Dedicated to the love of my life
Tunnels and hallways dark as obsidian spread out in each direction that Syrinx could see – or more aptly, could not. Behind her lay the only source of light, a torch creating only a puddle of warm light across the cold, hard surface of the hallway’s flooring.
The light illuminated a number of mundane objects – a leather bag hastily opened and discarded, multiple paper food wrappers, a few poultices and two or three books.
Besides the clothing, white robes of the Goddess Kyara, Syrinx had left everything she still owned upon that floor. She could no longer keep those vestiges of her past life – a life which had ended so badly.
Syrinx had been a cleric of the Goddess Kyara. She had grown up following the teachings of the god of light and had lived her young adult life serving her holy word. Despite this, she had always been deemed odd by her fellow clerics. Her devotion had never been in question but her methods were often seen as highly unorthodox.
While Sisters of Kyara often became preachers in cities, or helpers of the impoverished – Syrinx became an adventurer.
She maintained her rites, her faith and her holy duty – but chose to aid those who she felt were protectors of the world through axe, sword, arrow and fist rather than through peace alone.
At the age of 17, she signed up to the Silverford Adventuring Company. She was almost immediately assigned to a burly Paladin named Aurelius Concord. The Paladin was a follower of Kyara, like herself, but chose to rather use his mace as a symbol of cleansing the world of impurity.
Kyara’s words were often interpreted in different ways. Syrinx’s chapter of sisters believed that the way to light and peace was through healing and charity – Aurelius’ chapterhouse of Paladin-Knights believed that the only way to achieve true light was the banishing of the dark.
The dark, as Aurelius stated, lay in the crevices of the world – demons, undead, vampires, wraiths and the unnatural monsters created by evil sorcerers to achieve power. Aurelius became an adventurer to rout out these evils in the world. Like Syrinx, he was also deemed unorthodox.
Due to religion at first and mutual ideals second – Syrinx and Aurelius became inseparable. Through every dungeon crawl, necromantic fortress raid, orc den siege and all manner of jobs – Syrinx and Aurelius stuck together through thick and thin.
When ghouls and skeletons ruled by the Lich Ghlor charged into the village of Grenfall, it was Syrinx and Aurelius who stood to stop the tide. Aurelius with his mighty mace and shield and Syrinx with her hammer and divine spells.
Undead hordes fell to the pair who became known as the Mace and Hammer. They were hailed as holy defenders of the people. Those times were over now.
In the old days, the only threats to the free world were the undead and beastly races. Occasionally, demons invaded the realm but the Magi and Paladin orders soon put a stop to them every time.
Who could have thought that the biggest threat to the free races were ourselves?
Silverford Adventuring, despite being one of the smaller guilds – was still home to Aurelius and Syrinx. With their aid, it had become one of the most reputed establishments in the South.
Adventuring was dying, however. Gone were the days of isolated villages and greedy kings with no desire to defend their own realm. All the ruins were looted. Every temple was now connected and supplied. The roads were now safe of dragon, orc and ghoulish adversary.
The age of men and women with nothing but a pack, a blade and a lot of wanderlust was coming to a close. Aurelius and Syrinx refused to let it die. They were followers of Kyara but that was not what drove them forward.
Both of them were unwilling to let the old ways die. They believed in wanderlust, freedom and independence more than their proclamation of the way of light.
When the Republic was declared and a security force unlike any the world had ever seen was created – adventuring died. There was no need and above that, the newfound Parliament banned the practice for good.
The Temple of Kyara felt the creation of the Republic a huge leap for the defence of the good, right and the light – Syrinx and Aurelius did not.
They travelled East, across the vast icy ocean of Feraar and into the orcish lands of Chiid.
There they continued their old ways and were happy for a time – but progress, wanted or not, can never be stopped. The orcs developed industry and formed a legal system. They were no longer barbarians.
Syrinx and Aurelius had only one more place to go – the ruins of the old high elves in the north.
They travelled for a year until they finally made contact with the remainder of the woodland elves – a people devoted to maintaining the old ways. From here they continued their adventuring.
