What better way to start off the new year than with a spot of writing? This is the Shadow Wolf Sagas, my weekly serial.
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I straddled the ladder and plunged into darkness. T’was not entirely reckless since I can see in the dark. Besides my blood was running hot, fury’s furnace stoked with images of Sapphire and Bjorn, humilated and murdered. Flashes of the bodies of the members of the Doxies guild, run down and killed. All chased by visions of Madame Glorianna meeting the same fate, or worse, at the hands of Lord Torvul and his brutes. The Devout were never kind to those who fell under their power. Rape and slavery were the right of the strong in their twisted culture, barely even worth considering.
I hit the ground hard, pausing just long enough to spot the signs that Git and Renoit had left for us.
I owed Madame Glorianna a debt. When I first made my way to Myrrhn, I was reviled by my own people as an exile and yet still haunted by my people’s reputation among the elite of the city. The best employment I could find was guarding the doors at a run down brothel on the docks. At the time I saw it as dishonourable work, a kind of death for someone like me. I must admit that I let myself go, fitting in with the surroundings, foaming at the mouth a little. I spurned friendship, lashing out like a cornered animal. She saw value in the scraps of what I was. With her help I learned the ways of the city. I made friends and found my self-respect. Our relationship was never more than that of king and karl, but that was what I needed.
I rounded a corner, swift and angry, nearly blundering into the edge of Renoit’s blade. The swordsman looked at me and lowered his weapon slowly, raising a finger to his lips. Git was in the shadows beside him.
“Easy, wolf,” whispered Git. “No more muttering from here on in. Sildas has gone ahead. Torvul and his men are a hundred paces that way. We followed Madame Gee’s trail here and then homed in on the sound of digging and the lantern-glow. They stopped the excavation a few minutes ago.”
I was unaware that I had been muttering and reigned in my anger. Sometimes I get carried away.
“Five and half minutes,” added Renoit, eyeing the edge of his blade in the dark. His eyes were like points of flame in the half light.
Murith and Thyra rounded the bend, the shadows of Harald Magnison and his kin filling the tunnel behind them.
“What’s the plan Ragnar?” asked Murith.
“You and Git will sneak into position,” I said. “Sildas and his proteges will be in the shadows by now. The rest of us will confront Torvul and his follower directly. I will try to parley before fighting. If either of you get a shot at Torvul, clear and deadly, take it. If not we fight.”
I saw the glint of Thyra’s teeth in the shadows.
We marched down the old tunnels under the sea. I was impressed that they were not flooded. Dwarven engineering. The presence of the Devout had scared away whatever things normally laired in this dank place, but the wolf in me made note of the strange scents as we progressed.
We were not quiet, but it took several minutes to reach the light, climbing through broken rooms and passing through a tunnel that was filled to the waist with ancient, brackish water.
Soon enough we found the devout. Their light filled a massive old chamber, vaulted ceiling held up by ornate pillars decorated with ancient stone leafwork. Ten fully armoured devout and as many as two dozen of their acolytes faced us, ringing the entrance. They had the advantage of numbers and time and did not seem worried at all by our appearance. Across the room Lord Torvul stood hands running across and ancient stone arch, magic playing across his fingers. Madame Glorianna, clothes torn and mouth bloody was tied to an old brazier nearby. Her head sagged, but it snapped up as my voice filled the room.
“Torvul!” I shouted, and my words echoed in the deep.