Story & Lore Mini-Contests: The Victorious

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Bane of Appleton

It was a rainy night, on the 10th of September, a night lost in obscurity, but surrounded by circumstances that engulf you with a sense of disbelief. Somewhere on the English plains, a place called Appleton prospered under the rule of a Duke, whom the people came to know as Daemos, but little more did they understand, for the Duke confined himself to a keep at the center of Appleton. The townspeople never bore sight of the Duke, only his guard captain, who often spoke in his stead. The guard captain was held with low regard, as his duty did dictate so. Informing the people of tax increases, and an impending war with France became a dangerous deed. But upheaval was never at a climax like the night of September 10th, when even the King feared his people. That fateful day, guard captain Thomas Maybury received word from the English army’s oligarchy, stating a draft was to be held at the town center, where the strong, able-bodied males were to be enlisted into the King’s army. The news was disheartening to the captain, but Thomas knew a war was the least of his worries. The drought that had swept the area and newly proposed tax increases on trade goods created a civil unrest in local counties, Appleton was not immune. A man named Benjamin Baxter stirred the outrage for months at the weekly gatherings. His hatred for the Empire grew from the death of his wife many years before. She was suspected of witchcraft and burned at the stake, and Benjamin never forgot the injustice committed by his beloved fatherland. The morning of September 10th, Thomas was to hold a town meeting and announce the upcoming draft. Escorted by personal bodyguards numbering 12, he entered the town center and stepped up to the dais, to see a hundred prying eyes beating down on his warm skin. Sweat dripped from his forehead as he removed his speech from a pouch.
“People of Appleton, a troublesome matter has arisen for your families, as well as mine, war with France is now upon us, and the King’s army must be assembled to combat the threat of a tyrannical foreign power. You,” a long pause ensued,
“The people of Appleton have been selected to hold a draft for the King’s army.” No one said a word, and many eyes filled with tears, but the repose was short lived, the men were furious, but none more than Benjamin, who stood to his feet and yelled out,
“Your King will not take our children from us! Nor will we allow him to!” From his rant, tempers grew, and the rest of the townspeople rose up in agreement, Benjamin then continued,
“We will not sit idly by as politicians and royal dictators destroy our country!”
“I say to hell with the King, and to hell with the Duke!” The people began to chant
“Death to the King!”
“Death to the Duke!” When the bodyguards began to restrain the furious people, one grabbed a hold of Benjamin… Baxter slithered his hand into his coat, pulling forth a knife he stabbed the guard. With blood shed, the other guards drew their swords and began cutting down civilians,
“Sheath your weapons!” Thomas exclaimed, but only more death ensued. Fearing for the Duke’s life, he quickly returned to the keep, where he found the Duke, sitting in his throne room, on a decrepit wooden chair huddled against a table, where he was facing a grand fireplace setting. Hearing the door open
“Who requests an audience with the Duke Daemos?” he inquired,
“It’s me my liege.” Thomas replied. The captain approached Daemos from behind, placing his hand on the shoulder of the Duke,
“The people are coming for you my Duke; we must procure a carriage immediately.” The Duke sat quietly for a moment,
“Let them come, the people’s will is iron, your best attempts to hold the keep will be a mere nuisance to a mob of angry souls.” Daemos stood from his chair, removing Thomas’ hand from his shoulder,
“I will retire to my quarters.” Hunched over and covered by a black robe he crept to his sleeping quarters. Thomas knew Daemos spoke the truth that the townspeople would never yield, even in the face of death. The people continually gathered at the front of the keep, wielding makeshifts weapons ranging from pitchforks to dagger, to wooden shields. When dusk arrived, the people were fully gathered, and Benjamin leading the rebellion stepped up to the gargantuan wood doors and slammed his hand on the doors profusely,
“Hand over the Duke!” he exclaimed; he was met by no response. Thomas and a handful of guards gathered on the other side of the door, preparing for a breach. Benjamin turned to face the people, standing on the stone staircase leading up the doors, looking down upon them, he yelled
“Then let them burn!” From the back of the mob four men carrying a log with metal handles fastened tightly to it, approached the door, and began to slowly batter it with their makeshift ram. Thomas backed away from the door, and turned to his guards,
“Fall back to the throne room when they have fully breached.” He then returned to the Duke’s throne, where Daemos was comfortably seated, with his weapon sheathed Thomas approached the throne and fell to one knee clutching Daemos’ hand, tears rolling from his eyes he grumbled
“I have failed you father.” Daemos, pulling back his hood he revealed the pale face of a young man.
“Rise,” he said.
“You have not failed me my child, my time has come, my days have been numbered for centuries now,”
“You are my only heir, and you must continue the bloodline, the Legend of our family.”
