Tag Archives: heroic fantasy

From a Dark Place – Excerpt from a short story of Dark Fantasy

Below is an excerpt from a short story  I am currently writing that I hope to finish in the not too distant future to submit to publishers and perhaps a contest or two. Take it for what it is because it’s a work in progess which will probably need two or more rewrites before its finished anyways…so far I think it’s a good start…let me know what you think good or bad…enjoy what I have so far…:)


From a Dark Place

by Philip Wardlow

Joseph carefully placed the six white candles he had just purchased into the big brown suitcase amidst the other items he had already collected. He hands went to close the suitcase but instead they caressed a black leather bound book which lay inside. His eyes went wide and his pupils dilated ever so slightly as he stared at it. He traced the raised symbol on its cover emblazoned in red with his index finger. His finger ran along the entire perimeter of the symbol at all its points where the lines met. The symbol was two equilateral triangles overlaying one another, the point of one triangle facing up, the point of the other facing down, a hexagram, what a lovely symbol. Could there be anything more perfect he wondered. A sly smile came to his lips because for all his studies he new the true power of that symbol while others only thought they knew.  He had become an adept at the mysteries of it.

“Joseph!” a woman’s voice called to him in a wail from somewhere downstairs in the house.

“Joseph, what the hell are you doing?  Spaghettis all done! Christ on a crutch, move your ass!” she yelled again. Joseph could almost picture the spit flying from her mouth as she yelled at him. Fucking fat cow. He would be glad when he was done with her. Joseph couldn’t remember choosing such a bitch of a woman for a wife but he must have for she lived in his home and occasionally wanted to have sex because of that damn ring on her finger and his own. The weight of the ring seemed to increase more everyday. He wanted to stuff it down her damn throat. It was maddening. No more, no fucking more. Tomorrow, Joseph’s life was about to change.

“Joseph!” she wailed again.

Joseph slammed the suitcase shut, secured the latches and locked them by rotating the combination on each with his thumbs all at once.

“Coming Elizabeth!…..you bitch.”  Joseph said the last to himself in a whisper as he tucked the suitcase deep up under his side of the bed and quickly got up to go downstairs for dinner. He would suffer through it with the heifer just for one more night. Spaghetti was his favorite he thought idly to himself.


Sam pulled his head from the sink filled with iced cold water. He wore no shirt only jeans. His skin was naturally tan in color. His forearms became pebbled with goose bumps from the cold water that dripped down his body and trailed to his muscular chest and broad shoulders to soak the top of his pants. Sam looked into to the mirror that hung on the wall. He let the water continue to drip down his body as he leaned forward and gripped the edge of the porcelain sink with both hands. He stared deep into the mirror at his own reflection. Small droplets fell from his short-cropped curly black hair into his eyes obscuring his vision causing his reflection to blur.

He wiped at his face with a hand towel nearby on the vanity in the small bathroom and looked into his big brown eyes. He saw a strong face staring back him.  A handsome face as well, he knew the girls thought so anyways. A young man’s face they would say. Some said he had a mean look to his face at times. Some would ask why he never smiled. He never liked to lie so he told them. His mother and father were dead he would tell them. This was a misleading truth somewhat he knew but it always quieted the questions. He would have told them the full truth if they had pressed perhaps but they never did. Death always seemed to make people quiet or scared to talk and that suited him just fine.

What was a smile anyways? You had to care to smile and he had stopped caring long ago just like his parents. They had been too fucked up to care. They had cared about one thing, their friend Meth, or the Meth Man as he remembered his Dad liked to call it.  Sorry Sam, the Meth Man’s a knocking, and me and mom got to go. They never thought a kid as young as him knew what they were talking about. But he knew. They didn’t even have the decency to hide what they had been doing. So they ignored him mostly, but occasionally they would act out and beat him when the mood struck one of them. It didn’t take much to set them off either. Television to loud,  smack, dirty dish not  picked up, smack, didn’t take the dog out , smack and so on and on and on.

When the police had discovered both of his parents in their van parked in the driveway of their house overdosed and long dead for over two days, Sam had felt a chapter had turned in his life for the better.  Better being a relative term that was to the situation at the time. Ten years had past since their death and in that time he had been a deck of cards shuffled from one foster family to another more times than he could count, some good, some not so good and some really really bad.

