This was my second attempt, I scraped the first after getting half way through writing it. If you want to check out the piece of art that inspired this fiction you can see it here.
28th of March, year 254 of the Roland dynasty. Blue year. stars of the Mother. Endsday.
Dearest Jonathan; I hope this letter eases your burden.
I have written this letter several times since the death of your father and sister last june.
Each time I thought I was about to face the fiend that killed my husband and youngest child, I would compose the letter a new.
I now go to face that creature one last time. I am sure of it. I have tracked the ghastly spirit and it’s host Father Mathew Star to the town of Agriphil. An Iron farming community near where the dracon sea meets the golden sands. I have learned from my mistakes. my body is scarred with reminders of my past failure. arcane lessons are written on my flesh with holy ink. The stars of the Mother hang in the sky over me tonight as i pray to our ancestors. perhaps they are one in the same? I hope my Sylvia found her way to them, and that Victor found his own home in the stars.
I ride into town tomorrow afternoon, finally our family will be avenged. I cast special bullets for Star some months ago. they have the words of the fallen on them.
if you are reading this I did not survive to make it back to you. I’ll leave this letter and some money with a post captain in town. it’s Risingday tomorrow, if I had survived, this letter would have never met your eyes.
I love you with all my heart Jon, but i had to end him. I could not put it to rest. I pray that you find peace an easier puzzle to solve.
In eternity; your mother, Ira.
The Sapphire sun of a blue year hung high in the midday sky. on the edge of town a tired horse slowly dragged its hoofs through the sand. It’s rider walked besides it, a wide brimmed white hat sat on her head. a long tan duster coat concealed the 7 shooter slung across the back of her belt.
the haggard pair walked down the main street of town before stopping in front of the post office. The rider abandoned her horse in the street before stumbling into the office. it was a small building, crafted from Iron trees grown together some 100 years ago during king Alron’s reign. the greying post captain was bent over an ancient straw broom sweeping sand out of the room when Ira walked in.
“i need this letter posted to Iropton. It’s for Jonathan Traylor of Traylor station.” Ira’s voice was soft and worn. 8 months in the desert had been hard on her body, and her spirit.
“Of course we can do that for you ma’am, but that is on the other side of the Bridgford ranges. it will take…” Ira cut the post captain off before he could finish. she plucked a coin purse from her belt, lifted out 3 gold dollars and dropped the bag on the counter.
“you can keep the change, just tell me….” she paused massaging her throat with a free hand as she sucked in a breeth. “is there a priest of the Father in town?”
the post captain was stunned for a moment before he quickly spoke. “why yes of course. Father Star is staying at the Broderick hotel down the block. He’s a very kind fellow, true avatar of the Father that one. I’m sure he’d be glad to give you service.”
Ira rolled her shoulders, shrugging off the ache and wear of the last few months in an instant. she turned her head to the side and spoke with a firm authority. “I do not worship the star lords.”
Ira strolled with purpose towards the Broderick, tightly grasping her remaining gold dollars in her fist. she had rehearsed this moment repeatedly over the last year. she had visualized it as she cut at her flesh in the endless rain of the Froh Dan basin. muttered it under her breath as the needles of the Carthadian nomads relentlessly marked her skin. Ira had even spoken them with conviction when she gunned down an innocent Father in the courthouse of Gum city.
there would be no mistakes this time. she knew this was the right Star. she failed to stop him in Xanthian; but he had had the advantage of night. now daylight was on Iras side. she stood at the doors to the Broderick Hotel and took a half second to compose herself before strolling in.
The Broderick clearly had once been a ritzy establishment. it had exposed Forest wood beams as main supports, and very little iron tree material in it’s walls. the former being rare in the desert, and later being very common in an iron farming community like Agriphil. At some point it must have changed hands and clientele as it was looking very run down. the tables and chairs were all grown from iron trees with very little treating as they had begun to rust. some of the broken Forest wood planks that made up the floor had been replaced with processed iron. In one corner 4 filth covered iron workers sat playing a game of chance.
Sitting alone at the stained and regrown bar sat a man in a black shirt, black trousers, and black boots. the purple stripe down the back of his shirt marked him as a priest of the star lords. the gold tattoos on his neck and hands gave away that he was an avatar of the Father. It had to be Star.
Ira made it halfway to the bar before Star turned to face her. for a moment his pale youthful face made Ira’s heart sink but she caught herself before her own face betrayed her. She grinned widely and chuckled.
“ha ha, Father Star. Just the priest I’m looking for!” Ira grabbed a seat to right of Mathew at the bar as she threw an arm around his shoulder. the Father just stared back confused.
