The Godsfall Chronicles - Volume 3 - Chapter 30

Published at 11th of January 2019 09:35:41 AM
Chapter 30

Book 3, Chapter 30 - The Quicksand Monster

Barb was thrilled with the change in circumstance .

She didn’t know anything about Autumn or where she came from, but it was painfully obvious how pretty the girl was . Barb was embarrassed to compare herself . How could a wastelander be that pretty? What’s more, every other word out of her mouth was about eboncrys . Where did she get so much? She threw them around like they were worth less than dirt . Barb could work herself like a pack mule all the rest of her days and never have that much money .

She could see how dismissive Cloudhawk was of the girl . At the same time, he sang Barb’s praises . This made her happy .

She slung the exorcist bow off her shoulder and gripped it in one hand . A fair amount of trouble had been avoided thanks to this weapon . Without it their escape would have gone a lot less smoothly . She tentatively plucked the bowstring, testing it, then reluctantly gave it back . “Your bow is a fine one, your Excellency . Exquisite workmanship, I can tell . Worth a hundred gold at least . Here ya go . ”

Such was life . Autumn had the means to throw around something worth more than a hundred gold for a single biscuit, while Barb worked herself to the bone and couldn’t afford a decent bow .

Cloudhawk saw the interest and disappointment in Barb’s eyes . With a wave he said, “I have a few . If you like it, I can lend it to you for a while . Something tells me you’re gonna need it on the road . ”

Barb called herself a monster hunter, but a hunter with no bow wouldn’t survive for long . Most novice demonhunters specialized in either melee or long-range combat . The distinction was clear, especially since a young demonhunter’s choice of weaponry determined their role in combat . An exorcist staff, obviously, was suited for close encounters . They didn’t consume much energy and were quick . The drawback was they were relatively weak . Exorcist bows, in contrast, were much the opposite . They were used at range, and although they were slower and required considerable psychic energy to use, they could pack quite a punch .

Staff and bow were fundamental equipment for budding demonhunters . Those who chose the staff were typically stronger physically, and those with bows had a talent for precision and control . As one would expect, a ranged specialist would not have much of an advantage using a staff . A melee-focused demonhunter likely wouldn’t hit much if they used a bow, and may quickly run out of mental energy . They might manage to get a couple shots off, but if a target got in close it was too late to resort to a staff .

Barb had considerable potential, with talent in both areas . She was stronger than any novice, that was certain . While she might have been better suited for a bow, Barb had never had much luck with money . Since exorcist bows were several times more expensive than their close-range counterparts, she settled for a staff from the outset .

Cloudhawk, taking the girl’s self-esteem into account, decided to give it to her under the guise of ‘lending . ’ 

On the surface Barb seemed a little off-the-cuff, but sometimes she proved to be quite sharp . She knew Cloudhawk’s intention in lending the bow to her and appreciated it deeply . There weren’t very many people who treated her well . Refusing the gift and making a show was low-class, so she accepted without argument . “Thank you, your Excellency!”

“Alright, hope you’re rested . ” Cloudhawk slipped the mask back onto his face and pulled himself back into the driver’s seat . “We’ll be at Fishmonger’s Borough soon . The Highwaymen won’t be on our tail for a while yet . And the next time they do I’m sure they’ll think twice . Off we go . ”

The buggy’s engine sputtered back to life .

Autumn kept gnawing at her biscuit as she produced a map and compass from a pocket . She confirmed Fishmonger’s Borough lay straight ahead, then off they went . After four or five hours, buildings started to sprout from the horizon .

Was this Fishmonger’s Borough? Barb and Cloudhawk looked relived, safe harbor meant they could put their troubles behind them . At least for a little while .

“Eh, that’s not right!” Autumn pointed at the map and exclaimed . “We’re on the right path, but Fishmonger’s Borough should still be farther ahead . Judging by our speed, getting there by tomorrow morning would be a stretch . It’s only afternoon . Are you sure you went the right way?”

Cloudhawk shot her a hard look . “Horseshit . I’ve survived near my whole life out here, and you have just wandered through . Of the two of us which one do you think is more likely to get lost?”

“Wastelander cities are always moving, there’s nothing strange about that . Maybe your map is just old . ” Barb put her hands on the seatback in front of her and stood . She craned her long neck and squinted into the distance . “I can see it – definitely a town . It seems unlikely there would be two outposts so close to each other, so I’m thinking we’re here!”

Oddball darted off ahead to scout the area .

“We’re definitely going the right direction . ” Cloudhawk frowned and shook his head . “But this settlement is too small . Hardly more than a campsite, much less a major borough . ”

“So what is this place?”

“Doesn’t matter . We’ll skirt around . Better safe than sorry . ”

Barb nodded . If Cloudhawk said it, then it must be the right call . Without another word she slung the bow over her shoulder and wrapped her hands instead around the exorcist staff .

Barb was ready to do anything Cloudhawk asked of her, a fact that earned considerable disdain from Autumn . Barb was supposed to be a demonhunter too, right? What was she doing groveling before this man so pathetically? She had no self-respect .

