Chapter 9: Death of a Baron

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Gorman knocked nervously on the wooden door. “Sir?”

There was a displeased sigh from the other side, and the sound of heavy feet hitting the floor. Something plodded over to the door and swung it open.

“What is it?!” Baron Amar shouted, and Gorman flinched back. The Baron was a timor, and everything about him had always unnerved Gorman. His beastly features, those massive fangs, his sheer size, his strength that could crush a bull’s head…

“U-Um…” Gorman swallowed nervously. “The Council’s, um, sent their force. It, uh… it failed.”

“Hmph,” the Baron scoffed. “Should’ve known. Those dumbasses wouldn’t know how to deal with a stray moth!”

“Y-you’re in danger,” Gorman reminded him. Frankly, a part of him wanted the Baron to die, but… then, what would happen to him? “T-they’re not going to j-just leave you alone… y-you know?”

“The rebels?” the massive timor asked, anger building in his voice. “You think they are a threat to me?!”

“W-well…” Gorman began.

“Get out,” the Baron shouted, interrupting him. “Get out of here, and don’t you fucking dare insinuate anything like that again!”

Gorman looked down at the floor, quietly praying the Baron wouldn’t get any angrier. “…y-yes, sir.” He turned away and took his leave, hearing the Baron slam the door to his chamber behind him.

Of course. He’d expected this, really. He knew the Baron wouldn’t think it was worth worrying about. But it was, it was a serious issue, so he had to tell him anyway.

It’d gone as he’d expected, though. And now he was all alone, the servant of the Baron of a city nearly taken over by rebels already, and he was the only one who thought they might actually be an issue. If they killed the Baron… what would they do to him, afterwards?

What festered in his gut wasn’t really fear or panic – just a sort of sad resignation. Without anyone being willing to listen to him, he couldn’t do anything about this. He couldn’t save the Baron.

But then, he’d never liked the Baron, anyway. And at least maybe, he could save himself.

Slamming the door with a growl, Baron Amar went back to his enormous chair and threw himself onto it. He reached for one of the books on the bookshelf next to him without looking. He just needed something to cool off his anger.

His fingers found a book, and he dragged it out and took a glance at it. A history of the rise of the Council – how they’d overthrown the previous king, and how they’d made themselves the rulers of Aead. Bah. Boring. Baron Amar threw the book down to the floor and reached for another one.

This one was something about General Katherine. Hero of the Council, they called her. Baron Amar had never liked the bitch. Her being a descendant was bad enough – as far as he was concerned, a descendant was barely even a demon at all – but a woman, too? What was the Council thinking? Nothing, he reminded himself. They don’t have any bloody brains between all of them. And as for what she’d done? As far as the Baron could tell, she’d only ever conquered a few small kingdoms that no one cared about anyway. Maybe if she took over Paleland, the Baron would consider her worthy of her title… but who was he kidding? She was just a bloody girl. He didn’t have the first idea how she’d gotten where she was in the first place, but he was sure she didn’t deserve it. She’d never do anything worth mentioning.

Baron Amar threw that book down, too, and reached for another. This one was something older. It told of the myth of Janus, the Legendary Swordsman who never felt fear, and could slay any man or demon or beast in combat. A grin touched his face. This was one he liked. Janus was an aeadite, after all, and while he couldn’t say he liked those bastards, at least they were real demons. This book told it as it should be – a demon, dominant and powerful, striking fear into the hearts of the mortal imbeciles. One day, he reminded himself, all true demons would share in that glory, and when that day came, he would have all the satisfaction he’d never been given before.

He opened the book and started reading, absentmindedly. He’d read it many times before, of course, but he still liked it. Janus was what all demons should be, he thought. Strong, fearless warriors ready to slay all who stood in their way. He found himself wondering where Janus was now – the book merely stated that he’d disappeared one day. Some demons, he knew, thought that Janus had never really existed – that he was just a made-up story – but Baron Amar knew that was stupid. Why would anyone write about something that wasn’t real? As far as he was concerned, the book existed, so Janus existed too.

As he immersed himself into the book, there was a knock at the door, disrupting his concentration.

He sat up with a jolt, threw the book down, and growled at whoever was there. He hated being disturbed while he was reading, and all of his servants knew that. Why was this one knocking now?!