Sam had endured and now he was with the Vandermullens. His last family as he had thought of them. The Vandermullens were not so bad, the “mother”, Judith, was manic depressive and took prescriptions for it. The “father”, Norman, was a saint at his church but he was secretly hooking up at least once every other Saturday of the month, with a woman who was the treasurer there who was married as well. Probably carried the hook-up well into Sunday with his coming in late on those Saturdays way after midnight…shame shame the devil knows your name Mr. Vandermullen. They didn’t have any real children of their own.  She was barren as a the desert was how Norman had put it two years ago at the age of fifteen to him when they had first agreed to foster him and he had asked if they had any kids of their own

So he thought of himself as the pseudo son they could never have naturally. She loved him in her own way as did her husband. He always felt this detachment from them, a disconnection that never grew into any thing more than an uncomfortable comfort around a stranger you only half know. Sam wasn’t surprised that they never took the plunge and signed the papers to legally adopt him. He knew his own detachment didn’t help the situation. He knew he was fucked up. He knew he was too serious all the time. He knew he should find joy in something in life, smile or something. He knew there was something off about himself but he couldn’t place it.  So many went through life thinking they were sane and well adjusted when in fact they were just a half hair from crazy.  You would think Sam knowing he was fucked up would help but it didn’t. It just reminded him on a daily basis on how different he saw things in life from other people.

So he stared at himself in the mirror while the cold water dripped down his face. He slapped himself hard across his face once, then twice, then finally a third. It stung, it felt good, for it was a feeling and this was the closest he ever came to feeling something.

Tomorrow he thought, one more day, just one more day and things would be different.


            “Master..Master…the Master will come and then you will…you will….you will be done!”  the small three black creatures cavorted and danced with arms flailing in the air around a bedraggled looking half naked man who was bound  hand and foot with rough hewn ropes which stretched his arms painfully high over his head tied tight to metal stakes set deep into the hard rocky ground.

“Phah!” Rohaan spit at them as they chanted and danced around him not wanting to give them the satisfaction while at the same time cursing himself for being such a fool to be caught unawares of these things in the first place.

The lovely Mistress Kaspar as she sat his knee had said the love of the drink would do him in one day. He feared her prediction might be coming to fruition.  He secretly prayed to any god that would bother to listen, that if he got out of this he would never drink again. Well at least within reason he quickly amended. If he could just reach the dagger hidden his boot he could cut his bindings and give these foul black eyed imps a sound beating before they knew to react, but they had him trussed like a pig over the coals being readied for Feastday during High Festival. What a mess he had fallen into. Then again messes seemed to be what he was usually in at most times.

Rohann looked to the sky as he lay in his uncomfortable position on his back with nothing to do but look up.  He must have been in a canyon or valley of some sort for steep walls of crumbling rock rose some thirty to forty feet up all around and framed the sky that was rapidly darkening to a strange purplish color he had never remembered seeing before in his life. He couldn’t see it but he was sure the sun had already fallen well below the horizon. Stars were beginning to show themselves here and there across the darkening sky. Then for the first time Rohaan really began to worry about his predicament.

Rohann had roamed and traveled far afield even for a man as young as him of only twenty-five passings of the seasons and had always prided himself in knowing his whereabouts at all times. The sky he now stared up at had him stumped for these stars were nothing he could put a place to. Not even remotely. His surprise and puzzlement must have shown on his face for one of the creatures broke off from its dance with its companions and capered over to him while the others continued in their mindless chanting and seemingly untiring dance around him.

“You see…you see little man? You cannot escape even if you broke free….truly trapped you are truly…We have brought you over at much expense for the Master.  Soon…he will come and then you will scream…scream. I will like to hear you scream. Perhaps Master will let us have a taste after he is done.”  The thing licked its thin slit of a mouth with a long blood red tongue and smiled at him with teeth that gleamed bright with each one looking razor sharp to the touch. Teeth meant for rending and tearing flesh and consuming whole portions, not for chewing nicely into tiny morsels for easy swallowing he imagined.

