NOTE: This is a much longer story than originally anticipated, but I felt that Yorick deserved the love. I hope all those that read this enjoy it, and are not put off by the length. Thank you.
Morning rose over the small hills of north-eastern Valoran. Bright beams pierced the rolling mist, gently landing upon the green drenched land before settling upon the numerous tombstones that speckled the hills.
The tombstones were well kept and cleaned, with the plots of the dead given much respect that some of their inhabitants may not have received in life. Statues of winged guardians and crying figures adorned some, while many were simple slabs of rock, with only a name and a memory etched upon their stony visage. In the middle of this peaceful land for the dead, upon the highest hill, stood a large mausoleum.
The Final Rest Memorial was a mausoleum that housed many of the local kingdom Demacia and various lords of the lands' remains. Its ceiling was flanked about by lofty, marble pillars that were gilded and etched with numerous and intricate designs. The doors were of a heavy oak, beautifully varnished to a shine that rivaled that of a grand jewel. And if the outside was of any opulence, it was out done by the sheer size and scope of the tombs that lay behind and underneath this building. The hallowed halls of the dead held exquisite sculptures of the men and women of Valoran's past, their deeds told through grand epitaphs and the sheer treasures that were buried upon their corpses. Such nobility lived with splendor. It would be fitting they were buried with it.
However, such decadence was not matched by the man that lived in the humble but quaint cottage that was nestled upon the grounds. Beautiful bits of ivy and roses grew around it, with the windows opened to let the beautiful morning in. The inside of this home was just was cozy as the outside. Sparse furniture was speckled upon the few roomed home, worn by years of use and enjoyment from generation to generation. The fire in the mantle roared with life, with portraits of loved ones dotting it's perch. At the far side of the house, a young and humble man of a stout physique began steeping leaves of his favorite plant deep into a pool of hot water, before he slowly sipped of it. His face made a grand smile, only made larger by the padding of tiny feet that lept towards him.
"Poppy!" two young boys cried, grasping tight to their father's leg. "Oh my! I seem to be attacked by two small thieves! Whatever I am to do with them!" Yorick laughed. With a quick motion, he lifted his youngest son into his arm, and kissed him gently, and proceeded to do the same with his eldest son.
"Poppy, please! I'm too big to be picked up now," the eldest said with a rather matter of fact tone to his voice. Yorick eyed his eight year old boy, laughing inside of how much Bartram reminded him of himself when he was that age. "Ah, let your old man fool himself then for a few more years my boy," he said, mussing about Bartram's hair. "Now, Halu, go check on your mother to make sure she is well."
As his youngest son scampered off to check on his pregnant mother, Yorick took a large shovel that lay near the entrance of the home, and began to prepare for a day's work. "Come along Bartram! You and me have a few new arrivals to prepare for," he said, putting on his cloak and cap.
Yorick stepped out into the brisk and crisp autumn air, breathing in the scent of the world with joy. As he stomped out to the grounds, he heard his son jogging to catch up, in various state of dress as he hustled to match the stride of his father. "How many today poppy?"
"Only three I think. But one for the mausoleum, so I'll need you to be very watchful for thieves today. Understood?"
He nodded with a smile, which sparked a joyous face on Yorick. He was proud of the man that was growing up to replace him in the long line of Mori men that guarded the sacred graves of many dead men and women. As he held the ancient wooden handle of the family shovel, he pondered the many grooves and dents upon it left by his forefathers for so many generations. How many of them were made in anger or sorrow? By accident when training their heir? Which was made on the eve of great joy, or on the morning of immense sorrow? He prayed that the notches he made would be small, and made from his constant use and not in a spiteful feeling.
Yorick approached a small gap among the graves that he had sized the day before for the young girl that was afflicted with the cursed plague that had descended the land as of late. With a heavy sigh, he broke the once undisturbed earth, knowing it would soon swallow the poor soul that was taken too soon from this world. His son began to move the cart Yorick filled with the dirt away from the place, but slowly stopped when he saw the tombstone that was placed next to the plot.
"Poppy," he whispered.
"Was she...was she really that young?" he said sadly.
Yorick frowned, knowing that the poor girl of only four was the same age as his little brother Halu. With a heavy sigh, he pulled his son into his side, wishing nothing more than to comfort the dark thought of losing his little brother away. But he knew that was not the only sad thought on his hand.
"You know your mother will be alright, right Bartram? The healer says she is showing much better signs and that the medicine she has been taking, and that she isn't afflicted with the plague. Whatever has ailed her, he is sure it hasn't affected her or the baby in a major way."
He caught a glimpse of tears on his son's cheek, quickly wiped away for fear of his father not thinking him a man. "I-I know that...It's just not fair at times. I don't want someone like her to die that I know."
"Hush now. It's alright, it's alright. We deal in the ferrying of the dead into their eternal rest, now don't we son?" Yorick slowly knelt upon the freshly turned dirt, looking into his son's eyes. "Look at me now. We must be strong for those that come here, shouldn't we? They must see that their beloved are in the hands of strong men, like you and me," he said calmly.
Bartram nodded slowly, catching his breath and regaining himself. "Yes Poppy. I'm sorry I cried."
