“You will live to regret this.” the villager rasped from his prone position on the packed dirt floor as the pool of blood spread out radially from the stab wound in his stomach. “One day, the fates will feed you that which you’ve sown here tenfold and balance the scales for the souls you have wrenched from this world. On that day, know that my family and I have found my revenge. On that day, remember these w…..”

The sword blade flashed out and plunged into the throat of the already dying man, silencing him with grim finality. The swordsman leaned forward and used the hem of his tunic to wipe his blade clean and then exited the hovel.

A symphony of screams from the dead and dying suddenly filled his ears. The smell of burning hay and dung told him that the army had already begun to raze the outer buildings of the small town. Even though the soldiers around him worked with brutal efficiency, the sense of organized chaos around him filled his heart with pride. He had trained his men well.

“Captain!” a man called from across the courtyard as he began to trot towards him.

“What news, lieutenant? Have they found it?” Captain Culhane inquired as his second in command made it close enough to hear without raising his voice.

“Not yet, sir, but the inquisitors are putting the village elders to the question and we should have it in our hands soon.”

“We’ve been searching for these fragments so long, Gabriel, it’s difficult to believe that the last one may finally be within our reach.” the Captain sighed, the weight these past years had placed on his shoulders made evident by the lines on his face and the hollowness of his eyes.

“I know, John.” Gabriel sighed and informally clapped his oldest friend on the shoulder with slight grin on his face. “We may finally be able to return home with the soul stone in hand.”