Rohann just stared at the thing intently. Rohann had learned long ago to put fear aside and assess the situation and not be cowed into mindlessness lest he fall victim to the very thing he was trying not to be afraid of by bringing about his own demise by shear inaction. Grant you easier said than done at moments like these, but he thought of the facts of the situation so far. One they hadn’t killed him outright once they had captured him so that was a very good thing already. Two, they had captured him for a purpose. For their master the creature had said. So to that end he would be remain alive until their master arrived. Third, these things besides binding him till his arms were going to pop out of their sockets seemed very reluctant to hurt him more than that. It seemed the master would be the only to have the first crack at him. Lovely.

The one talking to him perhaps was the leader of the group Rohann surmised. He did notice that this one stood a little a taller than the other two by maybe by a hands width in height but Rohann was sure the top of its head wouldn’t reach any higher than to barely his own chest. He almost laughed out loud. This thing had the gall to call him little man?

“What is you name little imp? Rohann couldn’t help but goad the creature. He was told by many close to him, that besides his drinking, spurring others to anger was one of his other faults as well that got him into trouble. Often he mixed the two.

The creature scowled at him and crouched low and crawled over to him on all fours to bring its face right next to him in an instant breathing heavily in his face wearing a wide maniacal grin. The creature’s breath stunk of rotting meat and other smells best not thought to hard on. Rohann fought down the urge to empty his belly of its meager contents as the creature continued to expel its foul breath directly him at a such close quarters. Gods, even his tongue could taste its foulness. The smell threatened to overwhelm all his senses. Rohaan’s nostrils were filled with nothing but decay and death.

“Your mouth annoys me. I will be happy to see the Master remove it from your face soon.  My name is Chulni. These others are my nest brothers Sherlisk and Fillij.” Spittle dripped from the creature’s leathery black skin onto the ground fairly close to Rohaan’s face. The thing gestured at each of them as he named his companions. Rohann drew back slightly. He did fear its spittle may have the power to burn his own skin to the bone if but one drop fell on him, or so the tales told he remembered. Have

Rohaan craned his neck painfully to get a closer at each as they danced around him. The other two looked to be the mirror image of Chulni. They could have been triplets for all Rohaan new. The one called Sherlish looked a little stouter in form with a little more bulk to his body than the other two whereas Fillij seemed thin but with a whipped wire frame of corded muscle running throughout his body. That was where the differences ended. All had the same ugly dark leathery faces much like a bats, with a squashed nose with flaring nostrils, the cheek bones were set high on the face on an almost triangular shaped skull which seem to pull their thin slit of a mouth up in a perpetual evil seeming grin upon their face. They all walked hunched over like they had bad backs or were carrying a heavy burden. Their arms were long and dangled close to the ground at their sides ending in three clawed talons for hands for shearing and ripping their victims easily apart Rohaan supposed.

They all wore next to nothing for clothing, bare-chested but for a band of studded leather strapped across one shoulder and down the front of their naked chest to be secured at the waist to another studded piece of leather which made for a belt he supposed to hold up nothing more than a soiled looking stained loin cloth to cover their genital area.

Rohaan looked Chulni in the eye again and grinned. “Your kind disgust me. I will be wearing a grin on my face just like this as I stick you full in the belly with my sword and watch the surprise on your face as the dead light in your eyes burn out and you return back to the hell which spawned you.”  Rohann didn’t blink once as he said this to the little demon scant inches from his face. His late mother would have been proud he was sure had he had known her he thought.

“You funny human man. Master will like you.” Was all Chulni said to him as he stood up from his crouch seemingly bored with talking to him if he couldn’t eat him.

“When is this Master you speak of to arrive then?” Rohaan asked almost conversationally to the creature giving it no indication of how much he wanted to know the answer to that question. Time he needed time he thought almost desperately.

The little demon turned back to him and smiled a wicked smile. “One more day.  One more day and things will be very different for you. Different for you indeed.” Chulni turned away from him and joined his brothers in the dance and the endless chant once again around him and the night continued to grow darker in a world Rohann did not recognize.


Joseph stared out at the darkness in his room while his wife slept next to him. He hadn’t slept much the previous night. It wasn’t due to his wife’s incessant snoring next to him or her constant contortions in bed with her hands flailing and legs kicking him nonstop. He was used to that. He found he was hard to suppress the giddiness he felt every time he thought of what the coming day was to bring. All of his study, his experimenting, his success, his commitment, his sacrifices were about pay off tenfold.

