Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for mature content.
The large tent swayed against the buffering winds and sand, and sheltered the hardened men from the blistering sun outside. Another man entered through the thin flap in the front of the tent, and tied it behind him.
"Good of you to finally join us, Clanmaster Sykkou," said a grisly man at one end of the tent. His dark purple eyes gestured to an open seat around the circular table, and he rubbed his beard as the council waited for Sykkou to sit and adjust himself. Sykkou fished out a scroll from his tight vest robe and unfurled it, letting the tough paper crackle and groan against the shifting of its state. Several words and drawings danced along the scroll, shifting constantly like the sand dunes outside. Sykkou's eyes swirled like a cloud, purple and cloudy gray twirling around each other. "It is the time of the Shifting Sands, so locating our neighbor tribes will be more difficult than normal."
"Yes, yes, this is expected. We are not meeting right now to determine whether the sun will grace us with its presence tomorrow." Rage entered the leader's voice. "You know what we are here for! We all know what we are here for."
The tension around the table of clansmen thickened, and they glanced around each other. Clansman Sykkou looked up in the leader's direction, sweating trickling down his forehead to his thick brow. "Of course."
"Must I remind anyone why we are here? Must I?" The leader spat out, his voice reverberating around the tent's tough skinned walls. He breathed out, and he closed his eyes. "Find the neighboring clans, Clansman."
Sykkou traced a finger across the scroll, and the fading words curled around it, briefly revealing darker ink below it and through it. "The... Aaravasti Clan is not far from here, and they are following... the Konicalv constellation. It will take only a few days ride to reach them, and our sandriders can easily cut them off in the Shifting Sands."
The Clansmen all turned their attention to the leader expectedly. It was a sound plan. The leader mulled it over, his face expressionless. "I have a question, Clansmaster Sykkou."
Sykkou gulped. Questions were never a welcome sign. "Yes?"
"Are you aware of the plan?"
"Yes, Clansmaster Ryko."
"Are you sure about that?"
The other Clansmen shifted in their stools.
Sykkou stumbled with his words. "I-- I believe we all are, Clansmaster."
Ryko nodded. "I would have thought the same, but it appears not." He raised his voice. "We have lost our matriarchs in the last battle with our neighboring clans. We have no more..." he gulped. "We have no future." Tears filled his war-torn eyes. "So why is it that you use your sightseeing capabilities as a ruse to undermine our plans? The only plan that will save us?"
"I'm- I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you're talking about, Clansmaster Ryko."
"Oh, you don't?" Ryko pulled out a scroll, this one far smaller than Sykkou's and painted blood red. "You willingly handed information to this war table that my scouts reported to me more than seven moons ago! You are trying to sabotage us!"
Sykkou's face shifted from one of innocence to one of defiance. "You are asking us to raid our neighbors and steal their children... for, for, 'repopulation?'" Sykkou stood up. "That is putrid. It is revolting! It is--"
Ryko launched himself across the small table, knocking Sykkou down. The other Clansmen stood up amidst the struggle, and a few immediately left. The remaining attempted to intervene, but Ryko sent them a growl and a glare of complete death and menace, as if something was invading his body. They retreated outside of the tent, terrified.
Ryko seethed, punching Sykkou at first, and Sykkou attempted to shield his face. Ryko then emitted a low snarl, tearing at Sykkou's clothes, tearing them apart. His vision faded and his pupils dilated, like he was no longer himself as he revealed Sykkou's bare skin, fully intent on taking advantage of it.
Of course, something had taken over him, or, at least, it was on the verge of doing so. A shadow in the corner of the top of the tent observed the mauling and rape. Behind Ryko was a mirage, a shadow of something. It surrounded the scene, and coiled around Ryko. It shifted into something more tangible, a creature of red and maroon that clutched at Ryko. It was a Fiend, a being of an alternate dimension, one filled with hate and terror. It was a minor Fiend, one that represented some primal emotion of humans. This one fed on Ryko's anger, pride, and lust, and was using it to attempt to cross over to this dimension, to take over Ryko's body. Once it accomplished its goal, it would merge with Ryko into something of disastrous capabilities.
There it was.
The form shimmered, and tangible spikes strutted out of its back, and it took a shape of something grotesque. A slithering hiss sounded amidst the moaning and struggling of the two humans.
The shadow dropped from the roof of the tent, pinning the Fiend against the rickety main table of the tent, crushing it into splinters. The Fiend's arms ripped from Ryko's spirit, and it belt out a ear-splintering scream that warbled around around this dimension. Its arms shortened and it clawed at the shadow of a person pinning it down. The person covered its face with a mask of an angry face. The Fiend struck at the mask, shattering it in half. Underneath it was a void of nothingness that screamed and coiled with tentacles of darkness that struck at the Fiend.
The Fiend let out a yelp of absolute terror and scrambled to escape the human's hold, but it was pointless. The human pulled out two swords, both identical except for their color and hilt. One of them was a regular silver sword, while the other was stained red with a hilt of flesh. The human set the regular sword on the floor and grabbed the red sword with both hands and thrust it deep into the Fiend's chest. The Fiend exploded into crimson dust, filling the tent and sifting to the ground.
Ryko gasped and his eyes widened. He sat back, breathing hard. "What happened?" He looked around, eyes fuzzy, until he finally saw and acknowledged the shadow of a person standing behind him.
The shadow person didn't acknowledge Ryko with a look. A deep voice said, "It was a demon of your own making." They stashed their red sword and picked back up the regular iron sword.
"I feel... free," Ryko muttered.
"You are stained." The shadow person stabbed Ryko in the heart and pushed his dying form to the side, off of Sykkou's bare body.
Sykkou covered his face, mumbling pleas and begging for his life to the shadow person, scrambling away from them.
The shadow man paid Sykkou no heed, and picked up a crimson mask with a face frozen in terror etched into it. He weighed it in his hand, and replaced his cracked one with it, before leaving Ryko's dead body and Sykkou's shivering silhouette in the tent.