The Shadow's Pawn

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Born of death and nursed on the milk of the dying he grow into a tool for a demon. Will he set the beast free or turn on the only father he ever knew?

Submitted: April 27, 2016

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Submitted: April 27, 2016

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The driving wind and the pouring rain caused the young couple to struggle to make any head way through the forest.  Her belly was heavy with a baby and she moaned in pain as the time of birth came ever closer.  He struggled to keep her moving through the pain as he pulled the pack horse behind them.They were lost and had spent the last two days wandering in the forest after barely escaping the bandits that had raided their caravan.  The bandits had giving up the chase as soon as the storm started which had seemed like a God send at the time, but no longer.  In a flash of lighting they spot a ruined building just ahead.  It wasn’t where they were headed but the storm and the coming baby made it a palace in their tired eyes.

The inside of the building showed signs of being burned in the distant past.  Only a large stone slab on a raised dais survived the fire.  The young man helped his wife to it leaving the horse at the door.  Once she was laying on it he turned to get the horse only then relieving this was a temple of some forgotten God.

He had once been worshipped here, but then others came killing his worshippers and burning his temple.  He was weak a mere shadow of his form self, unable to manifest himself physically anymore, but he felt the pain in his temple and it drew him like a moth to the flame.  As he rose from the deepest levels of the temple he feed on the pain and it only made his hunger greater.  He entered the temple itself and took in the scene.  On his altar that had seen many a human sacrifice was a young woman in the thralls of the birthing pains.  A young man struggled to bring a horse in out of the storm that raged outside.  He had to act quickly or he would lose his chance, possible his last chance.

The woman screamed as the birth came nearer and the young man turned to her just as the horse pulled back sensing something dark and dangerous in this place.  The man slipped and with the horse yanking on its lead rope he fell hitting his head so he laid there dazed.

He surged forward and using a fraction of the power he had only gained to slam the doors shut and seal them.  He feed on the horse’s fear, but it was bland meal and he wanted something more to sate his appetite.  He wanted blood and death so he sent a tendril of power towards the horse causing it to panic.

The young man was just rising from the floor when the hooves of the panicked horse struck him.  His arms and legs snapped first then his ribs.  Finally the horse’s hooves found his head and his skull shattered ending his life.

On the altar the woman screamed as she saw her husband dye.  The baby was coming and she now felt that this place was evil.  She knew that to leave would mean death for her and her baby, but to stay would mean something much worse for the baby.  She struggled to rise as chains that had hung unnoticed on the corners of the altar shot up and wrapped around her wrists and ankles binding her to the cold hard slab of stone.

He would have smiled if he had a face as he feed on the woman’s pain and panic, like a staving man did at a feast.  He had plans for the baby so he extended his power downward to the crypts awakening one of his priests that had been buried there.  The priest rose not alive, but no longer truly dead, it was an undead thing.

The undead priest shambled up from the deep crypts clenching a sacrificial knife.  As undead priest entered the temple itself the woman saw it and screamed.  The maggot ridden corpse approached her with the knife held high and would have plunged it down killing the mother and baby, except the shadow creature surged forward and guide its hand.

&&&&&&

How she had come to be here she wasn’t sure.  She had vague memories of following a hooded figure into the woods.  When she had arrived the cage next to her cage held a woman barely alive.  Sometime during that first terrible day she had died without uttering a single word.  Karla pitted her at first, but only a week later she envied the dead woman.  The creature would bring that baby with its black eyes to suckle her milk and she could feel it feeding on her life force also.  She slowly grew weaker as it grew stronger.  As she looked at the other cages with the dead rotten corpses in them she knew that soon she would be replaced.  Her only regret was that she would never know the fate of her own daughter, never knowing if her husband had found a wet nurse for the baby left behind.

She heard it approach and again she considered dashing the baby’s head against the stone floor ending its life.  She could do it even now in her weaken state before the undead thing could stop her, but her mind told her that the baby was innocent and killing it would be a sin.  Karla reached out and took it holding it up to her breasts.  It latched on and drank her milk and her life and she slide down on to the stone slab that served as her bed.  Her eyes drifted shut and she imagined it was her own daughter she was feeding not this child with the unnatural black eyes.

As she awoke she had no clue how long she had been unconscious, but the baby was gone and the bowl holding her meager meal sat inside the cage.  She tried to rise but found her body to weak.  With her eyes filling with the tears of regret of never seeing her family again she crawled to the bowl.  She knew that she would be dead in a day or two, but she still forced herself to gag down the maggot ridding bread, hoping would give her strength to survive this ordeal.

She lay on the floor too weak to climb back on the stone slab that served as her bed.  She couldn’t deny it any longer, she was going to dye her alone and unable to see her baby again.  She had to do something, even if it was hopeless, to get a message to her husband and baby. It took a great effort but she reached out to 1 of the bars of her cage and sliced her hand.  The blood pooled in her palm and she dipped her finger in it.  Slowly she began to write on the floor.

 

The demonic spirit floated above the baby still unable to become fully physical he had gained much of the strength he once took for granted, but something blocked him for taking his true form.  The night of the baby’s birth he had used his power to form a bound between them.  The bound was not perfect, but if he had truly bound the baby to him it would have died.  He gained strength through it as it drank the milk of those lowly wenches his undead priests brought back, but most of their life force ended up in the baby.  He could see the changes it was having on the baby.  He was going to be stronger and faster than a normal person.  His life would be extended well beyond that of any mortal and all of this was good because he had much use for this child before he could escape his prison.