The sun was coming up. The room was beginning to lighten even with the heavy dark shades drawn across the windows. Objects that had only before been vague shadows, now slowly coalesced into recognizable shapes, a shirt hung a doorknob, shoes haphazardly thrown into the corner, last night’s laundry all nicely folded in a pile on a chair in the middle of the room. Joseph loved this time in the morning as he laid in a bed two times to small already for two people alongside a woman two times too large for a bed this size even for just herself.

He ignored her presence so close to his own and delighted in the dark places revealing themselves to him slowly with the light. He would often pretend he was the light commanding the room to brighten, slowly revealing the shadows for what they were. Joseph shut such thoughts from his mind. His fancies would be reality soon enough. Time to put this day in motion he thought as he swung his feet to the floor out from under the covers. He quietly pulled the briefcase out from under his side of the bed and carried it around to his wife side of the bed carefully place it onto the floor some four feet adjacent from her head. He thumbed the combination to the latches on either side and pushed the lever to open them both while at the same guiding them both so they would not open with the loud audible snap on their spring hinges. It would do to wake her at this point. No sir.

He flipped open the suitcase and pulled out an empty mason jar. He unscrewed the ring and removed the sealing cap to the jar setting both on the floor next to the suitcase. With mason jar still in hand he reached back into the suitcase and pulled out a long bladed wicked looking knife. Joseph moved over to his wife who lay on her side facing him with her fat face crushed into the pillow still snoring loudly.

This was it. No turning back after this. He brought the knife up level to her face and found his hand was surprisingly calm and steady. In fact nothing before he could remember felt more right to him than this moment.

He moved the knife to the fat folds of her neck as she continued to snore. He imagined the right common carotid artery running up the side of the neck laboriously pumping blood from her heart to her brain and the rest of her body. He laid the knife against the skin of her neck and left it there. The knife dipped and rose with each beat of his wife’s heart. Then he whispered the words.

“You were loved, and then your were not. Steel against skin to break skin and let the blood flow from within to break a bond to bind another…to a dark obligation that must be kept.”

Joseph pressed the knife and jabbed violently into his wife’s neck severing the artery.  Blood spurted and splashed her hair and ran down her neck to soak the pillow and sheets. Her body convulsed intensely as he heard strong gurgling noises come from her. He dropped the knife and held her down while at the same time putting the mason jar to her neck to catch as much of the blood as he could that flowed profusely from the wound. It took less than a minute to fill the jar. Joseph had always been amazed how much blood resided in the human body as he capped and screwed the ring back onto the jar.

He retrieved the knife from off the bed but not before cleaning both sides of the blade with a clean portion of the sheets that had missed being bloodied. Not feeling rushed at all Joseph slowly and carefully made his way over to the suitcase and returned the knife and now full mason jar back into it.  Joseph closed and latched the suitcase and left it on the floor as he stood erect to survey what he had done. What a bloody mess he thought as he smiled to himself. He flipped the light switch on near the door to the bedroom and looked into the full length mirror on the dresser. His saw that his face and t-shirt along with much of the length of his forearms were heavily splattered with her blood.

Can’t be leaving the house with a blood splattered face now can I he thought. That would be in bad form indeed. He would definitely draw attention and that was the last thing he wanted on this day. Just another day in the life of Joseph T. Malmus. Yep, nothing special about me.

That reminded him it was time to make the call to the hospital to call in sick. They would definitely miss him. The other nurses would be pissed that he had called in sick because it would mean more work for them. No love lost there.  But it couldn’t be helped. They would be missing him for many more days to come. The days of being a nurse were behind him now. Onward and upward. No finer words, he thought.

He stripped off all his clothes and threw them to the bedroom floor. The call could wait, fuck em. Joseph walked naked out into the hall and into the bathroom.  Joseph got into the shower and ran the water has hot as he could take. The skin of his belly turned a bright pink as the water bit into him. Elizabeth never let him run it as hot as he wanted. Now she had nothing to say about it. Joseph felt free for the first time in his life. Joseph hummed a little tune he couldn’t place and thought about what he might have for breakfast. Pancakes sounded good this morning, blueberry pancakes with lots of lots of syrup.

To be Continued of course…( I’d say this is 1/4 of the story so far)

The Archer – A Poem

ArcherCredit to Sheldon for Drawing**

The Archer


Left arm extended and locked,

arrow drawn to cheek as

fletching brushes two day old


Right elbow bent, pointed

tight against quiver at back,

tendons taunt with muscles fixed.

