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Excerpt from Book 2

Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:35 pm
by Wraithwriter
Ai’s dreams progressed along their forced course through her memories, glossing over much of the events of the days following the escape. Whatever guided the rifling did stop to view tragic events which transpired only two days later at the Slum Districts gates.

For two days Brother Alfons kept Sister Annushka, Ai, and the other girls hidden in the abandoned building he’d found. The monk only left to find food and clean water for his charges, partaking of none himself. In that same time the Brother did what he could for Ai’s and the Sister’s injures, but he and Annushka agreed that his rudimentary skills would not suffice. So, with the dawning of the second day, Brother Alfons ushered them through the quiet, run down streets of the Slums.

The Brother paused at every street crossing and alley to throw menacing glares into the shadows. He’d then motion for the girls to move ahead of him with Sister Annushka and Ai staggering along with the assistance of others before following up the rear after ensuring no one followed. He repeated the entire process at every crossing slowly guiding his staggering charges toward the Carthis proper gates.

The hushed mutterings of thwarted slum denizens became such a familiar accompaniment, if not a comforting one, that when they ceiced Ai exhustedly looked up from the worn cobblestones. They’d entered an area close to the Carthis Slums’ gates and the charred remains of over turned carts and wagons littered the street running the length of the wall. Smoke still rose from the smoldering ruins of buildings set ablaze during the riots two nights passed, and that would have been all she’d seen if not for one of the others crying out in horror and pointing up at the wall.

Bloody, mutilated corpses hung form the walls. Most dangled at the ends of ropes and the dark stains on the walls were a testament of there status when they’d been thrown from the walls, while others were pinned in place by long iron spikes driven through flesh and stone. High on the wall crows called back and forth as they shared the morbid bounty provided them.

The sound of retching gave Ai an accuse to tear her wide horrified eyes from the scene on the wall. One of the girls assigned to assist her was bent over losing what little food Brother Alfons had scrapped together, at the sight her own already rolling gut rebelled. Quickly turning her head, she saw that the Brother had stopped to study the corpses on the wall, in fact the entire group had stopped to stare.

“Dragon Watch, all of them,” Ai heard him whisper before his face grew grim and his eyes hardened. Then he quickly sprinted to the front to start turning the leaders around, but as he did the hanging corspes began to wail.

Ai threw her hands over her ears to block out the unnatural sound and when she felt the hands helping to support her weight depart, she knew that the others did the same. Soon her throat began to hurt and she relized that she was screaming herself but she was unable to stop. Suddenly the wails cut off leaving the others and herself making the only sound on the street. Gradualy she stopped screaming, taking deep gasping breaths that irritated her raw throat and looked toward the wall; what she beheld made her wish she had not looked.

The pinned corpses had torn their hands and feet from the wall and were working at removing the spikes from their chests. As she watched one of them succeed and crumpled to the cobbles a foot below, the thing remained there briefly before standing to brandish the spike as a weapon. Others dropped and repeated the process till ten began advancing.

“The Misstress demands obedience,” spoke the corpses with one droning voice. “Even Death can not dismiss Her command. Renounce thy ties with the weak godling Carthis and serve She whose wrath is boundless.”

Ai lay unable to take her eyes from the advancing horror. As part of her religious studies at the orphanage the existence of undead were only briefly touched upon, and that only in a discussion of Churches teachings. Even so, the very knowledge that such abominations existed was enough to fill her with nightmares of undead outbreaks. Now here she was, witnessing her nightmares come to life, and like in those nightmares she felt a paralyzing fear that twisted her stomach.

Screaming broke out around her as most of the others ran back into the alleys in a panic, still others, like herself, were forzen in place too afraid to even voice their horror. Worst of all were the girls that tore at their eyes driven mad by the unholy sight. Then a wave of calm washed over her, and Ai turned toward where Brother Alfons stood supporting Sister Annushka.

“That is all I can do,” Annushka announced wearily. “I never really mastered the art of channeling divine energies.”

“You did well,” Alfons responded as he gently lowered the Sister to the cobbles. Ai then watched as the Brother’s face became grim and he turned toward the oncoming threats. “Get who’s left away, hide the best you can.” Bowing his head momentarily he then charged into the fray.

“Dinara,” Annushka called weakly out to the eldest girl left, “Help me to my feet. Karina, help Ai. We need to flee.”

Bright blue light flashed causing Ai and the others to turn toward where Alfons had gone. The Bother danced among the undead abominations, every strike with fist or foot flared with blue light. Most of the things converged on the Brother, but three continued to slowly move toward them.

“Girls!” came Annushka’s voice breaking Ai out of her panic induced trance. Get moving! Don’t let the Brother’s sacrifice be for nothing!”

As quickly as they could the two uninjured girls assisted her and the Sister back into the alley they’d exited earlier. This time there were no lurkers in the shadows, even the criminal element of the Slums knew when it was best to flee. They’d crossed three intersections when the feeling of peace left her.

“Sister!” Ai heard Dinara cry and when she looked Annushka had fainted.