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Mollusk

The Blightfire Herald

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Jalafrax knelt down to the weeping girl, placing his hand on her cheek. "I'm so sorry, little one." He whispered, as the village around him burnt with chromatic fire. His small force of undead, headed by a disposable Death Knight had all perished. The villagers had burnt in his blightfire, and now all that stood was the girl and him, surrounded by a smouldering ruins of some place that didn't matter, in some lands that nearly did. He rose to his feet, looking across the village. The destruction. His destruction. "I needed to do this..." He explained, as if it would comfort her. "I've seen - I've seen something terrible come from this place. A long time ago." There were corpses all around the two, the flies evading them. The fire they burnt with was immutable and eternal, bright and hypnotically colourful. He stepped towards one of them, staring down. "I don't think you'll care. I promise I'll end this quickly." He said. The corpses began to twitch, as the fire wormed its way into their souls. Soon, they would return, flimsy and frail, but they'd do. He turned to the girl, pointing a finger at her. It began to go dark, darker than darkness. Wreathed in some sort of false-light, everything around it twisted and bent. The girl choked, gasping as she clutched at her throat. With his free hand, Jalafrax slowly took a jar from his belt. He opened it up, popping the cork onto the ground, as a faint fog began to ebb out of the girl throat. "...help..." she whispered. Nobody came to save her, though, and the fog drifted into the jar. Jalafrax corked it, sighing wearily. 

Slowly, he turned to the corpses. One of them wasn't covered in fire. He knelt down, and placed his fingers upon the creature's temples. "...wake up." He mumbled. The corpse's eyes shot open. It slowly scrambled up, growling, drooling. "Hrmph. A dozen servants and a single ghoul. It will be enough." He rose to his feet, looking about the area, the destruction slowly dying down. Idly, he began to search his pockets. "Now, where did I keep that map...?" He asked himself, as the corpses wreathed in blightfire began to stagger to their feet.

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"And then I flipped her over, took the barrel off, and did her in the other side!" oh, the rough barbarian men liked that one. How they howled and guffawed, like geese. They slapped their knees and bent over, some stopping their march down the foot-worn trail that led north to wheeze into the nooks of their hairy elbows. Mounted alone among them sat Constans, his body slumping side to side with the gait of his steed, his bright green eyes looking from face to unworthy face. 

So recently, these raiders would have sacked his town and murdered his men and carried off his women. To Constans, they were as bestial as the horse between his thighs. Worse, actually, for at least horses were not shaped in the mockery of some wiser species, like these barbarians were shaped after men like him. And yet what could he have done when the sun turned green and they threw down their arms and proclaimed him a chosen man of their common god? Oh yes, that's right, they worshiped the green fire too-- were obsessed with it. Every good was attributed to god, the valor of all glories was rejected by the warriors and lifted up to him. They were wild brutes, yes, but their faith in what Constans considered to be his god was impossible not to admire. 

And moreover, they highly venerated Constans as god's other champion. Their chief Viscerex, of course, being the first. It was this very Viscerex who commanded the five barbarians to walk alongside Constans' horse as guards. To a casual observer, it might have seemed odd to take as bodyguards men who just last season tried to steal your wealth and burn your village. Yet Constans had no fear of them. He believed they wouldn't dare strike a man so close to their god and if they did he further believed they would fast regret it. 

So far nothing eventful had happened, neither barbarian mutiny nor any other peril. They walked mostly, and more rarely they spoke with people passing by. They were few and far between, but Constans was surprised to find that they all knew his name. Alternatively, most of the people were fairly surprised to find their prophet Constans wandering a dirt path with five ugly warriors. Conversations tended to be long, which the barbarians didn't seem to mind as they lazed about. Constans heard the worries of these folk he met, blessing each one with advice and a simple ritual delivered by gently gripping the sides of their heads and more gently pressing the pads of his thumbs against their closed eyes. When they opened those eyes, they were always green regardless of what they had been before. The people afterwards reported feeling lighter and happier, and many wept when Constans finally chose to move on, their tears reflecting the new sparkle of emerald inside them. 

"Come on then, sire, you must have a good bedding story, eh? A big man like you with all those farmer's daughters." 

"I have no bedding stories." Constans said flatly, not bothering to look down at them. Yet he couldn't ignore the sounds they made, a series of confused grunts culminating in another question. 

"What do you mean you've got no bedding stories?" 

"I mean to say that I have not yet found a woman I intend to marry." he answered in a similar tone as before. This elicited sounds of dawning understanding among the barbarians, whose fool brains nonetheless quickly puzzled out the meaning behind his stiff denials. 

"You haven't ever-" one began to ask, but then they all started guffawing again and seemed unable to form words. Constans felt a blush creeping up his neck and for a moment endured the burn of shame before he was distracted by a strange light in the distance. A league or so back they had passed a sign that read Messer's Hollow and took it to mean a town was ahead. Perhaps they had arrived at that town. Constans narrowed his eyes and leaned forward in his saddle. The light was very strange. Something about it was wrong. As the loud party of prophet and guardians got closer, Constans looked down, realizing the fool warriors had still not noticed what he had noticed. He kicked the nearest one in the shoulder with the flat of his boot. 

"Simpletons! Where are your eyes? Do you not see the fire ahead? What guards are you!?" 

This rebuke set the barbarians right, and they clamored forward to get better looks at the fire, one even going as far as to climb a nearby tree. 

"It's many fires! The town! It's burning such queer colors!" the man shouted.

