Revenge by Concrete Hero and Deathbringer
Here is the first installment of a fantasy story that we have been working on...
The part of the treekin is written by Concrete Hero whist I have been writing the Brettonian part.
Comments and criticism are really appreciated
‘You sure we should be out here?’ Thomas gripped the gnarled wooden handle of the axe, his knuckles turning white; the young man looked about the dark threatening trees, apprehension in his eyes.
‘You want to freeze to death and go hungry?’ This voice was tinged with a cheeky confidence missing in Thomas.
‘...No, of course not.’
‘I thought so, we need the wood, these trees look practically dead anyway, look at them.’ The confident one gestured towards the trees.
There was certainly, something, about them... Thomas didn’t like the way they loomed overhead, jagged claws just waiting to snatch them up. The wind gave them an eerie life, drifting and twitching about like the hands of a puppeteer. Dark tormentors, the sparse moonlight causing flashes of white and even more disconcerting shadows. They just looked evil, if plants could be evil...
‘You know... They say there’s something about these woods, that these trees are more than they appear’
Thomas was a little afraid, he would admit, but he wasn’t stupid ‘Oh sure, they just come to life and eat you up’ He wished he felt as confident as he sounded.
‘Heh... Close, but not quite’ There was a twinkle in his eye that caused Thomas’ stomach to tighten.
‘There are the smaller ones, Dryads, snatch you up or lure you away in the dead of night. You’ve heard about disappearances, especially around these parts. What do you think it would be? Bears? How many Bears do you think come down from the mountains and this close to the villages?’
‘They say the forest is the most ancient thing in the whole world, and it doesn’t take kindly to people-‘
‘How about less talking and more chopping! You lazy lout Tim!’ This one was older, gruffer. The confident Tim grumbled under his breath and swung his axe with particular venom into the moonlit bark. Flashes of orange and red splashed along the trees from their resting lanterns, Thomas tried to keep his eyes from wandering, the flickering shadows caused him to shiver.
Thomas turned back to the trees, after a few of the gnarled things almost nothing could be seen; an almost unnatural gloom clogged his vision. A ghostly wind blew through the trees; a fourth villager lost his woven hat in the breeze.
‘Ha! Looks like jack can hold his hat as well as he can hold his liquor!’ this caused a ripple of laughter to spread between the night time lumberjacks.
A creaking groan sounded out from the trees, like the sound of a protesting boat against the waves. Thomas repressed another shudder.
-You’re being stupid, nothing out here at this time of night. No need to be scared of stupid stories- As if to prove it to himself, he made a vigorous swing at the bark before him, the old axe bit deep into the wood.
Another wind, stronger than before. Thomas, Tim, Jack and the others had to hold their jackets tight. Even the shielded lanterns couldn’t resist, the fire spluttering out unceremoniously, leaving the group in a chocking darkness. The moaning trees protested in the wind once more, the creaking louder this time. It seemed to gain in intensity for a few moments.
‘W-what was that?’ Thomas called out, cheeks flaring at his stutter.
‘What do ye bleedin’ think it was? Could ye not feel the wind on your face?’
The gruff one sounded annoyed ‘Now get those torches relit, I don’t want to cut one of your legs off by mistake now do I...’
‘Then what’s making that noise...’
The wind had stopped. The air felt deathly still, stale. But the creaking of the trees continued.
The group fell silent; the groaning wood was joined by the sounds of a heavy crash, echoing menacingly through the night. Thomas’ eyes widened; the sound setting off alarm bells in some primal part of his mind.
‘I think we should leave...’
Volcanic anger burned within, murderous scum dared to attack their trees!
Torturous instruments and the death knells of trees in pain woke him from deep slumber. How dare they, the very perception of the mortal world was altered by his fury. Hot white light flooded his vision, highlighting orange blazes on the edge of the wood. They were allowed to settle on the edge without suffering our ire, and then they chop down our trees, pull them from the ground! He was forced to vent his rage in a guttural, earth shaking roar. Primeval wrath roiled forwards in a sonic blast.
The forest denizen burst from the tree lining, the thin flecks of moonlight only enhanced the terror of the creature. Twice as tall as the villagers, it was the form of a dead tree twisted into an unsettling parody of man. Burning white eyes with smoking contrails sat above a snapping jagged maw shaped like a cackling jack-o-lantern. Great arms ended it taloned claws, more than capable of shredding a man to ribbons, many spiked limbs angled around its body, a twisted spider ready to spear its prey.
