[D&B Vol. 1] Episode 0004

‘Sword Uthor!’ She barely heard Della yelling behind her, deliberately shut her ears to the power of her friend’s voice, to the command in the name she’d left behind when she’d stuck a knife in her own heart and launched herself into new life.

Not again. Not again. Not again. The chant matched the pound of her feet. Nurses scattered before her, adding their voices to Della’s command to stop. But she wouldn’t, not after the things she’d seen. Oh Powers, the things she’d seen. 

Byrne burst through the doors at the end of the long hall, ignoring the “No admittance” emblazoned across the front. There were more yells, a man hurrying towards her, white coat  flapping, another in the solid blue of a police uniform starting with surprise, hand falling to the gun at his hip. 

She let it flow around her, concentrating on the solid pulse in her chest, the link only a Sword could feel, the one that drew her to her sisters. A window separated her from the emergency care ward, beds and the quiet hush machinery, some occupied, others not and there, there a pale blue curtain blocking the view at the end of the room.

The doctor stepped in her way, towering over her. There was compassion on his face, buried under the anger as he reached for her—

She put him on the ground, stepping over his body as he wheezed for air, already rushing the police officer as his gun cleared its holster. He hit the nurses station, back sliding down the shiny white front before his arse smacked the floor, gasping for air like the first, pieces of his weapon shattered around him.

The curtain at the back of the ward called her, the hot pulse behind her breastbone telling her to hurry. Hurry. Hurry. Hurry. 

Byrne ripped the fabric aside.

Sunmetal didn’t glint or glow. In the grip of one of the royal blood it burned, a ravenous flame fit to rival a star, just like the tip of the dagger hovering over Nova’s chest.

Fear obliterated moderation and Byrne sent her youngest sister crashing into the wall. The dagger fell from Suun’s hands and Byrne caught it on reflex, snatching the burning metal out of the air. It turned black in her hands, the fire eating itself until nothing by but the pitiless cold of space remained.

In the hands of the blood sunmetal burned, but in her hands, the hand of the royal Bastard, it wasn’t flame that licked the metal.

Nova slept, her long black hair arranged in one of Suun’s careful braids, her face a mass of bruises, her right arm an ugly stump wrapped in bandages. 

‘It’s what she wants Byrne.’ Suun’s soft voice drew her gaze to the floor, to the baby sister she’d sworn to protect with her last breath. 

Eyes as soft as her voice, and as dark as the blade in Byrne’s hand gazed steadily back. No reproach, no anger, just a steady, soul deep understanding that cut deeper than any recrimination. Not for the first time, Byrne wondered if Suun had seen the horrors she had, felt the pain, the fear in the time between lives.

‘It’s not what I want,’ Byrne said.

Boots pounded behind her, sharp clack of authority and danger that reminded her of long-ago barracks full of soldiers. Reinforcements had arrived, come to take her away, yelling at her to drop the weapon and get on her knees. She let the dagger fall, touched the cold floor with her knees, but her gaze never broke from Suun’s.

‘When Nova wakes up, tell her to do whatever she wants.’ Byrne said as rough hands grabbed her arms. ‘But I’m not going to follow.’

Byrne had time to see Suun’s complexion turned a whiter shade of ghastly, before the hands pulled her up and marched her out of the hospital.


Don’t forget to check out the episode notes for more behind the scenes content.

Question time

I sense something strange about Byrne, something to do with why sunmetal turns black and cold in her hand, while it burns gold when one of her sisters touches it. 

What do you think this strangeness might be?

 

 

 

 

[D&B Vol 01.] Episode 003

Another lifetime. Another war they couldn’t win because her sister and Empress fell for the same pretty face.

Suun had kept Nova alive long enough for the paramedics to find them. The woman and her partner had both had the calm, stoic expressions of those who had seen it all, but Byrne had recognised the slightly too-wide eyes and pale sheen of shock as they’d half-jogged into the gym showers. 

There’d been a handful of seconds where all they did was stare, eyes agog at the four teens in their battle-stained uniforms, before Della had laid a hand on their shoulders. The paramedics had gone about their work then, not seeing the incor stains or claw marks, just like the people around Byrne didn’t see them now. 

