Friday, July 5, 2013

Curse of the Undead King: Chapter Six

Mrrda's skull rolled away, bouncing off small rocks as it tumbled into the bushes. The tree behind where it had been splintered at the trunk. With no leg to stand on, it toppled over, laying across the road and reaching out in all directions with its needled arms. The beast who had thrown the punch whirled around and loped after the head. A mistake.

Neither it nor its cohorts saw the ribcage digging its fingers into the earth and dragging itself away from the dead wood. It crawled until it had found its sword, which it snatched up with all the grace of a buffalo at a wedding. The apes turned at the clatter, just in time for their humble leader to get an eyeful of his carelessness. He pushed out the first bit of a pained howl, but it quickly died into a quiet rasp and then to silence as his corpse copied the tree.

Its two followers glanced at one another before roaring savagely and making a dive for the bones. They missed, their fists finding only solid cement. The ribs danced away, as though snatched up by an angry wind. Soon they were joined by the lost legs and small bits of powder, and finally by the skull as it floated up and out of the foliage. The reconstituted king marched forward with menace, its eternal smile somehow a scowl. The ape-things shivered, but put on an angry facade. It was torn apart as Mrrda leapt onto one of them, digging his knees into its chest as he pummeled its face.

The skeletal sire was not as powerful as these beasts, not even as physically graced as Brrda, but he found the sharp edges of his frame sufficient in making ribbons of its fleshy face. It cried loud and deep. Warmth dripped from both its wounds and its eyes. Mrrda did not stop. He was not known practitioner of mercy.

A large hand came upon his spine and ripped him away from his prey. Without missing a beat, his skull swiveled around on its neck, glaring into the eyes of the youngest of the creatures. He shrieked loudly, like a banshee. The cry echoed far into the night, chasing off even the largest of moose and bear. There was more struggled between them, but in a few minutes it was over. The king stood proudly upon the body of the first fallen, sword in hand, awash in the red that spilled out of the beast on its end. That carcass slapped the pavement and Mrrda turned hotly on the last one standing. The one whose face was tattered at its feet.

Mrrda heaved all over, as though panting. A fierce roar tore through its teeth. The faceless one was off, disappearing into the wood from whence it came. Mrrda waited a minute for return, for reinforcements, but none came. At last he leaped triumphantly back to the road, and returned the sword to its place between his ribs. He gave one final glance to his fallen foes before continuing on.

Others still had to suffer.


***


Morning came not long after Mrrda hit the road. As it did, it revealed a small town hiding in the shadows of the mountains. Mrrda perched on a downward slope to admire it. The architecture was unusual. When he had left the living, things were built primarily of stone and wood. There were some other materials for more refined individuals, but nothing like what he saw below. And nothing quite so dark, for that matter. The structures were all small and dark, with obvious errors in their measurements. Roofs slope this way and that, tiny doors swung unevenly on their hinges. The doors themselves were remarkable. Such structures were only used for gates.

Just what are they keeping out? he wondered. His mind flicked back to the ape-beasts. Could such creatures be tormenting his descendants? Could they be responsible for his humans locking their dwellings? They were certainly capable of it. Even with the curse on his side, Mrrda had been given trouble by such brutes.

Who leads these people that would let them be at the mercy of such barbarians? Have I taught them nothing?

A sort of anger welled up within him.

This is not the world I had imagined. Let's see just how far my people have fallen.

With that he set off toward the town, his mind already locked on disappointment.

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