At the moment buying a new car; starting to arrange new windows; hedge work; tree cutting and … enough said.
I do get back at times to the story – just a Quick Cut.
There was water where land should have been and a dispersed population which interfered with their ideas of clean bombs and a clean slate. It had taken a while for them to decide to use a Clean Bomb; most of the Admirals favoured dirty weapons and coming back at some much later point when they had destroyed a planet; there was no coming back to this planet so they agreed to change the texture of the bomb casings.
This way, when the thermonuclear explosives are detonated, the power would not be contained within the warhead but move ahead of the warhead and explosive force thus reducing the main force but putting the radiation ahead of the bomb while weakening it so the radiation killed people but left the buildings standing and the Admirals loved this idea as they could immediately move in and so it wasn’t Scout Ships that were scouting Destraight but attack ships seeking the targets.
The people of Destraight watched as the ships circled above them and most immediately panicked and run for the bolt holes – the politicians ran for their castles and the bombs reigned on the castles; the prisoner drop points and because at least one Admiral could not resist destroying, lethal bombs also rained as he turn the air and land into something no-one could endure … his name was Percival de Bowed – a name now remembered.
The various races had already moved as much as the could but the Trons above ground were burnt alive and so were the Minuets. The Rocs and Rock Trolls had protection but the bombs of the other Admirals penetrated and killed whilst Percival de Bowed’s bombs destroyed the land and the races.
Those who’d managed to get deep enough survived by instinct but a land and its people were being killed for glory and possession.
Four of the Admiral’s bombs were targeted at the Castles to kill everyone in them but Percival de Bowed’s bombs seemed to be random. One was between his and James Droga’s castle with a second and third to the north-east of his castle and ten to twenty miles away. He had in fact cut himself and the Droga castle off from everything but a route to the east.
A fourth bomb exploded near the prisoners camp some ten miles from Toshon castle and the final bomb landed some ten miles from the Lodge. The Admirals had not known of the move to Toshon but by accident Percival de Bowed had nearly destroyed it whilst Matira, deserted in the floods some four hundred years before had been cleaned bombed. The computer built castles had protection build into the structure and would survive but a dirty bomb had already taken out one prisoners camp, whilst another hit the area around the Lodge.
The power of the Attack and Scout ships however, was a drain on the Admiral’s space support systems and as power now dropped to various low levels tubes automatically appeared onto the planet without waiting and prisoners and associates were dropped in, in more ways than one, before the Admirals realised.
Where the clean bombs had gone the old prisoner camps still existed – kept almost as monuments – but where de Bowed’s dirty bombs had gone there were now large radioactive holes.
The four Admirals faced disaster as their power ran out and they were running for the tubes with protective suits on and down to the polluted planet as all the ships started loosing power but one Admiral also had nuclear protection and a very limited lifespan if the other Admirals found him and Percival de Bowed was already at a castle to the north-west.
The new prisoners and associates were dumped at the site near Toshon; the one near Ascan and near the Lodge. The Toshon site some miles from a Percival de Bowed dirty bomb but the sites near castle Jamesson, and between the Lodge and Matira were clear.
Once the prisoners near Toshon had been wiped out – four hundred years by the sea sweeping in and now by a dirty bomb but already the waters were sweeping into the hole left by the bomb and debris, bodies and radiation were floated together. Toshon once again was a seaside castle to the west.
I suppose, if you were alive, life became interesting. Dwarfs normally live very long lives and now Marcel Droga was meeting an old James Droga; Stefen Matira was in Matira whilst Martan Matira was in Toshon and Peter Jamesson was meeting David Jamesson. No-one was meeting Percival de Bowed however that was by his choice and although Angus du Storme’s castle was shielded by mountains, his castle had been bracketed by two of Percival’s dirty bombs.
When the Admirals thought about it looked fairly obvious that Percival’s main target for his bombs had been to destroy the Droga and Du Storme castles; leaving his own as the castle in the north-west. Percival’s dinner invitations had now reached zero and the only punch served would come from a fist.
One other result of Percival de Bowed’s actions was the bomb by the Lodge also destroyed the sea defences and while the water sweeping in hadn’t touched the Lodge it had cut off the north-east and north-west sections of Destraight. Matira was cut off, apart a narrow causeway to the west.
