Legends of Cobalt

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Obliteration

“Grab them!” The cult leader bellowed.

A dozen cultists fanned out around the sanctuary space. They marched toward us with simple weapons in hand.

“That’s him.” Jacqueline tugged at Olivia’s dress and pointed to the cult leader. “That’s the father who gave me the cleaver.”

Sweat dripped from Bucephalus’s snout. “Hold together. Watch each other’s backs.” He gulped. “They’ve got the numbers, but we’ve got better training.”

Wyanet crouched behind her shield. “Bucephalus, you and Phebes take the left. Olivia, you and Fredrick hold the right. Percy, with me in the centre.”

I slid my sword free from its scabbard.

“I’ll be damned if I’m going to die at the hands of lunatics.” Olivia twisted and contorted her hands. A line of purple energy shot from her fingertips. The line separated into three bolts of magic and shot toward a cultist. The bolts punched through a cultist woman’s chest and stomach. She took another step forward and fell over.

A bowstring twanged and a cultist to my left screamed as an arrow shaft bit into his thigh.

“Sorry!” Phebes loosed another arrow into the man’s lung. The man fell back into a pew.

Jacqueline sprinted between us. She charged the cult leader with both stilettos in hand. She stopped ten feet short of her mark. Blood sprayed from the severed necks of the cultists flanking their leader. Jacqueline took a stunned step backwards.

The cult leader looked behind him. His allies’ bodies hit the floor. The cultists’ bodies erupted into showers of crimson. Their laughs and cries of elation echoed off the stone walls.

 The cult leader turned to us and grinned. “The angel of the whispered one is here.” He dropped his knife and spread his arms wide. “Take me, Blessed One! I am yours!”

A small viscera-covered hand punched through the cult leader’s torso. 

Jacqueline took another step back. She dropped the dagger in her left hand. 

A second hand punched through the cult leader.

Jacqueline dropped her second dagger.

The hands grabbed both sides of the hole they created and ripped outward.

Jacqueline Sprinted back to our line and hid behind Bucephalus. “What is she doing here?”

The body of the cult leader separated and crumbled. It spurted more blood onto the floor.

“We need to run. None of us can beat her.” Jacqueline tugged at Bucephalus’s skirt. 

“Can’t beat who?” Olivia flicked her wand into her hand. 

“Thanks for leading me to them.” Nellie stepped through the gore. Blood spattered her face, stained her dress and matted her hair. Nellie licked the blood from her fingers. “They were a nuisance. They kept interrupting my plans.”

Bucephalus stepped behind me. “And what plans are those?”

Nellie smiled. “To make a paradise for my brothers and sisters. A paradise where we don’t  grow up, starve or die.”

“She’ll kill us all,” Jacqueline muttered. “Don’t listen to her.”

“I won’t kill you, silly. Like I told you when I killed your master, I want you to join my family. It won’t hurt long.”

“Nellie, dear.” Olivia extended her empty hand to the bloody orphan. “Why don’t you come with us. We’ll give you a hot bath and see if we can help you.”

“NO!” Nellie stomped her foot. “Adults always ruin everything, even when I tell them what to do.”

“Adults only want what’s best for us. That’s why they do the things they do,” Phebes pleaded.

“I thought someone who grew up homeless would understand,” Nellie snapped. “I’ve seen savage men buy the innocence of girls for coppers and a meal. I’ve seen boys starve in the gutter while fat priests gorge themselves on stolen wealth.”

“I’ve got issues with the clergy too.” I waved at the bodies strewn about. “They’re corrupt and need change, but that doesn’t mean they all need to die.”

“You’re stupid if you think they’ll change,” Nellie laughed.

“My people always help those in need.” Wyanet took a step forward. “Take us to your family and I will see that they get the help they need.”

“Since when have your people been friends to ‘colonisers’,” Nellie hissed.

“They are to children.” Wyanet shrank back.

“We’re trying to make things better,” Olivia replied. “My family and I.”

 Nellie laughed a laugh that filled the entire sanctuary. “Your family?” She sneered. “Your family has been trying to kill me for more than a century. I’m why that monster hides in your blood. You try to hide it with the way you dress and that ridiculous proper way you always speak. I see it though. I see the murderous hunger in your eyes.”

“What are you talking about?” Olivia straightened her skirts.

