September 3, 1999
Eugene and his four wolves had been walking for what seemed like an eternity. Wind rustled through the seemingly endless forest of Mythago. He couldn't believe that Sensui had actually fled to another place to escape him. Eugene had accepted a contract to track down the vile murderer Sensui. He left the comfort of the famous Inn of Solitude to pursue the man, taking only a few gold coins, his weapons, and his four loyal wolves Fury, Fang, Shadow, and Maya. Normally he wouldn't have left, but nearly a year of idleness was getting to him; he needed to get out and have an adventure.
"Gods…couldn't Sensui settled for hiding somewhere on Thalos? It'll take forever to find him in Mythago." Eugene muttered. Fury, the oldest of the four massive wolves, growled his agreement.
Eugene was right. Mythago were larger than he could search in five lifetimes. Luckily he was more than a match for anything he would likely encounter there. He wasn't the best tracker he knew, but he could use his formidable scanning ablities to track nearly anyone nearly anywhere. That was how Eugene had learned that Sensui fled to Mythago and that was how he knew that he was close.
"We're close my friends. I can feel it." Eugene spoke more to himself than to his wolves, but he was eager to find Sensui again.
The one time the two had met Sensui had fought Eugene to a draw, and Eugene was no novice to blades by anyone's standpoint. In fact he was probably one of Fate's greatest swordsmen, the only people having bested him being The Soul Devourer. But Sensui was as good as he was and had some sort of defense against his tracking abilities. Fortunately that didn't stop Eugene from getting his natural "scent" and tracking him. No one escaped Eugene. No one.
It was getting dark and Eugene, although he wanted to continue the chase, couldn't deny that he needed rest. Besides he didn't have much of a choice as the wolves had reached a consensus that it was time to rest.
"Sometimes I wonder who's in charge here, you wolves or me." Eugene joked to Shadow, the smallest but smartest of the wolves. Shadow woofed in response, obviously stating that it was the wolves in charge.
"Well, I'll set up the camp, why don't you four go get us some rabbits or something?"
Maya, the only female of the wolves, nodded her head. With that the four wolves dashed off into the forest in pursuit of dinner and breakfast. Eugene got to work setting up the camp, one for himself and one for the wolves. Within an hour the wolves had returned, each carrying a rabbit. Without speaking Eugene took the rabbits and began cooking them over the camp fire with the wolves watching intently, occasionally licking their chops.
"I hope Raizen and the others saw my note. I'd hate for them to go off somewhere looking for us. Dinner's ready, come and get it." Eugene muttered as he cut two of the rabbits into five equal pieces for himself and the wolves.
* * * * * * * *
Raizen, Vincent, and Dennis sauntered into the Inn after a long ride of hunting down and killing a tribe of orcs that had taken up residence nearby. Raizen was a little surprised when he found that Eugene and the wolves weren't home. At least until he found the note Eugene had left one the bar. It read:
"Raizen: wolves and I left to find some guy named Sensui about a day after you left to kill the orcs. We'll be back after I've caught up with him; probably about two rides, maybe more. Don't worry no matter how long I'm gone 'cause I suspect that he might flee to the Outer Planes once he learns I'm after him.
"Well that's good. Eugene needs an adventure." Raizen grumbled. Raizen always grumbled. Still he was worried about Eugene, sure Eugene had been to the Planes alone before, but that was just to Sigil. They hadn't ventured beyond the Cage without backup from each other before. But, Raizen was sure Eugene would do fine, after all he had defeated the mighty Manservant twice.
The sun rose slowly that morning, but Eugene was up at dawn as usual. It was always his philosophy not to waste any time. He may have had a life span of nearly two hundred years, but he knew how short that really was for an adventurous person like him and he wanted to do everything. Years of traveling with Eugene had trained the wolves to do likewise. In fact some of the time they were up before him.
"Well my friends I'll cook the other two rabbits you caught and we can get started on catching Sensui."
The wicked swordsman had stopped shortly before Eugene had last night and Eugene knew that they would overtake him within the next two days. After a few moments the rabbits were done and Eugene cut divided them between the group. After another fifteen or so minutes Eugene had packed up the camp and was ready to go.
