Rotblossom Rose (1.59R)

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The world is partly based on the background of an unpublished Steampunk game that I worked on with a few friends, which has grown in my mind over the last couple of years.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.

Here is the first post of this series.

Here is last week’s post.

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“Always have a contingency, Rotblossom!” exclaims the spider as he looks down at her.

Rose struggles to move, but only her toes and fingers respond. Every ounce of will and all her hate amounts to nothing as he looms over her, grinning like fucking Cackles, but twice as ugly.

“You thought you could beat me?¬† If it weren’t for me you would have died a dozen times by now. I have manipulated you from the start. You have no idea…”

He laughs again, a uncontrolled edge creeping into it, which was somehow more terrifying, like spotting a Rockwyrm looming behind a pack of Deep Wolves. The Spider bends over, grabbing Rose and lifting her with surprisingly little effort.

“I had the strength of will and foresight to defy a sorceress and a bandit king, Rotblossom. What makes you think that you could ever beat me in a game like this?”

He laughs again, jostling her. Desperately Rose wiggles her toes and the fingers of her real hand, trying to regain control. If she can just keep him talking…

“You actually recognized me, I believe, but were too slow to act. And then I ensnared you, and I have been using you ever since. It took five tries for you to kill Lawch…”

The rest of the sentence is lost as the implication hits Rose. What does he mean? Lawch said something similar.

The Spider pauses. Rose hears the sound of a key in a lock, followed by heavy gearborne doors grinding open. She could not see much with her face hanging just above¬† the Spider’s belt but the room is large and filled with laboratory equipment including dozens of man-sized specimen tanks. It smells like the heart of the Syndicate fiefs; the Sorceress had told her the truth about the Spider’s illicit alchemical experiments as well.

“We’ve been through this dance before, Rose. It is a shame that I will have to make an end of it like this. We could have gone bedrock together, but you never could learn to appreciate me. Not once in any of the lives I have given you.”

Rose’s mouth worked. She wanted to scream at him. To call him a rapist. to call him a murderer. To tell him that she remembered.

Rose is dumped into a chair and feels cold metal bands slam shut around her wrists and ankles. It feels oddly familiar and panic grips her. She can barely breathe and her mind swims. Hope drains from her like blood from a sliced artery.

“Your subconscious remembers this place,’ says The Spider, grinning. “It is a pity that this will be our last waltz, my dear. We have had so much fun here over the years.”

Rose’s eyes dart around the room. It is large, with a vaulted ceiling. Copper pipes, glass tubes and sterile white lights crowd the ceiling. Beside the chair that she is trapped in is a table full of instruments, blades, syringes, and other devices of pain and mutilation. Some of them stir her thoughts as she spies them. What has he done to her?

The Spider picks up a syringe filled with a milky liquid and pushes the needle into her skin. Rose struggles, but cannot move.

“Usually I just hypnotize you and lead you down here,” says the Spider. “I haven’t had to use drugs since the first time…”

He sighs. Then shakes his head. The expressions are recognizable and yet alien in him, like watching a puppet without strings.

Rose gasps as her throat clears and her tongue regains feeling.

“Fff-FUCK YOU, SPIDER!” she howls.

He laughs.

“Good, good. It’s always better when you can scream,” he says. “Shall we begin?”

<>

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Rotblossom Rose (1.58R)

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.

Here is the first post of this series.

Here is last week’s post.

<>

Rose felt a stab of fear as not one, but two men with crossbows appeared, aiming their weapons at Edward. Her brother remained unaware of the danger, drunk and singing to himself after a good night at the dice table. No doubt the shadows held no danger in his mind in the afterglow of such a victory. Could she blame him, after all that her brother had suffered?

She was ready for the first crossbowman, hidden near the position that he was set in. The second was on a building across the from the gambling den, unreachable by sword.

They moved, and that was it, there was no time to think about tactics. There was only action and momentum.

She slid out of her hiding place and lunged, taking the first crossbowman in the back even before he could loose his bolt. He jerked as her coilsword punched through his clothes and upper vertebrae. He fell like a sack of coal, jerking, paralyzed. The motion of her attack drew the attention of his compatriot man across the street who stared for a moment, perhaps taken aback by the silver skull mask she wore, flickering in the dark. His hesitation lasted only a moment, before fear spurred him to life his weapon and take aim at her.

