Several villagers stepped through the overgrown, disused, field and approached Unfettered Sky. They were dressed in simple clothes of heavy wool and other cheap cloths, all in muddy earth-tones. They carried basic tools, one had a smithâ€™s hammer while another carried a wood-splitting hatchet and another had a badly rusted scythe. In all, ten villagers stepped forward and formed a semicircle around Sky.
Sky glared out at them through the rain-mated hair that hung down in her face. Several patches of her clothes had stains of blood, and a few more foul substances from her foe. The rain began to fall in heavier droplets, the sound of the rainfall becoming louder when it hit the underbrush. One of the villagers shouted something, but Sky could not understand him.
All at once the villagers rushed Sky, howling. The first to reach her was a woman carrying a stained butcher-knife. The woman swung wildly at Sky, but she brought up her sword in the path of the attack. Steel struck steel, and Sky felt a sense of confidence rise as she was reminded these were mortal foes with solid weapons.
With a short battle-cry, Sky pushed her weapon forward. She knocked the womanâ€™s knife back, and in the same motion sliced across the villagerâ€™s neck. The woman fell, coughing blood from her throat, to the muddy ground. A man then drove a farmerâ€™s pitchfork toward Sky. She slid her blade between two of the tines to stop the fork, then pulled it back and sliced the wooden haft in two with one stroke. The metal tip of the pitchfork dropped.
The man dropped the bisected pitchfork haft. Sky blocked the swing of a lumber-axe, and drove the tip of her sword into the villager wielding it. She turned to face the next onrushing villager, when the man who had the pitchfork leapt onto her back. His legs wrapped around her waist, while his arms grabbed at her face and left arm. Surprised, Sky tried to shake the man off. He hissed, then bit her where her neck and left shoulder met.
Sky cried out in shock and pain. The villager sank his teeth deep into the flesh of her neck. She could feel the warmth of her own blood run down her back and he gnawed on her. Before she could position her sword to try to stab at the man on her back, Sky was struck in the stomach by a smithâ€™s hammer. She doubled forward with a groan and fell to her knees in pain.
Desperately, Sky pumped essence through her body. With all her might, she threw her arms back and dislodged the man who was chewing on her neck and shoulder. Then she pushed herself up and sprinted forward as fast as she could. Sky pushed two villagers over as she ran, but the man with the hammer stepped back from her path and watched. The other villagers chased after Sky, howling frantically.
â€œTheyâ€™re... theyâ€™re mad!â€ Sky said to herself as she raced across the field and through the briars and weeds. She burst from the field at a dead sprint, and toward the village. A moment later she nearly stumbled to a stop. The village streets, which had become mud-paths in the storm, were crowded with dozens more villagers.
Amidst the townsfolk, Sky thought she saw shadowy figures. More movement of darkness than real, solid, forms. In the flickering light of distant lightning, she lost sight of the shadow-images. However, the villagers caught sight of her. They began walking and shambling toward her in one great mass. â€œOh hell,â€ Sky muttered in dread, then ran to the Inn and threw open the door.
Sky slammed the door behind her, and standing in the dark of the old building she tried to catch her breath. Her heart pounded in her chest. The villagers began pounding on the door while she braced it. The heavy rain pounded against the roof.
â€œSun help me,â€ she prayed silently and desperately.