"Fury, Maya you two in front. Shadow, Fang you two take up the rear. Let's get moving friends."
And so the five began the day's long trek after Sensui. Rather than engage in idle chatter with his wolves who couldn't respond anyway Eugene relived his first meeting with the wicked swordsman.
* * * * * * * *
It had taken him nearly three days to find Sensui. Eugene would have found him sooner, but Sensui had received word that someone had been hired to put an end to his chain of murders using any force necessary. Eugene fought through a gang of hired thugs to finally get at the murderous swordsman and he could taste victory at hand.
"It's over Sensui. You might as well surrender, you can't beat me."
"Can't I? I'm going to teach you what real swordsmen-ship means!"
Eugene and Sensui charged towards each other, weapons raised. Upon meeting Eugene brought his twin blades down in a mighty x-shaped slash. His lightning fast attack was parried by a hard slap from Sensui's own sword. Before Eugene could pull out of his failed attack, Sensui lashed out to his right side with a powerful kick, which Eugene stopped with a kick of his own to the offending leg. With a mighty push from both combatants, the two separated and continued to circle each other.
"Your fast half-elf, I'll give you that. But you're still not fast enough to beat Me." The wicked Sensui mocked.
Eugene snarled in response. He's stronger than I am. And he's almost as fast. I don't know if I can win. Eugene thought to himself. Sensui dashed forward launching a series of lighting fast attacks. Head, legs, head, head, stomach, chest, legs, head, chest, legs. With speed that most humans couldn't even imagine Eugene leapt into a series of matching parries. With almost no break Eugene dove into his own flurry of counter attacks. Eugene leapt over an attack to his thighs and kicked forward striking Sensui hard in the face. With a grunt his opponent stumbled backward and fell. Before Eugene had even landed Sensui rolled to his feet and wiped his bleeding lip.
"You are a worthy opponent Sensui. I almost respect you."
Time to finish this. Eugene thought. At the speed of thought Eugene summoned forth energy of radiance using his nagical powers. Knowing that both his hands were occupied with holding his swords he decided to call forth the power within his mouth. As Sensui charged forward, sword flashing towards Eugene's head, he released the energy in a beam of bright light. The beam of radiance blasted Sensui off his feet and back into the stone wall of the murderer's mansion.
"Like I said, you can't beat me."
"Well, I've underestimated you half-elf," Sensui coughed out from his slouched position on the floor, "But now it's time for you to learn the power of the Soulreaver!"
Eugene raised his eyebrow quizzically at Sensui's curious statement, when suddenly he rose off the ground and lowered back down on his feet. Sensui's bloody and bruised face twisted into a wide grin as he took his sword in two hands and pointed at Eugene's chest. Eugene took a step back and raised his own swords, ready for an attack.
"Soulreaver: Screaming Slash!"
Sensui's outstretched sword began to glow fiercely and with a mighty slash across the air the blade emitted a loud screaming sound and a wave of invisible force which knocked Eugene to his knees. As Eugene began to rise to his feet the sword emitted another wave of force which threw him back off his feet and several yards to the ground. He looked up at Sensui, slowly coming out of a dazed state to see the murderous warrior spinning his glowing sword above his head rapidly.
Sensui lowered his blade over himself, causing the light of the blade to envelop himself. Suddenly the light vanish with Sensui with him. Eugene rolled back and flipped up onto his feet. With an enraged snarl he searched the room and scanned the building psionically for any signs of the warrior. Nothing. Damn it, I knew he'd run to the Planes… but what the hell was the Soulreaver? Eugene thought to himself.
* * * * * * *
Sensui's head start had dropped considerably. Nothing would stop Eugene from catching his target now. Tomorrow. I'll have him by tomorrow and be soundly on my way back to the Inn. He thought to himself. Roughly an hour before Eugene and his wolves had broken clear of the forest and the wolves could now clearly catch Sensui's scent.
Although Eugene would have liked to press on further, he knew that if he did he would be to exhausted to defeat Sensui the next day. He was forced to stop and set camp for the night. Nothing would stop him from killing Sensui. Nothing.
