Crawling out from beneath the large door which concealed a deep cellar, Wulfgar heaved his way to freedom after hours of silence. He slid himself face-first through the dirt away from that cold hole he was thrown into by his father when the marauders first arrived. He had been alone in there since before dawn, oblivious as to what had transpired. His brother hadn’t returned from his hunting trip and his father hadn’t returned for him. The muffled cries and screams of the villagers had fallen silent hours ago, but the utter fear of what happened kept him in the cellar, hoping his father would return like he promised.
The door shut with a loud thud as his feet slid free. Pushing himself up to look around, Wulfgar could only see the smoke and haze tarnished by the mid-morning sun lingering around him. His home had been gashed wide open by some large force, exposing the interior to the opaque air. Something warm ran down his lips and chin tasting slightly of salt and polluted with dirt. Rubbing a hand across his mouth he saw that his nose was still bleeding after hitting the floor of the cellar hard when he was forcibly lifted and thrown inside to hide him from the marauders.
“I’ll be back for you!” Those were his father’s last words to him before he left to combat the raiders with the other men.
Fear washed over him as he decided to leave the darkened safety of that hole, but the apprehension was overwhelming. Wulfgar now stood alone in the murk of morning, trying to overcome his feelings of sorrow and pain. He felt as though he had deserted his father by remaining in the cellar. His gut wrenched terribly from guilt as if he would vomit, though he hadn’t eaten since the night before.
He slowly shuffled out of where the front of his house used to be, collecting a hatchet his father left behind on the ground near where the door had been. Carefully he stepped through the gloom and carnage noticing the roaring flames which consumed houses and stables. The ashy fog assaulted his lungs and leached tears from his eyes while he came across the bodies of villagers and Vith strewn about in hacked and bloodied fashion. The stench of gore and putrefaction crept up his nostrils and seemed to cauterize the ruptured blood vessels. It further roused his guts as if summoning him to vomit in retaliation to sensing fetid odors.
Wulfgar’s cool green eyes recognized some of the pieces of people he had known scattered across the lanes. The blacksmith of the village seemed most intact, though his mid-section was opened wide and his flesh appeared gnarled. The eight-year-old boy stooped down to close the man’s eyes while tears burst from his own. He shuddered at feeling the blacksmith’s cold face and seeing his lifeless remains desecrated in a beastly manner.
Rising to his full height, Wulfgar sniffed hard and cringed at the pain he revived in his nose. The blood flowed steadily down his face again, angering him to the point of ferocious rage. He found the nearest Vith corpse and savagely ripped his helmet off exposing a stony pale face twisted into a macabre death mask. In one mighty swing he buried the hatchet in the cadaver’s face. The spray of cool dark blood erupted from the deep wound and covered the boy’s face. It both sickened and inspired him to continue striking at the dead Vith repeatedly. Crying out as feral as his lungs could allow, Wulfgar continued his attack for a long while until his arms could no longer wield the hatchet.
Satisfied, he left the mutilated body and searched for his father, wandering the littered streets. Tears sent streaks of dirt, soot, and blood down his face compounding his grizzled features. His dark hair was likewise mottled with dirt and sweat. His guilt was replaced with emptiness as he roamed about aimlessly, wearing himself down with exhaustion by further mutilating other Vith bodies he found.
His life was forever altered by one massive raid by the animal-like Vith who walked and appeared like men, but had the hearts of fiends. Those cursed vampires who ate raw flesh of men and beasts raided many of the frontier towns and villages for years. They would usually take the livestock, but have lately been taking the inhabitants. However, this case was different as they had eaten here.
Fighting back his sobs he continued to wander aimlessly until he heard voices from somewhere in the murkiness. They were indiscernible and growing louder.
Grip tightening on the hatchet, Wulfgar ached to slay a live Vith to avenge his father. He found strength anew as adrenaline coursed through his veins and powered his fatigued body. He also accepted the fact that he may be about to die, but it did not matter so long as he slew at least one Vith. His eyes hardened and filled with hate while his lips curled back in a defiant sneer as the moment of truth approached.
Out of the haze appeared a lone figure unlike what he had expected to find. The silhouette was average in height for a man and not quite as wiry as was common for a Vith. This man was cloaked in heavy cloth unlike the mailed Vith and did not wear their helmet.
The smoke gradually cleared as a breeze picked up, enabling Wulfgar to discern more features of this newcomer. The man appeared young, perhaps in his early twenties, although the rough stubbles on his face ultimately deemed it impossible to tell. His dark tousled hair was apparently spattered with sweat and gore, clinging to his skull while fresh bindings covered an unseen wound over his right eye. The man assumed a solid narrow stance with his left hand on the pommel of the sword at his hip. His cloak flowed gently in the breeze while he remained stoic and silent.
Other figures appeared behind him, garbed in similar dress and just as still. They stood like frightened animals who recently sensed danger, but that was just an appearance. He wasn’t sure how many there were, only that they were not Vith.
The man in front broke the silence between them. “There is nothing left for you here, boy. Come with us, we will take you to safety.”
Wulfgar slowly approached the man, wrapping arms about his waist and burying his face into his side. He sobbed as quietly as he could unable to stifle them anymore.
Putting a hand on his head, the man gently spoke, “I know. One day you will understand the pain.”
Drawing back to look into the man’s eyes, the boy said shakily, “I am Wulfgar.”
“I am Vanghaus.” ©
Prologue from my as yet untitled book, 10-MAY-11. Let me know what you think.