"Soft rays of sun pierced through the sparse pines atop the cliff, morning had come. Birds chirped as they shook their feathers to wake up, another day had come, although they couldn't tell that this day was different from the last."
"The town that the cliff overlooked which was once filled with bustling citizens, friends and families, was now an empty husk of what it once was. Where the streets were once lined with townsfolk it was now lined with decaying bodies being picked at by crows. Truly it was the aftermath of a massacre and yet returning back to the top of the cliff a terrifying horror awaited amidst the sun rays."
"One such sun ray fell gently onto a boy's face urging him to wake up once again."
"And so the boy slowly began to stir once again."
I could feel the warmth on my face, I knew it was the morning sun, I had felt it many times before. Usually it was a pleasant feeling but right now I felt nothing from it.
I opened my eyes and sat up checking my body for any wounds. Lifting up my shirt I could see multiple white scars across my abdomen and a single scar on my chest. I touched them gently with my hands, they had a rough feeling but they didn't hurt.
Shouldn't I be dead?
I tried to remember exactly what happened last night.
A flashback of the black cloaked skeleton came into my mind, signing the contract, him introducing himself.
That wicked smile.
'I am the savior of the damned, the one true God of Death, Izmus. I look forward to our partnership.'
I sighed and grabbed my head, just what exactly have I gotten myself into?
I heard the sounds of crow's and looked up to see a spiraling staircase. It was a spiraling staircase that went up probably 50 meters. However, while it was odd enough to see a spiral staircase in the middle of the forest this staircase was even odder.
It was made of bodies.
I could see it was made with the bodies of the scarfed soldiers, oh that's not right, I could see the bodies of townsfolk as well. Their bodies were twisted to horrible sharp angles and they were intertwined and fused together to be the building blocks for this staircase.
Was this the work of Izmus? Seems like something he would do.
"But seriously, this monument is-"
A calm sinister voice rang out inside my head, I jumped to my feet in surprise looking around.
"Who said that!?! Where are you?"
(I'm just a voice. I'm inside you.)
I had heard this voice before.... That's it! This was the voice of Izmus, this is the exact same voice I heard when he spoke.
"You're Izmus aren't you!"
The voice was silent and didn't respond, heh, silence is as good as a confession Izmus.
"What are you doing inside my head Izmus, seriously get out."
"Bah, screw you then, I'm not going to go along with your stupid contract, I'm getting out of here."
I started to walk away from the staircase but then I felt extreme pain flood through my body and I spat up a bit of blood. I grasped my abdomen which was drenched with fresh blood, I lifted up my shirt and saw that all my wounds were bleeding once again.
(That's not good, you can't ignore the contract like that or else there may be consequences.)
Dammit, this bastard. I clenched my teeth and spat out a response.
"Fine! I'll follow the damn contract!"
As soon as I said that my wounds closed again and turned back into scars. I let out a few deep breaths as I got back to my feet.
"So, what do I have to do for this contract then."
(You have to serve as a gravedigger, a nearby town needs a new one.)
I scratched the back of my head, ugh, this was starting to sound like a lot of work.
"Alright, let's go then, which way to the town?"
(Not so fast, first you need to receive your shovel, a gravedigger should have a shovel.)
"Eh, fine, where is my shovel."
(It's atop the monument.)
Eh? I looked slowly to the top of the flesh staircase, I couldn't see the top, but I suppose something could be up there.
"You want me to walk up there?"
(That's where the shovel is.)
Sigh, how troublesome.
I walked up to the first step of the staircase, I pinched my nose at the strong smell of blood emanating from the structure.
(Best to get used to that smell if you want to be a gravedigger.)
"Tsk. Why did you build this thing anyway?"
I began walking up the steps, every step a bit of blood gushed out but otherwise the structure was surprisingly sturdy.
(I felt it was a good representation of how humans work.)
I kept walking up the stairs, sometimes faces would look out from the staircase, suspiciously I didn't feel anything, no repulsion, fear or dread. Before I knew it I had quickly gotten up half the staircase.
"Are you saying humans work like stairs?"
(Somewhat. I'm saying that humans often use other humans as stepping stones.)
