A place for horror or darker stories, mostly written for 'Screams!!!'
| The Wise Man
Advice! That was what he needed before the night was out. Whether to stay put or to make the first move, the first strike? He needed to know which would be best for his people for the savages were hungry.
They had been heard. Roaring, with thudding drumbeats getting louder and louder the nearer they came. There would be no mercy shown towards his people if the savage horde broke upon them during the night.
Ziathos made his way towards the Shaman's quarters. The wise man of the village instilled fear in all of the people, perhaps because he was never seen without a mask. And that mask was fearsome. The features were grotesquely distorted making him look more like a demon than a man. But if anyone was going to know the best course of action to take it would be him.
The Shaman was waiting outside for him. Ziathos was startled by his appearance as he crouched down by a burning pile of sticks. How had he known that Ziathos was going to seek him out? Of course he would know, for wasn't he supposed to know everything.
The Shaman beckoned him forward and motioned without saying a word that the Chief should take a seat. No one else would have dared to give Ziathos an order; the Shaman was the nearest he had to an equal and he unquestionably obeyed.
Picking up his hide drum, he took a wrapped stick and began to beat out a rhythm. Slowly thuds began to get louder. Ziathos felt each one from his head to his heart, deep, steady, and then the pace began to pick up. Along with the beat the flames began to flare and dance, casting shadows all around, but especially on the Shaman himself. His eyes seemed to burn along with the fire; orange, red then entirely black.
Ziathos drew back. He knew it was unreasonable to be afraid of the wise man, but at that moment he was a terrifying figure and the Chief wanted more than anything to flee his presence. Even if he dared to turn his back, the fact was that Ziathos was frozen in place, held in position by some unseen power.
Suddenly the flames leaped right up into the air, scorching the lower branches of a nearby tree. If the flames took hold of the timber there would be no need to fear the savages, for the entire village would become consumed by fire. There would not even be time for them to flee.
Just as Ziathos prepared to shout a warning the fire died down, the flames measuring perhaps a finger's height rather than that of a grown man. The Shaman, although still scary was no longer the terrifying vision that he had been a moment ago. Without saying a word, he gestured to say that his people should remain where they were.
Having been granted the advice he had sought, Ziathos rose to his feet, bowed to the Shaman and walked away. The wise man had spoken, and their advantage would be to remain in their homes and defend the village from inside it. He could not escape the fact that a tremendous weight had been lifted from his shoulders, and this night he would actually sleep.
If Ziathos had turned back he might not have felt so easy, for the man that he had thought as the Shaman had tossed aside his mask and was pulling the body that had been slit from ear to ear from inside of the tent and was dragging the body onto the flames. Once the true Shaman was being consumed by the flames, the imposter gave a shrill whistle.
For a moment there was silence, but then another whistle answered the call, and slowly and stealthily, the hordes approached. They had the luxury of taking their time, of making their footfalls carefully silent, as they carried forwards their spears and swords.
A massacre, that's what there would be, and all the village's wealth and resources would become theirs. Maybe they would leave some of the villagers alive, for some of the women were reputably beautiful, but the men would all be sitting ducks, all because Ziathos had listened to the wrong Shaman.