Legends of Cobalt

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Failing Light

Nellie slashed through my shield. Her claws dug down to the bone in my arm. Icy, necrotic pain pulsed through my veins. Nellie shoved me to the ground and stepped over me. I crawled toward the rows of benches on either side of the walkway. 

Damian attempted to stab Nellie. She caught his sword. Damian countered with a spinning kick. Nellie grabbed his ankle and hurled him across the room. 

Phebes shot an arrow at Nellie. Nellie flew at her and pierced her hand through Phebes’s gut. 

A line of orange light streamed out of Olivia’s stick. Nellie burst into flames. She hissed at Olivia and threw her through a wall after ripping her chest open.

The Dragonman screamed and took a deep breath. Nellie jumped on him and a bolt of lightning shot from his mouth into the roof. Nellie tore at the Dragonman’s face, neck and chest.

Jack hugged her knees to her chest and cowered beneath a statue of a woman holding a sword and a key.

I whispered a prayer to the spirits and wrapped my fingers around my tattered arm. The healing energy of the spirits stopped the bleeding and fixed the rotting flesh, but the muscle still ached. I ignored the throbbing pain and pulled myself towards Phebes. She gasped for air in a growing pool of blood.

A slender wolf the size of a bear padded through the hole Olivia made. The wolf kept its head low and bared its teeth. It circled Nellie, a growl in its throat.

I pulled myself up and braced my back against the benches. A warm light glowed where Damian had landed.

“The bitch appears.” Nellie climbed off the Dragonman and stomped on him. “Your brother tried to fight me alone too.”

The wolf barked and sprinted at Nellie. Nellie flew into the air as the wolf lunged for her throat. The wolf stood on its hind legs and knocked Nellie back to the ground. Nellie slashed her claws across the wolf’s face. The wolf yelped and jumped back.

Nellie hurried to her feet and attempted to fly away again. 

The wolf snarled and closed its jaws on her ankle. The wolf shook its head back and forth and threw Nellie like a squirrel. The wolf ran over and pinned Nellie to the ground. Nellie struggled against the beast’s weight. The wolf snapped its massive jaws at Nellie’s throat.

The glow from the front of the room grew brighter.

***

Warm water lapped at my skin. The boiling sun beat down on me and the salty breeze tousled my hair. I sat up and looked around. White sand beaches trapped between an emerald forest and an aquamarine ocean stretched as far as I could see in either direction. Gentle music drifted from the trees and played with the steady rhythm of the tides. Overhead, an albatross called to the world.

I stood up and the warm sand begged me back. I studied the tree line and spotted a smooth stone path winding into the jungle. I took a last look at the ocean and followed the winding stone path. Monkeys chattered and played around me. Birds sang their sweet songs and flitted about. A monkey carrying a mango scampered onto the path ahead of me and offered me the fruit before running back into the trees.

I continued walking along the path. The sun never changed its position. I came to an open-air temple deep in the jungle. Waist-high flower beds filled with blue and white flowers surrounded a small pool at the base of a gentle waterfall. A woman close to my age sat on a stone bench with her feet in the pool.

“Hello, Damian.” The woman patted the bench beside her. “Or do you prefer Percival?”

I sat down beside the woman. “Where am I?”

“Right now,” The woman took my hands in her warm, soft ones. “You are standing in a cathedral, preparing to attack a dangerous vampire disguised as a child. Your friends and allies lie bleeding around you. One of them has little time remaining before she meets the Raven Queen.”

An image of Phebes getting stabbed filled my mind. “Why do I remember this place?” I waved my hand at the temple and the jungle around us.

“This is my home. This is where I and many of my followers come to find peace. We are safe here.”

“Why am I here?”

“I needed to speak with you and my time is limited. You must return to your friends soon.”

A harsh voice in my head shouted something I didn’t understand and punctuated with a crack of lightning. I jumped to my feet and looked for the source.

“Damian.” The woman slipped her warm, tender hand into mine and pulled me back to the bench. “Your father has unlocked a dormant power that has hidden within you for many years. I wanted him to do so sooner, but now you need that power to save your friends.” She took my face in her hands. “This power will allow you to accomplish great things, but it will also turn you into a beacon for darkness.” She pulled me to my feet and kissed my forehead. “I couldn’t be more proud of the man you are and will become. Now go, your friends need you.”

I stepped into the pool up to my waist and turned back. “Who are you, and will I ever see you again?”

The woman smiled back at me the way a mother does a frightened child. “My true name and the names of my kin aren’t known in your world anymore. On Cobalt, I am called Everlight. As for seeing me again, I have been by our side for many years. Our paths have crossed many times already, and they will many more. Until they do, Damian, go with my blessing.”

I slipped my head beneath the surface of the pool and a flash of light blinded me.

***

    “Damian?” Phebes coughed and a line of blood ran down her lips. “Please. Wyanet? Where are you guys?” Her tears mixed with her blood. “Please, I don’t want to die. Not here. Not alone. Please guys, where are you?”

“I am here, Phebes.” I fell to the ground and crawled to her. “Save your energy, I am here, we will be fine.”

Nellie braced her feet against the stomach of the wolf and kicked it away. The wolf landed on another bench, smashing it. The wolf got to its feet and ran at Nellie again. It closed its jaws on her arm and smashed her against the floor. Nellie dug her claws into the side of the wolf and pulled. The wolf yelped and dropped Nellie. Nellie hit the wolf with her other hand. The wolf whimpered and backed away.

“I am sick and tired of adults ruining everything.” Nellie closed her hands into fists and battered the wolf’s head. “And your family is the worst!” 

The wolf collapsed and tried to crawl away from the child.

Nellie grabbed the wolf by its scruff and rolled it over. “You mutts are strong. Maybe if you lived longer you could beat me.” Nellie put her claws on the throat of the wolf. “But there is one thing you need to win that you never have.” Nellie tightened her grip. The wolf whimpered and tried to break loose. “Your pack.”

Percy walked up behind Nellie. Eagle wings made of pure light grew out of his back and his eyes glowed with a warm radiant light. In one hand he carried his sword and in the other, he held Bucephalus’s war hammer.

Percy smashed the hammer into Nellie’s head. Light burst from the impact and tossed Nellie away. “I don’t need a pack.”

The story will continue, June 4th,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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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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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

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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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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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