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  • Writer's pictureDalton Daily

Empires of Smoke: Prologue

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

It wasn’t fair.

There wasn’t anyone left in the graveyard beyond myself and the dead. The funeral had been wrapped up, Mother had to have been dragged away. Those damn vultures were far too keen to get away from here. Perhaps they knew they were being judged, every second they remained in this place. Or perhaps they simply wanted to get to the reception inside the manor so they could eat and gossip. It didn’t really matter in the end. The only thing that mattered was right in front of me.

The mausoleum, its door sealed shut. Until either Mother passes or I do. Then we would be carried in as well, our bodies framed with silk in coffins of oak. Prepared like dolls by the embalmers, so that we looked as pretty as possible. Wearing our finest clothes and jewelry, to wither and rot, sealed away in the dark.

Father and Max were in there. It would have been the most tortuous of experiences if they could experience anything at all. They couldn’t though. They weren’t really in there at all. Just their remains. Stitched together so they were at least whole to put in there.

Perhaps they would have cared if they were alive. Perhaps it was respecting the last wishes of those who didn’t exist anymore. It still didn’t matter, because, in the end, they would be pieces again. The flesh would rot, the stitches come undone, they would be bones, and then eventually even those would disintegrate. Even the stone of the mausoleum would be reduced to nothing.

It still hurt. The knowledge that they were both truly gone. Father, so stern, so expecting, yet still cared so deeply. Max, oh smart, kind Max, who just wanted to change the world.

It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t fair, it wasn’t fair. That not just one of them be taken, but both of them at the same time? What had they done to deserve this? What cruel God had they angered to be cursed in such a way?

There would have been more tears, but I had cried them all out well before this point. It just hurt. The injuries still hurt. The burns covered part of my torso, neck, and jaw. Even the prosthetic, with its bronze gears and bits, hurt with the phantom pains of my lost arm.

The pain wasn’t going to go away. A permanent reminder of the accident. A reminder of what had happened. My teeth ground together. Pulling the prosthetic arm back, the false digits curled into something that could only be described as a mace. Then it shot forward, slamming into the marble of the mausoleum with a deafening clang. A few sparks flew into the air, shards of brilliant white that rapidly faded and vanished.

A lance of sharp, hot agony ran from my stump up my shoulder and down my torso. With no other way to express it, I screamed. A loud, hoarse cry tore its way from my throat and out my mouth. Reverberating through the graveyard like a banshee's wail.

It wasn’t fair.

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