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Devoted

by Femi Akinboye 5 months ago in fiction

A trail of memories

Buildings left in a destitute state crumble into rubble, a dusty breeze flutters what remains of a child’s clawed and tattered dress snagged atop a perched inn sign, violently stained with innocent blood. Golden rays of winter’s afternoon sun blanket the deserted streets. Shadow pockets in alleyways and corners steadily creep outward as dusk eerily approaches. In half-plated armor, she passes through the decrepit echo of a once prosperous town long gone. The sheathed rapier buckles by her side as with her every step clicks the rubble beneath her. A silver locket dangles against her breastplate, arcane inscriptions glimmer in the sunlight etched atop the lockets heart-shaped face and a cloud of fog follows her breath in the chill noon air.

A whisper in the wind halts her stride. She focuses her hearing but is only met by the void of an empty street and abandoned homes. She turns to take note of the suns position, few hours remaining before nightfall. Continuing her stride through the town she chances upon a boarded-up chapel. Its brick lay withstanding the weather of time, a cracked color-stained glass crowns the peak of its front entrance and nailed wooden planks barricade surrounding windows and doors. Leather gauntlets grip the rough wood as she gruntingly pulls apart the planks obstructing the chapels entrance. Scraps of wood resembling the remains of pews and benches litter the floor as dust and cobwebs decorate every corner. She inspects the inside and discovers a holy statue of Mara half buried beneath the wooden scraps. The goddess’s eyes stare into her own as she gently wipes away the dust from Mara’s face, her hand clasped around the statue’s waist.

His grip tightens around Mara’s waist as the holy statue hilts his silver dagger. A tarry-black sludge softly sizzles on his blade as he slumps his back against a bur oak tree. His arm crams against his injured torso as the flow of blood stains his priestly robes with pools of warm crimson against the chilling night air. Broken ribs pain his gasping breaths, the air and blood loss numbing his body and hazing his mind. A twig’s snap in the dark of the forest surges his mind back into focus, his bloodied hand slicks away his greying hairs. Dagger raised he readies to face the hidden assailant but a jolting shock of pain sends him down onto the dewy forest floor as his consciousness escapes him. "Miller! Miller!" a feminine voice cries his name into the night as a young woman finds the priest’s body laid before an old oak tree and rushes to his aid.

His eyes open to her worried face, he tries for words but a hard cough erupts a pool of blood. With struggled breath he softly speaks her name, "Megan". In pain he tries to sit himself upward but she urges him against it. "Don’t move, your wounds are deep. I need to get you─" a gasp escapes her as she pulls aside his robe revealing deep claw-like lacerations across his torso, blood spewing and parts of his inner organs protruding through. "We…we don’t have the time. The devoted are heading towards the shelters with numbers the likes of nothing I’ve ever seen before. You need to get the survivors out, save them; they’ll listen to you." "No!" she cries, "I can’t do this without you, please…" teardrops burst against his face, "please don’t go." He reaches into his robe and pulls out a silver heart-shaped locket. "Here" he says offering it to her. She takes the locket as he tenderly cups a bloodied hand against her cheek and softly smiles. "You can do this." She wipes the blood from the locket revealing freshly carved inscriptions below as she feels Miller’s hand slowly go limp before it thuds lifeless against the ground.

The creaking sound of the chapel’s open door brings her mind back to the present. The few remaining rays of dusk’s sunlight gradually fade as night shades the land. Naught but the moon’s glow illuminates the chapel and an eerie moment of silence suspends the air. Standing in the middle of the chapel she faces the entrance, rapier in hand. Slowly a chant of incoherent whispers sibilates through the air gradually getting louder and more lucid as the creatures draw closer. Her spine can’t help but shiver as the creatures hissing chants become clear, "Praise Him. Praise Him. Praise Him. Praise Him."

