Rest Easy, Love (Part 1)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Fantasy Realm


A man finds himself in the shadow of the Hound's Den, for love and for land.

Submitted: June 04, 2018

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Submitted: June 04, 2018

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“Rest easy, love,” the gentle woman’s goading words whispered in his ears, “If unity is what you desire, give in to my words as you once did in younger days.”

The unbearable pressure trapped him as if the very ceiling had collapsed upon his soul. Intense heat overcame him as flames licked the metal sabatons on his feet. Through the slit of his helm he saw her silhouette behind a curtain of fire, and he didn’t need to see her face to know she held a devilish grin that grew wider with every agonizing second that passed.

He fell to a knee as the flames grew around him, his armor conducting it, cooking him alive.

“You hold no sway over me, demon!” He roared above the rage of the flames.

Suddenly she was standing before him. Slowly, she tilted his armored head up to meet the yellowed gaze that emitted from the iris of her slowly sinking eyes. Her flesh burned as she spoke in a sweet jovial tone.

“You are mistaken, love.” the burning corpse whispered as it caressed the armored head in her hands, “You are already mine.”

 

******

 

Find the child never knowing mirth

Stranger to family and birth

Home razed and desolate

Culprit from beneath hard earth

 

When it is that thou be found

Travel deep, unholy ground

Climb to earths hidden sun

Slay the fiend, the hound

- Children’s Chant

 

The old village appeared dismal covered in a blanket of ash. It cowered at the base of a lone mountain. Abodes of stone and wood now lay toppled in a clutter of what used to be the façade of a beautiful community. Corpses lay strewn through the village on the orange dirt, and now only a single figure walked through the dead streets of a dead waste. A hellish sun beat down upon the desolate land like a tyrant that had grown bored of its subjects.

Behind his close helm that offered minimal vision, Ramd peered upon the desolation of the old village. Soot fell from the sky like snow onto his gauntleted fists where he peered at it for a moment before grinding it beneath the leather that covered his fingertips. His metal bearing form moved forward cautiously while his concealed eyes scanned the central road to the mountain upon which he walked. The sword held within its sheath bounced at his left hip with every step forward.

He reached to his neck and found relief and sorrow when his plated fingers curled around a small metal casing attached to a thin chain. He turned his gaze as he raised it before him and studied its make: a small silvery metallic cylinder topped off with a metal lid that held snug in place. It was an object so simple yet intricate to him. He let out a small sigh as it was placed back beneath the protection of his breastplate.

He then reached to his right hip and found a small brown leather bag strapped to his belt. Opening it gingerly he rummaged through the contents: a small clear vial of water, a flint, and a dark bottle of oil.

Ramd then tied the bag and sauntered on for many minutes until the dirt road met with the mountain path that would lead him to his destination. Here, within the shadow of the mountain, he felt so small and wondered if this would be his last expedition.

Sweat ran down the curvature of his face as he pushed in to every step, forcing his body to continue up the path. The armor he wore had been his second skin for as long as he could remember, but it was now that he truly felt its weight upon his person.

“Persistence does not age well.” Ramd grunted to himself with a grimace.

A high-pitched voice cried out in response, “What if I told you that you could keep the former and shed the latter?”

 Ramd froze on the wide cliff path. Not a muscle moved in his body as he scanned his surroundings. A dark red fog rolled from the cracks in the cliff face like a predator stalking prey. It enveloped Ramd and the cold smell of blood wafted into his helmet. He tasted it in the air as he waited, hand now clenched tightly on the hilt of his blade.

“You wouldn’t be the first.” The coaxing voice whined from the shadows.

The sun receded in the sky and night stalked upon the mountain path filled with crimson shadows that danced beneath the rising moon. Ramd held his tongue and sat still for many minutes trying to formulate his course of action. The voice appeared to come from every direction.

“But you already know that, don’t you Ramd?”

His eyes darted back and forth through the fog.

“You wouldn’t have to be alone anymore.” The voice continued with small chuckles.

The sound of his heart racing thumped dangerously in his helmet.

The voice deepened to a low rumble, “She blames you, you know.”

His breaths came in quick aggravated bursts. His sight began to grow hazy.

