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

“Fuuu… Haaa… Fuuu…”

The room is utterly silent save for the sound of my breathing. In and out, regularly. Carefully controlled as I bear the strain my training puts on me.

With each inhalation, the amount of qi in my dantian replenishes. I then immediately send it flowing into my meridians. Once it’s evenly distributed throughout my whole body, I let it slowly seep into my muscles, my bones, my flesh, my organs. Stabs of pain shoot out as all my cells tremble. Beads of sweat, sometimes tinted red with blood, leak out of my pores. My brows crease and my teeth clench as I bear with this suffering.

But it’s worth it. Each cycle strengthens me minutely.Continue reading

I watch through Akasha’s senses as the wall approaches in front of her eyes, almost faster than I can see. I understood what she intended to do while she ran through the tunnels for the first time, but I still can’t help but flinch when she slams into the wall. I feel cold sweat on my brow at her recklessness, but Akasha herself is imperturbable. There is absolutely no hesitation, not even a tiny scrap of fear or anxiety to be seen in her demeanor. She seems perfectly confident that, if she uses herself as a cannonball against that mountain, the mountain will be the one to shatter first.

As it turns out, she’s right.

In a single instant, she plows through a dozen meters of solid stone, shaking the entire mountain and coming out the other side, into the open air, free-falling toward the city of Alsomn below.

(Unbelievable…)Continue reading

“Haah, haah, haah…”

In a room deep below Alsomn’s royal palace, I gulp down labored breaths of air as if they’re the single most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted in my life.

Right now, they might as well be.

Large drops of sweat are flowing down my face, and my whole body is covered in it. The simple training uniform I’m wearing is sticking to my skin. I must look like I’ve just escaped a particularly rainy day and haven’t yet dried off. What wouldn’t be so easily explained by simple rain, however, are the tremors running through all my muscles. They are the reason I’m sitting; they’re so strong I would topple to the ground in a few seconds if I ever tried to stand.Continue reading

230 years.

Approximately.

It’s difficult to retain a precise sense of time, while in dormancy.

It’s quite a long time, admittedly, but not all that long. At least, for unaging gods, it isn’t. And yet, many things seem to have changed, in that time.Continue reading

A shapeless, tumorous mass of flesh, perhaps 2 meters in height and half that in girth, floats in a cylindrical, transparent glass tank in front of me. Tubes, filled with flowing, murky fluids, plunge deep into that mass of flesh at seemingly random spots, their other ends plugged into the whirring, blocky machines surrounding the tank, on each of which is encased a red jewel, glittering brightly. Scattered bubbles sometimes escape from the points where the tubes meet the flesh, as if this repulsive thing is actually breathing and living. Following the bubbles, tendrils of black blood slowly uncoil from its skin, growing and rising up through the water like algae taking root on an underwater rock and blooming to life. The tendrils don’t last long, though. Quickly, they dissipate and fade away, drawn with the water as it cycles out through the drain and in through the pump the tank is equipped with so as to keep it clean. Every now and then, a small shudder runs through the mass of flesh, making its folds and bumps quiver and shiver disgustingly.

Right.

Disgusting.

That’s what it is.Continue reading