The Deadlord walked through the graveyard, frost and the frail bones of rodents crunching under his black boots. Headstones stood on all sides like rows of broken grey teeth. Moss and lichen spots clung to their faces like rot. As he walked, the hard turf parted and hands draped in pale, peeling flesh fumbled in the cold air. The dead dragged themselves up, standing on corpse-white legs to greet their king.
There was no joy in it. The Deadlord looked over his motionless flock with hollow eyes shining green in the soft moonlight. His heart was empty, blacker than his charred soul. He met the watering eyes of each of his subjects, daring them to resist the threads he had woven through the shadow realm, binding them to his will. His bright, vacant eyes met no resistance. What was command worth without someone to resist and test his strength.
His eyes flashed, catching sight of the great man. He was tall with a barrel gut and broad shoulders. The titan marched through the ranks of the risen. Every step seemed to peel back the shrouds of shadow and death from his form. The Deadlord could feel the thread begin to fray.
The titan held his gaze. There was hunger in his frozen white eyes. He had been a slave to greed in life. The Deadlord could hear echoes of his hunger reverberating in the shadow realm. Hunger for food, drink and flesh.
The titan’s great ham of a hand closed around the Deadlord’s neck, drawn to the scent of his blood. Living blood. He hungered for it.
‘Thank you,’ the Deadlord said, his voice like fallen leaves turning to mulch underfoot. He raised one hand between them, palm out. The grip around his neck tightened and his lungs burned for breath. He touched his palm to the titan’s chest and felt the thread snap. The great man’s flesh drifted away in grey-green strips. He dissolved in a thick pool of brown muck around the Deadlord’s feet, pale yellow bones sticking up through the slime.
‘Anyone else?’ the Deadlord asked, looking around at his motionless, blank-faced subjects. ‘No? Let’s be off then.’