Announcing: Innistrad Anthology

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The plane of Innistrad. A year ago the angelic protector Avacyn disappeared mysteriously. Now humanity is on the edge of extinction, and the darkness is fast closing in.


With the Alara Anthology wrapping up, I think it’s time for a new anthology. Since Innistrad is one of the most flavorful blocks ever, it is the perfect candidate for its very own anthology.


The goal is to get to 30 stories.


Rules:


* People can submit any number of stories.


* The stories must relate to Innistrad in some manner. (For example: It shouldn’t just be a backdrop for a planeswalker’s story)


* The stories should be short, 4 or 5 pages max. Longer stories might be split off into stand alone stories.


* All stories are subject to review and voting before being accepted. We want to keep the quality of stories in the anthology high.


* While this is mainly a short story collection, poetry, artwork, and any other form of expression is welcome.

Helpful hints:


* If you are having trouble coming up with an idea, check out the card from Innistrad block. Write a story around one.


* Check out the Planeswaker’s guide to Innistrad. It is a great resource for information on the races and cultures of Innistrad.


* Try to avoid established characters. A story that involves an established character will be held to a higher standard then those that don’t.


* Have fun with it. Don’t feel obligated to write a long story, we want quality over quantity


* Discuss the stories in the thread. And talk about future stories you’re working on

INNISTRAD STORIES:



SCARS BLOCK STORIES:


* Many Stories taken from previous Innistrad short story Contests






The Horror Within: Innistrad Short Stories

Innistrad Short Story Celebration

Together, I know we can make a great anthology to capture the spirit of Innistrad block.

… and then, the squirrels came.

Alchemist's song
by Skibo 


Grab your shovel, hold it tight,
we'll go and rob a grave tonight.
Grab the rope, and crow bars too,
we've got some dirty work to do.


Some might say I'm led astray,
but truth be told I lead the way.
Why should grisly dead decide,
when we end this mortal ride? 


The blessed sleep, they like to preach,
Is a right we can not breach.
As though an angel's divine decree,
can save them from reality. 


For if they only knew what fate,
within the ground, their graves await.
To linger long, and rot away,
Hidden from the light of day. 


But I reject that naive trend,
For me the grave is not an end.
I do the work that they abhor.
I will not cower at death's door, 


You've seen my works, their width, their breathe,
Have made a mockery of death.
And though my works may seem profane,
I've become a king in death's domain 


And so in time, my friend as I,
Will redefine what it means to die.
So let's not speak of wrong or right,
Let's go and rob a grave tonight.

… and then, the squirrels came.
Uh, excuse me Skibo, but you don't bloody set policy and direction for the EM.
You are acting well outside your realm of authority at dictating the projects we'll work on as a group.

While we aren't, in totality, against this idea, you need to run it by us first before you act and especially before you decide details.
Aside from that, this is a different era or activity for this board. Thirty is unreasonably optimistic.
I've got several stories in the works for this, and i do want to write a second poem, probably about Avacyn's return.
… and then, the squirrels came.

The Banker and the Geist
Skibo

Eric Cole turned the key to lock his bank. The sun had set, and already the lamplighters were out. He pulled his jacket closed as he stashed he keys. The night air was brisk, unseasonably cold.




The street lamp flames danced as he passed. When all at once those at the end of the street snuffed out. Within the shadows Eric could make out the outline of a man. Lamps behind him extinguished. Then more. Then the final lamp, right outside the bank flickered and went dark.




Eric stood in darkness. He stood breathless, fearful to move, to breathe, to think. Slowly, a voice whispered over the wind,




“Avacyn, the strong and pure
Take my troubles from this world”




“Jacob?” Eric gasped trying to pull the word back in. But the words were gone, echoing supernaturally down the street. He felt a claw reach into his chest and twist his heart. The sharp pain brought him to his knees.




And then the icy hand loosened its grip and let him free. Eric felt his chest to find no blood. He stumbled home and locked the door.




He removed his jacket and collapsed into his arm chair. A fire was already roaring as he examined his chest. The only mark upon it was frost bite, right above his heart.




“Is this a bad time Mr. Cole?” said Mrs. Putnam, the housekeeper.




“No, come in.” Eric buttoned his shirt.




Mrs. Putnam placed Mr. Cole’s dinner on the side table and turned to leave.




“Mrs. Putnam, please sit with me a spell,” he said softly.




“Yes your lordship,” Mrs. Putnam sat by the stool near the fire, “Is there something you’d like to discuss?”




“Mrs. Putnam, what do you think about geists?”




Mrs. Putnam sat quietly, “Well I guess I think about them like a think about people. Some are good, some are bad.”




“You think geists are like people?”




“Sure, I’ve heard stories of fathers dragging their families out of burning buildings, and I’ve heard stories of geists murdering people. It seems to me that what a person is like in life, that’s what he’ll be in death.” Mrs. Putnam stoked the fire.




Eric spoke, “I was attacked tonight. Outside the bank. The lights went out and something reached into my chest and grabbed my heart. I could sense so much… anger.” He trembled. “I thought it was going to kill me.”




“Mr. Cole these things are not uncommon. Just last week her ladyship Mercy had a vagabond ghost in his basement, breaking bottles. You should really come home before sunset.”




“The anger was directed. The geist wanted me,” Eric said.




“Perhaps it was Mr. Timely, he was very angry when you closed his account.”




“It was Jacob,” Eric admitted, “Jacob attacked me.”




“Your brother!” Mrs. Putnam said, “That man was a saint. He would never harm you or anyone else. You’ve just had a traumatic experience, you’re not thinking straight,  sleep on it, you’ll feel better in the morning.”




“You’re right,” Eric said, getting up. “I’m sure it was just a stranger.”




Mr. Cole walked up the stairs and settled into his bed. He snuffed out his light and rested. At midnight the windows flew open. Eric sat up in bed, as the wind whipped the sheets from him. A shadowy figure loomed over him, grabbed his throat and lifted him into the air.




“Jacob, don’t do this,” Eric gasped, “Don’t do this Jacob, don’t.”




The geist opened its mouth, but all that came out was a howl and dust. Its grip tightened.




The door swung open as Mrs. Putnam walked into the door. She threw a silver necklace at the geist. It howled in pain and released its grip. Eric reached into his nightstand and pulled out a blessed dagger, slashing at the spirit. It retreated out the window.




Eric got out of bed, “Mrs. Putnam, I want you to get packed and stay in the guest house. I will have a cathar come tomorrow. Until then, I don’t want you in the house.” He placed the dagger next to the pillow.




“Do you think that’s a good idea?” Mrs. Putnam asked.




“That thing is after me. I don’t want you to get hurt.” He ushered her out the door.




In the morning he sent a message to the local church to send out a cathar. At noon the man came dressed in a heavy cloak, decorated with blessed silver.




“Mr. Cole,” the main said, “I am Hast, a trained specialist in the removal of geists, and the slaying of werewolves. May I come in?”




Eric ushered him into the foyer, “Thank you for coming Hast.”




“I am told you have an especially troublesome geist,” Hast said, “It attacked you outside the bank, and again in your bedroom. Is there anyone who might have a grudge against you?”




“No, no one I can think of. A few angry clients, but no one who would try to murder me.”




“You’re brother died two weeks ago, did he not?” Hast said. “What were the circumstances of his death.”




“He died at sea, on a trip. It was very sudden.”




“And what was your relationship with your brother?” Hast pried.




“It was fine. I loved my brother.” Eric said adamantly, “I don’t know who this thing was, but it wasn’t Jacob.”




Hast stared coldly at Eric, “I find this level of aggression is normally a reaction to an extreme act against the geist. Something like a murder. Are you sure you don’t have anything to confess?”




“I didn’t murder anyone,” Eric said.




“We will set up in your bedroom and wait for nightfall.” Hast motioned towards the stairs, “Lead the way.”




Hast finished preparing himself to excise the geist. Night had fallen, and both men prepared for the spirit to arrive.




“How do these things normally go?” Eric asked.




“It depends on the ghost. Some go peacefully, some lash out. I’ve seen many cathars die by the hands of geists.”




The candles dimmed, as an unseen force began knocking at the window. Hast moved towards the center of the room, putting himself between the window and Eric. “Be gone vicious spirit, this world has nothing to offer you. Leave this man and his house, come no more.” The knocking stopped. Then dust began falling from the ceiling. Hast looked up to see the ceiling cracking.




In an instant the cracks spread out across the ceiling, down the walls. The floor shuddered tossing Eric to the floor. Hast kept his stance.




A black mass manifested above Eric. Hast threw a silver amulet at it, causing it to reel back in pain. It retreated out of the bedroom and into a closet.




Hast flung open the door and peered up a staircase leading up, “Where does this lead?” he asked.




Eric got up, “The attic. But there’s nothing up there.”




Hast pulled a torch from his belt and lit it on a candle, he mounted the stairs leading up to the attic. The torch banished the clinging darkness, as he carefully picked around the room, a keen eye for unnatural shadows.




“What is this?” he said gesturing at the objects covered in sheets.




“Furniture mostly,” Eric hesitated.




Hast grabbed a sheet and pulled. Beakers, flasks, burners, and tubes came into sight. Forbidden chemicals, and equipment. “Alchemy!” Hast snapped.




The door to the attic slammed shut, and the air chilled.




“Of course.” Hast said, “it all makes sense.” He pulled a dagger, “You killed him. You killed your brother and now he’s after you.”




“That’s not true, I loved my brother!”




“What happened?” Hast asked, “Did he find your laboratory?”




“No!”




“Did he tell you he was going to the authorities?”




“No!”




“You had to kill him. It was the only way out.”




“No, that’s not true.”




“What is the truth then Eric. What’s the truth!”




“It’s his. The lab…. It’s Jacob’s.” Eric collapsed. “He was sick… he had problems. I covered it up. It seemed so harmless. He just experimented on animals. But then he tried to recreate vampirism. It was poison. He died and I panicked. I couldn’t let anyone know what he did, what he was. It would ruin me. I buried the body and made up the story of how he was lost at sea. Oh Avacyn help me, I didn’t mean for all this.” Eric broke down sobbing.




The light of the torch began to wane as the darkness forced itself towards the men. “Eric,” Hast said, “this is very important. Where did you bury the body?”




“The basement, I buried him in the basement.”




“We have to get to the basement on consecrate that grave. His spirit won’t rest until we do.” Hast grabbed Eric’s arm. “Eric, snap out of it. I need your help. We can’t lay your brother’s spirit to rest until we sanctify his grave.”




Eric stumbled to his feet, as Hast kicked in the door. At once the room exploded as glassware flew across the room. Eric and Hast shielded their heads as they ran down the stairs. In the hallway, furniture flipped over, and walls cracked, the banister going down the stairs lashed out, throwing Eric against the wall. But both men endured and reached the first floor. A supernatural howl began and grew louder as the men ran through the house to reach the basement stairs. Eric felt invisible hand reach out to grasp him, but he wretched free and continued on. They had to get to the basement.




Hast was the first to reach the basement door, and flinging it open was hit by a blast of darkness. Blinded the cathar felt his way down the stairs. Eric followed slamming the basement door behind him.




“I’m blind,” Hast said as he placed his foot on the dirt of the basement.




“Can you still purify the grave?” Eric asked.




“Yes, just bring me to it,” Hast said. Above the basement door rattled as if a strong wind were gusting just on the other side.




Eric guided Hast to a corner of the basement freshly dug up. “It’s here” he said.




Hast pulled a vial of water and sprinkled it on the spot. “Avacyn, whose light shines both day and night, I ask you to sanctify this ground,” at this the basement door was wrenched from its hinges and thrown down the stairs. A sickle on the wall three off and lodged into Hast’s back. The cathar grunted, and collapsed, but continued the prays.




The spirit manifested over the fallen cathar, hand clutching the sickle. It twisted the blade, taking pleasure in the grunts of the cathar as he continued his prays.




“Stop it!” Eric said, “Jacob this isn’t you. You were sick, but I know there’s good in you. Remember when we were children? The song? You were singing it alone. Sing it with me now.”




“Avacyn, the strong and pure
Take my troubles from this world
Take this veil from my eyes,
Help me see the truth from lies.
Protect my soul when I am to pass,
And let my soul forever rest.
Avacyn, the strong and pure
Take my troubles from this world”




Hast finished the pray. Eric could see his brother vanishing. “Good bye Jacob” he whispered. The spirit vanished completely.




Eric helped Hast to his carriage. “Mr. Cole, your brother’s body will have to be buried in a sanctified graveyard. I will send someone to recover it.”




“I understand” said Eric. “I don’t suppose you could say his body was found at sea.”




“No,” Hast said, “But I don’t see any reason to mention his experiments.”




The driver flicked the reins and the horses began trudging down the street. Down the street Eric could see the sun rising on a new day.


… and then, the squirrels came.

Un Bon Vein Rouge


TPmanW




2011-09-29




English 3360




The prey are tense today. There’s a certain tension in the air that lends them that most exquisite smell, almost as if I’ve already chased them down. A man’s blood is sweetest when seasoned with the bitter tang of adrenaline, just before the lactic acids can build up. Today the whole town seems on edge, nervous, ready to take flight.




“You’ve picked a fine evening to survey your territories, my lord”




Cool, cloudy, a sharp breeze coming from the South. “Indeed, I think I’ll do my hunting alone tonight, Jefferies you are excused”.




