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.:: The Blighted Lands; Nathan ::.

 

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[  I ran through the blighted grounds, feet pounding the ground, splashing water into the air as I kicked up the dirt and brought my blade down on another one of the blighted Corpses.

It was horrifying to look at, and after all these years, I still feel queasy as I gaze upon their wretched shapes.

Once a human man, twisted and bloated into a form no more recognizable as anything that should exist in this world.

I heard a scream behind me.

There was another one, behind the front line. 

A mass of moving blobs of flesh and ghastly arms with palms the size of a shield.

It held a woman in it’s hands.

Gracia, an acquaintance I met in an inn one day,

Who stayed by my side for three whole years.

A fine warrior.

A good Friend.

But human nonetheless.

I screamed in rage as it brought her to it’s jagged maw.

I was too late, for all I saw was blood.

I gazed away. I was too far ahead. 

Another friend, dead, in this accursed place.

I had no time to mourn.

I had no time to even deal with it, for I had to keep my position,

And my knights behind me will deal with it soon enough. 

This was war.

And there was no time to hesitate.

But still, questions rang in my mind.

How did it even get behind us?

How was it intelligent enough to exploit the weaknesses in our formations?

How did they all move in such unrivalled co-ordination?

It was as if they were of one mind.

I felt dread in my stomach.

I had a hunch, and I needed to verify it.

The ground before me exploded, Throwing dirt, mud and grass several feet in the air,

There was no time to consider what it was.

I thrust again, my spear piercing through the suspended soil and Earth,

At whatever monstrosity behind, and I discharged my Magic.

Blinding rays of light escaped from behind the cloud of dust and filth,

And with a deafening roar, Everything in front of me burnt in the glare of my liberating Light.

We got a few moments of respite, and then proceeded to move forward once again.

And so we did, Thundering forward till we met the horde once again in barely a moment’s notice.

I glanced behind, and saw my men,

bleeding,

wounded,

dying.

I grit my teeth.

We were suffering too many losses.

Things were not supposed to go like this.

Something was VERY wrong.

“IT’S READY!”

I heard a shout from behind.

The mages in the centre had finished their preparations

It was obvious they were the main target for the horde.

And the reason was even more obvious.

The same reason I could barely use any of my spells except the most basic ones.

They were amassing a horrendous amount of magic,

Nearly draining the entire battlefield dry of it.

And in their midst stood the centre of all our attention.

A vortex of swirling blue energy.

The Mages of The eternal storm raised their lances as one, and it rose into the air.

The air started to weigh down.

The wind picked up, blowing Dirt and water in our faces.

Our footsteps heavier as we marched once again.

Our muscles worn, sweating blood.

Vision blurring.

And then we heard it.

The sound of hope.

THUNDER.

The black clouds started to blot out the sun, casting a shadow on the world around us.

The sky crackled with lighting, and then It struck.

Like a torrent of fire and death,

Lightning rained down upon the Walking Dead.

My skin tingled, and my hair stood on end as I felt the Metallic taste and Smelled

the burning air.

I grabbed my flask and splashed some water in my eyes.

My vision started to clear once again and I saw the world in the midst of chaos.

Crackling trees of destruction fell upon the Earth one upon the other,

The scorched Earth and dust and fire rose up to meet the sky as the orchestra of Death continued to play around us.

And Then I saw it.

The Abomination.

One glance was enough for me to understand.

Understand everything.

For it was no ordinary abomination.

It was a minister of death.

Of the Blighted Emperor’s court.

It Stood, a Giant of Horrors, Towering over thirty feet.

A mass of Writhing snakes served as it's lower body, a human torso, Six skeletal arms wrapped in loose, torn skin that hung like cloth.

It’s body covered with innumerable eyes, and where it's head was supposed to rest, a single grey Hand rose from the midst of it’s exposed, open ribs, and around it, antlers rose above, shading the hand like an umbrella.

There it stood, Decayed and rotting,

Sick, red pulsating mist flowing down through the gaps in it’s form, flowing to the ground, like a torrent of blood, pooling a mist of red essence at it’s feet.

The hand flexed it’s fingers, and to my horror, a split opened across It’s palm and a very grotesque mouth opened wide in a very obvious frown, and then it spoke.

In a Terrible, ancient, outlandish tongue.

  

Then the ground rippled.

Mounds of Earth rose up in concentric circles, and pillars of Earth shot up.

Then The Sky and Earth clashed.

 

And the World rang still with a wave of white silence.  ]

 

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I woke up sweating. It was a dream. A nightmare. A memory.

Half a year had passed since then, but The Abomination still stands. A curse and a blessing both in one. It gave us the opportunity to kill off a very important Piece of The Lord of Grief’s Power. But at the same time, it reigned terror over everyone and everything in the vicinity. We already had to evacuate Twelve villages due to the risk of the Lion's guard being over-run.

