "Stratton aren't you going to help them?" Emy said in distraught. She noticed he looked down at her and he almost appeared angry for a second.

"Fine!" He pulled Ozma off his back and ran forwards and hacked a Zombie in two then twirling the sword so the tip was pointed to the ground stabbed it in the head. The other Adventurer had hacked at another Zombie and turned and stabbed one through the head. As he did so a Zombie got up behind him and bit into his shoulder. He screamed in pain and dropped to his knees more Zombies began to pile onto him and started to feast on him. Stratton just snickered and then noticed that the horses had begun to run off from the scare that the Zombies where giving.

The Elf saw the Adventurer getting mauled and went over and shooting the Zombies trying to save his life. When he managed to kill all of them and moved their bodies off of him he found the Adventurer lying on the ground dead from all his wounds. "No...I didn't make it fast enough." The elf said when suddenly the corpse's eyes opened and was a milky white color. It moved upwards and bit into the Elves neck. The Elf screamed in pain as he pulled back a chunk of his neck was ripped out and the Zombie of their comrade fell back to the ground. He started to rise again but was suddenly hit with a fireball and incinerated.

One of the Mage girls ran over to the Elf and covered his neck with a cloth to try and stop the bleeding. When suddenly a loud crash noise came from inside the fog and all the Zombies started to back off. "Come on we're leaving!" The Ranger said when suddenly a snort came out of the fog near him and as he turned around there stood a Zombie Minotaur that stood about fifteen feet tall. It had decaying skin all over and it had a lot of bones that were showing. It snorted again and then aimed its head down and charged forwards and one of its horns impaled the Ranger through the chest. It made a sort of howl noise that sounded angry and it thrashed around till the body went flying off its horn.

It turned to the Mage girl and the Elf and mooed in fury and charged. "No! I won't let you hurt them!" The other Mage said running in front of the other one and the Elf and sending a fire spell into the Minotaur's gut. It on the other hand didn't seem to notice and it brought up its left arm and balled its hand into a fist and brought it down on her crushing her. "No Amy!" The other Mage girl screamed and then the Minotaur looked at them. She picked up the elf and tried to run while supporting him. "Hey help us!" She yelled at Stratton who was standing horrified at the Zombie Minotaur. "Hey!" She yelled and he turned and started to run away. "You Coward!!!" She screamed as the Minotaur brought up its hoofed leg and brought it down crushing both of them.

"Stratton? Why didn't you help them?" Emy asked tears welling in her eyes. Stratton almost ignored the question as he was running out of the village and as he still running at full speed headed back towards the town. He didn't care that the others where dead all he cared about was that he was alive and that he'd live to see another day. After for what seemed like an eternity he slowed down and began to walk. "Stratton?"

Stratton looked down at Emy with an amount of anger in his eyes. "You're still wondering why I ran?!" He yelled and she cringed. "Because if I didn't that monster would have killed me!" She felt the familiar wave of depression hit but she just ignored it and cowered from him. Stratton kept walking and the rest of the walk to the town was done in silence. As they reached the town Stratton immediately headed in the direction of the bar. As he got there he opened the door rather violently and walked inside. As he did he got quite a few stares from people and then he noticed the girl who hired him looked over and look surprised to see him. She then walked over to him eager to hear what happened.

"What happened? Why are you alone?" She asked sounding excited to hear. "Is the town alright? Where are the others who went with you?" She then noticed the unhappy look on his face and stopped her excitement.

"You want to know what happened?" His voice was filled with anger as he spoke. "We got ambushed by a town filled with Zombies!" He yelled and she got a look of shock and sadness. Stratton then looked at her and in a very serious tone said. "What about my payment?" She looked at him and then thought about something.

"Well first of all, I need to know more about the situation." She said and Stratton seemed extremely annoyed by it. "First I need to know if there is any chance for any survivors to still be in the village." Stratton just growled and with a ching noise he had drawn Ozma.

"Look! I took your stupid Mission. Now give me my money!" The girl looked at Stratton with terror in her eyes.