Once again Eugene woke at the crack of dawn. He quickly broke camp and he and the wolves picked up the trail again. Sensui had not yet broken from his own camp and Eugene was rapidly closing the gap between them. Eugene was only four hours behind Sensui when the evil warrior broke camp and set out. I'll kill Sensui and be back on crime by midday. Eugene thought to himself.
"Well catch him today my friends." Eugene muttered to his wolves.
After another hour of walking the wolves halted dead in their tracks and began growling fiercely at the path ahead. Eugene, a little surprised by this scanned the area ahead for errant thoughts. Nothing.
"What is it my friends? What's wrong?"
Before Eugene's eyes the air on the path began to distort and formed into a circular portal. Ten slightly humanoid figures appeared in the portal and began stepping through. Slightly humanoid indeed, they were Frightening! Eugene gasped and backed up a step with shock. He quickly counted six Banelar, three serpents, and the obvious leader; a phantom! Eugene held no doubt that he could beat the Banelar and serpent with no small amount of effort, but the phantom. He wasn't sure he could handle her in a one-on-one fight, much less with nine henchmen.
"Well what are ten ugly demons doing here on the Mythago?" Eugene mocked.
"We were planning on killing you quickly… but I've decided to give you a slow, painful death on the ends of my swords." The phantom snarled while pointing her six wickedly curved swords at Eugene.
My friends you must leave me, you cannot help me in this fight. I will teleport you to the Inn. Eugene telepathically spoke to his wolves. With another moment of concentration and all four vanished. No that I know they're safe I can let loose. I just hope I'm up to it. Eugene thought silently.
With loud battle cries the Banelar charged forward, encircling Eugene and launching attacks from all directions. Eugene whipped his blades around himself and spun around parrying with unbelievable speed. He hissed as one of the attacks got through and gave him a small cut across the right arm. Eugene leapt into a rolling dive and slashed one sword across a cambion's stomach, spilling its foul black blood. He rolled to his to catch a charging serpent's head-first ram in the chest. Eugene grunted and was pushed through the air to the hard ground. He stumbled to his feet and caught the charge of another serpent out of the corner of his eyes, a moment of concentration and he had finished preparing a magical defense against the charge. Just as the serpent was about to strike a veil of shimmering light appeared around Eugene and the serpent disappeared as it entered the light. It came out, still charging, the way it had entered and rammed into one of the Banelar. The surprised cambion fell to the ground and lay still.
Eugene dispelled the light and charged forward at the remaining Banelar. He let out a terrible roar as he plunged each of his swords through a separate cambion's throat. He ripped the blades free while launching a powerful kick to another cambion's kneecap, causing a loud sickening crack to ring out. The cambion fell to the ground clutching at his broken leg and was beheaded by one swift strike from one of Eugene's swords. With another fast rolled he slashed the two remaining Banelar across their throats and leapt backward into a flip so he landed facing the serpent and phantom.
"Six down, three to go." Eugene pronounced savagely, a small trickle of blood running down his chin.
One of the serpent snorted with rage and prepared its massive axe to attack. Eugene, seeing that he couldn't beat all three of them at once began to summon energy from the heavens. Just as the axe wielding serpent charged forward, ready to cleave Eugene in two, he released the blast of angelic energy, vaporizing the charging demon and causing the other two to back up a few paces. Without waiting for the energy to dissipate Eugene charged forward with a loud battle cry and leapt into a high flip. He came down on one of the serpent with both swords facing out in a powerful chop that cleft the horned demon in two. He quickly rolled to the side, however he underestimated the serpent's speed and caught a strong kick to the stomach. Eugene quickly rolled out of the way of the serpent's descending sword and was back on his feet in a flash. Unfortunately for him, hi injuries had slowing his reflexes and with a powerful thrust the serpent's sword plunged about two inches into Eugene's left leg just above the knee. Eugene roared in pain and rage and thrust both of his own swords into the phantom's chest.
He pulled free of the dead serpent's sword and looked toward his final opponent. The phantom grinned wickedly and began slithering toward him. Eugene matched her forward pace with a slow limp towards the phantom, ready for battle. She lunged forward, attacked with all six swords. Eugene managed to parry three of them, the other three leaving trails of blood across his chest and arms. After a few more minutes of similar combat the phantom slammed her powerful tail into Eugene's chest and wrapped it around his arms, restraining him securely. As hard as he struggled, in his tired and beaten form he couldn't even budge.
