The Butcher of Arcos
Arcos, the shining Jewel of the fallen Empire. Many pompous noblemen and merchants love to spew this nonsense to all that will listen, however I know better. I was born on this island 157 years ago, and it has always been a shite hole. Sure, the rich live in splendor in their towering mansions, but poverty and squalor cover this island. My father Titus was a spice trader from the far west, banished from his homeland long ago, and a very successful one at that. Rare Elvish spices were a delicacy, and highly coveted by the human upper classes. Father took advantage of the distinct lack of other races than humans in Arcos, and even expanded to shipping in spices from the far south as business boomed. Over time, more Elves moved to Arcos to sell other elvish goods and services; enchanted jewelry and weapons, magically carved furniture, mage training for those with magical aptitude, and more. My sister Eladia and I grew up in a large house in the center of the city, our family having servants to meet our every need. Mother taught us our schooling with the help of expensive tutors, and we had every toy we could desire. Life was great and carefree then; but these prosperous times for us were not to last. The year of my twentieth birthday, Arcos turned on its head completely.
There were always those xenophobic peoples who heavily distrusted us elves, throwing insults and vague threats whenever possible. Father told me that they were just jealous of our wealth, and that nothing would happen to us, since he and the other wealthy Elf merchants were paying the city guards and Arcos’ nobility for extra protection. While Eladia believed him, I still had my doubts. I heard the whispers amongst the common folk, even some of the rich would stare at us funny and make rude comments when we passed by. I was right to distrust the humans, much to my displeasure to being correct in my assumptions. In the waning hours of the 21st night of Last Fire, a bloody and cruel riot broke out in the streets. They say an elf teaching spell craft to a prominent nobleman’s daughter murdered her, a sacrifice in a dark magic ritual that left her corpse burnt to a crisp. In hindsight, I’m certain it was much more likely that she killed herself practicing magic far beyond her talents, but I digress. Humans swept through the streets and homes of the city, rounding up any Elves they could find. The guards in our pockets turned against us, joining the mob and helping break into our homes. Many of my kin were simply slaughtered on the spot, others were dragged into the streets and hung or set alight on pyres. I cannot begin to describe some of the horrors the woman were brutalized with, my blood boils to this very day at the very thought.
My family had our own mercenary guards loyal only to my father, and with their help we slipped out of our mansion through a tunnel hidden in our cellar, and out to the port. We climbed aboard one of fathers trading ships with a meager bag of supplies, and with the help of some other Elvish traders who made it to the ship, started to make off to sea. Safety we thought, sighing huge gasps of relief. I was standing on the deck with the sailors watching the city burn, while my family and the other merchants went into the cabin. Our hope of survival was dashed though in the blink of an eye. City guards caught sight of us fleeing and rushed to man the trebuchets along the sea wall, and launched a volley of stones at us. The first stone missed off the port side by several feet. The second tore through the sails but then landed in the sea past the bow. The third stone hit its mark, smashing the base of the mast and tearing through the hull entirely. It was then that I was thrown off my feet, tumbling off the aft side of the cog into the dark waters. I desperately swam to the surface, gasping for air in the choppy waves, and watched the fourth stone strike the stern, destroying the cabin where my family was hiding. The boat sank quickly after that, plunging my whole world to the depths below. I could not mourn yet though, for I needed to survive, and I would surely drown if I did not act soon. I swam to the right of the docks, over towards the bridge leading to the ruined Temple. I figured that I could hide in the ruins until the riot quelled, then figure out the rest later. As I climbed onto the shore, I quickly ran into the slums on the outskirts of the ruins, looking for anything of use. Carefully peaking into the first damp hovel I came across, I saw a man passed out in the dirt, not even laying on the meager pile of straw that was bed. I creeped in, and found a rusty Rondel dagger, a ratty cloak with a hood, and the moldy heel of a loaf of bread in a small burlap sack in the corner. I threw on the cloak and pulled up the hood to cover my ears, and was picking up the knife when I heard the man stir suddenly and grumble.
“Who the fook ya think ya are, stealing from me”.
He lunged at me, stumbling like the drunk he was, and knocked us both to the ground. I lost my grip of the dagger and the hood fell back, he man seeing my true nature then.
“I’m gunna fooking kill ya, ya piece of elf shite”, grabbing me by the throat with both hands.
I remember that moment like it was yesterday. The trauma of watching my family and friends die that day overwhelmed me, and I went into a frenzy. I managed to take the dagger again in my right hand, then plunging it into his side. The man yelped, letting go of my throat to try and wrestle the dagger from my grip. Finally, able to breathe, I fought with renewed vigor. I sliced his left forearm and pierced through the palm of his right hand. I slammed the small pommel in his face, splitting the man’s already crooked nose open, then rolled out from under him as he reeled back in pain.
He looked up at me from his knees, pure hatred burning in his eyes, but unable to stand from the profound blood loss from his wounds.
“You won’t survive a day in this city boy, they will find ya and kill ya”.
I simply laughed at him, covered in his blood. I could tell I was freaking the drunkard out now, he was trembling like a new born calf. It was then I heard the voice for the first time, whispering in my mind. My new best friend, my guidance in the dark, the demon itself. I listened as it spoke,
And I obeyed. I raised the dagger, and sliced off my pointed ears, letting them fall to the floor. The man puked at the sight, horrified as I grinned at him.
“What is the matter friend, is my new look not very end earing?”
I took my time with the man after that. It was a few days later before his body was discovered, what was left of it anyways. I took the liberty of dismembering him into easier to consume pieces, only some bones and tattered flesh were left behind, the rest I stuffed in the burlap sack to bring with me. I had found myself a cozy little cave beneath the Temple by then though, the entrance being a small mossy hole near a collapsed pillar. I have lived in my comfy hole the past 137 years, with my ghastly friend in my mind keeping me company. I wander out at night to steal food every so often but often just stay in my hidey hole and write to myself. Every few years the voice will order me to go out and prey on some new victims, take revenge on the damned humans who so wrongly stole my life from me, and feast on their flesh. My handiwork has only grown in infamy over the decades. Human life spans can be so short, but I endure. They call me the Butcher of Arcos, a fitting name in retrospect. A name not often uttered out of fear, but spoken never the less by those bold enough to think they could take me. But alas, it need not matter what they think they know. For tonight I hunt, and tomorrow they shall weep in horror at my return.