'So this is how it ends.'
Kate wasn't afraid, nor angry or sad. She didn't feel anything at all as the black steel pierced her belly and attached her to the wall behind. It had been a powerful stab that had lifted her feet off the ground, but strangely it didn't hurt. Her hands curled around the jagged blade, she could feel blood gushing out of her, perfectly synchronized with her beating heart.
The greenskinned warrior who owned the blade grinned as her body started to twitch uncontrollably and pulled at the bloody hilt to retrieve his weapon. A part of her brain diligently filed away information after information, but it felt strangely detached from her. 'Shouldn't my life flash before my eyes now?', she asked herself as her vision started to blur. There was nothing of that sort, but an emotion manifested: Annoyance. She had been on her way back home, having bought all the neccessary items for a satisfying dinner. Sam and Emma where waiting for her. Her head dipped as she felt something moving at her feet. The plasticbag with the rolls of toiletpaper was torn and released its content to the concrete.
Kate hoped that Sam would check this time before taking a dump or he was into an unpleasant surprise.
She lifted her head once more, a movement that took every ounce of willpower she had left. The warriors grin had changed into an expression of disbelief: Between his ribs stuck a bloodred blade, emitting an ominous black smoke. The massive body of the warrior slumped against her, trapping Kate beneath a mountain of muscles. The last thing she saw was the shadowy figure of a knight, pulling it's sword out and marching away, a black cape billowing behind like a cloud.
'Oh, the cavallery is here', Kate thought, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. Then she fell into nothingness.
'Lancelot, did you get all the strugglers?', Ludvig eyed his commander, who kneeled in front of him.
'Yes, my lord!'
'Good.' Ludvig let out a sigh and brushed absentmindly through his ashblonde hair, a telltale sign for how tired he was. The gatebreach had been unexpected and the Association of the Awakened didn't inform him right away, but Ludvig knew better than to blame someone else for him being late.
'How many casualties?', he asked.
'Fifteen. The cleaning squad is about to handle the corpses of the civilians now. General Aylin oversees the process to make sure that the orc warriors remain in place.'
'Very well. As soon as the squad is done, I will begin the ritual. Good job, Lance.“
The knight bowed. He could feel the distress of his lord, knew how painful it was for him to have to acknowledge the death of fifteen civilians. Even though it wasn't his fault, he would feel responsible. Out of the corner of his eyes, Lancelot saw him pressing the heel of his hand against his eyes, but he straightened up immediately. He was the Lord of the Dead! That title didn't allow for weaknesses. Being undead, Lancelot was immune to human emotion, but even though, he remembered feeling worried as he was alive. He knew that he would feel worried now, too. Without another word, he stood, turned around and left his master standing in the middle of the battlefield.
'My lord, the cleaning squad has left the perimeter.' General Aylin, once the queen of a graceful race the humans called elves, bowed deeply. She had been a sorceress before Ludvigs army of shadows overwhelmed her, the most skilled weaver of destructive mana. Now she served the man who killed her tribe, but it didn't faze her. As soon as his call pulled her soul out of the nothingness, she had only felt loyalty to her new master.
He raised his hands and chanted a spell, binding the land to his domain. Every soul in the vicinity now rested on unholy ground, captured between the physical world and the swirling nether. Orcs made excellent shadow warriors because of their exceptional strength and endurance. Ludvig would need every edge he could get, since the gate activities had drastically increased in the last months.
'Arise!', he shouted and the souls that littered the broken street complied. Between burnt out cars and long abandoned houses they shuffled near, hulking shadows holding the form of their former lives. They lined up in front of Ludvig, row after row, beasts with thick chests and bulging arms, clutching shadow versions of their preferred weapons. They kneeled.
'You are soldiers of the Lord of the Dead now!' Ludvig proclaimed. 'Enemies in life, you will serve me in death! Return now to the Land of Shadows, where you will await my call!' As soon as he said this, the shadows in front of him turned into translucent mist and disappeared.
Darkness. This wasn't the absence of light, this was condensed nothingness. Kate was drifting, or maybe she was completely motionless, she didn't know. Did she have a body? Kate tried to move her hands, but either they wheren't responding or she didn't have them. 'If this is the afterlife, it's a bummer!', she thought. There was no light at the end of the tunnel, in fact, there wasn't a tunnel. Or anything. She didn't know how long she was here, could have been seconds, could have been an eternity.
Speaking was impossible, feeling was impossible, seeing was, too. This sucked.
A single word, spoken as a command. Kate felt a shudder as her soul responded without hesitation, floating towards the source of the word that filled her whole being with joy. Sound, colour and sensations flooded back to her in an instant, but hazy, with a cushioned quality. 'What's going on?' Her legs moved without her consent, she marched side by side with other people she didn't know but felt strangely familiar with. Lifting her head she glanced at the huge guy next to her. He glanced back. Kate felt like being hit by lightning. 'You killed me!', was what she tried to say, but no sound escaped her lips. What was wrong with her? Why couldn't she talk? And why couldn't she control her movements? The orc warrior hold her gaze, looking as befuddled as she felt. 'What the hell?' Kate stopped and knelt down. Another glance told her that everyone had done the same. She was now crouching in the shadow of her murderer.
Then she heard the voice again: 'You are soldiers of the Lord of the Dead now! Enemies in life, you will serve me in death! Return now to the Land of Shadows, where you will await my call!'
Before Kate could process the meaning of those sentences, she noticed that her body dissolved. Unbelieving, she stared at her hands turning a pearly grey and then fading into mist.