A short story your way cometh!
This week we got our very own Joshua to have a look at a short story for us. He checked out the new Fate & Justice models (Available now!) and came up with something for everyone to enjoy!
For Whom the Bell Tolls
In the distance a great clanging discord echoed out into La Serenissima; a melodious yet ominous reverberation of metal and air as an unseen bell tolled out. A din of such magnitude might have caused a stir in any other city of the world yet no one so much as canted their head as it rang out again. That is to say, almost no one reacted. A single figure wove his staggering way between the milling throng with a trepidatious expression plastered over his regal visage. Dressed in ostentatious regalia, it was clear at a glance that Agostino was a member of the upper crust – a patrician. Thus his cries of fright and terror were rather unbecoming as citizens and fishermen pointed and jeered from shaded crevices.
On a less inauspicious night, Agostino would have silenced the cretinous louts with a dexterous display of swordsmanship and sinister cruelty. It was only as a third chime tickled his ears that the lordling gulped and redoubled his pace while bloodshot eyes searched frantically for… something. Two streets passed with little but the dull rhythm of his erratic gait on slippery cobbles until Agostino perceived the very shape he dreaded down a side road. Practically divine, the figure was wreathed in a snow-white dress accentuated with a golden hem. A pretty sight, no? It may well have been if not for the glimmer of cold metal that lay inside her gloved grip; a sword gleaming wickedly in the dull moonlight as a set of scales at the handle tipped glacially.
“Blackened skies above, I’m sorry!” Dread had crept its way into the lord’s voice now as he stumbled down into some loose barrels that went careening into the nearby canal with an audible splash. A knot of pain burned in Agostino’s legs as the man struggled to his feet and onward, a daring and fear-driven look backward showing him a scene he wished he could miss. The white veiled woman seemed to float towards him without step or motion; an eerie quiet taking to the surroundings before her pale lips opened and the tolling of a bell eased from her throat. A serious of curses and inelegant phrases stammered forth from the nobleman as a sharp turn was taken.
As the line of sight was blocked, the man regained a semblance of sanity. The pain of his aching muscles demanded a reprieve from the gruelling pace as each jittering step grew slower and slower until similar to a great machine unwinding, Agostino stopped. Panting, shivering, exhausted, the patrician could barely stay conscious as a nearby crate was used as a temporary support. A full minute passed with the aristocratic male gasping haggardly in place; a flicker of forlorn hope whispering to his tired mind that it might all be an illusion caused by intoxication or even the vile machinations of the Ospedale. “Yes… It is just the wine, why would…” The gravelly timbre of the gentleman’s voice tapered off like a candle extinguished by the wind as the domicile to his left began to warp and bend.
“No… Oh please, it was all in jest!” Each word was a prayer for safety as the damp wall of the nearby casa was permeated by the same figure of splendour. The woman moved effortlessly through the stonework as if she were made of mist; a spectral display that caused an icy shard of terror to lance into Agostino mind and give strength to weary flesh. A burst of sinuous speed sent him arcing around the same building the lady had walked through. “It was a joke!” The despairing noble screamed as his sight grew blurred around the edges as tears smeared his face. “Justice! Where is the Justice in this?” An almost pitiable cadence eased from him now as he recalled his drunken encounter with the female. Harsh words were spat at her as she ignored his advances and in his drunken stupor, Agostino had failed to see who she truly was.
Gifted. A term spoke in hushed voices in La Serenissima; a name given to those who imbued with terrifying power from the Rent in the Sky. The origin of the female in question was not known to the nobleman but the anxiety and awe that came with such power were frightening. Her powers were unknown to him excepting the ability to walk through buildings as if they were mere fog in her way; a horrifying ability to try and outmanoeuvre when so many of his tactics revolved around the local terrain. “Let me live and… and I will make you rich!” It was a desperate offer but it was all the patrician had to offer amidst sobs and rasps. A similar sensation to plunging into the icy canals of Venice washed over him as Agostino caught a reflection behind him.
Pure white fabric melded with the corner of the casa depicting the true etherealness of the Gifted before she vanished from view inside the structure. The blue-blooded man counted the seconds until she emerged but didn’t count for long. A reverent and hopeless whisper fell into the air between them as the noble stopped. “God, look down and protect me…” The wall rippled with the same unnatural resonance as before heralding the return of the Gifted; a trembling of reality as the ethereal and tangible danced. It was not that odd duality that stilled the fleeting feet of Agostino however but the dark robes and rattling of chains that spewed forth. Heavily, a snaking cord of chain cascaded to the ground as a figure floated free to stand plainly behind the nobleman.
A chime cracked as loud as thunder from behind the pitch blackness of the robed man’s cowl; a void without light or shadow staring outward where a face might be. As if sentient the rattling chains lift to hold a great tome as a shadowy hand turns a page in harmony with another bell strike. Whimpering, the lordling began to flee again though any haste he possessed was long since spent. Each new twisting street the noble fled to bore a moment of pitiable hope that the chase was abandoned and each time it was broken like a shattered mirror. The crying of a bell was seemingly constant now as Agostino saw the pale woman ghost out of a nearby store. “Please…” A heartbreaking utterance that went unanswered as a dark-cloaked male appeared ahead of him.
Finally, the man cursed with foam hanging from his lower lip and spittle dripping to the dank floor below. “I cannot die here! I am going to become a Doge. Dying here is not my fate!” Eyes mad with desperation spotted an opportunity as Agostino wrenched away a load-bearing crate that sent an avalanche of barrels and containers tumbling downward and onto the Gifted. The discarded contents spilled into the street creating a mass of products and materials on top of his hunter and cracking the stonework below with its weight. There were no more chains to be heard, only the sloshing of water in the canals.
Quiet. Sweet peace greeted him as a lover might with open arms as his eyes closed and he smiled. “Fate.” The word cut like a saw through bone as a masculine voice rumbled from within the debris. A metallic clank joined the fleshy slap of Agostino’s knees hitting the stone as the woman stepped forward from where the male Gifted had been mere moments ago. Her sword was held aloft as one side of the scales rocked downward with cold finality. “Justice.” The sweetness of the Gifted’s voice was like warm honey smeared across glass as the sharpness cut away any doubts about his fate long before the blade found his throat.