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Deaths Hound

There was not a single living soul in the entire town. The buildings were all derelict and empty. Dead ivy crawled up the walls and snow-covered weeds choked the gardens. Lit by moonlight, the whole place felt eerie and unreal.
“Why would the Counsel bother sending a Sivlan knight to this ghost town?” Kiara muttered to herself in the silence.
She could find no reason for her presence here. After she had wandered into a few of the houses, in which she found only snow, dirt and rotten wood, nothing of importance. She walked by the ruins of a rusted and stained fountain that had clearly been the pride of the town in its day but she didn’t even bother to give it more than a glance. The snow came up to the ankles of her boots and Kiara was more concerned about spoiling her boots than some old fountain. She shivered as a wayward night breeze blew through the town, her uniform was not meant for cold-weather climates but at least she still had her sword. Kiara continued through the town but found nothing worthy of her attention until she reached the graveyard.
It was large for such a small town and surrounded by an iron fence covered in rust. An elaborate double-doored gate barred the way in. Leaning against the gate was a snow-covered humanoid shape. Kiara walked over to it and brushed away the snow to reveal a corpse frozen in its state of decay. She sneered at the half-decayed flesh of the man's face in disgust, it was clear to her that the man had died long after the town was abandoned.
“So why would you come here to die?” Kiara muttered to it.
A glint of metal caught her eye as she studied the area around the corpse. Kiara nudged the snow away from it with the toe of her boot to reveal a crude sword. Kiara eyed the corpse again “Guarding something then? You weren’t going to do much good with that thing.”
She looked past it to the graveyard with a frown. Even though the graveyard was large, it looked normal. Just the typical rows of gravestones with the occasional crypt. All of them covered in snow. The branches of the bushes on either side of the gate clattered against each other in the breeze.
“Well… since I’m already here…” Kiara murmured, stepping up to the gate.
The corpse was in her way and frozen to the gate so Kiara took out her sword and used it to pry the corpse off, then shoved it into the bushes with several loud cracks when their branches broke under its weight. Kiara had to push hard to get the gate to open and the rusty hinges groaned in futile protest. They were in her way. Kiara walked into the graveyard, glancing to either side of her but not knowing what she was looking for as she strode through the empty graveyard. If possible she thought that it was even colder and darker than the town had been.
Kiara walked past row after row of crumbling gravestones, frost-covered moss often growing over the names of the dead. Her breath misted in the air before her. Kiara walked to the end of one of the rows and back without finding anything suspicious or worthy of her attention. It was the same for the next few rows she walked through. She even went into one of the crypts though it took far more effort than it was worth. There were a few caskets of rotting wood and when she glanced inside there were skeletons gleaming white and picked clean by scavengers. Not worth all her effort to break open the frozen door. The bodies had been dead for years.
Kiara sighed grumbling “None of this has been worth even a fraction of my time.”
She shivered as yet another breeze blew past her. Kiara started back the way she had come then stopped. Something was different. Somehow the very air itself seemed to fill with malice. She thought that she could feel someone watching her and gave a wary look over her shoulder, there was no one there.
“Foolishness” she muttered to herself “You know that there’s no one here.”
There was a soft growl in the darkness behind her. Kiara spun towards it, pulling out her sword only to have it vanish into nothingness as she did. The shadows pooled around the gravestones and a pair of malevolent red eyes formed in the center of it. Kiara froze at the sight of them, berating herself for it but she couldn't move, frozen in her horror. The shadows picked themselves up and coalesced as they did into a large ink-black wolf. It started to prowl towards her through the gravestones, which crumbled even further and the moss shriveled. But its eyes never left hers. Kiara stumbled back, recognizing it to be one of Deaths Hounds, one of his minions sent to collect those that he could not attend to personally. The Hound came even closer, shadows trailing from its ethereal body. Kiara pulled herself together and ran. There was no honor in fighting a servant of Death... and no escape. Deaths Hound howled as it chased her. A hand burst from the ground in front of a gravestone reaching for her legs. Kiara felt sluggish as she leaped out of the way of its grasping fingers. Others soon followed, the dead answered the summoning call of Deaths hound and pried themselves from their graves to stop her flight. Kiara glanced back behind her for only an instant to see the Hound prowling towards her. It was taking its time. That instant was an instant too long, the dead grabbed her in their cold embrace, dragging her down and pinning her to the ground. She struggled but it was too late, Deaths Hound arrived and she could smell the sickly sweet smell of decay on its breath as it lunged for her throat.
Kiara woke from the nightmare with a gasp of terror that she stifled hastily when she remembered where she was. She rose from her seat and straightened her uniform just as the door to the Council Room opened and one of the Lesser Councilmen walked over to her saying:
“Lady Kiara, the Council has assigned you to do a reconnaissance mission to the town that was abandoned a few centuries ago to the north. There has been an influx of reports coming in about the number of disappearances when people enter the graveyard. You are to scout the place out and report back.” The Lesser Councilman then turned on his heel and stalked back into the Council Room, slamming the door behind him. Kiara sat back down, numb with horror.

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Hir i-Chorvath
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