Creation - A Runi Tale


The junker, Duncan Quinn, unslung his pack and dropped it onto the workbench. It landed with a metallic clank and a wet squelch. An eyeball the size of a fist rolled out of it and leered up at Brumgren Alehammer.

Brumgren blanched. “What in the name of the gods is that?”

Duncan wiped a forearm across his brow, which was streaked with dirt and sweat. “Gormer’s eye.”

“Who’s Gormer?” The question came from the far corner of the room, where the scavo technomancer, Lash Stagmuck, sat at a table. He was hunched over a wooden bowl of something steaming, a fisted spoon poised midair. A large, green pickle lay beside the bowl.

“A hill giant who thought a stone club was a match for a wyrm’s claws,” the junker replied. He glanced at the door to the workshop. “Legion’s maybe half a league out. Pekmip and the others are buying us some time, but it won’t be much.” He turned to Brumgren and nodded his chin at the eye. “Can you make it work?”

Brumgren snorted. “I’m a rune crafter. I can make anything work. What else you got for me?”

Duncan upended the pack, and dented plates of steel armor hemmed in ragged red cloth clattered onto the workbench. “Belonged to some fellow who was going on about being the hero the people needed… right before the Legionnaires had their way with him. Didn’t put up much of a fight, but I figured his armor will do well enough. In the end, I suppose he was the hero we needed after all.”

Brumgren scowled. “Where’s the weapon? And what am I supposed to use for a bloody power core?”

Duncan shrugged. “Legionnaires took the sword, and I wasn’t gonna hang around and find another. Like I said, there’s not much time. I figured you’d have something left we could use.”

Brumgren threw his arms wide. “Have a look around, junker. I’ve used every damn scrap you brought me. We’re tapped out.”

The walls and ceiling, made from the trunks of trees, were bare of all but dust and stains. The floor was hard-packed earth, also bare. All that was left was the workbench, the three Riftwatchers, and Duncan’s pack of spare parts.

Lash slurped down a spoonful of soup, smacked his lips, and sighed.

Duncan glared at him. “How can you be eating at a time like this?”

“If I is gonna go down in a blaze of glory,” the technomancer said, “may well be on a full belly.” He ate another spoonful. “Last meal: a bowl of squash soup and the juiciest pickle this side of the Wild Wall.” He picked up the pickle. “I die a happy scavo, ya ken?” He licked his lips and opened his mouth.

“Wait,” Brumgren said. “Don’t eat that. I have an idea.”

The junker and the technomancer turned to him.

Brumgren tugged at his beard. “I told you I can make anything work.”

An explosion erupted somewhere in the distance outside the workshop. The clang of steel and cries of battle followed.

“Sounds like Chaos is here,” Duncan said. “You sure you can pull this off, Brum?”

Brumgren nodded.

“Then I’ll hold them off for as long as I can. If I get killed, I’m blaming you.” With that, he raced for the door, threw it open, and ran outside.

The forest to the south was burning. Black smoke roiled from the treeline and filled the sky. The scene contrasted with the sweet scent of pine. Another explosion boomed, and the ground shook.

The workshop was in a clearing surrounded by a handful of other makeshift buildings constructed of felled trees and thatched roofs. Duncan barreled around the corner of a squat, single-story structure. Ahead, a handful of Riftwatchers stood in a cluster. Among them was a female battle mage with long, red hair. A satchel hung at her hip.

Duncan raced toward her and grabbed her by the shoulder. She cried out and jumped in surprise.

“Ready your magic,” Duncan said, trying to catch his breath. “We have to hold them.”

She glanced down at her satchel and frowned.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m spent,” she said. “I’ve summoned all I can. I need to rest.”

Duncan’s broad shoulders slumped. “Do you have a weapon or something?”

She bent and drew a dagger from her boot. By the looks of it, they were in big trouble if anything more fierce than potatoes in need of peeling burst from the treeline.

To the Riftwatchers, he said, “You lot, split into two groups. Half of you head east, the other half west. Wait at the treeline. When the Legion sees you, run like you’ve got a coeurl on your heels. Run into the forest, then circle back. We just need to buy enough time for Brum and Lash to finish.”

“Is it almost ready?” the battle mage asked.

“Aye,” Duncan said and hoped he was right.

“What do we do?”

Duncan pressed his lips into a thin line. “We make our stand at the workshop.” He glanced at her dagger. “Get ready to poke something.”

The sounds of battle grew closer. Cries of anger mixed with those of anguish. The wind blew hot. Smoke filled the air.

The first of the Riftwatchers burst from the treeline. Lakit Pekmip, the technowizologist, was among them. His white hair blew wildly atop his head.

“The Legion’s coming!” he shouted. “Is it ready?”

“Almost,” Duncan called out. “Spread out and take over. We need to stall them.”

The thrashing of underbrush, and the Chaos Legion’s forces erupted from the woods and spilled into the clearing with a primal roar. The Riftwatchers fled before them, dodging and weaving through the buildings and disappearing into the trees.

“Run,” Duncan said.

He and the battle mage turned and ran back toward the workshop. But when they rounded the corner, the door was closed. No sign of Brumgren, Lash, or their creation.

“Where is it?” The battle mage’s words were high and clipped.

“It doesn’t matter,” Duncan said. He turned to face the Chaos Legion. “We’ll fight, and we’ll die with honor. And maybe somewhere, someone will avenge us.”

The Legion charged toward them. Warriors in armor of gold, black, and silver. Countless others, beast and men and women alike, all culled from conquered realms and enlisted into the ranks of Chaos.

“Come and get some!” Duncan hollered. He raised his fists. The battle mage pointed her little dagger. The blade shook in her hand.

The Chaos Legion’s warriors stumbled, their feet kicking up dust as they stuttered to a stop. They stared with wide eyes. Duncan furrowed his brow and looked from the battle mage’s daggers to his fists. Then he glanced over his shoulder.

The door to the workshop stood open. In the entryway was a construct born of the components Duncan had gathered and the rune crafter and technomancer had brought to life: a Runicore. The armor of the fallen hero floated several feet above the ground, its ragged, red cloth fluttering. Atop the armor, Gormer’s eye hung suspended in a swath of cloth wrappings. At the center of the armor was the power core: Lash Stagmuck’s unfinished bowl of squash soup. And in its gauntleted hand, the Runi held the juiciest pickle this side of the Wild Wall.

It sped past Duncan and the battle mage, straight into the Chaos Legion’s warriors. The pickle flared with runic energy as the construct slammed it into the face of a slender red elf. Blood sprayed. The elf’s body fell. Another swing of the pickle, and another body fell. And another.

With a wild cry, the Riftwatchers raced toward the battle, converging on the Chaos Legion from all sides.

The battle mage cocked her head. “Oh, I gotta get me one of those.”

Duncan grinned and winked at her. “We can arrange that.”

Then he let out a warcry and charged.

Stay tuned for more updates from the Splinterlands!

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That artwork has me catched. I enjoy so much all the new vibe and arts 🙌


Laughs sound like they killed the Hero of Beyond and took his parts for scrap metals and so the Hero of Beyond became a runicore with a pickle




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