A dumb, non-endorsed short story.

Practice makes perfect. Or at least, so I’m told. Occasionally I’ll just sit down and churn out something stupid in a vain attempt to maintain some form of writing quality. The result here, I think, speaks for itself really.

“Huh, I guess it was nothing after all.”

The above is an extract taken from a conversation between two palace guards. There really is no need to go into any real detail regarding the two chaps, considering by the time it will have taken you to finish reading this sentence, they will have been murdered. Oops, there they go. One took an arrow to the face and the other the knee, causing him to topple and fall from the balconies, landing on a poor unsuspecting granny raising money for some stray kittens.

Guess they’re going to have to go hungry after all.

It’s a funny old life being a guard. In almost every single realm or, heck, even universe, it seems like they just have one job; to stand around uselessly until the hero or villain of the tale blows past them and knocks them out or kills them, depending on their mood. It was no different for these two particular unfortunate souls, who now find themselves joining a very long queue for security jobs in heaven. It’s funny actually; there are a lot of red shirted people up there for some reason.

The palace that they’d done such an outstanding job in guarding belongs to none other than the High Daemonic Lord Elt’Gat, a rather purple looking bloke with a tendency of making somebody burst into flames for passing the mustard instead of the ranch sauce. He’s not a very nice person really.

So why are there currently a group of ten highly trained assassins donned head to toe in black heading for his bed-chambers?

It certainly isn’t for a slumber party.

Observe the one at front.

This particular assassin’s name is Jedidiah, and he’s a right nasty piece of work.

Wearing the stereotypical jet black cloth of an assassin, wielding no less than three daggers and carrying a deadly yew bow armed with several razor edged arrows, he’s the kind of guy that warrants the short anti-joke, “Jedidiah walks into a bar. Everybody else immediately gets up and leaves, recognising the potential danger in the situation.”

Here now, as, followed by his “merry” band of killers, he approaches the doorway to the daemons bed chamber.

Ushering his troupe to line up along the wall, he puts his ear to the wall and motions everybody to be quiet. They comply. The wicked scar that slashes directly across his forehead and through his right eye gives him a sort of “I’m clearly a tougher guy than you, so sit the hell down,” authority.

Through the fairly thin wood of the door, he hears snoring; a horrendous, carnivorous sound, somewhere between a lion’s roar and the gross old lady who serves school meals with the flu attempting to breathe through her mucus filled mouth.

The mark is present. It’s time to end it.

Slowly, the door creaks open, and the ten assassins move in.

It may seem a little silly really, seeing as usually when one hires an assassin, one does the job. However, when it comes to felling a daemon, particularly a daemon lord like Elt’gat, a little more precaution is required. Elt’gat, although primarily humanoid, has the aforementioned violet skin, accompanied by claws for hands which could gut a man in a single swipe. Additionally, when hunting Elt’gat, always be aware of his breath. It’s toxic, and that’s just when he inhales. “How is that possible?” it can be asked. The answer is simple, magic. That should infuriate the scientists.

Jedidiah sneaks up to the bed, a dagger in each hand and a third now between his teeth, so much for personal hygiene. Then again, in the barely remembered Kingdom of Afterlight, where these particular events are unfolding, standing out in the rain counts as a shower, so it’s all a matter of opinion really.

The beast has yet to move, beyond the horrendous snoring. Using the daggers in his hands, Jedidiah plunges down, with an evil gleam in his left eye.

His arms lock up.

Elt’Gat smiles coyly. He slowly opens his eyes and indicates upwards.

In horror, Jedidiah stares at the ceiling, where a number of large, grinning spiders stare down at him. Jedidiah and the assassins look around themselves; they notice that in their blind enthusiasm, they all filed themselves neatly into a complete entanglement of webbing, restricting their every move.

Elt’gat stands up, all eight feet of him, and inhales, before sweeping the entire room in fire.

“Should’ve gone to Specsavers,” he says later, before returning peacefully to bed.

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An Extract from my shelved Project

To illustrate that I’m not all just bluster about my various writing projects, I’ve decided to share publicly one of the first sections of my old project in search of any kind of feedback and in order to find out whether it would be worth attempting to continue. Apologies for any grammatical or spelling errors, this is the first draft that was written almost a year and a half ago.