Nellie covered her mouth with her fingers. “You didn’t know? Benjamin did. That’s why I killed him, just like I’ll kill you.”

Olivia flicked her dagger into her other hand. She levelled her wand and dagger at Nellie. “What do you know about Benjamin?”    

“I killed him,” Nellie shrugged. “I wanted the inquisitors I tipped off to do it, but they got wiped out by a cult, like this one.”

Bucephalus roared and barrelled through Wyanet and me, knocking us to the ground. He charged at Nellie, ready to gore her. Nellie caught Bucephalus by the horns. Bucephalus pushed Nellie back five feet. Nellie planted her feet and lifted Bucephalus over her head. She turned and smashed the hulking Minotaur into a handful of benches. Bucephalus lay motionless in the pile of splintered wood.

Nellie walked toward us.

Wyanet jumped back to her feet and got in a defensive stance.

I raised my hand and pointed at Nellie. “Fostu!”

Thorny vines sprouted from between the stones and wrapped around Nellie’s legs. She scoffed and took another step faster than I could see. Nellie stopped in front of Wyanet.

Wyanet thrust her spear forward. Nellie Smashed Wyanet’s spear to splinters. Wyanet held up her shield for the next attack. Nellie’s claws ripped through the rawhide shield and the arm supporting. Nellie shoved Wyanet out of her way.

I drove my sword at Nellie’s throat. She caught the blade and tossed it away throwing me off balance. I used the momentum to shift into a spinning heel kick. Nellie caught my ankle and chucked me toward the altar like a broken toy.

Phebes loosed and arrow. It missed its target.

Nellie flew at Phebes. She cut her bowstring with a finger and punched her claw into Phebes’s stomach. Phebes fell behind the pews as I collided with the altar. Anger and desperation formed a pit in my throat.

A bead of orange light hit Nellie in the back and flames engulfed her. Nellie hissed back at Olivia and flew towards her. Fredrick stepped into Nellie’s path, swords at the ready. Nellie Pushed Fredrick out of the way and landed in front of Olivia. She slashed her twice across the chest and threw Olivia through the wall.

“LADY!” Fredrick screamed and took a deep breath.

Nellie lunged at Fredrick and tackled him to the ground. A bolt of lighting from Fredrick’s mouth struck the cathedral ceiling.

I staggered to my feet and collected my sword. A calming, warm, chill flowed through my veins.

“You have been to my temple,” A strong thunderous voice spoke in my mind. Blinding light filled my vision. “You have learned part of my history.” 

I took a step down from the altar.

“It is time you learned how to use the power hidden within you.”

The story will continue, May 28th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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Legends of Cobalt

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Blazing Path

We crept through the shadowed abyss of tunnels below Vercingetorix. A small collection of dancing lights and the point of Wyanet’s spear illuminated our path.

“I had no idea these tunnels even existed.” Olivia ran her hands over the cold wet stones. “And they all lead back to the main temple?”

“The Conclave doesn’t like people knowing our secrets.” Bucephalus’s horns scraped against the ceiling.

“Do these,” Olivia paused to think, “priest tunnels exist below every shrine? What is their purpose?”

Fredrick walked hunched beside Bucephalus. “Why no light?”

Wyanet whispered to me. “That symbol is a dark sign amongst my people, but none of our medicine-men or dream-keepers knows what it is. Do you know anything about it?”

“Sweeney raised me outside of the church. If it had to do with the Fae courts, I might, but I’m clueless about it.’

A voice outside our lights gurgled. “Who… trespasses… here?”

“I am Father Bucephalus, Lieutenant of the Inquisition.” Bucephalus hailed from the back of our party. “My companions and I are here to aid you. Let us pass, Brother.”

“Bucephalus…inquisition…?” The voice gurgled.

“Something is not right.” Wyanet lowered her shield and braced her spear against it.

I loosened my sword in its sheath.

“None… may pass… here.”

Two points of blue light glittered in the shadows. The clatter of bones and shuffle of feet moved toward us.

“You will… serve… the… Whispered One.” An undead wight with a bloody handprint on its breastplate stepped into the light. Two skeletons with short bows flanked the wight. A mob of zombies shuffled up behind them. 

A skeleton loosed an arrow at me. I caught the shaft and threw it back. The arrow passed through the skeleton’s ribs.

