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Author Topic: The Fall of Ebka - Chapter 1: Horror  (Read 811 times)

TheFlame52

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The Fall of Ebka - Chapter 1: Horror
« on: October 10, 2022, 08:24:34 pm »

The Fall of Ebka

Chapter 1: Horror

It happened while she was away.

Ebka was a hunter. She, her husband, and her young son lived in Rulac, a hamlet near the frontier. Gigantic and deadly creatures roamed the savage prairie to the south. Ebka made a living hunting these creatures with little more than a bow, her wits, and her trusty mule. Her husband Rodi stayed home, kept house, and took care of the sheep they used to supplement their income. He also helped take care of their lovely son Obin. Now that the boy was weaned, Ebka could make longer hunting trips again.

Ebka pushed her way through the tall prairie grass. Her mule’s reins were tied around her wrist. It trudged behind her, huffing and snorting as it pulled a travois carrying the carcass of a dead giant ostrich. Once back in town, the creature’s huge corpse would be broken down and traded around to the rest of the village In return, Ebka would receive enough fruits, vegetables, and small trinkets to last her and her family for a couple of weeks. She could stay home and spend some time with her family before embarking on another hunt. Ebka smiled at the thought.

Just before noon, Ebka and her mule reached the last obstacle. A long, low ridge sat just south of the village, blocking her view of Rulac’s houses and shops.  Her little house was at the very southern end, a bit separated from the others. It was always her first sight upon returning.

Upon reaching the bottom of the ridge, Ebka untied the reins from her wrist and looped them around the mule’s saddle. Walking around behind the travois, she set her back against the giant ostrich’s fat carcass and pushed as hard as she could. The mule obediently started to pull the travois up the hill. It was looking forward to resting in a safe barn. Ebka’s feet slid in the damp grass. The ostrich’s greasy feathers left dirty streaks on her skin and clothing. The stench of ostrich filled her nostrils. The spring sun beat down on her, covering her with sweat. Finally, they reached the top of the ridge, and stopped for a moment. Ebka looked down at her house.

The first thing she noticed was that the sheep had gotten out.

They milled around outside the pen, tight together, with the rams on the outside. Was there a predator nearby? Unless they were starving, predators usually stayed away from the village. Any dingo or giant monitor lizard would end up on a dinner table. Ebka grabbed the donkey’s reins and began leading it down the hill. If the sheep were out, where was Rodi? Worry showed on Ebka’s face.

The second thing she noticed was that the back door was open.

It wasn’t that uncommon for them to leave the doors open during the warmer seasons. Any moment now Obin would come charging out of the door, arms stretched out in front of him, running as fast as his little boy legs would carry him, yelling baby nonsense. She would snatch him up and carry him back into the house, and she and Rodi would embrace. She called out down the hill. “Dear? I’m home!” No answer.

Finally making it to the bottom of the hill, she led the mule over to the sheep pen and tried it to one of the posts. A rail had been broken from the inside, allowing all the sheep to escape. Maybe Rodi had taken her son to visit his sister and her children? But it wasn’t like him to leave the doors open when he did so. She stepped into the doorway.

The third thing she noticed was her husband’s corpse.

He was lying against the wall, by the door to Obin’s room. He stared blankly at the ceiling. His throat and belly had both been torn open. His spilled intestines lay in a pool of congealing blood. His arms were deeply gouged, as though he had tried to defend himself from an animal.

The fourth thing she noticed was the creature standing over him.

It was some kind of emaciated humanoid. Its skin was rough and tar-black. Its arms were long and thin, with huge clawed hands. The creature was hunched over Rodi, but it noticed Ebka. It turned and faced her. Its skull-like head was almost human, but it had three glowing green eyes. Its jaw was distended and triangular, almost like a beak, and dripped with her husband’s blood. Most distinctly, its legs were put on backwards – with knees and feet facing behind instead of in front.

The fifth thing she noticed was her son, clutched in the grotesque creature’s hand.