A slender build, nine-foot-tall humanoid aberration stoops through the chapel’s doorway. Skin black with a shine like obsidian, two lanky arms extend into three-fingered hands each finger protruding a long sharp claw. It’s chin, mouth and nose resemble a human but in place of eyes, the skull splits into two bull-like horns. "Praise Him" hisses the serpentine voice of the devoted as three more of its kin enter beside it. The devoted stalks closer to her. "Praise Hi─" Tarry-black sludge splutters in the air as the devoted’s head thuds against the ground soon followed by its body, its black blood sizzles on her blade. The other devoted, unfazed, step forward and chant, "Praise Him." She flicks the blood off her rapier, and raises ready her unsullied blade. The continuous sound of a blade whizzing through air and the cutting of flesh reverberates through the town. The chapel piled with the severed limbs and bodies of the devoted as a ceaseless wave of them pour in, continuing their onslaught.

Black blood splatters as her twin rapiers make short work of the last of the devoted. She flicks off the sizzling blood and sheathes her weapons. "Keep quiet and follow me" she whispers to the scared little girl at her side as the two commandeer a horse from the royal stables. "Cover your eyes Princess, this is no scene for a child" the woman warns but it was too late. As the two ride through the wreckage that was once their kingdom, she sees the mutilated corpses of her people envelop the streets. Terrified, the princess closes her eyes and tightens her grip around the woman’s waist. The kingdom of Austin fades into the background as the pair travel further east, the child mustering all her courage opens her eyes to bid her home goodbye. "Are you taking me to my father?" The woman provides no response. "Are you taking me to my mother?" Still the woman provides no response. "Well, where are you taking me?" The princess asked annoyed. "My home, Princess Megan…"said the woman, "the temple of Mara. I believe this might help save us all." As she pulls out heart-shaped locket from her rapiers hilt.

The color-stained glass shatters as a devoted launches into the chapel from above. Surprised and caught off guard the blow slams her into the ground and another blow into the chapel’s back wall. Shakingly, she picks herself up and launches an attack at the closest devoted but her blade fails to pierce its skin. "Praise Him." Gashes and slashes cover her body and armor, her head dizzy from blood loss she leans on her rapier to keep her standing as the mob of devoted gain the upper hand. Her strength wavers as she falters to her knees, the devoted before her readying the finishing a blow. Time perceives to slow as she takes her last few breaths but the glint of a locket in the moonlight only a few feet away draws her attention.

A silver heart-shaped locket gleams in the moonlight as it bounces between her bare bosoms. The castle’s enormous glass window perfectly reflects the curvature of the exotic dancer’s body atop the King’s bed…and the King. A little girl peaks from a doorway what she is far too young to see, her father being straddled by a strange naked woman whom is not the Queen. The King’s pace picks up as the woman moans louder and louder in a foreign tongue, "Ara! Methron! Zyn! Ara! Methron! Zyn!" the King thrust harder as the woman matches his pace until they both cry out in an orgasmic howl but the little princess see’s much more than she ever bargained for. A tug on her arm pulls her hastily away from the door as one of the King’s guards escorts her back to her room. However, what she saw haunted her mind, for in their moment of orgasm, the woman’s reflection changed from an exotic beauty to a revolting withered and wrinkled old hag covered in moles and warts.

"Ara! Methron! Zyn!" the devoted’s claw comes bearing down, as blood splatters and the sound of slicing flesh echoes in the chapel followed by a loud thump. A pool of black blood gushes from the devoted’s dismembered hand. Reunited again with the locket she stands strength renewed. Daybreak pours through the chapel as there she sits the victor atop the piles of slain devoted. The touch of sunlight burns away their bodies leaving nothing but momentary embers before fading away into oblivion. Stepping outside the chapel into the early morning she grips the locket’s chain and chants, "Ara! Methron! Zyn!" the locket magically pulls with full force towards in the south-eastern direction. With blade sheathed and the heart-shaped necklace resting once again against her breastplate she strides onwards south-east. Her rapier buckling with her every step.

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Femi Akinboye

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