Saturday, July 4, 2009

Berserker Part 26

Kyle was drawn by strange noises wafting from the front wagon taking him away from his work, hitching up what horses they had left to the wagons. He was not looking forward to telling everybody that they would need to abandon a wagon unless they wanted to stay where they were. He found Lars, Jarn, and Tyrel standing around the Gnoll. It had been tied to the axle of the front wagon and was thrashing violently. It arched its back and screeched, eyes closed and jaws foaming, babbling mindlessly.

He overhead snatches of the conversation as he walked up. “How long has this been going on?”, asked Lars.

“Started just as soon as it fell asleep”, said Lars”.

“Are you sure you didn’t give it the odd nudge or kick?”, asked Jarn.

“No, I thought we might be able to use it in pulling the wagons”, Tyrel confessed with a sheepish grin.

“I remember my father used to sleep walk”, Kyle said. “Maybe this is sort of like that”. They all gave this some thought.

“Then how do you fix it?”, Jarn asked after a while.

“Isn’t there something about not waking someone sleepwalking or their legs will fall off?”, Kyle asked tentatively. They all stared at him for a moment, taking in what could have possibly been one of the dumbest things any of them had or will ever hear. Then, like so many things that don’t make sense or fit into someone’s perception of the world, it was ignored.

“Then we just leave it to yell and scream?”, asked Tyrel.

“I think so”, Lars replied.

Tyrel glared at Lars. “Bloody hell!”, he shouted. “I just finished my watch not an hour ago while it was raving on about its master, and I want to sleep!”.

“What about its master?”, Kyle asked in an attempt to diffuse the situation. The thing was completely asleep and paid no mind to outer stimulus, constantly contorting in seizure.

“Lot of nonsense really”, Lars interjected. “Kept saying that it must get back to its pack and chanting, um what was it? Lurach and Bellet?”.

Jarn gasped, surprising the rest of the group. His face white as bone. “Do you mean Beleth?”, he asked between short breathes.

“That’s it”, Lars said smiling. “It’s a good thing you figured that out or I would’ve gone nuts trying to think of it all day”.

“Are you alright?”, Kyle asked concertedly.

“Maybe”, Jarn responded. “Do you know anything about this Beleth?”

“I think it’s from that old prophecy of the end of all things”, said Kyle. “Rumor says the story is millennia old”.

“What’s a millennia?”, asked Tyrel. His brow furrowed in thought.

“Isn’t it some sort of bug?”, Lars asked

“It’s a thousand years”, said Millienya in disgust, apparently having heard his question as she joined them. Surreptitiously she placed herself out of reach of the contorting creature and directly between Jarn and Lars.

“Well what about the story?”, asked Jarn impatiently.

“Oh it’s a tale of terrible death and destruction to come”, said Millienya. She took up the well known pose of all students who memorize and recite by rote, with hands behind her back and face forward. She cleared her throat and began to speak loudly and clear as a bell.

“The Four demons of torment, Dommiel, Leraje, Zepar and Beleth. It is said that a long time ago the four demons walked upon Gaia, letting the myriad hells of the world beyond merge into this one. Man was hunted for sport. But one night, a great warrior had a dream. In it, a spirit, the mother of all creation, told him what must be done to banish the demons from this world. Leraje the demon of fear and insanity, Zepar demon of rage and bloodlust, and Dommiel demon of plague and rot were invincible, but Beleth was not. It was he who had the power to keep the portal between worlds open. Without him, the others would go back from whence they came. The spirit told the warrior that Beleth could not be killed with any mortal weapon, thus his own weapon was imbued with the power necessary to vanquish the monster. After a long and arduous battle Beleth was killed, with his final words he claimed that through the body and soul of the warrior’s kin, would he be returned to life. After his death, Zepar, the strongest of the three remaining found that he could not destroy the blessed weapon, but he did place a curse upon it so that any of the warrior’s line who carried the weapon would have an insatiable lust for blood, combat, and death, through this the bearers of the weapon would be warped by the dark powers, eventually becoming their thrall.”

Silence held court over the congregation, some in puzzlement and some in fear. For many long moments they stood there, looking at each other, not sure of what to say. Jarn, his face white as a sheet and his trembling legs no longer able to support him sat down heavily upon the earthen ground. Millienya and Kyle knelt down to check on him.

Tyrel, paying no heed to the stunned boy looked at Millienya, “Where did you learn all that?”, he asked with suspicion. “I have not heard of such a story before”.

Millienya looked up from the near catatonic boy, frowning. “I am the chieftain’s daughter”, she replied. “We pay attention to history so the same mistakes are not made”.

“Where did these demons come from, if you’re so smart?”, Tyrel challenged.

“Simple”, she shrugged her shouders as if the answer were so obvious. “The world of magic, the Empyrean. It shadows our own world and through it all things can possibly be brought into being. But it was believed that the demons were the culmination of the evils and sin in this world.”

Kyle produced a small flask from a pocket and gave Jarn a draught to settle his nerves. After a few minutes some color had returned to his features. “Millienya”, he asked with an air of urgency. “How does the warrior’s kin bring Beleth back?”

She stammered for a few minutes, trying to correctly remember the old tale. “No one knows entirely”, she said finally. “But the skalds of my home believe that the kinsman must be sacrificed upon a dark alter”.

“That’s why I was spared”, Jarn murmured, then passed out.

“What was that about?”, asked Tyrel.

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