The Dead Never Really Die by Gus Beringer ’18

Dirath Pathor tore through the woods with all the speed his small elvish legs would carry him. Three massive orcs pursued him on armored war horses. They hunted the trail Dirath left in the deep undergrowth of the forest. Dirath glanced back at the quickly approaching orcs. They were only two minutes behind him, and fast approaching. There was no escape—he needed to use it now. He took his knapsack off of his sore back and meticulously pulled out a parchment scroll. Dirath adjusted his glasses and carefully read the scroll line by line. When he finished, he put it down next to his knapsack. He grabbed his short Oaktree wand from a holster on his hip. The elf began to chant.


        As he continued to chant the phrase, a glow emanated from his wand as dozens of soldiers from wars long ago raised themselves from the ground. The zombie soldiers formed a protective circle around Dirath. The outermost layer advanced slowly, undeterred by the cavalry. They marched slowly, but Dirath directed them strategically. The three orcs charged at Dirath in a single file line. The zombie forces focused on the first horses. They drove their swords through the predictable cavalry charge the first two Orcs attempted. When the horses fell, the soldiers drove their swords through the hearts of the downed foes. They didn’t stop—they rummaged through the dead bodies tearing limbs out of sockets trying to get whatever they could. The last orc crashed through the defensive line. The zombies beheaded the charging orc, but the horse stampeded directly into Dirath. He dropped his wand and crashed to the ground. Immediately, the zombie soldiers fell. They sunk deep into the ground, with a hope they would never be called again.


Dirath wakes up lying in a comfortable bed. The first thing he sees is a gnome girl looking at down at him with a grave concern. She notices his futile attempts at movement. “Be careful, you’re not ready to get up yet,” she tells him with a soft voice.

        Dirath barely murmurs a reply, “Where is the scroll, where is the scroll, where is the scroll?” He struggles and fails to get off the bed.

“All your belongings are by your bedside. You’ll need to rest a few days. Don’t worry, you’re safe here in Luquaith,” is all Dirath hears as the girl leaves his room. He doesn’t know where he is; and more importantly, he doesn’t know where the scroll is—he needs his scroll.

He rolls over to the side of his bed and sees his knapsack sitting on the floor. Inside he can barely make out a piece of parchment sitting on the top. Relieved, he rolls over onto his back. Dirath closes his eyes and concentrates on internal meditation. A powerful sleep envelopes him. He doesn’t open his eyes for several days.


When Dirath eventually wakes up, he feels powerful and uniquely rested. The strongest traces of his injuries have disappeared. He quickly gets off his bed. He leans over and scans his knapsack to be sure everything is still there. Dirath still isn’t sure where exactly he is or what he needs to do. He puts his knapsack on his back and sneaks through the small building he woke up in, as quick as he can. He doesn’t see anyone. Dirath opens the door and enters the town. He only sees desolation; numerous houses trampled and no signs of life remain.

Suddenly, a voice from nearby shouts at him in a forced whisper. “What are you doing out there? Get inside!” Dirath turns his head and sees an old gnomish man leaning out of a wooden house. He sees desperation in the man’s eyes and scurries into the house. Inside he sees dozens of gnomes; men, women and children cower in fear.

“Who are you, why are you not hiding from the beast?” the man almost shouts at him.

“I’m only a traveler to this land, I woke up in the hospital and wa—,” Dirath manages to get out before the old man shouts to the ground. “Blast it, the injured were left behind in the chaos. Someone must rescue them before the beast eats them all.”

“I might be able to help you all. I have experience fighting beasts. I was injured in a fight with evil orcs. I killed three of them, but a horse charged through me and landed me here,” Dirath tells the room.

“This is no mere orc. The abomination is evil incarnate. You cannot defeat it,” an elderly woman rebukes him. “The creature destroyed our village, which was under arcane protection until it broke through the magical incantation.”

Dirath sees the opportunity before him. He needs to find the beast and destroy it. There is no other option. “Thank you for your advice. But I must see this beast driven before me. I will defend this town where arcane magic failed.”

Dirath leaves the house and reexamines the desolation. He climbs the side of a house and gets to the highest point of the pitiful town. He spots two similar paths that could only have been caused by the beast. There are monstrously large marks in the ground. The set of tracks both lead into the west. He starts onwards towards the tracks.

As he leaves the town he notices a group of horses cowering in a stable. He gets out his wand, points it at a horse and chants in a deep elven voice.


The horse’s eyes glow yellow, but only for a second. He opens the stable and the horse follows him, under his command. Dirath mounts the horse and sets off into the woods, following the tracks with earnest speed.


They follow the path through fearful woods for hours until he meets a wide entrance to a cavern. He tries to beckon the horse into the cave, but it refuses. Dirath pulls out his wand and chants his spell again, but to no avail—the horse still refuses. A powerful arcane protection surrounds the cavern. He must continue alone. Dirath dismounts his horse and enters the cave. He summons light from his wand to give vision in the pitch darkness. The tunnel gradually twists and turns into the depths of the underground until the tunnel pours out into a room.

Inside, he sees the beast. He immediately recognizes the powerful figure of a dark giant bear, an abomination from the hells that leaked into the physical world. Its power is unmatched in its own dimension, but in the world, it finds itself fittingly unnatural. The unstable monster stares at Dirath. Its eyes bleed a deep red and Dirath immediately moves back, points his wand and chants.


A protective barrier forms in front of Dirath. On the blue glow of the shield, curtains of red blood flow. The bear roars and charges at Dirath, but he is already chanting his fatal blow.


Three orcs rise from the ground. They surround the beast on all sides. They drive swords through the abomination at all angles, through all planes. As the beast collapses he breaks off his chant and approaches the groaning bear. He grins as he puts his wand to the defeated monster. He doesn’t say anything. He focuses all his might on becoming what he hates. What he defeated.

As he focuses his rage on the bear, their eyes both begin to glow. All of the dark powerful energy enters Dirath. He exits the cave with more hate and corruption. The power of the bear utterly consumes him. He no longer needs his horse for speed; hate drives him now. He rushes back to the town.