"O-Ok, just don't h-hurt me." She said and grabbed a small pouch of money at her side. "H-H-Here..." She said trembling. "T-Take it." She tried to extend it but her shaking caused her to drop it to the ground.

Emy popped her head out and was looking at Stratton in shock. 'This isn't the Stratton I knew and loved.' She thought as she watched the almost evil smile on his lips.

The girl had tears in her eyes from the fear of what he might do. "Leave." He said simply but with a slightly threatening tone. She looked up and quickly turned and ran out the door. Stratton just got a smirk and chuckled to himself as he bent down to grab the money. As his hand was about to grab it a foot stomped on it and as he looked up there was a girl wearing a white cloak that had blue fur on the lining giving it an elegant look. "Hey! You're on my..."

Before he could say another word the person had slapped him. As he turned at her angry he was slapped again. Stratton just had a look of surprise and shock after the second one. Emy seeing this flew out in front of the person. "Leave him alone!" She said trying to sound as threatening as she could. When the person took off her hood Emy gasped in shock. Stratton turned and was facing an older Karina.

Stratton's eyes widened as he stared at her in shock. "Karina?" Emy asked and the Birdling turned and smiled.

"Hello again Emy." She said and Emy almost burst in tears at the sight of her. Karina turned and looked at Stratton. "And what the hell are you thinking acting like that?!" She said fuming again. As she yelled another person wearing a blue cloak walked over.

"Everything alright Karina?" The person asked and Karina looked up.

"Yes it's alright Sterling." Stratton looked up at the guy and noticed that he too was a Birdling. Sterling was a tall Birdling who stood about 6'0, he also wore a blue Knight uniform and had an electric spear on his back. Sterling had poofy brown hair as well as strong dark colored eyes. Stratton slowly started to straighten himself up. He got a better look at Karina and noticed that she stood only about 5'2", her hair was still long and her eyes as green as ever. Stratton noticed that the other Birdling with Karina was staring intently at her.

He felt a sudden wave of jealousy wash over him and he looked to Karina. "Who's he?" Was all he managed to ask her. She turned and looked over at him.

"Uh- well you see, he's..." She seemed almost intimidated by the question and Stratton just stood waiting for an answer. "He's my fiancé." She said looking to the floor. Stratton stood staring in shock. His mind started to race, he could feel hurt by the fact that she had a fiancé, and he felt jealous, but the feeling that seemed to black out all the others was the anger.

"Come on Emy!" He said and turned back towards the door. Emy looked at Karina who had raised her head up in surprise, and then Emy turned back to Stratton who had stopped in the doorway.

"Stratton?" Emy called but it seemed to fall upon deaf ears. Tears were streaming down Stratton's cheeks. His old memories had started to resurface and the paranoid fearful feelings started to return. He had slowly begun to shake and he reached up and gripped onto the sides of his head with both hands. He began to shake a little more violently as his vision began to blur and his memories almost began to become life like again. "Stratton?!" Emy had flown over and saw his face that was filled with the same fear that it was that night four years ago. Emy quickly got on his shoulder and nestled her head on his cheek. "It's ok Stratton." She said softly so that only he would hear. "I'm here for you." She said and he just let out a loud sob and fell to his knees.

"Stratton?" He heard Karina ask and felt a hand land on his opposite shoulder. "What's wrong?" She asked at the feeling of being touched he pulled away from her and curled up into a ball by the door. Karina felt tears come to her eyes as she looked at him. This was no longer the Stratton she once knew, he was filled with fear, and it seemed as though something that had happened since she parted ways with him that haunted him.

"Come on Stratton." Emy said and tugging on his shirt with all the strength she could tried to get him to stand up. "Let's get you to bed." Stratton got up and started out of the place. "Karina, please come with us." Emy said and Karina just nodded. She had never seen anyone become that fragile before. And she would have never thought she would have seen the brave young boy she once knew so frail.

Emy took Stratton to the room and he went over and curled into a ball on the bed. Karina walked in with Sterling behind her. Stratton had his eyes closed and Emy was sitting on the bedside table looking at him concerned. "What happened to him Emy?" Karina asked. Emy just looked over at her and then back to Stratton.

