The day was wet. Mist hung thick in the air turning everything grey aside from the green grass. The full spectrum of life had been compressed down to those two shades, green and grey. I’d woken up in the dark ruin and knew I’d overstayed my welcome. I should’ve left when the wind was calm and the days were warm. Now I had this.
The fog rolled over the land, and the land rolled over the bones of the Earth. Fat low hills rose and fell from the ground in an endless wave waiting to crash. I could only see the next two hills in front of me. For all I knew, the rest stretched on forever.
I went back into the ruins to get my things, although it wasn’t exactly “indoors”. The wall stretched up, somehow managing to outlive the last. The rest had fallen long ago, and stacks of broken bricks loomed like the hills they sat on top of. There weren’t enough bricks to reconstruct the castle, however. Some peasants must have come and made off with the materials, to craft their own homes. At the end of the game, all the pieces go into the same box.
Having gathered what meager supplies I had, I was ready to depart. I wanted to spend as little time in this carcass now that I was through with it. And it was through with me. I had only enough bread to get me three-days walk from here. I’d either have to arrive somewhere, or… I’d figure it out.
I walked up the side of the hill, hoping I was near the top. This was the third one in the ridge, so I thought I might be in for a long day. I was just nearing the top. As my head peaked over the edge of the ridge like the rising sun, I saw a flag flapping in the wind. It was jet black. The flag stood just on the edge of the plateau. Any further and it would be facing away from me.
I walked cautiously onto the hilltop. This was a warning, surely, a sign of some danger to come. I had walked through enough trouble to know when to tread lightly. The wind howled and pushed at my side. It sang out in anguish, alternating between two low tones at random. As I got to the flag, I saw it’s true form.
Wrapped in black robes, a skeleton stood guard, its back turned to me. It watched over the valley, waiting. I walked closer. The wind shook and the skeleton turned to me. I put my hand to my pommel in instinct on quick actions.
“You’ve come for combat?”
There was no one else on the hill. I pivoted my body to the side, facing the full force of the wind, ready to draw. I stood stoic. The wind carried the black robes on the skeleton sideways, revealing bony hands and limbs beneath. In a plume of dust, they cracked and moved, a dog stretching awake.
“Do you not hear me, human?” The jaw of the skeleton chattered in the wind between questions. I had seen many things but none quite so strange as the dead walking the land.
“Who are you?”, I offered timidly to the sentinel.
The bones ground free, as if to stand still would freeze them once more. Now it was awake, and there was no going back.