Table of Contents: https://www.bungie.net/en/Forums/Post/244705039?page=0&sort=0&showBanned=0&path=1
[b]DISCLAIMER:[/b] This chapter is somewhat darker than usual.
[b]Chapter 8, Part 1[/b]
They were already cold when he found them.
Ikoris stood amidst a field of bodies, his eyes downcast, sweeping over corpse after corpse. A thin layer of frost blanketed the scene, having condensed from the cold air of night. The Awoken knelt by some of the bodies, dusting the ice from their faces and making note of their wounds. They had come, as he had known they would; the Scavengers; the Devils.
Some had died in their sleep, their throats cut with electrified blades. Most of these lay beneath blankets, their eyes closed, their muscles relaxed. Their pale, bloodless faces would-the Warlord thought-look rather peaceful, if not for the pools of crimson in which they lay.
[i]These[/i] deserters, though, were the fortunate few. Others had died in combat, occasionally managing to fell a Scavenger or two before themselves falling to the cold thrust of a saber or a searing blast of slag. For these, death had been an acceptable price for that which they sought to protect: their children. In sparing their offspring from a swift death, however, they had unknowingly condemned them to the cruelest fate of all.
Left alone at the hands of the Devils with no real means of defense, it was the children who saw firsthand the reason for their being named as such. Their ways were barbaric, and their interests of a far darker variety than those of any other Fallen. They did not shy from pursuing these interests.
In testament to this, one corpse lay at the camp's edge, broken and discarded, its skin lacerated by innumerable cuts, none reaching deeper than an inch.
Another had been bludgeoned and spitted above the deserters' pitiful fire, which had proven unable to keep either the chill of dark or the monsters within it at bay. Ikoris had never known the Devils to eat human flesh, but their doing so failed to surprise him.
More remains had been tossed about the space. Some lacked fingers or toes; others wanted for whole limbs. [i]The Devils[/i], Ikoris thought grimly, [i]seem to have taken a peculiar interest in human anatomy.[/i]
He saw all of these things, and took note. He stared into the face of death. He did not turn away.
Perseus walked to his Lord's side, his son by his own, and took in the scene. His face was calm, but his eyes held the flame of an anger well satisfied. He spat on the ground where the bodies lay, and walked on in silence.
The other men glanced at the tapestry of misery spread before them, woven with flesh and soaked in blood. Many retched at their feet. None gazed long upon the spectacle. Perseus had not broken as they before the sight, but he knew that sleep would escape him tonight.
His father had gone, meandering aimlessly, distancing himself from the massacre...but Percy stayed. He stood to Ikoris' side, conscious of the distance between them, and intent on maintaining it. Just as the Warlord, Percy absorbed the scene before him, burning it into his memory. This, he decided, was a moment worth remembering. The boy knelt to touch the corpses-not to examine, as the Awoken had, but to explore.
Percy's fingers grazed the frozen skin of one of the initial deserter's sons, his body hitherto untouched. It was surprisingly taut, and he withdrew his hand quickly. His fingertips were slick with oil from the boy's skin and water from the ice that had covered it, melted by Percy's own heat. He dropped to his knees, leaning over the body to stare into its face. The eyes were still open, but they were glassy and dead, and had nothing to teach him. Percy shuffled to another corpse, ignoring the blood that mixed with dew to soak his trousers. He was distracted by thoughts of adventure.
His opportunity was soon cut short, however, as his father beckoned him away from the bodies. That, Perseus thought, was no place for a child. It was no place for [i]anyone[/i]. Percy obeyed reluctantly, yearning to satisfy his morbid curiosity.
After several minutes of silent reflection, Ikoris sent his host onward. He did not accompany them. This confused the Chosen, and the men glanced at him questioningly, their faces wrought with concern.
They obeyed, of course-it was an order, not a request-, but they did not understand. They [i]could[/i] not understand. Once the host disappeared from sight, Ikoris set to work.
There were twenty-four of them. He did not have a shovel. He did not care.
The Warlord had neither love nor respect for these deserters, and felt no sorrow at their passing. They were traitors. They did not deserve proper burials...but that did not matter. He had given his word, and he would honor it. He would treat the bastards as his own.
Once the deed was done, he mounted Eklektos and followed the Devils' trail. He found them in a cave several miles from the site of the massacre. They were not expecting visitors.
As Ikoris rode for his host once more, the cavern's halls flooded with fire, and its mouth billowed ash.
[i]Tips, criticism, questions, etcetera are greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading my work.[/i]