Jefferies smiles at me knowingly. “Very well sir, I’ll instruct the coach to pick you up at the usual time and place”.




It may not be befitting for a vampire of my rank to chase his own prey, but after last night’s grand feast I think I just might need to work an my appetite before I can gorge myself anymore.




As I take up my great coat and step out of the carriage I can’t help but feel a surge of excitement. A young lord again tonight, I hunt my own prey. I feel the smile play across my lips. There is a certain dangerous excitement to the whole notion.




                The small town of Anteil is the Southernmost in my barony. The smell of the vineyards lies heavy on the land. Rich, earthy and sweet. Delicious, like the folk that feed from it. The profits of the wine trade have ensured not a house I pass goes by without at least a coat of whitewash. The cobble stones in the town square, well-fit and rain slick, reflect the last rays of the setting sun.




As soon as I enter the town square they sense my presence. All eyes on their lord.




                Clack, clack, clack




My footsteps echo through a silent town striding among them in full royal regalia. Crimson and gold, maroon and silver. Trimmings in black and burgundy. I let them know me by sight. I want to savour their fear. I want to take in the briny tang of cold sweat that floats in the air. It’s not the only thing I smell. I should have my men pass through, instil in these people the cold fear that smothers the hot rage of rebellion.




The villagers glower at me behind cover like mongrel dogs backed into a corner.  Last week’s festivities have fallen particularly hard on this little burg. I saved the blood of the good wine-fed folk of Anteil for a very special occasion, and what their numbers were spared through the years had come back to them tenfold for the Low Moon’s banquet. As I draw near a large gathering of prey they hold still like frightened deer.




I study each of them in turn.  The old merchant behind his stall, his face rough as gravel, his hair the same colour as the many knives lain out on the table before him, the usual group of wiry old farmers passed over in the selections for my feast, the taut-faced youth, straining to control himself in the presence of his lord.  The last one in particular catches my eye.




I turn up my nose and let out an all too audible sniff of contempt, baiting the mongrel dog so I can enjoy the sight of him fighting to show the self control to stand still and do nothing in the presence of his lord. Oh the hate in his eyes. True to Southern stock he has some spine; he stands proud and does not flee. He merely tugs on his armband intensely- traditional black for mourning, with a fierce ribbon of red across it. Most curious, so many of the black bands here have that unexplained stripe of hot, fiery red splayed across them. The significance of it is lost on me, but surely it is of no importance.




The lad holds fast. I make the first move.




… and then, the squirrels came.

Consummare


JasonValdor




Eristaf traversed the forest silently, his black cape billowing behind him. To his right, mountains loomed. Above him, a full moon bathed the world in its milky radiance. Somewhere, a wolf howled. To another man, Eristaf might have been mistaken for a spirit, doomed to wander its woods until such a day that it could be released. In a way, Eristaf was a spirit. A spirit bound to flesh, doomed to Innistrad’s darkness until such a night that it could be delivered from its prison of a body.




And that night was tonight.




In front of him, swiftly moving by his side as he strode through the trees, a wolf growled and bared its teeth, slavering over what would soon be its dinner. But nothing would harm Eristaf tonight. That had been assured.




Eristaf thought of his parents as he traveled. Ever so high nobility of humans, they were. They were raised inside the walls of Thraben, just as they had raised him there. Fortunes were made and prayers were given, and they had sat on their wealth for forty-five years. Their lives had been without purpose.




Eristaf thought of his brother as he traveled. He’d joined the guards of Thraben at a young age, hoping to find his purpose. Oaths were taken, and he was assigned to a city watch position. And his life had been without purpose.




Eristaf thought of himself as he traveled. He’d taken to scholaring when he’d been old enough to read, hoping to find answers to questions long asked. Books had been read, and knowledge gained. But still, his life had been without purpose.




Eristaf thought of when he’d left home, leaving the rules behind for the first time in his seventeen years. His mother had been up, and asked where he was going. He remembered his mother’s breath leaving her body as his hands clenched at her throat.




Eristaf thought of when he’d escaped from Thraben, freedom for the first time in his seventeen years. His brother had been on watch. He remembered his brother’s blood flowing around his dagger as it pierced his heart.




Eristaf thought of when he’d walked through the valley and found his father, ignoring his commands for the first time in his seventeen years. He had been blessing a grave in a graf that was within sight of the city. He remembered his father slowly going silent as his throat was slit.




They’d been without purpose. He had been without purpose. But now, he had a purpose.




He reached the edge of the forest, standing at the base of a mountain cave, and a red glow welcomed him inside.




He reached the edge of a deep pit, rimmed by fire and illuminated by a fire too deep for any to see.




He reached his end, when a hand appeared from behind him and pushed him in.




“Welcome, servant of Griselbrand, to your destiny.”

… and then, the squirrels came.

erdana, sans-serif">Requiem for an angel




erdana, sans-serif">by Cai-ann




erdana, sans-serif">When angels despair, what hope can remain for mortals?”







erdana, sans-serif">'She is gone' For almost a year that had been the only thought that had travelled through her mind. At first she had continued her duty as an angel of Flight Alabaster but now she could not bring herself to give false hope to those the she would have appeared to.







erdana, sans-serif">'Avacyn, why did you order the Flight of Goldnight to stand down? Why did you take him on alone? You must have know he had a plan......No of course you didn't if you had know you wouldn't have engaged him in combat.' Even in her mind the angel was hysterical.







erdana, sans-serif">For centuries she had served Avacyn with her entire being and now their hope, their light was gone. Pulled into darkness but the most foul of beings.







erdana, sans-serif">'Avacyn..... where are you?' For barley a moment confusion reigned on the creature of lights face.




erdana, sans-serif">erdana, sans-serif">'She is gone.' The angel lay of the foot of and statue of their hope and wept.

… and then, the squirrels came.

Dear and Decorations
by ???

In Innistrad, the Sun is the gold to the Moon's silver. Paler than in countless other worlds, it wasn't as white hot as much as it was of a more golden, milder tone; it was more certainly a more obvious source of life than of order. Still, it was strong enough to push aside most vampires and undead, during the season of mankind at least.

Still, in its glory, and while certainly the habringer of safety, it did not held as much cultural importance as the Moon. The Moon became sacred to Avacyn, the guardian angel of Innistrad's humans, bearer of the holy mark of the heron and of the sacred silver to kill all  monsters. Yet its light also revealed werewolves amidst men. It was a vicious cycle, the silvery light that created hope and despair. It is perhaps why it was more relevant in these struggles against the predators of mankind; the Sun was an illusion of confort, the Moon was the reminder of brutality.

It was this relevance in the struggle why the leader of Avacyn's church was designated Lunarch; the highest servant of the angel observed the phases of the Moon, empowered the silver weapons and their bearers, and reforced the spiritual strength of the faithful under the light of the Moon. In days now gone, he was the single most powerful cleric amidst all, his faith in their angel allowing him to commit many holy banishments of beasts and undead alike. Yet, perhaps ironically, his strength began to wane, as did the strength of all of the church; several seasons ago, Avacyn was gone, and with it the most obvious enhancer of their faith powered magic. With her departure, the magic of the clerics lost much strength, and eventually they too fell prey to the horrors.

The current Lunarch, Mikaeus, knew all too well what happened to his master, but the reason of her disappearence was sealed shut within his lips.

Daily did he practised the rituals teached to him, attempting to revitalise the might of his holy warriors and priests. An entire room in the Cathedral's tower was exclusive to him and his magical practises. There, thousands of candles provided a golden light not unlike the Sun's; for quite a while had Mikaeus been experimenting with them. It started as something of an unorthodox take on his usual rituals, and now had expanded into a few new spells of his design. He wondered if this was heresy, although he did not find it very likely; the mana for his spells was drawn from the Moon and from the Cathedral itself, sources of holy power. He had recently began drawing power from the flames of the candles, and they felt similar, although more intense in quality; he was aware that fire was associated with chaotic types of magic, but ultimately so was the Moon to some extent, what with turning people into werewolves and destroying protective spells. To him, it felt like both order and chaos were closely tied, that they were both represented in the light of the Moon and of the flames; so much potential to be found, and required in these dark times.

Suddenly, a bell rang.

Footsteps could be heard, nervous in tone.

A youth kneeled.

"G-great excellency, we need you."

The Lunarch turned. While he was not a particularly tall man, his holy aura was defenitely imponent, and the person kneeling before him was a young teenager, a boy training to become a member of the cathars dedicated to protect the Cathedral. The youth was for the first time in front of the leader of Innistrad's main religion, a great honour infected with the possibility of humiliation. At best, that is.

The Lunarch raised the youth's chin, and gave a reassuring smile, relaxing the youth somewhat. The boy had a silver dagger in his left hand.

"I suppose we are under attack, are we not?"

The boy nodded. Mikaeus motioned for him to rise, and lead the way. They walked up the tower, climbing the spiralling stairs, until they reached the highest place availiable, a balcony right under the golden surface that covered the top of the cathedral. The sky was dark, illuminated by the white light of the Moon; fly around were vampires, an unusual sight so far from Stensia. Battling the vampiric menace were griffins and archons.

"Any attackers on the ground?"

"Undead, but they haven't entered holy ground."

Mikaeus looked farther. Zombies were piling up around the gates; so far the cathars have been proficient at keeping them at bay, with the magic of the clerics empowering them and their silver weapons. Yet, one who has witnessed the might of the clerics when Avacyn was around could easily see how much might had been lost; what once took minutes to solve was now a legitimate battle.

Suddenly, a loud crash.

A newly sired vampire had landed in a roof above, and was climbing down. She was a newly sired vampire, her hair and eyes glowing with a red light, and her skin with a bluish/greenish tone. She did not have any semblance of a rational mind, something she had lost and would have to readquire as a vampire. Little more than a mindless beast - like a werewolf, amusingly enough -, she bared her fangs, covered in the blood of a now dead archer.

Wasting no time, the Lunarch grabbed the blade of the boy's dagger, and chanted, his mind focusing on the cathedral itself. The blade began to glow. The hand went up the dagger and grasped the youth's hand.

The vampire jumped, landing on the balcony, inches away from the Lunarch. Her hands grasped tightly the balustrade, avoiding to slip. The boy whimpered in fear, too petrified to act. But it was not a problem. Before the vampire had the chance to leave the  balustrade, the dagger was slicing her arm. Screaming in pain as her flesh burned, she carelessly fell down the balcony, not to be seen again, at least that night.

"You did great for a first kill."

"T-thanks" the youth blushed.

The Lunarch turned to the skies once more, and opened his arms, returning to his chanting. He could clearly see the Moon and its landscape, and drew white mana from it into the griffins and archons fighting the vampires. In times gone, this boost had made warriors extremely powerful fighters, able to slay the monsters with immense ease, and even now it was sufficient to guarantee the victory. Yet, he feared that this too would loose strength over time.

"Have the cathars warned you that you are too young to fight?"

"Well, obviously they did."

"Good. They have not degenerated into extremists yet."

They hurried down the stairs, passing through the main halls as quickly as possible. They are greeted by one of the cathars, the mentor of the boy, who hugs the youth. He then notices the blood on the dagger.

"Just so that you know, you're still staying here."

Strangely, the young cathar did not seem very upset about it. The Lunarch walked to the gates of the cathedral, the other clerics giving way. He decided at first to do to the holy warriors what he did to the griffins and archons, but recalled the still lit candles, and he began to draw mana from the cathedral once more. This time, the candlesboosted to his spell.

The undead were now concentrated in a single spot by tha cathars. A few had been destroyed by the holy weapons, but the process of killing them was considerably harder than killing werewolves or vampires, because their numbers were high enough to ensure that direct combat with them could make infection relatively easy. This strategy would now turn against them.

With a final word, Mikaeus finished his spell. Bright white flames burst in the middle of the undead plague, growing hotter as they expanded from zombie to zombie. An heron-like phoenix form could be seen occasionally in the flames, perhaps suggesting that they were every bit a predator as the monsters that threatened mankind. The living fire brought the zombies their doom, being utterly reduced to ashes in a matter of a single minute.

The ghoulcaller was captured and executed not too long after, as the Sun began emerging in the horizon. Mikaeus the Lunarch was more than satisfied with his experiment, and as the Sun began to rise he thought of ways of enhancing this new spell further.





… and then, the squirrels came.

Dear Namior
by ****eeyong


Dear Namior,

The weather tonight in Kessig is unearthly cold, with a forbidding fog that seems to pull at one's eyelids. It reminds me of the hour, nearly fourteen years ago, that I left our hometown. Pardon me for not writing to you all this while – my duties in this sunless place stretch longer than its nights, and each missing or dead man only adds to the work I must do. I pray you are sleeping well.

Time is a cruel master. I remember how I was but a boy when I left the crumbling mansion with Bruck, my heart clouded by his promises and empty hopes. And I remember how you were the tottering waif who lingered at the gate, waving me off into the moonlight. What conviction we found in ourselves then! What innocence of heart! Bruck and I hoped to find in the woods of Kessig a kind of escape from the monotony of our household, or asylum from our father's preachings. But in the darkness of the skeletal woods, we found fear more visceral than anything the Church could describe.

