The Asylum of the Damned presents:

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Thunder. Lightning. Wind and storm howled wildly, battering at the trees and shaking them violently. The downpour only increased in ferocity, pummeling the bare dirt below into pools of thick mud. The cracks of booming thunder rocked the bleak night skies into a jubilee of light and sound, feverishly roaring across the fields.

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An asylumBLACK production

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He clutched his ribs tightly, dragging the tip of his bloodied sword in the mud behind him as he ran. His vision grew dim and his breath grew heavy- every wind from his lungs felt like a torturous chore. His bloody wound underneath his vest cooled and chilled him to the bone, feeling like his heart would freeze in just one more beat. As the horizon dimmed and lurched, his run became a trudging jog, and every color from his sight washed into a sickly brown. The sight of numerous log cabins were a welcome sight as his consciousness wavered, and he managed to just step foot on the beginnings of a worn path before he finally spilled onto his knees. With a heavy, agonized groan, he stiffed the stabbing pain in his side, and stumbled in between the first two cabins he came too. Light shone from the front windows, and he felt a faint glow of warmth radiate between them. Weakened from his wounds and the gaping, empty pit inside his stomach, he finally collapsed by the side of the hut, sat himself on the muddy ground and rested his back on a pile of firewood logs, and closed his eyes.

A door of the hut to his right opened, and a white silhouette quietly stepped through. "I'll grab just the tinder," said a soft feminine voice as the figure quickly descended the short stairs. This stirred his attention, and his eyes only split open for just long enough to see the slim girl's jaw drop and gasp before he lost his senses completely.

Legends of Alternica

The first thing he saw when he awoke was the face of that same girl. She hovered over at his side, gazing into his watery eyes with worry. "Father, he's awake!" She called.

He only groaned weakly as the girl gently cradled his left cheek, cautiously dragging her delicate thumb along the short scar underneath his left eye. As footsteps quickly approached from the distance, he suddenly became aware that he was lying in a bed, with the blonde-haired girl looking over him. He opened his mouth to speak, but the girl quickly closed his jaw again. He weakly brushed her hand away and muttered weakly under his breath.

"If thou wants to speak, then speak," said the girl curtly. "What's thy name?"

He took a deep breath. "Arthur," he muttered.

Another blonde face was beside the girl's, this one of a man and much older. "Feel thou better today?" he asked.

Arthur groaned again. "Where's my blade?" he asked. "What has thou done with 't?"

"Your blade's to the smith's for cleansing," said the girl quickly.

"So much stained blood on a sword I have not ere seen," said the man. "Nor have I seen a human with such deep wound."

Arthur looked down at his fairily built body, noticing soft white bandages wrapping gently around his ribs, and then up at the two beside him. It was only then he noticed their long, pointed ears and pure eyes. "I thank thee elves for thy kindness," Arthur moaned, sitting up, "But I cannot lie here for long."

"You shall sit and you shall rest," said the girl quickly, pushing Arthur back down into the pillows. "Your wound needs to heal."

"Nay, let me up," Arthur protested. "I must not be kept from my quest."

The girl elf arched her thin eyebrow with a questioning gaze. "What quest dost thou speak of?"

"To slay Lambda."

The girl was shocked silent. Her father was stunned and muted immediately. "Clearly," said the father with an uneasy voice, "he has been struck upon the brow. He has lost his sense."

"I've not lost my sense," Arthur growled weakly. "Lambda shall fall by mine blade."

The girl's father placed his hand on her shoulder. "Come, Celina," he said, "we'll let yonder human collect and piece his mind once more."

"Be well soon," said the girl softly, stroking Arthur's forehead once and brushing his golden bangs aside before rising. The two left the room quickly, leaving Arthur alone in the Spartan wooden bedroom.

The thought of sneaking out and finding his sword immediatley crossed his mind as soon as he was certain they were far enough away, but the paralysing pain in his ribs kept him down. Now that he lay in a bed, he did not feel like rising again. It was the first time in a long time that he had been so comfortable, and even having a bed to rest in. As Arthur let his mind wander, he began to contemplate why they had not asked him how he had become so wounded. He wondered why they had begun to nurse him back to health, and was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he never noticed the elf girl silently enter and kneel by his side.

"How fare thee now?" She asked, offering a mug to Arthur's dry lips.

Arthur gratefully took the mug by both hands and drank quickly, feeling a sweet liquid run down his throat as he slurped the mug dry. "Much better," Arthur sighed, wiping his lips with his wrist. "Thou art named Celina, are ye?"

"Aye," Celina murmured, a bit shaken by Arthur's crass manner as she took the mug from his hands. "Dost thou truly jest not? Thy charge be to slay Lambda?"

Arthur felt himself getting irritated. "Must I repeat myself to thee?"

Celina gently set the mug on the floor. "And thou do battle beside thyself?"

"Aye."

"What posioned sanity hath befallen thee?" Celina asked. "One man against th' better half of the globe!"

"I care not for numbers," Arthur growled. "I only care for the sword in mine hand."

Celina sighed, and rubbed Arthur's forehead. "Aye then, father spoke the truth," she muttered with pity, "Thou art insane."

"Spare me thy mockery," Arthur hissed. "I shall have Lamba slain."

Celina shook her head, and took the mug into her hands again. "T'was a potion of my father's hands," she said, "It shall aide thy body. Hopefully, it shouldst also heal thy mind."

Arthur watched with silent contempt as Celina left to room, her white dress giving Arthur an oddly soothing sense of relaxation as he watched it ripple as she walked out the door, closing it behind her. Before he knew it, his vision began to waiver again, and a warm feeling washed over him as he slowly drifted out of conciousness.

