I stretched my arms and heard a satisfying pop. It was shaping up to be a wonderful morning her in Zhyren City. The sun was shining, it was warm, and there wasn’t any incidents for the town’s law enforcement, which would be me, to take care of. The peace couldn’t last though, something always comes up. Zhyren was a small city on the northern edge of the Rhinsefeldt Kingdom before the fields give way to the Kelst Woodlands. Because we were the edge of civilization and the only market for many leagues we had a thriving market that was rather large for our size, and there were always travelers coming and going. Of course thriving trade lead to thriving thievery, but I really couldn’t complain. After all that was the reason the town had two permanent enforcers one of whom was me. The other was my childhood best friend Julian Jenssen who was walking up the road now.
Julian had a mop of unruly black hair that was only kept in line through cropping it close. He was well built and while not massive had a dense pack of muscles that could only be earned through daily training. My favorite thing about him though was his smile which could lighten up my entire day. Couple that with the fact that he was more likely to be scowling at my irresponsibility or lax ways made them even more precious. We complimented each other well. I wouldn’t get half of the things done if it weren’t for Julian.
“Hey Julian how’s it going?” I gave him a wave. He knitted his dark brown eyelashes and gave me the barest hint of a scowl.
“Would be better if the captain of the enforcers kept her meetings. You know we were supposed to meet at headquarters at sunup right? Where were you? Sleeping in again?”
“Eh, who cares? I am the captain of the guard so when I arrive is the right time.” I gave him a nice slap on the back of his regulation leather armor. “So now that I am up lets go protect the city!” This produced quite a bit of grumbling from Julian. Unfortunately, my sleeping in is not an uncommon event so he was used to it. The first time I pulled this stunt he lectured me for a half hour, until I pulled out my “I am the boss” card. There was also a little bit of discontent from my becoming the captain. While I don’t have the drive or the organizational skills that Julian has I have always been the better swordsman. Since the position of captain was decided on a duel, I won and Julian became second in command. Come to think of it he might be a bit cross that he has never managed to win a duel off of me yet.
Anyway we set off for the guard station which was only a short walk from my house. As you might expect most of the criminal activity was located in the town market so the guards were stationed there as well in a tower that was attached to the city wall. The market itself was the hub of the city a great flagstone paved plaza lined with the shops of the city. Traveling merchants would also come and set up their ware in the spare corners of the place. Normally, it was full of hustle and bustle, but it was a bit early in the day for that. However, now that I look there was one of the peddlers setting up their wares in front of their wagon. I guess merchants get up before normal townsfolk.
“Hey Julian, let’s go check out that guy’s stall before going to our shack.”
“Looking to skip out on more work are we Frida?”
“Of course not. Besides I have never seen that guy before. It’s our duty to make sure he paid the fee to set up his stall and welcome him to the city.” Ignoring Julian’s protest I linked my arm with him and dragged him over to the peddler. He was quite the dapper man having a rather ageless quality to his dress and appearance, although it seemed that he was quite fond of bright colors. His lavender suit and multicolored wagon spoke to that. Topped off with a black bowler hat and I could see that he was attractive enough to make Julian a little bit jealous. I love it when he does that!
He had all sorts of goods laid out in front of his large rounded wagon. There was everything from the very domestic frying pain to baubles that would cost the average person a month’s wages. Even edibles were included having piles of colorful fruits from who knows where and jars of jellies and candies that sparkled like jewels in the morning sun. After giving our standard greetings I took a closer look at his wares. While he had quite the variety nothing really stood out to me. And then I saw IT. My eyes snapped to it almost like it was a magnet. Oh. My. God. Look at that sword.
“M’Lady you certainly have a good eye.” The merchant took down the blade and handed it to me. It was at least a meter and a half and looked like it could cut you just by looking at it. The design was a bit tacky being in black and blood red, but even a layperson could tell that this was the work of a master smith. Sliding it out of its sheath it gave a satisfying schnick and cut through the air with a fluid motion. The blade felt like a feather in my hand and was perfectly balanced. It was like the entire thing had been forged for my hand. It felt wonderful to hold such a work of art. I could feel myself getting a bit giddy.
“That sword is certainly one of my top of the line items. It was created during the time of the Old Demon Lord so you know that it is going to be quite amazing. It will never get dull or break and molds itself to be the perfect weapon for its owner. The sword becomes like an extension of the wielders body. While it does pain me to part with such an item I see that it would be in good hands with you. The sword is truly a wonder from the previous age and a steal at only 200 gold.”
Although I kind of expected that high a price Justin was rather shocked “200 gold! That’s ridiculous! That’s about a full years pay for us. You can buy a normal sword for fifty silver. Why in the world would you buy that overpriced ominous thing?”
