Dragon Fire: Episode 54

Aric drew his swords as the cry of the burned highwayman brought more bodies out of the shadows. He took a step back and called out to Degan,

“Are these the dead you spoke of?”

“No. These souls have not been released from the body. They scream in pain, yearning to be free, to be counted among the dead,” Degan answered.

Aric slipped down from his horse and raised his swords to attack.

“I suggest you raise your own army, Degan, for even with my swordsman skills, we will soon lose this battle and count ourselves among the dead.”

“I can do nothing, for the creature Gonorap sleeps with the poison of the dart. Unless he is far from me, my powers are as useless as he is.”

Just then the highwayman lunged at Aric. His movements were slow enough to track yet swift enough that Aric knew his pride of swordsmanship could weaken him.

“Careful,” Degan said. “There is a magic cast around them that keeps them from feeling the pain of their injuries. Their slow movements are hypnotic.”

Again the highwayman lunged, but this time Aric was ready. He quickly spun out of the way, driving his swords to their mark. Aric heard the sound of ripping cloth and flesh. As the highwayman stumbled forward, the cloth of his cloak ripped and his severed right arm fell to the ground.

Although pleased at his victory, Aric stood on guard and readied for another attack. The highwayman raised his left arm and lunged again, stepping on his own severed arm lying in the dirt. Aric thrust his left sword, catching the highwayman in his belly. The burned face looked down at the wound then lifted, snarling with blackened twisted teeth

Aric raised his right sword and slashed off the highwayman’s head.

“Is there nothing human in these creatures?” Aric said, pulling his sword free.

“They are beyond pain, beyond fear. They hear only the call of destruction, the call of their goddess,” Degan explained.

“They do not act like cultists of any god I know,” Aric said.

“They worship the goddess of fire only, the element of destruction and rebirth,” Degan said.

As more bodies appeared, reaching out for Aric and Degan, Aric asked,

“Why must they destroy us? Might they pass over destruction and advance to rebirth?”

“For someone to be reborn, Aric, they must first be destroyed,” Degan reminded him.

“I understand that your powers are now useless, but is there nothing you can do to help?” Aric asked. “Shall I keep fighting until they overtake me?”

“There is one thing,” Degan said as he dismounted.

Degan closed his eyes and began speaking in a murmur. Suddenly the ground rumbled, throwing dirt and rock into the air. As the rumbling grew louder, the dirt and rock came together, encasing Degan’s feet and working its way up his body until it completely covered him. The mass of dirt and rock transformed into the shape of a human then stepped forward leaving Degan behind. Aric watched in wonder while the dirt creature took powerful thundering strides towards the encroaching cultists.

As these worshippers of the goddess fire charged the dirt creature, it slapped them away like winged insects.

“This creature of dirt is a golem,” Degan explained.

“I have never seen you use it before,” Aric said.

“It is a single-minded creature for it will not stop until everyone but me is dead,” Degan said.

“I am not comforted by this news, my friend,” Aric pointed out.

“I shall try to keep it under my control,” Degan said. “As long as the little creature Gonorap sleeps, I can do nothing else to fight these great numbers against us.”

Aric glanced down at the sack resting at Degan’s hip. He remembered the witch’s curse that as long as the creature was close to Degan, the dead would not rise and Degan would be free from them until they were needed.

“I have an idea,” Aric said. “Give me the bag.”

Although Degan was confused, he trusted Aric’s wisdom. Quickly loosening the straps of the leather bag at his hip, he threw it to Aric. Aric grabbed the bag, pulled it over his shoulder and ran for the nearest building.

Degan watched with pain as the cultists swarmed over the golem like ants.

When Aric reached the building, he leapt to its side and hurried to pull himself up. Once he reached the top, he looked back to see the golem going down.

“Is this far enough?” Aric yelled out.

Degan watched the highwayman retrieve his severed head from the dirt and rise.

“It will do,” Degan yelled back.

As the highwayman turned his severed head to face the other cultists, the ground began to quake and hands pushed out from the walls of the buildings.

“You have left many souls here to suffer,” Degan said. “Now they have found their voice and wish to say something.”

When Degan’s smile broadened and a black energy washed over him, the terrified cultists began to retreat.

“Take them!” Degan commanded.

At once, the air was filled with the screams of the dead.

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Published in: on October 20, 2014 at 2:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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