This is a full length fiction piece written for D. Wallace Peach’s monthly Speculative Fiction Writing Prompt. Damn! Did it feel good to write outside the box!
Commanders Log Day 21
We are a party of only 19 as we approach the summit, the elements having swallowed up five of our number- and necessity, has devoured yet another. To speculate as to whether the last of those deaths was justified, is moot. What is done is done. We have arrived at Dragonlord Mountain.
We had known for quite some time that our situation was precarious at best. As a tribe we had lost our ability to procreate some years hence, the result of hormone laden aquifers, following the runoff of the Bastion Uprising.
Despite this grievous bane, we continued to live in health and prosperity. As was to be expected, however, our populace continued to age, and our women of childbearing years began to dwindle in numbers.
A meeting of the Forbearers, was called in which the Elder Dames and Sires appointed a twenty five man team to make the frozen trek to Dragonlord to beseech the Dragon Lord himself to use his magic to restore our reproductive powers. That was the easy part, as there were none among us that did not lust for the privilege of being appointed to that crew.
The difficulty arose when it came to choosing from amongst the offspring of the Elder Dames and Sires- as there was necessity for a vessel- a chaste woman child to carry the seeds of magic provided by the Dragon Lord back to our village .
A great banquet ensued at the meetings conclusion with much drinking and reverie- but come dawn twenty five men and one woman child, were already half a day’s journey into the arduous trek.
The first two weeks of the journey we battled the terrain and the elements with great ferocity. We were warriors. Many armies of men had fought and died trying to subdue us, and were unsuccessful. We were therefore determined not to be defeated by the cold nor the mountain.
We imbibed many spirits to gird us against the cold as fire was not an option, and after a fortnight of little sleep, much exertion and more than a fair amount of spirit, fights began to break out. Many of them fueled by the presence of a solitary female in our midst.
It was on the eighteenth night of our climb that we heard a woman’s mottled screams in the night. Enmass we rushed toward the sound and found two of our crew attempting to force themselves upon the half naked girl. They dropped her to her knees and ran off toward the dark cliffs, lost into the night. The girl was frostbitten and hysterical, but otherwise intact. Our tribesmen never returned.
Two days later with the summit just coming into sight, a fight broke out over the distribution of food rations. Three more of our number were lost to this uprising as a ledge gave way under the tussel and they fell to their death. It was a short time after we recovered from the shock of their loss that we noticed the sacks containing our foodstuffs had also been lost.
A silent panic set in when we found ourselves with no food, very little spirit, and days left on out trek.
For two days very eye scoured the mountainsides for possible prey, but so few wild beasts had survived the Bastion Uprising, it was hardly surprising that not so much as a bird flew overhead. There were none among us that were not waning from the lack of nourishment.
Worst of all the woman child had given out, and now needed to be carried. She was overcome with exhaustion, weakened by starvation and teetering on the edge of madness.
Something had to be done to preserve her. Our entire mission was dependant on her remaining a suitable vessel…
That last evening, as we approached the summit, we stopped to rest in a vestibule of rock. The men, weary from the intensity of the journey slept quickly and soundly. Even the woman child slept the sleep of exhaustion that night.
When the chorus of even breathing made it evident that the assembly was asleep I removed a leather sash from my bag and walked among them.
Having already decided on a target, I crept silently winding the leather strap tightly around my hands. With the quickness of snake, I yanked the strap tight around the throat of Jasper Mellot, my tribesman, my brother, and killed him in cold blood.
Then, with the callus of a hunter I relieved him of his liver and fed it in steaming pieces to the ravenous womanchild, on whom I took it upon myself to decide- all of our futures depended.
The following morning I threw myself at the mercy of my brethren, confessed what I had done and sought reprieve, at least until our task was complete. My request was granted-
It is because of their faith in the soundness of my judgement, that we successfully completed our mission, and I place my fate in your hands this day.