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Part V


The Gorhh


Two weeks passed till Blood Paws saw the White Banner bearing the Black Tongue approach his camp


A guard of the Omega held this giant banner which was to be worn on Omega Black Tongue’s back in the upcoming war


The wood shaft was painted white and covered with bloody hand prints


The guard approached Blood Paws and bowed, “Hail Alpha Blood Paws”


I knew what was asked of me, they needed my blood to prove my allegiance and the allegiance of my Wolves


I ran my hand along the edge of my battle axe until the blade became coated in warm crimson


The guard lifted the banner toward me


I gripped it firmly, staining the white wood with my bloody hand


“Thank you Alpha Blood Paws, we set off tomorrow,” With that he walked off


“Hear that old Red Eye, we march to war on the morrow”


Blood Paws sat down with a smile on his face and scratched Red Eye behind the ears


 


Blood Paws gripped his battle axe tightly in his sleep as he dreamt of glorious battle and delicious food


Chopping down a door with his Axe to reveal a room filled to the brim with meat and cheese


He woke up; he wiped the drool from his mouth and shoulder and caressed his battle axe


It’d be a good day today, and a damn fine day to march


He strut out of his tent and into the middle of his camp, “Blood Paw's Wolves!”


They gathered around to hear their Alpha speak


“Today we march to War, if you leave here; tis likely you will not return; Do not be troubled, you will be one less mouth to feed, haha”


Everybody laughed, it was all too true, War did not just bring food, but it brought death which allowed greater rations


“We will show the Omega that Blood Paw’s Wolves are the hungriest and the BLOODIEST; Onward my brave wolves we will feast on the flesh of horse and devour the Sillar’s warehouse stores”


With that everyone gathered their gear and prepared to march in formation


Blood Paws stood at the head, Bright Fang his Wolf Sergeant stood beside him


The Wolves stood in a column 5 Wolves wide and 100 Wolves long, 500 Wolves total


Blood Paws issued two horn blasts from the massive tusk, blackened with age, the endings bound with iron


It is also inscribed with the name and symbol of the Alphas that held it before, when Blood Paws dies his name and symbol, the Red Bear Paw, will be inscribed upon the horn


Bright Fang shouted aloud, “WOLVES FORWARD, TO WAR!!!”


The 500 Wolves set off and began to chant the only song worth marching to


Oh the hills so bright and white


The rock is black as frosty night


Never to return from here


The war has come, The war has come


Shout up high, Shout up high


The war has come, The war has come


Shake the ground with fiery step


Death will come, Death will come


Weep not my wife, Weep not my son


Food will come, Food will come


Axe through bone and Teeth through meat


Food will come, Food will come


Foot through door and Food in hand


The bounties won, The bounties won


Weep not my Wolves, Weep not my Lord


The War is won, The War is won

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Journal of H. A. Grimma


 


I do not know what happened


I cannot remember the past few days, or weeks


I have no way of knowing how long it’s been


My clothing was splattered with all manner of substances


My face was covered with a thick-black combination of blood, sweat, and dirt


Many pages of my journal were torn out


I noticed one page had the same scribbling in it


Written over and over, theWolftheWolftheWolftheWolf


I have lost my nerve, how can I save my family if this can happen to me


I still have many questions even though I know the Worr to exist


I still do not know what they want with us, or why they curse my family


The Valkyrie and the pocket watch, my mind always returns to those two things


My answers lie within them, I am sure of it


 


I found myself at the end of a tunnel; it opened into a valley not far from Wolf Manor


I had been here before


When I was a child my father would often take me down here to catch frogs


A cold stream ran out from the tunnel and collided with a nearby river


The roar of the river bounced around my skull


The reflection of the sun off the ground seared my eyes


It was as if I hadn’t seen daylight for some time


The sun comforted me; it took some of the chill from my bones


But not all of it, this chill was deeper than what a cold night could bring


 


Once I had my senses about me, I sat against a tree and pulled out my books


It was time to find answers to the Valkyrie, the Worr, and this pocket watch


 


 I delved into the ancient book from the library


I began to notice something


There appeared to be pictures on the pages


They weren’t boldly drawn; they were made out of words


Specific lines of specific words and letters connecting to form this picture


The pages were worn making it difficult to fully see, but I saw a battle


There were Great winged angels upon a hill overlooking a valley


In that valley was a small group of men


Some with long braided hair and beards


Others with shaved heads and war paint


They were all clad in an array of weapons and armor


With as many weapons strapped to their bodies as could fit


 


On the opposite end of the valley their looked to be a pack of large wolves


It was clear, these men aimed to fight the Worr


They were vastly outnumbered


I turned the page and saw another picture of the same battle


But the placements were different


The two forces had grown closer


The angels on the hill were Valkyrie; they looked both troubled and delighted


On the face of these men only determination could be seen


I turned the page again; the two groups were soon to collide


The Worr leapt, the men raised their blades and shields


I kept turning the pages watching the battle unfold before me


I could smell the foul breath, metal, and blood in the air


They fought with equal ferocity


The Worr lost many and retreated


 


No victory cry was heard from the brave men


Their youngest had fallen; his father fell to his knees


He watched the Valkyrie descend upon the valley


Taking the cursed souls of the Worr away


They also came for the man’s son


He could see them


He grabbed an approaching Valkyrie by the wrist and thrust his blade into her gut


The Valkyrie let out a cry and all the men fell dead except one


The father still stood


They picked up a Worr, threw it on him, and thrust a sword through the two bodies


They kicked him to the ground and cursed his name


 


I examined a few lines on the following page,


 


Promised immortality and mountains of gold


These warriors fought proud and bold


Forsaken when the young one went cold


 


To question the Valkyrie and the wisdom they hold


A curse fell upon these warriors of old


The fate of the Nameless Grimma is told


 



(The preceding parts can be found here, Wolf Manor(ALBUM)

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Part VIII


The Gorhh


 


Bright Fang approached Blood Paws still kneeling upon the earth


“Blood Paws, the Wolves found some Sythe scum with leg wounds, too slow and stupid to flee”


“Break their arms and tie them to a tree, let the wolves of the wild feast upon them”


“As you wish Alpha Blood Paws”


“We camp here tonight, have the wounded prepared for the morrow, any unable to march will be left behind; search for rations among the bodies of the Sythe”


Bright Fang bowed and walked away


 


They camped down the road some ways to avoid the vile stench of death and rot


No one slept well, too on edge after the ambush today


Blood Paws was stuck in a trance of sorrow the likes of which no one knew


But how could they


 


They call him Blood Paws because of what he did, in rage, in grief


He had just returned from a successful campaign


He had a sack of food slung over his shoulder


His battle axe in the other


He came to his house to find no one home


He found a note on his table


It said that his wife had fallen ill and was being held in the Hospital Chambers of the Gororoth


 


Blood Paw's heart dropped so deep that he nearly felt it touch the depths of hell


He dropped the sack of food from his hand, but his axe he held painfully tight


He ran to the Gororoth in a frenzy of grief, love, and anger


He kicked in the door of the Hospital Chamber to find his wife upon one of the many sick beds


Three healers surrounded her


Blood Paws yelled, “Whats wrong, whats wrong with my Love”


He ran to her, dropped his axe beside the bed, and held her hand in both of his


“My Love what has befallen you, look at me my Love”


She opened her eyes just barely and smiled


“My Beloved... You have returned to me, we got the report of Farrow Creek battle, they thought you amongst the dead, but I knew... No one could kill my Beloved”


Blood Paws began to weep, he kissed her forehead, it was death cold, “That’s right my Love, no power in this verse or the next can keep us apart”


“You remember that my Love, my life will depart from here, but my soul will be with you; Always with you, Always my Love…”


In that instant she was gone from this world, so fragile yet so powerful one life can be


What one can mean to another, the bond between two, can tear a hole between time and space


Blood Paws wept


Then his sorrow turned into fury, into rage


“My Love… Why didn’t you save her,” he mumbled it, barely audible


He stood up and spoke louder like a rising wave, “Why did you fail your only duty; I upheld my duty and you failed your single task”


He gripped his battle axe in both hands, “You let her die, you let her life slip through your fingers, you will feel my pain”


He swung his axe back, the 2 healers in front of him had no time to run, they were both sliced in half in one singular swing


For the third healer he pulled out his dagger, threw him against the wall and cut his chest open


He drove his hand in, and ripped out the man’s heart


“Now you know my pain, you know my hurt, my heart was hers and now it’s gone, all gone, and dead just like you”


 


