Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"Breath Of God," a Gods Of The Fall short story excerpt

Want to know what it’s like to live in the Afterworld, forty-two years after the gods died and the world was ruined? Read "Breath of God," a short story set in the Gods Of The Fall universe, where the world is broken. But a few still look for hope, stand up for what’s right, and try to redeem both themselves and their world.

The following is an excerpt from "Breath of God:"

He trudged along in the dust, pausing occasionally and adjusting the straps holding a massive book that rode his back like some mute ungainly infant. The road was deserted and bone-cold under the moon’s dreaming face. Dim light from the pearly glow surrounding the moon’s disk revealed dead trees, tumbled structures, and the ruins of a failed civilization in all directions except ahead, along the road.

Indignant trumpeting came from somewhere behind him. He looked around. An elephant was catching up to him, but was still far back along the dim track. The swaying lanterns on the carriage fixed to the beast’s back jolted with each step.

He shuffled to the road’s edge and took out his pipe. Red light flared as he set matchstick to tobacco brick. Smooth smoke gave him a moment’s peace from the tome’s weight as he watched the plodding beast advance.

When the elephant finally drew even, it stopped with a jingle of reins.

A craggy female face peered down at him from the sedan chair surmounting the carriage. “Need a ride, padi?”

“Padi? I’m no teacher. Call me Sabien.”

“My apologies. The book you bear . . .”

Sabien adjusted the straps, which were cutting into  his shoulders. “No. I do not instruct. But I’ll take that ride.”

“Two stars,” said the elephant driver. “For that, I will carry you all the way to Corso. Four stars, and you can ride in the carriage. It’s warmer.” The driver’s smile was ingratiating.

Sabien knocked the ashes from the bowl with a tap on his boot heel. “No carriage. I’ll ride with you.” The carriage driver let down a rope ladder, and Sabien joined the woman on the sedan chair. He counted out two gold coins into the driver’s gloved palm.

The driver pocketed her payment and twitched the reins. The elephant heaved into motion. He unbuckled the straps securing his burden, shrugged it around with a relieved sigh, and took the book’s weight in his lap. He leaned his head back against the cracked headrest, closing his eyes. The elephant’s dry, faintly sweet odor somehow made the chill air less biting.

“I’m Bolaz,” came the driver’s voice.

Sabien grunted, his eyes still closed. He hoped she would recognize his desire for silence—

“Lone travelers on the road between Corso and Somorrah are rare. Are you a trader?”

Sabien counted to three, then opened his eyes. “I have an appointment that is long overdue.”

“Oh?” Bolaz’s attention flickered from Sabien to his book.

How many stars to buy your indifference? Sabien wondered. But he grunted in acknowledgment.

“What’s it about? If you don’t mind my asking. It looks important.” The driver’s eyes lingered again on the weighty tome. It was bound between two sheets of blank, yellowish iron. Bolaz presumably couldn’t see the faint nimbus surrounding the book, a nimbus Sabien had only learned to see himself a year ago. The secret silver glow took the form of a single floating symbol: a gust of wind inscribed in silver that never tarnished. For all its beauty, the thing was heavy as guilt.

He rested one hand on the metallic cover. “Important? Yes. But also dangerous.” He guessed that Bolaz was nearing sixty. She’d known the gods before the Fall. Maybe she fondly recalled the magnificent time that Sabien, only eighteen, had never known. If so, perhaps she wouldn’t turn him over to the first Reconciliator they saw in Corso if he told her the truth.

Because, more than anything else, Sabien wanted to tell his story.


If you liked that, you can continue reading the "Breath of God" here.

Want to know more about Gods of the Fall, an RPG setting using the rules of the Cypher System? Get a copy for yourself, or at least check out the free preview here.