The Skeletons in the Castle

The commander of the 119th Fortgeschrittene Explorationsgruppe ducked into a bush, shifting his cloak to raise his telescope to his eye. Zooming in on his prey. His second in command slid beside him, whispering to him.   “Our Beute is rather fast, is he not, Diplomatenkapitän?"   The commander nods, watching the man duck into an old castle.  Diplomatenfeldwebel, isn’t our Beute a Nekromant?”   “Jawohl, Sir.”   “Aren’t the old Castles filled with skeletons?”   “Oh...Scheiße”   The commander tilts his head towards the castle, where more bodies can be seen moving around, while the Diplomatenfeldwebel slips away, rallying the rest of the 119th, fourteen well trained Heimatwelt soldiers, along with a Type 44 Mechaniczni Wyspiarze soldier, making 17 soldiers in all. As the commander moves back to his men, they prepare to fight. Loading their bolt action rifles and slipping bayonets on the mounts, soft clicks being heard as they snap into position. One soldier loading up a KNS shotgun with buckshot, counting quietly under his breath   The commander crouches, looking over the FEG group.  Schwerpunkt  The soldiers pause their preparations, looking up at him.   “Men, we’re not dealing with just some criminal, or an orc. This Beute is a nekromant, and he just made it into a place with tons of Alte Skelette. He’s desecrating the bodies of those who gave their lives ten thousand years ago, and forcing us to do the same to get to him. Stahlt eure Herzen. We can do this, we must do this. If we allow this monster to live, he will be a threat to everyone at home.”   The soldiers nod, going straight back to their preparations, as the commander is handed a Havi Light Machine gun, his ring clinking off the metal as he puts the sling over his body.   As everyone finishes preparing, each man turns to his Kampfbruder, checking his equipment, a final jangle of metal and buckles is heard, as the 119th Fortgeschrittene Explorationsgruppe prepares for a fight.   The tall grass shifts and waves around the soldiers as they sneak through it, moving softly in the wind, a light whisper of the grass rubbing against itself covers the quiet jangling of metal, and the slosh of canteens. As the soldiers move forward, they climb over massive boulders, once remnants of the castle walls, their combat boots quietly thudding on the overgrown cobble paths.   As they near the doors, they line up along a fallen gate, massive wooden doors with iron reinforcements acting as a line of defense if the castle walls fell, now, they lay on the stone walkways, the wood having sagged and eroded away, and the metal having rusted and locked up. Before the group, up a set of large stairs stands a second set of doors, leading directly into the castles keep. The Kapitän gestures wordlessly towards these doors, two soldiers reaching into their sidepacks, pulling out four blocks of putty explosives, and climb on top of the massive doors. The old wood under them creaking and moaning as their weight adds even more strain on it.   They move quickly up the stairs, one soldier slipping ever so slightly on a patch of moss, before catching himself and pressing himself on the side of the door, opposite of his comrade. The two work quickly, lining the lower hinges and the massive lock with explosives, before jumping off the side of the stairs, pulling their helmets down tighter on their heads, while the other soldiers follow suit, ducking under the fallen doors and covering themselves with their cloaks.  In deckung!  The explosives soldier thumbs the detonator, dropping it and covering his ears. There is a moment of silence, before the doors explode, the old wood, brittle and petrified, disappears into a billion shards, splinters embedding themselves into the fallen doors. The soldiers jump the doors, rushing up the steps, the two demo soldiers rejoining the back of the group as they move. Small splinters of the vaporized doors falling down on the soldiers, plinking off of their helmets.   As they step into the darkened keep, their eyes adjust. The sound of clacking and grinding fills their ears, as they see a sea of bright white bones. Different types of skeletons. Bones of those species long gone, and bones of the ancestors of the Garakuta, Heimatwelt, and even some Shayedian Tribesmen. At the head of the room is a massive throne, the headrest broken and laying to one side. Sitting on the cracked throne is a massive suit of armor, full of scratches, dents, and rusted with age. Standing beside this massive suit of armor is a frail man, with ghostly white skin, deep lines on his face and bony fingers. His almost black eyes widen in surprise, beginning to yell in a language the FEG did not recognize, pointing a bony finger at them.   “Ymosod! Peidiwch â sefyll yno yn unig! Cael nhw!” His raspy voice echoed throughout the rafters, mocking the soldiers, as their hands tighten on their rifles, shifting uncomfortably in their boots.   The lifeless and empty eyesockets of the skeletons turn to look at the soldiers. Bones grinding as rusty, broken weapons are raised. Their skeletal toes clicking off of the cobbles like a dogs nails, the clicking raising in volume as more of the skeletons begin shambling towards their enemy. Once warriors of honor and courage, these lifeless husks prepare to take the lives of those they fought for ten thousand years prior.   