He walked from that Hospital Chamber, his hands stained deep crimson


They held firm  and did not shake, one on his axe, the other still tightly clenching the man's heart  


From that day forth he was known as Blood Paws


Normally he would have been executed for this behavior, but Omega Black Tongue had felt a pain similar to his some years ago

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Chapter I


Henry Archibald Grimma’s Journal


5 January, 1920. I sat at my desk. It was late, although the hour was not what piqued my interest. The moon was strange to me. Its glow pierced through the fog looking almost like a hand of pure light was reaching down to me. I could not shake this feeling. I was in the safe confines of the manor, but I could have easily been convinced otherwise. I could not smell the leather of my chair or the papery dust of my books, not even the rich smoky lacquer of my desk. I’ve never felt so naked and cold. The cold ate at my bones and gnawed on my mind. Why was this night different than the rest? I finished my glass of scotch and put on my waist coat. I pulled out my pocket watch; it was 1:11 A.M. The watch was an heirloom passed down from my grandfather to my father and finally down to me. It always comforted me as if it held some hidden power. Etched on the back was a Valkyrie, the Norse believed Valkyrie decided who would be slain in battle. Although it holds no weight with me, I have never been in a battle, nor do I plan to be in one. The fiercest battle I have faced is that which is against the cold and a warm hearth always brings me victory. As I strolled out of my library I heard something stirring upstairs. It must be Miss Belcourt. Out of the corner of my eye I saw black gleaming eyes poking out behind the wall leading to the dining hall. As I turned they disappeared and something stirred behind me. It was like heavy scraping upon the wood floor, but there was nothing behind me. I looked in the library and watched the shadow from my chair stretch forward then rear up upon the wall. I spun around toward the stairs of the front hall. I could hear it making sounds in such a way that it felt like it curled up from my neck to my ear. Something is wrong, I’ll record this later.


 


6 January, 1920. The events I am about describe still baffle and horrify me. After leaving my desk the second time, I noticed there was something behind my banister. Its visage was menacing and it looked like a wolf red as blood. The hairs on my back stood up as a shrieking howl sounded off, tormenting my ears till I fell to my knees blacking out entirely.


 


I remember the blackout somewhat clearly because I instantly began to dream. I understood the feeling all too well. Weightlessness combined with pictures, images, and realities that constantly shifted with no direct connection to each other, but still felt real somehow. There was one memory my mind always went back to, it was stuck upon this one short moment in my life.


 


In the summer, ten years ago, I hosted a party. It was a party unlike any other that had been witnessed. Music was pounding through the lavishly decorated rooms and halls of my residence Wolf Manor. Glasses of every assortment of liquor were circulated throughout the rooms on silver trays. There were three bands playing that night, one in the entry hall, one in the ballroom, and one on the balcony. Try as you will, but no one could escape the sound. The rooms were filled shoulder to shoulder with men in dark sharply cut suits and women wearing every manner of extravagant color on dresses styled to their seductive peak. Nights such as these pass swiftly by, this one surely did, but not before my gaze was stolen by a fair lady of unworldly beauty.


 


She stood amongst the dancing crowd with golden hair and a golden dress. I cleared my throat, straightened my necktie, and made my way through the throng of dancers. Her icy blue eyes caught mine, I was several steps from her, my heart beat uncontrollably and every instinct was telling me to turn away. When we finally stood in front of each other she looked shyly at the ground and I stumbled out an introduction. “Hello Miss, I’m Henry Archibald Grimma, son of Grandhoff Grimma, and I welcome you to my summer party.”


 


“I’m Aurore Ansel, I have never seen such a party.”


 


“Nor have I,” I couldn’t help but smile as I spoke; her voice was enchanting and infectious. It was a night with no equal and the warm feelings faded away as the dream shifted to blank darkness.


 


The thick pounding of my heart woke me up. My head felt smashed open and my ears had bled. I looked to the window behind me. The moon was still casting its bright rays upon my desk. I checked my watch; it was still 1:11 A.M. My heart near stopped, what was happening. Two knocks buffeted the door, “Mr. Grimma, Mr. Grimma, this is the Redfield County Police.” I rolled over, stood up, and stumbled over to the door. I yanked it open and two officers in snazzy dress stood before me. They both had thick mustaches which spilled over their lips.


 


“You look like shit Mr. Grimma.”


 


“Don’t insult the man Dent and stop blurting.” The officer on the left hit the officer that spoke behind the head.


 


“Why are you always hitting me Graham?”


 


“Because you make us look the fool.”


“Officers?”


They both turned to me as if they had forgotten I was there.


“Ah yes, Mr. Grimma, my name is Roger Graham and this is my partner Peter Dent, we are here because of a disturbance some passersby heard. May we come in?”


“I’m sorry officers, but its late, come back on the morrow.”


“It is 2 P.M. Mr. Grimma.” I felt frozen I couldn’t move, the palms of my hands began to sweat as I reached for my pocket watch. It read 2 P.M., in that same instance night turned to day and moon to sun. I staggered back and covered my eyes, the light pierced through the palms of my hands. Shock surged through my body and I fell to one knee gasping for breath. I felt strangled by madness…


I felt asleep and yet I knew I was awake. I could not move, I was petrified, and I could not see the world. Everything was a shapeless white. It felt as if I was floating in the air. Officers Dent and Graham hoisted me up and dropped me onto a sofa. I heard Dent whispering to Graham, “I am going to take a look around, he is not acting right and something about this disturbs me, keep an eye on him.”


“Yes yes, toddle on.”


The white light began to fade into red. Then I saw those eyes, black eyes, the eyes of death itself. At some moment I lost consciousness, I dreamt of nothing but those eyes. Staring into my soul with devours gaze. Light broke through those black pupils and I woke up. My hands were cuffed behind a small metal chair, the metal bit into my flesh bringing a reminding pain. A highly reflective and brightly lit table was before me, the effect of which was quite blinding. Across from me was Roger Graham, although I couldn’t see him too well so it could have been any other man with a brimming mustache. “Good, looks like you are up, welcome back Mr. Grimma. You are being questioned because your maid Miss Belcourt was murdered, and you must comply with our investigation.”


“Murdered?”


“We found her body by the stairs; her throat torn and lacerated.”


My mind started to drift back to those eyes and that wolf, I could not shake it. It gnawed at my mind just like the metal cuffs and chair cut into my flesh. And for all I knew I could have murdered her, there were many hours unaccounted for. “What did I do? Did I do something, what did you find?” Rage started building; I struggled in my chair, “Why am I cuffed?”


Roger Graham raised an eyebrow, “Because we believed you to be unstable and prone to fits of rage, which is why Miss Belcourt was found in such a state.”


I stopped struggling. This was unlike me. I have always been stable and calm. I started to feel scratching at the back of my mind like there was something I had forgotten. Then it came to me, my watch, the time, and all my questions. Each question led to more questions, but without my watch I felt empty. A hallow shell with no substance, it continued to scratch at my mind. It must mean something. The watch must be the answer somehow. For reasons I cannot ascertain I felt as if I was late. Late for some meeting I never knew existed, I implored Officer Graham, “Where is my pocket watch? It is not here. You took it didn’t you?”


“Why do you have plans? You aren’t leaving.”


“Give me my watch!”


“You are handcuffed a watch would do you no good.”


“At least tell me the time.”


“It’s 5 P.M., happy?”


“Ecstatic.”


The scratching continued, knowing the time did nothing, why did I think it would do something? I shook in my chair, my head rolling around, I wanted out, my mind wanted out. I felt like I was going mad and Roger Graham looked at me horrified, “Are you okay?” I could not see it, but I felt the blood dripping from my ears and mouth. It was pouring out from some unseen wound. I started to choke, coughing blood from my lungs, struggling desperately to survive. It is about here that I start to question the validity of my memory as I write this down. God…what have I become?


Chapter II


Henry Archibald Grimma’s Journal


7 January, 1920. I don’t know what happened at the police station and maybe I don’t want to know.I blacked out again, and all I saw was that bloody wolf. The incessant scratching stopped.What does all this mean, there must be a reason. I feel as if I am not alone.The cold I felt, it felt like it was a part of me somehow.What am I saying?Maybe I’m just mad, maybe I’ve always been.Do the sick know they are sick?


After the police station I woke up in the woods, my clothing was tattered and blood stained. There were holes in it that looked like bullet holes, but I had no wounds of any kind. My hands were soaked with blood, as if they had held a beating heart in their clutches. I couldn’t wash it off in the river. I was stained. Stained and yet I haven’t a clue why.


