daughter-father of the first recorded foo fighter, a steppe-dog surfaced from the undermorning flowed in doomsdaying and killing and ruining. they rolled their ribs among the flush weeds. beside a nearby tree leaned glinting chainmail and left-handed straight-claw bastard and shield demarcating their outlaw—no coat of arms on its dishonorable formation spikes. loosened head twisting and cracking and pulling out into jelly. sun stutters through the canopy. once man stepped into the shit-murky blood brush of the Forum he recognized the sun was always full of gaping and invisible wounds. the foreigner sings a necessary affirmation under their breath. it’s the only way to keep a breeze along. wind’s worth shit between towers tightly agonized by ten thousand years of accelerated aftergrowth. here incestuous woods decorated hateful across all territory. slumped in this year of Massive, empire from Czechia to Manchuria had already signed with a wink and a sigh the formal surrender to vines.
the steppe-dog tells themselves–today i will feel the reverberations in my sword’s hilt when i dislodge its edge from a man’s bissected skull, i’ll find the next meadow and river, i’ll drink and laze and fuck myself in both as i deserve, i’ll feed these horns with impalements, i will provide myself to the ground and God and, for the last time, that Slug. i’ll be their Stature.
Stature clutches the half-inch wide slate plated an iron parcel for transport of thigh fat sliced off the disgraced Massive from their border-village. meek pilgrim trinket, the Forum crawled over remaining churches years ago, leaving a dying hum dripped from the worthless thing as Stature grips their hand around it. the charm used to brim and sparkle for another body to parasitize. someone that would have made sense of this gruesome place, maybe, but there was no one left to canonise and the saint fat just wants fed now. Stature could hear its thrusting hungry between layers, that comes with the horns. four set–akimbo spears jut their skull-top, dual-wielding curved pikes flank on the temples, draped in a volcanic camouflage. the keratin works like antennae, these dowsing radio weapons, Stature could spill someone’s unprocessed bodyshit all over grass while still tuned close to any exegetic frequencies. they were subject to an altered process from years adjusting to the horizon resonating.
the warlord’s second captain steps through the brush. blackened oil seeps from his foot trail like always, like everyone’s a defiling of the Forum, they’re all displacements here. he stops and kneels beside Stature. the lord wants to go, come on sir, up to your feet, he said in a tone of mewling deference, caution with the cartographers seared deep in rightfully, Stature was more capable than him and the others. they crackled spine up, slim arms screeched towards the frayed teal disk framed by leaves. sea waves gone past rolling above them. the captain doesn’t look at them. Stature’s steps flattened the underpink. left serene as it should be. okay. let’s see him. i’ll provide. Stature can draw maps of this terrain that can facilitate the violence here, most others couldn’t get thirty yards in without ending up half-spirit deep in the shit and mud.
soldiers, wailing and drunking and gleaking in each other’s mouths for more bodies, sat around campfires outside the Slug’s tents. dirt in the camp turned to stricken black paste after this many days of encampment. his four captains–Stature kept a horn assigned for each of them–stood like a clip facing the baron. Stature was surveying the map they’d drawn for the band splayed before the Slug. Stature had told the Slug to order his men keep steady here. let the Forum’s arm, the yawning east-further of its total, dose on the men’s stench. this place has a gag reflex. they knew to keep movements slow, this many hot bodies thrusting and fucking and bleeding at once will make it vomit all of them through ten summers. Stature trusted their horns, you don’t disrespect a curse here, but the Slug wanted to move on someone. a stupid rival from some skirmish or pillage campaign or whatever years ago that Stature had spotted ten miles out a week prior, further over the boundary that made any other men slip under the hills where the Forum would start digesting. the cartographer refused. you can’t move us. don’t ask why. the steppe-dog was tired. the leaders always got like this eventually. the captains straightened a blank forward, past Stature and past the Slug and past the tatters in that crimson tent towards a sunset suggesting through. the Slug’s breath stank thick of scum ants and shit and horse piss as he commanded. i’m moving on him, this place hasn’t swallowed any of my soldiers yet—i don’t need you.
Stature looked up at the drowsy sunlight dripping themselves. bound in slat eyes, the cartographer drew tension in their facial muscles, a rare viewing of a mouth equipped in assorted swords shot from the gums. they should just let him go. i’m always better off when invaders like him and all their foul highwaymen and worthless rapists marching steady into the trenchmaw. Stature hesitated as they vibrated with anger and hate and exhaustion from their jaw. Massive always wants to eat so many people. it’s already spilling over with the other men Stature has helped cement into soil. they turned away with fists compressed for cruelty against the Slug’s basing spirit, his pathetic captains, his men outside fucking each other into slickened mud, the voyeur sunlight, the Forum’s rose leaf staining in bandit grease, and the collapsing world they saturated. the land-demon would only have pig and wolf shit left.