But Rose was already moving. Momentum was on her side and time was not. She let go of her coilsword and drew a knife with each hand. The first flashed through the air, poorly thrown, and meant to distract her target. He flinched as it sailed past his head, spoiling his aim. Th second knife was thrown with care and he did not see it coming. It caught him squarely and he fell back tumbling down to the alley below. It was not a fatal blow, but he was out of the fight for a moment at least.

Shouts down in the alley alerted her that the rest of the thugs were after Edward. She heard a below of warlike rage from her brother and the ring of steel as he gathered the crossbow for the man at her feet, still in his death throws and fumbled a bolt into place. Then she leaned out and sighted the weapon.

She saw Edward, cape thrown back standing bold as two men with needlespears faced him. They men were confused that he was still standing and he took advantage of this, closing swiftly, sidestepping a jab and thrusting his coilsword into a man’s shoulder. The thug gasped and pulled away.

“You’ll never take me, bastards!” roared Edward. He was right, Rose thought, but he did not realize a third man was coming up behind him. That was the one she shot. The bolt leapt, hitting the man squarely. He grunted and Edward expertly turned, skewering him and activating the coilsword. Even in the half-dark the results were dramatic as blood splashed and he collapsed in a wet heap.

“Fuck!” exclaimed the nearest man, and instead of attacking, he turned and ran, pulling his wounded friend with him.

Edward turned back to them and ran a few steps before stumbling, muttering, and holding his head. Rose found a bolt, hand cranked the crossbow, and then looked around, making certain the fight was over.

“That’s right cowards!” roared Edward, drunkenly. “Tell them Edward Redshire sent ya!”

Rose looked down at her brother and felt a stab of pity. She should never have left him alone with the old man.

Then people began spilling out of the gambling den, armed guards and patrons ready for a fight. After a tense moment Rose realized that they were going to help Edward, and she relaxed. Disaster was averted… but it was only the first of many over the years.

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Rotblossom Rose (1.57R)

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.

Here is the first post of this series.

Here is last week’s post.

<>

The red-tinged glow of wraithstone lamps casts the metal passage to the Spider’s lair in a sinister light. Rose cannot help but see every new node, switch, or join as a potential trap. It takes an effort of will to banish the thoughts of flesh-melting acid and bone-crushing deadfalls dogging her every step. She had to appear confident in this little game she was playing with The Spider, not revealing what she knew of his betrayals. He was watching her every move, fingers poised to activate his defences, waiting for some sign that would reveal her true purpose. If she fails, he would kill her, but Rose carries the one thing that the Spider would risk everything for: proof of the Sorceress’s death. The Spider’s need and arrogance will be his undoing. Hopefully.

The tunnel seems much longer than usual, which she tells herself is to be expected considering how far The Spider has extended his contraption. But what if he is just toying with her, sending her round and round in circles until he tired of the game. Rose pushes the thought away, but it is hard to keep cool. Rose desperately wanted a hit of The Blue to steady her nerves, or even some alcohol, but she knows that the Spider is watching her. She needs him to think that he has the upper hand, that he is still in control.

The tunnel shifted and changed, swallowing Rose like a massive, if sterile, Rockworm. It would be easy for her to disappear down here. A bead of sweat formed on her back, trickling down as she crawled.

Then, abruptly, she sees another door, the familiar round hatch that always leads into the heart of the Spider’s Lair. Without hesitation she turns the valve and slides down into the belly of the beast, eschewing the brass-runged ladder, as is her habit.

“Hello, Rose,” the Spider’s voice is like a knife twisting in her. She is unprepared for the surge of hatred and it takes all of her self-control not to snarl. She wishes that she could have smuggled a knife or some kind of weapon in, but her metal arm will have to do.

“Hello, Spider,” says Rose, meeting his gaze. His eyes are as flat and predatory as those of his namesake.

“You said you have proof of her death?”

Rose could hear the hunger in his voice and she knew then that she had made the right play. He needed this, and his need made him as weak as that girl in the house on the road to Avalain, so long ago.

