CC Round Four Pg.5The dogs of Pripyat kept the wilderness at bay.
With the dogs in disarray, the wilderness came to play.
Beasts of every form filtered into the outskirts of the ruins. Many encountered resistance, driving them back to whence they came. Some, however, went unchallenged. They delved further and further into the city, culling the weak and the pale.
One such creature, a stray wolf separated from its pack, stalked through the alleys. A bloody gash surrounded the gory remains of what once was its left eye. Small claw marks peppered its face. Dried blood stained its matted fur.
It walked with trembling steps. Hunger clawed at its belly.
The brute slipped through a side street and sniffed at the air, whimpering as the odor of decay flowed into its nostrils. The city struck the creature dumb with its sheer vastness. Great behemoths rose high into the blueness of the sky, scraping the heavens with their sheer greatness. Endless corridors of cracked stone led off every which way, forming a maze so
CC Round Four Pg.4The three creatures stopped in their tracks, stricken with nausea. Even Vully, who had watched the last wisps of life slip from his mortally wounded companion, could not bear the sight of the scavenged corpse. He averted his eyes and backed away.
"How- why-" he began. "It's not- not "
Erx stood motionlessly, his gaze fixated upon the brilliant, syrupy red. Several sets of tracks led away from the pool- some of rats, some of dogs. They trailed off in every direction. One wound on for a time before terminating in a great splatter of blood.
"It's wrong," he spoke, spitting out every syllable as if they were toxic. "The dead deserve better than this."
He waited for a reply, but none came. Vully had taken flight.
"Where'd the bat go?" asked Untoten after a long silence.
"Somewhere else. He shouldn't have to deal with this. Come on, let's get inside."
They slipped through a shattered doorframe, settling under the light of a cracked window. Erx lay upon the floor, whilst Untoten perched
CC Round Four Pg.3Untoten darted into a dark room. Faint moonlight poured through a lone fissure in the wall. She stopped, panting in her high-pitched way. Distant murmurs had filtered their way into her ears, leading her to where she stood.
Erx's perch hid him from sight, but his raspy breath betrayed his presence.
"Is someone there?" called Untoten. She backed up a step and tried to peek over the shelf's edge.
" Yes," Erx muttered.
"Why're you up there?"
"Because of you."
"Me? What? Your voice is familiar. Aren't you- what's it-"
Untoten promptly retreated a half-dozen paces.
"Aren't you- aren't you my opponent?"
Vully watched from above as Erx leapt down, scrabbling at the debris to maintain his balance.
"Look," said Erx, "I never asked for this."
"I didn't, either."
"Some of us are not so reasonable."
Like Molotov, Vully realized with a shudder.
"Yeah. Some don't."
"I saw what happened this morning."
"You had no choice."
CC Round Four Pg.2Erx came to a halt beside a wall of shattered mirrors to catch his breath, gradually realizing that no one had bothered to follow him. The quiet came as a welcome respite from the clamor of the assembly.
This is a cruel proposition. I face a dog- no, barely a dog in size- who is bearing her children, no less.
Anger flared up within him once more. The concept of rage did not surprise him, for he lived in the depths of a roiling sea of fury. However, the idea of plunging into the maelstrom seemed alien and absurd.
Yet he felt compelled to act. He wanted to yell; he wanted to run. Alas, there was nowhere to flee. Not right, not left.
There was only forwards and out.
He withdrew into a corner and began turning over the gears of his mind. Untoten, unlike his past foes, was far smaller than him. For once, he held the advantage of size. Were he of a more savage disposition, he would have found the prospect amusing.
Alas, he found naught but reluctance.
The thought of the beasts from be
LaF Audition: Page OneA shack in the forest
glows softly in the dawn's light.
The forest around it,
streaked with life,
Inside a creature stands shaking
her reptilian arms
grasping for something that isn't there.
But something else is there.
"Do you wish to clasp
what has been stolen from your grasp?
Then you shall heed
my challenge of greed:
decode my riddle and find me
and I may hear your plea.
Others will come too,
all struggling just like you.
On the back of the note
scribbled in charcoal
is a map.
The destination is clear
but the path is not.
Perhaps we should first learn
She is Aeja,
a wanderer, a learner,
Her precious notebook-
her precious, precious notebook-
and with it departed her past.
Each and every death,
chronicled in perfect detail.
Skin pierced, tendons sliced, muscles rent.
She is a thorough creature
without a doubt.
Veins slit, bones severed, nerves silenced.
She is a methodical creature
without a doubt.
Discoveries made, studie
CC Round Four Pg.1Dawn gave way to noon as the dreary day dragged on. Pripyat remained sheathed in heavy rime that stubbornly clung to streets, grass, and metal with equal tenacity. Only the most intrepid of curs dared brave the brutal chill. Many of those who did retreated to the safety of the crumbling abodes before long. A handful refused shelter. The cold spirited them away like snowflakes in the wind.
Noon, in turn, faded away to evening, setting the city alight with a brilliant orange glow that glistened off of the remaining sheets of ice like waves of rippling flames. The sun's warming rays faded away, unleashing the icy grip of the night. A stark emptiness settled over the land.
Some eight dogs lay in the dubious sanctuary of the derelict gymnasium, their coats bristling with a mixture of chill and dread. Three bouts of harrowing struggle had shaken all but the most resolute of the lot. Crimson stained their claws and fangs. Fear shrouded their hearts and minds.
The fallen tree and the crushed d