As I take a moment from my story I will reiterate. My name is Henry Archibald Grimma, and I don’t have anyone to pass this journal onto. I don’t even know if anyone will end up reading it, but if you are somehow, then you must do something. There must be something someone can do. Whatever is happening must be stopped. I fear what may happen. At that moment I noticed I had my pocket watch and I held it to my breast. It felt warm somehow, it comforted me, for a while all the questions vanished. I thought to the inscription on the back, maybe I am in a battle and maybe the Valkyrie will pick me to live. If all else descends into madness perhaps I’ll live.


I stumbled through the woods with the pocket watch at my breast. It adopted a pinkish red hue from my stained hands. My heart beat slowly, yet powerful as if I had the heart of some great beast. My watch bounced off my chest with each thudding beat. I did not know where I was going. I was blindly hoping I’d stumble upon Wolf Manor. I needed to see it, where it happened. It was all that mattered to me now. I had to know. I had known her for some twenty years. Miss Belcourt was a friend whom I trusted and respected. Now she was dead, brutalized by some evil that dwelt in my home. I have been walking for hours, each step sent shards of pain up my legs. Then I saw Wolf Manor off in the distance, its three stories, massive windows, and gothic appearance. Then I looked to the Gargoyles that sat upon each corner. They really failed their job… If I make it out of this, the first thing on the list will be to take down those Gargoyles and replace them with a team of priests. They’d need hats to avoid sunburns, I’d probably need multiple shifts of them to cover the different times of the day, hmmm, it could work I think.


I stopped dead in my tracks. I was being followed. I could sense it and the hairs on my neck rose. My ears tried to pinpoint the sound. I stood there not wanting to turn around, but I knew I must. I slowly turned and I felt relief, nothing was there. I turned back around and there it was before me. I could feel it breathing on my face, it stood on two legs with its eyes so close that they enveloped my entire vision. Everything turned to darkness. I stepped back and noticed it was coated in fresh crimson, dripping in it. Its dead eyes followed me and the corner of its mouth rose in a grin. I was crushed by its presence I stumbled to the ground and crawled backwards. It opened its mouth and howled at me, the shrieking howl that plagued me before. My hands went to my ears and I curled into a ball. I was helpless. I’d black out soon, and who knows what would happen. The world already began to darken, shift from day to night almost.


Then I felt the warmth of my pocket. With all my might I ripped my hands from my ears. It was more painful than anything I could imagine. I stood up holding the pocket watch in front of me. In defiance I stood before death. In faith of that watch I stood saying, “Come take me demon. You will find no victories here.” The wolf stopped looked at me, grinned again and vanished as mist in the wind. I fell to my knees, the pain did not leave me, my ears felt cold, burning from the cold of Hell’s fire. The scratching in the back of my mind returned. It was stronger than ever. I felt it taint my mind with cold. The cold that gnaws at your thoughts and as I wept my tears rolled down my cheek then froze. The cold was consuming me slowly.


Thewolf was gone, but I still felt its presence. It was still with me somehow. Time seemed to speed up and the sun retreated behind the mountains. The sun was scared of what I saw. It grew deathly cold, a cold which crawled up my spine and wrapped its hands around my neck. It whispered in my ear, “Your mine.” I ignored it. I kept moving toward Wolf Manor in the moonlight. Its silver glow comforted me. It made me feel warm, complete almost. I began to gaze at it. I felt lost in its sweet embrace. It made me forget about the cold scratching at my mind. Always scratching, so cold, and yet the moon made me forget. It made me forget about what happened at Wolf Manor.


I approached Wolf Manor and it did not welcome me. I felt as if it fought my every movement. It did not want me here. The Gargoyles looked as if they were staring at me. Utter loathsome stares, perhaps they knew I planned to replace them. The house had police tape at the door. No living soul was around for the hour was dark. I crossed the threshold and I felt a surge of cold bite my bones as it did the first night. The windows were open and the curtains danced in the wind. The moon illuminated the now grim looking hall. I did not know what I would see upstairs, but I had to prepare my mind for it lest it be torn in two.


I haven’t the slightest clue regarding what’s going on here, but I intend to record every last event. If I die, my hope is someone will take my place and solve this…This, I don’t even know what to call it.


I approached my desk and began to skim through a story I am quite fond of. It talks of a man who lost everything. A man who stood against death and in defiance stood against fate. In the end he cried at the sky because his memories brought pain. All he knows was gone, this man died, but his memory lived on. In the wake of his death it was written the people avenged him. True story or no, it speaks of justice even if it’s delayed justice. And so I ask the same of you unknown readers of my journal. Should I fall forget me not, bring your vengeance and your fury. I have no family; they left me some years ago.


Here I sit in Wolf Manor alone, writing to you. It has been like this some time, I dare not think back to Aurore and her fate. Her memory is so sweet and yet like a dagger it cuts into my heart. Then there are the questions, why did she have to die? Why did I never find her? I didn’t even have my wife to burry. It was like she was wiped from existence. Aurore with her golden hair, sweet demeanor, and bright pink lips, I wish she was here to comfort me. Aurore was my rock.


I tightened my fists. I am ready to face what has befallen Wolf Manor. As I walked up my moonlit staircase I began to think. I am very much like the moon, alone in darkness. My love is alone in a much brighter and better world, one that basks in the sun. When I set she rises, when she sets I rise to the cold silver darkness. Each step up the staircase brought a weight to my heart. The burden of what I may see, what I may realize.


As I write this down I still wonder if I can live today, maybe life is not my path.


I gazed upon the massacre, so much blood. The whole place smelt unholy, the floor boards were slashed and splintered. The walls were stained, the rug was soaked. I sat against the only wall without blood splatters. I closed my eyes trying to forget about the blood. Attempting to focus, to remember, then I felt something. Air brushed down the back of my neck, soft with the force of a whisper. And yet I heard nothing but the rustling of the curtains as they danced solemnly in the wind. I got up and looked upon the wall. Blood was dripping in a line out of its seam. I placed both hands upon the wall. It was cold and it licked at my hands. With the force of the world I moved the wall, revealing a room I had never known to exist.


Bodies were lined against the wall, the smell of which nearly knocked me down. They were colored silver by the skylight overhead. The throats of each were torn asunder. The further I walked down the hall the more decayed the bodies became. At the very end it was only skeletons. I grew very cold. It was different this time, as if the cold was embracing me. It felt evil, as if I was being transformed. I grasped my watch and held it to my breast. It kept fire in my heart while the cold started to gnaw at my bones. I entered the next room, an archive crowded with rows of shelves stuffed with thick tomes. In the very back was a lone desk and chair. It was encased in a circle of silver light from the window above. One small book lay upon the desk. I wiped the dust from the book, a note sat upon its cover. To my son Henry Archibald Grimma. Here is what the note said.


I hope that you never have to read this my Son.


There is much to our family, our manor, our legacy that you do not know.


I wish I could have told you in person, there is so much your mother and I wanted for you.


I did not want you to follow this path, Wolf Manor is not well.


If you are here then it has started, the change has begun.


I couldn’t stop it Son, but I hope that with my knowledge you will prevail.


The pages of this book hold all that I discovered.


It contains the secrets that cost my life, but I had to know.


I had to make the questions go away.


Scratching always scratching.


So many questions.


 


I skipped to the last page, I could never wait to get to the end.


 


I don’t have much time, it is coming.


It has a place for me; I won’t resist it any longer.


I just want you to have a chance son, the chance I did not have.


My tears darken the pages as I write.


I left you my pocket watch and the manor for a reason Archibald.


The manor must be in the possession of a Grimma.


Should it pass to another family, the result would be chaos.


Keep your watch close it holds great power.


Power which I failed to discover.


So I tell you this now son. That watch is the key to everything.


The key to all the secrets of the Grimma’s, our origin, our past, and our present.


Follow the fading wind. Beware of the wolf red as blood.


My time is nigh, good luck my Son.


 


I sat down in the chair. Slumped in like a mindless zombie. I was in shock, I poured through the pages of my father’s book. I could not believe what I was reading, more importantly I did not know where to begin. My family’s past was disturbing to say the least. There are so many unexplainable events and tragedies, Aurore’s end being chief of all. Then my father mentioned the Wolf, now that I think about it, that Wolf was familiar to me. It was if I had seen it before, but no longer remembered when. I could not bring my eyes from the page. I had to read every last word. With each word read I become more captivated and disturbed until I finally passed out with my head on the dusty desk.


