Friday, August 20, 2004

Friday Story Time 1: Classical Horror, MvM, MvH

Teutoburg

The mud was cold and thick, and smelled of blood and shit. It was raining, as it had the entire time they'd been marching. From his position behind the natural hedge, Decimus Gallus could see little beyond the far copse of trees. Around him, men were staggering to their feet and scraping the filth off of themselves as best they could. The groans and crying of those not yet dead permeated the path. Decimus felt the bile rising in his throat, and he leaned over, vomiting at the sight of the slaughter.

It was the third time they had come, and the most fierce. Tired, wounded and dazed men looked to the sides as the fur-clad men boiled out of the trees. And those men came upon them, shrieking and roaring like beasts. Decimus has tried to rally his men, exhorting them to form up, but Julius' neck had been snapped and Lucius was gone. He saw Varus, the general, from afar, but only for a moment before his leg came out from under him and the mud flew up and the darkness enveloped him.

Decimus limped over to a form half-buried in the mud; he kneeled with a wince and, with some effort, rolled the body over. Petrius, and his arm was gone, and his throat torn out. Deep gouges in his skin- bite marks, and no wonder- the Teutonic tribes often used dogs in their attacks. Decimus felt himself become sick again at the idea of his longtime friend gone, his corpse in this stinking mud.

He rolled over, and sat on the swampy ground for a moment, and was overcome by what he saw. Not more than one man in three was rising. Three legions had come, and now perhaps a third were still alive. And they were out there, watching and waiting for the moment to finish the battered Romans off. Decimus began to cry, and buried his face in his arm, that his compatriots would not see him unmanned. All of his men, dead. They would all die here, even Varus. The sobs choked him, but after a moment, he had control of himself again, wiped his eyes and stood. He had failed his Emperor and his men, and knew what he had to do.

He calmly walked off the path, into the trees, and unsheathed his sword. The wind swirled his cloak around his ankles.

"Here they come!" came the cry from the road, just as Decimus was placing the point of the sword on his chest. Men scrambled to find weapons, to find shelter from the attack. Decimus looked up, and saw the throng of men running towards him. And blinked.

The men alternated their runs, dropping to all fours, then again on their legs. They were wearing furs- no it was their fur. Great and shaggy and horrible, and slavering as they approached. Not men, but no beast he had ever seen. Decimus scrambled to grab the handle of his blade, and his fingers brushed against it just as he was bowled over by the man-beast. He could smell it's sweaty hide, a earthy scent for a moment, and then he was tumbling into the road, face first into the mud. He rolled over, and his arm was pinned and crushed as one of the creatures leapt upon him.

His vision was blood, but the creature was clear before him. Flat-nosed, with dirty shaggy fur, and black eyes. The mouth was human, though, but for those sharp fangs that gleamed yellowly- it seemed to be grinning. Decimus closed his eyes and pushed himself further into the mud, the rain spattering his face with flecks of dirt. And then something warm splattered on his face. He opened his eyes and saw the pilum jutting through the creature's abdomen, the sharp, shiny head of the weapon gleamed. The creature wavered for a moment, then collapsed onto Decimus, driving the pilum into his thigh, and pushing him further into the mud, which welled around his eye sockets. He began to scream for help, but the only sounds he heard were of men and beasts screaming, fighting and dying.

And the mud rose.

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