The Deadliest Dead.
By Walter Attridge
There is a sea in the southwest of Arda One that once, long ago could be spied from the southern archipelagos and island chains on the clearest and brightest days of the year. A black sea covered in black clouds. The black sea was an intersection of several powerful ocean currents and as they washed over each other and crashed together they kicked up all the billions of tons of sediment that lay on the ocean floor. That combined with underwater volcanoes had turned the water black as pitch. Opposing currents kept the pollution from running off.
Upon that sea is an island an island draped in darkness from the thick black storm clouds hovering perpetually above. The island was spawned from one of those particularly active volcanoes, making the surface mostly jagged being composed of black volcanic glass and without sunlight from above, devoid of any plant life more advanced than mosses and fungi. Upon that desolate island of broken glass a castle stands.
The castle rests upon a rock precipice jutting from a small mountain at the center of the island. Originally it consisted of a thick high wall with four corners each with a high century tower. An open inner court and a powerful stone keep and hall connected to a vast cathedral with a massive spire at its center. Over the centuries the owner of the castle has in his boredom continued to build upon the original design until a dozen or more spires have grown up around the center like a forest of spears. Some spires have buildings attached then as though they were tumorous masses growing from the inside out. At other places various bridges, some cunningly built and strong and others no more than broken planks and rotting ropes, crisscross the spires like a spiders web. The owner, when he had grown old and wicked, had impressed his peers scattered among the world and the infinite reaches of the multiverse. So they choose to reward him with both the island and the castle. An unassailable fortress and an island cast forever in darkness so its new master need never fear the hated sun.
Inside the castle was an accumulation of art and wealth and other various plunder horded by the lord and haphazardly displayed across every hall and passage way. The lord of the castle Karness was, to put it mildly, greedy frivolous and inattentive and often just as some new tapestry or painting was randomly hung it was just as easily forgotten and left to rot. It would have taken tens of thousands of slaves working themselves to death day and night to maintain the castle and Karness hated humans or indeed any living creature and would only abide a few servants that he could torment. So as the years passed into decades, into centuries the structure rotted as well. But always according to Karness' will the best example being the holes in the ceiling where on those rare clear nights the master could look up at the moon.
One night, on the darkest, longest night of the year, a group of dead men sat frightened in their fortress, and lamented the end of their world. Each more treacherous than the last, they would have been enemies before the cataclysm and every one of them harbored plots against the other. But they were lost and alone, even worse than that they had been rendered irrelevant by their new enemy.
Each member of the council had cause to hate and fear their new enemy but it was strangely enough Karness that was most disturbed by them. This new enemy was in truth nothing more than a zombie horde that had risen up in the years following the fall of the dark lord and the great cataclysm, the event that caused all the worlds volcanoes to erupt at once and spilled billions of tons of ash and dirt into the upper atmosphere poisoning the world. Each of the council had knowledge of zombies and knew them to be the lowest of undead. But these creatures differed in small but important ways. They spread like a disease rather than a spell every human who died regardless of the method excepting when the brain was destroyed, rose again. The bites and scratches of these creatures was universally lethal and they had a single minded hunger for human flesh. Worst of all these new zombies were utterly immune to necromancy. There was no spell no matter how powerful that could control them or turn them or drive them back into thw grave. In the early years of the cataclysm that had been what had destroyed the majority of necromancers and Liches, powerful undead necromancers and the strongest breed of undead. Despite their power they all sought to control the ravening horde rather than act for the greater good and they were all destroyed for their arrogance
Their council that night was a horror to behold. They sat in one of the audience halls around a table of black glass there were a few servants moving about gathering up piles of refuse and cleaning as best they could. These were mostly borrowed help from the other guests, the ones who deigned to surround themselves with humans at all.. They moved about silently all used to serving masters with whom they shared no kinship and who treated them as soulless automations as a way of forgetting what the masters had lost or given away.