 


I woke up to the burning heat of the sun overhead. The wolf haunted my dreams throughout the night. I can’t let my father or family down; I am the last of the Grimma family. I must make what was wronged right. I slammed my fist into the desk, a torrent of dust shot in my face. As I entered into a fit of coughing I noticed something. There was a sword on the ground beneath the desk. Its scabbard was knocked into the corner. There was old blood on the blade. As I held the aged sword in my hand I recognized it. My father, Grandhoff Grimma, used to wear this sword with his uniform. The sword was in rough shape from the years of neglect and it had seen battle. Along the bloodied hilt it read, Vi Veri Vuniversum Vivus Vici. I said aloud, “By the power of truth I while living have conquered the universe.” I remember this from Faust, but I don’t remember this being on my father’s sword. Faust made a deal with the devil, why would my father draw a connection to Faust near his end. Father, what madness overtook you? I left the hidden room and took my father’s book and sword with me. I grabbed my journal as well so I could record on the move.


 


8 January, 1920. By the time I got outside I could hear the police walking down toward the Manor. It sounded like Roger Graham and Peter Dent. I could vaguely hear Dent say, “I don’t want to go back here, not after what happened at the station.”


“Just calm down, it was a freak event, nothing more; Grimma must have snuck out in the chaos.”


“You aren’t getting me Roger, it wasn’t right, what it did, that thing.”


“Enough! I do not want to hear any more about your conspiracies, keep your composure.” Roger lowered his tone to whisper. Good God man we are officers of the law, we have a reputation to uphold. If we are scared how do you think the people of this town will feel? Pull yourself together!”


“I just can’t shake it, the beast, and the cold. It was unholy, evil, it wanted us dead Roger.”


“Well it failed didn’t it. We got a couple flesh wounds nothing more.”


“How can you be so calm Roger, it is unnerving.”


“Someone has to! We can’t lose our heads at the first sign of danger.”


“Do you think Grimma killed her?”


“Undoubtedly, no living family members, not a friend in the world since the parties stopped. He’s been locked away in his manor all that time, and you saw how he acted in the interrogation room. What happened to Mrs. Grimma alone would have been enough to drive him to insanity.”


“I don’t know Roger, he doesn’t seem like he’d actually kill someone, yes he is a bit eccentric, but what rich person isn’t.”


“You can see it in his eyes Peter.”


They were getting close. I had to escape to the woods. I needed to get to the library; they had a massive archive of old mythology. It could be my only chance at discovering the secrets of this watch.


I ran through the forest like a madman. With haste in the same way a crazed ghoul in search of flesh is imagined to have. The secrets were all that mattered. My thirst for truth blocked out the incessant scratching. I had my journal and my father’s book in my coat, my pocket watch tight to my breast and the sheathed sword in my right hand. I grinned; I was beginning to look like a plucky hero straight out of a classic novel. But this was no story, no fantasy, this was real, this was my life. The swish of pen would not decide my fate. I held my life in my own hands. My actions in of themselves would choose if I am to live or die. I was beginning to understand why, in the face of defeat, warriors of distant lands would take their own life. They did not want their death to have no meaning; they wanted to die by their choice, by their hand. To have control of one’s life was to have control of its legacy. To die with honor was a choice. If I were still a man of faith I’d say my life was in the hands of fate, but alas. To be alone in the world, so young, was a fate crueler than could be written. To be truly alone was purgatory and perdition. Though I wish things were different, I wish I could plead to the heavens to smite mine foes. The sun was beginning to fade. I was near the archive now. I was a long ways from the Manor. I decided to stop by a stream and drink. I ate some food I took from the Manor’s pantry. Dried meat and rolls oh so sweet. In that moment I forgot of all my problems and fears until I sensed it or at least the hairs on my neck did. The wolf was near, the sun finally retreated. The moon was weak tonight A thick fog rolled in, I could hardly see the tip of my own nose. I kept turning around; it felt as if someone was behind me. I drew my father’s sword, “I won’t let you take me!” In my ear I heard the voice of a thousand whispers echoing, telling me, “Your father can’t save you, no one can save you, even if you still believed in God he couldn’t save you. I know your heart and your thoughts; I hold your life in my hands.” In the same instant the voices and fog vanished and the moon grew greater. I fell to my knees, wishing I had the faith to pray, or a friend to pick me up.


 


 


(The rest of the story is found on my blog. If you'd like me to submit those chapters here, simply request it and I'll hitrecord it. Wolf Manor (Blog Link)


 

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“Oh the hills so bright and white


The rock is black as frosty night



Never to return from here



The war has come, The war has come



Shout up high, Shout up high



The war has come, The war has come



Shake the ground with fiery step



Death will come, Death will come



Weep not my wife, Weep not my son



Food will come, Food will come



Axe through bone and Teeth through meat



Food will come, Food will come



Foot through door and Food in hand



The bounties won, The bounties won



Weep not my Wolves, Weep not my Lord



The War is won, The War is won!”


 


 


This song is from Among the Fallen, link to the full story below,


http://solemnrealm.blogspot.com/p/into-abyss.html

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Astronomer’s End


Prologue: Into the Unknown


 


The voice of Icarus Pilot Rhyse rung throughout every nook and cranny of the massive Star Destroyer class ship. “Course set, systems nominal. Fuel, engines, scanners, weapons, life support, gravity, flight drive, and last but not least the parking break is disengaged. Igniting thrusters on my mark, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, mark. “ Icarus left the shipping dock on Earth and broke atmosphere within minutes, she was a fast ship and they’d need it too. Tau Ceti is a long way to travel. 


His co-pilot, Melina turned her head toward him.  “Why do you think we are going on this mission Rhyse? We weren’t scheduled for departure till next year, what happened?”


“I don’t know, Admiral Volsh hasn’t said a word and I am the chief pilot.”


“I wonder what is even out there. I heard rumors of a secret expedition to Tau Ceti, but I am sure it was just a crazy conspiracy as always. Also Rhyse, don’t forget you’d be nothing without your co-pilot, half the time you forget to re-zip your jumpsuit.”


“That was one time dammit why do you keep bringing it up?”


“I’ll never forget the image of your flopping flesh rocket,” Melina winked at him. 


“I’d cover my eyes right now if I didn’t have to control the Icarus.”


They both sat back to their duties; side by side they turned nobs, pressed buttons, and raised sliders. There was a giant assortment of gadgets before them. Each with its own color and sound in order to keep the pilot’s completely informed. Icarus was a brand new Star Destroyer and this was its maiden voyage. The pilot’s room was quite small, space only given where it was absolutely necessary. Everything else was down to business. In the back of their cockpit was a space suit and pistol for pilot and co-pilot. The cockpit was also sealed with a blast proof door. Beyond their systems there was the front shield of the Icarus, completely see-through and one thing is for sure, space is quite the beauty. You may think to sit there with all your gadgets humming and shining in your face you may be distracted, but quite often both Rhyse and Melina would sit and gaze at the stars. Truly the best seat in the house. Space always looked different, each time they flew out, they were two of the youngest pilots employed by the FGC and yet they had already flown fifty deep space missions. This one would be their furthest and they were assured to see new sights. One of the things that had always brought these pilots together is their love for space and their good fortunes of being able to gaze at the stars, side by side, for hours on end. 


Static rang through the loudspeakers, “Members of the Icarus. This is your Admiral speaking. All commissioned officers will report to Mission Control for debriefing. That is all.” One last ring of static and then the sound of the ships humming engine returned and the distant clank and clatter of five thousand crew members stirring about. They are like five thousand mice flying a tin can through space. A most apt description.  


Rhyse let out a sigh, “Keep an eye on her while I’m gone.”


“Aye, Aye!” 


Rhyse climbed out of his rather comfortable flight seat and approached the thick vault of a door. He spun the black iron lock till the latch released and with all his strength nudged it open. The Icarus was a big ship. It was lucky for Rhyse Mission Control was only a few halls from the cockpit. Two guards stood out the door in full military garb, masked helmets, body armor, and incendiary shotguns which are bordering on being flamethrowers that also penetrates with buckshot. On their left shoulder and at the top of their helmet was stamped Gold Wings, the symbol of the Icarus itself.  


Rhyse approached them and they brought the heel of their guns to the floor clicked their heels together and gave a strong salute. It’s the only action they get all day anyway. They might as well execute it with finesse. 


“At ease men.” 


