Monday, November 12, 2012

A Warrior's Tale, Part Three

The following days were even more surreal for James as he was touted about the underground complex like some sort of prophet. Whenever he would encounter any of the grey robed cultists, they would bow and scrape, pleading for tasks they could perform to please him. He’d had to give a standing order that he didn’t need any female companionship during the night, as he’d discovered two separate cultists offering themselves up to him over the course of three days. When he asked the disfigured priest (whose names turned out to be the Marred One), he’d only received a wide smile in response.
“You are now the acting voice for our God, by your actions he does speak to us, telling us what to do.” He’d explained with a tone of reverence. “You were able to slay those Chosen by the Horned One, thus marking you as his conduit for which we are to test his will through.”
“And by that you mean?” James had asked, once again over a small meal in the strange kitchen/dining area the cult had.
“The Horned One’s power is being channeled through captured men and women, through wolves and boar. The longer they are left with the energy, the more dangerous they become. Every New Moon, you will bear arms against the Horned One’s Chosen, testing their strength against the mettle of a true warrior. Those that are slain will only add to you and your personal power, while the ones that prove string enough to slay you shall send you on to live with the Horned One, blessed for all the work you had done in his name and honor.”
“Uh, right. Thank you Marred One.” James said, not really knowing how to respond to such a statement. I have to kill every month to stay alive? Well, that’s not terribly new to me but still! James thought bitterly as he strode through the carved halls of stone, the faint echo of his footfalls dancing about him and announcing his presence to any and all the lived within the Temple proper during the time when there wasn’t a fight.
Namely the undead.
Marred One and Spicer were pretty much the only ones willing to talk to him, among the intelligent staff to be shambling through the halls. Great long stone hallways, with walls that tilted and jutted at various points so as to successfully cause vertigo should you move towards them, dotted the honeycomb of entombed tunnels, broken up only by small living quarters where a few cultists would stay for a few days and nights.
The dead freely roamed the halls by night, when no living man nor woman would willingly walk about save for James. He’d learned early on the walking blight had no interest in him…
James had been walking down a corridor he’d come to call the Hall of Lord Marrow, due to the fact the walls, floor and ceiling were comprised of interlocking and mortared human bones, skulls with glowing phosphorescent fungi under the heel of your boot while arms dangled from the ceiling holding oil fueled lanterns. Pushing past a shambling corpse bereft of any eyes or a tongue, a young cultist had come rushing around the corner, James’s title upon his lips as he held a sealed scroll out to him.
He was never able to hand it off, as the very bones lining the hall had come alive, lashing out from the walls to slash and grab at him, skeletal arms wielding femurs as clubs or ribs like daggers, while the floor began cackling as his blood spilled down upon the dusty skulls, their teeth clattering as if they savored the taste of the screaming man’s death. James would have moved to help, if only to end the man’s life out of an act of mercy, but the shambling corpse was faster; with a lunge that belied its advanced state of decay, dirty fingernails raked across the cultists robes, ripping them open for the gap-toothed maw of the undead to sink it’s teeth into the fresh pink flesh hidden below.
What worried James the most was that the screams of the cultist, while truly screams of pain, were also cries of jubilation.
“T-take me Horned One! I o-offer myself to yo-urk!” He’d been crying as the very hall bludgeoned and tore at him, as a felsh-eating ghoul finally silenced him by tearing out his chest via the rib cage, splattering organs and splintered bones all over the floor while holding the sternum and intact ribs high above its head, drinking from the blood pouring from the bloody frame.
That memory, besides his one night in the arena, is what kept him up at night. Especially as the notice that the poor cultist had been carrying was merely a formality.
James would be fighting in three days’ time, for the glory of the Horned One. 

Authors Note: Thought I'd forgotten about this little gem, eh? Well think again kiddies, as this story has only begun! Wonder what James will be facing in three days time, and how in the world he plans on making his escape. The merchant is still alive at the very least, so at least James's resume won't have a blemish on it for being a poor bodyguard.
Just one that takes his time in doing the guarding!

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