Tag Archives: speculative fiction

The Fire Consuming

This entry is part 6 of 13 in the series The Rusted Blade

Orthael was not entirely surprised when the first creature stepped out from behind a tree, not far ahead. It had once been a man, but grossly elongated arms led to a soft rustling from knuckles dragged along the forest floor. A few others joined it, all-too-dead eyes glistening with hunger for Life.

Pointing, Orthael spoke a sentence in a language not of his world. Golden flame dripped, gathered, and lanced through each undead slave with impacts that sent them crashing backwards through the undergrowth.

Inwardly, the man sighed. This was an old spell, bequeathed to him when he had been much younger. Long enough ago that the paladin force of the Church of the All-Consumption had been able to patrol darkly wooded places like these. Tonight he was alone, and even his meagre presence was a sacrifice for his home parish.

No matter. By the will of the Fire Consuming, he would be enough.

This was the thought on his mind when the shadow leapt at him from the darkness beyond his light.

Feeding the Flame

This entry is part 5 of 13 in the series The Rusted Blade

Malika stepped back, spinning to her left as another creature lunged out of the darkness. The sword in her hand sang with need, and she swung it up in a swift, arcing motion, ramming it into the creature’s chest. Its momentum as it slammed into her knocked her to the ground. The creature landed heavily on top of her, driving the breath from her lungs. It took her a long moment to find it again.

“Get up, Malika. Get up,” she urged herself.

With effort she pushed the creature off her, rolling it to the side. Only then did she truly see it. It had the visage and form of a canine but the hands and feet of a man.

“Lycander,” she noted with disgust. She felt no satisfaction at the beast’s death, only a craving for another kill. Blood and gore spattered her face, hands, and clothes. The blade itself, though, remained clean. The flames licking up the sword glowed brighter blue, flecks of rust began flaking off the blade.

Malika’s eyes flickered in the flamelight. “C’mon,” she whispered. “Bring me another.”

Light, Faith, and Sacrament

This entry is part 4 of 13 in the series The Rusted Blade

Orthael kissed the symbol and took a deep breath, feeling the power of his god like a warm wash of water. The exhalation is a release: a surrender of all that comprises him, an acknowledgement of his weakness and an acceptance of strength that is not his own. It is wonderful.

Thus prepared, the man draws the weapon that is both blessing and duty – as such things are. It comes free reluctantly, still wrapped in linens of prayer and sanctification. At a word, the white fabric disintegrates into fire that gives no heat but flows up the blade in silent hunger.

Much has been forgotten about this weapon, so ancient is its provenance. Only a fragment of its original name remains, kept by the priesthood in reverence. Judgement, the bishop had whispered to him, and both of them had witnessed the sword shiver on the altar.

There is a cry in the forest that is not like the others. Memory forgotten, purpose in mind and hand, Orthael marches in.

Rust, Blood, and Flame

This entry is part 3 of 13 in the series The Rusted Blade

Malika paced steadily deeper into the woods, sword out to the side. Pale blue flames, barely visible, licked along the blade’s length. Near the base, just above the hilt, the only space not utterly consumed by rust, was etched a single word. Truth. It was not, Malika knew, the name of the sword. Rather, it was what the sword most desired, a craving that mirrored her own insatiable hunger.

Around her the noises of the forest continued – the howls and roars of large predators and the heavy footfalls of unseen leviathans. Malika made no effort at concealment. Indeed, she wanted to be seen, to be noticed by the creatures around her.

“Come to me,” she breathed. “Attack me. I am weak. I am food for your jaws. Destroy me.”

As if in answer, a large feline face lunged out of the brush in front of her. Malika deftly stepped to one side, bringing the sword up swiftly as the cat shot past her. The smell of blood, seared flesh, and singed fur filled the air as the cat fell dead a dozen paces away, evenly cloven in two.

Paladin

This entry is part 2 of 13 in the series The Rusted Blade

The man strode rather than walked into the forest. He had the mass of his Church behind him, and so he had nothing to fear. The creatures of the night howled and cried to each other, but he was unmoved. His defenses were stalwart, and any attack would break itself on his unshakeable faith and will. The horrors outside were nothing to what lay within.

He whispered a prayer and reached for the symbol of his god that lay around his neck. There would be blood tonight, but that was not entirely a bad thing. The darknesses in man and beast both would be ready for his light.

Swordmaiden

This entry is part 1 of 13 in the series The Rusted Blade

The little girl entered the forest, armed with nothing but her courage, her grim determination, and the rusty sword strapped to her back. There were monsters in those woods – she could hear their howls, their cries to one another – but she was not afraid. She was a warrior, and these woods would soon learn to fear her. She had faced worse horrors at the hands of her own people. The creatures of the night were nothing in comparison. She calmly, deliberately drew her sword and strode forward, her steps bold and defiant. There would be blood this night, but not one drop of it would be hers.

