"In the town of Sirus two weeks had passed since Yule and Julie went to the market, Yule, who had just finished digging a grave wiped some sweat off his forehead and drew his cloak tighter as he felt a cold wind blow through town, winter was approaching."
"As Yule got out of the grave and looked towards the large pile of bodies still waiting, he sighed then moved to place a body into the newly dug grave. It was a townsfolk man, he was covered with painful looking blisters and dark purple rashes, his eyes were open bloodshot and his lips were dried and cracked horribly."
"Yule placed the man into the grave thankful for the leather gloves he was wearing as the skin of the man seemed almost paper thin and tore off stickily with just a bit of pressure. Yule began shoveling in dirt and as dirt began to cover up the dead man's face Yule's mind drifted onto the events of the past two weeks."
"First, it had been the elderly."
"There had been a steady increase in elderly deaths, around one a day. The bodies didn't have any odd rashes or blisters and many families stated it only seemed like the common flu. Yule and the families hadn't thought much of it at the time, winter was approaching and nature had its ways to cull the weak."
"Next, it was the children."
"Mothers and fathers would bring their dead toddlers and babies to Yule. Their children who had just recently had a taste for the material world had been snuffed out. Once again, the only signs of anything wrong were coughs and normal flu symptoms in the children. The townsfolk at this time realized a stronger virus must be floating around, they began to distance themselves from each other to protect their young and elderly. Yule who had been worried about Julie had checked on her but luckily she had been fine, he told her not to visit the graveyard any time soon, it was a place where infected bodies went, he didn't want her to get sick."
"Then the first infected adult body showed up."
"Yule had never seen anything like it, the body was covered in blisters that oozed disgusting yellowish liquid. Purple rashes covered the skin and if you touched them the skin would peel away like on a baked tomato. The eyes were always bloodshot and the lips were dry and cracked. The townsfolk had assumed this was a different disease because the symptoms were so different but Yule realized the elderly and young hadn't shown symptoms because they had simply died too quickly for any to form."
"From there the death toll increased day by day."
"More and more bodies showed up in Yules graveyard, some came with families and some were just left there. The townsfolk had begun to shut off from each other, worried about getting infected themselves. Yule presumed it was only a matter of time until he himself got sick too, he was dealing with the infected bodies everyday and even if he wore gloves it could only protect so much. However, it didn't bother him, he should've died back in Itzes, every extra minute was a gift."
"Or perhaps, a curse."
Eventually townsfolk stopped bringing bodies to the graveyard.
I had noticed the amount of bodies had reduced greatly so at first I thought perhaps the disease had run its course. However, when I went into town to check I saw that almost every house had a body or two placed out in front, the streets were littered with them, some were rotting already.
The people inside were too scared or too sick to make the trip to the graveyard.
Bloodshot eyes, ripped sickly flesh, birds pecking at open wounds.
Everywhere I looked diseased bodies filled my eyes and yet I walked forward with my shovel resting lazily on my shoulder, not even a ripple could be found in my heart.
"Am I a monster?"
(Not really, I mean maybe you built a bit of muscle digging graves but otherwise you're really quite weak...)
"Not strength wise, I mean mentally."
I bent down by a nearby body of a female townswoman, I touched one of the bruises and some of the flesh ripped away, she was long dead but her face still held the pain she went through when she was alive.
And yet, I didn't feel anything.
"How come I don't feel anything seeing all these dead bodies."
(Perhaps you just got used to it, and besides you don't really know these people that well do you?)
"Indeed I don't know them that well but still..."
I got up and walked into the middle of the street there must have been fifty bodies lining the streets.
"Shouldn't I feel... something?"
(Ah, maybe you do feel something but you just haven't taken the time to notice it.)
(Do you want to try?)
Empty, my heart was empty staring at these bodies. T
his shouldn't be, I should feel sad, regretful, upset or frustrated and yet I didn't. I had ignored this before after leaving behind the Itzes massacre but perhaps I should address it now.
"Very well. What should I do?"
(Start by closing your eyes.)
I nodded then stabbed my shovel down in front of me and rested my two hands on its handle then I closed my eyes.
(Now remember the bloody streets of Itzes, what do you see?)
Seriously? If I must.
"I see the cobbled streets, blood flows freely through the stones. It's late evening and the sun is in the middle of setting, an eerie red glow fills the streets."
(Where is the blood coming from?)
"Bodies, hundreds of bodies line the streets and blood seeps from their wounds, their stabbed with black arrows or crude black knives."
(Who are they?)
"They are the townsfolk of Itzes, my friends and family."
(Take a deep breath.)
I take in a deep breath through my nose.)
(What do you smell.)
"Rotting bodies, I smell rotting bodies."
(What is the smell from.)
"It's from the diseased bodies of the townsfolk here in Sirus."
(Can you see them?)
Slowly in my mind the streets of Itzes were filled with more and more bodies but these did not match the ones punctured with black arrows. The new bodies were bloated or rotting and were covered with disease or pus, they were the dead townsfolk of Sirus merged into the massacre of Itzes.
