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December 18, 2005, 1:43 pm

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The Year of Red Leaves


In the royal year 451, also known as the year of Red Leaves, something strange occured. A star fell blazing from the heavens, in to the Midlands. Imperial Wizardry could be sent to examine the object. However things changed in the area. Royal Viziers were unable to postulate a cause for the matter, but the fact that none of the countyfolk were alive led to the whisper of one, chilling word. Zombie.

In the royal year 451, also known as the year of Red Leaves, something strange occured. A star fell blazing from the heavens, and its passage scorched the leaves from the trees in County Ailbe, in the Midlands. Most merely uttered a word of prayer, asking a small charm of the falling star, others a warding gesture. The star cooled into a lump of a strange and porous material that had the multicolored hue of stained glass, yet the resilience and ring of iron. It was well agreed among the countyfolk that the object should be left alone until such a time as a wise man of the Imperial Wizardry could be sent to examine the object.

A storm came, and the rain was hard, and struck through with brilliant lightning, and there were strange colors in the clouds. By the coming of morning, the countyfolk were quite surprised that the star had been eroded away by the rain, its mass greatly reduced, and what remained was a sloppy alkaline mess. Several jars were gathered of the strange substance, and stoppered with wax. Little more was thought of the matter, for living close to the whimsical little fae of the Green March, and the Seelie keep of
Underfall Freehold, such odditities were little cause for alarm.

It is recorded that within the span of a week, some of the countyfolk became afflicted with a strange illness. The body could hold no food, not even the smallest morsel. Anything eaten was violently expelled by forceful contractions of the stomach. The bowels suffered a similar fate, expelling themselves completely in a fit of muscular spasms. Those who lived in the vicinity of the Clergh Lake were the first affected, but by the end of the month, the majority of the county was infected by the illness. Those first affected began to show signs of decay, their skin sloughing off, and numbness in the extremities. Their hunger gnawed continually at them, and eroded their sanity.

It was later discovered that the vital blood of the living could retard this decay, and large amounts of blood could reverse the decay, but only ‘clean’ blood. The poor folk of the county grew terribly gaunt, their ribs and hips protruding from their skin. Blood dried into a crust around their lips, and the gums blackened and drew back from their teeth, giving them a baleful countenance.

Visitors and travelers who passed into County Ailbe were set upon by the hungry inhabitants who retained some of their memories, but as they decayed, their minds became more bestial. Packs of former humans scourged the county, and soon expanded beyond the county borders. These stumbling sags of skin and bone killed a large number of people who lived in smaller isolated communities and freeholds, tearing them limb from limb and gorging on their blood. It wasnt until the spring of RY 452 that the matter gained serious attention.

A large pack, numbering some 19 individuals set upon a contingent of the Queen’s Royal Guard. The soldiers managed to fight their way to freedom, but many were wounded and quite a few were slain by the fast and animalistic countyfolk. By now, the countyfolk showed the signs of decay, as winter had reduced the amount of prey, and had retared the decay process via the cold. They were largely nude, the sight of their rotting or grossly distended genetalia disheartened and disturbed those who saw them. Their toes were missing, fingers askew from smashing prey, and their faces were the most cruel. The cheeks had torn, as they forced the largest pieces of flesh into their mouths, giving them the wide-jawed maw of a crocodile, extending the bite to well beyond the normal for a human. Their noses were misshapped, many were bitten off in scrabbles with other of the county-folk.

The Queen, horrified at the sight of a shambler, ordered the Royal Guard to take fire to the countyfolk. With sword and flame, the Queen’s Guard slaughtered the countyfolk in a thorough six month long campaign that didnt end until the last of the corpses was run aground and consigned to flames. By the end of the infestation, more than 2000 Midlanders had perished, not counting the 300 or so countyfolk.

Royal Viziers were unable to postulate a cause for the matter, but the fact that none of the countyfolk were alive led to the whisper of one, chilling word. Zombie.

