That night Querrick takes the kids out for an evening stroll toward the big lake on the other side of the forest. When they get there, fireflies light up the forest and ascend to the skies to create wondrous shapes which bring peace and serenity to the mind. The kids play around with the fireflies while Querrick lays on the plush grass and gazes into the stars, listening to the crickets and the deer that stalk the woods still looking for food. A soft breeze comes in from the east, giving the night a nice and cozy feel to it like nature’s blanket. Lykas practice’s his wizardry and Isabel practices her empathy with nature, Querrick trained them earlier in the day with three century rounds (a workout where one does one hundred reps of every exercise) and they slept for eight hours uninterrupted, leaving Querrick with the chores and peace and quiet, which he prefers anyway.
Typically on a night like this Querrick would be gathering more berries and herbs and occasionally hunt for extra meat he can experiment new recipes with. Life after war for him has been peaceful and he would love to have it remain so; however, the feeling that something big is coming sits in his mind. He can’t quite guess at what it is, but he knows that if his gut is correct, and it often is, that he will be involved and that he’ll have to encounter old faces he doesn’t want to see again. Querrick yawns but isn’t in the least tired as foreshadowing thoughts keep racing through his head. The last time he went to the city, the whole place was in disarray. There was a dark energy roaming around, feeding off the fear and stress of the residence emanating from the church, police station, and the municipal buildings. Querrick knows the system in Carnage is corrupt (who doesn’t?) however, the corruption has never been to the point he can feel and see the darkness with his own eyes.
In all his years as a fighter, warrior, and soldier he’s only encountered dark energy once and that was when he encountered another Dark Archetype by the name of Vane. Vane was a bitch to face and even harder to kill, it was like he knew all Querrick’s moves before he made them and anticipated his slashes and cuts perfectly. For ten minutes the fight was at a stalemate. Then, Querrick discovered Vane was not only a Dark Archetype but had a hidden ability, telepathy. Once Querrick figured that out it was easy pickings, Vane didn’t have a style of his own because he relied on his telepathy to copy and mirror his opponent. The only downside on Querrick’s part was that he put his weaknesses on display for the enemy and that made things more difficult.
Querrick’s mind then switches to when he was in the city before his deployment, hitting up brothels and fucking multiple prostitutes senseless with the boys, starting fights in taverns and beating drunkards half to death and being overall assholes to the residents. It was Carnage, the city of corruption where everything goes as long as the state gets its cut. Besides, the state didn’t mind either way as it was sending them to their deaths, so why not let the boys have some fun one last time? Querrick remembers this one broad with long, flowing red hair and caramel skin with dark gold eyes. A grin pulls at his face as he remembers taking her to his bed and having wild, relentless sex that seemed to last forever. The bedframe broke under the weight of their fucking, particularly Querrick’s thrust while fucking her from behind. Her moans and screams play like a symphony in Querrick’s mind as he remembers simpler and more exciting times. Lykas and Isabel play in the background as the three spend the night in total paradise.
The next morning Querrick is up bright and early, greasing the groove with his Bo Staff and machete while Lykas and Isabel are fast asleep. He puts his weapons away and practices his darkness, manifesting different weapons, solidifying and liquifying dark matter and converting it into an unlimited source of energy. The darkness coursing through his veins making his body one with the shadows. Suddenly, Querrick hears footsteps coming toward his cabin and they have the familiar rhythm of a militia. Querrick goes out front to greet his uninvited guests.
A commander with royal red decorated with gold, silver, and dark green patching and badges along with thirty well-armed and moderately skilled men greet Querrick in front of his cabin. Querrick knows who this pompous jackass is with the self-satisfied expression.
“So,” the commander says, “the Headhunter is alive.”
“Commander Lucius,” Querrick says, “what do you want?”
“Straight to the point as always,” Lucius says, “I’m here on behalf of The Dark Commander and The High Priestess of The Church. Your services are needed.”
“Oh yeah,” Querrick says, “and what makes my services so special?”
“Believe me,” Lucius says, “I asked the same question.”
“And you didn’t get decapitated instantly?” Querrick says, “Guess they must’ve been in a good mood.”
“Fortunately,” Lucius says, “shall I tell them you rejected the request?”
“Yhup,” Querrick says, “and what’s up with the militia? Came to take me by force?”
“As much as I loathe you, Headhunter,” Lucius says, “I’m well aware of your skill and wouldn’t waste thirty men in cold blood.”
“Then why are you still standing at my doorstep?”
“That brings me to my next point of business,” Lucius says, “the children you’re harboring. They’ll need to come with us.”
“That right?” Querrick asks, “On what grounds?”
“Grounds that they are the lost heirs to the throne.” Lucius says, “Just hand the kids over and we’ll be gone with the wind.”
“Let me guess,” Querrick says, “the mercs that came to the cabin didn’t stop by to say hello before a recon mission, did they?”
Lucius chuckles, “perceptive as always, Headhunter.” Lucius says, “hand the children over.”
Isabel and Lykas wake up and come to the door. Isabel immediately ducks and pushes Lykas’ head down when she sees Lucius. The two lock eyes for a brief moment; however, Isabel knows Lucius saw her. Querrick witnesses the exchange of looks and says nothing.
“Seems they’re up,” Querrick says, “alright kids! Come on out and meet your calvary.”
Isabel and Lykas reluctantly come out the cabin and make sure to stay well behind Querrick.
“I’ll ask you a couple questions,” Querrick says, “and I’ll need you to answer honestly. If you don’t, I’ll hand you over without hesitation. Whatever happens to you happens. If you do, and it turns out these guys mean you harm, I’ll kill them all.”
“Oh?” Lucius says, “I’d like to see you try.”
“That depends on how this whole thing goes,” Querrick says, “everyone can leave with their lives or it can be a bloodbath. Doesn’t matter to me as long as I get all these fucking people off my property.”
Querrick says, “you told me you two were orphans and that you were avoiding bring picked up. That true?”
“Yes,” Isabel says, “however, we left the part when we were disowned and sold off by our royal family for safety reasons.”
“Understandable,” Querrick says, “what’s the last name?”
“Vanderbilt.” Lykas says, “one of the three elite families.”
“Well, well, well,” Querrick says, “if I were still a soldier I would’ve demanded a hefty ransom. However, seeing as the family sold you off without hesitation it would’ve been a waste of time.”
“So, Headhunter,” Lucius says as his solders prepare to fight, “what will be your decision?”
Querrick turns from Lucius and his men to address the kids, “Alright, here’s what’s going down. Go with them. I’ll give them a day’s head start and then I’ll come for you. Reason being, I don’t trust their motives, but I do trust they’ll get you to the destination safely. Once they get you there, be real quiet and compliant as they will hurt you for any reason. These people don’t care about children, you’re nothing to them. And then, after I do some digging, we’ll come back here like nothing happened and plan our next move. Got it?”
Lykas nods as him and Querrick lock eyes for a couple seconds. Querrick does the same for Isabel and sees the question ‘will you really come for us?’. Querrick looks at her with a serious gaze and nods, encapsulating the phrase ‘you have my word as a soldier’. Querrick then steps behind the kids and guides them toward Lucius and his men. Querrick removes his hands and turns away.
“You’ve made a wise decision, Headhunter,” Lucius says, “I’ll convey the message to the Commander and Priestess.”
Querrick puts him two fingers as he walks toward his cabin without another word.
Querrick cleans the cabin throughout the day, makes up the kids’ bed and goes about his daily hunting and gathering, getting extra meat and berries for the kids as he’ll have them back in one day’s time. After he finishes, he washes up and sits by the fireplace with his weapons ready to head out at night fall.