My brother had been telling me for weeks that someone had been following him, that he had been seeing amethyst eyes in the shrubbery near his home. I allowed him to stay with me if only to give myself reprieve of the constant babbling, for I was sure he did not posses the curse I had shackled upon me since birth. But now, my dear brother is gone and not a living soul knows where he is. This is why I must once again use my dark gift, as I believe the souls of the dead may be the only ones who can guide me to him. This is why I must once again find myself atop this sorrowful hill, staring out over the withered grass and cracked earth that covers history untold. Most believe that the history should remain untold, I am one of these believers. But when the knowledge of the river of the living runs dry, one must seek deeper waters.

I look across the harrowing landscape before me and clench the gladius that hangs heavy upon my waist. A futile gesture, of course. A steel sword does little to those who are already dead, but the years in the legion play upon my mind and when danger is near the cold wood of my swords handle soothes me somewhat. I slide off my sandals and place my bare feet upon the haunted earth, a gentle shuffle sifts the crumbling dirt between my toes. Already the sorrowful energy of this place begins to overwhelm me, for now my only company is a solitary vulture perched upon a lonely crooked tree, it’s beady eyes pointed at me in a sinister silence. Perhaps it thinks me it’s next meal, this hill stained with the stench of death so. But soon I will be accompanied by scores of silent companions, although they will only enhance the desolation that inhabits this place. I look straight ahead and adjust myself.

I then close my eyes.

And breathe.

Suddenly, I feel the tendrils of death shoot upward into my body, I gasp for air and collapse to my knees as a sensation not meant for mortal men takes over my corporeal vessel. As I desperate;y grasp at my throat, the horrific feeling rushes upward to my head, as if the boatman of the river Styx was sailing his cursed boat straight through my veins. After a few eternal moments, and the breath returning to my deprived lungs, I sense the world is now not how I left it when I closed my eyes. Opening them slowly, I begin to see shadows of men long passed wandering the barren landscape before me. Cautiously, I return myself to my feet and scan my now changed surroundings. All around the shades of the dead drift effortlessly over the ground, their faces twisted in silent agony, their mouths gaping in a scream that no one can hear any longer. Lost forever, damned to wander the ancient grounds where they met their doom for what to them must feel like eternities ago. I begin to very carefully advance through them, some seeming to acknowledge my presence and look to me in desperate hope, their blackened hands reaching out like a drowning man would to his friend on the boat but only for them to pass straight through my body, instead leaving a deathly cold shiver where a firm warm grip should have been. As I wade through the sea of the damned I approach the crooked tree I saw before, this time it’s energy different. Sitting at the base of the tree’s barren trunk a shade seemed to be rest, this one different from the others somehow. Despite the gaping hole in its lower chest from a wound sustained in life, the usual warped, screaming mouth was breaking into a gleeful smile. I kneel down in front of it, it’s hollow yet friendly eyes looking directly into mine, filling me with an unusual sense of warmth not common from the dead.

Suddenly, a voice.

“Ah...” A distorted bellow erupts from above me. I frantically look up to see the neck of the once silent vulture outstretched to a disturbing unnatural length, it’s vile, cracked beak almost touching upon my nose and it’s now amethyst eyes piercing into my own.

“Spi-rit wa-lk-er…” I feel the corrupted voice engulf me like a black flame. I recoil back and grab the hilt of my sword, but before I can unsheathe it the vultures neck twists and grotesquely clicks back to its natural length. I stare in horror as The shades around me seem to also halt in fear, with the entire hill returning to the unbearable stillness of before. The vulture gives one last look into the depths of my very soul, and flies silently off to the east. I return my fearful gaze down to the once smiling shade to see his grin has sunken into an expression of pure despair. He slowly turns his head and raises his ashen arm eastward. Staggering to my feet I glance around me and see every single shade on the hill beginning to also point their crooked arms east, their mouths warped into silent screams of which still completely overwhelm me.

I clasp my hands over my ears and clamp my eyes shut like the jaw of a lion. And like that, they are gone. I am once again alone upon this cursed hill.

I now know what must be done. To find my brother, I must first find the twisted vulture.

Comments 0