DP Gregoire Fiction - Scabbath the Companion
Tuesday March 2nd 2021
In an antediluvian world, long before the great pyramid of Giza, and the permafrost which blankets Antarctica, there was magic that was true and wonders beyond imagination. It was a time before the ancient ones came, it was a time during the infancy of man, it was a time of great achievement.
As Scabbath climbed up the final stretch, he saw an imposing figure standing between him and freedom from this hellish nightmare. The man stood just under 5 cubits in height, weighing just over 37 stones in weight. He was adorned in the furs of hunting trophies and carried a big axe. His hair long, black, with a beard to match.
“Komdu að mér, skepna! Ég mun senda þig aftur til dauða þar sem þú óverðskuldað óhlýðnuðist!” the large man roared, axe in hand. His body marred by the scars of past battles.
Scabbath nerved by the sudden appearance of a hostile man. It wasn't the the fact that it was another hostile thing wanting to kill him which nerved him, it was more-or-less the fact he hasn't seen another human face in months, and the first one he comes across wants his blood. Scabbath pauses a moment, deciding if he should flee, fight, or give up.
Each warrior stared at the other, none making a movement, their hands upon their weapon. The stare down tense, so tense in fact, each warrior forgot the hostile land they were on, but instead only had eyes for each other.
Scabbath decided to break their moment of silence, “Though I know not what you said, and you know not what I am saying, let it be known to the sky and the earth as my witness, I mean you no harm, I just wish to pass.”
The giant-of-a-man loosened the grip on his axe, motioning the exile to move on away from his sight. Though he kept a watchful eye on Scabbath, he appeared to be searching for something. Prodding the ground with his weapon, he used his boot to flip rocks and bones over, he didn't do much bending.
As Scabbath passed by he noticed the man's axe hook onto something half buried in the ground. The burly man lifted up what appeared to be a braided leather necklace with two strands hanging from it, each strand has an ivory trinket of some sort attached to it. He holds the necklace up in the air, cleaning off any dirt, eventually putting one of the trinkets into his ear, while bringing the other trinket to his lips.
“Hold, warrior!” the giant-of-a-man spoke to Scabbath.
Surprised the man was able to talk to him Scabbath turned to face him, “What is it you need?”
The man's chest bumped into the exile's forehead as he stepped toward him. Looking down he responds, “Where is it you're headed?”
And so Scabbath explained what it was he was after. The two swapped stories of their homelands, what brought them here, and what they've encountered since their time on this continent. Scabbath came to learn they had a similar goal, to head toward the shiny ebony tip that pierced through the thick fogs of this land.
Scabbath learned the man's name as Endre, who hailed from a land far north, a land of giants, a land of frost. The man told him the necklace was imbued with the rare magic of faeries, allowing him to understand all manner of the spoken tongue of man, as well as communicate with them as well.
This poisoned land surrounded by a psychoactive fog had one last ditch effort to consume the living souls within. It had to act fast or soon its prey would be out of its influence. Lucky for this land, it could manipulate its features, creating new obstacles. And so a tremor happened, the earth shook. Scabbath & Endre stumbled, trying to hold their footing while the landscape violently shook, causing the earth to crack and hills to rise.
When it all settled a tomb was revealed. The entrance emanated with a faint pink glow, a melodic hymn haunting its way out of the open chamber. Both men were drawn to the anomaly, it was calling to them. After all, there was no where else to go...
The charmed warriors descended the uneven stone steps into the tomb below, a dim pink light illuminating the room. As their feet made contact with the floor, again, everything started to shake. The entryway collapsed, sealing them in! They were trapped, and the chamber started to flood! A thick chunky liquid poured in from several grates above.
Endre pulled at the stones blocking their exit, removing them one-by-one, while Scabbath lit his makeshift torch. He could see a tunnel at the far side of the chamber. The liquid was waist high now.
“Come, Endre,” he said with authority, “There is a passage this way!” he points.
Endre abandons his fruitless effort to clear the collapsed entryway of debris. They would sooner drown than he would be able to clear a path out of here.
They trudged through the muck, it at chest level now. Walking down the passage they noticed the walls are made of bones. Rows of skulls supported by femurs, humerus, and tibia bones. And what's more, almost hidden between these layer of bones are the weapons of those buried into the wall itself.
“This is quite a grim place,” the giant mumbled.
Scabbath nodded, pressing forward through the macabre hallway. SNIFF! SNIFF! He smelled the air, it smelled of wet earth and iron.
Splutch! Splutch! PLUNK! BLOP!
The sound of something hitting the assumed to be mud filled the air. Many somethings, in fact. Enough to gain Endre's attention. As he watched, he realized bones from the walls of the passageway were falling into the mud.
