The knife stroke had been poor, instead of delivering the mortal blow, t'was nothing more than a scratch. A cut upon the palm as the Lord had deflected the assassin's strike with his hand. The would be killer was so young, and there was something virginal about the cast of her face. She had not seemed displeased with her failed attempt and had fled his chambers well ahead of the guards. A better assassin would have taken him at his chamber pot, or waited till he slept. There had been time to press the attack. Perhaps her weakness as a mewling woman left her lacking the courage to press her advantage. Or she was too unintelligent to know she had an advantage to press.

Kyra's Knife

Named for the first and most famous assassin to carry it, Kyra the Silent, the knife is a ghoulish piece of work. Under normal scrutiny it is a normal looking if macabre knife. The blade is curved and has several nicks and notches in it, and the handle is made of a dark wood. The pommel of the knife is heavy and shaped like a face twisted in agony. 

The fever started a few hours after the assassination attempt. The assassin escaped, but several guards were injured, two received cuts from the knife that tried to end his life, the others were harmed in the attempt to capture her. The Lord sent for his physician. The cut was angry and red, and was starting to throb dully. The physician tended the injury as an afterthought, giving instead a draught of liquor tinted with special herbs and a powder to ease the growing pain. 

The Blade of Bites

The knife was made in an unwholesome and unholy place. The metal was brought and forged on an anvil in a town that had been destroyed by the undead. The flames that turned the metal red were fed with the dried flesh of the wandering dead, and the metal was pounded out with a dead man's hammer. The metal was shaped several times, folded and hammered to make a better cutting edge, for greater strength and to remove many of the impurities in the low quality metal that went into it's manufacture. Finally, once the blade was shaped, the glowing hot metal was quenched in the guts of one of the undead, spilling rancid steaming blood from the wound it opened. The wood for the handle was cut from a gallows, while the face in the pommel was the last work done by a blacksmith who was slowly and agonizingly succumbing to a zombie bite.

The Blade is of high quality, considering the work that went into it, and the dark essence that permeates it. 

The wound festered and quickly turned into rot. The Lord suffered through bouts of body wracking agony, fever and chills, a terrible cough, and would vomit forth blood several times before lying still in his silken bed. The physician and several ladies in waiting sat around him. His face was a lurid color, his eyes were sunken and dark, and the stench from his hand was terrible. The physician had considered amputating the limb but it wouldn't have done anything, considering how deep the infection had burrowed into his flesh.

Months before there had been a peasant rebellion in the Vassach Valley. The rebels had the mountains, the lay of the land on their side. Twice the Lord's troops had ridden to break into the valley and put the rebels to the sword and twice they had been repulsed. Many men and horses were lost or maimed by peasant traps, or ambushes by peasant hunters and snare setters. He had ended the rebellion quickly enough after that. A dozen men captured from the valley were each bitten by one of the Lord's chained zombies and then were returned to their homes. The plague burned through the valley and in less than a week the outridders rode into the villages and put the fresh undead to the sword, and most of their homes to the torch. A blacksmith shop and a few other buildings were left, but the rest was ashes and dust. 

The Zombie Plague

The wound starts simple, a cut will do. The infection spreads from there, slowly bringing the victim low with a horrific malady that resists all natural and herbal remedies. Fever, followed by coughing blood and then bloody vomit which ends in the victim's painful death. This is the common course of zombie bite victims, but such things are rare. Zombies are an affliction of the poor, or in areas of spiritual desolation. Few palace physicians have ever seen a zombie bite let alone recognize it's symptoms or know its treatments. A cleric can slow the spread of the disease with the application of healing spells, as can the regular use of healing potions stave off the effects of the injury. But the disease spread by the knife is not a thing of microbes and bacteria. Rather it is a magical and spiritual ailment that can only be reversed by the timely application of powerful clerical magic such as potent spells that remove curses, spiritual healing techniques, or mighty blessings. But these things must be done before the affliction has burrowed deeply into the victim, otherwise they (if of insufficient strength) only prolong the inevitable. 

