#Crux, City of Curses is a dark fantasy setting I've been working on for two years now- inspired by the Jacksonian Era America, Legend of Korra, Pathfinder the Roleplaying Game, Hellboy and more- full of dark intrigues, horror, magic and weirdness. Here's a bit of #flashfiction! Iblis Kirgan is a undead thing visiting the city for the first time! Yays! Horrible undead monster things!
The wooden plank hit the dockside rather hard. Dark mists had dominated the small bay the dock encircled. The sun had long down. The sailors aboard the Maliphi freighter stood back.
Once he came out of the cabin, they moved away from him. Fearful stares as bones cracked. Long dead flesh moved like a living person. Bandages and robes covered him.
He didn't stand that tall. No higher than any of the dark-skinned Ramelin sailors. The dead Ursyklon's golden earrings shined. One assumed him to be male, if his beard were any significance. Ursyklon runes covered his bandages. The empty eye sockets shimmered with their own dark red glow. The black-green flesh teemed with undead vermin. The dead shells of beetles scuttled. Rotten, dead worms writhed. They moved around and through the walking corpse.
Flies, rodents and more moved away as he approached the plank to the ship. They fled from his presence.
"Thanks." The dry, rasping voice exhaled to the sailors. "If you change your mind on my offer, you know where to find me."
The short mummy walked into the docks of the City of Curses. The dark port of Crux buzzed around him. He took in the air of this new place. Ships bustled. Even at night, people moved. Things from all over the world mixed here.
His eyes darted, studying the foreign sights. The once-Ursyklon undead creature hadn't been part of the world in such a long time. Curiosity made him wonder. Had it changed enough to forgive what he'd done?
Upon reaching the first flight of stairs up the cliff, a man in an odd uniform looked up at him. The same old look of despair, disgust and fear took over the human. The black-haired Tomasi took a step back.
"W-who are you?"
"A visitor." He looked up at the human. "Iblis Zorden Kirgan Foxhide. I imagine you need to see papers?"
"Uh..." The guard coughed a bit, then shook his head.
Iblis climbed up the stairs to the top of the cliff that overlooked the docks. As he moved upward, he could see through the mists. The gigantic skullmount in the distance appeared. A city of gothic spires hung over the edges of the cliff. Like a field of termite hills, cloaked in fog.
The archdruid could sense the life moving away from him as he climbed up the stairs. Birds woke themselves out of their nests. Living insects scuttled out of the way. Mice and rats took a wide berth of him. Others moving down or up the stairs around Iblis took their time.
He was used to that. He had hoped this foreign place might be different, but it didn't matter. Damned, Iblis knew that nothing living could find comfort near his cursed flesh.
"A city of curses seems fine for a Cursed fellow then." Iblis told himself. He chuckled at his words.
He would continue to explore this place. So many of the quick moved about here. Millennia ago he'd remembered it being just a few villages and sheep. Time flies it seems, when one is dead long enough.
"Alms for the unsorcerous?" A voice called out.
Iblis tilted his head at the sound. A girl's voice. Sickly. The sound of a long cough.
When he found her at the street corner, the tiny creature had slumped up against a lamp post in the mist. Shivering. Pustules covered her face. People seemed to move around her. The undead took in a deep whiff. Her myriad of scents delighted him.
He recognized so much life there. So much potential.
"Hello?" She called out to him. The human child would've stood only to his shoulder. So thin, so hungry. Her green and black hair was matted. Dirt covered her. She looked almost like more vermin than a urchin. "Alms for unsorcerous?"
Another coughing fit took her.
"You have a sickness." Iblis pointed out.
"Yah. Got a pox." She looked up at him. Her eyes couldn't seem to focus on his. "I can't quite see you, but I can still do things for you."
"Things like what?"
"Things you might like." She tried to grin, but another bout of coughing stopped her.
"Why would I want that?" Iblis asked, curious. "And what is unsorcerous mean? Is that your disease?"
He drew closer.
"Uh..." She wiped her mouth. "Money. I'll do anything you want for coin. I got no magick, no sorcery... Can't afford to get cured without coin, see?"
Iblis drew closer. Then she sensed his aura. The mark of the curse. The undeath that scared all living. That made them want to flee from him. That primal fear that he, Iblis of the Kirgan, was wrong. Something to be avoided.
But she couldn't get away fast enough. Passers-by didn't stop him from grabbing the sick girl. Despite being almost her size, he lifted her up. He grabbed her face, bringing it close to his face. Then he breathed out into her.
"You aren't worthy of their gift, child. These things are meant for worthier folk."
Then Iblis dropped her to the ground.
She looked at herself. Her pustules were gone. She could see. She could breathe. All her ills had been gone.
"Why did you cure me?" The girl looked back up at the mummy's glowing red eyes.
"I didn't cure you, per se." Iblis cracked his neck. "The wolf-mother made everything to test us, to root out the worthy from the unworthy. You aren't worthy of such glorious tests, begging here in the streets. These are mine now. Go. Sin. Do something dark, something to make your life burn hotter. Earn the right to die, child."
Then he turned, walking away. The words echoed in his mind. Iblis knew the mantra of his people, how diseases were only for the worthy. But he always preferred to twist those words a bit. Just a bit.
Even if they were scared of him, Iblis had damned himself for the right reasons. Not evil.