Vic felt a strong gust of wind and saw a man appearing from out of nowhere. He looked young and his figure was slender. He had short cut hair and his face had a malicious smile. Beneath the dark-colored leather armor, he wore red clothes with symbols of fire here and there. In his hand, he held an expensive-looking, thin, long sword covered in blood.
As he showed up in the courtyard, two more shadows appeared next to him. Albeit they weren't friendly with each other. One of the shadows wore the same robe and armor as the young man, whereas his face was covered by a mask. Wielding a sword that looked kind of similar to a young man's he was battling the third shadow.
A middle-aged man in a grey robe. He had grizzled shoulder-length hair that was held up by a hairband. His face was wearing a stern look and grey stubble. His clothes had lots of shallow cuts, as there was no blood it showed that he was still uninjured. He held a long silver spear, standing in a bizarre stance, keeping it overhead with one hand holding the end of the shaft and the second one was placed in the middle.
The young man turned around "You are late in your endeavor, Walter. As you can see, we have a lovely bunch of mortals here." his smile grew wider as he pointed at Vic's group.
"You fiend, let them go and fight fairly, as it is intended!" the middle-aged man, Walter, shouted before thrusting a few times with his spear.
His thrusts were parried by a masked person while the young man smirked.
"Heh, as intended? Don't you pass the morale of your group onto us. Now if you don't stop I will start killing these mortals one by one."
"Outrageous!" Walter shouted but to no avail.
"If you want to save them you should let us go." he shrugged his shoulders.
"Impudent scoundrels, If I let you go I will condemn many more to deaths. Abide by the rules and let these people go!" said Walter.
"Then I guess I will start by killing this one." he pointed at Grace's mother. And then, within a time it would take Vic to blink he went near her and cut with his sword. "Walter you can start counting!"
While the middle age man started fighting more furiously everyone was looking at the woman who was alive just a few moments ago.
"NOOOO!!!" coming out from the stupor, her husband screamed and then tried to attack the young man. But he failed, his body was pierced and torn apart by the hands of the young man before he could land a single punch.
Grace couldn't look at how her parents were killed. She started crying and hid her face in Vic's embrace. Her shoulders shuddering, making his shirt wet with her tears.
"Look at them, they literally throw themselves at my blade." He swung his blade once to get rid of the excess blood. After this, he turned around and tried to strike a spear-wielding man a few times yet it was futile. Walter was still uninjured while slowly cornering the masked person.
As a young man was trying to sneak attack him, Olin suddenly stood up and started running towards the masked man with his axe. As he moved closer warriors noticed him but it was they were too late to react.
Olin struck the masked man but nothing happened. There was no blood after his heavy strike. The masked person was stupefied that lowly mortal dared to attack him. He shoved Olin with his hand sending him flying. In the heat of the battle, it was an unforgivable mistake. Walter immediately seized the moment. Thrusting with his spear he impaled his throat.
"Well done brave mortal, you will be rewarded heavily after I'm done with this bandits!" he shouted and focused his attention on the young man.
Vic's mother immediately rushed toward the place Olin was thrown.
Vic was looking at everything and couldn't believe his eyes. The warriors were moving with such speed that his eyes only saw blurred lines. When his father rushed to them he couldn't even scream as he was completely paralyzed by fear.
The young man's face held a smile no more. He turned serious and was battling Walter parrying his thrust with his sword.
"You persistent old geezer, I will kill these mortals if you want it so much!" after saying it he threw some kind of dust at his opponent. At the same time as Walter Covered his face with his arm, he appeared next to Vic's parents.
"You will pay for meddling in our fight!" a young man hissed. Olin tried to stand up and defend his wife but the shove of the masked man apparently broke some of his bones. He lied there waiting for his death.
Glancing at Vic last time in his life he shouted at the top of his lungs "RUN!"
And in the next moment, he was beheaded along with his wife.
Only seeing the death of his closest kin Vic managed to shake off the fear that nailed him to the ground.
The shock was so big that he didn't feel a thing at the moment. He mechanically stood up. Lifting Grace he turned around and started running. After a few seconds of running, he started hearing Grace sobbing and felt her tight hold.
Yes, he lost his family but he still had her, he can make a new one. Mustering all the strength he had in his body he rushed away from these warriors.