"Well I warn that it is a long story and it may be a little hard for me to get through some parts of it." Emy said as her voice began to crack. Karina walked over and picked up Emy and put her into her arms.

"Just take your time." She said sweetly to the little creature. Emy looked up and then began to tell Karina what they had gone through.

"Well as you may have heard but the Kingdom that Stratton and I used to live in had gotten destroyed four years ago. Well we both were present to see its destruction. And Stratton witnessed his father getting murdered and the creature that did the deed has haunted Stratton in the shadows ever since. We both managed to flee the city as the Narl's began to set everything a blaze." Emy's voice crackled and Karina just hugged her sympathetically.

"After Stratton and I fled, we both traveled around a lot. Stratton was afraid to stay in one place for too long. And since we really had no home anymore, food became harder to get and so did an Inn to stay at. Whenever we were given pity and handed food or given a room for the night Stratton was always suspicious of whoever did that for us." Tears began to fall from Emy's eyes. "And for the past two years it's gotten to the point where he treats people worse and worse with each new encounter. He even began to steal from people and... well I'm not sure I should really tell you the last part without his permission." She said looking at Stratton. "All I can tell you is that for about the past year he hasn't really liked himself." Emy just stared at Stratton. "Life has been very unkind to us since we returned home."

"Is there anything that can be done for him?" Karina asked as she looked at Stratton with tears falling down her cheeks. 'For the past four years I've lived as I've always lived. Pampered and getting anything that I desired. While he's lived in a state of anguish.' She walked over to Stratton and sat on the bed next to him. She then leaned down and gave him a hug. "It's going to be alright from now on, I promise." She whispered to his sleeping form. On the other side of the room Sterling just glared at Stratton.

It had gotten late, Karina and Sterling had managed to fall asleep and even Emy slept soundly next to Stratton. Stratton on the other hand had woken up. He stared blankly into space as the room was filled with silence. As he stood up he tried to move slowly and softly as to not wake up Emy. As he got off the bed he looked over in the corner of the room at his bag. He quietly walked over and opened it.

Inside of it was a bunch of old items that Stratton held close to his heart. Inside was his mother's wedding ring and a necklace that she always wore. And underneath all those were some drawings that his mother had made that were really detailed pictures of him and Emy. Tears began to fall from his eyes as he looked at the pictures. The memories of his mother flooding back and the memories of a time that he lived a much happier life began to surface within his mind. He curled up into a ball and began to sob harder. The drawings and jewelry was all he had left of his mother and what was left of his childhood due to the fact that the house had been burned down. He gasped as he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see Karina.

He wiped the tears away from his eyes. "I'm sorry." He said trying to act like he wasn't crying. She just sighed and wrapped her arms around him making him blush.

"Stratton?" She asked and he looked her in her eyes. "You shouldn't be like this. I hate to say it but you're not acting like the brave selfless boy that I fell in love with." She said looking a little depressed. And Stratton seemed to be taking the words harshly as well and couldn't even face her. "Stratton I just want you to be like you used to, I miss that part of you." She leaned her head and rested it on his. She then looked into the box and saw the ring necklace and drawings. She reached down with one hand and picked up the drawings and looked surprised at the amount of detail.

Stratton noticed her interest and while still not looking her in the face said. "They were drawn by my mom before she passed away." Karina looked at the pictures and could tell that Stratton was feeling depressed. She put the pictures back and got closer to Stratton. "Am I a disappointment to you?" He asked as he managed to peek over at her.

"Stratton, I was surprised by the change you had gone through, but..." She paused as she talked trying to think of the right words. "I can tell that you are still you therefore I could never be disappointed." She wrapped her arms around him and rested her head on his chest making him act in shock at first. But then he reached up his right hand and shakily ran it through her hair. "Please turn back into that boy Stratton." She said as she nestled closer to him. His blush was returning as she nestled closer.

Tears began to well in his eyes as she held him. He had truly changed in such a short time, but how could he fix himself? He looked to Karina the depression still evident in his eyes. "How can I make myself normal again?" He asked not knowing what to do.

