Friday, January 30, 2015

Necromancer--The Order--Part 2 Installment 22

This is really late because I am a terrible person. This is the last installment of Part Two. I will return March 2nd with Part Three. See you all on the other side.

Soundtrack is: 

Deathly’s lab was quiet except for his mechanical breathing as he worked on his latest experiment. Morbid was not even in the temple, Muderous was on a mission, and the others rarely bothered Deathly. It was nice. As much as he enjoyed turning Morbid against Masuta, he needed tonight. He needed time to work in silence without interruptions.
A spark ran through Deathly’s body then and he dropped the test tube he held. It shattered on the floor, splashing blood everywhere, but Deathly didn’t notice that. He was focused on the feeling that had rushed through him. He knew it. It was one of his creations. He always knew when they died, because he could feel it, could feel part of himself return, a jolt, but this was different. This was...puzzling. This he only felt when they came back to life.
“How were you brought back…?”
Deathly whirled around, rushing to his cabinet, unlocking it with unnaturally clumsy fingers, until he yanked the doors open. The spider web of silver threads was there as always, drops of light sliding up and down them. Occasionally, one would flash, red, black, purple, and more as the corresponding Immortal felt a surge of emotion. Deathly had become so used to seeing only five illuminated threads that he had to touch the sixth to be sure.
It glowed.
Deathly gaped at it, then ripped off his glove, holding up his bare hand in the air and whispering. His hand was wrapped in lines of symbols inked into his skin in raised lines. As he spoke, individual sigils flashed green, one after another.
The sixth thread hummed, glowing brighter for a moment. Then as Deathly watched, the silver thread began to darken, the silver leeching away to become vivid copper. 
Deathly pivoted from the room, leaving the cabinet open and the glove discarded on the floor. Running, he descended to the depths of the temple, then lower still, to the crypts. No light existed here until Deathly set his hand to glowing green.
Hath,” he hissed and the light flashed away and spread, elucidating the room from every angle and leaving no clear source. The walls were curved, seamlessly running into the ceiling. Only someone who had helped build it would even know this ancient place was a crypt. It had no markers, no graves, no signs that anyone had been here before, but for the too-smooth walls.
Deathly reached up and undid the ties on his mask, then removed it from his head, dropping it to the floor. Then he took off his other glove revealing a hand as covered in symbols as the first. Muttering under his breath, all the symbols began to glow green.
The ground beneath Deathly cracked, then parted. Out of the ground rose a four-legged, headless creature comprised only of bones.
Find him,” Deathly ordered.
The minion scuttled off out of sight, leaving Deathly in the crypt alone. He replaced his hood, then picked up his glove, staring at the hole the bone minion had emerged from. Then all the light disappeared.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Death's Acolyte--The Order--Part 2 Installment 20

[I have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Particularly for this soundtrack.


Zofi inhaled slowly as she silently counted, letting the oxygen—the life—flow into her lungs and then seep throughout her body. Once she had reached seven, she paused, holding her breathe, restarting the count, letting the air swirl around in her lungs, pushing against her chest.
She let the air out, but not in a rush, in a steady stream, as slow and even as her inhalation. One…two…three…
An hour passed without her moving from where she sat against the cave wall breathing in the measured cycle. Alfons lay nearby listening to her, subconsciously mimicking her patterns. Apparently she was going to do the final rites today and put the corpse to rest. She was nervous though. Alfons could tell. If anything, she was spending all this time preparing and what he knew of Zofi, she didn’t prepare. She charged headlong. After all, he’d met because she had attempted to take on a wraith by herself without any tools or knowledge. Of course, this time if she failed, she would die. She could have died with the wraith too, but it hadn’t been as concrete an idea. Many results could have come from failing. This only had one option.
Zofi broke her breathing pattern and opened her eyes. Alfons heard and shifted onto his side to watch her creep toward the body. She dipped her fingers in the mud pile she’d collected in lieu of charcoal and smeared lines on her face. She outlined her eyes in broad swaths of the dark mud, filling in her eye sockets and coating her eyelids. Then she painted her nose, leaving only a thin clean line straight down the center. After that she covered everything under her cheekbones, including her lips, just dragging away thin lines across her lips.
When she glanced at Alfons, he realized she had painted herself a crude approximation of an undertaker’s skull mask. He wanted to ask her about it, about why undertakers must wear a skull mask when putting corpses to rest, but didn’t. This was too important to risk distracting her.
Zofi took a deep breath, feeling as if her stomach was trying to eat her. Her hands shook, but it was too late to turn back now. With a brief prayer to her father of all people, she began to apply the symbols to the body. Concentric circles on his forehead, then various collections of lines, short crisscrossing lines, forked lines like lightning, sharply diverting lines like the creases in one’s skin, circles slashed by an single straight line, T’s intersected by dots. The symbols adorned his face, his hands, chest, feet. The most complicated symbol was drawn over his heart while Zofi muttered a difficult prayer in a language she’d never properly bothered to learn, merely memorize. She forgot a word, forgot a symbol, paused, feeling blood trickle from her nose, then forged on, confident in her remembering.
It felt like days before she had finished, but it had only been minutes, minutes that had stolen years from her. Zofi collapsed beside the corpse, feeling all her expended life leave her in a rush. Alfons pushed himself upright, forehead creased in fear.
“Zo?” he whispered, trying to drag himself closer. What if it had killed her? What would he do if she had died?
He managed to get close enough to touch her arm, but then the corpse woke with a gasp and Alfons could only shriek in terror.

