Deadrick ran down the pathway, his heart thudding in his chest- his mind frantically running over possibilities.
What would have been the most tactical decision for the assassin? Deadrick was on his own- but the others were resting, he could have taken them out first and then come after him.
He reached the camp and stumbled in.
But everything was fine- Danyel and Bruad were sleeping soundly on either side of the fire. Nerui was sitting on a lone rock, sharpening her blade.
“What’s up big guy?” She asked, remarking on the panic on his face.
He just looked at her for a solid moment, and then began to breathe again steadily.
“Come on, we’re going,”
The makeshift camp was packed up within seconds, and they began to move back towards the road.
Deadrick didn’t say anything- he kept going over what happened in his head. What he had felt. He thought that his companions were dead, and he’d ran for them, his heart beating in his chest, and his mind racing.
He hadn’t felt anything like that since…
Deadrick Blade had made it his life’s work to hunt down evil- to constantly be on the run, on the hunt, never to make any sort of bond or relationship with anyone, he couldn’t allow himself to do it- relationships made you weak.
But yet, he had, without even knowing it.
He had refused to acknowledge his three followers as anything other than a nuisance, and the occasional help. But somehow, they had become something more to him.
He shook his head, he could worry about this after he had dealt with Juhra.
“I was attacked earlier,” Deadrick finally said when they came across the road.
“By the Unholy?” Danyel asked.
Deadrick shook his head.
“It wasn’t a random attack,” He explained, “I think… a trained assassin, most certainly,”
“An assassin? Was he possessed?” Bruad asked.
Deadrick remembered the assassin’s deformed features. He was sure he had once been human, but he wasn’t under Juhra’s control, Deadrick was sure of it. The deformities had been caused by demonic magic, but they looked more self-inflicted than anything. And that mark…
“No. Not possessed. Assassins are paid to kill, the Unholy probably decided that they couldn’t just rely on this godforsaken land to kill us,” Deadrick guessed.
“Well, its just lucky that he didn’t manage to finish you Deadrick, you’re no use to us dead,” Danyel remarked.
Nerui and Deadrick exchanged looks.
They followed the road south for almost a day before it began to veer to the east, where they would travel straight to the Citadel.
They passed two of the outposts built by the Syndicate to contain the dangers of the Flats.
They were about the size of a medium sized village, with high metal walls surrounding the buildings inside. There were the small, wooden barracks where the soldiers slept and lived, and a tall, sinister looking tower. Deadrick said it was called a M’esever, and that the pylon at the very top absorbed the energies from the sky above, providing the Mage’s with their magic source.
The first one that they passed, Dral, had burnt to the ground- the M’esever in ruin, burning with acrid smelling flames that had a green tinge to them.
The second, Gurui, was standing, but they had to sneak past it, so as not to alert the small band of werewolves that were feeding on the scattered corpses inside.
When then followed the road round, they came across a third. Observing it from a high ridge through a small scope that Deadrick had inexplicably removed from his jacket, he confirmed that it was clear of any Unholy.
“Any that I can see, at least,” He confirmed.
“We’re running low on supplies, we need to at least see if there’s anything of use in there,” Danyel told him.
Deadrick agreed to stop for a quick search.
They split off from the main road and went down a small a path of sand and rock, coming to the huge iron gates that signified the entrance.
Above the gates, inscribed on a large piece of dark metal, was the word ‘Death’r’.
“Murekta Ganthera Death’r, High Commander of the Black Order, a group of Syndicate Mages that slaughtered almost six thousand Mainland soldiers over the course of one week,” Deadrick said to anyone who was listening, “All the Outposts are named after Military figures,”
The gate was slightly ajar, and when Deadrick pushed on it, it screeched with over-use.
They entered one by one, Bruad being the last. He glanced around to make sure they weren’t being watched, and pulled the gate shut, locking it from the inside.
“Spread out, check every building. Find what you can- food, drink- whatever, and we’ll meet back here in ten,” Deadrick said, getting a small noise of agreement from everyone.
While Nerui, Bruad and Danyel spread out to the surrounding buildings, Deadrick headed straight for the M’esever.
The tower itself was no bigger than a church spire, but it still seemed to loom over him, growing out from the ground and upwards like some malformed tree from hell.
He climbed the small staircase that led to the main wooden door, pushed it open went into the main entrance.
For such a grand construction, it was bare, with rough and gnarled wooden floors, looking up, he could see right up to the top. On the top floor, the mages would tap into the power that the pylon collected.
The only way up to the top platform was a rickety looking staircase that spiraled round the wall.
Deadrick found the foot of the staircase, and began to ascend it.
He moved slowly upwards, feeling each creak in the wood though his shoes. The top floor was at least a little bit more ornate and detailed.
The floor was engraved with six faintly glowing circles, which surrounded the thick, metal pylon, which extended upwards and out of a hole in the roof, through which Deadrick could see the sky.
The only other source of light in the room was a lone circular window on the far side of the room.
It took Deadrick another moment to fully recognize the cloaked figure standing in front of it.