The bear’s scars flashed like yellow lightning every time he cast a spell, briefly illuminating the shadowy limbs of the villagers. The Rotted villagers squealed and cowered under each attack, but they were still crawling out of the well.
Thane and Simon couldn’t keep up; their numbers were too great. And though the moonlight strengthened a few of the Wyld spells, the bear was beginning to flag.
“We have to even the odds!” said Thane, striking down a rangey skunk who had latched on to Simon’s staff with his teeth.
Spell-light flashed; the mass of infected villagers flinched as one. The former skunk, however, did not notice, but collided with the ground.
“They don’t seem to like the light!”
The final animals crawled out of the well. It was the king’s guard, dogs in golden armor, covered in mud. They ignored the wolves and joined the horde surrounding the bear. Thane took the opportunity to jab his sword through a joint in the armor. The former guard fell. The wolf prince quickly went to work on the others.
The burned smell of moon-bitten fur tainted the air. Thane coughed from the smoke. Simon jabbed his pole into the chest of a hedgehog before it got close to the prince. The smoke tickled his nostrils.
The woodpile. Simon could see the blind rat in his memory’s eye, stuffing the banner between the cords.
“We need a fire!” said Simon. “The woodpile—” he pointed to the swarm of attackers hiding Brun from view “—we need his flint! It’s around his neck!”
“A fire?” said Thane. “The whole village will go up!”
Simon leapt over a charging villager. “We can’t save Houndsmouth. The rat told me.”
“You want to trust him?”
“What else can we do?”
Parrying three more attacks, Thane scented the square for options. None were apparent, save for the banner, its gold thread gleaming silvery in the light of the moon.
“Stay alive!” he ordered, then dove into the crowd. In seconds, his grey tail disappeared. Simon almost called him back, but an infected rabbit tried snipping a piece off him. He swung his wooden shield around in time, and one of her incisors broke off. But nothing bled from the wound.
Whatever they are now, they’re not fully Animal, thought Simon, pivoting so the creature charged headlong into his shield. They’ve got no minds; I hope the Wyld took their souls.
“Ha HA!” Several thralls went flying into the air. Thane jumped out after them, something held between his teeth. Simon ran up to him and Thane spat out the flint into his awaiting paw.
“I’ll cover you—wait, use this—”
The grey wolf kicked up the ferret’s dropped bottle. “If it’s wine it should burn. Go!”
Simon dashed away. Only a couple thralls made a move towards the maned wolf, seemingly uninterested in anything occurring away from the bear. Thane put them down, then went back to aiding Brun. The spell flashes were fewer and fewer now.
Simon dumped the last few drops of Rot wine onto the tail of the banner. He struck the flint. The sparks caught, then flared upon the banner. Slowly they ate their way towards the wood.
Simon glanced over his shoulder. Not fast enough. He looked around the square. One of the stands was undamaged. He could jump from there, light a few of the thatched roofs…and the ivy they’d seen earlier had been crispy, dry…
He sprang for the unbroken stand, striking the flint as he went. The woodpile was beginning to burn, smelling like their traveling campfires.
Good. It’s catching. He leapt onto the stand, pulled himself up onto the nearest building, then ran across the rooftops, sparks falling behind him as he ran.
No updates tomorrow, ‘cuz it’s Sunday and it’s important to pay the Big Man Upstairs His due. But come back on noon Monday (PST) for chapter 12!
The game Armello and its characters are property League of Geeks. Buy it today!
You might also like to read my free short story The Stone Seekers because it has less creepy things in it than this tale.