DP Gregoire Fiction - Scabbath the Hunted
Saturday February 13th 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.
Ancient bones of the dead came at him like hungry ravenous wolves waiting to tear at his flesh. The dead marched.
Scabbath felt a sense of urgency not normally known to him. However, his time on Ulstoria has been a tried one. First giants, then “death soil,” and now this? The animated corpses of the fog.
He searched for a quick outing, but there was none to be found. Instead, he turned to face the hoard, what other options were there?
They came at him like ants to cheese. Most were unarmed, and those that weren't, were either armed with whatever scraps could be picked up from the land or the rusty implements of weapons long decayed. Scabbath battled the dead, and lucky for him most went down in one hit.
It seems none were able to strike him, this would not be a battle of toughness, instead, it would be one of endurance. But more yet, it would be a battle of wits. How long could he do this for before he breaks? For each corpse that fell, it seems another would rise and take its place at the back of the hoard. An innumerable amount of undead.
Bolts of lightning come crashing down from the storm clouds forming in the heavens above. The impact of the blast sending body parts of the corpses flying in every direction, and in a large radius from where it struck the undead have returned to unlife.
Scabbath looked up toward the sky, 'This storm appears dangerous,' he thought to himself as he fought his way forward toward a large collection of rocky hills while monitoring the situation overhead.
The exile managed to find an old banged up shield in the midst of all of the chaos. The quality was that of a fine metal, one Scabbath does not recall ever seeing before. It was certainly different than the copper and brass he was used to. Upon the shield was a beautifully painted picture of a tree spouting up from the earth, it bent over by the weight of an apple hanging from its branch. At its bottom it is wrapped by a serpent in a figure eight like fashion at the base of the tree. And an inscription was carved at the bottom, it was in an language Scabbath couldn't read, it read “טובאלקין.”
The shield was an impressive feat, the work of a master artificer, no doubt. Was it made on these lands by human hands? Or did it come from a far away place just to end up hidden in the fog? None of that mattered now, Scabbath had a multi-use tool in which to face the hoard of undead.
BLAM! CLUNK! THUNK! SLAM! DONK!
He smashed his way through enemy territory, his goal in site. Shield to skull, foot to mud, the warrior pressed forward. Bits of bone fragments splintered in every direction, corpses fell at his feet.
He fought against the masses, making his way toward a cave he had spotted near the outcropping. 'Perhaps I could lose them in there,' he though as he fought on.
“It will either be a place I can hide allowing my escape, or a dead end, trapping me inside. Either way, I will decide how I die, not this miserable land!” he said between gritted teeth!
After clearing a path with the shield Scabbath sprinted forward, he enters the cave. The light of his torch illuminated the walls, crude paintings cover them. He studied the artwork for a moment, at first it was mostly hand prints & animals, but then one of the paintings caught his attention. It was a painting of what could possibly be described as the fog with “creatures” coming out of it.
He didn't stay long, he made his way deeper into the caverns. It appeared to be a tunnel system. Scraps of crude tools lay about here & there, and even the remains of some dead. The tool work seemed similar to that of the troglodytes. Maybe they used to live in these caverns and were pushed out by what has cursed this land?
His ears picked up the sound of something scraping across the cavern walls. Weapons perhaps? It didn't take long for the hoard to find his location. The twisty, windy tunnels of the cave would buy him time. There were many paths to explore, many nooks & crannies to hide in, enough for most anyone to get lost. But, Scabbath wasn't anyone, no. He traveled with the wind, for he felt a little current drift its way from a direction he had decided to follow. 'If there is wind, there is an opening,' he thought to himself as he made his way down a long jagged corridor.
The ground was wet, cold, filled with ankle deep muck. A perfect place for vermin, yet, there were none.
A foul stench carried itself on the wind. A familiar stench... a deadly stench... Scabbath cautiously moved forward, shield raised.
SCRAAAAAAAAPE! THUD! THUD! THUD!
The sound of the monsters of the fog was echoing down the tunnels. Unfortunately for Scabbath, it was coming from the direction in which he was headed.
Combat was inevitable, this he was sure of. Despite their numbers, the advantage would be his. Perhaps no more than a few stragglers were in these tunnels looking for him.
There was a long stretch of tunnel which lead out of the cave, but it was blocked by the monsters of the fog. Luckily for Scabbath the landscape provided a funnel so that he may face them, one on one.
The head of the small party was obliterated by a bash from the shield. Its cohorts drug their claws into the walls of the tunnel, moving up and around much like a bug would crawl on a wall, allowing several to come at the warrior at once. This was truly unexpected and caused Scabbath to fumble for just a moment.
He had slammed up against one of the creatures on the wall, but with this distraction one dropped from the ceiling on top of the well worn warrior. This had knocked him off balance, allowing the others to come in at him as he stumbled around. Scabbath worked to fight them off as they clawed and bit him. And as he fought them, more of them accosted his flank, ultimately dragging him down to the ground.
The situation looked grim. He had nowhere to escape to as several or more of the monsters descended upon him. His grip was strong however, he still held onto the shield he found out in the field. He struggled against the assault, retreating himself under the shield.
The dead pounded themselves onto the shield, smashing fist & face into it. It was the little scrap of protection Scabbath had against a tireless enemy. One that would not cease until its mission was complete or until it was destroyed trying.
CLANG! CLANG! CLANG-CLANG-CLANG-CLANG!
He lay beneath the shield, the banging of bodies repeatedly causing a deafening echo which made his ears ring and his head hurt. What hell was this land? Why did he feel he could survive exile? Was he a fool? Perhaps death would have been a better choice for Scabbath. The torch he held slowly dimming...
Curled up and defenseless Scabbath quickly filled with anger. He did not enjoy having no control over a situation, over himself. He was at his limit.
“BREEEEAAAARGH!” CLONK! Scabbath rose up with anger, shaking the vile creatures from him. CLONK! CLANK! BONK! He drove his shield into the few near him, shattering their skulls upon impact. BONK! CLONK! CLANG! CLANK! He smashed several more around him, returning them to the dust from whence they came.
The exiled warrior stepped out from the cave, an expanse of land lay before him. This one less inhabited by the creatures of the fog, but still inhabited by them none-the-less. He didn't have to move with as much caution as before, instead, he moved briskly. Looking toward the horizon he saw where his goal was, he was headed in the right direction.
Scabbath ran tirelessly, only stopping for a short while to combat any creature that was in his way. The edge of the fog was in view, he could see bright beams of light filtering through its obfuscate edges.