Of Blood And Bone: Episode 1: The Arrival
The salt air swept over the docks as Morrith stepped off the boat. The hustle of daily life immediately brought him back to his childhood, one spent fishing with his father in the woods near out home. It wasn’t far from New Haven, a small settlement with a stone keep, an alchemist, a few farms and his fathers woodworking shop. He specialized in musical instruments, and his mother would play him a lute to sleep. That was fifteen years ago now, and Morrith hadn’t been back since he was sent to Britain for Paladin training. Now done with formal training, all that was left was for Morrith to go out into the world and make his own way.
The first stop for Morrith was the stables just past the docks. When he was here last they had been run by a man named Leo Tevo, but several years ago Morrith had received a letter from his family. Amongst the other news was the passing of Leo and that his son, Rio, had taken over the families stable business. Far more than just housing horses, the stables were a busy place and a lucruitive business. As he entered the stable yard Morrith waved a hand at the man Rio had become.
“Hail and well met friend, my name is Morrith and I require a horse.” Rio looked up from the straw he was distributing for the livestock and flashed a smile that held no recognition.
“Hail friend, I’ll be Rio of New Haven, welcome to our city.” He brushed his hands on his pants, leaving massive black streaks, before holding his right hand out for a shake. Morrith shrugged internally and took the man by the forearm. “What breed of horse would you like sir? We’ve got several.” Morrith waved away the question with his hand.
“Any will do, I’ll not be going too far.” Rio nodded, smiling as widely as he could.
“Very well sir, you’ll have my best horse. Nothing good for a trip back home but the best!” Rio shuffled off into the stables proper and Morrith smiled. He thought about telling Rio that he just wanted an older, cheaper horse, but it couldn’t hurt relations to pay a little bit more. Plus, he’d soon be home and looking for a steady job, so he could afford to spend the rest of his money on a nice horse. After a bit Rio came back out with a grey Verity, saddled and ready to ride. The beast looked magnificent, and Morrith felt comfortable handle over his entire coin purse for the beast.
“You’ve got your fathers taste in horses Rio.” Morrith said as he pulled himself up into the saddle, his dyed red travel leathers squeeking softly as they slid into the saddle.
“You knew my father sir?” Rio asked. He used his left hand to shield his eyes from the sun as he looked up at Morrith sitting in the saddle.
“Indeed I did. He was a good man, always fair. I was sorry to hear about his passing.”
“If I had but known you were a family friend, I’d surely have given a discount on that mount sir.” Morrith waved the thought away with his hand.
“The gold is yours good sir, as well as my patronage when I come back this way. The sun is getting closer to the west, so I must be off. It was a pleasure seeing you again.” Morrith swept off his wide brimmed hat and spun his mare around. He trotted to the stable gate and Rio sprinted ahead, opening the gate and waving him out.
“Here you go…and good day to you!” he exclaimed as Morrith rode out.
Morrith trotted his horse down the cobbled streets of New Haven, memories flooding back to him. The smell of the fishery, vile as it was, was a welcome home he cherished. As he passed the gates and entered the wilderness he put his heels to the mare and sped up, eager to get to his families home before night fell. While not as dangerous as the mainland, the New Haven wilds could be dangerous for those travelling alone.
He rode for some time, then got off and walked his horse for a bit, letting the beast rest. Morrith plucked an apple from a tree on the side of the rode. It was as red as his own leathers, and Morrith took a large bite. It was juicy and ripe and Morrith almost took it for his own. Instead he fed it to the horse, who gobbled it down with enthusiasm. After an hour or so Morrith pulled himself back into the saddle and rode on, careful to keep a slow pace. He hadn’t seen anyone else on the road so far, which was confusing. Last time he had been here the main road between New Haven and the village he had grown up in had been well travelled and busy.
Morrith crested a small hill and the village was finally in view. Something wasn’t right. He passed the stone keep that guarded their village at a walk and gaped in wonder at the shattered walls.
