The city burned and smoke choked all light out of the sky. The dirt smeared over Marcus’s face cracked and flaked in the heat. His hands were coated in soot and blood and his armour was scuffed and stained. Roaring infernos were all around him, making the air shimmer with heat. Sweat trickled down his back and his throat stung from the smoke.
Surveying the ruins of the city he noticed that most of the bodies were already burnt beyond recognition. While he had been sure that the hells flames would lay waste to the humans, he hadn’t seen it happening so quickly. It was like lighting a line of oil. Everything had gone up so fast that no one had screamed twice before they died.
Running his tongue along the front of his teeth he tasted ash.
Turning to face the voice he smiled on seeing Lucian. The man was tall and broad with long white hair that he kept in a ponytail. Usually, it would be adorned with some kinds of jewels, but battle had knocked them out.
“Are all the humans in this region dealt with?” Lucian surveyed the burning buildings. Some of them were so tall that Marcus assumed it was only a matter of time before the top few storeys caved in.
“I have had all the training you did. Why wouldn’t I be able to finish the job like you had?”
Lucian rolled his eyes. “I know your fondness for messing with your prey. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were keeping one as a pet.”
“I don’t need a human pet, I have you.”
Lucian shook his head and started on his way through the smoke. It was so thick that you couldn’t see more than ten paces ahead of you. This meant that as you made your way through it the carnage of the city was revealed in stages. Bodies curled in on themselves and the shells of cars slumped on flat tyres. Every window was smashed and there were great holes in any walls that were left standing. Further on there was a bus laid on its side. The passengers were still within, you could see them huddled together in a group through the bent and broken roof of the vehicle.
Marcus knew the smell of burnt flesh well, but this was on another level. There were too many bodies to count as they moved forward. All the humans in the city were dead. He didn’t even know how many that was, but the slaughter had taken five days.
“They will come to avenge the humans?” Lucian scanned the smoke, drawing the long katana from his side. It had a silver handle with a blue gemstone imbedded in it. As the gem shimmered so too did Lucian’s eyes of the same colour.
“They already came,” Marcus strolled by him, casually whistling, “Aurelia and I handled them.”
“All of them?”
The disbelief in Lucian’s voice would make it all the sweeter to prove Marcus hadn’t needed him. “All of them. I assume that you and Silvia took care of your regiment?”
Lucian slowly sheathed his sword, the sound of it drowned out by the fires that were still raging. “We did. Yet I did not think that the two of you would….”
“You’re going to look stupid then.” Marcus started up the hill that was in front of him. The grass crunched under his feet and he had to sidestep a pile of bones to reach the top. Once up he was out of the smoke bank. A view of the city would have been clear from this point but as it was, all he could see was a solid mass of grey, as if the whole world was beneath a massive blanket. Occasionally, tall buildings that were still standing penetrated the cover. One such structure was a ferries wheel and not too far from that an old clock tower. Marcus kind of wanted to preserve these things. They were pretty to look at.
Yet the real thing he was up here to see was much more beautiful. He waited for Lucian to trudge up the hill. In the sunlight Lucian’s battle armour almost blinded Marcus. Somehow, despite them having gone to battle, Lucian had managed to keep the golden chest plate spotless. Marcus was only glad his own armour was black, meaning it was hard to notice the blood dirtying the eyes of the ram skull on it.
Once Lucian had made it up Marcus gestured to the other side of the hill, the one nearest the outside of the city. Partly covered by the smoke and partly illuminated by the sun was a pile of bodies. Flies made a roar to rival the fires in their vast numbers. Some of the insects crawled over foggy eyeballs and feasted on open wounds, climbing inside exposed bones. Marcus watched Lucian and knew by the widening of his eyes when he had gotten to the best part.
“Was this necessary?” He motioned forwards.
Marcus laughed and rubbed his hands together. “You are just sad you didn’t think of it.”
These were no ordinary bodies. They were angels. Sent from heaven to try and save humanity from Marcus and his comrades. All the angels had fallen in battle. Marcus had taken the time to strip their wings and made a bloody pile of feathers. He then arranged them in the shape of the ram head symbol his father put on everything. He had some time to kill and knew his father would love it.
“Didn’t you have anything better to do?” Lucian sighed.
Marcus shrugged. “Consider it a thank you note to father for giving us the earth.”