Barely suppressing the urge to just tear this bastard apart the moment he showed his face, he stomped over to the door and threw it open. “I was reading, you insolent thing!” he yelled in the demon’s face, and he flinched.

“I… didn’t know,” the servant said, confusion in his voice. The Baron took a look at him, and his features screwed up in distaste. It was a descendant. Of course it was. He never should’ve let any of them into the tower…

“Whatever,” Baron Amar hissed. “What is it?!”

“Um… I can’t find Gorman anywhere,” he said, as if it was important. “No one can. Do you know where he is?”

“He talked to me just a few minutes ago,” Baron Amar said, annoyance in his voice. “I told him off. He probably scurried off with his tail between his legs like a rat since then.”

“I… see,” the descendant said.

“Do you have anything else you want to bother me with?” the Baron growled.

“…no,” the servant said, hesitantly.

“Good,” the Baron barked, and slammed the door in his face. He picked the book about Janus back up and went back to his reading. He was an intellectual, after all.

Johannes looked doubtfully at the chirean in front of him. “And now you’re betraying him?”

“Yes,” the chirean responded. He looked pitiful, like an abused dog that had finally been thrown out by its master.

He sighed. He had his doubts, but… the Baron certainly wasn’t a pleasant man. Timors were often stereotyped as being brutish and stupid, and while Johannes knew that didn’t apply to all of them – or even most of them – it certainly applied to Amar. “How do we know if we can trust you?” Johannes asked. A little voice in the back of his mind noted that he was acting disturbingly similarly to Azal.

“Well… the way I see it, if I don’t side with you, you’ll kill me,” he said. “But if I do side with you, then we get rid of that… that Baron, and I can live on without him waiting to bark at me whenever I make a wrong move.”

Johannes fixed a level look on him. “Or you could be trying to get close to us so you can betray us later and thus get in the Baron’s good graces.” Azal’s paranoia really had rubbed off on him, huh. But it wasn’t an incorrect line of thinking. This chirean had been working for the Baron until an hour ago or so. It would be stupid to immediately trust him.

“Do you know that man?” the chirean scoffed. “He doesn’t have good graces.”

For a moment, Johannes considered it. “That’s… true,” he admitted. “Alright, then. What’s your name?”

The chirean swallowed nervously. “Gorman.”

“Alright, Gorman,” Johannes said. “I guess I’ll have to discuss this with the leader.”

The tavern was dusty, foul-smelling, and dark. Mostly dark. There were only a few candles in the entire room, and they barely illuminated even what little space their light covered. The darkness in the corners, meanwhile, was outright stygian. There were no real patrons, nor was there a bartender – there hadn’t been either for a while. As far as Azal could tell, this place was abandoned. He didn’t know what had happened, but that didn’t concern him. The fact was, he’d turned it into the Bloodhorns’ unofficial headquarters, in a way – it was where Azal would go whenever he needed to meet with someone. Alongside the robe and hood, the darkness basically ensured no one would see his face here – and for now, at least, he preferred to maintain secrecy.

“Gorman,” he said, his hands clasped in front of his face, an inkpot in front of him. The chirean on the other side of the table flinched. Of course – he hadn’t told him his name yet. Azal only knew it because he’d had Johannes tell him. “You say you want to help us?”

“Y-yes,” the chirean stammered.

“I see. Johannes has already explained your circumstances to me,” Azal said. “Your reasoning seems logical. For now, at least, I will trust you.” Of course, Azal didn’t really mean that. But debating about trust wouldn’t get them anywhere. If Gorman had assistance to offer, Azal needed to know what it was first. He could worry about whether or not the offer was trustworthy later.

“Thank you,” Gorman said meekly.

Azal waved his gratitude away. “What sort of assistance can you offer us?”

“I know about the Baron,” Gorman said, “and about the tower, too. I can tell you what the building and the security and all that’s like. And… hey, you need to kill the Baron, too, right? I can tell you about his habits. You know, so you can assassinate him or something.”

“Hm,” Azal murmured. Now that he thought about it, the prospect of assassination seemed tempting. But he still couldn’t necessarily trust any information that came out of Gorman’s mouth, and not even Darius would be able to perform an assassination with faulty information. Besides, a quiet assassination wouldn’t give them the momentum needed to take over the city. They needed to make this loud.

Still, assuming Gorman wasn’t lying, what he was promising would be useful. “Go on,” Azal said.

