Regulate

Author’s note: Dark America will return with the next update! ┬áThis is a brief one-shot inspired by a late-night idea.

Walking past the tavern, I caught sight of a familiar shape inside. Frowning, I pushed open the door, blinking as I tried to adjust to the interior’s dimness.

“Wrynn?” I asked, moving over towards the grizzled man sitting heavily at the bar, scarred knuckles wrapped around his flagon. “What are you doing in here?”

He turned a single eye to fix me, and I felt my spine snap towards attention without any conscious input. Wrynn was the oldest man in the village, and the oldest Gifted that I’d ever met. Others were older, of course – ones like Glass Alice had their own legends built up – but Wrynn was the oldest that I’d actually met.

“What d’you think I’m doing in here?” the old man grunted at me, tightening his shoulders slightly. “Drinking. Trying to get some damn peace and quiet.” Continue reading

Snack Drake

Brindle stumbled out of the portal, his battle-axe ready in his hands. “H’rak K’thum!” he shouted out, lifting the weapon over his head as he roared the traditional Dwarven battle cry.

Ariven next emerged from the portal, his long Elven fingers still splayed out, glowing with energy as he maintained the breach. “Is it safe, dwarf?” he called out, his focus remaining on the portal.

“Yeah, looks that way,” Brindle grunted, lowering his axe as he looked in both directions down the corridor. “Strange smell, though. Alchemical. Where have you brought us, wizard?” Continue reading

One Shot Kill

*Author’s aside: Goddamn, that’s a cool picture.*

“Come on,” the man repeated implacably as he dragged me along. “We can’t stay here. It isn’t safe.”

I wanted to shout back at him, but focused instead on keeping my feet beneath me. I’d already stumbled and nearly fallen, and learned the hard way that my new captor didn’t slow down to let me recover. Continue reading

The Uplander Woman, Part 3

For a few minutes, all my focus was on moving through the terrain as silently as possible.

That would be easier, a little part of my mind insisted on pointing out, if I could just leave Eliza behind.

The woman might have moved silently inside my house, but she had no sense of coordination for getting through the outdoors! She half-stumbled, half-trampled along like a boar in heat, crashing through dry twigs and leaving destruction in her wake. She had speed, at least, but that seemed to be the only point in her favor.

I very nearly left her behind. I wasn’t a part of her world, whatever she was caught up in, and I didn’t need to get dragged into her schemes. Let her be the one to face the Peacekeepers.

Face them, and the metal darts from those white weapons that they carried… Continue reading

The Uplander Woman, Part 2

Elisa didn’t stop, didn’t even pause in wolfing down the fish, until she’d consumed almost every morsel, picked the bones clean. She then sat back, her eyes briefly widening as a soft little belch slipped out from between her lips.

I laughed. Damn, but I couldn’t help it. It slipped out of me, just like the noise slipped out of her. I laughed, broadly and loudly, and she gave in after a second and laughed with me.

“Okay, Elisa,” I said, once I recovered. “Tell me who you are.”

She looked over at me, and started telling me titles. They meant nothing to me, nonsense. First Daughter of the High Patriarch of Spire Lindica, highborn of the Third Rank, other things that I didn’t even comprehend. It only took a few minutes before my head was spinning, and I had to hold up a hand to stop her.

“None of that means a lick of sense to me,” I groaned. “Look, why are you here?” Continue reading

The Uplander Woman, Part 1

All I saw of her at first were her eyes, gleaming out of the darkness at me. Brilliant blue, those eyes.

Looking back, they were my first sign that I was in over my head. More fool I, for not recognizing it at the time.

“Who are you?” The words slipped out of my mouth, even as a single glance at her revealed that she wasn’t anyone I knew. Not the kind of person I’d ever know, aside from a label, a single name that applied to all of her kind.

Uplander. Continue reading

The Wizard’s Conundrum

“I’m not sure I see the problem.”

I sighed, wishing that I hadn’t heard the question posed to me through a full mouth. Without turning around, I knew what filled that mouth, what gave the words their slightly sticky quality.

“The problem,” I sighed, hating that I had to explain this yet again, “is that it defies the laws of conservation of matter and energy. They shouldn’t be appearing, and the material can’t just come from nowhere.”

“They’re not bad though. Good flavor. Maybe could be heated up a little, and they’d really hit the spot.” Continue reading

The Three at the Edge of the Universe

The three figures stared at the crackling little fire, watching as a log occasionally split and sent a shower of sparks flying upward into the sky.

“Getting low on wood,” one of the three finally spoke up.

The other two didn’t move. They didn’t even look around, didn’t take their eyes off of the flickering flames. They especially didn’t look up at the rather strange architectural geometry of the sky above them, how the pinpricks of starlight in the night sky seemed to warp, as if they viewed the world through a fisheye lens.

The first figure waited another minute, tapping his fingers on the side of the log he’d drawn up as a makeshift seat. “I guess I’ll go get some more, shall I? Again,” he added pointedly. Continue reading

A Reversed Contract…

“And now,” grinned the tall stranger sitting across from me in the diner, “just sign on the dotted line at the bottom.”

For just a moment, I hesitated. A little voice in the back of my head insisted that this was a bad idea. Even if he wasn’t the Actual Literal Devil, Satan Himself, the man sitting on the other side of the booth from me looked very imposing. Scary, that was a better word for him. Terrifying, that was even better.

And he wanted my soul. Was willing to give me, Gary Albert of Bumfuck, Wisconsin, a hundred thousand dollars for my soul. Right here and now – he’d already shown me the cash. Continue reading

The Walking City

Ellie picked her way along the ridge, placing each foot carefully. The rocks were treacherous up here, the mud that normally anchored them in place having been dried by the warm breezes that blew across the tops of the rolling hills. One misstep could send her tumbling down.

Behind her, she heard the gentle clopping sounds of Old Branch, following sedately after her. Branch, named for the big antlers that he shed each season, didn’t seem to show any worry about where he put his big feet. Maybe they were better at gripping, Ellie considered. Or maybe he just didn’t worry because he had more feet than she did.

Dancing back and forth, she kept her eyes mostly on the ground. The shadow of the City stretched long in front of her, but she did her best to avoid stepping in it. The sun felt warm on her cheeks, a pleasant contrast to the chill that still hung in the air despite the sun having been up for hours. Fall was reaching its conclusion, she felt. Soon, winter would come, and heavy flakes of snow would swirl down from the skies. Continue reading