Pressure of braided bowstring

bites deep into calloused ruined fingertips

as they itch to release.

Eyes forward, focused, unwavering,

towards a target who’s heart will know

the strength he holds at its final beat.

Steady….steady….Hold, Hold…


Fly Free…Fly True…to find death

Draw again

and repeat.

By Philip Wardlow 2013

Back Against the Wall – A Heroic Fantasy Poem by Philip Wardlow


Back  Against the Wall


Back against a wall I stand,

with my adversaries spread before me;

five, ten, twenty?

I have lost count.

They see the moon from overhead

reflected in my brown eyes;

steady and unwavering.

Think they have me trapped

in this blind alley I did

turn down?

By chance or choice I took the turn;

they’ll never know as

I give them a grin.

Who’s the better man?

Who shall be the first to

come take my blade I say.

They come; either silent or cursing,

Yet still they fall before me.

My blade was destined to taste

their blood it seems.

Death is my partner in this dance, but it is

I who lead and directs my dear partner’s


…and it is only I who leaves

this dark alley for home with the moon

now behind a cloud and gone from

my dark eyes.

By Philip Wardlow 2012

I got PUBLISHED! ……And a update on up an coming stories going into submission

Wanted to mention this earlier last week but it slipped my mind…I got Published!

I want to keep this in perspective however. The publication is a small fledgling non-paying online Magazine called Quail Bell Magazine who saw my Flash Fiction story, Flight through the Forest  and wanted to showcase it in one of their sections of the magazine entitled  The Unreal“.

The Ast. Editor over there emailed me and asked my permission to put into their online magazine and  said it was just what they were looking for! She also said to keep them in mind for anything else I would care to to share with there publication because my stories seem to be a good fit for their magazine!   Cool Huh!

Well to say the least it is an encouraging turn of events. It is always nice to be noticed and appreciated for your work.

Speaking of my work… I have just finished the final draft of a 8,000 word  Light Sci-Fi Dark Fantasy story I am also hard at working trying to finish a 5000-8000 word short story which will be a dark Urban Fantasy/Horror Story set in Chicago.

Hope to showcase both  stories or excerpts from those stories here  on my blog at the same time submitting them to some publishers and maybe a contest or two.

I am trying to maintain a pace of at least two new stories a quarter while at the same time starting my first NOVEL to hopefully be finished in its rough draft form by Dec 2012 of this year. The working title is called “The Thing under the Bridge”  but the title may change in time I’m sure. I have outlined the Novel barebones wise but I am looking to fill in some details  as I progress.  I have written the first 4,000 words with it and so far I am satsified with my progress.  I hope to write  a  book measuring 50-80k words that I can be proud of for my first Novel.  Looking to popping the champagne when the first draft is done.  Wish me luck!

Special Note:  As always I am re-submitting my other finished work that has been rejected by publishers numerous times already such as:  The Devils in the Details a Speculative Dark Fantasy Story of 3,300 Words,  or my Novella Roadkill”  a Dark Urban Fantasy Horror Story  at 23,000 Words, and “Flight through the Forest” the Heroic Flash Fantasy story  of only 1800 words.

If anyone knows of any Publishers Accepting Open Submissions for these types of stories and lengths please comment on here  or email me direct. Thanks!

Warrior’s Quilt

Warrior’s Quilt

My fortune has forsaken me for I am stranded in this cold wasteland

next to a flickering flame about to die.

All I have are my fears, a quilt to keep me warm and the labored breath of life.

The thick heavy fabric enfolds me in warmth from my head to my feet.

It is a comfort as I try to calm my restless mind and fall

to sleep.

I feel warmer yet still as I pull it closer to me in the night.

This warmth seems to come from a different place as I hold

the quilt to me tight.

Like a close friend it is a barrier against the bitter cold that wants

to suck the life from my chest with every stolen breath.

I began to reflect in my minds wanderings

Does this quilt have a story, a past to explore?

I picture strong delicate hands, patient hands,  cutting and sewing in

endless hours to reach an end.

A quiet anticipation to see the job done with  the reward of creating

a piece of art as a gift for a friend.