“Destroy… all…life!” The commander waved its sword at us. The zombies staggered forward.

A bead of orange light zipped between Wyanet and I. Wyanet spun her shield behind her. She grabbed me and held me against her chest. The orange bead connected with the commander’s forehead. Fires exploded in the tunnel. A shock wave tossed Wyanet and I off our feet. The heat and the light faded as fast as they appeared. Fredrick vaulted over us, swords in hand. Wyanet and I scrambled back to our feet.

The wight, blackened from the explosion, blocked Fredrick’s first assault. Fredrick brought his second sword around and pierced the wight’s abdomen. The wight snarled back at him. Fredrick slashed his first sword in an upward arch, slicing his opponent’s arm off at the elbow. The wight swiped at Fredrick with his other hand. Fredrick jumped back, pulling his second sword with him. Fredrick brought both swords together and sheared through the wight’s neck. The blue glow in its eyes faded as the head thunked on the ground.

Fredrick wiped the ichor from his blades and returned them to their scabbards. “Clear, lady.”

“No point wasting time on trivial things.” Olivia tucked her wand back into its sling. She walked past us and took Fredrick’s arm. She waved her hand and the floating orbs of light drifted down the tunnel. “Are these things common in your tunnels?” 

“Why would we keep a perversion of the gift of life for security?” Sweat matted Bucephalus’s fur.

Jacqueline shook, her eyes as wide as saucers. “That’s why we’re not supposed to be down here.”

Wyanet put a hand on Jacqueline’s shoulder. “Is everyone all right?”

“I think I lost my eyebrows.” Phebes rubbed her forehead. 

“That was reckless. You could have killed one of us.” I sheathed my sword.

“I took a calculated risk, and it paid off.” Olivia moved the head of the wight with her toe. “There was no way the two of you could have held them back.” Olivia started down the tunnel. “The way is clear for now, we should continue onward.”

Wyanet sighed and kept her arm around Jacqueline. I hung back with Phebes and Bucephalus.

“Are you okay?”

Bucephalus leaned against the wall and tugged at his breastplate. “I will be. This reminded me of some bad memories.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” Phebes asked.

Bucephalus straightened. “I want a drink and to be rid of this cursed land. But I can’t do anything I want until we finish this job.” He pushed after the others.

We walked for another half hour until a wall of wooden boards blocked the tunnel.

“The cultists must have sealed it in case their guards failed.” Olivia ran her fingers across the rough wood. “Easy enough.” She flicked her wand into her hand.

“Before you go blasting.” I forced Olivia’s hand down. “Let’s try a more mundane approach.” I pulled the hand axe from my belt. “Ceph, Fredrick, let’s tear it down.”

The three of us hacked through the wall in minutes. Stairs on the opposite side ascended into more darkness. We climbed the stairs and emerged in an alcove behind the statue of a dragon. 

“Where are we?” Phebes flicked the nose of the dragon statue.

“It appears to be an antechamber of some sort.” Olivia inspected a statue of a woman clothed in vines.

“This leads to the main sanctuary.” Jacqueline pointed to two twin sets of polished wooden doors banded in bronze.

“We will start there.” Wyanet grabbed the handle of a door and threw it open.

The seven of us slipped into the sanctuary. A dim light in a myriad of colours fell from stained glass windows overhead. Eight columns carved in the visages of the gods supported the high ceiling. The thunk of the closing door echoed throughout the massive room.

“Nice of you to join us,” A man called from the altar. The glow of candles framed his body. “We needed more sacrifices.” He stepped down from the altar. Blood stained his body and dripped from the curved dagger in his hand.

A dozen more cultists appeared around the altar.

“We wanted more offerings than the bishop.” The leader walked closer. “And you have answered our prayers. Like lambs to the slaughter.” The cultist smiled. “Grab them.”

The story will continue, May 7th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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Creating original content in an online space is a time-consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. Thank you, you are appreciated!

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Legends of Cobalt

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Down Once More

A child wearing an elegant dress wandered into the dining room.“Livi, where did that other girl you brought home last night go?” She clutched a stuffed toy wolf to her chest.

“What do you mean, Ophilia?” Olivia placed her knife and fork on the table.

“That girl you brought home last night with the cold blue skin. I woke up this morning and she wasn’t there anymore.”