"Now I shall crush the life from you mortal." The phantom mocked.
She began constricting her tail around Eugene slowly, but strongly. He could hear his bones beginning to break and felt excruciating pain. The air was crushed from him and he realized that he hadn't even been able to scratch her. Then darkness.
Eugene began to awaken in a large, comfortable bed. He groaned and found his vision extremely blurred. As his vision cleared Eugene began looking at his surrounds. He must have been in the bedchambers of a king, not even his own bedchambers was as nicely furnished and comfortable as this room. Eugene hissed in pain as he attempted to rise from his lying position, then settled for lying there as he couldn't even raise himself an inch. He then erupted into a fit of weak coughs, a small trickle of blood streaming from the corner of his mouth.
"Finally awake I see." A musical feminine voice called to him from the doorway.
Eugene immediately focused his gaze towards the sound of the voice and saw the most beautiful creature he could have ever imagined. A gasp escaped his lips and his jaw dropped. She had long flowing golden hair, a perfect figure, and stood a little over five feet six inches tall. As she approached the side of his bed she noticed the blood on his chin and delicately wiped it away with her figertips.
"I didn't think any god would accept me," Eugene whispered between coughs, "much less Sune."
His caretaker blushed and smiled slightly. Although from her appearance he could vary well be in the goddess of beauty's realm, he was mistaken.
"You managed to get yourself pretty beat up my brave half-elf. What is your name anyway; if you can still remember it after that sound beating those Banelar gave you that is?" The woman asked.
"I'm Eugene," he answered, "Eugene Kartalin. Might I ask your name, my beautiful nurse?"
"It's Pai. I'm the one that got you away from the phantom." She responded, still blushing from Eugene's compliments. "And you shouldn't go around trying to beat ten Banelar by yourself like that. If I hadn't been nearby to save your butt you would have been a steaming corpse on the ground!"
"Well, Pai, as I seem to be unable to move just how badly was I injured?"
"Both your arms and five of your ribs are broken."
"Haven't been this badly injured since an owlbear hugged me about ten years ago. How long was I unconscious?"
"A little over a tenday. And I had better change your sheets."
For the first time Eugene noticed that he was wearing no clothing. Pai quickly stripped the sheets off from above the half-elven warrior causing him to blush fiercely. Upon seeing him blush Pai quickly gained a similar shade.
"Well here's a situation I wish I could be in more often; helpless and naked in front of a beautiful woman."
"I, um, had to bathe you and wash your clothes and I didn't want to cause anymore damage to you." Pai admitted sheepishly.
"So just how did you manage to save me from that phantom?" Eugene asked as she replaced the sheets.
"I'm not an entirely unskilled fighter myself and I have some spell casting abilities. I killed her."
"How long do you expect me to be here?"
"I'm not planning on letting you leave until you're healed."
"You said you had some spell abilities? Can you heal my arms?"
"Not my forte I'm afraid, and none of my friends think I should have even brought you here."
Eugene focused his vision on a glass of water of the bed stand and decided he needed a drink. Focusing his mental powers on himself he mentally lifted his body into a sitting position against the headboard, inciting a surprised gasp from Pai. He then concentrated on the glass causing it to lift of the table and float toward him. It arrived at his lips and tilted, pour some water into his mouth. Pai, jaw still hanging, looked Eugene in the eyes.
"You're a practitioner of the Way!"
"Well… yes. You didn't think I'd take on those Banelar by myself with just two swords did you?" Eugene chuckled.
"Now that you mention it no."
"Pai, that's a beautiful name by the way, could you tell me more about your friends and where exactly I am?"
"You're on Dray'mar. My friends are… good people. But they don't think I should have brought you here… but then what was I supposed to do, leave you die? Then I'd be no better than those Banelar."
Eugene nodded in understanding. From his point of view it was a very good thing that he didn't leave him there. She's not telling everything. Normally I'd just reach into her mind and take the information, but she's so beautiful. He thought silently before nodding for her to continue.
"My people are organized into a system of castes. My caste fights evil wherever it rears its head. Those Banelar on the Mythago were a huge surprise; I doubt that anyone would have caught them if I hadn't been nearby by chance."
