Subject: Halloween Theme
Time Period: Any
Length: 500 Words
Due: This Month
Yep, during October I tried to perfect the beginning of the new story. The Halloween season inspired me to make it a dark, creepy scene complete with rotting corpses and zombies. Advice would be much appreciated.
The three men rode their steeds along the overgrown path approaching Ghrakus Castle. The quick-paced, two-week journey had taken its toll on the small group and the open road had offered little relief from the heat of the summer sun. Rathen, the man in the lead, wiped the sweat from his brow with his forearm as his eyes searched the horizon for signs of movement. They had not encountered any threats on their ride so far, but as the castle came into view anxiety grew in his gut. He knew what he had to soon confront.
He shaded his eyes from the sunlight with his hand and looked up at the massive stone structure that seemed to go upward endlessly in its grand design. In the distance, a middle sized forest could be seen on the other side of the castle and stretched away in the distance around it.
The sound of an approaching horse caught his attention. He looked over to see Bulo riding to his side. He was a huge man, tall and weighing nearly two hundred forty pounds. He had a big barrel chest and hands twice the size of a normal man.
Bulo flashed Rathen a nervous glance. “Do you think we can do this?” he asked, his sweat-covered face sharing the same fatigue. Rathen noted that even a seasoned warrior like Bulo felt apprehension.
“Of course,” Rathen replied with a smile. He dare not show his own fear. “Besides, so many are counting on us.”
Riding through the Castle gates, Rathen saw Bulo shifting nervously in his saddle. “I smell death,” Bulo said, seriousness etched in his face, his eyes scanning the area.
“There’s the temple,” Rathen said pointing to the large stone building that spiraled high into the sky adjacent to the Castle. Somehow, even in midday the area lay in a sinister shadow.
Bandark, the third man rode up beside the two. His face looked fresh and Rathen thought it peculiar that it lacked any noticeable sweat. He was aged in the mid-forties, clean shaven with a full face and a strong jaw line wearing grey robes. “I see bodies near the temple doors,” he said, his deep voice booming in a strong exotic accent.
Rathen nodded, straining his eyes to see that far in front of him.
As they neared the Temple, Bulo jumped off his giant horse and walked to the three bodies lying in the dirt. He bent down to inspect their conditions, “they’ve been dead maybe… three months.”
Rathen eyed the bodies from his horse noticing their charred black robes. “Burned,” he said, not surprised.
Bulo bent done to inspect one of the bodies. “I’ve seen this before,” Bulo said holding up a silver amulet.
“What it is?”
“The Guild of Ghrakus,” Bulo said, tossing the amulet back onto to the corpse.
“Fitting end, I guess. No doubt killed by the very thing they tried to keep locked up. Rathen dismounted and unpacked a large bag from his horse. Slinging it over his shoulder he walked toward the temple’s doors.
“Let’s hope we don’t end up the same,” Bulo muttered.
Bandark dismounted, remaining silent.
Inside the temple the smell of death choked the air. Several more black robed bodies were scattered around the large hall, some burnt, and some in pieces.
Rathen moved the large bag to his side and walked through the hall taking notice of the evidence of the battle that must have taken place. One corner had been scorched black while other walls bore large divots where objects must have impacted them. This was a battle of magic.
Rathen lead Bulo and Bandark back to a dark hallway his eyes focused on the door at the end of the hall. Fighting the fear and dread, he pushed the door open and stepped inside. A dark robed figure stood in the middle of the room facing the door. Pale light from the ceiling flickered off a golden crown around its bony head. Two fine points of crimson lights glowed from inside its otherwise empty eye sockets. Long grey hair clung to the side and chin of the figure’s skinless skull.
Rathen knew that this undead creature was a lich and that it was once a powerful mage who had used the dark spells of necromancy to cast aside his mortality and magically sealing his soul away to live in a decayed body attempting to escape death. He had to be wary of its power.
At seeing them, the lich hissed raising its skeletal hands.
“Wait, Prince Magom. It’s Rathen!” He said holding his hands out in front of him.
“I know who you are! And you shall not escape,” the lich said. A surge of energy swirled around its skeletal body like a windstorm, sending a buzz in the air.
The hair on the back of Rathen’s neck stood alert, yet he did not move.
Bulo crouched down into a ready stance, Bandark stood directly behind him.
A raise of the lich’s hand sent a wall of flames roaring toward Rathen.
Rathen’s eyes widened as he fought the urge to flee.
