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The Godsfall Chronicles - Volume 3 - Chapter 29


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Chapter 29

Book 3, Chapter 29 - An Eboncrys Per Biscuit

The dune buggy roared across the sands, leaving Boondock behind .

“Hey! Who the hell is that?! Who the fuck told you to take a car?! What’s going on!”

Shouts started to come from the watchtowers around Boondock as lookouts took notice . They saw the flames and heard the screams, then noticed the buggy trying to slip away . By instinct they tried to bar the way .

“Motherfucking… close the gates! Don’t let them through!”

Autumn, pressed deep into the passenger’s seat, held on for dear life . Her head spun as they dashed through the ruins . She heard the curses buffeting them, and saw the giant plate-metal gates start to swing shut . Half a dozen bandits marched into their path .

She covered her face . “Gods! We’re going to hit them!”

Cloudhawk flung his arm up, throwing the exorcist bow into the air . With a deep shout he cried to the other passenger . “Barb!”

She was ready . Barb almost launched from the back seat, the cloak she used as a disguise blown away by the lashing winds . The demonhunter armor she wore beneath was revealed, outlining her figure . After a full year it was still sturdy, but scarred from hard use .

She plucked the exorcist staff from the air .

Barb hooked her feet through the hodge-podge of bars that constituted the buggy . It swung left and right, but she stood firmly on the roof while she drew the bow . Her psychic power coalesced down the sights and was released as a shaft of energy .

Boom!



The makeshift gate they’d used to seal the ruins whined like it’d been struck by a battering ram . It blasted open, flinging the two bandits forcing it shut into the air . Half a breath later the buggy raced through, grinding another unfortunate thug into the gravel beneath its wheels . Free from the city, now a narrow stretch of road snaked through the ruins before them .

Barb leaned her elastic body back as far as she could as they surged below an obstacle . Rotted bits of jutting metal passed inches from her chest and lower jaw . She sprang right back into place after they slipped through .

“Three o’clock, about six meters out . Guard tower!”

Cloudhawk tore through the maze-like ruins with his foot burying the gas pedal to the chassis . At the same time he watched their route through Oddball’s keen eyes .

He was drained, there was hardly any energy left in him to communicate with Oddball . Fighting was off the table . But Barb was strong, and fresh . She pulled her bow ready and aimed it toward the guard post . A gun barrel sprouted from the lookout by the time they pulled around, but before they could fire she let loose . A streak of energy pierced the walls and silenced the guard

“Ten o’clock, about eight meters up!”

Barb whipped around and fired in one fluid motion .

Debris rained down around them as the towers crumbled . The road was already rugged and blocked by junk and potholes . Their buggy charged ahead like the devil himself was after them, jolting again and again as they narrowly avoided obstacles . Autumn could hardly breathe .

Eventually, with Cloudhawk’s driving and Barb’s cover fire, they escaped the thunderheaps .

Coarse, gulping breaths made Autumn lightheaded, but despite the rough ride she handled it better than before . Her dainty hands held tight to whatever they could grab to stop her from flying off . They shook from the effort . How Cloudhawk and Barb were able to do anything as they escaped, she couldn’t fathom .

Sharing an adventure with these beasts with human faces was torture!

The naïve girl was as resentful as she was depressed . Had she known one day this would be her fate, she would have taken training back with the tribe more seriously . As it was, she wasn’t the least bit helpful – she couldn’t even defend herself .

This trip to Boondock hadn’t succeeded, by measure of their aims . They neither learned about Blackfiend’s history, nor dealt with the threat . The Highwaymen were still on their tail . However, it couldn’t be called a failure either . At least Cloudhawk had learned an important secret about the bandit organization .



This trip to Boondock hadn’t succeeded, by measure of their aims . They neither learned about Blackfiend’s history, nor dealt with the threat . The Highwaymen were still on their tail . However, it couldn’t be called a failure either . At least Cloudhawk had learned an important secret about the bandit organization .

They were definitely being helped along by a secret benefactor . Some unseen force had selected Squall to be their representative out here . That made things complicated . Cloudhawk wasn’t sure if he could consider Squall a friend anymore, and he didn’t know what was going on . The next time they met, who knew whether it would be on the same side .

But Cloudhawk had faith . Even though Squall’s history was tearful, even though he still held that hatred deep in his heart, even though he almost threw Cloudhawk to the wolves tonight… he wasn’t a bad person . Time was a carving knife no one could escape . But however much time passed, wood was still wood, metal was still metal . However the knife shaped the outside, the quality of the material remained . Cloudhawk didn’t have many friends, he wasn’t ready to throw away such a rare commodity easily .

He didn’t want to be Squall’s enemy unless he had to .

The buggy bounced over dunes through the night, and when the sun dawned over the horizon there were no signs of pursuit . Finally it was safe for a break, a chance to catch their breath .

Autumn clambered out of the vehicle but had to hold herself . Her legs felt like noodles . As she took a few exploratory steps, she rubbed her red and swollen eyes . The wind and sand were terrible without any means of protection . Her hair was a shocking rat’s nest of golden strands jutting out at odd angles . When had she ever had to go so fast? She was a sorry sight, stumbling around trying to get her bearings, a young thing anyone would feel obliged to protect .

Cloudhawk nimbly dropped from the driver’s seat, picking the demon mask off his face . He pulled up the hood to cool the engine, and right away a plume of smoke hissed forth . He refilled the gas tank in the meantime . Out of the corner of his eye he saw the girl stumbling around, teetering unsteadily . “Hey, get your shit together . If you can’t handle this then you might as well turn around and go home . ”

“Who says I can’t handle it?!” Autumn wore a petulant scowl . “I’m getting to Fishmonger’s Borough no matter what . ”

“Yeah, whatever . ”

Cloudhawk busies himself fishing a cigarette out from his clothes and lighting it up . He leaned against the car door and looked ahead toward the horizon . This part of the wastelands near the elysian border was still barren, but there were at least tufts of dead grass and a few husks of trees to break up the scenery . There were even signs of life, solitary groups of hardy weeds that had someone managed to survive the drought . By the look of it, they were getting close to the northern barrens .

