Sword is drawn

Tales from Dunholme

'The Night is gone and the sword is drawn.And the scabbard is thrown away!' 

Cry of the people by John G Neihardt.

The church bells echo across the land.The Autumn leaves are beginning to fall and the daylight fades early in the cold afternoon.Across the Durham countryside people are frightened.Outlying settlements and farms are being attacked under cover of darkness. Survivors struggle to the Cathedral and Durham Castle pleading for aid from the Bishop. Tales of crazed intruders and grotesque devils burning and torturing anyone they can chase down . A shadow of fear stretches over the North. Over the Wall the Scots have the same terrible problem and no one seems to know how or why the curse has come. Clergy, military and local nobles have banded together to form militia bands to combat the nightly threat. The church believes the answer lies in casting out the evil with prayer and brimstone, the military with sword and axe and the land owners with local self defence and mercenries. Meanwhile in the villages and towns people bar their doors and pray as dusk approaches...

A message received at the Bishops guardhouse at Elvet Bridge advising a young brave monk is bringing the book of St Godric from Lindisfarne to Durham.Travelling in disguise and via little used paths a small group of men at arms are sent out from Beau Repaire to meet the holyman outside Finchale forest..

 

Morgan Hartley of Belmont is in the old ruin. No sign of the monk. Rats scratch around in the fallen leaves.The sun slowly sets over the forest as night falls. He feels he is not alone...a soft hiss behind him causes him to turn

Morgan runs from the ruins. Shapes creep out of the shadows and sudden cries and moans echo across the village. The man at arms struggles through the soggy ground.He slips in the mud and steadies himself. He looks around and slowly and carefully steps backwards. He draws his sword. The last rays of the Autumn Sun bathes the settlement as grotesque figures shamble out of the deepening shadows. The sickly smell of corruption drifts on the gentle night breeze. The creatures stumble towards the soldier growling ,their long skeletal fingers grasping

Across the clearing near the houses Sadler Ellis sergeant at Bear Park tries the doors of the homes. All are bolted or locked. He scratches the days growth of stubble on his chin. Suddenly he hears Morgan shouting from the ruins. The soldiers retreat from the village. The moans and the cries echo through the cold night air.Gasping for breath they turn and stare back at the incredible sight. Ragged shapes stumble out of houses advancing after the men at arms. Demons and devils rule the night. The dead hunt the living under the full moon. In the dark all is lost.

Across the village at the tavern Captain Armstrong heard cries from inside. Forcing the door he found two holy men. One clutching the sacred book. He leads them outside into the cold night air

Out of the shadows steps a vile figure. He growls "the holyman is ours". He then raises his wicked looking weapons.

The Captain calmly raises his sword that glints in the moonlight. The monk behind him screams "the devil wants the Saints book! In Cuthberts name protect us"! The beast strides forward.

The creature lashes out denting Armstrongs shield. Hissing he strikes out again but the Captains sword parries the powerful blow. Angered the beast spits at the soldier and hacks down with his rusty blades. Captain Armstrong plunged deep into the demons sternum then flicks his blade free and backslashes the beast across the throat. The devil crumples to the ground. Its blood steaming in the night air. " Lets get you to the Abbey before anything else happens" says Armstrong.