The Horsemen (part 4)

The next morning, Famine and the rest of the group prepared to leave. War and Death gathered the people they trusted the most and explained to them that they would be gone for a while. The people were of course nervous, but after a lengthy talk, they agreed to run the city. Famine watched in amazement as the two brothers addressed the city. The people there truly loved them. He could not imagine such a civilized place existed in this day and age.

Pestilence was back to her stony silence. She sat back and observed. Due to the brothers’ rule of the city, there was little sickness and no one crying for death. It was a place she would love to come back to. Her heart sank as she remembered that they would be leaving. She knew that their mission to bring balance was important, but she was not looking forward to helping end so many lives. Her eyes met with Death and she knew he would miss this city as well.

War, on the other hand, was anxious to get moving. The night that his brother had found him in that alley, he had sought out the thugs. He had no desire to join them, they were scum. He wanted to make them pay for destroying the city he loved. He wanted to bring the thugs to justice. He did not understand how people could just toss aside their morals overnight.

Once they rule of the city was set up, they began the long walk back to the park where Famine had encountered the Indians. They wanted to make good progress before they were forced to stop for the night.

“It would not be wise to camp to close to our city. There are usually bandits hanging around and looking for ways to sneak into the city. I can sometimes sense when they are close, but not if they are hiding their intentions,” Death explained as they marched.

They agreed to walk as far as they could before stopping. Famine needed to talk to the Indians anyways. Questions buzzed through his mind like bees swarming flowers. He needed answers before he started trying to restore balance.

Despite the added company, most of the day passed in silence. Famine tried to get conversations started with the twins, but War was not much of a talker and Death did not feel much like talking either. Eventually, Famine gave up all pretense of small talk and focused on maintaining their neck breaking pace. He worried about how Pestilence would hold up, but she seemed stronger than ever.

They walked until the light faded to the point that they were stumbling over rocks. The twins gathered wood and built a small fire. Pestilence once again fell asleep as soon as she laid down. The twins cooked some meat, the spices burning Famine’s nose. He expected his stomach to growl in protest, but every since his change, he had yet to be hungry.

“The Indians live in the central park. The local gang is a band of cannibals who have turned to hunting humans for food. They use dogs and they are very organized for being thugs. We will have to move through the city without being detected,” Famine explained.

“Why do we need to be careful. Between the four of us, those thugs will not stand a chance,” War grunted.

“I do not want to kill people unless we have to. Just because we are supposed to restore balance, that does not mean we are supposed to kill everyone we do not agree with,” Famine answered, shocked at his willingness to kill.

War grunted, but whether in agreement or not was unclear. Famine opened his mouth to raise some of his concerns when Death laid a hand on his arm. The look in the huge man’s eyes silenced him. War sprang to his feet and walked towards the sleeping girl. Before Famine could ask what was going on, he heard it. The sound of gravel crunching under foot. He unsheathed his dagger and rose to his feet.

An arrow whistled into their camp and buried itself in the dirt where War had been sitting seconds earlier. Famine turned and snatched a second arrow out of the air. The thugs had found their camp. It was too dark to see how many were out there, but Famine felt like it was safe to assume they were outnumbered. He turned as he heard a sharp intake of breath to his left. A crooked arrow was lodged deep in Death’s shoulder.

Death hissed at the inconvenience and yanked the arrow out. He looked at Famine with a lopsided smile as the wound closed.

“Did I forget to mention that,” he laughed at the confused look on Famine’s face.

Famine did not have time to question his companion as a thug hurtled into the fire light. They grappled around the fire for a few seconds, Famine trying not to use his blade. He meant it when he said he did not want to kill. The thug however, was not holding back. If it were not for his enhanced reflexes, the thug would have easily overpowered him. Famine tried to reason with the man before nicking him on the forearm. He watched with sadness as the man withered and died. He felt his muscles felt rejuvenated as he received the dead man’s strength.

War was no longer by the fire. He had moved further into the darkness, baited by the thugs calls. His fists flew, connecting with anything that got too close. The muscles on his arms bulged, growing stronger the longer he fought. He did not even need to see, he just relied on his sense of hearing. Soon enough, he knew they were all down. Some of them were gone, the rest would wake up and slink away during the night. He panted slightly as he walked back to the fire.

“They won’t be back,” he grunted before settling in for sleep.

“My brother relishes the fight. It makes him stronger, but once it passes, he must sleep,” Death sat down next to his brother’s sleeping form.

“Do you always heal that fast,” Famine asked.

“Yes,” Death hesitated. “I do not think I can be hurt at all. That is my curse.”

“Your curse,” Famine screwed up his face incredulously.

“I think since I cannot be hurt, I will not die. What could kill me? That means that someday, my brother will be gone and I will have to go on alone. I will be around long after balance is restored and everyone I know has moved on.”

Death stared at his brother, the secret he had kept for so long finally out in the open.

“Maybe the Indians will have answers for you too. I just hope we can make it to them without anymore fighting.”

Death stayed awake through the night, every crunch of gravel ringing in his ears. When the sun started to peek over the horizon, he woke the others and they started their grueling march again. Famine was grateful when the city he had left a few short days ago came into view. Soon enough, his hopes of making it to the park without a fight were dashed. The deep barking of dogs and the screams of their victims echoed off the crumbling buildings.

Pestilence looked around in horror as the realization hit her. She was going to have to use her powers on people who were not sick. She had never used it to kill, just to help. Tears threatened to spill down her cheeks as a pack of thugs turned their attention to the crowd of four.

War cracked his knuckles and rolled his shoulders. As soon as the thugs were within reach, he started swinging. He fought with no regard for what his companions were doing. Famine jumped to his aid, dispatching the rabid dogs with his dagger. The small girl stood back, hesitant to join the fray. She shrieked as a woman grabbed her from behind. Her hands found the woman’s face and immediately began draining her of her life. Death walked through the battle, only killing when necessary. The battle was over before the thugs even had a chance to retreat. Dogs and humans littered the sidewalk.

Word of the battle spread quickly. They could feel eyes watching them, but no one else approached them. The park came into view around lunch. Famine could hardly contain his excitement as the walked into the park.

(Do not forget to go back and read the other parts if you have missed them)

Jessica

 

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