The Reckoning — 1
(Hi, these next few stories part of the “reckoning” are small chapters that I wrote down quickly before I forget them, I will expand on each one at a later date, Thanks!, enjoy)
The sun is setting behind the mountains visible above the trees to the west, the rays of light shine deep into the forest and flood the clearing like water in a bowl. The clearing is long but quite narrow; a house sits in the centre with about thirty yards left and right and about a hundred front and back. A log, two-story shack with a porch that stretches from one side to the other, four windows on the front with white curtains and an oak door in the centre. Its almost dusk when the door opens and a young man around the age of eighteen walks out, dressed in dark green and black leather armour with a cape, armed with a sword, a bow and a quiver of arrows. A aged voice echoes out from the door which is followed by the young man’s reply “I’ll be back before mornin’ pa!”
When he reaches the bottom step of the porch, a girl runs out, no older than fourteen.
She shouts out “where are you going?”
“ To practice”
“Practice what Thomas?”
He does not reply as he walks away and into the surrounding forest. She sighs and walks back inside and sits at a small round wooden table with four wooden chairs, to which an older man accompanied one well into his forties.
“Let your brother be Isobel, what he does is what he does, not even I can change his mind” he says to Isobel before she takes her seat.
“I know papa…but… why does he go at night time. And why does he come back with cuts and bruises?”
He looks at her with a concerned look
“He hasn’t been the same since your mother passed four winters ago”
Isobel looks up at her father and notices that he has hung his head low after when he said, his eyes sparkle, she could tell he was thinking of Angeline, his wife the her mother.
She leans up to rest her hand on his arm. “Papa… It’s ok to cry”
He looks up quickly like something startled him and quickly relaxes
“I aren’t crying dear… just… remembering your mother, her sweet face… adorable giggle… Always use to find a way to be gettin cross at me… but we would laugh about it in the end” he responds in a sad tone. He shakes his then looks down at Isobel and places his hand on hers.
“Get ready for bed dear, we got a big day tomorrow,” he says with a smile
“Awww but paaaa… I’m not tired” she wines
“ Oh you’re lyin little miss… go on… I’ll be up shortly”
She gives a deep sigh as she walks up stairs and into her room while her father stays down stairs. He sits there for another few moments before releasing a sigh of his own and follows up stairs. After her messing about to get into bed, her father tucked her in and pecks her forehead
“Good night sweetheart” he says softly
“Night night papa” she returns.
He smiles down at her before he leaves the room, closing the door behind him.
After a few minutes, Isobel sat up and lit a candle and pulled out a book from her side table titled “the tales of the old world”. She flips up to her page and continues to read through the night.
A few hours later she finished her book and placed it down on her table and went to blow out her candle but stopped after her in half as she saw a glow in the distance outside her window. She gets up out of bed and stood at her window watching the glowing orb split of into two, then four, then 6. She watched them move through the forest in a line towards the house, but stayed within the cover of the trees. Isobel quickly blew out her candle so what ever was out there would not know she was watch. She noticed they were torches being wielded by men in black robes, their heads hung down and covered with a hood, a rope tied around their waist. Isobel watch them as they walked across the tree line and back into the forest heading north towards Thunderhold, the castle of white. She watched them walk away but she felt like she was being held to watch, she could not turn her gaze away and could barely breath let alone move. After they were out of sight she regained control of her motions and instantly jumped back into her bed and re lit the candle to comfort her. Her mind was running wildly as the men flood her mind, who were they? What were they? Where were they going and what were they going to do. All these questions had no answers but she knew that whatever it was, it was for greater evil. After another hour of forcing herself to fall asleep from the dread keeping her rest at bay, she finally managed to drift off to sleep, the figures haunting her dreams.
Parting and return
The sun rose from the east, its beams of light just breaking through the trees and finding its way into Isobel’s room and shining straight into her eyes. She squinted as she sat up and opened her eyes slowly as she stretched and let out a loud yawn, which was followed by a scanning of the room as if it were her first time in a foreign room. Without a second thought she got up and raced down stairs as she remembers that her father stated he was leaving at first light.
“Papa?” she called around the house and into every room.
She then stumbled upon him in the hallway on his way out.
“My my, good mornin’ dear” he says with a smile
“Morning papa, can I come with you… please?” she demanded as she looked into his blue eyes with her hazel eyes as if she were trying to read his mind.