Rhyse proceeded into Mission Control. It was like a hub for intelligence. A Giant orb hung over the command table, every manner of word, picture, and line of code ran through its watery and electric surface. The command table stood in the center of the room in a sort of arena like dug out. The areas above the table had railing and the less important officers and personnel could listen in from there. The room was also thick with nicotine. Smoking spread like a plague once fatal side effects were eliminated from the list. In a job like this, it pays to relieve some stress. Volsh stood at the head of the table which was shaped in a triangle so that there could only be one head to the table. A cigar hung out of his mouth, a mustache spilled from underneath his nose, his brows were furrowed, he looked less happy than usual. 


“Take a seat gentlemen,” he threw his folder on the table in front of him and sat. Located on the planet Tau Ceti which is 200000 miles from the earth is a secret colony and base. We lost contact with their star destroyer the Astronomer a month ago. The Icarus was sent into service early on account of the urgency of this matter. We don’t know what they found on Tau Ceti, but we know it’s big enough to change everything we know. Now what I need is…”


To take a step into the mind of Rhyse is to take a step into a dark room. Then turn that room upside down, put it in space, and fill it with the faces of those you have loved and lost. That is what it’s like to be in his mind and right now as he sits at that meeting and the faces of the present melt away. A familiar song drifts into his mind and his jumpsuit feels tight at the wrist. He moves his head but dead eyes stare at him, they follow his eyes. He can’t shake it. He can never shake it when it drifts in. That familiar song rumbling through his ears, he is so young, but completely traumatized by his work. His heart rate slows down, his head bobs a little in rhythm with the song of madness and pain. The dead eyes stare at him, he knows those eyes. They belonged to someone he loved, someone he couldn’t save, someone that is gone. Now they haunt him, as does the song. Mission Control fades away, the room drops into itself until it is flat, then a new room rises from the ashes. Before him is his little brother Isaac, he calls to him, “Do you like this song big brother?” 


“Yes, its nice Isaac.”


“Nice?” Isaac jumped on his back, “Its amazing!”


Rhyse grabbed his arms and set him down, “Alright settle down.”


“Brother what’s that sound?”


The horizon lit up like fire and all sound drained away. “Isaac get down!” The shockwave shattered the windows and knocked them both to the ground. Rhyse got up and approached his little brother, his head hit the tile floor. Blood dripped out his ears and from the back his skull. Rhyse slumped to his knees as the blood enveloped them and the song seeped into his mind as did the image of Isaac.  In a flash mission control was back and he felt a ring of cold steel against his temple and he whispered to himself “Get out.” 


The whole room turned to him, looked at him. This wasn’t a dream, they watched him put a gun to his head and begin to squeeze the trigger. 


They were all speechless, except Volsh, “That won’t be necessary Rhyse there are much easier ways for us to see whats in your head, a bullet would be excessive. Report to the infirmary for evaluation, Melina has been notified.” Volsh cleared his throat and stood from his chair, he was always the first to stand, no one dared to get out of their chair even if they needed the restroom. Everyone feared Volsh and that kept the Icarus running smoothly. “That concludes this meeting gentlemen, return to your posts.”


Rhyse made his way toward the infirmary. The neck of his jumpsuit felt tight, he struggled with it until he felt a slight tickle crawl up his throat. His palms began to sweat and he was thirsty for a drink of fiery liquor. Once more into the bar, once more. Someone grabbed his shoulder and he shook himself out of it.


“Rhyse what are you doing? The infirmary is on the whole other side of the ship.” It was Melina, she looked concerned, her eyes were irritated as if she had cried moments before.


“I don’t know.”


“Rhyse you are worrying me, are you okay? Come back to my room, we need to talk, then I’ll take you to the infirmary.”


“Talking won’t save me Melina, but okay.”


Melina took him by the hand and gracefully guided him to her room. She was an amazing woman, had Thyse been in the right frame of mind he would have seen that. Melina dropped the latch and closed the door. She pulled him down to the bed with her. They both sat on the blue sheets.


“Listen Rhyse.” She placed her hand on his face. “I am so very worried about you. It feels like you are coming unhinged.”


Rhyse sat dumbly staring at her as the sound came back and the nightmares blocked the present and brought forth the past.


“Rhyse!” He still didn’t respond. He merely stared forward in a dead gaze. She slapped him. He rubbed his face and looked at her like he used to.


“You are lucky I am tough Melina.”


“Are you? You need to get a grip Rhyse! You are slipping, I can feel it. It is too painful for me to watch you change. You need help Rhyse and you need to leave the past be.”


“I know Melina, but what if the past won’t leave me be? I just, I don’t know if I can be the man I need to be.”


She nudged closer, “You already arm him Rhyse, you just need to see it for yourself.” She ran her hand through his hair, then brought them right to his eyes and kissed his lips. He pulled back.


“Melina we can’t.” The look of anguish that ran across her pale face was heart breaking. Her luscious pink lips trembled, and her emerald eyes watered up. Rhyse didn’t notice.


“Aren’t I ww-worth it? I’m always there for you. We spend every day together.”


He looked back at her cold. “I can’t. I’m sorry.”


Melina hid her face. “You better go to the infirmary now.”


Rhyse looked cross as if he didn’t know what he had just done to her. “I thought you’d take me?”


“You will be fine just,” her voice cut out. “Go.”


Rhyse left the room. As soon as that metal door shut Melina buried her face in her bed and sobbed uncontrollably. She wished she could forget about him like he forgets about her, but love is blind and does not worry about pain of the heart.


 


Two days of awkward silence between Rhyse and Melina passed. On the third day a signal was picked up with the long range scanner. Rhyse read the ID number on the signal, it was the Astronomer. He immediately pressed the direct line to Admiral Volsh. “Volsh, you’ll want to see this.”


Within minutes Volsh entered the cockpit and Rhyse played the transmission. Five seconds of static then, “‘ast from the Astronomer orbiting Tau Ceti. Crisis code 1137. Attention, this is an emergency broadcast from the Astronomer orbiting Tau Ceti. Crisis code 1137.”


“Alright cut the transmission. Rhyse I want our stealth systems engaged on approach. I won’t take any chances. We have just entered a warzone.”


 


 


 


 


Chapter I: Brave New Frontier


 


 


The roar of the Space Crawler jarred my head as it sped up and down the dunes creating a dust storm in its wake. I am a Scientist, not some ruffian used to this sort of thing. We were heading to the mountain today. I was excited, finally a chance at some real scientific discovery. We had a good omen yesterday, three babies were born. It is like on your birthday cake when you add a candle to grow on. We have had two good years and the third baby marks the beginning of another.


Sergeant Isaac Gron stood up in the back of the Space Crawler with his hand resting on an overhead latch.


He lazily scratched the stubble on his chin. “You know you don’t look so good Mr. Scientist.”


“The name is Peter Gollings, or Mr. Gollings, you should know that by now, it’s been two years... It’s just a little motion sickness that is all.” Sergeant Gron stared at him blankly.


“I have never been one for remembering names, only the names of those that have died under my command.”


Sergeant Isaac Gron turned his head as if he already lost interest in the conversation and zoned in on Miss Church. He placed one hand at his side in a half heroic posture.


“Vanessa Elizabeth Church, you are looking mighty fine today, it comforts me that you will be the one to nurse me back to health should I become injured.”


Peter Gollings mumbled, “You seem to remember girl’s names just fine.”


“What was that Rollings?”


“Nothing and its Gollings.”


“Sure it is.”


“Thank you Sergeant, but I mostly oversee the Medical Team on Europa. I am only used for serious surgery at this point.”


“Do you know how many serious surgeries I have had in my lifetime Miss Church, too many to count.”


“Well in that case, I’ll look forward to patching you up Isaac.”


I could have sworn she gave him a wink. It was nauseating watching the Sergeant bed every decent looking woman on Europa. Not even all of them were decent, mostly just anything that would be considered a woman. Sergeant Gron put his foot next to the arm rest of her seat and leaned in. “Your eyes are something special do you know that, if I end up unconscious for any reason, they are the first thing I want to see staring at me.”


“Why thank you Isaac, I’ll keep that in mind.”


She placed her hand on his leg moving her hand up his thigh then down. I was going to throw up. The motion sickness combined with visualizing the scenario where the Sergeant beds the Chief Medical Officer in the back of the Space Crawler was all too sickening. Green and white chicken salad spilled all over the floor. I just narrowly missed my clothes.


“Oh you got to be kidding me, you little science dweebs are always upchucking in my Space Crawler!” The Sergeant approached me and stared at me eye to eye, “You smell like shit you little piss ant, next time you upchuck it better be outside or you will be thrown down the next God forsaken hole we drive by in this wasteland of a desert! Do you get my meaning Roger?”


