(A/N: THIS IS MY FAVORITE MEME)
Chance is the angel- terrible and bold, wrathful like sweet song and cruel with the crushing vines of martyrdom.
Sayeth prayer to the bones of men- beyond the skins of death, locked into the vagaries of time- hollow eyes questioning and punitive.
Look not into the flame of sanctimony, inaction and sloth; pain torments those who would hold fast to the sinners' coils in the shapes of these heresies.
I am death.
I am of death.
I am brought by death.
I am the instrument of deaths work.
There is no foe that I cannot reach.
I am the jagged bone.
I am the grinning skull.
I am unbreakable.
I am unstoppable.
There is no weapon that can harm me.
I am the face behind fears mask.
I am the chain that reaches from beyond oblivion.
I am the incarnation of a grieving master.
I am the last rite to be given to the hopeless.
There is nothing left to feel.
I can never tire.
I can never die.
I can never rest.
I am left to suffer.
There is no end to duty.
I am the last candle in the abyss.
I am the flame that refuses to submit.
I am the embers.
I am a final chance to those with the courage to fight.
There is still yet hope in the bleakest night.
I am Lost.
I walk. Sand beneath me. Sand around me. Cold. Dead.
Whispers in the wind.
Death was here. And there. Here and there.
Vagaries of hate. Old thoughts drift like smoke.
The rattle of bones. Teeth against metal.
I am Blind.
There is no heat.
There is nothing.
Time has no meaning.
It never had a meaning.
Wind blows. A sun falls. Shrubs brown and dying.
I walk. I cannot be stopped. I cannot stop.
The heat will come. The flame will return. I will have purpose.
Answers are in the flame.
A break in the dream.
I walk across sand. I walk across rock. I walk across grass.
Green, emerald, alive.
No traces of my passing.
It is night. 'Stars overhead. Unobstructed.
A shattered moon.
There is a city. A town. A settlement.
It is in flames.
Fire. The dim lifts. A haze vanishes. The city burns.
There are screams. There is gunfire. Roars.
The curtain yields to me. The reality about me bends.
The roars of beasts. The resistance of man.
If they fight.
If they resist
Then there is work to be done.
The Grimm come again, there is no method to their rage, there is only a single massive wave foretold by the braying howls of Beowolves. Their lupine shadow-shapes flecked with red and spears of white. They come again- the pack is enormous. Helvad tightens his grip on his rifle, and stares down from the watchtower.
He takes a moment to inspect his weapon, the wooden frame familiar to his eyes but foreign to his hands. He remembers it well; its place above the mantle has always been etched in his memory. It was a venerable piece of his families' history, the sign of his grandfathers' contribution in the wars against the grimm that founded this outskirt village and defended it. Every home had at least one weapon, be they spears, guns or swords.
He never thought he would ever have to hold it, his families' rifle. It was an old and crude piece of wood and metal, wholly outdated by the more modern pieces he had seen Hunters carry during the few times they had graced this shitty border village. He at first doubted that the snub barreled thing could even fire. Such a notion was long gone; the shell casings at his feet were proof to that.
Helvad pulls back the bolt, checking to see if a round was loaded, the shiny brass back of a shell cartridge met his tired eyes. "The barricades wont hold out against another attack." Green muttered next to him. Helvad worked the bolt back and down, he turned the rifle over in his hands and ejected the clip. He was eerily disconcerted with how he had so quickly learned to tell the fullness of a clip by weight alone. "We may be able to hold for a few minutes, but the other towers are low on rounds, we can only maybe pick off a few of them before they smash through the gates." She was shaking slightly, hands picking at the flaking wood of her double-barreled scattershot.
He pushed the clip home; it fit snugly and clicked into place. He brought the rifle to his shoulder and sighted down the barrel, this was the important bit. "We've already lost Jairah and Wence during the last attack- Grimm tore them apart, pulled them right through the holes in the gate- didn't you see?" She was shaking now, long ears twitching and trembling. He brought the long barreled scope to his eye, the crosshairs came into focus; blurry at first and then settling when he held still. He saw the black mass flicker in the distance, rolling over the hills like a malicious sea-tide. The last hill crested about eight-hundred meters out, his scope met that well enough, but his rifle fared only to five-hundred, and he knew that he could only place shots well at three hundred.
