Do you like comics? Well… here’s a bunch of words to read! This is some more of the second draft of my manuscript, tentatively titled “A Tale of Alborea.” The premise is sort of shaping up, and in some ways its connected to the world of the Wizard of Quippley, but we won’t see that come together for a while. In the meantime, here’s a bit more to chew on.
I must preface of course, that this is still a manuscript and that the final version may look different. ALSO please do not reproduce this in any other form (the same applies to everything else on the site ;)).
I laid on the narrow cot in my tent, restless, fitful. There was little sound coming from outside; the men had finally collapsed from exhaustion. Occasionally the wind would carry snippets of hushed conversations–a few awake officers speculating the army’s next move. Slowly I felt the sluggish pull of sleep and I slipped into unconsciousness.
Images chaotically flashed across the back of my eyelids as my body laid numb and unmoving. The memories of battle melded with confused pieces of nonsense and fear. Then I saw him. From the boisterous discord of my dream emerged the ghost of my father. A pale hand extended forward as he floated towards me.
Terror enveloped my throat and I choked for air. Through the cacophony I heard him speak, a grating wheeze, like the sound of falling stone. As his lifeless face drew close to mine I saw into his eyes–dead and emotionless, void of the warmth and love of a father to his son.
I screamed and struggled to be free. The cloud of apparition faded and I was in my tent, my feet on the compacted dirt. The air came slowly, though I grasped at it with both hands. Somewhere outside there came a dull rumble, like thunder. I draped my travel cloak around me and went out.
“Wilton why are you standing guard?”
He sat on a stool beside my tent door, chin resting on his knuckles. I glanced at the black sky. “Good lord, it’s still night,” I said. “Have you not slept?”
“No sir,” Wilton answered wearily. “Officers are to be guarded after a battle–General’s orders.”
“Surely one of the privates can stand post,” I replied.
“Not at all,” he answered proudly. “It is my honor to watch your tent, sir.”
I was taken aback by his display of loyalty. It was a few moments before the acrid smoke reached my nostrils and the sound of thunder returned to my ears.
“They’re burning them,” Wilton said, without my asking. “I know how much it bothered you; I was hoping you’d sleep through it.”
I crossed the grounds, stepping over snoring men, to the edge of the camp. The great valley was a wall of flame. Black plumes of smoke slowly rose into the sky, a stray gust of wind pushed wafts of it over the camp.
“We should have given them their proper rites,” I said, my voice low. I turned to Wilton, who had followed me.
“A chaplain did perform the perfunctory prayers,” he replied, “as we swept through for survivors.”
Doubts lingered in my mind as I looked back at the massive bonfire. Amidst the ravaging flames I thought I saw movement. Wild, jerking figures, dancing a morbid dance. In my mind I heard coarse, vicious screaming–or was it laughter? I rubbed my eyes and walked away, convincing myself it was a trick of the fire.