Yorick smiled and held his son tightly. "It's alright. I know you meant well." He lifted himself up, and hoisted his shovel upon his shoulder. "Let's finish our work, shall we? Then we can go in for lunch."
The sun slowly crept across the sky as Yorick and his son continued the work for the day. As it came to an end, the creaking of wheels and a horse was heard approaching. "Ah. Their seems to be the precious cargo for the day."
Yorick approached the driver of the bodies. "Evening Jonathan. I see you brought my passengers?"
Jonathan looked at Yorick with a some disdain. "I wish you would stop acting like you're shuffling them around. The damn are dead, ain't like they know what hole you're going to plop them into."
Yorick bit his tongue to silence himself. He did not particularly care for the lack of care that Jonathan had with the dead, nor his crass way of calling them corpses when he felt they deserved some dignity. "Well, that's just how you feel. Anyways, let me get my son, and he'll help us with the three you brought-"
Yorick looked at Jonathan in puzzlement. "Two? I was told three! One for the local cobbler, a crypt for the noble, and one for the little girl-"
"Yes, well, as you can see-" Jonathan dramatically waved his hand over the two adult size caskets, "-their is no child. She was tossed into an oven, her tainted and plagued ridden body rotting with the disease to be destroyed. No one wants that spreading worse than it already has."
Yorick felt disgusted over this. "But, that poor girl! She didn't do anything to deserve that to her body! And as it stands, the noble I hear passed of the same illness! Why aren't they tossing his body along with hers?"
"Cause, Mori, he's a NOBLE. You know. BETTER than us," Jonathan scoffed. "Don't matter to me none I suppose. Just help me get this lot out of here. Last thing I want is his lord and highness to get me sick."
Yorick unhappily unloaded the noble's body from the cart, and with a mighty heave, lifted it unto his own cart that he would wheel into the mausoleum. "Bartram, show Mr. Jonathan where the cobbler is to be laid. I'll tend to the earth for him after I place this man into his crypt."
"What about the little girl Poppy? Will we take care of her-"
"Forget about her, damn it. Just take care of the poor soul here," he snapped.
He lurched forward, pushing the coffin into the crypts that lay deep within the earth. As he opened the doors to the mausoleum, he felt the stale air rush out, undisturbed for almost three years. He fumbled about the wall, finding a small lantern that he lit, allowing him to see the ornate resting places for the wealthy about him. Slowly, dragging the coffin, he walked down many tunnels that seemed to stretch like the devil's fingers themselves. Among the walls, Yorick could feel the bodies rotting. Their corpses, undisturbed, rustled only by time itself. How at times he envied such rest. He could only hope that he too would be allowed such a graceful and well earned sleep. But only after he completed his time on this world, caring for those that needed help being moved to their final resting spot.
Finally, as the smell of the earth became almost too much, he found the place in the wall where he had made earlier for the noble. "So it be, my good sir. So it be here, that you lay for eternity," he muttered. Normally he held the moving of bodies in much higher reverence, but he was till enraged over the burning of the little girl. How is it fair that this bastard is allowed burial and she isn't, he thought bitterly. As he hoisted the coffin up and slid it into the side of the small room, he began to chuckle. Look at me, arguing within my mind about a damn corpse. Oh what my father would think. While he slowly made his way back up to the surface, he remembered the fairy tale curses he was told, on how his bloodline had to fill the quota for the dead, no matter what, and other such nonsense to scare a small child away from doing something dastardly. Or in his father's case, fear that his only son wouldn't take over the family plot. Never had to worry about that father, Yorick thought. Never really thought I could do anything else but this.
Yorick exited the mausoleum, and found his son waiting for him patiently. As he closed the door and locked it behind him, he could hear the carriage of Jonathan rushing off into the darkness. With a heavy sigh, Yorick took the hand of his son, and walked back home.
After dinner, Yorick quietly took off his boots and changed into more comfortable clothing. He tucked his two sons into bed, and after they fell asleep, he slowly walked into his room to see his wife. "Hello dear, how are you doing?" he asked gently.
Ariel smiled, her rail thin face almost breaking from the effort. "Evening love. I'm doing well tonight." He quietly leaned over and kissed her upon the lips, and placed a hand upon her womb, feeling his growing child. "Any day now, I think Yorick. Then you'll have another son to raise. Sure you can handle the dirty diapers alone for a bit?" she muttered sarcastically.
He tried to force a smile to hide concern. "What makes you think I'll do it alone? After you give birth, you're gonna be right back to your old self. I promise. That means-" he said, pulling up his tattered pants, "-that a whole bunch of pants will need mending."
His wife eyed his pants, and began giggling. "Oh my heavens...Yorick, did you try to stitch those yourself?"
Yorick blushed, quickly putting his pants back down. "Well, they were ripped. And I didn't want to bother you, so I thought-"
"My goodness, it looked like a blind man tried to fix those with only one hand!" she laughed. They both laughed at the poor seam-try skill of Yorick. It was sadly interrupted by the violent coughing of his wife Ariel, her hand becoming bloody from the strain her body was under bearing this third child. Yorick saw her blood, and quickly rushed to fetch her water. "Here dear, drink!" he said with fright in his voice. She slowly sipped the water, and very quietly squeezed his hand before her eyes fluttered and she fell once more to sleep.