"I don't know much about the planes beyond their names and a few of the fiends and upper planar creatures. But I didn't know anyone besides Emericus hunted and killed Banelar."
Pai gasped; she hadn't expected him to know that much, after all he obviously wasn't a Planar.
"You think I'm a…" She sputtered.
"Oh, gods no! I was just making an honest observation. Like I said I'm not much of a blood."
With a sigh of relief Pai continued: "Well anyway I'm not supposed to take people in. So my friends are rather miffed. Why were you traveling the planes alone?"
"I figured I could handle anything on the Mythago; I was only trying to catch a murderer from Crime Underground. Didn't expect Banelar to show up." The battered warrior answered sheepishly.
Pai laughed at his embarrassment, a musical sound that filled Eugene with joy. It was then that he realized that he would do anything for her. Eugene Kartalin of Ruellia in the Dray'mar, the master swordsman; the same Eugene that had defeated thousands of foes, resisted the call of a sirine and the sight of a nymph, and defeated the god-like Manservant realized that he was in love with this woman, Pai.
Days passed by like minutes and all Eugene ever saw in the way of living things was Pai. Not that he minded seeing her everyday, but he was beginning to catch a severe case of cabin fever. His arms had healed, and although still weak they could lift swords again. Eugene still had trouble standing and sitting up because of his ribs, and Pai returned his to bed every time she caught him trying to walkabout.
Almost daily the two of them played a variety of board games, such as chess. It was during one such match that Eugene met one of Pai's people; the first one. He was just about to put her in checkmate when a tall imposing man burst in with a look of rage on his face.
"Pai! You have ignored your duties for too long! Ignored them to care for this half-elf. Get rid of him, or I will do it for you!" The newcomer barked out with rage.
"You listen to me whoever you are; Pai saved my life and is making sure that I can actually survive. She's got plenty of an emotion called compassion; you should learn to use it." Eugene snarled in return.
"You insolent half-elf! I'll teach you some respect!"
"Lord Golland no!" Pai protested.
However, before she could act Golland had charged and lashed out with his fist with inhuman speed. A speed that was matched by Eugene's dodge, much to the surprise of both the rampaging lord and Pai. Eugene quickly lashed out into a spinning kick, striking the lighting fast Golland in the jaw, knocking him off balance. This attack was followed by a lighting fast pair of punches to Golland's stomach and temple pushing the furious man to his knees. Eugene then slammed his knee into Golland's cheek, knocking him backward to the ground.
"Yield." Said Eugene simply.
Deciding to respond in action rather than with words Golland flipped back to his feet and glared at Eugene eyes blazing. He snapped his leg out in a kick to Eugene's legs, hoping to cause the half-elf to fall. However Eugene, having seen and used such techniques himself; slashed his own leg out, kicking Orntallin's foot away. And so the battle continued; two masterful warriors striking at each other only to be blocked and countered with terrifying speed. Finally the two fell apart gasping, neither able to strike the other.
"You're good." Eugene muttered.
"So are you. I'd say he's ready to be sent on his way Pai." Golland growled. His eyes narrowed then he blurred from vision, reappearing with his foot jabbing into Eugene's chest, sending the stunned half-elf coughing to the floor. "Help him train with his swords to get rid of the muscle atrophy then I want his out of here."
"Yes, Lord." Pai snarled, barely containing her rage.
Eugene grunted as Pai helped him to his feet. She sighed with relief when she saw the he wasn't injured, just stunned. The half-elf was utterly amazed; after all he was faster than most he'd met. This Lord Golland was capable of speeds faster than anything he'd seen short of himself under the effects of a quick spell.
"I'm terribly sorry about that Eugene. Please forgive him; he doesn't like outsiders and he's the chief person that opposed my bringing you here. I'm glad you're alright."
"No problem. I had wanted to get back to training anyway. I also think you should meet some friends of mine." Eugene consoled. Pai raised her eyebrow at his curious statement as he began gathering the mental energy required to summon his wolves. Fury I call to you! Fang I call to you! Shadow I call to you! Maya I call to you! My friends I call you! Come forth! Eugene sent his thoughts to his four wolves. Within seconds the four of them began to take shape around him.
