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Taming Hermes: a steampunk/fantasy/horror


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I've only just started Malifaux, still waiting for my stuff to arrive. Just thought I'd right a story while I waited (haven't written in quite a while). Thought this up today, so here's the first (and possibly only) part.

The night was cold. Kurt could barely see his own steaming breath for the fog that clung to his shivering form. The shroud, the colour of moonlight, blocked out the lights of the not so distant capital of advancement.

But he didn't need to see to know that the warmth of the city was beyond his reach, with nature acting as a barrier. Out here on the outskirts of the dead kingdom, the breath of tragic ghosts extinguished the warmth in men's hearts. Those who wandered the mossy ruins and overgrown shanty towns, existed only to stand as a testament for the endurance of the human condition. Kurt himself arrived only two years ago, after loosing everything in a bad business adventure. Now he was king of his very own castle, left to wander its conquered battlements and desecrated halls.

Kurt rubbed his hands and breathed on them. He loitered around the open courtyard, muttering curses under his breath.

Then a clatter of metal caught his ear. He turned sharply in the rough direction.


“Oi who's there?”

The eerie silence was only broken by a distant, echoing sound of something dripping.

“Come out you vagabond!”

Kurt drew his pocket razor blade and swung it so it whistled tunelessly in the air.

The dripping sound grew louder, followed by the odd echoing clatter of metal.

Kurt strained his eyes to see. But no form took shape. His heart began to beat in time with the more frequent dripping sound. He no longer knew if he was shaking of cold or fright.

“I don't want any trouble..”

Then suddenly, less than five metres from him, a small creature crept towards him.

It was short, with thin, gangly limbs jutting out a potted body. It wore furs and large metal studded leather boots, and carried a knarled spear. It's face was twisted into a snarl, with beady black eyes glaring glaring down a long pointy nose that loomed over a maw of needle teeth. Its bald head was crowned in what appeared to be a pointy red hat, made of cloth.

But it was dripping. Thick droplets of dark crimson splattered on the ground as it shuffled forward, leaving a splattered trail behind it. Where the blood was flowing from and how it held its form boggled Kurt's fear-gripped mind.

Then instinct took over. He ran.

Across the courtyard, through the cracked entrance to the West Tower and up the spiral staircase to the battlements. It was only when he paused for breath that he realised his folly.

“Hah... haa...help!!” he cried tragically. The creature was in the doorway now, shuffling towards him. He could hear the clatter of its arms, the curse in its breath and the terrible dripping sound over his own pleading breaths.

A form moved silently up the North Tower.

The creature lowered its spear, it's lean legs poised to leap forward.

A ghost clung to the shadows, observing, eyes fixed on the beast.

Blood began to trickle down the monster's face, which triggered a gurgling howl.

Kurt was crying now. He had also lightly soiled himself. Though his life ended when Aribeth left him, he thought that despite the hardships he had fought - and lost - he would live on, holding onto the warmth of a better tomorrow.

But there was no warmth in this land, only the bitter cold of a bitter nature.

The creature, now sure of its catch, leapt onto the battlement wall.

Kurt dropped his razor blade and held his hands over his chest. He rubbed his wedding ring religiously as he began to accept his fate.

The silent guest held his vigil.

The beast lunged forward. Kurt screamed.

The spear impaled Kurt through his lung, as the creature's gaping maw dug into his shoulder.

With the creature now lodged in its victim, the figure stepped into the twilight.

Dressed in a long blue coat, a wide rimmed cowboy hat and a spine of books, linked by rope, running down his back, his swift moving form caused a ripple in the fog. The creature noticed him in the corner of its eye, only to see a large barrelled rifle swing up and take decisive aim.

The creature tried to evade, but it's spear was caught in its last victim. It gave out a cry.

Then the gun gave out a crack and all was silent once more.

Kurt lay on the ground, choking on the blood that flooded his lungs. The beast lay sprawled on the ground, its bloody cap melting away from the smoking hole in its forehead.

The hunter moved towards Kurt, leaning down close.

Kurt gurgled.

“Who... are.. you?” The man replied in a grave, authoritative tone.

“There's no time to explain.” he drew a small photo from his coat; depicting a young girl with red hair. “Does she look familiar, have you seen her?”

Kurt's hearing had been replaced with the the dying thump of his pulse.

“Do you recognise her?” His voice seemed inpatient, tainted with emotion.

“.... I never had childre...”

Kurt's vision began to blur. The last thing he saw was the innocent smile of the red haired girl.


The man put the photo back in his pocket and stood over the two bodies for a respectful moment.

He began to make his way when a voice called from the ethereal air.


The man turned. He called out to the lingering night.

“I did as instructed.”

“Why did you let the beast feast before death? Why not save the human?”

“He was a decoy, kept the Redcap stationary, nothing more.” he moved towards the exit, before adding coolly. “You pay me to hunt corruption in nature, not to save those ignorant of their own innocence.”