“Yes, yes, uhm completely clear, Sir.” I was too scared to correct him this time, for fear of getting thrown down the vastly approaching desert hole on the horizon. Somehow I don’t think that was an empty threat. Sergeant Gron doesn’t understand how important I am to the mission on Tau Ceti.


Isaac walked back over to Miss Church, “Dammit, you know I had something else to say, but I’ve forgotten it on account of Roger Rollings the piss ant over there.”


“Oh it’s quite alright Isaac, but don’t blame him, some just aren’t cut out for field work.”


She said it just loud enough for me to hear, whispering it slightly just so I knew it was meant as an insult. I don’t know why, but I am always the odd man out, I tend to attribute it to my superior intellect. They just cannot relate to me on that level so they choose to poke fun, yes, that must be it indeed.


We made it to the base of the mountain, it took a few hours, but at least we were here. I was also glad I held in my vomit the rest of the drive. We unbuckled and got up from our seats, Isaac was about to open the back door when a shuttering crack pierced our ears.


We could hear the drivers shouting “Collapse, buckle up, brace for impact!”


 


 


It felt like we were falling for an eternity, only a couple of us were able to re-buckle. So there Sergeant Isaac and Miss Church were, floating in free fall, her clinging to his muscled chest while his arm wrapped tight around her. Just once I’d like to be the hero with a beautiful woman at my chest, although I guess I’d need to build a chest first, mine isn’t much to cling onto.


We made impact with the ground below, it felt like a missile hitting a steel wall, my head felt split open. Sergeant Isaac and Miss Church crashed to the floor, but he turned them around so that he fell on his back and she fell on top of him. I would be nauseated if I didn’t feel like I was going to pass out and die. Sergeant Gron got up and placed Miss Church back in her seat. He opened the door to the driver’s cockpit, a burst of dust swarmed into the Space Crawler. The front window was blasted open. Shrapnel stuck out of the bloody neck of the driver on the left and the one on the right was bleeding severely, but alive.


Sergeant Isaac turned to them. “Masks on, I don’t like the smell of this dust, we need to do a chemical sweep before we remove them.”


He checked the backdoor. It was jammed shut. “First Lieutenant Bishop, cut us out of here.”


“With pleasure Sergeant,” Bishop, one of the Templars under Sergeant Gron's command pulled out a heavy duty blow torch. “Look away please. It is quite bright.”


Bishop cut the side of the Space Crawler open with the torch and then like a super human pried the metal apart. We stepped out of the Space Crawler; I couldn’t hear much besides my heavy breathing in this infernal gas mask. Currrrrrr Urrrrhhhh, Currrrrrrr Urrrrhhh, over and over and then I started to choke, Currr urh urh urh currr. I felt to my knees and grasped my throat until my breathing started to calm down. I was not used to wearing one and I felt somewhat close to suffocating. It was dark down here. I looked above and I saw the small hole in the ceiling in which we fell. The cavern was vast and tall, looking at it made me sick.


Sergeant Gron called out, “Knight, Rook, Bishop! I want a perimeter set up now. Miss Church, tend to the wounded. Pawn, I want you to go through that narrow cavern ahead of us. Scout it out, and double back. We need to find a safe exit. I don’t want any trouble considering we have 4 non-combat personnel in tow.”


Sergeant Gron grabbed his radio from the strap on his dusty chest armor, “This is Sergeant Isaac Gron with the expedition team. Our Space Crawler is down. We need immediate support, over. Transfer me to Admiral Martulios of the Astronomer. He needs to send a transport carrier, over. Europa! Do you read, over... Son of a bitch!” He threw his radio to the ground and stepped on it. “Technology never pulls through when you need it." He grabbed his pack from the Space Crawler. “Alright ladies, looks like we are walking out of this one. Grab your shit, we’re going.”


I began to dig my science equipment out of the Space Crawler when Sergeant Gron stopped me.


“No Mr. Rollings, we can’t be weighed down by useless equipment, this is no longer a Science expedition.”


“But some of this equipment is unique.”


“Unless if you think you can carry all of that up a mountain, which it looks like you can’t, I’d leave it. We’ll come back for it another time.”


Sergeant Gron grinned at me then turned away. “Bishop, take Knight and Rook, go find Pawn. Make sure he didn’t get distracted by a butterfly again.”


Miss Church limped up to Sergeant Isaac. “I think my ankle is broken, I won’t be able to keep up.”


“Don’t worry miss church. I’ll carry you. Alright let’s move out.”


Sergeant Gron threw Miss Church over his shoulder in a fashion that looked like he was carrying her to the bedroom. His right arm was holding on to the back of her thighs and his other gripped his Pyrotechnical assault rifle, which ignites its bullets upon firing, bringing them close to melting point before impact.


Bishop ran to Sergeant Gron like hell on wings. “Sir, Pawn is dead! Decapitated, it’s a whole bloody mess back there. The wall is dripping and Pawn never got a shot off. The boy may have been a greenhorn, but he was hard as hell to sneak up on.”


“We need to get out of here. Grab his dog tag and ammo. I want you and Rook on point. Find me that exit!”


 


 


“It’s dark in here, night vision on.  Peter and the rest of you scientists stay right behind me.” I believe that is the first time he got my name right.


We passed the bloodied body of Pawn. I could hardly see him in the darkness, but I knew he was there. I could feel the dread. It was as if even in death Pawn was still there. Warning us it was not safe and pleading at us to turn back. Turn back we did not. We entered the black gates of Hell and then walked further.


Walking forward felt uneasy as if my soul was trying to drag me away from this place. Why? Why did this tunnel feel so God forsaken?


Rook raised his hand up, “Hold.”


Sergeant Gron walked up to him, “What is it?”


I could hear a strange sound going off. With each passing second its pace quickened.


“Gamma radiation sir, high content, we need to get moving.” He moved his Geiger Counter over the group to pinpoint the location, “Behind us sir.”


Knight was at the rear, he raised his rifle the Balthazar Mark II, 35 pounds of automatic fire breathing hell. It is standard issue to the Templars who tend to favor pyro based weaponry.


We all saw something stir in the shadows. Then we heard it… A sound which will forever haunt my dreams.


“CRRRRRRUUUULLLLLLLLLL!”


Knight was grabbed by the neck and lifted in the air. We heard a sickening ‘shing’ sound and Knight fell limp to the floor. His head toppled down to the ground. The dank dark tunnel lit up like a firestorm and all I could hear was gunfire. I could see Knight’s body as the flames danced from the gun barrels of my company. Blood dripped down his chest piece. His neck was sliced clean as if it had been hit by a guillotine. The monster, this otherworldly being was long gone, but they kept firing in grief and rage. We ran through the tunnel like madmen. I had no idea how many hours we had been running in the black, but it felt like an eternity.


Rook stopped again, he had Knight’s bloodied rifle slung over his shoulder. He held his own in one hand and a square touch screen device in the other. “Hold… Sergeant my mapping device has finally finished scanning the area, this place is a maze. It is an underground labyrinth of tunnels Sir. We could never guess our way out of here, but let me see. Alright I believe I found us an exit, this way!”


We dashed off again, I did not know if I’d ever see the light of day again or feel a fresh breeze upon my face, but I hoped for it. We could hear them, all around us those things. I could hear their screams deep beneath us. I have no doubt we invaded their home and I will not be surprised if they invade ours.  I saw the fading light at the end of the tunnel, no sweeter sight have I seen. As I stepped over the threshold of hell and back into the world of light I fell to the ground on my knees. I dug my hands into the sand, I wept, I was alive, but three of us were not so blessed. The blazing sun was beginning to set over the horizon, making the world a hazy orange.


“Rook, radio.” Rook tossed Sergeant Gron the radio, “This is Sergeant Isaac Gron, Europa do you read?”


“This is the Europa command center. What is the status of the expedition? What’s your status, over.”


“We need immediate evacuation from the base of the mountain. Three are dead, several are wounded, over.”


“Hold on, patching you through to FGC Overseer Gordon Riggs.”


“Sergeant Gron, what happened?”


“The ground collapsed beneath us. We fell in the Space Crawler at least a hundred into this tunnel network. We encountered something Sir.”


“What was it?”


“I do not know for sure, but it is hostile, both Knight and Pawn were decapitated.”


“Sit tight! We have a Scarecrow inbound! I’ll need a full report upon your return, over.”


