1. MedicMan

    MedicMan Member

    Jul 24, 2007
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    Maidenhead, Berks., England

    My story entry - The Hunter

    Discussion in 'Strong Character Contest' started by MedicMan, Sep 10, 2007.

    THE HORSE THUNDERED through the copse, kicking up autumnal leaves and small clods of mud in its haste. The two riders on her were filthy; bleeding, wearing torn clothes and grim expressions, to the casual observer they would have appeared to be outlaws, or possibly wandering vagabonds.
    But a closer inspection would have revealed more: the glint of steel underneath the front rider’s shirt indicating armour; the fact that the tattered cloth worn by the passenger was once a fine dress; and the quality of the horse itself. The roan mare stood a full 19 hands high, with broad shoulders and powerfully muscled legs. This was no mere riding horse, but a destrier warhorse bred solely for the Imperial army and the nobility. The first rider was a man with blond hair and steely grey eyes that told anyone who looked that he had seen more of the darkness than any normal person could bear. His passenger, whose arms were wrapped round his waist like an infant clutching a doll, was female, and clearly of noble birth. The tattered remains of her dress were deep blue, with darker patches due to seeping blood, and she had still managed to retain her choker – a band of black fabric around her throat, with a small silver medallion suspended from it. As the man continued to ride hard, the woman raised her voice to speak over the wind blowing in her face.
    ‘Sigmund, I don’t think I can go on much further, I’m too hurt!’
    ‘Just hang on,’ Sigmund replied, ‘the outpost is close now!’ He removed one hand from the reins for a second to squeeze the woman’s hands in reassurance, before flicking the leather cord hard. ‘Come on Claudia, don’t let me down now old girl,’ he muttered to his horse. Risking a glance behind him, he saw that his pursuers were still right behind him – wolves, long dead but raised to life once more by foul magic. The glowing green of their eyes emphasised they malevolence, and Sigmund knew that they would never tire, never stop until they achieved their goal. The young noble could only guess at what dark monster could have created them, but the palpable wave of fear that preceded them was enough to keep his mind focussed on riding, wishing for nothing more than the appearance of his father’s outpost through the trees.

    They burst through the tree line into open ground, and Sigmund saw that his flight was far from over: the outpost was being assaulted by a horde of horrific monsters. Some still bore the form of humans, their flesh rotting from their bones as they shambled forwards, whilst others were mere skeletons, marching in perfect unison with their weapons held ready. Sigmund could see one or two spectral forms advancing with the host, and suddenly they raised their ghostly arms and let out an unearthly scream that chilled the very soul. Sigmund gritted his teeth against the noise, determined to continue evading the dead wolves, but his horse was not as brave and she reared up in fright, tumbling both Sigmund and his passenger off. Both landed hard, and though dazed by the fall Sigmund immediately clambered to his feet and drew his weapons – a simple rapier, and a pistol. There was no chance of remounting Claudia in time; his only option was to stand and fight to save the woman.
    ‘Elsa,’ cried Sigmund, ‘stay behind me! I’ll not let them take you!’ Elsa didn’t reply, and risking a quick glance behind himself he saw that the woman had been knocked out by the fall. The wolves were circling him now, clearly wary of him now he was armed. The largest had two elongated canine teeth emerging from its bottom jaw, and was clearly the leader. The pack paused for a moment, before the leader let out a great howl and the rest leapt forward as one. Sigmund fired his pistol at one of the wolves, striking it in the head and bringing it down, and then he dropped it to the floor as the rest came on. He made a wide arc with the blade of his sword, feeling it bite into the dead flesh of one of the animals. He ducked as he did so, and he felt one wolf brush his back as it leapt over him. Another smashed into his side with full force, and he tumbled to the ground, bringing his rapier round to try and skewer the beast. The tip of the sword went through the wolf’s chest, and the green light in its eyes dimmed before fading entirely. There were still two wolves to fight, including the large monstrosity that was their leader, and Sigmund scrambled to his feet, prepared to sell his life for Elsa. He checked where her body lay, still unconscious, and he positioned himself between her and their attackers. The remaining wolves growled menacingly at Sigmund, advancing slowly. The noble tensed, but then the beasts seemingly lost interest and turned away from him. Looking round, he saw that some of the skeleton warriors had broken off from the attack against the outpost and were circling him and Elsa. Suddenly, he noticed a supernatural fog rising from the ground, grasping his legs like ivy growing up a house. From out of the darkness of the copse Sigmund saw two red orbs appear, pits of evil around which a whole body resolved itself as it came closer.
    The newcomer was dressed very finely, with a flowing black cloak over a fine suit. A breastplate glinted dimly in the moonlight. He walked towards Sigmund, staring into his face without blinking.
    ‘My name is Konrad von Carstein,’ said the newcomer, ‘and you have tried to keep from me what I desire. I will ask you now, once, to give the girl to me.’ Sigmund felt himself being drawn into those eyes, the calm melodic tone of this new adversary’s voice soothing his fears. He felt his legs twitch as he tried to walk away from Elsa, but suddenly he remembered something his father had told him a long time ago, whilst teaching him the skills of war. Something that now allowed him to identify his foe.
    ‘Curse you, von Carstein,’ Sigmund snarled, ‘I know what you are, and I’d sooner die than hand over my Elsa to your kind.’
    ‘My kind?’ inquired von Carstein, using the same melodic tone as before.
    ‘You are a vampire!’ roared Sigmund, darting forwards to attack the monster. With a speed that seemed almost impossible to him, the vampire drew his own sword and battered away the noble’s thrust as if he were no more than five years old. The vampire struck back, and Sigmund was hard pressed to defend himself. The sheer force of the blow jarred his arm, and he felt it go numb. He managed to block two more cuts, before the fourth smashed his rapier in two. His arm was now so bereft of feeling that he simply dropped the remaining half of the blade to the floor, fear overtaking him. The vampire smiled.
    ‘Far too easy. You’re too weak to become one of my kin – I do only accept the best you know.’ Comprehension filtered through Sigmund’s stunned brain, and he wet himself out of terror, turning to run at the wall of skeletons in an attempt to escape. The vampire cut off his head before he had even taken a step, a warm red mist spraying into the air after the strike. Von Carstein tasted it briefly, before turning to gaze at the woman. ‘Your lover died to try and save you,’ he said to her supine form. ‘I am so looking forward to taking his place…’

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