Rune Breaker: Chapter 8 – Filling the Gap

This entry is part 8 of 12 in the series A Girl and Her Monster (Rune Breaker, #1)

Kaiel watched the first two victims of Ru’s rampage fall. The line around him faltered as riders alternately attempted to flee, or charged forward to end it. The ones that chose the later charged into an increasingly creative meat grinder.

All the while, the snipers took shots as they found them. Here an archer clutched at a wounded limb, there one fell dead. Whoever was directing the bandit force managed to catch that in spite of Ru’s distraction and ordered the charge before the archers were prepared to cover.

The chronicler saw what they were trying to do; screening the archers with the bodies and dust of the advance group. It worked; where the charge managed to get started.

All except for where Grandfather aimed. The aged halfling had grown up in Rizen, where the long rifle was born and popularized, and he was good enough that three archers could testify already; two dead and missing eyes, one whose middle and fourth fingers have been blown off. In spite of the charge, he carefully waited for a shot and removed the kneecap of the other torch runner.

“He’s not even bothering with the archers.” Kaiel observed of Ru.

Taylin was … Continue reading

Rune Breaker: Chapter 7 – Battlelines

This entry is part 7 of 12 in the series A Girl and Her Monster (Rune Breaker, #1)

The superstitious, particularly those with no talent in magic of their own, often had dire warnings about its use. This as especially true for the abilities they coveted most. Chief among them was transmutation. Borrowing the shape of another, they hypothesized, always carried the threat of that shape dictating the shape of one’s mind. Above all, they feared the loss of self.

As far as Ru was aware, there never was a danger of that for even the most bumbling shapeshifter. In fact, crafting a spell to make it happen on purpose was almost more trouble than it was worth.

True, in taking on another form, it was a common shortcut to overlay the intended creature’s instincts. Plain and simple, it was easier to borrow the ability to run on four legs or breath fire than to learn how the natural way. But the shapeshifter’s mind was always in control as long as they were conscious.

Later, Ru would cite that last part and stupid cat instincts.

He woke up sprawled on his belly. Someone was scratching his head and blazes did it feel good. A purr rumbled out from him and he rolled his head beneath the stroking hand … Continue reading

Rune Breaker: Chapter 6 – Waste Not Want Not

This entry is part 6 of 12 in the series A Girl and Her Monster (Rune Breaker, #1)

After that, the subject of Ru and by extension, Taylin, became closed. Kaiel went into his wagon to scrounge the evening’s repast while Taylin tried to make herself comfortable by the fire.

It was spring now, whereas it had been the height of summer when she entered the fated cave, and early enough in the season that when the sun was finally gone, a chill crept over the world. Taylin moved as close to the fire as she could without igniting her clothes. Burning herself wasn’t a concern; she had yet to meet a fire hot enough to do that.

After a time, Kaiel returned with a cast iron camp oven filled with water an iron pry bar, and a tin box of trail rations. His rifle was left behind inside. He sat down facing her with enough space to set the arm load of items between them.

“The good news,” He proclaimed as greeting, “Is that I thought to buy fresh rations when we were at the Dragonpier; dried fruits, some road-friendly vegetables, travel crackers, cured venison, and of course, potatoes.” He pointed to each item in turn. “The bad news is, I’m also got plenty of Allbuk’s.”

At … Continue reading

Rune Breaker: Chapter 5 – Spell-worked Water, Alchemical Food

This entry is part 5 of 12 in the series A Girl and Her Monster (Rune Breaker, #1)

The sun had just started to set when they finally reached the village. Kaiel’s description had been, if anything, too generous.

Built on the banks of the river, the place was little more than a U shaped cluster of reed-roofed cottages, built from bricks of fired mud. The closed end of the ‘U’ faced away from the river and was made up of larger, better built structures; likely a communal barn and storehouse. In the very center of the wide arc of huts, was a large communal garden, only recently sown at that time of year.

There was no wall, or fence, as evidently the region was of little interest to even marauding monsters normally. But what the villagers lacked, the Clan of the Winter Willow had provided, after a fashion.

Wagons; more than two dozen, hard topped caravan wagons encircled the tiny town like wooden sentinels. As they drew closer, Taylin could see wolves dozing beneath a few, occasionally in full harness and attended by a sharp eyes halfling with a crossbow.

The nearest stood, alongside his wolf companion, to challenge them as they approached. Bromun calmed his wariness with a few words in their tongue. As they passed, … Continue reading

Rune Breaker: Chapter 4 – Clan of the Winter Willow

This entry is part 4 of 12 in the series A Girl and Her Monster (Rune Breaker, #1)

For once, Taylin was in complete agreement with Ru. A beat behind him, she echoed his ‘What?’.

The stranger smirked; not a cruel sneer, but a playful ‘I know something you don’t know’ smirk, and dismounted, careful never to let them out of his sight. His soft boots did well on the sand and though he would have been a few inches shorter than Ru, if he ever stopped hovering, he didn’t seem to be looking up at either of them.

The rifle dangled down by his hip on a leather strap and one hand dipped down to hold it steady. The other reached up to tip the hat out of his eyes.

He was younger than Taylin first thought. Possibly, she was fooled by the rasp n his voice from travel dust, but now that she saw his face, he couldn’t have been that long out of his teens. Laughing blue eyes told of a soul that found joy and wonder easily. But he hollows and bags around them, couple with the wilted, uneven cut of his hair suggested he hadn’t done so recently.

Still, when he offered them a neighborly smile, it definitely touched those eyes. “The short … Continue reading

Rune Breaker: Chapter 3 – A Paradise in the Future

This entry is part 3 of 12 in the series A Girl and Her Monster (Rune Breaker, #1)

“She loves flying.” said a voice to whom Taylin had never been able to put a face to. She was dreaming. Dreaming a dream she’d had many times before. It was always the same; a garden, blue skies, glass between the two, as clear as air.

The earthy smell of the place was so real, so familiar, as was the voice. It never spoke to her, but to someone else she couldn’t see.

“And smart too. She can already read and write, and she’s coming right along with sums.”

Fine brickwork made up the walkways between rows of carefully arranged growing plants. Some of those bore fruit; oranges and gathering melons that were so sticky sweet. She picked one and tore into it, not minding the green juice that ran down her chin.

“She isn’t just special in the way I intended. She’s become my very clever girl.”

Then the voice was lost in a roar. The wind over an aerial troop ship at cruising speed. Chains bound her arms and there was stone pressing against her chest and stomach.

“Do your duty, Captain.” said a new voice. A cruel voice, one that hated her as much as the other … Continue reading

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