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Abomination

By:R. J. Creaney

Abomination - A book by R. J. Creaney
Author:R. J. Creaney

      AbominationA short story by R. J.CreaneySmashwords EditionCopyright © 2011 R. J.CreaneyCover design by R. J.Creaney.Skull imagery for cover image adaptedfrom photography by Didier Descouens (User 'Archaeodontosaurus' onWikimedia Commons). ‘Benegraphic’ font created by BrandonSchoepf.http://rjcreaney.wordpress.com/
     
 

      AbominationA short story by R. J.CreaneySmashwords EditionCopyright © 2011 R. J.CreaneyCover design by R. J.Creaney.Skull imagery for cover image adaptedfrom photography by Didier Descouens (User 'Archaeodontosaurus' onWikimedia Commons). ‘Benegraphic’ font created by BrandonSchoepf.http://rjcreaney.wordpress.com/
     
 

      * * *The warrior Ragenard madehis way down the rough, muddy track as dusk deepened about him. Hecould hear the cackle of fire and feel the great, towering heat athis back – it made him sweat under his grey cloak and ring mailhauberk – but he ignored it. Thick and foul-smelling smoke billowedabout him, stung his eyes and darkened the gathering dusk, but hepushed through it nonetheless.In time he felt the heatand smelled the smoke no longer, and was making his way, slowly butsteadily, through a country of low rolling hills that was cool anddark. He did not know whether he was still in the realm of the Franksor in the land of Aquitaine. He did not care overly much, to own thetruth – all he cared about was what he knew he had to do. There wasno other soul walking the road with him that evening, but Ragenardspoke aloud all the same. He chanted prayers as he walked. Prayers ofguidance, of strength and of fortitude: prayers to God, Christ-Jesus,the Blessed Virgin and St. Michael the Arch-angel. All to steelhimself for the confrontation that he knew was forthcoming. When hehad run out of prayers to chant, he took to singing war-lays andbattle-songs.Mostly he occupied his daysin the northern provinces, fighting in the armies of the Frankishlords of the coast against the heathen invaders from the sea. Now,however, he had set himself his own task, one that was just assignificant, he felt, to the wellbeing of Christendom.Ragenard could not help butsee within himself an embodiment of both righteous Christian virtueand God’s inexorable judgement. He often liked to imagine a greatline, shining and unbroken, stretching from himself in the presentday to the great virtuous warriors of earlier, nobler times; Charlesthe Hammer, the mighty Mayor of the Palace, his grandson Charles theGreat, the God-ordained Emperor of the West, and his loyal servantand nephew Roland, the noble paladin and warrior-martyr who fell inbattle at the Roncevaux pass.
     
 

      AbominationA short story by R. J.CreaneySmashwords EditionCopyright © 2011 R. J.CreaneyCover design by R. J.Creaney.Skull imagery for cover image adaptedfrom photography by Didier Descouens (User 'Archaeodontosaurus' onWikimedia Commons). ‘Benegraphic’ font created by BrandonSchoepf.http://rjcreaney.wordpress.com/
     
 

      After a time he had come toa stream, and he followed its course upward. Amidst the low hills inthe distance it had carved out a small and shallow valley over theages, and it was this he was entering. Soon he had come to a village,or, rather, the discarded bones of a village. Few hovels orgrain-barns were still standing as it had, as far as Ragenard couldtell, been the victim of a calamity some decades previously – butwhether that calamity had been an act of God or man he could notknow.It was complete night bythat time, but the full, low-hanging moon provided enough light bywhich to see.The warrior proceededonward, passing the ruins of the village’s small church. Its belfryhad fallen, and one of its walls had toppled. More than one youngtree grew up and out from within its confines. Ragenard paid little heedto the ruin, however, for he had spied the village’s graveyard, nottoo far distant from where he stood. It appeared especially large forthe graveyard of a small village, and it was presently overrun withall manner of shrubs and grasses and trees. He knew there would bemore than only vegetation, however, waiting there for him.He noticed a black shape,lingering in amongst the trees and the stark white headstones.The fiend!Ragenard resisted the urgeto let out a thundering war-cry. Instead he quickened his pace.The black shape suddenlyquivered, and then grew in height before melting away into thesurrounding darkness. It had seen him approaching.
     
