Unliving

by

Avitue

Chapter 21 - An Indignation to be Conveyed

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A note from Avitue

And the last of the double release chapters.

"All these youngsters be fools for thinking the Bone Lord as soft and senile. They have lived only short lives, seen too little, knew too few things that mattered, and already thought themselves masters of the arts. I was witness to when Cainte angered the bone lord. Witness to how his hordes of truly horrifying monstrosities laid waste to those lands, where not a single soul was spared before his wrath. It is but folly, to have the notion of standing against him." - Helmut Knochenbruch, First Elder of the Flesh Artisan Council, when he vetoed the proposition to cooperate with Junora and swallow Vitalica as well as Ptolodecca together, circa VA 37.



Vitalica/Junora border, sixth day of the second week of the seventh month, year 37 VA.

 

They heard the hymn well before the tremors from thousands of synchronized footsteps reached them through the earth. The Bone Lord's battle hymn was sung with worshipful voices by a chorus beyond their sight, carried through the distance by some unnatural means.

 

Unlike the army led by Aoife, who took precautions to stay unseen and unnoticed in their march, the Bone Lord's army dispensed with all pretense of subtlety. The Bone Lord himself was personally present, and he wished to make his displeasure plain for all to witness.

 

Also to be witnessed, was the price one must pay for offending him griveously.

 

Around half an hour after they first heard the hymns, the approaching army slowly came into sight. Four gigantic skulls, with large maws full of dagger-sized teeth, were suspended from long, nimble spines, and crested over the hills well before the rest of its body came into sight.

 

Aideen - and nearly everyone other than the Ptolodeccans - gaped at the sight of the behemoth as it finally crested the hill. The gigantic undead monstrosity was at least twenty five meters long from head to tail. Its four spines were connected to a barrel-shaped torso covered entirely by plates of dense bones, and it stood on four pillar-like legs. The four long, swaying whiplike tails behind it were each as long as its necks - fully a third of its body length - and had bony spikes growing throughout their length.

 

Seated atop a throne of bones and skulls, set on the top of the barrel-shaped torso of the monstrosity, was Nec Aarin, The Bone Lord, in all his glory. Unlike how he usually dressed, he wore a grey collared robe, with skull pauldrons on each shoulder, and black raven feathers set around the collars. On the chest of his robe the Ptolodeccan emblem - the top half of an animal skull much like the Bone Lord's own - hung, made of pure ivory that glistened in the sun.

 

To the sides of the behemoth of an undead monstrosity the Bone Lord rode on, were a thousand cavalrymen each. The riders rode atop skeletal horses, and wore fine armor as black as the night itself, with two wing-like structures that held raven feathers in them standing upright from their backs.

 

Aideen knew these men and women from stories. They were the rumored Wings of Night, elite cavalrymen from Ptolodecca whose prowess was supposedly unrivaled, each man or woman easily the equivalent of ten lessers. Their wicked lances and blades reaped the lives of all those that stood before them.

 

And the Bone Lord had brought two thousand of them with him.

 

Behind those cavalrymen, came even more troops. This time undead ones. At their lead were two hundred of the same bone beasts that had pulled the Bone Lord's carriage. Even from the distance all the mages could feel the necromantic powers within the bone beasts, and Aideen was surprised to discover that each of those bone beasts were nearly at the same level as her mother's "pets".

 

A full thousand death knights marched further behind, each riding the skeleton of a saber-toothed tiger, with long spears in their hands. Another two thousand bone champions armed with two handed versions of the axe-mace hybrids served as infantrymen, while nearly ten thousand animalistic skeletons followed the horde from behind in peerless discipline.

 

When Aideen discreetly queried her mother just how the massive behemoth was even possible, Aoife explained patiently that in the plains of the Elmaiya empire to the west, as well as the northern deserts, lived gigantic lizards that towered over most everything. The Bone Lord's monstrosity of a mount was made from the remains of such beasts.

 

"We greet the Bone Lord," said the family as they bowed in unison. Adalbert and Myrddin also bowed with them, while every other Ptolodeccan knelt respectfully when the Bone Lord's procession stopped before them.

 

As for the Vitalican side, despite the best efforts from Faerghus to keep them orderly and silent, small commotions still broke out here and there, as people panicked from the sight of either the utterly absurd monstrosity of an undead, or from the equally absurd undead army arrayed behind it. Or both.

 

Two of the four heads of the undead behemoth turned around, and then returned with the bone lord's throne atop their skulls, which they then lowered to just a little above the crowd.

 

"Are your armies readied for departure?" Asked the Bone Lord, his voice reverberating through the area through unnatural means.

 

Yesterday Aoife had received a missive from him that she should have her army readied for further departure and join the Bone Lord's. After a discussion with her husband, they decided to have the knights templar along as well, while the militiamen were left to protect the border, and Vitalics in general.

 

"We are ready for departure, master," replied Aoife in humble tones. "My husband also beseeches you for an opportunity to make up for his failings, that he be allowed to join us in this crusade."

 

"Granted," answered the Bone Lord simply. "Adalbert, have your army split into two detachments. You are to head through the western and southern boundaries of Junora, and sweep the lands clean. Meet us at Danna once you have swept the boundaries."

 

"As you command, my liege!" Answered the Otter therian as he bowed deeply.

 

"Myrddin, Aoife, Ciarran," added the Bone Lord afterwards. "You all shall travel with me. We shall head straight for Danna, the heart of Junora. Spare not a single necromancer or thrall sighted, leave the serfs be."

 

"Yes, lord," replied Ciarran with a nervous gulp. Before he knew it, what started as a border skirmish had devolved into full blown war between three countries. Worse, the Bone Lord had personally made a move. "May I be so bold to query the aim for this expedition?"

 

"Why, it is but a simple thing, boy," said the Bone Lord as he gave a cruel, chittering laugh. "That Spirit Servant probably thought me soft and senile, and dared aim blades at my disciples. Once I might have forgiven, but twice?"

 

"No, the time for forgiveness and mercy is long past, and I will let that amalgamation of dumb souls know just what the consequences are, for angering me."

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