- Rune Breaker: Chapter 1 – The Bargain is Struck
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 2 – The Clever Girl
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 3 – A Paradise in the Future
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 4 – Clan of the Winter Willow
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 5 – Spell-worked Water, Alchemical Food
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 6 – Waste Not Want Not
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 7 – Battlelines
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 8 – Filling the Gap
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 9 – The King of Flame and Steel
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 10 – Recovery
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 11 – Sisters, Brothers
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 12 – Her Most Beauteous Wings
The hound’s luck held and it scudded sideways from the initial blow, avoiding the lethal follow-through. Two more of it’s packmates came to its rescue by leaping onto the great wolf’s back.
Dropping her corpse-shield, she darted in, driving her sword into one of the hounds’ haunches and using it as leverage to pull it off her new ally. Even as she did, the wolf was transforming, fur and lean muscle giving way to leathery skin and heavy carapace.
It was a creature she’d never seen before, a heavy, knob and spike covered shell like a dragon turtle with a face combining lizard and bovine features. Most striking was a long, muscular tail ending in a two knotted club of bone.
The remaining hound couldn’t keep a hold on the hard carapace and when it slipped off, it paid for it by way of being crushed into a smear on the near wall by that same club.
Showing their intelligence, the remaining three hounds broke off their attack, regrouping across the chamber, out of range of that killing club.
The new, strange animal ambled into position between she and them, waving the club menacingly to show its weight.
Wary, the hounds started to fan out. He could only kill one at a time, the swordswoman one more. She could see the logic working in their heads. This was what they were created for: intelligent attrition.
Unfortunately for them, their logic was missing several key facts. And the Rune Breaker, killing singing joy in his mind, was proud to show them. Once more, his form shifted, expanding and growing as the carapace split into a pair of massive, leathery wings.
Not for the first time in the battle, she was stunned beyond thought.
There in the chamber, standing between her and the murderous hounds, stood a black dragon, wings unfurled to fill a full quarter of the room.
The itching started again on her arms and down her back. Heat filled her belly, that hateful, hateful heat.
“No!” She shouted, not realizing it was out loud. Her voice bounced around the room like an entity of its own. Nightmares of scales and wings; a throat full of liquid fire, all tore through her mind. Her grip on the broken sword became painful.
And somehow because of this, the dragon before her shivered and it’s body dissolved into dark mist that sank and spread to cover the ground.
The sight was more than enough to jar her back to reality. What just happened? What that her doing?”
My apologies, Mistress.
“Stop calling me that.” She snarled.
There wasn’t any time to argue. All three hound saw that the way to their target was open and they rushed for her as a single being.
Without warning, the mist erupted. A slick, black stalactite stabbed up from the floor and impaled one, hoisting it into the air as a grizzly monument. A man-sized talon, like that of a roc, emerged, grabbing the second and hurling it into the chamber ceiling. The third was simply enveloped in the cloying darkness and was gone.
Silence suddenly returned to the chamber.
Slowly, the mist began to rotate around a central point, which began to rise up into human shape.
“My master is no longer in danger of harm. Spell limitations have been reset to safe levels.” The Rune Breaker said as the last wisps of his person returned to his body. This time, he was clothed in dark gray robes and a cloak of the same color and his hair was cropped close.
Grip still tight enough to deform the metal in her hand, she all but growled at him. “I’m no one’s master. Don’t call me that.”
“The bond requires I speak respectfully to you.” He said, his voice now even, the blood-lust gone, but an underlying anger still in her head and growing at his mention of the bond.
She puzzled at this, but her mind was more on the issue of ‘mistresses’ and ‘masters’ at the moment. “You can speak respectfully without using those terms. Call me… “ She wracked her brain for something useful. The masters liked being called ‘master’ and ‘lord’ and any of their military titles. Their enemies were less pompous though, and had milder honorifics. “’Miss’ will do, I suppose.”
“’Miss’ what?” He asked. “I do not know the mis… your name.” He seemed vaguely troubled at this course of action, an emotion she could verify using the bond.
“Taylin.” She said. “And I suppose I’m to call you Rune Breaker?”
“If you wish. Your two most recent predecessors did.”
“But is that what you’d like to be called?” Her military training started to kick in and unconsciously, she started cleaning blood from her sword with the tattered hem of her shirt.
This called up even more uncertainty and unease in the bond. “It doesn’t matter. The wielder names their weapon. And I am a weapon.”
Phantoms of the itching in her arms and back haunted her minds for a moment and she abruptly stopped cleaning her sword. Her expression became adamant and angry. “So am I.” Her voice was firm and loud enough to fill the chamber. “And I am tired of it not mattering. Now tell me who you are.”
“Is that an order?” He asked.
“Yes.” And the moment she said that, she felt a very faint, cold chill in the back of her head. It wasn’t an emotion, but something about the bond itself… moving or changing… maybe just operating.
The Rune Breaker lowered his head and his voice became emotionless and subdued. “Yes, Miss Taylin. The name of Rune Breaker is a pun, in your modern language, on the ancient name I was born with and a reference to my abilities.”
He straightened up, floating off the ground again until his head was of a height with hers. But his eyes were still down cast. “I am the shape-shifting master. The arcane terror of nations long dead. The weapon bound by the most complex spell structures ever devised in the history of three worlds to serve the strongest of souls.
I am kingmaker, beast slayer, the foundation of tyranny, the destroyer of armies and the power of ancestral gods. Use me as you will and I will rain oblivion on your enemies. Work your will through me and all barriers before you will be utterly decimated. Direct me in the service of your greatest desires and you will rule nations.”
Without warning, he dropped to a knee, supported by one fist on the smooth, stone floor. “My name is Ru Brakar. And until you breathe your last, I am your servant and weapon. Such was the bargain you struck and sealed in blood.”