"I swear to the maidens, we're all going to die," He brought his rifle down and pulled the dirty rag from his trousers. "They're going to kill us first, tear us to bits- then they'll kill our families, our wives, our husbands, our children, our sisters, our brothers- they'll destroy everything-" Helvad blows on the front of his scope, and wipes the glass with the rag like he has for the past six attacks. It doesn't do anything, the watchtower is too high up to be plagued by the blood, dirt, and sweat that mires the defenders down below. He does it because it calms him. "We can't win, what's the point? They'll slaughter us, I don't want to die; I don't want Marice to die!" He reaches down to the basket between them and pulls out a dwindling handful of bullets, sifting through the scattershot shells to find them, he doubts they'll be any left if they manage to survive this next charge. He pulls the five empty clips from his pocket, and leans his rifle against the rail. He reckons he'll have enough time to load at least three before they're in effective range of his shots. He's gotten quite good at this, he must admit.
Green sags to her knees next to him, hugging her scattershot close- heavy iron slugs were loaded in it, powerful things that only worked when they were within spitting distance- but damn did they tear the snot out of Grimm. Only had two shots before she had to reload, but the punch they provided was worth it. "We- we should run, the next village is only a few miles away, we can still make it if we set fire to the-" Green nearly fell out of the tower when his heavy fist- still clutching several rounds- slammed into her face and broke her nose. It shut her up, and it felt nice to strike a Faunus in anger, he never did care for their ilk, but such prejudices fell away when the Grimm attack. "You better shut that cowards talk." He whispered, her wide green eyes staring across at him in fear, her hand over her nose in an attempt to stop the bleeding. He went back to rapidly filing rounds into the stripper clips laid out before him.
"Whine all you want, rabbit-ears, cry as much as you wish- but don't you dare speak about running, I'll shoot you the next time you say that." He looked out over the rim of the watchtower, his brow furrowing. "Pick up that gun and make yourself useful. They're here." He brought his rifle to his shoulder. If he survived, he knew he would have an ugly bruise from the constant bucking of the gun. His son would be proud to see it. The thought gave him strength that the Faunus next to him was sorely lacking in. "Think of your wife," he stated. "What would she say to you, if you ran?" He heard her snivel, but he also heard her pushing shells into the breech of her gun.
He looked through the scope. They were at least four hundred meters out. Close enough for a speculative shot in his opinion, he aimed slightly higher, and pulled the trigger.
There was no way he could have missed, with so many screaming together, feet pounding the ground.
They exist in hate.
They eclipse the hills.
A dark flame across my vision.
A heat roils from them.
It is a heat that I can perceive.
Swift, lethal, ravenous.
They snarl, they roar, they howl, they whine.
In the distance- they fight.
Man sits upon the precipice, just as it has so many times before.
A final hurrah, a last defense against impossible odds.
There is valor here.
There are heroes standing guard at the ramshackle walls of splintered wood and oaken gates straining at the hinges.
There is also weakness.
I stare and wait.
A shot rings out.
A flash in the night.
The haze wraps around it.
A beast falls, a voice lost from the chorus.
Another shot, another crack, then another and another.
They come quickly now- beast and bullet.
Arrows fly, steel bolts are loosed- arching high and falling.
The fire is bright, but it wavers, not yet stoked - the desperation is not yet there.
The dark roll forwards. They trample over their dead and tear apart the dying.
Fire ripples from the murder holes spread about in the walls.
Rifles, bows, crossbows, buckshot and slugs.
The harmony is dead.
The first wave falls, failing to even close upon the gates.
The second rank falters. The third tramples the second.
The fourth stampedes over the dying of the third.
The fifth is entirely unmolested, and piles onto the ravenous packs that tear at the straining wood of the gates.
The defenders fire at gnashing teeth and ripping claws.
One slips through the widening cracks.
A torn board flies off and the sinuous form of the beasts press through it.
A cry goes up from behind the walls.
A candle flickers and dims, snuffed out, lost.
It will not be the first.
Helvad works the bolt relentlessly now. There is no point in aiming, it is impossible to miss. Green is openly sobbing next to him; snot and tears run down her face. With shaking hands she fumbles in another two slugs. She closes the breach and points, fires. Two grimm are annihilated. Some are trying to scale the walls, dagger claws digging into old oaken wood. Helvad disperses with such illusions, a series of shots picks them off, sends them back down into the writhing mass of fur and bone and blood red eyes.
"Gonna die, gonna die, gonna die…" Greene stammers and stutters, but she does not stop shooting. Helvad is silent in contrast. He curses the hunters in his mind, a sadistic curse on his lips about them. The mayor had tried to appeal to the cities for a single hunter to aid them against the rising hordes of Grimm that were skulking about in the woods, but of course, nobody cares about the frontier settlements.