Away from the candlelight and torches that marked the safe streets of Gavony, only the shadows cast by the Harvest Moon held sway. I saw the places where Avacyn faltered – places where creatures stalked, roots clawed and the sky turned its face from the blighted earth. I lost Bruck then, when an errand to fetch herbs led him across a naiad's river. All I found was his battered hat, floating gently beneath blood-red falls.

Perhaps it is just as well that the forest hardened my young heart, for it was from that day forth that I learned to seal away my fear.

On the foggiest nights of the Hunter's Moon, I learned to shelter in caves behind crossbow and holy water; only when the moon had dipped below the horizon would I permit myself to slumber. I learned to spy slivers of silver within common earth and rock, and to chisel it out with shards of livestock bone. I learned to mask the scent of my blood with garlic and twilight orchid. I learned to bait, trap and kill. I was no longer content to run and hide – I would become the hunter of the hunters.

I travelled across the lowlands of Kessig for many years, coming across nothing but deserted farmsteads and the charred wrecks of former civilization. My beard grew, matured and frayed. I saw things deep in the woods that no living man would admit to seeing, and I heard things carried by the Hunter's Moon wind that would have turned the heart of any sane man. If I was insane then, I no longer remember – but if I was, it was my memories of you and my family that gave me hope.

I came upon the refugees twenty moons ago on the Hangman's Walk – our name for the winding mountain path, fraught with unsteady footing and restless geists, that leads from Stensia. The poor souls were the survivors of an unthinkable devil-fire that engulfed their village, and the escape from the resulting mob of charred undead had stripped them of all but seventeen of their number. And what seventeen they were – four were women, seven were children, and all were half-dead of thirst! Should another day have passed, they would have perished without burial or rest.

Perhaps it was the sight of fellow men that reawakened the humanity within me, or perhaps it was an act of Avacyn herself. I took those seventeen beneath my wing and divided my stockpile of supplies among them. Calling on a strength from somewhere deep within my heart, I delivered them from those treacherous borderland spires, guided them down the Hangman's Walk, and led them to the closest pure spring I knew. As our party emerged from the moaning woodlands into the clearing that I had marked out for my campsite – with weapons, food and symbols of the Church in abundant supply – the spirits seemed to lift from the trees themselves, and with them the grievances from our hearts.

The days hence marked a new chapter of my life. The noble rescue I had accomplished spiraled into something beyond my control, as they always seem to. Despite the creeping darkness of Kessig and the ever looming threat of the werewolf hunts, we managed to etch out a kind of order in the wilderness. Wooden stakes became mortared walls, prayer circles became inspiring churches, and my tiny band went from stragglers to settlement. As we cleared the foreboding woods tree by tree, night by night, I named the village Avabruck – in the memory of my fallen brother.

Now a kind of uneasy peace reigns between us. We have all that we could ask for in a world of unrelenting darkness – protection, light and life. Our dozens of cathars and the power of the Church fights the horrors of the outside world blow for blow. Yet, deep in the darkest pits of my heart, I feel – and my citizens feel – that this peace cannot last. No man can fight forever, not even I.

Last night, I woke to find my window smashed, horrific gashes on my clothes and torso, and a smattering of ominous, inhuman hair on the floor of my bedchamber. I believe I was attacked in the night by a beast or werewolf – nay, I pray I was attacked in the night.

I cannot bear to imagine the alternative.

Sleep well,
Ederic Serhunde
Mayor of Avabruck

… and then, the squirrels came.

Sublunary
by ????


erdana, sans-serif">By then I always started out under the moon. Time was we'd meet at night sometime before setting off, but I'd heard too many stories of crooked twins -one bitten, the other pure- to trust that men swearing fealty at night meant a wolf-free team in the day. Because of this our trip began in the deepest dark, not far from Mount Sadak at the edge of the Kessig Pass. The core of the team was just me and the twinner, but on a job such as this I knew we'd need men as good with a sword as we were with a hex. We'd employed five of Kessig's most skilled fighters as protection, and promised them more of the bounty than protection normally deserved. A tenth of the moon, you see. They'd each stand to gain a tenth of the moon.






erdana, sans-serif">For it was a legend we were hunting, and my experience is this: when a town is willing to pay in gold for the investigation of a tale, it becomes very probable that the story in question is true. In this case it went like this: In the pass there once lived a group of werewolves who had tired of being men, and had schemed to bring an end to their humanity forever. Crafting, they took into their services a mage, whose skills with silver were unequalled across the whole stretch of known Innistrad. With metal stolen, transmuted or wrenched from their fallen kin, over years they made a silver ball pocked with holes and symbols, which was great enough that it could be thought a moon. Under it the men shrieked as their bodies erupted in hair and fangs, before each retreated to a cave where they could be wolves forever.






erdana, sans-serif">As a result, the mayor of our client town had told us, his people feared to go out whenever the moon was high. After a lifetime under that false sphere, the werewolves of the story had become far more vicious than those normally seen, killing and butchering in the night enough to keep full through their underground day. The village had resolved to raise money to employ the best and in so doing came to myself- for my past was an advantage here, they said, and I had skills no other man could put to use.






erdana, sans-serif">What skills are these, you ask? A good question- you know that in the days before I hunted werewolves I spent some time in their employ- but I have not gone into detail about the tasks I would carry out for the beasts. My magic, you are aware, is aligned with the forests- whose world above all else is one of the ordered chaos that we call growth. The magic of the green abhors the unchanging in all its forms, and so has a particular aversion to silver- for leave a lump of this metal alone for a lifetime and it may barely change, even as the pulse of life roars bright red around it. I had learned to tap into this aspect of the forests to blow silver objects clean apart- even as they shot through the air towards the wolves under my protection. My unique ability became famous across all Kessig, and it was thanks to my wages from it more than anything that I could eventually turn my mind to nobler ends.






erdana, sans-serif">I could not, though, blow a thing as large as the false moon apart on my own, and for this I required the services of a twinner. Unlike me he was not particularly notorious for his work- there were many on Innistrad who could increase the power of spells both more quickly and more dramatically than himself. He was, however, both cheap and skilled with a blade, and I trusted the strength of my magic enough that I prized these traits more than another employer might.






erdana, sans-serif">We travelled, then, with our five hired brutes, towards the cave where the wolves lay. Were my story less dramatic, I would invent perils and horrors to encounter along the way, but in truth we were in little danger as we made our way to our destination. Even the entrance to the cave was unguarded, and I remember thinking that the fear of the creatures within must be such that there was no need to protect them with anything more pointed than a story.






erdana, sans-serif">The way, however, was not uncomplicated, and as we reached the point where cave became cavern we were each both scratched and soiled from our decent. By then it was clear our quarry was more than legend; the rocks were lit with a lunar glow, and we had no need of our torches. Scrambling up a pile of gravel and debris we felt the light get brighter, and looking upwards we saw our prey for the first time. As one who fights monsters, the fear of first encounter has never left me, but staring at the wolf before me struck more than terror into my heart. Shorn of humanity, I reasoned, the beast had grown into something more monstrous than even the worst werewolves I had seen lurking in the forests above. Fur was matted into hard spikes, claws curved silver like Markov fangs. We drew our swords, yet the wolf remained unmoved: rather we stared in horror as creature after creature joined it at the gate above. We had no choice but to charge, and did so in a rush with no coordination- thrusting our swords before us like useless claws...






erdana, sans-serif">...But I realise I have said too much. I have told you before that only those who have never seen battle take any delight in its detail, and the carnage that followed should, I think, remain unspoken. For my purposes I need only describe the outcome: though injured, six of us still stood, having fought our way to a natural chamber deep within the cave. Our fight had bought us brief respite, and for a minute or so we were blessed with the sight of what we had come to destroy. I confess I forgot myself in that moment, staring up at that moon. Though smaller than its brother you would not know it- pocked with runes and craters it stretched high over what I thought of as the underground sky. Lit like a church lay a spire of rock below, and I saw in a trance the figure of a man, arms thrust hungrily at the moon above.






erdana, sans-serif">So the wolves had their own Mikaeus! He did not bother us as we thrust our way forwards through the dogs that still bit and tore at our armour. I think he remained unaware of us even as we began our incantations, only stopping when the first of my twin-blessed blasts hit the moon above him. I remember being aware that he was running towards us at the back of my mind, paying him as little attention as I could as I focused on the moon, burrowing my spells as far into it as my mind would allow. As swords smashed into howls and men roared into claws, the battle became little more than sound around me as my vision and my mind were filled with the breaking of silver. Only when I heard the twinner cry my name did I look up, to see the man running towards us with an expression of terror upon his face. His voice cut through the noise like a slice of dawn, and as he looked into my eyes I felt as though silence had fallen.






erdana, sans-serif">Not only men turn into wolves”, he said in despair.






erdana, sans-serif">Overhead, the moon exploded.






erdana, sans-serif">The man collapsed before us and groaned, and I noticed for the first time his leather-thick skin, his muscles that bulged in ways like no other man I had seen. He tried to talk to us once more but only gargled, and I spun round to see the wolves surrounding us keeled over in similar agonies. As all were stunned, already I was beginning to run, but even as I reacted I saw the man's face explode into a mess of eyes. I flung myself towards the exit as I heard the howls of the wolves turn into something worse, deaf to the cries of the rest of my group. I saw our strongest fighter turn white before me, legs crushed by fallen silver, and I heard the crunching of bones behind me that spoke not of transformation, but of a feast. As I scrambled out of the cave I heard a roar like the wind between worlds, and I did not turn back until I had escaped that place.






erdana, sans-serif">My curiosity was great, however, and in the end it overcame my fear. I saw little of the creatures that had been wolves as they stumbled out into the breaking day, but what I did is forever imprinted upon my mind. Tangles of spines and insect legs, a blob of eyes that ended in mouths- what emerged was a pack of creatures like none that walk upon this world. Looking upon them I thought my end was near, but they paid me no heed as they stumbled into the wider forest. I heard many tales of them in the following days, and for all I know they walk there still.






erdana, sans-serif">I did not return to the village I had failed until a season had passed. Arriving I saw it had been reduced to a ruin, the streets torn up by footprints unlike any familiar to the world. About the fate of the moonsilver and my team I still know nothing- although I would say since that day I have heard no stories of men in the forest come suddenly rich, or any word of the team I abandoned in escape.






erdana, sans-serif">I tell you this story, my son, because I want you to know three things that would have saved me when I was young like you. First, the village that hired us survived before our coming, no matter how terrible its monsters seemed. Do not be like them, and assume that your present situation is dire enough that you would risk loosing the world of hell. Second, the wolves we fought were more fearsome than anything else I have seen, yet wore their forms for reasons noble as a prayer. Do not think, as I have done, that anything in this world cannot behave as it does out of good heart- even when you are recoiling in fear.






erdana, sans-serif">Thirdly this: the things I saw were so terrible that I cannot believe they were ever bitten by anything as weak as a wolf. Rather, I can only guess they were blighted by an angel, cursed to spend the night less monstrous, sublunary. If that is so, then ponder this: that man we saw, who made that second moon, whose words came so close to staying my party's hand, was in true form more monstrous than any of his kind. The shreds of his clothes still flap from shrieking legs in my dreams, and his thousand eyes each wept the sun in blood. He stands, I think, as testament to the most terrible truth of all: that in their might and wisdom, even our angels have limits. Against one such as him they were powerless to change him into something as noble as a wolf, and so had to settle for a beast as brute as a man.

… and then, the squirrels came.