Her son was splattered with blood, his eyes red from crying. He saw his mother in the doorway. He opened his mouth and cried wordlessly, his hands reaching in her direction. The creature dug its claws into him and opened its mouth, emitting a low hiss, like a crocodile. Suddenly the creature leapt towards her, clawing towards her face. She backpedaled and tripped on the rough ground, falling on her behind. She raised her arms to defend herself, but with the doorway cleared, the beast simply bounded over her and loped off toward the southeast, still holding her son.

Ebka’s only thought was recovering her son. She dashed over to the mule, grabbed her bow and quiver, and ran after the creature. It was easy to follow the trail of crushed grass. Ebka settled into a ground-eating jog. Though fast, the misshapen creature wasn’t particularly agile. While carrying her son it seemed to rely on a sort of three-limbed scramble. Years of traveling the wilds had given Ebka considerable stamina. She was gaining.

Up ahead was a shallow trench, carved by a stream that came and went with the rains. The creature paused on the edge, then leapt down. Ebka drew her bow and nocked an arrow, cautiously approaching. Suddenly the foul creature leap back up over the edge of the ravine, brandishing her son like a shield.

Ebka looked her son in the eyes. The poor boy was in shock. Just staring straight ahead. “It’s okay, Obin,” she said quietly. She drew back the bowstring. “Mommy will make it all better…” She aimed carefully.

The iron arrowhead gouged the creature’s skull just above its center eye.

Suddenly the creature was upon her. Now Obin was not a shield, but a weapon. A stone clutched in the hand. The stone crushed Ebka’s left knee.

But Obin’s head was not a stone.

Oh, no.

Ebka clutched her ruined knee, covered in blood and fluid. As she watched the creature flee, still clutching Obin’s body, it all came crashing down.



A snort of smelly air in Ebka’s face woke her. Her loyal mule had chewed through its reins and followed her all this way. It must have kicked the ostrich carcass off the travois, too. She patted the donkey on the nose. Then she crawled over and lay down on the travois. It still smelled like dead ostrich. She lay there for a while, waiting for the donkey to drag her back to her empty home.



A funeral and burial service was held the next day. The gravedigger put her husband in a box and put the box in a hole. The whole town expressed their sympathies. These things happen on the frontier, they said. As if that was supposed to make her feel better. Her mother fretted and made a huge bother of everything. Her father just patted her on the back awkwardly and left. She simply ignored it all, curling herself up around the hurt, like an injured animal.

She got more in exchange for her giant ostrich carcass than she ever had before. She sold the flock of sheep, too. The doctor splinted her knee for free. Her sister and brother-in-law cleaned the house. The pantry was stocked. Everything was taken care of.

Ebka sat in the chair that Rodi used to sit in while watching the sheep. She stared west, into the sunset. Outlined by the setting sun, distorted by heat haze, sat the necromancer towers of Ateralivira.

Superdorf

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Re: The Fall of Ebka - Chapter 1: Horror
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2022, 08:49:31 pm »

Holy cow.

I'm curious to see where this goes.
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King Zultan

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Re: The Fall of Ebka - Chapter 1: Horror
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2022, 04:01:47 am »

Dang that's a pretty brutal way to start a story.
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Mobbstar

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Re: The Fall of Ebka - Chapter 1: Horror
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2022, 10:45:07 am »

Truly horrific, no beating around the bush.  I love it when prose repeats a phrase to such great effect.

Salmeuk

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Re: The Fall of Ebka - Chapter 1: Horror
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2022, 03:17:45 pm »

Quote
The third thing she noticed was her husband’s corpse.

oof

...

that ending image with the silhouetted tower is pleasant, foreboding, evocative. nice OP
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TheFlame52

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Re: The Fall of Ebka - Chapter 1: Horror
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2022, 03:35:49 pm »

Thanks, I'm working on chapter 2 (and a bit of an addition to chapter 1 that I forgot) right now.

King Zultan

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Re: The Fall of Ebka - Chapter 1: Horror
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2022, 02:18:15 am »

Sounds exciting.
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The Lawyer opens a briefcase. It's full of lemons, the justice fruit only lawyers may touch.
Make sure not to step on any errant blood stains before we find our LIFE EXTINGUSHER.
but anyway, if you'll excuse me, I need to commit sebbaku.
Quote from: Leodanny
Can I have the sword when you’re done?