“Ah…. okay, first off, the Baron’s got guards guarding his place,” Gorman said. Azal nodded. He could’ve guessed that much himself, frankly, but if Gorman had more details, that would be useful. “They’re not too well trained, from what I know – they can swing a sword around well enough, but that’s about it – but, uh, they do have decent armor and weapons and stuff.”

“How many are there, roughly?” Azal asked.

Gorman pursed his lips in thought. “I… never counted,” he said. “Not too many. I think… maybe 20? 30? Maybe 50, but…”

So, somewhere in the double digits. Good. That wasn’t very many. It was still a threat, but the Bloodhorns would outnumber them easily. That made things easier.

At least, Azal reminded himself, assuming Gorman could be trusted.

“How are they arranged?” Azal asked.

“Most of them are inside the tower itself,” Gorman said, his voice growing more confident as he continued. “There’s only 2 or so outside, guarding the main door. The rest mostly wander the hallways in patrols, but there are a few guarding specific rooms, too. I know the Baron’s got a few set up outside his chamber – they’re the best ones, as far as I know.”

“I see,” Azal said. “What of the tower itself?”

“I know the layout, more or less,” Gorman said. “It’s like…”

“Hold on,” Azal interrupted, and took a sheet of parchment out from underneath his robe. He’d expected something like this, and he’d come prepared. “Could you draw a map?”

“I, uh… yeah, I think I can…” Gorman hesitantly said. “I’m not sure, but…”

“Go ahead, then,” Azal nodded, and handed Gorman a quill. He indicated the inkpot on the table.

“Oh,” Gorman said. “I was wondering why that was there…”

“That’s why,” Azal said. “I expected this.”

“Alright,” Gorman said. “I’ll just, uh…” He went to work, and Azal watched him.

Azal stood at the head of the mob – he still refused to call it an army; it would only be one when he actually started having them trained – approaching the Baron’s tower. Underneath his robe, he had the map Gorman had more scrawled than drawn, and in his mind, he went over his plan once more. Gorman had given him some more information, too, after he was done with the map, and assuming it was true, it would be useful.

Of course, Azal still couldn’t trust anything Gorman had told him. He planned to check the map against the actual layout of the tower as he went – if it was accurate, he’d trust it the rest of the way. Of course, even that wouldn’t confirm anything, but it’d be the best he could do. As for the rest of the information… well, he hoped it was accurate. But he’d already planned out what to do if it wasn’t.

Beside him walked Johannes and Darius, the two other leaders of the Bloodhorns. Well, in a way – Azal had technically never given either of them any sort of positions, but they were in his inner circle, so in effect, they were the highest-ranked members of the Bloodhorns aside from Azal himself. Both of them had proven themselves already, so Azal saw no reason to change that – hence why both of them were walking at the head of the mob, just like Azal was.

Frankly, Azal had expected Darius wouldn’t go with them, and would instead go off to do his work on his own. He’d always preferred subterfuge, and a large mob like this was more or less the opposite of stealthy. But, as Darius had pointed out, if he wanted to do anything like that, he’d need to get inside the tower first – and with the sort of place Amar’s tower was, sneaking into it would be borderline impossible. The only way any of them would get in was by breaking in, and so, Darius had chosen to go with them, at least until they were all inside.

Azal looked around. They were already in the central districts of Redgate, where all the influential people and the nobles were. But now, they were nowhere to be seen. When Azal did get a small glimpse of one of them, it was only a scared face peeking out of the window of some mansion. They were scared of the rebels. That made Azal’s job easier.

And finally, the mob approached the tower. The Baron’s home was an enormous thing, rising into the sky like a great black fang jutting out of the earth. There were few windows, and only a single door at the front. The entire thing was made of some smooth, black material and lined with red, and banners hung from its walls. It was not overly decorated or grandiose, like mortal castles or palaces that were meant to project an image of wealth and nobility. It was merely enormous, imposing and unyielding – built only to project power.

Azal stopped in front of it, the mob stopping behind him – though he could tell many of them wanted to just charge. There were more guards at the gates than Gorman had told him there would be, but that was to be expected. For all that the Baron wasn’t particularly intelligent, even he couldn’t miss something like this approaching his tower. Of course he would post more guards at the gates.

