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Short Story Friday: The Gate p.12b-The King Under the Mountain


Tweet of the Day: List of Dark Fantasy Novels

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P.1P.2 - P.3P.4 -P.5P.6a - P.6bP.7P.8 - P.9P.10P.11P.12aAftermath

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-Data Corruption at 41%

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Dargo-Lhud landed atop a small mesa. Below us stretched the armies of the Overlord, made up of a mix of green skins, goblins, ogres and devoted cultist. To the west the entrance of the cave opened like a giant maw that could swallow the whole host.

“How many?” asked Ly.

“Hard to tell, but at least in the thousands,” I said.

Simon appeared beside us, “Tens of thousands and their numbers grow by the day. “

“Yet, tightly packed, that should make them easy targets,” said Dargo-Lhud.

Ly turned around with her hands on her hips, “Yes, if we had two dozen catapults, but-“

I put a hand on her shoulder, “But we have a dragon,” Dargo-Lhud squinted, “I mean Lord Dargo possess several strengths that would help us, such as the gift of flight and fire breath.”

“Correct, but I’m not the only one with similar gifts,” he said with a wink. Several shadows crossed the valley below. Horns blared in the valley, as the army stirred to action. A dozen dragons, scales of gleaming red-gold, dived on the host, spewing fountains of fire and brimstone. Simon disappeared again. He reappeared above the enemy with several of his acolytes. “Well, the Archmage knows his tactics. Quickly, on my back, my brethren can only do so much.”

We mounted Dargo-Lhuds back. With a mighty push he dove from the mesa into the land below. Ly fired a dozen silver arrows at the enemy.  The dragon landed by the entrance. Grizzle jumped and hit the ground with a satisfied grunt. Ly tried to dismount but Dargo-Lhud moved his wing to block her, “But he needs me!”

“You will be more useful with me my….with me, in the air. Sir Jonah will deal with whatever is inside.”

She shook her head in anger, thick red hair flew about framing her face in a fiery halo, “No, I will not leave him!”

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Data Corruption at 47%

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A battalion of enemy troops charged toward us. “Ly, there is no time. Go with Lord Dargo. I’ll be alright,” I gripped her foot tightly, “stay safe, for both of us. That way I have something to come back to.” She nodded.

Dargo-Lhud turned his head and incinerated the incoming enemy, “Go knight, time is running short.”

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Data Corruption at 56%

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Something inside the cave muffled the sounds of battle. Twelve statues, each fifteen feet tall, stood in alcoves on either side of the corridor. The Twelve. The guardians of the World. The first heroes, the powers that shaped it through Will alone. I never seen such lifelike depictions of them before. Their faces looked young, almost child-like, even though the legends said they lived for hundreds of years as part of the First Generation. Past the statues the path divided into two. To my left a  rough carved cave, probably the path the goblins mined to get here. To my front the corridor widen. Grizzled growled as the temperature dropped. The corridor ended in chamber with a glass floor. I stepped on the floor and saw nothing but a dark void beneath me. A few steps in, and it felt as if I was floating on air. At the far side of the hall sat a man, bedecked in jewels and rings. By the sight of his throne, he was about thirty feet tall.

The air vibrated with boom of his voice, “So the Avatar is finally here. My father’s last gambit. Good, I’ll play the last part of his game and in doing so crush whatever is left of him and his ‘children.’ Well, what are you waiting for Avatar, come at me!” I hesitated. Even with power of the Twelve I could take on such a monster. Grizzled charged it. It stood and kicked the animus against a wall. Grizzle body slid with yelp to the ground. It did not move after that. “It is just you and me Avatar, the only real things in this mockery of reality. If you don’t have the courage to face me, so much the better, I’ll stomp you and end this charade.” He ran. The glass quaked beneath my feet. I rolled to the side to avoid being crushed underfoot. He extend one hand and lighting bolts rained down.

“By the Twelve!” My shield glowed with holy might, but it shattered under the fury of the storm. The blast hurled me ten feet across the smooth floor.

One…

Two…

Three steps and the world went dark. I felt myself slip through the floor and into the void below.

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-Data Corruption at 67%

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I stood in nothingness. A man coalesced from the shadows. It was the king, but he was not dressed as such.

“Of course not. This is who I am, or I used to be, Mr. Malone. Robert J. Stephenson, current CEO of Ascendant Industries,” he said.

“Malone, but I’m….”

“Jonah? Yes, you are, but you are also Malone. You’re one in the same,” he pointed at something beside me. There I stood, not in armor, but in plainclothes. A bit battered, but it was me.

“You mean this is not real? Everything I thought…the history, the war,” I looked down at my armor, “this…what is this?”

“A simulation, Mr. Malone. One that is coming to an abrupt end. What is the last thing you remember?”

A stab of pain wracked my chest, “I was shot! By O’Malley….”

“Yes, Detective O’Malley, who is working with my son,” Stephenson pointed upwards. Frozen above us was the giant, his eyes gleaming with power. “We don’t have much time, you and I. The story is very simple. I once dreamed of breaking the cycle of creation and destruction that has ruled mankind since the beginning of recorded time. I used my wealth to engineer twelve children, yes the Twelve, to be the next step in our evolution. From the womb to adulthood, they would transcend humanity through genetic engineering and quantum physics.  This,” he waved his hand at the darkness, “was a tool, designed to teach them the Seven Virtues, so that once they became adults they would use the power wisely and guide humanity to a new future.”

“What happened?” I asked even though a part me did not want to know the answer.

“The Collapse happened. As I predicted. But of course, the one aspect I failed to predict was the timing. As the world crumbled around us, we took shelter in the system.” The scene change, we stood in large laboratory, a dozen bodies encased in life pods and another in a operating table.

Me.

“So why am I here?”

“My son, my real son, who I abandoned ten years ago for this place, grew up bitter and alone.  He convinced Detective O’Malley that the Arcology’s original systems contained the codes to hidden bank accounts that held the remaining wealth of Ascendant Industries. He was right, but that was not what my son wanted. He wanted direct access to the Arcology systems and someone to cover his tracks while he hacked into them. A corrupt cop was the perfect choice.”

“Your son is the Overlord?”

“In here, yes. A fitting name, I think,” he looked up, “Poor Joseph, what did I do to you.”

So why not turn the system off?”

“Because if we do, we will die. Not you, the fail-safes will protect you. I had to override them to keep us, the twelve and myself, alive in the system. Now one question remains.”

“What do you want me to do about it?”

“Not exactly how I would phrase it, but yes. I need time, to save what I can. I failed to create a better human being. I failed as a  father, but while we interacted with the system, the system learned from us,” Lysandra’s face floated before me. “Too much valuable data. Too many resources. Would you allow them to be destroyed? Should a murderer profit from his murders? Sir Jonah may have been a character, but he came from you. The Hero within. The true Paladin. So what will you do, fight or walk away?”

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-Data Corruption at 78%

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http://michellerafter.com/the-2011-wordcount-blogathon/

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2 comments on “Short Story Friday: The Gate p.12b-The King Under the Mountain

  1. This is getting more and more intriguing! Well done. Well done. :)

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