“Leave me to my fate, save yourself.” Daemos removed a ring from his left index finger, bearing a family crest, and handed it to Thomas. Just as Thomas turned around the guards came rushing through the arched doorway to the throne room,
“The villagers, they’re coming!” One of them exclaimed.
“Go now son!” Daemos said as he pointed. Thomas ran to the cellar door and quickly made his way into the bowels of the keep, whilst the Duke sat in wait of his demise. The villagers flooded in, and quickly overwhelmed the few remaining guards, but Benjamin was not among the fighters, he stood alone in the door way, staring down a long funnel of open space at the Duke, he furiously approached him, treading with a heavier step every cycle, until he finally stood affront the throne, looking down at Daemos, he flipped the claymore he clutched in his hands, and plunged it into the Duke’s chest. Daemos sat idly, with no fear of death, but the claymore did not kill him, he still drew breath. Benjamin stepped back in awe,
“What cheap parlor trick is this!?” He yelled. All the while the fighting was coming to a close. Benjamin pulled the claymore from Daemos’ chest, only to see the broken flesh heal before his eyes in mere seconds. Baxter knew of this witchcraft, he’d seen it before in his wife, the curse of the Noseferatu. Benjamin overwhelmed to acknowledge his wife was infected by a man like Daemos; Baxter swung his claymore in a wide sweep and beheaded him instantly. The Duke’s head fell to the ground and rolled down the steps of the throne as the villager watched the death of their herald. Only minutes later Thomas was caught during his escape attempt by pursuing townspeople, caught at a dead end, where a once active escape route had caved in, he was cornered by multiple villagers and stabbed in the chest vigorously by one of them as the other held him against a wall. After this ordeal, life continued in Appleton, and Benjamin was still haunted by nightmares of his dead wife. The King declared the rebels as dissidents, and vowed to punish them for their insolence, but so long as the King’s army was spread thin by war, life would continue for the people of Appleton. Three nights after the burial of the Duke and his son the guard captain, rain once again graced drought-stricken Appleton. The night of the 13th was the stormiest in years. The grave keeper tirelessly tried to keep the bodies from floating away, but his attempts were in vain. When he reached down to pick up a ring floating about in the water, an arm sprung forth from the muddy abyss and grabbed his neck, pulling him into the mud, but the grave keeper swung his shovel cutting off the hand of the corpse, and springing him free… The keeper frantically ran from the graveyard to the church in the village square. The graves began to shallow out, and corpses began flowing down the hill into the center of Appleton. The corpse of Thomas Daemos Maybury was not among them. Father O’Maley admitted entrance to the gravekeeper,
“What troubles you my child?” The priest asked…
“There was a Demon, it possessed one of the dead, and,” Stuttering as he spoke, and shivering from the cold rain,
“It grabbed me,” He said. “Come now, have a seat,” the Priest said,
“I will fetch you some hot tea and some candles.” The gravekeeper became at ease,
“Thank you father,” he said. The church was dark, and patter of rain could be heard on the roof, and could be seen trickling down the stain glass windows. The priest slowly walked up from the undercroft clutching a glass of hot tea with one hand, and a candle with the other, he gazed to the seat where the keeper had been sitting, the cup of tea fell from his hand, and horror swept over him as he looked upon the headless corpse of what was the gravekeeper of Appleton. The priest, overwhelmed with fear, grabbed a cross from the wall, and made a hasty exodus for Benjamin Baxter the unofficial-mayor-of-Appleton’s home. When he arrived, he knocked once, and the door slowly swung open, creaking with an eerie pitched squeak.
“Baxter?” he said,
“Baxter are you in here?” he stepped into the living area, and noticed muddy boot prints on the floor. Gripping the cross with all his might, he queried further, he pushed open the bedroom door, and looked into the room, staring upon a silhouette of a man’s figure, covered in bloody sheets. He reluctantly stepped inward, and pulled the covers from the head of the body and recognized Baxter’s face. “Mother of God,” he exclaimed, as he stepped backward, he was stopped by what seemed to be a wall, he turned to face it, and further to his horror, stared upon a decrepit corpse in military uniform, missing a hand, and bearing a grin. The priest dropped his cross and cried
“What are you?!” The corpse looked down at him, grabbed his throat tightly, and whispered,
“Daemos, Bane of Appleton.”

Dragonson said:
RiotZ' Entry: Bane of Appleton

Plot: 7/10
Eloquence: 7/10
Ease of Reading: 7/10
True to the Theme: 5/5

Score: 26

This was truly a jewel.
All the way through the story, I didn't at any point feel like taking a break from reading, grabbing a cup of tea or any of the many things that usually distract me from my task.
The plot was simple, but unique enough to not be a cliché. It was well told, the story was well executed, the grammatical mistakes were at a minimum, the ending left me with that priceless feeling of epic... All-in-all a job damn well done.

In Short: Easily above-average.

Username: RiotZ
Judge: Dragonson

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