sharpened cut across his lips, the Slug returned to telling the captains where to draw any atrocity sites. refractions of the stinking mercurial alcohol pooled out Stature’s tear ducts. they shouldn’t have left their bastard at the border camp. they walked over towards the resting weapons. the Slug’s beidhänder squelched smooth from its sheath. oil shimmered upon everything here. the captains watched, then shook and fell into nasty fevers as the mercenary prepared to clear the miasma slopping the air. one of them had his sword half-drawn in a grip languid with weakness. Stature let the mile-distant blade gleam under the passing day for a moment. then, the Slug’s aging mammal fangs and nose bones were shanked down into Stature’s map gone shattering and wet dull-edge of the knight tool precision’ed through his neck meat and the parchment soaked against arterial spurting. their horns throb to that heart draining, searching for any stations.
a captain scented with soiled lilac chittered like an insect at Stature. what are you doing, you’re worth less than shit, i’ll cut you down for this you fucking animal, all stammered out as the sweat clouded his eyes. Stature craned their head, away from the body emptying out around the greatsword flat against the grub’s spine and sopping muscle, towards the defiant. there’s noble blood somewhere in that mess. son of a duke that understands how to fill a dungeon. a marauder aristocrat haha. the other captains kept themselves strict cowards, they knew better. something was boiling in their eyes as they flicked back back and through us. the horned soldier tutted at the noble’s sniveling valiance and quivering limbs and bleating bullshit, then left the Slug’s weight to sag onto the tent floor.
passing the outer border posts, Stature sank onto the familiar pressed grass. beast crickets showered far out in the nearby meadow. more useless revelations and prophetic counterintelligence was being dispensed into their horns. Massive was speaking and they gave up on transcription. another million bodies was all the saint wanted, the Forum was hungry and Massive was hungry and Stature was so sunk sick from so many eaten bodies they’d toss up anything more. as the soggy dawn crested through the shrubbery, Stature heard the main encampment swell with weeping and moaning and yelping like they were all sharing a well-fucked scavenger dog.
noon gone into the lower jungle, they gather their private armory from the barkside and walk back to camp bravo. i killed the prayer. the men are probably monstrositizing already, survey is worth dirt now. it’s time to fold into the trees. seventy men swallowed up from the hundred night prior from sprinting deep into the treeline tongues of the Forum, raving idiotic and aimless creatures, sometimes the wood could puncture chain the sever into your neck, that’s it, cleaned out and just yelps from there. servant horses whined at the far end past where that chopped apart worm was burned into the ground. Stature hoisted up on the Slug’s lover mare, mane stitched like jewelry under the leader-sun and her muscles rippled underneath, a courting flex. i’m your bride now, i killed the last one. the horse shook her head relaxation stalling in. Cradle. i hope you like that name.
the strategy and barrack tents steam up all vampire lairs as gentle and erotic thunder and turquoise rain rolls around. the men aren’t taking anything. Stature is all that’s left, and they’ll provide, but any remaining insect warriors think they’re headless and sedated. they don’t have to come. it’s alright. Stature lets Cradle start lazily floating out the border post into the Forum’s belly. they passed a charcoal pillar. an emptied out exoskeleton chipped and chatting to the rain sat at the base. a scent of soiled lilacs, oh! a noble air rests today. respectful Stature, i didn’t do this to you, my reputation did.
Stature and some few bug knights and Cradle glance into a clearing. sand ate the grass here, how long had it been? Stature dismounted and gave their sweetheart a peck. Massive was roaring near their hip. Massive, Massive, that Massive goes friction down from transmission. we found something awful.
their face was gleaming so wretched again. tears, what’s the factor? dooms making themselves known, just like me. Stature scanned towards the ground spreading itself open nearby. the alcohol on their lips and around their nose bridge and their chin was weighting. the horns pulse. Stature grips the top spears with their palms, the cursings massing to deflower whatever’s left up there. near the flatsands canyon they went an engine steadied to its gash. carp and mako sharks mummied along its bank and curing so one soldier approached and tore from the inside of a shark’s mouth, swallowing shredded gums and killing tendons whole while watching the sky with superspectrum all-angle eyes.
some schools of fish thoroughgoing torture, the salt hadn’t dissipated from their gills yet, desperat’ing fins around against a jellied air. Stature looked down the gorged meadow turfed in glass. far-flung organ deep in underground turrets swells in a whale call above to their weaponry. great stone full paths a single man wide drew byzantine to the pit’s southern lip. depths gesture between all inverted fortressing of the black alter-structure. a Castle is here, Massive shudders, more prettying fermentation licks along Stature’s cheekbones. wet sits and staining between and around and inside the iron brick below. Stature wants to lay flat on one of the wall paths and lap at it. they knew they’d taste foaming beach waters of Mediterranean only spear fishers drank.
below an eroded feudalism starts to diagram for them. Massive sighs inert. its a cut of fat inside flat metal. Stature noticed the sand spattering on their chainmail was fused together. the horizon undergoes ingestion through terrific violence colors. an axe made snakebite turns over in the further lead bunker. Cradle reared hundred feet behind and began to sink. will o’ wisps are parading and suckling the turrets. scorpion fish begin to flood up the cliff-sides. an overwatch Tower spectates as the brush-wolf officer at the opposite claws in the dirt. spectrograms of subterranean movements begin to trace Stature’s neck. the horns are tempering past low-earth. somewhere, a wound taunts itself heavy along a muzzled forked tongue and unfolding at the end of the steppe-dog’s sabatons—a dull sword.
— dagger collective is a writer and editor for surfaces.cx