Arikin stared at the lifeless body. The man's arms were missing, only leaving a mess of flesh that hung from the shoulder. His abdomen was cut open, and his eyes were missing as well.
The seneschal looked away, and covered his mouth. Arikin thought he heard a gag coming from him. He shrugged and moved in closer.
As he strode inside, a woman's voice bellowed from deep inside the rancid room. "Who are you? What are you doing here?",
Arikin turned to the voice and just shrugged. Seneschal Bennett however gathered the courage and went inside.
"Master Arikin has been asked by Lord Rathkor to investigate the General's death..", Bennett said, immediately regretting breathing inside the room. He covered his mouth and nose again.
Arikin also noticed a tear crawling down on the man's cheek. His eyes probably watered in disgust.
The woman, no much older than 30, squinted at Arikin in the dimly lit room. She was wearing a mask, an apothecary mask that had glass slits for her to see through, and a mouthpiece that looked like a bird's beak. Arikin couldn't know for sure if she was beautiful or not, but her smooth skin was enough to tell him that she wasn't too old.
The woman nodded. "I see. Well that's him over there.", she said pointing at the armless corpse that Arikin was eyeing. "Do you need help?", she added.
Arikin shook his head. "I got this from here thanks.", He then looked at Bennett who was fidgeting uncomfortably in the room, his mouth and nose still covered.
Arikin thought he was overreacting. The corpses here aren't decomposing yet. But then remembered that people like him aren't used to things like this. He nodded to Bennett and said. "I can take it from here Seneschal. Wait for me outside.",
A look of relief swept over Bennett's face, but tried hard not to show it. Arikin noticed it anyway and paid it no mind.
The woman with the mask returned to her own business, she was busy with a fresh corpse, an old man that died of old age. From Arikin's view he couldn't see any signs of struggle. And again, cursed himself for being distracted. He turned to the General's armless and eyeless corpse.
"Eyes missing. Plucked clean.", he murmured, staring at the body. He then turned to the large gape in abdomen. He put on gloves and winced when he opened it. "That smell.. Acid.. Demon, Acid.",
Arikin continued what he did. "Organs, missing. No heart either.. Slurped clean.", he muttered again to himself.
He glanced sideways to the arms. "Arms torn clean off. Took enormous strength. He tried to fight back, which explains it wasn't cut but pulled apart.", he muttered again.
"You crazy or sumthin'?", A woman's muffled voice suddenly bellowed.
Arikin jumped from his activity and turned, slightly red. "A habit.", he responded.
The woman shrugged and swept the floor.
Arikin cleared his throat. "If I may ask.. What do you think happened to him?",
The woman glanced and stared at him. He wasn't sure if she was looking confused due to the mask, but he shrugged anyway.
The woman sighed and muttered under her breath. "Detectives that like pushing their work on others.",
"I heard that.", Arikin retorted. "I just want to know what your eye sees. I already have a guess, but I could use some outside observation.",
The woman nodded. "Fine. I'm Yeena by the way.. Hmm.. Let's see here.", she said moving towards the body, and her arms gently brushed off Arikin's shoulder. He tensed, and almost drew his sword, but luckily he supressed the emotion.
Yeena then took glances at the body, each stare looked like intense observation. Arikin was impressed. He expected the woman to gag by now, but not only kept up her lunch, but gave an accurate assessment as well.
"From what I see looks like a monster of ridiculous strength did it.. A smart one too. Looks like a ritual sacrifice to me..", she said, shrugging.
Arikin nodded appreciatively. "Thanks.. We reached a similar conclusion, but only because I knew what kind of monster did this.", he replied. Yeena perked up, and stared at him, or at least he thought so. Those black voids on her mask shielded her eyes.
"Yeah? What is it then?", she responded, inching closer to him, the mask touching his face.
"A d-demon.", Arikin replied stuttering, trying to shove away Yeena.
Afterwards Yeena barraged him with questions he wasn't yet comfortable to answer.
"How did you know? What was his profession? Did he do this before? Did he do this many times before?",
Arikin growled at the annoying lady. "Shut up woman!", he hissed.
