Saturday 7 February 2015

Elves, Goblins and... Zombies

Is this the first time zombies have been used in a High Fantasy novel, albeit one which is deliberately earthy?

This is a small section from when this particular menace makes an appearance in Goblin Mire:

"There'll be wealth aplenty fer whoever finds him 'n' brings back his head," Mickle finished, glancing at his audience, most of them already fingering the edges of blades in grim anticipation. "When yer finds him, kill him as quick as yer can cause he's dangerous! Don't play around with him or he'll be doin' the killin' instead.  Kill him quick. Then cut off the bastard's head."
     Torches lit, grinning goblins eagerly set out in groups of twos and threes, some heading through the despoiled streets of the city, while others struck out for the nearest gates, intent on searching the countryside beyond.
     A hundred and four goblins set out, eager to complete their quest.
     These were the first of the host to find what had started in the unquiet dark in the city.
     Weapons clattering, Thurbo Ognash and Ombar Glostwiddle hurried as fast as their short legs would carry them past the plastered, bloodstained walls of the tall houses on their way to the nearest gate. En route they hastened across an open square with a stone fountain in the middle, where elves had regularly held an open market on the broad expanse of cobbles. Now, though, the pleasant square was piled with the bodies of slaughtered elves, ready to be taken and burnt on fires before they decayed. Leaping with ungainly agility across the corpses sprawled about the edge of the square, Thurbo Ognash was startled when a hand gripped his ankle, tripping him before he jerked himself upright again.
     "What're yer up to, yer stupid bastard?" he snarled, angrily grabbing the hilt of his sword before more hands gripped his legs. Cold hands. Hands that were hard and stiff. Hands that gripped so tight they hurt.
     Gulping in terror, Thurbo looked down as the bodies he had been carelessly leaping over a moment before started to move - bodies so badly cut about and chopped at with swords and axes only hours ago that they should have lain where they were till they were burned.
     Thurbo screamed, choking on the vomit that rose in his throat like a mouthful of acid as the bloodless faces of the elves - elf-men, elf-women and even elf-children - moved their heads to stare at him with bulging egg-white eyes. Bodies twisted into ungainly postures, the creatures were starting to climb to their feet, some of them clumsily falling over, yet each of them struggling to stand once more as soon as they fell.
     "Kill ‘em!" Thurbo's companion, Ombar Glostwiddle, shrieked, laying about with a long war-axe. Limbs and heads and bits of bodies flew through the air. "Kill ‘em, Thurbo! Kill ‘em, yer cowardly, cringing swine! KILL ‘em!"
     Too many, though, the dead moved in, their flesh absorbing the blows rained on them.
     Thurbo's face was purple as he choked on the vomit that spilled from his lips. Cold hands closed about his mouth, sealing his lips with icy fingers as he tottered on legs that had lost their strength as he fell in a faint. A faint that would never come to an end.
     "Die! Die, yer bastards! Die!" the less fortunate Ombar cried till dead hands tugged the axe from his grip. Other hands pulled his legs from under him, dragging him to the ground as a tall, pale elf, intestines hanging like a grotesque kilt about its waist, raised the goblin's war-axe high above its head, then brought it down, crushing deep into the goblin's face, spilling brains on the cobbles in a sundered mash which nothing - not even Adragor's sorcery - could call back to a semblance of life.

Trade paperback  £6.99   $12.00

Kindle: £2.97 $4.50

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