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Souls for Carnage

By James Villinger All Rights Reserved ©

Action / Scifi


Book 2 of the Acolytes series With a new ruler in charge of the Female Dominion, the war between the two factions has escalated significantly. As well as the war effort, Sacet and her friends face ever dwindling resources; a starving, fed up population; and a relentless, hidden circle of enemies that threatens to throw everything into unchecked chaos. Now in a position of leadership and surrounded by new allies, Tau has everything she needs to shift the balance of power in her favour, but no matter how hard she tries, she's unable to assist her people. Meanwhile, Sacet seems to be growing more and more powerful as time presses on, but her thoughts are consumed of home and family. This next journey will cast an even greater shadow of doubt, for who can truly be trusted?

1. Forsaken

What sort of world were we bringing our child into? It was bad enough that our tattered village barely had enough food to go around, even with so few of us left. But with those horrifying Necrolisks attacking us every other day, I couldn’t picture my unborn child living a happy life. Until now, every painful moment of our lives had felt like a cruel test, and now we were subjecting our child to the same fate.

My husband Atraen walked through the tent and approached the bed. “I’m here for you now. Hold my hand and don’t let go.”

I clutched onto his sweaty palm and squeezed as another contraction took hold, sending a wave of intense pain through my back and abdomen. My teeth clenched, all of my muscles tensed and I let out a hoarse scream. It felt as though my body was getting ready to push soon. I couldn’t get up, even if I wanted to.

“Just hold on, you’re not dilated enough yet,” said the midwife, Sabu. She was on her knees, and was going to deliver my baby when the time came. Hopefully, very soon.

A tear rolled down my burning cheek, making it feel cooler, if only for a moment. Atraen was gently caressing my hand, back and forth with his fingers. I loved him so much. Normally a serious and collected man, the calmest I’ve ever known, his petrified expression matched those around me. I squeezed his hand tighter and attempted a reassuring smile as the excruciating contraction ceased.

He squeezed back. “Is there anything I can get you? What can I do to help? I feel useless.”

“Being here … by my side … is all that matters,” I said between breaths, “although … I could use some water.”

“You stay, Atraen. I’ll get it,” said the junior midwife, Ria, who sped out of the tent.

I brought my other hand to Atraen. “Our child can’t grow up in all of this. We have to find a way out of this place.”

A bloodcurdling screech followed by a slash came from beyond the tent’s entrance. Soon after, a muddle of screams, monstrous squeals and gunfire followed. They were back.

Atraen’s grip loosened from my hands. “They’re attacking again. Sabu, don’t stop!” He darted to the tent’s doorway, stopping midway to look back at me. “I have to keep them away from here. I love you, Mella.”

As he pushed aside the doorway and continued running, I raised my hand towards him. “You have to come back to me!” But it was too late; he was gone, back into the perpetual conflict that had dominated us for so long.

The agony returned and another contraction shot a deep pain throughout my lower torso. My belly felt cramped and my lower back had seized up. It was as if my muscles were slowly twisting more and more. It was unbearable, unlike any pain I had experienced.

What if Atraen didn’t come back this time? The attacks from waves of Necrolisks seemed be growing more and more frequent with each passing day. What if there were more Necrolisks than usual? Would the 30 warriors we had left be able to fight them off?

The commotion outside sounded as if the battle was drawing closer to the tent. The animalistic discord of the monster’s squeals and grunts were becoming more prominent, and the gunfire less frequent. A young girl’s scream was cut partway through … it must have been Ria.

“Focus!” Sabu said. “There’s nothing we can do for them. You need to stay calm and think of your child. That’s all you can do right now.”

I tried to do as she said, but I couldn’t help but fret for him. Was I even making any progress here? This baby needed to get out, now! I just wanted to see Atraen again.

The screams and gunfire had stopped, replaced by nothing but the Necrolisk’s loud chattering jaws and thumping legs. The sound outside was quietening. I stared at Sabu through tear-filled eyes. She had noticed it as well and stood up, a blank expression on her face, and raising a solitary finger to her pursed lips.

Another contraction and another intense shooting pain took me. My hands shook as I struggled to contain myself, but I couldn’t suppress it. I let out a shriek, followed by whimpering.

“Quiet,” Sabu whispered as she ran over to my pillow, grabbed it and attempted to muffle the noise. “You’ll draw them here.”

A brown and bloodstained claw punctured through the canvas wall, and tore downwards to the ground. As the hideous creature strode in, more elongated claws cut through the tent. The evening sun poured in through the holes and glistened against the Necrolisk’s spiny carapace. I couldn’t control myself any longer; I let out a horrified scream.

Sabu made a dash for the tent’s entrance, but froze when another creature entered, its pointed head so high that it scuffed and ripped the tent’s ceiling. It stepped closer towards us and raised two of its claws high into the air, preparing to strike. Sabu slowly backed away, but was halted when her back hit the end of my bed. She fell to the ground, unable to move.

