Cycles - Writen By: Adventurin' Bob
The forest was quiet today. As nightfall grew closer an unnatural hush descended. The twilight forest seemed to wait, with baited breath, for something to happen.
Without warning, and almost without sound, a man burst through a patch of undergrowth, sprinting at a phenomenal speed he leapt over a fallen log, his eyes flicking to the middle distance, planning his route ahead perhaps 10 or 20 seconds in advance, seemingly relying on instinct and memory alone to navigate closer obstacles.
He wore the garb, and the weaponry, of a hunter. His bow was perfectly crafted, his leather armour dull, mottled to blend perfectly with the lush, 100 metre high, tropical tree trunks he weaved through so fluidly. Two swords hinted at prey more ferocious than one would normally expect even in such a harsh environment. Not that they would be of any use here.
For as is so often the case, the hunter was now the hunted, The creature pursuing him was invisible to normal eyes, except perhaps as a flickering insubstantial presence at the very edge of sight. Perhaps this explained why the man never looked back.
At last the hunter stumbled in his impossible flight. Recovering swiftly, he rolled to his feet, back to one of the giant trees, both swords already drawn, blazing into bright blue light as he drew them from their matched scabbards, flashing from side to side, seemingly seeking their insubstantial foe.
A chill hollow chuckle emanated from somewhere nearby, impossible to pin down. It changed to an equally hollow mocking voice saying:
ďYou would dare to fight me! Even with blades such as those, you cannot hope to resist my power, much less expect to defeat me, young whelp of a feeble goddess.Ē
The Ranger, for that is what he was, smiled a thin smile, before replying:
ďTo defeat you, Iíd have to kill you, and letís face it Necromancer, you canít really die anymore, can you? Besides, that would put you out of your misery, and you havenít suffered nearly enough, not yet.Ē
At this the apparition howled, almost in pain, as it remembered what it was, before. What it would be again. It spoke once more:
ďEnough talking - your life ends now, Ranger!Ē
And with that a spectral claw shimmered out of the dark shadows, reaching for the Rangerís heart. He tried to move away, eyes suddenly wide with fear, nay terror, at the thought of what was to come. He did not fear death, but of course he feared this, the touch of this son of evil.
His swords made a flickering blurred shield in front of him, clipping the pale shadowy form of a hand. At this it shimmered and disappeared, accompanied by another howl from itís hideous owner.
A few seconds later, it reappeared, with a dozen of itís ilk. The Rangerís twin swords, despite his efforts, could not hope to stop them all. Striking a second hand, then a third, he backed into the tree. Then, slipping beneath his guard, one of the hands plunged into his chest. His mouth opened, in a desperate attempt to scream, or perhaps to breathe one final time. The golden amulet around his neck glowed briefly, as if resisting the foul spell, but to no avail. The Ranger was already dead. Or, rather, undead. A strange transformation began to occur, the very flesh of the body turned pale, and shrivelled, as the insubstantial spirit of the Necromancer flowed into it. At last, itís eyes turned a baleful red. Itís newly withered claws tore away the golden amulet, scorching as they did so. That done, the foul creature raised its arms to touch the rapidly darkening sky. It laughed again, a fuller laugh, yet still redolent with twisted evil, as it screamed to the forest around it:
ďIt begins, again. And this time, I shall be victorious.Ē
Its laughter grew louder still. And then, it disappeared, brief sparks of magic earthing themselves in its wake.
Reluctantly, the birds began their chorus.