-The revenge of the Rakazel-
Behold the roguish crow.
We named our captain in its image. Some believe that mortal hands cannot take the life of such a beast, for it is far too shrewd to return to the hell it once called home.
Captain Balbaris mocks at our admirations, saying that he himself is able to kill these demons. We remain silent, no one daring to laugh.
The quiet is what finally caught his attention. Only the crackling flames that licked sluggish at the remains of the battle could be heard. The gentle sound might never again be comforting during a campfire.
Balbaris tried to open his burning, soot-filled eyes. For a frightening moment he believed himself blinded, but after a few searing blinks he began to recognize, bit by bit, the contours of the battlefield.
The silhouettes of his fallen companions were flickering dark spots against the garish red of the fire. Balbaris weighed the possibilities of his men escaping the flame roller. No. The bitter truth sank in. Whether now a blessing or a curse, one had survived.
"Crows cannot be killed."
Nevertheless, the ridiculous nickname his crew had bestowed him and made him famous proved accurate. He had never been able to make friends with it. He resisted the desire to laugh and instead lay in his hiding place. His long hair hung lank in his face. The stinking cake of soot, sweat and blood, equal parts his opponents and his own, clung to his skin. Working more out of instinct than actual higher thought, he had found a burning shelter and miraculously escaped the watchful eyes of the knight's guard. He felt like a coward, but at least he was alive. But had he not fought well? With his sword in hand he had proven himself as a daring opponent. No pompous knight of the fop's army was an enemy for him, but with this one attack they had surprised him. Even he had to admit that he had entered the trap like a fool, for while the shrewdness of Balbaris was well known, he was powerless when the magician came into play. One single flame roller and the fight was decided.
They called this high-raking swine Jelester. The mage had slaughtered his crew, but his spongey, fat face expressed neither joy nor disgust. He had been grim, virtually motionless. Could it be that he drew no elation from the burning of so many men? Balbaris would show him soon how to glory condingly in the defeat of his enemies.
The crackle quieted until the flames almost faded, finally. He rose. The burnt walls of his shelter crumbled around him. He knocked off the dust from his clothes and swayed a few steps over the soot-blackened ground. Once more the wind whirled stinging cinders into his face. His eyes flared in pain anew, but an internal power prevented him from turning away. Still he felt no fury, only bewilderment. Fury would come later, brought upon by the desire for justice, for vengeance. Those who were responsible would have to atone.
There was no mistake that even one of the corpses charred unrecognizable was still alive So Balbaris wasted no time in verifying the dead bodies like a fool. For a short, melancholic moment Balbaris considered taking leave to a nearby field and building a small memorial to his men. He rejected the sentiment - he would be putting himself on display. No one should know that one of the Razakel had survived.
He had to keep going. His revenge had to restore the honor of his fallen companions. In that moment he filed a silent oath to the souls of his men. Balbaris, captain of the Razakel, would fall into oblivion but not disappear. The crow withdrew his broken wings into the kingdom of the dead to repair and to awake, finally, again, anew.
Read next: Chapter 1 "Lourde"