Dragon Fire: Episode 20

As Degan waited with the cart, suddenly he heard shouting. He quickly turned to his followers and ordered,

“Come.”

At his command, the skeletons raised their weapons and followed him into the grove.

The trees loomed overhead, lacing their fingers to block out the sunlight.

When he came near the wall, Degan saw at one of the gates a guard, lying on the ground while two others stood over him.

“Is he dead?” one asked.

Degan could see that the man was dead, his neck having been snapped.

“We must enter the gates. Someone is attacking,” one of the guards said.

As Degan drew closer, the guards turned suddenly.

“Halt!” one yelled as both men reached for their swords.

Degan held up a hand to stop his small army of the dead.

“You do not want to do that,” Degan warned, motioning toward their weapons.

“And why not? Because of them?” the guard asked as he pointed to the dead with a trembling hand.

Degan knew that the men were trying to be brave in spite of their fear at the sight.

“No,” Degan said as the fallen guard slowly stood, his neck lolling to one side with part of the bone extending from his neck.

The dead guard removed his sword from its sheath, stumbled forward, and ran it through the back of the guard closer to him. The mortally wounded guard suddenly turned and stared in stunned silence, clasping his wound.

“I would not hesitate if I were you,” Degan warned the last guard.

The living guard stabbed the guard with the broken neck and reached to take the sword of the stabbed guard, who had not yet fallen, only to find that the man’s hand still tightly clutched the weapon.

The guard with the broken neck pulled his sword from his victim, and still the stabbed guard did not fall.

The living guard staggered backward, pulling his sword from the dead man’s body, as he asked in horror,

“What sort of evil is this?”

Degan said, “I gave you warning.”

The two dead guards advanced, their swords raised.

“I know how to stop the dead,” the remaining guard swore.

When the guard with the broken neck came closer to his victim, the surviving guard swung out at him, striking a blow to his neck and removing his head.

“There,” the guard declared proudly as the head hit the ground and rolled away.

“That will not work,” Degan said.

“What?” he asked confused.

His celebration ceased when he turned and saw that the headless guard still advanced.

Quickly, the headless guard reached forward with his weapon and ran him through.

With a desperate cling to life, the last guard reached out to Degan, but his hands fell short and he fell over.

Degan stood in place, waiting for the dead man’s animation.

As he waited, he examined the gate and discovered a way to get inside. Although Aric had told him to stay out, he would enter. From the sounds within the walls, Aric’s plan, whatever it had been, was not going well. Degan knew he needed Aric’s help to find freedom from the dead who always followed him. With a deep sigh of regret, Degan steeled his nerves and commanded,

“Take them.”

One of the dead let out a loud guttural yell and charged the gate, slamming his bulk into it as skeletons leapt to the wall and began to climb.

*              *                *

Aric tumbled under the woman’s rapier. Quickly she struck his face, side, and leg, seemingly with one motion. She was quick, and even with one weapon against his two, she was proving to be a worthy opponent. He rolled up to his feet, his wounds stinging, as the woman stood with confidence, bearing her own injuries.

“Do you yield?” she asked him.

“Never,” Aric growled.

“Then you will die here,” she assured him.

Aric’s attention suddenly shifted as he began to hear sounds behind him, men crying and swords clashing.

“What is that noise?” the woman demanded, moving alongside Aric.

Aric’s blood ran cold as he answered,

“The dead are here.”

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Published in: on September 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

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