Pai gasped in surprise as four large, fearsome looking wolves blinked into existence around Eugene. They peered at her with piercing and extremely intelligent eyes. Shadow walked towards her and nudged her hand, asking her to pet him. Eugene smirked; Shadow always had been the friendliest of the four.
"Pai, allow me to introduce you to my wolves: Fury, Fang, Shadow, and Maya." He gestured to each in turn.
"Where did they come from?" Pai sputtered.
"I called to them psionically; they answered. They go everywhere with me. I sent them away during the battle with the Banelar; I didn't want them to get hurt."
"Them! Get hurt! They're huge!"
"They're smart too… smarter than a lot of people I've met."
"They didn't want to leave you did they?"
"No… But I didn't give them a choice, I suppose I should have but they're my only family since my parents died. Raizen and the others are friends and I trust them completely but these wolves are practically my brothers and sister." Eugene stated, "They like you; that's unusual besides Raizen, Vincent, and Dennis they don't like anyone but me."
"Eugene you've told me about your fellow owners of the Inn but not much about you… I want to know more about your past. Start with your parents."
Pai's wonderful voice compelled him to speak. For the first time Eugene began to tell someone everything about himself.
"As you wish Pai. My father's name was Enan Kartalin…"
"My father's name was Enan Kartalin. He wasn't a native of Kartakass; or even the Demiplane of Dread. Ruellia was his homeland, a small village in Medievia. Although he did tell me once that his father was a Salesman. However, my grandfather and grandmother died when he was very young so he ended up being raised my a kind old man. It just so happened that that old man was the master of Stealth. You see, Thievery is taught to only one person each generation. And so the art was taught to my father; but that's not what you want to hear about is it Pai?
Well, anyway. My father grew up learning the art and the samurai code of bushido. When he was around twenty (yes I think that's about right) the old man died. It was a tragic day for Enan. But he persevered. A few months later he caught a thief in the act of murdering a local lord. Elan chased the man and slew the man… he didn't even notice the mists rising around him until it was to late. When he found his way out of the mists he was in Drow City under Thalos.
His life was pretty much uneventful for the next few years; until he met my mother. She was not as you might guess from looking at me a normal elf (nor did my father rape her, but that's not important at the moment). Mother, Relia F'taren, was a drow. She didn't worship Lolth mind you; she worshipped Eilistraee. She held her fair and just ideals above all else. They described their meeting to me as love at first sight.
My childhood was a happy one. Both my parents taught me their crafts; Enan taught me the art of stealth and Relia taught me how to use my swords. I had so much to learn then. When I was about thirteen my mother saw that I had inherited her healing powers. She began instructing me in the use of those too.
I was a fast learner. I had mastered their teachings by the time that I was twenty. All I lacked was experience. Little did I know that I'd get it all to soon. One day I went out hunting by myself. When I neared our cabin I heard the sounds of combat; I immediately broke into a run and dashed inside…" Eugene's words sparked up a long forgotten memory and he began to see it again as he spoke.
* * * * * * * *
Eugene dashed towards his family's cabin, pulling his iron swords from their sheaths on his back. Arriving at the door his jaw dropped in shock. His mother lay dead in a pool of her own crimson blood, dozens of deep cuts crisscrossing her body. Enan still stood, though he was bleeding badly, against his foe. It stood nearly seven feet tall, had large bat-like wings, and had four muscular arms, each wielding a wickedly curved sword. But most shocking of all was the fact that, besides its eyes, it had no facial features.
The young half-elf screamed in rage and charged towards the beast. He was to slow. Before he could arrive the creature plunged its swords into his father's chest and quartered him. It then turned its blazing red eyes toward Eugene, stopping the enraged young man in his tracks. The blades vanished from its hands and it gestured Eugene to attack.
This taunt was too much. Eugene resumed his charge, swords pointed at the creature's chest. The creature pointed its lower set of arms at Eugene and opened its hands. Its outstretched arms extended, grabbing Eugene's wrists, holding the young warrior at bay. It squeezed hard until Eugene dropped his swords then it clenched its upper fists together above its head. These upper arms grew in length; after a moment of growth it brought its fists down on the writhing warrior's head, knocking him into darkness.