The Kapitän raises his fist, pumping it to the sky in a battle cry.  Los, Brüder! Rache der Ehrenlosen! Fire at will!”   “Für Heimatwelt!”   The soldiers respond with their war chant, raising their rifles to their shoulders and sighting in their targets, their fingers squeezing on the triggers of the bolt actions, firing in succession, similar to a broadside of a warship, the crack of the guns echoing off the walls. Bright, burning white sparking streaks zip through the air, smashing into the skeletons. The burning White Phosphorus rounds of the soldiers melting the bone. Drops of molten bone splash on the rocks, as the skeletons begin to take damage. Losing limbs and weapons. One of the skeletons gets hit in the head, and crumples, the bones no longer moving.   “Aim for the head!” One of the soldiers calls out, cycling the bolt on his rifle, spitting out a hot brass shell, and bringing it back to his shoulder. Before he can fire, a deep thuum rings out, vibrating off of the rafters. A long wooden shaft smashes into the soldiers chest, causing him to jerk and fire his rifle, sending a white hot bullet into the ceiling. He stumbles back, looking surprised at the ancient arrow in his heart, before dropping to his knees, his rifle being jostled out of his hands, and his helmet falling forward over his eyes. He falls forward, his helmet coming off and rolling away, bouncing over the cobblestones.   The Kapitän looks around, spotting the archer; a birdlike skeleton, who is drawing back another arrow. Shifting the Havi, the Kapitän squeezes the trigger, the machine gun recoiling in his hands, as long streaks of the WP bullets spew out of the barrel, melting spinal columns, shattering femurs and humeri, before nearly blowing the arches skull apart, the molten bones splattering on the wall behind the archer, slowly running down and cooling, solidifying once again.   One of the soldiers thrusts his bayonet into a skeletons ribcage, twisting and bending, breaking apart the spinal column, causing the body to fall to the floor. Hauling his foot back and kicking the skull away. Turning and catching his blade in the jaw of a human skeleton, firing upwards. A fountain of bone and molten drops blowing out the top of the skull, making it to the rafters and falling back down, bouncing off of the stone.   Nearby, a soldier struggles to get a stripper clip of rounds into his rifle, his hand shaking and his breath coming out quickly, sweat dripping from his brow.  Privatdiplomatie Nemetz! Behind you!”   The soldier looks up, looking for the person who called him. A rusty claymore slams into his collarbone from above, slicing deep with its dull edge, collapsing one of his lungs. He drops his rifle and the stripper clip, panicking and grabbing for the knife at his hip, his breath hitching as his lungs fight for breath. Before he can draw the knife a second skeleton rushes him, slamming its broken pike into his throat, the broken wooden end shattering the chain that holds his ID tags, which fall to the rocks, as the soldier crumples, the pike stuck in his neck and holding him up, his lifeless eyes slowly close, his blood dripping down the shaft of the pike.   Seeing the privat fall, one of soldiers snarls in anger and rage, grabbing the burning hot barrel of his rifle and swinging it like a club, batting skulls straight off of the bodies of the skeletons, some of them shattering when they hit the ground. The Type 44 Mechaniczni Wyspiarze uses his mechanically enhanced limbs to crush bone without using his rifle. The rusty swords striking and breaking his metal joints.   The shotgunner is pushed backwards, rapidly pumping his weapon, and using it as a club. Plastic shells dropping from the bottom, bouncing off the floor, chunks of the skeletons struck with his buckshot being blown away, as the brittle bones shatter and break. He isn’t able to hold his own, and is pushed back against the wall, a spear being thrust through his ribcage, then withdrawn. Blood spurting out of his chest in a fine mist, turning the white bones of the skeletons into bright, shiny red. The soldiers shotgun slipping from his fingers and clattering on the floor as he slips down the wall. The soldier using his weapon like a club swings his way over, ripping the sash of shells off of his body, tossing it to a soldier, drops of red blood flickering in the light as the soldier catches it. The clubber grabs the shotgun, pumping it and firing a shot, before tossing it to the soldier, turning to retreat. Before he can, a sword is thrust through his back, and he falls, curling up as his blood mixes with the shotgunners blood.   One of the soldiers steps back, fiddling with his rifle, trying to clear its jam. Hearing the footsteps of a skeleton, he looks up to a Garakuta, raising a massive warhammer above their head. He panics, raising his rifle to block the downwards swing. His rifle stops the brunt of the force, shattering with the strike, metal pieces bouncing off the floor. The two look at each other in surprise, before the Garakuta raises its hammer. The soldier yanks out his sidearm, stuffing it directly into the Garakutas face and firing, causing the skeleton to fall backwards with the weight of the hammer. The soldier picks it up, swinging it over his head and bringing it down on a skeleton, crushing it to dust, small parts of the bone structure bouncing off of the floor.   