Yorick gently tucked Ariel in, his face bearing a great frown as he walked over and collapsed in a chair next to the bed. He had began sleeping here a few weeks ago, when he realized that his tiny movements caused her to wake and lose precious rest that she so desperately needed. With a loud sigh, he watched her breath uneasily, before he too was immersed in the land of slumber.
Yorick awoke abruptly from his sleep to the sound of screams. His blood ran cold as he recognized it to be the scream of his little boy. Without a moments rest, he dashed towards the door, grasping for his shovel for protection and his lantern to guide the way to his beloved little boy. "HALU! HALU I'M COMING," he screamed, rushing towards the shouting.
His feet stumbled through the low hanging mist that had swallowed the night, his creaking lantern the only source of light for miles it seemed. Yet he saw two small lanterns appear before him, with the shouts and yelling of two grown men running away from his son. "LEAVE THE DAMN BODY, WE GOTTA GET OUTTA HERE," he heard one scream. "We can still do this! Let me shut this damn whelp up real quick," replied the other man, his voice panicking. Yorick's eyes grew wide when he saw the two men, each clad in black cloaks to hide their bodies in the night. He still couldn't see his son, but realized what the one man meant that he would silence his son as the man pulled forth a long dagger.
"STAY AWAY FROM HIM YOU BASTARD!" Yorick screamed in rage. With his shovel in hand, he lept towards the man with the dagger. He caught him off guard, and slammed his make shift weapon across the head of the bandit. The bandit fell to the ground with a thud, his body beginning to pool blood around his body. The other bandit quickly reacted, brandishing a small mace, and rushing at Yorick.
He lifted his shovel, intercepting what would have been a fatal blow. With a quick kick to the man's chest, Yorick was able to shove the man to the ground. A powerful, sadistic rage filled Yorick, and he rose his shovel high, slamming it hard upon the bandit's skull. THUD! Bits of skull flew into the air, but Yorick wasn't finished. He screamed a loud, and continued to bash the head of the man. More flesh was scattered, and before long, Yorick and his shovel were covered in more of the man's blood and flesh than the man's own skull. Finally, he drove his shovel deep into the man's throat, as if to finally sate the thirst for blood that overcame him.
Just as quickly as his mind became frenzied, it was refocused with the screams of Halu. He turned toward the voice, screaming, "Halu! I'm here!" and rushed towards his son.
"Poppy," he heard his son whimper. As Yorick approached his son, his mind began to reel in horror over what he saw. The casket of the late noble that perished to the plague lay opened and toppled upon his son. The rotting carcass was bloated, with bits of blistered flesh still festering from the disease. And laying under the casket and toppled body, was his son Halu, crying for help.
Yorick quickly covered his mouth and nose, and with a mighty heave, tossed the body and casket off his son. "Take your clothes off son! Quickly!" he cried. His son obeyed, fingers shaking, trying to fumble his clothing off. Soon enough, Yorick had it piled upon the casket and body. He quickly rushed over to the bandits' bodies, and grabbed one of the lanterns that they had used to help guide them in their plundering of the dead. As he fumbled to relight it with his own lantern, he rushed back over to his shivering and naked son. Finally, he was able to give the lantern a spark, and then promptly thrust it upon the clothing, body, and casket.
Soon the smell of burning flesh wafted through the night air. Yorick ripped off his shirt and draped it around Halu. "Halu, look at me. Daddy is here. It's ok," he cried, holding his son tightly. He felt his son shiver and sob, each whimper breaking Yorick's heart even more. "I'm so sorry Halu. What happened?"
"I-I heard voices outside. I knew you said to Bartram to be lookout, and I wanted to help. So I ran outside, and saw the scary men caring the body. I tried to stop them, but they saw me and dropped the coffin on me. I was so scared, I screamed, Poppy. I'm so sorry I didn't stop them-"
Yorick squeezed Halu even tighter. "It's ok, it's ok, it's ok! My sweet, baby boy. It's ok." Finally, as the body began to burn into a pile of ash, Yorick picked himself up with Halu, and gently carried his son and the bloodied shovel back home.
As they approached the house, they were met by the rest of the family. His wife screamed in horror at the sight of her naked child and bloodied husband. What little strength she had was spent holding Halu, weeping with him over the ordeal that Yorick explained to her. Soon, as dawn began to creep over the hills and touch the now smoldering remains of the would be thieves, Yorick was able to lay his wife and child to bed. With a heavy sigh, he took a bucket of water, rinsed his families heirloom shovel off, and headed back to the hills. It was to be a busy day.
"He hasn't stopped vomiting for days now dad. Shouldn't we call for a doctor?" Bartram said. Yorick and his eldest watched in pain as Halu continued to cough and shiver in his bed. It had been three weeks since the incident with the thieves. Yet the anguish that night would cause was only beginning. "He'll be fine, I pray. Besides, the doctor said that there's nothing we can do more than what we have. Keep him to his room, wear your cloth mask when you enter with his food and water, and continue being the good brother I know you are," Yorick gently whispered. Bartram nodded, and quickly placed a small mask upon his face lest he catch the deathly plague that had beset his younger brother.
