A Miroan Night (Expository Story)

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Derickkeyman
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A Miroan Night (Expository Story)

Post by Derickkeyman » Thu Nov 03, 2016 6:46 pm

A Miroan Night

Hungar was always cold. Whether it was digging out a trench with a rusty spade, pulling the cold steel of a trigger, or huddling in a snow cave with nothing but a tin of lukewarm tea to stave off the tundra whose wind whistled outside, Hungar was cold. It was hard not to be cold in Miroa, though, whose northernmost regions easily dipped into the negatives on a sunny day and whose summers were marked by a slight reduction in the severity of frostbite. Miroa, the name of his continent, where he’d been born and baptized in the fetid blood of corpses. Miroa, the land that he fought for now, huddled in this snow cave that him and his squadron had carved out with their bare, bloodied hands.

It was all of ten feet long and five feet tall, just big enough for the six men of Bear Company to scurry into like basement rats and try and catch some shut eye. That had been the day’s task, right after a five mile march and digging a network of trenches a half-mile off from a towering ebony fort. In between all of that, masses of zombies and ghouls, even a neophyte lich, had attempted to swarm and swamp Hungar, his men, and the rest of the Black Lion’s army. They’d merely succeeded in drawing Hungar’s blood.

Now, in the snow cave, Hungar looked over to his left, eying the rest of his men with some concern. Harold had taken a blighted arrow to the shoulder and was recovering slowly but surely as he sipped his own tea, spiked with a healing potion. Next to Harold was Ulf, a poor lad who’d joined the army as a place to find home, a family, something to care about. His shaggy brown hair had been matted for as long as Hungar had known him, eyes sunken deep into his skull as he cleaned his rifle. That’s all Ulf ever did, clean his damn rifle and fight.

Across from Ulf was Yaggard, a big, brawny Northlander who’d lost an eye at the start of this campaign two years ago, to some demi-lich with a penchant for curses. The wound had never stopped oozing pus, but Yaggard had long since stopped caring. The Alchemists told him that if he didn’t retire and get it treated, the curse would eat its way to his brain and kill him. Yaggard, the old bastard, had just spat at their shoes and said, “Well then I’ll have to make sure the next fucking lich kills my ass.” He’d gotten forty lashes for that outburst but was allowed to keep his position.

The woman occasionally wiping away Yaggard’s pus was Melta, and that was the only time that Hungar had ever seen her act womanly. During a fight she was a crack shot, and it was her pet wolf that kept watch over their section of the trenches while the company slept. One time she’d saved Hungar’s life by ripping a ghoul’s head off with her bare hands and then punting it into some horror’s maw, choking it and giving them enough time for a tactical retreat. After that, no one had ever given her shit about being a woman in the army. She was known as Melta Dick-Ripper for a reason.

Finally, across from Hungar, was the Company’s battle-medic, and one of the very few elves that the army had. A short Wild Elf, his brown hair tied back in a slightly frozen pony tail, his brown eyes working over the supplies in a medical satchel. Leotan had been an asset from the moment he’d stepped into the Company’s ranks, having saved everyone in there dozens of times. He was an Alchemist by trade, and could deal out deadly force if necessary. Slung across his back was a long brass rifle that he could feed vials into and use to shoot deadly poisons at the enemy, including potions that burst into flames on contact with the air.

That particular memory made Hungar smile.

Eventually, Hungar looked down and saw himself in a smattering of ice on the floor, clear and reflective as pond water. There was a man there, staring up at him, with faded blue eyes and hair that was much too white for his age. He was only thirty, but a career survivor of Miroa had aged him considerably. Deep pock-marks covered his face, his full beard was matted and patchy, and if he shaved it he knew there’d only be splotches of scars from the cold wind of Miroa, where the freeze and the magic had worked together to rot off parts of his skin. Around his eyes were a pair of circular scars, like burn scars, but paler and cleaner. He’d had those for a long time.

With a swift motion, Hungar cracked the ice he was looking into and looked around, giving them a gruff nod. With that nearly-silent gesture, each one of them drained the remains of their tea and leaned against the wall of the snow cave, closing their eyes and preparing for a short night of fitful sleep.

***

Bear Company got four hours of sleep, which was the most consecutive hours of sleep they’d gotten in a long time. A deep rumbling eventually began to rock the snow cave, a constant thrum of vibrations that was punctuated with regular, deafening cracks, as if Kaal himself were kicking against the walls of the fortress. Yaggard was the first to wake, and he quietly poked Hungar with the butt of his gun in the shin. That awakened the man fully, and it didn’t take long for him to realize what was going on. The battle had begun, either by one side or the other.

Still stooped, Hungar poked his head out of the snow cave just in time to see what was causing the deafening noises. Walking over the trenches… Over his head was a hundred foot tall… Beast. To call it an animal was wrong, to call it a monster was a vast understatement. It was one hundred feet tall, by Hungar’s reckoning, with two massive heads and three tails, talons of Infernium, and a scale hide as black as the abyss. It vaguely resembled the legendary dinosaur’s of Shalzaar, but this thing was a monster, an infernal agent, a Herald of Miron. It passed overhead and continued on its journey to the walls.

The forward most trenches had begun loading up small artillery while the back most were already firing the big stuff, pounding away at the fortress’ walls with Xos Enhanced weaponry. Soldiers were beginning to rouse as the night wore on, the other members of Bear Company suiting up as Hungar kept watch. From within the trenches he could not see anything, so he propped up a couple of boxes and leaned on them, peeking over the top. The wind was strong tonight, so he dug out his pair of goggles and strapped them on, cold brass cutting a new swath of frost into his skin, deepening the pair of scars around his eyes. But he could see, at least.

Coming towards the trenches was the vague outline of a horde, what looked to be nearly two hundred mindless undead and was no doubt more in reality, had begun a slow march towards the trenches. The foremost soldiers had already begun opening fire, and it was not long before the horn for Bear Company’s section of the trenches blew. To the left and the right, Hungar saw other soldiers rouse and come out of their snow caves, rifles in the crooks of their shoulders, swords on their belts, pistols being strapped into their boots, ready to fight the putrid, wretched mass

One by one, Hungar’s group filed out of their snow cave and peered over the trenches as well, awaiting their orders. Soon, they came in the form of an imp dropping a parcel onto Hungar’s head, which he quickly read. The forward line was to keep the horde at bay until dawn, at which point Hungar and his group would advance forward with some four hundred other Miroan warriors, break the undead’s line, and route them into their own fortress. He caught a hint of something that looked like a plan to then detonate an ether charge of sizeable proportions, but it was just a hint. Nothing more. And in the Miroan army you did what you were told, nothing more.

Hungar was not a man who prayed often, that was what Leotan did to Zorah when the commanders weren’t looking, but when charged to idle as a battle is waged in front of you for several hours… There isn’t much more to do. It was to Krondhir that he prayed, asking for an honorable battle, tactical superiority, and if it all came to an end, an honorable death not plagued by an eternity as a shambling Miroan zombie. A pretty standard set of requests, and in Miroa, what more did they really have to ask for?
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