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A time to remember - my 2nd short story

Discussion in 'Tales from the Crypt' started by Unas the slayer, Mar 9, 2018.

  1. Unas the slayer

    Unas the slayer Wight King

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2017
    Messages:
    400
    A while ago, I asked for help / review of a short story I was writing for a competition on Lustria online.
    @Alabaster427 gave me some help and advices (thanks!), and after a couple of drafts, i submitted my story in the comp (the theme was "the power of music"), taking the second place, for one vote.

    Anyway, given that the story is VC themed, I think it is nice to share it with all of you.

    Enjoy it! :D


    A TIME TO REMEMBER


    You sing sweetly, bard. I felt the romantic suffering of Alhana, while her beloved one rode into battle against the usurper. Were you singing about romance, or heroic deeds?”
    “My lady, that was sweet as a lemon. Real romance is very different and I can sing it, but I cannot do it in front of the noble warriors that gathered in this hall. Their ears are used to the sound of battles, and what truly lies in my heart is not for this place…”
    “Then, bard, I command you to follow me out of here, so I can hear it.”
    “As you wish, my lady…”


    ----------------------------------------------

    In horror tales, the coming of undead was always preceded by the silence of the scared animal life.
    Here in Lustria, Hans learned that those tales were false.
    Birds, insects and monkeys were still going about their normal life, paying no attention to the horde of zombies and ghosts that just slaughtered Duke Jurgen’s expeditionary force; their cacophony was the funeral march.
    The zombies were now separating the dead from the wounded soldiers; many of the wounded ended their lives with suffocated screaming, but a few were taken prisoner, just like Hans.
    There was some bitter irony in all of this.

    The expedition was a well prepared one… every detail was planned, officials instructed the troop about the known tactics employed by the lizardmen, and there were antidotes for poisons. Their wizard had a vast array of spells specifically compiled to excel against cold-blooded reptiles and there was even a map with the locations of reported settlements, home to abundances of gold and gems.
    Despite the preparation, nature had other plans. The storm took them away from their intended route, ending their journey near a harsh coastline… constructions were visible far into the jungle, so they went for them, ready to fight lizards. They found none.
    At twilight they were making camp in a clearing. Suddenly, a mist rose from the jungle, enveloping the cannons… the crew fell silently to the ground, then supernatural screeches decimated the harquebusiers.
    Was it an ambush? Nobody had heard a lizard sound like that before.
    There was rustling in the dark thicket, and finally the slow zombies came, pushing their mass through bushes into the unsupported infantry. Hans heard the wizard scream something about a vampire coast, but then the mage was trampled down by a hellish steed, atop it, an undead dark commander.

    It had been a massacre. Mysteriously, Hans and some other soldiers were still alive, taken prisoners. A boy near Hans was sobbing, muttering prayers to Sigmar.
    “Shut up, you moron. We are still alive… would you prefer to be one of those dismembered corpses?”
    “They are going to eat us! they will devour us alive!”
    “If you shit yourself a little more, not even the most rotten zombie will touch you. Now shut up, let me see who’s coming…”

    A man in a black robe was examining the prisoners; his face was incredibly old, with wizened skin and yellow eyes, glossed over by cataracts… he seemed a frail old man, holding himself to a staff, but his movements were vigorous, and his speech firm.
    “Tonight, when Morrslieb is high, you will be given the gift of undeath. The proper rite, with living specimens, will let me create powerful Wights.”
    A faint cry broke the silence, maybe a plea of some sort… a green, malevolent light from the staff, stroke the supplicant, turning the prayers into screams of agony.
    “I need your bodies, not your babblings! I won’t hear pleas of mercy, or you will see that there are fates worse than undeath!”
    The necromancer went away, to oversee the work of the undead that were emptying the battlefield.
    “Sweet Sigmar! We’ll be turned into monsters! Did you want to see who was coming, Hans? It’s our death sentence.”
    “Maybe, or maybe not. He may be evil, but he’s still alive… and I do believe that man will be our way out”.

    --------------------------------------------------------

    You dishonored my daughter, bard. You are going to die for this, You know it, right?
    The guards had beaten him already. Blood was spilling from the broken lip and an eye was swollen shut, but the other one was still spirited, while he was sustaining the duke’s glance.
    “Can I speak in my defense, my Lord Jurgen?”
    There was a moment of silence.
    “Do you think some words can make me change my mind? I’m not a gullible girl, dead man. But please, feel free to speak…”


    -----------------------------------------------------------

    As expected, the necromancer came back to them. Four undead minions took a sort of altar, and he started to decorate it with glyphs, candles and blood paintings.
    Some of the boys were praying to Sigmar, creating a fluctuating litany in the background.
    “Annoying scum… I’m going to rot your worthless tongues as soon as I’m finished with the carvings…”
    That was the sign Hans was waiting for.
    “My Lord, I’m not a religious man and those prayers are giving me a headache. Might I just sing something, to distract my companions in their last hour?”
    The necromancer did not take his eyes off his work “I hate the singing. But if you make them stop praying, I’ll rip out your tongue last.”
    Hans smiled, and started to sing.

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    The Admiral looked at the swabbie with poorly hidden contempt. Hans wore ragged and dirty clothes, that didn’t hide the signs of the whip on his back. The fleet set sail one month ago.
    “I have been given instructions to make your life miserable, boy… but I am a practical man. My musician is ill and dying; I know you can entertain a tune. I think I will give you a chance to please me.”
    “If I’m going to please you, Admiral, I hope my stomach will see some real food, and there will be no more wiping, nor whipping….”.
    The eyes of the fleet’s commander turned hard as iron.
    “You’d better surprise me right now boy, or you will know the joy of keelhauling…”


    -------------------------------------------------------------

    Hans sang, his crystal clear voice filling the open space surrounded by trees.
    He sang about his homeland, about friends, about freedom, remembrances, love, life and joy; about happiness, family, sharing and empathy; then he sang about melancholic feelings for missed opportunities… but there was still hope, redemption, and forgiveness. The song was a delicate flower that was slowly opening, letting them see the chance for a future, a destiny yet to be written, the promise of a…

    “Stop singing. Stop it…. please.”

    The necromancer had spoken.

    Hans had sung for what seemed like hours, and the necromancer had ceased working long ago, staring at the darkness, facing away from the prisoners, lost in thoughts while the bad moon was rising.
    He turned and looked toward the prisoners; his yellow eyes were glistening with tears.
    “I had forgotten it. So many years… so many decades, maybe centuries… the memories were lost to me. There are days when I wonder why I took this path, and I don’t know the answer. My companions are the undead, and I have power over what seems as nothing. Even the lizardmen, those cold-blooded abominations, share a companionship that to me is negated. I question myself, but there’s no past to help me.”
    A deep breath.
    “But now I remember. Me and my kind. The joy of the others, their happiness. The shunning, the cruel jokes, the insults, the false hopes and the derisive laughter. A chasm growing wider each day. The sadness and the bitterness, the anger and the hate. The desire for vengeance, the desire to be feared, the search for a frightening power.”

    The Necromancer looked again at Hans, with cold and dry eyes. The staff glowed green, matching the light casted by Morrslieb.
    “What of me, then?” Hans asked.
    The necromancer grinned, “You have restored my resolution, singer, and you will be rewarded for this. There will be a place of honor for you… in my personal regiment, from here to eternity”.
     
    vg11k likes this.
  2. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2013
    Messages:
    1,546
    Ouch. Then again, even the dead need their musicians, right?
     
  3. Unas the slayer

    Unas the slayer Wight King

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2017
    Messages:
    400
    Yep, someone has to form those command groups... ;)
     

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