The Bonfire Ball (The Carrion Remix)
The fog that sweeps across the Hermannstadt, and across Hermann itself is neither strange nor unexpected. He keys his walkie-talkie. “Be ready, Cordelia Holm and Helena Gravsten are about to make their move.”
An odd sensation flows across his sonar, a sensation he has learned to recognize as the use of apportation. If he had to describe it, Hermann would say that it’s like the sound of the wings of a ladybug. Small. Fluttery.
He takes a stance, knees wide apart, face set in a grimace.
A shape moves through the fog. He tracks it with his eyes, and maps it with his sonar. He frowns, not quite sure if he is sensing it correctly. Four legs?! The creature that steps out of the fog is half horse, half man.
Black hindquarters pawn at the ground impatentiently. A beafy upper-body sways in the wind. His head, and it is a he, have badly mismatched horns.
“What an odd thing you are”, Hermann comments. The abomination doesn’t respond, but merely charges. Obliging it, Hermann meets it halfway. He attacks the undead in the same way you cut a large oak. First he slices off its forequarters, prompting it to fall on the ground. Then he removes its flailing arms.He glances down at the creature, noting a certain satisfied smile.
Because Hermann restrains his sonar to a much smaller area when he fights, he doesn’t feel the second attacker before too late. There is a rush of air, and Hermann is catapulted through the air. He drops the shards of Zulfiqar but manages to right himself midair, falling on his back, sliding up in a defensive position quickly. A woman with the legs of a goat stand some metres away from him, smiling. Hermann smiles back, and the undead blanches.
He notes that two additional undead, both of them wearing oven-mittens, have grabbed his shards. “Ah, you’re learning.” He calls on his magic and fades from their line of sight. “But”, and now the fog aids his voice, a voice which seems to come from everywhere and nowhere at the same time, “you haven’t learned enough. Had you learned enough, you would have ran the moment Helena Gravsten ordered you to attack me. Now you’re all going to die, a second time.”
A small undead puppy jumps at Richard. He draws, cuts, and resheaths Hauteclere in a smooth, trained movement. The small puppy, however cute it may have been, tumbles into pieces next to his feet.
Perenelle dual-wields two canisters; the first canister emits a soft spray which she aims at the eyes of the undead that attacks her. As they fumble around, she brings out the second canister, this being one that emits a thicker cloud-like substance.
A soft ‘fwoosh’ accompanies the second canister and the undead are caught. After the first second, the substance is as hard as steel. Two seconds later, it’s as hard as titanium. After the third second it can be confused with the bedrock of continents.
She slowly retreats backwards, leading the the undead on a merry chase.
Gomagog wades into the crowd of undead like a leviathan hunting for fish. He grabs one, a small child with the head of a deer and hurtles it at a wall. It doesn’t get up. He lashes out with gargantuan feet and send two additional undead flying, their chests caved in beyond repair.
There is beauty in slaughter, he rants to himself. The Council won’t allow him to hunt humans, not in this age of smartphones and computers, but this, this is almost as fun.
I slowly eat a piece of the smoked salmon as I sneak a furtive glance at Nevena, who is four seats removed to the right. I might be biased, so I will simply say this; Nevena is definitely the most beautiful of all the girls at the Bonfire Ball. The black dress she is wearing brings out the gold of her eyes and the near-white of her hair. Ironically, she too arrived late. It seems we were both trying to come up with ways to avoid the Bonfire Ball./Stop staring./ I am not sure I can. /Well try harder. Quick, Pontus is asking you something./ I turn to Pontus.
“I am sorry; you caught me woolgathering. What were you saying?” “I was asking what you are thinking about the Bonfire Ball?”
I look up at the chandeliers. The drapery. The happy freshmen. Nevena. “A blast I think.” I continue. “No, I don’t think it is a blast, I know it’s a blast”, I say, and I will it to sound as happy and carefree as possible.
But as hard as I strive, I can’t discount what Chiyo said. If Helena Gravsten attacks… but no she wouldn’t. She is many things, but not stupid. She would have to bring an army. /What if she did?/ Huh? /What if actually did bring an army here? To Ochre?/ It… I trail off. I see it front of me. But… there are normals here! /Does Helena Gravsten strikes you as the kind of girl that would fear the wrath of the Council?/
I- the doors to the cafeteria shudders. I inhale, and my nose is filled with a scent like mildew. A scent I recognize. The barrowman. The doors shudders once more, and people start to take notice. I meet Amanda’s eyes over the table, searching for a confirmation of the scent. She gives me a do-you-believe-this-nod. The doors shudders a third time, and now people start to whisper.
The fourth time proves its charm, and the doors bang open.