Our newest content partner is a company with quite powerful portfolio. LA-based Stranger Comics hasn't even hit the market with their flagship property The Untamed and Hollywood came knocking, with powerhouses like Lloyd Levin (Watchmen) and Andrew Sugerman (Shopgirl) signing on to adapt. With a richly developed swords and sorcery world populated by a much more diverse cast of elves, dwarves and monsters than your average fantasy fare, they're rolling out a slate of properties including blog-first short fiction called Grimoires. We're proud to present that material here … welcome to the world of Asunda.
Fichiki Siri is a Morkai, a member of a race of "silver" or dark elves who are normally recognized for their magical ability by how much of their dark skin is streaked with silver pigmentation. Siri, however, is almost completely Black, save a streak of silver hair and three horizontal stripes across his chest. Many years ago, he made a pact with Magga, goddess of the moon. His part of the deal? He has to murder everyone who ever knew him or whoever knew anyone he knew, removing every possible trace of his history from the world, sacrifices to Magga. What will he get in return? Immortality. This is one of those stories …
Noma was a coastal city on the south east coast of Zalador, known for the balmy breezes that blew across its characteristic green limestone shores and docks. The verdant rock was almost more common than dirt in this region, and served as a foundation for the architecture and visual coherency of the area. The waves broke against the whitish green stone structures of the coastline relentlessly, never winning their eternal battle against the folly of sentience.
Dusk approached on this particular day, called Plor's Day, fifty-eighth day in the Season of Yemqu, and the townspeople busied themselves with the end of their work and preparations to find a place to wait through the darkness. The brightness of the day was fine for everyone, but both brigands and mysteries called the darkness of night home, and most people found themselves much happier locked behind iron and wood and limestone, daggers at the waist should their fortifications prove inadequate.
Along the docks, one voice could be heard bellowing orders even as far as forty wheels away. Tomas Zosa stood in the back of a flat cart drawn by two huge domesticated feline creatures called azueres, slick blue fur smoothed back by their groomers, standing seven feet tall at their shoulder. He wore a simple black vest and a white linen shirt with flared sleeves and a wide, open collar. A hirsute human, his jowly cheeks evidenced the prosperous nature of his business while the retreat of his thinning hair from his tanned forehead showcased his advancing age. His handlebar mustache remained robust as he yelled at the workers situated below.
"Dammit, Targ, lift your end of that gods-damned crate or I'll let Kior have your share of wages!" Zosa yelled. "Move lively, men, and there's ale for the lot of you at the Rusty Spike … if you're there by six bells! Sundown's at six thirty, ye'll have time for a stiff drink before facing those cows you call wives!"
Chuckles mixed with groans at that, and the men pushed hard to strap down tarps over some crates while loading others onto more azuere-drawn carts. Within moments, seven carts, including Zosa's, were filled with crates and moving towards the nearby warehouse, a short distance above the docks along a curving lime gravel path. Unbeknownst to them, almost exactly forty wheels northwest, a lone Morkai sat, his long lean legs clad in loose black pants, hanging over the edge of the pier. For all intents and purposes, he looked like he was simply watching the rise and fall of the water as the light of day retreated behind him.
However, closer examination would note that his head, covered in a cloud of matted hair that spiked and stranded at odd angles, was always cocked in Zosa's direction, and his eyes never once looked towards the water. His right hand lie behind him, fingers over a long straight black staff that lie flat on the pier, concealing it unless you were standing nearby. That section of the pier had considerable damage — pockmarked surfaces from the claws of many azueres or the dropping of too many heavy loads in days long past. It was considerably less trafficked than Zosa's berths, and that suited this solitary figure just fine.
Zosa's caravan of carts was inside the warehouse before the Morkai stood, picking up his staff as his sweeping black robe swallowed his lean frame. The brisk wind off the water wasn't cold, but he still pulled his hood over his head, a smirk creasing the dark surface of his face. Carefully he walked towards a dilapidated wooden shack, now frayed and bleached from the sun and the surf, and made his way behind it … disappearing from view completely.
An hour later, as the workmen filed out of the claustrophobic, smoky environs that were the wood-paneled bar, Zosa sat nursing his drink. He looked around as he heard the bells toll their ritual boom to signify the dying of the light and he drained his cup in one motion. He knew his wife Zushi and that layabout son would be upstairs in the special suite he reserved for the week days, and he was anxious to get upstairs and into her arms. From her glorious crown of red hair to the delicate curves of her waist and fullness of her bosom and hips, she was worth the long days, haggling with merchants and ship captains, as well as the interminable sound of the ocean which haunted him into his dreams. Setting a bag of shimmers on the counter to settle up for what his men had enjoyed, Zosa stumbled towards the stairs, never looking over at the darkened corner of the bar where the stranger sat, his long staff perched against the wall behind him, a flagon of mead sitting untouched on the table.
Asunda Grimoires will enjoy a limited run Mondays at 11:11 AM until Mike Sales' Southside Nefertiti returns in February. Any similarity between the last name of the character above and a software product currently used in Apple's iOS for iPhones is purely coincidental as these stories were originally published before that software was released.
[Source: Stranger Comics]