Friday 26 August 2011

Godstorm pt. 3: Blood Rain

Where to begin: Godstorm part 1: Clouds like Murder
And then: Godstorm part 2: Wailing Winds
And now... Part 3: Blood Rain

In their entire history the dryads of the great forest Hath have created only one weapon. The Warhammer of Hath contains the corrupt spirit of the nymph queen, Hathsett, killed with great sorrow whilst she was possessed by demon magic and trying to poison the Father Oak. The heavy warhammer is made of enchanted jade and forever drips Hathsett’s blood, which has become the very antithesis of life and health.

That is the weapon Ephea sees in the godqueen’s right hand as he enters the armoury. She is facing off against the traitor god Khao but the young god’s entrance has distracted her and Khao chooses that moment to leap, swinging a great golden sword at her. Ephea’s mind races, he snatches at a weapon but he knows he is too far away, too slow, to reach her before Khao lands his blow. And Khao is merciless, he has killed gods in a single strike before.

The godqueen, Elenor, is one of the Starborn. Those gods not born of gods but what came before. She was more than wife to Kraius, more than just the mother of his children. She was most trusted of his warriors, by his side or at his back in every battle, with him for every victory, soaked in the same blood as he was as they overthrew the Star Lords and crushed the demon uprising. She is no unblooded squire. Her distraction is but a feint.

Khao is set in his attack, his momentum carries him through the air in an inexorable arc and he can do nothing as Elenor shifts and curls backwards. She has judged him perfectly and slips just beneath his sword, then uses the motion born of her twisting dodge to swing the warhammer upwards with a scream of fury, intercepting Khao. The weapon smashes into his chest and his back explodes under the pressure. Black blood splashes across the room and he is launched upwards into the ceiling with bone-crunching impact.

Khao drops facedown to the floor and before he can reach for his sword, before he can try to stand, before he can even take a breath, the warrior godqueen slams the warhammer onto his head in a blow that cracks the floor beneath. Khao’s skull bursts. More black blood splatters violently, lumpy with torn flesh and shards of broken bone.

“Traitor,” the queen spits on his corpse, “your death has been a long time coming.”

She rounds on Ephea, her eyes alive with rage. Godking Kraius may have been his father but Elenor was not his mother. He stands before her, stupefied; a salvaged mace hangs loosely from his hand, its magically-flaming head flickering softly. She could crush him with barely a thought.

He drops the weapon and falls to his knees.

“My queen.”

Ephea keeps his head down but he hears her take a step towards him, hears the rush of displaced air as she raises the warhammer sharply. The godqueen screams and Ephea jumps as the room quakes with the impact of the thrown weapon. He risks a glance and sees that the plinth upon which Thunder and Lightning should sit is broken, cracked in two by the thrown weapon.

“Rise, Ephea.”

Ephea stands. The godqueen’s frost-white skin contrasts sharply with the black blood dripping from her. She stretches her wings as much as the room will allow and takes a deep breath. When she speaks Ephea isn’t sure if she is speaking to him or to herself; he just knows he dare not interrupt.

“Kraius, my king, my lord, my husband, my love, warned me there was a storm coming. Now Thunder and Lightning are missing; the Blackling, Khao, has returned,” she casts a dark glance at the broken corpse, “and Kraius is dead.

“All the gods must be summoned. Foreign gods and human lords must be brought to Vallya for the funeral. There is worse here than one fallen god’s revenge.”

She pauses for a moment, in thought.

“At the funeral I shall announce there will be no godking to replace Kraius; that the godqueen shall rule alone. And then we shall see what twisted heart crawls forth to dispute me. We shall see our enemy.

“Be prepared, young Ephea. You showed bravery to even think of fighting Khao, and you may yet need it. I do not understand why he chose you to serve him, but I trust he had a reason. You will stand by my side at the funeral, as you have stood by his. And after you have served him to the very end, I shall give you your freedom.”

Next week... you are invited to attend the funeral of a god. Part 4: Dark Thunder.


  1. He's lucky. Elenor seems to trust him. You never know how those things will go -- after all, he isn't her son, and she could've thought he was a traitor as well, perhaps had been a spy.

    We'll see if everyone else still trusts him.

    I kinda like that warhammer. I kinda want it. :)

  2. A wise queen. I have to think it will go well in the end, though the way be bloody.

  3. The hero inside Ephea manifests itself, there is indeed a storm approaching.

  4. Thanks, Rebecca. I think she trusts Kraius' judgement more than Ephea himself... And I think I'd love to figure out every single weapon in that room, and probably build the world as I did it. =)

    Thanks, Far, Steve, it's a god-eat-god world out there... (sorry... ¬_¬ )

  5. For a moment there I thought she would do for Ephea too, seems she is wiser than I first thought. Me thinks Ephea has yet to shine more brightly than most!

  6. Hi there John -- blimey, you don't want to mess with Elenor. Khao didn't so much leave with his head in his hands, as his head in the crazy paving. I'm liking the scale of this -- always in admiration of writing that runs to the epic. St.

  7. Nicely done action sequence here. I enjoyed the pacing. Fun hook for next week's segment at the very end.

  8. Thanks, Helen. There certainly are big things in store for Ephea.

    Thank you, Stephen. She's a powerhouse, all right. Khao's had that coming a long time, though...

    And thanks, Aidan. Pacing is always a worry, especially over longer pieces; hopefully the pace works for the parts as well as the whole. =)

  9. Top marks for making for avoiding the wilting, passive female stereotype so often portrayed in fantasy, a genre oft guilty of awful sexism. Elenor formidable presence holds this episode in its grip. I am looking forward to the funeral and the role young Ephea will play.

  10. I've just joined the TuesdaySerial and I have to admit I'm even more excited about being a part of them after reading yours! Great story, memorable characters, and I agree with wanting to get to know more of those weapons.

  11. Thanks, Jason. =)

    And thank you, Maria. More weapons coming up... =D

  12. Again, great weapons descriptions! :) I also really liked the flow of the fight between Elenor and Khao and the very satisfying ending. :)