Envy hurried on as fast as the legs of the Chiprel could carry him. With the tome strapped to his back (thanks to the belt of one of those soldiers under the influence of Lust), he was able to move through the trees and rooftops much more quickly than before. At this point, Envy had grown tired of this body and was looking forward to being back inside the body of an unwilling host so that he would be fulfilled once again.
As he drew closer to his goal, the sky went from its normal blue color to a more subdued hue.. almost gray where the sun could not peak through. The smell of sulfur and burning gasses filled the air and burned the sensitive nose of the chiprel Envy wore as a skin, even from this distance. Soon, before he could even see the towers that guarded the city. he spied the smoke belching from its foundries. Envy climbed a bit higher for a better look and saw the city just at the edge of his field of vision. This was the hub of the Human/Beast Alliance.
While the capital was more resplendent, everyone knew that the City of Iron was truly the key to the Legion. It was here that the machine of war was fueled– weapons built, soldiers trained, new creations discovered, and new discoveries reverse engineered. It all happened here. North of the City loomed the great mountains, which served as the source of the iron and other metals that were smelted and the coal that fueled the furnaces. The city itself was said to be impregnable, surrounded with walls of black iron which were enchanted to never rust and magically strengthened to withstand any attack. The towers that sat on each of the eight corners of the great octagonal walls held both mundane and magical defenders. This was surely the most impressive city that Envy had seen, dwarfing the size of Hell’s Keep. Above the smoke of the foundries rose the gleaming towers of the Cathedral of Sol that served as both a house of worship and as a palace away from the capital for the King of Men and Queen of Beasts. The book was leading him right into the heart of the enemy and Envy was twitching in anticipation.
He scampered down to the ground and headed toward the mighty gates of the City of Iron. There were many men and beasts on the streets, but none paid heed to the chiprel running in their midst. Like so many other small animals he was able to move quickly through the parkways and into the city proper. The book tugged at him, pushing him away from the hustle and bustle of the merchants and carts and toward the great temple in the middle of the city… the Cathedral of Sol. As he neared the Cathedral, Envy could see that many other changes had taken place since the war began here.
The heart of the city was fortified by a small wall and protected by a few regiments of men and beasts. Perhaps the most impressive sight was the presence of the large magical teleporters. They explained so many things… like how the Legion could get to the battlefield so fast to meet them in combat! The book drew Envy near one of the teleporters, where a group of soldiers rested and a large man deftly practiced a series of cuts and slashes with a large broadsword nearby. Envy recognized the warrior from the battlefield and was surprised when he saw who he had been drawn to.
This warrior was the mighty Hammerstorm, former General of Maliken’s First Legion. He had left his home in the war-torn mountains and fought at Maliken’s side for many years. Stoic and calm on the battlefield, he barely showed any emotion except when he crushed his enemies under that massive hammer. Immediately, Envy knew that the chiprel was not the right vessel to speak to this warrior from. He needed to come to Hammerstorm as a man, for he certainly harbored no love for the beasts that destroyed his people.
Nearby, Envy saw a man in fineries carrying a stack of scrolls under one arm and a ledger under the other. He had the look of an administrator at worst and a wizard at best. Envy knew he had his new host and leapt quickly from the chiprel and into the man, knocking the scrolls and book from the man’s hand as the human tried to fight against him. However, with the power he gained from the birth of the other sins, the human was soon under his control. Envy quickly went through the memories of the man he now possessed and he was pleased with what he found. He looked back down to pick up the scrolls and ledger that had been dropped and was surprised to see that the chiprel he had worn all these days was still in one piece. Even more surprising was the sight of Hammerstorm himself reaching down to pick up the small beast and book that was attached to its back.
The hero had heard a strange sound while practicing with his blade and came around the corner to see Frederick, the King’s Herald, convulsing violently. He was about to run for a priest when suddenly the man stopped shaking and regained his composure. Hammerstorm was unsure what had happened but saw the books on the ground and, knowing that the Herald was most likely taking information back to the King, he quickly moved to help.
Frederick moved to quickly grab the Grimiore as well, but he was too slow. When Hammerstorm touched the tome, its foul magic went immediately to work. Unlike the others, there was no need to convince this warrior to take up the mantle of Sin. Thanks to the still surviving chiprel, there was a vessel sitting there just waiting to hold the remnants of virtue within the man.
The book reached out with tendrils of red smoke and stripped away the layers of calm and silence from the warrior, allowing him to keenly feel the seething rage he had held back for so long. Anger at the loss of his home, hatred for the betrayal of his General and King, fury toward the demons for all the men lost on the battlefield. The smoke filled the small chiprel as well and the peace that Hammerstorm had carried within him for so long flowed into the little beast. But a touch of rage was present there too; rage at being used for so long by Envy. Despite that, a sense of calm fell over the small animal, as he was now awake and aware for the first time in days.
The magics continued to swirl about as they worked their evil magic on the pair. Hammerstorm fell to the ground and screamed in agony as bits of black bone began to grow from his flesh, ringing his head and covering his back and extremities. Such great pain made him even more furious than he was before. The chiprel pulled himself from the belt and scurried to the shoulder of Hammerstorm, who threw the cursed book aside and reached down to grab his massive hammer. The scope of his rage was immediately clear as he smashed the hammer against a nearby wall several times, reshaping it to his liking. He reached back to grab his sword from his back as well, only to find that it had been overtaken by the boney growth. As the rage continued to overtake him, he ripped it from his very flesh. Weapons drawn, Wrath turned to Frederick and prepared to charge.
“Brother!” shouted Envy. “I am not your enemy, we are one and the same. Go now and take out your righteous ire against those who oppose your will. Destroy them not just on the field of battle, but where they sleep and work and play.”
Wrath looked at Envy and saw that it was indeed his Brother under the skin of the man in front of him. He glanced to the small furry creature on his should and felt himself calm a bit.
“You are right brother,” said Wrath. “I have many enemies to destroy but even more anger to awaken. There is a better place than this city for me to be…”
With that, he charged into the nearby teleporter and vanished.
Envy bent to gather up the Grimoire. He was surprised by the turn of events, but pleased that things had gone so well. Envy placed the ledger around the book and glanced down at the appointments written on top of the ledger. Apparently, he had a meeting with the King to attend and he mustn’t be late…