Did her mind wander while she worked? Did she daydream and get lost

in a world of mystery of her own design while her fingers danced from

seam to seam with the passage of  time?

From mind to hand, to hand to cloth, did these wanderings, these dreams  seep

into the fabric?

Is that why I feel as I lay on this cold hard ground like I could float up to the

dark heavens above  me and touch the stars that twinkle down.

Is this quilt that I’m wrapped in imbued with a magic that I cannot see for it seems to

be reaching  inside me and guiding me to a place where I can be free.

I dream  of a woman and see her smile. Is she the one who has sewn this quilt for me?

Am I now part of her wanderings and fancies?

Is that why my heart is so light?

 Is that her embrace I feel as the quilt consoles me in the night.

My mind is not restless , my body is at peace.

I lay wrapped in my quilt next to a fire long

gone out and forever asleep.


Philip Wardlow

Flash Fiction Story – ‘Flight through the Forest’

Marek ran hard through the thick underbrush, wary of outlying limbs or wet patches of dew covered  grass. No need to go down in a tumble, then he would should surely be dead. Almost there, he thought wildly.  Almost there, was still not near enough.  Do these things ever tire? The gods know I am, he thought.

He could hear their caterwauling screeches all around him as they communicated  to each other in some inane language he couldn’t began to understand, cooperating, trying to box him, trying to trap him. Intelligent little bastards, he wouldn’t have thought as much. Out the corner of his eye he saw a flit of shadowed forms appear and then disappear suddenly out of the darkened mists which collected in clumps on the forest floor like a rolling wispy snake crawling across the ground.

They were gaining on him.  If they surrounded him he would be hard pressed to fight through them.  One creature no problem,two no problem,hell not to boast but ten would probably be no problem for his strong sword arm,  but to his estimation there were hundreds. So he ran like the dog he was.

It didn’t help that as he ran he was hindered, with one hand having to hold the large package that he was hired to steal back from a temple of zealots buried deep in this god forsaken forest he now ran in. Half his job was done, now he was entrusted to return the package to its rightful owner, King Erris; whose contract he had  foolishly taken on. The second half of the deal was looking to be harder than the first had been.

Knowing of his reputation as a cunning fighter and fearless warrior they had offered him a payment of  twenty thousand in gold, literally a Kings ransom indeed! How could he refuse! The few meager coppers he had in his pouch along with the pitcher of ale in his hand when the King’s men approached him in the bar had been his only possessions besides the sword and the clothes on his back. The meager coin and ale looked more inviting at this moment, not to mention the big hipped serving  wench who had been giving him the eye all through the night while he drank his weight in spirits.

Let this be a lesson learned if he survived. Some jobs were just to big for any amount of gold to be had.

The King said the treasure stolen by the religious fanatics was more priceless than anything, worth more than a thousand kingdoms he had told him. If this treasure was not returned, kingdoms would fall, men would die, destinies would be denied. What was this treasure that the King had stolen from , Marek had asked. The King would not say even when Marek had pressed him. Only that he would know it  when he came upon it. Four other contracts such as him had already failed, some individuals like him, others who had went in teams of three or four.  Only one man had returned of them all, empty-handed and had died three days later from his inflicted wounds but not before giving them the valuable information of where the treasure was being held inside the temple.

Know it Marek soon did , as he had crept into the inner sanctum of the black veined marbled temple after scaling up the almost vertical walls to the uppermost parapets where he was told it would be housed in a circular chamber guarded by the blackest of demon dogs you never would wish to encounter. The three dogs surrounded its circumference , all clad in steel mail over their entire body with the color of the darkest pitch stealing the  light as it hit its surface.  Sharp canines dripped spittle from their massive muzzles to burn like acid upon the stones they walked.

Marek had quickly rushed one catching it by surprise sending it  over the edge to tumble and bounce against the hard stone far below.  The other two well, they had been a little tougher to deal with not being caught by surprise.

Luckily they had never been trained to work together against a common foe. As they advanced on him they actually more than once snarled and bit at each other to see who could get to kill Marek first.

He had used their dislike for each other to his  advantage by keeping one always in front him with the other behind its companion  causing the rear dog to lash out at the other dog’s heels in frustration.

He had  taken the front demon dog in the eye with the point of his sword when it was distracted sending it into a wild spasm as his sword entered into its brain and scrambled it like eggs in a frying pan.