The Cellar Door
by Tevish

 A swarthy man stepped into the room, his coat stained with soot and goggles long ago blackened.  With heavy booted strides, he marched over to the bar, taking one stool and casually tossing his clanking, metal backpack into the other.
 “Jonathan.” The woman behind the bar, a raven-haired lady of perhaps twenty years, sighed. “I really don’t have time for you right now.”
“Come on, Laurie,” he whined, “No time for your brother?  Really?  I’m on something big.”
The woman, Laurie Blake, covered her face with her hand in shame.
“What is it this time?” she asked, “What do I need to bail you out of?”
“Nothing!” he exclaimed, “This time, it’s all going to pay off for sure.”
Jonathan Blake laughed, and took a cigar from his coat, and, failing to find a candle within arms reach, picked up the rod attached to his backpack.  A small flame and a distant whisper appeared, then vanished.
“Really,” she said, “You never cease to amaze me.  When did lighting a cigar become a good use for the raging souls of the dead?”
“When you didn’t get me a light, sis.  Anyway, I was talking with this mage.”
“Oh, this is going to end well.”
“Now, the mage, he says there’s this stuff called mana.  It’s all around us, in the ground!”
“It’s in the ground.” She repeated in dull disbelief, “Yeah.”
“So, I got a bright idea myself, something some of the other boys were already talking about, it seems.”
“Jonathan…”
“We’re going to mine for mana!  Dan’s getting us some equipment right now.  I figure we dig straight down and if some stuffy mage can tell its there, we’ll find it soon enough.”
“You can’t mine for mana, Jonathan.”
“How do you know?”
“Because this is your idea, and your ideas never work.”
“This time, it’s a sure thing.”
“You said that last time.”
“Last time wasn’t a mana mine.”
“No,” she said, “It was a silent werewolf whistle last time, and before that it was vampire-repelling garlic cologne, and before that-“
“Look, I’m not asking you to take out a share in the mana mine.  You think I would hit up my sweet baby sister for money?”
“Not until things have gone horribly wrong, I suppose.”
“I know how tight things are for you.” He said with care.  “But I’ve got something for that too.”
“Please, don’t-“
“It’s not my idea.” He said, “I just thought you’d want to know.”
He reached into his coat, took out a folded paper, and handed it to her.
“I know you’ve always wanted to get out of this dive, now here’s your chance, sis.”
“Help wanted.” She read.  She couldn’t place the address exactly, but the neighborhood meant it would be one of the houses on the sea cliffs, and the offered pay was… exciting.  “contact Lur Sahknochen.  Jonathan-“
“Don’t say anything.” He said, “I know it’s probably too big a change, and you don’t want to be a housekeeper, and-“
“No, Jonathan… you did something right.”
***
The high house on the hill loomed over Laurie.  She straightened her dress, swallowed, fought back her fear, and knocked on the door.
She waited a long moment, and then a voice answered, hollow, rasping, and deep.
“Who is there?”
“I-“ she began, “My name is Laurie Blake.  I saw an ad – I’m supposed to ask for Lur?”
The door opened slowly.  A tall, thin man with hair grey but body not yet decrepit from age answered.  He stood silent for a moment, her eyes seeming to judge her harshly, as though considering whether to squash an insect or let it go.
“Excellent.” He said, “I am Lur.  Come in.”
He made a small motion, and Laurie stepped in the door, which Lur slammed behind.
The grand entranceway of what could have once been a palace for all its opulent splendor was silent and empty, white sheets cast over old furniture, creaking floorboards releasing small puffs of ancient dust as Laurie walked over them.
“I keep no one,” Lur said behind her, “And nothing in my presence that I do not strictly require, or that does not bring me some measure of joy.  I trust you see why I now require another set of hands, another pair of eyes to look over this place.”
“You live here alone?”
“I have had other housekeepers, in the past.” He said, “They become bored of this place, or find some other reason to move on, or they give me some reason to send them on their way..  Good maids, young miss Blake, are far easier to find than they are to keep, at least here in Nephalia.”
“Well,” she said, “A little company probably wouldn’t hurt.”
“Company.” He scoffed, “What need have I for company.  Follow me.” He lead her into a hallway, and then pushed open another door.  Behind it was a library – there were probably more books here than she had seen in her life!
“All the company I need is in here, miss Blake.” He said, “I do not care for the vapid prattling of youth nor the senile ramblings of age.  If that is a problem, I suggest that you search for other employment.”
“No,” she said, “Not a problem.”
“I see.  If you are attempting to curry my favor, you are doing quite well.”
“Glad to hear it.”
“Then you should also be glad to hear I feel no need to carry this any further.” He paced back towards the door.  “If I find your services unworthy of my coin, I may simply dismiss you from my household.  You will be accorded the keys to every door you need to concern yourself about, and may roam them and take advantage of what you find in my halls freely.  Gather your things and return her, you may begin immediately.”
“My… things?”
“I can’t have you wasting hours each day walking to and from your place of work and a home in the city.  For the duration of your employment, miss Blake, you are both my servant and my guest.”
***
It tool Laurie Blake several days to explore the old high house, dusting and rearranging as she went, interrupted as she was by average chores.  She rarely saw her employer, the grave and commanding Lur, for it seemed that he preferred to spend his time in either the library or in his basement study, and by dumbwaiter received his meals there as well.
That study, delved into the Cliffside beneath the manor house, was the one place in the mansion she found she did not have a key for, having tried the entire ring in its lock, and then found every other locking door and a matched key.  At first, she thought it was an oversight, and asked her host and master.  He insisted, then, that his study was private, and that she ‘did not need to be concerned’ about what went on there.
Over weeks, her interest in the study that was forbidden to her grew.  She left the manor less and less, until once her brother left town to pursue his ridiculous mana mine scheme, she only ventured forth when given coin to restock the larder.  Her spare time grew as a backlog of work was worn out, and with it her curiosity about the study in the cellar grew as well.
By and by she found herself testing the handle to the cellar whenever she passed the intricately carved door that led down to it, while at other times she would sit at the upper end of the dumbwaiter for some time after lowering food to her employer, hoping to catch some snatch of what was happening down below.
Whatever Lur’s occupation was, it was not one that created a great deal of noise, for Laurie never heard so much of a whisper from up the shaft until the bell rang for her to recover the dishes by the same means as she had sent them down.  This only made her more curious still, wondering now not just about the contents of the cellar that was forbidden to her, but also about how the man came into the money he so generously gave her.
Whatever it was, it surely had to be done in that cellar, for though occasionally visitors would come to the house and confer in that place, Lur departed even less than Laurie herself did, and so she resolved to discover what secrets lurked below her feet.
There were, after all, times when Lur preferred the comfort of his library, or slept uneasily in his chamber, rather than attending to matters in the cellar, so the matter was not so much how to avoid his notice, she believed, but how to gain entrance to and than an exit from the place
It was a week after she first resolved to enter the cellar that Laurie realized the answer had been staring her in the face.  The dumbwaiter was very large, and for a grown woman she was very small.  Certainly, the contrivance could fit her as well as the silver platters, and she trusted her arms to bear her weight, at least on the way down.  For the return, she hoped that the cellar door would be able to be unlocked without a key from the inside.  Otherwise, it might prove a difficult matter.
It was in the dead of the night, her employer dozing in the library, when Laurie decided to lower herself into the depths, beyond the door.  Her only companion for the trip down was a single candle, secured so she could light it in the dark, and into the dumbwaiter she went, and down from there to the cellar.
Down below, she lit her candle, and found it only pushed back the gloom enough to inspect what was close to her.
The first thing she noticed was a table, wooden though it was, this was no craftsman’s bench, nor did it belong in such a fine and high house as it was in.  The rough surface of the thing was pitted and scarred, and on it were bands of iron – for what purpose, she dared not guess.
Other tables were placed haphazardly throughout the chamber, and they were adorned with all manner of instruments, metal things that made her brother’s geistflame-thrower look simple and understandable by comparison, beakers and spiraling glassware, things of malformed asymmetry and things of terrifying perfect geometry.
At last, Laurie came to a raised dais  in the center of the room, surrounded by machinery.  There was a form on it, one that looked almost… human.  She approached, and raised her candle into the shadows.
A woman’s face was there, young and fair, eyes closed peacefully, crimson hair pulled back into a tight braid.  Who was this woman in the cellar?  She seemed to be alive, at least at first inspection: though Laurie could not hear her breath nor see her chest rise and fall, the woman on the dais had all the color of life in her skin.  Laurie reached out to touch her, when there was a grand thud of the cellar door behind her being flung open.
Immediatley, Laurie recoiled, and lights came up in the laboratory as Lur descended the stairs into his sanctum.
“Beautiful, is she not?” he asked, his hollow voice more alive and interested than she had ever heard.  “Truly, magnificent, in every form and proportion exact and admirable.  What fine and detailed work is man!”
“Master Lur, sir…”
“But now, how did you come in?  Was it the door in the cliff face?  You did not take my key nor try the lock – ah.” He looked, “The dumbwaiter.  Very clever of you, I did not guess it for your ingress.”
“Sir?”
“Do you think I didn’t know you would find your way here?  Everyone lusts for the forbidden, it was only a matter of time.  In fact, you impress me with your speed.  I saw the fire burn in you.  As you walked, as you glanced, as you held still and prayed I did not notice – you betrayed your intentions thoroughly.  Miss Blake, you do not disappoint.”
“What is this?” Laurie demanded, “And who is she?”
“She,” Lur proclaimed as he walked up to the dais where Laurie stood, “Is my great work, the one thing that has always brought me joy.  There’s not a skaberen in the world who hasn’t laughed or scoffed at Lur Hackbones and his pursuit of lovliness, but there’s not a skaberen in the world who has ever done such a thing as I, and made a skaab that could pass for human!”
Laurie tried to keep herself from gasping, from screaming.  How – how had she not noticed, even in the dark?  She glanced at the woman again.  Only knowing did she think she spotted fine needlework about the hairline, or upon the wrist, and even then she could not be sure.
“My life’s work!” Lur shouted, “But she is still incomplete.  She needs eyes yet, and a brain of course.  The brain must come last, such things spoil in but little time.”
“This… This is an abomination!”
“Look!” he roared, lunging and grasping Laurie by the wrist with one hand and her hair with the other.  He turned her and forced her to gaze on the skaab woman. “Look at her and tell me again that it is abomination!  Tell me that I have created a monster!  You cannot – for I have taken the crude skills of the stitchers and perfected them into a masterful art!  I have created beauty!”
“It’s evil!” Laurie shrieked, “But if you let me go I will breathe not a word. I’ll leave you be, just – just let go of me!”
Lur laughed, a deep rumbling laugh that chilled Laurie’s heart.  “My dear, if I meant to release you, I would not have provoked your invasion of my sanctum in the first place.  I told you, my darling needs eyes, and yours are lovely and green.  She also needs a brain, and unless this is a fluke, miss Blake, your haste has proved yours inquisitive and clever.”
“No!” She shrieked, thrashing desperately, “No!  Let me go!”
But Laurie Blake was a smallish woman, and Lur Sahknochen – Lur Hackbones, a strong man despite his age.  Shortly, she felt a prick in her neck, and her world began to darken.
 ***
 The storm reached its crescendo.  Every machine hummed, as Lur stood over his finished creation.
 “I take this power from the gods!” he roared into the din of the storm, “I will bestow life where only death has trodden!  I will shape it in the image I desire!”
 Though he had raised his skaabs before, Lur Hackbones could not help but feel renewed by doing it again.  As he brought life, so he lived, and tonight of all nights was special.  Tonight, the creation he had labored his entire career on would be complete.  She would speak to him, and his work would be done.
 The machines roared and crackled, lightning arced from pillar to pillar, and finally struck the dais.  It glowed with energy, and in the silence that followed, Lur counted under his breath.
 One.  Two.  Three.  Four.
 His skaab, his creation – no, his daughter gasped for her first breath of air.  She sat up and clutched her neck, and for the first time in his life Lur truly smiled.
 “Can you hear me?” he asked.  Slowly, hesitantly, she nodded.
 “Can you speak?”
 She looked at him for a moment, licked her lips, and then with hesitation, said “Yes.”
 The singer’s vocal cords served her well – her every word would be music!
 “And… do you remember your name?”
“… No.”
 More music!  More glorious music!  Everything had gone according to plan, a blank slate to teach the ways of the world.  Slowly, gracefully, she stood
 “Then I shall call you…” he hesitated.  One thing he had not decided on, in all his years, was a name.  There were so many choices!  But which one?
 “Una.” He said finally.  “It means first.  Do you like it?”
 She nodded, and he slowly turned from the dais, tearing his eyes from the vision of loveliness he had created.  At last, at long last.  He listened to the light beats of her footfalls among the sound of rain and the crashes of thunder as she walked behind him, and reveled in the glory of all that he had done.
Then, he felt the hand at his throat, and the sudden, sharp pain in his gasp.  Lur gasped, and tried to reach for it.  His fingers found the end of a scalpel as he fell forward, but could not grasp around it.  However she had struck him, he couldn’t breathe. 
“For the record,” she said as his vision faded “I do remember what my name was.  I know what I am, and what you are.  Were.  May you never find peace, Lur.”
 ‘Laura Sahknochen’ saw off the last of the officials from the house.  The inquisitors had burned the things in her ‘father’s’ cellar study and seized books seemingly at random from his library.  But they left her.  The servants of the church, the hunters, shook her hand and passed her by, never noticing the tiny marks where two shades of skin perhaps didn’t quite match, or perhaps where the thread didn’t quite match the skin.  They thanked the ‘daughter’ of Lur Hackbones for bringing him to justice, and even if they reproved her for not delivering the noted skaberen alive for trial, they did not notice that her sentence should have been surer than his.
Laura Sahknochen, once Laurie Blake, looked up at the high house after the last of them vanished down the road.  It was hers, free and clear, a new life that she never expected to be able to have, much less have to endure.  She looked at her reflection in a front window, at a face that had once belonged to another woman, but eyes… eyes that had always been hers.  Laura knew she was a monster, a wretched thing made of bits of this and that, but for the first time since the second life she had expected to be brief had began, she thought she also might be something more than the sum of her stolen parts.

… and then, the squirrels came.

Nightfall
by ???

Hooves thundered along the forest trail as the two galloping horses pulled a black four-wheeled carriage.  A man sat at the reins, whipping the horses with utter desperation while his wife sat by his side.  His name was Manfred; hers, Adeline.  Their bodies were extremely tense; they exchanged no pleasantries.  All that mattered now was speed.






                The sun was setting.






                It slowly approached the horizon, bringing the moon ever closer.  Adeline’s eyes flashed back and forth, scanning the surrounding trees for movement.  Nothing could be seen.  The trees cast long shadows, signaling the fall of night. 






                “We left too late,” Adeline whispered, “We won’t make it to Amnesdale before night falls.”






                Manfred pulled up on the reigns, slowing the horses to a halt.  He looked to his wife, a film of sweat covering his face.  “You’re right,” he muttered in defeat.






                “Why have you stopped?  Even if we haven’t reached the town by night, we still need to get there as fast as possible!  We need to go!”  Adeline yelled as she reached for the reigns.






                Manfred slowly pulled the reigns away from her and pushed her extended arm away.  “You know very well that we can’t be together at night,” he spoke softly.






