Thursday, August 9. 2012
Let me tell you a tale of a man, a man we'll call Jack
Two great wars Jack fought in and two great wars he won.
Women threw lilies, men shook his hand
The land herself praised him, this man we'll call him Jack.
This is a tale about how Jack settled down.
For Jack one thing was missing to make his life complete.
A woman he dreamed of in his nights alone.
With looks of a princess and strength of a queen.
And so Jack resolved to search until he found,
this woman to make his own.
He hired the greatest horse, and wore his greatest cloak.
Set off did he, to search our beautiful land.
To the rainy west he went first. The floods though drove him on.
To the south he travelled next. The sun hid snakes and poison lips.
North he came, but only dead whisperings greeted.
Finally east, but amongst the crowds he never saw her.
Home Jack went disheartened and alone.
Two long years he'd lost for naught but scars.
He stopped by chance in a place you know well.
A town we now call dead.
By chance he caught her, amongst the shadows of the town.
She was fair upon the eye but with a will to rule.
“What is your name?” he asked, burning with curiousity.
“The ending,” she said sternly.
The town burned and became what we call dead.
She fled and Jack followed.
And where she stopped death entered
until Jack came with his flame.
He hounded her across moors and roads and forests.
They met again amidst rain and thunder.
“What is your name?” he called, flanked by soldiers.
“The ending,” she warned.
They came at last to the holy mountain.
No one remembers why it is holy but they know that it is holy just the same.
She crept amongst the pilgrims and they fell to their knees.
They faded like embers when he marched across.
Finally he trapped her at the top of that holy mountain.
“What is your name?” he begged, desperate for some small favour.
“She turned her head in that way women do.
“You asked and I told you, you followed and I showed you,”
“I don't understand,” said Jack, so close to her he came.
She relented to him there and gave him what he wanted.
They touched in the darkness and Jack beheld his dream.
And Jack screamed.
Tuesday, March 8. 2011
The man on the rack tilted forward. “Let me tell you a story,” he moaned.
Three characters once gathered by a lamp post. They were each a different world. A scholar, of proud bearing and rich dress, he came from the highlands to the north. A farrier from the south, he reeked of iron and dung. To round out the cast, there was a bonepicker. A quiet woman, where she came from nobody knew.
They gathered beneath a burning gaslight on a warm summer night. They gathered to tell each other stories, stories of truth, of fiction and between. For just as one was honest so was the next a liar. The farrier always went first. He told his tale thusly.
Continue reading "Gaslight Tales"
Tuesday, January 25. 2011
A child’s wailing rose from the crowd. It was ignored. People thronged the great gate, surging back and forth along the road. Traders, slaves and soldiers of fortune, all of them mingling with little heed for each other. The guards, overwhelmed, had abandoned the gate instead watching the mass from the walls. Beyond them lay the noise and stench of Abrogal, greatest and only city of the North.
Into this mess marched a column of tired, dirty pilgrims. Behind them trailed great knights, clad now filthy tabards. Priests tried to clear the road for their charges but their voices were cracked after days of hymns. The crusaders kept watch from the rear, too concerned with the horizon to help. Exhausted, the group halted there, waiting for space to pass into Abrogal. Then a single unmarked horseman broke ranks.
Continue reading "A Crusader's Rest"
Friday, January 7. 2011
Two men paced the corridor. The greater man bore a great mustache. Grey streaked his hair. His expression made him look half-asleep. From a door they passed arose groans of pain. The scent of fetid blood flooded their nostrils. It went well with the crimson wings emblazoned on their tabards. Their dress was simple, their leathers silent as they walked.
“The keep was attacked again last night,”
It was the smaller man who had spoken. Unlike his master he was cleanshaven. His head was far from bare though. Entire litanies of text were tattooed into his flesh. The name Dia featured often.
“Dia protects,” murmured the great man.
They reached a stairway and journeyed down.
A sad heap of a man lay in a chilly cell. An old woman tended to him, seeming a stark oddity amongst these warriors and their bleached tabards. The pair so recently descended did not spare a glance, busy in private conferral. Eventually the old woman left. She paused to offer a word to the two then quickly moved on. They stepped into the cell. Damp air accosted them as they surveyed the prisoner.
“Wake him,” said the great man.
Continue reading "A Crusader's Fall"
Wednesday, December 22. 2010
Metallic claws ripped the lock apart. The door crumbled away, its last splinters viciously kicked in. An iron face peered inside. It sniffed the air, scanning the squalid room for occupants. Then it turned to speak to another.
“This one’s empty too,” Hel said.
An early morning mist hung about the village. It rolled lazily between the houses, coating everything in insidious dew. Snow lingered, every so often sliding from a rooftop. Hel was a shade drifting through the streets. Moisture dripped from the blades coating his fingers. The metal flowed and receded, forming a spheroid in his palm. He squeezed it tightly before slipping it away. When he ended his shaping chant silence descended eagerly. There were signs of life in the huts and houses that comprised the village. Scattered baskets here, discarded clothing there, even a mouldy old cheese hidden under a bed. In one forgotten corner he found a ragged doll. It seemed just a bundle of wool and knitting but something made Hel take it with him.
His companion waited for him outside. By contrast to his stalking she strode about as if the village wasn't even there. Neither the mist nor Hel's waving the doll aroused a response.
“Want a dolly?” he grunted.
She gave him a dumb look.
Hel was used to Tatula's staring by now. He moved on knowing she would follow.
