Day of the Deadwood Pic

Sabine of the Ten Rings: Day of the Deadwood, Part Four

To read the previous adventures of Sabine, click here. *** The zomtree army led Sabine out into the center of the Ableman farm where the enormous, bloodstained circle and pentagram had been drawn. At each

To read the previous adventures of Sabine, click here.

***

The zomtree army led Sabine out into the center of the Ableman farm where the enormous, bloodstained circle and pentagram had been drawn. At each point of the demonic star was dug a four-feet deep pit.

Sabine flinched at the sight. “What the—why is this gory shape just sitting there?”

“The farmer’s son helped make it,” said Mourning Wood. “Around the same time he started listening to those poems where the bards recite demonic verses backward and the lute players shred sick solos. Led by the deacon, he created this circle and gave us life.”

“And now there’s a deacon? Do trees even recognize religion?” said Sabine.

Sure they do, Dahkhal said. There are countless branches of Treeology.

Sabine tried to shake her body to smack his little jellyfish head around as Mourning Wood’s men bound her to the ground and extended her limbs over four points of the pentagram.

“By the death of humans do the forests find new life,” Mourning Wood said in his most preacher-like manner. “And so in your decay, may you bring life to a new generation of waking wood.”

The wicked circle and star began to glow with hellish light as Sabine struggled against her bonds. Through grit teeth, she asked, “Any advice for this one?”

Well, I can’t feel a demon under this circle, Dahkhal said. So it’s really just responding to the strongest will in the vicinity. You could probably overpower the bark bastards if you could will an undead summoning better than they could.

“Wait, can I will anything back to life with this thing?”

No, you need a piece of whatever you’re going to be resurrecting. So, if you’re carrying the amputated arms of a lumberjacks or anything, now’s the time to play that trump card.

Mourning Wood commanded, “Light the torches!” And his servants dropped five of the farm hands, their faces wet with tears and their hair slick with kerosene, into the pits at every point of the pentagram. Their heads were lit aflame and the screams of humans mixed with the ominous chanting of zomtrees.

Fire and fear made Sabine lay still in her own sweat, but she still managed to shout, “Holy hell!”

Well, yes, that’s sort of the idea.

Sabine bit her lower lip, shut her eyes tight, and grasped for any positive thought she could come up with. At least no one in the kingdoms would ever hear about her wardrobe malfunction. At least she’d stopped Dahkhal before he could commit any more evil. At least the husbands who were worth it would, she hoped, be waiting for her in the next life.

It was as the last of these thoughts passed her that she remembered. On her left pointer finger, gifted to her by Ou’Antu, her fourth husband, was a ring. A gift that among his people meant power, preservation, and change. And for her sake, she hoped that she could maybe tap into the symbolism within he’d always spoken of.

The raw, cold power of the necromantic circle flowed into Sabine and she concentrated its wicked force into Ou’Antu’s old ring. Her insides shivered as her flesh felt like it was going to suffer frostbite. She suppressed a scream as best as she was able and judged from the expectant looks on the zomtrees faces that they detected nothing out of the ordinary.

Mourning Wood commanded, “Surrender! For in death shall come new life. This has been the process of fertilization since times out of mind.”

As Sabine internalized the icy chill of the circle, its grave-rousing power mingled with the tiny fragments of life left in Ou’Antu’s ring. If she could not defeat them by her own means, she would turn theirs against them. The power of the circle overwhelmed her and, at last, she let out a terrible scream. As she did, a long-dead fury within the old beaver tooth found new life.

“It is finished,” Mourning Wood said. “And from her desiccated form we shall—” He paused. “Eh? Why hasn’t she given up her form yet? Doesn’t usually take this long—”

Sabine threw her head upward and snarled at Mourning Wood. Her pupils had disappeared and she gave him a stare with two eyes of frozen milk. As she sneered, a transformation began to consume her. The grit teeth in her mouth grew and went rectangular and blunt. The muscles on her arms found new definition until they tore the seams of her undershirt, and all across her body grew a thick mange of her fiery hair.

Mourning Wood and his acolytes took a slow step backward in shock and fear. “No!” The judge said as he realized what horror he beheld. “It cannot be!”

As the furry monster that had been Sabine rose, she bit and tore away her bindings as if they were nothing. “But it is!” She said in a shrill, demonic voice. The bright red creature in a torn tunic with a ring on each of her claws stared down Mourning Wood and uttered the most dreadful of war chitters: “I AM A ZOM-BEAVER! AND YOU’RE ALL ABOUT TO GET DAMMED!”

Mourning Wood’s two nearest acolytes looked on, mouths agape, shudders of terror ran to their cores. “L-L-Lord, what are we to—”

But their master had already turn tail and run in the presence of his most natural of enemies. “Run, you fools, run! There is no overcoming this foe!”

Sabine the zom-beaver leaned back on her haunches and lunged at Mourning Wood. The jump was enough to close the distance between them and she laid into his bark with her enormous teeth. Sap flew like blood from a corpse as she ripped and tore Mourning Wood to mulch, then turned to face his servants.

The fear of their master’s fall had turned them into a petrified forest. Sabine tackled the next of his servants and gored his insides in three ferocious bites. Then she moved on to another.

It was only when Mourning Wood had reformed enough to scream, “Don’t just stand there you idiots, flee, flee!” that the other members of his zomtree jamboree so much as thought about running. And as soon as he’d spoken up, he’d attracted Sabine’s attention again and was once more ripped limb from limb.

Save for humans and the rare demon who is a personification of rot and decay, no creature is more destructive toward its own environment than the humble beaver. And necromancy is not an art that deals in averages. Specific tendencies that haunt the remains of the darkly resurrected became their whole purpose upon rebirth. So the silenced purpose within the beaver’s teeth melded together with Sabine’s own human callousness toward nature into a ferocious, fuzzy reckoning upon the living deadwood.

Twelve times did Mourning Wood scream to his forest to flee and twelve times did Sabine again rip him apart. On his thirteenth resurrection, the zomtree tried to remain silent and motionless until Sabine was far enough that he could slip away from the farm. As soon as he took his first crawls, however, the zom-beaver ran back to rip and tear him apart again. Being a firm-willed timber, Mourning Wood tried to wait her out four times more and each and every time she again sank her giant beaver teeth into him for another mauling. When, at long last, Mourning Wood surrendered his will to accept his place in the great timberland in the beyond, he awoke twice more when Sabine again gashed him apart.

When the sun rose the next morning, the former princess laid upon the ground in a haze. The light forced her eyes open and she rubbed the sleep and exhaustion from them as she struggled to remember what had happened.

With a deep inhale and a spit, she wondered aloud, “What the hell did I do last night?”

Typical Friday, Dahkhal said. You got smashed and then took a bunch of wood in your mouth.

Sabine halfheartedly flicked her ring, mentally acknowledged how whatever she had done had ripped her tunic to shreds, and glared, squint-eyed, out at the farm. Dozens of farmhands and children remained planted in the soil or otherwise trapped in their same precarious positions, though all stared at her in a mix of wonder and terror.

“You think I need to dig them out to properly collect?”

Probably not, but the sooner they’re free, the sooner they can get back to making that famous Ableman Cider. And considering the iffy nature of necromantic magic and the fact you may soon be passing a dozen trees through your digestive tract, I’d say you’ll need a lot of it.

Sabine let out an exhausted sigh and began her search for a shovel.

The End

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