The Aliens They Summoned
"Felix...? Felix... Felix! Sir Felix, are you there...?" Felix heard a voice. It was a voice he knew very well, as it was the voice of his Lord. What did he want, though? Felix was just guarding his... quarters? No, that wasn't right. The air in front of his Lord's quarters didn't smell like earth. "Where are you? Sir Felix!"
"Here, my Lord," Felix groaned, pushing his body up.
His trusty armor didn't rattle and clank as it usually does. A glance revealed Felix to be naked. What was going on here?
"Where? It's dark..."
Felix looked for his Lord, who was just next to him. His face was buried in the earth. It would've looked funny, if not for the fact that he, too, was naked, and that the earth around him was sticky with red... with blood!
"My Lord! Are you hurt?" Felix asked, forgetting his own shameful state and quickly pulling Lord Viktor out of the earth.
"Hurt...? No, I had a terrible nightmare..." The Lord held his head, shaking it in denial. Then his eyes caught sight of the bloody lake he woke up from, and his hands traveled to his torso to see where the wound was. That was when he discovered the lack of clothes on his body. "What is going on, Sir Felix?"
But Felix was shaking.
Not under the gaze of his Lord, which he'd grown used to since he had been assigned as his personal guard, but because he had a nightmare, too.
"I am sorry to distract, but did your nightmare include turning into a strange beast and attacking innocent civilians?"
"I have no time for silly distractions..." Lord Viktor trailed off, his expression one of shock. "How did you know?"
"I had the same nightmare, my Lord." Felix helped Lord Viktor to his foot, noting that both their shoes were gone. They looked around. "I fear that whatever happened to this place, it might have something to do with that dream of ours. I believe that not all we dreamt was false."
"Is this Valetown?" Lord Viktor asked.
"I believe it was, my Lord. Before the beast came back."
"... In our dream," Lord Viktor started, talking carefully and slow. "There was more than one beast, no? Do you think...?"
He didn't have to finish the question.
Felix dreaded the same thing, as it would mean that a whole horde of these beasts was on the loose and that they would spread in all directions...
"I only wonder how we got here?" Felix mumbled.
Lord Viktor heard him.
"Maybe we were being followed? Maybe the beast came back, and we ran away?"
"Perhaps..." Felix looked at the sky. It was early in the morning, and according to the dream, they had been up until the moon disappeared. Could the dream be trusted? If it was true, why did they sleep an hour at most? What was going on... "Again at a full moon, though," Felix said, facing his Lord. "It could be a pattern."
Lord Viktor nodded.
"Let's write another round of letters. We must ask how the neighboring cities fared... and if they got attacked as we did. Search the debris for parchment and ink! And see if any pigeons survived!"
Felix marched away, leaving his Lord. He saw him pick up another stick and grinned at the feeling of deja-vu.
The town was in shambled.
It had never been a rich town, but peaceful and quiet. They held their own against whatever nature had thrown their way, the likes of bears, wolves, snakes, summoned beasts, and storms! They didn't deserve this fate...
Felix eventually found some parchment and ink in the elders' hut, where the formalities of business had proceeded.
He also grabbed some rags for himself and Lord Viktor, to cover their shameful appearances.
When he came back, Lord Viktor was talking with other naked men. He recognized them as guards under the service of Lord Viktor. William the shoemaker was also with them.
This got weirder and weirder.
"My Lord, I found what you asked for. Here, cover yourself."
"Thank you, Felix. Would you believe it? These men also had the same nightmare. I almost forgot that part, but I dreamt about turning into a beast before rushing out for blood... did your dream go similarly?"
"Now that you mention it..."
Felix did remember something like that, though it was only a vague memory. The harder he tried to concentrate on it, the hazier it became.
He knew that dreams rarely stayed with the dreamer, but in this case, he really wanted them to stop fucking with him!
