Written by Hendrik van Beek, 2021


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Today Marius had to carry blankets his mother had made to a customer in Penlaaken. Marius liked delivering goods. He could wear his blue cloak and travel the whole day on his own, surrounded by the rusting leaves and singing birds. But the birds had stopped singing without Marius noticing. He only knew something was wrong when blue some flowed from the trees over the path ahead of him. Marius stopped. He had never seen something like this before. It seemed to do no harm when it crept towards him. Then the ground burst open in the middle of the path. A skeletal hand engulfed in blue smoke reached out and a skeleton clothed in tattered rags clawed itself from the ground. Panicked Marius turned around but behind him another skeleton crossed the path. It was carrying a rusted sword and shield and blue smoke rose from its rotten body. Marius froze as more and more skeletons came walking from the treeline. They didn't seem to care about him and Marius watched the spectacle. The sound of the shuffling figures got interrupted by a deep voice.

'Here you go!'

A large skeleton pulled one of the smaller skeletons out of the ground. It stepped toward Marius and swung its heavy sword over his shoulder.

'Oh hello young man!'

It's jaw moved but the sounds appeared to come from far away.

'Don't be scared, we wont hurt you', it added and looked around, swinging the large blade over his shoulder in a wide arc, nearly hitting Marius in the head. Cowering Marius asked:

'W-what is happening here?'

'You are witnessing something awesome. It's called the Bonestride!' the skeleton said and the blue smoke within his eyesockets coiled intensely. The skeleton continued:

'It is when we are summoned by our maker, and we get to march!'

'You were made?' Marius asked, looking at the human-like skeletons.

'Then why did you leave in the first place?'

'Made, created, changed. Maybe we were something else first, but now were this!, The skeleton said and posed proudly.

'We wait and were released to serve the Wizards’ bidding, and then we wait again!’

'A wizard?!, Marius asked surprised. He had heard of wizards, but mostly from fairytales.

'Yes, 'Ozaramos Aramazos', the wizard! He is somewhere around here’, The skeleton said and looked around. Marius looked too but could no see anything that looked like a wizard to him, only a lot of skeletons with rusted weapons surrounded them. The large skeleton leaned over to Marius:

'Say, where are you going son?'

'To Penlaaken. Just past the old fort.'

'Oh don't go to the old fort today, you take the loooong way around. You do that.’, the skeleton said as he pointed a bone finger at Marius. Marius nodded slowly and the skeleton straightened up and bellowed:

'Alright! Lets striiiiiide!', the large skeleton said and with big paces he started walking. The other skeletons followed him and they marched into the forest. Marius waited until he clattering of their tattered armour died and he heard only the rustling of the leaves again. No one would believe him, he thought. He wasn't even sure he himself truly knew what had just happened. Then the birds started to sing as if they wanted to reassure him. Marius decided it was best to proceed. He continued his delivery, but he did however, take the long way to Penlaaken.




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