“Scabbath! We have a problem,” Endre said.
“What would that be?” Scabbath asked back.
“Bones! The bones of the dead are collapsing into this muck. I fear it's not due to some shoddy architecture,” Endre forewarned.
Scabbath quickly looked back to survey the scene, “Here, use this to block from your flank. We'll hurry the best we can,” Scabbath hands off the shield to Endre.
Just as predicted, the bones rise up out of the muck, implements of war in hand. A fiery pink glow filling their eye socks, they move with malice.
Unlucky for the dead, however, chest high mud slows them down greatly. Lucky for Endre, it was barely even waist high to him.
Endre bashed the shield at the oncoming onslaught of untold amounts of dead. His slam shattering three of them upon impact. And it would have been more, but only three of them were within range of the blow.
Two more leap from the sides of the walls at Endre, the shield making quick work of them.
“How goes it back there?” Scabbath yells to Endre.
CLANG! BANG! BOOOOOOOOONG!
Endre was soon getting overwhelmed by the dead. The shield being used with great efficiency. Two more shattered into pieces upon impact, and then five more all at once.
“Hopefully we find a way out of here soon,” the giant bellowed.
“Don't worry, I see what looks like the end of this passageway just ahead,” Scabbath responds back.
“Good. I grow tired of these bothersome creatures,” Endre replied.
Mud boiled as if it were subject to some sort of intense heat. Then, out from the muck burst forth a vile creature that could only be conjured up by the darkest forces of necromantic power. The collective bones of the dead formed together in what one could only describe as a centipede made from human bones.
“SCREEEEEEECH!” the monstrosity roared down the tunnel toward the men trespassing in this tomb.
Scabbath turned back to see a horror unlike any he has seen before. Endre undeterred by the creature's appearance challenged it, bashing his axe upon the shield, “Come to your doom, weakling!”
The behemoth of a beast lunged toward Endre, its mandible comprised of many different jaw bones opened up, clacking about. Endre swung the shield, hoping for an easy victory. But, something unexpected happened. With ten of its arms halting the blow, the creature had grabbed the shield!
Endre pulled back with his arm, trying to regain his claim on the shield. But then it came with eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen arms. He was losing his grip.
“Don't make me use my second arm,” Endre threatened. It went unanswered. With axe sheathed, Endre responded by gripping the shield with his second hand. Fourteen more arms gripped the shield, swaying the test of strength in its favor.
A tug-of-war between two forces, one strong & stubborn, the other an unrelenting force created by dark magics. And yet Scabbath had no cares as he hurled a mud ball so large it knocked the head off of the creature.
Endre turned around in confusion, “What manner of technique is that?”
“A smart one, now go!” Scabbath commanded the giant-of-a-man.
That allowed a momentary distraction, enough for them to get closer to the end of the passageway. Inches away from escaping the hall, the rapid sound of bone clicking on bone came down the hallway. The men hustled as much as possible given their circumstance.
Reinvented, it became a stronger beast. Its basic construction was similar, that of a centipede like creature made of human bones. But, this time it came with the torsos of the dead along its back, wielding the weapons they were once buried with.
The hallway opened up into a chamber of moderate size, the muck becoming less deep. It was now at Scabbath's belly button, which means it would be just below Endre's waist. However, the depth didn't matter much, because the monstrosity of bone crawled along the wall and ceiling, circumventing the obstacle. Each one of its legs ended in a hand.
A mass of bone and bronze swing its way wildly at the man blocking its path forward. Swords slashed from every direction. Spears stabbed wildly about. Endre attempted to block and parry every blow, but only found himself successful just over half of the time.
Picking up a well aged, well worn leather shield, Scabbath ran around the giant, meeting the creature at its side. There he helped divert some of the attention away from Endre who was being overwhelmed.
They both blocked and parried blows, attacking back with any minor opening they may have. Each attack from Endre would send a mass of bone splintering through the air, while Scabbath was more fast paced, knocking bones piece-by-piece. But, it was of no use. Like an assembly line, the flank of the creature would carry more bones to the front to replace the old ones.
“Endre!” Scabbath yelled over to him.
Endre divided his attention between Scabbath and the necromantic nightmare, “Yes?”
“Bash it in the head, again!” Scabbath commanded.
A master crafted shield was driven right into the head of the creature, delivered by the powerful giant-of-a-man. Its skull exploding into a million tiny fragments, enveloped by the pink flames that were within. They used this time to escape the chamber.
A spear stabbed through Endre. He gripped it, breaking off the sharp tip. Turning around he sees the thing reanimated yet again! The monster lunges for Endre, a dozen weapons at the ready.
