Fantasy Horror Sad

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

Content Warning: Ultra-violent dark fantasy. Gore. Vore.

Part 1: The Mirror

The Barbarian and his raiding party returned to their village. One of many within the fortified enclave. A warrior culture steeped in ancestral magic and dark superstitions. A simple people who lived off their strength to take what they could not make. In a world where steel and fire decide fates, survival had no morality. To die a useless death was the greatest sin. The raiding party had marched many leagues with plunder and slaves abound. Taking all and anyone they put their eyes upon, killing the rest. It was compulsory in nature, none of the treasures would adorn their huts or bodies. The slaves would eventually be mated and bred into their society, put to work or die. The wealth they accumulated was often used to trade for raw materials in making more weapons to arm a growing population.

This indiscriminate nature would come to change The Barbarian’s life forever. For among the piles of treasure was an ornate mirror framed in bone and gristle. A sorcerer’s tool. Something the warriors paid no mind to as the children played with their own reflections. Making silly faces and moving their bodies in odd ways. They had never seen their reflections before, such things were taboo in their culture. No word for it, no need for it. Vanity was a concept unknown to them. Strength was all that mattered. 

The Barbarian shoed the children away and looked into the mirror himself, taking a momentary fascination with the cursed item. He grimaced as he always did and turned away back to his duties. But his reflection did not follow, it stared back into their reality as the grimace turned to a rictus grin laughing silently as the reflection of The Barbarian began to bleed from the eyes and mouth. Having brought the cursed item into their home, they had sealed their fate. For among the many they’d slain on their pillage a sorcerer’s tower lay in ruin. Although the Sorcerer himself was not present, his apprentices and slaves were slaughtered and his home destroyed. No sorcerer allows such an insult, dead or alive, without a price. But The Barbarian paid such things no heed, his faith in his ability to crush his opposition was absolute and often the magic of his Ancestors would protect him from such enemies. But when it is brought in willingly, it is invited. And an invitation must be answered.

It was well into the cold darkness of the long north night when the mirror left leaning against a treasure chest began to weep blood from the gristle joints between the bone frame. Glowing with a ghastly black power. A door had been opened and through it came a horde of death. Most would only catch a glimpse of them before their violent death, but in that moment they saw a most terrifying abomination from the demon realm. Adorned in grotesque boils and botulisms oozing puss that dripped down a dozen open gnawing sucking mouths filled with fangs and beaks, an amalgamation of horrors and bloody skinless muscle armed with scything claws and bone shards born to cut and slice through fresh meat. Monstrous darkness that served the singular purpose to devour and destroy flesh. Screams rang out in the night as the slave stable was hit first. When a group of the barbarians came upon it, it was like nothing they’d ever seen. Little was left untouched by thick soupy blood and bone mixed together. Entrails hung from the cage everywhere. But Axes and swords were ready in hand and fear would not hit them until the first few barbarians were easily cleaved in half or eaten nearly whole within the next moments as the monstrosities came upon them. There were just too many and their evil too strong. The Barbarian fought with great courage and slew many of the beasts. But he failed his most important role in life as he watched with his own eyes, wide open. A particularly horrific demon with sharp red quills that oozed venom out of its spine galloped on hairy tentacled legs and overcame his Mate and Child grabbing them up with its slimy grasp and eating them alive with one of its beaked mouths. They screamed and begged for his help and protection, but there was no amount of speed or strength in the moment that would have saved them. He watch them die disappear down the beasts gullet. In his uncontrollable rage he came at the beast crushing its hawkish serrated beak with a large smithing hammer that lay near. Tearing out its many yellow eyes with his bare hands, biting and gnashing his teeth into pestilent meat until it was dead. With a bone knife he gutted the monster and pulled the remains of his family from its acidic gut, He held them close as chunks of flesh pulled away from bone. He sobbed for the first time in his life while the cacophonous wails of death sung out around him in a symphony of suffering.

Part 2: The Witch

The Barbarian hunched over. Pushing with all his strength against the clawing wind. The icy gale ripped at his flesh and wrapped around his limbs pulling him away from glacier and closer to the edge of the abyss. He wore nothing more than grizzly furs and strapped to his back with a thick leather knots was a simple bone handle battle axe.

The old goat path was hardly visible anymore and covered in ice and snow. A vengeful storm battered the north side of mountain top. Hail and sleet hammered him in relentless waves and with each slippery sharp step bloody gashes opened on his feet. Leaving crimson foot prints in his passing. He made no show of pain or slowing. He was alone with one motivation to live: kill, kill, kill. 

