Under a Funeral Moon
, on FlickrIn the night sky, a massive pale orb shone brightly along with thousands of its distant companions. No clouds dared to obscure the view into the cosmos, almost as if inviting mortals to gaze into the maw of eternity. The forests about Ryan were silent, save for the scraping of his boots and the plodding of the demonic being that hunted him.
All day and into the night the beast gave pursuit to Ryan. Although he often felt as if he would collapse, the fear and adrenaline that pumped through his veins kept him stumbling. He sprinted over roots and through bushes, under trees and past rocks, yet the monster continued to follow. The stag showed no signs of fatigue, either.
Long ago had the two of them abandoned the path, and with it Ryan abandoned any hope of rescue from a passing band or heavily armed travelers. His initial rage had given way to grating misery that gnawed deep at his morale. He was forced to either keep running, or make a stand. Both choices, in his mind, lead to his demise. For all the energy he had left in him, he kept running.
Hopelessly lost in the shadow infest woods, Ryan ran up what appeared to be a hill. His goal was to scale the hill to gain a viewpoint of the land around him, maybe even spotting a farm or homestead somewhere out there. A faint glimmer in the abyss of his dread, Ryan brought himself to smile in between heavy breaths.
Much to his dismay, the hill was not a hill at all; instead, it was a cliff that dropped straight down into a thick patch of wood below. Tree tops and leaves were all he could see for miles, and his heart sank. He nearly collapsed on the rocky ledge, but he held firm. Behind him, the faint clopping of the hooves pattered over the rock and grass that inclined to where he stood.
Well, I guess my time has run out, Ryan thought, his stomach feeling as though it had climbed it’s way into his throat. He spun to face the beast, who had slowed it’s own pace as to not run off the cliff.
Ryan’s eyes met the beast’s own beady black ones, and rage filled the explorer once more. Thoughts raced in his head, clanging and cluttering his mind. All the events of the day hit him once more, like a hammer upon an anvil. Unable to reason, relying on his instincts alone, he lunged forward to meet the horned penumbra, blade drawn.
The battle that commenced was unlike anything Ryan had experienced. He swung and cut, he was tossed and tackled, and yet he continued despite himself. The stag engaged him with its antlers, but he struck back with just as much force. Both combatants shrugged off any injuries, and the grass below them became splattered with blood. Whose blood, it was difficult to tell. Ryan’s hood was torn off by the antlers of the beast, narrowly missing grasping onto one of his eye sockets. Sweat mixed with blood on the various scrapes and cuts on Ryan’s face, and the stinging only made him angrier.
Slipping back over a small rock, Ryan tumbled to the ground. The stag took this moment of opportunity to pin his opponent to the ground by the arm, piercing the flesh and snapping the forearm in the process. Ryan shrieked in pain, but he noticed an opening of his own. The stag’s head was turned just so that the neck was vulnerable to a slash.
Pulling his dagger up with his right hand, and fighting the pain that throbbed in his left arm, he swung the blade upward into the fleshy tendons of the beast’s neck. First as a stab, but then dragging the blade through the demon’s throat, Ryan made sure to cause as much blood loss as possible.
While the stag had not so much as made a sound the entire time he was chased, now it cried out and squealed an unnatural wail. Ryan cringed at the sound, but he did not cease sawing and slicing the creature’s neck, leaving it a tangled mess of cut veins and flesh dripping with blood.
Within seconds, the beast fell limp. Ryan exerted the last of his energy to heave the dead brute off him. Tumbling aside, Ryan struggled to bring himself to his feet, cursing and wincing with the pain. Grabbing the remnants of his hood from the stony ground, he wiped away most of the stag’s blood from his body. He finally took note of the damage that had been done to his left arm, which was suddenly going numb.
Ryan’s head began to feel light, and his eyes played tricks on him. He shuffled off to the edge of the cliff, staring intently at the slain terror that lay on the rocky ledge beside him. A smile crawled onto his face, and he sighed.
Well, I sure got the adventure I was looking for. he thought as he dropped off the cliff onto the leafy canopy below him. The cool whipping of the branches with their broad leaves on his hot skin soothed him. He closed his eyes, and saw no more.
Title is borrowed from a Darkthrone album. More photos are available on my Brickshelf
. With the stag defeated, but Ryan also MIA, what does this mean for the rest of the party? We'll see, soon enough! This is one of the final chapters of the story! It's been fun doing this one, and I'm really looking forward to the stories that I have in store next.
As always, C&C welcome.