After some time I could see bright silver in the distance, like an angel flying forth to save me. I heard the roar of its jet engines and the chop of its blades. The Scarecrow was almost here. I’ll be glad when I am gone from this place. We need to leave Tau Ceti. Nobody's safe here. The Scarecrow slowly descended kicking up a tornado of sand as it made ground. I rushed to the chopper, threw off my mask, and kissed its steel frame. It flew us back to the Europa settlement. The open cabinet of the Scarecrow allowed hot hair to brush my face on our way back. It was nice. I must say, much preferred to the dank air of the tunnels, which seemed to slither around my body.


The settlement of Europa was beneath us. Now a vast city with sprawling metal buildings as far as the eye could see. Part of the city was built along a descending cavern. The heavy metals and other minerals down there allowed us to manufacture some of our equipment. It was a silver city that stood bold against the orange earth. We landed and made our way to debriefing where I’d plead to leave Tau Ceti for good, even if no one else would.


Night had swallowed the day and when we entered the command room Overseer Riggs had his back to us. He stood there looking down at his city as a stalwart ruler would gaze upon his vassals. Being FGC Overseer of this mission was no easy task and many before him had turned down the offer. No one wanted to rot light years from the capital worlds in the outer rim. Overseer Riggs was different. He knew the costs of this mission and he would pay them gladly. He expects nothing less.


“This enemy…” He strode over to us and we all sat down at a cold silver table. “Tell me of it gentlemen.” He wore a black uniform, no pomp or medals, just black with a couple pockets. A simple yet serious attire. His dark hair was slicked back, he was clean shaven, his face was very much like his uniform, simple, but serious.


I began to talk. Sergeant Gron spoke over me, “None of us got a good look at it, the damn tunnel was pitch black.  This ‘thing’ moved fast, even with night vision I only saw it for a split second. It picked Knight up with one arm like he was a babe. Knight was a big man with a heavy kit. These creatures are strong no doubt.”


“Are you sure there are more of them?”


“We heard as much. I’d guess many more.”


I cut into the conversation, “We need to leave Tau Ceti immediately! It is not safe! The way that thing took Knight’s head and slaughtered Pawn; none of us are safe here! The sounds we heard, I believe we intruded on their home considering we didn’t encounter them until now, perhaps we even woke them up like an animal hibernating through winter.” My voice raised even higher in hysteria, “ I do not want to see another slaughter as seen on Tau Senti!”


“Hold your tongue Peter! This is already not Tau Senti. That expedition lasted under six months. Have a little faith. I will not hand over Tau Ceti so easily. I’ll inform the civilians they are free to leave, but anyone under contract with the FGC.” He furrowed his brows in a glare. “That includes you Peter, must stay. Sergeant Gron. Prepare a firing team. I want you to exterminate those infernal creatures and take the new recruits. We can’t afford to have any greenhorns. Now, be gone from here.” He swished his hand at us as if he were swatting a pesky fly.


That’s that. I sold my soul to the FGC in order to go on this expedition. I spent most of my life acquiring these degrees. I was desperate to live it, to be a real scientist, perhaps too desperate. My eagerness is my folly.


 


(Could use illustration, if you are interested let me know, your illustrations you do for this story will be featured on my blog and facebook page.)(Link to my blog for the rest of the story is here, Astronomer's End (Blog Link)

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Saxonlore-1093944

Part X


The Gorhh


 


The Wolves under command of Alpha Dark Mane arrived the following afternoon


They looked like starving dogs that had taken to gnawing at themselves


Dark Mane’s army was never known to be kempt or organized


There are many stories of their raids and pillages


Oddly enough they all have the same moral of the story; take your own life before Dark Mane’s bastards get to you


Dark Mane himself was on the tall side


As his name suggests he has thick, long, dark hair


His beard is short, scruffy, and incomplete due to extensive scars from blade wounds


 


Dark Mane strode into Blood Paws camp


“Alpha Blood Paws and Wolf Sergeant Bright Fang, how’s the campaign treating you; I am guessing well, you bastards already look pudgy”


The three of them had a good laugh at that


Blood Paws stood from his seat, “Well, we were fortunate the villagers kept good stores”


“Bah, I wish I could say the same, there was nothing left, the Sillar dogs let rats eat all their stores; It was one hell of an infestation”


“Don’t worry brother Alpha, we have enough food for the lot of us, we will eat like kings till we reach Sila the Emerald City”


“I see that, what are your numbers currently your ranks look thin; surely these villages didn’t give you that much trouble”


Bright Fang cut in, “The Villages no, but we got hit by a Sythe ambush, filthy dogs, we are sitting at 300 strong now give or take”


“Damn shame, no sign of the Sythe since then; I’d hate to take a Sythe raid once we besiege Sila”


“None, we killed a good number of them, near 400”


“Aye, well a good Sythe is a dead one at any rate, let’s hope they lost their stomach for it”


Bright Fang nodded, “Indeed”


 “My Wolves need to eat before we march”


“Very well, Bright Fang ensure that they are all properly fed, it is a long march to Sila”

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A cover I made for Among the Fallen. I needed visual aids for a speech I was giving on the fundamentals of storytelling.

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Journal of H. A. Grimma


I left Sir Rigar Finch at the library and thanked him upon my passing


He gave me another piece to the puzzle


The leather cover of this book was tattered and worn


It looked as if it had caught fire once upon a time


I returned to the woods and by luck happened upon a cave


There I sat in the darkness resting my head against the wall


With my book and watch held to my breast


I would study the book in the morning; I then fell to dreams of struggle


 


I woke up; the sun had not yet risen


I began to doubt my chances of survival


Judging by my past and the fact no one had yet to survive


I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched or followed


I kept seeing eyes from the cave entrance


Looking at me almost tenderly for a moment to make sure I did not sneak off


I felt trapped in a prison


A prison created by the crimson Wolf and the cold in my mind


The Wolf’s eyes kept peering at me from the corner


I do not know if it is real or if I have lost it, my mind


Either way it froze the blood in my veins


The only thing that gave me warmth was my watch


Today I’d delve into its secrets


 


Failure is no option; I must avenge my family and gain them passage to Heaven


Even if I do not believe in it myself, I must for their sake


I must change it, change it all


Its chaos what has happened, these wolves, this curse


It’s unholy; I keep feeling the need for a priest


And sadly wishing I was one


I’d be nice to have faith in something


To be able to wield the word of God against Evil


It would have already come in handy at any rate


Maybe it would make that crimson Wolf leave me be


I don’t know what it wants, but I know it wants something


I can see it in those cold eyes; it’s as if they whisper their desires to me


 


The sun finally rose, I felt instant relief


I dusted off my waist coat and ran my hands through my hair


I stared at the crimson sky


Soaking up its warmth and beauty


In that instant I was no longer a cursed Grimma


I was simply a man happy to be alive


Sadly my mind did not allow me the luxury to forget for long


I checked the earth outside the cave for wolf tracks, I found none


This did not comfort me; I needed to get back to Wolf manor


I cannot study in such conditions


I should need my study chair and a glass of scotch


Ah… I think that’d do just nicely


 


(Sorry it has been so long since I wrote more, do not worry I will finish this story(:

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Chapter I


Two lone beings sit upon a gray hill, watching the sun make its eternal retreat. Its glistening perfection is marred utterly by the curtain of decaying mountains. Although to this robot and this bird it was just another day of harmony. Each day these two watched the sun find its rest behind the mountains and each day they were thankful to have each other. ‘Each other’ is all they had, because there wasn’t anyone else. This is the world now, barren and desolate. Robot hasn’t seen another living being in more years than he can remember and Bird has only ever known Robot. Bird never got to see the world before, the world that was.  Most everyone took that world for granted, Robot could never forget.


“Robot, do you think there are more like us?”


“No.”


“Robot… May I ask you something?”


“Yes.”


“Why are you always so sad?”


“Because one day you will fall from my shoulder.”


“Don’t we all die?”


“I do not.”


“Why?”


“Bird, I am a machine, I am not alive. I simply am.”


“Were there others before me?”


“Yes.”


“Tell me about them.”


“There used to be a snake that would coil around my arm, a frog that would sit on my head, a rabbit that would hop by my side, a mouse that would sleep in my hand. They are all gone my dear sweet Bird and you are the last of those living things…” He gained a faraway look in his eye. Within an instant, a bright flash engulfed the horizon, Robot shuddered and looked away.


Bird chirped in his ear, “Robot what happened?”


Robot began to walk down the hill, “Nothing, I just thought I saw something.”