Each was a great lord of their particular species, holdovers from a different age. One in which the term undead was a blanket under which dozens of different monsters hid. Now the world had changed, suffered some cataclysmic shift. Much of its magic was dead or fading and a new horror stalked not just the shadows but even the bright corners of the world with impunity. This new threat was insatiable and it had swept over the powers of Arda like a tidal force and in the inevitable chaos the old dark orders fell away along with the forces of light. This new enemy knew no alliance or loyalty and it preyed on the powerful and wicked along with the humble and good. Now some of the last of the great evils had gathered here to try and plot their future.
Leaning against a pitted bronze statue of an impossibly well developed male hero in urban clothing was Hassan the crime lord of Valen. He had ruled vice and corruption in his city as a living man known for capricious whims and savage brutality. When betrayed and killed he rose again as a vengeful ghost, his foul spirit tied to the statue he had commissioned portraying him as a great hero. This statue was the ultimate symbol of his vanity and pride and became his material focus on the earth.
Moving about the hall following a haggard serving girl was Salacia. In life he was a killer. Not for hire like a mercenary or assassin but just for his own pleasure. Moving from town to village to city the man worked as a mediocre carpenter by day and stalked and murdered women by night. Always careful to avoid capture or even suspicion. He lived small and mean and only preyed on prostitutes or women that could easily be lost. He was now a mass of slithering rotting entrails that hung in the chest cavity of a bare skeleton. Tendrils of entrails entwined along his arms and up through the jaw of the skull each ending in a barbed mouth.
Deep in the shadows seated upon Karness’ own throne was an armored figure draped in once rich robes now given over to rot and decay. Its enormous claymore was propped up before it the point driven into the lowest step of the dais and the warrior was resting its huge arms on the cross guard. Its helmet was laying near its feet and from the pitch black shadows its eyes shone like orange suns wavering and burning but giving off no light.
From the shadows the Death Knight Lord Victus’ ruined, facial muscles contorted into a sardonic smile. Most of the flesh was already rotted away especially around the eyes but there was enough to make out what was once a remarkably handsome face. A face that had won the trust of lords and peasants and had inspired thousands of armies across hundreds of years. Using sorcery and tricks learned from the Dark lord he had lived dozens of lives always infiltrating the forces of the light and always finding a way to betray them. At last he faced an enemy that was not fooled by his lies and charisma. A young ranger who would one day be king saw through the false knights glammer and exposed him for what he truly was. The dark lord punished Victus by giving him a form that would forever draw only hatred and fear.
Their host, count Karness was an ancient vampire who had existed for a millennium feeding upon humanity. He was so old that the agelessness of his foul breed had since given way to a wizened and feral aspect: He seemed at once old and shriveled and also bestial his once human features distorted into that of a bat with a flat nose, pointed ears, and close fangs so long they jutted from his mouth even when it was closed. He was the most pensive of the gathered lords pacing back and forth in front of a huge ornately carved stone fireplace that depicted the fall of one of the vampire’s greatest enemies the vampire hunter Richthofen. He was by right of age and power the de-facto leader of this council. Besides his considerable powers as a vampire elder he was also well versed in the necromantic arts, the power over the undead and Karness was perhaps the last being on the planet with access to those secrets. over the years he had bullied the other members of this strange court with those secrets. But now fear gripped his black and withered heart. He wrung his hands and unconsciously fingered the medallion hanging heavily from around his neck. Both Lord Victus and Hassan could see it as well, the deep blue aura that surrounded the vampire lord, but it was only Victus that knew there was little use that particular trick would serve once the negotiations began.
“please sit my lord” Victus called out his voice hollow and booming seeming to come from all dark corners rather than from the armored form. “I will even return the use of your throne” that last dig was meant to rile the old villain up, if for no other reason than to break the melancholy in the room. But the vampire only shook his hand absently and continued to pace.
