Sorry for this one coming up a little late, the flu assaulted me and slowed me down.
Part eight in the Blood and Lies series
Part One: Blood and Lies (pt. 1)
Part Two: Blood and Lies (pt. 2)
Part Three: Blood and Lies (pt. 3)
Part Four: Blood and Lies (pt. 4)
Part Five: Blood and Lies (pt. 5)
Part Six: Blood and Lies (pt. 6)
Part Seven: Blood and Lies (pt. 7)
A dreadful keening wail strikes through the clearing with unmistakable malice. The villagers react to the sound is sudden and terrified. The older children take the younger ones and flee to the cover of the large home, while the old men and women hurriedly run to their homes in search of weapons.
“The Anathema! It will not leave until we are all dead and devoured!” Jacob’s terrified voice trembles, his white knuckles gripping his trowel tightly. Verumalleus rushes forward, positioning herself between the village and the beast.
“Stay inside and protect the children, we will slay this monster!” Verumalleus cries out to the villagers. Lifting her hammer to the sky the crusader radiates with a holy light that shines out and covers her companions. Bolstering their strength and resolve with the power of her god, she raises a rallying cry, ““Vengeful Atyx, grant us the strength to punish your foes, spilling the blood in the name of your fury. Sanctus Tenebris.”
Emerging from the tree line, the same six-limbed monstrosity as they had witnessed devouring the stag earlier approaches, bellowing, towards the village. The clearing separates them from the beast by several hundred yards. At first it moves slowly, seeming to examine those who stand against it with a strange intelligence. Suddenly it shifts into a barrelling charge.
Vahkragg, Telfor and Verumalleus spread out and brace themselves to meet its charge. It targets the crusader first, directing its charge towards her. Rearing back on his hind legs, the anathema kicks two thunderous hooves into the shield, the force of the blow sending Verumalleus flying backwards bodily rolling across the earth, her shield arm hanging broken and weak by her side as she twists and utilising her momentum springs herself back to her feet.
Telfor and Vahkragg charge the monsters flank as it bellows victory of its charge. The eastern nomad’s brings the hammer side of his pole-axe down on the thick armoured flesh delivering a blow that transforms its victory cry to a wail of pain. The monster flails its arm in response to the attack, it’s scything talons catching Telfor’s shield and driving him from his feet, the barbed in of the talons piercing the armoured breastplate he wore and inflicting a shallow wound to the veterans chest.
A quarrel sprouts from the beasts upper chest, welling blackened blood from the wound. Another pained screech cracks the sky as the revenant scout reloads the heavy crossbow as quickly as possible.
From within the protective walls of the villages largest home, Oliver struggles futilely with the magic suppressing bracelet affixed to his wrist. Without his magic he was as helpless as the children, he raged. If only that fool soldier had left the key, his magic could be used to defend the people here. Now if they fail, he would die here despite all the sorcery he had cultivated over the years.
Outside as the battle rages, a mystical chill forms in the air. Icicles form on exposed metal and breath mists. Rubin’s arcane chanting that had quietly permeated the battlefield swells as his incantation reaches its climax. A vortex of frozen air erupts around the creature, coalescing cruelly upon its joints. Some intrinsic quality of the monster resists the full brunt of the curse, but it slows noticeably.
Vahkragg buries his axe into the side of the beast, the wound vomiting forth gouts of vile black blood as he rips the blade back. Diving to the side narrowly he avoids a fatal wound from the beasts deadly claws, a deep gash across his back throbs painfully sapping his strength.
More quarrels continue to sprout from the beasts chest, tormenting it and staining its fur dark with rivers of blackened blood.
Losing his sword as it is torn from his grip after being buried between the folds of the creatures flesh Telfor, unarmed, can only distract the monster from behind his shield giving Verumalleus room to shatter the bones in one of its front legs driving it to a knee.
With the Anathema’s mobility restricted, it seems only a matter of time before the group succeeds in slaying it when suddenly Vahkragg’s knees buckle beneath him and he collapses in the dirt.
With a shout Telfor rushes to him, dragging him from the monsters reach while Verumalleus draws its attention. Spots of darkness appear in Telfor’s vision and he feels his body growing weak. A moment of dazed confusion overcomes him and dropping Vahkragg just barely beyond the Anathema’s reach, he collapses beside him.
Quarrels and magical blasts assault the beast while Verumalleus narrowly avoids its claws again and again. The limits of her stamina is approaching and she can feel her body responding slower to her instructions to dodge.
Pushed to the brink, Verumalleus calls on the black fire of Atyx, its holy fury filling her veins and radiating dark brilliance from her eyes. The world craws the a snails pace, driven by divine power she ducks beneath the wicked talons, leaping up the beasts chest and with a cry in a voice that grinds reality like scraping bone and rending metal, she drives her hammer into the Anathema’s chest.
Fury spent, the world comes roaring back to pace moving faster than she can react. Verumalleus coughs a glob of blood, an all consuming ache tearing at her guts. Looking down, the last she sees is the claw protruding from her chest before the world fades into darkness.