And yet, even then, there were far fewer people there than he expected. Even assuming Gorman was right about the number of guards – even assuming Amar had only 20 to 50 of them at his disposal – Azal would’ve expected most of them to be outside, ready to intercept the Bloodhorns. Instead, the men posted around the door numbered only 8, and they didn’t look like particularly elite troops, either. Most of them were trembling, staring with wide eyes at the mob approaching and barely clutching onto their weapons.  Two were standing more resolutely, but even then, Azal could tell they knew how hopeless it was.

Oftentimes, Azal had often heard stories about the arrogance and the stubbornness of the Baron. He’d often dismissed those stories – he couldn’t imagine anyone being as idiotic as the stories portrayed him as, much less anyone in a position of power. Now that he saw how the Baron saw fit to meet them, however, he was starting to think that perhaps all those stories were true after all.

Well, the outcome of this battle was clear. The mob would surge forth and annihilate the 8 guards in front of the door. Their numbers were simply too different.

Then, there was no need to delay any further.

“CHARGE!” Azal shouted, and the mob advanced like a tidal wave.

Azal himself was lost amidst the throng of people, and so was Johannes. He’d commanded both him and Darius to stay behind – it would be stupid for either of them, or Azal, to risk their lives, seeing as they were the most important people in the Bloodhorns. If Azal were to die, the Bloodhorns would more than likely fall apart, and if either Johannes or Darius were to die, they would lose an incredibly valuable asset.

Thankfully, Johannes had obeyed that order. Unfortunately, Darius clearly had not.

Azal wasn’t overly worried. Darius knew how to handle himself in a fight, and he was a survivor by nature. He doubted Darius would actually die here. But still, if his underlings didn’t follow his orders… that was worrying. (Though, to be frank, he’d never expected Darius to obey that particular one.)

Somewhere in front of him, Azal heard the sounds of violence. Endless sounds of impact and shouts and grunts flooded the air, creating a cacophony in his ears. Rising above all those, there was a disquieting noise of flesh yielding as a sword pierced it, and Azal knew that one of the guards had just stabbed one of the rebels. A fatal wound, almost certainly. One of his men would die.

But that was okay. They had reserves, after all.

He heard screams, and the heavy clanging of metal. Fists pounded and the noises of struggle resounded through the crowd as the mob fell onto the guards with all the brutality mobs were famous for. Demons screamed, and Azal couldn’t make out who it was. The mob surged around him like a deadly river, and he was just a rock stuck in the current.

There were sounds of heads being bashed against stone, of helmets being pulled off and their wearers being beaten to death, and of thudding feet as some of the guards just turned tail and ran. In only 10 or 20 seconds, the fighting was over, and the chaos slowly subsided as the mob calmed down.

“Looks like they’re done,” Azal said to Johannes, and made his way back to the front. Johannes followed him, and Darius was already waiting for them when they arrived. His hand held a curved sword, and there was blood on it.

The chirean looked at Darius pointedly. “I do believe I told you to stay back.”

Darius just shrugged. “You did. I chose to go against that.”

Azal narrowed his eyes. Disobedience wasn’t good, but this wasn’t the time to discuss it. “We’ll talk about this later.”

“Sure,” Darius said, rolling his eyes, and turned back towards the tower. Azal and Johannes looked at the front door.

For a moment, they stood there, considering their next move. “We’ll have to break through,” Darius said. “This is a pretty sturdy door, admittedly, so it won’t be that easy. But…” He looked back, a smile on his face.

“We have a mob at our side,” Azal said, finishing Darius’ thought for him.

He stepped to the side and gestured towards the mob. “Go on, men! Break that door down!”

And once more, the mob rushed forwards. Azal found himself rather liking this feeling. It was nice to be the commander of a tidal wave of death and destruction.

There was the sound of wood splintering and shattering, and in only a few seconds, the door had come off its hinges and the mob was storming into the building. Azal stared after them.

“Well, looks like we’ve lost control,” he murmured.

“What did you expect?” Darius asked. “It’s honestly a minor miracle you’ve been able to keep hold of them for this long.”

“What did I expect? Exactly this,” Azal said. “I’m not deluded enough to think I could control a mob like this indefinitely.”

“Well… what do we do now?” Johannes asked.

“Follow them,” Azal shrugged. “Try to regain control. If we can’t… well, we’ll try our best to help them out anyways.”

“Rather vague,” Darius remarked.