"We will get away Grace, I will save you, we will get away." Vic tried to comfort her as much as he could. Yet he couldn't hide the sorrow in his trembling voice. He felt how everything blurred for a second and then his cheeks felt warm. Feelings that were backed up deep inside him were slowly returning.
"Grace doesn't worry I won't allow anyone to hurt you," he said this continuously as a mantra.
"I won't be so confident in your place." suddenly the young man appeared right before his eyes. He pushed Vic aside grabbing Grace in the process.
"I said that I will punish you, mortals, for meddling in our business." he held Grace up by her throat as she was flailing her arms and legs.
Seeing it Vic yelled and begged to let her go.
The young man smiled "I will fulfill my previous promise." he pierced
Grace in the stomach at the angle that he would also puncture her heart.
When Vic saw the village burning he felt nothing, he didn't understand what crime they did to punish them so heavily. He was stupefied.
Seeing the bodies of his acquaintance laying here and there he thought that they were unlucky. Seeing Grace's and his parent's death he must have felt sorrow, but he felt nothing.
He couldn't understand what happened around him or what he was doing. Everything happened too fast. His peaceful life was turned upside down. The shock was too much for a young man, all the feelings were bottled up, waiting for a moment they could be released. Carrying Grace to safety let his feeling out a little. He started feeling all the grief that was held back.
However, it ended. As soon as he saw Grace wheezing and then splattering blood from her mouth and abdomen he snapped. The hope he used to calm himself down died with Grace. All the feelings that were slowly seeping away as he ran now burst out as rage.
With red eyes, he charged at the young man who still held Grace in his hand. "GRAAAACE!" He tried to tackle the man but to no avail. He stood there holding his wife and being held by Vic completely unscathed and unfazed.
"You maggot, let me go." the warrior scowled and kicked Vic away.
The kick was so hard that Vic slammed on the wall of the nearest house. His gaze was dimming as he was losing his consciousness. His left eye was died red, probably his head was split open somewhere and the blood was now pouring over his eye. He tried to stand up but his body was refusing to listen to him.
The last thing he saw was how the young man was looking at him still holding Grace and how the spear-wielding man appeared right behind his back. Then his vision turned black and his mind sunk into the darkness.
After a while life returned to his body. His senses were slowly returning to him. At first, Vic's face felt warm, and then he started feeling pain from all over his body. He groaned and started turning around. Feeling pain all over his body he tried to open his eyes.
"You should rest young man." he heard the voice of a middle-aged man.
Despite this advice, he still opened up his eyes and with great difficulties, he sat up. He examined himself, his body was bandaged tightly and even a part of his head with one eye was wrapped. Looking around he saw the burnt-out village and a man sitting near him with his legs crossed while holding his spear.
"My name is Walter, I'm truly sorry that your village got caught up in this." He stood up and then bowed to Vic.
"Sir you shouldn't do this." as Vic tried to get up and stop him he winced from the pain.
"You should sit and rest young man." he helped Vic to lay down "Most of your bones were broken, actually it's a miracle you survived after being kicked by a cultivator."
"I was kicked?" Vic furrowed his brows trying to remember everything that happened.
"Yes, but you shouldn't worry too much. I already applied medicine and you will be healed in no time." Walter smiled.
"And my family?" Vic sat up again.
Walter's smile went away immediately. "I fear you are the only one who is alive." seeing how Vic's face grew pale he added, "I didn't search, maybe there are some who managed to ran away."
"Thank you, honorable sir." Vic tried to bow but was stopped by Walter. "I have a favor to ask."
"Can you please help me bury everyone in the village?" he sighed "I can't let them rot away and be eaten by wild animals."
"But of course. I'm obliged to do this as I was one of the instigators of this carnage."
He then told Vic about who he was and who was these people he fought. Turned out that both he and his enemies were from larger groups. They were from opposing sects of cultivators. Those who wore red robes were from and evil sect. And Walter's group was tasked with subjugating them.
As they fought fiercely lost soon he lost all of his allies and was the only one who could finish the task. Eliminating most of the mobs the enemy was left with few regular soldiers and an officer who happened to be the young man. As they were weaker than Walter they tried to flee and on their way, they saw a village.
After hearing this Vic managed to figure out what happened then. He listened to the story maintaining silence.