The hospital beeped and rustled soft-footed nurses rushing past her in a sea of pale blue and white, the doctors striding past with coats flapping, cocooned in their bubble of command.

She knew that feeling, the confidence of power, the rush of command, remembered it well from that lifetime when she’d wielded the might of a legion in her sister’s name. Remembered too the crushing despair when she held Nova’s body in her arms as the Imperial city burned around her, the strength of its armies laid to waste by her sister’s indiscretion.

And now…now she stood in a hospital ward while the Hordes paced beyond the Veil and her sister struggled to breathe. 

‘We were meant to do it better,’ Byrne said to herself. 

‘We will.’ Della wrapped a hand around Byrne’s arm, hugging it tight to her chest. ‘We know Tellamoth’s true face now, and I know once we complete the ritual, we’ll recognise it in the next life—’

Byrne ripped her arm out of Della’s embrace, horror stopping her heart, making her voice shrill. ‘What?’

The next life? Their lives were now the threat was here. There was no guarantee if they performed the ritual, committed themselves to another go at the Wheel that they would recall anything in another life. 

Byrne remembered the most out of all of them, fragments of memory and snippets of knowledge that pressed against her brain and haunted her nights. Every day the weight of it threatened to swallow her whole, every night she dreamed of blood and terror. And never did she remember enough or soon enough to prevent the same sorry tragedies. 

Even now, she recalled Della as she had been before, tall and statuesque, raven hair cascading down her back, arms banded in the golden marks of a priestess, screaming as the power of the universe pulled her apart molecule-by-molecule. 

Della reached for her again, big dark eyes soft but steady, hiding the thread of steel Byrne knew lurked behind. ‘It was Her last order Byrne.’ 

Byrne shuddered at the way Della’s voice seemed to echo when she used the Imperial ‘Her’, worked to push back the memories of echoing marble corridors and a sea of bowed heads as she stood to the left and two steps behind Nova. Pain and regret swamped her senses, made it difficult for her to concentrate on the here and now, and maybe Della knew that, counted on it even because her next words barely penetrated the haze of memory. 

‘Suun’s with Her now.’

Byrne ripped herself out of the memory. ‘No.’ The colour left her cheeks, she felt the blood drain to her feet but the dizzy rush didn’t stop her from spinning on her heel and sprinting down the corridor.


Don’t forget to check out the episode notes for more behind the scenes content.

Question time

What is Suun doing to Nova and what’s Byrne going to do about it? What kind of empire do you think Nova ruled?

[D&B Vol 01.] Episode 002

The lockers were crumpled and torn; doors shredded by massive talons and scorched by fire bolts, an entire row buckled around the impression of a body, the faded yellow paint smudged with blood. A lot of blood, and under it the shattered remnants of a sword, the rippling sunmetal dull and lifeless, splattered with the same blood that coated the lockers.

A trail of it led through the rest of the minefield,  a scarlet swath just big enough to have been made by her sister’s body. 

Byrne starred at it, hypnotised by the bright red, the way it wended through the charcoal and splinters that were the only remains of the heavy wooden benches and pooled in the ceramic crater at the end, before it continued into the showers.

Della’s hand tightened on hers, a silent gesture of comfort Byrne shook off, along with the dread spiralling in her gut.

Her boots made a solid clack on the tiles.

Where the locker room had been a battlefield, the showers with their half dozen spigots jutting from the wall and barest suggestion of privacy, where…not. There was a stillness, a sense of peace that struck her like a blade to the chest.

Fion stood at the end furthest from the door, arms crossed over her chest, the long blue tail of her mohawk snarled and blacked by the same blood crusting on Byrne’s own battleskirt. She looked up in a slow, jerky motion, like the effort to tear her gaze from whatever lay in the last cubicle hurt. Perhaps it did. Tears had made tracks on her face, long black lines of mascara running through the grime on her cheeks, and she had her thumb between her teeth, ripping into the nail until it bled. 

She stepped back at Byrne’s approach, pressing her back into the wall. Vaguely, Byrne was aware of Fion reaching out, of Della wrapping the other girl in her arms, but most of her attention was on the bloody tangle of limbs slumped under the shower. 