Far away and several hours later, the sun rose over the city state of Horizon. People have tried to rationalize exactly what makes Horizon so unique, and the only conclusion they can come to is that by all that is right and logical, the city shouldn’t exist at all. Far away in the deserts, the frozen tundra, the grassy plains and the mountainous steppes there is nothing quite like what can be found in the gigantic metropolis. A city is meant to consist of several key things: a number of buildings; a cathedral; places of work and self-sustainability. Horizon has all of that as well as a few other things. A size so spectacularly huge that it cannot wholly be seen anywhere from the lands surrounding it, large buildings towering up into the cloud level made almost entirely of wood and brass, as well as vehicles and machines and contraptions and gizmos that run entirely on steam. It also has a large iron wall which runs around the circumference of the city, too tall to see over and too jagged on the outside to climb. Outsiders make the assumption that the city council and its citizens are just trying to show off.

The sunrise was being watched by a lone figure situated in the absolute tallest piece of architecture. He was in a large room in which there was a rather big, oval shaped table sat in the centre. Around this table were fifty expensive chairs in which all but one housed a diplomat or an ambassador or a foreign representative. The only one that was unoccupied was the Doge’s. The Doge of Horizon moved away from the window and sat down at the table – he was directly opposite the undead ambassador, a skeleton in a long, black robe – the latest in undead fashion. He could see himself feeling rather uneasy for the next few hours.

The chairman opened up negotiations.

“Ladies and Gentlemen and Unfortunately Circumstanced,” he said, giving a quick nod to the Gnomish diplomat. The gnome gave him the middle finger. “I come to you today,” he continued, undeterred, “in order to put forward this agenda,” he said, as he plonked a dishearteningly large stack of paper onto the table “so that we may end these conflicts nice and amicably. I blame the Ghittish.” He said the last bit in an almost singsong voice, pointing a long, accusing finger directly at the teen emperor of the formerly called Ghittish Empire, now the Ignatum Imperium.

“What?” he wailed. “What did we do exactwy you buffoon?”

“You conquered and annexed no less than ten countries, the representatives of which can’t be here today because you murdered them.”

“I didn’t do nuffin! Tell ‘em General Dextwous!”

“Dextwous” stood up. General Dextrous was not only the diplomat of the Imperium, but also its chief military advisor and most decorated war veteran. The Empire took the idea of Total War a little too seriously.

“The Lord Imperial Commander and Emperor, veteran of a thousand wars, bringer of justice and light, lord of all our salvations, harbinger of efficiency and all around stand-up guy, would like you to know that he “Didn’t do nuffin!”” rattled out the general. Dextrous sat down again.

Indeed, the Imperium is absolutely responsible said a raspy, grating voice. The Doge looked at the Emperor and saw him looking red faced and with his lip curled into the eye-sockets of the undead ambassador. The sound didn’t appear to have come from his mouth, instead it just sort of emitted from his general direction.

“Why, why, why, why, WHY?” bawled the Emperor.

You created us for your pawns.

“The Lord Imperial Commander and Emperor, veteran of a thousand wars, bringer of justice and light, lord of all our salvations, harbinger of efficiency and all around stand-up guy, does not have a fetish for the undead.”

“Thank you Dextwous!” said the Emperor smugly.

We think you misunderstand us.

For some reason the undead, even if there was only one present, always spoke as a collective.

You brought us back from our eternal slumber to conquer the world for you.

“Well cwearwy not! If I were in control of you, then why would you speak out against me so you big bwute!” screeched the teen.

Because you ballsed it up, you ninny.

“The Lord Imperial Commander and Emperor…”

“Must you?” the chairman cut in, clearly frustrated.

“The Lord Imperial Commander and all around stand-up guy does not take kindly to being called a ninny.” Dextrous had gotten up again and promptly sat down.

The Doge was getting annoyed. Allowing everyone to congregate in the palace of Horizon had been a mistake.

“To return to the original point in hand,” said the chairman, “The Council and I have come to the conclusion that the blame is to be placed squarely on the heads of the Ignatum Imperium, and as such here are the terms of your surrender.”

