This takes place last Friday, during the Riders (and others) full time guard of the Pig and Whistle tavern during the Zombiepocalypse. Be warned – zombie gore!
Aelflaed wasn’t entirely sure who’d come and woken her at 3:45am – her lack of sleep for the last four days had made waking up harder and harder. Pale lamplight bathed the upstairs corner of the Pig and Whistle as she strapped on her armor; at least tonight she’d remembered to sleep with her cloak and gambeson, so they were warm and comforting around the cold steel.
She peered at her left foot as she pulled on a thick pair of wool socks. At some point, she’d lost her little toenail, and the side of her foot was bruised and bloody clear up to her ankle. Wincing, she pulled on a heavy boot, hoping the plates would help protect it until she could get it healed properly.
With a cup of hot coffee and a soft cheese sandwich, she stepped out into the crisp, pre-dawn air, her breath barely catching on the fall chill. This was her favorite of the watches – there was something about the blackness before dawn that was just more pleasant than the blackness after midnight, especially if there were going to be Zombies.
Two street lamps washed the cobbles in front of the Pig with a soft yellow glow, and somewhere a couple of crickets set up a squeaky duet. Leaning against the doorframe, she settled in for a four hour watch.
Nikova Raskol hadn’t really let herself think on this new plague much. Still mourning the loss of her sons and grandson, she stalwartly marched through Old Town with her basket of red rags, ignoring the chaos around her. If they could face death at the hands of other men, then she’d be damned if she couldn’t stand up for herself against a couple of mindless undead.
When the four lisping, shuffling creatures came around the corner at her, though, she was less than sure of herself.
Lost in a scramble of unpleasant thoughts, a skitter of tiny legs across the back of her neck jolted Aelflaed back to reality. She swatted at her hair, knocking loose one of the oddly luminescent cockroaches that had taken root in every inhabitable part of the city. With a shudder and a bright flash of light, she obliterated it, and then spent a few minutes getting the bug guts and glowing taint off of her armor. Scrubbing at her neck didn’t make the crawly feeling go away though.
She heard more than saw the oncoming group of plagued dead, their half rotten feet making a sick, slurping, scraping sound on the rough cobblestones. With a deep breath and a quick prayer, she steadied herself for whatever was going to come around the corner.
The wait wasn’t long.
Two of the creatures wore some kind of patchwork armor – she could only assume they had once been guards. Slamming into one with her shield, she spun around to the left and caught the next in the face with her mace, telling herself that she’d retch later when its head crumpled like an overripe melon and splattered all over the pave stones. A quick shock with holy energy and the other armored zombie fell lifeless.
A flash of divine light and the remaining three of them stood stunned while she quickly stopped the disease as it attempted to crawl up her arm.
Two down, three to go – pull ye’self t’gether, woman.
The next one fell quickly, cleansed of whatever demonic taint had raised it. Not much fight in it, really, though the basket of red rags it carried was unusual.
Quickly dodging the fourth as it ran at her back, she stuck her leg out, tripping it – cursing loudly as the bony shin smashed into the side of her own damaged left foot. Once it hit the ground, she broke its neck with her heel and kicked the now severed head far from its body, ignoring the gush of greenish black blood now pooling on the street as she turned to face the one remaining living dead.
The feel of slimy cold fingers around her throat suggested she’d miscalculated the fight. Hot, fetid breath, ripe with the sickly sweet stench of death brushed past her ear as the creature ground its fingers into her flesh, catching on her hair. Its tongue ran across the back of her neck.
Dinna think, woman, act!
She dropped to the ground, the limp weight of human combined with heavy armor ripping the creatures arm clean out of its socket. Throwing herself to one side, one good push sent the thing sprawling, and a hammer to the back of its head knocked it unconscious, giving her precious seconds to summon the energy to burn it into lifelessness.
The fact that Aelflaed was already sitting on the pavestones probably proved to be in her favor, as she reeled, head spinning with exhaustion and adrenaline.
You canna jus’ sit ‘ere. Ge’ the bodies ou’ o’ the fecking street.
Leaning heavily on her mace, she dragged herself onto her feet, wincing as she tested her left foot.
It’ll hold, an’ yeh can walk. Move, woman, a’fore ye fin’ ye’self more o’ a mess.
Two of the stinking, plagued remains were already burning, so she dragged the other three corpses (and one severed head) over to the pile, setting the lot aflame with another flash of holy energy. Looking up through the rising putrid smoke, she could see dawn’s streaks of orange and crimson flashing across the sky like bright ribbons.
‘S a day o’ death, an’ startin’ early. Red sky a’ mornin’, alway’ a warnin’.
She swallowed hard, took a deep breath, and vomited into the bushes on the side of the road.
Ye’ve gone soft, Aely, an’ ye got another three hours o’ watch, ye great ninny. Bes’ get back t’ the Post.
Bloody ‘ell, an’ I need another sammich.
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