Wednesday, June 17, 2015

City of Curses: Iron Justice 1 (Short Story)

Ok.  Starting a new short story in Crux today.  Trying to use some of my worldbuilding and a prior character to write something, well, me-ish.  Enjoy!

Iron Justice

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

"Oy!"  Nalli grumbled.  The Ursyklon kept up with us, despite being only half of our size.  "Why do
these things always have to be so dark?"

"Theatres always are dim, Nalli.  Part of the atmosphere."  Odward's wry tone summoned a glare from the Ursyklon.  His fanged smirk always had a brilliant glow to it.  I always wondered how a Dhampir with such a charming sense of humor could've chosen to be one of the grim vigilantes of the Justicars.  Their Iron Cage always rubbed me the wrong way- and I was born in the Wish Quarter, the part of Crux they called home.

"Nalli, The Storm Throne is one of classics.  Its themes are dark, but also warn about the nature of power and self-fulfilling prophecy."  I stepped past my Ursyklon friend as we walked down the street into the little valley that marked the Grand Bazaar.  A Diva of the Singer of the Song, I knew the importance of story.  The Storm Throne had a critical, beautiful message to it.

I wasn't trying to be condescending.  Divas know beauty.  Its what we do.

"Ack.  Everyone died, practically."

"Well..." I paused in thought.  "Tragedies are like that.  Haven't you seen them before?"

Nalli looked up at me with her green eyes.  She always had worn her hair very short, efficent and black.  I could also see the runes on her cheeks, each in the shape of a eagle in flight, under her eyes.  The Greenknife shrugged.  "I like comedies.  If I want to see people die, I'd go to Poorfellows with a bag of cash, throw it up and watch the riot."

Odward materialized a smoking pipe.  A cinnamon scent waffed from it.  "I don't know, Nalli.  I rather liked the character of Aeth.  Reminded me of a certain, violent person I know."

"Oh.  The Ursyklon witch who predicts doom."  Nalli sighed with irritation.  "Gee, Odward, is that as original as a romance chapbook with a vampire wooing some milkmaid?"

Odward frowned.  The iron cage symbol of Shraxes tattooed on his pale forehead wrinkled up.

"Nalli-"  I tried to correct her, but the Ursyklon Greenknife, as always, beat me to it.

"Stereotypes, I know."  Nalli flicked up a hand, tossing a coin to a nearby vendor.  The Salish vendor handed over something steaming hot to my little companion.  "Still.  Don't you get sick of them?"

Odward and I looked down at her eat.  As long as I've known her, Nalli always either progressing to eating something, done eating something, or talking about doing the latter.  Odward seemed satisfied with his pipe.

Hunger rumbled through my belly for a moment. Great.  Now I wanted to eat something too.

"Well, we could get something to eat I guess-"  I had been about to suggest we could continue our conversation there.  But we weren't ever going to make it that far.

The City of Curses decided then it was going to interrupt our evening.

"Qorg said WHERE IS PET?!"  One of the nearby red-and-white brick arcades then exploded into shrapnel.  People, merchants and customers alike, fled around us.  Even at this time of night, the Grand Bazaar was busy.  From the exploded arcade's remains, a grey-skinned giant with black eyes appeared.

Qorg had been dressed in the blue velvet finery of one of the Spice Khan's jannissaries.  His yellow turban didn't make the grey giant look any less terrifying.  I couldn't determine his size from the hole he left in the wall.  Between his thick mitts he had a strong grip on some hapless merchant.

"What in the Demon's Gaze is that?"  Odward spat.  He, like Nalli and I, stared at the mess before us.

"Trouble.  The same trouble we always seem to find."  Nalli observed.

"Qorg?  Seriously.  A giant named Qorg?!"  Qorg?  Since when was I encountering such things that had names like Qorg that spoke of themselves in the third person?

Out of the dust a figure crawled out.  It moved quietly.  It had been coated in the detritus Qorg's little tantrum had created.  I couldn't make out precise features, but it looked like a human of one kind or another.  Covered in robes, dragging heavy on a chain behind him.

"PET?"  Qorg yelled.  It sounded like some sort of animal call.  He didn't see the same figure I had spotted.  The giant continued to thrash at the merchant.

I moved toward the figure trying to get away from Qorg.  Instinct took over, and I began to sing.  I cut a interesting sight.  A fiendblooded in a beautiful dress, horns glittering in the light.  I let my talent as a Diva ring.  I sang a song meant to do one and only one thing.

"What are you doing?"  Nalli tapped my hip from behind me.  "You don't go singing giant slaying songs to a giant, you lunatic."

Qorg's angry eyes looked down at me.  "Qorg busy finding Pet, little Fiendblood.  Smart fiendblood walks, understand?"

I smirked.  "Qorg scared of a little fiendblood like me?  Just a song, Qorg.  Don't you like my voice?"

Qorg squeezed out from the hole in the Arcade he'd made.  The grey giant in the yellow turban stood up to his full head.  He looked down at me from twelve feet in the air.  I heard Nalli cursing from behind me.  Odward wasn't to be seen at all.

Qorg's eyes filled with rage.  "Fiendblood gets last chance.  Go away.  Go find tiny talky dog to go suck."

Instead, I slapped my hands together.  "No, Qorg.  You surrender, and I don't cut your balls off.  Whoever you're looking for?  Their under my protection.  Comply with my surrender, or face the consequences."

The grey giant continued to glare down at me.  I could see the robed man look at me from his hiding spot, still dragging the weight behind him.  Fear in his eyes.  They were young eyes.  Weary from something horrible.

Then Qorg started to laugh.  I kept my jaw clenched.  The belly laugh of the giant caused dust to rise up.  Debris clattered around us.  I tried not to show how intimidating that laughter was.

Nalli crouched behind me.  She had her revolver out.  The Greenknife aimed high, a roll of bread and meat still partly in her mouth.

"No."  Qorg looked down at me like I was some sort of mewling cat.  "Qorg promise to leave neck.  Pretty voice.  No need to keep arms and legs though.  No need at all."

Part 2