two more!

Brace yourselves for the last two installments in part 2! Installment 20 is coming tonight!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Numb--The Order--Part 2 Installment 19

[As promised! This installment's soundtrack is by Imogen Heap.


Leftover rain from the latest downfall dripped off the stone cottage’s shingles. A single drop slithered down the roof, diverting around the unmoving drops, then mingling with one, two, three, growing and then sploshing onto the ledge, clinging there for a moment and crashing to earth. It shattered upon impact and then melted into the wet earth.
Another droplet on the cottage’s window gave way to gravity and traced its own track down. Its journey was imitated in the reflection of a mirror across from the window. It was the only change the mirror saw. The bloodstains on the shiny surface had already dried in place. The puddles on the floor had smeared in varying hues of red from brownish to nearly black where the blood was still thick enough to be wet.
A ceramic shard lay next to the edge of a smear. Other dashed pieces were in a splatter pattern around it, tiny fragments mingled with large chunks. All remnants of a tea cup. The blood stain had been contaminated by tea that was splashed outward from the destruction site. Three brown footsteps led away from the mess until they spread into half absorbed liquid leading to the corner.
            Blanche huddled on the floor there, feet dirty and bare, clothes damp with tea, white hair in a stringy mess around her half-dry face. Her eyes were closed. Every few moments her chest would shake with the dying sobs that come when tears finally run out.
She needed to go out and bring back the Immortal’s corpse. It wasn’t safe to leave it out in the woods, especially how sloppily she’d been forced to leave it. Anything could find it. The symbols could wear away. But Murderous was gone now. She was alone now.
And her family was dead.
It had struck her hard and sudden two hours after Murderous had left her. The grief had paralyzed her in the corner and she was only now feeling a little numb. Numb enough to do her duty. It was all the grieving she could allow herself. Anything more would have to wait until her order had rebuilt the breaking world. She had a task to complete and she would not fail now after everything she’d murdered on the altar of duty, after so much success.
“I wish you were here to tell me I’m doing the right thing,” she whispered, her thoughts on her husband. “That it wasn’t a mistake to burn your body. That I couldn’t have...”
Blanche inhaled slowly and when she exhaled, stood.
“Time to see how good the theory is.”
Feeling little, she left her house, not even bothering to close the door. She didn’t know what kept her moving. Dedication, perhaps. Single-minded focus. The numbness spreading from her heart through her limbs. All she knew was that if she stopped she would dissolve again. Blanche desperately wanted to dissolve, to disappear far into her grief until the numbness became pain and she could breathe again, the agonizing, terrible breaths of the living searching for a reason to live. At least then she would be healing.
But she couldn’t do that now. She didn’t have…time. To grieve, to heal, to do anything but the mission. She would though. After the world was rebuilt, she would take all she had earned and more.
Her features solidified into the unmoving cold of the deeply furious. She moved with purpose now, letting the world slide out of color, but into sharper focus. And then she reached the peak of the hill where she had left the body.
The Immortal was not there.
Blanche’s eyes widened in fear, in rage. Moments later she saw the drag marks and set her jaw. Whatever, whoever had taken this corpse would not live long enough to revel in their find. She curled her fingers into fists, nails driving into her palms until she broke the skin and blood welled up.

unheralded hiatus explained

I apologize for my absence and un-heralded hiatus. It was unexpected and not planned. Super inconvenient considering I was going to take a real one in like two weeks when this part of The Order was finished. Sadly, I'm still going to have to take that one, but it will be a hiatus from The Order only. Other blog posts of some quality will return.
In the meantime, stay tuned. I'm posting The Order today or so help me.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Bone Death--The Order--Part 2 Installment 18

[Happy New Year! No soundtrack this time. This installment is already late enough and I haven't had time to find a good one. This is one of the installments that does not have a pre-planned soundtrack. Anyway, here's to you having the best year of your life!]