Appearing suddenly next to the fire place Hassan approached his face a static image “yes Karness it is unseemly for one such as you to behave like some fretting old woman. We are finally getting what we want after almost a century.” the vampire stopped and turned regarding the ghost like it was an errant impulsive servant. Normally there was nothing that could touch a ghost unless it chose to manifest itself and even then it required the strongest magic. But the vampire reached out and grabbed the apparition by the throat as if it was just another human. The blue aura around Karness began to pulsate and arcs of blue lightening erupted from the ghost. Victus simply sat and watched the inevitable breakdown of their council with a resigned indifference.
“You dare to speak to me in such a manner” the vampire hissed pulling the writhing silent form closer “I decide when we have accomplished our goals” Salacia stepped from the shadows then perhaps hoping to reason with the count to wrangle this motley crew into something resembling an ordered, united front but the vampire turned its attention to the mohrg and it wisely stopped and assumed a pose of supplication. “any of you that approach me again without my leave will find yourselves taking up residence in your long empty cells in the deepest pits of hell.” that last was directed towards Lord Victus who after Karness was the strongest in the room. The death knight made no motion or sound it simply sat and let the threat hang. Karness, who was looking even more desperate and panicked choose to take that as submission and released Hassan and continued his pacing.
Victus continued to watch now becoming somewhat more reassured at how the night would go. They had all gathered this night not only to discuss their own futures but to make alliance with their enemy. These new undead were not made up of an entirely mindless shambling horde. There was another type. The humans called them thinkers a crude but apt name. They possessed all the mental faculties they possessed in life as well as a remarkable resiliency to physical damage and were possessed of a berserk ferocity as they hunted their food of choice, human brains. They were rare and had up until now shown very little in the way of social order mostly being nomads and vagrants moving from meal to meal but they had from the beginning shown a remarkable talent, the ability to control the shambling hordes of their lesser brethren. The control varied from thinker to thinker but it was a control that even the greatest necromancers and Liches had lusted after.
Victus had made contact with a thinker who had other ideas and after some time convincing the paranoid Karness the death knight had arranged a parley. The terms were simple Victus would transport one thinker to the island and they would all sit and negotiate. Karness insisted the zombie understand its place and that they would not be equals. But that when the horde was under the vampire Lord's control and the humans and dwarves finally conquered there would be proper consideration to the thinkers need to feed. Victus considered at the time trying to counsel another tact but knowing Karness' mind the way he did the death knight thought better and worked to set up the meeting.
“It is almost time my lord” Victus called out rising from the throne. It was past time in fact for the death knight to bring the ambassador but Karness had not given the order yet. The vampire turned and stared daggers at the warrior. Then he turned and began to stare into the fire clutching the medallion so tight it would even hurt the vampires hand. Victus worried that the Karness' fear was now unmanning him that he would relent from the meeting rather than face his enemy. Perhaps the old man's fear and paranoia had become so complete it had come around to a sort of wisdom. Finally the Lord's shoulders slumped and he let out a pained sigh.
“Yes... its time bring the creature. I, I want my army” the vampire proclaimed trying to sound brave. Without another word lord Victus stepped back into a deep shadow and was gone. Silence reigned in the meeting room except for a brief shout and then a tittering laugh as Salacia finally killed the serving girl he had been stalking. Neither of the other lords took even the slightest notice. Twenty or so minutes later the large double doors of the hall opened and Lord Victus stepped through behind him was a smaller much more humble shape still hidden in the shadows.
“May I present our guest for the evening master timothy formerly of the village of trees end.” Victus called out half mocking half trying to announce the ambassador. What passed through the doors was about as plain and unassuming a boy as any of the lords had ever seen. He was of course dead and had been probably for years though this kind of zombie decomposed slowly. His face and body, even under his plain filthy farmers wools bore the signs of starvation and disease. The skin was tin and drawn tight to the bone with several blackened ulcers, his nose and lips had been worn away exposing cracked and yellowed teeth. In all ways he looked no different than most of the mindless walking dead now roaming the world. All except for his eyes. They were inflamed swollen and yellowed but they were aglow with intelligence and barely contained fury. Even now the thing was gripped by a terrible ever constant pain that drove it to feed gluttonously. For a moment it spied one of the still living servants and almost jerked forward to attack but took a breath and returned its focus to the vampire lord in whose house he was an invited guest.. Timothy as he had been named stepped into the light and dropped to one knee head down.
