THE ELVEN BOY cowered beneath the bed, as the hulking beast-like creature devoured what remained of his mother. Through his watery blue eyes, tear-stained and red, he watched as the creature slurped the muscles from her bones. It was a terrible sight for the boy to behold, as the beast was unlike any other that he had ever seen. Its neck hung loose, as though broken badly and its face, though humanoid in appearance, was elongated like that of a canine.
The boy had heard it howling, much like a wolf before it attacked. His father had gone outside to check for the source of the noise and the boy did not see him die. His ears however, had heard everything and even now, he winced at the memory. The sound of his father's legs being torn, his screams of agony and rage as he swung a wood-cutter's axe at the creature. All of it, had been in vain.
Rrrrrgggh! the creature growled as it poked its head up from its meal. The thin scraggly remnants of its hair blew slightly, as a breeze washed into the cottage from the outside. The creatures deep yellow eyes began to glow as it sniffed the air, and its once quiet growls had risen to a threatening rumble.
The elven boy remained motionless, urine staining his shorts, as he stifled his breathing to naught but the barest sips of air. He did not wish to die as his parents had; not like them, not like this…
Suddenly, the door to his home creaked open and the thud of heavy footsteps resounded within the cottage. Thump-chink! Thump-chink! Whoever had entered was heavily armed and, judging by the sagging of the wooden floor, he was just just as heavily armoured. His steps resembled those of a tall, stocky male and the boy quickly buried himself deeper into the shadows.
“Cease creature,” the man boomed. His voice sounding like a landslide in the deep mountains, “else I shall have you purified by force!”
The creature had abandoned its meal entirely at this point. It now crouched low to the ground and adopted a threatening stance, with its fangs bared and hind legs raised. It barked furiously, snapping its jaws as it lunged forward and then backed away. It was attempting to threaten the man, but its efforts were wasted.
“Monstrous Undaya,” the man rumbled, “I can see that there is little within you to reason with. Very well, I shall grant you the release you seek.”
The creature shrieked as the man began to approach it. It snarled loudly and charged forward with an ungodly speed. The boy had not been able to see if clearly before, hiding as he was underneath the bed, but from a distance, he could see clearly that the creature was thickly muscled and probably as large as bull. It's arms were as thick as an ancient oak's branches and its muscles were both bulbous and misshapen.
From its forearms, the creature unsheathed what appeared to be long spikes of thick bone. Each little pillar tearing through it's skin and splattering blood across the ground, as they erupted from within the monstrosity. The creature then howled loudly as it leapt into the air. It spun its body like a top, with it's bone covered forearms whirling like spiked clubs.
The man however was not intimidated by the fierce attack. He stood his ground and swiftly jinked to the side as the creature spun past him, crashing into the ground. He stepped in quickly as the beast was recovering and drew back his right arm to deliver a crushing blow to the creature's jaw. The elven boy heard the sound of bone being smashed as flecks of blood sprayed the soft wood of his cottage floor.
The man then ducked away as the creature thrashed about in pain. He drew an axe that hissed from its scabbard as it whirled into his hands. His breathing became measured and deeply controlled as he stalked the creature. He circled it slowly, waiting for its thrashing movements to cease and when they did, he rushed in, delivering a heavy blow toward the creature's chest.
The boy heard the sound of the undaya's ribcage being chopped open, as a fountain of reddish-black blood sprayed out from the wound. The undaya screamed and clutched at the axe, tearing it from the man's hands as it loosed several sharp spines from deep within it's body.
The man dodged these with ease, turning his body as they shredded past him. “Know peace in death,” he declared, as he unwrapped a heavy chain that had been hung around his shoulders.
The boy felt the weight of the man's new weapon, as heavy links of chain smashed the wooden floor of his cottage. Despite their weight however, the man seemed to wield the weapon with ease. He threw it high and began to whirl it, aiming carefully at the undaya before finally casting his weapon. The heavy loops sliced the air and gripped the undaya's neck and shoulders. It rattled loudly as it slung itself around the creature, securing its arms to its body; paralysing it.
The man then pulled the creature toward him, dragging it across the ground as he retrieved his axe from its chest. The undaya shrieked as the weapon was pulled free and did its best to snap as the man's wrist. The man however seemed unconcerned with its efforts as he raised the weapon high and swiftly decapitated the beast.
The head of the undaya rolled free of its body, drooling a tiny river of stinking blood as it rolled toward the bed. “You may come out now boy, for the creature has been cleansed,” the man called out, retrieving a cloth from his belt pouch to wipe the blood off his axe.
The elven boy shook with fear as he emerged from underneath the bed. Stained in sweat and urine, he looked about his home with dead eyes. Just a few hours ago they had been laughing over dinner and now his parents lay dead, half-eaten as though left to the buzzards of the land. He turned his eyes from the sight and came face to face with an armoured giant. The man was approximately six feet tall and clad from head to toe in the heaviest armour that the boy had ever seen. Around his whole body, golden chains had been wrapped and his face was hidden by a heavy hood.
The man did not speak as he took the boy by his hand; he said no words of farewell as they left the cottage. Instead he took the boy to a distant hill, one that overlooked the entire village.
From there, the lad watched as his village burned; entire hordes of undaya preyed upon the dead and the dying. What had once been a peaceful place had now been transformed into a wretched parody of the Nether realms and it was all the boy could do to hold his tears back.
“Cry not for them, for they have gone. Weep instead for those still living,” the man rumbled as he placed his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “One day we shall purify this land, but that day is not today.”
“Then when?” asked the boy, his voice quiet with suffering, “if not today, then when will it end?”
The man crouched beside him and brought his face close to boy. Behind his hood, the man hid a face that had been deeply scarred. “It will end young warrior, on the day that you grow strong.”
The boy nodded, understanding the meaning behind the man’s words. For now, they could do nothing, but in the years to come, that would change...
An’narr fedorun, the boy whispered as he walked away from his home, may the fallen find peace, amongst the trees and the stone.