Lore of the day #7: Storm warning

The latest from my online epic, Lore of the Underlings.
Chapter 2 begins:

From the night sky came a blood-cold cry, like the woeful plea of a haunted child. “Wurree! Wurree!” Overhead circled the og from the Liar’s Tree, once more taken wing. It shone luminous black under the watchful moon.

To the heavens turned the eyes of all, all but for the strangers three. They instead turned to each other and exchanged a silent signal, a palm upon the heart. As eyes again fell to find them, they now stood in a new formation — a tight triangle with each facing away a different direction. They stood at the ready, waiting.

Hidden amidst them, Jixy Mox found a comfortable patch of sweetgrass and sat. She played with the broken stone in her quickling hands, tossing it up and down in the air.

John Cap looked back at the tall young woman. “Do you hear it?” he asked. “That rumble?”

“Yes,” she answered. “It grows nearer.”

Morio made a pained face, straining to hear it too.

Without glancing up from her game, Jixy mumbled to herself in a soft sing-song. “Here they come.”

The land began to quake underfoot as a pounding sound storm rolled in like lightningless thunder from the angry plains. It shook the boney limbs of the Liar’s Tree. Into the dark that cloaked its trunk fell things that whooshed and rang.

“Boxbo!”

“There you are, Ixit!”

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“That it has suddenly turned quite late and we should quickly be off to our homes for bed?”

“And that…”

“We were never here at all and know nothing about it?”

“And not to mention…”

“That we trust in the Guard to protect us from such threats and believe with all our hearts in their methods and goals?”

“Right, treasure that. Now hurry, loglegs, before we’re the last left.”

Abruptly the og fell silent. Jixy looked up and let her stone tumble to the ground uncaught. “Mr. Oggie?” She saw the creature somehow stretch to the width and weight of a blanket, then float gently down from above. It draped about her head and neck. It covered her completely. With a squeal she vanished from view.

Out at the edge of torches’ reach, a line of riders tore through the curtain of darkness that bounded the fleeting field. They charged hard on massive mounts, kicking up clods of sod and soil the size of heads that burst all about like a volley of hurlage bombs. Quickly they closed upon the fleeing folk and cut off their path at the neck of the road. The slow they knocked from their feet and nearly trampled under hoof. The rest they herded back toward the heart of the field.

And the riders began to sing. Deep and strong they sang, a bloodsong of the war-born:

Pray drink, pray dine
Prey mine tonight
Pray drink, pray dine
Prey die

Pray meat, pray wine
Prey spine of white
Pray meat, pray wine
Prey die

Prey bone and bleed
Pray prey to feed
Prey feed to death
Pray die

Pray feast, pray fast
Pray hell’s repast
Prey ever cast
Prey die

By the fall of the final note, a count of three and thirty chevox strode the field under the firm rein of their masters. Their long column had slowed to a trot and turned a perfect arc toward the Liar’s Tree before branching into two separate companies. One of twenty-two formed an outer ring, encircling all. The other of eleven surrounded the trio of strangers and the few folk who had held to hold them — Bylo Hamyx, elderwoman Pum, and the Hurx boys.

More to come. To read this chapter from the start, click here.

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