“I would love for you to accompany me dea-”
“Yay!” she interrupts him as she turns and starts to go to her room.
“But!” he called back hesitantly. “I…think you should stay here this time dear”
She turns slowly and looks at Tam “why…”
“Well… your brother has not returned yet… and I think it will be best that someone be waiting for him when he gets back, I think he would prefer you instead of me dear” he says in a sad tone.
Isobel looks down at her feet as she replies. “But I always come with you papa…”
“I know dear… but this time I think it will be best if you stay here…I’ll be as quick as I can, I promise” Isobel walks to Tam and hugs him as he returns the hug.
“Promise?” She asks
“Promise” he replied “someone has to go into the city to sell the pottery and buy us some food… maybe if I have enough let… something for my little girl… would you like that dear?”
She nods her head into him and Tam pecks her forehead.
“You’re in charge until I get back ok” he smiles.
“Bye papa” she says as she watches him walk towards the door and closes it behind him.
The house was quiet as Isobel was the only one in it. She never noticed it before but it was not an ordinary quiet, it was an eerie quiet, no bird or any animal or any kind could be heard, only the wind in the trees. I think it will be best if I sit outside on the porch she thinks to herself as she does exactly that, she walks out and sits on the wooden long chair that Tam crafted a few years back. She could not keep her brother out of her head, what happened to him, where is he. She then remembered the robed man from last night.
“No… surely not” she mumbles to herself.
She kept thinking that the men got Thomas before he got back, she got the same rush of dread from thinking about it as if she was watching it the night before.
After a few hours the quiet is broken from a rustling in the forest. Isobel looks up and looks around, she stands and walks to the rails where a bow was hanging along with a quiver of arrows. Isobel picks it up and loads a single arrow into it, pulling it back just enough to keep the arrow steady in the bow; she looks around and calls out.
Only silence answered, she went to call again but hesitated and drew the arrow back to full length after the bushes moved again, she felt the fear in her heart build up the longer the looked at the bush. Moments passed and a dear walks out of the tree line, she lets out a deep breath and lowers the bow.
“Bloody hel-” she gets cut off by a hand over her mouth as she tries to scream but fails.
She is spun around and he fear fades instantly as she recognizes the face behind the hand.
“I thought I taught you better sis,” Thomas states with a chuckle.
“Me and pa were worried about you Thomas…where were you”
He ignores as he asks
“Is so then where is he”?
“He has gone to thunder hold the sell the pottery he has made and to get us some food”
“Oh really, doesn’t sound like he cares too much to not be here for his apparent lost son” He states as he places he bow down on the seat along with his quiver and takes a seat next to them.
“He does care, you’re just never around to notice, you’re always out… practicing something,” she says in a slightly raised tone.
“What…umm… are you practicing Thomas” she tries to ask kindly
“To be a specialist,” he replies seriously.
Isobel sits down and hits him over the head with a laugh.
“Lying is not good for your health”
“What?!… I’m not lying! I really am,” he argues
“Hehe… yeah… and I’m… practically. To grow wings and fly,” she sarcastically says. “You do know to be in the specialist you need to be strong and brave and fast”
“And I am… I… I’m strong, brave and fast!” he says courageously
“Yeah… you also have to be smart and good with all different types of weapons… and agile,” she says with a smile”
“Well… Umm… I’m still practicing… shut up” Thomas says in defence
“Whaaaat ever” Isobel laughs
“I’m going for a nap,” he says as he gets up and walks inside “wake me when pa gets back will ya”
“I will, rest well” Isobel sighs as she looks up at the skies, she tilts her head as she looks at a black cloud, to narrow and black to be a storm cloud and is raising higher and moving with the wind. Others rise around it; in the next half hour there are dozens of them in the sky. It does not take Isobel long to notice that they are not clouds, but smoke.
The road of silence
The sunsets in the west, it hands just above the tree line as its rays shine through to the front door of the cabin. Isobel is still sitting on the front porch waiting for Tam, thinking what is taking him so long. She jumps as the door opens and Thomas walks out and takes a seat next to her.
“Papa is not back yet…he should be back by now… he should have been back by midday,” she says to Thomas.
“He is probably just taking his time”
“But… he said he was going to be as quick as he could… He wouldn’t lie… Would he?” she questions as she looks at Thomas.
He looks down at the dirt path leading to the main road.
“He’s ok…he’s probably caught up somewhere… that’s all” he says trying to be reassuring.
