Carnage (remastered), p.1
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       Carnage (Remastered), p.1

           Vladimir Duran
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Carnage (Remastered)
A Rising Knight Volume 1: Everything That Has an End

  Issue 01: Carnage

  By Vladimir Duran


  This is a work of fiction. All Characters and events portrayed in this anthology are either fictitious or are used fictitiously.


  Copyright © 2013 by Vladimir Duran

  All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.

  Cover Credits

  Short Story Cover: Shane Braithwaite


  Other works by this Author

  Chapter Two - Cover Credits

  ARK-001 Carnage

  A legend is made the moment you deiced the cost is worth the journey. The moment you decided your life is worth fighting for, bleeding for, and killing for. This is the moment Vlad will choose between murderer or victim. This is the moment the legend of the Wraith begins. Could you live with the choice?

  The World of Knights: Knight Hunters

  ARK-001 Glossary

  ARK-001 Playlist

  Next Time

  Chapter Three - About the Author

  Chapter Four - Connect with Me Online

  ARK-001: Carnage

  -Darkness birthed him, a blade fathered him, Death was his first lover. He was baptized in fire and blood. He will save you.

  July 15th 1:37am(EST) - 1 Year, 2 Weeks, 1 Day since first contact.

  79 degrees. Turning in the eternally graceful cacophony of the universe, stars in Choirs and multitudes peered down into the city of New York. Their course was set in motion eons ago, they knew the way as they knew the end and the beginning. Beyond them, in a place of shadows and power, a crowd of gods watched over their shoulders. Song stood at their fore, her form youthful and ancient as befit she who set the stars on their journey, dictated their course to make her music. Eyes like the first melody you hear after heartbreak watched the play taking place in the city far below. She had set this thing in motion, caused the first domino to fall. Yet, she had not power to control this tune. It belonged to a power far beyond that of the assembled divinities. All she could do was give her blessing to the brief little things flitting their lives on that spinning ball of rock and mud. Clear skies or stormy did nothing to affect her vision. Yet the skies after heavy showers that had started at midmorning and continued into the early evening. Balmy night winds from the southeast brought relief after the sickly, sticky heat of the day. Mud caked untended seams and cracks in New York City sidewalks. Bless and hope and watch.

  Shadows dappled the forest of metal bones that would one day be a building on forty-fourth and sixth. Forty wizard soldiers moved through those shadows, keeping careful watch in every direction. Another ten moved in pairs around the perimeter. Their job was to be ready to reinforce or retreat as necessary. For the moment they busied themselves keeping humans away from the construction site. Simple shadow spells affecting simple minds helped with that tremendously. Human guards lay slumped at their stations, tranquilized by more spells. The invaders didn't care one whit about the safety. They only cared about taking down their target without warning, without as few casualties as possible.

  Human eyes, staining to their limit might have seen shadows moving in strange patterns. But only if they strained hard. To the eyes of a wizard the soldiers appeared like darkness wreathed in light. They wore dull gray uniforms under breastplates, greaves, gauntlets, and helmets glowing faintly with protective spells. Tendrils of multicolored light twisted themselves into spell webs around them. Their swords had a fine phosphorescent sheen that promised a harder bite than mere sharpened steel could have delivered. A fist clutched a broken bolt of lightning on field of violet stood out arrogantly on their chest.

  Hunters. Not the underpaid castrated cannon fodder that made up the regular wizard army; trained professional soldiers. Knight Hunters. Broken Bolts. The men and women who hunted monsters in the dark.

  A scout moving alongside the main body looked carefully into every shadow before moving on. The Spell on the Hunters' armor could hide them from humans but there were better spells. No one in the Hunters could work them but a Knight would have the skill. And a Knight wouldn't be limited to weaving one spell at a time like a normal wizard. Even if Ilom could weave a spell to hide his presence, he wouldn't be able to do anything else. A Knight wouldn't have rely on his armor or protection.

  This wasn't his first hunt. No one took chances when it came to Knights. He checked every shadow twice, shifting his eyes through every spectrum they could perceive. His sword was drawn and he had a long dagger ready to pull if he had to drop the longer blade. Deadly cords* of fire and lightning encircled his shield arm*, ready to launch but not yet ignited. Nothing to be done about the witch-light from his armor, but he could deny his prey a perfect Reigh shadow.

  Ilom was bait. His job was to wait until he made contact with the Knight, and then use those spells to hold him off while retreating. As soon as his unit saw him lighting the place up, they would swarm the Knight and take him out.

  Or her, the last one had been a girl. Little redheaded slip of a thing ripped out poor Jori's guts with her bare hands. She laughed while the man spilled his guts at her feet. She laughed while raking them with more spell fire than half his unit combined could have put out. She didn't stop laughing until they separated her head from her body. Dangerous job, but it paid very well. There were only three active tracking and elimination units in the hunters. The rest were on standby and defensive duty. Ilom had a little one on the way, he needed the money if he was going to give his little girl the life she deserved.

  The fight was over before he knew what happened. A shadow he had cleared exploded into life. Then there was a hand on his throat, releasing something into him. His foot gave a single twitch and went still.

  Warm blood trickled down Vlad's face. He held himself and his victim as they were for a count of ten, quick movements would attract attention. Cords of earth and water flowing from his palm had torn the Hunter's throat so badly that blood kept gushing onto his killer. Too much power; hadn't meant to do that. Fading blue light crackled feebly around his right hand where it pressed against the dead man's breastplate. Passive shields might as well be tissue paper at this range. More cords of earth and water ran from that hand into the man's body. The dead Hunter would have bled out from the wound in his neck, but that had only been intended to keep him quiet. The Knight's right had been the real death dealer. The spell had crushed the Hunter's organs into so much paste within his own body.

  When he was sure he had not been noticed, Vlad lowered the body to the ground behind a girder.

  He was back to being Vlad, and that was a problem. Sweat beaded his oval face, trickling into brown eyes and matting finger combed hair. His wiry body trembled. He'd never killed before, nothing that wasn't already dead anyway. Once or twice he'd come close, moments when his rage had nearly overwhelmed him. Stopping had been a matter of coming up with a smarter, often a more cruel, plan.

  The shock had broken his focus. With it went his other identity, the Knight. Thinking of himself as the Knight gave him access to the reality warping powers of the warrior born. If he was going to survive the night he would need them. He needed to bring his trembling inner world back into balance. Balance was everything.

  Unbidden, his eyes went to the body. Vlad allowed his mind to run where it would. Some problem solving methods were not linear.

  Once upon a time, a Knight could have gone his entire life without shedding a drop of blood. The Twisted* did not bleed, only fell to dust and ash. Knights, serving in the Harrowers, were once the blade that cut into the armies of the Horde and the Host.* But he was only fourteen and he already had blood on
his hands.

  Wizards grew at a different rate than humans. After first gaining access to their full power, they rapidly grew to physical prime and stayed that way until the last year of their lives. In human terms he appeared to be about twenty-five. But he didn't feel twenty-five, he felt fourteen. Which was wrong. He never felt his age. For as long as he could remember, he'd been an old man. Old men did not become teenagers, it didn't happen. Not to him. He was supposed to be better than this.

  Things didn't have to be this way. He'd spotted them first, he could have run. Might have been smarter if he had. Instead, he'd left a trail of magic for them to follow. This was his choice of battlegrounds. Out of the way, quiet and as deserted as you were going to get in Manhattan.

  Even without his help the Hunters would have found traces of him sooner or later.
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