I've been trying to finish this damn novel for years, but it's never good enough and it's never completed enough. But I don't want an idea to just sit there without some feedback, some evolution of the story and characters. I've got the setting and universe down, now I just have to see which people are fit to play in it. This is a preview chapter of an untitled novel, set in an untitled universe, with a man that is still learning how low his story can go.
Gray smoke drifted peacefully down through the thatch roof and hung in the rafters, giving off the smell of fire in the small, candle-lit hut. The flames would soon push through and the entire place would be engulfed in a matter of minutes.
Dunman was just finishing up cleaning his newly-tainted blade of the blood and shit it got on it after it punctured a man through the groin and out through his backside. That man was now on the ground, holding his nether-regions and moaning with intense pain.
Dunman leaned over him and wiped a few missed specks of shitty blood on the dying man’s cloak.
“Don’t worry, your pain will end soon”, Dunman said with a low, graveley whisper as he looked at the corpse of the raped woman crumpled in the corner of the small hut. “Though it’ll be more merciful than what you showed that woman over there.”
The dying man started coughing up blood in painful heaves. Through dying gasps, the man asked Dunman to finish him and let God take tally of his soul.
“Don’t let me turn into an undead for Satan’s will”, he begged.
Dunman shook his head slowly but sternly. “No, no, no. You’ll have wade out the fires of Hell before God will take stock of your soul.”
As he said “fires of Hell’, the flames finally broke through the thatched roof and began dripping hot streams of embers in the corner where the woman’s body had been dumped and soon began to be engorged in bright fire. The heat made Dunman turn away and the dying man to suddenly get louder in his pleas.
“Unturned! Only a devil would let another man die in this manner!” He screamed through bloody coughs.
Dunman looked at him with his pale-blue Unturned eyes, smiled, and exited the hut just as the burning thatch roof collapsed. A whoosh of air blew coals and embers, briefly lighting up the chaotic scene surrounding the hut.
Dunman thought he heard more screams of the dying man in the hut, but it could of been any number of screams from the grisly display illuminated around him. Bodies of dead children and raped women were dumped in the town center, all their heads cleaved off, with streams of blood flowing out. He could still hear the desperate screams of violated women echo off the hillsides in the valley where his old village had lied.
A man came at Dunman, his scream drowning out the others. A sign that this man lacked courage. He also lacked his head as Dunman cleaved it off at the neck with one forceful swipe. Dunman took a step to the left and allowed the headless body to fall down where he had just stood.
He looked at his once again messy sword and sighed.
All the huts in the town were now fully engulfed in flames, the only building still standing unlit was the great town hall on the small hillside, to the East of the town center. It was big enough to fit fifty or more in and the screams were coming from its direction. Dunman strode towards it.
Two men, obviously the short-straw drawers, were standing guard outside to make sure no one went in and ruined the other men's “fun”.
They instantly knew who Dunman was, his eyes and armor giving away his dark lethality. They pointed their spears at him, trembling with knowledge, again, of who Dunman was, but mostly of what Dunman could do.
Dunman threw one of his daggers, sticking into and through the skull of the taller of the two. As the taller man stumbled around, clearly at loss of balance from the puncture wound to his frontal lobe, the shorter guard tried to run and scream, but his sounds were gurgled out by a sword piercing through the back of his head and out through his gaping mouth.
Dunman peered inside the large hall and saw an orgy of blood, rape, and drunkenness. What made him sick to his stomach. This wasn’t a war, this was a massacre of humanity, an ugly side that few see but participate in too easily.
Dunman puked up what little bile he still had in his sour stomach. This was it. A rage filled inside him, the likes of which outshone the burning village below.
Dunman grabbed the barrel of tallow, sitting where it always had since he was a child, outside the main entrance and to the left, under the overhang outside, as to not choke the former townsfolk on its foul, flammable odor.
With all his strength, Dunman picked up that nearly full barrel of grease and fat, and carried it around the building, tossing the contents onto the newly thatched roof, the straw nice and dry, ahead of the coming winter storms. Dunman drenched the edges of the roof, allowing the thick tallow to drip and soak into the sides, making the intricate wooden carvings of bears, eagles, and wolves shine with a polished glow, reflecting back the flames of the village below.
All the while, Dunman could hear the screams and pleas, the begging for mercy of women amongst the dry laughter of men drinking stolen mead and grunting as they fucked stolen women.
Dunman knew most of these women, grew up with them, but he knew they couldn’t live after this. They all would have lit the match and dropped the flame on their own oil-soaked dresses if they could. Dunman had to light that fire for them.
He dropped the rest of the barrel, still about a quarter full, back around to the front of the main entrance. Grabbing a lit torch from its entrance grate, Dunman kicked the barrel with all of his strength and rage, crashing it through the heavy oaken doors and splashing its contents over everything and everyone inside, rapists and raped alike.
He saw familiar female eyes stare back. Eyes he had seen at large gatherings here in this very place. A few of the eyes he had gazed into under sparkling moonlight before a youthful kiss.
A single, unexpected tear fell from Dunman’s face as he dropped the torch into the spilled river of tallow.
The torch started a fast moving stream of flame that spread until the entire hall became a lake of fire in a matter of seconds. Heaving, choking screams came from within the popping heat and light. They soon suffocated and were silenced. A few bodies withered around, looking like flames dancing amongst flames. They soon stopped as well.
Dunman turned around, allowing the light of the blazing great hall to illuminate the slow burning remains of his childhood village. The cold air swirled with a crispy smell, like wood-smoked bacon.
Some charred undead had begun to rise from their ashy graves, not quite burnt enough to destroy their brains. He recognized the stabbed-groin man he had killed earlier, shambling through the smoldering ruins with burnt skin and glowing hot armor still smoking the newly Turned’s flesh.
This was not the homecoming Dunman had expected.
As he returned to his horse, tethered in the outlying woods, the great forests and its lumber his village used to be famous for, Dunman was angry. Angry that the men who should have been here, that should have protected their village, were dead. Killed in a war that he had survived among very few.
And this was their reward for their sacrifice; their legacy erased, their town razed, burned, and soon returned to the forest. Their women and children raped and killed. For an Unturned Slayer like Dunman, these emotions were rare, and they were hard to control.
He gave a heeled kick into his horses’ sides and pulled it towards the way back from where he had come. He deserved answers from his king.
The light of the burning village, glowing still from behind Dunman, was slowly replaced by the broken starlight glow of newly falling snow, as he left and vowed to never returned.
“The dead own it now”, he said aloud to the snow-fallen silence.