Morrith remembered the massive tower that had stood over the keep. It wasn’t a large keep, but it should have been able to stand up to anything in the wilds of New Haven. Perhaps it had simply been abandoned, having no real use for such a structure on the island. Morrith continued toward the low stone buildings he remembered from his childhood. As he got closer his horror grew. Men walked the streets, but their shambling steps and low moans marked them as the vilest of evils, undead. His town was under attack by these beasts, and Morrith wasn’t about to let them hurt the villagers. He spurred his horse hard, riding it into the midst of four zombies. He flattened one of them under the hooves before leaping off. His sword practically flew into his hand and his left grabbed the buckler that was hanging from a thong on his hip. He sprinted at one of the zombies as it stood up and Morrith raised his blade, calling out his divine fury and sending it into his sword.
His sword cut through the head of the zombie with ease. He turned it around in his hand and slammed it backward into the zombie that was slowly coming up behind him. It clutched at it’s intestines as they spilled from the wound before it fell to it’s knees, the unholy light ebbing from it’s eyes. Morrith kicked the last zombie in the kneecap, crushing it and sending the fiend to the ground where he stabbed his sword into it’s skull. The zombies dispatched, Morrith made a mad dash for his fathers music shoppe. He burst down the door and nearly screamed.
The room was dusty, and the wooden planks groaned under his weight as he stepped into the shoppe. Morrith’s eyes squinted as he re-focused them for the darkness. His Brothers corpse turned to stare at him with hollow eyes. His father dropped the human leg he had been chewing on and looked up hungrily from across the table that seperated them. Morrith’s eyes watered, but his hatred nearly turned the tears to steam as he gripped the haft of his sword. A twitch sent his cloak spinning back over his right shoulder, freeing his sword arm and stirring up the dust.
“What happened here? How could this be?” Morrith shouted the words at the animated remains of his family. He knew they weren’t his father and brother anymore, but the emotions ran wild in him as they advanced, putrid drool running down their chins. His brother lunged forward, reaching with fingers that ended in bloody nubs. Often the freshly dead tried to eat themselves, and fingers were the first to go. Morrith spun aside and his sword cut the arm off of his brother, spewing old blood and maggots.
“What spell turned this entire village into the undead?” His next blow took his brother’s head off. It fell to the floor and rolled into Morrith’s boot, blank eyes staring up at him. Morrith almost kicked it but stopped himself, instead he stepped over it and squared off across the table from his father, who’s eyes were nearly focused as they watched Morrith. Morrith reached into his belt and pulled for a small round bell that jingled with the slightest movement. His father’s eyes followed it as he threw it across the room toward the musical instruments. Before it hit the ground Morrith had turned and leapt over the table that stood between him and his father. He tackled the corpse to the ground and smashed in the front of it’s face with the guard of his sword.
When it was done he pulled both of their corpses into the center of the room and set them carefully side by side. Kneeling next to them, he closed their eyes with his left hand before closing his own.
“By the eight Virtues, I swear that you will be aveng…” Suddenly Morrith’s head shot up and his eyes shot around the room. “Mother…” he whispered. Quickly he closed his eyes again and felt his righteous hatred of Evil build inside him, spreading through his sword and into the wooden planks of the floorboards, which instantly caught fire. Morrith stood up and made his way to the door, and by the time it closed behind him the fire had engulfed the entirety of the room. Morrith ran as quickly as he could to his family’s home, a small stone building on the fringe of the village. He kicked open the front door and sprinted to his parents room, his eyes scanning everywhere for a sign of the undead. He threw open the door to his parents room and stopped dead.
Morrith moved to his mothers bedside, heart stricken with grief, and yet there was thankfulness that at least she had been spared the fate of his father and brother. His eyes teared up and he stood there, his eyes taking in the way she had died. Peacefully in bed, happy in the end. Suddenly the fire returned inside Morrith and his tears near sizzled on his face as the full reality of his new life fell upon him.
“I swear Mother, I won’t let them go unavenged. I will do everything I must in order to find out who did this to the village.” Morrith reached down and brushed the bones of her hand gently. “Goodbye Mother.”