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The world is partly based on the background of an unpublished Steampunk game that I worked on with a few friends, which has grown in my mind over the last couple of years.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.
Rose is walking to a favorite Tapwagon, looking to drown her nervous energy with some of the new ‘honey screech’ that is becoming popular in the hive. The complex flavours excite something in her, as well as the usual soothing numbness, and she knows Wraithstone is involved.
It has been seven days and Rose has yet to penetrate the Spider’s paranoia. He fears some trick by the Sorceress and Rose suspects that he meant her to die upon meeting the woman.
She has left him three letters, written in the complex code that he taught her, and answered two of his. Rose has also met with one of his agents, who asked her simple questions about her past, examined her mechanical arm, and even taken a small sample of her blood for The Spider. She told the man that she had proof of the Sorceress’s death, but would only show The Spider.
It is frustrating, but is is exactly what she expects from him. The Spider’s paranoia is his best defence against everything but Chaos; he did not expect his pawn to survive after killing the King.
The long wait has given her plenty of time to make other preparations, at least.
Rose turns down a familiar alley, and slows. Something is different. She makes it her business to know the territory that she travels. Outwardly, few would see the change, but she is wary now and doing a mental inventory of the weapons she has, the places where she can be attacked, and where she can run to get away.
The tension mounts, she cannot see any signs of ambush or hear anything untoward. She is on the verge of backing out of the alley and fleeing when she spots a sewer cover that she knows was not there before. It is marked, to those who know what to look for, as one of the entrances to The Spider’s lair. She had not expected it so far from Meryn’s Tangle; The Spider has extended his reach.
She kneels and presses the hidden buttons that will alert the man himself that she is here. She does not have to wait long.
“Of course,” said Rose. “I know you can see me, old friend. Lawch and his pet Sorceress have been dealt with.”
“I find that difficult to believe.”
Of course you do, bastard, she thinks, you left me to die at her hands.
“I have proof of her death,” said Rose coldly. “I want answers in return. Why didn’t you kill her, for example?”
Her words were greeted with silence. After a moment, she spoke again, carefully keeping an even tone.
“If you do not let me in, all contact between us will be severed, and you will never know what happened to The Sorceress. You have five seconds to make your decision, Spider. We both know you will never have a better chance than this. What are you so afraid of?”
The hatch hissed and slid open, revealing the familiar tunnel that would lead her to the Spider’s Lair. She knows that it is trapped, that he can kill her in an instant as she traverses it, likely in some horrible, but antiseptic manner like acid or fire or suffocation. In the end though, she is as much a prisoner of the moment as he is; she drops into the black hole and goes to meet her fate, whatever it is,
But as she disappears into the black she sticks a tiny copper pin in the cover, a sleight of hand that not even The Spider notices.