Sunlight peered through the shabby, wooden walls of the house, waking Loque with a warm glow. A new day had risen, spinning a calm life upon the forest as Loque woke in the silence of the unfamiliar house.
Loque rolled to his feet, yawning slightly. The energy from the Bloodstones he had stolen had gifted him a rejuvenated strength, the imminent end of the Breaking once more pushed off. Subconsciously fingering the remaining Bloodstone in his pocket, Loque didn’t look at the two corpses strewn across the ground as he rummaged through the house picking out supplies as he went.
As the sun’s light began to spread across the sky, turning stars into the endless blue of summer, Loque stepped outside of the house. His horse lay calmly on the ground, sleeping peacefully after the previous day’s strenuous ride.
Tapping the steed with the tip of his shoe and stuffing the stolen supplies into the small pockets of the saddle, Loque roused the slumbering horse to its feet before climbing onto his mount’s back. Turning their path beyond the house and to the West, small spirits spinning lifelessly among the branches of the trees, Loque tapped his heel as the horse trotted forward and around the empty house.
“Let’s go, today we will make it to the sea,” Loque said aloud, prompting the horse to pick up speed to a full gallop with another tap of his heel, carefully dancing around the low-hanging branches.
Trepton, one of the largest seaside towns marked on maps, was home to a range of different people known for their proficiency at fishing and control over trade along the coast. Loque’s path, that of heading nearly perfectly West with only the slightest tendency to the North, would bring him to the city long before nightfall.
It was around midday, the blistering heat of the sun’s washing over the land, when Loque surroundings began to shift. The dense weave of trees and wavering landscape of rocks began to morph, the trees opening up into grassy fields and the rocks fading into grass along the bouncing hill-scape.
“We’re almost there,” Loque murmured aloud, speaking to himself. A soft cloud cover had begun to gather, darkening over the hills as the sharp smell of salt pierced the air. The slightest view, peaks of cliffs and waves, waves could be seen in the distance.
Pulling to the right, Loque pushed faster. Trepton wasn’t yet visible, an hour’s travel away if Loque managed to sustain the breakneck pace that he had set. Of course, Loque could feel their pace fluctuating as his mount tired, for not even the strongest horse alive would have been able to ride endlessly.
Loque shuttered as the winds picked up, the red spirits whispering in his ear as the wind whistled by. Though he’d done little more than ride all day, his Breaking was continuing to tear away at the energy he’d stolen from the Bloodstone the night before.
“It’ll be fine,” Loque whispered to himself, the words stolen away by the wind. Loque wrapped his fingers tightly around the second Bloodstone, feeling the temperature rise as his own body heat warmed the crystalline stone.
As a slow stream of energy, bursting with power, spun its way into Loque’s hand, he released the stone. “Not yet,” Loque reminded himself. “I still need that stone.”
Their speed slowed once more as they stepped onto a dirt path worn into the sides of the hills. Trepton, at last, came into view in the distance, an unremarkable village nestled among cliffs, distant movement along the ocean drawing ships to the coast.
Lifted by the wind, the sounds of conversation and the business of the city carried to Loque as he neared the entrance to the city. Dismounted before the wooden walls, only a few feet taller than Loque on the back of his steed, Loque glanced at his horse letting the reins fall free and turned away from it as he stepped up to the gate.
Out of nowhere, a stray spirit landed in front of Loque, sparking a sudden flare of pain to strike through his body. Gasping in shock, Loque fumbled for the Bloodstone in his pocket. Wrapping his hand comfortably around the small stone, Loque pushed at the stored energy.
A soft, luminous red glow enveloped Loque’s hand as a steel blade, glowing blood-red, grew from his hand. The curved hilt fit perfectly within Loque’s grip, made to perfection. A long, thin blade extruded from the twisted hilt, protruding outwards into a fine point.
Pressing every last drop of the remaining energy within the Bloodstone into the blade, the glow of the blade, the Oathseeker, turned golden. Grey dust fell from Loque’s hand, lifted away by the roaring winds, as Loque shifted his grip on the blade.
Swiping the blade through the air, a calm sense settling within Loque as the familiar feeling of the sword’s grip was in his hand once again, Loque slashed through the wooden gates. Cut through without a shred of resistance, the gates collapsed to the ground instantly.
The street before Loque was fairly empty, only a few people heading about. However, as the sound of the wall collapsing rang out, those out stopped to look. The eyes of every onlooker were instantly drawn to a single object: the Oathseeker in Loque’s hand. Confusion spread through the people, surprised to seek an Oathseeker so far out.