                “But why, Manfred?   Every night you go down into the cellar and refuse to let me in.  Talk to me,” she pleaded.  Adeline looked up at him with longing eyes, begging him to share his long kept secret.  “Is this why we had to leave?”






                Before he could speak, the horses began to whiney and paw the ground, as if they themselves were anxious to get out of the woods before night came.  Manfred looked up into the sky.  The bottom end of the sun had touched the horizon.  “There’s no time, Adeline.  Untie a horse—you’ll go on without me.”  Before she could respond, Manfred continued, “There’s no way you will dissuade me, my love.  You are the most deserving of life between us.”






                Adeline protested again, “But--”






                “No.  You must go on without me, or you will not survive this night,” he spoke firmly, putting all his will into the gaze that was now boring into Adeline’s eyes.  “I love you Adeline, but the only way both of us will survive is if you flee.”  Subdued, she lowered her head.






                “As you wish.”  Adeline descended from the carriage and quickly retrieved a saddle from the back.   As she began to unfasten one of the horses, Manfred jumped down from the carriage and moved towards its back.  “What are you doing?” Adeline called toward her husband. 






                Manfred reentered her sight, carrying a large bundle of rope.  “For werewolves,” he explained.  As he dropped the ropes, he said, “Hopefully I’ll be able to contain any before they become dangerous.”  His voice took on a forbidding air devoid of hope, almost as if he knew the rope was pointless.






                “Your blade will probably service you better than those ropes, dear.”  Adeline stepped away from the now saddled horse, affording herself a small smile.  She guided her horse toward her partner, ready to depart.






                “As will yours, Adeline.”  Manfred reached forward and touched her cheek softly, as if it were his last time.  He suddenly looked very tired.  He moved to his wife, taking her in his grasp. 






                They shared a passionate kiss, as only two who feared their imminent deaths could.  After many seconds they broke apart, but did not leave each other’s embrace. 






                And the sun fell closer to the horizon.






                Manfred broke away from his wife, tears filling his eyes.  “Alas, we have wasted too much time.  Go, Adeline, and do not stop.  Ride as fast as you can until you are safe among many.”  A sense of urgency crept into his voice as he pushed Adeline towards her horse.






                “I fear for us Manfred, I fear for our lives,” Adeline cried as she climbed into her saddle.  Manfred looked up into her eyes.






                “I promise you, Oh dear Adeline, that we will both survive this night if you flee and do not look back.  Promise me, Adeline, that you will not look back.”  He pleaded with her, looking up into her eyes.






                “I promise.”






                “Good.  Now go!” Manfred forced the horse to turn around, setting its course towards Amnesdale.  “Yaah!”  He wound up his arm and smacked the horse on its rear, sending it speeding down the trail and around a bend.  “Don’t look back,” Manfred whispered to himself.  He walked back to the carriage and picked up the rope. 






                Manfred knelt in the dirt and prayed.  His words went up to Avacyn, pleading her to protect his wife, and that she would not come back for him.  He stood, and with a look of determination, began to tie himself to the carriage. 






 






*             *             *






 






                Wind whipped at Adeline’s brown hair as her horse galloped down the path.  The sun had now set. The woods awaited the moon’s coming, and with it, the horrors of Kessig.  Now was the darkest time of the day; Adeline could not see off the trail into the autumn woods.  Her eyes quickly scanned the borders of the trees, seeing every movement as a potential horror.  Every tree rustling, every branch cracking, and every animal call sent a shiver and flinch up her body. 






                But she was almost out of the woods.  Up ahead lights from the town’s gate began to appear.  A few more minutes and she would be safe, where the wilds of the woods couldn’t touch her.  She even began to allow herself to hope that she might make it into Amnesdale before the moon rose.  Her hope didn’t last.






                The edge of the moon appeared above the horizon, a harbinger of death.






                “Damn!” Adeline muttered.  She dug her heels into the horse, begging it to move faster.






                A howl came from down the road, toward her carriage, and the whinny of a horse.






                “Manfred,” Adeline breathed.  She pulled up on the reigns, causing the horse to rear up and turn around.  Adeline paused for a moment.  She stared back at the trail, debating the choice ahead of her.  She had promised Manfred that she wouldn’t turn back.  She had given him her word.






Adeline didn’t care.






 She kicked her feet into her horse’s haunches sending it galloping back towards the carriage.  “I’m sorry, Manfred.  I can’t let you die.” 






                The horse sped along the trail, the dark trees passing by swiftly.  There was no doubt in her mind about what she would meet at the carriage.  She had heard it howl.  And she swore to Avacyn that the werewolf would die if it touched her husband.






                As she rode closer and closer to her destination, the moon continued to rise above the trees, bathing the trail with a cold light.  Things began to move in the woods; things Adeline couldn’t see, but knew were there.  Her heart beat so hard it felt as if it would burst from her chest.






                The woman had a profound knowledge that she might be riding to her death.






                She began to discern things in the woods.  Mist moved along the ground, swirling up the trees and even coalescing into shapes—arms that seemed to reach for her as she swiftly passed.  Adeline’s horse began to resist.  She had to use all her might to keep the terrified animal from turning around.






                Adeline reached a bend in the trail and took her horse around it sharply.  As she rounded the bend, the carriage came into sight.  “No…” she whispered as she slowed the horse to a halt.  “No!”






                Her husband was nowhere to be seen.  The front of the carriage was close to shattered, and the other horse lay on the ground, dead.






                With a werewolf crouched over it, eating its fill.






                “You bastard!”Adeline yelled at the wolf.  “You killed him, you bastard!” All fear had left her heart, having been replaced by unadulterated rage. “I’ll kill you!”






                The werewolf raised its head from its meal, gazing at Adeline.  It cocked its head to the side, as if it were curious as to who would dare interrupt its meal.  The werewolf rose up slowly, extending its body to full height.  The monster rose seven feet off the ground, black fur glistening along its body.  Sculpted muscles lay hidden under its fur, concealing its true power.  Torn ropes tangled around its wrists and ankles, and also on its waste.  Blood dripped from its maw and claws.






                The scrape of metal over metal sounded as Adeline drew her sword. 






                Suddenly the werewolf’s demeanor changed.  As soon as the sword was drawn, it stepped forward and loosed a savage roar.  Adeline’s horse reared upward, braying loudly in fear.  The wolf dropped on all fours and sprinted towards its rider.  As soon as her horse’s front hooves reconnected with the ground, the rider dug her heels into its side, urging it toward the oncoming wolf.






                The terrified animal turned the opposite way.






                “No!”  The desperate rider looked back towards the werewolf, knowing that it was too late for her to turn the horse around to face it.  The monster leaped off the ground, sailing toward her and her mount.






                Adeline leapt off the horse just as the werewolf slammed into it.  Knocked off balance, her sword flew from her grasp, clinking against a rock somewhere on the trail.  She hit the ground rolling, dirt and rocks scraping through her clothing and digging into her back.  “Damn, damn, damn!” she yelled as she franticly searched for her sword.  A glint of metal shone at the edge of the trail, reflecting the pale moon.






                Adeline scrambled forward on the ground, hearing the pant of her adversary approaching her.  Without thinking, she took off her cloak and cast it behind her, hoping to distract the monster for the few seconds that she needed.






                Filled with frustration, the beast loosed a predatory roar. 






Adeline had bought herself the time she needed.  She reached the edge of the trail and grabbed the hilt of her sword, just as she heard the werewolf leap toward her.  Adeline turned around and dropped to her back, sweeping her sword in front of her body.  The werewolf sailed through the empty air which she had just vacated.  Adeline’s sword cut diagonally across its body, sending it crashing to the ground with a howl of pain.






Adeline quickly scampered to her feet and faced the werewolf.  It had already licked its wounds and begun its charge.  Its red eyes glowed ferociously under its dark brows.  Adeline backed away, waving her weapon in front of her like a snake about to strike.  The werewolf took no notice of the gleaming weapon, nor did it slow its charge.






Adeline lunged forward with her sword, intending to skewer the monster on the blade.  The werewolf threw its arm up, knocking her hand away.






Adeline saw her sword flash through the air, out of sight and reach.






The defenseless woman dove to the ground, avoiding the deadly slash of the werewolf’s claw.  She scrambled away in desperation, trying only to distance herself from the monster.  It was for naught.  A raking pain erupted from her back as her skin was split open by its deadly claws.  She rolled into a crouched position, feeling for the wounds with her hand.  The werewolf stood over her, its claws covered in fresh blood.






Adeline thought it looked as if it were smiling.






It roared in triumph and swept its claw towards Adeline’s face.  She threw up an arm in a feeble attempt to defend herself.  Slammed with incredible force, she flew backwards across the ground, rolling for many yards.  Finally her back crashed into a tree, stopping her uncontrolled movement. 






Adeline’s whole body hurt.  She could feel warm blood dripping from her arm and back, and a dull throb echoed throughout her body.  Her heartbeat slowed.  She couldn’t even move her head to look where she was.  Her vision began to blur.






Suddenly the werewolf stood over her, panting.  She could feel its hungry eyes scanning her broken body, enjoying its victory.  A full moon rose above its back in the night sky.






And all she could think of was Manfred.  She had failed him.  She had let his murderer live.  She had not been able to kill the monster that took his life.  The monster that deserved to die.






Adeline hated the beast that stood above her.






“Damn you.”  Her voice was barely audible as she squeezed out her last hateful words. 






                The werewolf stepped forward, blotting out the rest of Adeline’s vision and sending her spiraling into darkness.






 






*             *             *






 






The sky was gray when Manfred awoke.  His first thought was how cold he was.  He lay naked in the shadow of his carriage, with nothing on his person but torn rope at his ankles and left wrist. The second thing he noticed was the pain.  A long cut crossed his torso, from his right shoulder to his left hip.  Blood caked the edges of the wound. 






But he knew there was something wrong with his hands.  He brought them to his eyes, gazing at them in horror.  They were covered with human blood.  Blood that wasn’t his own.






“No.  Oh Avacyn, please no…” a morbid thought crept into his mind as he stood from the ground.  He prayed to the angels above that what he thought was wrong.  He needed it to be wrong.  He couldn’t live with himself if he was right.






He scanned the trail for his clothes and saw their remains shredded by the carriage.  Manfred walked over to them and shifted through the clothes, tying them together to make pants.  Nothing else was wearable.    Manfred slipped them on and took in the scene.






A dead horse lay in front of the carriage, its torso mutilated by bites taken from it.  Werewolf tracks led away from the dead animal.  Manfred followed the tracks, a sense of fear building in his heart.  He continued down the trail, coming to new tracks.






Hoof prints.  The area was completely covered with horse tracks.  Manfred’s heartbeat rose.  He threw his gaze around, searching for anything to prove him wrong.  What he saw only furthered his fear.






A black cloak lay crumbled on the edge of the trail.  “Adeline…” he whispered as he stumbled over to it.  He fell to his knees at the cloak, clutching it in his grasp.  Tears welled up in his eyes.   The cloak almost completely confirmed his fears.






But he had to know for sure.  Human tracks seemed to cover the ground in this area.  Manfred followed them, shaking as he went.  Finally, the scattered tracks ended at the edge of the trail, followed by crushed twigs, trampled grass, and sprinkles of dry blood leading into the woods.  Manfred forced himself to continue on.  He had to know, without a doubt, what had happened.






He pushed on through the trees, his eyes flashing everywhere, searching for life.  The trail of blood grew heavier; he knew he was approaching his destination.  Tears began to flow freely from his eyes.  He knew what was coming.  Manfred raised his arm to his face and wiped his eyes, passing through a wall of branches. 






As soon as he passed through, he fell to his knees.






Manfred loosed a wail, cursing the angels above and the demons below, proclaiming his hate for them.  He crawled forward, spittle flying from his mouth as he screamed.  His hands made contact with her body.  Adeline’s body.






He pulled her broken body into his arms, tears streaming from his eyes.  Blood still flowed from the wounds on her mutilated body, covering Manfred’s hands.  He rocked back and forth, shouting incomprehensible words into the morning sky. 






His fears had been confirmed.  There was absolutely no doubt as to what had happened.    He had failed to shield his wife from the horrors of the night.  There was no more meaning within his wretched life.  His wife was dead, and he would become accursed in society. 






Hate began to well in his heart, building ferociously with each passing second.






He lived in a world that hated his kind.  A world whose rejections forced him to move every few years to hide his secret.  If it had not been for them, he realized, he would not have been on the trail the night before.   With this realization came another: it was their fault that his wife had died.  It was their fault his wife was dead, not his.  It was their cowardice that killed her. 






“Damn them.  Damn them all.”






He raised his head and looked towards the horizon, observing the sun’s progress near the eastern horizon. 






Manfred knew what he had to do.  He had to punish those responsible for the death of his beloved wife.  He stood from the ground, wiping his tears.  He no longer had room for grieving in his life.  All that was left was hate.






He turned for the road and began to walk towards Amnesdale, abandoning his wife’s gore-splattered body at the foot of a tree.






His retribution would be swift.






All he had to do was wait for the fall of night, and his chance to unleash the horror within himself.





… and then, the squirrels came.
To Purge the Wicked

by Tevish






 






The approach of the carriage was the first good news in days.  As soon as the massive, black thing drawn by a pair of high horses was sighted, the hunters ran back into town, shouting of the coming of the Inquisitor.






