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Karna

Short Story Entry - On Thin Ice

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I have always held a deep rooted hatred for the winter. Snow, ice, it all had me convinced that there was no god in this world so cruel, as to release that hell on us poor mortals. So when the death of the Allfather brought forth an endless winter, I felt pretty damned validated.

 

“Careful.” Vallan laughed. “You wouldn't want the priests to overhear you.” “I don't know. Death by fire sounds more inviting by the minute.” Despite my bold claim, I turned a nervous eye towards the priests. They must not have heard me over the storm, otherwise they would have been sure to let me know. They weren't exactly a subtle bunch, prancing around in their red silk, and glow in the dark rune encrusted armour.

 

Especially not in their current foul mood, after they been forced out of the comfort of the capital for the holiest of missions. At least that is what they kept telling us. Me? I just thought it was a waste of what little time I had left. King Septimus was under the impression that the old wyvern Zatechka was responsible for our troubles. She had been a real plague on our lands for generations, but she had been smart and tough enough, that it was never worth the effort of tracking her down.

Now Septimus wanted her head on a platter, so that he could proclaim that the darkness had been vanquished, and soon the light of the gods would shine upon us once more. I wasn't entirely convinced he believed it himself. This whole mission seemed nothing more than one last gambit to appease the masses, before his little house of card came crashing in on itself.

 

For some time in my military career, I considered deserting the army. Would anyone notice? Would anyone care? If the wyvern did not kill us, then the cold surely would. Some might call me coward for considering it, but truthfully it was cowardice that kept me on the path. I still had someone waiting for me back home, and I feared what questions might arise were I to make a untimely return.

 

I had a lot of time to think of my excuses, and consider how to best avoid the watch around camp.

I think the most practical plan would be faking a blow to the head, while we fought another one of those undead hordes. By the time I gathered my senses, I would be lost in the storm. I'd have to make my way back to report to the king, as was my duty. I would then demand to lead the next assault on the wyvern.

 

A bit dramatic, sure. But Septimus had always had a weak spot, for people begging to be of service to him. Of course, I was well aware that we did not have the resources to stage another assault like this, so I would have nothing to worry about. Now all I had to do, was wait for the undead to show up and cease my opportunity.

 

With the priests shining through the night, it wasn't exactly hard for the undead to spot us.

But for all of the horror stories regarding the walking dead, they aren't that dangerous. It is true that they are strong, and vast in numbers. But they are also slow, and dumber than a bag of bricks.

Granted in a conventional way, they are hard to kill. But practically speaking, they might as well be target practice.

 

A swing of the sword might not kill them, like it would you or me. But neither do they react like we do. They barely defend themselves, they do not run, they simply stand there and take it. It makes them easy to bait and even easier to maneuver around. They aren't much of a threat after we cut them up into little pieces, and the priests finished roasting what's left.

 

So when I heard the screams, I knew we hadn't stumbled upon just any ordinary walking corpse.

I turned just in time to see our flank torn to pieces. Blood and broken steel littered the ground, and in the middle of it all stood Zatechka. She had lost a lot of weight since I last saw her. She was literally, nothing more than skin and bones, if you don't count the ice so caked in blood it was crimson. Vallan, a giant of a man rushed Zatechka, with his mighty hammer in hand. The priest lit up the night with their incantations, and let it loose upon the wyvern. She barely seemed to notice. I think she simply trampled Vallan, while she rushed straight through the fire and mauled the priesthood.

 

So... There was my chance. With the priests out of the way, there was nothing keeping me from sounding the retreat and sparing whoever remained from this fools errand. In hindsight, maybe I should have just started running like everyone else.

All I managed to accomplish, was to draw Zatechka's attention right at me. She turned a frozen skull towards me, her blood red form still steaming from her little spat with the priests, but otherwise she was no worse for wears. That is when I ran, stumbling into the night!

 

I never was to fond of any god, beyond the Allfather. They all just seemed to petty, to self absorbed to worship. But the old man was not around any more, so I would have to make do with his bastards. I did not as much pray, as I begged and screamed for any sort of divine intervention, pledging my eternal service to whoever would lend me a hand. I doubt the gods were very impressed with my wanton pledge to any who would have me. But I wasn't exactly in a position to be picky either.

 

I guess, I must have angered one of them, because as if in answer, I slipped face first into some ice.

I suspect Yaga was behind it. That shriveled up, old hag loved her ice. I was about to curse her name, right before the wyvern howled its own frustrations. I turned to see it limping slowly towards me.

 

In the heat of the moment, I had not noticed how disheveled Zatechka was until then. One foot was bent in a odd angle, she was missing a large chunk of her jaw and she was riddled with broken arrows and spears. She was in no state to chase anyone, except maybe for me. My head was still ringing from that fall, and my body was not cooperating.

I rose slowly, thankful that my stomach had been empty for the last couple of days. Zatechka careened onto the ice now, showing no more grace than I had before her. I had a little more than a hundred yards, before she caught up and tore me to shreds. But if I were to die, I could at least bring this monster with me. Raising my mace, I struck down at the ice, quickly forming a short line of cracked dents between myself and the wyvern. In the end, she proved to be just as dumb as any old undead. The ice groaned under the weight of her approach, compromised by my attack, and finally gave in. One of her feet plummeted into the water and as she struggled to free herself, more of the ice broke away. Not that it mattered. By the time she began to sink, I was already dead.

Edited by Acidstrider

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Meryk - Member

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