White bubbled into red as the rage became too much, the desire for blood unquenchable. The forms of these humans blanched into shaking auras of yellow blurring over their bodies, he could taste their fear. The Treekin lashed out, gutting the closest man in a spray of blood an viscera, his dying squeal only heightened his anger. They scattered before him, sprinting back towards their hive, he felt a sharp clunk and turned to see one of their tree-slayers stuck in his hide, the death end metal and the handle ironically drafted from their own material. The human staggered backwards, nothing but absolute fear in his eyes. The Treekin howled as it fell upon the peasant, maw snapping through bone and arching limbs puncturing his flesh, he was reduced to little more than a pile of steaming organs in seconds.
They ran, scattering rodent filth fleeing to their homes, he was faster. He caught up with the straggler in moments; plucking him from his feet from behind, claws digging into his flanks he crushed the man’s upper body in his maw, ripping the human in two and silencing his pained shriek. Blood gushed from his mouth as he spat and tossed away the remains, fuelling the fires of hatred. The next was just as easy to catch, and just as easy to end. Pinning the man to the floor with an overly large claw the scything limbs went to work, flaying the man in seconds.
-Yessss, let you’re kind hear you’re tortured cries manling! When this night is through you’ll all be dying.-
The Treekin hauled the defiled remains of the man, still gurgling in some blood soaked half life. The forest spirit speared the man on the crown spines arcing from its back, a living trophy.
Large, wooden, doors closed before him, a pitiful attempt to deny his entry. In his berserk state he almost missed the two silver humans at the gate, holding spears in shaking hands as he chewed up the earth in his thundering charge. The first was not prepared.
Erratic spear thrust deflected with a casual sweep, the Treekin speared the human to the wall with a lightning fast jab, red mixed with silver, the humans eyes widened. The Treekin snapped forward, biting through the steel and tearing an arm free with a stomach churning jerk, he savoured the human cries.
The world flashed as he felt a burning pain in his side, he whirled around, knocking the silver human to the ground; his spear was jammed into his flank. The Treekin let out an ear splitting wail of rage as it fell upon the stunned human, the stunning scene of violence lasted but a few seconds, leaving what was once a man, naught but a red stain scattered in shreds before the gate.
The gate itself exploded inwards in a tide of splinters and torn wood as the murderous entity barrelled into the courtyard. Two humans; one heading for his nest and the other out of sight, he could not hide. He tore after the fleeing human, he could hear its heart pounding, threatening to burst from his body as fear galvanised his run, a flicker of elation as it scrambled through a doorway. The Treekin barked a harsh string of malicious laughter, it knocked the door from its hinges and it tired to slam before him, he forced his way into the arch, tearing the frame and splintering the entire wall as he furiously powered his way into the house. He was too large to fit inside, but he snatched at the man, digging his claws deep into its leg even as it stumbled for the stairs. He tore the human from the house, causing further destruction as he wrenched himself free from the lodgings. The man’s screams were joined by that of a woman, an irritating cry that was silenced by the front portion of this house collapsing under the strain. He stared into the man’s eyes with his own wrathful orbs, no mercy.
The Treekin stalked through the destroyed gates, his blood soaked form still steaming in the cold night air. A deep rage still simmered inside, though it was sated, for now.
He strode as if upon air, a predator slinking through the trees, his body sleek with a brutish grace as he slunk steadily towards the pale translucent glow that taunted him, fascinated him, lingering tantalisingly upon the edge of his vision, ever present, a desperate need, an unspoken plea that called to the unbreakable meld of chivalry and stone that he called a heart. He heard a woman’s voice cry for help and he answered, breaking into a trot as his lips contorted into words of reverence
“By my life or death I will protect the sacred beauty of my lady.”
His sword slid from his sheath and he kissed its blade as the light refracted upon the smooth iron in a deadly effervescence of colours, a silver rapier shimmering with hues of blue and purple, pure and cold in the darkness. He took a step forward and someone, somewhere screamed, howled a scream of fear as their soul was torn from their body and cast into the eternal abyss. The sword in his hand blazed white hot before it was swallowed by a rolling darkness that swept over him, knocking him backwards and he heard the sound of creaking timber followed by a huge crash as the ground fell away. He was falling... tumbling through the air as death rushed nearer arms reached out to clamp him in its eternal smothering embrace
The knight sat bolt upright kicking frantically at the covers that seemed to stifle him, entomb him in a lifeless unbreakable mass and he tore them away kicking out desperately against the menace that bound him. Danger seemed to leer from every corner as he stared wildly around his eyes flicking across the lustrous wooden paintings and tapestries into the corners of the room.
“Who’s there?” he roared, throwing down a groggy challenge at the darkness that leered impenetrably swallowing his hand whole for a single second before it was slashed ruthlessly apart by a shaft of moonlight flashed through the gap in the curtains casting a mystical silvery glow over the crest of his house, the noble and proud house of Fachine.