He blames the Faunus, there were countless of them living in this village. The cities must've thought this settlement a Faunus village and ignored them because of it- if only they had known that it was his great grandfathers that had built this place- human hands and human blood. The half-breeds came crawling only after.
Helvad promised himself- swore it- that the last person to be standing tonight, the last person to fall- would be a human, fighting to the last. His firing pin hit empty air, and he ejected another empty clip. He reached for another full clip that he knew would not be there. He reached down, and started forcing single rounds into an open breech, one shot after the other, fire and reload. He watched the gate splinter, wood began to buckle inwards, and he took sick satisfaction in how it cut and rent the skin of Grimm as they tried to push through. A simpler younger part of his mind whispered that the town knew their plight, and was fighting back with them in its own small ways.
He fired again, and reloaded. The boxes, benches, and barrels stacked up against the gate along with the boards nailed across it are being forced aside with every savage crash against the entrance. It would not hold for much longer, and the Grimm cared not that their dead were stacking up against the front of the town. He doubted that it even occurred to them to try the sparsely defended back entrance. The grimm saw them- there, at the front, just slightly out of reach and that peculiar instinct of theirs to rip and tear took over.
Halved saw the exact moment when the gate broke apart. The savage roar of the Grimm and the mass of bodies clawing and ramming against it- one last smash and the gates buckled inwards, wood splintering, hinges creaking, and it held there for a moment- a line of tension like the filmy surface of the water holding back the inescapable numbers- and then breaking inwards in a shower of wooden splinters and grimm bodies. The screams, already loud before, now fully erupted from the defenders. "Shit," Sighed Helvad. He had been numb ever since the last wave. He fired, and reloaded
Those manning the front entrance, stacked boxes just down the street, standing behind this feeble barricade, opened up with their guns and bows, the second line of defense lasted for only about a half a minute. Halved did not see their defense crumble. He was too busy smashing the butt of his rifle into the face of a Beowolf that had climbed up the struts of his watchtower. It was not the only one to do so. Like spiders they dug their claws into the hefty pole supports of the tower, creeping up it to reach the blood and flesh that resisted up within. Green was lost to hysterics, and Halved snarled at her to shut up and fight. He did not have the time or rounds to fulfill his promise as she collapsed into a ball, gun forgotten. He fired, reloaded, and kicked out at a grimm beast that scrambled up from the edge, it flew back down into the endless mass below. One came over the rail from behind, and he shot it point blank, the skull came away as the bullet punched through, and with luck it nocked the grim behind it as it fell. His life was measured now in the minutes. He fired, and punched the bullet he was about to load into the eye of a grim climbing over the edge. The grim screamed and fell backwards, Green screamed now as a grimm claws at her from the edge, she pushed herself back away from the grimm that she could have kicked over, and he hated her all the more for her lack of conviction and defiance. He snapped his foot out, sending the grimm flying back over the edge, he grabbed a grimm that was climbing over the edge to his right, his hand finding purchase on the bony plate just behind its skull it ripped a claw along his forearm but he ignored it, hauling it over into the tower and throwing it bodily at the three Beowolves that were clambering up over the edge before him, the beowolf struck the three and cast them back down.
He only now realized that he is laughing.
It is not entirely sane.
They have broken.
They have been broken
They were broken before even the fight began.
Some still resist.
The rest scream.
Those who still fight…
It is enough.
The fire wraps around me.
I feel no heat.
The grass around my feet is scorched back.
The divine instrument in my hands sighs, the glow from its barrel ignites the air before it.
The first ripple of explosions I walk through the horde wreaks havoc amongst the ranks of beasts.
The flame shifts before me: the reds and blacks of my sight erupt into a violent conflagration.
The hiss click chatter becomes my hearing.
The deceptively light coughs of the weapon are at odds with the trailing screaming fists that rip apart the beasts.
Each shot pulls a great many into death.
The fire spreads; I feel His eyes upon me.
The heat erodes the ground, fire burns across my body.
The air is heavy with smoke. I am amongst them now- they turn to corpses.
There is fear in the air.
It is virgin fear.
Fear born from beasts that do not know what it is.
They cannot comprehend me.
I cannot comprehend me.
They cannot comprehend what I am doing to them.
They know only one apex and that is themselves.
Now I am here.
The weight of power is altered.
I have brought balance.
The black flames close in around me.
I feel their hate.