Continue reading "Dregs of Winter"
Wednesday, December 1. 2010
The room was warm. Raw magic sparked, lighting up dripping walls. They illuminated a work table lined with bones and cured flesh. An array of knives sat in one corner, gleaming and unused. Heparan sat in his favourite chair, a forgotten book in his lap. He stared expressionlessly at the doorway. A drape had once hung across it, keeping out the draft of the tomb. Every once in a while Heperan would mutter to himself or raise a hand to draw idly in the air. The air that shimmered with rising heat. On the floor in front of him glowed ancient runes. Heparan sank a little deeper into his chair. One by one the runes faded. He was losing.
The intruder still stood in the doorway repeating the same request he'd asked an hour ago "I'd like to know about Tatula."
Tuesday, November 30. 2010
Continued from Training IV
The chain resisted his magic but eventually snapped.
The last of the prisoners slumped free from his restraints. Hel propped him against the wall. He squinted at Hel dully but showed no signs of life. Hel had checked his heart beat three times. He slung the man's arm around his shoulder and led him towards where the other two survivors sat.
One watched them, a smile on his lips “Hey Jack, you're alright now, eh?”
Hel set Jack down, putting a thin blanket around him. The talkative survivor leaned across and patted Jack on the shoulder. He was the prisoner who'd cheered them on. An old man named Ambrose he'd identified some of the other prisoners, including Jack.
“He'll be alright now sir, won't he?”
“It's Hel. He'll be fine once we get him fresh air,”
The third survivor stared sullenly at the floor. She'd not spoken a word since Hel had pulled her off the necromancer. Despite the situation Hel couldn't help but notice her features. Beneath the layers of grime and malnutrition lay a very pretty girl.
“Hel?” Ambrose had a troubled look as he considered the name.
Hel grinned wryly. “Yep, only to necromancers though,”
Ambrose chuckled. “Were you a demon I couldn't care. Anything's better than those monsters,”
“The ghouls? They're down,”
Ambrose shook his head and pointed. There on the other side of the pit Darken stood. His back was to them and he was speaking to a black robed heap. Hel could not make out the words but the tone was unsettling.
“They're not human, Hel sir,”
“What do you mean?”
“The things they were doing to us, to me,”
Ambrose took a deep breath. “They had a... a tube with...”
The woman whimpered. Hel immediately leaned down, patting her shoulder comfortingly.
Ambrose shook his head again, wearier than he'd been a moment ago. “I don't want to think about it Sir Hel,”
Hel was still looking at the woman. “It's ok,”
“They made us watch! They'd wake us up each time! It was-” The panic rose in Ambrose's voice
“It's ok. You're safe,”
Hel noticed Jack was sobbing quietly. He left the girl and awkwardly patted the man on the shoulder.
“Everything's going to be fine,”
“It's alright Jack. The Guild's come see? Just like you said they would,” Ambrose said, his voice quavering. Hel hovered between all three, unsure of how to comfort them. The sorrowful moment was broken by a howl.
Continue reading "Training V"
Tuesday, November 9. 2010
Mauri’s nails dug into the dirt. With aching care he pulled himself another few inches. A howl sounded near him and he froze. Someone cried out, just a few meters away. Then bone snapping and flesh tearing. Mauri couldn’t breathe. There was a gurgling sound. It was terrifyingly cheerful. Then it was gone. Mauri glanced up briefly. There was the outline of a body lying still. Nothing else. Mauri took a deep, choking breath and began to crawl again.
Continue reading "A Crusader's Tale"
Wednesday, October 13. 2010
“And you are?”
Jiori made a show of inspecting the book. The sound of pipes drifted lazily into the hallway.
“I'm afraid there's no Visitings listed. Very sorry,”
Jiori snapped the book shut. His other hand tightened around his dagger. The foppish young man in front of him turned to his date.
“Baelnorn loves to tease me,”
A gloved hand lifted, opening palm out towards Jiori. The doorman peered at the gold for a moment, brow arched. Then he scooped up the bribe and bowed.
“Welcome to Locanda Oulle,”
Continue reading "Dining Out"
Tuesday, October 5. 2010
Continued from Training III
The torch burned out. Darken flexed his fingers. Fire traced its way down his arm before settling on his hand. It lit up a dark hole in the side of the mountain. Tracks led to and from, many tracks. Darken took a step inside. Hel hovered in the entrance uncertainly.
“Coming?” Darken whispered.
“Yeah, just a second,”
Hel fumbled with a tinder box. Sparks flew from his efforts and he caught one, willing it to grow. When he opened his hand there was a small flame wavering in the palm of his hand. He unwrapped his iron next and with a chant of shaping wound it around himself as armour. His flame died with the shift in focus and he had to relight it.
“Right,” He said finally.
Hel took a step inside. The night slipped away. The air chilled. The passage was dry and musty. Ancient stone slabs were laid out beneath his feet. The walls shivered at his touch. Darken took slow cautious steps, passing his lit hand through the air. Hel followed, mystified. He tried to reach out with his senses but the stench of decay that had soaked the village was thick here. Everything seemed to burn with energy. After a few paces Darken stopped short, touching something in the air. Hel squinted. “What... is...?”
“Defences,” Darken replied, tracing invisible lines.
There were footfalls from behind. Hel turned, metal forming a blade in his hand. Nothing.
“We can pass now,”
Darken led the way.
Continue reading "Training IV"
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