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Wast

Tales from the Land

By Reece HudsonPublished 3 years ago 8 min read

John Wolf Dragain was having a bad day. He was behind schedule moving South, he needed to cross over Scafell Pike and down into Wast Valley. He was getting agitated about his progress but he needed to get there as soon as possible.

He clambered over rocks and up scree slopes, his eyes adjusting to the dim light as the sun set. Behind him every direction he knew the Raider army of the self titled Axl Nightmare King of the Raiders swept forwards. They were heading to the same location he was, a small fort in the northern part of Wast Valley. A large force of Ten’uts (soldiers) belonging to one of the last bastions of civilisation in the Land known as Trafford.

The Ten’uts had gathered hearing about Axl’s encroaching army hoping to make a stand at the old fort created in the great wars three quarters of a century earlier. Only they didn’t realise the size of the incoming threat, it would be a massacre.

He came over a ridge coming to a sheer wall of trees. If anywhere was a place he would get ambushed it would be here, however if he was careful he could slip on through. He moved on. The woodland was dense and untamed; there was no-one left to tame them any more. Moving cautiously his eyes scanned ahead whilst his feet slowly planted themselves down so as not to snap any twigs.

After a while the foliage thinned to larger pine trees. He moved a little quicker, only to jump behind a tree at the sound of voices. Slowly lowering himself down onto his front so that he was prone he pulled out a worn pair of metal binoculars and peered through them. Down a slope about two hundred meters away a group of eight Raiders walked, joking and chatting with themselves. One held a long branch with the severed head of a woman on it. Wolf flinched at the sight, it looked fresh.

Waiting until they were long gone he stood and moved off towards the direction they had come from. It was slightly out of the way he needed to be, but despite his rush he needed to check for survivors.

It didn’t take long for him to find the place the Raiders had come from. It looked to be the remains of a small camp. About ten Raider bodies littered the area, whoever had been here had put up a hell of a fight. He moved more cautiously in his side-arm prepped and ready to fire. Moving round some bushes he stopped at the sight before him. On the floor lay the body of two women, one young and he guessed the other was the mother. They had been utterly butchered, the mothers head missing. He felt the bile rise in his throat and fought to keep it down at his revulsion. Ahead of the two bodies a man's body hanged from a large pine tree.

Just as Wolf stepped forwards the branch supporting the man's weight gave way with a loud snap. Wolf jumped at the sound, his head whipping around to check his surroundings. His head whipped back however when the man let out a long shuddering breath. Wolf rushed forwards to help untie the seemingly alive man. As he drew nearer he was shocked at the state the man was in. He was beaten and caked in blood and mud. There were no other bodies so Wolf assumed that this man had been responsible for all of those Raiders deaths.

He drew his knife and cut the bindings only to be thrown backwards as the man launched into a rage.

“Whoa, whoa. I’m on your side!” Wolf cried out as the man advanced on him. The man paused, taking in Wolf for a second, his breathing ragged. The man's eyes were wild but the insanity behind them showed a great pain as he turned and moved towards the bodies of the two women. He heard the man start crying as he dropped to his knees pulling the bodies towards him. There was no shock though, only resignation. Wolf’s eyes widened when he realised they had made him watch before they strung him up.

The man let out a howl of anguish that set Wolf’s teeth on edge. He had deliberately distanced himself from close relationships for this very reason. As a scout he was always in constant danger and he would rather be dead than feel what this man was feeling. Standing shakily he moved towards the man.

“I’m sorry for your loss, but we, erm, I need to keep going. I need to get to Wast Valley before Axl’s army reaches there.” He said cautiously. At the mention of Axl Nightmares name the man turned to look at him, his eyes bloodshot and tear stained.

“Army?”

“Yeah, he’s heading to attack the Fort before invading South. There’s a few Ten’uts reinforcing the position, but it's going to be a massacre.”

“Will Axl be there?”

“Based on the intel I gathered. Yes, yes he will. He is personally leading the invasion force.”

“I’ll come with you.”

“What? I mean sure if you want to. What about your-.”

The man cut him off; “My Wife and Daughter are gone, nature will reclaim them. All I can do now is avenge them or die.” He stood, Wolf gave out his hand to help him up.

“I’m John, John Wolf Dragain. Everyone just calls me Wolf.”

“Names, Ohm nothing more nothing less.” The man replied. Wolf got his first full look at him. He had shoulder length hair and seemed to be in peak physical fitness with a clean shaven jaw and brown eyes. He looked to be in his late forties, he had cuts and bruises all over and he was caked in mud and blood.