“ Thomas… there are smoke clouds… I noticed them at midday… at first I thought they were normal storm clouds…but…they are much too thin and moving faster than a normal cloud…” Isobel explains quietly to Thomas.
He turns to Isobel and looks at her then at the thinning smoke clouds.
“It’s coming from Thunderhold,” he finally states. “What do you want to do?”
“I want to go find papa,” Isobel says as she stands and picks up the bow on the railing and the arrows and slings it around her back.
“Wow, wow… hold up their little missy… I think he would want us to stay here and wait for him to come back”
“Papa left me in charge while he was gone and it’s my choice to go look to see if he is ok” she says as she stomps her foot down”
Thomas rolls his eyes and sighs “We won’t get to Thunderhold to about half an hour after nightfall… and you’re afraid of the dear”
“Well… y… yeah… but I think papa is in danger…those smoke clouds are coming from Thunderhold and that is where is going” Isobel argues in a worried tone.
Thomas follows with a low growl
“Fine… but let’s hurry… who knows what’s out here after dark”
He picks up his bow and quiver again and walks down next to his sister and down the dirt road that leads to the main path. The trees arched over the five-yard wide path, creating a foliage roof, which shielded them from the few beams of light left from the sun.
After a few moments they reached a twenty-yard stone road then leads south and north.
“We head north to thunder hold…we will probably meet him on the path.” Thomas explains as he turns onto the path and walks north and is followed by Isobel. Thomas looks around as if he were paranoid.
“Everything ok Thomas? You seemed like a lost soul” She chuckles
After scanning the surroundings a bit more he looks at her. “This road is normally full at this time, people coming back from the city… but… not a single soul besides us.” they both look around at the empty road and empty forest alike.
The few moments of quietness was interrupted with Isobel’s voice.
“Umm…Thomas… can I tell you something”
“Sure… go ahead”
“Umm… last night… after papa tucked me in… I stayed up and read my book”
“Oh no… you stayed up past your bedtime… don’t worry, your secret is safe with me” Thomas chuckles and nudges her with a wink.
“Oh shut up Thomas” Isobel reacts
“And… it was what I saw when I finished… men… in robes… walking passed the house last night with torches…towards the city”
Thomas takes a few moments to reply.
“Did they see you?”
“N… no… I blew out my candle”
“Thomas… who are they” She asks worriedly
“Bad people… bad people you don’t want to cross…ever…”
“How do you know this Thomas” She asks him but gets no reply.
They next hour of the trip is in silence, not a single sound, no animals, not even the wind made a noise, the only sound was by the boots of the roads two and only two occupants. As they near the city, about a mile out, the fog starts to settle in, thin at first but the deeper they travel the thicker it gets. The sun has sunk below the horizon and the road was near enough pitch black. Thomas pulled from his backpack a small lantern and lights it then holds it out in front of him. They continue to walk the path, the air was still and the fog made it all the more eerie. Thomas did not show any signs of fear as he kept walking, but it would not be said the same for Isobel whose heart was pounding almost out of her chest as she looked around, trying to keep her eye on anything and everything at once while also trying to keep up with her brother.
They reach the end of the forest as miles either side of them open up and the night sky is now visible, the moon is high up in the sky and million of stars can be seen.
“There it is” Thomas says as he points to a large castle that climbs up the face of a mountain as its walls stretch miles in either direction of a large gate house that the path leads to. The fog has settled in thickly over the castle, giving it an eerie feel to it. The castle is in darkness and the only rights are from a few orange glowing lights that shine just over the walls up the castle, where they smoke originated form they continue to walk the last five miles up to the gatehouse, but still, not a single sound could be heard from outside or within the city.
“This is way too quiet, even for night and for a city” Thomas breaks the silence
Isobel stays quiet as she follows behind him.
They reach the gatehouse, the gate wide open as they walk right in, but as if they were walking into a foreign haunted city. Not a person or animal stirred, not even the wind dare disturb to unmoving atmosphere.
“Where is everybody Thomas” Isobel asks him
“I… I don’t know but we best head back home” He says as he starts to turn around before Isobel pulls on his hand tightly.
“We don’t leave without papa,” She says in an ordering tone as she walks in slowly.
Thomas sighs again and follows her into the thick dark fog that floods the streets of the city.
