I´m so glad you decided to continue with this great contest during the transition! And inspired on what's to come, here is my submission.
Forces from the unknown
The young knight couldn’t disguise his anxiety.
It would be expected from him, thow: it was the first time he was riding with his companions for a real misson, and most of them were already veterans from dozens of battles. But what was worrying him the most, was that most of his companions seemed to have the same state of mind. And after all… could anyone blame them?
In the last few weeks, there were reports of growing raids of the small villages at the base of the white mountain. Houses were being burned and plundered; and as quickly as they came, they disappeared. And no one knew who “they”were… since no one witnessed the raids and lived to tell the tale. A week ago, a small force of knights was sent to investigate. The group was small, but it was still a force not to be taken lightly; and most of them had already proven their value in countless battles.
They were nowhere to be found now.
A dented shield and a bloody helm was all that remained at the Frostspring village, the last raided village.
And that’s where the larger group was heading now. Paladins, healers, peacebringers and veteran warriors, almost 30 men rode to put an end to the slaughter.
One of the older soldiers drove his steed next to the young knight.
“The world is going crazy these days, huh kid? How are you holding up?”
Pete shrugged. “I thought I would feel proud and brave, riding with you to defend our people for the first time. But to tell you the truth… I think I’m terrified.”
The knight grinned.
“I wouldn’t expect otherwise, coming from an intelligent warrior. Fear is good… keeps you on your toes; overconfidence is deadly on the battlefield.” And then proceeded, on a more serious tone. “Stay sharp, young Pete; for these are no ordinary plunderers. A common thief would be no match for a silvershield knight.”
They arrived at the village the next day. A strange smell was all around, a smell of blood, battle and fire combined.
“Set camp, and have watchmen in patrol.” The senior Paladin was giving the orders. “Today, we scout the premises for any clue to our brothers and get some rest.”
By midday, all the camp was set. Patrols were being made, scouts were sent to look for any clues in the outskirts of the village, and the village was checked house by house. Or better said, ruin by ruin, for no house was left untouched. Strange linear marks were on the ground, a little bit all over, as if something had been dragged; but none had seen such markings before, nor its meaning could be found.
The sun slowly settled at the horizon.
And with it, the first sign of alarm.
All the scouts had orders to return at nightfall, at most. And all had returned… except one.
“There’s still some light left, maybe he’s just a little late.” Said one of the knights, trying to calm the overall mood. But it was clear everybody was tense, and assuming the worse. All around the camp, everyone had eyes in the surroundings, waiting for the scout to come back. Minutes pass, and not a sound was heard. And then, somebody shouted.
When the men were loosing hope, the sillouette of the missing scout appeared over one of the hills. Sighs of relief were heard all around the camp.
The relief would be short lived, thow.
“Something is not right.” Pete was the first to talk.
“What do you mean, lad?” The big paladin placed a hand on the young knight’s shoulder. “Relax boy, we were missing one, and there he is now; no reas…”
“He’s injured! Look, he’s limping!”
It was apparent now; not only he was limping, he was slowing down. One step, another step… and the scout fell to the ground. Two of the knight were aready running in his direction, and the man was immediatly carried to the camp. But as he came under the torches’s light, the wound in his abdomen was beyond any help: his end was near.
“Who did this to you? Who were they?” Asked the healer, trying to do the impossible as he was trying to stop the bleeding.
But in his dying breath, only three words came out:
“They… are… coming.”
The sound of swords being drawn and crossbows being armed were already being heard before the call to arms.
“Gather at the center! All in formation!”
Ranged and healers in the middle, mingled with the warriors, paladins and knights in heavy armor. Pete was there, in the middle, the terror visible on his face. He felt a hand grabbing his arm. It was the same knight that had approached him on the way to the village.
“When the time comes, don’t think. Just swing that sword as hard as you can, boy.”
The moon was already up when the mist came. A thick mist, that slowly spread through the village. And with the mist, they came too.
The sound of metal dragging through the ground was heard moments before a strong blow in one the paladin’s shields, sending the men flying a couple of meters back.
And then all hell broke loose.
Crossbows and bows were fired, as the knights and paladins charged through the mist, but in all truth, it was hard to see who or what were they fighting. Battle cries and screams were heard all around, toghether with the clash of metal.
Pete followed the frontline. Scared, but gripping his sword tight. From the mist, a huge shadow jumped on him, holding a black dagger. By pure instinct, he dodged, as his sword swung in an upward motion, and found its target. But he was too scared to look at his opponent, as the lifeless body fell to the ground. He continued to charge into the mist, swinging his sword. No more foes came to him, thow.
In a few minutes, the metal clashing and the screams faded, until nothing was heard.
The young knight found himself alone in the mist, holding his sword.
This isn’t a battle, he thought, this is a massacre.
All of a sudden, a metal chain wrapped around his body, too fast for him to react. The sword fell to the ground, as the grip tightened, and he struggled to breath. He heard massive steps aproaching, but he knew there was nothing he could do.
Something lifted him in the air, and turned his body in its direction. A pair of evil eyes were facing him, a grin in the face. Their heads were at the same level, although Pete was almost one meter above the ground. He heard the first words, as the grip of the chains tightened even more. The beast kept talking, while his vision became blurry, the breathing almost impossible as the grip got tighter and tighter. And then… darkness and silence.
In the citadel, a worried Tyrus was climbing the stairs, together with one of the divine healers. Two days ago, a warrior was brought to the city, badly injured and burning in fever.
“Tell me again this man’s story.”, Tyrus asked.
“He was found in Frostspring, alone in the middle of the village, barely breathing. There was a party of 30 good man with him… all vanished. I think the fever has gotten him, for he seems to be delusional: he keeps repeating the same things over and over. Mist. A huge beast with chains.”
Tyrus frowned, and the healer continued “Two things he repeats even more than the others: one is they’re coming, they’re coming. The other one… I can make no sense of it”.
“What is it?”
The healer shrugged.
“The word he repeats the most…”
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