I open my eyes only to find myself suddenly assailed by a feeling of intense vertigo. Almost as if I fell asleep sitting on a chair balanced on its two back legs, and all of a sudden, it tilted backward, and the drop woke me up.
I look frantically around myself.
I’m… inside an iceberg. A toppling, splintering iceberg.
No, wait. Inside that gigantic ice spider of Akasha’s, rather. Except that it’s breaking to pieces. And lying right next to me, in a growing pool of blood so black I have goosebumps all over my arms and my instincts scream danger at me the moment I see it, is…Continue reading
A wooden valley, deep in the Karna mountain range that forms a natural border between the kingdoms of Athur and Selden. It’s roughly in the northeastern quadrant of the human continent, and nothing marks this place as meaningful in any way.
Few people know that beneath the valley’s floor lies one of the Emperor’s secret laboratories, where the Taint and the demons it produces are studied. Even the researchers working there have no idea where exactly the facility is located.
I, however, know. I escaped from it, after all. And though it was two centuries ago, my memories of that time have not faded. Not in the slightest.
Karim too knows. He’s the one who provided me with the exact maps, blueprints, and schematics of the facility. His last coded message also informed me that he suspected other labs were slated for construction in the near future, but the Emperor hasn’t shared their locations with him, yet. Perhaps, he never will.Continue reading
Three years spent on the run.
I was supposed to head to Alsomn, burn Adkins’s house down around him, and rescue my little sister from his clutches, in a feat of extreme and cathartic violence. I would give everyone involved a taste of their own medicine. I would plant their severed heads on spikes. I would free the captured princess. We would ride off into the sunset and live together, happily ever after, far from any danger.
It didn’t happen that way. At all.
The world is not that kind.Continue reading
Ten years after our escape from the laboratory, I think I can be forgiven for forgetting that we were ever being hunted. After all, there has never been any sign of the people after us getting close to finding us.
Those ten years were even quite enjoyable. They gave lie to the doubts and fears I harbored that day. It took a while to settle in, and it still ticks me off that I have to see Thelyron’s face every single day, but Akasha’s presence more than makes up for that.
Really, the only dark cloud hanging over our heads has been Akasha’s disease getting progressively worse with time. I harass Thelyron constantly to push him to find a cure before it’s too late, but this incompetent bastard still has nothing to show for it even after a decade of effort.
I can see it’s eating him inside. As well it should.Continue reading
I raise my arm and hold my sleeve against my nose and mouth to try and avoid breathing in the smoke. An alarm rings stridently in the distance, and fire is spreading everywhere. The room – no, the prison – that housed me for the past two years has already disappeared behind the curtain of flames.
I shudder to think what would have happened to me if I hadn’t left in time.
“Nerys, this way! Hurry!”Continue reading
Hunting for a traitor is hard work.
And to make things worse, it’s not the kind of work I can delegate to my subordinates. Otherwise, I open myself up to the risk of that very subordinate being the traitor and spending the whole time they’re supposed to be investigating covering their tracks. And then coming to me with a report implicating someone who’s actually loyal.
The universe might just spit in my eye like this. It has that kind of sense of humor.
No, better to do it myself.Continue reading
The Major is strong.
My arms ache as I swing my sword one more time. Even in my current state, it’s far and away a cleaner, stronger slash than I’ve ever managed during training. This fight has pushed me past my limits time and time again.
However, my sword is once again deflected. Before it can reach its target, an invisible force pulls the blade to the side.Continue reading
Uncle Finram flies fast, even while carrying me along. I have to squint my eyes against the wind. It only takes us a few seconds to reach the harbor.
When Uncle Finram is about to head down, however, I feel his body suddenly stiffen, and we swerve to the side. The change in direction is so abrupt I almost feel sick to my stomach, and my neck stings from the whiplash.
We alight behind a tall warehouse’s wall.
“Uncle, what…?” I start asking while rubbing the back of my neck.Continue reading
With a breathless gasp, my eyes snap open. Panic and terror filling my heart, I sit up and frantically look around myself.
The sight of a darkened room greets me. For a second, my fear only grows. Where is this? What am I doing in this unfamiliar place? The darkness feels cloying and threatening, as if it’s about to swallow me. But then, reason reasserts itself, and my uncontrolled heartbeat slowly returns to normal. I wipe cold sweat from my brow with the sleeve of my shirt.
My sleep was not particularly peaceful, today.
“She shall be honored as a martyr put to death by these heinous criminals, enemies of both humans and majin and reviled by all. Never will we submit to their repulsive designs! No matter where these cowards may hide, they shall be found, and they shall be destroyed to the very last!”
I listen to the child’s ridiculous speech as he extols the virtues of his dead sister and condemns the evils of, well, me. The contents enter in one ear and leave out the other, but I take great care to carve the face and voice of the speaker in my memory, for future reference.
The son of Wayland Adkins.
There will come a day when I drown him in his own blood.Continue reading