Suun knelt beside their sister, glowing hands over Nova’s chest, expression tight with strain as she fought to keep her alive. How much longer she could, Byrne didn’t know. Their sister was…mangled.

Nova’s legs were stretched out before her. One boot was gone, exposing the talon marks ripping her leg from calf to thigh, bone gleaming a stark white amidst bloody flesh, while her other leg…Byrne swallowed. 

The lower half was bent the wrong way, like someone had taken a sledgehammer to her sister’s shin, snapping it in the middle.

The damage continued the further up Byrne dragged her gaze. Nova’s golden battleskirt and the skintight armour underneath were shredded, the bloody marks in her sister’s skin too neat to have been made by claws. One shoulder hung awkwardly and there were just bones where her hand should have been, her forearm ending in an almost cauterised stump.

Nova’s head lolled but she straightened it, gazing at Byrne with eyes that had once blazed like the sun but were now a dull brown. Blood bubbled at her mouth, the froth trickling down her chin to drip onto her chest and pool around the shattered remnants of the golden medallion that should have protected her.

‘I told you.’ The words left Byrne’s mouth, ripe with the resentment and pain writhing in her chest. ‘When will you listen?’

Nova smiled, the expression revealing the gaping holes where her front teeth should have been. ‘In another lifetime sister.’

Resentment flared to anger and Byrne darted forwards, boots splashing in the mix of water and her sister’s blood as she crouched at Nova’s side. ‘This is another lifetime.’

 


Don’t forget to check out the episode notes for more behind the scenes content.

Question time

Thanks to everyone who sent me their suggestions after the last episode! You inspired me, although maybe not in the way you thought. Check out the episode notes to find out why I responded to your ideas the way I did.

Episode notes

Now, onto this episodes’s question!
I’m struggling a little bit with whether or not Nova lives. I thought it might be kinda cool if she survived but minus the hand and with issues walking. Or maybe it would be a greater tragedy if she died? What are your thoughts?

And hey, what do you think of Byrne’s comment that “this is another lifetime”?

 

[D&B Vol 01.] Episode 001

The staff drove through the demon’s chest with a wet crack. Dark blood splashed up the soldier’s leg, the thick black stuff sizzling on boots and flesh, the faint skin of magic that was her only armour no longer as strong as it had been at the start of the long battle.

She put her foot to the creature’s chest and yanked the end of the staff free. The crescent at the other end shone in the moonlight, sharp prongs black with the same blood that coated her arms and stained the short hem of her battleskirt.

The last faint screams of the dying filled the once-green field. The neat white lines Coach Oldfield had obsessed over were obliterated by talons and the blast tracks on spells, the goal posts broken where they weren’t piles of ash, the stadium seats crushed under the weight of demon steeds, massive bat-like wings shredded by her sister’s lightning.

The sun would rise soon, shredding the demons hard shells and serrated talons like a bull through fog, leaving another scarred battlefield in a town suddenly too full of battlefields.

A shimmer of bells teased her ears before the moonlight coalesced beside her.

‘Byrne?’ Della appeared out of the soft light, her best friend’s dark skin rendered darker by the grime and blood smeared across her broad cheeks and full lips. Della’s skirt and bodice were as stained as her own, but there was blood her gloves, soaking the white fabric a screaming red. ‘Nova needs you,’ she said.

Nova needs you not Nova wants you. The difference reopened the pit in her stomach, the one she’d been filling with demon corpses and the taste of blood.

She didn’t want to go, didn’t want to see what Tellamoth had done to her sister’s face, her body.

‘Byrne?’ There was sorrow in Della’s voice but steel too, something that said if she didn’t come, her best friend would make her.

Grip tightening on her staff, she gave Della her hand.

 


Don’t forget to check out the episode notes for an extra peek behind the scenes!

Question time

Okay, so the big question is who is Tellamoth? I have a few ideas but I’m looking for some more suggestions. So far, people seem to feel Tellamoth is a superior in the demon army but I’m not so sure. I’m also tossing up as to their gender.

What are your thoughts?