From Bones to Birth: A bit of color (Chapter Five)

Daniel Kwadwo

Jomcara, Maudlin, and Pearhu were all laying across the pillows scattered all around the inside of the large carriage, sleeping. Jomcara had asked a young boy to drive the cart while they slept through the night.

One of Jomcara’s ears twitched in the dead of night. Completely soundless like a phantom he rose without stirring anyone. Gently he slunk over to Maudlin, and gripped her horn with a little tug. A burst of lightning shot from her hand and into his face with a clang, but Jomcara angled his head so it hit his silver horns, not his face. 

“We’ve got a threat in the woods. Need your help.”

Maudlin’s eyes widened at the message, and she nodded her head. They gathered Pearhu as well and slunk out of the carriage shortly. Slinking through the night under other carriages and between groups of riders, until they sank beneath the shadows of the trees.

Owls hooted in the dead of night, animals scurried throughout the underbrush and soft sounds of animals livening the dark resounded throughout every last inch of the land. Save Pearhu, who stumbled and crept noisily, each member of the three made far less noise than even the smallest animal. They added nothing to the music of the night, sinking their hands into the domain of heinous atrocity’s delights to cull nascent plight.

Jomcara possessed eyes unlike native man’s, and could see in the depths of the night quite well. Resultantly, he noticed the footprint’s of their prey. A hoof print in the earth, among a few others, that looked much like a deer’s. They followed the trail, and Maudlin caught a sickly, diseased scent in the air. 

They came upon the beast maneuvering through a thick clutch of trees. It was a gnarly, hideous mass of fat and muscle more than 6 feet tall and 10 feet long. Another 7 wide. Its face was misshapen and crude, resembling a bald old man’s fused with the mug of a snarling dog. Elongating it, and revealing a mouth full of teeth mixed with flat stump’s like a human’s and jagged, serrated knives made of bone. 

It’s body was intensely muscular, yet it’s fur was lathered with stinking, sickly looking clumps of flesh that looked like points of disease, oozing foul pus across its body, while a single tail made of black stone and resembling a lion’s swished back and forth slowly behind the enormous abomination, whose legs were not that or a cat or dogs, but a deer’s. Leaving deep hoofprints into the ground from its heavy mass. 

Bile-wrought thought the group. Seeing it, they came back together slowly towards Pearhu, not letting him make another sound, for the beast had surely heard him. It moved on regardless, and they all looked around with their senses as keen as could be. Particularly, Jomcara, as Bile-wrought were known to always journey in packs. 

Hearing approaching steps, the three climbed up the tree’s until they were well out of sight of any beasts. A pack of the Bile-wrought, like a huge procession of hellish stallions mutated and mangled for slaughter, passed underneath the group.

That beast must have been luring us into a trap. It would distract us fighting, and then we would be run down by its family while we were in the middle of a conflict and it could pin at least a few of us. Good plan. 

The man unlatched from behind his back his weapon; a large scythe taller than his meager height only a bit above five feet. He nodded to Maudlin and Pearhu, the latter of which was caught with a look of surprise, but nevertheless flashed a smile and began to summon bits of black flame between his fingers, while Maudlin drew her two scimitar-like swords. 

He and the qilin girl fell into the forest below and began their task. Jomcara immediately cut off the leg of one of the beast’s in a hard swipe, which launched it into it’s fellows. 

The pack knew where they were now. 

Gargantuan abominations broke the earth to shards of sand and rubble as they stampeded to turn and mangle the new prey that lay within their reach. Jomcara calmly ran towards the hoard himself, choosing to quickly dance between legs, hoping to get a few more immobile through the same trick. The pack quickly sped up, realizing his attempt and goading him into the attempt. 

Jomcara clicked his tongue and began chanting under his breath instead. Choosing the jump up and landing on one of the brute’s back’s cutting into it from behind. 

It was a ridiculous prospect. These monsters were mammoth’s in comparison to the three they faced. There were six of them, and each one was larger than a small bus. How could such insignificant and puny mites ever hope to so much as nudge one? Much less hurt them. It was a flimsy and ridiculous notion. It made no sense. 

This consideration did not even enter into any of their mind’s, much less Maudlin’s. Two of the hulking behemoth’s had cornered her between them, rampaging they stomped down in the space between them, hoping to crush her into paste. The raucous noise from their revelry resounded throughout the night like multiple explosions going off at one location, and their force burst open the earth between them easily, blasting open a deep crater into the land. 

One felt a light prick on it’s front right leg. Then, a burst of golden sunlight flashed into the deep of night from a long cut across it’s neck that opened as if by magic, or as if a butcher the size of a giant had just cut across a piece of meat. It screamed in pain, a wail that was answered as Maudlin screamed “fervent assault: infuriated lightning!”

Two bolts of pure gold lightning immediately blasted out of her blades and curved around to disappear down the monstrosity’s gullet from her position on its back. The burning pain from its earlier wound was magnified many times over by the intolerable damage of having its internal organs electrocuted. But this was far from enough to kill the foul monster. 

It buckled and stomped around and swung its mighty tail back and forth. Maudlin did well to avoid its stone bite and kept up her assault; her blades easily carved through the monster’s carcass but were too thin. The second one rushed to the side of the one buckling in agony and attempted to bite and kick at Maudlin alongside the first’s tries to throw or swat her off. 

Maudlin kicked off and jumped towards the floor, and under her breath she said: “Rogziel. I pray you attend me!” She cast a bit of shamanisitc magic from her homeland, summoning a lance of ice that pierced the hide of the great beast she’d already been assaulting from below.

Jomcara was committed to a much similar assault on his end of the battlefield. And Pearhu simply threw down lances of black flame at the monsters. 