I feel their fear.
It is good.
This is the sound that I make.
There is no other.
The ripple of explosions, the cries of beasts, they are their own entity.
He stabs, he stabs again. Blood clouds his vision, and he screams and laughs at the same time. The Grimm tumbles back down; it takes his knife with him. He punches now, a Grimm tears at his leg, as a grimm tears at its legs, trying to pull it off so that it may be the one to kill him. He smashes his fist at it- it does nothing. He grabs the busted stock of his rifle, the splintered wood gouges the Beowolf and at last it releases its hold as a sharpened splinter stabs into its eye and then brain. He curses the Beowolf that clambers up after the other falls, he kicks this one off with his good leg; he slouches to the floor of the tower. Something smashes into the base of the watchtower.
And here, everything becomes only worse.
It is slight at first, Halved grapples with a Grimm, to engaged in keeping the gaping jaws of the beast away from his face, and the pain from another gnawing at his good leg to notice. But then it becomes more pronounced. Louder- closer.
The snapping of wood. The creaking of the tower, the lean of gravity.
The tower falls. The weight of bodies on its structure pulling it down.
I kill, I kill again, I will keep killing until I can no longer kill anymore.
The fire is roiling within me, but it is not burning.
It simmers despite its intensity.
There is no real contest.
No real battle.
I shift, and I walk.
Bodies burn around me, fire trails my footsteps.
Flames without heat, or is it heat without flames?
So modest yet so vital are shattered, I walk through the debris.
I resume killing.
There is ash.
There is smoke.
There are black flames engulfing the precious candles.
The black flames pull away.
They flee like shadows in harsh light.
I kill another, and then I kill again.
His respite is brief and painful. A nail bites through his cheek, and a weight crushes his good arm. Desperation and adrenalin offers the strength he otherwise would not have, and he rises, pushing boards off of him with one hand, and dragging himself out of the wreckage of the watchtower.
The grim are on him almost at once. The snarling Beowolf lunges at his face, maw open, fangs glistening white like stars- and then it is gone.
It is knocked away, out of the air, a bright flash erupts in front of his vision- and he feels the lick of flames over his skin- but they do not burn, there is no snarling crackle of burning skin- but there is the acrid stench of smoldering fur. He opens an eye; a charred, devastated corpse twitches on the ground before him, blackened earth underneath it. And beyond it, hundreds more.
There is no end to the bodies.
There is no end to the Grimm corpses, stacked across the street nearly four feet high.
Halved pulls himself from the rubble, blood leaks down his arm, his legs are chewed and torn, he can only open one eye, and on his right hand he misses several fingers. He pulls the nail from his cheek; a chunk of flesh comes with it.
He looks around him again.
The gate is shattered; the walls are torn down in places. The watchtowers for the most part are collapsed. He sits in a pool of ichor- the stuff of the Grimm.
Somewhere, a fire burns within the city.
The howl of the Grimm is gone, he can hear sobbing somewhere off in the village. Gunshots.
Then he sees it.
Several meters away. Standing there.
The fear he thought lost on him returns now. Halved stops breathing. His heart stops.
His one eye tries to look away. It cannot.
It is standing there. It is silent and black. It is standing alone.
It is tall, it is black, and it is covered in bone.
It is not looking at him; he does not want it to look at him- he cannot move. He sees it standing there; black, tall, dead bones covered its body- solid, black and abyssal black. The strips of white- bones- offer it the only solidity to its frame. Fire.
Burnished noble funeral flames wreath it.
It stands there. Unmoving. Silent. It makes no sound- if it were to move, if it were to make a noise, Halved is sure that he would die- that he would scream and then die.
The Grimm are all dead.
The deed is done.
The black fires are dead.
Man stands where The Foe has fallen.
The Warp flickers.
The Ether whispers.
It envelops me.
The roiling flow of the Warp-tides crashes through me.
I let myself be caught up by it.
I let myself merge with the wellspring wrought waters of un-reality.
The wave pulls back, it leaves as quickly as it is called.
It tears through everything, unseen and unfelt.
I feel it fully.
I feel the power in its motions; I feel the passing of its moment.
I feel it, and I watch it leave me behind.
It has left; this rogue wave of mine has been called away by the tides of The Warp.
Yet I remain.
I am standing here, a shadow in sunlight.
This is not right.
There is nothing left for me here to do.
Why do I remain.
Have I been abandoned.
What remains for me to do.
On this world unremembered.
Forgotten by The Greatest Master.