The streets got more crowded, but not with the living.
"Yes, I can see them."
For a long while Izmus didn't say anything and I kept standing there amidst the dead bodies. I wasn't sure what I was waiting for and was about to call out to Izmus again when I saw something out of the corner of my eye.
Then I felt something odd.
It was a familiar diseased body, one I had buried earlier today. I remembered the woman, she was a townsfolk of Sirus who had brought me baked goods a few times although I couldn't remember her name. I did remember the image of dirt covering up her twisted face.
I felt it again, something drawing my eye.
Turning around I saw another familiar body, this time it was of another townsfolk from Sirus who had joked with me once, I remembered how the skin had peeled off his body when I buried him, I remembered the look of sadness in his bloodshot eyes.
I could feel it still, coming from all directions around me, a feeling I couldn't ignore.
As I spun more and more familiar bodies popped out amongst the pile of the dead and I remembered each of them. I remembered their last moments vividly.
A ringing in my ears had begun, my heart was beating fast and I could feel my arms trembling slightly.
What was this feeling?
As the ringing and spinning came to a crescendo my vision centered on a particular body in the middle of the street. It was a man littered with many arrows laid face down, I knew this body, it was my father.
My father who had died to save me, he sacrificed himself.
I could feel their deaths, I could feel it, but what exactly did I feel?
I heard loud crunching and cracking as I saw every dead body in the street twist their head and move their eyes to look at me, I even saw my fathers neck gruesomely snap backwards as his dead cloudy eyes locked onto mine.
My heart was pounding out of my chest and the ringing in my ears was like a storm.
Loud, loud, loud, LOUD, LOUD LOUD LOUD, TOO LOUD!
Then the sounds instantly stopped and every dead body's mouth opened to let out a horrible chorus of raspy cold voices.
(What do you feel?)
(What do you feel?)
(What do you feel?)
(What do you feel?)
(What do you feel?)
(What do you feel?)
(What do you feel?)
(What do you feel?)
(What do you feel?)
I felt my mouth curl up into a smile.
"Power. I feel power."
My mouth spoke before I could think and instantly I recoiled against what I had just spoken snapping open my eyes to end the illusion.
What!?! What did I just say???
When I looked down I could see that the shovel I gripped tightly with both hands was pulsing with blood red cracks which extended into my hands and forearms, I instantly let go and cried out.
"WHAT THE HELL?!?"
Shakily I wipe my forearms and hands and I see that the red lines slowly dissipate.
"Izmus, what the fuck was that?"
Izmus:(You said you wanted to feel something.)
"I meant sad, or upset! N-not, not that... That was your fucking meddling, I didn't feel that you shit!"
(All I did was enable you to listen to your internal feelings.)
(While I did help enhance the scene you saw, I didn't put any thoughts in your head, everything you felt came from within you.)
Shakily I scratched my head in frustration.
"What the hell were those red lines then?"
(The Power of the Dead.)
I scoffed. "Gonna need a bit more info than just that."
(There's power in emotions and people tend to feel the strongest emotions at the point of their death, as a gravedigger you experience a bit of that emotion with each burial and it becomes attached to you.)
"Are you saying those red lines were power?"
(Pretty much, when you went into your mind you began to relive the emotions of each of those deaths, and you have experienced many more deaths than most.)
I clenched my fist and grabbed the shovel from the ground.
"You're pretty fucked up Izmus."
I denied Izmus and yet my voice from before echoed in my mind.
'Powerful. I feel powerful.'
Lies, he's lying, there's no way that feeling came from me. I looked coldly at the diseased bodies lining the street and the bloody image from my mind flashed briefly, I grimaced.
I couldn't allow these bodies to sit here any longer.
I went to the nearby stable and took out one of the horses and a cart, I didn't ask, I just took them. I then went through the streets with the horse piling bodies onto the cart as I went.
Sometimes I would see townsfolk looking through their windows at me when I picked up a body in front of their homes.
They would nod at me and thank me through the window, sometimes with tears in their eyes. They appreciated that I didn't leave the bodies out to rot I guess.
I could only nod curtly back. I wasn't doing it for them at the moment.
I just didn't want those images of Itzes in my mind.
In the end Izmus couldn't be trusted, he was the God of Death after all.
That so-called 'Power of the Dead' was fueled by the regrets, pain and suffering of the deceased. Only he could think up such a morbid source of power.
"Don't meddle with my mind again, I don't want to be infected with your insanity. If you do I'll break this contract even if it kills me."
A long moment of silence passed before Izmus responded. For some reason Izmus's voice this time sent a shiver down my spine and yet I also heard a trace of amusement in it as well.
Shaking my head I continued with the horse and cart.
I had finished collecting as many bodies as the cart could carry for now, I would have to come back for another trip after to collect the rest. I led the horse and cart back towards the graveyard.
Everyone was locked into their homes and didn't want to come out. I wasn't expecting to run into anyone on the street.
At Least that's what I thought.
As we passed by the stables again I saw the front door slam open and I saw the same fat Uncle storm out of the house, he had a horrible look on his face.