Such wounds can be cleansed by liberal application of fire, though this can often be as deadly as the wound itself.

The lord hacked a final, pitiful time, and expired. The physician went to cover his face but the lord reached up and stopped him. His eyes were open again, but they held the cold glaze of death and the physician screamed as the lord attacked him. Further away, in the barracks infirmary, the injured men had died much earlier due to their less than Lordly care and had spent the last several hours wandering around, and had killed several castle attendants and well as bitten more. The infection would spread quickly through the night...

Halloween Inspiration

This submission was inspired by an ornate plastic knife found in the Halloween section of a local store. 

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Adrad of Kimms Village

Adrad was a competent blacksmith, one content to spend the rest of his days hammering out horseshoes and nails. He had spent his youth in the service of the King. He had the strength to be a great man at arms, but he had a twisted leg, a souvenir of a childhood illness. Despite his strength and courage he would not be part of the line of battle. Instead he learned the forge, making horseshoes and repairing damaged armor for the army while it moved. He had little ambition to join the ranks of the great urban guilds and once his time in the army was done he retired to his home village, Kimms. The village was a small woodcutting community founded by a woodswoman named Jolly Kimms, a half breed. He had a family, raised children and eventually grandchildren.

But eventually things changed. The Old King passed away, and new lords and vassals rose and fell with the new King's coronoation. The problem arose when the new lord of the region, Valish son of Vaerlin, decided to change things. He tripled the taxes across the woodcutting regions, and increased the demand for levies for his armies. The valley villages produced excellent archers, hunters, trackers, and plenty of wood to fuel his ambitions. There was a revolt. Not the common sort of peasant revolt quickly and bloodily put down. The valley had a long tradition of service in the King's Army and there were many men with keen minds, and young men with strong arms and strong backs. The siege seemed a stalemate, the new Lord's troops were poorly motivated, and the defenders of the Valley were well armed, and well organized. An affront to the mounted men, to be unhorsed by peasants fighting in a forest.

Valish launched his evil plan, sending sick men into the Valley, to spread the zombie plague. The close knit defenders were decimated by the plague, and Adrad's house was not spared. His sons succumbed to the bites of their kin and his daughter was slain, and eaten by her own family. Adrad was choked with grief, he locked himself and a handful of survivors in the stone forge house and they tried to survive the storm. It did not go well, there was little to eat and a foraging run went poorly, several were bit. Adrad slew his own grandson after he was bitten by the infected child. He turned himself to his final task. He created the knife with the help of his surviving daughter, Kyra. She did much of the hard work, keeping the fire lit and providing Adrad with food and comfort while he worked and slowly weakened in the face of the undead poison seeping through him. The work took days, but Adrad was a bear of a man, made like the mountains. Once he was too weak to work the hammer, he directed Kyra to the hard work while he used his weakened hands to carve the pommel. Those knowing will recognize the face he made, it is none other than once Duke now Lord Valish, perishing from his own disease. Adrad perished with the knife almost complete. Kyra ended up intentionally quenching the hot blade in the guts of her beloved grandfather as he came at her, black gums and dead eyes.

She fled, leaving him and many others dead on the ground. She moved quickly, killing her undead friends and family with a bow before making it across the river, and out of the valley. She sought out something to finish the knife her grandfather made, and found that she could splinter large pieces of wood off of the gallows in the trade city of Darath. With some work, she polished the wood, and fit the handle around the metal core of the blade. The blade was finished, a macabre creation of incident and circumstance. There was no magical spell that went into its creation, nothing more than the cold and bitter dread of a man knowing he is to die soon. A man who has lost all that was dear to him in the ugliest sort of betrayal, a betrayal built upon a house of betrayals. The essence of death, the spirit of the zombie permeates the very materials the weapon is made of. Those who hold it know that it is a weapon of cold and bitter vengeance, the arrow fired after the archer was slain, the poison spilled into the larder.

for Dossta, because he asked nice