Dragons, demons and even the undead still guarded the riches of the ancient races. It was not about clearing out the dark anymore – nor was it about riches. For the pair, it was only about the adventure. It was about excitement, novelty and freedom. They no longer followed Kyara truly and Syrinx only kept up the rites in order to maintain her healing powers.
It was in the pits of Dur’galhaar that this loss of faith caught up with her. Aurelius was caught in a fierce melee with an ogre chieftain. The chief had been commanding a horde of orcs and goblins as well as his own ogre brethren in order to attack the cities of the wood elves.
It was a usual job – go in, kill the chief, keep the treasure. Aurelius was a master defender and with the help of Syrinx, almost untouchable. Every time he took a wound from the Chieftain’s spiked club, Syrinx would heal it with a wave of light.
But during the fight, after a brutal hit to Aurelius’ knee, Syrinx’s light did not shine. Her lack of faith in the light had forbid her to use it.
Aurelius was brutally wounded as Syrinx fled in shame. The once proud Paladin was now a mere prisoner of the ogredom.
That brings us back to the beginning of this tale – where a once faithful cleric of light stood in the darkness – tears streaming down her face. Her powers were gone and her hammer lay broken.
All she had left, everything now useful to her, was a knife. It was a curved elvish blade. Just a knife. Grooved to allow a clean thrust. It was just a knife. It was quiet and possessed slits for inserting poisons. It was just a knife.
Syrinx was a hammer maiden but the old ways were now dead. Aurelius was a prisoner now in this barbaric dungeon. Syrinx had only a knife.
It was all she needed.
Humans are funny things. We hate, we love, we protect and we destroy. We are a race of paradoxes. Our existence is not defined by laws but more by whims. I find myself thinking about this more and more throughout my career. My job is to enforce the law but what if that law is nothing but a few arbitrary words created for convenience?
It was a Sunday morning. I hadn’t even checked into the precinct when I received a call from work.
“Congressman Moriarty has kicked the bucket,” Joe on the other end, had said. “Report to his residence so you can find out who pushed him there.”
Joe had never been one for politeness but it was no secret that he was one of many who despised the now late congressman. The same congressman who had sided with the banks against homeowners and the same congressman who lived in lavish Vinesprings while even the middle class were pushed into the gutter.
Even I could not help but dislike Congressman Moriarty but my dislike was never what was important. I had a job to do and my hatred was for recreational time. For now, I would do what I signed up to do.
I got dressed and took care of my ablutions. Lastly, I picked up my badge and gun – a Smith & Wesson 686. It would be a long drive to the congressman’s house. He lived in the rich area with all the fancy mansions. I was lucky to live in the area which I did but many were not.
Millions had lost their homes when the banks forcibly foreclosed on them. Congressman Moriarty had been the one to make sure that they got away with it.
I winced. Maybe it would be best to let whoever bumped him off get away with it. It would be justice. But I had investigated repulsive cases before and I would do so again. I am a professional. If there was one thing that I put above all others in my life, it was getting the job done.
The Moriarty house was a monolith. The front yard and the drive it took to cross it dwarfed even the apartment block that I lived in. What made it even more unpleasant was the fact that all this money was taken from the very people now living in squatter camps and on the street. It was enough to make me want to vomit.
Past the rolling sea of green, a huge glass doorway was framed by a gaudy and shining golden frame. Police cars were already parked outside, with officers keeping out the press. I stepped over a yellow crime scene tape and follow an officer to the scene.
Congressman Moriarty was a short man and like many short men, suffered from the insecurity that small men often did. Well, that, I told myself, was the excuse for his crimes. In truth, some men just wanted to be rich and didn’t care how they got there.
My line of work showed me many horrifying scenes: blood drenched children, mutilated retirees, disembowelment…. My life was one of staring evil in the face.
Moriarty never had to encounter any of those in his life. That didn’t change his demise. The Congressman did not look peaceful in his death. His face was torn open into a scream, drying blood pouring from the gaping wounds upon his face. His hands were nailed to the large painting behind him, his blood and excrement staining the masterpiece. His naked body had been cut into to form the words: Justice.
“Justice,” I whispered. Justice for turning a generation into peasants. Justice for holding power as a criminal. Moriarty had been slain. For justice? For vengeance? Most of the time, there’s very little difference.
