Fiction written by our participants in the Malifaux Narrative League.
by Jon Barmore
As the first light of dawn reaches its long fingers through the streets of Malifaux, the labored breathing of Shenlong’s new students fills the alleyways. Their training does not wait for the warmth of daytime; push ups, stretches, stances, and sparring. All day, all night. Sensei Yu is watching them with a heavy glare. For some reason, this season’s new recruits look worse than last year’s! He’ll have to double down on the harshness of his training to scare off those that aren’t truly committed to the cause. He’d rather have no students, than to have weak ones. The familiar din of grumbling students is broken by the shouts of Newsie Mac. Assuming the students will do just as bad without him there, Yu yells some stern, but encouraging words at them and steps out of the alley. “Boy, bring me a paper!” He bellows. As young Mac whips his glance towards the beckoning man, he sees a small copper coin flying through the air towards him. The small, square hole in the center gives it a distinctive whistle as it flies. Mac catches the coin with a practiced snap of his hand, as his other arm is already tossing a rolled up newspaper to the monk. “Yessir!” Sensei Yu casually glances at the paper and begins reading the headlines. His eyebrow raises as he begins to absorb the implications of what is going on. “I must tell Shenlong” he mutters to himself. “Students! We are returning to the temple...” A few gasps of relief pass through the young men before Yu finishes what he means. “...and your training will get harder. The future of the Ten Thunders just got more interesting”
By Scott Williams
Lord Cooper slams a mechanical fist against his desk, causing today’s issue of the Malifaux Gazette to fly up and scatter across the room. “Damn! I thought we would have more time to delve into this area on our own” Cooper utters outloud. The two large Bloodhounds at Cooper’s feet immediately jump up, noses sniffing for threats, at the sound of the outburst. “Easy now, you two. Our prey is not in here.”
Cooper reaches down to the larger of the two canines, Ullr, and gives him a scratch behind his overlarge ears. Sitting back down, Justin Cooper sprawls a large paper map of the newly discovered section of Malifaux City across his desk. Using a few rounds of .950 caliber ammunition to hold the corners down, he scans what little the map actually reveals.
Recalling some of the reports he has heard he traces his fingers several rooms down from the entrance where the map stops. “Alright then. Let us go and see where our prey takes us from here.” He then moves his finger further out onto the map, into the empty area beyond that last room, and with quill and red ink, draws a prominent “X”. Sure of this decision, Cooper raises a cigar to his lips and lights it.
Peering across the walls of his office, chock full of trophies from past hunts brought over Earthside, he rests his gaze upon a large clearing in the wall. The huge void of space among the gazelles, lions, stags, and elephant that stands out like the last piece missing from a complex jigsaw puzzle. Cooper inhales on his cigar, the orange amber glow illuminating his glasses, “Soon” he mutters out loud.
As he exhales the aromatic smoke, his eyes jump to the rifle hanging above the fireplace. The rifle, almost as long as Cooper is tall, seems to be an extension of Cooper’s being. The instrument that executes decades of experience in Cooper’s tracking, hunting, and bushcraft skills.
“Soon” he speaks to the rifle, as if answering an unasked question from it.
Cooper leans back, creaking in the large leather chair. He rests his hands across his chest, interlocking his metal fingers, eyes raised to the ceiling. As plans and strategies formulate in his head, he hears the almost silent footsteps of Model 9 coming down the hall. As the black metal construct enters Cooper’s office, its metal frame lithely moving across the massive bear skin rug, makes no sound. It stops just short of the large oak desk. As it stops, perfectly still, it tilts its head to the right, quizzically. As if to say “what are your orders, sir?”
Cooper looks at the large red X on the construct’s head, most frequently seen through the scope on his Nitro Express rifle, and grins.
“Get the boys together, 9, and take Artemis with you. We are going on an expedition. Be sure you go by “It’s” pen. I want to make sure she has its scent before we go tracking. She needs to know the difference.”
The smaller framed and agile bloodhound gets up and exits the room at the mention of her name, as if she already knows what she is to do. Model 9 seems to nod his head in a bow to Lord Cooper, and turns to follow the loping dog out of the room.
Cooper walks over to the rifle and with one hand snatches it from the mantle. It’s weight and balance all too comfortable in his hands.
He looks down at Ullr, whose excitement at seeing the rifle in his master’s hands knows what this means. “C’mon boy, we’re going for a little walk.”
And after flicking his cigar into the fire, Lord Justin Cooper follows his bounding dog Ullr out of the office toward the bellowing orders of his Vatagi Huntsmen.