Authors: H.D Gordon
I studied the expression on his
face and decided I didn’t like it. “Why does it sound like there’s a huge
that follows that sentence?”
The Brocken laughed loud and
deep. “You ever walked out over a frozen lake, Warrior?”
I shook my head. “No, that’s
Darvin laughed again. “That’s what
my mother used to tell me every time I used to sneak out of the city as a boy,”
he said, and his smile grew wider still, just like a little boy who had done
something he thought was clever. “And this ain’t no frozen lake. This is
Oh, hell no, Warrior. Nope.
I’m not stepping onto that death trap. You might as well just turn your little
butt around right here.
“I know. But there’s no other
Sure there is. You may as well
take your chances and charge straight in. The odds that we would survive that
are much better than the odds that we survive
“For shit’s sake, quit trying
to psych me out. He said it would hold. If we can get in undetected, we have a
better chance at reaching the King.”
He said it would hold? You
can’t be serious. You’re willing to believe a man who probably picks his teeth
with the bones of small animals.
“No, I’m willing to trust a
Warrior who has followed me into an impossible war.”
When he crossed this thing it
was as a small boy. You have to know that it’s not possible. We would be lucky
to get two men his size across without it breaking. We would need a hand from
God to get two thousand of them across.
“That’s why we aren’t sending
two thousand of them across. In fact, it’ll just be us…me…whatever.”
Like I said before, hell no.
“Someone has to do it.”
And why does that someone
always have to be us?
“I don’t think the answer to
that question even matters anymore. We are the smallest and lightest. We have
to go. That’s all there is to it.”
Okay, but remember that movie
I rolled my eyes and tested the
ice with one toe. “
What about it?”
Leo told that chick that
falling into water that cold hits you like a thousand knives stabbing you all
over your body.
“Alright, I get it. Falling
into freezing cold water is bad. I’m still going, and you’re really not
If you’re going, then go. We
wouldn’t be having this conversation if you didn’t have your reservations.
I let out a sigh that was visible
in the cold air and glanced back at Darvin, who still had that stupid grin on
his face. Luckily for him, I exerted impressive self-control and decided that I
didn’t have time to punch it right off his face. The rest of the army was still
waiting back by the tree line, including Kayden. It hadn’t been safe to try and
sneak more than the two of us up this close. “That one there, right?” I
whispered, pointing at a tower twenty yards to my east, on the other side of
the deceptively solid river.
Darvin nodded. “If you can get in
and take out the guards there, we can enter on the northeast side of the city
without being seen. But, it won’t be easy, Warrior.”
I looked down at the ice in front
of me. “Yeah,” I said. “I see that…I didn’t even know it was possible for
rivers to freeze.”
“Oh, she’s not frozen, Warrior.
a little bit. The temperatures here never rise above
freezing, and it’s not all that deep. On top of that, it’s a slow mover, but
you don’t want to fall in and get trapped under that ice.”
No shit, I thought, and took my
first step out onto the ice before I could convince myself not to do it. I
released a breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding when I didn’t hear
anything cracking under my boot. It was only about ten feet across to the other
side. I could make it. I hoped.
Another step. Another. My confidence
began to grow. But on my seventh step, when I was only and four feet from the
other side, from solid land, Mother Nature showed me how stupid confidence was
when dealing with something like this.
It was a
surprisingly loud sound, and even though I knew that the wind carried it off
before anyone could hear it, I felt like it was a sound that could be heard
across the world, so big it was in my ears. Just a splintering. The cracking of
glass when it’s holding a liquid that’s too hot. My heart was thudding so hard
in my chest that I felt as though I may as well have been pounding war drums
and waving a flag. I looked down. I didn’t want to, but I
to, so I
looked down, and I saw fissures in the ice spreading out like poison in veins
beneath my left boot.
I only had
time for one thought.
And then my
Monster made me leap off of my right foot, just as the ice under my left gave
way, and somehow, amazingly, I landed on the other side of the river. It was
such an unexpected, quick-thinking move that I did not land on my feet, but
instead flat on my belly, knocking the wind out of me and sending pain through
my wrists where I had made a silly attempt to break my fall.
I rolled over
onto my back and stared up at the stars, watching my breath plume out in front
of me and feeling the cold ground seep through the warmth of my coat. Utter
relief washed over me, sending heat into my wind-battered cheeks and making my
stomach turn over. A laugh bubbled up from my throat and I had to slap my
gloved hand over it to keep it in. The mighty Sun Warrior, almost done in by a
thin layer of ice. It was unbelievably horrible and funny.
Up, up, up,
Warrior. We are lying on enemy land. Get up and get moving.
Right. I found
my feet and checked for my Gladius, even though I knew that it was still tucked
into the back of my pants. When I looked back to where Darvin had been standing
on the other side of the river only moments ago, I saw that he was already
gone. I was alone then. Completely alone. Now all I had to do was sneak into
that tower unnoticed, kill the guards there, and give the signal to the others
to move in. Piece of cake.
I was glad
that it was night, and that the snow floating in the air made for good cover.
Ahead of me were two white houses, their rooftops heavy with snow, windows
frosted over and dark. I slipped in between them and moved as silently as the
snow under my boots would allow. When I made it to the edge of the houses, I
peeked my head around the corner and looked in on the city.
People were everywhere.
