Welcome to the space where I experiment, my weekly serial. It is written raw, not edited at all, and mostly unplanned.
The world is partly based on the background of an unpublished Steampunk game that I worked on with a few friends, which has grown in my mind over the last couple of years. The story is a take on those ultra-violent revenge epics of the eighties where a man’s family is abused and killed, but he survives and seeks vengeance. Needless to say it is a grim, bloody tale, that deals with bad people doing bad things, so be warned.
Lawch is exactly as Rose remembers. Blue eyes like chipped ice, lean face with a square jaw and high cheekbones, framed by curled blond hair. He has the kind of mouth that the romancers wax poetic about, expressive, sensual, and above all, cruel. He is well dressed and carried a sword and dagger on his belt.
He strolls into the pub with the easy confidence of a man whose conscience has never been troubled and who has never been given cause to doubt his own abilities. His eyes rove the room, both in greeting and in challenge, as various well-wishers and sycophants in call out his name in greeting.
His eyes stop briefly as they meet her’s. Rose meets his gaze, making no attempt to hide. There are two women with them, young, immaculately coiffed, and dressed to draw the envy of men. Neither of them is the sorceress, the eater of Wraithbone, the person who Rose most fears at this moment. The Spider was right about that; hopefully he was also correct in predicting that Lawch would not be cautious enough to retreat and call upon his most dangerous living ally.
The thought of the sorceress brought a thrill of fear. Those who could consume Wraithstone and perform magic with its energy were unpredictable in power, but always dangerous.
Lawch did not leave. Instead, he turned to his companions and spoke. They floated away while he walked directly to Roses’s table and sat down across from her. Halfway to her he broke into the kind of smile one reserves for an old friend. Rose felt calm descend on her as she saw this; he did not want to make a scene in front of his peers, nor was he afraid of the obvious trap.
“I must admit, Oliffer did a superb job with you, darling,” he said as he settled into the chair. Oliffer was The Spider’s real name. “It will be interesting to see if his mental conditioning lives up to the promise of that beautiful exterior.”
“I have no idea what the fuck you are going on about, Lawch,” said Rose. Conditioning? did he think she was some kind of fake?
“It was years ago, but she didn’t talk like gutter trash from the low wards,” sneered Lawch. “What is this? do you know what someone like me does to people who cross them?”
“I remember perfectly,” responds Rose. Her good hand twitches, wanting to grasp the hilt of her coilsword and shove the blade down the bastards throat and then watch it tear him apart. “You and your band killed my family, Lawch. You made the mistake of letting me live. Now I’m here to give the Depths their due.”
Lawch threw his head back and laughed. “By the Wound, that’s pathetic. Looks like old Oliffer is slipping. I might leave enough of you alive to convey that to him.”
“You think I’m an imposter.”
He took a swig of wine, Red and expensive. “Yes. We left the Redshire girls alive, its true, but they died in the slave mines. The young one killed herself when she got tired of being used by the men there; her mother died in a cave-in. I have seen the death logs. I went and looked after the first time your boss pulled this little trick.”
Rose stared. First time?
Lawch laughed. “The Spider has a peculiar sense of humour. He thinks that sending whores and addicts that he has bodysculpted and hypnotized into thinking that they are Rosaline Redshire, a woman he and I were hired to kill twenty years ago. He is using you to remind me of a debt he thinks that I owe him, or something like that. I used to be bothered by it, but now I just look forward to coming up with interesting ways of hurting his messengers. I’m thinking of skinning you alive, what do you have to say to that?”