"Stepping stones for what?"
(Well it has many names...)
I continued to walk up the staircase, I was nearing the top now.
(Some call it might.)
(Some call it fortune.)
(Some call it purpose.)
And as I stepped up the last step I finally reached the top. There at the top was the Cloaked Woman, dead of course, she was kneeling with her head down and her arms held out presenting a very normal looking iron shovel.
(They're all names for power.)
"Mmm, is that so."
I reached out to grab the shovel from the Cloaked Woman's hands. At first it didn't budge because she had a death grip on it so I had to jerk it out of her hands. The shovel felt cool to the touch but otherwise it seemed like a normal shovel.
"This is a bit much just to make a point."
(Humans have done much worse for much less. And besides, everyone in this structure was either already dead or was a scarfed soldier whom you hate.)
I didn't respond, Izmus was right anyways, I didn't care what happened to these scarfed cunts. Just as I was about to leave I saw a certain face in the staircase at the top.
It was Mrs.Sanders.
She still had that sad smile on her face. I felt a strum of regret in my heart, she shouldn't be left here. I tried to pull her out but she was stuck intertwined with the staircase.
"Tsk. I can't get her out."
(What do you want to do?)
"Bury her, she shouldn't rest as a part of your cruel art. But I can't dislodge her..."
(Do you need all of her.)
I paused for a moment.
Did I need all of her? No, I suppose not.
"I guess just the head is fine."
(Perfect, just use the shovel then. It's edge is quite sharp you know, digging up dirt requires more than one might think.)
I looked curiously at the shovel in my hands then I shrugged. I grabbed it with both hands then thrust it under Mrs.Sanders head. It cleanly went through separating her head.
"Oh, you were right."
I grabbed Mrs.Sanders head then quickly went down the staircase. I walked away from the cliff side, curiously on my way out I noticed that the cauldron that once contained that suspicious green liquid was empty, hmm, I'm sure it wasn't empty last night.
I shrugged, maybe Izmus took it away or something.
I walked away from the staircase for a while, I didn't want to bury Mrs.Sanders close to that mess. I found a spot under a nice group of pine trees, a small clearing with moss and a few flowers. Perhaps this spot could grant her some peace in death.
(Make sure you dig it deep otherwise animals will dig it up.)
"Mmm, got it."
I dug a deep two meters before I gently placed Mrs.Sanders head at the bottom. Then I filled it back up with dirt patting it down. I looked around then found a flat mossy stone. I banged it into the ground to serve for a headstone. For a bit, the sound of my metal shovel clanging on stone rang out through the forest. This was quite the strong shovel, clanging it on the stone didn't even leave a mark.
After I felt I had stuck the stone in good enough I wiped the bit of sweat that had built up on my forehead. When I looked up I saw a bunch of birds and small animals had surrounded the clearing and lined the trees.
(They must have heard your shovel.)
(Like a bell it called out signifying a funeral had started. They've come to attend.)
I look around silently at the small critters.
"Is that so."
(You should say something, a funeral should have some words said for the deceased.)
"Is that part of the job?"
Hmmm lets see...
"Mrs.Sanders... may you rest in peace."
Then I clanged my shovel against the headstone once more and the sound of metal on stone rang out again. This time however it echoed as if signifying the end of a funeral service.
Instantly, all the animals started to scurry off in different directions and within moments it was just me in the clearing.
(That was quite minimal...)
"Tsk, I'm not very good with words."
(Well, anyways, congratulations on your first funeral.)
"Err thank you? How many of these do I have to do anyways?"
(Oh, the contract is for life.)
I paused for a moment staring up at the heavens in defeat.
"Of course it is, alright let's get going to the next town..."
I sighed then hoisted the shovel onto my shoulder and held it there with one hand lazily.
(That's the spirit, I'll lead the way.)
And with that, I walked away from Mrs.Sanders grave, the flesh staircase and my home of 17 years.
Deep down I realized that something within me had changed, I realized that feeling normal right now probably was odd, that talking to this voice inside me was crazy.
But in all honesty, I didn't care.
One chapter of my life had closed with a horrible ending.
But another one had started in its place.
Let's see how this one goes.
I started humming.