Chapter 1: Shadow Hunters
Marcellus watched at a safe distance as the funeral procession walked by him with their heads bowed. A body lay with a blanket over it towards the far end of the town where the towers that were to be burned stood. His eyes were blank and devoid of emotion, but as he watched he chided himself for displaying such carelessness. If the hunter's catch wind of this they'll be on my trail in a second's time, he told himself for the thousandth time.
He waited until the line of people had passed and made his way to the inn in the center of the little village. The sky above was a gray slate overhead as thin clouds flouted above his head. The humidity was stifling as the clouds threatened, but Marcellus simply stepped into the inn without a second glance. If it rained, all the better for him, for the hunter's would find it harder to track him.
The inn looked as if it was made out of driftwood, but the structure itself was sound enough. Five round tables were scattered around the room and a bar with stools before it lined the wall left of the entrance. Only two travels and the bartender were in the room, all with deeply sunken expressions Marcellus noticed as he walked by them, and none said a word to him or each other.
Marcellus made his way to the back of the room where there was a table in a corner, shadowed by the glowing hearth that warmed the room. As he sat down he prepared himself for the worst. The hunters wouldn't be able to make such a big scene in the middle of a village unless they planned to finish off what he had started. No, they wouldn't do that considering that they were trying to keep the people believing how good they were.
Hunters, the bane of his existence, Marcellus had been running from them for countless years. In fact he didn't even think they knew he was alive, until now. No, they would have been able to smell the blood, the carnage he had caused in his moonlit blood lust. They…
He heard the bartender ask him something as he leaned over the bar, Marcellus barely understood what he had said, but recognized it as an offer for food or drink. Marcellus simply shook his head. I knew I should have spent more time learning this language, he grumbled to himself. Well, there was nothing he could do about it now. He'd just have to try and work his way through this place and move on.
He had been living in the outskirts of the village for nearly three months now with the villagers oblivious to his presence, mistaking the past two killings to a wolf for they had been travelers on the road late at night. He'd have to leave now, and he was actually getting kind of comfortable in the little knoll in the forest. All good things have to come to and end eventually, he reminded himself.
Marcellus sat there and watched as the sun lowered in the sky and a few more people filed in. The room began to hum with whispers and murmurs of those who talked curiously about the events that had taken place in the village. He tried to listen in, but found that his lack of knowledge in the language hindered him. He watched one in particular though as he hobbled his way around the room inquiring different people with a kind of urgency. An older man that walked with a cane, he was bent over a little, but otherwise in good health from what Marcellus could tell and wore a thin robe-like outfit that was pure white, save for the mud and dirt at the hem. A wooden emblem hung around his neck that marked him as some sort of religious man, though Marcellus was clueless to what the simple meant.
The travelers regarded him with a grudging respect for his status and seemed to answer his questions as best they could, but Marcellus saw the look that they gave him when he left. It was grateful, as if they had thought the man had some disease or madness. After a time the little man surveyed the room once more before turning to learn. Peculiar little human that man…
With that thought trumpets sounded to the north along the path Marcellus had come by. The sound chilled him to the bone, it was them. The hunters sounding their warning, though the people in the room started to file out in a rush to see who it was. Marcellus didn't need to look; he could smell them and their sickly sweetness that was so like a man with the plague. He left with them to blend in with the crowd, once outside he tried to see how far away they were. Marcellus was glad to find them hindered to even entering because of the mourning villagers.
He struggled to get away from them and sneak into the forest while they were busy fending off the people, before they started pointing fingers. He had heard it all too often, where one of his own caused a few deaths and the hunters blaming on the possessed of evil. He had barely escaped that fate once before, he would not wind up in that situation again. He had to get out, had to live…
Marcellus topped abruptly, barely in time to stop from running into someone. He snarled inwardly and shifted away from the figure. He had no time to stop and find out whom or what he had just ran into, no he could smell them making headway. Smell the anger of the mob growing…
"Sir." Marcellus remembered the voice, though it sounded awkward as it struggled to use language of his kind. It was the man from the inn, speaking in the harsh demonic tongue that he hadn't heard in centuries except in his own mind. But the act of a human speaking it was unthinkable…
Marcellus turned growl to see the man standing prominently with his cane stuck stubbornly into the dirt road. He cleared his throat to speak again, "Sir, do you understand me?"
