Date Published: 05-11-2021
Awakened from an ancient slumber, a warrior of the old gods finds his immediate future bound by fate to the failures of his past. As he struggles to gather allies amongst the untrusting denizens of this oppressed new world, the ancient warrior seeks to secure the plans for the weapon his unit died trying to destroy, only to find himself hunted not only by those who stole those plans but by the very people that he seeks to save.
Fate Of The Forged Book One
By Jayson Jolin
Axe and shield in hand, Sassacua charged past Clank at the coalescing cloud of embers and tried to cleave it in two. The axe passed through the thick concentration of soot to no effect. As she spun around, arcing her axe above her to land a killing blow through its head, the creature continued forward towards Clank, the path the axe had taken through its form vanishing as the two halves melded together.
Clank rushed to the left, frantically adjusting the setting on Junker. The metal bear positioned itself between the apparition and its master, growling ferociously. “Damnit, Sassy,” Clank yelled angrily, “you can’t hack and slash your way through this one. This thing isn’t alive.”
Again with the ‘Sassy,’ she thought angrily. Her body glowed brighter, casting the chamber in a red glow. She charged forward, bringing her axe down hard. “You could have fooled me.”
Clank brought Junker up to fire, the interior of the barrel glowing white. “Get clear so I can get a shot.”
But Sassacua was too blinded by determination to heed him. She stepped up for another swing.
The cinder wraith turned its head suddenly to regard her. Its arm shot up, and then a blast of embers surged out. The white dust gushed into Sassacua’s mouth as she roared a battle scream.
She felt it fill her lungs, breathing instantly impossible. Helplessly, she dropped her axe and began clawing madly at the stream of soot, as if somehow that would stop the influx of powdery corpse remnants into her airway.
Her whole body felt cold. Her muscles slacked. The rage inside her intensified even as her sense of place and self dispersed. The whispers were blotted out by unyielding, universal hatred.
There was a sound like a shout that she barely registered. And then everything went brilliant white.
With a rush of exhaustion the light tore the hatred harshly out of her. She was awake again and aware, her body falling and then slamming hard, left side first, onto the ground. Exhaling from her lungs on its own, the torrent of ash gushed out of her mouth and nostrils. Her mouth tasted like burnt death. She coughed up soot and she spat blood. Her lungs burned as though she’d inhaled a campfire.
“Mandla,” Clank called out as he took aim on the recoiling wraith. “Go do that healing psychic touch on Sassy and then give me a hand.” He pulled the trigger and the barrel erupted with brilliant, burning light. The wraith recoiled and shifted out of the way as the searing glow struck it. But then it resumed its rapid track back towards the sergeant.
As Sassacua found her weapons and struggled to her feet, Mandla burst forward at a run, leaping over Clank, grabbing him by the neck with both hands as she did so. With all of her might, Mandla tried to hurl Clank directly at the cinder wraith.
However, the monk had not accounted for the sheer weight of her enemy. Several hundred pounds of G.R.U.N.T. was lifted off of his feet, rotated head-over-heel, but never quite made it more than a few feet off the ground. Instead of sailing across the room into the wraith, Clank slammed into the bear’s side, causing the beast to howl in surprise, then turn ferociously towards Mandla. The monk rolled from her throw, then backpedaled several steps as the metal bear stalked towards her.
“Keep him back, Scrapyard,” Clank shouted over his shoulder as he fired again. The shot was true, but the creature’s advancement continued, forcing Clank to backpedal and shift direction to avoid being cornered. “This thing’s only getting tougher. It’s absorbing the magic from my attacks.” He switched the dial again, the light vanishing from the gun, the barrel widening. “If this were a zombie that holy light would have dusted it in one shot.”
The cinder wraith was right on top of him. He jammed Junker’s nozzle right inside of its swirling vortex. The burst of thunder that erupted from the barrel scattered the wrath far and wide, the dust settling all throughout the room.
Clank adjusted the setting of his gun again and aimed at Sassacua. “That only bought us a few seconds,” he said, firing.
She tensed, her instincts screaming at her to dodge, but her trust in Clank forced her to remain still. She was rewarded for that trust as the soothing warmth of a healing blast washed over her. Her wounds mended some, but the beam could not soothe her nerves. She rushed to Clank, axe gripped in both hands. “How do we kill this thing?”
“Not easily,” Clank replied. Already the embers were beginning to reform. He reset the gun again. “Cinder wraiths are the cremated remains of beings so evil and so powerful in life that even burning it cannot prevent it from returning. They’re all instinct and hate, with a loathing for the living that can’t be sated.”
Sassacua, feeling pain within her burning lungs with each breath, gripped her axe tighter. “What did it do to me?” she asked hatefully.
Clank took aim and fired the thunder again, scattering the dust once more. But it didn’t blow the reforming creature apart nearly as much as it had before. “Reproducing. It was trying to burn you from the inside, and turn your rage into hate, steal as much of your burning, charring flesh from you as it could to grow itself, leaving whatever was left as a new cinder wraith.”
He fired again, but this time the coalescing ash barely budged. It was forming together more quickly this time, as well.
Sassacua knew time was short. But one
question needed answered before she resumed the fight. “Why is it after you?”
Clank took a knee, withdrew some tools from his belt pouches, and opened a hatch in Junker’s magazine. “These things are particularly hateful of the thing that killed them. Maybe this was the lich in charge here when my unit blew the place up.” He looked at the nearly reformed monster and then at Sassacua. “It’s absorbing my attacks faster than I can damage it. I have to hot-wire Junker for more output. Keep it busy, preferably without eating any more soot.”
Her chest tightened around her burning lungs as she watched the wraith reassemble, and her heart began to pound. Her legs felt like jelly. Her throat constricted, making it hard for her to breathe. She backed away.
Copyright © 2021 Jayson P. Jolin https://jaysonjolin.wordpress.com/home/
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