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The Lost Blade: Book One-Fantasy Horror-opening chapter-A.D Greenwyn

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After a week of festivities, the people of Kald should have been sleeping off the twice-cooked pork, the sticky yam dumplings, and the sweet salt wines of Mawa, but instead, they were screaming—fleeing their squat white houses in the wee hours of morning as the spoken fire overtook them. The fire danced across the wide streets and the sweltering heat caused the white paint on the houses to bubble and blister. Sickly green flames, at first, but as they burned hotter the green swirled to bright yellows and searing oranges as it washed over the townhomes, stacked atop of each other like building blocks. When the town was founded nearly a century ago, the design was celebrated as clever. It saved them space, only now, as the buildings collapsed in on themselves, they swallowed the unlucky townsfolk still inside and imprisoned them under smoldering rubbble--a trap built by the death gods, a quick trip to the Blind Mother's hallowed halls. Those fleeing the fire could see the charred silhouettes already protruding out of the rubble their burnt bodies like the blackened limbs of fallen trees, their twisted forms clawing out, pleading for help.

Lord Darrow continued to watch from atop his horse, looking on at the chaos he had brought to the town. Thick tendrils of noxious black smoke billowed from the round pane-less windows; watching on he couldn’t help but think of the withered one, reaching into the windows with her blackened hands to save her people. He laughed at the notion, there would be no savior for these people.

The Withered One would not come!

A terrible shriek interrupted his reverie. The crackle of hungry flames seemed almost louder than the screaming. The fire skipped through the streets of Kald, plucking townsfolk up like sacrifices. They felt the heat of the fire on their faces as if they stood in the heart of the Ureaplos star, felt the hot pin-prick kisses of heat blistering their faces, licking their tears away, leaving behind trails of burning salt on their dark cheeks.

Above them all the three moons stared down at the town, their ghostly eyes watching in silent horror as the silver-haired citizens of Kald cried out for their gods—a shame that none appeared to be in a listening mood.

Lord Darrow closed his eyes and listened to the sounds of women begging, to the sound of steel against flesh, to the fresh orphans sobbing in the streets. If anyone asked, he would have told them that he took no pleasure in his work for it was nothing other than a necessary evil, but alone in the dark, at the very edge of town among his men, he could be honest. Lord Darrow enjoyed his work. He served Aertis’ himself, and who could not be happy doing the bidding of a god?

In less than an hour after it had begun, the mayhem began to subside.

His men captured children and women, and a few men. The Qitareeni people were fierce everywhere they met them, but the sons of Aertis even more so. Behind him he heard the pleading moans and cries of captives caged by iron bars, and like most of the children of other gods, the iron burned them. Lord Darrow smelled the sizzle of their flesh behind him as they grabbed at the bars, desperate for his attention.

He gave them none.

Women ran with their crying children, doing their best to put on brave faces as they hurried to the temple, a big windowless building made of clay, clutching the trembling hands of their children who struggled to keep up what with their oversized cloaks and ragged dolls hugged close to their tiny chests. Some of the townsfolk carried woven baskets atop their heads, filled with what belongings they could carry: clothes, food, things they deemed important in one way or another as they, with their soot-covered faces hurried to the opened hallowed doors of the temple.

Lord Darrow’s men, dressed in white armor decorated with blue and oraqish gold; they carried with them long swords at their hips, though some of them carried pikes the size of a full-grown elve. They took turns, beating the villagers, intercepting them before they made it into the temple. Darrow’s men, with their white steel gloves, grabbed children by the hair and dragged them, kicking and screaming from the burning town and into the deep dark of the woods, where the cage lay waiting for them.

The men of Kald tried to help, they pushed themselves between the women and the children, and invaders, chests puffed, armed with small dirks and clay bricks.

They were met with laughter and steel.

The air became tinny and thick, like breathing into a damp hot rag, the smell of blood along with the scent of burning flesh and beneath it all the faint aroma of burning bread.

Hidden in the dark, Lord Darrow watched, smiling as he played with one of the fingers around his neck, he wore a wreath of blackened hands around his neck like a necklace, and he rotated one of the fingers on it thoughtfully between his own fingers—unlike his men, he didn’t wear gloves, or armor, he made no distance between himself and the cruelty he oversaw. He sucked in a deep breath, letting the char and death settle in his lungs, invigorating him in a way.

A few of his men returned to him, most on horseback, most towing women and children behind them, some of whom weren’t moving; they had dragged them from town to camp by the hair or by the legs kicking and screaming. Lord Darrow glanced over his shoulder, as his men continued filling the cage behind him with their “prizes”, he would have rathered them killed, but the curator always needed more hands it seemed.

Somewhere in the village, he heard a rallying voice cry out, “Quickly get to the temple! Quickly now!” and the smile on his thin lips faded.


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