"Anyway, we must warn the people! And King Gordan, again! Once that is finished, we grab whatever works as a weapon and go back to the castle. We may have found a pattern to these beasts' attacks! The full moon. We must get back and prepare ourselves before the next full moon happens! Even if you can't fight, this is not the time to hesitate! If you find an injured man, woman, or child, bring them to me. I'm sorry for the weak ones, but we must judge whether or not they can make it. Quickly!"
"Yes, my Lord!" the men said, scrambling away.
Felix saw them throw an envious glare at the rags he had found.
"Sir Felix, you must help me. We have some letters to write!"
"Gladly, my Lord!"
They wrote many letters, as many as they could with the parchment at hand. Some pigeons had survived the attack, though not enough to send out a message to every town in the vicinity.
Lord Viktor settled on the most important locations and stuffed the other letters in a pouch he found on the ground somewhere.
They met up with the other men after that, most of the townspeople badly wounded or in states of unprecedented brutality.
Lord Viktor ordered most of them dead, as they couldn't look after them.
It was a sad day.
Strangely, there were a few dozen people from the castle here, all with the same nightmare to tell. Felix didn't know what to make of this.
What if they were the beasts...
No, he couldn't think like that.
That was a nightmare in reaction to the terrors of the beasts returning!
Nothing more, yes!
They rode out as soon as they could. Some horses had been left mostly untouched, with only a few bites to show.
The rest was to make it back on foot, which would take them some days if they traveled swiftly. Lord Viktor, Felix, and some other guards, as well as William the Shoemaker, rode through the day and into the night and arrived before the moon fully rose.
Strange voices assaulted their minds during the night and every movement in the undergrowth seemed like a new threat or another beast.
It had been a traumatic experience for all of them.
When they arrived, they found the castle in a bad state. All the doors were destroyed, new holes had been created in the castle walls, and no one was left...
How many beasts came here last night?
Felix couldn't tell.
He didn't dare to speculate.
Lord Viktor and he went up to the Lord's tower, to see where his family had gone... but none were there. His wails echoed across the castle and through the woods, and Felix left him alone.
There was a lot to do...
Over the following week, they finally received answers from the cities around them. Even those who mocked Lord Viktor previously apologized, telling their own stories.
"They go mostly the same, my Lord. Depending on the location, one to a dozen beasts suddenly appeared when the full moon rose, appearing seemingly out of nowhere. They then continued to attack everyone around them, biting each victim at least once... if met with a stronger opponent, they killed them and moved on. We saw the same pattern here, didn't we, my Lord? It is unsettling to think that none of these cities seem to have slain a single beast..."
A heavy silence pressured them like a weighty blanket.
Felix's body shivered at the thought of even the large cities standing no chance.
"Was there no success at all?" Lord Viktor asked, leaning over the table with the map in his secret room. "How far did they spread?"
"The farthest we've heard from is Molan, 200 miles from here."
"Molan..." Lord Viktor moved a few figures across the map. "Isn't that where we sent Derrek, Goran, and the Parker-brothers?"
"Indeed, my Lord," Felix confirmed, narrowing his eyes.
"I hope they're alright."
"I hope so, too, my Lord."
Lord Viktor went back to pondering over the map, but Felix thought back on Molan. They had sent six people there, and they reported six confirmed beasts trashing everything.
They had sent two dozen people to the largest merchant city around, Hafenmarkt, but they had been overrun by over twenty beasts...
"Anything else, Felix?"
It was the tone Lord Viktor used when he wanted to be left alone.
"Just one, my Lord. Cities close to our castle reported a second wave of beasts arriving through the night, the farther away, the later they came. When the moon went down, the beasts just disappeared, as if they had never been there."
"Hmm... any word from the king?"
"None, my Lord."
Lord Viktor narrowed his eyes.
"What did the Lords decide?"
"They believe that the beasts live in our woods, and as such... they plan to burn it to the ground."
"That is not good," Lord Viktor mumbled.
"No, my Lord. Not good at all."
The conversation was finished, so Felix left. He knew better than to his Lord's pondering when he got like that.
He didn't smile since his family disappeared.
Though, to be honest, Felix didn't feel like smiling, either.