Scream in the Night
By: Everyones Favorite Beardling
This story was originally submitted to Mythic!
A small gust of wind rose up on the midnight winter's ground. The great blanket of snow strewn across the desolate and seemingly dead forest stirred and shifted as the wind struggled to raise it back up into the air from whence it had come before.
Warren opened his left eye and peered about the camp. The small clearing the host of men had camped in was deadly quiet, except, of course, for the murmurs and occasional snorts of sleep that engulfed the men. Warren opened the other eye and sat up, taking in the night air around him. The fire had long since burned out, and even the witch hunter had fallen asleep beside his companions. The branches of the dead trees reached out in random positions, clawing at the very air around them. The night sky stretched out dark and featureless with small specks of light that stood out amongst the great crescent moon. Everything seemed so calm and relaxed, which seemed odd for Sylvannia.
Leaning back, Warren raised his arms as far his limbs would allow, stretching himself out before folding them behind his head. Staring up at the night sky above, he couldn't help but marvel at the serenity that seemed to engulf his habitat almost perfectly. He knew that he would not be able to fall asleep once more, so he fuddled about in his pack for a moment before finally coming across his pipe and a small pouch of tobacco. He lit the pipe and puffed long and hard on it before relaxing his breath and blowing rings of smoke up into the heavens.
Looking down at his nephew Paul, he stroked the boy's hair out of his face before looking blankly out into the forest. Without even knowing it, his mind had drifted back to those calm evenings at home that he had spent with just his boys and his dogs. Perhaps he knew, and perhaps he didn't, but a smile had begun to spread across his face.
Almost suddenly, the wind began to blow harder than he had seen in some time. It howled through the forest, sending flakes of snow flying about in the air above the ground, settling on everything. The screeching wind was violent, yet it did not blow extremely hard at all. In the middle of this, Warren almost could have sworn that he heard a scream in the night, but dismissed it as simply the wind. As suddenly as the wind had appeared, it was gone once more and the serenity returned. He sat again in the cold for sometime, his cloak fastened around his neck for warmth and also for protection from any more gusts. The witch hunter twitched, but just enough to let out a small snore of contempt. Clearly this man could sleep through nearly anything.
But amongst these murmurs of sleep, there was a new sound. A sound that hadn't been there before. It was faint, but he could still hear it, and he struggled to hear what it could be. It was a crunching and sinking sound, as if something was moving through the forest. It was no animal, of that he was sure. Whatever this sound was, it was human, or at least he hoped. The steady rise and fall of the footsteps grew a bit louder and he could distinctly hear the sound of the leather, or something like it, sinking into the soft powder. He peered in the direction of the sound, and he could now see a small line of shadows moving towards him. It was definitely the outline of some two-legged being, though he could not tell much more than that. He remained as relaxed as he could, trying to make it appear as though he too was asleep, though judging by this thing's path, it already knew he was awake. He slowly reached for the dagger in his cloak's lining and it was in his hand, just as the thing reached the tree line.
It stopped at the edge, its blood-red eyes staring out at him, and for the first time in his life, Warren truly felt fear. Those eyes... they glowed with the intensity of a great bonfire, yet gleamed like a pool of the finest spring water. He began to twitch and shake as the thing stared him down menacingly. Terror racked his body, and made him sit as still as possible. The thing broke a smile of pearly white teeth and began to move towards Warren. A small growling and chuckling sound emanated from those teeth, and Warren could think of nothing else but those dreaded eyes. The thing raised both arms, revealing talons emanating from its hands the size of broadswords. The thing was so close, that he could feel its vile breath upon his face. Warren came to realize this was his end.
A large crack sound rang out from behind the thing and it toppled over, leaving the outline of the witch hunter, distinguishable only by his pointy hat, behind it. A cloud of smoke rose up from the barrel of the massive flintlock the witch hunter had drawn and raised. He lowered the flintlock and looked down at Warren curiously.
"Do you know what that thing was?"
Warren couldn't even come to mutter a word, and could only shake his head slowly from side to side.
"Well best not waste words on the ignorant, right? Let's get some sleep. What do you say?"
Without even waiting for a reply, the witch hunter strolled off leisurely to the side of the fire pit, and within moments was sound asleep. He looked down to see that the thing, although clearly dead, still had the same smile on its face. A small gust blew off in the distance, and he hoped that his ears were playing tricks on him, but Warren could have sworn that he heard a scream.