Yeena stumbled back and muttered something under her breath, then continued with her duties. After a few more pointers and was satisfied by what he could gather, he left the morgue with Yeena still doing some cleaning.
Bennett was waiting outside the building, he was smoking a pipe and leaning on the wall. He seemed relaxed. Arikin just noticed the gray hairs on the man. He also had partly wrinkled skin.
He was old. Not too old, but close to Arikin's own age.
Arikin leaned on the wall next to him. "Your own making?", he asked in a breath.
Bennett looked towards him momentarily, before replying, "My son's.. Pretty good alchemist that.. Got the trait from his mum.", he then glanced at the sky. "Forgive me if I'm moody.. But, the corpses reminded me of her.",
"So that explains the tears earlier.", Arikin said. He wondered what part reminded him. Did she die gruesomely? Or did she take care of corpses too like Yeena?
He decided to shelf those thoughts for now.
Bennett smiled. "You have seen a lot didn't you Arikin?",
"Lots. And more.", He replied coldly.
Bennett nodded and patted the burning pipe. He then placed it inside a pocket in his ridiculously colored doublet. "Well? What next? Did you find anything?",
Arikin scratched the back of his neck. "I need more. I have a solid guess but I need to make sure.. It's impossible for two of those things in this city at the same time and not cause mass panic.",
"What do you mean?", Bennett asked concerned.
"Changelings.", Arikin responded.
Bennett's eyes widened, and his skin began to pale. "T-Truly? Well what do you need? I'll be glad to help?", he stuttered.
"I need to see for myself where the General died.",
The walk was short and awkward. Arikin was just focusing on his surroundings, his paranoia taking over him as he thought the enemy was right around the corner. His head turned all around, trying to scope any form of hostility. Then, he stopped. Just in front of the manor gates.
Bennett wasn't looking where he was walking, so he bumped on Arikin's back. "What is it?", he asked.
"It's here. It's fucking here.", Arikin replied ominously.
Corvin didn't know what came over him that moment. He just felt he couldn't let people badmouth his hero.
Sure, he had demon blood. Sure, he's a killing machine. But Corvin knew deep down Arikin was human.
The lord went too far, he thought.
He took a bite of an apple he got from the common room and sighed deeply. Rania had some other business to take care of after the talk at the study, and he could see that Lady Ingrid and her, and a couple other important looking elves were gathered around a table and talking intently. They were spaced a little bit far from him. He couldn't hear what they were talking about but from their faces it looks to be very important. Most of them were silent and were pale, for some, their eyes raced everywhere, but for Rania it was different. She was sitting next to Ingrid and wore a determined look. This was matched with Ingrid's as well.
Corvin eyed Rania blankly, he was lost in thought. He was lost on those eyes, those silky strands of blonde hair, those pointy ears also looked soft..
Rania, glanced over Corvin and noticed the stare. She smiled and waved at him, causing Corvin to flush bright red and look away in embarassment. Rania giggled, but then was pinched by Ingrid, glaring at her angrily.
"You think this is a joke?!", she almost yelled.
Rania looked away from Corvin, her cheeks blushing. It was too late however, as Ingrid caught the look and flushed red in anger.
"The Demon's apprentice?!", She spat.
The commotion was interrupted however, as the huge set of double doors swung open, the light of day seeping into the common room.
A red haired man was standing there, staring menacingly into the room. Behind him, was Seneschal Bennett, looking pale and sweaty.
"What is this?!", Ingrid stood up and glared at Arikin.
Arikin stopped in his tracks, his nose pointed upward and sniffing, then turned to Ingrid.
His face filled with recognition.
"What is what?", Arikin said, turning his head to Ingrid. His neck twisted like an owl's.
"This.... Disturbance?!", Ingrid yelled at him with scorn in her eyes, and somehow her skin went pale and bits of sweat accumulated on her forehead.
Rania was a bit shocked, but somehow kept a calm face afterwards. The nobles in the room kept their distance, but not so much. This type of drama is what entertains these types of people.
Corvin jumped and immediately ran to his employer, just stopping a couple feet in front of him.