While Yorick began to make arrangements and plans for the work day that lay in front of him, his mind began to wander into a dark and hideous part of his thoughts. The idea that he may very well have to bury one of his own children. He tried to push the thought away, and drink his favorite tea, but his hands shook rapidly in turmoil over the idea of laying his sweet baby boy Halu into the hallowed earth. Quickly though, his mind was returned to the now as he heard a yell from his bedroom. He began running to the room in an instance, paying no mind to the fact that his cup now lay suspended briefly in mid air before crashing upon the ground below.
"Dear! What is it?"
"The baby...the baby is coming-AAAAAUGH!" she screamed.
Yorick stood in a daze, trying hard to think and do what needed to be done.
"We'll get you to the doctor's immediately! I'll bring the cart around, and I'll pull you into town-"
His blood went cold as she screamed in pain. He knew then they did not have the time to get to the help needed. "BARTRAM! FETCH ME SOME WATER AND CLEAN SHEETS!"
Yorick rolled up his sleeves and quickly rushed to assist his wife. To his horror, he saw copious amounts of blood leaving his wife's body as she tried to deliver their child. "Breath for me, I need you to breath, and stay calm. This will be over soon. Just listen to me!" he said, hoping she could not hear the shaking in his voice.
"Yorick...I don't feel right. Something is wrong-AAAAAAAAAAAAUGH" she moaned, her entire body contracting in agony. "It's ok baby, it's ok...Everything is fine," he lied. "BARTRAM! I NEED THOSE RAGS NOW!"
Time seemed to slow to a crawl. Blood splattered more and more upon the bed sheets, the deathly screams of his wife filling the house with a sense of dread. Without a moments notice, Yorick saw the head of his newborn child emerge. "Here he is! Push Ariel, PUSH!" he screamed.
With one final lurch, Ariel screamed and pushed the baby into the world of the living.
Yet there was no cry. Yorick held his newborn son, yet no breathe was seen. His eyes filled with horror, and he rushed him away from his wife's eyes. "No, please, no my sweet child. Don't do this. Don't leave this world so soon," he wept.
But no amount of moving or holding his son helped. He was dead. His small body was limp, skeletal in nature. It was as if he was a victim of famine, so small was his frame. Yorick felt tears stream down his face, wishing nothing more than to scream.
He turned to his wife, who he now realized was deathly pale. "Oh god...Ariel!" he screamed. As he ran to her side, he saw her eyes droop close. "-Yor-Yorick?"
"Yes dear, I'm here. Stay with me, please! Stay with me!"
"Yorick...our son," she said in the faintest whisper. "I-I can't see anything...is he-"
She began to trail off, her body failing as her life left. Yorick slowly grabbed her hand, and brought it to his stillborn son. "He...He's beautiful. He's so beautiful. Like new fallen snow," he lied.
Tears fell from her face, as she gently touched her child. "I can't hear him Yorick. What's wrong?"
"He's...he's just quiet it seems dear...his eyes are like yours. Beautiful, and kind. He's so beautiful love. Just like his mother," he sobbed.
She smiled as her face was covered in tears. "I'm so...happy....that he's...."
"Ariel? Ariel! ARIEL!"
Like a piece of cloth being pulled upon her, the life within Ariel was covered by death. Her breathing had stopped, and Yorick could do nothing but weep has he held his dead family within his arms. "Oh God, Ariel....why...WHY!" he screamed. His tongue could not even form the words to curse the gods above, for his mind could only reel in anguish. To his horror, he heard sobbing in his sons' room as well.
Yorick felt numb. Slowly, he rose himself from the side of his wife, and gently placed the baby within her arms. As if in some dark trance, he walked out of the room and down the hall, his very soul already dead inside from what he knew was about to be seen.
He stood outside the door of Bartram and Halu's room. As his red shot eyes glazed over the scene, moments and images flashed with every heartbeat, out of order and synch. But the message very clear.
A hand that lay dangling at the side of the bed.
Blood filled sick splattered across a body.
Bartram sobbing hysterically.
Halu's empty eyes.
A broken bowl of food and water.
Yorick could cry no more. Instead, his body felt as if it was washed over with cold water, dragging him deep into the depths of the abyss.
"God deemed it fit, I see. A fair, and justified action against a man who so diligently buried and cared for the dead. Fitting, I suppose...that I should bury three. Fitting...that the only gift I am offered, is death."
Many years had passed since the death of his wife and two children. Yorick had turned from a young man of hope and joy to a bitter creature, with spite and anger filling his every bone. Still, he buried the damned to their rotting and festering resting place. With every body he dragged deep into the catacombs, he buried a bit of his love and kindness, till all but a small portion lay buried deep beneath the earth. The only love he held anymore was for Bartram, his one thing of joy that still existed.
Yet even he was to be taken away from him soon.