Eugene came to the next morning, still bathing in a pool of his parents blood. He ran to the nearby village and frantically told them what happened. No one cared. Such was life on the Ruellia. He vowed vengeance for his parent's deaths that day. He never broke a vow.
* * * * * * * *
"Both of them were mutilated; I couldn't save them… My thirst for vengeance consumed me. I trained day and night in everything they taught me. I became strong. Nothing was going to stop me from having vengeance for my parents' deaths. Nothing." Eugene stopped and took a deep breath, a single tear rolling down his cheek.
"That's terrible Eugene." Pai whispered.
"I began to hate the villagers for their uncaring attitude; my rage blinded me to their fear of whatever slew my parents. Since they wouldn't help me I decided that it was time to leave; before I killed anyone who had nothing to do with the murder.
And so I traveled for a long time, hiring myself out as a mercenary to anyone who would pay. Nearly ten years I traveled: an assassin, a warrior, a caravan guard, and a bounty hunter. I had my hands in all of them; but still nothing could dim my hatred for the creature that killed my family. I had nightmares about him almost every night. One of my mercenary jobs I was hired to rid a town of a werewolf that had taken root nearby. I armed myself with silver and prepared to fight. I'd killed werewolves before, one more was nothing. This one was strong though… I couldn't beat it by myself. I went to the village and asked for volunteers. They refused to help. My rage became stronger than ever before; I threatened them, I cursed them. They still wouldn't listen. Something sparked the bonfire of my hate into a firestorm; I drew my blades and attacked them; innocent, fearful villagers. I killed every last one of them, all for my enemy's amusement.
Once again I set off in search of my foe, my need for vengeance greater than when my parents were killed. Soon I met Raizen. I knew other worlds existed besides my own and my curiosity was sparked. I all but forgot about my quest for revenge. What could a few weeks hurt? And so my adventures with Raizen and those he was with at the time began. Actually it was more Raizen and I trying to keep the others from getting us killed. Anyway, we found our way back to Lyryanoth. We adventured for years (which I told you about already) and I had forgotten my vow. After ten years of adventuring I was as close to happy as I though I could be. But then something (I'm not sure what) reminded me of my vow. I left Raizen to find the killer twenty years after the crime.
If he hadn't wanted me to find him… I doubt I ever would have. The killer's name was Manservant. Formerly an ennui of Demonforge, now something new he lured me to him. His plot was put into motion. Manservant captured me and subsumed my powers. Eventually the others rescued me and we defeated Manservant. We thought we had. I thought my vow was fulfilled. Boy was I wrong. When we shattered the Vortex Orb to defeat him we ended up sending him into hell. Manservant gained powers over time itself and used these to exact his revenge upon us. It was some battle we had in his massive fortress, Shadowclaw. I can remember the battle as clearly as if it were yesterday…"
* * * * * * * *
The seven of them walked the shadowed corridors of the Shadowclaw almost as silent as the shadows themselves. Raizen and Eugene took the lead; Jeremiah, who was tightly flanked by Alfred and Dennis, followed them. Taking up the rear was Jericho and Vincent. Nothing would deter these fearsome men (well Jeremiah wasn't fearsome but his insanity was frightening!) from their goal of destroying Manservant.
After hours of wandering the maze of dark passageways they came upon a massive set of double doors. Vincent slung his massive hammer over his shoulder and cracked his knuckles.
"God of the heavens! I call upon thy power!" The massive priest roared. His muscles bulged with inhuman strength and he grew from his already huge size of seven and a half feet to nearly eleven feet.
He confidently walked to the doors and placing one hand on each, pushed with all his might. The doors swung open slowly to reveal a hideous throne made of carved bone. None other than the mighty Manservant sat on this fearsome seat.
"It is time to die, mortals." Manservant intoned with a hundred voices at ones.
"Yes; for you!" Eugene roared and charged swords flashing and radiant energy being propelled psionically at the fiend.