Ramd pulled his blade and side-stepped to the right. The sword sliced through the bloody fog and found its mark in rotted flesh. A ghastly scream struck the night like lightning and the fog lifted in seconds. A now decapitated corpse slumped to the ground as its head rolled slowly down the mountain path.

He staggered over to the cliff face for support as he wrenched his helmet from his head and fought for air. His sweat covered hair clung to the sides of his face as he used the wall for support and let his head droop. He brushed the greying shoulder length hair behind his head as he turned to see what lay on the path.

Before him, a burnt and deformed being wearing simple old rags, not different from the corpses below, lay headless in the dirt. Ramd pushed himself from the wall and knelt next to the thing. The skin that was left clung to the bone behind burnt clothing. He tore some cloth from the creature and used it to clean the dark blood that covered his blade.

He stood, sheathed his blade, and began his climb once again, helm hanging from his fingers at his side. Droplets of blood dribbled down the smooth surface of his armor and the smell lingered around him like a stray cat begging for food. The smell of blood, he was accustomed to it now.

The path wound to the right halfway up the mountain and leveled out. The path ended at a dead end were the mountain stooped overhead to the front and right. Sitting in the center of the path was a large stone goblet filled with gently swirling bright blue water. The goblets support was an unclothed male that supported the bowl, which took the place of the sculptures head, with muscular arms. Inscribed on its rim were the words…

“Shed Sorrow to Unleash Hatred”

He scratched the short greying beard that covered his chin in thought as he placed his hand on the rim of the goblet.

The swirling water churned, and the moonlight danced across its reflection. The moon stretched to both ends of the bowl and its white hue grew orange. From within, the water showed fire.

Ramd dropped his helmet in the dirt and peered into the image that entrapped him in the goblet.

The fire burned with demonic anger before parting to show a familiar image. Ramd’s metallic grip tightened on the stone rim.

A thin two-story household made of wood burned beneath a full moon. The blazing door opened gently to show a woman curled upon the floor, a cloth wrapped tight around a small object in her embrace. She looked up through strands of brown hair with tears streaming down her face as Ramd knelt next to her.

“Who has done this Perdita?” He whispered in a voice that quivered with each word.

He tentatively reached for her face, but she hastily rolled away and raised herself in a surge of action.

“What hath become of the Swordsman?” She yelled manically as she swayed back and forth, “The protector that can save only himself? You would believe that a sword can solve all your problems!”

A babies cries rose to match the fire.

Ramd rose slowly and whispered, “Perdita, you are not well! We must leave this place! A house can be rebuilt, but our child…”

She laughed giddily, “Oh, your legacy?”

She let the cloth loose and ash floated away into the roaring flames.

“Burnt in hellfire, where you are sure to follow.”

Ramd threw his body from the goblets pull. He fell to the ground and held his head in his hands, tears trickling down his dirty cheeks. Sweat dotted his hairline as he sucked in air attempting to steady himself. The cliff before him shuddered and cracked. Stone grated upon stone and revealed a dark path into the mountain.

Fatigue slowly began to take him. He fell to his side as his eyelids forced themselves shut. The vision replayed itself over and over in his mind, a nightmare to pass him through his slumber. He could not change the course that the dream took, could not control himself no matter how hard he screamed internally. The warrior was at the will of his own mind, a muscle he had not honed as well as the rest of his body.

Countless cycles of the goblets horrid reality had passed while he was helpless to his mortal needs before a lone survivor’s instinct jolted him awake. His eyes shot open to see that the moon had risen high into the sky, now the suns gentle and eerie counterpart.

He scooped up his helmet and rose as he wiped tears from his eyes, smearing blood and soot across his face. The entrance that had revealed itself in the rock loomed before him, and he walked forward to accept its challenge. The helm was replaced upon his head and he retrieved the oil from his waist bag. Carefully he poured some of the oil on the blade and let it slide down the already charred metal. Seconds later the flint was in his hand. He knelt and rested the blade on his leg with the tip to the ground before striking the flint across the steel. Sparks danced and the oil lit, roaring into a fiery blaze.

He stood with flaming sword in hand, and entered the Hounds Den.


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