The prisoners in the camp were now literally prisoners with in theory, no where they could go and that was for nearly forty thousand people. They couldn’t touch the fish as they were radioactive and whilst the explosion site was now under the sea, and they were forty miles from the bomb site, they were now eight miles away from the water and they as their predecessors had been, were manacled; unable to move at speed or with any precision.
The Trons had nowhere to escape as the forests burnt, nor did the Minuets although the Trons ran for the water and Minuets tried to fly to safety.
The Rocs in the mountains near Toshon were partially shielded from the blast but not the radiation however the people in the towns near the castles were obliterated where they were within range of the bombs.
The castles had protection designed into them from the beginning but outside, the towns had none and whilst the buildings remained intact, the people died; the food, the animals and those who hadn’t bolt holes or didn’t bolt became the Admiral’s main destruction dish of death.
No-one had ever told them that clean bombs killed everyone but not the buildings.
Dirty bombs normally kill by immediate blast and then by radiation, either directly or carried on the wind that the bomb creates.
The castles survived but everything else either died immediately or slowly, afterwards – there was no clean solution. The sea swept in at various places and once again the country was cut off as if it were strategic bombing and several bombs did in fact miss their targets completely. Over the next twenty four hours all bomb sites were flooded as the seas poured in however a new map of Destraight would show Percival de Bowed’s castle surrounded by water with the nearest land some ten miles to the east as it seemed to have been detached from the land.
Droga and Du Storme’s castles just escaped but De Bowed’s castle was not even on land any more and the prisoner’s camp outside Toshon was under water however a De Bowed dirty bomb had killed them before the waters flowed in so at least it was probably quicker than drowning.
The major issue for James Droga and Marcel Droga was that both were alive but now in the same place.
With the dirty bombs having been launched, Argus du Storme wanted revenge and Percival de Bowed might not think he was lucky, stuck in sea but the other Admirals wished to stick him somewhere else and preferably below ground.
Stefen and Martan Matira still didn’t know the other existed and Stefen was locked away in the south-east of the country, in an abandoned castle with only one habitable floor created four hundred years ago.
Chapter IV – Settlement
The Admirals were not achieving their goals and already the old keys were passing amongst the some of the new prisoners near David Jamesson’s castle – freeing them from the manacles as the Rocs managed to communicate and used the keys from previous Admirals.
The new Admirals were not only losing their ideas as the previous Admirals had but a slave force supposed to be bonded to them for being released from their manacles wasn’t happening.
Dwarf politics were not only vicious but also often terminal and they started with James Droga and his small guard overwhelmed; the same for David Jamesson – leaving Droga castle with Marcel Droga and Ascan castle with Peter Jamesson as leaders – in their own eyes at least.
Two Dwarfs, they say is an argument, three, a war, Marcel Droga and Peter Jamesson upped the ante!
For Argus du Storme however, all he needed to do was concentrate on his castle which like the other computer glitched castles was all laid out on one floor but this time underground. Cursing computer glitches he’d already started work on vents to the surface and getting air into the vaults but creating vents was a chicken and egg process with the people running around as if they were … well … chickens.
They had wiped out the Trons and Minuets telepathy so anyone’s knowledge of the true thoughts of the Admirals ceased … yet some of the Trons and Minuets with their telepathy survived in the north-east and the north – there were rumours of them around Toshon as well but they were hunted and killed by Griselda almost as a hobby.
Stefen, however, seemed unaware that the Minuets could fly, and the Trons – being wood – could float, whilst the Wolfen could shape-change, so some of the old races were finding refuge although one of Percival’s dirty bombs had landed some twenty miles from the Lodge which is where most were heading for and Stefen laughed at what they would find.
Had he know that the Lodge had refuges and bolt-holes and when the sea swept in – yet again – it diluted the radiation as the bomb hit some twenty miles away – near the sea – and the floods protected the survivors in various ways including sweeping the radiation away he would have thought more but most inhabitants of the Lodge were now completely underground although the radiation affected some and who knew what that affect would be in years to come.
Above ground people scrabbled for life and anything else they could find.
Chapter V – Love
Rafus – once one of Griselda’s lovers, and with Griselda you were either be dead or a ‘Lover’ if she sought you; and love was always with a knife at your throat for performance or in it if you failed or lacked interest … with luck you could managed both … escape? Speed was often of the essence and you’d better be fast, although not too fast in bed … time to think … it was a tricky endeavour as Griselda never sought intelligence, just absolute dedication to the jobs she wished fulfilled.