But it wasn't just the Uncle, in his arms he roughly gripped a young girl who had Auburn hair, it was Julie. He grunted and threw her out into the middle of the street.
"Stay out here you brat!"
Julie roughly landed on the ground but she quickly crawled back to the Uncle grasping his pants.
"U-uncle please, please let me stay with you, p-pleas- Gfwaa..."
The Uncle had kicked Julie in the stomach and his face was twisted with disgust. He continued to kick Julie over and over again, not sparing any part of her, he even landed a few kicks on her face.
"YOU BRAT, I GAVE YOU A PLACE TO STAY AFTER YOUR WHORE MOTHER DIED."
"AND NOW YOU'RE SICK, WEAK JUST LIKE YOUR MOTHER!"
Kick. Kick. Kick
:"YOU WANT TO STAY AND GET MY FAMILY SICK TOO?!?"
Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick
Julie had stopped moving, blood splatter everywhere and her face had begun to swell.
"YOU LITTLE SHIT, I DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU, STAY OUT HERE AND DIE FOR ALL I- gruh!???!"
Before I knew it I had rushed over and knocked the Uncle over, I jumped on top of him straddling him.
"Y-you! What are you- hkkkkk!"
My hands gripped the Uncle's fat neck tightly and his arms flailed punching me, some hit my sides quite hard bruising me and one hit my face causing my nose and mouth to bleed, however I didn't let go.
Once again an eerie cold fury had taken over me. This scum had beat Julie, the daughter of the woman I buried, this was the most horrible disrespect he could do to the dead mother, and because of that.
I hated him, I despised him, I wanted him dead!
I leaned in close to within a few inches of the Uncles face with my eyes wide open staring coldly at him.
"I told you didn't I... If you disrespect the dead... You'll be joining them..."
His eyes widened from fear as the Uncle grabbed at my hands desperately. I tightened my grip and heard the sound of cartilage grinding and crunching together. His face began to go blue and his eyes bulged out of their sockets.
I could see the fear on his face, no, I could feel it!
Close, the Uncle was close to dying, just a bit further.
"T-that's enough Yule..."
I felt a soft tug on my cloak and a weak familiar voice call out to me. I turned to see Julie who had crawled over was weakly smiling at me through a swollen bleeding face.
I felt the cold fury drain away as I stared into her hazel eyes. I removed my hands from the Uncles throat and he quickly pushed me away and gasped for breath.
"Y-y-your crazy! Absolutely insane!"
I shot him an icy glance.
The Uncle quickly remembered how he almost died and hurriedly ran back inside his home and shut the door tightly behind him.
Turning my attention back to Julie I knelt beside her as I looked over her wounds. Her face was completely swollen and it looked like her arm was broken and I'm sure some ribs were broken too however there was something more worrisome.
I saw a purple rash.
She laughed a bit and coughed, then looked at me weakly.
"Yea I didn't go out like you said but somehow I still got sick, guess I'm really unlucky. I tried to hide it from Uncle but eventually he found out, he told me to leave but I didn't have anywhere else to go. When he saw his wife also cough he got really angry and scary, and that led to this..."
I looked at her sadly, I saw tears flowing from her eyes mixing with the blood that also dripped from her face.
I should've killed that Uncle when I had the chance...
I stared on as Julie struggled to stand on her feet, she shakily stood up then gave me a thumbs up, obviously forcing herself.
"You don't have to worry about me Yule. I can take care of myself and I don't want to get you sick, I know you already do a lot burying the bodies, I'll figure something out so-"
I cut her off as I gently pulled her into a hug.
I got up and picked Julie up in my arms.
"W-what are you doing?"
"You can stay with me."
"But I'm sick! You shouldn't, you'll get sick too!"
Julie stared at me with wide eyes from in my arms, then she started tearing up again and hid her face with her hands.
"P-put me down, I'm strong and independent, you don't have to help me."
"I'll put you down back at my place, you can rest here."
"Y-you're not listening at all!"
I smiled and walked forward leading the horse and carriage out of town towards the graveyard.
"I hear you loud and clear."
Julie shot me a defeated look then seemed to accept the care as she closed her eyes and fell asleep, obviously she was extremely exhausted and tired from being beat. I wanted to get back home quickly so I could tend to some of her wounds and let her rest.
As we neared the graveyard I saw two individuals on horseback riding towards me, one was in silver armor and had snow white hair, the other was hooded and I couldn't see her face.
They stopped when they saw me. I stared at them annoyed, they were blocking my way to get back home.
They looked at the beaten girl in my arms and the vast pile of bodies I was drawing behind me. My eyes met the white haired girls and she noticed my annoyed glance and narrowed her eyes, she even had the gall to place her hand on her sword.
She spoke coldly to me.
"What's with all those bodies, explain yourself!"
Do I look suspicious!?!?
I made a scrunched up face as I looked back and forth between the bodies and the beat girl in my arms as I struggled to come up with adequate words to explain the situation.
"I'm a gravedigger..."
They both looked at me confused.
All I could do was sigh.
This would take a while.