He peered down the familiar sights of his crossbow, taking a deep breath to steady his nerves. Not that he had any, but old habits die hard. He had accepted the bounty over two weeks ago. Two weeks of hard, fast travelling without rest. Two weeks of tracking in dangerously familiar territory. It had been years since he had set foot in the Burrwitch Outskirts, and he had nearly lost his life in an encounter with some marauding Grobles; but he had been young and green then. Now he was the most feared and elusive bounty hunter this side of Cairn. Hell, probably in all of Cairn.
He listened, straining his magic enhanced senses for any subtle hint of danger in the forest. There was nothing to be heard at all, which usually meant some devilry was afoot. And then he smelt it: fresh blood. He instinctively knew that there was no immediate danger to himself, as whoever or whatever had shed it was too busy reveling in the gore to take notice of his presence. Smoothly and silently he crept forward, taking care to remain unseen. There was a break in the trees ahead, a small clearing. He moved behind a massive oak tree, and slowly peered around it to take in the scene. Although hardened from hundreds of encounters with denizens of the void and ruthless men like Daruis Cronley and Warden Krieg, his dark eyes slightly misted, and his stomach churned with disgust. He felt his gorge rising and suppressed it angrily. It was a gruesome picture that his eyes took in, one that a lesser man may have fainted at. At least a dozen human bodies had been sacrificed, their mangled remains hanging over large vats beneath them. Blood still dripped from a thousand precise incisions into the containers. About 10 cultists were grouped around something in a semicircle, chanting obscure litanies to the dying-god. But it was not them that caused a chill to run down his spine and his vision to blur momentarily. What in the hells was a damn Obsidian Ravager doing this side of the void? Summoning it should have been impossible, yet his eyes did not deceive him.
His hands began shaking with pure rage. This was his turf, and yet here were these vile creatures sacrificing their own to summon a void-horror to worship. Bounty or not, he would be damned if he let them alone. He would turn the powers of the void against their own masters. Years of devotion to the entropic arts had made him a master of powers some would deem unholy. Drawing a deep breath, he sent a force of entropic and chaotic energy, a bolt of pure doom , hurtling towards the Chthonic. The beast reeled from the force of impact and crashed to the ground. Taking advantage of the confusion, he loaded his legendary crossbow with a Silvercore bolt and took aim at the nearest cultist, letting the deadly missile fly. He smiled grimly as the bolt split into five separate projectiles of pure Chthonic-slaying silver and pierced the hearts of five worshippers, killing them instantly.
“Kill the nonbeliever” one of the zealots intoned deeply. It always amused him that the cultists used the same phrases, almost like they had a handbook of responses to use during enemy attacks. If they did, there was nothing in it to help them deal with the likes of him. In quick succession he loaded and fired, killing the remaining cultists easily. He was now fully focused on the Ravager lumbering towards him slowly, its molten skin broken in some places and leaking black ichor from the impact of his sorcery. Yet not nearly finished, and still a very dangerous foe. Knowing it had innate resistance to his powers, he fired a Silvercore bolt at it, inflicting his own mark on the beast and momentarily causing it to become vulnerable. He sent another bolt of chaos-laden doom at it, causing instant destruction. The Ravager crashed to the ground; its foul existence finished.
He dutifully looted its smoking corpse, and then moved on to the miserable bodies of the cultists. They carried nothing out of the ordinary, some iron bits, a few health tonics and food rations, and the odd book of whatever mad scribblings they deemed useful. He kicked one of the corpses savagely, still angered at their brutality and lack of regard for their fellow-humans. That’s when he noticed the strange key, its flat and dull surface covered in many depraved symbols, masterfully carved into the black steel. It felt oddly familiar, like he had encountered it in a past and distant lifetime. He then knew its purpose was intertwined with his bounty, and at that moment he almost regretted taking the job on, but the Harbinger’s word was iron, and so he steeled his resolve and thrust the key into his pouch. He realized the true power behind the summoning of the Ravager, and hoped his experience and skill was enough for the dangerous task ahead of him.
Just an idea I had for some fan-writing, Hope you guys enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it!