The white horse thundered across the blue background head held high, stoic upon its strong firm legs and though his panic faded dying away into relief, in the distance, someone screamed, howled words in a rough course voice that melded into an indistinct mumble as it burst through the bedroom window.
The knight lay back on his pillows, stretching allowing his body to curve into the feather mattress once more
"HELP... murder.... somebody help” screamed the peasant woman and the knight rolled his eyes shut and descended into blackness with a small contented mutter of;
Yet as he drifted into a comfortable doze and the screams that battered against his windows, degraded into wails and sobs of sorrow there was an impatient rap upon his door and a hurried voice hollered
“My Lord. “
“My Lord, it’s urgent the village is....”
“Tell whoever’s son died she will still have to pay her taxes on the 23rd”
“It’s imperative you come now my Lord.”
“Is the village under attack?” muttered Valentino in a voice that was laced with a deadly caress.
“No my Lord but in the....” riposted the messenger, his voice desperate with impatient fear.
“Has the Lord of Quenelles summoned me to his court?”
“No but your...”
“Are thousands of beastmen driving over the mountains to ransack the sacred land of our lady?
“No but I must..”
“Then piss off and let me sleep”
There was a pause and the sound of shuffling feet and the tiniest of swallows as the peasant steadied himself and Valentino opened one eye as the messenger began in a grave if tremulous voice.
“Your son is dead my lord”
There was a shocked silence followed by a loud thump before the door exploded outwards a whirlwind of rage, catching the surprised messenger at the key hole full in the face as the Lord barrelled onto the landing reaching the stairs in 4 loping strides a blue tunic flying like a banner from his hand as he swept onto the stairs. On the floor below he stopped at a niche and bowed his head to the icon that lay in the moonlight.
Her face glowed benignly down upon him and as they were both framed in a beam of moonlight, held in the spotlight, the messenger saw silver rivers of tears flowing along his liege lords face whilst his mouth split into a gaping maw as he howled a broken word spreading his arms imploring, begging. Yet the moment splintered as the night overpowered the moonlight and the knight’s face was bathed in a surly darkness as he reached out pulling forward from the alcove an immaculately carved manikin of the finest oak bearing his weapons of war, the tools around which his life was built and which would delay his untimely end.
He touched them slowly with ceremonial precision, denying his emotions as he caressed each weapon lovingly. He ruthlessly quashed the waves of mourning that caused his trembling fingers to fumble upon the buckle of his armour and the straps of his tunic before turning away and halted for a moment as he caught a glimpse of his own reflection in the mirror. His face was tanned, surrounded by long curtains of sweeping, black hair that add an elegant frame to blunt, cruel features and a long arrogant nose. His eyes that normally shone jet black and possessed an innate sense of superiority were blank, haunted by the horror of the truth that had been forced upon him.
His broad shoulders seemed to droop under the weight of his anguish whilst his chest was broad enhanced by the blue and white checks that patterned his tunic yet he seemed diminished in the curves and contours of the windows. It unhinged him and his jet black eyes widened yet he relaxed as he placed his helm upon his head, an iron gray metal box bearing his crest and leaving only two smouldering black coals upon view for his enemy. Yet even through the slit of his visor he could tell that the black coals normally burning with the fire of battle were dead and empty and he tried to summon some form of resilience, yet he was empty, lifeless and he turned his back upon his reflection and strode down the stairs to be swallowed by the darkness.
Upon the landing above, the messenger watched him stride through the door and made to spit the blood that was filling his mouth onto the carpet yet a voice slashed through the darkness.
“Don’t even think about it dickhead.”
He found his horse already saddled 3 feet down the path and he gently kissed the white mare’s nose, clasping his arm around it and his hands twisted in its mane as he let out a small cry of anguished loss as the horse nuzzled his neck.
“Oh Bequin, my son... my son... we will... we will avenge him.”
The horse pressed closer and let out a small angered snort as it butted its nose into his shoulder and he felt his lance bump into his shoulder as he straightened up, pulling himself onto Bequin’s broad back and slipping easily into the groove he had worn into the saddle and she moved easily at the lightest touch of his heels cantering through the gates and into the village. The darkness swallowed them yet from his high vantage point he could see a ring of flame forming upon the outskirts and he stared through the gloom trying to penetrate the flaming circle to the horrors within yet the darkness and the smoke hazed his eyes as the mare broke into a trot sloshing through the sewage that ran through the cobblestones.
The village... well shit hole reeked and the knight closed his eyes trying to block the smell as he stared around in distaste at the hovels and huts the peasantry called homes before pressing Bequin to a canter yet the smell merely intensified as they moved deeper and the wreath of flame grew more distinct and he spurred his horse on. They scattered from his path as he pushed between them, silence fell like a blanket smothering them as he surveyed the scene with shrewd black eyes that seemed to dance in the firelight.