“Does she mean Nellie?” I stuffed a piece of bread in my mouth.

Ophilia nodded emphatically. “I think that’s what she said her name was.”

Lord Tiaran swept into the dining room, William on his heels. “Good morning everyone. I do apologise for the abysmal state of breakfast, but I have many mouths to feed. Are you prepared for today?”

“We’ll have to stop by the Atropa Belladonna to collect a few extra things, otherwise yes.” Bucephalus liked a glob of jam from his thumb.”

“It would seem though, that our guide vanished at some point in the night,” Wyanet added.

Lord Tiarna stroked his chin. “What does that matter? You know where you are going, and you’ll have my daughter with you if you need to go anywhere else.” 

“Street kids know things that nobles don’t.” Phebes blushed and turned towards Olivia. “Not that I’m saying you’re dumb or unskilled. That’d be really rude… I’m going to stop talking now.” Phebes trailed off and stared into her breakfast.

Lord Tiarna shrugged. “If you need another guide, take Jacqueline.”

Olivia pushed back from the table. “Father, is that a wise decision?”

“I don’t see why it wouldn’t be. She has been under observation for two days now, and you removed the curse yourself. You want a more knowledgeable guide, she’s been inside the building you are heading to. Plus, she can defend herself. Give Jacqueline a knife or two and you don’t have to worry about her.”

“I thought the cleaver made her do all that stuff,” Phebes interjected.

“A curse can remove your inhibitions around a matter, but a curse can’t teach you things you didn’t know before.” Olivia folded her napkin and placed it over her plate.

Lord Tiarna waved his hand over the table. “By your own admission, Jacqueline is a skilled fighter.”

Wyanet tossed her napkin onto the table. “Who would train a child like that?”

“Many groups the world over teach children their ways from an early age,” William scowled at his father. “To make sure that their ideologies and way of life survive after they are dead.”

“If no one has any more pointless objections to make,” Lord Tiarna looked around the room. “I will have Jacqueline prepared and you can be on your way.”

“Maybe I should go with them. As an extra pair of eyes,” William suggested.

“No.” Lord Tiarna marched toward the door.

“Just to the shrine? As an escort?” William followed his father.

“I guess breakfast is over,” Bucephalus crammed the rest of his food into his mouth.

“It would seem so,” Olivia pushed her chair in. “Get dressed and gather your things. Our carriage leaves in half an hour. Fredrick, Ophilia, come.”

“Time to fight more monsters,” I sighed.

Wyanet put her hand on my arm. “We are better prepared this time and we are not alone.”

***

Our carriage reigned up to the steps of the shrine to the Father of Understanding. Phebes, Wyanet and I pried each other free from the bench and stepped out into the dreary afternoon haze. Fredrick and Bucephalus distributed our weapons from the carriage’s strongbox. Olivia checked the slender rod and dagger she’d strapped to her wrists.

“Why are we here?” Jacqueline climbed out of the carriage.

“This is how we are getting into the temple.” Wyanet slid her war club into her belt.

“Wouldn’t it be easier to go straight to the temple?”

Bucephalus secured a shield to his arm and fastened a hand axe to the strap on his rucksack. “We don’t want them to know we’re coming.”

“You, use, these?” Fredrick offered Jacqueline a belt bundled around a matching pair of stilettos.

“I guess I can.” Jacqueline took the offered knives. “Why are we sneaking into the temple?”

“Everyone ready?” Olivia inspected our party.

“Ready for what?” Jacqueline tied back the extra length of her belt.

The carriage rolled away. Wyanet and Bucephalus started up the stairs.

“Stick close, kid.” My foot landed on the first step. “And we can get out of this alive.”

The shrine looked the same as it had the night before. A handful of worshipers milled about. Our heavily armed and armoured party circled around to the back of the statue.

Phebes knocked an arrow. Wyanet, Bucephalus and Fredrick formed a half-circle around me. Olivia flicked her wand into her hand and stood beside Phebes. She pulled Jacqueline behind the line of fighters and held her there.

“Be ready.” I extended my hand to the button hidden in the sphinx carving. “We don’t know if they reset the trap.” I pressed the button.

The pedestal clicked. The sphinxes parted and turned inward. I braced for an attack. A yawning mouth of darkness opened before us as the doors stopped moving.