By all accounts the northern barrens were in poorer shape than the south . Cloudhawk spent years surviving off plentiful ruins and mutated creatures . Far as he could tell from here, the only thing in front of them was desert . Boundless, hopeless desert . He took a long drag of his cigarette and felt it fill his lungs . It was rejuvenating, enough to get him thinking .

How big was the wastelands?

The areas north, east, south and west of Skycloud were nothing but endless blasted landscape as far as they could travel, but it was only a small part of the world . No one knew what it was like ten thousand kilometers, a hundred thousand kilometers out there beyond their field of view . The world was big – real big, and full of the unknown . The wanderlust and need to know what was out there was unavoidable .  [1]



The areas north, east, south and west of Skycloud were nothing but endless blasted landscape as far as they could travel, but it was only a small part of the world . No one knew what it was like ten thousand kilometers, a hundred thousand kilometers out there beyond their field of view . The world was big – real big, and full of the unknown . The wanderlust and need to know what was out there was unavoidable .  [1]

Autumn took a few minutes to get her bearings . After a while she was mostly recovered . Once the butterflies in her stomach quieted down, she noticed Cloudhawk staring quietly into the distance . She looked over the man, with the demon mask perched on his mop of unkempt black hair . The orange light from the rising sun painted his delicate features . In his quiet and contemplative state, it gave him a mysterious sort of charm .

Autumn couldn’t help but let her mind wander a little . She thought there must be a lot the demonhunter was keeping quiet .

Her first impression of him had been a sour one . He was deceitful, impudent and crass . But over the last few days, as she got to know him, she saw more than just physical strength . He had an extraordinary mind, rare especially for his age . The talented youth of her own clan couldn’t reach his level, she was sure .

What had happened to him, to make Cloudhawk this way?

He was a rogue, and had many shortcomings, but he was a good man compared to others in this cursed place . She really was lucky to have run into him .

As the thought crossed her mind it startled her, and she stopped herself . Lucky? What a joke! He was only out to get his hands on more eboncrys and that was the end of it . The tribe elder always said never to trust outsiders, and never count them as friends . Autumn paused to once again commit the elder’s words to heart .

“Ugh, I’m exhausted!” Barb loudly whined as she made her way over to them . She’d managed to get a lizard from somewhere and had already skinned it . She trudged their way, dragging the corpse behind . “Gods, this damned place is the worst . This was the only thing for kilometers, but at least we’ll have some meat . ”

Autumn’s voice rose an octave as she glowered . “I’m not going to eat that nasty thing!”

Barb lifted the skinned, dripping lizard corpse . “You’re pickier than I am, and I’m an elysian . What’s nasty about it? Having any sort of meat out in the wastelands is a blessing . All we need is a fire, and once the fats get cooking it’ll smell delicious . You’ll see, it tastes fine . ”

Autumn’s face took on a green tinge, especially when she looked at the corpse . It was leaking some unidentified green ichor and smelled like battery acid . She would rather die . Autumn vehemently shook her head in denial .

Barb shrugged . “Suit yourself!”

As resolute as Autumn was, her stomach disagreed . Its disgruntled gurgling was clear enough for everyone to hear . She pitifully looked toward Cloudhawk .

H paid the spoiled girl no mind, but had to silently praise Barb . There weren’t many elysians who would stoop to eating mutant lizard, but she didn’t bat an eye . She was a demonhunter of solid character .

As resolute as Autumn was, her stomach disagreed . Its disgruntled gurgling was clear enough for everyone to hear . She pitifully looked toward Cloudhawk .

H paid the spoiled girl no mind, but had to silently praise Barb . There weren’t many elysians who would stoop to eating mutant lizard, but she didn’t bat an eye . She was a demonhunter of solid character .

“Barb, don’t bother with that . I’ve got something here . ” He channeled his psychic energy through the phase stone and picked something from his stash . They were some sort of biscuits, and water . “Ten minutes . Eat quick, then we get back on the road . ”

“Yeah!” Autumn immediately perked up . She snatched a biscuit and stuffed it in her mouth, immediately chasing it with a gulp of water . Her pretty face beamed with pleasure . “Good work!”

“I forget to mention, one biscuit will cost you one eboncrys each . ”

Hack! Cough! Ack! “I take it back!” Autumn almost choked in the face of Cloudhawk’s blackmail . She glared incredulously at Barb . “Why doesn’t she have to pay anything?! It’s unfair!”

Cloudhawk just rolled his eyes . “Barb is smart, she’s capable, and she’s helpful . She earns her keep . You? Yeah, not so much . ”

She threw the rest of her biscuit in the dirt . “How dare you look down on people!”

Cloudhawk met her rage with flatness . “Ten minutes . Nine, now . Don’t eat if it bothers you so much . ”

Autumn’s mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water, but she was forced to swallow her fury when she saw Cloudhawk’s dispassionate face . She bowed her head, defeated, but inwardly screamed every single curse she knew a hundred times . She picked up the biscuit, wiped it off, then tore into it . She bit it much harder than necessary, perhaps imagining it was someone’s head .

It’s eboncrys you want? Fine! I have eboncrys! I don’t want to be a burden . One day, I’ll surprise you!

1 . The discord channel tried to determine about where Skycloud was . Using the distances in the novel and things like swamps and mountains, I figured Skycloud was somewhere in Newfoundland, Canada .  


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