She smiled and looked him in the eyes. "Well I know a way that we can start. Tomorrow we'll make things right in that village that you had gone too." Stratton looked at her in shock and fear. The thought of an Undead Minotaur giving him doubts about his ability to save the place. "But don't worry about that right now. You should get some rest Stratton." She said and gave him a kiss on his forehead and laid him down on the bed and he felt calmed by her presence.

"Karina?" He asked making her turn to him. "Could you stay with me till I fall asleep?" He asked blushing. She just smiled and sat next to the bed.

'He's still that heroic kid I knew.' She thought as she smiled down at him. "Sure I'll stay Stratton." He smiled and actually got under the covers and closed his eyes. As Karina smiled down at him she didn't notice the pair of eyes glaring at Stratton from the other bed. Sterling had seen most of what had happened. And he would be damned if he was going to lose Karina to a gung-ho adventuring human. Sterling turned around and shut his eyes muttering to himself.

Stratton meanwhile was having the most peaceful sleep he had experienced in the past four years. He dreamed of a time when he was much younger and of the last visit his mother had at the farm. Thanks to recent nations trying to gain more land to keep from overcrowding they had managed to spark a war with the monster natives. Protector Squads and Hero's alike were being sent to the battle fields to aid in the struggle. And Yuri had just gotten home after a battle. She had Ozma slung over her back and had given Stratton a big hug when she got home.

"Hey mom look, I'm almost as tall as you." Stratton said smiling brightly. In all truth Stratton was only nine years old. He stood only about 4'1", while Yuri stood about 4'10". She smiled at him and rubbed her hand through his hair.

Yuri had about mid back length yellow-green hair that was very straight and gave her a radiant look. Yuri wore dark green light armor outfit and had a green cape. Depending on what her job is as well she will sometimes wear a filtration mask over her mouth which is colored a steel black color. Yuri smiled at Emy. "Have you been taking care of young Stratton here?" She asked her smile almost heartwarming.

Stratton could tell through the dream that his mom had seemed troubled about something. But the happiness through the memory blocked out the logic in it. Yuri also seemed to have paid a lot of attention to Stratton on that trip. And before she left again she had given him a hug that back then had confused him, but now seemed to make a lot more sense. She had wrapped her hand over the back of his head and had told him to be safe and when she walked off she was crying.

Stratton felt active again and opened his eyes. He noticed that Karina was talking to Sterling who didn't seem happy about something. Emy smiled at seeing Stratton awake and flew over to his shoulder. "I take it you and Karina had a nice chat last night?" She asked and smiled at him.

For once in a very long time he actually smiled back. "Its amazing though Emy I haven't felt this good in quite a while." He said and she smiled at him just saying those words. She then nestled really close to his neck and licked the side of his face. "Its good to have my Stratton back." She said when Karina turned around and saw Stratton awake she smiled.

"Morning Stratton I hope you slept well." She said noticing his cheerier mood. Sterling just scoffed and Karina gave him a glare. "Well come on Stratton we should get moving." She said sounding cheery to him.

Stratton got up and picked up his box with his mother's belongings and grabbed Ozma and started to walk out of the Inn with Karina and Sterling, Emy still on his shoulder, and as they began their walk towards Azure Emy stood up suddenly. "I think I'm gonna go and talk with Karina, I want to really catch up with her." She said and flew over to Karina's shoulder, and both of them began to talk.

As Karina and Emy began to talk Sterling fell back with his walking so he was next to Stratton. Stratton felt uncomfortable just by him being so near him. "You know you should just forget about her?" Sterling said suddenly. Stratton just looked at him with surprise and annoyance. "Come on now." Sterling said acting like a prick. "She's already engaged to me, and I am a Knight in my kingdom. While you aren't anything but a peasant compared to me." He said making Stratton growl in anger.

"Well I knew her way before you did, and I saved her life." Stratton said as he glared back at Stratton. After that they both just walked silently hating each other. As they neared Azure a strange fog was beginning to form. As they stepped into the town limits Stratton stared at what remained of the Adventurer's from before. 'Mom give me strength.' He thought as he walked past the remains and looked to see that everyone else was on edge. As he stepped forwards he heard a twig snap in the trees up ahead. Out from behind one of the trees stumbled a zombie. Karina gasped at the site of the creature. It once had been a woman but now there where bite marks covering up her arms and her legs. The zombie moaned a long almost wailing moan and shambled forwards as more moans started to come out of the fog. As they did Stratton pulled Ozma sweat already dripping off of his forehead from fear of the Minotaur returning.