They fell upon carnage and his eyes smoulders as he saw the gate torn asunder, a house smouldering wreckage, the mangled remains of a charred corpse falling out of one of the windows whilst several more lay scattered in seeping pools of crimson, long deep stab wounds puncturing their bodies. Yet, something caught his eye, they were not normal stab wounds, they seemed more jagged, not the clean cuts of a sword or a spear but something far more crude, natural even.
He whipped round and the peasants shrunk back under his gaze yet they bore their torches aloft, casting light over the carnage that was splayed around them and causing their faces to distort with a gross menace as the shadows flickered, dancing over their lined faces and sending sparks across their dull eyes.
Valentino dropped to the ground tossing Bequin’s reigns casually to one of the peasants, a man in his mid twenties yet still with a haggard face worn warty skin who looked up at the horse with awestruck eyes.
“Touch her with your filthy hands and I’ll cut your head off” stated Valentino and the silence seemed to sharpen as the tension and fear reverberated around the clearing.
“Who saw what happened?”
There was a tiny squeak from the crowd and an old woman was pushed into the firelight, her tiny wizened face hideously disfigured by time and stared up through straggly ragged grey hair at the knight that towered above her
“What happened, crone” repeated the knight and his voice was harsh and impassive as he took in the ragged clothing now charred and the burns that covered her arms.
“They ran in, screaming, and that thing. The tree... it”
The crone’s eyes filled with tears and she began to rock back and forth upon her heels, her voice became illiterate gibberish punctuated by cackling screams. Valentino turned away and bellowed to the crowd
“Where is my son?”
Fear pressed upon the villagers throats, a blade holding them quiet, fearful of their Lords reaction to the horrific news and they merely shuffled backwards hiding their faces with hands or sleeves and the knights irritation grew and the fuse of his temper ignited in a shower of malicious rage.
“Answer me” he roared yet the peasants merely swallowed and one shook his head slightly as his Adams apple bobbed in fear.
“Cowards, you are devoid of honour” muttered Valentino and with a swift movement he backhanded the man, the iron of his gauntlet colliding with his cheek and sending him crashing into the mud and sewage below his feet. He writhed in agony yet he became still as he felt the tip of a sword pressing upon his trachea. The other peasants seemed to shrink melting away into the shadows of the houses yet their frightened faces still stared on and their torches still lit the scene like a spot light.
The man uncurled, his face dirty and tear stained, pointed to a spot just in front of the gate which had been ripped from his hinges by inhuman hands, the word shredded apart and torn as it hung loose from one hinge and the night approached it, casually stepping over the dead peasants till he reached a small pile of bloody rags, snapped bones and spitted flesh upon the floor. The knight tried not to stagger, fall or cry out in despairing horror yet he failed and sank to his knees upon the clean stone path his head bowed and back racked by enormous heaving sobs. For minutes that seemed like days he howled his sorrow to the night yet though his body was wracked with emotion his brain was working and the rage was building in his eyes.
He stood swiftly as his eyes caught something in the mud outside the gate and he snatched the rains of Bequin and led her out of the gate bending as a wry smile spread across his face. Huge footprints trailed through the mud and as he followed it he noticed that the grass upon the side of the road was trampled by a huge form. Triumph flitted through him and he turned pulling himself onto Bequin’s back and he caught sight of the shredded remains of his son. Anger flooded him and vengeance filled his heart as he ripped off his helm and tossed it away wheeling his horse round to face the peasants that stood at the gate and he raised his sword high into the air and Bequin reared as the moon crested the clouds reflecting off his sword and onto the tattered rags of his son and he spoke allowed as the peasants cheered in triumph , their faces bathed in moonlight to look....ugly but slightly less ugly than before yet they were filled with new hope at the sight of their protector before them, their knight, their hero.
“I ride in vengeance to pay for the loved one I lost... I ride in vengeance for my honour and the love I hold in my heart for the lady means I must defend her sacred beauty. Send messengers to the Lord of Quenelles and bury my son if I do not return by sunrise tomorrow. I swear by everything I hold dear that blood will be spilled this night... the killer will pay even if I must avenge my child with my own life.”
With a sweeping chop of his sword he cleft the gate upon its fractured hinge and it toppled falling to the ground before him and he raised his sword once more and oil glistened upon the blade as he wheeled around and drove his heels into Bequin’s sides, snatching a torch from the closest peasant.
Together they cantered forward as the moon slid lazily behind the clouds and they were swallowed by the darkness, the flame of the torch burning through the night, a flame of hope to the peasants that roared at their heroes retreating back.
kudos to lillian thorne for the awesome sig