But still we held.

Waiting.

Waiting for our calls for arms to be answered. I got up and slowly limped my way towards the barracks again.

There really wasn’t any problem with my leg in actuality, but I still felt phantom pains.

After-effects of the lightning storm.

I actually got hit by a stray bolt on our retreat and it burnt the entire leg to a crisp. The healers were hard at work to get me up and running again. Not vey heroic at all. Makes me wonder why I was the Hero of Dray at all. The Hero of Dragon’s light they call me.

Dragon’s light my ass.

I was helpless in front of an UNDERLING of a dreadlord. How was I supposed to rid the world of one? But then again, The blighted emperor wasn’t my true opponent. It was Irkath of the Forsaken Graths. I wasn’t sure, The sign hadn’t presented itself yet, but he was the only one with free time, and the emperor is a bit too imbalanced for me.

Then again, the Emperor of the Layan Empire, did, want me to lead an expedition to the Graths the next Winter Year. So I can conclude that it's fate. 

I sighed.

The whole thing was a huge pain in the ass. I never asked for this, but I had to deal with it anyways. When there's a Dreadlord, there will always come a Hero of Dray. And vice versa. They’re also very closely related or something too, never paid much attention to the details.

Didn’t spend a lot of time in history class. Too busy slashing stuff.

There are Four Dreadlords rampaging right now, and three heroes to deal with them. The emperor still hasn’t found himself an opponent yet.

I sure do wish it isn't me. The oracle also predicted a pair to rise this year, both hero AND lord.Even more trouble. No-one Knew who or where either of them were. Just the vague premonition that things are going to get resolved in silence.

Oh, joy.

Killing a dreadlord when it just spawned was the easiest and also the safest. But also dangerous. A dreadlord without an army tends to... Run around a bit. 

If you leave them alone long enough, they’ll get seriously problematic to deal with. And I just found that out the hard way. The emperor may not be my opponent, but it’s STILL my business, since I have to fulfill my duty to my people one way or another. Irkath can wait. 

I was outside the barracks.

But I didn’t enter.

I stood there, Hesitating.

There was a slight dribble of rain, and my hair started to sag in front of my face. My clothes were wet. It’s been several minutes now. The rain started to pour down more heavily, but still,

I stood there.

Unmoving.

I’m afraid, I realized.

I’m afraid to see the faces of my allies.

I’m afraid to see those who made it.

Afraid to see the empty spaces that once hosted many good people.

Friends.

The rainwater hid my tears as I silently wept.

I Didn’t want this to happen

I never wanted to be a Hero.

Why am I here?

Why was I chosen?

“Wait.” The oracle had said.

"For what" I had asked?

“For the sign. Wait for the fire.”

"What sign? What fire?"

Was it the burning regret I’m feeling in my heart right Now?

Was It the abomination?

What am I supposed to do?

No-one answered.

I turned my attention to the barracks again.

There was silence where once, there was laughter.

 

They were Resting.

Recovering.

Mourning.

I tried to take one step further, but never managed to do so.

I wasn’t brave enough.

Fancy that. The Hero, not brave enough.

I'm still just a half-elf.

I gazed up at the ashen sky.

Rain Dribbled off my face.

Thunder rumbled in the distance.

I closed my eyes and stood still until I felt a tug on my sleeve. I Glanced down to see a young woman.

human. Probably in her early twenties. Deep black eyes, and hair as black as the darkest night. Slightly tanned face, and a short, slim figure.

Then I saw her arms.

Her left arm was a stump, wrapped in bandages and a large stain of red clearly visible. 

Wounded, here, by all that evil. Because of me.

Guilt rose up my stomach.

But she flashed me a bright smile.

“It’s okay” she said.

I shot her a confused expression. She just shook her head.

“It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel sad.”

I was stunned. Here I was, Trying to bear the burden of all these people without ever considering that I could have shared mine. I laughed before breaking down and bawling like a wounded child on her shoulder.

And we stood still for a few minutes.

But for me, those minutes felt like an eternity,

For within those few minutes, I let out all my Thoughts, all my burdens, all my worries, all my guilt. All washed away by tears that were held inside for too long. It was still there of course, but it felt more…. Bearable.

And so, I finally composed myself,

Turning back into the hero I was supposed to be.

I sniffed one last time, and sighed.

I stared the girl in her eyes.

“What’s your name?”

She suddenly seemed extremely self-conscious, and started to fidget.

Nervous.

“Um… Alfa.”

I smiled.

“Thank you Alfa.”

And then I walked into the building.

Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst.

But ready to accept whatever the truth may be.

And with silent determination.

It may not be the same as killing the Blighted emperor, 

But that Abomination will meet it’s end.

Soon.

Very soon.

 

 

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About the author

Cloudless Night

Bio: Concept Artist, Camouflaged Cloud.

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