Fredrick sheathed his longswords. “Who… First?”

“I will.” Wyanet extended the tip of her spear to me. 

I grabbed the spear point and spoke the arcane word for light into it. Cool white light radiated around us and pushed back some of the shadows. The six of us followed Wyanet into the hidden stairway. A second click echoed down the stairs. We turned to watch as the door rumbled shut, sealing us in darkness. In the cool white light of my spell, painted in blood, a left hand marked the back of the door. An eyeball stared back at us from the palm of the hand.

“Father?” Olivia pressed closer to Bucephalus to get a better look. “I hope I’m mistaken, but is that…”

“The mark of the Whispered One.” Bucephalus turned back to us. “We are all in great danger.”

The story will continue, April 30th,  2020.

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Leave a comment below!

Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

http://bit.ly/2tUG9va

Creating original content in an online space is a time-consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. Thank you, you are appreciated!

Show us your fan art at us with the hashtag #CobaltLegends on Instagram and Twitter for the chance to be featured on one of our posts.

Legends of Cobalt

If you enjoy our content, please sign up to receive an email anytime we post, donate to our Ko-fi page, or follow us on twitter.

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A Lady’s Aide

“Perfect, you’re all just in time.” A woman in a form-fitting dress emerged from the front door of The Atropa Belladonna. “I am Olivia Tiarna,” She removed a long black glove and extended her hand to Wyanet. “We have collected and interrogated your suspect. Father wishes to speak with you. He sent me and my bodyguard, Fredrick.” She gestured to the towering, armour-clad, blue-scaled Dragonborn behind her. “To escort you back to Wolfhearth.”

Phebes grabbed Olivia’s outstretched hand and shook it like a rag doll. “We need to talk to your dad too. Wait, your dad is Lord Tiarna right?”

Oliva pulled her hand back and slipped her glove on. “Yes, my Father is Lord Tiarna.” She opened the door to a waiting carriage. “Get in, we will take you to the manor.”

Nellie tugged at my sleeve. “Can I come too? I’ve always wanted to ride in a carriage.”

“I’ll ask,” I pulled Nellie in front of me and placed my hands on her shoulders. She felt cold beneath my touch. “Miss Olivia?”

“Yes?” Olivia helped Wyanet into the carriage.

“Is there enough space for us to bring our guide? She’s been pivotal in our affairs, and I don’t want to leave her alone on the street.”

A sad smile creased Olivia’s sharp features. “Of course,” Olivia extended her hand to Nellie. “Come, child, we’ll make room for you.”

Nellie skipped over to Olivia and climbed into the cabin. Bucephalus followed her to the carriage door.

Olivia stepped into Bucephalus’s path. “My apologies, Father, I’m afraid there won’t be enough space inside for everyone. Would you be kind enough to ride on the footboard?”

Fredrick nodded to his mistress and climbed up beside the driver. 

Bucephalus snorted and bowed his head. “I understand, my lady, it is not an issue.”

“I’ll ride with you,” I started toward the rear of the carriage. 

“Mister Von Veltliner,” Olivia called. “There is enough space for you inside, but not our larger companions.”

“I want to chat with Ceph,” I clambered onto the footboard beside Bucephalus. “I’m used to the elements anyway.”

“Very well,” Olivia climbed into her carriage. “Driver, take us back to the house.”

The reigns cracked and the carriage lumbered forward.

“Why didn’t you force your way inside like you did this morning?” I called over the thunder of hooves and clatter of wheels.

“She asked nicely,” Bucephalus pointed his chin at the Dragonborn beside the driver. “And he didn’t get to ride inside either.”

Minutes passed with silence between us.

“Hey, Ceph?”

What?”

“Do you know a lot about the gods?”

“Knowing about the gods is my job, I am a priest after all. Why do you ask?”

“Do you know anything about people who have visions and dreams about the gods?”

Bucephalus remained silent for a few city blocks.

“There are stories about people who have a special relationship with the gods. The Cardinal Conclave has made it a prime directive of the Inquisition to hunt down these people. Some are permitted to train into the clergy. Most of them are executed as heretics. There hasn’t been a confirmed sighting of these, god-children, for a few centuries.” Bucephalus turned his head toward me. “When we have a moment alone, we should have a chat.”

