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 …
Zushi faded back into the bright kitchen and Zosa stepped forward, the knife in his left hand, now behind his back. The stranger leaned his staff against the wall and reached into his cloak. Zosa felt himself falling suddenly, his left foot somehow sinking into the floor. He went down to one knee, dropping the knife as he went, and looked down to see that a hole had opened up in the floor itself, right under his shadow. He thought he felt fingers around the sole of his foot, and as he saw Siri twist his arm, a bolt of pain shot up his leg as his foot was forcibly twisted.
Siri yanked his arm back out as Zushi gasped, reaching for him … only to be grabbed by an unseen hand and pulled forcefully to the ground. She bounced against Zosa and fell, her head landing hard on the floor, dazing her.
"Enough, magician!" Zosa yelled. "Give us a chance to parley, at least!"
"There will be no parley tonight," Siri said grimly, bringing a wicked curved silver blade from the inside of his robe.
The door in the hallway burst open again and the boy yelled, "What's going on out here?"
"Lock yourself in, boy!" Zosa cried out, his leg suddenly screaming with pain as the hole in the floor just as immediately closed on him, leaving him with just a stub under his knee. He fell to the floor, awash in his own blood.
"You've made me lose my concentration," Siri said with some annoyance. "This could get ugly now …"
Suddenly there was a pounding on the door. "Ter Zosa! Are you okay in there? We heard you yelling!"
"Oh, bother," Siri said. "All right, let's do this the hard way, then …"
The Morkai pulled himself completely into his cloak, which then fell flat on the floor. Zosa's teenaged son rushed out and stamped on it suspiciously before noticing his father's predicament and freezing in horror.
"Go to the bathroom," Zushi yelled at him, just then hearing grunts and the sound of men falling outside the door. "Get yourself through the chute to the basement! Go!"
"There won't be any time for that," Siri's voice returned. He was standing up, settling his cloak back on his shoulders. "Sorry for the delay. Had to deal with those two, and that means we're running out of time."
"What in the hells are you?" the younger Zosa cried out.
"Uninterested in you, boy," he said, whipping out with the staff and knocking the teen in the face. The younger Tomas fell down like a sack of goldenberries, his head landing near the locked door.
Wielding the blade again, this time stained with blood, Siri approached. "Let my wife and the boy go," Zosa pleaded. "Whatever I've done to wrong you, they are innocent."
"You're all innocent," Siri said, wiping the blood on the inside of his cloak. "I'd never heard of you before ten days ago, Tomas Galeri Zosa."
"Mmm, wh … whuuu?" the boy wondered, coming to.
Siri looked over, considering. "Tomas Galeri Zosa?" he asked.
"What?" the boy said, sitting up.
"Oh, that's clever," Siri smirked. "You were trying to protect him?"
Zushi had her kitchen knife in hand now. "You stay away from my son!" she yelled, barrelling at Siri with the knife slashing in front of her. Without hesitating, he dropped into the cloak again and she fell, slamming her shoulder into the wall over his empty cloak.
Siri walked out of the hallway, visibly annoyed. "That's it for you then," he said evenly, walking over to stand on her left wrist, causing her to drop the knife and cry out in pain. Siri grabbed a handful of her crinkly red hair and pulled, exposing her throat, which he then slashed, spraying blood all over the wall.
"NOOOOO!!!!!" the elder Zosa screamed. The world suddenly went gray as he watched, helplessly, while Zushi's precious life gushed out into the carpet. "No! No, no, no …"
Annoyed, Siri kicked Zosa in the face. "Oh, you'll be with her in a few minutes, if you'll all just shut up and let me work!" He pulled a small burlap sack from another hidden place inside his cloak and opened the drawstring, sprinkling a gray dust all over the younger Tomas' head. "Bello Chuum Shemlok De Magga…" Siri intoned ominously. The dust sparkled briefly as it settled on the boy, who just looked numbly up at the Morkai.
With one clean motion, he pushed his blade through the boy's chest, shoving the expiring form to the floor. He then took the curved blade and dropped it into the burlap bag, stuffing the entire affair into his robe.
Sobbing furiously, Zosa could only manage one word: "Why?"
"It's not personal, Ter Zosa," Siri said, glancing down. "Five years ago, someone named Tomas Galeri Zosa had a conversation with my wife's brother at a marketplace a few thousand wheels from here and my name crossed their lips. Now there are only two beings left alive who ever knew me or spoke to anyone about me before I became what you see today. Once I've killed the next one, I can have all I've ever dreamed of."
Zosa didn't seem to find that reasoning compelling, still sobbing and repeating, "why, why, why?" Bored of that, Siri set the staff down and kneeled, forcibly twisting Zosa's head until his neck snapped, silencing him. He stood, examining his handiwork, and nodded to himself before stepping into the hallway, finding the boy's door open. He closed the door, wrapped in the darkness of the space, and sank into the floor, disappearing completely.
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]