So I present to you...
Blood Drains, The Heart Falters, Death Follows.
Enraged, adrenalin surged with explosive speed through Valdric's veins. Suddenly he was no longer afraid. His limbs felt powerful, his movements faster than ever before. His eyes saw each minute detail as if time was still and the present laid bare for his scrutiny; the black, hairless skin of the foul creatures rending his flesh, their teeth glistening with a pink-red hue of blood and saliva, some adorned with fleshy ribbons of skin and meat trailing from corners of biting mouths, the death banners of his fallen companions.
Hot fire sliced through Valdric's body from myriad places, accompanied with a dull rhythm of wet tearing sounds. Their weight was beginning to tell upon him, his footing gradually uneven, his balance questionable. He refused to yield. Spinning and spinning, his arm created a silver-red blur of death and mutilation. The shining blade cut deep into the dark-skinned foulness attacking him; limbs were hacked, bodies disembowelled, and still they attacked. Claw and fang against steel and muscle.
Somewhere distant the sound of yelling filtered through to his brain over the snarling, baying and yelping. More pain lanced his shoulder, incredibly heavy and immense. For a fleeting second he thought he would collapse under its intensity, then suddenly his left arm was free and felt no longer burdened. His rage flowed like a river of fire, his sword strikes telling upon his enemy... but that yelling? No. Not yelling... but calling?
Time slowed, and with it came a pause in the assault upon his body. A wall of dark, slavering, snarling faces gathered before him, wary of his blades. At his feet lay a charnel house visage of hacked torsos, limbs and entrails bathed in a black, glistening lake of blood.
Voices? Voices calling... him?
The light within the cave was fading. He turned to look, yet the lantern flames were full and dancing.
Tired. So very tired and cold.
Those voices... familiar, calling his name? His sword arm was aflame with fatigue. He should switch weapons. Yes, that would be best. Short sword in his right, long sword in his left.
Time became meaningless, as if ceasing to be.
His sword fell at his feet with a splatter of blood as he exchanged weapons.
Confused, he staggered slightly as he bent to pick up the sword. Only then, with stomach lurching horror he saw his left arm was no more, just a tatter of flesh and jagged bone above what was once his elbow.
Knees buckled and his stomach rebelled.
Laughing... these devils were laughing at him! Turning his watery gaze at the dark horde he screamed, "What are you laughing at!? You're nothing compared to me! Nothing!"
The dark figures began inching towards him once more, seemingly with great effort.
With a snarl, his right hand clutched the fallen sword and used it in an effort to stand.
This would be his last, that much he now knew. So tired. His limbs were becoming wooden. He tried to focus on his attackers.
The word tugged at him, urging him to turn and look. "No. Your fight is done."
Giving in to the voice, he turned.
The companions he saw slain stood together, smiling at him.
Valdric's eyes looked upon the bodies of Sera and Yarrow and the two empty vials of poison they had taken with which to end their lives, but there they stood, faintly glowing in the lantern light and urging him to join them? His emotions threatened to overwhelm him as his gaze moved once more to the body of his love, Sera.
The ghost aspect of Torvan spoke once more,"You've fought with honour, my brother, but it is time for us to move on."
Calm clarity enveloped Valdric as he realised his time had finally arrived.
"Will our bones ever be laid to rest?"
Torvan smiled gently at Valdric,"No, but it does not matter."
Wulfgard stroked his ghostly beard and chuckled warmly.
The sound eased Valdric's heart.
Sera moved forward, her gold-flecked eyes softly gazing at him, "Time is short, my love. Yarrow and I cannot hold these creatures back for much longer. Prepare yourself and join us once more, my brave, brave Valdric."
Sera held out a delicate hand to him.
"Where will we go?" asked Valdric, eyes moist with tears, a feeling of heaviness tugging at him, urging him to lay down.
"Many, many places, my friend," replied Torvan. "It is time. Are you ready?"
Valdric stared at Sera's body, then met the loving gaze of her spirit's pale, gold-flecked eyes, and nodded.
Torvan turned to Sera and Yarrow, "Release them."
A heartbeat before the wave of ebon-skinned, snarling forms pounced on Valdric and pulled him to the cave floor, Valdric's last mortal words left his mouth in a sigh, "It was never meant to end like this."
Copyright © 2011 ~ 2021 by Mark Kelly.