Wednesday, September 7, 2016

"It's gettin' dark, Tanem. Stoke'at fire," the grizzled veteran groused

"It's gettin' dark, Tanem. Stoke'at fire," the grizzled veteran groused, trying to find a comfortable spot amid the knobby knees and ubiquitous roots of the cedar swamp. At least it was the dry season and they were not sitting in neck-deep, boggy, pest-infested black water.

Tanem chuckled, tossing another sweet-smelling faggot of the red wood onto the fire. "S'matter, Sarge? Ya gettin' spooked?"

Several voices around the fire rose up in laughter at Tanem's friendly jab at the Sarge, but it was undercut by their collective sense of simmering trepidation. They were all a little frightened--and they all knew it.

"Th' moon'll be full tonight, mark my words." Tlor, the Sargent, spat, peering up through the scraggly cedar branches at the cloud-filled sky. The wind was moving swiftly, and the clouds were following suit, allowing brief snatches of pale moonlight to spill out and onto the earth below.

"Which means he'll be huntin'..." Grannok, an old, conscripted trapped grumbled, his dark, glitter eyes never leaving the fire. "Him, and his demon-thrall will be out'fa blood this night, mark me."

Several of the younger soldiers shifted uncomfortably, while several of the older loosed their weapons in their respective holders while eyeing the encroaching darkness.

"That'll be enough'o that, Grannok, thank'ee." Tlor said, with a bit more force than he needed.

The old, withered trapper continued, as if he had not even heard his commander. "They say that he and the demon-thrall fight as one. That he can draw power from it, and it from he. They say that he is no longer a man and that he fights with the skill and the strength of the creature to which he's bound..." His face was lit with sanguine light from the fire, and he spoke as a man possessed.

"I said, that'll be enough, Grannok!" The Sarge shouted this time, standing as if to make a move towards the speaking man. Tlor could see that all of his men were now even more on edge and the fear was plainly painted on every face around the fire. Some of the men had even slipped on their winged helms, seeking some semblance of solace in their armor's protection.

Grannok did not stop. It was like the old trapper was gone, and a newer, darker, more malevolent force had taken over. "It is said that once their dance of death begins--and when he and the demon first draw blood, that the mortal man is gone. That he is hidden within the dark soul of the other. That so long as they fight together, beneath the dark night sky, that he cannot be killed!"

The trapper's voice had continued to mount, like a chant, until it reaching this final crescendo. It was at that moment, that the Sarge bellowed. "Somebody shut that ol'fool up!"

It was also at that moment that twin blades rang free from their scabbards, and that twin pairs of hands, tipped with steely claws, began ripping into mortal flesh.

The Dance of Death had begun.

Art Source: "skth" (c)/by Artem Demura
Story and Characters: (c)/by Brannon Hollingsworth

#MMWW, #Makes, #Me, #Wanna, #Write, #BrannonHollingsworth,  #DanceofDeath, #twoinone, #Beneaththemoon


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