Standing by a moss-covered cave, Silljar said, “Open the doors!”
This order spread fear into the hardened panzers, who stared at her in disbelief for a second, before they slowly, very slowly walked to the steel doors. Strong hands removed a rusty steel door bar and the sturdy doors were opened. They could feel it, everyone felt it, the reek of mold. Silljar barked an order and a wulfman with a flamethrower came forth, gasmask covering the serious face he wore underneath.
The fires flew like they came from a mighty dragon, as the flamethrower wulfman burnt the cave-entrance, lighting up the insides. Silljar stood in grim silence, watching the dark-green mold covering the cave walls, or rather tunnel walls, for those were clearly manmade, ancient yet far from crumbling. Soon, the darkness greedily filled the tunnel was all-encompassing, almost grasping upon the light in anger.
Her tail swished nervously at this sight. She never liked entering those damp, murky tunnels, nor the caves, and she hated the incomprehensibility of the creature which she was to converse with.
She drank from her bottle of Vodka, pulling deep from the clear strength-potion within the glass bottle, before ordering a sheep to be forced inside.
The sheep, decorated with sacrificial Rune-covered orange and steel-gray cloth was led to the cave’s opening, baahing in fear of the entrance as strong arms forced it forward. The sheep fought for its life, but was pushed inside the cave before the steel doors slammed shut and were once again barred.
Then came the waiting. As the strong, proud panzers listened to their sacrificial lamb’s sheepish baahing, they drank themselves to bravery, for there are things that even the mighty panzers fear. Things that can’t be killed by tanks, guns nor panzermessers. The things that make even the butcher of Sörensburg to weep in fear. But she could not weep, nor pee. For she was Silljar Panzerwulf, leader of the Panzerwulf tribe, and she had a duty to uphold.
The sheep-sounds finally died down within the confines of the cave, and only a hoarse gasping could be heard. A loud, hoarse, gasping. Like something trying to kill itself while refusing to die. Half-alive, and half-strangled.
Eyes fell upon Silljar, who in return shook her head. The time was not ready, no words had to be spoken, the panzers all understood. Ruby on the other hand, was not a panzerwulf, but a mere panzer-pup.
And the girl spoke up, “What was that? Why did you force the sh….” She was cut off by Silljar’s sudden response. A response filled with awe and honor – respect of the unspeakable within the cave.
“We sacrifice the lamb to the creature within, in an attempt to keep The Sleeping One slumbering for decades more.”
The answer seemed to make Ruby worried. Silljar pulled her close and kissed her wolf-ears while embracing Ruby. “There, there pup. Panzermommy is going down there. That is my duty. You may stay here if you want. There is no shame for a pup to stay in safety”
Ruby looked up to Silljar with fear and determination in her large red eyes. “No Panzermommy! I’ll come with you!”
Silljar felt her face turn into a proud smile. “Awww, my proud little puppy!” She ruffled Ruby’s hair with her hand. Silljar turned towards the panzerwulves and shouted, “YA HEARD THE PUP! WAGNER! TWO GASMASKS! AND GLOVES! ME AND MY PUPPY ARE GOING IN!”
Wagner saluted and walked off to his armored wagon, returning with two gasmasks and two pairs of plastic gloves: a rarity amongst the panzers.
The large rusty steel bar was removed, and the doors opened. Silljar and Ruby entered the darkness within the cave.
The fur-like deep-green mold was growing everywhere. The walls, ceiling, floors, even the lamb’s fur was already turning a bright vibrant green. Its eyes glossed over with a greenish shimmer. Silljar gasped for air as she walked past the lamb, which was in the grip of the long fussy reach of The Sleeping One.
As they descended further into the tunnels, the mold grew deeper and darker. It covered the stalagmites and stalactites within the cave. It grew everyone except upon where they walked – a path created by The Sleeping One. The sleeper let them walk without stepping on its tendrils or furry body.
The carpets of mold sprawled out in every direction now. As far as Silljar could see, arcane lamps lighted their path deeper and deeper into the tunnels, until they finally came upon the room they wanted. A room covered in screens, dials, buttons and large strange boxes. The light flickered and an odd robotic voice spoke.
“The Misspoken One has arrived. Last time, you spoke of mighty tribes and mightier tanks, yet all I see standing before me is a mother and daughter, scared of the future.”
Silljar spoke with a slight rasp, “My tribe is as strong as our mighty tanks. We are the panzerwulf. Before you, stand Silljar Panzerwulf, and my confidante: Ruby Red-Eyes. A panzer-pup.”
The odd room scared Ruby. How could Panzermutter talk to this computer screen so simply? Did Panzermutter even know what a computer was? Ruby didn’t know, and frankly she didn’t want to know. She wanted out, but she also wanted to be brave. Fearing the fears of running, what would happen to her if she did?
If it could have, the robotic voice would have tilted its head to match its puzzled response. “A panzer-pup? Ah, you have acquired another individual into your disorganized multi-individual group.”
“We will, as always, trade or raid for what we need, but what I need to know, is if you enjoyed the lamb o’ sacrifice, mighty Sleeping One.” The filters of the gasmask felt as if they grew heavier for every breath.
“This gift to me allowed you to enter. What do you want, Dying One?”
Silljar wore a mask of bravery. “I wanna know if we will run into any Tank-tribes on our way, or the forest demons.”
The answer came in the way of a map that showed the path which the panzers were to take. It skimmed the outskirts of a large forest. Silljar took the map and started leaving fast. It was a bad omen. It was the same map as she already had…
When they finally left, Ruby almost ran, only slowing at the stern grip of Silljar’s hand as she led Ruby out of the tunnels. Ruby was crying within her mask now, the filter was nearly full, her breath raspy.
The fungus rippled around them, moving in the way water does as stones break the surface of a pond.
‘’The arrogance of the individualism you show, is equal only to the decay of your mind, which in turn will feed me ever more as your bodies become resting places for my spores. The spores will feed upon you and transform you into feed for insects and dirt for further life.”
The voice spoke while Silljar pulled Ruby with her, unable to speak through her now clogged mask. Every step they took landed on concrete – the weird dark fungus moved away from their steps in strange, otherworldly movements. Like the ebb and flow of the coast it moved. A green, dark sea of stinking mold.
Ruby awoke in a bath, being cleaned by Panzermutter. “It’s over Ruby, The Sleeping One was pleased and we got some new info. So that’s good.”
About the Writer – Planken lives in Norway and views writing as a hobby to express their interests and practice their English. If you are interested in contacting Planken for more information, please contact Beaux Cooper through the Contact form.