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Uncharted Forest, Cabal Camp

He glanced down at the kneeling Orc dressed in a red coat and frowned. "So you are saying you met a monster that spews fire like those weapons of ours?"

"Y- yes, my chief, " The sweating Orc bowed his head lower, "Much faster and more powerful!"

"Many Oerkins die!" The Orc continued, "I ran, bring news back!"

"I see," Aaron sighed and reached down and patted the Orc on its burly shoulder. "You did well! Now join the rest of your men... in hell!"

"NO! Great Chief! Mercy!" The Orc cried out and tried to dislodge Aaron's hand away from his shoulder.

Aaron smiled and said softly, "Don't worry. You will be one with the Great One!"

Wisps of black smoke oozed out from the body of trembling Orc. Its eyes rolled upwards, showing the whites while its jaws opened slackly and an unearthly cry rosed out from the Orc's throat. The Orc gave a final shiver before collapsing face down before Aaron who held a ball of black flames in his right hand.

He offered it to the talisman on his chest which morphed into a living snake and it swallowed the soul flame whole before morphing back into the talisman.

"Break camp!" Aaron called out. "We leave immediately!"

The nearby Orcs nodded hurriedly and scrambled off to obey his orders, none wanting to upset their chief in fear of having their souls sucked out.

"So they are coming here?" Aaron whispered under his breath, "Well, I got a surprise for them!"

He giggled madly and swept into his tent to pack up his gear and leave behind a surprise for his old friends.

-----

Orwell's Point, Marine Stronghold

Dr. Sharon nodded to the two helpers who carted out the grisly remains of the autopsied demonified body to be cremated. She carefully removed her disposable mask and eye protection before slipping off the bloody apron and gloves.

Dumping everything into a bin marked with Hazardous Materials symbols, she vigorously rubbed her hands with soap and washed them thoroughly. The voice in her head had quietened down lately, but when she was dissecting the demonified bodies, she sensed an angry emotion from the voice in her head.

She dried her hands before she picked up her notes and recordings and went to look for Magister Thorn who was going through all the items confiscated from the cultists' dens that the Marines had raided.

She was amazed by the changes demonification could do to a person's body, in this case, an elf. Organs were genetically evolved or moved while muscles, bones, tendons, and nerves were remade or regrown and even physical changes of the entire skeletal structure of the person!

The pain would drive anyone insane! Its small wonder that anyone having a demon entering their bodies could barely stay sane, allowing the demon to effectively control its host's body. It seemed like the way a demon controls their host was the same way as we do with our UAVs and other unmanned vehicles, thought Dr. Sharon.

She politely knocked on the thick wooden door and waited till Thorn's muffled voice gave her permission to enter. She pushed the door open and saw him standing over a pile of objects and parchments, his hair messy and his wardrobe looking wrinkled and unkempt.

"How long have you been working on this?" Dr. Sharon asked as she closed the door and dragged a wooden stool over. "No, wait... Did you even sleep at all?"

"What?" Thorn rubbed his ink stained fingers over his face. "Sleep? I think so?"

"Nevermind," Dr. Sharon sighed. "Found anything interesting?"

"Oh yes!" Thorn's bloodshot eyes immediately glowed with vigor. "Look at this!"

He shoved a couple of items on the table towards Dr. Sharon. "These are relics from the Age of Gods! And these!"

He placed a few parchments before Dr. Sharon. "These are copies and translation of dairy entries that dated back as far as the Age of Gods too!"

"And?" Dr. Sharon didn't feel very impressed with the items as she tilted her head and looked at Thorn.

"Oh, sorry," Thorn seemed to deflate. He gave a dignified cough and explained. "Well, as you know demons come from another realm, but in truth, its just another place in this world that was sealed off by the Gods."

"The entries on the diaries talk about some of the causes that went into making the seal by the Gods," Thorn explained. "It appears that the Young Gods did the sealing together to cut off a source of the Old Gods' powers and a portion of their army."

"So these demons are the army of the Old Gods?" Dr. Sharon clarified.

Thorn nodded, "Yes, yes!"

"So where are the demons from?" Dr. Sharon asked.

"Why, everyone knows they lived in the thirteen levels of Hell!" Thorn exclaimed.

"What?" Dr. Sharon was surprised. "I thought it was just an expression!"

"No no, Hell is a place, more accurately, it's underground but sealed off with a very powerful God level seal," Thorn explained.

"Serious?" Dr. Sharon's eyebrows shot up. "I thought Hell was just a figure of speech or some kind of expression like we human use."

"No, it exists," Thorn smiled. "And I more or less can guess the intentions of the cultists."

"And?" Dr. Sharon rosed an inquiring eyebrow.

"They want to weaken or even destroy the seal of the demons," Thorn expression turned serious. "They want to let the demon roam free in our land!"

"That sounds bad..." Dr. Sharon replied. "So how do they plan to do that?"

"Well, the notes we gathered are mostly incomplete," Thorn admitted, "So other than using blood magic or dark arts, I am shameful that I have no idea either..."

"It's alright," Dr. Sharon grinned. "At least we have an idea of their agenda, this means we can make plans to counter them!"

