Soterien stood atop a hilltop, surveying the landscape before him. A small village spread out in a large clearing, surrounded by forest on all sides. He glanced down at his arms and scowled, knowing he could not hope to disguise them. They appeared to be covered in a sort of black metal, yet they moved as easily as any normal humans’- perhaps even more so. A network of faintly glowing red lines stretched across the metal. His fingers could be confused with claws, and strange protrusions extended from various points. On his left arm, these effects extended to the elbow; on his right, they covered his shoulder. They could do amazing things, he knew, some more terrifying than miraculous. He shrugged in resignation. There was nothing he could do about them, and hopefully the villagers would have the good sense not to ask. It was late afternoon as Soterien entered the village, and some of the tradesmen were already closing up shop. The presence of so many people unnerved him, as it always did; their heartbeats hammered in his ears. He had long since grown used to it, but the first moments back in civilization, such as it was, were always unpleasant. Sighing, he shook his head; remembering his objective, he set off in search of a meal.
He found a pub rather quickly, as per usual. He simply pinpointed the spot where those incessant heartbeats were the most varied, as people ate, drank, gossiped and generally made fools of themselves. He found himself a table in the corner, where his arms would not appear too distinctly, and waited for service. He found himself smiling as a man approached with an open expression and a tankard of ale. Soterien had probably killed several of the man’s ancestors- a fact true of most citizens of the Haram Empire- and yet here they were, merely friendly strangers. The passage of time was a remarkable thing. It occurred to Soterien that the man would probably expect money in return for the food and beer, but he put the thought off till later. It was so inconvenient, carrying coinage around all the time. Soterien had simply abandoned the practice.
The meal was delicious, but sure enough, the issue of payment arose. Soterien thought for a moment about his options, then made the waiter what he felt was quite a reasonable offer.
“I’m going to leave now, and unless you try to stop me I won’t kill you.”
The man’s eyes widened in shock. He hurried off to the back and returned with a bearded, tall figure, presumably the owner of the establishment. Soterien made it almost to the door before they tried to stop him. He simply reached out into the bearded fellow’s chest and pulled something out with a squelching noise. He crushed the man’s heart in his black metal hand, and smiled as energy filled him again. He looked into the short waiter’s terrified face, and his smile broadened.
“Thank you for the meal,” he said.
The patrons watched in astonishment as he walked away, but thought better of trying to hinder his passage.