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Ancestor Prologue
By
Nexeus

Ancestor Prologue

Doran awoke early and didn’t hesitate. He sat up, swung his legs over the side of his bed, and stood. Doran was a farmer and years of experience had taught him that procrastinating was not good for anyone. He knew he had plenty of work ahead of him and whether he was tired or not, he had to get up and get to it. He had a very important part to play in his society and he knew the people needed the food and livestock he raised. So, Doran went about his business dutifully. His task was to prepare himself for the day, make sure he was in the proper attire and take proper safety precautions. He got dressed, laced up his boots, and slid on thick working gloves.

He grabbed his small lantern and headed for the door. He swung open the old creaky wooden door and looked out in the darkness. It was still in the very early hours of the day and the sun wouldn’t rise for another hour or so. He walked out into the cold air and closed the door behind him. He headed down the fifty or so yards to his tool shed where he kept the trappings of his trade. He knew the weak spot in the cattle enclosure would not last much longer. The wind alone had nearly blown it over the previous day and he didn’t want any of the cattle escaping. The cattle were generally too lazy and dumb to try and get out, but if there was an opening they would eventually wander through it, and he couldn’t have the fence opening one up on it’s own.

He grabbed the necessary tools, then he headed down the field towards where it was, holding his lantern up so he could see. There was something about this day that seemed a little off and unsettling but he couldn’t quite put his foot on it until he almost literally did. In his own thoughts, he almost walked right into one of his cattle, which at noticing him, started, slightly bucked, and moved away.

The animal was more jittery than normal and none of them were making much of a sound. It was the way they acted when a predator was around. Though he hadn’t seen too many wolves lately he hurried all the more to the potential hole in the fence. If the fence had fallen over a wolf would have a much easier time getting over the wire placed between the posts. And if one were around, it would be best to fix it quickly. He of course did not want to lose any cattle, but he also was quite fond of himself.

He eventually reached the post. It was leaning pretty badly, mostly held up by the wire between it and the next post and the small length of it that was still in the dirt. He set the lantern near the post where he could see it but far enough away as to not cause a hazard. With his free hand, he lifted the post and pushed it back into place and reached to set down all the tools in his other hand except the hammer. As he did so, he inspected the wire and was happy to note that he wouldn’t need to repair any of it today.

Just as he was about to stand something caught his eye and he froze. As his eyes were focused on the wire he picked up, in his peripheral, what he thought was movement on the other side of the fence. His eyes refocused to look in the distance but the light from the lantern did not reach far and afforded him little clarity passed a small distance. He gripped the hammer more tightly knowing that if a wolf did attack him now it may be his only defense.

He quickly stood and began pounding the post back down into the loose dirt while at the same time packing extra dirt at the bottom with his feet. As he worked, he heard a twig snap not 30 meters away on the other side of the fence. He tried to be quick about his business, but wanted to make sure the post was properly seated, so he wouldn’t have to fix it again soon.

About then he heard another noise at a similar distance, but a little farther to his left. He swore quietly and hoped he might hear the voices of some of the morning help soon, they were more capable fighters than himself. After he thought it was a satisfactory job, he gathered his belongings and the lantern and turned to head back to his tool shed at a brisk pace. Something was still not sitting right with him.

It wasn’t long until he heard heavy footfalls of what sounded like a four legged creature behind him, then just as suddenly, nothing. He turned back, a little more startled than before. Then he heard what sounded like a gust of wind and a heavy thud. It jumped the fence! But a wolf shouldn’t be able to jump that, at least none of them have tried before. He knew it was something else in the field with him.

He thought about the sound it made when it landed and thought that it might be something with wings. But he couldn’t recall anything large enough around this area that would have wings. Dragons did not bother themselves by visiting here. He knew anything that large would not turn away from the sight of a farmer and his hammer. He turned to run back to his barn. Realizing after a few paces that he still had his lantern lit, he quickly turned it off. He knew the way back anyway and didn’t want to give whatever was out there a better view of where he was. He kept his pace and continued until another loud thud followed by a clank let him know his stalker had attacked one of his cattle.

A loud crack broke the stillness of the morning, and a chill ran down his spine. Something was out there and it was very strong. It was no easy task to break cow bones and it seemed all too easy to whatever just took down one of his livestock. However, it dawned on him that if whatever it was found something to eat it might give him the opportunity he needed to get out. He broke into a sprint to the barn hoping that his lost cow would be enough cost to escape. He could only hope that the morning help would come soon or he would be finished. He heard the chorus of terrified cattle stomping and bellowing about. He hoped just as well that he would make it out of his field not trampled by cattle in their in terrified stupor.