"Father? Father!" Bartram called out into the catacombs. Bartram had grown to a young man. He had become every bit as handsome and powerful as his father had at his age. Yet his eyes held a glimmer of joy that seemed more akin to his mother. It was these eyes that seemed to haunt his father the most. It wasn't enough it seemed for Yorick to be reminded of his lost ones by their tombstones that lay near the house. The poor man had to be reminded with the last living child he had as well for what he had lost.
Bartram turned when he heard the shuffling of his father's feet, and the creaking of the old lantern that he had began to strap to his back for light. His father appeared out of the inky blackness, his face riddled with a scowl that had not left him since that wretched night so long ago.
"What is it Bartram? Much work to be done. Many bodies to be handled today. I have a few more soldiers on their way now, so if you could-" he trailed off. He noticed his son was in his full militia gear, and not his normal work clothes. Bartram's mature features and strong body made him look the gallant knight of Demacia if there ever was one. But to Yorick, he was not a soldier. He was his baby boy. And it seemed due time that he was called to his duty.
"I see...come to leave your old man behind, eh?" Yorick chided.
"Father, you know I wouldn't go if I didn't feel that it was my duty-"
"Psh, duty! Your duty, you say. What about your duty to me? I need my heir to help me out with these damn corpses!"
Bartram stood in silence, knowing it was best to allow his aging father to have his talk. He watched in sadness as the man he adored had become the husk of anger and sorrow that hobbled before him today. Slowly, as his father muttered more and more about honor and duty, they left the catacombs for the outside spring air that lay above them.
Finally, after a long amount of wordless conversation, Yorick let out a loud sigh. "I just don't see why you can't stay with me. Find a nice girl. Have a few children. Take up this land around us."
"I will Father! Let me be my own man though, that's all I ask! Let me return as a hero!"
"What if it's a corpse, like so many other soldiers that we've buried as of late!?" Yorick wept. Bartram was taken a back by this sentence. He knew his father was not keen on him joining the Rune War that had begun to rage between Noxus and Demacia, and even less as the bodies began to pile in their graveyard. But, for some odd reason, it never occurred to him that his father feared not that he was leaving him for his own path, but leaving to return without breath. A corpse, beret of life.
"I-I never...no. I will not. I will not return a dead man Father! I shall return victorious! And we shall drink and work til the days are long when I return," he said with a triumphant voice.
His father quickly grabbed him tightly, crying into his son's shoulders. "Just promise you'll return to me. I can't lose you. I can't lose you!"
Bartram held his father tightly, allowing him to shed his tears. "Never fear dad. I shall come back. I love you too much to be away, no matter the case," he said with a faint smile.
Finally, with their final goodbyes, he began to walk down the long and winding path of the family graveyard towards the nearest town to join his comrades.
Yorick watched as his son's shadow danced upon the blossoming trees that lined the hills, growing ever longer as the sun set into the cool night. His heart grew heavy, wondering if he would be allowed to hold him one more time. To see his beautiful eyes that were so much like his mothers once more.
Alas, poor Yorick. It would not be the case.
The cold fingers of winter's bite slashed at Yorick as he stumbled through the harsh driven snow. His eyes squinted through the blizzard that raged around his hunched frame, it's blistering frigid air ripping his coat and hood into the air. Yorick slammed his shovel deep into the frozen earth, his fingers almost frozen solid as he worked tirelessly to ready the graves for the new bodies. The earth would not give way so easily though, and for hours he toiled to make ready one simple grave. Yet he pressed on in the storm, his shovel freezing to his hands, moving like clockwork to disturb the ground that the snow so desperately tried to conceal. He almost didn't hear the crashing of hooves approach, so faint the noise was to the howl of the winter beast.
Yorick turned to see Jonathan once more. He walked slowly to the carriage, his face frozen it seemed forever with a grim look of bitter thoughts. Jonathan often remarked how ironic it was it seemed that in the end, he was more cheerful of seeing the dead off than Yorick was. He always was met with the same dark look, silencing the man.
However, this time, it was not just Jonathan with a few caskets to bury. "Ho, Jonathan. What fresh hell have you come to deliver me this time," he spat. He shuffled quickly to see the two lurking shadows next to Jonathan.
The hairs upon his neck rose when he realized they were Demacian soldiers, each wearing a solemn face. He looked over to Jonathan, who's face was wrought with worry and uneasiness. "Jonathan..." Yorick muttered slowly. "Why are there soldiers with you?" He slowly glanced into the back of the cart, and noticed it held only one passenger to the afterlife. "And why did you only bring one person when I was supposed to receive..."
Yorick trailed off. The wind screamed about, but made no noise. His heart was beating quickly, yet each beat felt like an eternity passed. Every step he took towards the coffin was thousands of miles it felt, each breath being icy daggers digging deep into his body. With a quivering hand, he brushed the freshly fallen snow away from the carving that would bare the name of the dead.
SERGEANT BARTRAM MADIEUS MORI
The world went black to Yorick. He fell to his knees, unable to sense anything that was happening. It did not matter to him anyways. The world was gone, for all he cared. There was no more reason to live.
He felt Jonathan gently touch his shoulder. "I-I'm so sorry Yorick...I don't know what to say."
