This was something I cranked out the day I decided to give up on NaNoWriMo for this year. It pretty much took an hour from deciding on the idea to finishing, a sort of NaNoWriHo, if you will. I’m not sure if the speed was due to feeling liberated at not having the burden of NaNoWriMo looming over me anymore, or out of frustration at not having finished and wanting to prove something to myself. In either case, I took the theme of “a perfect day” and ran with it. Not the best thing I ever did, but under the circumstances, I’m pleased with it.
Colgrym’s sword sang in his hands, cutting a swath through the ranks of the Duskguard that Malaclax had frantically ordered to stop his ascent to the top of the mad wizard’s tower. His vanquished foes lay strewn behind him; crumbled gargoyles on the winding path leading up Grimpeak, slain marksmen slumped in the guard towers, beheaded Gatekeeper Giants tumbled down into the murky moat, barghests silenced before their howls of alarm could leave their throats. Now, black-armored enemies poured forth from the tower’s main gate like a dark tide, their ebon swords held high, battle cries in harsh, brutal tongues filling the courtyard.
They fell like wheat at the harvest, their enchanted armor no match for the ringing steel of Doom’s End. Colgrym’s arms should have ached with the effort of battle, but the sword felt as light as a maiden’s touch, and seemed to know where Colgrym meant to swing it next. He whirled and parried in a seamless dance, until the last of the Duskguard slumped lifeless to the cold stone. He raced through the tower’s entry arch, to see the long stair to Malaclax’s sanctum standing before him.
He vaulted the steps two at a time, all fatigue gone from his body. He dodged a hail of darts from a sprung trap, their barbs clattering harmlessly against the far wall. He cleared a slightly discolored step with a mighty leap, leaving whatever nasty surprise it held for him safely behind. A scream echoed down from the top of the stairs, where Malaclax no doubt hurriedly tried to weave the spell that would darken the sky forever.
Colgrym reached the top of the stairs and sprinted towards the heavy wooden door at the end of a short hall. He threw his shoulder into it like a charging bull, and it splintered with a loud crash that brought Malaclax’ head snapping up from the cauldron he stood before, and from the squirming form of Princess Allendra as she struggled at her bonds. Tendrils of black smoke snaked up from the cauldron to lap at her legs, and she shrieked in terror.
“Impossible!” Malaclax snarled. “The Duskguard should have left your bones for the ravens!”
“Your ravens will go hungry today, Malaclax!” Doom’s End hummed with power.
“You’re too late!” the wizard replied with a cackle. “The spell has already begun! Soon the darkness will consume her, and the light will go from this world just as it will go from her body!”
“We’ll see!” Colgrym roared, and leapt across the room with a mighty bound. Malaclax raised his arm and let loose a black bolt of energy, but a flick from Doom’s End sent it harmlessly away. The wizard screamed in wordless rage and another spell flew from him, this time the darkness congealing into a hulking golem whose head soon reached to the sanctum’s vaulted ceiling. Colgrym rolled between its legs and drove Doom’s End deep into its back, the golem exploding into dark mist that dissipated with what sounded like a tired sigh. Malaclax howled his fury, dark energy pouring from him, first in the vague shape of a skull that snapped futily at Colgrym, next as clouds filled with jagged sparks that Doom’s End absorbed with a high crackle, next a mist that blanketed the floor and tried to drag Colgrym down into it. He swept Doom’s End before him and the mist cried out and fled to dark spaces behind shelves and under tables.
Now he was but a sword’s length from the wizard, whose eyes had grown fevered with madness. “Go on! Slay me! It matters not! For nothing can stop the spell now! Darkness will fall!”
Colgrym swung Doom’s End, but not at Malaclax. Instead, his blade tore through the tendrils enveloping Allendra. A rumbling moan came from within the cauldron, filled with pain, from the swipe of the sword, from the lost promise of the delectable light within the princess that had been denied whatever foul power lurked in the cauldron’s depths. The tendrils retreated, and the cauldron bent in on itself as the black strands withdrew, until all that remained was a twisted hunk of metal, a keening wail echoing inside.
“I wanted you to live to see that, wizard,” Colgrym said, turning on Malaclax. Doom’s End seemed to cry with joy as it pierced the wizard’s flesh. Malaclax opened his mouth as if to spit one last curse at Colgrym, but nothing came from him except a sound like steam, and a billowing cloud of blackness that buzzed like gnats, only to spread thinner and thinner until it vanished. The empty husk of Malaclax fell to the ground with the dry sound of baled hay.
Allendra found herself freed from her bonds. She slid from the table and raced to embrace Colgrym, holding him tight. “Fear not, my lady,” he said, as Doom’s End’s song grew quiet in his mind. “It is finished.”
“We’ve rounded up all farm boys under the age of eighteen?”
“The executions have already begun, my lord.”
Malaclax nodded in approval. He gazed out into the dark, the only light coming from the fires that burned below, consuming prophetic scrolls, transcribed auguries, dusty spell books. “I want all the ancestral weapons melted down by the end of the week as well.”
“But of course.”
“You may go.”
The minion bowed low and backed out of the room. Malaclax paid him no mind. He strode towards the figure lying peacefully on the slab at the center of the wizard’s sanctum. The warrior’s body was scarred but whole, his face wearing a contented smile. Atop his head pulsed a writhing mass of black ooze.
“What happy delusion grips you now, Colgrym?” Malaclax chuckled. “Do you bed down that brat of a princess? Or perhaps you’re killing me again?” He stroked Colgrym’s cheek. “Enjoy your perfect day. Forever.”
He laughed and left his chamber, leaving Colgrym to stare up blankly at the ceiling in wordless eternal delight.