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The world is partly based on the background of an unpublished Steampunk game that I worked on with a few friends, which has grown in my mind over the last couple of years.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.
For several days after rescuing the woman and her child from the Wrongblood Ghouls, Rose is deeply conflicted. Helping others was a fool’s game in The Scab, especially for someone like her. People that she did not know were a risk that she could not take; the woman would talk, and word could get back to Lawch.
Her enemy has eyes everywhere. He is not as entrenched as The Spider in places like The Hive, but Lawch has amassed a staggering amount of money and influence in the years since he killed Rose’s family. He has enough to afford skilled bodyguard, and a small harem of women kept young with yearly doses of the clear. People in The Hive would turn Rose over to him in a heartbeat, just to win his favour.
Worst of all though, is that while Rose fades away slowly, ravaged by a disease barely held in check, hard living, and simple, human aging, Lawch is as young and strong as he was in the prime of his life. Time is not on her side.
To beat an adversary like Lawch, Rose needs to control the flow of events. She needs to plan meticulously and execute flawlessly. There is no room for mercy, and feeling sudden compassion for a woman beset by random misfortune, however worthy is a distraction.
No, worse than that. Compassion is a weakness; it is what would have driven that insipid girl in the house with the forge on the road to Avalain to action. At least before everything was ripped away from her by Lawch and his band. Rose hates that girl.
She cannot afford a mistake now.
“Green G: A, M: 15+”
Rose examined the note. The hand was that of The Spider; even his penmanship seems strange, with tall letters all bunched together like the legs of an alphabetic arachnid.
It revolts her to think that he was here, in her room. She has to remind herself that he is her ally, and that she needs him, and that she can only defeat Lawch with The Spider’s help (reminder for later repetition). Even then the thought of him sours her mood considerably.
The note makes sense to her. The Spider wants Wraithbone, energized to green. The ‘G’ stands for grade, meaning that he wants an A grade shard, which is one that it is at least 80% pure. The ‘M’ is short for Measure, as in the measure of how energized the Wraithbone is. 15 is very high, impossible to come by outside of The Depths.
Rose has no idea what The Spider wants with the stone. Green Wraithbone is used to heal and grow; a stone of that type could cure a major disease or help regrow a lost limb. Of course, it is valuable, and it is possible that he wants it to use it for trade. It might not even be related to their efforts to attack Lawch. The Spider is not always forthcoming.
Rose takes the note and tosses it in the fire.
“Leave it to The Spider to start off with a big ask,” she mutters, pacing. After a moment she sighs and begins to think.
Where can she find Wraithbone of that quality and measure without putting together a full team?
She can only think of a few places, none of them easy or safe…