We rode the rest of the way to Wolfhearth in silence. My stiff fingers and numb legs held me in place as we rolled up to the front doors. Fredrick lowered himself from the driver’s bench and helped the women out. Bucephalus and I pried each other off the back. Olivia waved the door guards away and ushered us inside. The door closed and Olivia turned back to face us, “Is our guide crucial for your report to my father?” 

Nellie hid behind Wyanet’s legs.

Wyanet reached a protective hand back to her. “There is nothing of consequence she can add.”

“Perfect,” Olivia smiled. “Simon, Simon get out here, I need you.” Olivia extended a hand to Nellie. “Come along little one, we’ll get you cleaned up.”

Simon appeared from a doorway behind the stairs. “How can I be of assistance Mistress?”

Nellie took Olivia’s hand and stood beside her. 

“This is Nellie,” Olivia replied. “Give her a hot bath, a warm meal and a change of clothes. She’s staying with us tonight.”

Simon nodded. He bent down and offered his elbow to Nellie. “My lady, if you would come with me, I will take care of you.”

Nellie giggled and took Simon’s arm. The pair vanished through the door Simon appeared from.

“Now then,” Olivia smoothed the folds of her dress. “My father is waiting in his study.” 

Olivia slid open the set of doors and we followed her inside. Jack’s cleaver sat on a white cloth on the table between the couches. Lord Tiarna lounged at his desk, a heavy book in his lap.

“Come in, take a seat.” Lord Tiarna clapped his book closed and tossed it on his desk. He crossed the room and took a seat on the couches. Olivia sat beside him and Fredrick stood behind them. “We have interrogated the child you accuse of being The Ripper.”

“You guys got her!?” Phebes jumped to the edge of her seat. “What did she say?”

Lord Tiarna crossed his legs. “I’m getting to that. If you don’t interrupt me, you will find out sooner.”

Phebes, pink-cheeked, sank back. “Sorry.”

“After interrogating Jacqueline, we do not believe her to be the murderer, but…”

“How can that be?” Wyanet clutched the arm of the couch. “She tried to kill us. We saw her kill an innocent woman with that knife there.” Wyanet jabbed a finger at the cleaver on the table.

Lord Tiarna’s nostrils flared and his lip curled. “That, knife, is the issue.”

Olivia placed her hand on her father’s knee. “When Jacqueline’s belongings arrived, I catalogued and examined them. I specifically searched for any items with a magical signature. She possessed three items of note, the most significant one being that cleaver. Have any of you handled it?”

“I did,” I leaned forward. “Why?”

“Did anything strange happen when you first touched the cleaver?”

“A voice I didn’t recognise kept whispering ‘kill’ in the back of my mind.”

“Then my hypothesis is correct. This weapon has a mind of its own. In a manner of speaking.”

Lord Tiarna curled a corner of the cloth over the cleaver. “The weapon itself, not its wielder, is the Ripper. The weapon corrupts your mind and forces you to do what it wants.” 

Phebes gave a nervous laugh. “You’re joking, right? How could a weapon have a mind of its own?”

“It depends on the situation,” Bucephalus leaned on the back of the couch. “Intelligent weapons are rare. The Conclave owns a few that once belonged to long-dead saints. Their owner’s soul bound itself to the weapon to guide future owners. In theory, an evil spirit with enough malice could do the same thing.”

“Why would a child have such a weapon?” Wyanet frowned.

“We asked her about it,” Lord Tiarna replied. “All she could remember was a priest gave it to her. And he ordered her to make as many corpses as possible.”

“Is she still here?” I asked.

“We removed the curse the weapon placed on her. We planned on keeping her for the night to make sure she is sane enough to go back into the world.”

“You informed me you had a report to make to my father.” Olivia angled herself toward Lord Tiarna.

“We do,” I braced my elbows on my knees and laced my fingers. “We think we found where your cult is hiding, but we need help to dig them out. A banshee attacked us when we opened their door, and it sounded like more were on the way when we left.”

“How am I supposed to help?” Lord Tiarna crossed his arms. “That is what I hired you for.”

“Your son, William, offered to assist us if we needed it,” Wyanet replied.

“No, out of the question. William is too important for me to risk based on your suspicion.”