"Fires?" Constans whispered to himself. "But where is the smoke?" 

Only one flame he knew of burned without smoke: God's

"What colors?" Constans shouted up. 

"I...I don't know! all of them!" the man yelled back, hanging from a branch like an ape with his hand blocking out the sun so he could see. 

"No. Impossible!" Constans spat. For he had seen into the depth of god's fires before. What seemed green at first glance was not so, not green but prismatic; a thousand colors came together to make god's fire. It was one of the many miraculous aspects the fire possessed. Yet god's fire was for healing, for warmth, for protection. How could an innocent town be burning in it? 

"Run!" Constans said, kicking into his horse. The barbarians scampered after him, the one vaulting from his tree perch and follow the hastening prophet. It was not long before they arrived. Constans sobbed at what he saw. It was the old days of war come again. Brutal and meaningless death surrounded him on every side and worse still was the baleful fire that stood testament over it. Constans now understood why god cloaked the many colors of his fire behind one soothingly rich green: exposed, the multifarious lights were harsh and painful to look at. The barbarians winced at them, but not Constans. He stared into the tumultuous colors long and hard with a deepening frown. He dismounted. 

"Find who did this!" he shouted, spinning to face the barbarians, "Find them and drag them to my feet!

This was the sort of command the barbarians were used to, and they departed to spread among the ruins in search of prisoners. Constans walked on alone as if in a dream. He stepped over the bodies of the dead, wandering into the town square and into the path of a man he did not recognize. Grim figures flanked this man, and he seemed to be consulting a map. The man stood there so brazenly and casually, Constans almost thought he belonged. Yet it was the perverted fires to which he belonged, the prophet realized. 

"Hey!" Constans called out, interrupting the man's moment alone with his map.

"HEY!" he called again in a wild voice, his feet stomping toward the stranger. His fists were balled tight and his face contorted with rage. 

Edited by Vansin

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A noise. Multiple noises. And then someone calling. Jalafrax looked up, turning his gaze towards Constans. He rolled up the map, and went to place it into his belt. "Greetings." He responded, before seeing his fists. His face. This one was angry, Jalafrax noted. The servants around him, stood, motionless. The ghoul gibbered and screeched, pawing around Jalafrax, crawling on all fours like some sort of animal. Jalafrax pointed at Constans, and all the undead turned. They watched, burning, the ghoul pacing forwards, gasping and twisting, but hitting some sort of invisible wall. It pulled itself back, stalking over towards Jalafrax.

"I have no quarrel with you." He said, as simple as could be. "I am not going to harm you. I am going to leave. There is a young girl behind me, and she deserves a proper burial. I was going to give it to her, as is proper for all who truly sacrifice, but..." He sighed, looking a little annoyed. "You have arrived. That is not proper. No."

He turned, looking away, for a moment, before looking back. "This place...is done. I wouldn't bother trying to save it. I suggest you leave, stranger. Do not follow me." He turned, and issued a command. Perhaps Constans could hear him. "If anyone follows me, kill them." He said. The undead followed after him, but they kept their eye on him. Clearly uncoordinated, a few of the servants fell down, their everburning flame still smouldering as they picked themselves up.

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“Oh you were going to bury her, we’re you?” 

Constans stopped to watch what was clearly an undead shamble toward him. It’s halting step and pallid skin were evidence enough that it was indeed an undead, and that it’s creator was a necromancer, likely the one responsible for the destruction of this town.

Constans had never even seen it on a map, yet Messers Hollow had existed. By the look of it’s ruins, it had once been home to many people, maybe even godly people. Yet whatever lives had been here had been destroyed in this eerie fire, and by a foul hand. Constans seethed.

”What a generous person you are.” Constans continued, spitting on the ground between them. 

“I think I will bother to save this town.” He said, placing two fingers in his mouth and blowing a shrill whistle with their aid. At his call, barbarians slinked out from behind the buildings and collapsed alleyways, weapons glinting in their hands. Two blocked the necromancer’s path, smiling cruelly at the prospect of violence.

”Why don’t you and your friends stay and lend us your aid.” Constans said mockingly, “After all, it’s what someone who sacrifices so much for you deserves.”

It wasn’t a stretch of the imagination to guess that the sacrifices these people made were in the form of their lives. To steal life for personal profit was the lowest sort of transaction. Constans could feel god’s hatred flowing through him. His green eyes smoldered with passion. No man was beneath the necromancer in villainy and unholiness. 

“But before you do, tell me: what fire is this?” He asked, gesturing toward one of the many extant flames, flickering chaotically like a banner of evil.

“Is it yours? How did it come to be?” He pressed, impatience and curiosity battling behind every word. 

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Jalafrax did not bother to respond. He remained silent, walking forwards, until his path was blocked, coming to a stop and blinking. He looked forwards towards the two who would stand against him. The dozens of blightfire servants staggered forwards, tilting their heads. The ghoul crawled next to him, gibbering and blinking, rapidly. "Kill anything that isn't me." He said, and the undead would move to begin executing the plan. The blightfire servants scattered, charging aimlessly towards whichever being they first saw. Some for barbarians, one or two for Constans, and one for the duo standing before him. The ghoul leapt forwards, screeching as it lunged, aiming to tackle the barbarians before him. 

Jalafrax stepped backwards, pacing rapidly away, clenching his fists. The bright prismatic flame leapt up in them, going to twirl around him as he retreated. He spun around, analysing the area as the fire began to grow and grow. All the while, he said nothing, and watched, and waited. There would be an opening. There always was.

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