Stefen Matira decision to wake Griselda Matira was with a degree of trepidation and a lot of spewing up – strategy decisions were never his strong point and his wife was a strong point … an assassin … probably a necessity in clearing out the deadwood and death was probably a necessity in her … if he ever could manage it. Griselda was good at wood clearing but near himself he wondered whether he wanted a woman who put a knife to his throat whilst making love or in a lot of other throats as a hobby.
He’d also had Runnel – a daughter from Griselda – woken up but the more he considered Griselda, the more he considered marrying a second wife as Griselda would rather kill than make love.
He also wondered whether there was enough killing to keep even Griselda happy.
Again and again he found reasons to keep Griselda from his bedchamber – the male equivalent of a headache as he used his guards to make sure he had one, and to a degree, honesty was there, for a change … Griselda would give anyone a headache.
It had all seemed so easy to wake her up until he realised his mistake. Stefen’s thoughts at this time also move to his thinking about Rafus with a degree of gratitude for keeping her occupied … Rafus seemed to be a dedicated Dwarf in all areas.
Stefen considered Rafus as he would a useful – Stefen didn’t really like the term but it was appropriate for Rafus – King’s idiot. In Rafus’s case … pet dog seemed a little cruel although perhaps not that cruel … Rafus had behaved like a dog with Griselda, which kept her and her knife away from Stefen and was very much appreciated.
It might be a custom for a wife to wear her bridal knife when vows were exchanged but there was no custom for wearing in bed or gently blood-soaking the linens when making love. Stefen had possessed enough scars before he met Griselda, both in his head and on his body but he owed Rafus something for taking them in his place from Griselda but the name inspired fear and kept his people regular in the mornings and Runnel’s first would be called Griselda to keep the name and he already had another replacement as a killer and she might also be renamed Griselda – perhaps Royalty beckoned for another killer but one he didn’t have to sleep with.
To Drufus, his magic was an escape and he liked it – that it never really seemed to work was a problem. He kept the scrolls in a chest in the castle and at times he would just sit there looking at the scrolls although he preferred Weena’s chest. Whether his allure worked its magic over a long time with either, was debatable.
He heard that the scrolls needed to live off each other but most of the time, everyone seemed to be living off him. That was probably fantasy as Drufus didn’t have anything for anyone to live off however he believed in the scrolls as he believed in Weena but sometimes you can be wrong twice and unfortunately for Drufus, his habit was to be wrong on every occasion.
Weena was usually wrong as many times as Drufus but whether this was due to Drufus or Weena was between themselves; she plied her trade through the streets narrow, and narrower, but that was usually because she felt she was worth a lot more money in bed: she would need a long life to prove that statement to be true; others however preferred narrow streets and darkness and cheap women. Dwarfs usually lived a long time unless they’d met Griselda, and to Rafus, any night was a bad night when he met Griselda but Weena took the little gold he offered. She didn’t worry Rafus that something might be stirring inside her. The chances that it came from Rafus was very little?
The one thing that was bothering her, though was the rumours of his involvement with Griselda. If he was involved with Griselda then having a child by him would be rubbing her face into the dirt and she knew that Griselda would look for another notch on her knife plait if she found out.
Still the child could be anyone’s and he could find the street; how would she know who’d she slept with … the money talked and so did his legs … slam, bang, gold now, ram. Maybe she needed to vanish and quickly?
Drufus often vanished, although usually mentally when faced with life, still he was performing in a variety of ways which often gave him time to research some magic in the temples of Druncheon – a bit like digging through tonnes of silt to find a diamond in the sky.
He could have done with a lot more magic and a lot less Griselda but the world sometimes just gets that thumb’s up sign reversed.
As far as belief went … it seemed to find its own avenues but it was flooding in and drenching the priests in their new robes. A lot of prayers raised: resulting usually from meeting Griselda and people were building temples – Gods appearing, or so the new Priests claimed; especially after several fiery occurrences that Rafus knew were the Priests inspiring belief and questioners facing a fiery furnace if they argued.
Priests could really live from inspired belief in Gods, but a bacon and sausage sandwich in the early hours when you’re really praying for a bite to eat was where you really found belief and they had now started charity kitchens for those wondering the streets … what Gods the priests inspired by doing this, might seem a subject for discussion as they bit deeply into the supplicant’s offerings but the Gods they these people offered their thoughts to, were the guys with the trays who ran the late night service to the temples.