The flames crashed in front of Rathen with a deafening roar. As it dissipated he saw the lich through a light blue shell that surrounded and protected him.
“Impossible! It’s you!” the lich said looking toward Bandark.
Rathen turned to see Bandark with his hands in front of him, focusing on his spell of protection.
“I know where you are from and I know this magic you employ,” the lich shouted its bony arms up and the energy still building around him.
Bandark held his spell and nodded at Rathen as if urging him to continue.
“We need your help!” Rathen said, turning back around attempting to regains the lich’s attention.
The lich lowered its arms allowing most of the energy to dissipate. “What?” it said, hissing.
“We need you! Our world needs you!” Rathen reasoned taking a step forward. “The book that we found in this castle was the Book of Ziz. It was written by a deity of another world many centuries ago containing powers to protect worlds from an evil deity named Gothoar who once threatened to spread his power of death and destruction.”
“I knew the book was not of this world. The majority of its magic was almost impossible to decipher,” the lich said, turning toward Bandark. “Your companion is of the same world.”
“Yes, well a dark cleric named Vargas stole the Book from us and took it back to his master, Quax. Right now we know Quax is trying to decipher the Book to transform himself into a demigod. He promised the followers of Gothoar that he would return the book to them for Gothoar to gain power in this world. If Gothoar gains power here then no one will be safe.”
The lich let out a hissing laugh. “Why should I care? Whatever this Gothoar will release, would not harm me. However, I would expect it would be the end of you and your kind!”
“We can offer something you want!” Rathen said.
The lich laughed again, “what could you offer me?”
“You told us before of your desire to transform yourself back to human. Bandark has offered to help your efforts using the spells within the Book of Ziz.”
“I knew that book contained the magic I required to undo this … fate,” the lich said holding up its skeletal hands. “Is this true?” the lich asked, walking toward the three, the energy around him stopping completely.
Bandark lowered his protective shield and his hands. “It’s true,” his voice boomed from the back. “If we can retrieve the book, I will aid in your research to help restore your condition.”
The lich stood motionless but Rathen dared not move. Finally the lich spoke, “I believe you… I believe you will try but not convinced my condition can be restored.”
“I will take you back to my world for further assistance if necessary,” Bandark said.
“Then, what is it you want from me?” the lich asked walking closer to Rathen.
Looking into the lich’s crimson eyes, Rathen fought the urge to back away. “You said the last time we met that you could sense where the book was.”
“Yes… it was my father’s book and in my possession for almost a hundred years. I know the feel of its magic well,” the lich hissed.
“We need you to join our group to infiltrate the stronghold of Quax. We will sneak in and get back out as quickly as possible. We need you to lead us directly to the book.
The lich stood silent.
“Well?” Rathen asked, hoping to avoid another long silence.
“Before I answer, tell me how you just so happened to walk into my temple after these months,” the lich said hissing, closing the distance between it and Rathen.
“Boder, a friend of ours who left the Guild of Ghrakus a while ago informed us of the attack on the Guild’s headquarters. We assumed you reconstituted and took your revenge.”
The lich let out a hissing laughter. “They had it coming. Their greatest mistake was removing the protective shield around this castle thinking I was gone forever. Their failed attempt to kill me in my own temple was the final insult. Do you remember Salamar?”
“He was the leader of the Guild, was he not,” Rathen answered.
The lich raised his skeletal hand as a shuffle could be heard from the dark corner of the room.
Rathen’s hand instinctively reached for his sword.
A figure in black robes lumbered forward and into the pale light of the room. There stood Salamar, half of his face and upper body had been badly burned exposing rotting skin and bone. His eyes hallow and empty. He was a walking corpse.
Rathen heard Bulo mumble under his breath behind him but Rathen had no words for what had been done. The rotting corpse stood motionless. Although appalled by the sight, he felt little sympathy for Salamar.
“I reanimated his body after his death … for my amusement.” Lich said. “A fitting fate for the Guild Leader who hoped to steal my research to live forever.
“Yes, well … do we have an agreement?” Rathen asked anxious to end the conversation. After seeing what the lich was capable of he questioned if his group would endure its presence.
“I can sense the sincerity in you. However if you or your friends try to trick me or break your promise to assist my research to become mortal again, I will kill you,” the lich hissed.
“So, that’s a yes?” Rathen asked.
“Yes. But how do you expect me to travel outside these walls with you without causing panic?”
Rathen picked up the large bag and set it beside the lich.