Warm-Up Wednesdays | Only Mostly Dead | 5/24/2023

One part sword and sorcery one part horror one part tonally dissonant The Princess Bride reference in the title. Based on this prompt and loosely inspired by the character Ouken from Ranking of Kings as well (which is a great show I would highly recommend).

Warning for some allusions to violence and death.

No one asks her what she wants when the spell is cast. Her duty never left much up to her own personal judgement, anyway, but it would have been nice if someone at least pretended. But they didn’t and so she didn’t live out the rest of her days as a disabled but storied knight. The need for her mobility, it seemed, far outweighed the need for her to rest, at least in the king’s eyes.

Not that it matters anymore. He’s dead, as is the mage, the one person who might have been able to reverse the spell.

Half of the castle’s servants, as well, and even more knights, her own fellows, the only ones who try to directly oppose her, for all the good that does. Her screams reverberate off of the inside of her skull as she fells them but no sound comes out of her slack mouth. Her hunger does not discriminate by station nor rank. It goes to show how little things matter, in the end, when the stink and stillness set in, when her victim’s soul is gone, all gone. And when everyone has either fled or died at her hands, she shambles out, armor filthy with blood.

Sometime after she stumbles upon lone caravanners and small villages. They die too. It’s easier to think of it that way, dying instead of getting murdered; as if they had just succumbed to illness or a stroke of bad luck.

It doesn’t take too much time for the bounty hunters to deliberately cross her path. They might as well be more civilians for how much of a fight they put up.

She’s trapped inside of her own mind as her body soldiers on. Maybe all of her own soul has retreated into her brain and left nothing for the rest of her. This state of being has left a lot of time for philosophizing.

One evening, she stumbles upon a witch. She’s all alone, which tends to be safer for most magic-using folks. Most, but certainly not all.

“If you think this old woman’s going down without a fight, you have another thing coming, young missy.”

She wishes she were as young as the witch assumes instead of the ancient reality.

The witch’s wrinkled brow softens, sags. “I suppose you came here hoping for a cure.”

Her heart leaps at the prospect, only to come slamming back down at the old woman’s next words.

“There is none save starving the fire, and somehow I don’t think your body would take kindly to that.” She sits back in her chair, twirling her staff idly even as the former knight lumbers towards her. “I wonder if you can hear me in there. Nod if you can.”

She must be joking, because the knight’s head has been rolling limply on her neck with every step.

“I’ll just hope you aren’t still in there.” She points her staff, gnarled and thin as her fingers, at her. “This will hurt. A lot.”

And it does. The sufferings of all of her victims combined tear through her. Crimes her body had been puppeteered into committing. But then, blissfully, she can feel nothing more.

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