Sterling pulled his spear off his back and the tip began to resonate with electricity. As a zombie got near to him he smacked it in the side of its head the electricity flowing through its head until ultimately the head popped into blood. As more zombies neared him he began to twirl the spear around slashing at them but also putting extreme amounts of electricity through their bodies. Karina put her hands together and shut her eyes and began to whisper something. Emy hid within Karina's cloak hood and waited as Karina was beginning to glow in a white light and as a zombie walked near her she put her arms out and sent a white blast into the creature blowing its body into oblivion. Stratton was swinging Ozma around with more skill and more confidence than he had in a long time. As he hacked a zombie in two diagonally he quickly stomped on its skull and then lopped another's head clean off.

When Stratton began to feel more secure about fighting almost on cue came the monstrous mooing roar of the Minotaur through the fog. The zombies began to back off and Karina looked to Stratton and noticed that he had begun to tremble. "Stratton are you alright?" She asked worried about him when a loud crash noise brought her attention forwards as the Minotaur stood holding a pillar as a club its flesh still hanging off parts of its body and its milky eyes looking forwards.

As it stepped forwards Stratton began to back up and began to turn around. "Stratton!" Emy screamed and he stopped. "You wouldn't leave us to fight this thing alone would you?" She had tears in her eyes and Stratton began to step forwards again.

"Forget that weakling! I'll slay this monster in the name of the Holy Knights!" Sterling flew forwards and stabbed at the Minotaur and got it in its chest but as the electricity began to course through its body it acted like it wasn't doing anything and backhanded Sterling to the ground. As Sterling landed the monster brought up the giant Pillar and slammed it down towards Sterling. As it was coming down Karina leapt in front of Sterling and a white barrier went around her and him stopping the Pillar in its tracks.

Stratton seeing Karina in the path of danger quickly ran forwards and hacked at the left leg of the Minotaur. As the blade sliced through it cut muscle and flesh as though it were butter. The Minotaur looked down and then brought up its foot and kicked Stratton back. As the Minotaur turned its attention to Stratton Karina stopped the barrier and blasted the Minotaur with her magic blowing off a chunk of its flesh on its back. It then turned back to her and roared at her and then charged towards her its horns aimed to impale her. As it charged she got a look of horror as it was too close to put up a barrier.

"No!" Sterling screamed and stabbed forwards with his spear hitting the Minotaur in the head and the electricity making it flail around in pain. As it flailed it threw Sterling off but the spear still stuck. As the Minotaur looked forwards it reached down and grabbed Karina. Stratton was getting up from the kick and saw it holding Karina.

"No...No!!!" He screamed and as he charged forwards the cross-guard had two new spike looking things shoot out of it and stick up at a 90 degree angle, on the upper part of the guard so it wouldn't interfere with his hands. As this happened the blade began to glow a bright white. As it began to glow it was leaving a trail of white energy behind it. "Put her down!" He screamed and when he leapt up and hacked at its gut the sword sent out an explosive blast of green energy that tore through the Minotaur and making it drop Karina, after it dropped her the energy was still flowing through the Minotaur but as it began to dissipate from the ribs down to the mid thigh was all just bone. But some glowing green liquid gunk was holding the bones together. The Minotaur roared and swung diagonally at Stratton with the pillar.

Stratton looked at Ozma who was still glowing brightly and hacked at the pillar as it was about to hit. As Ozma struck it the green energy sparked down the pillar vertically and hacked the thing in two. The Minotaur made a noise of frustration. "I won't let you get all the glory weakling!" Sterling yelled at Stratton and flew up and grabbed his spear and pushed it deeper as more electricity coursed through it. You could even see it going down its spine and legs. It reached upwards and grabbed at Sterling who moved dodging its hand and making the electricity more intense. As it began to flail again Karina began to blast at its spin with more of her magic but every time it would hit the green gunk would cover the wound and then her blasts couldn't get through the ooze.

