As I swallowed a mouthful of ale, I glanced around the room. I seated myself by the fire, the roaring of flames a pleasant backdrop to my musings. At the corner of the room a young group sat, swapping stories. Some poor soul just stepped through the door, rain dripping off his cloak. He sat down and ordered some temporary panacea for his troubles from the barkeep. It was the group in the corner that drew me to my feet. They made the transition from loud to boisterous a while ago, but it was when the loudest one stood up and slammed the table did I find myself walking.
“THAT’S A LIE AND YOU KNOW IT! MAY THE RAKNAR TAKE YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN!” he screamed.
“That’s a mighty bold thing to say to a man.” I told the boy, grasping his shoulder. He turned with a jerk.
“What would you know, old man!?” he barked in retort. His eyes fell to my right arm, noting the missing appendage.
“Oh, I believe I know something. Such as the gravity of your earlier statement. You boys ever see a Raknar before?”
They shook their heads.
“I’ve seen them. I’ve seen them do the exact thing you wished upon your friend here.” I said gravely. I took a seat at their table.
It was days after the emergence at Sandsun, before word spread of the Raknar. I was working as a guard for a caravan returning to a settlement on the border of Blisterfoot. The sun was setting as we reached the place, and I was looking forward to payment. Wooden logs established the boundaries of the settlement. A number of houses sat clustered inside.
“Come.” my employer said. “I have your payment at my house.”
I followed him inside the settlement to his house. He had two sweet little kids, a boy and a girl.
As I made my way out, the earth growled a hollow roar. People came out of their houses searching for the source. I followed my employer to the gates. There, I saw pointed legs erupt from the ground, pulling a chitinous monstrosity out with them. The creature turned towards us, eyes gleaming in the combined glare of moon and torchlight. It charged towards the open gates.
“CLOSE THE GATES!!!” someone yelled.
The wooden gates croaked to life, the creature racing closer. The doors slammed shut just as it reached the threshold.
More rumbling followed after. The ground fissured beneath the mob. Legs sprouted from the chasms like hellish trees, lifting the horrors from the ground’s embrace. The crowd dispersed, screaming as the fiends emerged.
“TO ARMS!!” my companion called out. “Our weapons are back home!”
We dashed through the chaos. One man swung a torch at a creature. It crouched back, then a foreleg struck out, knocking the torch from his grasp. A second leg snapped forward like a snake, piercing the man through his gut and jutting out the back. The man fell limp and the creature tossed him from its leg like drops of water.
Rumbling drowned out the sound of screams as we ran. We found his house and armed ourselves. The two of us rushed outside and charged at the monsters. I found one cornering a woman against the boundary. I swung my sword upon its back. The sword glanced off, leaving no marks. The creature turned towards me. I parried a leg, and slashed at the one after. Yet nothing injured it. In desperation, I lunged at an eye above its maw. My sword sunk into its flesh, and the creature reared back, screeching. It scratched me off, and I fell to the ground. I could feel blood on my torso. I jumped to my feet, fearing retaliation. The creature, however, collapsed. Dead.
I then heard a child’s cry. I turned to see my companion’s two children running towards me.
A monster then emerged from behind a house, following them. As I looked on, the ground shuddered beneath me. I turned to see a log rise from the ground. The log crashed upon me, my body bursting with pain. I turned back to see the boy still running towards me, a leg cleaving through the middle of his small body. That was the last thing I saw that night. I quickly lost consciousness.
I awoke to a strange gurgling sound. I found myself still beneath the log. I pulled out from the lumber, leaving my arm behind. I tore some cloth to dress my wound. My right leg had been crushed, so I crawled upon the ground. All I found was the shattered remains of the village. Blood splattered the ground, glossy pools that reflected the sky above. Yet, I found no bodies, neither human nor Raknar. Yet, the gurgling persisted. I followed the noise to the village gate. It was there that I found a Raknar, slumped in the entrance. I crawled behind some wreckage, hoping it didn’t notice me. To my relief, it had not. Three bodies lay at its feet. Their features had been sunken in, dry and lifeless. All except one. The man was unconscious, dragged to the gate. The Raknar loomed over the man, and dropped down. As its fangs sank into his body, the man awoke and screamed out. The gurgling returned. The man looked out in terror, hands grasping for help. Our eyes met, and I witnessed the pure horror burning in his eyes. I saw the plumpness drain from his fingertips. His eyes sunk into his skull, the fluid of his flesh left him. The Raknar bent down and dragged the corpses away. I spent hours there in fear. It was a full day before I bound my leg and left.”
The table sat awestruck, staring at me incredulously. I stood from the table.
“That is what you wished upon your friend.” I said with finality.
I turned and ascended the stairs to my room, all the while clutching the phantom of my arm.
Story Credit: legendmaker08