The sword cut through meat and bone and the corpse fell to his knees. With a swift move the knight decapitated the undead beast. Another one stared at him from behind a tree. It’s eyes were glowing red and it's mouth was salivating. When it charged towards him, the knight held up his shield to block the attack, and with perfect precision impaled the beast through the stomach.
When the last of the walking corpses fell, the knight approached the wagon. It was supposed to be carrying the leaders of the old church through the Screaming forest. Everyone seemed dead. The beasts attack when night falls. The religious men were no match for them. He noticed a bunch of crows observing him in the middle of the trees. Their eyes studying him in the darkness.
Something moved to his left. A man was resting besides the destroyed transport wagon. He seemed injured.
“thank the lord, a knight! You must work for the white king.” He smiled as the knight helped him get on his feet. “It is a miracle. Praised be the Old one!”
“ Save your prayers for a better time. I’m not here to help you old man” The knight touched the handle of his sword. “Why are you still alive? Why didn’t those monsters eat you alive when they had the chance?”
“M-monsters? I am a priest, i believe we are all sons of the Old one! Even the evil ones.” The priest saw the knight grabbing the handle of his sword. “Look, my name is Ackhael. I escaped while my brothers were fighting for their lives. I might be a coward, but i’m not one of them! What is your name?”
The knight let go of his sword and put his shield on his back. His armor was heavy but he was strong enough to carry twice the weight.
“ My name doesn’t matter, all you need to know about me is that i’m heading to the Dead City, if you want my help that is where we are headed!”
The priest looked at him surprised. “The City of the Dead? Why would you want to go there? It’s been empty for years.” The knight started looking around, studying the area. “I think we can camp here tonight. After the little fight i put up they will need time to regroup and they will only be ready by tomorrow! I will tell you everything you need to know while we eat!”
And so the knight told Ackhael about his wife, and how she was kidnapped by the evil sorcerer that now resides at the City of the Dead. He told him how he abandoned his position in the kingdom and spent the last years in an expedition towards the city. When he finished he showed a letter he had stolen from a dead soldier. It said:
“we send this letter to our beloved white king of clydeopetra in the hopes that he will send help to his faithful soldiers of the order of the raven. Our numbers are falling. We need help to fight in the east. But every man that traverses the screaming forest ends up dead. They talk about a monster. It might be the truth. Please our lord and savior we beg of you to send help before it is too late.”
“A monster, it says!” The knight smiled as he carefully folded the letter and put it in his pocket. “This is it! The proof i needed. He is in the city and he is trying to stop me. But his army of undead and his damned monster will not stop me!”
The priest drank a cup of wine. They were able to salvage most of the food and wine that was on the destroyed wagon. “Your wife, what did she look like?”
The knight carefully dropped the piece of meat that he was eating.” Her hair was blonde as the Sun, her skin was very white. She used to wear this red dress, it made her look like a goddess. You men of faith pray to your Old god right? Well i pray to my goddess every night!” The priest noticed that he was trying very hard not to show any kind of emotion. “When that son of a bitch took her, i swore that i would put his head on a spike back at my house!”
Ackhael seemed worried. “Have you ever considered, that, you know, he might have, i don’t want to say it, but you must think about it at least!”
The knight got up violently and grabbed the priest by his neck. “NEVER!” He yelled. “NEVER SAY THAT AGAIN!” Then he let go of his neck and said he needed to sleep.
During the next couple of days they continued travelling east through the forest. Every night the knight stayed up patrolling until he seemed convinced there was no danger nearby. They grabbed their resources from where they could find them, abandoned houses and half eaten corpses were nothing new for both of them. There was an ocasional undead attack but the knight seemed undefeatable in battle. After travelling for twelve days they arrived at The Gates To The City of the Dead.
“Something isn’t right, we should of have encountered that monster already!” The knight examined the gates. “They are open!” With a powerfull thrust he opened the gigantic gates. The enormous desolated city stood before them. The city smelled like death, everything inside it’s gates had died and rotten long ago.
“After the Great war of the east, nothing was left standing in this city, they burned the people, the children and even their pets. Fire consumed every living thing inside these walls. Your white king is a fool. He believes that he is fighting a sacred battle, but this is a massacre!”
The knight stepped forward through the gates. “ I am not his soldier anymore. His wars do not concern me. Let’s find my wife and that bastard!”
They started searching through the destroyed buildings Everywhere they searched for, the only thing they found was death. They entered the abandoned castle.
“Look ,there!” The priest yelled. Something moved in the stairs.The knight rushed after it. “I got you now, you bastard!” The knight grabbed the child that was running from him. “Look at him, poor child, cursed with being a walking corpse forever.” The knight grabbed his dagger. “I will put him out of his misery!”
Then everything happened too fast, the knight tried to stab him, but the priest hit him with a wooden plank he grabbed nearby. The knight fell unconscious.
Darkness surrounded him. He saw his loved one. She was saying his name, but he couldn’t remember it. It had been too long. For too long he had just been “The Knight”, searching for his lost love. Then the dream shifted to a nightmare. She was screaming, someone was attacking her. But when he rushed in to help her, there was no one there. Only the two of them. “This is not how it happened!” He screamed. “Where is he? Where is the evil bastard?”
When he woke up, he was inside a jail cell. The priest and the undead child were standing outside. Looking at him. The priest himself was all deformed, his skin was rotten. “What have you done with her?” The knight screamed.
“I was too blind to see!” Replied the old man. “Forgive me, if i had realized it sooner i might have helped you!”
“I don’t understand!” said the knight, his hands were shaking.
“Tell me brave knight, what is the name of this sorcerer you speak about?”
The knight stood there, thinking, no answer came to his mind.
“You cannot remember the name of the man who kidnapped your wife? That seems odd. Can you even remember your own? Or are you too afraid to?” The priest put a hand around the child’s shoulders. “There are no such things as undead monsters and evil sorcerers. I was attacked by a group of bandits, i thought that if i brought you here that would help you realise it, but i see now that you are far gone!”
“NO! Don’t you dare old man! Remember the letter, they said a monster lives in the forest, killing their soldiers. I’m not crazy! Do you deny that they speak the truth?”
The priest looked the knight in his eyes. “I do not deny it, there was a monster living there. An evil being, lost and confused. But you need not worry. I have already took care of him!”
And after saying this, the priest threw his cell key through the window of the castle. He then left with the child. The knight screamed and begged for forgiveness, but to no avail.
The people who pass near the City of the Undead say they can hear the screams of the dead. The screams of the lost knight who never again, has found himself.
© Copyright 2016 John Stark. All rights reserved.