Stratton ran forwards and took Ozma to the things spine. As it hit the creature's eyes went wide as its spin was cut in two before the ooze could begin to mend it. As its top half hit the ground it grabbed Sterling and began to crush him. As Sterling screamed Karina ran over and began blasting at its hands trying to make it drop him. After most of the skin and muscle on its hands were gone Sterling slipped through its grip. Stratton was smiling inwardly at Sterling's screams but as he began to move forwards again something stopped him. He looked on his shoulder and found a hand. As he turned a zombie bit into his right shoulder, making him scream out in pain. He stabbed the zombie in the gut with Ozma and the green energy made most of its body explode and making its mouth open dropping it and its shoulders with arms still attached on the ground. It then looked up with a groan as Stratton stabbed it in the face.

Stratton looked back to the Minotaur and noticed that through its torn flesh in its chest something glimmered and he saw a dark orb shaped thing. 'That has to be what's brought it back.' He thought and then brought Ozma's tip up and charged towards the Minotaur. As he got near it he stabbed into its chest and hit the orb puncturing it. The Minotaur made a groan noise and grabbed Stratton and began to crush him as the orb in its chest burst into the green ooze and the Minotaur's head slumped and its grip loosened as its fingers fell apart.

Stratton then quickly hopped away from it as he noticed that it had returned to being dead. "You did it Stratton." Karina said a smiling forming on her lips. Emy appeared from her cloak hood and saw it was dead.

"Stratton!" Emy screamed and flew over to him and he brought his arms out and hugged her. "Your ok, I was so worried!" Sterling pulled out his spear and went over to Karina.

"Are you alright?" He asked and she nodded. "I could have killed that thing myself." He muttered as he slung the spear over his back. Karina frowned at him but then smiled at Stratton.

'He's really back.' She thought happily. Stratton on the other hand was staring at Ozma, the two spikes that had come out of the cross guard had gone back in and it had stopped glowing.

"So what are we going to do next?" Emy asked Stratton as he walked over to Karina.

"What are you going to do Karina?" Stratton asked blushing slightly. "Cause I was wondering if me and Emy could go with you." He said rubbing the back of his head.

Karina just smiled. "Of course you can come with us Stratton!" She said and hugged him tightly and brought her mouth close to his ear. "And thanks for saving me earlier." She said quietly making him blush more.

"Ahem!" Sterling said sounding annoyed and she quickly pulled away from Stratton a blush on her face. "We should head back to the Kingdom Karina, we need to get supplies, plus I have to report to the King." He said and she just nodded. Stratton smiled though.

'I'm traveling with Karina again.' He thought with a smile as he walked.


'Have to hurry, or he'll escape my grasp again.' Kratos thought as he ran through the trees of a forest. 'It was so kind of those Elves to give me information.' Kratos smiled at the slaughter he had left back in an Elven village, but he had finally found the one person who made Kratos's blood boil. General Louchen, an Elven general that Kratos has wanted revenge on for many years had finally been located. 'I'll make him pay, for you Abby!' He thought as he bashed his shoulder into a tree knocking it over a smile on his face.

Kratos had traveled for two whole days without sleep, Dedric had left for the Village when he had left. Kratos had told his brothers to stay behind though, he wouldn't risk losing any of them to a personal feud he had. It would take him only about another twelve hours to reach the encampment where General Louchen would be. The anger and hatred within Kratos kept him moving even with the lack of sleep.

As Kratos ran his smile was slowly widening. 'I'm getting closer and closer with each step.' He thought and as he did he almost seemed to move even faster. 'I will get you this time.' He thought angrily.


As Stratton and them moved towards the Birdling's Kingdom they had to get near the Elven Realms which normally meant that they'd be stopped and questioned by Scouts at some point. As it got near nightfall in their travel an arrow suddenly hit the ground in front of them and a group of five Elves ran up bows ready with arrows drawn. "What are you doing?" The one in the front asked with a dangerous tone.

