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Face of Ash
His pulse hastened, his temple throbbing so predominantly that his vision blurred with every heartbeat, causing him to shake his head to attempt to jog his recent memory back to where he was and how he had gotten there.
The ground he stood upon was a deep yellow, slick sponge-like surface. Ashen vein-like vines weaved across the endless plane, plumes of spore occasionally spouting out small mouths in the network of vines.
Coughing as he rose above the mixture of ash and spore that hung low in the air, he stumbled to his feet, looking around to see a hellish landscape, one that didn’t seem to resemble his planet, Una, in the least.
“Where am I?” he slurred, voice still raspy, the spore seeming to cling to the insides of his lungs, belaboring his breath and speech.
No one answered him vocally, but after his query, he felt a presence behind him.
The throbbing in his head intensified, almost causing him to topple over as he spun around, lethargically throwing a hand to his sword hilt as he turned to face his stalker.
A withered, ten-foot-tall figure hovered in the air a few yards from him. The creature’s ashen skin was tattered, thin; seeming like it was ready to split at the softest touch. His paper-thin skin was a deathly black purple, fading to a sickly orange-yellow around its ribs and arm bones that barely had anything separating them from view.
Its face though was a pale yellow, speckled with splotches of ash, darkening the area just around its closed eyes, mouth, and hole where its nose might have once been.
He stood there looking in disgust as the giant emaciated limbs began to spread out, its long arms hanging outstretched as if on a crucifix, its body seeming as though it were ready to tear apart from its own weight, even though it remained aloft, supernaturally hovering in the air before him.
He went for his weapon now, having seen enough of the grotesque display in front of him, but as he gripped the handle of what should have been his sword, he gripped on to something fleshy and cold.
Looking down, he held not a sword, but a rotten arm. Dropping the dead weight, he looked back up at the mummified giant to find it had moved much closer to him, only floating a few feet away from him now.
The startling swift advance set him back a step, almost stumbling over himself as the thing’s soot-lined eyes and mouth shot open, revealing nothing but black cavities within—devoid of fleshy tissue.
A low croaking moan, almost indiscernible at first, issued from the gaping maw of the mummy, the sound growing louder and louder as he turned to run from the demonic being.
The sound rattled through him, instilling an inescapable feeling of doom. His limbs were becoming less and less reliable as fear continued to cinch around every muscle in his body.
He could hear the open-mouthed, drawn-out groan directly behind him. He knew the abomination’s dry, cracked lips were mere inches from the nape of his neck.
That thought momentarily locked up his right leg—not for long, but just enough to pitch him forward, his shaken reflexes failing to see him graciously to the ground, landing hard along the web of ashen vines covering the landscape.
He lay face down in the knee-high, spore-filled cloud, attempting to force his petrified lungs to take a breath, but unable to do so, his whole body momentarily frozen as he listened to the groaning slip closer and closer towards him—and then, it stopped.
A wrung-out gasp issued from his mouth, his lungs able to starve of air no longer, intaking ashy pollen afterwards which spurred a fit of coughing.
The spasm broke him from his petrification, and he flung himself around to see a figure standing above him, a symbol burning from its forehead of a reverse crescent that showed spikes shooting forth from it, an empty, torn eye directly below the shapes.
The symbol flashed, blinding him for a moment as he brought up his hands over his face a moment too late.
Something tugged sharply at his outstretched wrist, and then the other one, both of his unattached hands now falling back down upon his chest, the realization that his hands had been severed only now striking him as a searing jolt of belated pain shot through his limbs.
Holding his two bloody stumps close to his eyes to confirm the gruesome reality, he let out a ragged scream as blood spattered down upon him, soaking in the creases of pain and terror etched in his face.
His focus switched from his bloody stumps to the figure above him, which had changed from the grotesque giant to a six-foot figure shrouded in black, raising a curved blade, ready to cleave him in twain.
As the blade came down, the shadow and ash in the air dispersed, giving him a clear view of his executioner, and everything, all the confusion as to why he was there, came into focus as he realized that the man that now cleaved his body in two, the man many knew as The Nomad, was none other than himself.
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Lands of Wanderlust, Book Two
Lords of the Sands
The epic dark fantasy your subconscious has been craving.
Arriving May 25, 2021. Only $0.99 on launch day!
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Lands of Wanderlust Saga
May 25, 2021