16.45% A Rattling Monster [Completed] (Editing in Progress) / Chapter 26: Shadows of the Past

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Chapter 26: Shadows of the Past

Barely six hours after the death of the drake, shadows could be seen near the ruins of the town. They didn't approach it, they just confirmed its existence. After that they roamed in the forest, searching for clues. They found a bottom half of a human body, a charred one and finally someone who had taken a direct hit of the drake's claws. He was injured, alive. Fighting against his need to embrace an eternal sleep, but still alive. Only when he found out the presence of the shadows in the trees did he relax and began to laugh. As he transformed himself into a tornado. Maybe if it was normal humans, they could have been deceived and approached him, only to die by being launched in the sky. But the shadows were expecting this and only back off. But that had slow them down for many minutes. After that, the forest was a total mess. For the former human, nothing could be seen of him.

Shortly after the shadows found out the siege weapons and the shields, all broken and torn apart by the winds. The search for the next clue will be very hard. But the shadows were patients and very meticulous. They roamed the forest centimeters by centimeters. Any branch or grass that were torn by a contact of a living being and not by the tornado have been found out. But it was from where the mysterious group was coming, not where they were going.

But at one moment one of the shadows noticed something weird in the local energy. Like, if someone were transporting one the fairies' crystal. But it was quickly dismissed. No human was stupid enough to steal a crystal, especially after the mess that they have done. But as time passed, more and more really noticed the peculiar energy. And the only reasonable reason was a crystal. Even if it was nonsense, they had to follow the lead.

They stopped their tracks when they found out a dead tree. The fact that he was dead didn't really matter. The evident poisoning that he endured was the main point. In the minds of all the shadows, a recent news was shining. A ratman was spotted in the nearby city of Ronta. It was at more than 2 weeks of travel for a human but the possibility was high. Especially with this dead tree as a proof.

It was at that moment that they were baffled. Clearly, humans have killed the drake. But the ratman stole some crystals. Were they working together? If they were, it had to be transmitted immediately. One of the shadows rushed toward where they were coming, to warn his superiors. They could have transmitted this message magically, but they didn't know if it was a trap or not. If it really was one, the moment they began to cast the spell was the moment they died. Why would that ratman have left such an evident clue and a nice looking trail toward this location? Unconsciously, the shadows were getting into formation, expecting the assault to come at any time.

But as nothing happened for a long time, they began to relax and dropped their vigilance a little bit. The moon was rising in the sky, making the hunt harder. They searched closely for any clue of where the ratman was going after that. But the magical trail stopped right here and nothing was disturbed. They could track a human with their eyes closed because of his smell, his tendency to destroy living things, his equipment. But to track a ratman, one of the sneakiest race when even the lowliest slave is more discreet than an experienced human thief, was a tough task. Disappointed by the absence of something, they began to retreat toward the siege weapons, to finally catch those damn humans.

But on the way back, they met their comrade that had left earlier. What was he doing here? Only after touching him did they saw his head fall from his shoulders. And heard a terrifying voice.

"Pointy-ears sheek,sheek! Stab-kill them!"

And the shadows were overrun by an even darker masse.

After two days, Daryl was a happy man. Everything was going smoothly for him. First, of the three supposed dead hunters under him, one was still alive. And he was the one fused with a Wind Elemental. He managed to provoke a tornado so big that even Daryl and his men saw it. With that, the potential of all them making it back alive was greatly improved. And right now, they could even see the end of this damn Fairy Forest.

They managed to sneak inside the territory of the elves, kill off the drake inside a town of the fairies and get away. That was a tale he will gladly enjoy narrate it in front of the new recruits. Daryl Maimedhand, slayer of the elven drake. That was a really good name. He began to stroke his beard with his right hand, satisfied with himself. Until he saw what was in front of him.

Eleven elves heads. Still with the hood of the ranger. Someone had actually the courage to do something like that. But what was currently in the mind of Daryl was not the death of the elves. That was the name of the power behind those deaths. And when he saw a shadow appearing right in front of him, he quickly took three steps back. The hunters were scared by both the shadow and the heads but they still were in formation before Daryl finished his last step. Even the Chosen were clearly aware of the threat, them for who a small drake like that is not even worthy to be mentioned. Both groups looked at each other for a minute before the members of the Order heard a voice.

-Man-thing, core, trade-steal, sheek sheek!

The shadow extended a claw, like if it was asking them to give the core without a condition. Daryl looked in confusion at Gustav, because it was him who had the drake core. Even if that core was not particularly important for this mission, it was still a rare and valuable material. Just letting it go without even a fight will be badly seen by the Prophet of Krieg. But to his immense surprise, he saw the very man that killed a drake without even sweating searching frenetically inside his bag. After a few seconds, he finally found the core and quickly put it in the claw. It was the first time Daryl saw him really fearing something. He guessed that they still had some emotions.

After gaining the thing he was looking for, the shadow extended his other claw toward the head.

"Pointy-ears, man gift, sheek sheek!"

And disappeared right after it. Every hunter was flabbergasted. They didn't even understand what happened. In their minds, the only thing that mattered was that they lost a drake core. A core that was earned with the blood of three of their fellows. They quickly expressed their anger and asked Gustav to explained himself of why he was scared of such a small shadow.

He answered simply by bashing the head of the stupid moron that asked that question, while constantly looking around him. After a moment, he sighed.

"Guess we are safe now, pack the heads. Now the elves will think that we killed their rangers. No matter what, even if we left the heads here. We have no one who can take the blame for us, so let's pray Krieg that they never understood that it was us that killed the drake."

"But can't we just say that is was that shadow? And who was it?"

At this word, Gustav began to laugh. At first, it was a small laugh, but it was getting bigger, turning into a hysterical one. The curious hunter retreat, fearing that he will have the same fate as the injured hunter. But to his surprise, the Chosen only chose to shake his head.

"Guess that you didn't get the information. I mean only Daryl is informed by it, am I right?"

Daryl nodded, he didn't explain the recent news with his men. First of all, they learned it on their way toward the drake. And they were not qualified to know it that soon anyway.

"A few weeks earlier, in a small city of the Holy Kingdom of Ronta, the trail of a member of a race supposed extinct was found. A race that during the Portal War, provoked so many troubles that the Hero had to take action and the Portal was canceled. So in the end, the years of war against the demons and the potential conquest of the other world was foiled by one race. The ratmen. And since apparently it took them a century to regroup and reform their empire, I won't let the Order be the first victim of their vengeance. That's why I let them have the drake core. And don't be mistaken. Those eleven rangers could have played with you. Even the six of us would be hard pressed fighting against them in a forest. But the ratmen managed to kill them, track us and arrive here first. And if you think that he was alone, always remember one thing. If you see one ratman, that means hundred are behind you. Now let's be done with this mission and report to the Prophet. This news will definitely not be to his liking."

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