Sabu looked back at me, knowing now that it was useless. As she closed her eyes, a claw flew from above and gouged into her neck, followed by a second into the crown of her skull. I let out another scream, and used my hands to try and sit up.

“Someone, please help. Help me!” I screamed as the creature withdrew its now red claws from the carcass at the foot of my bed.

I struggled to sit up and straighten my legs, an almost impossible feat given my current condition. More Necrolisks entered the tent, closing in around the bed and surrounding me. My jaw trembled and I sobbed, hoping it would be quick.

They stood there, motionless and silent; their claws were not rising to attack. One of the monsters approached from the side and shoved me with its claw. It stopped just short of pushing me out of the bed. What was going on? Why weren’t they attacking me?

I froze for a moment and threw my numb legs to the side. My feet crashed onto the floor and I felt another shove from the Necrolisk, this time in my back. The push unbalanced me and I fell face-first onto the floor.

Trying to compose myself, I slowly brought myself to my feet. My knees wobbled when I tried standing, and I only got half-way up before I doubled over in pain. I cried uncontrollably as the Necrolisks continued to stand there, motionless.

Now on my hands and knees, I gathered what strength I had left and crawled towards the doorway. I left a trail of blood behind me to the bed. As I got closer to the door, the Necrolisks started to move, this time clustering behind me, as if to usher me out.

I pulled back the curtain and witnessed a sight that filled me with dread. Filling the muddy village centre were Necrolisks. All of them, pointing towards me and holding their ground. They had separated to form a clear path to the village centre, by the campfire. There must have been almost 100 of them, more than I had ever seen before.

As I crawled, I could see the other tents in the village had been torn to shreds, as had the villagers inside them. Families just like mine, gone. The setting sun bathed the sky as red as the pools of blood around me. Ria, whom I had only just seen rushing off to get water, lay in two separate pieces by her home. She was only a child, I’ve known her since she was a baby.

My fellow villagers must have taken their last stand at the campfire, as most of the bodies were piled there. Their number included Atraen who, with a rifle still in his grip, lay split down his middle. I stopped crawling, unable to move any farther. The love of my life was murdered by these monsters. Memories of our lives together flooded back. I continued to sob, tears flowing freely down my cheeks.

Another prod from behind, the insistent Necrolisk wanted me to continue crawling. I pushed forward, this time trying to bring myself to my feet again as I moved. I took three steps and fell to my knees as another contraction hit me with full force. The Necrolisks around me opened their jaws and impatiently screeched in my direction.

Would they kill me if I stopped again? No, I wasn’t going to move again, not after what they’ve done. Why would they put only me through this torment?

The ground trembled beneath me and the Necrolisks gave the centre of the village an even wider berth. There was an explosion of dirt chunks as an enormous creature burst from the campfire area, spraying dirt, rock, and body parts in all directions. The Necrolisks surrounding me all roared in unison.

Before me, coiling in circles, was the elongated Necrolisk Queen. It dwarfed its children in size. It was similar to a worm, but like its children, it had legs protruding from its underbelly. Its exoskeleton was similar to that of the lesser creatures, but much longer, thicker and covered in more spikes. Its head looked more like a whirlpool of thorns than a face, its mouth shuddered as it opened and closed, revealing multiple layers of jagged teeth.

It studied me for a moment, before facing one of its children and hissing. Before I knew it, two of the Necrolisks had approached me from behind, pushed me over and turned me over onto my back. They both raised their claws into the air, and I knew it was finally over. My child wouldn’t have to feel any more pain.

The first of the claws came down onto my hand, piercing and pinning it. My blood flew into my eyes. I tried to scream in agony, but I had lost my voice. The second claw came down into the other hand, and again I attempted to screech.

The other Necrolisk began its attack, but did so with more care than the other. It lowered its claws to my torso and sliced along my lower abdomen. I clenched my impaled hands, but just gave myself further pain. The creature continued its incision, cutting through my abdominal wall and into my uterus.

I closed my eyes and wailed as the claws felt through my tortured body, eventually latching on and tugging my unborn child out of my womb. My body was burning, but numb. I was in shock.

After severing the umbilical cord, the Necrolisk placed my baby boy into its mouth, without closing its jaws. It then strode carefully over to the Necrolisk Queen. The Queen, who had been silent during the procedure, opened her mouth, wider than before, and revealed a gigantic tongue, which twisted and wound its way to my child. It curled and looped around him, before lashing him upwards and into the Queen’s mouth.

The Necrolisks removed their claws from my punctured hands. I lay there, motionless, aside from my arm stretched out towards my child. The Queen tunnelled back underground, kicking slurry and debris into the air as it did so. My baby was gone.

I was out of tears. I had no hope. My prayers had been forsaken. All I could do was wait for the inevitable end. The swarm frenzied once more and surrounded me, no doubt to feast. My gaze was locked onto the burrow where the Queen had departed. I closed my eyes.

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