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Part I: All is Lost
The war had ravaged his mind, his thoughts often descended like the roots of an ancient tree growing into subterranean pools of poison and filth, drawing forgotten traumas into the light. As he traveled home he was alone and yet not, an insidious presence seemed to accompany him, just outside his mind's eye- a puff of smoke on the wind. Long country roads guided him to a once safe haven, his family home for generations, but nothing is the same when you've changed. He feared for his wife and daughters. He could feel his psychic skin peeled back leaving him defenseless to another realm, just as he had been defenseless during that hillside massacre, himself being the lone survivor of his group of 37. He feared for his wife and daughters, and the intentions of the presence he knew was shadowing him and could possess him at will.
It had been years since he set foot on this familiar soil. The old door was in disrepair and groaned at his touch. The familiar smells were overwhelming, a bittersweet nostalgia coupled with regret for the lost time. The house stood empty but well kept. Expecting the family to be arriving later, the journey took its toll and he succumbed to a deep slumber, hoping for a break from the otherworldly monstrosities that had been his sleep time visitors as of late. They did not come. Instead he dreamt of slaughter, not on the battlefield, but on his field, of his wife and daughters, with the old axe by the barn. The handle was sticky with blood, the air heavy with dread, long after their screams had been subdued. In his dream he saw himself committing the acts, and a phantasmagoric female figure causing his movements like a puppet master, her fingers claw like and seeming long as branches, her laughter a deafening roar of hate. "I am what you are" she screamed at his dismay, finding perverse pleasure in his powerlessness to stop the slaughter he was committing.
Awakened by a voice, he shook the mist from his head and tried to regain reality from the dreamworld, but the dream seemed to continue. Blood covered him head to toe. He was in a field at dawn. It was not a dream.
He threw the rope over his favorite climbing oak; asking one last favor it's fortitude would surely indulge.
The girl awoke half submerged in the lake at the edge of the field, it was dusk. The forgiving dream haze faded, and she remembered why she was there and in horrific distress. Wounds covered her body, she was bludgeoned and sliced. Exposed blood, clothes, and dirt mixed creating a layer of filth, and small fish nibbled her beneath the water's surface. The pieces of memory could not readily work themselves into a cohesive picture - her father was returned but a madman. He was killing them in bloodlust, surrounded by electric energy and the sound of screams on the wind. In the fray and frenzy she was spared a death blow and escaped into the shadows. Confusion swirled at these recollections and the blackness of blood loss claimed her consciousness once again. The dream world overtook her. She dreamt the return of an ageless force; gentle yet overwhelming, like seeing a maelstrom from a ship's lookout, a few miles away and closing. The visage of a wizened old mother told her tales of possessions from the dawn of humankind, through wars and through peacetime, across continents and worlds. The woman encouraged her to have heart, and drink of the mead, before the faint flame of her human life is snuffed out, as all eventually are.
The girl awoke with power coursing through her body. There was no more pain, instead there was purpose. The noon sun warmed her flesh and she arose as if by the hand of another. She felt not alone and never would again.
Her father’s body cracked when it hit the ground. She cut him down out of respect for the swarming vermin hungry to feast gathered at the pool of bodily fluid which had formed below him. No emotion crossed her face. She set her sights on the dirt road toward civilization, long knife in one hand and the roar of madness and hate driving her forward. There was much to be done.