by Dana DeVries
The ocean breeze danced lightly across the sands and amidst the decaying grave markers. A full moon shone down upon a lone figure dressed in black and the bound woman at his feet. The breeze lifted his low chanting into the night sky and a body floating in the water responded. Stroke after stroke, it clumsily swum through the water, never once raising its head for air. The black clad man continued his chant for hours, pausing only to lift a silver flask from his side and take a quick sip of thick red liquid. The breeze grew in strength while the thick clouds overhead remained firmly in place. Finally with an almost audible crack, the clouds drew back from the heavy full moon and beams of moonlight fell across the graveyard like raindrops.
Now bellowing, the man drew a dagger from his belt and raised it to the sky. He slowly turned in place and his words thundered across the sky.
The moonlight fell upon sharp features and a well-trimmed black beard. The woman at his feet began to struggle and scream into her gag as he returned his attention to her and knelt beside her with his dagger raised for the strike.
But before he could plunge the dagger into her, the body exploded out of the waves and onto the shore. It staggered up into the graveyard and shook the water from itself like some demented hound. The man's chanting finally ended as his jaw dropped open. Then a look of triumph covered his sinister features and he raised his head up in a devilish cackle. "Finally. I shall have my revenge upon the men who spurned me. Those sanctimonious Vatacine fools will regret the day they turned against the Bianco family. Tonight, they will pay, for even Legion's own responds by my commands!" The body that had crawled out of the surf coughed and sputtered a moment. Its clothing had long since rotted away and his muscles spasmed as it swayed on its feet and stared at them.
Then a low rasp came from his throat.
The figure shook his head and another low sound emerged as his jaw worked slowly.
Finally, the creature pointed to the man and spoke.
"Give me your blade, fool." Each word came painfully from a throat long abused, but his eye was focused upon the woman. The man nodded and took a step forward before hesitating.
A suspicious expression slowly dawned upon his face. "First you must swear to obey me. Bind yourself to me and my unholy vengeance."
The undead thing turned blood red eyes upon him and a grating sound emerged from his throat. It continued horribly for several seconds before anyone realized that it was laughter.
"Swear! You must swear to obey me! I raised Legion's from the dead, I can put you back if you don't obey me!"
Still emitting his horrid laugh, the creature took a step forward. Then he forced words out past his throat with the painful intensity of a man gnawing through his own arm. "Legion's own? I was Legion's plaything for more centuries that I can remember as punishment for my crimes. I served Legion because I was bound and trapped. I had no choice. But you embrace it out for some stupid vendetta? Vengeance has led more to death and beyond than ever enjoyed its fruits. You pledge your soul for a momentary pleasure? You are a fool. But now I stand free. I serve Legion and fools no longer.
I am now Unbound!"
The final shouted word held pain, triumph, longing and misery.
The man shouted his denial. "No! You must obey! I performed the ritual perfectly. You must obey me!"
The creature staggered forward another two steps. "Is the ritual supposed to end with you waving your knife around aimlessly while your sacrifice lies unharmed?"
"Oh." The man's voice was small and timid as he stepped up beside the woman. "I give you this woman. I give you her body and blood and soul. I give you..."
"Wait." The creature interrupted and turned towards the shore for a moment. Turning back, his rasp scratched out again. "You performed this ritual to summon a creature of Legion to do your bidding? I heard the call, but I was not the one summoned. Look."
One bony arm pointed towards the suddenly churning waters off shore. A dark tentacle raised above the waves for a moment. The man stepped up beside the creature who had crawled from the surf and stared out into the darkness. With the quickness of a snake, the undead thing seized the man about the shoulders. Terrified, he tried to turn around to face his foe, but its arms were far too strong. He could only lash out with the knife and bury it in the thing's chest. But it ignored the attack, leaned forward and bit deeply into the man's neck. A spray of blood covered it for a moment, but within seconds, the body fell limp and the blood slowed to a halt. The thing reached down and picked up the man's body with ease and hurled it out into the surf.
A tentacle instantly swept out of the depths, wrapped around the body and disappeared back beneath the waves. The thing on shore straightened up and turn.It scanned the cemetery slowly and then it opened its mouth wider and wider. After a moment, its jaw unhinged and it kept opening far further than any human being's could. The sound that came out was partly evil delight and partly undying frustration and it hung in the air for a minute.
And then another. And another, continuing on without pause or breath. After a minute, the ground all around him began to shift and move. Lumps formed as something forced its way up out of the ground. A skeleton, long buried emerged.
And then another. And another followed until a score of men surrounded him in uncomprehending malice.
Twisted laughter rang out again for a moment. Then it turned back towards the woman. He bent down to her form and lashed out with the knife and sliced through her bonds. With a scream, she ripped the gag from her mouth and leapt to her feet. Her white gauzy clothing billowed around her, but before she could take even a step, the creature reached out and grabbed her by the shoulder. She struggled helplessly, but his time, instead of ripping out her throat, the creature smothered her mouth with his own and kissed her deeply. Pressed tight up against it, she felt her heartbeat beating wildly from terror, but as the kiss continued, her heartbeat slowed. And slowed until its beat barely thudded in her chest. And then it stopped and like his own chest, held no heartbeat at all.
After a moment, it released her and she took a step back. She stared at him blankly for a moment and then spoke. Her voice came out as a low croak, "Why?"
Its voice was far clearer. "Corruption is my steady diet. It has been years since I tasted purity such as yours."
Her voice was flat and dead. "What should I call you?"
"Upham. Captain Upham. Now where can we find a boat. There's so much I want to do."