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Comments ( 6 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Michael Jotne Slayer
December 18, 2005, 21:02
The falling star reminds me greatly of Wyrdstone in Warhammer, though this is a better take on it. The zombies themselves are chilling. Nice one Scrasamax.
Voted Ancient Gamer
December 30, 2005, 19:42
A good post if I may say so myself. At first I thought you had done like Robert Johnson and sold your soul, for it was that great, but it ended so quickly. The intro was awesome with the red leaves and the falling star... You had me mesmerized. Unfortunately the story ended sooner than I would have wished, otherwise the score would probably have touched the ceiling.

Have you sent anything to the publishing houses yet? Shoooo, shooo! Get going already!
Voted KendraHeart
December 31, 2005, 17:18
Very solid premise for a novel or a campaign. it is a little short, but hey it is effective.
Voted Ria Hawk
January 13, 2006, 1:12
It reminds me a lot of "The Colour Out of Space" by Lovecraft. But I think part of what makes it good is that it's not the same thing. Kudos to you. But of course, though the infestation has been exterminated, the underlying cause might not have been dealt with. There are still jars of the substance from the rock, and the land and water might still be poisoned. Also, is this affliction passed in the bites of those suffering from it?
Voted Tundra
January 14, 2013, 9:30
Only voted
Voted valadaar
January 6, 2015, 13:28
This puts me in mind of Heavy Metal. Thats a good thing. Great stuff here!

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       By: Raptyr

Nine times out of ten, it’s the undead that do the running.

Not strictly animal or vegetable, the Corpse bud is a peculiar individual that shares characteristics from multiple kingdoms and species. In appearance, all corpse buds bear a shape of a large rounded top bud divided into four lateral segments, and a much longer, narrower bottom bud, also divided into four segments. Between the two halves are a set of four radial limbs, rounded on top and flat on the bottom, covered with tiny serrated hooks facing towards the body. In overall size, it’s limbs reach as wide as a spread hand, with the body being as thick as a fist. It is as long as a human hand from top to bottom.

Internally, the top bud of the corpse bud contains a bacteria filled membrane that produces the hydrogen that the corpse bud uses to stay aloft, and a series of fungal gills for the dispersal of spores for reproduction. The lower half of the bud contains a number of fine filaments, as well as a sharp barbed stinger containing a powerful local anaesthesia.

The Corpse Bud mobilizes by inflating its top bud, and steers by rotating its arms rapidly about its body. The corpse bud ordinarily drifts with the wind, orienting towards the scent of recent decay and death. It preys on the recently dead, burrowing the lower bud into the victim, using the anaesthesia in case the victim is dying, and not truly deceased. Once embedded, it releases its filaments into the body, replacing the current nervous system. This gives it full animation of the body, and allows the corpse bud to direct it.

Corpse buds are not a malevolent species, being primarily concerned with breaking down the host body for food, and infecting the reproductive cycle with spores in order to mate with other corpse-bud bodies. To preserve the corpse for this purpose, Corpse buds will seek out dry locations to prevent bacteria from destroying the corpses. This often causes a large number of corpse buds to gather in a single location.

In culture, Corpse buds are used to repair broken spines or degenerative diseases, as the sentient mind will easily overcome the mind of the non-sentient corpse bud. Once infected by a corpse bud, however, removal is usually fatal, and the infected individual cannot reproduce, or risk infecting another. Thus, it is a technique often reserved for the elderly, or a last resort.

Necromancers and other dark sorcerers will often preserve the corpses of their victims magically, and infect them with corpse buds, creating traditional undead as well, so as to seed their lairs with undead both offensive and non, in order to throw their enemies off balance. They will also enslave the rudimentary minds of the corpse buds, and transform the docile things into a plague. There have also been accounts of magically transformed corpse buds with stronger minds and a taste for living flesh, but thus far all accounts are unproven rumors.

Ideas  ( Lifeforms ) | October 12, 2011 | View | UpVote 3xp

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