Dragon Fire: Episode 66

Turning back to the army of cultists, Aric strode into the fight, swords drawn. From the funeral pyre bathed in flames, one of the cultists leapt out at Aric. With a swing of the blade, Aric opened the cultist’s chest, sending him to the ground. But after a moment, the man stood up, now one of the dead, and charged after those who had been his comrades.

With half of his face burned to a dark brown, leathery flesh, one of the cult priests came up next to the large fire and began speaking in a tongue unfamiliar to Aric.

“What is he doing?” Aric yelled to Degan above the noise.

“He calls his god for help,” Degan answered.

At once Aric rushed toward the priest.

Pushing the cultists and the dead out of his way, he cleared a path to the pyre.

As he drew nearer the priest, one of the cultists ran screaming from the crowd and seized Aric around the neck, pulling him down.

During his struggle to free the cultist’s grip, Aric dropped his weapons. As he fought to regain his swords, he felt himself begin to lose consciousness. Gathering his strength, he raised his leg, slipped a dagger out of his boot, and drove its blade into the cultist’s flesh. Immediately the hand around Aric’s throat fell away and Aric twisted free. Taking up his swords, he slashed the cultist’s throat, cutting off his head. Then stepping away from the body, he turned back toward the priest.

With his arms outstretched, the priest continued to chant louder and louder, moaning in an unnatural voice. Aric reached down to the dead cultist, worked the dagger free, then threw it at the priest.

The dagger flipped through the air entering the priest’s lower back. At once the chanting stopped and he stumbled forward into the fire.

Aric made his way over to the fire pit and stepped up on its edge.

When he began to shout out over the crowd, Degan commanded the dead army to stop their attack.

“I have killed your master. Your god has abandoned you.”

At that, the cultists ceased fighting.

“Lay down your arms and you will be spared. You have lost this battle. As each of your men dies, the army of the dead grows. I cannot grant you mercy from the king for your crimes, but I can promise you that imprisonment as a man is far better than life as a mindless slave. You must choose which path you will take. What is your answer?”

The cultists looked at each other in uncertainty. Suddenly one of them raised his sword in defiance, but before he could strike, a dead soldier lashed out, slicing through the man’s neck, separating his head from its body. The cultist fell to the ground dead but a moment later, his headless body rose and stood awaiting a command.

When the rest of the cultists saw that fighting was futile, they dropped their weapons.

“A wise decision,” Aric said.

While he spoke, Aric saw the crowd part as a young man, a look of horror on his face, slowly made his way toward Aric.

“Forgive me but I bring a message for Aric and the necromancer Degan,” he said.

“I am Aric, and Degan is here as well,” Aric said.

When the young man held out the note, Aric took it from his hand.

After a moment Degan asked,

“What is this note?”

Aric looked up at Degan, his brow furrowed, and said,

“It seems we are needed. The world may be ending soon.”

* * *

One of the youngest of the cultist brethren had run in the midst of the battle to the courtyard where he last saw his master Vanamir.

“Master,” he cried out, “we are dying. These monsters and blasphemers are gaining the victory. We need your help.”

The ground where Vanamir died slowly began to rise as black bile seeped out from the cracks in the stones. Startled, the cultist began to back away until a withered hand reached out from the soil and grabbed his leg.

Black lines ran up the cultist’s body and he screamed as he quickly aged, withered, then fell to the stones in a pile of dust.

The hand from the soil stretched out its fingers, popping the knuckles, then formed them into a fist.

Published in: on October 18, 2015 at 7:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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