The ebony carriage stopped in the township square, and its driver climbed down, walking about to the door upon which the Collar of Avacyn was embossed in bright gold, and opened it.






The man who stepped out was ready enough for travel himself.  He had a wide-brimmed hat on his forehead, and a sweeping dark leather greatcoat trailing behind.  At his chin was a ruffle of lace, but at his hip a brace of large daggers.  He carried the trappings of faith and war alike with him, the consummate hunter of evils in the flesh; by the time his boots struck the paving stones, the entire assembled crowd was staring in silent awe.






“Is the mayor among you?” he called out in a stern, commanding voice.  “No?  Someone tell him his inquisitor has arrived.”






“Here!” a portly man shouted, pushing his way through the crowd, “I’m here, mister your holiness sir!”






The mayor pushed, shoved, and apologized his way to the front of the crowd before standing, huffing and puffing, before the unfazed form of the inquisitor.






“I’m sorry I’m late, but my daughter, you see, mister – uh – ?”






“Denton.” The inquisitor replied, “Harvard Denton.  And it’s quite alright, you made it here in good time.”






“Harvard Denton?” the mayor asked in astonishment, “The Harvard Denton who fought back thirteen devils at once in the hills of Stensa?  The Harvard Denton who uncovered the dread werewolf of Avabruck and dismantled the Great Skaab of Glorifen Hill?”






“I don’t like to brag, but yes, that was me.  And it was only eleven devils, unless there is another Harvard Denton who has outdone me.”






“I’m sorry, mister Denton, I had sent for an inquisitor, but I had no idea the church was to send such a distinguished personage to our neck of the woods.  Why, I would have made arrangements!  I would have-“






“Never mind that.” Harvard Denton said, “Whatever you have for me, that will be more than enough.  Now, I believe there is a reason I was to called other than to enjoy the fruits of fame.  So, perhaps, if we could adjourn to a more private location?






***






“So, that’s what we come to, mister Denton,” The mayor said, “Two dead, three missing, howls and night and not a man who isn’t scared out of his mind.”






“You’re a good man, Mister Teague.” Harvard Denton replied, sipping his tea, “And I really do hate to be the bearer of bad news, but such events are usually caused by someone, or I should rather say something, in the town itself rather than a simple monster in the woods and – ah, what have we here?”






Harvard Denton had looked up, and found himself locking gazes with a girl of perhaps eleven years in a white linen slip.  Her icy blue eyes were fixed on the inquisitor from under mussed strands of chestnut hair as she stood in almost macabre silence and stillness.






“Oh!” Mayor Teague exclaimed, “My daughter.” He turned to her, and knelt down beside her, “Selene, honey, go to bed, it’ll be moonrise in less than an hour.”  She stared for a moment, then nodded silently and scurried off into the house.






“You’re blessed to have such a fine family.” Denton said, “But I notice you muttered something about your daughter when we first met, and she was not at supper.  Is she unwell?”






Teague frowned.  “She has… spells, of a sort.  Times when she isn’t herself.  It’s that she’s sensitive, you see, to the geists.”






“Would you like me to attempt to ward her?”






“I had a priest out two years ago.” The mayor replied, “She said that it was unfortunate, but not dangerous.  Happens with children sometimes, and she ought to grow out of it.  By Avacyn I hope she does it sooner rather than later, or there’ll not be a young lad inside three parishes who’ll have her as a bride.”






Harvard Denton smiled, “I’m sure she’ll be a lovely woman some day, and you’ll have no end to suitors knocking on your door.”






“Let’s hope.”






“In any case, is it truly that late?” the inquisitor asked, “I’ve lost track of time myself.”






“Ah, yes sir.”






“Then I should like to be shown to my accommodations.  The investigation can start in the morning.”






***






In the morning, there was more to investigate than a rumor.  The butcher was found face down in a ditch, while most of his throat wasn’t found at all.  Harvard Denton came to the scene almost with the dawn, and paced around it, examining the remains until noon when he permitted the man to be buried and hopefully gain the blessed sleep.






After that, the investigation seemed to come up against a wall.  Everyone had heard noises, or of disappearances, but no one seemed to have any physical evidence or eyewitness accounts to tell the inquisitor, until he was searching the house of one of the vanished hunters.






“Beggin’ your pardon, mister Denton sir,” the young man who had shown him in said, “But now that we ain’t out in the crowd an’ all, I was thinkin’ I might be able to tell ya somethin’ that could help.”






The Inquisitor stood up from where he had been kneeling, inspecting a floorboard.






“Is that so?”






“Yes sir.”






“Then speak.”






“Well, sir, my house you see, well, it’s right across a yard from the mayor’s, and sometimes it gets awfully stuffy at night so I leave the windows open.  It ain’t like glass is gonna stop anything really dangerous, anyway if you follow me.  Well, the last few nights, pretty much since master Teague called for you, sir, it’s been right abominably hot, and each night I’ve left my bedroom window open, I’ve been woken by the most horrible noises.  Why, there’s all manner of shreikin’ and wailin’ like they say the banshees do down in the bogs in other places, all comin’ from the mayor’s house.”






“Is that so? Every night?”






“Beggin’ your pardon again, sir, but I don’t leave my window open every night, so I can’t rightly tell ya that.”






Harvard Denton made a show of thinking about this weighty news, then reached a gloved hand into a pouch at his side.  He pressed a coin into the young man’s hand.






“Go get yourself a drink.” He said, “You’ve done more than enough as it is, and I am going to need some time to think about what you’ve told me.”






“One last thing,” the young man said as he walked to the door, “Last night, I caught a word among all the screamin’.”






“What was that?”






“Why, it was your name, sir.  ‘Denton’.”






***






Mayor Teague started as a pounding came at his front door, then ran to answer it, only to find Harvard Denton standing in the frame, looking quite displeased.






“Mister Denton.” He said, “How nice to see you.  Cup of tea?”






“I’ll pass,” Denton replied as he stepped through the door, “But you might be interested in knowing I’ve found a potential break in the case.”






“Then it’s nearly done?  This nightmare is going to end?”






“I said a possible break.” Denton growled, “And again, I hate to bear bad news to good people, but I’m going to need to know everything I can about your daughter’s so-called spells.”






“Selene?  Why, what has any of this got to do with her?”






“Nothing, possibly.” Denton replied, “Or everything.  If it’s a decent hour, I want you to call on me the next time she has one.  I need to witness one for myself.”






“Now see here,” The mayor said, casting off the whimpering demeanor he had formerly held.  “I don’t know what drunken sots you’ve been talking with, but Selene is a good girl.  Even at the worst times, she wouldn’t hurt a fly!”






“Then,” Denton replied, “You have nothing to fear from my investigation.  You have to understand, I can’t take a thing I’m told at face value.  What sets me apart from a madman with a tank of geistflame on his back and a bottle of whiskey in his hand is logic and moderation.”






The mayor looked properly cowed, his momentary display of steel supplanted by his former spinelessness.






“You see,” Denton continued, “Humanity’s greatest strength is in its reason.  Werewolves are feral beasts, ghouls have not a thought within their rotted brains, devils are little more than animals and even the haughty vampires are ruled by their instincts.  Every evil in Innistrad is primal and driven, so we must rise above that if we hope to rise above them.  I understand your worry, a father’s worry that I’ve seen so many times before, but you are also a mayor.  Everyone in this town is your child, and you are obliged to care for them.  But, if it calms your nerves any I promise you that I will do everything in my power to see that Selene is better off for my presence here.  That is, after all, what I do.  I help my people.”






Teague swallowed.  “Thank you, mister Denton.  I’ll call for you if she has a spell.”






“No,” Denton replied, tipping his hat, “Thank you for your cooperation.  I’ll be seeing you soon.”






***






There was another murder in the night, the young man who had tipped off the Inquisitor the previous day – Sure enough, a glass window had done nothing to deter or slow his killer, the shattered remnants scattered over the stuffy bedroom.  Suspicious enough, but there was unfortunately little to go on: the corpse had been torn limb from limb, almost as though to disguise the nature of the killing wound.  This time, it did not take until noon for something to rouse Denton from his investigation, as a runner came to tell him that mayor Teague had sent.  Attempting to piece together the events of the night from blood spatters upon a wall could wait.






In the mayor’s house, he was quickly lead to a backroom, where Teague himself, with is wife along side him, stood at the door.






“Through there?” Denton asked.  The mayor nodded.






Denton opened the door and stepped in.  the girl was sitting up in bed, her eyes open but seemingly blind to the world, staring off into empty space as she muttered in indecipherable tongues and a made pressed a wet towel to her forehead.






“You see?” the mayor said, “There’s nothing dangerous about it.  Disconcerting, but it’s… it’s more of a trance than anything else, you understand?”






Denton took a step forward, and those blue eyes, now wild with fury, fixed upon him.






“Damn you!” a voice shrieked, a voice in no way belonging to a young girl, masculine, deep and husky.  She tried to leap from her bed, but the maid held her back.






“Curse you!” she shrieked in another voice, the voice of a crone. 






Many voices then shrieked at once.  “Your soul shall be confined to the Helvault!  You will never find the blessed sleep!  Abomination – abomination and heresy are heaped upon your shoulders!  Denton!  Denton!”






“Begone!” Denton yelled, and brandished the collar of Avacyn.  “By the law of Avacyn I command you to leave this girl.”






“Leave!” she shrieked “Leave! Leave! Leave and endure the torments of your abominable life!  Leave and suffer alone as you must suffer!  Leave!”






“All that is holy compels you, spirit!” Denton cried, pressing the holy symbol against the girl’s skin.  “Return now from whence you came!”






“We will never!  Never stop!  Never Resting! Never Resting! Never Resting! Never…”






Selene convulsed and gasped for air, and Harvard Denton staggered back.  The little girl had returned, and soon hugged her knees, sniffling and beginning to cry.






“So, that’s it?” her father asked, “It’s done?”






Harvard Denton looked at the girl.  She looked up at him, eyes pleading, full of terror and sorrow and the shred of hope that in her dark hour Avacyn could save her.  She was, perhaps, the image of humanity – lost and afraid, full of promise and in desperate need of a savior.  Harvard Denton knew that well enough, he had seen it before.






He shook his head.






“As always,” he said, “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that was no geist speaking through your daughter.”






With confident strides, he marched over to the curtained window.  For a moment, he laid a hand on the velvet that was draped over it.






“And, in other bad news, I feel a draft.”






He tore down the curtain, revealing what was beneath: the window was practically gone, smashed and shattered, looking over a pleasant yard and another smashed window upon the other side.






The mayor’s wife gasped, and the mayor himself hung his head.






“A final peace of bad news.” Harvard Denton declared, “Once a demonic possession has gone so far as this-“






“My daughter didn’t do that!” the mayor wailed, “She didn’t hurt anyone, much less kill all those people!”






“Use your reason!” Denton shouted back, “This case is as clear as day.  She may not be a murderer, but her body is an implement of murder all the same.  And I am sorry, but as I was saying once things have gone this far, there is only one way to stop the demon.”






***






The town square was buzzing with activity.  The mayor and his wife were in the stocks, the mob having decided that it was the only safe place for them until the deed was done.  Their daughter, their dear Selene, was tied to a stake in the square.  Cruelly, Denton reflected, right where her parents were forced to look as the townsfolk piled their wood and tinder about her feet, and poured their oil over her head.






Throughout the day, as the stake was erected, she had pleaded, and since being bound to it in the afternoon she had cried.  When the sun set, Harvard Denton knew, she would burn.  He, after all, was the one who would light the pyre.






As the sun sank to the horizon, Denton lit the torch.






“This is our somber duty.” He declared, raising it above his head, “Avacyn is mighty, but She cannot be in all places.  So we, in Her name, do condemn to fire and commend to the Blessed Sleep Selene Teague, whose will is not her own.  Let her be remembered as she could have been, as the mayor’s daughter and not the monster.  And, above all, let her rest.  By Avacyn, we will purge the wicked!”






Denton approached the pyre, and Selene convulsed.  It seemed there would be one last episode.






“Fools!” she cried, “You blind fools!  All of you will die, save for one!”  She looked down at him and spoke in a new voice, the soft voice of a mature woman that shook the Inquisitor to his core.






“Harvard Denton.” The woman said, plainly unaccented by rage or hate, “May you live forever.”






Denton lit the pyre, and a little girl screamed.  An inquisitor turned his back on it, and walked away.  Before the last echoes of Selene’s dying screams had left the air, with her pyre still blazing in the center of the town, the sounds of merriment began to fill the air.   They were celebrating – all of them cheering for the gruesome death of a little girl.






They would have put it differently, would have said that they were celebrating the end of a reign of terror, but to Harvard Denton it was all the same.  The only thing that fazed him anymore was that voice… at the end she had spoken with his wife’s voice.  Ten years in the grave as she was, he had at least hoped that her soul had found rest.  That she had not stung almost as much as what it seemed she thought of who Harvard Denton had become.






Not a man in that town deserved to live, Denton told himself as he marched into the forest.  The only good and kind soul there had burned to death at his hand.  The rest, in a drunken stupor and with their guards down, were prey.






The moon rose, and Harvard Denton left his human shape behind, howling to his brothers and sisters.  He had always looked after, protected, provided for his people, but ever since he had killed the pack’s alpha in Avabruck, and been bitten in the same fair fight, who his people were had changed.