Marcellus's eyes flared and anger burned. He was upon the man in a second holding him high to look him in the eyes. He rumbled in the same tongue, though much more naturally, "How dare you breath the words of the darkness human."
The man quivered as Marcellus tightened his grip around his throat, as if hoping to squeeze the answer out of him, but the man spoke though he choked on his words. "Sir, they are here to kill you. I can protect you."
Marcellus roared in laughter, "How can you help me?"
"I can hide you under a cloak of magic." He replied seriously. Marcellus stared at him and then sniffed the air. The hunters were almost on him, he could see them wading through the people towards him, though they had yet to spot him, but it wouldn't take long. He stood there with the man raised off the ground contemplating his choices. The man had wasted precious moments for him and there really wasn't any point to running now because they would catch him anyways. Marcellus really didn't have much of a choice.
"Alright little man. Aid me, if you succeed I shall return the favor." Marcellus snarled as he put him back on the ground. The man wasted no time in setting up the magic. He took his emblem off from around his neck and chanted over it in celestial, which was the only other language Marcellus understood well. A neutral language between his kind and those of the hunters, though Marcellus had no more like of it then he did the human languages.
The emblem glowed in a soft light as he placed it around Marcellus's neck. He felt the coolness of the magic take effect, it was a cover spell used to hide one's aura. Clever for the man to think of it, though most of the time it could rarely do more then hide his species. Marcellus looked at the emblem in distaste, now he knew what the symbol was for. It was the symbol of these people's highest god, Zeus. In other words the name they had given the master of the hunters.
"You there!" The man and Marcellus looked up at once. A band of hunters dressed like priests surrounded them and looked down at them from their horses' backs. Marcellus was surprised to find he could understand them, for they were speaking the local tongue for the man's sake.
"Ah! My traveling brothers, how goes your journey and to where?" the man asked with a broad grin on his face.
They looked from one to another until one stepped forward and glared down at him, "We have no business with you. We wish to, speak, with your companion." He sneered.
"My companion?" The man glanced over to Marcellus with fake confusion. "But he is simply a servant of mine. Of no use to such prominent priests like yourselves."
"That is our business." The hunter hissed. Marcellus stayed quiet and his eyes down to play his part with hopes that the emblem could manage to cloak his bulk.
The hunter sighed and shook his head while another whispered to him, "His aura is weak, suppose he is simply a human."
The hunter was waved aside by his chief while he turned back to the man, "Listen you we're here to rid these people of a monster. Have you not heard the tales of its malice? He killed entire families as they slept with no remorse. We sensed Hades' evil influence here and in that man, now if you'd kindly step aside…"
"It cannot be. Why this man has been aiding me for nearly two weeks now and we just came into town today." The man argued with conviction. The hunters looked from one to the other until the chief finally shrugged.
"Fine then old geezer, we'll leave you be. Just don't go running for us when he turns mad on you." Marcellus watched as they turned and left and breathed a sigh of relief. No matter what the guy was up to at least he had a good head on his shoulders.
"Now that they are gone." The man said as he turned to Marcellus and held out his hand, "My name is Periphetes, I am a prophet of Athens and it is an honor to finally meet you."
"Finally?" Marcellus growled as he ignored the man's hand, he still didn't trust him.
"Yes, I've known of your existence for quite some time now, but we shall discuss that later." Periphetes said off handedly as he let his arm drop to his side. "But what am I to call you sir?"
Marcellus stared at him for a moment questioning, "I am Haima Daimovnion Marcellus, or at least I am in your tongue." He said, still wary of using demonic with the hunters still around. "You can just call me Marcellus."
Periphetes sounded the name in his unaccustomed tongue, each time sounding worse the last so Marcellus repeated it. Periphetes tried again but failed, then he shrugged it off, "Well, I'll have time to learn it."
"Time?" Marcellus asked uncertainly.
"Yes, time. You have debt to repay me remember?"
Marcellus grumbled but nodded, "Indeed I do." And so starts a decade of servitude, lovely. Marcellus thought to himself as he followed Periphetes out of the village. But he was glad to have his running behind him for a time, and to start something new, even with an oddity like Periphetes.
A/n Wooo! First real chapter, yay! Didn't turn out too bad I think…. Well let me know what you think. I know I haven't described Marcellus quite yet, but I will in due time. Umm, yeah.