by thefourpartland

The first installment in a new short story, one of three from the upcoming Splintered Lands: Volume One.

With a twang, the rope snapped, and Fryca cursed. “The bloody thing broke again.”

Ellgis patted her on the shoulder. “We’ll have it mended soon enough.”

“We’ve got Knights of the Broken Wheel breathing down our necks. We don’t have time for soon enough.”

“We’ll flee again if we have to.”

“I don’t want to flee again. I want this buggered contraption to kill them all.”

Ellgis glanced over the path, where dead logs, hidden trips, and pressured stones covered the ground. If the devices worked, they were supposed to fire spears, swing logs across the causeway, and drop mud on those knocked into the water. He was sure the Knights of the Broken Wheel had never seen anything like it. And the Knights still wouldn’t if he and Fryca didn’t get the counterweight working. The technologists had attached it three times, but each time the ropes had failed.

They’d used stronger weaves and more of them, but still the massive basket of stones tore away. If this contraption didn’t work, the technologists would have to flee deeper into the swamp. Which meant losing all of their inventions.

To Ellgis, the machines were more important than the village where they lived. People could be replaced. Years of experiments could not. Fryca felt the same way, and so the two of them were here, trying to fix that blasted basket. If they saved the villagers as a result, well and good.

The technologists fumbled in the darkness for some time, resulting in failure after failure, until Fryca threw her lantern into the swamp and stormed off. Ellgis retrieved it before following.

The next morning they found the basket of stones had sunk into the bog. By the time they were ready to lift it into the air again, the Knights of the Broken Wheel had arrived at the edge of the swamp.


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