All of them dressed from head to toe in winter gear, and all moving in the same
direction; toward that highest tower at the center of the city. Children with
scarves and hats and gloves held their parents’ hands, and men and women
huddled together in hopes of sharing each other’s warmth. I took a deep breath,
and pulled my hood down over my face as far as it would go, then I slipped into
the crowd. If anyone noticed, they gave no indication.
part was making my way through the crowd in the opposite direction of its flow,
like trying to swim across a river that kept trying to push me downstream. I
kept my eyes on my feet, only glancing up occasionally to make sure that I was
heading toward the east tower. There were Warriors here, each of them wearing
the all-black uniforms with the King’s crest threaded into the right shoulder.
They watched the crowd carefully from around its edges, like sheepdogs herding
made it to the foot of the east tower, though it took longer than I would have
liked because each time I saw a Warrior glance my way I’d had to move with the
crowd again so as not to draw attention. I stopped when I was fifteen feet from
its doors, which were all frosted glass, and cursed when I saw that a key-card was
required for entry, and a Warrior was standing post outside of it.
gave me the answer, and without second guessing it, I waited until the Warrior
guarding the door noticed me, made eye contact with him for just long enough
for his brows to furrow, and then slipped in between two buildings that
neighbored the tower. The shadows here were thick, and I melted into them
easily with my black cloak. Then I waited.
What if he
Warrior. He’ll take the bait. I’m sure the King has ordered them to watch for
us, for anything suspicious, and that look you two shared was very suspicious.
I saw his
shadow round the corner and held my breath. A moment later, the Warrior that
had been guarding the east tower stepped into the alley, a silver sword
clutched in his hand, and looking around with wary eyes.
little lion, wait. You’ll need to strike quickly. He must not be allowed to
alert the others.
took two steps, three. Just two more, two more and he would be close enough. I
was still holding my breath, tucked against the wall of one of the buildings,
my hands clenched into tight fists at my sides. The Warrior moved forward, and
I felt the muscles in my legs bunching and tightening, getting ready to pounce.
He saw me, and his eyes widened. Before he had a chance to even open his mouth
or raise his sword, I jumped up, gripped the sides of his head hard, and
snapped his neck with a sound that was uncannily like that of cracking ice. The
enormous Warrior fell hard, and I caught his body, which made me reel back and
slam against the wall, and settled his dead weight to the ground with a stifled
him, avoiding looking into his face as much as I could, and breathed a heavy
sigh of relief when I found the key-card tucked into the front pocket of the
black coat he wore. Then I dragged him a little deeper into the shadows, glad
that my muscles were so very much stronger than they looked, because he was
and tried not to think about how easy killing had become for me, like
breathing and drinking and sleeping.
I crept back
to the mouth of the alley, pulling my hood over my head again, which had fallen
off when I’d attacked the Warrior. The crowd was still as thick as before, but
a glance to my left told me that no Warrior had taken up the position of the
dead one I’d left in the shadows. The coast was free and clear, at least for
I removed my
Gladius from where it was tucked into the back of my pants, happy that the
cloak would hide it even as I held it in my hand. Then I made my way over to
the doors of the tower, making sure to be aware of all that was going on around
me. I had to make it in there unseen. I had been very lucky so far.
When I was
sure I was not being watched, I flashed the key-card over the lock on the door
and felt more relief flood through me as the light went from red to green. One
more glance behind me, and I pulled the glass door open, and slipped inside.
The hallway in
front of me was all white, from top to bottom, and silver lilies and suns were
painted into the walls, which glimmered unpleasantly under the fluorescents
overhead. I looked all around for possible security cameras, and didn’t see
any, which was what Darvin had told me. He’d said that there was never any need
for them because the towers were always staffed heavily with Warriors, and no
one had ever tried to get past them. But right now, the building seemed to be
empty, and this was because the Warriors were all outside or at the Council
Building, herding or preparing to murder the sheep.
also told me where to go once I had gotten inside, because he had been
stationed here many times. I had only to go up the stairs—the elevators were
the only parts of the towers that actually had security cameras—where there
would be a Warrior stationed at both the top and the bottom, kill those guards,
make it into the watch room, and kill those men, too. It was truly a wonder how
everything I did circled back around to that; death and more death.
I went to the
end of the hall and slipped the blade of my Gladius out of the front of my
coat, using its blade to see around the corner. There he was, just as promised,
reading a magazine and leaning against a door that was marked as the stairwell.
A crooked smile tilted my lips. Slacking on duty. His King would be thoroughly
disappointed. This was going to be too easy.
My turn! My
turn! Let me, Warrior. I’ll snap his neck before he has a chance to finish
reading the next sentence.
I sighed. What
My left eye
twitched as my Monster came forth and made good on its promise. The high I
always got off of taking life made me lick my lips and I had to shake my head a
little so that I could concentrate. It was beginning to catch up to me. Too
much in one day. Not enough. I wanted more.
soon. We will have our fill. Focus.
I swiped my
keycard again and pushed open the door to the stairwell, bracing it open with
my foot and dragging the dead Warrior inside to store him under the stairs.
Then I all but ran up them, anxious to get to my next fix.
trying. I just…”
I know. Me
up. I didn’t lose my breath at all. Adrenaline was coursing through me and
making my hands shake a little with anticipation. When I reached the door on
the fifth landing, a huge grin spread over my face and my stomach growled.
Swiping the keycard again, I pushed open the door, and snapped a third neck in
a little over three minutes. For a moment, all I could do was stare down at the
dead body at my feet, at his throat where a pulse no longer throbbed, at his
eyes that no longer saw.