He still regretted some things – framing a girl to produce the opening, murdering an inquisitor, a former colleague, to arrive in his place – but a werewolf needed space, and a werewolf pack needed far more space than a human town.






His people, his pack, crowded around him






Now?  They asked in their own language of bays and barks, scratches and yowls






Now, he told them.  Now it was time to fulfill the prophecy the geists had cried from the mouth of Selene Teague.  Now it was time to lead his people to victory and purge the wicked.




… and then, the squirrels came.

Creatures of the Night


by Tevish



It was nearing dusk when Hugo Baker came to the crossroads.  For him, they were usually uneventful places, just another milestone telling him how far he had walked among the Stensa foothills or Kessig woodlands, and he had traveled long enough that milestones had lost all meaning.  There was only the road, and whatever happened to be on it.






At this crossroad, however, a bright set of eyes emerged out of the mist to meet his gaze.  The woman they belonged to was stopped at the crossroads, looking intently at him.  She had probably heard him coming, Hugo realized, and he knew well enough that turning your back on a stranger wasn’t the best idea in the world.






The woman smiled, and Hugo forced himself to do the same.






“Good evening, miss.” He said.






“I don’t know,” she replied, voice smooth as silk, “Is it?”






Hugo laughed, just a little.






“What’s your name?” the woman asked.






“Ladies first.” Hugo replied.  Something about the woman made him tense, and he couldn’t quite tell if it was her bearing – confident though alone in a threatening world – or her figure.






“It’s Allison.” She replied.  “Are you always so formal, mister…?”






“Hugo.” He replied, “And only with strangers at night.”






“Well,” she sighed, “I can’t do a thing about the night, but perhaps I shouldn’t be a stranger?”






Allison smiled, and Hugo found himself smiling back.  The tension was gone, and though there was something nagging at him, he tried to ignore it.






“Which way are you going?”






“My own way,” She answered, “But I know a place not far from here, just the way you were walking.  It may not be much, but it’s fair enough to pass a night.”






“Are you offering to show the way?”






“What do you think?” Allison asked, and started a slow walk along the road






***






The house was empty, seemingly abandoned though little if any dust having settled since the last passing travelers had come through.  Why there was no landlord, nor any other sign of human habitation, Hugo couldn’t begin to guess.  He was more concerned with his company for the evening.






If she had meant any harm, he told himself, she easily could have taken a chance along the road, but still he wondered and worried.  She had been nothing but charming, winsome glances and passing innuendos since they had met, and one pearl of knowledge had served Hugo in good stead, it was that if something seemed too good to be true, it probably was.






“I think it will be a clear night outside.” She said, “After moonrise.  Until then, the wine cellar is stocked, there’s plenty of firewood… the perfect start to, yes, a good evening.”






“What is this place?” Hugo demanded, now more worried than ever, “How did you know it was here?”






“Do you take me for a rogue?” she asked, “Some sort of bandit?” she laughed, “Mister Hugo, this is my home, and thought I may wander from it at times, I always come back.  I enjoy its little pleasures, after all.”






“It seems awfully large.”






“It is.” She replied, “But I have my ways.”






“Like inviting strange men into your house?”






“Plenty of wine for a traveler, and plenty of warmth from a good fire, enjoy it if you’re able.”






***






Hugo leaned back into the velvet chair, head swimming.  He had enjoyed too much wine, that was certain.  With each cup he had measured what he stood to lose against how much he thought there was any danger.  By then, he had stopped caring that he had not witnessed his hostess drink a drop.






“Now,” she said, standing herself and turning to the window with its tight mahogany shutters, “Why don’t we see what a lovely night it is?”






The suggestion brought Hugo a bit closer to sobriety, and he managed to mutter “No.”






“Why not?” Allison asked, “The moon is shining near full outside.  Why, I would bet it’s sitting resplendent right now, in the very center of this arch.”






“Allison, I don’t want to-“ he stuttered, “To alarm you.”






“Me, be alarmed?  Why would I be?  The moonlight, I think, suits some things best.”






She threw open the shutters, and Hugo felt the change begin to overtake him.  Indoors, the moon not quite full, he had managed… but under its silvery light, head swimming with alcohol, there was nothing for it.  He fell from his chair, standing on all fours and panting as bones realigned and shifted, a face elongated to a muzzle, and his senses sharpened to take in every detail of the room and the world around.  Hugo, the werewolf, howled to that baleful moon, and glared with savage yellow eyes at his hostess.






Allison just grinned broadly, revealing a cruel set of fangs.






“There, there.” She said, walking over and kneeling beside him, “Take a sniff.  You want to eat me even less than I’d like a bite of you.”






She smelled of nothing but perhaps a faint perfume, no fearful sweat or sweet, fresh blood to pique a natural hunter’s interests.  She reached over and scratched behind his ears, the vampire tempting her fate by treating a werewolf as some common domestic pet.






“You’re very fortunate,” she said, “That my sense of smell was better than yours.  It’s not often I get prey, and when the sun still shone, well, I could have mistaken you for it.”






Hugo growled, and she simply laughed. 






“Now, now, I think we can get along just fine, you and I.” She said, “We both like fresh meat, take pleasure in the hunt, and revel in the airs of the night.  There’s room in this house for two, and I have so often heard touted the strength and loyalty of dogs.”

… and then, the squirrels came.
Sublunary is NOT mine.  I just archived it.  any attribution of it to me is in gravest error (and I thought I had checked all of those)

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

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THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

Sublunary is NOT mine.  I just archived it.  any attribution of it to me is in gravest error (and I thought I had checked all of those)



Oops, sorry Tevish, i was going by The Horror Within thread, I must have misread Barinellos's attribution to you. I'll fix those.

Incidently: I can't find the authors for the following short stories

Dear and Decorations
Mayor of Avabruck
Sublunary
The Cellar Door
Nightfall
… and then, the squirrels came.
Aside from that, this is a different era or activity for this board. Thirty is unreasonably optimistic.



I have faith in the community. between the two Innistrad short story contests we have 11 stories. I'm planning on writing a couple. I know others enjoy writing stories. 30 is high, but i think it is doable.
… and then, the squirrels came.
The Cellar Door is mine.  I hadn't noticed it being mis/unattributed in my first pass.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

Follow me to No Goblins Allowed

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THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

Hm, yeah, probably would've been good to mention this beforehand...

That said, I would like to see another anthology put together (we still have to finish the other proposed anthology that, frankly, I can't even remember the subject of anymore), so I'm pretty giddy about that prospect. Plus, I can probably write a few short pieces for this. I don't think 30 is totally unrealistic, and aiming high will give us leeway when it comes to accepting things.

We should advertise in YMTC.

(This discussion should also have prooobably happened beforehand over in the Expanded Multiverse forums... just a thought ;) )
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
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Though I don't mind  you re-posting the story I wrote as you credited me. I would have preferred it if you had asked first.
I could probably whip up a story or two, I think this would be a lot of fun

And Keeper, I believe that the other anthology you are thinking of is Alara (I say this because I know that there is an as-far-as-i-know unfinished anthology for it rather than anything else, I may be wrong)
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Better question, what does Nicol Bolas want with the lightbulb?
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Yeah, we're currently working on that one. I've got the file, I've just got to put images in... (which is going to be an interesting task in and of itself).

Turns out what I was thinking of was Scars, which is probably juuust about ready for compiling (although there's a lot less works than for Alara).
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
(Click through to view the cover and announcement page)Want to get your work in the Expanded Multiverse? Come join the project! Oh, and check out my blog, Storming the Ivory Tower: making sense of academia, media, and culture twice weekly.
How many does scars have?
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Better question, what does Nicol Bolas want with the lightbulb?
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I think 30 is a perfectly good number, and I may even try and contribute something!
Best of luck to all of the authors/contributors!
In the effort of getting some stuff in, I'm looking for a collaborator to work with. I have a character who has had history on the plane, but so far she doesn't have any stories associated with her (though she has half of one.)

Anyways, I'd be interested in helping someone write a story featuring her.

Crucible
by Skibo

“Life is a crucible,” Anton said to the squirrel outside his window. “You put in your hopes, your dreams, your worries, your fears.  And you take from it your joys, your sorrows, your triumphs and defeats.” He fed the squirrel a nut. It perked up. “There’s a cosmic balance there though. You cannot take, without first giving.” The squirrel went about its work of cracking the nut, not listening to the words Anton spoke.  “We all take from it, and we all must give to it.” And with that he slammed a wooden mallet down on the creature’s back.


~ ~ ~


Anton slipped down the inn’s stairs as quiet as an alley cat. The lithe, pale man stood average height, and wore plain clothing. He smiled on occasion, and never swore. 


At the front desk, lady Zaria the owner of the Inn, and Miss Chessa spoke about the news. “You hear about that man they found in the alley?” said Miss Chessa.


“Terrible shame,” said lady Zaria. “They said he owned a small pub on the other side of town.”


“Everyone thinks it’s a robbery, but my friend’s half-brother’s daughter knows a deputy, and he says the man had on all his jewelry. And what’s more,” miss Chessa leaned in close, “I hear he had an ear missing. Cut clean off with a knife.” 


“Don’t be daft, who would want an ear?” lady Zaria said.


“I hear that’s what assassins do. They take an ear as proof of the kill.” 


“Owning a pub is dangerous business Milendia, that’s why me and Conrad opened an inn. Its safer.” lady Zaria stopped when she spotted Anton, “Good morning lad. How’d you sleep?”


“Very well,” said Anton, “It’s good to be off the road for a little while.”


“And will you be staying a few more days?” lady Zaria inquired. 


“Yes, I still have business uptown to deal with.” And with that, Anton left the Inn.


~ ~ ~


Sandor arrived at dusk. A bewitching hour that suited his quarry. Sandor stood six feet tall, with a cloak draped off to one side. He carried a bag in one hand. He stepped out of the carriage, and walked briskly to the nearest inn. After making arraignments for a room with the inn owner, a chipper fellow by the name of Pyotr, Sandor went to the nearest bar. 


Sandor sat at the back of the bar and retrieved the notepad from his pocket. He observed the patrons of the bar, their patterns, and their defining characteristics. Hoping to see a flash of familiarity in the sea of drunkards. He wasn’t interested in the drunks though, he was interested in the one who hunted them. His target wasn’t a vampire, or a werewolf, but a man. And he had been searching for many months. 


Sandor first noticed the pattern in his town, people killed at night, with random body parts cut off. Drunks mostly, though some women and children. But as soon as he picked up the trail, it went cold. The killed had moved on. But Sandor followed him, slowly, but surely he was catching up. 


Sandor observed the ones who weren’t drinking, or weren’t drinking enough. Those were the ones he was after.


~ ~ ~


Anton sprinkled the squirrel fur into his cauldron. The liquid inside turned a dark green and emitted black smoke. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out the ear he had acquired last night. He dropped the ear into the mixture, turning it a lovely purple. 


He just needed dog’s blood and a finger. And three days for the potion to cook before moving on. 


He rummaged through his trash for the remnants of yesterday’s dinner, a bone covered in bits of loose meat. Attractive enough for a stray dog. He grabbed his knife and headed out.


~ ~ ~


Sandor moved from bar to bar. Observing, noting, watching, waiting. Yet his prey eluded him. In the morning he knew why.


No one would think anything of it. The dead dog found on the outskirts of town. Strays are often the target of wolf packs, and while this was an especially brutal attack, such things are not unheard of. But to Sandor’s trained eyes, he saw the tell tales signs. Knife, not fang marks, cuts, not tears. The thing had been killed and drained of blood, cut apart to look like an attack and scattered around. 


Sandor observed the buildings nearby, the usual assortments of houses, taverns, and markets. But one building caught his eye, an inn. 


~ ~ ~


Anton poured the blood in slowly, allowing it to fully mix into the potion before adding any more. It took a delicate hand to do alchemy, and an expert mind. At last the blood fully combined with the potion causing it to bubble. Anton only had a few hours to find a finger. Freshly severed. 


He missed the days of grave robbing, alchemy that had no time limits, nor such restrictions. But powerful alchemy required tradeoffs. He grabbed his knife. 


~ ~ ~


Sandor took stock of the men and women staying at the Inn. There was a business man from Nephilia, a trader from a neighboring town, a woman with her daughter that seem to just be passing through, and a young man whom no one knew anything about. Lady Zaria believed him to be a trader, though upon further questioning she admitted to not knowing his profession. As far as Sandor could figure, the stranger had no dealings with anyone in town. 


Sandor stayed just outside the inn until nightfall. And when the stranger came out, he followed him. The young man walked quickly across town, passing many bars until he reached on in the run down area. He took a seat away from the other patrons and drank water. 


Sandor moved to the bar, and began drinking watered down ales. Positioning himself to be able to keep one eye on the stranger at all times. 


As the evening wound down, the patrons became to disperse. Sandor saw the stranger leave and followed him. The stranger, moved down an alley after a drunkard, and Sandor followed several paces behind. Always keeping a distance, Sandor followed the stranger as he made his way through the back alleys. The stranger knew the town well. Sandor pulled his blade from its sheath, and readied himself to strike down the man if he when he  attacked the drunkard. 