“Was it that ‘memory’ of the past?”


“Yes… Yes it was Bird.” Robot scratched at yellow paint on his side. It was a series of triangles that Bird did not understand, but he knew that the symbol represented a lot of pain to Robot. Bird did not like that symbol. Robot slid down against a tree, with bird still on his shoulder, and they both fell asleep.


Bird awoke in a startle; Robot was running fast down the hill. Bird did not know why, but he knew it was urgent.  Sharp streaks of red shot from the hill, one of them burned into Robot’s lower shoulder creating a smoldering crater of molten metal.


“What are those things Robot?”


“They are something from the past that shouldn’t be around anymore.”


“What are they?”


“I cannot tell you, but you are in danger. They seek to harm you my dear Bird.” Robot cut to the right and dove down a manhole with Bird cradled against his chest. They slid down into a sewer filled near to the brim with a mixture of dust and ash. “We’ll be safe here tonight.”


“I am scared robot.”


Robot set Bird back on his shoulder, “Don’t be. I am watching over you.”


 


 


 


(Let me know what you guys think of this setup so far. If you guys like it enough I can finish it and then adapt it to fit a short film or animation even if I have to alter/remove the dialogue. Also a big thanks to 12.42 for creating his awesome animation that has given me a reason to finish this story.)

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I Simply Am (A tiny story for the TheSerpentTheCharmer's illustration Herbert & Isle)


 


“Robot, do you think there are more like us?”


“No.”


“Robot… May I ask you something?”


“Yes.”


“Why are you always so sad?”


“Because one day you will fall from my shoulder.”


“Don’t we all die?”


“I do not.”


“Why?”


“Bird, I am a machine, I am not alive, I simply am.”


“Were there others before me?”


“Yes.”


“Tell me about them.”


“There used to be a snake that would coil around my arm, a frog that would sit on my head, a rabbit that would hop by my side, a mouse that would sleep in my hand. They are all gone my dear sweet Bird, and you are the last of those living things…”


 


 


(I love this illustration, and I am glad my remix is getting so many hearts!!!)


 

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Journal of Henry Archibald Grimma


 


I made my way back to Wolf Manor


I was kept company by the rhythm of snapping branches and squishy mud beneath my feet


A raven landed on a branch before me


He looked right at me, into my eyes


He crowed at me as if he did not want me here


As if I was some evil that did not belong


I know one thing, if the wildlife turns on me, I’ll know I am too far gone


 


I had the feeling I was being followed the past hour


This was different than the feelings I had before


I caught a glimpse in my peripherals


I threw my head to my right and I saw it


It was a wolf, not some creature of devilry


But a wolf, a real one, with thick lush brown fur


One of his eyes was slashed closed, but the other was a big beautiful yellow


Almost golden his eye was, he knew I spotted him


He did not care; he stared back at me, opened his mouth and panted at me


If I didn’t know any better, he was smiling at me


Then I heard it, hounds, the police had begun the manhunt


The wolf ran off, it was sad to see him go, it felt as if he was a friend


 


My walk turned into a run, I needed to get as far from those hounds as possible


I was hoping to sneak into Wolf Manor and hide in the secret room


I have lived in Wolf Manor my whole life and did not know of this room till recently


Any chance of the police finding it is slim to none


I needed peace and quiet to study this book


It’d be no simple task to discover the secrets of my watch


And establish some means to communicate with the Valkyrie


Which I realize sounds crazy as all hell, but bare with me


I hope to prove my case in this journal


I ask this of you, my unknown reader


Whatever should befall me, my family, and Wolf Manor


Do not think less of me


 


(I would like to take this time to give a special thanks to all my readers for the nice comments, recommends, and views. It means so much to me as a writer, even more so since I am just starting out and I am still struggling to get recognition.)

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NuroMaxx Medical Journal Entry 1:


               My name is John Sire. I am a test subject for the new medical breakthrough NuroMaxx. I will be leading the human trials of NuroMaxx Mark II; I am a volunteer. They say my IQ will increase exponentially because it unlocks sections to my mind that I never even knew existed. They refer to it as a key, a key that unlocks the deepest darkest parts of your mind. I am a little hesitant; do I really want to know what I have in the deepest darkest bits of my mind? What is lurking that I wanted to forget? They say it will bring my memory to 100% and I will gain full recollection of every single second of my life.  I don’t know what to think about all that, but it does not matter anyway, I need the money.


NuroMaxx Medical Journal Entry 2:


The NuroMaxx Mark II will be surgically implanted in my brain today. They are going to put me under, slice open my skull, and attach the chip. Once it’s installed, I will be put into a coma for two days while the chip “restructures” my mind.


I don’t know who exactly will end up reading this, I am sure you think I am crazy, but my back is against the wall here, I have no other options.  I understand the risks of being the first human subject, but that also means better pay, and maybe my small part will help someone.


NuroMaxx Medical Journal Entry 3:


It’s been four days, just woke up from the coma, I feel normal, like nothing has changed, but also different. I am me, this is my mind, but I know answers to questions I never dreamed of answering. Beyond that I am thinking of questions I never dreamed of asking, and what is even more astounding, I feel as if the questions and answers don’t stop. I just keep answering them, and then asking more, and then answering, I am like a machine; my mind doesn’t trip over itself anymore. It simply does.


NuroMaxx Medical Journal Entry 4:


Day 5 since I woke up from the coma, I didn’t make any entries because I was too consumed. Too consumed with all the questions that needed answering, but that’s the thing with answers, they always lead to more questions. In my supreme knowledge I have realized that the questions will never stop. I am losing it, I am starting to see my thoughts, actually see them. I talked to the doctors, they say it’s due to my sleep deprivation, but I know what is happening. These words in my head, I can’t stop them, all this shit circling my head. 


NuroMaxx Medical Journal Entry 5:


Day 6, the words are still everywhere, but it is worse. Everything is coated with words, almost like words are the foundation for life. I regret so much, I am still asking questions and answering them a moment later, so many questions prompting so many answers.


NuroMaxx Medical Journal Entry 6:


Day 7, they won’t let me leave the test facility; they say I am unstable, and prone to bouts of rage. I don’t believe them, I am level headed and thinking clearer than I ever have in my whole life. The Memory improvements kicked in today, I was knocked cold for a few hours while my mind replayed my whole life thus far. I feel traumatized, I was basically forced to relive every regrettable moment I have ever had. Now that I look back, most moments were regrettable, but that makes me determined. Even though I regret this chip, I am going to use this new found enlightenment and efficiency to my own good and the good of others.


NuroMaxx Medical Journal Entry 7:


Day 8, they gave me a chalk board today. I still had questions, I still had answers, and I still saw words everywhere, but now I felt compelled to solve all of this once and for all. I would use numbers and equations to answer one last question, the question to it all, the question that will have the answer for everything. Only then may I find peace and put my brain to productive use. Right now I am working at 100% efficiency, but the questions I am answering with 100% accuracy are random and unimportant. Intelligent it may be, but groundbreaking, no.


NuroMaxx Medical Journal Entry 8:


Day 11, I tried, couldn’t answer it, there is no answer, I can’t answer the question.


NuroMaxx Medical Journal Entry 9:


Day 13, words and numbers, all I see are words and numbers, life as we know it is words and numbers. They won’t let me leave; I am stuck here within this room.


NuroMaxx Medical Journal Entry 10:


Day 14, I smashed the chalk board. I had run out of chalk and I had begun using my nails to scratch in equations. I got control of myself temporarily, mental control, where I could make a decision that wasn’t based upon questions or answers. Those infernal numbers disappeared the moment the chalkboard was splinters, but the words remain, it would appear I can ignore numbers, but not words, why words?


NuroMaxx Medical Journal Entry 11:


Day 15, doctors talked to me today, this is the first time in days, but I know they have been watching me since I was chipped. They gave me their apologies; the chip they put in my brain malfunctioned because a rival company implanted it with a virus. Again, they expressed their deepest apologies; I asked if it could be removed, a question with an answer I hoped would be good. The answer was not good; to remove it would mean certain death.


NuroMaxx Medical Journal Entry 12:


Day 16, this will be my last entry. They offered to remove the chip and put me out of my “misery;” They agreed to richly supporting my dependents for life, I signed the contract today. I don’t regret the chip, its more money than I could have ever given them. It does not matter to you who they are, what matters is that they are finally cared for…


 


 


(Big thanks to Metaphorest, her NuroMaxx (What if?) inspired me greatly. I wrote all of this last night, anyway, I hope everyone enjoys it.)

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