((Mists of Rivendell by Enrico Fossati))
His name was Zeng.
And he was a monster.
So Lazule chased after him. A beacon of light pursuing the fleeing dark.
* * * * *
Another small village. Annihilated.
Fires burned around her. Pillars of black smoke rising up to the gray clouds above like some terrible offering. A reaching of the unjustly slain up toward an unseen judge in the sky for intervention. Only the ashes of their homes they had to bargain with.
No. There was nothing above that would deliver them retribution. Those whose feet were bound to Arethil would need to serve. A sacred duty. To avenge those slain by monsters.
Lazule collapsed to her knees in the central square of the village. Exhausted. The lightforged shiv disappearing from her hand. Sweat on her brow. The skin of her face and fingers reddened by extensive use of Luminomancy.
A half-circle of scalps and fingerbones and tongues of undead beasts about her. A horrid crescent. A reduction of the monsters that had plagued this village, Orenhaven, to mere trophies. Each a proof that the abhorrent and the wicked and the bloodthirsty could be felled. Each a proof that even terrors had something to fear.
Bodies and remains were strewn about the square. Some of the zombies and skeletons and undead beasts under Zeng's command, but most of the villagers themselves and the retinue of knights and some Templars of the Keepers of Oath. The undead under Zeng's command were frenzied, fought viciously and ceaselessly. It was only with Zeng's departure from Orenhaven during the battle that the remaining undead slowed and their ferocious prowess dwindled and the last men and women standing of the retinue of knights and Templars gained the upper hand.
But the cost was great. The victory hollow. Lazule and the knights and the Templars, all bound together through common cause in seeking the necromancer Zeng, had engaged and defeated only a fraction of his unholy force. And it left the whole of the village and the retinue slaughtered. Zeng had been cunning. Directing his minions to mercilessly push through the defenses of the knights and the Templars to attack and kill the few mages and Templars who displayed healing magic. In so doing, those knights and Templars who survived the actual battle perished shortly thereafter from the grievous wounds they had suffered.
All leaving Lazule alone. Around her nothing but the fires both calm and raging, homes burned out and smoldering and those still engulfed, the silence of the slain strewn about, the splatterings of blood in the square and in the road, the faint rush of the river weaving and meandering through this great green valley of the Spine, the towering mountains on either side whose peaks were veiled by the gray and lingering clouds bearing impassive witness.
She did not know Zeng's true aim. Why it was the necromancer was amassing such great quantities of the dead and energies of death. Where he was going. None of it.
She only knew one thing.
That she would pursue him.
And kill him.
Because his name was Zeng. But he was no longer a man.
He was a monster. And so it was demanded that he be destroyed.
Lazule sat on her heels there in the center of Orenhaven. Her arms limp at her sides. Head canted up to the sky choked with clouds. The sun above banished behind them. She breathed. Panting. Sore and aching.
And the fires of the homes around her burned and loose embers danced in the air.