"I'm following a lead.", he replied, as he slowly put his hands on the longsword strapped at his hip. "I think it's in the back gardens of the manor.",
Ingrid deflated and sighed deeply, the pale face began to appear normal again.
"Master! It's good to see you again!", Corvin said.
Arikin's brow rose. "Master?", he thought. Corvin never called him that. Something must've happened while he was gone, he thought. He played along anyway."Yes, my pupil. Come along, I want you to accompany me in this excursion. ", he said in a mocking accent, while grabbing Corvin by the arm and dragging him to a secluded part of the room.
"Follow. Every. Single. Instruction. I. Say.", Arikin whispered.
Corvin was puzzled, but nodded in response anyway. Arikin always knew what to do, so he trusted him.
Arikin went to his belt and grabbed a vial labeled "Tiki".
"Drink this. And act normal. It's gonna taste awful, but try to act as normal as possible.", he said, handing the vial.
Again, Corvin was puzzled, but complied to his employer's wishes. He grabbed it, and opened the bottle. A stench of horrid chemicals burned through his nose and his stomach almost gave in, but he tried his best to keep the bile from coming out of his mouth.
He drank it.
He could hear Arikin talking to the other people in the room, laughing and exchanging some pleasantries, but nothing felt pleasant as the liquid poured down his throat.
It felt like a huge liquified slug had swam down from the vial and into his stomach. The taste he couldn't even begin to describe. But by Arikin's instructions, he tried to look normal as possible, even when he went back to the group and faced Rania.
She smiled as he came closer, and by that, somehow, the awful taste and feeling began to wither away.
He didn't say a word, and just smiled back at her.
Meanwhile, Ingrid and Arikin began to spit out some obscenities with one another. The whole room echoed with Ingrid's insults, and the crowd inched closer and closer to gossip. In a short while, it looked like an arena, with two people spitting sick rhymes, only without the rhymes, and only one person was spitting them. Arikin was pretty pissed, the vein on his forehead was showing and he was red in frustration.
Ingrid said some things about demons, monsters, and tyrants, while Arikin just said one single word.
"Thot.", Arikin said smirking.
"What even is that word?! A Demon language? The demon term for bitch?", Ingrid yelled.
"Oh so you DO know demon language huh?", Arikin said, a hint of accusation.
Ingrid's face became pale again, and her fingers spread wide like a cat's. "What do you mean?", she asked, her voice cracking.
"Oh you know pretty well what I mean. ", Arikin said, his hand edging closer to his hip. He stepped backwards in anticipation.
"Fuck. I knew it was futile to stay in disguise with you around.", Ingrid hissed, as her voice began to change into something dark and twisted.
The flesh on her arms began to morph into red stringy meat, and her eyes began to glow red.
"Dammit, I did it again.", he said under his breath. "People get away!", Arikin yelled as he drew his sword.
Corvin's eyes were glued at the twisted elf. Her once beautiful blonde hair was now gone, replaced with black obsidian horns. Her once smooth and silky skin now red and stringy.
He turned to see Rania's face in complete horror. She knelt down and cried. "Why?! HOW?!",
Corvin grabbed her and backed away, shoving the terrified nobles and servants as they got back into the room.
The people in the common room ran in complete chaos. Each shoving themselves as they sprinted to the double doors to escape.
"Nowhere to run now mortals.", the demon hissed, as it spread it's claws and ravaged the entire room. Sounds of cut flesh and bone filled the entire room, and probably the entire manor.
Arikin couldn't do anything yet. The demon was too strong. He grimaced as the demon just effortlessly took the lives of over 50 people in one fell swoop.
Nobles and servants were cut in half as they passed to the doors. Guts and blood were strewn all over the fllor. Only the people on the other side were unharmed. The elven guards, the palace guards, Arikin, Corvin, and Rania, were all horrified at the scene.
Blood sprayed everywhere, the ceilings, the walls, even the chandeliers were covered, leaving the light turned crimson red. The demon smiled and licked the blood from it's claws, and bellowed out a horrifying laughter.
Arikin gulped. "Me and my stupid fucking mouth.",