Suddenly, his hopes were dashed. A sound like a horse exhaling came from only meters behind him. He stumbled to a stop and instinctively relit the lantern quickly with the knob on the side. He swung the lantern around him looking for whatever had made the noise, as if somehow seeing the creature would make getting torn to pieces more tolerable. Whatever it was, it kept to the shadows just outside the lanterns reach. He would catch only glimpses of its dark figure, just before the lantern would light the spot where it was and it would be gone.

Doran lost his nerve and bolted as hard as his legs could take him. He knew the creature had already found him and, judging from how quickly his livestock was dispatched, it could kill him any time it wanted. His only chance was to alert the others. He could hear nothing but his heart pounding in his chest and his loud screams. He had no idea if the beast was still following him, but he ran as hard as he could as if it were just at his heels. His muscles were beginning to ache with the strain and every step shot pain through his calves and thighs. Just as his voice was getting hoarse from his screams for help, he heard it. Heavy footfalls approached behind him impossibly fast.

This creature that was moving silently before, was now not trying to conceal it’s movements at all. It was as if the creature loved his fear and wanted as much as it could get before finally feasting. The thumps were getting closer and closer. It seemed that, even though his body was pumping full of adrenaline and he was running faster than he ever had, the beast saw it as just a measly stroll. Just as it seemed the predator was upon him, a shout came from the direction of his house.

“Get down!”

Without hesitation he dropped to the ground. He flipped over, holding his hammer arm out to defend himself. He heard the sound of fire blowing in the wind pass over his head and saw the fire arrow as it dispersed the darkness from where he’d been running. The arrow then exploded in a brilliant light illuminating the area he had just come from. If he was frightened before, it was nothing compared to the terror he felt now.

The flash of light showed a dark creature the size of a horse. It appeared to be completely black but glistened like dragon scales in the bright light. It shied to the side avoiding the fire and light as much as possible. Just before the light faded, the creature turned away and he saw what looked like black spines running down it’s long back. The creatures mouth was slightly open in a snarl, revealing razor sharp teeth the length of the man’s fingers. More arrows shot, illuminating the area and keeping the creature at bay, but it appeared as if it had learned what they were doing and was hiding that much better with each successive shot. Taking his lantern he stood up and began to run again, trying to stay out of the line of fire from the archer. A fire shot passed him and light flashed behind him then almost instantly another arrow passed. This one was different. No light illuminated from it but he felt an enormous gust of wind and loud whistle as it passed. He heard a heavy thud and realized the creature must have been knocked down.

Not daring to look back again, he ran as hard as he could toward the archer. From the fire flashes, he saw another soldier running toward him. As he got nearer, the soldier crouched in a fighting stance with one hand outstretched. A sword materialized out of thin air into his grip. He now had two armed fighters working to protect him and even though he still ran he felt a slight surge of hope. Just as quickly as it had come, his hopes were dashed. He glanced at the archer and the fire streaming from her bow and saw a large silhouette running toward the woman. As she pulled the bowstring once again, the fire lit then vanished, as she was tackled to the ground.

“There’s another one!” he screamed to the soldier . Almost falling he came to a stop and kept his eyes forward, relying on the soldier to watch his back. He backed up until he reached the soldier and they stood waiting to defend themselves or die.

“Keep your lantern up, I don’t have fire like she did. I can try to sense it, but the light will help us all the more.”

Silence stole over them as they waited trying to hear any faint movement from the creatures. Then they heard a terrible noise, a chilling scream in the distance that sent a jolt through them. It sounded like a dragon in agony, as if it was being tortured and tormented by some powerful demonic force. It was then that they heard both of the beasts shuffle, as if they were struggling against something, but couldn’t resist. The horrible sound hit their eardrums again, guttural and angry growling responded. A third scream sounded and the two evil creatures made the same horrifying sound back and ran. Whatever these things were, there were three of them. But they seemed to be retreating for now. It was then that they noticed that the sky was no longer its star speckled black, but was becoming more blue as the sun slowly began to rise. As they watched in the direction they had heard the screams from, they could barely make out the huge dark shadows running back to the edge of the woods on the other side of the farm fence he had repaired.

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