“It may be pricy, but it’s worth it. After all a swordsman’s blade is their life. Besides it’s my money anyway so why should you care?”
“Of course I care! You’re my best friend, I wouldn’t want you to get scammed by this shady peddler. Besides I sense some sort of ominous aura from that thing. It has to be cursed or something.”
“Oh so now you have some sort of sixth sense going on?” I poked him good naturedly in his cheek. “Last I knew Estrid was the one in charge of exorcisms not you.”
Throughout our little exchange the merchant’s large smile that showed off his rows of perfect shining white teeth never left his face. He took that moment to interject. “Now, Julian was it? I am sure you don’t want your friend to be cheated, but I guarantee that the sword is of the finest quality. After a while she will be able to wield it as if it had been with her forever. I know the aesthetics are rather poor, but it’s an old sword so you must understand it wouldn’t be in the latest fashions. There is even a certificate of authenticity from the head armorer of Lescate.”
Julian’s eyes widened “You expect us to trust something from a demon realm?”
“It was written before the fall if you look at it.” He thrust a scroll into our hands. It was made of parchment and was covered in beautiful writing. Sure enough there was a large wax seal at the bottom bearing the crest of the holy city dated to ten years ago before the wretched Druella conquered the city.
“So there you have it.” I declared proudly. “The sword looks real and I am buying it. Would you like your cash now or I can drop by later?”
“Right now would be best. This way I can let you have the sword and we can walk to the bank together. I wasn’t planning on staying in this town long anyway.”
“Don’t you have to pack up your wares though? It looks like you just got everything out.”
“It’s all right. There are magic’s on my wagon to prevent theft, and those that steal things from my table, well let’s just say they will totally get what’s coming to them.”
So we left the market with me clutching my new weapon like it was the most wonderful thing in the world.
We patrolled together for quite a bit that morning until the noonday break. Normally we would meet our other childhood friend Estrid the village priestess for lunch. She was of the north people and like most of that tribe had hair as yellow as the sun and skin white as a ghost. She struck quite a nice figure in her black priestess robes and she knew it. Her only flaw to her looks was that she was rather short being a full head shorter than most girls. While she was of the cloth she wasn’t afraid of using her charm to get ahead. We all knew that she was going to move up quickly in the church hierarchy with her drive and skill in magic. Hopefully, she would still remember her friends when she left this place.
Our meeting spot was our favorite tavern the Straytos’s Flute. It was a large dark and smoky place with a thatched roof and heavy wooden beams for the ceiling. The waitresses were friendly and the large barkeep was jolly, but the reason we came was the stew. They had THE BEST beef stew in Zhyren and there was always a pot on for some soupy goodness if needed. Unfortunately, the best food in the world wasn’t going to save me today.
“My god Frida, what the hell is wrong with you?” Julian exclaimed as he slammed the door as our group entered the tavern. “You almost took that guy’s hand off. Would have too if I hadn’t stopped you.”
“Who cares? He was shoplifting. You know in some countries they chop people’s hands off if they are caught thieving.”
Julian slammed his hand down on our table “SOME countries, but not OURS. Our job is to arrest criminals not punish them. You would have either gotten a hefty fine or lost your job had you cut him. You didn’t used to be like this Frida. It’s that damn swords fault.”
“I must agree with Julian, Frida. You didn’t used to go around swinging a naked sword in public. and from what I have seen you have gotten quite a bit more aggressive since last I saw you. Besides I sense that there is some form of unpleasant energy coming from the sword. Get rid of it, it’s a dark evil thing.”
“Even you Estrid? This is my sword. I paid good money for it and it’s mine. I know, you all are just jealous that you don’t have something anywhere near as awesome as this sword. Well it’s mine, all mine, it’s my PRECIOUS.” I had barely uttered the words when I knew I had gone too far. I had been acting like a stupid Halfling that just got a shiny ring or something. Looking at my friends faces, the shock at my outburst was plain to see. My face flushed with embarrassment due to overreacting to such a trivial thing.
“Look guys I know that you are just concerned about me, but I’m fine. Trust me I am the number one expert on swords in this town and it’s just a sword, an awesome sword, but a regular sword nonetheless. Kay?”
This produced a reluctant “fine” from both Estrid and Julian although I could tell that neither had really accepted it. We finished our lunch in silence. I hurriedly ate my food and fled the oppressive tavern as soon as possible.
“Hey why are you running away? You have to pay for your crimes you know?” It was late that afternoon when I caught a man trying to shoplift at one of our merchants stalls. I had whipped out my sword but before I could penetrate him, he fell over in panic causing me to unfortunately miss my strike. He scuttled backwards like he was some sort of overgrown bug. I flicked by sword in a graceful arc throwing up sparks when it hit the cobblestone street. Unleashing a powerful strike towards his head I screamed “Take you punishment like a man!” At that moment however a little girl jumped out of the nearby alleyway directly into the path of my sword. Time seemed to slow down. Horrified I tried to stop my sword, but there was no way I could stop a strike with my full weight behind it. I could feel the blade cutting into her flesh and slicing cleanly through her body.