Druncheon was held to have appeared as the Dwarf God although his shape made him looked like a puppet god and Gods don’t usually wear slippers, but he was present in some form or other although most people seemed to have the own Gods – usually viewed from the gutter at this time of night.
Humans looked to the God – Astoron – who seemed to be available on some occasions … often in a mask, surrounded by priests holding him up but belief, usually after a bad day’s trading … especially when you were caught for short measure and short-changing. Hanging by your thumbs while you balance on your toes encouraged prayer, usually to avoid to hanging the next time by your neck.
An Elven God had also appeared according to rumour although no-one saw any Elves and the Elven temple never saw anyone but Priests; still it kept them off the streets and there was obviously money coming from somewhere.
The was no God for the Old Folk who spent too much of their time ducking to consider a God as a defence – they, not Gods, were usually the target … well what use is a God to hide behind when he is transparent.
They knew it wasn’t that easy to tell who they were anyway but people who were ill tended to find them and their culture was to help those who needed help which also protected them – you might get ill tomorrow as well and those little jars that eased problems were always welcome amongst a lot of earning people.
Rulers usually complained about the Old Folk as they couldn’t control them but it’s difficult to have laws for people you can’t find, so the Clerks were ordered to tidy up any deaths … still it was often difficult to deal with folk who don’t really fit in.
The People who usually lived underground were attacked on sight for being different and they attacked right back … not easy for the Trons and Minuets who couldn’t survive below ground.
They could fly and float but when Griselda’s teams spread out to kill anything she could find an excuse to kill, all they could do to hide was to have countless young which diminished them, and hope they wouldn’t be easily seen as they buried them in various underground areas – Griselda’s killers to a degree would just kill animals and tell her the blood belonged to whatever she wanted to kill but when the hounds came in there was little they could do but seek the Cats who were telepathic and attacked the hounds.
Others who survived and did stay above ground might be Wolfen or just new and old prisoners the Dwarfs hadn’t killed yet; the Dwarfs in the main, didn’t really seem to care who or what they killed but they weren’t quiet and enough Old Stock were still about to watch as they rode out from the castles and send the word ahead to waiting minds.
The Dwarfs were now realising their ideas of killing and dominating those left wasn’t really working and also claims of Elven Temples being created worried them.
Elves were barred from the ships. They were vicious, bureaucratic destroyers of life. At one time they had made up almost all of Dwarvia’s Uncivil Service.
They lived for the mundane and words; at one time an error on a document led them to order the complete destruction of a planet.
One thing the Admirals had agreed upon, was no Elves.
Everyone hated them as they seemed to be everywhere and in everything.
The Admirals hated those who claimed they had Elven connections and blood, but in loading people into the Armada Class Prison Ships they’d had robots checking for Elves as the Elves and robots seemed to have a lot in common in their behaviour … like Politicians on that funny world – Crapen.
It seemed, to a degree, to be a mind-blank for the Admirals. There were no Elven people on Astoria and as the Admirals decided they’re weren’t any … they’re wouldn’t be any. So, someone had sabotaged the engines – any Political Party on Dwarvia could have done that. If there were any Elves on this planet, they would be sought out and destroyed but since they didn’t exist, there was no need.
Rafus, yet again, made his way slowly to the Kings Gate and out of the castle … he couldn’t see Weena who told him she was under pressure to meet targets and needed him to be flexible, so he took his time and headed for the Druncheon Temple. As he moved, he saw the narrow alleys and the young bodies – still alive … Griselda hadn’t found them yet … he supposed; he checked before he moved into the centre of the way. Carriers would drive through a Dwarf!
They might wear manacles themselves but on a horse and cart; the horses didn’t and they could wound as they swung the manacles from their arms.
Rafus made sure he looked in all directions and then a bunch of horsemen were galloping people down and heading for the castle; he ran to an alley and hid as best he could.
Chapter VI – Escape
Suddenly he saw Griselda on her way to reducing the Barrack Guards by those numbers who failed to satisfy her but something else was creeping into his mind … he knew she was searching for and he leapt down an alley as a bunch of Guards with Griselda suddenly rode past him. One foot in a midden was scent compared to Griselda.
Griselda felt him leave the castle and decided to harass him as if he owed taxes.
She’d had decided to let him go … thinking it might be more fun that way with another person to manipulate – almost as much fun as sex – but losing something she owned wasn’t going to happen – she could bear to let someone or something out of her control.
