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rating: +4+x

Each time he thought of her face, it looked a little different.

Sometimes, the eyes were just too far apart, or too close together. Or her cheeks were a little too thin or a little too wide. Sometimes, her hands lacked the calluses of a seamstress, but other times, they were gnarled and thick from long days holding scissors and needles. She wore a gown some days, and others, a simple work frock, and on others still, she wore nothing at all. She was never the same, but always the same, never there, but always present. A ghost of the heart he no longer possessed, rent open when… when…

He, on his shattered, blackened throne at the bottom of the world, slammed his two blades deeply into the rock beneath, cracking the obsidian and sending a brutal tremor across.

To his left lay a painting he could no longer bear to look at, for the fair Aleeyah’s countenance had been too perfect to lay eyes upon, too lovely to grant him any peace or respite. He had torn her away, leaving only the image of a foolish young man who had believed the world was kind centuries before, but who now was rightfully dead.

Or if not dead, something else.

He could not remember much of his old country that was not twisted by shadows or anguish. In his memories, he stepped out upon the sandstone streets and only saw Aleeyah before him. Every fresco on every wall contained her within a painted world that only he could touch, only he could see. Yet when he went to reach for her, the illusion broke away, and he was here, surrounded on all sides by the putrid waters that had stolen her all over again.

He ripped his blades from the ground and stood, smashing its great heft into the floor and walls as he wailed. Then he was still for a long while, regarding the ancient painting from the old kingdom as if he had seen something new. Regarding himself as he was before this land had been swallowed up by darkness.

“Khunbish” he said. “So handsome. So young. What became of you, Khunbish? Where have you gone?” He dropped the painting to the floor, its frame cracking awkwardly as the canvas crumpled beneath it.

“Where are you, Aleeyah?” said Khunbish. “Why won’t you come back to me?”

But he already knew the answer.


A plague, a vector for monstrous, life-sucking wraiths to assault the living and steal them away until the sun dies and the world crumbles into nothing.

To Khunbish, it is his great, unending sadness, pouring ceaselessly from his broken heart. A testament to his love, of better days long gone by, and a cruel reminder of what was taken from him so long ago.

It is this very plague that scours the land, tendrils infecting everything with their grim power, draining the life from whatever they touch until all that remains glows with the soft. Yet this, too, has a purpose, for as Khunbish’s sadness ebbs and wanes, the plague surges forward, searching as if drawn to something… Is coming for her

Everything Khunbish does is for her.

And now, it has found something, far from the shores of the England, far past the docks of Norway and the coasts of Italy. Something on the mainland, hidden within a modest city at the edge of a river. The object calls to Khunbish, screams for Khunbish, demands his attention at all costs. And though the people wail, though they run from the blanket of death that rolls softly across their homes and fields, though the wraiths shriek and the horrors stir to feed, Khunbish hears but one voice, and one voice alone.

“Our cure will be most effective”.

“Khunbish,” he imagines it says, for he cannot make out the words.

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