Looking up for a moment, shards of ice shaped like daggers cut into his face. The clouds swirled and danced in a most unnatural manner. A bolt of lighting strobed across the endless open blanket of thick black clouds. It sped down from heaven like a warrior’s spear crashing into the mountain side releasing an avalanche of crushing death. The boom of thunder followed like an angry laughing god. Large boulders and razor shards of ice showered past him down the side of the mountain at break neck speed. He made no attempt to flee or avoid them, and prayed to his Ancestors that one would take him off the mountain quickly. Perhaps, he pondered, the Gods were playing a game with him. For what reason would they allow such brutal slaughter of his child and mate, yet leave him among the living.

Finally, The Barbarian reached the cave opening and shrugged back the layers of bear skin with his powerful shoulders to reveal the freshly murdered corpses of his family held in his arms. Their blood and visceral dripping down his hairy torso as he held them close up the mountain side. 

He could smell the distinct stench of decaying flesh and fear coming from inside the cave, the smell of dark magic. He had no fear of what lurked within and was prepared to make any pact that would grant him vengeance upon those that took his only source of joy and peace. He knew he could not bring them back, but he could perhaps find the power to obtain the retribution that would burn endlessly in the hallowed out remains of his heart. There was only room left for hate, these would be the last moments of love as he said goodbye to their flesh bodies. He knew their spirits were with his Elders and safe from the harm in this world. 

From deep within the cave a whispering voice, yet louder than the roaring storm, called to him, “Come…” And so he did.

The cave glowed with a sickly shade of eerie orange that boiled up from fissures full of viscous fluid. The walls grew claustrophobic around him like fangs closing from the ceiling and floor driving him deeper in to the gullet of some ancient beast. A figure in a cape of mismatched cuts of human flesh sat in a throne hewn from cave rock stalagmite that slithered and writhed with cock roaches, rats, snakes, and other vile vermin that are attracted to evil and death.

“Greetings, brute. What sweet treats have you brought me? A little girl’s soul, perhaps?” She asked, followed by a long wheezing cackle. Her face was a mask of false youth and beauty that was already seeing the effects of decay and disease, it would soon need to be replaced by a new victim’s skin. Some poor virgin girl from a local farm or wandering tribe. Lured up the mountain with some powerful illusion or bewitching song. 

“Cease your attempts to provoke me, vile beast. Her spirit is out of your reach and protected in the after realm by my Elders, whose power you could not even fathom to challenge. You know why I’m here. You can have their flesh for your sick magic and you will give me what I seek!” The barbarian dropped the bodies of his daughter and mate onto the floor of the cave. Fresh carcasses, although alive is always better, could be used for various powerful dark spells and magic. The barbarian had already blessed their spirits in the old ways and helped ferry them to the after realm. He was secure in their safety and cared not of their flesh. For the flesh was but a vessel.

“Barbarians… no sense of humor! Bah!” Said the Witch, spitting into her toxic spell pit. Her spit hissed and cracked on old bones like acid. Above her spell pit the Barbarian noticed a mirror of ice surrounded by hanging stalactite that reflected the deathly glow of the spell pit below. He once again he saw his reflection, but instead of seeing the rage that lived on his brow, it was that same rictus grin and insane silent laughter. And in that moment the Barbarian knew it was his own failings that had brought death to his family and tribe. His thirst to conquer had brought ruin to all he cared for.

“I will laugh at the agonizing screams of my enemy as I force them to watch me slaughter their kin and end their family line for eternity.”

“Mmmmmmmm,” the witch moaned erotically, her hand with fingers that resembled purple freckled tentacles slithered between her legs, “Your hate is delicious, Barbarian. I could feed off you for a millennia. Are you sure you don’t want to be my mate? I’m a giving lover!”

“Be glad I do not put you down like the animal you are, witch. Now, bestow upon me the power I seek or die.” The barbarian released the leather knot holding his large double bladed battle axe with a smooth practiced motion and slammed it into the cave floor with a swift downward blow cutting into the rock like soft wood. The sound caused the witch to visibly flinch. Even in all her magic, she knew the barbarian was from a tribe with great ancestral power and had nothing left to lose. The power of hate was nothing to underestimate, let alone that of a powerful barbarian.

“SSSSSSSSSSS,” the witch hissed at the barbarian and took a defensive posture the cave seemed to enclose and bite down on him. “Careful, Barbarian. You are still in my home!”

“It will soon be your grave!” Said the barbarian pointing at the witch with his large meaty paw.