At once, the sound of struggle erupted from around the corner, Sandor scurried around the dimly lit corner and ran down the alleyway. When he arrived, he saw the commotion. Two stray dogs fighting over a bone. Before he could react, Sandor felt a blow to the back of his head, and then darkness.   


~ ~ ~


Sandor awoke some time later. Standing. He struggled, but it was in vain. He was tied to a tree with heavy rope. Off in the distance he could see the lamp lights of the town. But there was no hope of calling out and being heard. 


“You impressed me,” Anton stepped from the shadows, “You almost caught me. Almost stopped me.”


“Release me!” Sandor shouted. 


Anton smiled. 


“You know, Life is a crucible...”

… and then, the squirrels came.
How many does scars have?

12, by my count, although I may have missed one.
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
(Click through to view the cover and announcement page)Want to get your work in the Expanded Multiverse? Come join the project! Oh, and check out my blog, Storming the Ivory Tower: making sense of academia, media, and culture twice weekly.
Scars could probably get more if we dredged up the contests... there were some good non-winners.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

Follow me to No Goblins Allowed

A M:tG/D&D message board with a good community and usable software

 


THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

@ Scars Anthology:

12 is a good start, Innistrad has 11 from short story contests.

Do you think it would be too much of a strain to do both at the same time?
… and then, the squirrels came.
I just rolled this out in about half an hour, and while I'm not happy with it, I think it could be a bit of fun.  I'm aware that you try to avoid main characters in these things (I use the term main loosely) but the fact is this popped into my head and I couldn't resist.

The problems that I can see are numerous but its 4 am and I figured that I would throw it up here and let you guys tear it to pieces for me, then I'll have a crack at reassembling the remains after I've slept.

Enjoy



On a distant plane called Innistrad


Amidst the turmoil and the strife


There was born a young man Tibalt


And cursed name brings cursed life


In the drownyards of Nephalia


He tried to learn himself a trade


But his mentor found him lacking


Dismissing every corpse he made


 


Oh Tibalt my boy, my dear friend


Do not listen to what they say


You can find your way in this world


If you’ll just come with me and stay


 


Rejected by the skaberans


All alone and isolated


He turned his skill to different aims


To hurt the world that he so hated


He started small, testing limits


And no one noticed the rats go


But his studies called for more flesh


And his victims began to grow


 


Oh Tibalt my boy, my dear friend


Do you realise what you’re doing?


It’s not just vermin anymore


I can see the darkness brewing


 


Soon even dogs were not enough


His thirst continued to swell


And his torture of the living


Brought creatures who in darkness dwell


Their language was not like his own


But it spoke to him nonetheless


Their chittering give him insights


Into the human body’s stress


 


Oh Tibalt my boy, my dear friend


You change more and more every day


Everyone’s noticed the difference


And you should hear what people say


 


Such works cannot go unnoticed


And inquisitors came to call


The door shattered as they entered


And they found him blood drenched, in thrall


But as the devils fled that place


Tibalt cast a spell most fiendish


He felt the pain that he had caused


And the cathars saw him vanish


 


 


Oh Tibalt my boy, my dear friend


Can you see what that spell has done?


Your blood is now a devils blood


And devils yearn to see blood run.


 
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Better question, what does Nicol Bolas want with the lightbulb?
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I'm a bit biased when it comes to poetry, so i enjoyed it. It needs a little polishing, but nice.

The only major problem i have with the poem is that it is a retelling Tibait's origin story, which Wotc already did. This poem doesn't really add anything to Tibait's character.

The idea of avoiding main characters is one of praticality. Established characters have personalities, timelines, and continuity. It is difficult to write a story using them that dosen't contradict what Wotc has written about the character.

Maybe if you rewrote the poem from Tibait's perspective you can add something new to his character. Or set the peom before or after his ascention. Some area of his life Wotc hasn't covered.
… and then, the squirrels came.
Mayor of Avabruck
by ???

The story is titled "Dear Namior." I wrote it.

Embrace imagination.

Lord of YMtC | Ten Rounds Contest Winner

Solphos – A fan set with a 'combo matters' theme

Fool's Gold – The second set of the Solphos block

This is just me being nitpicky, but: would you be able to revise the posts on the first two pages so that you dont have










this many lines between each paragraph? Spoiler tags on the actual content itself can help further shorten the posts so someone's not spending a couple minutes scrolling each page.
The main concern I had with attempting to add anything was that given how much of tibalt is left vague anything original I write would be open to being blown away by canon.

But writing it from his perspective could be cool, I'll have a fiddle around later and see how it turns out.
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Better question, what does Nicol Bolas want with the lightbulb?
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The main concern I had with attempting to add anything was that given how much of tibalt is left vague anything original I write would be open to being blown away by canon. But writing it from his perspective could be cool, I'll have a fiddle around later and see how it turns out.



I think it's fine.
Skibo is just being nitpicky.
There really isn't any reason to alter it aside from some minor alterations.
Well I can complain about the rhythm and several of the rhymes are nothing short of embarrassing so I'll be playing about a bit anyway
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Getting Ahead
by Skibo

The explosion echoed through the graveyard, shards of granite fell like rain. In the dark night, Lew could see the man sized hole in the side of the mausoleum. His partner was already running up to the monument brandishing a crowbar.


Lew grabbed his tools, and rushed for the hole as well. They hadn’t much time. In the distance, dogs barked at the shock of the explosion, and the cold midnight air would only slow people’s investigation of the noise for so long. 


Lew stepped into the tomb, and slipped a crowbar under the casket cover. Together, him and his partner pushed the cover from the tomb. Within, a simpler wooden coffin rested, much more fitting for a holy man. Lew took out a hatchet and cut the ropes that bound the box. Lifting the coffin’s lid, they found their prize. The body of Nicolai, the priest of the city of Erdwal. 


Lew’s partner started the delicate task of removing the head while Lew stepped out for a moment. The city had come alive with lights and noise. Off near the graveyard gate, he heard a bird call. The signal from his other co-conspirator to wrap up the robbery.  Lew could see why. Spilling out of the city and onto the road that led to the cemetery were dozens of people. Each held a torch high. The lookout gave another call. 


Lew went back inside just as his partner finished the deed, stuffing the priest’s head into a black bag. “We’re done here,” he said, slinging the bag over his shoulder. 


The three conspirators met up on the other side of the cemetery and slipped out into the forest. 


~ ~ ~


The three thieves caught their breathes a little ways into the forest. Dimka, Lew’s male partner, still gripped the black bag with a vice. Lew had picked him because of his strength and intelligence. Dimka hailed from a rich trading family in Nephlia, yet he choose to live the life of a thief. 


“We have to start moving,” Fanya said “It will be many days of travel before we reach Kessig.” Fanya was a guide and a survivalist. Her expertise was indispensable on the journey. Her keens eyes also made her the best lookout.


“You’re right,” Lew said, “we’ll hike through the night, and make camp in the morning.” 


~ ~ ~


Lew didn’t fancy himself a grave robber. Most of his marks were still living socialites, and on occasion a vampire or two. But money is money, and the money was good. 


They traveled for many days, until they reached the borderland of Kessig. That’s where the danger began. Stopping at a kill site, Fanya examined a dead deer. “Werewolves,” she concluded “Five or six, a pack”.  The beasts were prevalent in Kessig, forming hunting packs that rip and tear through the forest. “We should put distance between us and this deer,” she concluded. 


Fanya kept a watchful eye as the trio progressed through the deep forest. Every snapped twig or bird call set them on edge. Fanya carried a cross bow, but such a device would do little to stop a rampaging werewolf. For his part, Dimka held onto the head like it was solid silver. 


When the three had reached a river bend, with dusk fast approaching they decided to make camp. Fanya drew from her pack a thin chain. Every tenth link was blessed silver. Enough to discourage a werewolf she hoped. She placed the chain around her bedding. 


It started with a growl. Faint at first, at the edge of the clearing. Fanya was the first to wake. Then shuffling around the outskirts, staying out of the firelight. Dimka and Lew woke. Dimka was the first to act, grabbing his blade, he slashed at the darkness. 


It was just the opening needed, and a second werewolf leapt from the shadows and clawed into Dimka’s back. Lew reacted instantly, swinging his saber at the werewolf’s exposed flank. Fanya, had loaded her cross bow and took aim at the shadows. Her keen eyes caught a glimpse of fur and lodged an arrow into the first werewolf. “A hunting pair,” she said loading another bolt.


Dimka was feeling light headed as he fought back his werewolf attacker. Blood was pouring from his back. He threw the head down, and ran the werewolf through with his blade. The werewolf, swept up in blood lust, did nothing to avoid the blade, and instead sunk it’s fangs into Dimka’s neck. The two fell where they stood. Dead. 


Fanya locked her target onto the other wolf still prowling at a distance. Not as bold as the other, it skirted the camp site. She followed its movement around the camp and when it hesitated, she fired. The shot imbedded itself just above its heart. The beast’s apprehension broke, and it charged at Fanya, tackling her to the ground, and clawing. Lew ran his sword through the thing, ending its miserable life. Lew helped Fanya to her feet. The woman was shaken to her core, bloodied with claw marks, clothing in tatters, but alive. 


Lew looked at the werewolves. In death, freed from their curse. They were men, nothing remarkable about them at all. 


~ ~ ~


Neither Lew nor Fanya knew whether Dimka belonged to the Avacyn Church, but decided a decent burial was called for. They found a natural depression in the forest floor and placed Dimka and the two men there. After a pray, loose soil was thrown over the three. And a wooden stake hammered in the mark the site. 


It was another day before they arrived at Travis’s house. The hermetic alchemist lived in a simple hovel. One that belied his vast wealth. The man was once the most powerful alchemist in Erdwal now spent his time in solitude. 


“You have done well,” he said examining the head, “He is just as I remember him.” 


Lew and Fanya sat uncomfortably in Travis’s workshop. “As promised, twenty pounds of silver split two ways.” He handed them a sack each. 


“What are you going to do with the head?” Fanya asked. “Build a skabb with it?”


“Oh no,” Travis chuckled, “I never want to see this face again.” He placed the head in a jar of embalming fluid. “Nicolai was the one who drove me from Erdwal, forced me into this god forsake place.” 


He opened a cupboard, and placed the jar on the shelf, “But I take great joy in known that as long as his head is with me, he’ll never enjoy the blessed sleep.”  He closed the cupboard door.


“Now neither of us will get what we want. “

… and then, the squirrels came.
The main concern I had with attempting to add anything was that given how much of tibalt is left vague anything original I write would be open to being blown away by canon. But writing it from his perspective could be cool, I'll have a fiddle around later and see how it turns out.



You could look at what Barinellos did with Violent Ultimatum.

… and then, the squirrels came.
But... the poem DOES add something new.

It adds a poem! :D
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
(Click through to view the cover and announcement page)Want to get your work in the Expanded Multiverse? Come join the project! Oh, and check out my blog, Storming the Ivory Tower: making sense of academia, media, and culture twice weekly.
Another thought occurred to me.

I think I want to take over the Scars anthology, if there's no objections, but I want to start it a bit sooner than Scars of Mirrodin.

If there are no objections from the other M:EMbers, I want to have the first few stories take place in the aftermath of the Invasion, during the collapse of Phyrexia. This will allow us to have an order similar to the divisions in the Alara anthology. It can be divided into three parts: Death, Struggle, Birth. Isn't that just marvelously perverse and Phyrexian?! We reverse the order of life itself, turn it all on its head, and transform it into an unending struggle!

Guys. Guys. We should do this guys. Can we do this?

Also, Skibo, should I start a new thread for submissions to round out Scars, or can we keep it all sort of contained in this thread?






As a preliminary example of what I'm thinking of, here's a piece I put together for a contest Pete Venters ran two years ago:



The Will


The true nature of Phyresis manifested to me at the moment of my dark god’s death. I had survived the God of Screaming Metal himself, and now every agony and every torment that his dumb machines worked upon me reminded me of this triumph. The grinding wheels and flames of the Seventh Sphere no longer seemed punishment but refinement. When He sentenced me to the seventh sphere, He ensured my final compleation.

The day the bonds shattered and the gnawing gears halted I grieved for the loss of such delicious pain.

Now free, I wandered the shattered plane, rebuilding myself. Phyrexia collapsed around me, caving to my will, and the will of my kind—demons and generals that outlived their god. I slew the greatest of these—an ancient Negator—and ripped the ambulator from its chest. Phyrexia died behind me as I stepped into the howling Blind Eternities, dying that I might be born. Quickly, quickly now, the worlds fell beneath me. I blanketed beneath my innovations and creations, a veritable paradise of oil and metal, an orgy of consumption and growth. Soon others will follow, and I, the servant, will spread the great work further than the Master ever did.


I know of other dark gods like me, twisted and beautiful, metal and flesh, Phyresis personified. They, too, spread the great work through the multiverse— to Moag, to Mirrodin, to Dominaria, to Valla, to countless unnamed and unknown worlds.


I will venture from my empire. I will hunt and slaughter my beautiful brothers and sisters. I will graft them and consume them and tie them to myself. Through them I will become compleat. Through phyresis, I will be perfected.


For phyresis, I do this.


For Phyrexia.



There are a few other such stories in this thread that might be worth saving.
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
(Click through to view the cover and announcement page)Want to get your work in the Expanded Multiverse? Come join the project! Oh, and check out my blog, Storming the Ivory Tower: making sense of academia, media, and culture twice weekly.