Myst, Robin Gould

Robin Goul lives in Hampshire and divides his time between part-time retail and part-time fight co-ordination for film. While his favourite author is David Eddings he owes his writing style more to the influences of martial arts and combat choreography. He finds one of the biggest effects on his writing is his sarcastic sense of humour, which he puts down to the company he keeps.

__________________________________________________________

Whenever you hear stories about the “old days”, the ones that involve ancient prophecies, dark lords and great heroes, they always start with a storm. There is always rain, falling in great, unrelenting waves, driven on by fierce, howling winds to ravage anyone foolish enough to venture from their homes. I had always assumed that the storytellers added the storms in because it was supposed to make everything feel dramatic. Unfortunately, storms didn’t make me feel dramatic; they made me feel cold and wet. If I had a storyteller here with me now, I’d kick the crap out of him. See how dramatic he found it then.

A passing car shook me from my musings by covering me with water from the small river that had formed in the gutter of the road and I hurled a stream of abuse down the street after it. It didn’t really make any difference to my condition, but it still pissed me off. In my current mood, kittens would piss me off. I pulled the hood of my sweater further over my head and adjusted the collar of my trench coat again in an effort to trick myself into thinking that it might make a difference. I gave up on that after a second car splashed me. Whole fucking city is full of assholes. I stepped into an alleyway and once again cursed myself for taking this job.

A woman had come to my office three days ago, late forties, well dressed, obviously had money. She claimed her name was Jones (some people have no imagination) and said that she wanted me to investigate her husband as she suspected he was cheating on her, etcetera, etcetera. Normally I avoided the whole cheating spouse thing like the plague. Everyone gets too emotional, no one thinks clearly and more often than not, someone ends up doing something stupid and I end up getting caught smack bang in the middle of it all. In short, it’s not worth the hassle. The problem was, this time, the damn woman kept on adding zeros to my fee until it did become worth the hassle. I knew that something must be wrong with the whole deal and if I’d had a lick of sense I’d have sent her on her merry way. But it was a lot of zeros and I have something of a weakness for zeros. In the end Mrs Jones gave me a photo of her husband, a decidedly average-looking guy, a list of places he frequented, a more than generous down payment and left me to get on with it.

So here I was, standing on a street corner in one of the worst parts of town, soaked through to my underwear, freezing cold, and miserable as hell, as I watched Mrs Jones’ husband walk into an old, boarded-up warehouse filled with a bunch of shaven-headed idiots that couldn’t have been less subtle if they’d rigged up a big neon sign.

The good news was that he wasn’t cheating on his wife. The bad news was that he was a member of some sort of demon worshipping cult. Actually, forget the good news; considering what some of these cults get up to at their little get-togethers, he probably was cheating on his wife. Still with all the blood sacrifice and communing with fell powers, I imagined that that’ll be something of a moot point to her at this stage. I wonder if demon worship is grounds for divorce.

Unfortunately for me, if I wanted to get paid for this little fiasco, I’d need to get proof. That meant going in after him, into the building with all the crazies. It was precisely because of this sort of thing that I had quit being a Justicar and gone freelance. I liked being able to pick my jobs and avoid chance encounters with demon worshipping loons, mostly because, every so often, you get a few that aren’t just delusional-crazy, they’re actually-communing-with-the-abyss-crazy. I’m not just bragging when I say that, if I had too, I could probably handle a room full of cultists, but a room full of cultists and their demonic pen-pal? No amount of money is worth that shit.

Though it was an awful lot of zeros.

Oh, fuck it.

As I made my way across the street, it occurred to me that there may still be other cultists yet to arrive. The smart move would be to wait for another half hour to give them all time to arrive, but I decided against it because, quite frankly, I was fed up with standing out in the rain. As it turned out, I had made the right decision in heading straight over, because as I neared the door of the warehouse, I began to feel a prickling sensation on the back of my neck.

Shit.

One of the requirements to becoming a Justicar is a sensitivity for supernatural forces, such as sorcery. Over time you are taught how to recognise the subtle nuances of the different types of power, of magic, that exist in the world. For example, the arcane pressure that I could feel building in the warehouse in front of me was definitely abyssal. It was also definitely some sort of summoning spell.

So I say again:

Shit.

Knowing that there was no time for subtlety, I stripped off my water-logged trench coat and stuffed it under a dumpster. I liked the coat and I figured that it was a lot less likely to get ruined under there than it was with me. I just hoped no damn hobo ran off with it. Next I pulled back the right sleeve of my equally soaked sweat-shirt, revealing the polished metal bracer that I wore around my wrist.

Upon becoming a Justicar, a recruit is given two specially crafted items: the Justicar’s Sword and the Justicar’s Shield. In this day and age they rarely take the form of an actual sword or shield, the names are just symbolic, in keeping with the whole knightly order thing. Justicar’s Shotgun doesn’t really have the same ring to it. The bracer was my Shield.

With my finger, I traced the rune engraved on the back of the bracer. Where my finger led, heatless, silver flame followed. When the glowing rune was fully alight, the silver fire began to spread over my arm. For a moment my entire arm was ablaze and when the flames died down, my arm was encased in a full sleeve of silver plate armour. Even after all these years, I still thought the process looked cool.

I turned attention back to the door. I flexed my newly armoured arm, allowing myself a moment to relish the feeling of strength. The door had one of those little hatches for checking who was outside. I allowed myself a quick grin; I really shouldn’t have been enjoying this quite this much. With my unarmoured left hand I knocked. I had to struggle not to laugh when it opened and a pair of squinty eyes gazed out at me.

“You need a new door,” I told him simply.

His look of confusion turned to horror as I punched my silver fist through the door (thus facilitating the need for a new one) and grabbed him by his robe. I jerked my arm back and was rewarded with a very satisfying impact as the cultist’s face struck the back of the door. The cultist, for his part, was rewarded with unconsciousness. A few seconds of fumbling with latches on the other side of the door and I was in.

Beyond the now broken door was a small, empty room with a single door on the far wall. The room itself was thoroughly ordinary, which, surprisingly, I found quite disappointing. I’m not sure what I was expecting, skulls with candles sticking out of them, runes painted with the blood of virgins, some dead animals, maybe. The thing is, I’ve seen enough of these things to know that it’s almost never like it is in the stories; nothing ever is. I think that part of me wants to see that stuff, because it would separate these people from everyday folk. Problem is, that’s just what they are, everyday folk, like the people you walk past on the street everyday. They’re somebody that you work with, somebody you sit next to on the bus. They’re you, just one bad choice further down the road. It’s a fucking depressing thought, isn’t it. That’s why I hate dealing with cultists. Still, somebody had to deal with this lot and, as there wasn’t exactly a queue of volunteers lined up, it was my problem. I opened the second door; behind it was a dimly lit corridor. From somewhere down the corridor, I could hear the sound of voices chanting.

The arcane pressure was even heavier inside the warehouse. Abyssal power was always accompanied by a feeling of “wrongness” and I was starting to feel a little nauseous. The feeling didn’t really bother me too much; in fact I was glad that it felt so unpleasant. I just hoped there never came a day when it felt right. I was, however, still grateful that I hadn’t eaten for several hours.

__________________________________________________________

© Robin Gould, 2012

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s