What Autumn didn’t understand was that Barb had come from a poor family . She wasn’t like Selene Cloud or Dawn Polaris, born with a sterling future and a silver spoon in their mouths . Neither was she like Frost de Winter, who was taken in by an illustrious teacher . Barb didn’t even have the good fortune of someone like Cloudhawk or Squall . For someone like her, even moving in the same circles as these people was incredibly hard .

Barb’s dream was to travel with an experienced senior, someone rich in knowledge and experience who could teach her . Three years ago Cloudhawk didn’t even know what was in store for him, so he refused Barb’s offer to travel together . The situation was different this time . Cloudhawk was better than before; weaker than some, but stronger than most . While not a dominant force, he was more than capable of handling himself . Little by little, Barb was proving herself to be a woman of talent – talent worth cultivating .

The outpost drew closer . Whatever it was, it didn’t matter . They’d figure it out when they got there .

All of a sudden they were struck by a strange sensation . The buggy’s engine roared and its wheels fired up to dangerous rpms . The instrument panel said they were going eighty kilometers an hour . But they weren’t moving . They were stuck in place .

Autumn immediately took the opportunity to mock her tormentor . “Is this how you drive? Now we’re stuck in a ditch!”

Cloudhawk wrinkled his brow but paid her no mind . Dune buggies were designed to handle rough terrain, but it wasn’t unheard of for one to break down in particularly fine sand . But that didn’t seem to be the case here .

Cloudhawk gripped the roll cage and was about to jump out so he could take a look, when unexpectedly something jerked the whole vehicle . It slid more than ten meters down a slope to their right .

“Ahhh!” Autumn held tight so she wouldn’t be thrown, her face instantly going pale . “What’s going on?!”

Barb’s voice was stern . “Senior . Something’s got us from under the sand . ”

Her words were punctuated by another violent tug . They’d lost control, and were being dragged to the center of a sandy pit as though on rails . It was like being on a boat stuck in a whirlpool, slowly being dragged to its doom .

“Son of a bitch . We’re in trouble!”

Overhead, Oddball looked down at the expanse of desert as it passed below . It spotted the problem right away: The whole area for a hundred kilometers all around was thickly dotted with pits . The smallest ones were several meters across, while the largest were a couple hundred . At ground level it was easy to dismiss the features as nothing more than odd .

But they were more than odd, and more than mere divots . It was quicksand!

From above Oddball could see that the pits were flowing . It was hard to see without a keen eye, but close inspection showed that everything was being inexorably drawn to the center of these pits . Something was in there, waiting for whatever was caught to reach it .

It was too late!

The dune buggy was dragged further into the pit, nearly rolling as it did . As it moved closer to the center, Cloudhawk grabbed both women in turn and heaved them from the car . Once clear, he jumped out after them . His feet hit the ground, but then instantly sunk into the roiling sand . He was stuck up to his waist .

“Save me!”

Autumn’s head was the only thing above ground . She nearly choked on sand just trying to scream . She tried to struggle, thrashing her arms and kicking her legs, but to no avail . There was no resistance, but she just kept sinking . Things were worse for Barb, who had been flung into the sand head first . Her upper half was buried in the quicksand, and her legs kicked wildly in the air .

The sand was fluid was water but grasping as mud . Once you slipped it, getting out took ten times the effort .

Someone who didn’t know how to swim was fated to drown, however they treaded water . It was about how you used your energy, not how much . About the only person who could find the leverage to get free of their own accord were martial artists, capable of using the total power of every cell .  

Cloudhawk quickly engaged his phase stone and fumbled out from the quicksand .

The bugger was heavier than them, so it sank much faster . In the few seconds since they ejected it had already reached the center of the pit . What followed was equal parts terrifying and unexpected, as from the depths rose a monster five meters thick and thirty meters tall . The beast had no eyes or nose, but it did have a mouth filled with rings of dagger-like teeth . Its nightmarish maw clamped around the buggy and immediately reduced half of it to ruin . Metal screeched and cracked as the monster gnashed its teeth . The slag was gulped down and disappeared .

Holy shit, this thing was fucking crazy!

Cloudhawk didn’t waste any time . His feet touched the ground and in that moment granules of golden sand behind to emerge . Like a cold snap it froze the swirling quicksand in place and stopped the women from sinking further . Threads of power rippled through the pit, forming into arms that held Barb and Autumn fast . Meanwhile, Cloudhawk fished them out and the three scrambled out of the pit before they became the monster’s next meal .

Barb and Autumn fought against racing hearts, trying to catch their breath . Especially after seeing the thing that lived down there, their body were drenched in cold sweat that made the sand stick to them . It was like a pit that led right to hell .

They were everywhere around here, pits just like this one . And horrible creatures like that lived at the center of each of them . Anything careless enough to get caught in quicksand quickly became lunch .

Visit the translator’s website
Share this:


No Comments Yet

Post a new comment