Monday, October 22, 2012

The Day of Mourning

        The final crest of the hill reveals the Cyran countryside several miles hence: Rolling fields of verdant green and gold, ancient land oblivious to the horrors of a century of warfare. Amazing how a land soaked in blood can hide its scars so well. So close to home, fragrant winds rustle the sparse stands of oak and yew dotting the landscape.

        It happens quickly. A brilliant flash; a soft sound like a discarded boot dropping on the wooden floor above; followed by a rush of wind from deep within Cyre. This is not the fragrant wind of antiquity: This smells of blood, death, tears, and silent screams. The sky darkens and turns a florid, deep shade of violet like the bruising surrounding an untended wound. High in the sky above what would be the middle of Cyre, clouds form rapidly, spreading outward as young spiders from the egg-sac, creeping across the sky.

        Sickly green lightning leaps from cloud to cloud, but instead of thunder all that is heard is a low, constant, ominous rumbling that inexorably grows louder… and louder… and louder…. Soon the rumbling becomes felt as the ground begins to shake violently. The lightning has grown in brutality, arcing to the ground, trees, the road, igniting incendiary and white-hot flames wherever it strikes.

        Over the horizon, a black mass tumbles forward, running, stumbling; leaping, crawling, falling over anything in its way: A horde of animals, people, carts, wagons; all flee from some great, unseen foe. Their screams and bleats and baying are eclipsed by the horrible rumbling. Lightning devastates many, but they do not slow; massive crevices open up and swallow entire families, but still they do not slow; until finally with all the violence and suddenness of a blade through riven flesh, a solid wall of dead gray mist dominates the horizon. Faster than man, faster than beast, it swallows indiscriminately: The men, the women, the children, the creatures, the trees, the rolling fields are gone in an instant, swallowed by the horrible mist.

        The rumbling ceases with the swiftness that it began, and for one horrific moment, all that can be heard is screaming.

        And then there is silence.

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