He bent down and from his daughter's hand he plucked a small object up. Cleaning it in his shirt Wolf caught sight of a small heart-shaped locket. Ohm opened it up revealing two photographs inside, one of him and his wife and another of his daughter. He clicked it shut and put it around his neck, the shiny metal disappearing into his shirt.

Wolf nodded to him and they turned to set off. Just as they did a deep horn sounded out through the woods causing them to stop. A few seconds of silence went by before multiple horns replied in different directions. He heard Ohm curse. They turned and fled the ruined campsite and what Wolf assumed was Ohm’s life behind.

Wolf gave Ohm his side-arm and kept his primary assault rifle ready. They quickly made progress, leaving those hellish woods behind. They kept heading upwards, their breath ragged as they pushed themselves to their limit. The day was coming to a close and the sun was starting to get low in the sky. They pushed on though, if Ohm was struggling due to his injuries he didn’t mumble or groan about anything.

They eventually crested over into Wast Valley just a little off their mark. They could see the fort though. One of the last bastions in the North against Axl’s decade long war against a return to civilisation. Its lights lit up the northern part of the valley as the only powered structure for miles around.

Wolf felt his body heave, as if it knew its job was nearly over. Horns however blowing too close behind them made them jump. They moved on quicker than before, almost feeling the army nipping at their heels. They ran, jumped and fell down the slope to get to the valley floor. They came out just near Wast Water, the lake that lent its name to the valley.

They soon came to the entrance to the fort just after the sun had fallen and night had settled in. Searchlights flooded their vision as a voice boomed over a megaphone asking them to state their business.

“Scout Wolf, John Dragain. Designation Wolf from Hyde. I come with urgent intel!”

“And the other?” Wolf was about to speak when Ohm opened his mouth.

“I am Ohm, a Walker. Former father and husband. I stand ready to fight in the upcoming battle. If you’ll have me?” There was a pause before the gates began to grind open, their hinges barely supporting the weight of the armoured doors.

Wolf and Ohm moved quickly in just as the gates began closing behind them. What met them was organised chaos as soldiers ran about getting the fort ready for an attack. An older man in a spotless uniform stepped forwards. He was a skinny man with a balding head and hooked nose that reminded Wolf of an Eagle.

“I’m Captain Edwards, in charge of this fort.” He glanced at the state Ohm was in before returning back to Wolf. “So you're a scout aye? From what I’ve seen of you lot, you're both mad and brilliant. What news have you?”

“The attack by Axl.”

“We are preparing for it, yes.”

“How many have Trafford reinforced you with?”

“Two hundred brave soldiers bolstering our already seventy five.”

“So two hundred and seventy five.”

“Yes, more than enough to send those barbarians packing!” Wolf shook his head.

“With all due respect sir, the original intel was false. His army is made up of-“

“Three hundred we know-“

“Three thousand sir!” Wolf almost shouted. Silence. The man looked at Wolf, his eyes widening in shock, those that had heard also stopped. “It’s going to be a massacre.” The Captain looked at him before looking around at the men and women serving. His head snapped back to Wolf with a serious expression.

“Then we retreat.” At that moment a long single horn blast sounded out across the valley. Everyone stopped. Wolf looked over at Ohm who was staring up to the Ridgeline around the valley. Wolf looked in that direction to see a lone figure standing on the ridge blowing the horn. Soon everyone was looking at this figure.

“Axl.” Ohm stated his eyes were hard and cold. Wolf looked again at the figure, a shiver running down his spine. Axl Nightmare, the most psychotic and violent of all of them, he looked back to Ohm. How did he know what Axl looked like? He hadn’t been in the party that had killed his family.

The stillness lasted only a few seconds but it could have been hours, chaos broke out as people rushed for weapons and to get to their stations. Ohm disappeared, handing Wolf his side-arm back. Wolf moved off up some stairs and onto the rampart of the walls, it had started to rain.

The horn suddenly stopped blowing and then they came, all carrying flaming torches they leaked over the ridge and down into the valley. It created the effect of fiery fingers clawing down the hillside towards them.

Ohm suddenly joined him, armed with a rifle and several knives. He had cleaned the mud and blood from his face and smoothed his long hair back against his head. He took the locket from his shirt and opened it, a small smile came to his lips before he kissed it and put it back.

“It will be good to fight and die with you, John.” He said, his eyes looking forwards. Wolf hesitated in his reply, death was not something he had been expecting when starting the day but he watched it approach slowly towards him.

“Aye, let's kill a few more of them first though eh?” He replied, Ohm nodded. Soon the first gunshots rained out and with a roar Ohm and Wolf raised their weapons and fired into the night.

Sci Fi

About the Creator

Reece Hudson

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