“Hail Karness Lord of night, master of blood and true heir to the Dark Lord” he cried his voice strong and confident. Karness turned at last from the fire and stared for a long moment, still clutching his medallion and then bade the boy approach with a dismissive wave of his hand. Meekly Timothy looked up to the now helmeted death knight who nodded in approval. Only then did the zombie rise and walk forward.
“that is enough peasant” Karness ordered when they were fifty feet apart and the boy relented. Standing meekly head down. “Know you that I am unaccustomed to parley with so low a creature as yourself and that this is perhaps the greatest honor you will ever know in your existence. I will not bandy words with one so beneath my station I require only answers of you is that clear!” the vampire began to stand more confidently seeing timothy's obvious meekness and his grip relaxed on the medallion
“yes my lord” the zombie replied head down.
“Do you come as an emissary or are you the one who will deliver my army”
“My mistress has your army in her care and awaits your call to arms” that made the vampire smile a little seeing his final victory so close
“Is your 'mistress' one of your... kind or is she some higher creature”
“She is like me my lord and so knowing her place choose to give herself over to you.” Karness visibly relaxed and began to let go of the medallion. Victus could still see the blue field around the vampire's body strong as ever. Holding the medallion was never a prerequisite for its protection, it warded against contact with other undead and was more potent around zombies vaporizing any zombie that touched the wearer. The obvious flaw in Karness plan was not lost on Lord Victus
“That is good I like your manner boy so tell me I would learn more of your kind they say that you have all you memories from life. Tell me of yourself.” there were also tales that the thinkers were greatly pained by memories of their former lives. Most of them had not been cannibalistic madmen in their former lives and so were somewhat conflicted with their new hunger. This didn't stop them they were just conflicted. To ask showed the vampires sadism starting to come through and that meant he was becoming very relaxed and well with himself. The boy swallowed
“I was born a peasant in a tiny village near the northern borders where the ash snows are worst. Food was scarce but we managed to survive with dwarven supplies and luck. Then we were set upon by raiders from the lake villages and were left with nothing to survive the coming winters. My village starved and I died, then rose as I am now.”
“did your family and everyone you knew die as well” the vampire asked smiling.
“Not... immediately” the hesitation was not forced or contrived Victus noticed. As he began to peer into the shadows around the castle waiting...
“so you rose first and fed on them did you, tell me boy who was first” the boy was silent for a moment, Salacia was now visible again and though its exposed bare skull had no expression there was no denying he was enjoying the tale.
“My sister she was a babe in swaddling and easy to get to. After my parents found me there was a panic and my father tied me up but not before I managed to bite him. They tried to keep me secret but soon the town was up in arms and trying to have me brought out and burned. Soon enough by the time the villagers forced the door, my family was not human. There was a panic after that and I escaped in the chaos, and found my mistress.”
“I no longer want to hear of a mistress I am your master now and you are both my slaves.” the vampire commanded “Now answer my last question. Why has this whore not presented herself for my approval if she truly serves me then she should have come not sent a half wit farmer to tell me amusing tales.” when timothy didn't answer right away Karness grew annoyed “Well boy what say you, you were very eloquent a moment ago...” as he trailed off there came the ringing of multiple bells from all over the complex. The pealing of them like a discordant hymn reverberating through the castle.
After that everything seemed to happen at once.
A human guard rushed into the meeting hall. He was helmet less and bleeding from a bite to his cheek.