“Do I know you daughter? you don’t seem familiar to me?” Ira grinned as he said daughter in order to hide her disgust. now was her moment.
“really? you don’t remember?” Ira signalled to the bar keep before shouting with slightly too much enthusiasm. “two shots of slater bourbon my man. leave the bottle.”
Star and Ira gazed at each other for a moment. one pair of eyes full of vengeance. another pair full of anxiety. then the bartender plonked down the bottle and stood waiting to be paid.
Ira pushed one shot glass towards the priest before slamming back the other and flicking a gold coin at the barmen. Mathew Star tried to hide his disgust at the smell of the Slater Bourbon.
“one for the father” she said as she poured herself another shot. she saluted this one to the sky before drinking it. “one for the mother” she flicked another coin at the barmen, he was clearly growing very annoyed.
Ira poured another shot. raised it up between Father Mathew and herself as she glared into his soul and slid her last coin across the bar towards him. “and one for the daughter.” the words slid out of her mouth between clenched teeth.
in a moment of realisation Star swept his hand across the bar, scattering the coin, the shot, and the bottle. he jumped to his feet kicking his stool out behind him as he let loose a scream of frustration and rage in two voices.
Ira chucked her shot towards her adversary as she flicked the tail of her coat and reached back to draw the revolver that was strapped to the small of her back. Star threw up his arms to shield his face like a pugilist. The bourbon splashed across his fists and he growl out and inhuman sound. the skin of his fists started to rupture and bleed as the Bourbon rolled across it. The mystic ink in Ira’s body had let her transmute the contents of the glass into a shadow poison. she had done the same to her own drink as well. she’d be dead in minutes, but her blood was now toxic to Star, as well as what ever he was host for.
Ira whipped her gun around just as thick black smoke started to seep out of Stars eyes and wounds. there was no mistake, this was the creature that had killed Victor and Sylvia. Ira pulled the trigger on her 7 shooter just as the spewing smoke made it’s host roar out all the air left in his lungs, Black acrid smoke coming with it. The specially built munition struck true at Star’s heart and he stumbled back, gripping the bar as he fell. the skin on his face was bubbling with blood as he coughed up black smoke.
Star slid down the face of the bar slowly. coughing, spluttering, and retching smoke and blood as he went. Ira took a few steps back and clutched her gun grip with both hands as she watched her true enemy take shape. the smoke had been rising steadily, but out of no where it shuddered and collapsed on the floor taking on the silhouette of a panther or tiger.
All at once a sea of red eyes opened in the smoke of it’s face, snapping to glare at Ira’s chest. She swiftly unloaded 4 of her remaining 6 rounds into its face and shoulders as it leapt at her. For a creature made of smoke it had a lot of mass as it slammed into her, knocking her to the ground and sending her revolver flying towards the door. the smoke cat hissed as wisps of itself dripped onto the floor, or flaked into the air.
A rip opened across it’s head and a mouth of jagged teeth, looking like broken glass, appeared. Ira tried to push it off of herself but the beast quickly bit into her shoulder, puncturing part of her neck as it did. Ira wailed in pain as she tried to strike at the smoke demon. her blows slipped through it’s mass like a bird through the air. She looked around for something or someone to help her and caught the gamblers fleeing out the back. Ira could just make out the bartender cowering behind a table. She whipped her head around, desperately looking for a bottle or a shard of iron, anything to strike back with. She could see a shuttered window just above her head and tried to grab at it as the smoke forced it’s spectral teeth deeper into her flesh.
She couldn’t reach it. she looked to the bartender with sorrow and desperation in her eyes and screamed. “break the window! break the damn window!”
the creature ripped it’s head back and tore a chunk of meat from Ira’s shoulder. she let out a blood curdling cry of agony before spitting out. “in the name of your ancestors break the mother fucking window!”
The loud thunder of a shotgun sounded through the Broderick as buckshot shredded the cheap scrap of the shutters, flooding the room with beams of Sapphire light. the sunlight blew great holes in the smoke tiger as Ira’s toxic blood dripped through it’s belly.
Ira Floundered limply for her revolver which sat on the other side of the room, her blood spewing out around her. an old man with a sheriff star on his belt and a golden shotgun in his hands walked towards her. the smoke was all but gone now, he would have only seen the wisp of it before crouching down next to her. he grabbed her hand and placing his longarm on the floor besides them.
his voice seemed distant as he spoke. “ you can go to the mother now.” he paused as he lifted Ira’s hat and began stroking here hair. Ira felt like her gut was boiling as he whispered to her. “or find your way to your ancestors.”