The tumble-down stone building stood, lone in the never-ending grass field. Its shadow stretching across the ragged landscape, a looming figure in the light of the full moon. Its rotting door swung loosely on broken hinges, squeaking in the breeze, revealing the house's cavernous maw, not a speck of light to be seen in the inky darkness.
Out of the depths of the dark, a shape came into focus, materializing in the doorway. His head hung low, sword hanging limply from his hand, he took a step into the light, the pale glow illuminating the dark red liquid drenching his coat. His sword shone and liquid rubies could be seen dripping from the point, a trail of glistening drops leading into the black. His lengthy hair a curtain between the light and the gore spread over his features. He paused at the end of the fading path, looking back over his shoulder the black locks sliding over his cheek, leaving a trail of red smeared across the skin. His grey eyes faded of their usual spark; all emotion gone. His skin a stark white in the moon's light, the blood painting his face a sharp contrast.
>>>The Previous Night<<<
An insistent tapping at his window had him groggily rolling out of bed and slamming the frame open, letting in the night's breeze, cooling his heated skin. A sharp cry accompanied the hawk as it perched itself on his window. The man looked at it with a look of contempt on his face. The bird ruffled its grey and brown feathers, revealing a tightly rolled piece of parchment tied to its ankle.
A smile crept its way onto the man's lips, stretching across the skin as he reached for the paper, carefully untying it from the bird. He unrolled it and his eyes hungrily devoured the words he had been so patiently awaiting.
"It's finally time," he whispered with a wicked grin etched on his face, his fingers clutching the orders.
Spinning around, he snatches up his midnight black cloak and glistening sword as he strode out of the inn's room, the door banging in the wind behind him. The stairs creaked as he descended from the third floor, but he took no mind to the noise, quickly gliding down the steps and out the front door into the night.
The dried grass crunched under foot as he crept toward the rotting door, the sword blade gleaming in the moonlight
Quiet whispers emanated from the cracked door, barely heard on the wind. The man tilted his head, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath of the night air. The coppery tang of iron was an undertone to the sickly sweet stench of rotting fruits. His eyes opened, the light reflecting on the grey orbs, stormy moons of their own. His gaze rose, taking in the cracked and dirt encrusted stones that made up the leaning building he stood before.
He took a step forward, a twig snapping under his boot; the whispers hushed, leaving the chirping of crickets and faint hooting of owls as the only sound heard on the night air.
The clouds shifted, sending a ray of moonlight lacing toward his sword, the white light reflected across the smooth metal, casting dots of misty color dancing among the crunched grass. The man halted in his advance toward the house, listening for any movement within. He took a breath and continued his way, his steps light on the dead ground.
The door swung open when he pressed on the wood, its hinges strangely silent. He stepped through the threshold, the old floorboards creaking under his weight as he followed the dim light emanating from a closed door at the end of the hall that stretched before him. He could feel the boards bend as he padded across the flooring; his breath shallowed, and he watched the ground as he placed one foot in front of the other, careful not to step in any of the numerous holes riddling the planks.
As he approached, he could see that the door had been left ajar, the dim yellow light spilling around the frame and out into the hall. Pressing his fingertips against the wood, he edged it open so he could easily slide through the crack. His black cloak lightly brushed the floor, whispering through the dust and grim, the only sound made as he silently slipped through the crack and pressed himself against the wall, hidden from the light.
Inside the surprisingly small room, around twenty men sat and stood around a slight table laid with a map that poured over the edges and had slashes and marks covering the surface. They all seemed focused on the paper; fingers slid over the surface followed by hushed words; eyes darted around the men every few seconds; heads twitched in anticipation; hands clenched and unclenched; feet tapped against the floor in unspoken worry.
One man was further back than the rest, standing slightly off to the side, right in front of him. He watched as the man's shoulders rose and fell as he breathed in and out. How he shuffled from foot to foot every few seconds. His cloak slipped from over his arm as he raised his blade, the metal catching the glow of the candle at the last second; and the man's eyes widened, his mouth opened to scream but all that came out were gurgled sounds and bright red blood.
All conversation stopped abruptly, and silence settled over the room. The only noise coming from the dying man as he lay on the floor, convulsing in pain, blood pouring from his throat and mouth, coating the already foul boards in a dark red puddle. Slowly, all heads turned toward the man as he stood at the edge of the light, the only thing showing being his mouth as it curled up in a wicked grin before he moved.
His sword sang as it sliced through the air, meeting flesh and bone as he brought it down upon the men. Screams erupted as bodies rushed among themselves, frantically grasping for weapons: swords hanging at belts, hammers pocketed in aprons, staves leaning against walls, anything they could get their hands on. He was a whirlwind of black, anywhere his once silver blade met, bright red ribbons and rubies sprung, splattering against walls and people, drops staining the surface of the map, soaking through the parchment and spreading across the wooden table.
The clang of metal on metal rang through the air, slicing through the screams and shouts and pleas. His sword met another's, the blades ringing as they bounced off each other, sending droplets of blood flying through the air. The song his sword sang as it came rushing at the man standing across from him was one of death and despair, filled with pain and suffering. The blade slid past the crooked weapon the other man clutched in shaking hands and met with the flesh of his neck, plunging through the skin and bone and coming out on the other side. The man's eyes widened, and his mouth fell open in surprise before his head toppled to the ground with a squelch.
He turned to the last few standing, and they all paused before dropping the blades they held in their hands. Tears welled in their eyes and some fell to their knees pleading for mercy and forgiveness. Some cried out in sorrow, their heartbreak palpable as their wails fell past their lips and into the room. The man's grin stretched even wider and he took a step forward. Without a moment's hesitation, he brought the bloodthirsty blade down and heads went rolling across the blood-soaked floor, splashing through puddles before coming to a stop.
He closed his eyes and took a breath, taking in the stench of death, the scent of iron stinging his nose.
A crash has him spinning around, the cloak's edge slipping through blood and sending it praying across his boots. The door to the room now lay half off its hinges and dripping blood. At the end of the hall, he saw the feet of someone as they slipped around the corner and out the house, into the night. His face screws up into one of anger and a low growl slips past his clenched teeth.
He turns back around to bask in the glow of the candlelight reflecting off the walls; however, as he looks back, he notices the candle lay cut in half and toppled over in a pool of blood, the fire undeniably put out.
Pale moon light filters in through the warped glass window, casting shadows spinning across the floor, crawling over corpses and slipping around corners. His fingers loosen and his sword falls to the floor with a metallic thunk. His eyes glaze over as they take in the wall dripping with blood, the bodies lying piled atop one another, the chairs and barrels overturned and laying in blood. His face pales as he feels the blood sliding across his face and down his back.
"I did this..." he mumbles, his voice quiet and strangely weak. Hot tears spill down his cheeks, running through the blood clinging to his skin as he stands in the light of the moon, guilt ridden, and grief stricken.