Angel Fall ch. 1 – Fatigue

It is common knowledge that the Demon Lord is the architect behind the creation of these “Monster Girls”.  The hierarchy of the demons is far more complex than a leader and her minions.  There are signs that point to internal power struggles at all ranks.
— Greg’s journal, pg 34.  The human was more keen than we had first anticipated.  Capture will be difficult.

Fatigue

    The barren branches scratch my face and tear at my already tattered cloak that has long lost its pristine whiteness from the months of hunting. My breath is haggard, I’ve been on the run since pre-dawn when that wretched snow owl harpy jumped me. The setting sun’s rays do nothing to stave off the harsh mid-winter chill. I force myself through more underbrush, waves of snow from last night’s storm collapse onto my head. I need to find shelter or I won’t last the night with these wet clothes, but before that-

    The world turns sideways and I see a pair of large meaty talons pin my biceps down before face planting a snow drift, “Hoo hoo! I gotcha now husband! You can’t run me like that after I propose. Now where were we…”

    I feel something warm and fleshy grind against the back of my now snow-covered head. The wonderful scent of apple pie tickles my nose with the pleasant sensation of warm liquid. Revulsion rolls through me like a sickly green wave of vomit. My rage for these demons boils away the numbing cold giving me the strength to push myself out of the snow. An ear-piercing squawk of surprise shatters the forest calm. The harpy struggles against my grip, her talons tearing through my wool sleeves and digging into the plate armor underneath.

    “FUCK OFF”, I rip the demon bird off my biceps with such force I can feel the tips of her talons snap like dried wood, and slam her into the ground. She coughs and sputters, her fluffy white feathers blending into the snowy background.

    “Husband what are you-”, I drive my heavy boot into her bare chest with a satisfying crunch as her ribs crack. She looks up at me, her lips parted in shock, yellow bird eyes filled with confusion and fear. Those eyes plead for me to stop, to kneel down and tell her that she is alright and that I am her one and only husband, that I love her. If it were not for my years of training with the order I would have succumbed. Men lust after the bodies of these demons, but it is their eyes that win their hearts. It is their eyes that must see their species wane, not ours.

    “P-plea-”, I roar with hatred and rage for these monstrosities that drowns out her terrified words. Unsheathing the dagger on me chest, I bring it crashing down through her forehead. The blade slides into her skull with great resistance. The harpy spasms once then her eyes glaze over, blood trickling down her nose.

    Two years of this. Two years of being on the run and hunting the same monsters that hunt me. My heart aches for those I lost and I grow weary, so weary of these demons and efforts to tear apart our families and communities. So weary of them toying with the hearts of men. So weary of them taking our loved ones away.

    My eyes snap open, the final rays of the setting sun fade over the horizon. My fatigue caused me to doze off for a few minutes. With great effort I pull my only weapon from its harpy head sheath, frozen blood still clinging on to the hilt. I need to find shelter, a cave or something away from the elements so I can build a fire and dry off.

    A branch snaps behind me off in the distance, by reflex I spin on my heels and enter St. Richard’s stance- the only combat stance that is effective when using only a single dagger. The harpy made me waste too much time allowing my real pursuer to cover much ground.

    Sheathing my dagger I continue heading east. No matter how tired I am I cannot allow myself to stop, not with the pursuer this close, and not when stopping means I’ll freeze to death in my sleep. One foot in front of the other, just like at basic training. If I let my mind drift away in thought- my foot meets no resistance as I put it down.

    Foot prints.

    They too small to be mine and it looks like their creator wore boots, so they can’t be my pursuer’s. By the love of the Chief Goddess, a fellow human! The stars are my only light now, the moon won’t rise for at least another hour.

    The trail is hard to see with the lack of light, but low light conditions is something I’ve grown accustom too. The stars drift in the sky and the moon is at its peak when I finally make out a small shadow in the distance. The trail leads to that shadow, so whoever I’m following must be there- sleeping next to a warm fire most likely. I need a fire.

    The scent of smoldering coals from a dying fire bring me back to focus. The cottage before me can’t be larger than a single one room, likely as big our rooms back at the chapel, but it’s hard to tell with only the moonlight.

    Knock knock.

    No answer. Someone has to be home, why else would I smell smoke?

    Knock knock.

    Nothing. I have no time for this shit. I take a few steps back to give myself room, and with what remains of my strength kick in the door with a resounding crunch of wood shattering. Warm air washes over me like the sea breeze the one time I visited a beach.

    The hours of running and nights of poor sleep finally catch up to me. My legs give out and I crash to the floor. I hear foot steps and a soft voice as my consciousness fades. Soft fingers press against the side of my neck, and then darkness.

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