The rocky pass was known for being treacherous. It had long been a obstical for the dye traders of the Dry Steppes when trying to reach Caledum. There was water on the other side; a glorified puddle and yet it was the only drink for miles.
Once it was safe. The old explorers, the legends of the Steppe people had risen from their grass huts and searched for something more. No longer would they be subservient to wizards in Xiansai! They took their magnificent dye and traveled far from home to Caledum and gave it to the cloth merchants. Gold flowed north to their homes like a river of hope, and the cities were built, the first art flourished, and the Dye Kings, (as they were called) thumbed their noses at the jealous wizards.
No longer. Now when a stray man from the Steppe reached the rocky pass he stopped. The smell of water hidden by something much more foul. The smell of sinful creatures scurrying across the rocks. Unnatural and repellent, the smell would strike fear into the Steppe man and he would flee back to his small village and forget about the old stories his grandmother use to tell of Caledum.
The whole smell thing was causing a problem for the Fallen.
"UUUUGHHHH! I'm starved!"
"Look, yas got to shut up Olk! We's all starved and you know it."
Olk writhed around on his back with his claws in the air pitifully. "I can na remember the last meat i et! When was it, eh? Tell me Fnerg!"
The four imps sat in a ring on top of the high rocks on one side of the pass. Fnerg, the oldest, was brooding silently with his back turned to the others. He watched the entrance to the pass furiously, trying with his tiny willpower to make person to walk through.
"Look, all i is sayin' is that the last bit of meat i is eaten was a Sanctuary Week ago," Olk wined, "and that wasn't enough to feed a fetish!"
Ulk, his twin, scoffed. "Yeah, like you's actually seen one of them before."
Olk sat back up and narrowed his beady little eyes. "I's did too! Back when we was thumpen with those brothers who were doing stuff for Miphisto. One of em had a stuffed one."
Fallen don't call each other "Fallen." They are ashamed of their title and simply refer to another one of their kind as a "brother" even though there is little love between each individual.
"You're a scale-cleanin', angel-lovin' liar Olk! That was just a child skin he got from a Westmarch village. Am i right Brak?"
Brak, so weak from the heat and the lack of food, was propped up against a small boulder with his tongue out and his eyes rolled up in his head. The other's weren't quite hungry enough yet to check if he was still breathing but they figured when the time came he would be the one for roasting if it came to that. A fly landed on his nose and he gave a slight twitch.
Olk nodded with satisfaction. "See? He said yes."
Ulk quivered in fury, "HES DID NOT!"
Olk was enjoying himself. "Oh yes hes did! And hes said that your horns are small and puny like a baby deer!
Ulk grabbed his weapon, a wicked blood-stained ax, and waved it menacingly at Olk. "One more......just one more...."
"And you mamma is a Lunatic!"
The two imps collided with a thunderclap of punching and screaming. Their bodies became a blur as they rocketed around the stones of the canyon top, often teetering dangerously near the edge and sending small avalanches down the rocky pass. His strength drawn from his blind fury, Ulk pinned Olk down with one foot on his brothers horns and the other foot on his brother's chest. Raising his ax high, Ulk was about to bring down the killing blow when a voice growled out from above him.
"Cut it out you fairies! We've got work to do."
Ulk looked up and dropped his ax over his shoulders in shock. Standing over him was his Overseer Andhaku glaring at him. This was not what shocked Ulk though, his Overseer was constantly glaring at him or berating him for something he had done. It was Andhaku's appearance that was shocking. The tall muscular demon had Steppe flowers tied to his horns, his waist armor, and his swordstick. He was carrying a whole pile of the smelly things and plopped them down in front of the two brothers.
Ulk shook his head "Just when demonkind thought brother's couldn't fall farther....."
Andhaku backhanded the imp viciously, sending him flying off of his brother with a squeak. "You fool, if you had any brains you would realize that I'm disguising my smell from the Humans! I want you all to wrap flowers around your horns and armor so we can hide ourselves from their senses."
Andhaku looked over at Brak's still form. "Is he still alive?
Olk stood up and brushed off the brown dirt caked to his bone necklace. "I's wouldn't bets on it."
"Nevermind, think of him as an appetizer for what is to come!"
Grinning, the two brothers forgot their quarrel and started to tie flowers onto their bodies without complaint. Their quick red hands moved rapidly until they resembled a ball of pollen with fangs and horns poking out among the petals. In his new costume, Olk danced over to Brak drooling and licking the blade of his short sword.
"Bad luck for yous, good luck for mes!"
Fnerg scampered to the Overseer; accidentally knocking over Olk on his way.
"Someone entered the pass!"
to be continued....
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