Monday, February 25, 2013

Ravens, pt. Five

Standing in the pale light of a hundred candles, bathed in their warm glow, was a man dressed in perhaps the strangest outfit Heinrich had seen since the Great Impact. Scuffed steel-toed boots beneath worn denim jeans was all framed by an oversized terrycloth bathrobe, the sleeves down well past the thin man’s hands. When they were visible, Heinrich could see the blue veins traced along his wrists and hands, his fingers ending in long sharpened fingernails, adorned with rings and a bright red nail polish.
The man himself, flanked by a half dozen walking dead in various states of decay, looked hardly better than his undead minions. Bedraggled and dirty, his greasy black hair fell limply about his shoulders, his whole body lean from starvation. Yet he stood proud and straight backed, a look of righteous cause dancing in his protuberant eyes. Dangling around his neck on a length of shoestring was a small shard of iridescent rock, no larger than a fingernail.
Wierdstone… Heinrich thought bitterly.
The remains of the meteor, shards that had broken off as it had entered the atmosphere, raining down upon the vast landscapes and into the deep oceans; Wierdstone was the source of many magicians powers, a seductive and intoxicating talisman that was as addictive as it was powerful.
The fact that the Necromancer that they were all facing had a small piece all to himself made Heinrich flinch inwardly.
“I see you survived my pets?” The Necromancer asked, his rich tone raspy now that it was in person and not over an intercom. Head tilted to the side, he locked eyes with each of Heinrich’s men, as well as himself, as if searching for something. “A shame that. Now I have to expend more energy dealing with you myself.”
His words were punctuated by a shiver from each of the walking dead flanking him, a shudder that passed through them as if electrocuted. As one they groaned, raising their arms, their eyes rolling in their heads as they focused on the banquet that was before them. Slowly, they began to shamble forward.
Heinrich’s men needed no orders, Michael bursting into action as he raised his claymore high, ready to strike down the first to come within reach. David moved beside him, spear held low to the ground, while Steven moved forward, both hands carrying a heavy ended weapon. Heinrich twirled his sickle nervously, backing up into a far more defensive stance than he would normally take.
His arm was broken, after all.
“What have you done with Samuel?” Heinrich demanded above the low groans of the advancing dead.
The Necromancer turned, looking over his shoulder as he walked deeper into the darkness of his abode. “You’ll see soon enough. After all, you all will be joining him shortly.”
His cryptic words hung in the air as his form melded into the darkness, replaced by even more shambling figures with slackened faces and grievous wounds. The entire stockroom, once lined with shelves, had been cleared away to allow for a large domicile for the hermetic dealer of the dead, with plenty of room for him to keep a stable of modified pets.
And what a stable he had!
Heinrich counted at least thirty shadowy forms lurking at the edges of the candlelight, hunched over with dead, gleaming eyes. Slowly, they advanced into the light, revealing wicked barbs and bolts welded and sewn into their bodies, creating horrible looking amalgamations of flesh, leather and steel. Several small cadavers, obviously once children, all had sharpened trowels in place of hands; beside them a bloated giant of a man had steak knives melted onto his fingertips, granting him six inch steel nails that clacked menacingly as he slouched forward.
“Back… back up!” Heinrich uttered, head swimming from the painkillers and the rush of adrenaline from the presented challenge. “Behind the shelves, create a funnel!”
David and Michael immediately moved back, Steven hot on their heels; Heinrich lingered a moment longer, to try and get an accurate count of the number of dead that they were going to be forced to fight.
A hopeless task, he decided after a moment, turning and racing back between the narrow gap between the shelves, past his men.
“Alright, we need a plan and we one now!” Heinrich growled, looking at the ashen faces of those around him. “David and Steven, you two stand at the choke point and hold them off, Michael and I will brace against the shelves so they don’t push them over and find a way to overrun us.”
“Right!” Steven grunted, tossing the heavy mace to David, who caught it midair, dropping his spear.
“Shouldn’t we just flee? I mean, there’s no way Sammy’s alive behind all of this.” David said with a hint of fear lacing his voice. “Your hurt pretty bad Heinrich, and this is a lot to deal with…”
“No. We have to kill the Necromancer; he can’t know we’re alive, or he might follow us back to the village.” Heinrich scooped up the spear with his foot, taking it with one hand and wedging it firmly against the floor and the left wall of shelves, hopefully adding a bit of resistance to them.
Just as he finished kicking the butt of the spear into place the shelves began to shake, the moans growing louder as the walking dead on the other side began to pound away, scratching at the polished wood and metal in hopes of reaching the other side. Steven swung through the narrow gap, his cudgel cracking the skull of a lumbering old man with sagging skin. David swung his mace over the falling corpse, crushing the shoulder of a fresher looking corpse dressed in a tattered cheerleaders uniform.
Groaning, she lashed out with her one good arm, latching onto David’s wrist and yanking him closer, leaning in as if to give him a gentle kiss. He responded by punching her in the side of the head before kicking the front of her right knee, a loud snap followed by her sudden drop to the ground, black blood oozing from her eye as she twitched, a low groan leaving her ragged throat as she reached for Steven’s legs.
Steven merely stomped on her head as he swung his cudgel into the belly of an obese, one armed zombie that was trampling over his allies wantonly in hopes of a fresh taste of blood and meat. He staggered for a mere moment, more from the impact than the actual pain the strike should have caused, but was summarily pushed forward by the pressing horde behind him. A second strike, this one to his throat, dropped him to the floor, his body limp but his head still snarling and gnashing his teeth.
A small mound was beginning to form, forcing the hungry dead to climb up and over their fallen to reach David or Steven. Both swung in rhythm, cracking skulls and crushing bones, kicking away the bodies as they rolled down, where Michael and Heinrich waited to stomp the crippled zombies heads in.
Heinrich wiped at his brow as he watched Steven clobber a small boy in the hip, following through with the blow to toss him a few feet aside towards Michael. He could see the strain that Steven was under, his labored breath and soaked through shirt.
They couldn’t keep this up.

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