1.5.6 – Fragmentation  

“Dear heart.” Lord Valraven took another step into the room. “Is that really you?”   “Papa–” At a run, Mariead caught her father in an embrace, a huff of breath taking the place of whatever words she might have intended. Sidelong, I looked to the lass, who stood with long fingers splayed over the tabletop, eyes […]

1.5.4 – Thresholds 

It took five strides to cover the steps of Valraven Manor. I knew it was five down to my bones, felt it seared into my heart, as I took the sixth step and crossed the threshold with my left leg, building speed with every footfall. I drove all that speed and swiftness into brute force […]

1.5.3 –  Black Shield

The night had come with a winter sunset if ever I’d seen one, turning an endurable twilight to a black, unrelenting chill that painted our breaths against the air. Mariead’s face was hidden, her mask in place. All that was visible was the gleam of starlight in her eyes, glinting as cold as amber in […]

1.5.2 – Contingencies  

We blazed our path through empty space. Our path along the base of the cliff was north and east, carrying us further into the night. My heart pulsed, marking the passage of each moment, relentless. The hum of Her living pulse ran through my body, drove me on though my mouth was dry and my […]

1.5.1 – Resource Allocation   

All through the streets, people fought to come close to Mariead. Pressed her hands as they could, or spoke to her, or touched her shoulder.   Caer Lunan was only a wee town, and it dwindled to a line of houses as we went north, breaking out of the village proper and tracing along the western […]

1.4.6 – Into the Night  

A massacre is hard work. Even a dirty fight gives you the rush, starts your heart, gets your palms itching for the next blow. But slaughter always outlasts the heat of battle. What follows is not cold; it’s numb. You’re no longer trying to survive; the fear fades, your nose gets used to the smell, […]

1.4.5 – Split Skull  

Four penitents rushed me, swords and shields in hand. Vance was the first one shouting, but he dragged his heels coming forward. The other three came eagerly, passed him by, like they’d been only waiting for someone to break the silence. I snapped about to meet the nearest.   Lass. At the moment of attack, I’d […]

1.4.4 – Thunderbolts 

In the time it had taken Mariead and I to exchange words, the shape of the fight changed again. I’d been left behind by a double-line of farmers with no shields and no armor, who’d put themselves on our front line against the penitents. Grannine’s hand was hot on my shoulder, Her breath in my […]

1.4.3 – First Rebellion  

The folk of Caer Lunan had been planning their moment of insurrection long enough to cast maces, steal crossbows, and fit handles to hatchets in preparation for some theoretical uprising where the town could pick their moment. But this had been more than a riot. The sort of thing that would be terrifying to the […]

1.4.2 – Spark To Flame  

The crowd surged forward, bodies crushing in around me. The other penitent-priest, the Inquisitor’s hand-picked hunting hound, sprang onto the steps of the chapel and drew his sword in turn.   “Loyal soldiers of the Church, to me!” he shouted.   “Get fucking back, you pack of idiots,” Blake snarled, at the same time. “Run! Tell the […]