Well, I finally finished the second chapter in Shattered! I was able to squeeze the last few words out between classes and the many papers that English classes require you to pump out. I am going to apologize for any grammatical errors, as I did minimal editing. This is only the second draft, and is actually written from scratch, so bear with me! I’m going to break it up into two parts so that it’s not too much to read all at once. I know how hard it is to stick through a long post on the internet, so I’ll keep them short and sweet. Enjoy! :)
Day came, throwing new shadows on the city. The sky stayed a murky gray, covering the otherwise cheerful face of the sun with a stubborn curtain. That, though, was nothing new. Ever since the city had fallen into what Wrath could only call hell, there had been no real sunlight to speak of, only the dark dream-light of a deep winter.
From Wrath’s standpoint in the balcony of the central tower in the palace, he could view the expanse of the city. His eyes flicked from ruined square to ruined square, keeping an eye out for once-men. He had no need for sleep, so he kept watch during the day. The daylight was far more dangerous than the night. Why? Things were awake during the day, and they were things that a man did well to leave alone. The city lay still and the bodies of old victims from both the war and Wrath lay scattered in the street, rotting. The small homes and markets were in ruin. Remnants from old battles and assaults on the people that had once lived there. To the north, Wrath’s right, a monstrous mountain rose into the sky with everything above the mid-section hidden behind a layer of clouds. Wrath recalled that the truly wealthy men of the city had lived further up the mountain in palaces like kings during the Elder Days. There was no longer a path leading up there, but it had been a very prestigious place to live in, had you had the coin to live there of course.
A scream, if it could be called that, echoed through the streets, most likely from the throat of a once-man. What it was fighting, Wrath could not tell. There were no other sounds but that of the creature having its insides spilled. Wrath was beyond cringing at such sounds. For whatever reason, the things that hunted the once-men did not like entering buildings, so he had heard plenty of these slaughters in his time whilst living in this hellish city. Most once-men seemed to go into hiding like Wrath during the day, yet there were a few stupid ones that would chance the occasional trip out of doors, often finding that their decision would, in fact, be their last.
So far, Wrath’s little home here in the palace was safe. No unwelcome creatures had wandered in as of yet and he was happy to keep it that way. The reason for his watchfulness during the day. Some days he would stand until night time came, to pick his sword back up and head out into the streets to shorten the population count of these monsters. Others, he would sit in his room quietly, dreaming of older memories, hiding from the world. He was safe here, but this had not been his first sanctuary. In fact, he had been through dozens before coming to this one. He did not know how long he had been here, but he did know that it was far longer than he had been with past locations. There was something about it that made creatures and unwelcome spirits from passing through its doors.
Wrath turned to face his wife. She was dressed in the same white gown that he had seen her in earlier. He momentarily forgot about the killings outside and smiled, his arms outstretched, ready to embrace her. Rachel did not return the gesture, but instead continued with her face blank, “Where are the children?”
Wrath looked at her as if in confusion, but then snapped out of it, smiling all the wider.
“They are right here, love.” He said, moving one arm to his left to indicate the children standing there. Four in all, two boys and two girls. Rachel, who was named after her mother, Bethany, Theo, and Tyron. They all stood next to him, oldest to youngest, their beautiful faces were glowing with smiles at the sight of their mother. They rushed to her and embraced her around the waist shouting in unison, “You’re back mother!”
“Did you enjoy the ball?” Tyron asked, his blue eyes gleaming.
“Were all the ladies as beautiful as you said?” Rachel said at the same time. She seemed to have trouble keeping her hair out of her eyes as usual, constantly brushing it aside.
“How pretty you look, mother!” Bethany laughed.
Theo merely laughed and tugged at the hem of his mother’s dress, jumping up and down excitedly.
Wrath watched them all embrace each other, none of them paying him the slightest attention. He did not mind, though. They were happy, he could see it in their faces and their eyes. He laughed along with them, heartily.
Rachel looked back up at Wrath, smiling. “I’m glad to see that they are safe, darling. Did you have any troubles watching them?”
Wrath shook his head, no.
She clapped once, hands over her head, “Good! How about we get you all ready for dinner? Though not a drip of the healthy stuff tonight! How does a full course of desserts sound?”
All the children cheered at this news, jumping up and down with the folds of their mother’s dress in their small hands. Their faces were pure excitement, smiles dominating their features.
Rachel turned and led the children out of the bedroom toward the dining room in the palace, leaving Wrath alone, smiling.
He was left alone, chuckling to himself, happy to see the children laughing. They did not often, not with him and Rachel being so busy all the time. It was a hard life, but it had established a living. A good one at that, too.
The laughter of the children echoed from the hall like birds in a tree. So young. Being their father, he decided that he should share the course of deserts that the children were looking forward to so eagerly. After all, this was such a rare evening where both mother and father were home.
However, he never left his place. He felt his body tense, he stood straighter and focused his attention on a person standing in front of him. Randyl, was his name, and a dear friend.
Gold hair fell in thick curls over a broad forehead and blue eyes blinked furiously, something that he did when irritated. A thick beard made his face seem more fierce than comely, even though the spirit behind the eyes was nothing short of compassionate. Now, however, compassion was not something that he was feeling. His broad shoulders were lifting and his thick arms were flailing around in front of Wrath, making it known that he was not happy.
“We can’t keep doing this, Wrath! The wall is taking far too long to complete and the council is getting restless. They need this finished. The population of the city is getting too large for the city to sustain! They need some place to move!” He complained, straining to keep his voice level and composed, “ We are suppose to finish in six months. At the rate that we are going, we won’t finish for another three years!”
“It will hold, and we will finish on time.” Wrath said, “ Have I failed this job yet? I may be hardheaded, but that does not mean that I won’t finish what I need to do. Trust me.”
“I already do trust you.” Randyl said, though without calming, “But tell me this: Where are you going to get the rest of the funds? You said that investing in a stronger stone would help, but our funds are running dry. What do you plan to do about the growing population?”
“Maybe the city would like to donate. If they are so desperate to get out of each other’s squares, then maybe they would like to help. The population will even out like it always does. Babies are born, the elderly die. Maybe we can expand on the volunteer military that we have. That will exterminate a few more mouths.”
“Everyone pays enough already. We just need to finish! Not to mention the soldiers are tired of fighting the monsters in the forest. We lose plenty of men already, we don’t need our volunteers to die as well. You sound cold!”
“They will hold.” Wrath sighed. “Please, let me have my evening. We shall get it figured out. What can be the harm of a few young, overly eager fellows getting snuffed? Maybe it will make people respect what we do more. As I said, we shall get this figured out.”
“For our sakes, I hope that you do. There is nothing I despise more than a man who can not handle his own work.” Randyl’s hands curled, almost as if he was going to say something further, but instead he turned and left, taking the tension in the room with him.
Wrath relaxed when the man left. The last thing that he wanted to deal with was another issue with that damn wall. If there was something that he resented about his father, it was the position of authority that he had left behind. There was always something needing to be done yesterday. It was enough to make him turn gray at thirty.
But right now, he wanted sleep. He was sure that he had been about to do something before Randyl had interrupted. Wrath shook his head, and pressed a palm to his forehead gingerly. He was so tired. So, very tired. He wished that he could sleep forever, never to waken. That was impossible, however. Something told him that it was so, though he wasn’t sure what it was. For now, he would have to make do with the temporary sleep that came so much easier these days. After all, it was an escape.