Wednesday, March 4, 2015

3-4-15 Wednesday Warm-up
9:01 AM

3-4-15 Wednesday Warm-up

Artwork © Christopher Lovell, All Rights Reserved -
Story and Characters © Raulston Hunsinger, All Rights Reserved 
Brought to you by Four Fools Press: “Crazy Good Stories”

“They come,” Princess Adwin said in a low murmur. She was sweating in her mail, her helm heavy on her head beneath the noon sun as it baked the scrubby grassland that stretched out before her.

High on the parapet of the fortress called unflatteringly, the Plug, because it blocked passage through the Briginbar Pass, she took in the vast army that spread out across the plain. The dead army. They stood row upon row, slowly swaying in their ordered lines, as if they had to continually adjust their balance. The stench of those that were recently recruited reached her at this height and distance.

The dwarf turned to the human that stood beside her. Tall, even for his race, he was as spar as a pine, his shoulders slightly stooped with the age and mail that weighed him down. She allowed her eyes to drop to the sword at his side, an ancient battle-blade, with a worn hilt and a pommel of silver, a baying wolf head with emeralds for the eyes. A relic of another age, the blade of a Wolf-Knight. The elite warriors that served the High Kings of the humans. The High King was no more and men such as this one served various lords, recalling that ancient order as their own. Behind him, in forest leathers, a chain vestment his only armor stood a young man. Armed with a short-sword and bow, a quiver across his back, this was his apprentice, or squire as they called these stripling knights in training.

The three necromancers, undead themselves, detached from their horde and stood patiently in front of the great stone gates of the Fortress Briginbar, the true name for the Plug. Desiccated things from a bygone time when a great sprawling kingdom lay to the south of the grass lands. None knew what had ended that vast empire, but these three had emerged from the dry wastes to challenge the living and the Plug barred their way to verdant lands and the human kingdoms beyond. One appeared to be goblin-kin, mummified with its elongated ears still prevalent, snaggled incisors, and mossy beard. Black pits for eyes stared blankly up at the top of the wall as it stood mutely, a fetish staff topped with a human skull in its fist. Another was a skeletal husk draped in rotting silks and veils, as the woman of the Western Seas, with its cities of gold minarets wore. Little could be seen save cadaverous shadows and glimpses when a breeze caught the gossamer garments. The center of the trio, the one that stood to the fore, was a woman, white skinned, her bleached features covered by a heavy black cowl and gold embroidered robes. Talon tipped hands gripped a grimoire. About the whole, including the hoard, various carrion birds wheeled and dived, not attacking, confused by the mobility of their meals.

“Shall we go parley, Sir Knight,” the princess said, her tone bordering on insult.

The old knight stroked his beard, his pale eyes gimlet sparks in the wrinkled folds of his face. “No need. They have no reason to discuss terms other than to have you in their grasp, Lady. They will simply try to overrun the walls with their vast numbers. What are casualties to those already dead?”

The Lady Dwarf looked out over the gathered dead then back to her own defenders, stout dwarves all, armored and preparing defenses. Indeed, what are casualties to the dead? 


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