Is my work not yet done.
I look outwards.
My vision pierces reality and searches unreality.
Fate is set before me.
I run the steins through my boney hands.
I have been lax.
I have much work left to do.
I did not think to imagine such numbers.
I have delivered this hovel.
Three others had fallen.
I have lingered for too long.
It is time to walk.
The Giant moves. He watches it from his rubble, shattered boards piled around him, nails scratching flesh. He watches it turn, the flame around it moves out of time with its motions, slow ripples of fire drifting behind it like the currents of water in a sluggish stream. It makes no sound- it is so deathly silent. Has it noticed him? Has it seen him and disregarded his person?
It walks now, not fully there- the sunlight reaching out over the mountains so distant does not touch its bulk- it passes through and beyond. It casts a shadow, it is a tainted silhouette against the ground. It fades from his sight just as the sun fully rises.
The wreckage shifts beside him. Pain wraps his mind, but he is strong now. He winces as he moves, and pulls a board from the pile, and then another.
It is Green, the black haired Faunus woman- the coward. She is coughing, she is sobbing. Her ears twitch and bits of dirt and wood fall from her tattered clothes. She blinks tears from her eyes. Halved looks away from her, she does not seem hurt at all. He can't stand to see her unscathed. The street is packed with the dead. Grimm bodies begin to smoke and rot in the suns light. Wisps of smoke rise from the dead beasts.
They turn to carrion, and then to dust. The dust fades away too, and all that is left are the corpses of the defenders. He is proud of the dead more then he is of the living. The contrast to a fighter to a coward is clear before him and behind him. She moves behind him, stepping over him and into the street to stand amongst the ruin. Houses and buildings are for the most part unmolested, but there are hints of damage- it could not be avoided.
He pulls himself from the ruin of the watchtower, he tries not to look at his legs, but he cannot ignore the pain the movement causes him. He takes a quick glance, and regrets it. His left leg: ruined meat and blood, with hits of bone. He tears his coat off, and makes quick work to bandage the mess of muscle and meat.
He gazes at the buildings. He can see movement behind windows. Faces appear in them, pressed against the glass. Young and old faces, and after that they appear in doorways. They walk out into the street, crying eyes, and lonely hollow looks. He grabs a plank that was close to him; it was for the most part undamaged. He stands, the bite wounds of his right leg were for the most part manageable, and did not threaten him. His other wounds would need to be treated before long however.
He limps with a step-tak gait to the destroyed barricades in the middle of the street, the overturned boxes, the wooden spikes and upturned tables. In the shadows he could still see and smell rotting Grimm. He looks down at a tangled mess of human corpses. He says nothing as he settles to his knees before a smaller one.
He looks up as he hears a cry from the gathering crowd. Amongst the bodies do people pick, searching for their dearest dead. They look to see if they have been left behind to wallow amongst the living.
He watches Green in particular. She embraces a youthful Faunus about her age, her wife if he recalled correctly.
He watches the reunion. A hate boils in him, as he kneels over the corpse of his son.
Green, the coward Faunus, hugging tight her wife, tears streaming down her cheeks- nary a scratch on her as the coward mumbles disgustingly sweet nothings to her lover.
It is not fair. He decides. It is not fair. He fought. He bled. He showed no quarter to the enemy. He never stopped fighting even when he had only his hands and teeth left, and he sits here now. He has no family, he has no future- he doubt he would ever be able to walk on his ruined leg ever again. He stares at the Faunus couple, unhurt, unbroken. They ran, they screamed, they fled, and only one of them fought- barely. And they got to live. He looked down at the corpse he would bury later.
His son, brave and bold, the last thing to hold him together after his wife was lost. He had been a brave boy that had refused to hide, he had elected to fight, and he died because of it.
He would ask himself what the point of fighting was then, but he knew it- he fought to protect his home. He had chosen to stand at the front knowing that it was a doomed sentence so that his boy might not have to fight. It amounted to nothing. It became clear to him then, that after he buried his son, he would kill green and her wife.
He would do it with a knife, and he would do it before the sun fell again over the horizon. He ran his mangled hand through the hair of his boy, ignoring how his face was chewed off and his guts spilled out over the ground, his hands stiff in rigor mortis still held them in their bloody grip. It was only fair that they died, Green did not fight, her wife hid away. They were not human.
It would take time for the survivors to come together, for order to be restored. What were two more missing and dead people in the wake of a Grimm attack?
He didn't realize he was crying.
(DID YOU LIKE MY MEME?)