The Unquiet Dead

The one who is yet to rest and rise knows not why he was awoken. He is but to slay and bring down his foes to what he once was. But he will regret all that he has done. The release of death won't be an escape for him when he is risen again, and again, and again.


9. Chapter IX - Words in the Warmth

The rabbits span round slowly on the spit over the fire, faintly roasting above the flames as their flesh sizzled. The rain above them still pattered on the roof above them and came through the hollow windows, the distant thunder rumbling in the air. The temple they sat in was all stone, small like a chapel, with an altar at the end of it, a red and perfectly edged square of silk put over it. The statue behind the altar, was the same as the one in the Iron Hall behind the Thrones; a woman with her head bowing and cupping her hands.The orange light of the fire made Oralus and Chitchin's shadows shimmer against the walls, the wood crackling and popping with the heat. 

"Was this a temple to the Lady of Light?" Oralus questioned Chitchin, as he turned the rabbits slowly. 

"Yes, it was. It still is." she answered, watching her catch rotate. "And note, don't burn them, otherwise you are getting fresh ones." she growled. Oralus simply smiled at her remark. 

"Then how come this temple is untouched?" he asked further, a sense of pondering in his voice. "If they hate the Lady of Life, how come they do not completely ruin this temple?" 

"Because they fear her, not hate her." she explained, perching herself on the alter. 

"Fear her?" 

"Yes, fear. It's as if you don't know what the word means..." she sighed. "They destroy all that she stands for, such as life and prosperity. But they would never dare challenge her directly." Oralus stopped turning the rabbits as she finished her words. 

"However, they still attack what she stands for, and fear her at the same time? That makes no sense." 

Chitchin groaned. "Must I explain everything to you?" 

"But it doesn't! If they truly feared her, they wouldn't go anywhere near what the Lady of Life has to do with, knowing that she will punish them all the same!" Chitchin daintily landed onto the floor, her claws gently clinking at the stone. 

"The Vovoarácks are much like wolves." she began, "They will prey on the baby calf of a buffalo, mercilessly and viciously ripping it limb from limb, yet as soon as the mother of the calf charges upon them, they flee." she glanced back at the feast, to her amusement. "Oralus... The rabbits..." 
He glanced quickly to the roasting meat, and one side was slowly crisping. He hastily took the creatures off of the spit with frantic hands, the aroma of burning meat faintly wafting through the temple. Chitchin shook her head discreetly, a glare fixated upon Oralus. He held out the stick to her.

"They look cooked enough." he offered. She pulled off the carcass with her beak as it slid down the rod, quickly letting it drop to the floor, steaming. Holding down the meat with her talons, she tore off the flesh and allowed the meat to escape some of its inner heat, like the orange glowing of a sword placed in a but of water. Oralus did the same, holding the spit at one end with a firm grip to not let his grub fall to the hard, filthy floor. The juicy meat squelched in his cheeks with ever bite, and he nodded to himself with silent satisfaction as he chewed upon immense mouthfuls. 

"Where did you come from, Oralus?" Chitchin asked, without laying an eye on him as she ate. Mouth full, he swallowed before asking. 

"Why do you want to know?" he said with suspicion. 

"Curiosity, simply. Or do not remember?"

"No, no, no!" he started, wiping his mouth with a bracing arm. "I remember being in a small fishing village for a short period of time. Until I was no more than eight years of age." 

"What happened when you were eight?" she queered further, paying slightly more attention. 

"Bandits attacked us. Rogue, low-life cut-throats who used a blade to have their way with others..." he waved the stick around in the air lightly as a gesture. "They illegitimately ruled over the people, doing what they wanted of pillaging, looting and raping as they pleased. Until wandering Manhunters came to our aid; Manhunters were only somewhat better than the barbarians. They sought out for bandits like them and purging them from the innocent they preyed on. I remember that day well. It was a cold, brisk and foggy day. The Manhunters killed the cut-throats from out of the blue, with not a trace of warning." Chitchin still ate her rabbit, but much more slowly as her curiosity grew and grew. "The Manhunters succeeded, saving us all. But they asked for a price. They asked for those that they lost, must have been replaced, and they lost three men. I was taken as one of the replacements..." 

"Against your will?" she inquired. 

"Utterly. And my mother's. Yet after several weeks, the Manhunters treated me well. Taught me how to use a sword too. For 20 years, I rose to the top to lead them, and the group had never been more successful. It was Manhunter tradition for any losses to be replaced as they slew more and more barbarians."

"How did you become a Knight of the Rose, then?" Chitichin persisted, stopping eating entirely. 

"The Crowns had heard news of my growing success. A group of riders, astride strange, magnificent beasts of the land and found us upon the road and asked for my name. Since then I was trained further, by the Royal Infantry Battalions. I was devoted to the Crowns and pledged to the Lady of Life..." 

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