Alchemical Marriage, part 5

Wednesday, December 3, 2008 - 10:27 PM

The concept and design of the crebath is expounded upon and used here by permission of the creator, Nigel Sade.

Exhausted, Dieder slumped down on the rain-soaked hillside and concentrated on breathing. He wasn't out of breath, but concentrating on breathing let him focus on something other than the flat seething triangle of devastation starting where the acid cannon once stood.

It had been an ugly, toad-like machine of green-stained glass and a gold-tinted bronze metal, crouching on a pivot of wheels and spheres. Now it looked like a tree stump split by lightning, all gleaming splinters and shards, pitted and corroded.

Dieder hated it still.

When his men had come out from hiding, the cannon had been slowly pivoting towards their flanking force. Dieder remembered the thin, shrewd man in Cyre livery spotting them, and then the alarm was sounded. Just after the confused, desperate flurry of sword and dagger, Dieder saw the cannon explode outward, sending a huge wave of hissing green death over friend and foe alike. The thin man went down smiling, but his smile was red and very long from the shard of metal that had killed him.

Some had inhaled the corrosive and died almost immediately. A few were at the edges of the lethal cone, and managed to shed their cloak or armor or tabard before the acid got to them. But the rest took a hideous time to die, screaming themselves raw, half-melted and writhing in sad attempts to crawl out of the steaming fluid that skinned them like rabbits.

No one dared to get close, except for the crebath, who managed to cart away a few of those at the near edges. The rest were beyond help, and a few archers didn't mind using the arrows to end the suffering.

Dieder felt scraped out and cold. It could have been his men, but it hadn't been, and he felt guilty that he was thankful for that.

A hand squeezed his shoulder, and he jerked his head around to study the man standing nearby.

“You did well,” Erich said.

Recognizing Erich, Dieder nodded a bit, and found some breath to speak. “Thank you, sir.”

He realized that Erich was offering him something warm to drink, and he accepted it even though he had little stomach for it. Instead, he focused on Erich, who looked withdrawn and weary himself.

“You were in the front?”

Erich nodded, sitting down himself and watching as the soldiers slowly picked over the field, looking for the wounded or trophies or just to be walking and alive. “Good plan, that outflanking. We were pretty damned happy when you pulled the cannon away.”

“That was Wisten's idea,” murmured Dieder. “The lieutenant liked it. Wisten knew the ground here, grew up just over those hills.”

“...did he make it?”

Shrugging, Dieder stared at the ground. “Don't know. When that ... the cannon went up, a piece came off and hit him in the head. The crebath took him away, but he was alive when they did.”

“Then you'll know by tomorrow,” sighed Erich, allowing Dieder's dismay to overwhelm his own anger at the crebath. “They are good surgeons.”

There was a pause, and then Dieder nodded. “That's what the old man kept telling me.” He stopped to look at Erich, noting the weariness, the tight lips that hinted at an old bitterness. “Do you know where we go from here?”

“No word yet,” said Erich slowly. “More of the same day after tomorrow, probably. We head north and east. There were Kesran soldiers fighting us here, which means the monarchy there is getting involved again. Some of the Dal Fana will probably want to see them about it.”

Watching the clouds roll in, Dieder frowned. “Kesrans now. And they are paying the Cyre?”

There was no reply, and Dieder looked over to see Erich watching the gray shapes of the crebath on the field. For a moment, he wanted to ask what was wrong, but the grim loss scarring Erich's expression stopped him.

Instead, he sat in silence, and waited for the healers to arrive.

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At February 20, 2009 9:54 AM, Anonymous Mister said...



At February 20, 2009 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

testing 2


At February 20, 2009 9:57 AM, Anonymous mister again said...

yet another test


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