The Doge looked back over at the large stack of paper. Were they all terms?

“…according to paragraph five, subsection three point six, your army is to be demobilized down to one thousand auxiliary troops and my gran who’s looking for work…”

The chairman went on to read out everything. Fortunately he was a fast reader. The Doge got more entertainment out of watching the obnoxious teen’s expression fall further and further as each new resolution was read out. It was going to fall off of the brat’s stupid face at this rate.

“And what if I say no?” he spluttered.

“Then the Councils troops move in and utterly crush the remainder of the Imperium. Now as I was saying, you have to pay a further five billion gold in reparations…”

“The Lord Imperial Commander and Emperor would like to exclaim…”  Dextrous took a deep breath and became red faced “FIVE BILLION?!”

“Plus expenses,” said the chairman coolly.

“What expenses?”

“Several things: the laundry bill of the Councils soldiers; the tolls you neglected to pay when you stormed mercilessly into adjacent countries; VAT…”

The terms stretched on and on until well past midday, by which point if the emperor was any further sunk into his seat a rather unpleasant and improbable merging would’ve taken place. Deflated, he had no choice but to sign the paper.

To provide some context in the form of obnoxious exposition, the Ignatum Imperium had originated in the Independent City of Ghit, who around twenty five years previously had become a bit too big for their boots when it came to their policy on black magic and continental domination. They’d passed a resolution allowing for the cultists of the dark daemon Gol’Tacaroth to settle down peacefully in refuge in their territory, on the condition that anything they summoned from the etherrealms became part of Ghit’s property. Then, the king of Ghit, the current teen emperor’s grandfather, went a bit berserk and started conquering territories, using a combination of brutally trained legions and undead hordes. They’d been pretty effective up until the undead had had enough, unionised and declared independence; after which the empires occupied territories had fallen like dominoes. Finally today had been reached, where the city of Ghit was being forced to surrender and take full credit for the war. To be fair, they had started it.

Across the room, the silence of the signing was interrupted, not only by the Emperor beginning to blub to himself, but also because a man dressed head to toe in black came hurriedly through the door and made a beeline for the ambassador from the Holy Justician Republic. After a few whispered words, the diplomat immediately whitened and excused himself.

Outside the great hall, it was all he could do to stop himself from wringing his visitor’s neck.

“By the light, what do you mean the guild has failed?” he exclaimed, incredulously.

“It’s as I say sir, we sent a… uh…representative out to take care of the old man, but we’ve heard nothing back.”

“Well can’t you send out another?”

“You only paid for the services of one assassin sir.”

“Bugger your services! You’ll receive no endorsement from me!” cried out the ambassador, a little louder than he perhaps should have done. “What that senile old coot teaches is heresy. Heresy I tell you! The Great God S’tan my arse!”

Assassins aren’t exactly a religious lot. You can’t really expect them to be. If a person was a killer and religious that would either make them an inquisitor, a crusader or some other form of nutter. Assassins do have an idol in their guild, dedicated to the first person recorded for killing for money, a woman by the name of Esmeralda, who later became known under her alter-ego “Sell-Out”, under the principle that she’d sold her own soul and right to live due to her obsession for money (They were a little incorrect with that assumption. Not a lot of people are obsessed with owning money. It’s what money can buy that is the most appealing factor. Sell-Out liked exotic holidays, long walks on a tropical beach, a good book and most importantly of all a little brown cat she purchased named Charlie). As such it was that this particular messenger of the Assassins guild had little to no respect for the motivation behind the ambassador’s hit-list.

“So what exactly is the truth then?” he muttered, sarcastically to himself. Unfortunately for him, he was heard and the ambassador took great pleasure in preaching to a heathen choir.

“We are all part of a divine purpose,” he said smugly with an air of superiority. “Our ancestors were monkeys, but they turned themselves into humans, because God told them too!”

“I see,” said the messenger dryly.

“And as it says in the book of Brian in chapter twenty nine…”

He suddenly found himself alone. Assassins are marvelous at making quick getaways. The ambassador could have done without the smoke bomb though.

It should go without saying, but ©Chris Powell 2015