Micro Fiction: Ancestors Welcome
Branin - Small village outside of Masfort
Gormley rested his hand on the aging stone building and studied it as if the hairline cracks were some puzzle to be solved, a hidden meaning behind all the carnage left in the god's wake. The town was a complete mess, to put it nicely. Few souls had survived the plague, and those that did died horrible deaths at the hands of the infected. Gormley’s eyes flickered, and he turned to look back at the other soldiers who had followed him to this hellhole at the behest of the Council of Osterdale. He spoke in a low, gravely voice.
“Not what I expected to find. Usually, there’s something left, someone. I’m starting to worry that Masfort will not fair quite as well as we had initially thought. This is virulent in a way I’ve never seen. It moves with purpose through a community. It turns those that don’t die outright into the things we met on the road a few nights back. We need to hurry.”
The Gates of Masfort
The inky darkness sank into the marrow of Gormley’s bones as he looked towards the sky, Aith’na was fading far earlier than he had expected. A storm had already made their journey to Masfort that much more difficult, but now it was all going dark, and it would remain that way for an unknown amount of time. The Dread was making its glorious return. Explosions of thunder, like high waves of discordant and demented sounds rumbled over the hills. The noise level became so intense that it rattled the helmets of the soldiers and made each person tremble in fear. The winds howled and cried, acting as the last warning for Gormley and his men to turn around. A shame they didn’t.
By the time Gormley’s banner had reached the barricades outside of the city, night had already fallen. The darkness was thick and the torches they carried in high right hands hardly lit the paths, allowing them to see at most an arm’s reach in front of themselves. Someone broke an uncomfortable silence by the sounds of a scream and a struggle in the night. One of Gormley’s knights pulled a young woman from the darkness and pushed her to her knees in front of the captain. Her lip was mangled and her nose broken, dried blood covered her hands and face. Gormley kneeled and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“What happened here? They told us that a contingent of soldiers from Osterdale was manning this barricade, though the gates to the city are intact they have left the barricade abandoned. Where have they all gone?”
The woman’s broken face made it difficult for her to convey emotion; she whispered something that Gormley couldn’t quite hear. He leaned in, and she whispered once more. Pulling back, startled he looked the woman over. Her breathing slowed, and she glanced up at Gormley, her shattered features contorted into what once upon a time may have been a pretty smile. She convulsed and her body engorged itself, a wet tearing noise echoed out into the night as she exploded into a mist of armor melting poison. Gormley had just enough time to throw himself out of harm’s way, but two of his soldiers weren’t nearly as lucky. They screamed in agony as their flesh began to run and then drip away from their body like the way plastic melts, hanging in large fleshy drops. Gormley pulled himself to his feet, time blurred as stinking lurches of toxic fumes covered the area. The putrid waste made every breath a focused task, scarring his insides as he fell back to the rest of his Bannerman. It was a moment of abrupt and horrible violence; the woman looked nothing like the horrors they had seen on the road. The disease was adapting, making it easier for them to kill.
Gormley was met by a knight who grabbed his shoulder and helped to prop him up against one of the slanted barricades. He turned and vomited, his breathing still disrupted by the poisonous fumes. He barely had time to collect himself before the thundering sounds of footsteps rang out in the night. The things attacked with a frenzy the mercenaries had not seen since the great wars, horrifying in their silence they did not cry out in rage, and noiseless they allowed themselves to die to suffocate the mercenary’s defenses. A string of curses unraveled from his tongue as the creatures advanced. He called for a retreat, and his Bannerman followed him to another barricade as they lost three soldiers.
“Down to seven, keep count. These things aren’t going to get the best of us.”
One of the knights went to answer but was cut short as a thick spine lodged itself through his chest, a wet gurgle and a cry was all he could muster before being thrown back some fifteen feet away from the other Bannerman. Gormley pulled his weapon and shield to the front; this was something new. The creature was a bloated mass of flesh, teeth and other sharp bits all writhing in unison. He and his warriors took the monster to task and attacked, the swords cut through the creature but were greeted with showers of acidic blood that caused them to wretch and die after a few moments. Gormley tried to fend off a swing from its massive claws, but it caught his side, and it forced him to the ground. The shrieks of his dying men were muffled, all inaudible. All he could manage was to stare up from the frosty ground toward the stars. He prayed that his ancestors would welcome him and closed his eyes.
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