I exited the room. A well-dressed and classy looking woman was crying. Her makeup stained her face with tears. It seemed as if twin black streaks had been cut into her face. Her eyes were red as she looked into mine.
“Inspector,” her voice was raspy and broken. “He wasn’t a bad man…”
I didn’t respond.
“Please, please find those responsible.”
“That’s my job, m’am.”
And I meant it. We live a life with too many paradoxes. There is no justice – only a thousand meanings for the same word. All I knew was that at the end of the day, everyone deserved a little justice.
The Warpmancer Series is not the only series I’ve written. In 2012, one holiday I wrote a book about zombies. Not just any zombies, though, but zombies based off of my own vision and set in Cape Town. It started out as an anthology with a few friends of mine but after none of them finished their part of the story, I decided to extend mine to the length of a short novel.
Thus, Peter Swart and Cape Zero were born. Opposed to Fall of Zona Nox, I finished the book quite quickly but left it in the back-seat for a long time as I finished FoZN. Now it’s edited and almost ready for release.
Here’s the blurb:
When social recluse and all round introvert, Peter Swart, manages to survive an attack by an insane homeless man, he soon discovers that Cape Town is not going to remain the holiday destination that it was previously regarded.
In the wake of a failed government state of emergency, society crumbles in South Africa as a virus turns people into violent cannibals. Within a day, the already compromised military collapses. Cape Town becomes a dark zone and its residents are forgotten.
With violent mobs roaming the streets, social anxiety and doubtable sanity thrown into the mix – will Peter be able to survive the apocalypse or, worse yet, the necessity to live with other people?
The book will be available for Pre-Order soon for around $0.99. I hope you enjoy!
I get quite aggro in Dota 2. Not on the mic, mind you. Everyone thinks I’m calm as a mid-summers day. The truth of the matter is that when my team act stupid, I get pissed and I shout a lot. I shout and I swear at the screen, lowering my voice only to communicate with my team in a false tranquil manner.
Everyone thinks I’m calm, except for one friend of mine who is typically always in permanent voice chat with me. He knows how pissed I get – he just doesn’t care.
I have just finished the type of match I hate. I am currently doing the Compendium challenge, so am picking heroes which I don’t particularly enjoy. Even on other occasions, I seldom get to pick what I want.
In this match, we were ahead in every single way. By experience, by towers, by kills…yet we lost. All because everyone else was having so much fun that they fed the enemy team repeatedly. Over and over and over. I did not have fun. I seldom get to have fun.
I am the dedicated support – the reason being that I seldom play with other people who pick anything other than a carry. For a lot of reasons I feel this is very selfish, but hey – they want to have fun, right.
The thing is, supports seldom get to have fun. We’re not allowed the farm, we’re not allowed the kills. We spend most of our time dying as decoys or trades for enemy supports. I seldom have fun. So why do I keep playing? I like winning.
I find winning to be fun. Now, there are quite a few of my Dota friends who believe having fun is more important than winning. The problem with this assumption is that just because YOU are having fun doesn’t mean everyone is. If you are losing, there is always going to be someone on your team who is taking the flak.
The feeder is almost always the support. Not because they are bad, but because that’s their job. Their job is to keep the carry alive and it doesn’t help when the carry is so idiotic that they just run back and die.
It is not fun to die in vain. It is not fun to miss every team fight after dying a second in after initiation due to the carry stopping to jungle. It is not fun to lose.
Supports are not allowed to have fun. So the only thing we have left is to win.
‘Like you, I am a freak of my people. Physically, I am the same – yet mentally I hold something that my people do not; cannot. Sentience.’
There was a pause as the Gleran stood and offered his hand in a form of greeting unfamiliar to Leri.
‘I am a freak among my people, like you. Yet unlike you, I am one of a kind. I am a genetic mutation seen as an atrocity within my species. I am a Gleran of the Vulzthan Hivemind yet I am not. While my kin do not think, feel or understand without the all-consuming control of the hivemind, I can function independently. I am a sentient, like you, yet that is what makes me a freak. I am Peron the Thinker and I have been tasked with helping you free this world.’