Monday, September 5, 2016

All who walk this field will cross the Styx.

Hearken! Tell of fell Reknown:
Two Houses fed on the Earth
Two Trees split from lowly Dirt
Three Judges peer past mortal Bone
Three Paths held by sacred Stones
Seven's Sect stand on fallen Ground
Seven Sins break each stout Convert
One Road leads to death's dark Hearth
--One Lord rules under kindled Crown

"Spare it, Giovanni!" Rhad' shouted.

The soiled commander glanced at his bronze companion. An arrow hummed past Giovanni's ear as it cut a crimson groove through his beard. He growled, "Watchman, we must withdraw!"

Rhad' had three barbs pierce his plates, tunic, and flesh. Yet, no mist crept behind his eyes as he surveyed the turned mix of blood and soil all around them. He counted three hundred Ghuzz crowding the hills. Two more bolts bit into his legs as he answered, "You can judge as clearly as I there is but one route for us to tread."

Giovanni threw a clay amphora into the jeering mob. A blue-white flame sprung up on several's skin. Others threw water on their howling kindred, only to join in shrieking as the liquid transformed into fire and consumed them as well. The priest swung his sword and split the soft underside of a nearby assailant. Still more stocky soldiers poured into the vale.

The beautiful Slav at his side unleashed her own black barbs into the armed masses. Roksana piped in a haunting tone, "I have already walked that path and will not finish my journey escorted by their unwashed hands."

A great roar boomed amid the enemy's din while a ripple went through their ranks. Twisted weapons, bent helms, and broken bodies flew through the air as tight knots of warriors attempted to approach the brute wielding a bone club. Each hissed prayers or curses at the long, stout beast that guarded Giovanni's other flank.

The priest glanced over his shoulder to see a crumpled woolen cloak, trampled by the foe's own terror of shadow and fire for which he had no name. No sign remained of either the hellish marauder or its victim. The earth still trembled with the echo of its defiling touch. Pale gleams from the waning sun shot through the barren copse amid the battle.

"We may be few, Rhad'," Giovanni confessed, "but we will see this day through and escape under nightfall."

"You have decreed falsely, holy man." The shorter figure's words struck with the force of a gavel, while his pole arm flashed in a lethal arc through several throats. The ground cracked and yawned all around them. "Hear this sentence of Rhadamanthus the Wise: Those who walk this carrion's field will cross the Styx."

Story and Characters: (c)/by Corey Blankenship, Giovanni, Roksana, Jaw Bone, Tenet (c) Brannon Hollingsworth


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