Chapter 4: He Who Rages for the Long Forgotten

An intimidating axe head cleaved through the gargantuan, dark-furred biped, bisecting its body in a spray of black ichor. The two halves fell to the blood-slick ground with twin thuds. 

The massive battleaxe came to rest at the side of its colossal wielder, a bare chested man seemingly made of nothing but chiseled muscle and battle scars. He stood amongst the fresh corpses of five of the enormous bipeds. Puffs of fog blew from his mouth as he eased out of the battle-high with slow, controlled breaths. 

The man glanced at each corpse before turning his sight away from the carnage. Not fifteen feet away, lost amongst an endless sea of verdant grass, rested a crumbled stone tower forgotten to the ages. Until recently.

With heavy, purposeful steps, the man left the copse of corpses and approached the ruined tower. Raindrops from the iron sky sprinkled onto his smooth head, sliding down his blood-splattered cheek to reveal a lapis tattoo. 

Pulling a moldy old tome from his satchel, the man stepped past what little remained of the tower’s entrance and entered a ceiling-less chamber of weathered masonry. The air was wet and smelled of mold. Shattered stonework and congealed grime covered the marble floor. A staircase that once ascended the tower sat at the room’s center, now nothing more than a heap of large stones with a shadowed pit near its base.

Pausing, the man rested his axe on the ground and flipped through the tome. With a furrowed brow, he studied a handful of pages, occasionally glancing at different sections of the room. Finally, he nodded and tossed the book aside, apparently satisfied with his findings. He strode over to the shadowed pit, finding that it led to an intact staircase. However, instead of ascending, these stairs descended into a dark abyss. Acidic air with hints of iron drifted out of the stairwell. 

The warrior scrunched his nose. “The stench of poison,” he growled in a gruff voice. 

A gust of caustic wind flew from the abyss, carrying with it a haunting, feminine voice. “Care for a bloodbath?” Deranged laughter echoed after it.

The man grimaced. The beguiling words and chilling laughter threatened to constrict his heart with fear and freeze him in terror. Breathing heavily through his nose, he allowed a concentrated fire to build within him, a controlled rage that grew and grew, sending adrenaline burning through his veins. The rage incinerated the fear and melted his terror.

“This bloodbath will be your last, witch,” he said, hefting his axe with both hands.

Shouting a battle cry loud enough to wake the Ancients, the warrior of the Northern Steppes marched resolutely down the staircase and disappeared into darkness. Beneath the Countess’ decrepit tower, amongst the walls and chains that held captive countless innocents as their blood was slowly siphoned from them, the man’s rage broke free in a frenzied whirlwind of slashing steel that rent flesh and bone. In the tower’s lowest, darkest, most defiled chamber, the man directed this rage at the Countess. 

The death-wail of their murderer at last freed those long forgotten souls.

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