A Hymn of Overthrown Hexes and Whetted Steel
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Vulthila Rainfang's depiction of the final march of System 24B's non-magic diaspora.


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My mental fighting style is, strangely, not swords, but bayonets—the picture of a lone soldier from a 19th century adventure novel—hands beaten, flayed in the weaning light that slated, struck down into the ivory hills that lined, teetered over turquoise, cobalt, aquamarine waters thickened with the blood of the world crashing, cascading into the nebulas, cosmic floes of dust, ice, phosphene gas shaved, suffused with the rays of a lone dwarf star that stripped, stripped down to exposed bone clinging by sheer moisture, thistle and malice alone to flesh, by thousands upon thousands of miles of marching, slogging through woods, plains, mountains that rested on dying plinths where spells tore through the stonework, imploding entire cities under gargantuan landslides that leveled, razed time-honed passes, buried pendants of lakes sewn into the fabric of pine needles that billowed out from crevices, cracks strewn with rotting straw and sage to settle upon shoulders snapped down, flattened to rucksack strips and a canteen half-filled with fetid water withheld from being plunged under, the bubbles exposing burning steeples, petrified bulwarks ablaze shading an mortal army in tatters—draft horses and officers dead where they lay, muscles still twitching where hexes had struck, poisoned their intravenous systems, severing the neurons and circulation until asphyxiation set in—soldiers staggering away, clutching blisters that protruded, engulfed in a fever that doubled, tore into the skull over and under the battered crowns of kepi caps, squeezed between a memory and a dream, a gust that shrieked down through the rosewood stock, the bolt pan glistening clear with glycerin alcohol and dew from the heavens crying murder as the final mage strikes first, sparks and robe billowing out against roiling skies and you fling yourself to the dirt, the bramble tufts, talus slicing into your hands and you roll, feeling the heat of the spell flash by, the wake burnishing a agitated vermillion in your eyes as you stagger again to your feet, bracing the stock against torn boots, the brim of your kepi cocked low now, dabbing out their face —oh, how you grew to hate, grind your teeth and puff, belt out your chest at that face, the face that condemned millions of your people and then some, to be bottled up in a vial and shattered, once again, splaying across the veins of marble for the drainpipe—for your frostbitten wrists—paupers and highwaymen and tsarinas and mechanical falcons contorted in arteries, vessels of acid and dissolving bronze and marrow that were privy to neither death, coasting in dark with eyes shut, or notions of life, so fragile yet honed like a dove’s talons at the crown, the end of the world—raising the bayonet, fixed to the barrel glimmering, a singular fang forged in steel—soon it too will be no more, joining the sabers, pikes, revolvers, rifles, artillery pieces that failed to pierce, sever the last anchor that joined a dead world walking—and as the earth begins to buckle, warp, the cliffs, the seas spewing overboard into a chasm dissipating under your feet, the mage’s hands scramble, trying to free the steel piercing through their abdomen before releasing a final scream as you take one last breath, feeling the pack, the kepi, the bayonet, the rifle, shuck away, twisting to join the pulsating masses of reluctant godhood and martyrdom high above.


Recovered from an notebook discovered in an dirigible scuttled one and three nautical quarters off The Nameless Sailor's Shelf.

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