The Last Knight

Aeron is still in the midst of the thawing of his soul. Was it love that did this to him? Time away from his Company? Whatever it was, his focus these days is almost entirely on trying to break the blood thirsty thought cycle that his mind keeps bringhing him back to.

(Stable Diffusion. I guess the Sword of the Order of Knights is pretty big.)

He thought before he might become weaker, for not hunting as much as his brothers and sister are, but that’s just flat out not true. Could it be that his need for human blood is just an addiction, inflicted on him by the shadowpack that attacked him? Like a rabies victim’s terror of water or the way taxoplamosis makes mice seek out their own predator.

Realising the addiction wasn’t even the first step to kicking it though. It’s been decades of this now and his neural pathways are all messed up. The addicition lives within him and sometimes he fails.

He’s surrounded by others, who he loves for one reason or another. They wouldn’t understand. They still revel in it. How can he make them see?

Aeron is thinking on this in a part of the Barracks he’s rarely visited of late. Once again away from those he lives with. There he finds a bunch of his old possessions, including an icon that used to mean so much to him. He’d entirely forgetten it existed.

The Sword of the Order of Knights is given to those the King appointed. Since there has been no King, there have been no new appointments. The Realm has been without knights for some time now. Aeron struggles to remember any that came after him. Could this sword have been the last made for the Order? If so then all the other Knights by now would have died, of old age if nothing else. That certainly would make him The Last Knight.

Whilst lost in this thought, the door smashes open, bouncing off the stone wall. Three Company men barrel in almost falling over each other. To Aeron, the image looked exactly as one he remembered fifty or sixty years ago. Then they had more colour in their cheeks and their eyes didn’t have the darkness behind them that they do now. Still, their boyish grins of youth were the same.

“There you are – you’ll want to see this. We found Krishna Youssef. You remember her? From Taleb’s lot.”

He gives an order to them to wait nearby – that he’ll deal with her himself. His captive, Amandla, had given no information up at all. But Krishna had been a thorn in his side for her entire life. She must be an old lady now. He’d feel no issues about pulling information from her.

To his relief, the men follow his orders. The first he’d made in some time.

This was a mistake.

The girl knew somehow. She was waiting. His men wouldn’t have known. He’d begin to doubt their morals, but not their trustworthiness. Maybe her and Taleb’s rebellion had more eyes and ears than he realised. Either way, Aeron was shot as soon as he entered.

The bullet pierced his chest, hitting his heart. He pulled it out, misidentified it as lead, and then dispatched them all. There, he assumed Krishna has failed.

At some point Aeron will figure out that the bullet was godbless opal; a practice that was only known to be used by the Church and impossible for Krishna to have come up with it on her own. (Meddling by Lain, maybe?) They had spent decades trying to weaponise these opals and it seems they’ve finally succeeded.

Between that and the arrogance of the Fourth Company, the element of surprise was enough to subdue them. Most refused to die though. Instead they fell into a coma and everyone hoped they’d never wake from it.

Holy binding was placed around the Barrack’s dungeon levels, sealing the Fourth within.

It took two hundred and fifty years before Aeron broke out. It seems that some of the pack did die inside their tomb: some from their wounds where the opal bullet was shattered or lodged, but some from no clear cause at all. Could it be they take that long to starve to death?

The world has entirely changed. Of note from the above though is Assim. It seems Taleb left behind an heir.

And then…

Upcoming Nanowrimo

October is somehow upon us already and November is soon to follow (typically). We all know what that means! Nanowrimo!

I honestly don’t remember if I took part last year. I might have spent the month editing previous stories. This time, I’m hoping to jump back into it with the aim to complete a short story at 50,000 words. I’m so often busy these days that pantsing seems like it won’t work: that works best for me when I’ve got large chunks of time in the day to idly type as things come to me.

So, I’m hoping to be joining this month’s Preptober, and getting back into the Nanowrimo community. That’ll allow me to know exactly what’ll happen in each chapter to make sure I don’t end up writing myself into a corner, and wasting time figuring that out. Hopefully, the problem solving will all be done this month so next month can be spent building the world and crafting the words.

The most natural place for me to find a story at the moment is in my We Can’t Bear The Dark series, taking the story beats that playing Thousand Year Old Vampire has set up. One of the issues (by design!) with TYOV is that often stories don’t end up getting completed. But, with an extra bit of work they can fit together really nicely.

A Shade Off Black

The week before Sir Aeron finally felt ready to head back to the Barracks he was informed that “his guest” was waiting for him in the games room. Confused, expecting no visitors today, he enters to find a gaunt woman sitting at the chessboard. Her hair matted, and in patches missing, showing grey scalp beneath. A pale bruise covered the back of her withered hand as she set up the board. Even after she spoke, Aeron barely remembered his old friend-turned-tool.

Afterwards, he sent a runner to check her grave and it was exactly how it should be. Well entombed and undistrubed. The runner’s boats were the first to disturb the dust there in decades – the grave of an old bishop’s wife, nearly thirty years after her death, was forgotten.

Between feeling the warmth of Lady Morelli, staying in his childhood home, and now hearing the meloncholy promise of his murder, something might have changed with Sir Aeron. Maybe.

He returned to his new home to cheers of joy from the Fourth Company. They had many stories to fill him in on. The extravaganza of Hunts they’d done without him. Their macabre enthusiasm called his malevolance to the for once again, and he tried to put his home stay behind him. The holiday for his soul was over.

His character wasn’t tested again a few weeks later, when a name he recognised was pulled from the Hunt Hat.

It’s not like Everet Bening is a particularly important person to Aeron. But…

Aeron couldn’t make a case for the man. What was he supposed to tell his bloodthirsty brothers and sisters? That he’d met a woman and she’d probably not like it if her friend was eaten. No. The Fourth Company was heartless. Aeron knew that. He knew it when he tasted the Dust and felt their hearts as if he shared them.

His men all pledged loyalty. But after so many decades, the pledge sounded routine. They were all strong. Some of them stronger than him, Aeron was sure. Especially of late, when he’d fed only in uncontrolled bursts – but not in the way he used to. Not for some time. Would these men and women follow him, if he needed them to? Now wasn’t the time to figure that out, he decided, worried about the answer.

So Everet was moved to the cabin that Aeron had built recently near the Dust farm.

It was isolated but infinitely better than being holed up in hell. The hunt for him continues though, and it likely would never end until one of them finds him.

Some luck in the hunt for Taleb and the girl (now a full, grown woman, of course) that had entered into cahoots with him.

Amandla was found with anti-Company propaganda that looked to have been written by Taleb, or one of his followers. Frustratingly, it seemed that a number of people now whispered about Taleb and the Krishna girl.

The rest of the Fourth know of it, and hunt them down as if playing cops and robbers, but there’s something worrying Aeron about it. He’s kept this Amandla girl safe, away from the eyes of the Fourth as they’ll surely just off her.

The unusual thing though is that his method of information gathering is quite subdued. He’s not hurt the girl. Everet has been instructed to feed her and make sure she’s well. What the heck is Aeron playing at?