“In Stone They Wait” | Novella | Written by Scott Moore | 4 - Mishmashers Mishmashers

“In Stone They Wait” | Novella | Written by Scott Moore | 4

Tin went red in the cheeks over his boyish fit of rage. “I was wrong to get so angry. You saw what it did to me.”

The guardian nodded. “Yes, you will have to learn to control it, but it was not wrong. No, it convinced me to fight. I cannot sit down and let him win. Not after seeing the gods die with my own eyes. Watching my brothers and sisters die at his hands.” The guardian stood to his feet. “You were right. This world is worth saving. Even if only but a sliver at a time,” His passion was on edge, but Tin’s had faded away.

“Will you still stand beside me?” The man held out his hand.

Tin felt the heavy burden upon his back. Let the people have one last hope. Do not hold them down out of his fear. He shoved his hand forward. “You have my sword,” it sounded more story bookish. In reality, Tin could not hold a sword. Nor was he sure any still existed. His gun would be at his hip during a war, but even then he was a poor shot. He shook the hanging hand.

“We will do our best. If we lose at least we tried.” Tin smiled. He foretold no way they could win a war, but he smiled anyhow.

“Sire,” the man had sneaked up behind them both. Tin jumped. The guardian did not seem to mind the intrusion. He sat back into his seat. “Ducaul wishes a word with you both, something big is happening.”

His eyes scanned the surface of the area. He could feel them here. Their bodies had not breathed life in years, but he could feel their presence lurking. Stuck here, without the gods; they had nowhere to turn. He drew in their energy. It made him feel alive. He had not felt the joys of life in over three thousand years, and now he drew in each breath with anticipation.

His feet slapped against their graves. He would draw them up. He would put them to use. No they would not be strong. They would be weak, and he could not draw them all, not yet. His power was not quite full, but he could draw enough. They would fall quickly again. The dead had that about them, what was dead always wished to return to their demise.

He moved further into the middle of the land. He could see the life that used to abide these lands. The trees, the animals, the people; he despised it all. He had set in motion their end, and now he would see it complete. He raised his hands into the air. He could feel the pulsing beneath his feet. They would come in droves to him. The souls of those trapped with nowhere to run. He raised his arms higher and chanted under his breath. He would use them to end the last of them. He would see the last human squished under his heel, and that guardian would perish with them.

The ground below him began to rumble. It was time. Time for the end of life; his war won. The cracks formed around him; leaving him encased in a circle of dirt. Wisps began to form above the ground. Green and transparent; almost as if they glowed, they were his weapons. Not by choice, but they would do his bidding; then they would return to their torture.

The minutes passed, and the ground stopped. He looked around. Thousands of wisps gathered around him. Not nearly as many as he had hoped, but they would do. He closed his hands and lowered them to his side. He spoke the simple command to the surrounding army.

“March!” and the masses began to move.

Tin sat in his war chambers. The table had been covered in a thin layer of grime, it still left his bare fingers feeling sticky and wet. The chambers had never been used before this day. He had never set eyes on the wall hangings of fearless knights and their lances. He had never witnessed a picture of a war horse or cannon. He surely knew they did not exist anymore.

Across from his seat, sat Ducaul and the Guardian. Both were quiet at the moment. When minutes before both had been so adamant for him to decide; he was king, but he did so poorly at it. He felt like bouncing his head off the table, but he refrained.

“I don’t know,” they both looked at him with frustration. “I am sorry, who would have thought yesterday that an army of undead would be marching towards the walls?” He was being cornered, and he didn’t like it. He wasn’t even a good king, why would he make good wartime decisions. Ducaul should have been king. “I don’t know,” neither of them spoke. Since his rant the day before they both expected him to be more adamant. To have passion and desire, he wasn’t even sure where that person came from; let alone where he went.

“I will think on it.”

Ducaul shifted but remained silent. It was the Guardian who spoke. “You have not much time.”

Ducaul looked towards the man and nodded his agreement. “It will be scarcely two days before they arrive.”

Tin felt like the ceiling was falling in on him. “Let me take a brief leave. I will answer before the sun sets today.” They both let him know in looks they were not pleased, but he had nothing else to give them, and so he stood. The door creaked. Then it shut behind him. He wiped his forehead that was drenched in sweat. He hated being king.

His feet carried him outside the castle walls. He found the gates to the old gardens. Where flowers used to bloom and the smells would set you on a peaceful journey. Now they were filled with barrels of oil and coal. The last of their supplies; once it ran out, they would not even be able to use the machines. Not that it would matter since they would be dead in a matter of two days anyhow.

“Fancy meeting you here,” Tierney popped up in the weirdest of places sometimes, and now was one of them. Tin nodded his head in greeting. “How are things going?”

He stopped walking. “Aside from the mass of dead marching towards our walls; well everything is grand.” He was harsher than he had meant to be. He started walking again. His anger was catching up to him.