"Listen here!" Sterling spoke up making them all aim at him. "This is Princess Karina of the Birdling's Kingdom. Now you will treat her with respect and lower your weapons!" He said reaching for his spear. The elves whispered something amongst each other and one of them ran off quickly. When he came back he was followed by a heavily armored Elf. The Elf's armor was black and had spikes moving down it giving it a creepy look. The Elf had about lower back length blond hair and had bright green eyes. His face was shaped and curved giving him a scary look.

The Elf was carrying a royal guard helmet in his left and had his right hand resting on his swords handle. This Elf stood about 6'2", as he stared at the group intensely he suddenly smiled. "My dearest apologies Princess Karina, please allow me to introduce myself, my name is Louchen and allow me to make amends by letting you stay at our camp for the night. I assure you that the tents will be set up to please royalty." He said grinning.

Karina smiled and stepped forwards. "I thank you for your hospitality." She said and the General and the scouts accompanied them to the camp. As they reached the camp Karina noticed that there were soldiers and they looked to be elite warriors. "General you wouldn't be preparing for a Battle would you?" She asked sounding a little suspicious. Louchen just looked down and smirked brightly. Karina seemed to get a little frightened by his smile.

"Forgive me Princess, you are a little young to understand this, but these lands are not safe. Due to the Protectors failing in the War against the Monster Armies, now the lands have beasts scattered all through them. So it's just a precaution." He said smirking. 'Last thing I need is to be investigated because of a brat.' Louchen thought as he walked alongside her. "This will be your tent, yet I fear that there is only one bed and that it can only accommodate one." He said with a frown.

"Do not worry, I can find my own shelter." Sterling said still with a look of distrust in his eyes.

"I'll be fine as well." Stratton said and Louchen smiled down at Stratton.

"You seem very familiar boy. Have we met before?" He asked his eyes scanning over Stratton. "Wait, where did you get that sword?" He asked noticing Ozma.

"It was handed down to me from my mother." He said looking a little sad. Louchen nodded as he realized who he was.

"She truly was one of the best." Louchen said. "It's a shame that she had to go out fighting." He said and then noticed the look on Stratton. "Forgive me child, I didn't mean to bring up anything bad." Louchen then walked off.

"You ok Stratton?" Karina asked and he just looked up and smiled weakly.

"Yeah I'll be fine." He said and sat down near the tent.

"You know you could come and visit me inside for a while." She said smiling. "I mean we still have so much to catch up on." As Stratton visited with Karina night had fallen.


Kratos stood in the shadows behind a tree watching a couple of scouts patrolling. His eyes were part Narl allowing him to see pretty decent in the dark. "Man this is a bunch of crap." One of the Elves said. "I mean who would be traveling after dark? I think the General Louchen has just gotten paranoid over the years." At hearing the name Louchen Kratos let out a low growl. "What the hell was that?" The Elf said looking into the dark. "You heard it too right?" He asked the other one who nodded and pulled up their bows and had an arrow pulled back. "If anyone's out there come out or we'll shoot." The Elf said as the bow began to shake from the trembling in the Elves arms.

Kratos just moved out a little and then quickly charged and both Elves fired hitting his armor. As he ran to them he grabbed them both by the throat and with two crunch noises had managed to snap both their necks. He then tossed the bodies into the dark and pulled the arrows out of his armor. That's when he noticed that the Elves he had just killed had a torch and that the camp was now insight. He smiled evilly as he grabbed the torch and moved forwards.


Stratton had been enjoying his chat with Karina when he heard something break outside and the sound of something catching fire. Stratton and Karina quickly checked outside of the tent and saw a tent was on fire and it was catching some of the other tents and was catching supplies on fire.

That's when a loud blood chilling roar filled the night air. Stratton looked and dropped to his knees from the fear of what he saw in front of him. In the flames stood a large creature its breath appearing from its mouth as it roared. And as the flames lit up the creatures face its sharp smile and crazed look reminded Stratton of the monster from four years back.

As it walked forwards through the flames Stratton realized. 'It's him. It's the monster who k-killed dad.' As he thought this Kratos pulled up his mighty blade and let out another anger filled roar.
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