4th Horseman: part 2

The air exploded with sulfur, as it did every time the riders scorched the surface of the earth — burning through planes of time and space to crash exclusively into the four dimensions that humans called home. The smell would become as comforting as pumpkin spice cookies and then lose all distinction of joy, but currently the sizzling sulfur air ignited a raw lust in him, so fresh, so new was his experience.

The visceral sounds of war washed over him. Nearby a lance found its mark, pierced flimsy steel armor pounded and reshaped too many times. Then came the sound of snapping wood, an impact, the air being knocked out of mortal rider as he loses his mount. Fresh. All of it so fresh.

His lungs burned as he swelled to test the limits of his new mortal shell. Giddy, he swung his scythe with all the might his muscles could muster. In a single stroke the downed rider was cleaved and the earth split for the space of a few yards. Ah, he thought, I will have to do better.

According to convention, his companions crossed over before him scattering the battlefield into chaos. Upon his arrival the smell of cooked flesh already intermingled with rot and decay. He spun his weapon in his right hand, dipping it down and back, then lifting it horizontally above his head before finally lashing out at full arm’s length and releasing two heads from their earthly anchors.

He lifted his gaze toward the hill Golgotha. Upon it Famine, always mindful of his protege, nodded back in affirmation before turning his horse and galloping off to judge the surrounding lands with scale and withering hand. Injustice and Death always followed Conquest and War.

And then he bathed in the details of it all. A mongrel hound dodged a falling Muslim warrior. Rain clouds rolled in from the Mediterranean, a whiff of winter in the air, yet still a vague scent of olive lingering from the fall.

He raked his scythe low, back in front of his body with both hands, and disjointed a couple of knees from behind.  Then he wound it around to the left and unfurled it above his head for a full reaching blow which left the weapon in his left hand. The untethered head flew fifteen feet before striking a mounted knight and knocking him from his steed. It was a good shot. Something fun to share with Conquest and War later.

He spun his weapon down and back before twisting his body to take the scythe in both hands at mid-torso. His last blow had inspired him. Now he was playing around. Hearing someone behind him, he leveled a baseball style swing as he turned to face him.

Salty. He had always loved the Mediterranean because of the salt. Now, as the scene played over again in his dream, salt would always remind him of the moment he had felled his mentor, his companion in the transition — the only one who had known him before he became Death. A stoic look of disapproval, Famine, with his arm outstretched almost to Death’s shoulder, listed and fell. His upper half removed cleanly from his lower.

Death jolted from his sleep, smacked his forehead against a shelf above the head of the fetid mattress. Dust lifted from its surface as he shifted to an upright position, sending the peculiar black box tumbling to the floor where it proceeded to vibrate.

Part 3

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