“Masters” he choked out “all over the castle there are hundreds, hundreds of th-” he was cut off as a great cacophony rose over the ringing of the bells at first it was indistinct and then it coalesced into one enormous word like a battle cry
“BRAAAAIIIIINNNSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!” Even Victus who had helped arrange this particular betrayal was taken aback that so many had been gathered and that there were even so many thinkers in all the world.
Karness and timothy both moved at once, but not with the same intent. The vampire stepped back clutching his medallion and letting out a frightened hiss. Timothy broke into a full sprint right at the vampire his arms up and crossed to protect himself and his face turned.
Even with a vampire's speed and grace at that range all Karness could think to do was to raise his free hand and let loose a squamous blast of arcane energy. An uncivilized frightened reactionary move but the blast had terrible power behind it. It hit with a sound like a thunderclap drowning out the screams from outside, and the shock wave rocked the entire chamber. The fireplace they were standing near was blown apart, scattering piles of magically ignited fuel everywhere and sending up billowing clouds of ash and soot. The floor shuddered and the roof was near collapse several beams creaked and fell scattering guano and dirt.
Still clutching the medallion Karness frantically swiped at the clouds. Looking in all directions. Something moved silently before him and before the vampire could turn and fire again Timothy was already on him the blast had done its work both arms were gone up to the forearm on the right and the elbow on the left all that was left were protruding jagged bones extending each a foot long on both arms, his face was gone along with his jaw, eyes ans half his skull but the rest of the body was intact if badly burned. The sound it made as it rushed and jumped onto the vampires was nothing less than an animal scream gurgling from its neck hole.
The thinker slammed into Karness jumping at the last second driving both knees into his stomach. The right arm bone plunged into Karness chest right at the heart and the jagged point found its mark, the left bone drove into the vampires neck between the artery and the trachea. Timothy, still screaming incoherently, furiously drove the left bone into the vampires throat and face again and again hitting him three time before they had even fallen back pulling the thinker on top of him. The right bone was still lodged in the lords chest steadily pushing deeper driving right through the heart. Karness was still gripping the medallion
After a few more seconds the vampires face and neck were a ruin, one eye was gone his jaw torn loose, half of his brain was exposed, and the neck had been almost completely hacked through only hanging on by a few scraps of muscle and the spine. The Lords survival instincts finally cut through the pain and with his right hand he reached up catching what was left of timothy's arm and tearing it away along with the shoulder and a sizable chunk of the thinkers chest. Karness let go of the useless medallion and driving the free arm down broke away the arm bone in his chest though he failed to dislodge the makeshift “stake”. Lastly the vampire vomited forth a gout of blood that combined with his own arcane power ignited on contact with air and hit timothy full in the chest. The force of it threw the zombie into the air and back thirty feet. The other arm was gone as well as the remainder of the chest leaving its upper body only a melted burned skull and a spine with a few scattered bones jutting carelessly from the framework. Its legs were beating furiously and the body was trying to turn itself over and find a way to its feet. But the vampire was not interested in continuing the fight
Karness was crawling in the other direction wailing from the pain and damage that had been inflicted. Already there were signs he was beginning to heal but the damage was still too great and the poisoned infected bone lodged in his heart was taking its toll. His mouth, or what was left of it was working furiously trying to work out some spell or incantation, but the jaw was still only hanging by a few pieces of flesh and he was choking on his own blood.
As he crawled his hand found a foot, a large boot belonging to an armored warrior that until only a few momenta ago he had trusted implicitly. The death knight without preamble or speech stomped on the beseeching hand and with his claymore cleaved what was left of the vampires neck. The body, he threw into a pile of flames and it ignited like it was soaked in pitch. For a moment he looked into the vampires blank rolled back eyes and then threw that in as well. Arrogant fool The death knight thought Still clinging to the old ways too proud and vain to admit that you fought a superior enemy. In his mind the knight had weighed the pluses and minuses and after meeting Timothy's mistress he knew what the winning side was and moved first to secure his place.
