Chapter 7 Excerpt from The Storm of Anticus: A Zombie Fantasy Novel
The rain sizzled into a hissing cloud of steam as it struck the remaining embers of what had once been a temple. The grounds, once sanctified in the name of Ban, were now a charnel pit, blackened bones covered in gobbets of charred flesh poking from the wreckage like the thorns of a nightmare.
As the line of purple thunderheads occluded the sunlight, the rain running from the decaying head of a fat, bloated corpse slid over the gradually brightening lambent gem embedded in the unmoving skull.
The Stone had been mostly dormant for days, since the other half of the symbiotic being it had merged into had its undead existence snuffed by the thin blade of a knife. The gem, patient and ancient, had drawn the remaining dark energy from the being into itself, prepared to bide its time until once again its powers were tapped by a new vessel.
As it waited, however, the Stone sensed the change in the lands around it. Tendrils of dark energy were weaving themselves into the essence of the region, as if the infection its former master had created managed to seep into the earth itself. The blue crystal artifact drew in the energy, until it became strong enough to affect the world around it without the aid of a wielder.
Sensing the power ebbing during daylight, the Stone had slowly expended energy to surround itself with an enduring storm. The sentient gem knew this would have a pair of helpful effects: the first would block the hindering daylight, while the forthcoming beacon of expended power would be visible to all arcane sensitives for leagues around it. Such a clarion call would be irresistible. As the rain flowed over its faceted surface, the Stone sent its remaining reserves of power up into the clouds, roiling them further and intensifying the storm. It knew its wait would be short indeed.
In moments, heads were lifting throughout Northreach and the city. In an isolated tower, Calla lifted her head from dropping seeds in a furrowed row of earth and screamed, before collapsing into a heap. Leagues away, a warrior-priest of the Bull God had his attention pulled from the inn he faced and turned his head to the northeast, the first threads of disquiet snaking into his faith. In the city, an elegantly dressed man paused as he adjusted his waistcoat, dark eyes glittering in his pale face as a faint smile brushed his lips. In a chamber far below the city, a figure seated in absolute darkness stirred, the rustling of robes disturbing the silence as the figure consulted with its god. Not far away, a stooped old man paused in his small jeweler’s shop and turned his gaze northward, eyes hardening, as he whispered fiercely, “Found you.”