Nightmares and Heroes
An hour has passed and the siblings continue to search the city and have failed to find any signs of life. The fog did not have any sign of lifting as it continued to get thicker the deeper they went. Both Thomas and Isabel knew that something was not right, cities are not normally this quiet and not a single light in a window or torch has been seen the whole time they have been within the city walls. Every few yards they would step and hear a light splashing sound, but it has not rained for days but they did not investigate the sound as they were too focused looking around the eerie fog.
They reach an opening in the street to a plaza. Empty stores surround the plaza and a single ornament inhabits the centre, a large stone well.
“Thomas, can we rest here…for a short while?” Isobel asks Thomas tiredly
“Alright, I need a drink… but we can’t take too long” he replies looking around the plaza.
The closer they walk towards the well the more common the sound of splashing under their feet is. They reach the well and Thomas instantly begins to wind it up while Isobel takes a seat on the edge. The rope reaches the top but the bucket is missing.
“God damn it, no bucket” Thomas curses to himself
“There is water on the ground if we are desperate enough… and I can say I am” Isobel insists as she gestures to the ground.
“Hmm… I guess you’re right”
Isobel kneels down makes a cup with her hand and gathers some of the liquid off the ground and lifts it to her mouth and takes a sip which is instantly followed with her violently spitting it back out. Thomas jumps down next to her and is about to ask what happened until he looks at her hands covered in blood, his gaze then shifts to the ground and the puddle was not water but blood. He stands and looks around and strains his eyes to look through the fog and he comes to notice that there was never any water on the ground that they were walking through blood. He looks down at his sister. “Izzy… get up now… it’s not water”
She stands and looks at him. “I guessed that… what is it?”
“Its blood… not water”
They both start looking around and they both noticed
“What happened… where is everyone… where is papa!” Isobel panics
Thomas covers her mouth even though he is also panicking but has more control over it
“Quiet… what did this might still be out there… hidden in the fog” he says as he removes his hand.
“If its blood, then where are the bodies” Isobel asks.
“I… I don’t know… and I don’t want to know… we must keep moving up the city now” he orders.
She gets up and follows her brother without question, as he starts off deeper into the city. As they move deeper into the city, faint screams can be heard in the distance, first just one, but more were added, both human and inhuman screams.
“Brother I’m scared”
“Its ok sis, I won’t let anything harm you… I promise” Thomas tries to comfort her but stops walking and looks into the fog; he raises his hand and stops Isobel.
“What is it?” she asks but Thomas just shushes her.
“They both look deep into the fog as they can hear something moving towards them.
An outline of a man appears in the fog and a man appears out of it, a man in silver armour and a blue tabard. His stumbling around as he has giant claw marks across his chest which blood oozes out of along with a massive bit mark in his left shoulder.
Thomas and Isabel both look at the man.
“Sir… a… are you alright?” she asks him after gaining the courage too.
He stops and looks at them as he walks to them and falls to his kneels and looks up at them with parts of his face missing.
“Sir what happened here” Thomas asks him
“They are everywhere…risen out of the sick… killing and devouring all… run… run… Run… demons… monsters… we can’t win… it’s… our… reckoning” the guard finishes as he falls face down into the stone ground, blood oozing out of him.
Both the siblings are frozen with fear and shock, both trying to look around and at the guard at the same time. They regain themselves and walk slowly around him, Thomas looking around while Isobel looks directly at the guard.
They get about five yards passed him, and he begins to twitch.
“Thomas… Thomas… his moving again”
He turns and looks down at the twitching corpse; he stares, as it gets more violent.
“Thomas… we need to go now” Isobel pulls at him but he continues to watch.
The guard on the floor starts to shake and twitch, the body flips over onto its back as it’s now face up but gets more violent. Isobel repeats herself with more demand in her voice as she pulls harder at Thomas’s arm. The body arches up and the chest bubbles as if something is trying to force its way out. In the next moment, they both witness something that they will never be able to be unseen, two giant claws burst out of the chest, spraying blood everywhere. Thomas pulls Isobel and ducks behind the well as Thomas peaks over the top to watch as he holds her down.
The giant claws arch out and grasps the stone ground as what the claws are attached to start to pull its way out. Firsts its arms then its shoulders, followed by its head then the rest of its body. The creature stands twice the height of a normal man, its body is pale and the shape of the bones can be seen through the flesh, its hands were giant razor sharp claws and so were its feet, its head was round like I humans, but it would be the face that Thomas will never be able to forget. Its eyes are large and hollow, nothing but black where the eyes should be, its nose is nothing but two holes in the middle of its face, and its mouth was terrifying. It hung open, stretching from one ear to the other, the razor sharp pointy teeth are flush against the flesh, and within the mouth is nothing but darkness. It goes onto all fours and looks around the notices the decapitated guardsmen from which it rose from and starts devouring him.