Fueled by a blood frenzy Endre grips his axe with both hands. However, he does not drive the axe into the creature, no, instead, he chops at the stonework in the ceiling.
THWAK! THWAK! THWAK-THWAK-THWAK! THWAK!
He chops relentlessly as Scabbath looks on. He wonders what the behemoth of a man is doing. Chunks of the ceiling come crashing down onto the creature made of bone, until the whole thing caves in, leaving Endre and Scabbath in the dust.
Waving his hand while coughing Scabbath asks, “What technique was that?”
“An even smarter one,” Endre replied smugly.
Scabbath glanced his way, a smirk upon his face, “Ha! You could of brought the whole thing down upon us in an effort to slay the beast!”
The giant growled a bit, “But I didn't. It would be better to sacrifice ourselves slaying such a creature than to let it live on.”
“I can't say that I agree,” Scabbath countered.
The men debated combat techniques and theory for a bit as they continued through this perilous tomb. Each describing over exaggerated ways in which they would of dispatched of the necromantic monster. Slaying any mundane skeleton which got in their way. It seemed that each time one would say how they would of slain it, the other had a story to one-up them. And yet, over this, they found friendship, friendship on this lonely, desolate hate filled land.
A large stone double door stands tall before them, dwarfing even the giant known as Endre. Scabbath illuminates it, rubbing his hand across its surface. The door had carvings of what looked like a woman with a crown, a staff with an eye sprouting wings from it as the decorative piece, and various animals. Each carving painted in exquisite detail.
“It looks to be an area of great importance. Perhaps someone of great importance is buried here?” Scabbath theorized.
Endre nodding his head, “Indeed.”
Both men pushed the heavy doors opened. A large sarcophagus with a three dimensional carving of the figure buried within lays at the center of the room. It too painted just as well as the doors. Several sarcophagi align the walls, they too carved & painted. The pictures depicted everything from servants to what one would assume to be personal guards. Dozens of wax sealed clay jars line the walls, and about a dozen around the main sarcophagus.
Amazed, Scabbath walks over to the sarcophagus, looking it over, studying its features, “Whoa! What do you think is inside?”
Endre scoffs, “You fancy yourself a grave robber?”
Crouched down studying the sides of it, “No, but I am curious as to what is inside.”
A foreign script is engraved on the sides of this sarcophagus. A gold plate at the foot of it with more engraved writing.
“Endre, do you think you can translate what these engravings say using your artifact?” Scabbath asks while concentrating on the script.
“No,” Endre answers directly, “And it is not an artifact.”
“Oh? Then what do you call it?” Scabbath confused by his answer.
“A trinket. It is a trinket. And even if it could decipher text, I cannot read,” Endre admits.
“Hmph, a pity,” Scabbath stands up, “Want to take a look inside?”
“If it will sate your overt curiosity,” Endre replies.
The lid was so heavy, it took both men to do it. Truly, it would of just taken Endre, but he was so tired and worn out from the past several days of constant conflict and fighting for his life, he just didn't have the energy.
The lid slammed to the ground with a loud thud. The sound echoing off of the walls. And there she laid. The lady this tomb revolved around. Not only was she dressed in really fine clothing designating importance, but she wore a crown upon her head, her golden hair still on her head. Gold coins, jewelry, and spices are buried along side her.
A faint pink glow illuminated the back of the room accompanied by a haunting hymn. It suddenly grew brighter and brighter, louder and louder. Scabbath and Endre looked around in confusion. Then, without warning, the eerie haunting light absorbed into the corpse.
Her eyes opened, glowing with the fires of life. Scabbath and Endre took a shocked step backwards, or, perhaps it was commanded of them. She floated into the air, her presence all powerful and all commanding.
“I am Enbora, the first recorded king of Ulstoria,” the withered corpse adorned in fine clothes and jewelry stated, “I have long been buried here, with my soldiers whom died in battle, and with their enemies who died along with them.”
“Why would you bury the dead of your enemies with you?” Endre asked, confused at the idea.
Enbora elaborates, “In war, it is often thought the other side is wrong. But, what we fail to see is that what is wrong for some may be right for others, and what is right for our side may not be right for theirs. With that in mind, we bury the dead of both sides together, because it is OUR story as a collective, it is the best way we can honor them.”
Endre bursts out in laughter, “Hahaha! No wonder you died! Sounds like a sack of shit!”
The flames of her eyes grow brighter, angrier even, “You have insulted all that I am and all that I have loved! You trespass, yet you mock me in my tomb! I have returned to life from beyond the grave to defend these lands! You will be buried here with all of us for ETERNITY!” Her words echoed out as the doors to her tomb slammed shut. Muck started rapidly filling the room from below.
(Note: Endre is 4.8 cubits of height, and 37.15 stones of weight.)