The other dog had advanced on Marek slowly, weary now that its two companions had been so  quickly dealt with by this new adversary.

Marek knew he had to dispatch this thing soon before any others came along, but he didn’t dare go in for a strike to the thing’s mailed body and risk the creatures bite or even drippings of its spittle on him which could cause him to lose the use of his arm in an instant. So he did what he was good at, he ran.

The creature thought him scared and running for his life so it had become emboldened and ran after him. Marek ran faster and gained some distance on him and then he suddenly stopped. The creature’s momentum carried it forward and with blade held at eye level, Marek jumped high into the air toward the creature as it came in its headlong rush at him. He came down in a stabbing arc to the top of the creature’s head to bury his blade in deep dead center between the dogs ears punching through  the black mail covering its skull. It quivered and died.

With the last of the beasts dispatched he had entered through the bronze doors to the inner chamber.  There inside on a raised dais made of white marble inside a crystal bowl of the palest blue was a baby wrapped in a red silk blanket. Nothing else had been in the room chamber save that. So he knew what the treasure was as the King said he would.

These creatures that chased him now were different than the foul dogs he had faced. These things seemed almost human in nature but twisted with thin whip like bodies and elongated distorted  limbs propelled them through the forest after him. He only caught glimpses of them as he ran but that had been enough to spur him to a faster pace.

Through it all the baby had been as  quiet as a mouse not saying a word. It just looked up at him as he had run with its deep blue eyes with all the confidence in the world it seemed, that Marek would carry him from out of this place, safe and sound back to his home. For very personal reasons  one being his own neck, Marek didn’t want to let the little imp down.

The day was coming up fast as the sun was just breaking the horizon ahead through  the trees. Soon he would be able to see clearly what was chasing him. The trees were becoming more spread out and the vegetation less dominate in places. He was nearing the edge, he may yet have a chance. These creatures he was told, feared the desert, that was why the other man had made it out and back to tell the tale. He just had to get there first.

Then the thing happened he did not wish to have happened, his right foot caught the edge of a wet moss-covered rock throwing him off-balance. He instinctively rolled into the fall across the ground smothering the baby in a loose  but tight protective cocoon with his arms and hands as he did so. Marek ended up on his back looking up at the nighttime sky  through the forest trees, it was a dim blue with a wisp of white creeping in.

He heard the chattering of many voices draw near. Marek tried to stand but was met with pain in his left ankle. It felt like he had twisted it. Gods that ale would taste good right about now, he thought idly.

They drew in closer, from behind, to the left, right and now they closed the circle, in the front. His exit to the east was closed.

He forced himself to stand. fighting through the pain and drew his sword, leaning against a nearby tree for support. He saw an army of them crawling over the ground to him. Their eyes started to glow gold in the burgeoning light of day as they neared.

He looked down at the baby he held still with its eyes blue and confident in him. The treasure to topple Kingdoms the King had said, for destinies to be lost or made.  What will they say of me little one?

Marek reached out a finger to touch the little one’s cheek. The babe held up its to  little hand to grab it. Marek noticed a tattoo, better yet a birthmark it seemed on its small forearm in the shape of a Crescent moon with a pale mist of cloud passing in front of it.

Marek made a sharp intake of breath. Could it be. The Redeemer?

He had heard the prophecies but he had never thought to see it come in his lifetime.

He gripped his sword tighter in his hand and looked out at the horde. They were all but twenty feet away in tight circle about him. They had stopped. They were waiting for me to turn him over to them.

They stood motionless shoulder to shoulder. A hair could not have slid between the space they allowed.

Arms ending with three sharp talons rested on the ground twitched occasionally, perhaps in anticipation of his imminent death at their hands and the fulfillment of their task the creatures had been sent for..

They did not chatter at each other or at him.  They just looked at him with cold dead stares. Their thin slit likes mouths were all closed tight in a devilish grin as if to say game over my friend.

He did the only thing he could. He tigtened his grip on his sword and the little one and grinned right back and said,

“Come on.” He whispered softly.

The babes tattoo began to burn bright against its  flesh, the moon glowing on its skin as if set high in a nighttime sky.

The pain in his ankle was gone, his strength had returned tenfold.

He raised his sword high and came at them with a growl…