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The world is partly based on the background of an unpublished Steampunk game that I worked on with a few friends, which has grown in my mind over the last couple of years.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.
Discovering that the old bastard was dead had left Rose despondent for days. The act of slashing his nameplate at the crematorium was defiant, but ultimately unsatisfying compared to the visceral sense of satisfaction that she had experienced when she had slashed Kraggor’s open and watched him die.
That act had been the only time that she had truly felt alive, happy? …no, content, since before.
Rose could not sleep, eating was a joyless chore, half of her was dead and without Wraithstone the rot would consume the rest. Death would be a blessing, and end to this, but it was one that she did not deserve.
Lawch was had been easy enough to find, secure in the Bedrock Wards, but he was beyond Rose’s reach. She could have confront him directly, but Lawch was no softborn despite his place of birth. He moved like a striking serpent, and had bested her easily on that day. The old Rose would have said that it was his men that made the difference, but now she knew that it was him. There was something in Lawch that made him fast, deadly, and ruthless, a kind of clarity that she was only beginning to understand herself.
Besides, it was best to save him for last. It would be wrong somehow to cross Lawch’s name off first and end with say, Blackeyes or Stinknob. There was a symmetry to vengeance she supposed.
In the hive they hadthese wonderful street carts, called Tapwagons, that soldalcohol at every time of day. Rose was sitting down near her favourite of these carts, taking the edge off another fruitless day with a bottle Aspith when she encountered the first name that she would cross off her list.
Aspith is a strong liquor, brewed with herbs and moss that were local to The Scab. It was strong enough to numb even Rose, but the same could be said for many Tapwagon favourites. It was thick and dark green, and she was told that it smelled like a cave, or something like that… What Rose liked best about Aspith was that aach taste was different, and it struck her as the perfect drink for a person who wanted to be alone with her thoughts. But, some people have different ideas….
“Oi, bleeder, give us that.”
Aspith was also quite expensive.
“Leave her alone, Grime,” warned the Tapwagon owner.
“Sod off Gragon, if you know what’s good.”
The name Grime was not an uncommon one in The Scab, and yet while the man in question snarled at the Tapwagon owner, Rose snapped into focus. One of Lawch’s band had born the name Grime.
“Come on, Grime, she’s a good customer. Leave her be an I’ll give you a bottle, on the house.”
“No. I wan’t this one. Now fuck off. I won’t ask again.”
Tapwagon owners were a tough lot, for obvious reasons, but Gragon hesitated. He was bigger than Grime, and younger, but he seemed afraid of the man for some reason. A shiver ran down Rose’s spine.
“Its alright, Gragon,” Rose rasped.
The tapwagon owner hesitated, and then pulled his cart away. Grime chuckled, turning to face Rose. Instantly, she recognized him as one of Lawch’s men. It was hard for her to forget them, even the least of them. She remembered seeing his face as she was pinned to the ground watching her husband and son die. She also remembered him from the rape that followed.
“Aye. I’ll take that bottle… by the depths, your an ugly one…”
Grime’s face twisted in disgust and he reached for the long-bladed knife that was sheathed at his waist. Most people, when confronted with a person who values life so little that they would stab someone because that person offends their eyes might hesitate. Rose did not.
As Grime Downbridge’s hand found the well-worn handle of his knife, Rose planted her blade just above his groin and stood, using the momentum to push the blade up into him. Hot blood spilled down her hands and Grime grunted and backed away, trying to contain his wound, not quite able to grasp his sudden demise.
“Who…?” he gasped as she came face to face with him.
“You helped kill my family two years ago on the road to Avalain.”
With a surge of strength, Grime pushed past her, but he was to wounded and stumbled as he tried to run. Rose caught him from behind, knocking him to the ground. She grasped his greasy hair and whispered in his ear.
“Should I rape you, now, Grime? I don’t have a cock, but I’m sure this blade will penetrate.”
Grime gurgled blood, struggling weakly. He was more or less dead, Rose realized; she’d done him quick. She drove her blade into the back of his neck to make sure, and then got up and left.
She was so elated that it took her two blocks to realize that she was covered in blood and leaving a trail that any fool could follow. She washed in drain-barrel and took a circuitous route back to her hideout. There, she reverently took out her list of names and slowly crossed one off.
It felt wonderful, and she slept well that night, unbothered by her ghosts.