Creston and Fox followed the screams to the village entrance where a horde of undead were gathered, scrambling to catch their meals. The villagers scattered in all directions, making it difficult for the boys to get a clear head count of undead they were dealing with. Creston wondered what all these villagers were doing hanging out there in the first place.
Creston drew his sword and uttered the magic word to set the blade ablaze. The flames danced in his eyes as he stared down the sizable horde. “You picked the wrong day to rise from the dead, boyos. Eat flaming steel, rotters!” He wasted no time in dispatching the rambling dead. If one were watching the fight, they could see flashes of bright orange flames and necrotic heads flying through the air. Of course, no one was really watching because they were too busy running for their lives.
Well, that wasn’t true. Fox stood transfixed, amazed with how fluid Creston’s movements were. Wherever he had been for the last seven years allowed him to not only practice his technique, but improve it. He had never seen Creston fight this well. It was true that his friend was a bit of a show off, making everything look flawless and effortless, but this went beyond his usual grandstanding. Creston could fight.
Fox, on the other hand, hadn’t been practicing his magic. Being under the assumption that the Skeleton King was asleep forever, he had allowed his skills to slide. He didn’t see a need to continue practicing if the greatest threat to mankind was eliminated. In this moment, it was a decision he regretted. Now the undead stood before him, just as they had before, but he was less prepared. They essentially caught him with his pants down.
“Are you just gonna stand there staring at my ass, or are you gonna help me?” Creston took this moment to wink at Fox while decapitating another rotter.
Fox’s cheeks reddened slightly. “There’s no reason why I can’t do both.”
With a snap of his fingers, Fox’s hands were engulfed in flames. He wasn’t partial to fire spells because they tended to be unpredictable under duress, but he didn’t want to spend too much time messing around. He wanted to finish this and handle the Skeleton King right away. Without his magical gear, his more refined spells were less effective. Fire could decimate the corpses much quicker and with any luck, they could still have time for soup.
Fox ignited the advancing corpses with much less finesse as his partner, but he was getting the job done. They were dropping with such ease that it was hard to believe they ever posed a threat at all. Creston was right, they were weak. If Fox could kill them with his powers in a weakened state, the Skeleton King must be feeling pretty bad. This gave him hope. Maybe he wouldn’t have to be suped up to the max to defeat him again.
At first it was strange to be fighting again, but the longer he fought, the more natural it felt. It was just like old times. He and Creston, fighting side by side- just how it should have been.
This thought reminded him of how empty his life had been during Creston’s absence. The hurt he’d been trying so hard to suppress suddenly welled up in his chest, causing it to tighten. His focus shifted to trying to keep his emotions from overwhelming him.
A corpse saw an opportunity to strike while Fox was distracted and lunged forward, its elongated jaw was ready to swallow the fighter whole. Before he could issue a fireball from his hands, the corpse was suddenly struck down with a quick slice down the middle. A cloud of ash and smoke rose where it once stood.
Fox blinked, snapping back to reality. His eyes zeroed in on Creston’s concerned expression and knew exactly what he was thinking: “You’ve gotten rusty.” Embarrassed, he offered a weak smile and nodded to indicate that he was going to be fine. He doubled down on the fire spells to compensate for earlier.
The smell of burning, rotting flesh permeated the air as the Fighters slayed the onslaught of corpses. Both acknowledged the amount of them was unusual. They just kept coming. Where were they coming from? There couldn’t have been that many dead people buried nearby. This did not bode well.
“Foxy, we’ve got to do something,” Creston said, decapitating his fiftieth rottie.
Fox knew what he meant, he had to do something. They were getting tired. If they kept fighting, they’d be overrun and too exhausted to save the villagers. He had to put an end to this now. He had an idea how, but it was a gamble. He could use up his reserve of magic energy and wipe out the lot of corpses, but if he underestimated the remaining amount of rotties, he’d be unable to use his spells for the rest of the day. It was a risk he was willing to take if it meant he could rest soon.
He reached deep with his magical stores and gathered the rest of his energy in his hands. They glowed bright orange as fire enveloped them, creating a massive ball of flame. He raised it above his head and shouted as he hurled it at the swarm of corpses.
Creston dove out of the way as the ball of fire flew past him. It collided into the swarm with a thunderous boom and incinerated them instantly. When the smoke cleared, ash rained down upon the village like a dark holiday.
There was nothing left of the undead. There was nothing left of the village entrance either. Only scorched earth and piles of ash gave evidence that anything had been there at all.
Creston stood up and gazed at Fox with admiration. “And here I thought you had been getting rusty. Why didn’t you do that in the first place? Could have saved us a lot of trouble.” He hugged his friend and gave him a tight squeeze. “Looks like The Gravy is back in business!”
“The Gravy?” Fox arched an eyebrow as he processed what he just heard.
“The Graveyard Fighters, you know, Gravy.” Creston watched Fox’s expression change from incredulity to annoyance. This was the expected response. “It’s a little nickname I made up.”
Fox shook his head. “You’re weird. You know that, right?”
Suddenly his stomach gurgled. Burninating an army of undead worked up an appetite. It was unlikely the Skeleton King would send another volley today. Maybe he could get some of Old Man Jenkins’ soup after all.