He sensed that the woman down in the lower level was almost done and he would have to get another.  His power reached down and awoke another of his dead priests.  It was a mindless husk, but as it shambled up to the temple he instilled power in it and burned one mission into it.  It would find another wet nurse for the baby and bring her here.

&&&&&&

He awoke from the dream, the vision sent by his Father of a great battle.  His dreams were always of battles, death and destruction and his Father was always in them slaying his enemies by the hundreds.  AS he awoke his hand slide under his pillow to grasp the hilt of the obsidian knife, he pulled it out and sheaths it on his left hip after he pulled on his pants.  He had found the knife on the altar near the skeleton chained to it.  Lying near the door was two more skeletons, one with a shattered skull, the other a horse.  He felt nothing towards the bodies, not knew that it was his parents that lay in this unholy temple unburied.

Once he was dressed he went hunting his breakfast.  His Father’s dead priest stood nearby silently watching.  He would not help the boy unless he was told to; his only mission was to make sure the boy didn’t dye.  The rat the boy caught was small with hardly any meat on its tiny bones, but as the boy tore raw flesh from the bones the life force of the small rodent entered him.

He felt his Father appear behind him and turned with a trickle of blood still running down his chin.  His Father was still unable to manifest himself physically and appeared as a mist cloud vaguely human shaped.  The voice entered and the boy knew that his Father was also search for any weakness or doubt in there so he quickly sealed them away from the probe.  “It is time for you to gather the weapons that will help you free me my son.”

A slight smile crossed the boy’s lips as he formed the words in his mind.  “What must I do Father?”

“In the deep crypts lay two of my old champions.  On them is their weapons, the weapons that will serve you now.  I cannot go down there with you because those that imprisoned me here left things there that will awaken if they sense me.  You must do this yourself; it is the final test my son.”

The boy held his fear deep inside so his Father wouldn’t see the weakness.  “I will do it Father.  I will make you proud of me.”

“The knife you carry is part of a set.  You might as well have both they will serve us both as you do my work son.”  The undead thing shambled forward pulling the twin of the knife the boy carried from under the rotted rags it wore.

The boy took the other knife and hooked it on his right hip.  “I will start at once Father.”  He turned and made his way deeper into the temple to the passage leading downward.

He reached the level where the sacrifices were once held.  In the cages laid the mummified bodies of his wet nurses, but he had no memory of them.  He was slipping between them when he saw that somebody had written a message in blood on the cells floor.  The cage door was locked but he was able to open it with a little work of his nimble fingers.  He dragged the body aside dumping it against the bars without a thought before squatting down to read the message.

“My name is Karla Fisher, wife of Jarod Fisher from the village of Hopes Promise.I know I am dying and if you are reading this I only hope you will take pity on me and carry a simple message to my husband and daughter.  I didn’t leave them willingly and I hoped to the end to return to them.  Tell them that I loved them more than anything and will await them on the other side hoping to be reunited with them.”

He felt something rising in him and quickly pushed it down not wanting to feel pity for this woman.  His Father needed him and feeling pity for another would distract him.  He left the cage and continued lower wondering how deep the crypts went and if he would have to go to the very bottom on this quest.

He rounded the bend in a sloping passage when he heard his Father’s voice in his head.  It was distant and faint but there.  “The first of the guardians are ahead of you.  He slept when I rose from the depths years ago my son, but your presence has awoken him.  You must destroy him.”

The boy moved slowly forward watching the shadows for some fiend, but this guardian was no fiend and didn’t hide in the shadows.  Sliding around a corner the boy saw him standing in the center of the passage a large sword held in his gauntleted hands.  Head to toe he was covered in plate mail and through the eye slits of the helmet the boy saw two red glowing points of light.  “Father how can I beat this thing?  It is already dead, so how do I kill that which is dead already?”

His Father’s voice laughed in his head.  “I gave you the tools you would need boy.  Those knives you carry have powerful enchantments.  All you have to do is plunge one of them into the corpse inside that armor and it will remove the enchantments that keep it alive.”

The boy had no reason to doubt his father so he pulled the knives and stood.  If the guardian saw him it didn’t move towards him so the boy started running towards it, but it was unlike the undead his Father would raise.  It was fast swinging its sword up and bringing it down as he approached.  It wasn’t skill but some instinct that saved the boy.  He dropped to his knees and let his momentum carry him pass the guardian.  His left arm shot out and the knife dragged across the guardian’s armor, but all that did was cause a shower of blue sparks to fly off the armor.

The guardian began to turn as the boy jumped to his feet.  He was pass the guardian but he knew he had to deal with it here and now so he ran towards the wall beside it.  He planted his right foot on it at waist height and kicked off it towards the guardian.  The knife in his right hand was aimed towards the gap between the guardian’s helmet and shoulder guards.  His left knife went towards the between the chest and back armor.  The back of the guardian’s gauntleted fist smashed into the back of his skull as the right knife plunged home.

The boy hit the wall and collapsed the back of his skull crushed, but just as the last of his life seeped away the magic of the dagger infused him with new life, healing his head. 


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