“I do, but first I want to know why you didn’t hold up your end of the deal Spider. What happened to the plan?”

“You have no right to question me, Rose. Show me the proof or you will suffer.”

Rose felt a thrill of excitement now. The Spider’s need robbed him of his detachment, making him seem almost human. She had power here, now.

“No.”

Their eyes met. His hands twitched and he began to weave his metal threads. She did not look at them, knowing now what that motion portended. Funny, Rose had always thought he was drugging her.

“Come now, Rose,” said the Spider and he said the word.

Rose froze. Even now, the word pulled at her, like a ships anchor dragging her down into the deep. A command implanted in her head through years of hypnosis. The web that the spider always wove with his little metal strands.

“No,” she said again.

The Spider froze, eyes wide.

“You wanted her to kill me,” said Rose. “But you misunderstood the nature of her relationship with Lawch, Spider. For all of your plans and your schemes, you failed to see the obvious. She was bound to Lawch, not controlling him. He used love to lure her into a gilded cage, but you could never understand that, could you? Once I killed him, she was free, she was grateful.”

“But you have her ear?” he gasps.

“It was the price I asked of her to do this. For a man who gave me a new body you must realize that it was not hard paid for her, just a little pain. You saw what you wanted to see though. You dared to dream that your plan succeeded better than you hoped. Just as I let my ambitions blind me to who you really are, Olias Neatze.”

The Spider scrambles out his chair. “You remember.”

“I do,” says Rose, advancing on him, her metal arm balling into a fist. And she does, now. He has always been in her visions, her dreams, screaming through her subconscious. That is why she hates him so. he was the man holding her daughter on that day, the key to their little house. Had he worked his magic on Janiye as he had Rose?

“Stop this, Rose. Don’t take another step toward me,” says the Spider, leaping into another Room.

“I am going to enjoy this,” snarls Rose, lunging at him.

And as she passes through the threshold she feels as sharp and sudden pain and falls to the floor. Is it one of his traps? She hits the ground hard fighting the darkness encroaching on her, unable to move. The Spider turns her over.

“I am impressed that you managed to overcome the conditionning, but you really didn’t think that you could kill me in a body that I made for you, did you love?”

<>

 

 

 

Rotblossom Rose (1.56R)

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.

Here is the first post of this series.

Here is last week’s post.

<>

Rose watched Edward’s descent into drunkenness from afar. In her mind he remained the same fresh faced boy who had shared her father’s brutal (and futile?) lessons on the use of the coilsword. It was a valuable skill, with all sorts of rich brats paying for lessons , just to carry an exotic weapon and brag to their friends. Rovert was determined to pass his skill on to his children, and was especially harsh with Edward who did not have the same discipline as Rose. Little Edward’s bright countenance gradually withered under cold disdain. Rose was so wrapped up in Rovert’s praise that she did not notice until she was almost an adult.

The lessons, along with her father’s miserly lack of any discernible vice or interest beyond the blade, had made the family comfortably wealthy. Not quite pinnacle, but so far beyond the Hive that Rose and Edward did not have a real concept of poverty until later in life. Edward kept the lifestyle after Rovert died, but took to the bottle. He was kind to his family, mostly, but crept further and further into danger as the years wore on. Gambling and Duels supplemented his drinking.

Rose clearly remembered the first time that she had to save him.

Edward often took out loans, rather than wait for the money on his investments he shared with Jillia, who had a much better head for numbers, or his earnings from the school. He was indiscriminate in who he borrowed money from, and ended up owing the kind of person who would collect by robbing his corpse. It was a trivial sum for someone like Edward, but a lower ward collector cannot afford to show leniency.

The coilsword the rich boy carried would pay the debt tenfold.

By then Rose was familiar enough with the Hive and other low places to see it coming. She knew that the moneylender would go for blood far sooner for far less any Bedrock ward banker. She agonized over paying the debt for him, but decided that she did not want to expose herself; it was better to act from the shadows.

She noticed them begin to follow him, take note of his movements and plan their attack. These were not foolish men. Coilswords were feared in the lower wards, and Edward still had a reputation for skill with a blade. They would take no chances, people who live on the rotten ends of The Scab seldom could.