He strode into the mist, towards the unseen expanse of the city, leaving the dead castle under the rule of its dead king.

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  • 1 year later...

Thanks for the share sir. I have great appreciation for anyone that wants to share a bit of creativity. Makes the forum a much more interesting place than just tacticas.

Having read through it there are a lot of things that I'm hungry to see in a more personal/intimate fashion. I wouldn't mind seeing that "bad business venture" mention as a memory of a business being shuttered up or belongings being repossessed. I've seen and worked for some businesses that went under and its a heavy thing. Great opportunity for exposition. I know Kurt is ultimately a throw away type character but the reader doesn't know that yet so building up as a three dimensional dude makes the impact of his demise all the heavier.

There are a lot words that are distinctive enough that they should only be used once but they appear several times. I'm not talking about "bitter" because that one repeat is artistic. The others though: Splattered, gurgled/gurgling, gave out.

There's a few words that I think lean on the conservative side of evocative. Just an example, Kurt, our main character is dying. Instead of "gurgling" I'd of embraced these final moments as an opportunity to show his horror. Get in his head, tell us he's choking on blood or drowning in it. Tell me what he's thinking about his last moments and about this stranger asking about a photo. Give me some depth about a regret that he never had children. It's just a very conservative death that's all.

Don't know enough about the mystery character to comment. Though I can say these anti-hero types are done a lot. Doesn't mean they aren't done well but sometimes they beg for a twist or just some spice. Letting Kurt die is all well and good but what if anti-hero woke up in the middle of the night with Kurt's ghost haunting him now. Kurt's not sure what's going on and mystery guy has to suffer some of the consequences for being a jerk. He learns his actions have consequences and maybe Kurt deals with or voices some of his regrets and gets to move on. Just some thoughts.

Anyway, great read. Dark and dour, which I like too.

Thanks for the share,


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Interesting points, I mean clearly you don't know WHAT you are talking about..

Just kidding ;) Some points like the repetition of words I picked up on, and it has been mentioned before.

Good point about making Kurt more 3-dimensional, will definitely apply that to future minor characters.

I think I often do go quite conservative, especially when I switch to a different perspective. The moment Nicholas comes in, we leave Kurt's mind and become a witness to the event, so that we can make a clear judgement of Nicholas' character. I think being a filmmaker and looking at mostly scripts for the last 3 years has meant I tend to stay out of characters' minds. I guess I'm a little influenced by Bertolt Brecht in that I often try to distance the audience from the action (though I think Brecht goes too far). So yes, I can sometimes over describe the setting, but don't make full use of the tools at my disposal (becasue they're not fully available to a script writer).

Again good point on Nicholas (his dialogue just makes me cringe). Can't remember all the details, but he's pretty much a normal guy who's young sister was apparently kidnapped by fairies and he's made a pact with a forest spirit to get her back. In fact she's the protagonist, and he's sort of representing the conflict between the natural and man-made world. Sort of Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke) meets Pan's Labyrinth meets Priest. Completely agree though, that the whole anti-hero thing is a little dull, maybe allowed myself to get too influenced by manga at that age (Hellsing, Priest, etc). Nice thought on the ghost haunting him.

I have an idea for another story, a steampunk fantasy horror, with the premise of a doctor who becomes a necromancer. On the surface it's the usual "sin for the greater good, salvation and damnation" thing, but the true story is his interaction with those around him. He starts of innocent enough, with lots of friends and by the end his only "friends" are the dead that haunt him (both because he protects/attracts them, but also because he has "bad people" killed for his experiments). He is left older, wiser and able to control great power for the good of mankind, but he's also a monster and still has the small doubt that his view of morality and justification is completely wrong.

Have to say one of my favourite themes is how people justify their actions, and the inevitability of the consequences. It's important that the reader is free to judge the characters, but also have their judgement challanged. There's a short story I think I'll write up soonish as it goes along these lines.

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  • 1 month later...

Apologies, more for not commenting on your work than providing more of my own, but yes my university FYP is at that point of going into hyperdrive (or hypercrash), and most of my downtime has been spent over in the Puppet Wars playtesting.

I'm hoping to build something (winkwink nudgenudge) this week, hopefully have it finished shortly if I can find all the parts, and that will lead to an IndieGoGo/Kickstarter campaign to fund the rather ambitious film I'm hoping to make. Even so the script is still in early development (mainly because the story and content are intertwined and I'm still experimenting), but since it's my own world and mythology, I think I'll try and write a few shorts to test the waters, get some feedback, before diving into the abyss.

Even so I'll try and read more of your stories (for inspiration if nothing else) and share some of my ideas, bounce them around, naturally giving credit where credit is due, etc.

I can't say I'm looking forward to the next month, but it'll all be over soon...

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