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Unread 1st of May, 2011, 06:24
Cadrius's Avatar
Refusing to Sow [Epic GM]

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Join Date: Jan 2002
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Location: The Emerald City
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Shade barks her orders with equal parts bite and sense as surely as any captain shout at his men. The guards respond in a panic drenched with fear but they follow her orders, used to obeying the command even if they are not used to it coming from a woman. Some gather what torches they can, and when those run out they snatch up what few solid branches remain by the side of the fire pit. Steel in hand, the blazing fire shrouds her in shadows that Cadrius no longer thinks suit her, just as her moniker does not suit her.

“Stay by the fire,” he says, grabbing Sarra by the arm. “Everything will be fine.”

But there no time to think about the lie and he avoids looking the girl in the eyes so that he does not see the truth mirrored back to him. He only hopes that if it comes to it, he will have the strength to do what needs to be done. He isn’t certain if a good man would follow through or stay his hand.

Two men shift nervously next to him, swords clutched in their hands. They aren’t green, but neither are they old campaigners. Like as not they have signed on with merchants, perhaps killing a bandit or two, but it is much different when the dead stalk you. They do not bleed like men. They do not act like men. They do not kill like men.

“Form a line by me and stay by the fire,” he says. “When they come, you must strike for the head or neck. Taking an arm or leg is good, but it will only slow, not stop.”

He feels fear setting in about him but detached, distant, like the feel of a winter’s chill through a pane of glass. It is not the fear of the dead, of the unnatural, of the corrupt, that these men should fear, and it is not that dread that stirs in Cadrius’ own heart. It is not the specter of a dark presence that might lurk in the shadows, guiding them. It is not even cold, mindless way that they move. It is the simple fact that these dead men will curse, contaminate, and infect with the abomination that blights their own flesh. A man will be robbed of his mind and his soul and left as nothing more than a husk that craves to make more. It is a perversion of what life is, stealing the joy of creation and tainting it, violating it, until it is mockery of the world of men. That is what each and every one of them should fear. It is not the monster before them. It is that they, too, will become one.

A scream rends the air and Cadrius’ whips his head around to see Nicos lit up by a pure incandescence and rolls in a series of fast crashing alabaster waves into the dead woman before him. She, too, is set alight and Cadrius can see the black burning from her eyes and mouth, turning into ash and disappearing into the night air. She collapses to the ground, as does Nicos and Cadrius very nearly leaves his spot but Lynn is there to pull upon her mentor’s arms, dragging him to safety.

A shadow flits through the dark and Cadrius’ hand clenches tighter on the hilt of his blade, raising his arm. The men with him do the same. Arms rise, ready to set to their grisly work. Muscles tense and the swords poise to fall downward, wreaking bloody havoc on the corpse coming their way.

But it is Juni that darts out instead. Cadrius checks his swing at the last moment, but one of the guards swings wildly, terror overtaking him. Juni ducks her head and the sword slashes overhead, slicing through a single stray hair that lingers just a moment too longer than the others. It falls to the ground as Cadrius curses the guardsman.

“Arjuna!” Shade yells. “Get over here!”

Cadrius and the men turn back to the dark, eyes straining against the night. They can hear them out there, the soft footfalls of boots on stone and hard packed dirt. They rifle through the wagons, searching for something but Cadrius knows not what.

They come like ships sailing in on the nighttide, their shapes slowly emerging out of the dark. They walk as men, as women, as children, walk but they care not for the doom that awaits them by the fire, naked steel in hand.

Then they are upon them, silent in their attack. Some bear the marks of putrefaction, skin drawn taut across their face like parchment, others look as fresh as the day they were born, their only tell being the black slowly oozing out from their mouths and eyes. The first set are cut down in short order, swords set to their purpose. Cadrius shoves one dead man back with his shield arm while the guardsman next to him hacks off an arm at the elbow while the other guardsman takes a leg off at the knee. Again and again, the line holds, shoving back those that get too close and dismembering the dead before they can violate more innocent souls. Soon, they are breathing hard and feel nothing of the cold anymore, sweat dampening their arms, legs, and backs.

But there are so many more.

Too many.