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

“Cough, cough!”

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

Strong…

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.

As usual.

“Haaa…”Continue reading

“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

I walk quietly through Pamthen, looking around at the rowdy warriors everywhere, drinking themselves silly, picking fights against all and sundry, and generally being a bunch of insufferable assholes.

Pretty much like any warrior anywhere, really.

Right now, I’m not wearing my usual form. I currently look like a stout, old, matronly human woman, with wiry gray hair. I have large muscles and wide shoulders and a battle-scarred, ferocious face. I’m ugly enough that even a drunk, blind idiot wouldn’t even consider touching me. Which is just as I want it, of course. If I appeared in my true appearance in this place, I’d end up in a back alley somewhere with a string of guys taking turns to fuck me, no matter my protests.

As it is, my way is peaceful. The people I see, contestants of this meaningless pissing contest of a tournament along with their attendants and their spectators, all ignore me like I don’t even exist. I take a swig from the bottle of cheap rum I swiped from the ship earlier and enjoy the feeling of the chilly breeze cooling my face flushed from alcohol.Continue reading

I look down the hole in the mountainside.

Far below, the residential district of Alsomn lies, its surface pockmarked by the debris of AK-A-13’s exit from the tunnels. A good part of these tunnels is now in ruins. The room that contained the demon-sealing stone is unrecognizable. The frozen and shattered corpses of the palace’s guards litter the grounds everywhere; it’ll most likely be impossible to piece them back together again for a decent funeral.

And the city really suffered, too. From here, it doesn’t look like much. Only a few irregular spots breaking the maze of streets and alleys below. But I’m sure that, at ground level, the devastation is another spectacle altogether.

How many people died beneath these boulders? They were peacefully sleeping alongside their loved ones, their families, when all of a sudden, disaster struck. How many parents lost their children? How many wives lost their husband? How many households lost all their possessions, crushed beneath the stone?Continue reading