The Kapitän pushes a skeleton down, firing into its skull with his sidearm, glancing to the overwhelming numbers, and the bodies of the fallen.   “Someone! Frag the Verlorene Seelen!  The remaining soldiers disengage, retreating to a circle formation and crouching down, covering themselves with their capes, which double as flak vests. One of the soldiers lobs a grenade into the center of the skeletons, bouncing off of the cobbles before it explodes, sending metal and bone fragments throughout the keep. The soldiers cloaks absorb most of the shards, though some get light cuts from the bouncing fragments. Rising up, they look over the chaos   Most of the skeletons have been blown to bits, a few dragging themselves towards the group, their broken fingers scraping on the cobbles, as their metal weapons ding and spark off the stone, their teeth gnash together as they grind their jaws, while the undamaged skeletons move to protect the Nekromant. The Kapitän puts both hands on the grip of his rifle, slamming it down on one of the crawling skeletons, crushing their skull.   “Sut wnaethoch chi ennill? Sut? Lich ydw i. Ddim yn ddyn syml!” The Nekromant shouts, turning to the massive suit of armor, chanting. Beginning quietly, then getting louder and louder, until he’s shouting, the armor begins glowing   “Take the Beschmutzer down!” The Kapitän says, beginning to load stripper clips into his machine gun. Two of the riflemen raise their guns, pulling the triggers. The white streaks of phosphorus are blocked by two of the skeletons, Which jump in the way of the bullets.   “Scheiße”   There’s a screech of metal on metal as the Feldwebel draws his blade, rushing forward.   “Cover him!”   The Kaptiän orders, slamming the bolt of his Havi, firing from the hip, the other soldiers follow suit, smoking hot brass bouncing off of the floor as they rip through the remaining skeletons.   The Feldwebel rushes up the stairs, his blade whistling as he brings it sideways through a skeletal Shayedian. The Wolfmans spine being cleaved in two. Hearing this, the Nekromant turns, breaking his concentration on the ritual, pulling a small, holy looking dagger from underneath his garments.   Fire in his eyes, the Feldwebel drives his sword through the Nekromant, splattering his blood and innards on the armor behind him, twisting his sword to do more damage. The Nekromant screams in pain, raising his knife and stabbing the Heimatwelter repeatedly in the neck and throat. Going to one knee, teetering, as his blood sprays the already bloody robes of the Nekromant, the Feldwebel, through lifeless eyes, draws his sidearm, firing point blank into the Nekromant, unloading ten 10mm rounds into the chest of the Nekromant.   The man's fingers loosen, and he drops his sidearm, leaning back enough he cannot hold his balance. The pistol bounces sideways, falling somewhere behind the dias of the throne, while the Feldwebel rolls down the stairs, blood splattering over the steps, his helmet strap snapping, and the metal bowl coming off of his head, bouncing into a shattered pile of bones. He hits the bottom, and something snaps, his neck skewering at an odd angle, his eyes half closed, like he accepted his fate.   His enemy is still standing, blood dripping and squirting out of the wounds that his enemy had inflicted, creating a red mist around him. The remaining soldiers look in shock at their fallen Feldwebel, then their eyes focus on the Nekromant, and their weapons are raised, unloading into his body. He twitches and spasms as molten bullets smash into his body, blowing parts away and leaving melting flesh behind, before he finally slumps against the throne, half of his face missing, molten matter dripping from him.   One of the soldiers moves to the body of the Feldwebel, only taking a quick look at him, then shaking his head, picking up his helmet and putting it over his face. The other soldiers look down in sorrow at their late Feldwebel, his blood slowly pooling around him, creating small rivers between the stones.   Climbing up the stairs, careful to avoid the blood dripping down the steps, checking the Nekromant.   “He’s dead, Herr Kaptiän.”   He reports, poking the dead mage with his bayonet. The Kapitän looks over and nods.   “Take the Beschmutzer away, and burn the body.”   Two soldiers quickly move to obey, one picking up the body, the other grabbing the more noticeable chunks, like an arm, and part of his liver, before the two carry the Nekromant out of the keep.   The Kaptiän looks out at the carnage. More skeletons than he can count are sitting around, destroyed, broken, dishonored. Moved from their resting places. Along with 9 new bodies, the Heimatwelters blood making large dark red patches over the stones, as they lose every drop of life force.   He sighs, and shakes his head.   “Nine men, for one.”

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
29 Jun, 2022 21:14

I really enjoyed this! It was filled with action, and the imagery was well written and I had the entire conflict painted vividly in my head as I read it. Great work!

Check out my competition entry!