Continued from 1/366 – To the Wall
Morn looked around for any guards that may have heard the first gargoyle break. Satisfied that no one seemed to have noticed, he walked down the wall to the next gargoyle. His curiosity burned within him, driving him on despite his initial failing. He threw the rope again, this time ensuring that it pulled from the bottom of the statue rather than the neck. He gave it a few hard tugs just to be sure it wouldn’t break like the last one.
Walking up the side of the wall seemed easier this time as he peeked over the top. He saw the sprawling graveyard that made up nearly half the town. Tombstones and mausoleums dotted almost every inch of the enclosure. At its center stood the entrance to the subterranean temple where he knew the old ones, the Masters, lived and trained. There, in their immortal state of being, they would teach the lessons of the gods and ensure everyone in the town followed divine law.
Morn pulled himself up on the wall to get a better view of several guards patrolling the enclosure. They either kept watch or pushed newly made zombies on their way to the fields outside of town where they would work for the farmers. Morn had been to the farms several times with his father when he was young. They would watch the undead do the work that ordinary people used to do. They never rested, never got tired, and only occasionally fell due to time.
The sound of the gate on the front of the temple drew Morn’s attention. Striding out from the shadow Master Scaine, one of the oldest monks, approached two guards that Morn had only just noticed about a hundred feet away. The Master had graying skin that reflected the torchlight he passed. His dark sunken eyes gave him the appearance of being a sickly man, but his body moved with a silent grace that Morn had never witnessed anywhere else. Morn lowered himself as best he could, hoping that the Master hadn’t noticed him.
“Simmons. Sterling. A matter has come up that requires your attention. Would you please see to the South Wall? There are a few zombies who have decided that they would rather fight than work. They could use some reconditioning,” Master Scaine said.
“Yes, sir,” they replied in unison before proceeding south.
Morn watched the Master walk a dozen feet away from him, pausing between the wall and a mausoleum.
“Report,” Master Scaine whispered, barely loud enough for Morn to hear. Morn’s heart skipped a beat, thinking he was talking to him.
Before Master Scaine a figure materialized. Wreathed in shadow that seemed to move, Morn couldn’t see its face.
I hope he didn’t see me up here, Morn thought as his heart leaped to his throat. He moved as quietly as he could along the wall, trying to get closer so he could hear what they were talking about. He had missed the beginning of the conversation, but he held his breath when he finally caught the first sentence from the figure.
“We lost seven tonight driving it back,” the figure said. Its voice was barely a dead man’s whisper. It had slight gravel to it but otherwise was breathy and cold, sending a shiver down Morn’s spine.
“It’s accelerating then,” Scaine replied, pausing for a moment as he rubbed his chin, “I’ll inform the others. For now, keep it at bay as best you can. We’ll send reinforcements as soon as we can. Expect them by tomorrow night.”
With a nod, the figure turned and was gone.
Master Scaine stood there for a few moments longer. He was whispering something so quietly that Morn couldn’t make it out. Morn leaned a little closer, trying to make out what the Master was saying, but his hand slipped, dislodging a rock that clattered under him. The Master spun fast than Morn thought possible.
“What are you doing?”
The panic surged in Morn as he rolled off the outside of the wall and dropped into the grass, barely catching himself on his feet. He tore through the darkness toward the relative safety of the buildings nearby, not so much as looking over his shoulder to see if he was being followed. He felt his breath coming in big gulps by the time he reached the nearest building.
When he reached the back of his house, he began to tear off the dark clothes he was wearing over his weekend clothes. Bundling the cloth in his arms, he checked behind him. There were no pursuers or guards. When he looked out in front of the house, he didn’t see any there either. He forced himself to take a few deep breaths to calm his nerves as he walked around to the front door.
Morn gently lifted the latch and slid through the door into the living room where his father was still softly snoring. He went to the fire and tossed in the dark clothes before turning toward his father.
The man rested his head against the side of the chair, a small blanket over his lap, with his arms folded. Morn couldn’t see what his mother had seen in the small-framed man in front of him. He thought back to before she had died. His father had been just as absent from the house, and, in Morn’s opinion, just as useless to the community. He was just as useless the day his mother had died.
Morn could still hear her screams in his mind. He saw her terrified face every night, telling him to run. He could even see his father frozen in fear, neither running nor trying to save his wife as the creature in the bog attacked the wagon. Everything his father had ever done was insufficient for their family, their temple, and their community.
Morn imagined one day that he would be free from the town, the responsibility that came with it, and above all else, his father. He would travel and see the other kingdoms and city-states. He would never come back to this place that was full of pain and anger.
Continued 3/366 – To the Wall (Cont.)