Once they learned his patterns they set a simple trap. Hit him with a crossbow and then finish him off with needlespears. It was extravagant, but they rarely had prey like Edward.

Rose hoped that her brother would catch wind of what was planned for him. She considered leaving clues, but the risk was too great. What would he think of her, half-rotted monster that she was? Thus, when Edward stumbled out the gambling den and into the trap, Rose had no choice but to act.

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Rotblossom Rose (1.55R)

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.

Here is the first post of this series.

Here is last week’s post.

<>

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.

“Rose?”

“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.

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Rotblossom Rose (1.54R)

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.

Here is the first post of this series.

Here is last week’s post.

<>

The man, black hair graying at the temples framing a square jaw and a handsome face, smiled at Rose as she entered his shop. She was grateful for the half-mask that hid much of her face; it gave her an excuse to keep her head down, all the better to obfuscate her hate.

The man’s smile remained, but his eyes changed as he measured Rose.

“How can I help you, miss?”

Arthrin the Mendicant’s shop was on Overlook Lane, one the places where the most successful merchants and tradesmen had their shops. Rose fondly remembered shopping here with Edward and her father in her youth. They had forged the hilt for her Coilsword at a shop nearby. There had been a toymaker close-bye too, with wonderful brass soldiers and exotic games from the five kingdoms, but that shop was only a memory. Overlook Lane was prosperous and busy, and the Silverthread Span glittered through the shop window as it caught the last rays of the sinking sun.

“I need help,” said Rose, her voice rough and raw like a poorly oiled whetstone on a battered blade. “I have The Rot. Bad. It is said that you are one of the best at taking away the pain.”

Arthrin the Mendicant’s smile broadened. Rose could see the boyish glee in his eyes. It was true that he was a skilled physician, but his real trade was in torture. His clinic helped people, but those in the know could hire him for other functions. The decadent madness of the truly powerful in the city called The Scab knows no bounds. Even then, that was not enough. Rose was certain that Lawch’s old friend was stalking and killing for his own pleasure, dissecting his unfortunate victims from the poorer wards that clung to the sides of The Gash below The Silverthread Span.

“Of course, but my skills do not come cheap.”

“I do not have much money, sir, but I do have this,” Rose held up an energized Green Wraithstone, the kind much sought after in healing. It was not conspicuously powerful, but it was still worth a lot of coin.

Arthrin paused and licked his lips. The old predator had not been truly challenged in years, it seemed. “May I see that?”

“Not until you sign a notary contract to heal me in exchange for the stone,” rasped Rose.

Arthrin’s brow furrowed, his mile disappearing. “I cannot do that. Get out of my shop, vagrant and go crawl back into the gutter. I am a businessman of renown and reputation, not some criminal who needs to be bonded by contract!”

Rose had hoped that he might try to strike her right there, but Arthrin restrained himself.

“Suit yourself, bastard,” Rose spat, desecrating¬† and turned, limping out the door and turning down the street toward the span.

<>

Rose becomes aware of Arthrin following her halfway across the span. The wind is savage at this time of day, whipping across the chasm at a pace that should rock the slender, unsupported thread that runs across the gaping crevasse below. Rose, still faking the limp, looks back at her shadow.

Arthrin is wearing wind-goggles that mask his face, and a black long-jacket. He grins when he sees that she has spotted him. It is a grin she has seen before, on that day in her little house on the road to Avalain as Arthrin drove spike after spike into her beloved Morn while Lawch and his band of bastards laughed. How many people have seen that grin as they died?

Rose turns and begins to limp faster. Arthrin matches her pace, relaxed and certain of the kill. He has no desire to kill her on the bridge, of course; he likes to take his time. She leads him on, until they come to a part of the Span which is deserted, with no one within a fifty paces either way.

