A sunny sky with the occasional billowy cloud peered down on the monastery garth where a cluster of three spindly creatures knelt together in the grass. The creatures were tiny in stature and red of skin; clawed hands scraped at a mass of pallid, bloodstained flesh; their teeth gnashed together with horrid wetness as they devoured chunks of muscle and slurped sinew.
Unseen by the demons, the towering double doors of hardwood that marked the monastery’s exit cracked open, revealing a slit of bright light. A dark form appeared in the doorway before quickly melding into the darker cloister surrounding the courtyard.
Moments passed, the fiends continuing to feast on their carrion. A breeze blew through the garth carrying with it a tropical, salty aroma not native to Khanduras. One imp looked up from its meal, its saddle nose twitching. Just as the imp’s beady eyes fell on the opened door, a soft twang sounded from the shadowed arcade. The imp jerked, snapping its head towards the sound. It caught the briefest glimpse of glinting iron and maroon rosewood before crumbling to the grass, surprised eyes staring past the arrow shaft to the beautiful sky.
The other two imps lurched to their feet. One spun to face the direction of the twang; the other struggled to pull free a dagger from its belt. Two small motes of firelight burst to life in the darkness, faintly illuminating a tall, athletic woman adorned in leather armor dyed red. Twin flames shunted forwards swift as striking raptors. They pierced flesh and torched black hearts. The two imps joined the first.
The woman calmly strode out of the shadows, an ebony bow gripped in her hand and a quiver of arrows strapped at her waist. She kept a wary eye on the cloister’s dark corners while sandaled feet carried her across the grass to the slain demons. Kicking them aside revealed the corpse they had been feasting on. The archer’s normally severe face fell.
She sank to her knees next to what remained of the body. It was a young woman—a rogue of the Sisterhood—her face contorted in terror, vacant green eyes staring at the sky. A fractured bow laid clutched in her hand.
The blond woman from the Twin Seas tore her gaze from the rogue and glanced around the garth. Many of the arcade’s stone arches were splattered with dried blood and held deep gashes etched by creatures of nightmare. Another breeze blew through the area, swaying the warrior’s high ponytail but doing little to drive away the thick stench of brimstone, blood, and rot drifting from adjacent courtyards and from within the monastery itself. Many more monsters of the Burning Hells awaited.
“So, this is the site of Andariel’s atrocities,” the woman said mournfully. She turned back to her fallen sister. “Let’s put an end to them.”
With a gentle touch, she closed the younger woman’s eyes and mouth before leaning down to kiss her forehead. Pulling the sole remaining arrow from the rogue’s quiver, the warrior of Athulua rose to her feet, knocked the arrow, and faced the monastery’s lightless interior. She marched forward and fulfilled her promise.