“I’ll do it.” Olivia straightened her legs and smoothed her skirts. “I have no importance to your political game that Ophilia can’t take on in a few years and I’ll also have Fredrick. That gives them two companions when they asked for one and it removes any major risk to the pack.”

“My lady, you do not have to do this,” Bucephalus interjected.

“Nonsense. You asked for help, and it furthers the objectives of my pack. Fredrick is a bonus asset you get with my assistance.”

Lord Tiarna sighed. “There is little point in arguing with her. When she makes up her mind it is rare for her to change it.”

Olivia jumped from her seat. “I’ll have Simon and his staff prepare rooms for you. We’ll begin tomorrow morning after breakfast.”

The story will continue, April 23rd,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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Legends of Cobalt

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Haunted Stair

“What are you looking for?” A little voice asked from the entrance to the Shrine of the Dawnfather.

Wyanet, Phebes, Bucephalus and I jumped at the sound. Weapons flew from their scabbards. We readied for an attack.

The little girl with the blue-tinted skin stood in the entryway. Fresh cuts marred her forearms and mud-stained the front of her dress. Tears trickle down her face. “Are you going to kill me?”

Wyanet lowered her club. “We are not going to kill you.”

I fumbled with sliding my sword back into its scabbard. “We’ve been looking for you. We’ve got some work for you.”

“Oh,” the girl’s shoulders sank and she started undoing her dress. “Groups cost extra, and he’s not allowed.” She pointed at Bucephalus.

“Not that kind of work,” Wyanet stopped the girl. “We need a guide. We will pay you well for your help.”

“What kind of work did she think we meant?” Phebes whispered to me.

“That’s much easier,” The girl fixed her dress.” Where do you want to go?”

“Men have vile appetites,” I whispered back. “We’re investigating the shrines in the city, but we don’t know where the rest of them are.”

“Why do you want to do that? Most of ‘em have got destroyed.”

“Do you know which ones haven’t been?” Bucephalus asked. “Those are more important than the defiled ones.”

“Sure, Mister Cow-man. It’s on the other side of the city though.”

Bucephalus leaned against the tree in the centre of the shrine. “There’s only one?”

“Yup!”

“Take us to it, we thought we’d have a long day today.” Bucephalus marched toward the door.

“Wait,” The girl held her hand up. “You said this is a job. What ‘s my pay?”

“I’ll give you the same rate as last time,” I reached for my coin pouch.

“What if that’s not good enough?” The girl crossed her arms.

“I will double it when we reach our destination,” Wyanet offered.

The girl smiled. “That’ll do it. Let’s go.”

We walked North. Phebes walked beside the girl.

“I grew up on the streets too.”

“That’s nice,” The girl replied.

“Do you have a name? Where do you sleep? Is there a place that gives out food for the kids?”

“My parents never gave me a name, but my customers call me Nellie.” She ducked down an alleyway. “Stop asking questions. I don’t want to wake up with a stake in my heart.”

We walked for over an hour through a suspicious city. Nellie led us down alleyways and through abandoned houses until we came to a marble building surrounded by dead gardens. Stone tigers on pedestals flanked steps leading up to an archway. Soft orange light glowed through the archway and several large windows.

“Are you sure this is the right place?” Bucephalus stepped beside Nellie.

“Yup, other than the main temple, this is the only active shrine in the city.”

“This isn’t a shrine for the Raven Queen, is it?” I rubbed a tiger’s snout.

“No,” Bucephalus sighed. “It’s not.”

Wyanet brushed my arm. “Who is it for?”

“The Father of Understanding.”

Phebes stared at the tigers. “What’s wrong with that? Our plan still worked. It’s just a different guy than we thought.”

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Bucephalus scratched his head. “He doesn’t have any priests or priestess here, and there haven’t been for years.”

I smacked Bucephalus on the back. “Let’s check it out.”

Braziers lined the walls of the vacant shrine. A six-foot-tall marble pedestal carved with images of angels and a tiger fighting an army of undead rose in the centre of the room. A bronze statue of a man in a loincloth stood triumphant on the pedestal. The statue held a sword and a blackthorn club in one hand and a twisted knot in the other. The firelight from the braziers reflected off of the statue, making it glow.

“Why is he naked?” Phebes’s face turned pink.

