Sylvan Stories: Infect


Mikea could feel the dismal power surging through him. The infection was spreading through his entire being: clogging his thoughts, stealing his dreams, destroying his hopes. The Invader’s infection spread ever on, just as it had through his homeland, his village, his family – all of it. Now he, too, would become one of them…

Mikea felt the sickness pulsating in his arm as his body jerked with pangs of agony. Had he been glanced? He did not know, but the pain confirmed his deepest suspicions. He knew he had little time left – soon he would be completely consumed in a world of darkness and unanimity. The very thought disgusted, angered, and frightened him. He couldn’t contain his rage. Staring at the sky, he let out a very human scream – a shriek that rang through the forest, shaking trees, bringing mountains to their feet – telling the world that he would not give up without a fight…

The strange beings had arrived only recently, but their destruction and conceited ideals quickly consumed all aspects of life. Before anyone knew what had happened, the entire country had nearly been taken over; vast heaps of forest and nature turned shimmering blacks and silvers as the sun withered away. The few who survived the initial onslaught were brought to their knees as they realized their home was almost certainly lost forever. People from all walks of life were brought together. Coalitions were made, pacts created. All politics of the former glorious country were completely forgotten, overshadowed by the need to survive. The fighting was grim and the outlook horrendous, but those brave souls continued on. They fought and fought until they forgot what they were fighting for.

Some days, Mikea couldn’t even remember his own name.

The expedition was a routine border patrol to protect a small community of survivors that had found each other as time passed. But something had gone awry: one by one, Mikea’s group disappeared, dropping out of the sky like birds. The others wanted to turn back, but there was nowhere to go. They were lost within the tangle of metal and oil that had overun the natural landscape; small trees jutted out of sharply-defined constructs, and huge mountains were completely covered with sheen.

Before he knew it, everyone was gone. It was just him. In a cry of desperation, he began running. He ran and ran and ran, never stopping, never thinking. He tried to save them, but he couldn’t. No one could. The fight was lost – or at least, that was what Mikea had come to believe. How could they – how could anyone, such a miserable, ragtag group – hope to save the world from the whims of the truest of evils?

As he ran, something sharp gouged his arm, and his joints locked up immediately. Turning his head, he saw the deep golden eyes of a once-human beast standing in his wake, its sharp knife stuck firmly in his arm. The beast smiled slyly and began laughing. Mikea cried out, winced, then pulled the knife out in one fell swoop, but the creature jumped away before he had time to react. Pain shot through his arm instantly; he could feel spreading. The infection, the blood lust, the tyranny – all of it was consuming his thoughts. His mind was numb to the notion of individuality: he couldn’t remember who he was or where he was from. All he knew was that he was insignificant now, serving some greater being that had never been seen nor heard by anyone.

Mikea’s torment spread with the infection. He didn’t know what to do, so he cried out as loudly as he could – to what end, he could not ascertain, but maybe, just maybe, some forgotten soul would find him and save him.

Then he blacked out.

An unparalleled desire awoke him. How long had it been – months? Years? Mikea didn’t know, but something, perhaps even the most minute of changes, had woken him from his long slumber. How many had he vanquished? How many souls had he stolen? He knew not, but the unsubstantiated desire to be free could not be controlled. Breaking away from the grip of the unwavering overlords dominating his mind, Mikea screamed again. He screamed and screamed, falling to his feet and calling out names he didn’t know anymore, to faces he thought he’d never seen. Then suddenly, the voices in his head went away and the orders disappeared, a faint silence replacing them.

Other beasts nearby turned towards him, staring in absolute disbelief at the shattered man – for no one, not even the strongest of beings, had broken away before. An insignificant little man had prevailed against the jaws of the overlords. That day – the day a single man had broken free of undying servitude – was the day the sun shone its bright rays for the first time in innumerable weeks.

Not truly knowing who he was, Mikea looked down at his hands. They were soiled with metals and oils, but his soft flesh still shone through. Looking back up, he knew what he had to do. He slowly raised his large, shimmering blade; it reflected the sunlight almost perfectly as he moved it into position. The others around him, still staring in disbelief, did not fight back. They did not move; they did not wince.

“Sorry…” Mikea mumbled as he swung the massive blade at every single one of them. They fell, one after the other, until only a single man was standing alone.

Mikea sheathed his blade and walked over to a stream of black oil. The sight of his reflection was unsettling. Even though he couldn’t remember who he had been, he knew that who he was now was wrong. Suddenly unsheathing his blade once again and clutching it firmly in his hands, he made his way towards the heart of the invaders’ operation. He looked up at the sky one last time, its rays blinding.

A single tear rolled down his cheek as he muttered something under his breath:

“Mikea…”

 

Infect is an incredibly powerful strategy that has the ability to commit acts of great evil and good at the same time. If used incorrectly, it will consume and overtake any and all who grasp at its unstable power. However, if a mage’s will is strong enough to overcome the instinctual desires, then its power can be utilized very precisely. While fighting, an Infect user will strike quickly and efficiently, trying to defeat their adversaries as fast as possible but still being careful not to play into their opponent’s tricks – all while calculating their next moves like a refined machine. It’s definitely a strong but risky force to be dealing with, with speed, efficiency, and cunning at the forefront of its strategy. One slip-up could very well leave its users in the jaws of a beast.

Thanks for reading! Sylvan Stories is a weekly series, so be sure to check back next week for the newest addition. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the section below.

And, as always, happy gaming!

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