Yorick slowly got up, the wind once more rushing around him, as if trying to sweep him away with it. He slowly grabbed the coffin, and drug it away. He walked towards a small plot of graves that held the remains of his family, there tombstones covered in the white death that fell around him. It didn't matter if he couldn't make out the names. He knew which ones by heart that belonged to his wife and children.
Jonathan and the two Demacian soldiers that came to give Yorick the remains of his son watched in silence. The man before them merely shoveled one more plot next to his families, silently and without pause. Finally, after what felt like hours, Yorick made the grave for his beloved boy.
He looked at the coffin, his face in anguish over the thoughts of never hearing his laughter again. To never see those beautiful eyes once more, or to feel his warm embrace that gave the only warmth that Yorick knew. "You broke your promise, my sweet, sweet baby boy. You broke your promise," he cried. He gently wrapped his arms around the coffin, squeezing it tightly. "But I promised you, so many months ago, that I would hold you one more time...and even though you broke your promise to me...I can't break my promise to you."
As night set, Yorick finally lifted the coffin up, and gently nudged it into the accepting earth. With each shovel full of earth he covered the casket with, a bit of him was buried with it. Soon, as the last patch was placed, Yorick felt what little happiness he had locked far away into the ground below.
"Yorick...please come inside now. It's freezing out here, and you'll catch the death of cold," Jonathan yelled out against the deafening winds.
"Leave me be," Yorick snarled.
Jonathan stopped, almost hesitant to approach further. Yet he did not wish for his friend to be left alone in this state, and begged, "Please! Yorick! You must come inside!"
"Why!? What else do I have to live for!?" he yelled.
"Your families promise, for god's sake! The Mori's have always watched over this land! What would your ancestors think if the last Mori was found frozen to death outside-"
"TO HELL WITH MY DUTY! I HAVE DONE MY PART, AND I AM CURSED STILL WITH SORROW AND GRIEF!" he screamed. "YOU WANT ME TO CONTINUE MY DUTY! THIS IS WHAT I THINK ABOUT IT!"
With a quick motion, he lifted his ancient family shovel, and brought it down upon the unmarked tombstone of his son, shattering it into many pieces.
Jonathan could only watch as Yorick screamed into the night, tossing the remains of the shovel far away from him. At last, Yorick could no longer scream, and fell to his knees once more in silence before the graves of his loved ones.
"Just...leave me be. Let me be alone Jonathan for a while."
Without another word, Jonathan slowly walked back to his horse and cart. As he and the soldiers ready their return, he looked over one more time to Yorick Mori, his body motionless against the cold winter's night. With a loud sigh, he drove his horse away, into the darkness that had swallowed the land.
Somehow, in the back of his mind, Jonathan knew that in the morning he would return. And when he did, he knew that he would be the one to bury Yorick Mori, the last of the Mori men, and the final caretaker of the Final Rest Memorial.A cold and heavy mist rolled around the newly arrived body that lay upon the dark forest floor. Carrion birds gathered upon gnarled and rotting branches above the corpse, eyeing with glee at what they hoped would be a bountiful dinner. Just as they began to swoop down to devour their meal, the man's eyes opened, an eerie yellow glow emitting from them.
The birds reeled in shock over their moving dinner, and swung their dark wings in fright away and back into the deep and cursed woods of the Shadow Isles. As they screeched and cawed into the eternal night of these lands, the newly awakened damned man slowly began to take in what he saw about him. His body was numb and cold, void of any beating heart. His silence was not interrupted by the sound of breath. He looked about, seeing various shadows with devilish eyes it seemed peer at him from the wretched blackness that surrounded him in the forest. Ancient and rotting trees towered above him, their once lively branches covered in moss and festering mold.
As he looked down at his lifeless body, a sense of dread arouse in him.
For firmly clasped within the dead hands of Yorick Mori, was his families shovel.
He only stared at the shovel, his eyes livid at the cursed tool that he thought ridden from. Finally, after some time, he rose from the cold earth in the forest clearing. He had no idea why he was in this place, nor why his shovel had been magically repaired and placed within his grasp once more.
Without hesitation, he heard a chilling voice. "Yorick Mori...Yorick Mori...you have much to do, my precious caretaker," said the ominous voice. It was high pitched, a voice that would make a living man's skin crawl in both fear and ecstasy. Yorick felt himself captivated by the voice, and slowly shuffled through the trees toward the source.
Eventually, he found himself in a clearing that held a towering and decrepit old church before him. It's tower lay in disarray, the shingles and wooden planks fallen and scattered amongst the forest floor. The dark wooden doors lay unhinged, laying crooked upon their ancient stone frame. As he walked inside the church, he saw the pews overturned and covered in centuries worth of dust and decomposition.
Yet the altar stood alight with numerous candles. Adorning it was numerous skulls and dead bodies, hanging in various arrangements by some cruel, sickening architect. Crimson blood stained the altar, giving it a truly unholy sensation.
And standing behind it, with an ancient tome in hand, lay a rotting corpse in elegant, black robes.
"Ah...welcome, my child, to the Shadow Isles," the figure said with a disturbing sweetness to his voice. He held aloft a gnarled staff, beckoning Yorick to come closer.