Bucephalus went to the wall of the shrine and studied the floor. “It depends on who you ask. According to his priests, it’s because no secrets can be held when the world sees everything. Personally, I think it’s because he wants to flaunt how big his cock is. There are even rumours floating around he’s got a handful of bastards here on Cobalt.”

“Does this god not exist in Last Oasis?” Wyanet asked.

“No,” Phebes tugged at her collar. “I don’t know. I’ve never seen him before. Is it warm in here?”

Bucephalus tapped his hoof around the base of a column. “He exists, but his worship is rare amongst Elves. I don’t think he has a shrine in any Elven city.”

I stared into the eyes of the tiger on the base of the statue.

“What does this represent?” Wyanet ran her hand over one of the angles. “This work is beautiful.”

“I think it’s… “ Bucephalus started.

“A battle from the God war,” I interrupted. “The Father led the host of Celestia against the combined forces of The Whispered One and The Deathbringer. They outnumbered him, but he managed to defeat them and capture the sword Orna from the Deathbringer.”

Bucephalus scrunched his eyes together. “That sounds about right. How did you know that?”

I shrugged. “It sort of came to me.”

Bucephalus nodded. “Keep looking, there has to be something.”

“Does anyone else hear crying?” Phebes circled to the opposite side of the pedestal.

“It’s coming from back here!” Nellie called.

We moved around the pedestal. Nellie stood with her ear pressed against the stone. 

Bucephalus rapped a knuckle against the stone. A hollow thud echoed back. “There’s something behind here.” He pulled his warhammer from his belt and pushed Nellie out of the way.

Wyanet grabbed Nellie and held her back with one hand. Phebes knocked an arrow. Bucephalus reared back ready to strike.

“Wait,” I stepped up to the pedestal and studied the carving.

Two sphinxes, one with a man’s head the other with a woman’s, stood on their hind legs. They stood on their hind legs with their front paws meeting in the middle. Both heads stared back at us. I reached up and put my thumb in the male sphinx’s eye.

“You’re the priest in the party and you wanted to destroy the temple.” I pressed the eye and it gave way.

The pedestal clicked twice and started to rumble. The sphinxes parted inward. A steep staircase descended into inky blackness. A spectral woman waited at the top of the steps. She wrung a blood-stained rag in her hands. Tears stained her face. She paused to look at us. The spectral woman’s eyes turned black, her jaw fell open revealing a maw of razor-sharp teeth. She let out a blood-curdling, ear-splitting scream that echoed off the walls.

Wyanet and Phebes dropped their weapons. They pressed their hands over their ears. I winced and pulled my sword free. I slashed at the spectre, but my blade passed through her.The banshee laughed and lunged at me with claw-like fingers. I dropped my sword and jumped backwards. I bumped into Nellie. She stood still as stone, a slight smile on her lips. Wyanet and Phebes writhed on the ground behind her. I got back into a fighting stance.

The banshee raked her claws across my chest. A chill, like the deepest ocean on the darkest night coursed through my veins.

Bucephalus’s war hammer connected with the banshee and knocked her away. “Stay out of the way, I can handle this.”

“Fuck that.” I dashed around Bucephalus and landed a haymaker on the banshee’s jaw. I followed through with an uppercut and a knee to the chest. Every blow sent a jolt of cold energy through my body. 

The banshee slashed at my chest again. I blocked the attack and a halo of blue fire descended on her. Radiant flames consumed the banshee. She screamed until her form vanished.

“How did you do that?” Bucephalus panted.

“What?” I shrugged, “You can’t punch ghosts?”

“We should keep going.” Nellie stood at the top of the stairs.

Bucephalus grabbed the collar of Nellie’s dress and hauled her back. “We should not do that. We should get more help, then delve into the haunted stairway. You’ve got no sway in the decision anyway.”

“She’s right. We have a lead, we should follow it.” Wyanet took a shaky step forward.

“We can’t. We don’t know what we’re running into,” I put my back to the stairs. “We can wait until morning. We have friends who want to help, let them.”

“Everyone quiet,” Bucephalus ordered. “Does everyone hear that?”

We stood in silence. The rattle of bones and armour shuffled closer.

“I’ve been in a spot like this before,” Bucephalus sighed. And I had better fighters with me last time. We need to leave. Now.”

The story will continue, April 16th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

http://bit.ly/2tUG9va

Creating original content in an online space is a time-consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. Thank you, you are appreciated!

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