The Fallen King
Liam is refusing to take the duty his Grandpa is offering him as permanent Keeper of the Light. Liam returns to the village of Lownire, which is under siege from the Creatures of Darkness, and he is one of the only two who can cure Its terrible disease.
(art made by Dall-e 2)
James’ footsteps in front of him echoed throughout town, past the shut buildings, and down the misty allies. The metal boots clinked with each quick strike on the cobblestones. In one ear, Liam could hear Hough’s heavy breathing and the sloshing of his pitcher of Lastrios. On the other, he heard the slight mutterings of his crackling torch. But louder than all, drowning out every other sound until it was nearly distant, was the deep throbbing of his own heart. In his ears, it played like a mighty drum, carrying with it the drowning thoughts.
The drowning thought that he was running towards a man who was dying, and if the man died, it would be his fault.
Another sound was there, more distant than all others but growing. It was the sound of battle. It was a mix of shouting, of clinking of boots against stone, of metal against metal, of creature against man.
Splitting the mix sounded three quick chirps of a horn.
“That’s the call of the corrupted. He should be down here then,” James said, his voice shaking. Through the pounding in Liam’s ears, James’ voice sounded like it was coming from the bottom of a well.
James led them down a smaller alleyway and out from between two buildings. The wall loomed ahead, five men high, its stony peak blurry up in the mist. The sounds were coming from up there.
Descending from the mist was a wooden ladder. “Up here,” James said breathlessly, starting to climb. Soon, he disappeared over the side of the wall and into the mist.
As soon as James was out of his way, Liam stepped onto the first rung. He swallowed and looked up the ladder. It now seemed to telescope into infinity but also seemed terribly short. Only a few more rungs and he’d be there. Only the rest of his life he’d have to spend waiting for the moment to come.
He’d be entering a battlefield, where he would be expected to save a man currently Corrupted by the Darkness.
“I could go first, Liam,” Hough offered gently.
Liam shook his head and started to climb. With one hand, he clutched the torch, and with the other, he went rung over rung. With each step, the pounding in his ears got louder, and the chattering panic of his mind swirled faster and faster.
Suddenly, his head came over the top. In one deafening boom of his drum of a heart, his head was cleared. The panic and fear shattered in one instant.
In front of him was the battle in its full gruesome glory. Ten paces down from him, every battling figure was silhouetted against the mist, making everything hazy and blurry. In a way, the blurring of details made it simpler to observe the battle itself as merely a contest between Man and Creature.
Somehow though, like bright light can pierce a haze, the purest shadow of the creature pierced the fog.
It glowed with perfect black clarity, dripping with terror and corruption. It stood on the wall, the terrible bannerman of the King of Darkness Itself. Every part of the hound breathed of Its king’s infinite superiority. The hound was stronger and larger than any animal of the farms of man. Every part of it seemed made to kill, its black mat of fur thick enough to stop a blade, its teeth protruding from its mouth like tusks, and its claws as long and sharp as daggers.
From deep within the hound’s throat came a growl which spoke fear. He felt it more than he heard it, in his chest, in his heart, in his very animal instincts. It reminded him he was mortal. It told him he was temporary, fragile, and ultimately doomed. Light would someday go out, and Darkness would reign.
But, this hound of the Darkness had been weakened. The humble steel of man had made its mark on the immortal beast of mortality. Its jet-black fur was covered in its own rancid blood, dripping from the arrows that were buried in its back, shoulders, and even face. Blood trickled from swords slashes and spear wounds, spattering the stones beneath with putrid black gore.
On the other hand, the men were hazy, undefined shapes; many were in messy lines, holding spears and shields, and others were frantically knocking arrows to bows. Sitric was one of the many hazy figures but stood out because of the clear Lownire blade in his hand. He shouted orders, his voice holding and maintaining the only level of order in the bloody melee.
There were shapes on the ground, Liam realized. He didn’t know if they were dead or merely pushed off their feet, but not all were moving.
The clear hound clashed against the misty shapes, who attempted to hold it back with their thin spears. Some managed to catch it and pierce their points deep into its hide, but others were knocked off their feet. The hound pounced on the fallen and snapped at them, only to be driven back by the points of more spears.
Liam realized that if the members of the watch did not fall if they did not allow themselves to be snapped at and harmed, the hound would turn on the city. They needed to keep its focus on them, keep it distracted by their lives, for if it jumped down from the wall into Lownire, countless lives could be lost.
Liam tore his eyes from the battle and clambered over the side of the wall. It was not his job to fight the hound but to cure the corrupted.
Lying on the wall, about fifteen paces away from the hound, was a member of the watch.
Holding him to the ground was a man Liam knew, Charles Fisk. Fisk was a sailor by trade, so
Liam was surprised to see him there. He was short but nearly as wide as he was tall, with a barrel chest and bulging arms. His large brown beard made him look older than his twenty years. With his strong arms, he held down the injured man.
Liam, ignoring the battle, rushed over to Fisk and the man.
“Liam, thank the Stars, you’re here,” Fisk gasped as the man rolled his head on the stone, tongue moving around his open mouth wildly.
Liam dropped to his knees next to the man. This was one of the rituals he’d never seen his father do, only read about and been taught. Cleansing was a difficult art, even at the best of times, but now he had to do it on a battlefield. Liam wished he still had the burned piece of parchment.
There was a huge gash out of the man’s left shoulder where the creature’s teeth had sunk and rent flesh from bone. He was taking gasping breaths as he writhed about on the ground, his veins bulging black.
It’s Matt, Liam realized, his stomach dropping out.
1. What do you think of the way Liam feels in dangerous situations? Is it believable?
2. Is the description Hound effectively terrifying... or a waste of space?
3. If you've read the story up until this point, has the style of writing been consistent to you?
Part two of chapter six: https://www.youngwriterssociety.com/work/MaybeAnd...