Zofi leaned against the wall of the underhang, exhausted from the short trek to the creek and back. The body she’d dragged back was tucked off to one side as far from Alfons as she could get him. Nothing in undertaking supported the idea that keeping the dying near the dead jeopardized the dying’s chance of surviving, but Zofi had always been superstitious about it. Her short time on the front lines had not helped that superstition.
She exhaled. The war. She hadn’t thought about it in a long time. Maybe it was over. Maybe it had ended, the Restri defeated, or maybe somehow the Resti had defeated the…the…Zofi let out a chuckle. She couldn’t remember the other side. Oh yes, the di Lancra. Perhaps both sides were dead, the world abandoned to the Immortals.
“Haven’t you seen enough corpses?” a faint voice murmured.
Zofi sat up straight, snapping her head toward Alfons. He was propping himself up an elbow, gazing at her blearily. It was the first time he had woken since the Immortal had attacked them. In all honesty, she had not believed he would.
“Alfons,” she breathed, a smile touching her face. “You’re…”
“Alive it seems.” He returned the smile, then winced. “Well, at the moment.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Why? You’re probably why I’m not dead.”
“The only thing holding us together is mud and prayer,” Zofi admitted, letting her head drop back against the wall.
Alfons nodded. “I have…a lot of broken bones.”
“I know.” Zofi glanced down at her hands. “I guess it’s lucky for you that they’re not all your bones.”
He blanched, then exhaled. “You noticed.”
“Hard not to when they’re poking through your flesh. What…what are they?”
“They’re called dead man bones. I don’t know what they’re made of. Maybe actual dead man bones. Maybe wood. Maybe a combination. All I know is that they’re marginally better than mine.”
“Why…?” She shook her head.
“Do I need bone replacements? I have bone death. My bones are essentially eating themselves. Hence not able-bodied. I can keep it at bay for a while by replacing the most decayed bones, but eventually it’ll kill me.” The corner of his lips tipped upward wryly. “If an Immortal doesn’t do it first. Speaking of.” He touched his left side, then held up his fingers, coated in thick black blood. “Shouldn’t I be?”
Zofi closed her eyes, touching her wrist where the Murderous One had slashed it. Alfons was dying. Even if he survived he would die. Bone death was incurable. One thing at a time, Zo. Let’s survive once.
“Something strange happened,” she said. “I don’t know what. I don’t know how we escaped him or how you survived that. I don’t know how we’re alive now. By all accounts we should be dead. I have this agonizing headache all the time, and every time I see you, I’m afraid you won’t be breathing.”
After a moment he said, “Fair enough.” They sat in silence until he asked, “So the corpse?”
Zofi glanced at it. “Oh. I found it in the woods.”
“And you dragged it back here?”
“It hadn’t been put to rest. I couldn’t leave it. Death knows we can’t handle a wight.”
Alfons nodded, gazing at the corpse. “Why isn’t it put to rest now?”
“I can’t do it.”
His gaze shifted to her.
“Putting a corpse to rest isn’t a matter of manipulating death energies; it’s manipulating life, specifically the undertaker’s. It’s why my father…it’s why my father died after the wraith. He’d used up too much of his life in the war. Putting down a wraith…it was too much for him. If I tried to put this corpse to rest in my condition, I’d just kill myself.”
“If you were Initiated?”
“It wouldn’t make a difference at this point. I don’t have the tools of the trade. And I’m so feeble right now. I need to wait until I’m less likely to, well, die. Or suffer backlash on you. Or worse.”
“Worse like a wraith?”
Zofi nodded.
“Well then. Wait all you like.”
“You should rest,” Zofi said, shuffling onto her knees. “I need to prepare the body anyway.”
Alfons hesitated, looking like he was going to argue, but he finally nodded. “Sure. Don’t overdo it, though. You’re not much better off than me right now.”
Zofi pressed her lips together. “You’re right about that.”