Rose turns; it is her time to smile. Arthrin the Mendicant stops, his hand reaching for his knife, his expression betraying concern. Rose lets the ragged cloak hiding her metal arm drop. The wind snatches it, pulling the garment off the bridge and into the void below. She lets him see her as she stretches out, lithe and confident, a predator of a higher order. She puts on her silver skull masks and advances on him. His knife flashes into his hand, a well concealed short-sword into hers. His eyes widden with fear as she knocks his blade from his hand and drives the blade into his gut, pushing him up against the edge of the span. He is undone by the blow, soiling himself as he is overcome by pain and fear.

“Wh–” he gasps.

“You killed my family. You and Lawch, on the road to Avalain, twenty years ago, Arthrin. I want you to die slowly, as you killed my husband. Only instead of spikes, I think I will let the fall do the work.”

She pushes him against the railing, her metal arm crushing his shoulder. He struggles, but a twist if the blade in his belly robs him of strength and with a grunting effort she heaves him over, breaking his grip.

“NOOOOOoooo!” wails Arthrin the Mendicant as he drops into The Gash, his eyes full of horror as gravity takes him.

Rose watches him as he falls, savoring the moment, knowing she will have quiet dreams tonight.

<>

Two days later a Bleedwarpt Titan crawls up the side of The Gash, wreaking havoc until the Steamlancers down it. Rose is left to wonder…

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Rotblossom Rose (1.53R)

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.

Here is the first post of this series.

Here is last week’s post.

<>

The candle sputters out as heavy metal pole flies across the room, a lethal projectile driven by rage. Rose stumbles as she launches it, barely able to compensate for the massive effort that it takes to throw such an object.

The sorceress’s does not even look at her as she raises a hand. Her veins pulse blue, as if she were a glass vessel filled with molten sapphire lace. Rose feels the bleed, as pure and strong as if she were drinking the best stuff she has ever had. A shiver runs down the hairs on the back of her neck as the candle-stick stops in mid flight, and then slowly drops to the ground.

“Rage and muscle will get you nothing here, girl,” says the Sorceress. “Neither will all your prowess with a sword. If you realized your potential, you could face me as an equal, perhaps even overcome me as I–“

Rose hurls herself across the space between them, a very different kind of projectile, flooding her system with every bit of Wraithstone that she can inject. This time the sorceress meets her eye, and waves her hand. Her veins flash blue again. Rose feels something hit her chest and she flies backward as if kicked by a mule. A gentle force arrests her fall and she comes to a rest floating in space, held immobile.

The Red pulses through her veins, and Rose, without the outlet of motion and violence froths rabidly.

“FUCK YOU CUNT, I’LL CUT YOUR FACE OFF. I”LL GUT YOU AND LEAVE YOU FOR THE WRONGBLOODS. I”LL MAKE YOU BEG FOR DEATH!”

The Sorceress waits patiently, even picks up an elegant crystal glass and sips at some red wine. Watching Rose as she spits and sputters. Rose hangs in the air, part of a demonstration of raw power that she finds more shocking with each passing moment.

“Are you done?” asks the sorceress.

“Yes” croaks Rose, her voice breaking with anguish. “Just finish it.”

The sorceress laughs. In twenty years of trying, Rose never uncovered the woman’s name or any other salient point about her, now she realizes why. The Sorceress, like The Spider, has been moving the pieces of this game.

“I’m not going to kill you, Rose.”

“You should. You have to. I will not rest until I see you dead for what you did to my family, bitch.”

“I had no choice in that, I was bound to Lawch.”

Rose laughed, a sharp rasp that ended in a cough, from habit. “You seem pretty capable of making you voice heard to me. I killed Lawch and yet here I am, helpless as a fucking child. How could he force you to do his bidding?”

“The same thing that made you think that you could escape The Scab and live at your little house on the road to Avalain. I loved Lawch… I was young, he was charming and dangerous, and not at all afraid of what I could do. He used my love to extract a promise that bound me to him, one that I could not break.”

“You helped keep me a live… I broke it for you…” said Rose, feeling ill.

“Poor Rose, a pawn in so many games… Yes. You killing Lawch freed me. I knew what you were when I saved you from death and I knew that you would kill Lawch if you could.”

“Great story. I will still kill you.”

“No, you won’t. I have two names that are not on your list that should be and one that was, that should not have been. I will trade these to be free of your hate.”

Rose stared.

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