No-one could say Griselda wasn’t even handed – she killed with her left or right hand and Rafus still had some uses for her.
By now Rafus had both feet skimming the middens as he skied back to the castle and settle down in a bath before the Griselda call.
Needless to say, Rafus was up all night and crawled out of the castle the following morning. Finally managing to stand upright he left the main castle gate, and passed a high wall on the left with heads hanging in baskets from it.
The heads which were small and shrunken told him Griselda had watched the Guards using shuriken on the prisoners before their heads were boiled – the bodies seemed to have been misplaced somewhere – probably fed to the hounds to save steak, knowing Griselda.
Rafus Matira had made sure his eyes were grey and his height was five foot four – it wasn’t difficult.
All babies in the Matira Clan were operated on at birth to ensure they met the Matira definition. Those who failed; usually failed terminally but some were dumped alive into boxes for the rubbish to dispose of, and in Rafus’ case, his mother hid the modifications until the scars healed but the stigma stayed – once it was known – and he was never a ‘true Matira’ after that.
Sometimes he dreamed of being a real Matira … sometimes he dreamed of being free … sometimes he dreamed of escape; mostly he dreamed of Weena and his liaison with her, and what he thought was his magic as a dwarf but he daren’t let Griselda know of that, and it was difficult as Griselda, who Rafus felt should never have been woken up, effectively took over the castle and have Dwarfs watching everyone and it seemed, especially him.
Weena could give him a child and he would rob and kill for that … including Griselda if he thought he could but most of the time he tried to stay out of the way and in Weena’s procession of men.
He needed something, and Weena was happy to take the money and supply it but as much as he tried to buy her, she twisted and turned – a regular client was fine but her Pimp would never let he leave and he worked for Stefen.
She’d worry about the consequences if anyone ever found out but to Weena’s thinking … she could always get rid of the baby, and probably would – Rafus would never know but it should keep the gold flowing as he sought the next child, and it could be a good earner providing Griselda never found out.
Griselda, however had her own problems and life was becoming a little tricky and not settling down as she’d planned.
There was no empire for her. She could harass and stalk Stefen as much as she liked but too much stalking and he treated her like a Tax Collector.
Far too much stalking and Stefen turned on her, especially as his people died at her hands.
Griselda also had problems with her plumbing and plumbers talk, although usually about how they will take a month to arrive and then sucking through their back teeth before they quote a price for their turning up but this plumber knew which side his gut was buttered on as they draped him over an ant-hill, and he was seeing red ants while he talked, so it might have helped if the bathroom hadn’t been completed.
Stefen’s new lady wasn’t occupying a bath to the north-east of the castle which had collapsed onto the plumber’s wife; enjoying the new bath when the ceiling dropped – Stefen did like to make a point or possibly a good splash. Nugent was in fact to south-west where the Admiral’s bath was highly guarded and adjoining his bedroom.
A very clean Lady later joined him without the bath roof falling on her, which is more than could be said for Griselda who had found herself placed in the bath earlier and left to watch the ceiling after it had been winched up – the soap suds weren’t there but the remains of the plumber’s wife were.
Unfortunately, Stefen believed that people such as Griselda learnt from lessons and he was wrong.
Griselda moved north at speed. Following Griselda from a distance.
Most people preferred a mile at least.
They headed towards the waters around the Lodge – finding more slime than they had left from Griselda.
People watched as Griselda rode out – usually over people if she could; where they were, or where she was, didn’t seem to matter as she rode through them.
People watching her ride out prayed as she passed, often dropping down to their knees in the mud and the middens so she couldn’t see them and just kicked more shit over them.
Peter Jamesson she liked and he would bed her although he might regret it later.
To Griselda, as a Dwarf, married to another Dwarf … did thoughts needed thinking: Dwarf’s do, or so they say: considering things that mattered but Griselda took it from the top as she swung a sword.
Her mind at times did send her a message from the mid-area that a turnstile for the lower regions was not approved and wasn’t earning a lot and the idea of children was something to prolong a scattered life and then she would eventually rule although she realised she was still outside the castle and awaiting entry. She’d already cut the head of someone who told her they should move to the Droga’s castle and anyone loyal would give up their blood and water for her. She was a Queen; what else could they do! They’re were wasting water if they didn’t serve her and there was a large amount of land to consider but Argus du Storme had land and Marcel de Droga offered more than a few opportunities so the axe could rest a little.