Thorn was able to answer when an urgent knocking came from the door. "Come in!"

A female military staff officer entered panting, she saluted Dr. Sharon and reported, "There is an urgent situation happening right now! The CO has called for all senior officers and members to gather in the map room immediately!"

Dr. Sharon and Thorn looked at each other with worry on their faces, what could have happened that Joseph was calling every senior member and officers? They hurriedly packed and put away their work and followed the female staff officer towards the map room inside the Great Hall of the Keep.

They found other senior officers and staff had already arrived at the map room and they were the last to arrive. "Good, everyone is here?" Joseph looked around the room.

"Alright, as some of you know the bombing raid carried out on the deserter's city was a success," Joseph said. "But there was an unforeseen incident happening on site."

He nodded to his aide who brought up the imagery on the screen. "This is being recorded live over the city now."

The image showed a slight isometric view of a smoking city in ruins. A dark serpentine shape was shrouded within the smoke and dust clouds. "The creature you see here is known as the Great Serpent. It was reported to be summoned in by one of the hooman deserters and it has wreaked havoc for the past six hours."

"Why aren't we informed of this situation earlier?" Dr. Sharon frowned.

"HQ has shut down all information on this incident and only lifted the ban, just..." Joseph looked at the clock and said, "sixteen minutes ago."

"What?" Dr. Sharon rolled her eyes. "So what is the plan? And what is that creature?"

"Our sole UAV will be conducting full surveillance of the creature," Joseph stated. "The creature is known as the Great Serpent and we will need both your help, Doctor and Magister to help us identify this creature, if possible."

"HQ has forwarded us several contingency and evacuation plans," Joseph said. "If the UAV detects that creature approaching us and hit the 200 km meter, we will abandon this city and evacuate as many people as possible using the river barges that we confiscated."

"All armed forces will set up two defensive lines, one at 20 km away, the other at 10 km away," Joseph said to his military officers. "HQ will be dispatching more Cobras over for support and also the convoy will be reaching us soon in a couple more days."

"As for critical non combat personnel," Joseph turned back to Dr. Sharon and Magister Thorn, you and the medical personnel will be evacuated by the Mariners once we confirmed the heading of the creature."

"Company commanders, brief your men on the situation," Joseph said.

"But Sir, what about public order and the cultists?" One of the commanders asked. "If we move all our men up to form a defensive line, the city will have no troops to hold it!"

"I know, hence I will be meeting with the representatives of the ex-slaves and the local leaders here later to discuss a ceasefire and agreement," Joseph said. "That thing destroyed a city of over ten thousand people in a few hours, I am sure we can get some sort of cooperation with the ex-slaves and locals."

-----

Outskirts of Sin City

Hundreds and hundreds of Oerkin warriors formed from dozens of clans and tribes stood under the sun, glaring at the Serpent hidden among the smoke of the cursed city. Hundreds and thousands of other people consisting of slaves, merchants, and their guards stood on the far end as they watched the face off.

The side with the merchants and slaves seemed to be jovial as the merchants discussed among themselves how to split the spoils of the city once the Serpent was defeated while others placed bets among themselves.

The Oerkin warriors grumbled among themselves under the heat as tribal elders and shamans met together under a massive animal hide tent to discuss their plans involving the God they are facing on now.

"That thing! Abomination!" An Oerkin elder cried out, "Our forefathers bled and died to put that Monster away!"

"We must unite!" Another Oerkin elder gave his approval. "The longer we wait the stronger that Thing becomes!"

"No, we must run and protect our females and younglings!" Another cried out. "We stand no chance!"

"We longer have strength and power like our forefathers!" The chief said. "We lost all when our forefathers fought that Thing! We Oerkin are weak now! All due to that Thing!"

Other nodded and mumbled their agreement. Once the Oerkin were the most feared race on this continent, but the war with the Dark God has reduced the once proud and mighty race to a pitiful few.

"Fight it, we must!" An elderly Shaman spoke out. His bone trinkets tied to his hair rattled as he spoke. "Our duty! We are the protector of souls! The Great Devourer must not feast on more souls!"

The chiefs and elders looked at each other and kept quiet. "Our forefathers bravely stood against that Thing and won! Now it's our Duty to do the same!"

"Or I fear, our once Great Race will be devoured by that Thing!" The elderly Shaman finished his piece while the others mumbled among themselves.

"We, Wolfmaster Clan, say we fight!" The Wolfmaster clan chief suddenly spoke and stood up. "Run if you want, we no cowards! We warriors to the blood!"

"GOOD! We, Stonepickers, fight too!" Another chief added in his voice and stood up.

"We, Windwalkers, will stand and fight too!"

The rest of the chiefs looked at each other before standing up and joining the crusade. Finally, only one clan chief was left sitting alone, before he too stepped up and said, "We, Plainswalker will join too!"

The elderly Shaman nodded sagely and said, "Order your men to bring word back! We must gather all our strength together to stand a chance with that Thing!"

The chiefs and elders nodded and they left the stuffy tent and started calling out runners to carry word back to their clans and tribes.

"Go! Bring all warriors of all ages back! We fight for the eternal glory of all Oerkins!"

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