The next day, the first thing Arthur did when he awoke was swing his legs out from the side of the bed and stand up. His breathing was now pain-free, and his ribs felt like they were in perfect repair. Glancing to his left, Arthur noticed a mirror mounted on a desser on the wall, and slowly ambled towards it. The reflection of a tired, battle-worn man stared back at him through the glass, glaring with muddy brown irises amidst heavy dark bags underneath the eyes. Thin scars and faint wrinkles laced his face, and his mis-shapen and ill-groomed stubble beard added an extra fifteen years onto his appearance. Gazing into his reflection in the mirror, Arthur caught the image of Celina out of the corner of his eye, joining him by his side. "Good morning," she chirped cheerfully with a child-like smile.

Arthur only grunted.

"Better, are ye?" she asked.

Arthur nodded slightly. "Where is mine sword?"

Celina rolled her eyes. "Asking for thy blade again? Art thou sure in thy conviction of sanity?" Arthur snarled under his breath, and headed for the bedside table. "I've laundered thy shirt," she said, "What sayeth thou?"

"Thanks," Arthur muttered, picking up his dusty brown sleeveless shirt and slipping it over his head.

"What, dost thou intend to leave so soon?" She asked.

"Aye."

"Wouldst thou at least grace our table just this once?" she asked. "Thou must eat before thy travels."

Arthur paused. He could not remember the last time that he had been invited to breakfast, much less being invited into someone else's company. Also crossing his mind was the fact that he had not eaten for two days. "Very well. I'll join thee."

Celina's father was irate. "Thou invited him to our table!" he quietly hissed.

Celina nodded as she and her father sat down on opposite sides of the circular table in thier small dining room. "Was it not the proper thing?" she asked. "Arthur surely must be half starved, and if he is to travel-"

"Was lending my own bed not enough?" Celina's father grumbled. "I dragg'd the filthy rat in at thy insistance and sealed the wound, and that shall be all the business I'll do with the dirty scoundrel."

"Father!" Celina gasped. "Why do you judge him so?"

Celina's father sighed. "Dearest daughter," he said, leaning over the table and cradling Celina's soft hands in his own, "the trials of my life have learned me well. Some of the Lord's children stray from the righteous path, and I've more wisdom than thee to know them as such.

Celina took her hands out from underneath her father's and placed them in her lap. "At least give him some food," she said. "If thou doest not want him at our table, I'll respect," she murmured in defeat.

Just then, Arthur appeared from the living room, and sat down bewteen Celina and her father. "Alive, are ye?" Celina's father asked. "My Celina was overly thankful for your recovery, but alas-"

Arthur stood up and scowled. "I know when my presence is not desired," he muttered, heading for the door. "Where's the smith?"

Celina shot onto her feet. "Father, I beg of you, just allow me to guide him to his sword and-"

"Certainly not!" he father roared, slamming his hands on the table. Both Celina and Arthur looked at him with blank stares.

Suddenly, their front door flew open. "Sirius! Our villiage hath been invaded by Lambda!" A young elvish man exlaimed.

Celina's father's jaw dropped, and Celina herself gasped. Arthur only curled his upper lip into a snarl. "What does he want?" Sirius barked, "this rat, I am sure!"

"Aye," the young elf nodded regretfully. "He demands the stranger's deliverance into his hands."

"You wouldst not!" Celina begged of her father, stepping in between Sirius and Arthur.

"Give me my sword," Arthur growled, "and thou hast mine word that Lambda shall not step to thine doors ever again."

Sirius comtemplated the scenario for a moment. "Has he a legion at his command in our villiage?"

"Aye, a legion of a legion."

Sirius grimaced. "Then we shall surrender the rat to him."

"Please, father!" Celina begged, "Thou cannot sentence Arthur to death! Let him hide!"

"I'll not hide from even the devil himself," Arthur vowed.

"And be drawn and quarted by Lambda?" Celina gasped. "Please, Arthur, hide just this once!"

Sirius locked his sights on Celina. "Why dost thou care for this stranger so, Celina?" he asked.

"He is a man all the same, is he not?"

Sirius moaned under his breath.

"Please father, just allow him to hide, and escape when he can!"

Sirius sighed. "Very well," he muttered. "Boy, wait with our fellows. I shall bargain with Lambda myself."

The tall, thin man ruffled his thick, blood red coat. The large black headdress he wore accented his thick black goatee, and he stared a the main road that ran though the villiage with unwaivering eyes. His two captains flanked his left and right, and the horde of humans and monsters alike eagerly waited behind him. Soon, three elves came from behind a cabin, and approached the legion. "Lambda, general of Zaardaath," said Sirius, the elf at the front of the trio, "I hath heard thy request, but alas, the one you seek left at the break of dawn this morn. To the west, I believe."

The large red-coated man snorted. "You'd have me believe this filth, wouldst thou, Sirius?"

"Filth it is not, Lambda," Insisted Sirius, "With the Lord's eye upon me, I assure thee that the thief you seek has been long abandon'd."

Lambda glared eye-to-eye with Sirius, and a small smirk formed on his lips. "Dost thou give thy word?"

Sirius nodded. "Aye. My word is thine own."

Lambda sighed, and raised a leather-gloved hand. "Men, we shall return to our camp," he said, looking back at his legions. As the army turned and dispersed back into the feilds, Lambda paused for a brief moment, turned to look at Sirius again, and snickered. "A very beautiful village indeed, Sirius," said Lambda with a cruel smirk. "T'would be a tragedy shouldst anything unfortunate befall it."

As Lambda and his captains vanshied from view, Sirius dropped to his knees, suddenly feeling drained of his strength. "Oh Lord," he moaned under his breath, "What have I done...?"