Someone grabbed my arm and pulled me into the shadows, while the villagers were distracted sharing songs and fairytales around the bonfire. It was Gale.
“You must come with us Peaceke- Chianna
. We need your help,” he said. I could see the distraught on his face even through the darkness. Two hooded silhouettes followed him, and a soldier flanked his side.
“Sure, but what is it?”
“I’ll tell you along the way. Hurry now, we must go.” A cloak was thrown over my shoulders and I was escorted into the woods.
We made quick time. It was interesting to travel with companions as quick-footed as I. No one slowing me down, or asking me what to avoid. We crossed a shallow river and found the trees thinner here. It was then that Gale decided to spare me details.
“Something is happening to our villages, Chianna. Something even magic cannot explain. People are disappearing. Some return, but… not themselves. Plantlife is dying. Stretches of forest just decaying in a matter of days. Even the animals themselves, they’ve gone…rabid. It’s as if a disease is making its way across the lands, killing all life in its wake.”
“A disease?” I asked, wondering what I could possibly do to stop such a thing.
“Seems so. One of our scouts, Roak, has been watching the area. It’s been steadily getting worse. Unfortunately, he’s…”
“Been infected,” I finished.
“Yes.” He looked at me, with brown eyes boring deep into my skull. “How did you know that?”
“I heard people talking about him.” What? It was true.
“Well, we’ve caught him in time enough to stop the deteriorating process, but from what we’ve heard, the villagers haven’t been so lucky. And unfortunately we can’t even reach any of them.” He nervously raised a hand to rub something on the back of his neck, his grey hair twitching in the breeze.
“The animals… they’ve formed some kind of perimeter around the village and they won’t let us through. It’s as if they’ve gone mad, Chianna.”
Silence followed us further into the unknown. I had been noticing the depleted voices for some time now, but even in the quiet, there was always a presence, always life
. Now I heard and felt nothing. Complete emptiness apart from the three mages, the soldier, and myself.
We rounded a bank and I felt life again. Lots of it. And soon we could see whose life it was.
They were all pacing the edge of the woods; rabbits, wolves, deer, muskrats, creatures of all orientation regardless of their placement on the food chain. I didn’t have to see them clearly to feel the rigid muscles and distress pulsing from each beast. Frothing mouths, bloodshot eyes; they were all full of such rage, I could feel it all the way to my bones.
Everyone stopped half a league away. Any closer and we’d set them off.
Gale crouched low to the ground and pulled me beside him.
“There.” He pointed past the trees behind them and toward the faint light bleeding through the branches. “It’s like they’re guarding it, but I don’t understand why.”
“They aren’t guarding it, not exactly. Not in the protective sense, at least,” I muttered.
“What are they saying?” Gale asked.
I stretched my mind across the field and reached out to the world. It was as easy as opening up a bag.
Traitors. Traitors. Traitors….
They deserve it.
No one shall pass. None shall assist.
They have chosen their own demise.
“They believe whatever is happening in village is justified. They want to let everyone die.”
The lone soldier flinched. “I’m not going to let that happen, my sister is in there!” He unsheathed his sword and charged toward the pack of rabid animals.
“No!” Gale breathed too late. The man was already making a mad dash into the wilderness, and the beasts had noticed him. Gale had barely the time to lift his staff and begin the makings of a wind turbine before the soldier disappeared screaming beneath dozens of enraged hides.
They turned on us then, smelling our scent on in the air, and I heard the pounding of claws and hooves making their way to the place where we stood.
Gale was frantically trying to conjure some kind of defense with the wind, but he didn’t have enough time. The air would be a mere pinprick to their noses. “Tell them to stop, Chianna!” he shouted, out of breath.
!” It was no use, they weren’t listening to me. They were mad, all of them.
I heard howling next. Louder. A shadow flew past us from behind and stopped in between us and the oncoming hoard. Then the shadow roared with such ferocity, the ground itself shook.
The pounding stopped. All of the creatures retreated in a flash of seconds and we were alone in the wilderness once again. Alone with the shadow. It turned around to face us, and I saw it was not just a shadow, but a wolf. A pure, sane wolf.
Its ears bent back, its golden eyes narrowed and it nodded in a sign of respect. The night went still.
Where have you been, Peacekeeper?
Inspiration taken from Bumblebee's Visitors: The Eight Kind. It was actually a single sentence of him mentioning how skeletal Deoxys looked. And I somehow started thinking about zombies... which is the essence I've put on my plague.