"Who are you," Yorick said in a deep and growling voice.
A harlequin smile creased upon the corners of the man's face, showing his jagged and black teeth that held his silvery tongue behind them.
"Why, I am the great Deathsinger of the Shadow Isles, Karthus, the High Priest of Death!" he sang with tribulation and fanfare. "Behold, my brother, your greatest gift has been given to thee!"
Yorick slammed his shovel into the ground with anger, screaming, "What gift!? Why am I hear, and why the hell am I not buried next to my loved ones!?"
Karthus continued to smile, thumbing gently through the pages of his book. "Why, it says here Yorick, that you are a Mori! And, as a Mori, you and your family for GENERATIONS have watched over the Final Rest Memorial, have you not?"
"What has this to do with anything?"
"EVERYTHING!" Karthus hissed with excitement. "You see, your family didn't receive that plot of land so many years ago without a price. An arrangement it seems was made, from what I'm reading here, that a Mori man would watch over and bury the dead til the quota of bodies was fulfilled," he said.
"And, as it stands, it seems YOU were the last Mori man to be in charge of it, were you not? And, as it ALSO stands...you have no living heir to take up the task of burying the dead."
Yorick struggled with what he heard, his body growing tense as he could sense his impending doom being laid before him. "Why then am I here," he asked slowly, trying to show no fear that had begun to grip him.
Karthus erupted in a screeching laughter, rattling the rafters high above. "Why, you must fill your quota, gravedigger! The denizens of The Shadow Isles have always had SUCH a hard time letting go and enjoying the sweet and intoxicating liquor of Death! We need a man of your caliber to fill a specific niche in our WONDERFUL community. And since your ancestor was so quick to accept the land that cursed your bloodline, we think it's due to us that YOUR end of the bargain is fulfilled!"
Yorick looked upon his shovel that he gripped with deadly strength. He felt himself trembling, somehow knowing that what the deviled priest declared was true. If he was to leave and earn his final rest, he knew that must fill his quota. No matter what that number be.
The days turned to months. The months to years. And years to centuries. All across the vast expanse of time, Yorick Mori delegated himself to his eternal duty. Forever it seemed, he dug the graves of the dead that refused to accept their fate. Sometimes, he made graves for those that still held air in their longs. Though that did not last for long.
As time went by, Yorick Mori's life faded from his mind. All he knew was to shovel the earth away, so that he may lay one of the many bodies he was given to rest within the cold dirt. Yet on some cold nights, as he shuffled among the dead trees with his shovel in hand and an ancient lantern dangling upon his back for light, he would hear the whisper. It was a beautiful voice, so faint that no one but Yorick could hear it. With every moment it spoke to him, though unclear in what it said, Yorick would weep. He could only sense the importance of the voice, but never fully understand it.
Finally, after many centuries went by, Yorick felt a call that he DID understand.
The League of Legends.
The hallowed halls of this grand institute was brimming with various characters of differing states of life, now including the likes of Yorick. He was called there with the promise of his lost life and memories being returned to him, as well as numerous bodies that needed burying over and over and over again. He could fill his quota to his hearts content, and all he had to do was to whisper the dark secrets that the other denizens of The Shadow Isles spoke in hushed tones.
One night, after a particularly nasty battle in which the fate of a small outpost in Ionia was determined in, Yorick felt himself gazing out towards the night sky. He often would wander outside the halls that held the summoners and champions of the League, wishing nothing more than to hear the faint whisper of the woman he heard within The Shadow Isle.
Suddenly, he heard it. For years, it lay silent. Yet he heard her now. With an even greater shock, her words were uttered into his ears, understandable.
"Yorick....come to us....find us once more, my love," it cried upon the wind.
With some dark conviction, Yorick began to walk in a direction that would lead him to parts unknown, or at least, unremembered. Tirelessly, the undead gravedigger lumbered across the land of Valoran, never stopping for the weeks it took him to reach a small, deserted town far north of Demacia.
He walked across the overturned and reclaimed roads that snaked between fallen stone buildings. Yorick knew this place. He felt his mind race, moments of a time long gone, racing through his mind. Images of dancing and drinking at one building, of buying and bartering at another. Moments of rest here, moments of sorrow there. What was this place to poor Yorick, he did not know. Yet he continued to march down the road, following the wind that guided him deep within the woods that lay before him.
After an hour, he walked upon a cemetery. His heart sank into his stomach, knowing that this place was of grave importance to him.
Numerous tombstones lay upon their sides, the coffins they stood vigilant over dug up and ripped apart by gravediggers long ago. Skeletons lay scattered among the stones, their sanctity spat upon by thieves of old. Upon the highest hill, and old crumpled mausoleum stood, it's once beautiful statues torn asunder by the passage of time. Further from it, the small remains of what appeared to be a cottage struck from the ground. Yorick began to walk towards the house, tears falling from his face for some unknown reason.
He began to hear the laughter of children pierce the dark night. Ghostly images played out in his thoughts before him. Beautiful young boys that ran between the tombstones, being chased with glee by a father figure. As he entered the ancient house, he saw torn portraits hanging upon the shattered walls. Each oiled face seemed to scream of it's importance, begging Yorick to remember them.