Once Walter finished his story he helped Vic to gather bodies of the villagers and burying them. As he saw headless corpses of his parents and burnt bodies of Jim's family he bit his lip so hard that it drew blood. But he didn't say a single word. Despite being gravely injured he insisted to bury Grace with his hands. With the help of Walter, he carried Grace's body from the village.
There he used his bandaged arms to dig the soil and carefully put her body draped in the white cloth. Putting the gemstone on top he covered her with soil and placed a stone plate engraving her name with the help of Walter.
While he was doing it the tears were streaming down his face, but when he finished there were no traces of emotions on his face left.
"Great and noble cultivator, please take me as your servant! I want to personally revenge the ones who brought this misfortune to me." Vic bashed his face at the ground as he kneeled and begged.
"O poor soul, I'm afraid I can't. The regulations of my sect are too strict." Walter shook his head "Stand up, you are still injured and need help. "
Vic lifted his head for a moment and saw a gentle face.
"I'm afraid I can't benevolent elder if I can't take revenge for this than I have no reasons to continue living."
Seeing his resolve Walter wavered, he couldn't decide what would be the best course of action. Finally, he sighed.
"Alright I can take you with me, but I can't guarantee that you would achieve your goal."
"Thank you, elder. My resolve won't weaken."
He imagined becoming a cultivator, a hero. Going on thrilling adventures, seeking treasures and women. But as he made the first step towards his dream he didn't feel any emotion. He was alive but his body felt cold.
With only hatred left as a fuel for his life to continue burning, that is how his long journey started.
"That's how it all changed." dying young man or rather Vic, said in a chamber.
"After that day life that belonged to me ended. I sold all of it to pay for my revenge and that's why I don't have anything left."
The more blood he lost, the more vivid his memories become. The more he talked, the darker the room grew.
"And I don't need anything." he managed to make a bitter smile before blood started leaking from his mouth, dying his teeth in blood-red color.
"You didn't finish your story. Did you manage to pacify your hate? Did you execute your revenge?" he heard someone whispering.
Shaking his head from side to side he answered. "Yes and no."
"The one I wanted to kill the most didn't die by my hand. And the ones left weren't enough."
"It's a disappointment indeed."
He was completely exhausted before finding this cave, constantly running away, without time to heal. Due to the blood loss and fatigue, Vic was slowly losing his touch with reality.
Normally such wounds could've been healed if a cultivator started meditating, mending torn flesh. Instead, Vic let this cut drain him of his power and life.
Thinking that another voice was his hallucination he continued talking with it.
"The most disappointing thing is me involving innocent people."
Darkness soon swallowed everything and the only thing that was different in the eyes of Vic was a small white dot. He wheezed as remains of his blood were ceaselessly flowing not only from his stomach but also from his mouth.
"I endured everything they threw at me, trained like a madman, hunted these bastards like a hound." he clenched his teeth in anger "For eighteen years I endured the pain, and I inflicted pain." as he talked his voice gradually became louder.
"And know I won't leave them my corpse to judge me, as everything I did was according to my law," he shouted spitting frothed blood.
"Why you hold such anger?"
"Because… because…" Vic closed his trembling mouth not knowing what to say.
Indeed why was he angry? He achieved his goal. He should be triumphant, proud with his strength, wit, and determination but he wasn't.
He knew what life would await him, and he signed up for it willingly. Still, he held great remorse.
Trying to find the answer in his delirium he closed his eyes. His memory, each important day, small talks with his family and comrades. Every minute, every second of his life flashed in his mind.
Before he finally figured the right answer "Because they robbed not one life, but two. Mine and Grace's." After saying this his anger was replaced by conciliation. He accepted his fate.
The blood already stopped flowing out as there was none to bleed anymore. All the light left Vic's eyes. Sliding down and lying on the floor he blinked one last time. "But it will end soon, I will meet her, I will meet her soon…" with these last words Vic's breath stopped.
Everything that was left in the dark room was a dead body of a youth and a statue. But even though Vic's heart stopped beating for some time already, the voice he was talking to didn't stop.
"I don't think that you will meet her anytime soon, in fact, if there is no miracle you won't meet her again. But you are lucky as I can grant you a miracle."
"After all, I chose you as my Vicar."
With this, the prologue arc ends. And I've got a question to all readers. Without an answer, I can't write any further. Should I use Chinese names to increase authenticity, when I don't understand what they mean? Or I should stick to something simpler? Like Korean or Japanese?
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