“Well, you can at least spend the last days with me.” Tin looked at her. She was smiling from ear to ear. Her brown hair was put into a ponytail behind her soft face. She was like a little girl who had found a new toy.

“You are extremely too happy about this.” He turned again. She was infectious though. She skipped up next to him and he smiled a small smile.

“You know I love you?” the smile disappeared. She was relentless.

“I love you too, Tierney, as a good friend should.”

She rolled her eyes at his response. “That isn’t what I mean and you know it.”

He turned away from her. “Like a king loves his people?”

She kicked the dirt beneath her slippered toes. “Like a king loves his queen?” She said. Tin bit his lip. Wasn’t the horde of dead enough? Did he really need this as well? He would have loved to sweep her from her feet and take her to his chambers, but it was not a choice.

Her hand found his, and he did not move away. There was no use fighting her here. He moved along the old garden paths. She was content holding his hand and walking. He looked at the surrounding walls. To think of the beauty lost.

“What do you think they looked like?”

Tin pulled back from his thoughts. “Huh?”

She motioned with her free hand. “The flowers, I bet they were beautiful from the tops of these walls. Staring down at them you could see them all at once.”

Tin nodded. “Yes, I bet they were a sight to see. All bunched together. From the walls, it would be easy to spot them all.” Tin stopped moving. “That is it!” he dropped Tierney’s hand and turned. Before he knew it, his feet were carrying him through the garden paths and back towards the castle walls. He could hear Tierney behind him, but he did not stop to explain.

He found Ducaul and The Guardian in the war room where he had left them. He stopped, his breath slowing, the tube was not meant for fits of sudden activity. He caught his breath and managed not to faint from lack of air. The two men stared at him bewildered.

“What is it, your grace?”

Tin straightened his posture, “I think I know what to do,” Ducaul looked confused, but the Guardian stood.

“Then let us prepare.”

“Ducaul bring your men and everyone in the city to the walls.” Ducaul looked at Tin as if he was crazy. “Everyone, Ducaul,” Ducaul stood and moved off to do his task.

The Guardian followed. Tin sat down in his chair and let his lungs rest. He closed his eyes and prayed to the dead gods that this would work.

He brought them within sight of the gates. They had not even bothered to close them. He laughed at how stupid the humans could be. He wondered if he would meet The Guardian here as well. He could finish him once and for all.

The gates creaked open easily. Not even a barrier to try to block the advance. Maybe he had caught them unaware. He laughed at their slaughter. It calmed his insides. The death of the humans would be eminent and pleasing.

His dead army marched through the gates. He followed them into the city. He did not eye a single man, woman, or child. He turned and looked behind him, there was nothing. No sign of a fleeing army, they could not have vanished. He looked towards the castle; they would hide in the biggest building, like rats. He had remembered rats and their scared manner. He chuckled comparing the humans to them. He had to admit they were the hardest creatures to kill, but soon they too would be gone.

He marched his army further into the city gates. The last of them trickled in behind him. As the last wisp moved into the city, the big wooden doors shut behind him. He looked around. How could that be? What had closed the doors? Then without warning, he heard them. The humans had tricked him. They sat on the walls. He heard their bullets whizzing past him. His army dropped like the dead they were. He let out a scream.

The man in black screamed loudly and Tin aimed directly for him. His bullet missed. A flash of light came from the man’s hand. The Guardian blocked it. Tin let out a sigh of relief. He aimed again and his bullet missed again. He moved off for easier targets and the dead dropped. He killed rows of them. Then as he took in the chaos, he realized there were barely a handful of them left already. His plan had worked. He stood and looked towards his men. Not a single scratch upon them. He turned his back and then he felt it, the ice grabbed his spine, and the light blinded his eyes, and then he was falling. In the midst of his fall, he saw The Guardian reaching out. He had tried to stop it, but it was too late. Tin hit the ground.

The Guardian jumped down, following Tin. He was too late. The King was dead. He looked towards The Reaper. He shot light directly at him. The Reaper was too fast. He moved. His eyes alighted on the dead King. The guardian could feel his elation. Then he looked around him again. His army was dead. The Guardian took his shot. The white beam grazed The Reapers shoulder. He howled in pain. The Guardian moved forward. He would end this now. The Reaper shook his head. He was hurt, but not nearly bad enough. He waved his hands, and in a puff of smoke, he was gone. The Guardian sighed. Victory often had its defeats.

Following the war, Ducaul became The King. Tierney married him a summer later and became The Queen. The Guardian stayed by their side and protected the land. The following summer, the first rays of sunlight poked through the clouds. The war was won. The Reaper was not dead, but he was weakened. That allowed the world to breathe. They buried Tin inside the garden walls. They were amazed at the sight of the first tree they had ever seen sprouting from his grave.

Previous Page |