Thomas was in complete shock and loses his grip on Isobel as she stands up and sees the creature and freezes as she watches it. She grabs Thomas’s arm and starts to pull at it
“We need to go… now,” she whispers to him with panic in her voice.
She loses her grip and stumbles back and falls into a puddle of blood, gaining the creatures attention. It stands up tall once again and looks directly at her, draining every emotion from her and filling her with fear and dread, she can do nothing but stare back into its hollow eyes. It the lets out a loud, blood-curdling scream that echoes around the entire castle as it walks towards Isobel rapidly. She wants to move but she can’t; she tries and tries again but can’t move. It’s only a few yards in front of her as it raises hers claw to strike but is interrupted by an arrow going through its head, it does not go down, instead it turns to the sender of the arrow, the young man standing next to the well with the bow in his hand, it slowly starts to walk towards him. Thomas manages to fire two more arrows, one hitting the throat and the other square in the chest but the creature does not stop as it raises its claw and strikes down, Thomas jumps to the side as the claw follows through and takes a chunk of the stone well out. Isobel crawls backwards until her back is up against a building as she watches in terror and tries to get her bow from around her. The beast swings its other arm at Thomas as he dodges again and this time his unsheathes his sword and tries to strike it and succeeds by putting a deep cut into one of its legs. The creature reacts by hitting Thomas with the back of its claw, the force sends him flying twenty yards across the plaza and into a wall as he lands heavily. The creature jumps towards Thomas and digs its claws into the stoneworks of the building just above his head, the creature lets out another scream as it finds a way dig into its back and as its turns around another digging itself into its eye. It runs towards Isobel in a rapid motion as she screams
“Isobel!!” Thomas screams as he stumbles to get up.
The creature raises its claw and starts to swing down before being pushed away by three guards armed with spears and body shields, interrupts it. More guards entre the plaza and attack the creature, killing it. Thomas runs over to Isobel and helps her up.
“Are you ok?” he asks quickly
Isobel starts to cry on his shoulder as he holds her close to him. A woman approaches them; she is dressed in dark green leather armour and light green, the armour has elfish patterns on it and so does her bow and two short swords. Her hair is a light orange and goes down to the middle of her back.
“Are you two harmed?” she asks them in a graceful manner
“No… we are fine… thank you… for saving us” Thomas replies
“Who are you” Isobel asks
“I am Thernia of the Thernian clan, I was here visiting the king when all this happen… come on… let’s get you two out of here” she turns and walks the way she came as the two siblings follow and so do the guards.
After about half an hour as walking at the quick pass up the city, they reached where the city met the mountain. This part was still under human control. Men were rushing around and preparing for battle…there were no more than a hundred men all together. A man in golden armour approaches Thernia
“Is that the last of the survivors dear” he asks her
“Yes Elioss, it is”
The siblings look at the golden armoured man
“Elioss…the king?” Isobel asks and the king looks at her with a slight nod
“Aye, I am the king” he replies
Thomas and Isabel both look shocked and bow instantly
“No no, no need to now… right now I need to get everyone to safety, behind me is a tunnel, take it… all over survivors are down that path… tell them your king is going to by them all as much time as I can.” He says orderly to the children.
They both nod
“Come on Thomas” Isobel insists as she starts to run but Thomas is stopped by the king’s sword across his chest,
“Thomas is your name…the new specialist lad?” he asks Thomas
“Yes I am… y… your grace”
Isobel looks at Thomas with a dropped jaw he was telling the truth… he has been training for the specialist she thinks to herself
“Do me a favour lad, keep everyone safe” Elioss asks as he ruffles his hair and walks off to the walls as loud inhuman screams are heard on the other side.
“Yes my lord” Thomas finally says as he rushes off and grabs Isobel’s arm and runs towards the tunnel.
Isobel looks back at everyone one as they all raise their weapons and run down the street and vanish from sight, the sound of splitting flesh and steel meets steel mixed in with screams of all nature. Thomas continues to pull Isobel down the tunnel as they try and catch up with the rest of the citizens. The only thought on Isobel’s head is I hope we find papa…