“What would you suggest we do?” Azal asked. “We’ve lost our mob. What happens from here on out is pretty much out of our control. All we can do is try to direct it as best we can.”

Darius smiled. “Fair enough.”

He and Johannes stepped forward, but Azal stayed where he was. For a moment, he thought, and then, he held up a finger, motioning for the two of them to stop. “By the way?”

“Yeah?” Darius asked.

“Darius, I might need you to do something,” Azal said. Darius stepped closer, and Azal explained his plan.

Azal found his mob – or the mob that used to be his – rushing into a stairway, and clearly not making it to the top. When he looked up, the reason became obvious. There were a few guards at the top, and in these cramped quarters, numbers meant much less than they would otherwise. Only the few foremost members of the mob could fight at any one time, and at that point, the guards’ superior equipment, higher ground and the fact that they only needed to defend meant the mob couldn’t even come close to breaking through.

Of course, that wouldn’t last forever. Eventually, the guards, even with all their advantages, would get tired and be overwhelmed. But before that happened, they’d kill off far too many Bloodhorns for Azal’s liking. He needed to do something.

“Men! What are you doing?!” he shouted from behind the mob, and they turned and looked back at him.

“They’ve got a defensive position up there!” he yelled. “And in these quarters, your numbers don’t mean much. Look, the guards up there are like a wall right now. You keep rushing up like that, you’ll just get repelled over and over again.”

The mob hesitated. It looked like they didn’t quite believe him, but… at least they were willing to listen.

“How about we try something different, hm?” Azal asked, and the mob looked at him. It looked like they were intrigued, which was good. “Everyone, to me.”

There was another moment or two of hesitation, and then the mass of demons went back to him and surrounded him. He smirked. Good. Control, regained.

“Now, are you ready to see something you won’t soon forget?” he asked. Frankly, what he was planning probably wasn’t as impressive as he was making it sound, but he needed the mob to stay put for now. “Darius!” he called.

At that moment, Darius rushed forth, breaking free of the mob of demons around Azal. He rushed towards the staircase, curved sword in hand, and swung at the guards.

Of course, they repelled him easily. He was just one person against three, and the guards were actually armored. But he wasn’t there to fight them, not really. He clashed swords against one of them once, and then stepped back. One of the guards followed him down the stairs, and he stepped back again. That guard took another step down, and another, a confident smirk on his face as he approached Darius-

And now that he was out of position, Darius grabbed his arm and threw him down the stairs. At that, Azal grinned.

“Now, get him!”

There was a moment of stunned silence, and then the mob rushed forth. The guard screamed and struggled, but he was already on the ground, and his friends weren’t there to help him. It was over in seconds.

Two guards left.

But with one of them no longer there, the remainder weren’t a wall anymore. It still wouldn’t be a completely lossless attack, but if the mob surged forth now, some of the demons could slip through and get behind the two guards. And when they were surrounded, it would be over.

“One down,” Azal said. “Now… CHARGE! And get behind them!”

The mob obeyed his will.

A few people were cut down, but someone shoved one of the guards to the side, and he stumbled. The two guards collided against each other, and in that moment, a crowd of people rushed past. They turned immediately and rushed at the guards, meeting the other wave of people approaching from the other side. The guards didn’t stand a chance. Trapped between two seas of demons, there was nothing they could do. They were torn to shreds like fish trapped in a school of piranhas.

With a satisfied smile on his face, Azal stepped through the mob. The people parted in front of him, and he ended up with a clear path all the way to the front.

There, he turned back towards the people. “Well done, men,” he said. “Now… let us advance!”

The rest didn’t take long.

Even if the mob was just composed of untrained, unarmed peasants, even if the tight quarters meant their numbers didn’t matter quite as much, even if what few guards they encountered fought with the ferocity of cornered animals, the difference in numbers was simply too great. Even if there was a trail of dead bodies left behind them as their occasional battles took their toll, it didn’t matter. Azal didn’t even know how many people he had with him, not really, but the one thing he knew was that however many the guards had slain so far, it hadn’t made a difference. They still hopelessly outnumbered their enemy.

It seemed the enemy knew that, too. Most of the guards had just turned and ran, whether out of fear or because they really didn’t like the Baron either. A lot of them had fled the tower outright. Azal couldn’t fault them for that, especially since it made his job easier – less guards meant less resistance, which meant they could get to their actual goal quicker.