Fiction: Dust

A spark of green faelight flitted through the nursery window as the last rays of day faded from the sky. At its a center a faerie, no bigger than a single mote of dust. It flew around the room once, twice, three times, before finally settling on the edge of the cradle.

“Took your time getting here,” sighed a voice light as the wind.

The faerie shook its head, regarding the human infant below sleeping below. “I came when I could, Woost. The child isn’t in any actual danger.”

“Yet,” Woost replied. “It’s only a matter of time.”

“Perhaps,” the faerie said. “These things are never entirely certain.” It paused a moment, contemplative. “Still, best be on with it.”

With that the spark lifted off from the cradle’s edge and flitted around the infant’s head. There was a tiny, infinitesimal sneeze, and a fine mist of dust drifted from the faelight and settled onto the infant’s face. Tiny glyphs formed along her brow, just slightly darker than her skin.

“There,” said the faerie. “That should be enough. For now.”

“What happens now?” asked Woost.

“Nothing,” said the faerie, landing on the pillow next to the infant’s head. “Now we wait. And make plans. And hope for the best. Nothing can happen until the child comes of age, anyway, not now that she is bonded and sealed. And humans age so frustratingly slowly. So we have time.”

There was a long silence, as faerie and elemental alike watched the infant sleep. It was finally Woost whose voice broke the stillness.

“Strange how something so small and fragile and… mortal can be so wound up in the threads of Fate that extraordinary measures such as these must be taken in order to protect it,” he said.

“Such has always been the case, my friend,” the faerie replied. “Fate has always been influenced most heavily by the finite and the measurable. It’s almost ironic that it’s that very mutability upon which it seems to rely.

“Take care of her, Woost,” said the faerie, lifting off from the pillow and flitting to the window. “She’s important in ways only she will be able to understand.”

“I will be the very air she breathes,” the elemental promised.

“I know you will.” And then the faerie was gone.

Fiction: Light in My Eyes

I lay down for bed and turn out the lamp, but I still can’t sleep. It’s the light behind my eyes that keeps me awake. The room may be pitch black, I may cover my eyes, squeeze them shut as tight as I can. It doesn’t matter. There’s still that light behind my eyes.

I haven’t had a solid night’s rest in weeks. The doctors all tell me it must be some kind of neurological condition. Neuronal misfires in my brain. Unknown stimulation of the optic nerve, possibly from an as-yet undiscovered tumor. The fact remains: they don’t know, and I can’t sleep.

I have my own theories about the source of that light, but no one would ever believe me. They’d tell me that the things I see coming out of that light aren’t real, that I’m losing my mind. But I know the truth. I know they’re real.

I have the scratches on the insides of my eyelids to prove it.

Fiction: Mob

Damion stands at the edge of the woods, just inside the treeline. His attention is focused on the house 35 yards away, the house that is surrounded by a teeming mass of the living dead. He hears screams from inside, cries for help from the poor souls trapped within. The home has not been breached — yet. But it’s only a matter of time.

He glances down at the two bodies still smoldering at his feet. Their presence troubles him. Sentries? he wonders. That implies intelligence, caution. Organization. It is a new development and not at all what he had been led to expect.

A new scream from the house tears his attention away from his worries. He whips his head back up to see that the undead have begun to pull several boards away from the windows.

“Time to work,” he says, stepping out of the trees. He raises his hands, palms up, fingers curled up to the sky as the first of the living corpses notices him and begins to charge.

“Come get some,” he challenges, and lightning begins to dance between his fingers.

Fiction: Beautiful Insanity

He is a tiny man. Under four feet tiny. Balding pate. Small eyes. Round, tortoiseshell glasses. Tattered brown suit. Nothing to look at, certainly, not that anyone is looking.

He glides through the crowd, clearing a path without word or gesture. People move aside for him, unaware. A corner of his mouth is quirked up in a bemused, crooked smile. His eyes are distant, focused on an image only he can see.

“Close, close. So very close,” he titters, his voice a sing-song. His fingers creep under his coat, and from his breast pocket he pulls a key, blue and cold as the winter sky. He holds it up between thumb and forefinger, and now his eyes finally seem to focus on something tangible. He giggles.

There you are!” he moans. “So lovely.” He leaps, somersaulting in mid-air, landing lightly on a young woman’s shoulders. She doesn’t notice. He jams the key into the top of her head and twists sharply, then leaps off and bounds away, laughing madly. The visions he just unlocked in her mind will haunt her the rest of her life.