The Great Dying
Terrible times these were. The smell of death and plague swarmed the streets. No longer full of life, no longer vibrant with colors, but lined with the soon to be dead bodies, soon to be carted away from the city, soon to be tucked away in one of the pits. It was a nightmare Yoren thought, but then it didn’t end. He tried everything but he never woke. He cut his fingers as he wept beside the lifeless body of his daughter, great black lumps had grown on her neck, face, arms, everywhere there was skin. He closed his eyes, he couldn’t see anything but darkness, he fell asleep, maybe it was a nightmare. He would wake up and see his wife very much alive, not crammed amongst a hundred spotty bodies. He would wake up and see his daughter, he would hug her until his legs go limp. He felt his eyes swell up with tears.
He saw her outline, sleeping on the hardwood floor, just like she always did. Jera told her not to do so, but she didn’t listen, his daughter. She loves the hard life. Says her bed was too comfortable, that she wouldn’t sleep on her bed as long as there were beggars sleeping on broken pots on the muddy streets. She had a king heart, Kiera. Yoren fell on his daughter hugging her, embracing her. Hot tears raced down his cheeks. Snout flooded out of nostrils. As his knees moved, he felt the ground. It wasn’t the hardwood of his floor, he felt the sharp edge of broken pottery piercing his skin, his body letting lose a few drops of blood as he jerked his thighs. The ground was sticky, it felt clutched on his clothed, made them heavy. He looked up at the sky, all he could see was grey.
He blinked ferociously, his tears soaked his eyelashes. He looked up at the great gloomy sky. He looked around him. Somewhere in Jenewa, he didn’t often come here, but he strangely remembered this street like he remembers the street where he lived as if he took this route every day from the inn to his house daily. But he didn’t. He looked to his left, to his right. He saw bodies lined up across the street. He quickly realized what nightmare he was in. Except it didn’t feel like a nightmare, it felt real. A terrible dread traveled through his spine as he remembered what had last happened when he was last awake. He looked down at his daughter. Black lumps all over her body. Horrified at the prospect of having to bury his own daughter in the pits.
There had to be something he could do, he carried the tiny body of his daughter and walked and walked. He found his inn, the door was ajar, looked down at his daughter’s face. Now, turned into a black mess, he remembered what little memories were left of her in his mind. Weeping silently, he kicked the heavy door, it slowly creaked open like an old dying man. He entered swiftly before it closed again. The only living thing was the swirling dust and the rats, the black bloody rats. The face of evil. They came to the city and the death trailed behind them, turning entire cities into feasts for crows. If they hadn’t come all this death., all this destruction would have been avoided, but what the gods have planned for us, we cannot change, he thought.
He stared at the rat, it stared back. Then it ran to whatever place those rats like to play in. Yoren knew what he had to do. He couldn’t bear waiting for his death to see his wife and daughter. He lusted for the gardens of Heaven. Living an eternally with his daughter and wife.
Energy soared through him he piled up the wood from the chimney. The gods probably sent all this death, because they too were desperate to meet the faithful people of Flavia. The pile of straws went on fire first, small flame spreading onto the logs underneath the straw. The straw turned ash-black. The flames bit at the logs slowly swallowing them in it, turning them into charred dust. It grew and grew, the heat of it made Yoren sweat madly but he had to stay his ground, he felt the heat creeping into his core. All he could see was glowing red. His daughter lay on the ground infront of him, peaceful, as the fire swallowed her whole turning her into ashes in an instant.
A tear fell from his eyes, the redwood turned black for a second at the spot where the droplet fell. The wood quickly turned red again, hot steam rising from it. Everything around him moved, waves in the open seas, it became blurry. He looked down at the tips of his fingers then at the ashes of his daughter. His skin was tallow melting slowly under the candlelight of the fire. He didn’t feel pain, not as much as he thought he would. The fire grew closer and closer, its monstrous teeth growing larger and sharper. If that was what the Caverns of Hell would feel like, he wouldn’t have minded the gods sending him there. A flare stretched out of the fire, like the talons of an eagle attacking its prey. Oh, but he spoke of pain too early, he had challenged the gods too early, before knowing the real pain. Now he knew.
The talons stabbed him in the stomach, a whip of fire. His clothes caught fire. The fire was an inch from him, its barren teeth looking ever more frightening. It was a beast smiling at its powerless victim. He wanted to close his eyes shut, close his eyes and die, not see the beast’s face again. He wasn’t in control of his body anymore. His eyes were wide open, he hadn’t realized that he had been screaming until its fangs gnawed into his body. He could smell his cooked flesh in the air, as he gulped in the hot air. His lungs turned over, his blood boiled, his heart raced, smoke came out his mouth, black smoke as if the fire burnt inside him. His legs couldn’t keep him up and he was plunged into the fire. It had swallowed him whole, he was in its mouth. The weight of the fire crushed his lungs, he stopped breathing, his eyes were still open, but he felt mind slipping away into the Realm of the Gods, but then he was thrown back into the Realm of Men.
Someone may have saved him, no, there was no chance. He was forgotten, with all the death and destruction, who would come to the rescue of a useless old man who couldn’t save his own flesh and blood, who instead of trying to make their dreams come true for them to look down from the skies at them, tried to kill himself to get to them. But there was a chance wasnt there, he thought. The gods swiftly gave him the answer to his question. The pain increased tenfold. The flames struck him with lighting, then stabbed at him in every direction. He knew it, no one was coming. Lightning. Stab. Stab. Lightning. Lightning. Lightning.
All was silent, he felt calm. And yet, it felt extremely uncomfortable. The priest had spoken of boats taking you up a river if you were good and faithful. He had promised that nine feet tall giants would drag you in chains from the land of the dead to the Caverns if you had been bad or unfaithful. Yoren saw nothing. He felt nothing. There was nothing. He wasn’t angry because of the lies the priest had told him. He was just empty.