In the meeting hall the thinkers had already gotten through the door and were killing what was left of the servants there. Salacia had stood and fought swinging its tentacles and beheading several of his attackers but they had all managed to surround and overwhelm the mohrg they then began leisurely crushing his skeleton and pulverizing the entrails that made up its body and intelligence.
All that was left was Hassan and he was well suited to this type of enemy. Being intangible none of the zombies could touch him.Bolts of lightening and frost erupted from the ghost but had little effect on the creatures lacking the power to incinerate them or freeze them to shattering.
Just then a battered trumpet blared and the gathered zombies stopped and with an odd sort of military precision assembled at the entrance to the meeting hall. Stepping over the battered doors first was a headless horror, even to the death knight. The creature was impossibly long limbed and tall moving in on its hands and feet in a grotesque spider walk the neck was freakishly long the esophagus jutting from the neck like a monstrous tongue. It seemed genderless with huge portions of flesh missing or rotted so badly so as to be unrecognizable. It seemed to snuffle around as it moved searching for food.
The thinker that entered was obviously a female but stood out from the crowd for her outlandish and lascivious appearance. Her flesh was pale but untouched by rot and she showed that fact off through her tattered vestments, torn in strategic points to allow a view of her breasts , belly and thighs. This one was Black Alice a lieutenant to the mistress, recognized by Victus because of her odd piercings, expertly crafted and anchored to her flesh. She possessed spikes all along her forearms, and shoulders with smaller spike along her face and breasts. Scarified tattoos marked her back and legs and she walked as though trying to show herself off to all assembled.
The last to enter was clothed in simple looking leather armor, expertly crafted marking her as an adventurer. She looked to be of middle years but was fit and well proportioned with a fighters grace and poise. A mop of simple black dirty hair hung in a loose ponytail tied with simple cord. the skin around her face was a pale and drawn white with the flesh around the cheeks, nose and lips already shriveled and black but not yet fallen away so that with a little effort she could be made to look human. What was different about her was her right hand and left eye. The original eye had been removed or lost and in its lace was an orb far too large that it swelled from the socket and bulged out of her temple It was yellow and red with an orange iris spinning of its own volition, always turning and staring at different points. Lastly her original right arm had been removed below the elbow and replaced with a man's arm, muscular and clawed. The hand was also yellow with flaking dried skin and had several metallic objects implanted in the forearm. As Victus stared at it the hand seemed to occasionally glow blue and pulsate.
The death knight knew this hand and eye and it was the source of her great power. He also suspected the true intelligence at work within this simple looking woman. The hand and eye were once the property of the Lich lord Vecna a former Dark Lord and practically a god in its own right. The actual Vecna had been destroyed centuries ago but His hand and eye remained as potent sources of arcane power. But those who had the courage to take possession of these weapons also became the thralls of Vecna's incorporeal spirit. He saw that now as he watched the mistress he thought he could sense the presence of the Lich in this unassuming dead girl. He was of course very wrong...
Though for now this was the “mistress” though she never called herself that her name was simply Kaye a peasants name without title or household. Victus made to intercept her and make his greetings, but she ignored him, ignored her entourage and headed to the ruined form of timothy still smoldering on the cold stone.
"My poor timothy" she said and touched the ruined skull. At her touch the blind deaf thing stirred and the spine and skull moved to push against her hand like a cat nuzzling it master. While it nuzzled she reached out with the right hand and grasped the skull. All at once a dozen tiny sparking bright red flames erupted all over timothy's body. Where the flames burned the bone or tissue was consumed and reduced to white ash. Soon his body was a bright angry red blaze and even sooner there was nothing but an outline of that same powdery white ash. "Thank you my friend” she said solemnly. Victus being oblivious to the genuine emotion of the moment and how it showed the flaw in his theory stepped up to the thinker.
"Well spoken my lady" he said trying to get her attention. As she turned to him and rose she had to almost look straight up up to look him in the face. "Inspiring words are the beginning of securing loyalty. But as I will instruct you. fear and demonstrations of power are the key to keeping it.” She considered his words and then moved towards the statue and the long ignored ghost who was trying to seem inconspicuous. At the sight of her Hassan stopped and fell to its knees.