A long prehensile reptilian tail with a razor sharp stinger attached lashed out from behind the witch and stung the barbarian on the hand. Frothing green venom boiled up out of the wound and dripped down his arm on to his axe. “AH! What have you done, beast!?”

The witch jumped with amazing speed as spider legs grew from under her flesh cape and launched her onto the ceiling “Hahahahaha! I gave you what you seek, Barbarian! Go forth and murder! Every life you take with that axe is a soul you damn to my purposes!”

The cave began to shift, grow, contract, and change in a myriad of unnatural ways around the barbarian. The venom shot up his arm and through his body. He grabbed his axe and felt a shocking level of pain he had never felt before, until he finally pulled it free from the cave floor. The witch was gone, crawled deeper into the cave on her arachnid legs. He spit in anger and cursed this dark place. Before leaving he gave the flesh bodies of his family one last look before marching towards the entrance, towards the only path left open to him: vengeance. 

Part 3: The Sorcerer

It was not long after The Barbarian’s raiding party had moved on to their next target that Bartanth The Sorcerer returned to find his home in ruin and death. Unbeknownst to The Barbarian, among dead was The Sorcerer’s beloved wife. She had hid away in a secret room for safety, but could not escape the blaze that devoured the tower. A truer beauty had never been known and her kindness was renown among her people. She had turned Bartanth’s once cold and greedy demeanor into a man that sought to redefine himself and use his power for good. But with her death hate flooded his heart and he fell deeper into his brooding. It took little effort to rebuild and restaff his tower, but nothing could replace his love for her. His first act was to assure those that took her would be punished ten fold. The curse was dangerous to enact and by any ethical standards of magic forbidden due to its relentless destructive power and inability to control that which it called forth. But Bartanth cared not and in his despair he sacrificed a young slave to never ending darkness and called forth death incarnate to haunt and devour everything that his enemy loved. The young slave was hung from chains upside down. His terror and screams were necessary for the curse, it would empower the blood as it spilled from the cut to his throat and fill the chalice to the brim. The Sorcerer drank the thick warm blood, painting his gray beard dark red. Bartanth licked his lips and spoke a guttural barking incantation that caused the flesh of the hanging slave to peel away and flay itself into a whirling tornado of bloody flesh until it swirled its way down into the Chalice and burst into a cloud of bloated horse flies like a dark brooding storm on the horizon. “You shall see thy own reflection and know thy failures for all eternity!”

Part 4: Revenge

The Barbarian gave no warning in his attack. No great battle cry or threatening words. The power The Witch had passed to him was beyond what The Barbarian could have imagined. He had torn through The Sorcerer’s guard like nothing, taking on twenty men at a time. Their arrows, blades and minor magics fell away from him as if his flesh was iron. He killed indiscriminately and without an equal to stop him. His axe glowing green with dark magic. Every man he cut down, their soul was sucked into it and forever bound to The Witch. The Barbarian cared not. He’d kill a thousand men if he had to. The Barbarian reached the tower door and kicked it into splinters. Upon entering he found himself once again staring into himself. A large wall sized mirror framed in gold trimming faced him. And again his reflection showed the rictus grin laughing silently into the void, laughing at The Barbarian’s failure to his family, to his tribe and his Ancestors. 

The Sorcerer stepped out from behind the mirror wearing a garish red and purple gown adorned in talisman and rings of power. Both of them were filled with vengeance and rage, the power in the room began to swirl in a violent storm of energy cascading in arcs between them. The mirror shattered and sent shards flying in a hail of glass. The Barbarian roared his Ancestor’s name as he swung wide into The Sorcerer. The Sorcerer turned himself into a gaseous mist allowing the blade to flow through him. Re-materializing he grabbed The Barbarian by the throat and spoke ugly words of power sapping the life from him. Taking years for each second that passed. As his strength waned The Barbarian dropped the Axe and felt his life fade from him, he could hear the call of his Ancestors, he could not meet them in failure. He would be shunned in the Great Halls if he did not avenge his tribe and family. He called out to his Ancestors and in his final moments of life they responded. Gifting him the strength in his last moments to fulfill his mission. It felt like the purest cold. The Sorcerer was sure of his victory when The Barbarian’s eyes suddenly opened wide and blue with his Ancestor’s power. The Barbarian punched his fist into The Sorcerer’s chest cavity breaking through ribs and sternum and gripped The Sorcerer’s heart tearing it from his body in a great geyser of steaming hot blood and screamed into the dying magicians face as he took a large bite of the still beating heart. 

November 20, 2023 07:34

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.