Instead of there being a massive fountain of blood and a severed head rolling away she fell to the ground in a spasming heap while her body underwent some sort of transformation. She sprouted a pair of tiny horns and a set of wings and tail erupted from her backside.
Of course at this point I was in no state to pay attention to what happened to my victim. The moment my sword connected with her my body was wracked with an unimaginable torrent of pleasure. It just felt so good to cleave her flesh. Every nerve in my body was vibrating like a struck string. The intensity of it overwhelmed my brain and in its foggy state only one thing was clear: I wanted, no NEEDED more.
A little boy came running out of the ally “What did you do to my…” He never got to finish his sentence as I had already stabbed him dead center of his chest with my sword. Like his sister he collapsed into a twitching heap without a trace of blood while the pleasure attacked my body. Behind him I could see what appeared to be their mother running to the scene. I couldn’t help but smile. Don’t you love it when your prey comes to you?
I ran around the market slashing all of the people I could see. Butcher Cut, Baker Cut, Candlestick maker Cut, stupid woman that keeps commenting on her beauty and how wonderful her kids are cut, cut, CUT!!! My world dissolved into a frenzy of crazed giggles and flashing sword. Had I looked at my reflection in the shop windows that surrounded me I would have seen that my eyes were already glowing an ominous red with a twisted lewd smile. However, by that time my mind was too far gone to care about such things. I only sought more humans to cut so I could get another jolt of the ecstasy that was eroding my mind and humanity.
Working my way through the now panicked city I cut down any person I saw. Soon piles of twitching people covered the streets. Eventually I worked my way out to the edge of the city to find Estrid waiting for me.
“eStRId mY fRIenD YoU lOOk sO goOD LEt mE cUt yOu uP!!!” Running down the road towards her I lashed out with my sword only to have it connect with something invisible about a foot in front of Estrid’s neck. “wHAt, WhaT Is tHIss? wHy WhY cAN’t i cuT? eSTriD lET mE cUT yOu!!!!!” Again, and again I tried only to skitter off of some sort of invisible barrier.
Estrid looked in my eyes with a mournful glance full of pity and placed her hand on the barrier in front of her. This only drove me deeper into a frenzy. She was sooo close, why couldn’t I cut her?
She sighed “You know Frida I used to respect you. You were so powerful and devoted to protecting the city. In fact I guess I was a bit jealous of your passion and abilities. But look at you now, nothing more than a crazed demonic beast that drives people into darkness. I tried to warn you, I really did, but you wouldn’t listen. The only good thing to come out of this mess is that Julian happened to be outside of the city and free from your rampage.”
“Julian, where’s Julian?”
“Don’t worry you will never see him again. I’ll keep this barrier up around the town until we can put together an expedition to purge the area with fire and sword. Until that time contemplate your actions you demon!” With those words Frida turned her back on me and started walking away.
“fRIda dON’t gO! lEt mE cUt YOu oR jULiaN. pLEaSE lEt mE cUt juLiAn jULiaaaan!!!!!!!” My voice devolved into a high pitched scream, but Frida kept going not once turning back.
“i sEE yOu!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Looking under a bed I found a human girl that was hiding under a bed. While she was screaming her head off I dragged her out of her hiding spot and drove my sword into her. The poor thing collapses into a pile while the change takes her. I have been scouring the city for days looking for any stragglers that haven’t fallen to my sword or the desires of the monsters I have created. It is getting harder and harder to find a pure human.
“mONsTERs aRE nO FUn No fUn nOfuNAtaLL”
Those who I had cut had been reborn as monsters or the lovers of monsters and were no good to cut at all. That didn’t stop me from trying though. It just wasn’t the same. There was no rush, no jolt of pleasure when I cut them. They just collapsed twitching for a few minutes before going about the rest of their day. It didn’t take them long to realize that I couldn’t actually hurt them so they treated me like a minor annoyance.
“hUUmaNs wHEre aRE yOu huUManS?”
Frustrated with a lack of prey I tried to find a gap in the barrier surrounding town. I walked, and walked circling the town for months until I had worn a path deep into the dirt, but there was no way out. Eventually, I became frustrated and decided if there were no humans left to cut then I would wait for them. After all Frida had said that they would come and try to kill me. I was looking forward to it. So I climbed through the town to the highest hill which held the graveyard. There in front of the largest crypt I sat down to wait for new prey.
“hUUmAns i aM hErE foR yoU. jULian i aM waITiNg fOr yoU, lEt mE cUt yOu!”