Saren hated this place, it was so dark, one could barely see through the trees. It made for a likely place for the Dark Ones to ambush them. He thought back to when he was a small boy, to the day that had made him join the King's Army. Dark Ones had come from the forest and attacked their small village. His family, including his dear little sister had been slaughtered along with the rest of the villagers. Saren had been on a hunting trip when he had seen the smoke from the burning houses. A week later, he had signed the pact and promised his life to the King. Tough he was loathe to admit it, he was needed here. The message from the camp at the heart of this forest had been clear.
"We need supplies"
So, Saren, and a group of 30 men had been sent with enough supplies to last the camp three months. They brought weapons, food, and water. Saren had sent scouts ahead of the troupe, but they had not returned yet. While it worried him, it was only slight and he dismissed it. They approached the edge of the trees that surrounded the camp. As he passed through the barrier, he felt a slight tensing then tingling at the base of his skull. Thinking back to his childhood he dismissed it as tension from being in this forest, as it had always made him nervous ever since he was a small lad living on the edge of it.
When he and his troupe cleared the trees, they first noticed the lack of guards. They then noticed the lack of anyone. This struck Saren as odd; they had just received the message two days ago, and had not been given any reports that the soldiers stationed at this fort had moved. Even if they had, they wouldn't have left all their belongings here. He ordered his men to draw their swords, and they did so as quietly as possible. He had not taken more than thirty steps when a shout came from the back of the group.
Saren rushed to where the shout had come, a bearded man stood there, face white and staring. He pointed in the direction of the closest building. Saren looked in the direction the man was pointing and spotted it instantly. He walked closer and observed a handprint. The handprint was red, but a red that Saren knew all too well. It was blood. A shout, more like a scream, brought Saren running to the head of the group again. Ahead of the group stood a man, he was covered in blood, his clothes torn and filthy. He was facing the trees on the other side of the small fort. Saren called to the man to face him, and soon regretted the act. As the man turned, Saren saw he was not a man, but what was left of one, The man’s chest had been ripped open, his heart, lungs, and entrails had been removed. His eyes had a dead, grey glow to them. Men behind Saren made a run back the way they came, but were stopped in their tracks by more men, Saren quickly realized what had happened, why all the men were gone, they were dead, and risen back. With a cry, he hefted his longsword and charged the thing in front of him, and in one fell swoop, he took off the creature’s head. He turned to strike down another which had seemingly appeared from nowhere. He turned back to his troupe and screamed at them.
“Circle formation, back to back NOW! Archers in the middle!” he called. The soldiers quickly drew their blades and back to back formed a circle of blades and spears. Archers stood in the center of the circle with their bows drawn, the creatures rushed in from all directions, the soldiers cut, slashed, and stabbed with their blades. One man fell, three creatures went down screeching. Another man, screaming, fell to the teeth and nails of the beasts. Saren slashed a creature across the chest, the creature fell down with a thump, he heard a scream behind him where a soldier had fallen, his arm clutched in the hands of one of the beasts. He started to turn but felt a tugging on his arm, he swung his head back around and saw that the creature that he had just cut down was up and trying to take his arm. He butted the creature with the hilt of his sword and ran to the fallen man. He took the man’s one hand and tried to get him to calm down. He heard a shout,
“The creatures, they’re getting back up! What is this black magic?!” Saren looked around, through the whirlwind of legs he saw all the fallen creatures simply stand up again. He felt the man’s hand shudder and looked down at him, only to see his comrade had died. Deep inside, he felt a rage that hadn’t surfaced since his family had been killed twenty years ago, he gripped his sword his hands and stood. With a guttural cry, he hefted his sword and charged the creatures, his men, screaming behind him, charged with him. He swung, taking out three creatures at once, he knew they would just reanimate, but he only wanted to get out of this helltrap. When his sword embedded in the skull of another creature, he let it go and twirled out his two smaller sabers and worked them in a dance of death. As they fought, the cries of confidence slowly faded into cries of pain and horror. Eventually, Saren realized the cries had ceased and looked to see that only he and a younger lad were left. HE swung his head in time to see the lad fall under the might of five creatures. He dropped his blade and looked to the sky.
“Mother, Father, I’m coming home. May the Gods have mercy on my soul,” he prayed as the creatures overtook him and his world faded into black…
Nightmare stood over the troupe of soldiers. Though they lay in death, not a single body had a scratch. They had all died in their minds. There had never been a camp. The not had simply been a ruse to bring more soldiers for Nightmare to kill. The last group of soldiers had met the same fate as these. That was the way Nightmare preferred it, physical fighting proved too dangerous for him, he preferred to work in the mind.
“Such a waste,” he thought. “They could have made excellent test subjects back at the stronghold. No matter, soon I will have many. Oh, very soon indeed.”
© Copyright 2016 Blade Rondeau. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Fantasy
Essay / Fan Fiction
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