"Old man, get up!" Enrique ordered. "Tell us what has happened!"
"That is no old man." Kilik said grimly. "His hair has just been turned white. "And look at his eyes - they are filled with madness."
The man cowered on the ground, gibbering and wailing. Suddenly he jumped up, yelled "HJAAHUIHUJJAAA" and, waving his hands, leapt at Valgarth as if to attack. The knight leaned back, drawing his axe and decapitating the peasant all in one fluid motion. The body crumbled into dust.
"That was no human being." Enrique whispered. "This is a most terrible omen."
"Knights, we press on!" Kilik shouted. "Chuck, Alyssa, Rowle - be ready with our equipment!"
Within minutes, they reached the outskirts of Carbo Village. The once prosperous hamlet was now a massive funeral pyre, filled with the screams of the dying. The Knights and Squires watched the event with consternation.
"Look, something is coming out of the flames!" Enrique yelled.
And something indeed was. Out of the inferno shuffled nightmarish creatures - reminiscent of giant spiders - walking on stick-thin red legs, their body a small glowing red ball, painted with a crude black smiley face.
"Hi!" one of them chirped as it advanced. "Happyman wants to play with you!"
"Can we be your friends? Please?" another begged in the same squeaky, monotone voice. More and more emerged from the fire, giggling and squeaking in a horrid cacophony.
"What abomination is this?" Enrique gasped. "With my blade, I will run these demons through!"
He charged forward with the Allarian battle cry on his lips. As he neared within feet of the monster, it suddenly swung it's leg forward, slicing Enrique apart at the midsection where it struck. The young knight tumbled to the ground, dead within even a sigh.
"NO!!!" Alyssa screamed.
"Oops, he's broken!" said the beast, poking Enrique's body. "He can't play anymore!"
"Spawn of Hell, I will defeat you!" Valgarth roared, charging at the thing, Kilik close behind. They swiftly set upon the creature, and Valgarth smashed it's head open with a well aimed chop from Garabolas. The beast shrieked in agony, then crumpled, bleeding green fluid and legs in the air.
"Gee, that wasn't nice." said another of the monsters, suddenly scuttling up and driving a razor sharp claw into Kilik's chest. Blood burst from the noble knight's throat. Valgarth lunged at the enemy, but was suddenly decapitated himself by a swipe from the side, as the enemies swarmed upon him.
The squires sat frozen in fear, watching dozens more of the hideous creatures emerge from the flames. Then they beheld Kilik's head swivel around and groan "Run... run, you kids... save yourselves..." and then he grinned and exploded in inhuman laughter. The squires didn't need to be told twice. They turned their ponies and bolted back into the woods, frantically throwing off sacks of equipment to lighten their ponies' load.
"Leave Alyssa behind if she slows down!" Chuck yelled. "We've got to get out of here!"
They rode onto a fork in the road.
6/27/2002 10:00:10 AM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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