Dark Temptations by Bruce Evans
The Scarlet Crusade lost many men and women after the battle with Darion Mograine at the Light’s Hope Chapel. Daris, an orphan boy from a nearby village, worked alongside the town’s Undertaker from dawn until dusk preparing the dead bodies of the Scarlet Crusade for their eternal rest.
“It’s the least we can do for these great heroes,” his master would always say. Daris was still young, still learning. While making an incision, Daris nicked the intestines of a dead knight, the stench was like week-old milk mixed with hot vinegar.
“Daris! You idiot boy, think before you slice!” his master hissed.
Daris looked at the floor, shielding his nose and mouth from the smell, nearly vomiting.
“It was an accident,” he muffled through his hand.
“Even so, this man lost his life protecting the Plaguelands. We must treat him with care.”
“Who was he fighting?” Daris asked, color returning to his face.
“The Scourge,” His master replied, “they were in service to the Lich King.”
Daris stared at the body on the table before him. The soldier was tall, well-muscled, but pale from death.
“Where will the dead Scourge be buried? In the catacombs as well?”
“IDIOT BOY!” His master screamed as he hit Daris with the back of his hand. “The catacombs are only for those who died in service to the light!”
Daris fell back, knocking over bottles of embalming fluid. The chemical smell filled the air. Daris felt a throbbing on his cheek. He stood without taking his eyes off of the floor. He wiped his face on his jacket and cleaned the formaldehyde.
His master finished stitching the soldier. Together they wrapped the body in fresh linens. Daris wheeled the body down to the catacombs and placed it on fresh stone. He left without looking at the other bodies.
The sun was setting as Daris closed the chapel doors behind him. The smell of week-old rotting corpses from the battle lingered in the air. The bodies of the Scourge lay beyond the gates of the church, at the bottom of the hill. Daris looked left and right, he was alone.
He sneaked to the pile of undead soldiers. They were tossed about, a mix of tissue, bone, and armor. Daris approached the cadavers, standing motionless as he watched. In the pile he saw a smaller skeleton, its gray skin still intact. He walked closer and saw it was a boy near his age.
Daris stood for a long time. The sun had set and the crickets chirped wildly. A cold wind blew across his face. Daris reached out and grabbed the dead boy’s hands. He pulled. With all his might he pulled. Finally, the body came free. The skeletal corpse tumbled on top of Daris. He scrambled out from under and vomited. He stood, held his breath, and threw the corpse on his back. Together, they made their way towards the woods and Daris’ hut.
Daris buried the boy behind his small hut. Every night he returned to the pile and retrieved another soldier until the small pile of bodies was no more. He took great care in sneaking linens from the church. Body after body, he buried them outside of the holy eyes of the church. There he was tempted by the dark ways of the Scourge and began his journey into the world of the undead.