"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence." (Daniel 12:2).
They know no fear, no cold, no hunger.
They arrive with the sound of rattling bones against steel. They wear the armour of fallen soldiers and carry with them blades that once belonged to great men. Some of them crawl through the grey earth and muck while others stand tall and as silent as the grave. These armies arrive only when they are summoned and they slaughter with reckless abandon. The Undead see nothing and hear nothing, they know only their command. Even when they fall apart, they will continue to fight until the battle has been won, or there is nothing left of them.
It was difficult to make out the black figures in the distance. From where the small village rested, they appeared no larger than rooks. They lined the top of the hill and stretched on for what seemed like miles – an endless number of them.
An eerie silence descended upon the village with the morning fog. There was not so much as an errant breeze flitting through the leaves of fruit trees. Even the babbling brook was quiet - its water trickling over smooth river stones without so much as an audible splash. The villagers all gathered at the edge of their town and watched, keeping their eyes on the hills for as long as possible, eventually being forced to squint as the sun rose.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a horn blew. It shattered the silence in a way that was painful. Many villagers covered their ears, although most seemed transfixed on the horizon. The black line started to move, and what they thought were carrion birds came closer and closer with unnatural speed.
The dark figures took the shape of men and sunlight glinted off the surface of steel, alerting the village below to the unmistakable sight of armour. The villagers shouted their alarm and fled back to the safety of their homes. The army made its descent with a heavy sound like thunder rolling down the side of the hill. It was the rattling of bone against steel plate; as there was not a fighter among them who had enough flesh remaining to provide any sort of ample padding between skeleton and chainmail.
Whoever could not make it to their homes fled into the chapel where the priest bid them to wedge whatever furniture they could underneath. The priest began to send up prayers to Heaven while some of the men plastered their own bodies against the wall, intent on providing as much of a barrier as they could between the undead army and the children huddled around the altar.
The Undead were tireless. They swarmed the small village without a break in their stride, swinging chipped axes and the broken blades of swords that looked as though they had been plucked up straight from a battlefield.
While the villagers had heard tales of such armies, they had never thought they would be the focus of a raid. They knew, one and all, that the Undead would not stop until there was nothing left to kill.