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The world is partly based on the background of an unpublished Steampunk game that I worked on with a few friends, which has grown in my mind over the last couple of years.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 a week after killing Grime Downbridge, Rose felt good. In fact she felt better than she had almost any time since before, save the day that she had slit Kragorr throat and escape the slave mines.
Kragorr was a more formidable foe, but with Grime she had been able to savour the look on his face as she stuck him in the groin and slit him open. Even thinking of it brought a smile to her face, at least the parts that could still move.
Smiling, however, reminded her of a different predicament. A woman with a face half-eaten by the Rot was quite distinctive, even in a part of The Scab where people were frequently afflicted with diseases and various type of Bleedwarp. A hood was a fine way to hide it most of the time, but she needed something else for occasions when she had to show her face.
Ten days after she killed Downbridge, Rose was sketching masks, while sipping tea in her hideout. She found it hard to grip the paper with the iron hook or pick that she wore on the stump of her arm, but she was acclimatizing.
She was considering the idea of a new hand, one made of metal and powered by wraithstone, when a sound outside her door caused her to take pause. No one came to this tiny room in a forgotten corner of a run-down inn; even the owner of the building had been given strict instructions to leave her alone.
This is what I get for paying in advance… Rose thought as she stared at the door latch, turning ever so slowly. Was it locked? The latch stopped, jiggled, and stopped again, then silence.
Rose unsheathed her knife and slid to the wall beside the door as quietly as she could, readying herself to strike anyone who came through. There was no sound. But she also did not hear any bootfalls that would indicate whoever it was had left.
She was just beginning to wonder, when she heard a scuffle and then something hit the door, tearing it off it’s hinges. A big man walked into the room, a vicious looking hackblade in his hand. He cast about, looking for his prey.
The big man never saw Rose coming. She sprang into motion, driving her own blade into his kidney from behind. The man buckled, falling to the ground. He tried to struggled and Rose saw his face clearly. Their eyes met. What was he doing here?
The man was Nave Au’Sixthstreet, one of Lawch’s boys.
Rose was staring at the dying man’s face, dumfounded, when his partner slammed into her, bearing her to the ground.
“Sodding cunt, I’ll gut ya,” screamed a smaller man with weird irises, like looking at a starlight sky. She recognized this one too, called Blackeyes; another of Lawch’s mongrels.
Blackeyes slammed her head into the ground. Rose’s vision blurred and she felt the strength flow from her. Blackeyes raised his knife and brought it down. The pain of the blade puncturing her shoulder woke Rose from her torpor. She screamed and started to thrash.
“Shut up, shut up, shut up,” snarled Blackeyes, raising his blade again. Before he could bring it down this time, Rose swung her hook-hand, snagging the knee that was crushing her chest, dragging the sharp point in and under the cap.
Blackeyes wailed, trying to pull away. That only cause him more pain. He then remembered that he had a knife and tried to stab her frothing, screaming. He was bigger and stronger, but Rose kept knocking his blade off course. She yanked hard on the knee and the hook came free. Blackeyes fell back from her and Rose was free. She was on her feet and had Nave Au’Sixthstreet’s hackblade in her hand before Blackeyes began to move. By then, it was too late for him. He was bigger and stronger, but she was standing.
“You bitch, your going to– AARGH!”
Rose swung the Hackblade down, half severing Blackeyes hand at the wrist. He dropped his knife. Rose kicked him in the mouth with her big black boots, sending him sprawling.
“Look at me, Blackeyes,” said Rose. “Do you remember me?”
She waited for a glimmer of recognition in his eyes.
The hackblade rose and fell, cleaving into Blackeye’s skull, neck, and shoulder. It was a messy weapon, but effective. When she was done, she turned to Nave.
He was breathing, but appeared to be paralyzed. His eyes rolled wildly and his mouth twitched as she approached. Like Grime, Nave and Blackeyes were the least of Lawch’s band, but Rose still hated them to the depths of her soul.
She sat on Nave’s back and whispered in his ear “Do you remember when you had me like this? What you did to me? Die.”
And she slit his throat.
Then Rose fumbled in her stones, taking the bright green one and touching it to her wounded shoulder. It helped a little.
When she was ready, she gathered her belongings and left the little room and never came back.
She learned later on that Grime, Nave, and Blackeyes all worked together.
After that she was more careful to hide her identity. She bought two masks, one a plain half mask of a lady’s face, the other a full mask in the shape of a skull. She wore the second when hunting.
Nave Au’Sixthstreet Blackeyes