Category Archives for "Dark Fantasy"

The Black Pilgrimage

I

Marble Dreams

Remyan…Why do ya fight me so? Fightin’ ya nature, like a bird fightin’ da wind or a fish fightin’ da water. I be no enemy to ya. Blood is a fine wine, bazra, it age with each kill, and that makes yours a rare vintage. Beware, my precious Remyan, great peril awaits ya…for de marble road you travel leads toward palaver with de Black One. His thralls will try to end your lore, but will add to it. It has been foreseen, sala. Endure these marble dreams. Soon de nightmare will be here.

II 

No reward can be spent in the grave.

   He could tell that they wanted to kill him. Remmy had seen the look on their faces before. It was a visage dripping with angst, anticipation, and anxiety. He knew it well because he had worn it on more than a few occasions.

The three men sat at a table across the tavern from him, each one armed with blades from shoulder strap to belt. Remmy knew one of them by name, a particularly vile bastard known as Agmar the Blight, who had earned his name fighting the hill men of Ramone for coin and plunder, or at least that was his reputation.

And Remmy Southwind knew a thing or two about reputations, for he had one of his own. He knew that wherever the name followed, there would always be a steady stream of men looking to steal it’s glory for themselves, with or without the reward.

Markum’s wife, Dreama, walked in the side door of the tavern, carrying a wooden pale at her side. Her beauty hadn’t betrayed her at all in the eight years since her wedding night. He could tell immediately what attracted Markum saw to her.

A precocious young girl ran in behind her. One glance at her smirk and you could immediately see her father’s face.

“Dreama” he said in salutation.

Wordlessly, she kept walking, with little more than an icy glance.

Remmy didn’t take offense. He was a bygone memory in her husband’s past. A memory filled with blood and bile and war. Who wants to see those sitting at your table, drinking your ale, asking to see your husband?

Agmar still hadn’t taken his eyes off Remmy. One of his drinking buddies was a dwarf with black tattooed lines etching the contours of his face and shaved scalp. His short trimmed beard covered a pointy chin, and was half soaked in excess ale and gods knew what else. He sat there in a stupor, either scared or drunk or both, while the other, a stocky lad, hadn’t looked up from his ale since Remmy sat down.

And that made him smile. “Know my name, do you boy?” he whispered to himself.

He was right to be scared. They called him “Deathless.” It was a useful, all be it undeserved moniker, he had to admit, for Remmy was most definitely capable of dying. That being said, he didn’t think “Lucky Remmy” or “Remmy the Fortunate” sounded as good, so he never bothered to correct it.

A big hand clapped down on his right shoulder. Reflexively, he reached down for the dagger at his side, but when he looked up, a familiar voice greeted him for the first time in 8 years.

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She That Devours The Tail

If you come upon this account, traveler, it means that some fraction of my discovery may yet enter the civilized world, and I am absolved of my refusal to be a messenger.

Having left this journal interned below a dais in the windy, eagle-peopled places at the edge, I have no illusions about how long my words might gather dust. By then absolution will be behind me, and this unburdened land will perhaps have been claimed and colonized. But if you are reading this account, you now face the same choice I did, and all civilization and all understanding has gone out behind you like a tide.

I believe this choice will destroy you, or else you will destroy yourself to avoid it. But let me tell first my journey and how I came to the road under stars to the lost fathoms of the world, and you may begin to understand what you face.

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At The Noise of Battle

Sirat watched as Thennor haggled with the butcher.  “Sixteen fanad for four kilos of meat?”  The butcher nodded.

“What, will dewy-eyed maidens cook it for us?”  Thennor held their moneybeads.

“No, but I will, for a fanad more.”  An Emth merchant with heavy shoulders and back, the butcher wore a leather apron and a kilt. Meat lay on the merchant-wagon’s table in double gobbets. Above the table hung two gareep carcasses, plucked and gutted.

“Elephant-pig, you say?”

That’s too pale to be elephant-pig.  Or was it?  It was too big to be rabbit or woolbeast, and primates weren’t eaten, of course….

Sirat probably looked less than her thirty winters, her arms muscled from weapons practice, her light tunic and jerkin cool in the firstday.  Since Pendleton’s World has a day 140 hours long, folks worked, then slept, and spoke of firstday and secondday, firstnight and secondnight. It was twenty hours to the noon eclipse.  She wore linen breeches and moccasins of woolbeast-hide. Her crossbow was inside with the men, but she wore the saber beside her that was called Whiteflame. Around her neck on a chain was a little monocular, a magic seeing-thing that the wizard had given her.

“Aye, it’s elephant-pig, hauled here in the dawn.  Make you a good stew, she will. Better than when she was alive!”

Thennor’s eyes widened. “Alive?”

“Alive, the beast can’t cook at all!”  The butcher laughed. Sirat did not. She noted the scars on the man’s hands and arms and wondered if he had been a soldier before he took up cutting meat.  “Now, do you want four kilos, or five?”

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The Armor of Ned’Var

Steel sang as Ned’Var’s sword met his opponents. This young fighter’s first strike was the most basic of attacks, a vertical cut perpendicular to the ground. Ned’Var simply smiled and raised his sword above his head to block it.

He may not be a worthy addition, but I can wait no longer, Ned’Var thought as the rogue pushed back. He took a deep breath and relaxed his posture, awaiting his opponent’s next move.

By the young warrior’s drab brown and red colored clothing, grime-covered cheeks, and dulled blade, Ned’Var knew the boy to be a peasant without proper combat training, but with no markings of any sort, he could not tell the village he once hailed from. He had spotted the youth filling his flask by the river’s edge just outside of his camp. Ned’Var watched him carefully, keeping to the shadows of the forest and looking for any companions. Fortune smiled upon him for the boy was alone.

“What’s your name, boy?” he asked, daring not to deliver a fatal wound until learning it.

“My name is of no concern to you. And don’t call me, boy!”

The young warrior’s next move came, a thrust to the center of Ned’Var’s torso, with the boy lunging forward. Before the blade could spill his intestines, Ned’Var retaliated with a tight, downward swing. The sword blocked the attack and slid the boy’s blade past him. Ned’Var angled in and caught him square on the chin with a left hook. The two combatants stumbled to the right, both caught off balance by the blow.

They stumbled and caught themselves before falling over. With their footing recovered, they stood perpendicular to each other with their swords pointed upward.

“Why do you persist?” asked the boy. “I have no qualms with you.”

“Nor I with you. You simply happened upon the wrong man’s path.” Ned’Var swung his sword downward once more, aiming for his opponent’s right leg. “You should have kept to the road.”

The young warrior swung his sword to counter. He parried the sword away from his body, but Ned’Var quickly arced his blade back, cutting him across the abdomen. The finely sharpened steel sliced through the grunge covered linen and underlying flesh with ease. The skin folded outward as tubular intestines rose forth and spilled to the ground. The boy dropped to his knees, driving the tip of his sword into the rich soil on his way down.

Ned’Var shook his head. “Terrible shame.”

“Bastard,” the boy said, blood pooling in his mouth and spilling from his lips.

“Tell me your name.”

“Christoph,” he whispered, “from Woodkade. Now you know you’ve killed the wrong man.” His grip on his sword faltered and he fell face-first to the ground.

“Where you’re from is of no importance, but your name…that is power. Don’t worry, my boy, soon you’ll be an unstoppable warrior,” Ned’Var said.

He waited for a sign of movement, the tip of his sword hovering above the boy’s shoulder, but none came. He had to act quickly.

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