“Please” The ghost pleaded I can serve you I can be of use I-” before he could finish Kaye lifted her right hand and the statue was hurled through the roof and flung out to see. The ghost screamed realizing what was about to happen and then began to pull, frantically trying to grab for any purchase even as his shade was pulled away to a watery prison.
“Displays such as that lord Victus?” she turned and said a smile on her blackened lips. The death knight was not pleased by the way she said that. But he also needed her I've already tied my horse to her wagon as it was said in the trenches and he had no intention of missing out on the resurrection of Vecna. Somewhat disturbingly just as he thought of that he realized that the other thinkers had taken a healthy distance from the two of them.
“Are you truly so arrogant” she began and the death knight began to power up an attack he had held in reserve for just this sort of eventuality “that you believe that the only way I or my kind could rise is with your help and the help of a spirit long made impotent with isolation. Vecna is in here but just as a gibbering senile old man I have conquered him and his knowledge and powers serves me. And very soon I will have one of my own kind that will be more than enough of a replacement for y-”
Before she could finish the death knight struck out with his right hand unleashing a fireball more than capable of vaporizing this upstart corpse and all her brethren in one blast. His kind could only do such a thing rarely but it seemed appropriate given just how badly todays events had transpired. The blast struck and the flames began to expand blossoming into a maelstrom of heat and pressure. And then it shrunk and condensed and became a tiny corona of swirling heat and gas in the palm of Kaye's right hand. Time froze as Victus pulled off his sword and was already into a swing meant to cleave her in two. The death knight simply stopped in mid swing helpless. The girl stared at the tiny blossom in her hand and the death knight knew it was his time to be swept away with all the rest of its kind. The new queen of the dead lifted her upturned palm and tilted it and the explosion became a shaft of pure energy that punched through Victus' sword arm and chest through his back through the back wall into the island and into the ocean.
Lord Victus fell to his knees the claymore clattered useless to the ground along with his helmet. There was no pain only an odd emptiness as though a vital connection had been severed. There were limits, even for a creature as powerful as lord Victus and he knew that he had just been pushed far beyond those limits and he supposed that he was dying. Though it was a contradiction in terms there was no other way to describe that ebbing broken loss. The queen of the dead sauntered over to him as he swayed on the blackened filthy floor. Behind her that long limbed headless thing was at her heels its esophagus lolling out. The others were starting to gather behind her as well.
“Do you know what we are” Kaye said squatting down and lifting his face to hers “do you know why this happened to us” her original eye was inflamed and yellow with sickness the same sickness that killed and reanimated her, sick with rage and pain, for the first time since being resurrected and given his awesome powers Lord Victus felt fear.
“no...” he whispered. It was almost a plea. Behind the queen a dozen or more of the same kinds of faces were gathered behind they were all looking down.
“that is why you are useless to me.” And with that he was destroyed, the negative energy that sustained his being was ripped away and his bones fell clattering to the floor covered in rusting pitted armor. The castle began to shudder finally feeling the effects of its masters death. Kaye looked about and shook her head then called out in a voice that reached all her “children” on the island
“Come to me... don't leave me alone in the night with my pain and I will never leave you.” Black Alice approached and embraced her . They embraced like family, holding each other hard and tight trying to find some kind of comfort in each others arms. They all came on now all packing tightly together hugging each other and the one in front. Some were weeping if they still could, the tears mostly mucus flecked with blood. Outside a chain formed all through the halls and the outer keep and they all embraced or touched another where there wasn't room. Each of them cursed by stupid random misfortune. Each made a monster for no other crime than starving, or being sick or just dying, Each taking comfort from the other,
An instant later they were all gone, gone to inflict their misery on a world that could not save them. And the black castle on the black island floating on the black sea collapsed in on itself and was never seen again.