He finally left the building, feeling himself reel from the memories that he should have, but unable to recall fully.
Yorick turned quickly around his environment, the world spinning out of control. He began to stumble about, feeling himself cry uncontrollably. He wandered more, til finally his poor soul could not take another moment.
Falling to his knees, he clutched his head, shaking himself vigorously as thousands of voices and past moments of life screamed at him. "Quiet, quiet, QUIET! I can't take this anymore! Why have I been brought here! What source of damnation is this!" he screamed. "I've buried the dead, I fight for the League! WHY HAVE I BEEN CURSED TO FEEL ALONE IN A WORLD THAT SCREAMS FOR ME!?"
He sobbed in his hands, wishing for nothing more than an answer.
"My beloved Yorick...you AREN'T alone," came a gentle voice.
Yorick stopped crying. Slowly, he lifted his head up towards the enchanting voice that sung such sweetness into his mind. He brushed the bitter tears from his glowing eyes, growing numb from the tombstone in front of him.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF ARIEL AND DANIEL MORI. GONE, BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN.
With a gentleness that had not appeared from him in quite some time, Yorick touched the tombstone. He glanced over at the few tombstones that lay undisturbed next to it.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF HALU MORI.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF BARTRAM MORI. MAY HONOR FIND YOU IN THE HEREAFTER.
Yet there was one more epitaph that stood next to them all. It's grave was dug, the previous inhabitant ripped from the sweet and eternal caress of the earth.
His hand shook as he brushed away the filth that had a cured upon the stone, his eyes growing wide in shock of what he read.
HERE LIES YORICK MORI. BELOVED HUSBAND OF ARIEL MORI, AND FATHER OF BARTRAM, HALU, AND DANIEL. MAY HE FIND HIS DUE REST IN DEATH.
"I-I had a family...a wife...children! How could I ever forget," Yorick whimpered in a stunned stupor.
"You were loved, my sweet Yorick."
Yorick turned to the tombstone of Ariel. "Ariel? Is that you!?"
"Yes, my love! I have missed you so," she sang in bliss.
"I have missed you too...you were taken from me...so long ago...you and the boys-" he trailed off.
"We were. In life, we were taken from you unfairly. But in death-"
"What are you trying to say?"
The sound of laughter that was euphoric to Yorick came from the voice of Ariel. "In death, we can be together once more! We have waited so long for you, my love! Free us! Free your wife and child! Let us see you once more!" she sang.
In a daze, Yorick quickly dug his shovel deep into the graves of his family. Finally, after hours of work, Yorick had unearthed and removed the coffins of his family.
With a firm smash of his shovel, he tore apart Bartram's coffin.
Out from the coffin arose a ghostly figure. It's face was grotesque, it's body translucent and deformed beyond measure. Yet it's eyes. How Yorick knew those eyes. Not even a death in war could dull the beauty of those eyes.
With haste, he opened the casket of Halu. The grizzly and yellow rotting body seemed to crawl, and then float, about Yorick. Though a deadly plague of pestilence took him, Halu was forever loving to his father.
Finally, as Bartram and Halu hovered about their dear father, Yorick began to open his wife's coffin. From the dark confines, a small, reddish corpse clawed out. Daniel, the son he never was able to know, slowly levitated towards Yorick. He looked deep into the small boys eyes, and gently held him. Soon, he felt the cold embraces of his other children. It did not matter how they looked to him now. He knew what they were to him. And Yorick loved them dearly.
"I told you father," rasped the ghostly ghoul of Bartram, "-I would not desert you. Never shall we be apart."
"Indeed. Never again shall we leave you, Yorick," came the voice of Ariel.
Yorick looked over once more to the coffin. But instead of a ghastly ghoul, a spirit seemed to gracefully float towards him. He watched in awe as her beauty lay preserved. Suddenly though, her face became rotted and decayed. Within moments, it changed back. Yorick stood amazed at the sight. His wife, wrongfully taken by death, lay once more before him.
She gently kissed and embraced her husband for the first time in centuries. It was tender, as if both were afraid that anything more would dispell the miracle that was happening before them.
"Now, Yorick. We must help you uphold your grim slavery to the damned," Ariel said solemnly, her face changing to and fro from beauty to decay.
Without hesitation, Yorick's children rushed into the maw of the lantern that lay strapped to his back, their souls binding to the ancient relic. At last, Yorick saw his wife too join his children.
Now, to continue your dark duty Yorick. Together.
He heard her thoughts within his mind. Alongside her, he beamed with joy at the sounds of his boys happily laughing at their unholy reunion. Together at last, after so long.
With that, Yorick looked upon the Final Rest Memorial for one last time. He lifted his ancient family shovel once more upon his back, and made way towards The Institute of War.
There were many bodies to bury there. And at no matter the cost, he would fulfill his obligation, and allow his family the eternal rest that was deserving of them.
Slowly, he shuffled off into the night, the dark mist swallowing him and his spectral family into the eternal abyss. And at for the first time in it's ancient history, the Mori cemetary lay just a little bit emptier.
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