Days before the destruction of the town Launa called home, a group was in charge of a caravan that needs to get to the next town, which is miles from the town of Haelen, and not too far from the house Launa's family lived. Time was the key, everything depended on the two meeting at the same time. Meanwhile, Archer had finally found someone who helped him break his obsession with fighting demons, someone to settle down and get into a real relationship with, and as a result, expect their first child. It was going to be the moment that would change his life forever. Fast-forwarding to the present, the plan is now in motion; Launa learns first hand from a running group of panicking villagers that Oleander, her true home is under attack and as a Guardian, is needed at once. Madsen had doubts of why such an emergency occurred and Welles fears for her mother's safety, but soon they understand her duties and let her leave.
Upon her arrival to Oleander, Launa watches in horror that the attack is not caused by marauders, monsters or well-resourced robbers, but by the imperial guards, led by none other than her fellow guardians. Her own people are behind it but doesn’t know why, when the guards start to turn on her. Launa attacks, killing them one-by-one while saving what is left of the town. Finding one of the guardians, they fight until she defeats it and angrily demands why they would do this. It all came to just one word: distraction, it came to her now and rushes back home as fast as she can, but when she arrives, she is too late. The house's walls are covered in blood, signs of a terrible struggle were evident and then she hears the sounds of her dying son. Launa barely holds herself together as she picks up her only child in her arms and screams to the sky, echoing loud enough to be heard by those nearby. Then the sounds of laugher soon followed and Launa looked, there the demon responsible for their murders dared revealed itself before her and taunts her to come after him.
Now totally blind with rage, Launa grabs her axe and chases after the demon, while it went out through the window, Launa crashes through the wall, breathing heavily, muscles flexed to bursting and blood burning through her veins. Launa makes her pursuit for the demon, who is outpacing her, and destroy it once and for all, no matter who gets in her way. Meanwhile, the captain of the caravan asks Archer to move to the front of the line in a shift. Though he wants to look after his wife, the captain assures him that she will be fine. Archer leaves his wife, knowing that she will be safe. But it wasn't safe minutes later as the demon finds the unfortunate victim and makes its rush into her cart and possess her body while she is fully aware, the demon wants her to watch the horror it is about to commit to. The process is as horrific as it can get, the poor girl is unable to scream to get any attention apart from the pounding her hands against the walls of her cart. She can only watch and grab her belly as it violently swells, ripping the surrounding clothes. The demon laughs the second the enormous belly collapses into a caved-in put, finally she screams, seconds before her neck snaps, killing her. The scream grabs the attention of Archer and the rest of the group, bringing the entire caravan to a screeching halt. They run in to the affected cart with Archer screaming his name seconds before the ferocious roar and crash of Launa cuts through the cart. Archer is furious and terrified at what he sees and tries to attack Launa but is brutally smacked off by her arm and shouted not to interfere.
Launa knows the woman is possessed but why doesn't Archer, a seasoned demon hunter spot this: The answer lied with the demon and a mysterious watcher who made sure Archer sees the execution goes as planned. The demon taunts and enrages her further to kill it while in the form of the hunter's wife. Launa demands answers but the monster only replies with the words “he knows” which angers her further. Only dragging her on and drilling the thoughts into her mind she is deaf to all voices and forces telling her to simply stop before she commits the unthinkable. Archer manages to get back up only to bare witness of the woman who he de-powered and swore to never commit such acts brutally kill the woman who would have saved him.
Launa only gasps for air, still shaken from the loss of her own family. It is then she looks up and without realizing it sees the fury and rage of a man who, in his mind, taken away his true happiness. In vengeance of one family, he lost his. With a fiery power-blow, Archer knocks Launa down hard into the ground. Now he is the one who pins Launa down as he threw punch after blood-stained punch. Violently screaming down at her for breaking his promise, her swearing to never do the horrible things that got her powers stripped in the first place just to spare her pathetic life. Now he knows that it is the biggest and last mistake he will ever made. The caravan horde rushed in and try to separate the two of them. Unware that some are clumsily stumbling over the remains. It is just a matter of time before onlookers from Haelen came in and lay witness to what is before them, a portion of the caravan destroyed, they were quick to rush judgment to see their once great guardian now as a cold-blooded murderer.
Archer only watches when a guardian who just happened to appear at the scene and surveys the surrounding carnage. The people of the caravan and the onlookers shouted to the guardian who witness the brutal murder of the woman until the guardian screams out for their complete silence. The next words from the guardian's mouth is the order to the Haelen officers to arrest Launa for the destruction of the town of Oleander, dereliction of duty and assault on her fellow guardians and officers of the town. The death of Archer's wife is nothing but an afterthought not worthy to the guardian to bring a charge. Angered, Archer tries to get to Guardian to acknowledge it, but he really wants to kill Launa, the caravan stops him, even punch him in the stomach because it would mean certain death to dare interfere in the acts of a guardian of the empire. The guardian then slaps large shackles around her neck to prevent her from speaking and bind her from moving against its captor's wishes. Overcome by grief, Archer resigns and can only make an attempt to reach for her dead wife and unborn child, not realizing that she was dead long before Launa had laid her hands on her. Little did he realize, that this is what the real conspirators want.
At a distance, the ever-watchful eye of the Emperor looks over the entire episode and laughs while he sips on his wine glass. If this was the result he expects from those two, he would not have to further set her and Archer up in the first place. All this because they are up against what the Emperor really wants and being behind the scenes of both their uprising to later pull the stupidest thing imaginable to warrant his wrath: Their happiness. Launa's curse that made her into an immortal half-feline for her recklessness, longed for her freedom from loneliness, and has found that in Madsen, they fell into a forbidden love that gave them a son. This in turn gave her role as a guardian more meaning because she is now fighting for a world where her son can be safe.
Archer, after the death of his parents at such a young age by demons and cursed by that same demon. Dedicated his life to ridding the land of the scum of the underworld, at the cost of having a normal life, leaving him obsessed and contributing to such joyous occasions in his history, such as the great purge. Trained by a great hunter, he dedicated all of his life to fighting the demons that litter across the continent hoping to one day get his revenge at the one who killed his parents. But then, she came in, pulled him away from what could be a lifetime of chasing something that would destroy him. With time, perseverance and an insane amount of patience, she got through to him and made him a free man. In the mind of the emperor, these people have to go. It did not sit well with the one who is wholly responsible for their upbringing, then to have these cretins derail his best laid plans and wipe them out in one swift blow. Punishing Archer and disgracing Launa, all in his advantage for the ultimate goal.
Yep, that's the real story behind this pic. To learn more you can read up on the chapters of Trickster's Retribution in the Vianderverse Stories Gallery.
Update 2/17/15 - Updated story, thanks to input from
I like it.