The one thing that could ruin Azal’s plans now was if Baron Amar himself had run away, too. But Azal doubted that. The Baron was an incredibly, stupidly prideful man. Azal doubted he’d run away from the apocalypse itself, much less from a horde of rebels. Really, even now, he probably saw the Bloodhorns as nothing to be concerned about.

Azal couldn’t wait to show him how wrong he was. Normally, he supressed his personal feelings – they were a liability more often than not – but… he couldn’t stop himself from being excited about this. He imagined many of the people felt much the same way.

And it seemed Gorman’s information had been correct. Azal had checked the map, and it was more or less identical to the layout of the real tower. After a while, he’d decided it was time to let go of his paranoia and start trusting it, and it had been a good decision. The best part was, the map also showed where Amar usually stationed his guards. By simply steering his mob away from those spots, Azal had managed to avoid almost any confrontations throughout the entire tower. There were some places where they were forced to fight, true, but those were surprisingly few and far between.

Now, Azal walked in front of his mob as they ascended the last staircase they would need to climb to get to their target. Assuming the map was correct, this stairway would lead them up onto a hallway, and that would lead them directly to Baron Amar’s private chambers. Once they were there, the best part of this invasion would start.

But. There was one issue.

So far, the map had been trustworthy. Every hallway, every room – they were all correct. Even almost all of the places where guards were stationed had been indicated correctly, though there were some inaccuracies when it came to that. And judging by the map, there would be four guards stationed outside Amar’s door. Of course, that, by itself, wouldn’t worry Azal. Four guards were nothing.

No. What worried Azal was that, according to the map, those guards would be timors.

Massive mountains of muscle that were, on average, over three meters tall, timors were probably the most effective demons when it came to a fight. The amount of brute force they could exert was terrifying, but what was even scarier was how durable they were. Even a good slice with a sword would do little, not unless it hit a vital target. An unarmed mob would have trouble bringing down even one, much less four. A single timor, meanwhile, could – if given a sword – easily cut through several demons with a single swing, and even unarmed, their claws were still deadly weapons. Four timors could wreak havoc even on an army – against a simple mob…

And the worst part was, there was no way to avoid them. They were stationed right outside Baron Amar’s door, and the only way past them was through them. Azal and his mob would have to stand and fight, and not only that, they would have to fight in a hallway – and while this hallway was bigger than the rest, and wouldn’t limit their movement quite as much, it would still be enough to significantly reduce the advantage their superior numbers gave them.

This wasn’t going to be easy.

But Azal wasn’t going to fail at the last hurdle.

The mob came to the top of the staircase, and as they saw their opponents, they froze. Azal stood in front of them, unmoving, as the four timors slowly took notice of them.

They were armored, but not very well – the armor looked like it was designed more for ceremony than actual combat, and they didn’t even have helmets. In their hands, however, they held massive swords, and these were clearly meant for battle. They weren’t overly fancy blades, but they were sharp, heavy and tough. One of those could easily cut through the mob.

The four of them, just standing there, was already an intimidating image. But Azal had to do this. Their lack of helmets was good – Azal had been planning to tell his men to go for the head or the throat, anyway, since that gave you the best chance of actually doing some damage to a timor, and if they were willing to leave their heads exposed, he’d accept it. The issue was, even with that in mind, bare fists wouldn’t do a thing to them, and bare fists were almost all Azal’s people had. If this was a human revolution, many of the rebels would be equipped with pitchforks or something like that, but Aead wasn’t easily farmable, and demons didn’t need to eat anyway. So there were no pitchforks – just a few knives and chisels and hammers. But the vast majority of the Bloodhorns didn’t even have that.

Enormous hands tightened their grips on enormous swords, and the timors prepared for battle.

Azal tensed. This was it. No going back now. Do or die.

“GO FOR THE HEAD OR THE THROAT!” he shouted, and rushed forward. Now, of all times, the rebels would need all the encouragement they could get if they were to maintain morale – and while he’d have preferred to stay back, rushing forwards was as good a way as any to galvanize his followers.

As he’d hoped they would, they – after a moment of hesitation – followed him.

And then, the chaos started.

