“Village chief! The army has issued an ultimatum demanding our departure! If we do not leave, they will raid the village and kill us all!”
Villagers were at a loss to hear such news, their expression exuding fear. Just then, the village chief banged his hand on the desk.
“What’s with you guys? Didn’t we already see this coming and had prepared to fight? Or have you given up now and would just give your home away?” The village chief bellowed vehemently.
This had been an ordinary village. Its population was small, but they lived a carefree and self-sufficient life. Later, the king of a nearby country resolved to expand his domain, so he planned to seize the lands where the village was located. However, the village chief had long lived here with his fellow villagers; they had developed an attachment to the village. To protect their home, they had agreed to stay and face the army till the very end, even if it cost them their lives.
“But, chief! There is no way old farmers like us can fight young and healthy soldiers!” The villagers’ worry was not difficult to understand; with age, their physical condition had declined. Their valor had faded with time, its effects causing many headaches for the village chief.
At the moment, an old lady walked out of the crowd, staff in hand. Her steps were unsteady and she had to lean against the staff merely to stand. She slowly said with a mildly trembling voice, “Relax, everyone! I happen to know an occult spell that could grant us all with strong and healthy bodies!” Already stuck without any alternative, the chief and the villagers believed that this might be their only solution.
“That spell...is there a price?” The chief asked while approaching her.
“The only price is the determination to be strong,” the old lady shook her head with a smile.
Under the old lady’s power, the chief and other villagers gained both youth and strength that rival the raiding soldiers. They, as they had hoped, successfully drove back the army. Just as they rejoiced over their victory, wrinkles climbed onto their faces, and white hair crawled out of their head — yet no one noticed. To truly protect their home, the villagers needed more than what they already had and thus, they asked for the old lady’s help again. But to their surprise, the youth-granting spell suddenly reversed. The villagers all became old and decrepit shortly thereafter. Their bodies deteriorated uncontrollably; the more people died of age, the younger the old lady became.
All the villagers had collapsed onto the ground; only a young beautiful maiden was left standing in the middle — Knap. She covered her face as she laughed.
“You...why...?” The village chief asked with a thin voice.
Knap approached the village chief, an eerie smile on her face: “Thank you for all of your time you gave me. I have received all of it.”
The village chief took his last breath, his eyes remained open after death, perhaps because of his unwillingness to accept such an ending. Knap left with brisk steps while humming a tune. As one of the Death Riders, she had the ability to acquire power from death, and to reap youth from all life. She relished witnessing the confused faces of those who had their dreams achieved, but would die shortly after as a result.
When the army arrived at the village again, they were filled with appalled upon seeing the villagers bodies. All the corpses were petrified, as if they had been dead for years...