Rotblossom Rose (Links & Thoughts)

Here is the final collection of links to my rough draft, serial story of grim vengeance. It is brutal and harsh, but, I think, uplifting in the end.

The story follows Rose, nicknamed Rotblossom, because cruelty, as she seeks revenge for the deaths of her Son, Daughter, and Husband, watches over her last remaining kin, and makes her fortune in the harsh, but treasure-filled Depths under the city called The Scab.

Read on, if you wish, just be warned that is based on those crude 80’s revenge films where the family gets killed and raped, and is kinda bloody in places.

For those of you who have read it, you can find my thoughts, in brief far down below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

Part 14

Part 15

Part 16

Part 17

Part 18

Part 19

Part 20

Part 21

Part 22

Part 23

Part 24

Part 25

Part 26

Part 27

Part 28

Part 29

Part 30

Part 31

Part 32

Part 33

Part 34

Part 35

Part 36

Part 37

Part 38

Part 39

Part 40

Part 41

Part 42

Part 43

Part 44

Part 45

Part 46

Part 47

Part 48

Part 49

Part 50

Part 51

Part 52

Part 53

Part 54

Part 55

Part 56

Part 57

Part 58

Part 59

Part 60

Part 61

Part 62

Part 63

Part 64

Part 65

Part 66

Part 67

Part 68

Part 69

Part 70

Some thoughts

  • I like the world, but I could have used more time for little details like the coilsword. this is evident to readers as I change the name for things partway through.
  • As much as I liked the world, I wonder if this would have made a better pirate story. Maybe I just want to write a pirate story.
  • The big reveal with The Spider and the clones and the Syndicate was somewhat according to plan, but I am not certain that it was clear to the reader.
  • I am happy with the end of the tale.
  • “give the depths their due” is a great line. I am also pleased with “undulating incongruity”
  • I wonder if these stories would do well on Patreon. Certainly, if they did it might be a good place to get some feedback.

All this is copyright CPDHarris, as always.

 

 

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Rotblossom Rose (1.70R)

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The world is partly based on the background of an unpublished Steampunk game that I worked on with a few friends, which has grown in my mind over the last couple of years.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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Past and present collide as Stethrey, a boy of ten years steps forward to face his father’s killer just as Rose’s own son, Gared, had tried to protect his own family that day on the road to Avalain.

“I will kill you, villain!” snarls little Stethrey, brandishing a small rapier.

Where he found the sword, Rose can not say, but he holds it well and even though there are tears in his eyes as he advances toward her, there is steel in them as well. She can see his father in the set of his jaw and nimble footwork, but the look in his eyes reminds her of his grandfather.

“Heed you mother and walk away, boy,” she says coldly, pointing the tip of her coilsword at him. “My blade still thirsts.”

“Never!” he says, hesitating only briefly.

“Nooo!” screams Amelia, a wrenching sound that seems directed at reality itself as much as her son.

By now their drama has gone on long enough that it has even disturbed even the cynical denizens of the city called The Scab; Rose can here the sound of booted feet running behind her. She does not bother turning, it will be over before they can intervene.

“Come at me then, boy,” she says, taking up a stance that is familiar to them both, circling so she can see both sides of the bridge. “Give the depths their due.”

He obliges. Stethrey’s thrust is surprisingly good, even to Rose. It reminds her of another little boy, so long ago, trying in vain to save his family, somehow striking a true villain. She smiles behind her silver skull mask as the tip pierces her jerkin; her nephew’s eyes are wide as his blade pulls free, stained crimson. Rose plays her role well and she feels no pain as she falls back against the railing where the last name on her list was crossed off moments ago. Her body slumps over the cold stone barrier and then plunges into the waiting abyss. As the shadows take her, Rose closes her eyes, picturing the little boy returning to his crying mother, a hero now, relief washing over them both.

She does not scream on the way down and her body is lost to the depths.

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Later, Geb will be standing by the gate with Scarab. He will have heard of of all that has passed, but faith and loyalty will keep him waiting.

He will catch sight of a face in the crowd that is both familiar and yet strange to him, bereft of both the outward ruin and the brooding weight of vengeance. He will call out.

And if I told you then that it was Rotblossom Rose and that she came to him and they laughed and embraced, would you believe me then? Or would you just tell me that I was seeing what I wanted to see?

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Thank you for reading. Let me know what you think!

 

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.

<>

“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.

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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?”

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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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