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The world is partly based on the background of an unpublished Steampunk game that I worked on with a few friends, which has grown in my mind over the last couple of years.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.
Rose’s satchel is heavy with banker’s notes and long-form receipts from the Alchemist’s Syndicate as she makes her way through the maze of alleys, called Meryn’s Tangle, looking for the signs of her destination, the entrance to The Spider’s lair.
She walks alone, still bruised and cut from her battle with Cackles, but she has no fear here. Even if someone knew that she carried the notes and a handful of the choicest energized Wraithstone as well, only a fool would attack her now. The Spider is feared, even beyond the Hive, and for good reason. Entire gangs have disappeared in minutes in his territory, never to be seen again.
Meryn’s Tangle is alive with people. Even the most remote of its nonsensical alleys will have people in it. The tenements and shacks are as overcrowded as any in the hive, and many of those who live here are the agents of The Spider. Some of the people in the alleys recognize Rose, and give greeting, a hello or a nod, and today she gives them as much a of a smile as the good half of her face can manage. It is a good day: after all, Cackles is dead.
The Tangle is much older than The Spider, so old that many of its secrets have been forgotten in other power centers in the city.
Rose passes a sleeping beggar with a monstrously swollen arm, one of the Halfwarpt that call the Tangle home. Halfwarpt are feared, for obvious reasons, but The Spider lets them sleep in The Tangle, and protects them. He also makes use of any talents they might gain from the Bleed Warp.
Rose wanders, her eyes open for certain kinds of marks. She sees the first marks at the start of a covered alley where some children are tossing dice for a game of Yactus. The next set of marks appear above a door in a small tavern. She moves through the tavern sees marks on the stairs into the cellar. The bouncer watches her go down, but says nothing. In the cellar Rose spots the familiar trapdoor that will lead her down to the Spider’s lair. She pounds on the door and waits, after a moment it slides open, revealing a set of broad stairs leading down into the earth. Rose descends and trapdoor snaps shut behind her.
The Spider’s underground lair is the most interesting part of Meryn’s tangle. Long before it became a slum, this part of the hive was home to someone who valued their privacy enough to build a spacious underground realm with a hidden doorway that could connect to dozens of places throughout the tangle. It was a marvelous machine, and one that only The Spider truly understood.
He greeted her as she descended into the mail hall. The Spider was alone, As always, Rose felt a shiver of revulsion upon seeing the man. She steeled herself, thinking ‘this man is an ally, trust him’, before meeting his gaze.
“Hello Rose,” said the Spider, weaving his metal strings into strange patterns between his hands, as always. “You’re not hurt too badly, I trust?”
“No,” said Rose. “Here is the haul.”
She tossed him the satchel. The Spider counted the bank notes and examined the reciepts while she waited. This room was well appointed, with several couches, long tables, and bookcases.
“What of Cackles?”
“Dead. He Warpt on me. I saw some of it and made detailed notes.”
The Spider was fascinated by warping; he always wanted to know everything about the Bleedwarpt that they encountered.
“Fascinating. Did he still recognize you, Rose?”
“I believe so.”
“Oh, I look forward to reading those. Any Wraithstone from him?”
Rose dumped the energized stones out of her small satchel. The Spider bent over to examine them and Rose felt relief that his eyes were not upon her.
“This blue is his?”
“Yes, and the smaller red. The bright green one as well.”
“Of course, of course. How many does that leave on your list.”
“Lawch and his Bleedweaver and… and…”
Rose staggered, looked down and saw the floor rushing up to meet her, and then everything went dark.