[fiction] Entry 0, the Journal of Sergei Romanova:

I’m hunting Guggies… Alone, because that’s how I operate. I am Sergei Romanova.

I’m a shinobi, better known, but incorrectly, as a ninja, destroyer and last survivor of my adoptive clan. At least, I think I am. I’m not certain of anything but my skill. My memory of my past is foggy, my origins a mystery. Part of me hopes they remain so, as my only recent memories are those of protecting my charge Marie, and travelling with the band of monster hunters I’m now part of.

But my skill… The empirical evidence of the trail of bodies I leave after a fight, bodies once belonging to those stupid enough to cause trouble for our band…and Marie…speaks more of skill than any amount of boasting will ever do.

The Guggies, horrid, filthy, cannibal giants, once attacked my fellow hunters and I. We made short work of them, unsurprisingly, despite their toughness.

Toughness is good. Even when it’s not mine. Things that are hard to kill make slaying them more challenging.

I’m looking for the hold the giants we killed came from. Surely there must be more of them, in this part of Dream. I’ll solve that problem once I locate and eliminate them. I come upon something else in my search, a group of scavengers feasting on their kill. Did I say scavengers? Yes. But these have no problems with making living creatures into dead ones, and they prefer their meat ripe after pickling it a bit in brackish water for months. I hate these things. The first monsters I remember killing upon meeting Marie.

Marie… The young girl I’m bound to protect at all costs. She looks oddly familiar, though I can’t place why. I resist the impulse to stop and destroy the scavengers, and press on, to save my strength for the Guggies.

I can feel the bond with Marie, and our sorceress Angel, in the back of my mind. I note it briefly and move on. I’ll reestablish full contact once my mission is accomplished. Both of them are out of danger right now, and even if not, neither could ever rightly be called helpless, not even by my standards. Angel is the older and more powerful of the two, and one of the few I know worthy of my respect, but Marie? Something about her, despite her youth, frightens me more than Angel does, even in the latter’s avatar of Kali transformation.

But fear is the drug of the weak, and I press further in my search.

I’m at a system of caverns now, with the tell-tale signs of Guggie occupation…Bones, whole skeletons stripped of flesh with bite marks on them, some of them Guggies eaten by their fellows. I wonder how the species given to such tendencies could continue to survive, then I note the malformity and lameness the skeletons show, along with rotting animal carrion, and more skeletons, freshly picked, and human. Those must have been victims of the town where we destroyed the giants, and their shaman. I look at a passage, recently excavated by giant paws.

Excellent.

I have found them. I reach to the twin blade sheathes on my back and draw forth my swords, blackened with special paint to prevent the glint of metal from catching the attention of my quarry before I strike, and procede along the trail of refuse…

Somebody shall die this night, and it very likely won’t be me. I hope they put up a fight before catching a blade to the throat…

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