Jeremiah quickly began to cast a battle spell, while Raizen and the others surged forward, weapons drawn. Only Eugene made it to the dark being. The two foes clashed; Manservant's four blades being turned aside effortlessly by Eugene's two. The half-elven warrior found time between flawless parries to execute his own attacks on Manservant. As the six blades met in a pitched X Manservant grew another limb from his stomach forming it into a blade and slashing Eugene across the chest with it. First blood was Manservant's. Eugene stepped back, his uniform becoming wet with blood.
"It'll take more than that to stop me, monster!" The enraged warrior shouted.
"You've chased me for twenty years and 'monster' is your best insult?" Manservant taunted in his combination of the voices of his victims.
Eugene screamed and summoned more radiant energy to blast his foe. The demonic entity stumbled backwards; his concentration on keeping the others at bay shattered. Vincent roared his cry to the God of the heavens and hurled his mystic hammer, crushing Manservant from his feet just as the fiend stood. The monster flipped to a standing position instantly completely unfazed from the powerful blow.
"Moradin!" Cried Raizen as the human battlerager leapt into the air; battle-axe raised high. He chopped his axe down right between the fiend's horns, cleaving the mighty Manservant in two. The two halves rejoined instantly and formed itself into a large fist, which crushed into Raizen, pushing the human through the thick stone wall.
The fist reformed into Manservant to meet the charge of Alfred. Alfred raised his sword and struck in a dazzling figure eight pattern attack, however each attack was parried by Manservants own swords. The fiend's red eyes flared as he formed his lower right hand's fingers into five sharp points, thrust them into Alfred's stomach and made them extend, carrying the burly warrior to the ceiling and impaling him. A small trickle of blood splattered on the obsidian floor near Jericho's feet. The barbarian was shocked for only a seond before he flew into action, placing his flamberge into Manservant's chest and hurling his across the room.
"You die!" Manservant's chorus of voices screeched as he held up his hands and sent a beam of solar energy at Jericho, burning away flesh and muscle and charring bone. The fearsome chorus of voices broke into a wicked laughter, "Fools! Nothing can stop me! You are finished!"
Just at that moment Jeremiah finished his incantation and hurled a series of frostshards into Manservant's back, causing him to stumble forward. The monster's voices screamed in rage as he whipped around his upper left arm, already formed into an axe, and decapitated the insane wizard. Dennis leapt forward, scimitar and dagger flashing at incredible speed leaving gaping slashes throughout Manservant's body. Manservant formed a spike from his stomach and plunged it through the warrior.
"You can do nothing to me that I do not heal instantly! I AM INVINCIBLE!" The chorus cried. Vincent, seeing his chance hurled his hammer once more. The mystic hammer crushed into Manservant's back and pushed through. Manservant's eyes flared again as he manipulated the hammer's magic and sent it barreling into Vincent. His own hammer slammed into the priest at full force blasting him through the thick wall and into the empty air beyond. Vincent began his nearly two thousand-foot drop to the moat at the base of the Shadowclaw.
Manservant's hateful gaze was suddenly distracted back to Eugene. The half-elven warrior was glowing with energy. The fiend was stunned by the sheer energy that had gathered within Eugene.
"What?! How is the possible?!"
Eugene let lose a terrible scream and unleashed the energy in a glorious blue beam of power. The beam struck Manservant and enveloped him. The fiend screamed in pain and rage as he was catapulted backward through the walls of Shadowclaw and into the sky beyond. He screamed as all the power he had stolen was burned from him… the chorus of his voice was silenced one voice at a time. The universe became nothing but blue flame as Manservant was burned from existence.
* * * * * * * *
"And so I destroyed Manservant. I still don't know how I called all the power into myself… It was as if all living things gave their energy to burn Manservant from the universe. My vengeance was complete.
I was almost dead after channeling all that energy through me. It took me almost a year to recover fully. Basically I occasionally took on a bounty hunting mission and managed the Inn for nearly three years. I was getting bored; then I heard about Sensui. He was rumored to have strange powers. I figured he'd be a challenge. So few seemed truly dangerous after Manservant… But Sensui fought me to a standstill. You pretty much know the rest Pai." Eugene smiled slightly as he finished his tale.
"I see now why you didn't tell anyone the whole story before now. I'd like to help you find Sensui. Do you mind if I tag along Eugene?"
"Do I mind? I would be honored Pai."