 

      Ragenard readied his broad,round shield. It had a battered iron boss at its centre, and itscharge was a faded, blood-red cross of the Oc Country. He drew hissword from the scabbard at his hip, and proceeded onwards at a steadypace.There would be no escape.Not this time.The warrior reached thelow, ruined stone fence that bordered the burial ground and steppedover it. Nearby, he could see thatthere was a long, gaping hole in the ground. An open grave. Besidethe grave, lying almost in Ragenard’s path was what must have beenits occupant until recently. The corpse – he could not tell whetherit had belonged to a man or a woman – was bloated and misshapen,and smelled as if all the foulness of the world had been concentratedsomewhere within its trunk.As the warrior drew closer,the body began to tremble and shudder as no body ought to. The torsoand neck of the corpse appeared to engorge and bubble, like a thicksimmering broth. Then, with a sudden and hideous blast, it exploded.Ragenard crouched lowbehind his shield, just in time; he was able to defend against anexplosion of rotted viscera, black bone-shards and slops of vile,boiling putrescence.He stood upright after amoment, and shook the steaming muck and foulness from his shieldbefore continuing deeper into the burial ground. The fiend had casthis magic on the carcass to make it into a trap, he surmised: settingit to burst violently when someone drew close. Ragenard knew,however, that there was yet viler magic in store for him.
     
 

      Soon later, he saw a blackman-shaped thing rise from the shadows behind a nearby grave marker. It was altogether thin,twisted and rotten, and almost as much bone was visible as was flesh.Its head and shoulders were still veiled by its decayed burialshroud, and it shambled, with a low snarl, a moan and a retchedsquelch, towards Ragenard.The warrior lashed out atit with his sturdy sword, cleaving the revenant in two before itsrotten, splayed hands could take hold of him.Ragenard found that anotherrevenant was already upon him, however, and this he dispatched with aswift strike from his shield, followed up by a stroke of his swordthat cut its head in half.“Man-witch! Whore-son!”he yelled into the night. “You cannot send your ghouls andrevenants after me forever and you cannot hide from me forever. Iwill find you, necromancer; I will find you and put an end to you.”Threeshadowed bodies then suddenly stood, garishly, in the distance.Ragenard inched closer. They stood upright, but not in the regularfashion of men – they appeared as if hoisted up by unseenmeat-hooks. As the warrior approached, they slowly shifted to facehim, and in perfect unison their rancid mouths moved, clumsily anddreadfully. “How many murders haveyou done to reach me, Ragenard?” the corpses asked him, or appearedto ask. The language was that of the Franks, coloured by amother-tongue  which was that of the Basques.
     
 

      Ragenard kicked savagely atthe nearest corpse, and it fell over and did not attempt to get backup.“I would slaughter allthe first-born sons in Egypt if it would bring me closer todestroying you, fiend.”Cold iron seared throughrotten flesh, tendons and muscle and shattered ancient bones. “You can call me a fiend,Ragenard, but I only follow in the footsteps of Our Lord, in my ownhumble way.” All three of the speaking corpses had been felled, butthe voice persisted – it seemed to well up perhaps from the bowelsof the earth.“You are not fit to evenmention him,” Ragenard snarled.“Iwill mention him, Ragenard, and his miracles. The widow’s son, atNain. The daughter of Jairus. Lazarus, the brother of Martha andMary, of Bethany. Our Lord raised all these people from death withtheir body and soul in place. You would surely know of these,Ragenard, had you the ability to read. Our Lord himself triumphedover his own death, at Calvary – and it is this miracle of hiswhich we cherish above all others. I am merely his unworthy disciple.I can rise up a body from the earth. I can call upon a soul lingeringin the gap between this world and the next, and bid it tell me whatit knows. But to rise up a body with its soul in place; that is theright of our Lord alone.”“You dare compareyourself to Christ-Jesus?” Ragenard screamed.
     
 

      “No, Ragenard,” thevoice replied. “But ask yourself. When one considers you and I, whois more alike to God, the Son? The man who instills life, or the manwho takes it away?”“You speak naught butfalsehood,” Ragenard said. “What you instil is not life, only amockery of life.”“I grow tired of runningfrom you, Ragenard,” spoke the voice.“Show yourself, then,”the warrior said. “Come out and address me face-to-face, as onetrue Christian would another.”There was no response.“Blackmagician!” He spat. “Necromancer! You sup on them, I know thisfor certain. You have your way with them, too, as you would a villagewhore. And it is only after <I>that</I>that you sup on them. I know the truth of the matter! You are a fiendand an affront to God’s Creation!”The magical voice made noreply to the insult.Ragenard continued on hispath through the burial ground, but he had already reached the farside. There were no other revenants waiting for him amongst thegraves. Some one hundred meters before him, however, was thebeginning of a thicket of trees – a small dark wood of beech andpoplar.

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