Azal leapt back, trying to retreat to the relative safety of the mob, but one of the timors took a swing at him. It wasn’t a very skillful attack, and Azal ducked under it and drew his long dagger from underneath his robe. Leaping up from his crouched position, he thrust it upwards into the timor’s neck, not really expecting that it would work. But the timor had overswung, and Azal managed to stick the dagger into his throat. A choked noise came from his mouth, and in a panic, the timor dropped his sword and scrabbled at his throat. Unfortunately, Azal hadn’t pulled his dagger out, and because the timor was just so bloody tall, he couldn’t do it easily now. As long as that dagger was still there, Azal was defenseless, and the timor wouldn’t bleed to death anytime soon.

Thankfully, fate smiled on him this time. In his frantic state, or maybe from the pain, the timor dropped to his knees. Azal seized his chance and tore the dagger from his throat, and it came out covered in blood. The timor’s eyes widened, and he collapsed, blood pouring from his neck.

It wasn’t the first time Azal had killed. He didn’t feel revulsion or anything like that. He just gripped the dagger tightly and looked around at the battlefield.

One of the other timors had died already, too. He was surrounded by a ring of corpses, but there was some sort of sharp object embedded in the back of his head, and he lay flat on the ground. One of the remaining two timors was fighting Darius, who jumped away from his wild overhead swing and, while the timor was bent down, ran up to him and slit his throat.

It’d been a few seconds. Azal hadn’t even heard the sounds of the fighting. But three of the timors were already dead. And yet, what was the cost? Dead bodies piled the floor, their faces frozen in expressions of horror as they were cut down.

But that didn’t matter. He still had enough men to do this.

The last timor backed up against the door. His eyes narrowed. “Hm,” he muttered.

Azal looked at him. “Give up,” he said. “You should know you can’t win.”

“Yes,” he nodded. “I can’t. But still, I must try.”

Ah, honor. Azal would never understand it.

“Very well,” he said. “ATTACK!”

The mob surged forward. The timor tried to fight them off, and to a degree, he was successful. Many of those who approached were simply cut down, falling to the timor’s massive blade. But a few got through, and one of them had the enterprising idea to try and climb up it. He reached up, snatched onto the timor’s armor, and pulled himself up. The timor flinched in shock, but he couldn’t do anything before the blade of a knife was driven into his throat. As he collapsed, the mob fell upon him once more, tearing him apart savagely. Like wild beasts biting chunks out of a corpse.

Frankly, that had gone better than Azal had expected. The dead still lay thick on the floor, but… it wasn’t as bad as Azal had thought it would be.

“Well done,” he said. “Break the door.”

The mob paused for a moment, and then one of them realized he was talking about the door to the Baron’s chamber, and he ran forth to try and smash it. The rest of them soon joined in, and the door came off its hinges. Azal rushed in, making sure to get ahead of the mob, and strode into the Baron’s chamber.

Amar, a timor himself, was simply sitting in a chair, reading a book. But as the horde of them rushed in, he flinched, knocking over his chair and falling onto the floor. “What?!” he shouted. “Guards! What are these-“

Azal ran over to him and stuck the dagger into his lung.

The Baron’s eyes widened and went blank. His mouth opened, and blood poured out, and a choked sound escaped him. Before he even realized what was happening, Azal seized one of his arms and started dragging him. “Help me out here,” he said to the rest of the mob, and they joined in, pulling him to his feet and leading him to his death.

As the Baron came to his senses, he started struggling. “How dare you?!” he shouted, uselessly, his words distorted and pained thanks to his pierced lung. “You cannot do this to me! You dirty swine!” But it was all pointless. The Bloodhorns piled upon him, and they dragged him to his own balcony.

“No,” he said. “No. You- you bastards, you can’t-“

And then he was sent forwards, and he stumbled, and with a wild scream he fell off his balcony and was sent plummeting from his tower.

The scream reached Azal’s ears even as the Baron himself became little more than a red dot in his vision, and it only cut out when the unmistakable sound of impact came. From up so high, Azal couldn’t see the Baron’s corpse – not even close. But he knew that even had he been on the ground, he would barely see anything recognizable as Baron Amar.

There was silence.

“Uh,” Johannes stammered, sounding anxious. “T-that… D-did you just…”

“You sure he’s dead?” Darius asked Azal, eyeing him suspiciously.

“I’ll check,” he said. “If he’s not, I’ll finish him off. He should be too hurt to fight back.”

“Alright,” Darius nodded.

Again, silence.

And Azal spread his hands in triumph.

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