Something was wrong. In the hearts of the three, this idea resonated clearly and concurrently. This battlefield was a sight of pure warchaos, yet what were they accomplishing? Moreover, why had they been left alone all this time, even if combat was fast and fierce by nature?

Pearhu was the first to act on this impulse. Infuriated by his lack of ability to provide to the assault, he grit his teeth and opened his mouth, letting both of his black serpentine tongues slither out of his mouth as he began to speak terrible profanities aplenty. 

“Scorn the all-benevolent, and riddle the plains of grandeur again with my profuse rot. Look how my spew seeps down beneath the insipid breadth of your mighty lands; defeated lie nature’s hearty defenses, and malign becomes her countenance. Marvelous. Marvelous and delightful! So let clouds of noxious wrath warp and burn the skies. Tarnish the heart’s of the brave and have their blood change to oil and their hands to misshapen mud. Clog coal into the throats of the prophets, and burn, burn the very night with the howling gaiety of foul-blooded black witches and hell’s clamoring adulation! So inspiring you…”

As he spoke, the bark of the tree around him began to bubble and burn away, as if it was melting. Black chains pulsing with red veins as if they were flesh and stonework all at once, began to emerge from the bane-blooded man’s skin, jangling and twisting about his body like a hall of crazed priests swinging braziers around in sheer madness. Balls of flame infernal and hungry appeared round his body, and with the final word, Pearhu cast down his spells. The curses of blasphemy and desecration. Alongside a massive blast of poison breath that covered the entire battleground. 

The entire land turned into a complete hellscape. The bile-wrought began to scream collectively as their skin began to erupt as small bursts of flame blew up out from under their skin, and the very land they walked upon was torn up and razed, releasing a crude curse into their bodies with every step. The poison had little effect on such sickly monsters to begin with, but their bodies became sluggish and bits and pieces of skin melted off of their hides nonetheless. Wounds, cuts and small holes opened up all over their bodies. 

Pearhu himself jumped down after letting free that affliction and jumped to the ground, near Jomcara, and stabbed his fingers into the eyes of the closest monster to him. The poor child of a dog and horse screamed in indignant rage as the half-devil howled in delight and began using his raw strength to rip the beast apart. 

Jomcara himself had finished his own chant. In the middle of the battlefield, just above the trees, a blue orb of fire appeared. The second it did, Jomcara cut off the ear of one of the four hogs surrounding the two. He then stabbed his scythe into the head of the monster and with a scream, his body became wreathed in an aura of churning and fast winds. It allowed the man to bolt across the monster’s entire length and cut it in half in a single swing. 

The last two unmolested beasts stumbled back at the sight, and Jomcara smiled. He blasted forward at the creatures and twirled his scythe as quickly as he could. It moved so fast it mirrored an enormous buzzsaw centered around the man’s hand. The beasts clampered towards Jomcara and he used his scythe to deflect both of their hooves and allow him to slide beneath their bellies. With one ferocious shout, his blade became sheathed in gleaming soft moonlight, and as he cut across the beast bellies in three long and hard swings of the blade he yelled in glee as they fell over and began to bleed out, escaping out from beneath them as they began to stumble. The monsters wailed and, realizing their death was at hand, raged like nothing else. 

They chased down Jomcara like they had been born to end the marauder! Everything in the baleful land they now stepped upon ripped chunks of flesh from their hides and blasted their minds apart more and more from Pearhu’s curse, but it only seemed to intensify their determination. Jomcara wasn’t fast enough to dodge or outpace them, so he simply unlatched the smaller weapon at his side, a secondary smaller scythe meant to be used only in very particular circumstances, and began to dance. Deflecting and chipping away at the beasts in their mad struggle to drag him down with them into the arms of death. 

Until a gray flash of light smashed into the side of the rightmost beast and suddenly, its head was cut off. And, the second on the left was smashed into by the raging beast Pearhu had torn into ribbons. Its wounds were dripping a purple liquid that hissed as it touched the torn up dirt around them. 

It couldn’t tell it’s fellow was it’s ally anymore and mistook it for Pearhu in it’s heavily disoriented state of being. The man jumped off of the creature’s back as its last struggle against its kin began, and Maudlin jumped off of the head of the beast she’d just killed. 

“Not bad work eh?” Maudlin said with a beaming smile on her face. Jomcara and Pearhu had similar grins on their faces. 

Pearhu quickly brought out a grimace though. “Well, we certainly did well. But, er, about that one that got away-”

“No worries about that one.” Jomcara said. “It’s coming with its friends.”

The man blinked. Rapidly. He put his head to the ground and sighed. 

“You’re right, they’re-gah, lord above preserve me but this isn’t my damn job! I’m a baker for God’s sake.”

Jomcara nodded “Which means we’re getting delicious treats after all of this is done, right?”

“Please?” asked Maudlin. 

“What are you two asking for? I just said I was a baker! Of course you’re both getting the absolute best desserts and meals possible with whatever we can scrounge up from camp. Also this forest; I imagine there’s got to be something delicious in these woods. Definitely a lot of game to feed these things, the teachers in the chapels said these monsters have large appetites and kill even when they’re not hungry just for fun.”

“And there they are.”

There was a light stampede that could be heard approaching the site. The beasts hoped to catch whatever remained of the gang, or perhaps were just interested in what was taking their fellows so long. 

The night was filled with a merry addition to its song in the end after all; the howling wails of corruption being purged from its host. 

The next day found the three the first to the baths, eager to clean away the stink of the night’s festivities, and Pearhu cooked the entire after dinner dessert that following night. A delectable arrangement the entire caravan enjoyed deeply. They continued onto Saun experiencing similar events where they were called upon to defend the group, sometimes among the normal guard or hunters. 

Like this, they entered into the great city of conflicts.