Loque stepped into the town, looking around as the people looked at him. “Do you need something, sir?” a man nearby to Loque asked.
Loque didn’t pay him much head, a ringing in his ears pounding as waves of pain crashed through his body. Wincing, Loque’s sights locked onto the man who had spoken. Stepping forward slowly, ignoring the sudden bursts of pain, Loque slashed the man across the chest with his sword.
The cut instantaneously bled out, a Bloodstone dropping to the ground as the man stumbled backward and fell to the ground. Loque grabbed the stone from the ground, sighing as the energy flooded into his body replacing the pain with the warm energy flowing from the Bloodstone.
Screams erupted around Loque as he opened his eyes, releasing the remains of the Bloodstone to the ground. Shouts broke out across the streets, everyone scrambling to vacate. Loque paid them little head, basking in the warmth of the life flowing through his blood.
Glancing around, Loque slowly began walking towards the first building, a flicker of movement appearing behind foggy glass. Twisting his sword through the air as he strode forward, slicing cleanly through the walls, Loque stepped into the first building. There was silence as a wave of dust settled across the room.
There were three people in the building, cowering in terror underneath a table propped against a wall. Silently, Loque walked over to them. He didn’t speak as he twisted his sword through the air slicing through the three people instantly, Bloodstones dropping to the ground.
Collecting the new bloodstones, absorbing one and placing the others into his pocket, Loque turned back to the hole he’d carved in the wall and continued down the dirt street to the next building. With the same cool, swing he carved into the building and stepped inside; this time, there were five people: two women, two men, and a child.
Cutting them aside without noticing the blood pooling on the ground, Loque gathered the Bloodstones before returning to the street. Carrying on as he passed through the town, easily slaying everyone from the fearful toddlers to the pugnacious men, Loque faced no difficulty as he callously collected each and every Bloodstone without a thought spared to remember the people he slew.
By the time Loque came to the end of the town, each house emptied and each person felled, he’d gathered over a dozen Bloodstones and turned another several dozen into dust. Life flowed freely through his body, energy unlike anything he’d ever felt before coursing through his veins.
Dismissing his Oathseeker, vanishing into the air without a trace, Loque sighed. The fresh air clung to his lungs as he breathed before the setting sun. The waves crashed softly against the coast, boats rocking peacefully over the sea. Yet, despite the pleasant night before him, Loque’s mind was lost.
Lost, not in the thought of death nor the images of the spirits before him, but in his destination and the presence of the Okkenan. A feeling, one that may once have been fear, had settled in the pit of his stomach but, as Loque’s thoughts were clouded with the Breaking, he soon forgot about it.
Slowly stepping up to one of the boats, a smaller boat designed to move fast across large distances, Loque stepped onto the wooden deck of the boat. Inexperienced with boating, Loque fumbled to untie the rope knotted around the hull of the boat and push away from the port.
However, as he slowly began to lift the sails, the boat’s parts naturally fell into place. The warm, light wind springing back against the coast, the sails filled as the boat spun to face directly out to sea.
Skipping along the surface of the water, Loque sat back against the boat looking forward to the endless horizon of waves and water. His path was clear, straight forward without any deviations to the continent at the center of the ocean: Ukkan Isle.
The sun cycled constantly through the sky, bearing down on Loque as he restlessly sat staring ahead. Days spun open and closed, but Loque didn’t move at all. The unnatural energy from the Bloodstones energized his body even as it grew hungry and dehydrated.
It was as the sun began to rise for the fourth time that the first glimpses of land, mountains distantly visible and towering beyond the clouds. Stumbling to his feet, Loque leaned against the central mast of the sailboat as he looked to the land. Welcomingly, the winds picked up as the boat neared.
Drifting onto the sandy beach, Loque wobbly stood on the sand. Stretching and yawning, he picked up the Bloodstones from the floor of the beached boat, tucking them safely into his pockets, as he looked towards the hilly expanse before the mountains.
Undeterred by the distance before him, Loque slowly began walking towards the mountains, a cool feeling of power emanating from beyond them. Stepping onto the first hill, a sudden wave of power flared from beyond the mountains. Stumbling forward, Loque’s steps slowed as false drowsiness, crafted by a being beyond Loque's own power, fell over his eyes, red spirits bouncing from nowhere and clinging to his skin as Loque fell to the ground, his consciousness fleeing before he could think.
The darkness came across his eyes and, in that moment, the forgotten images of death appearing before Loque as he fell asleep upon the hilltop, a new nightmare flooding his mind.