Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Reckoning - Part 2: A CRYPTS Short Story

Cairo took a deep breath through his his mouth tasting the air of the crypts. It had a bitter aftertaste to it that he was very familiar with, and he knew it meant they were going in the wrong direction. Cairo had given up his protests many hours ago after their boss; some Order girl called Claire, repeatedly and often told him to mind his own business.

Cairo was a big man, barrel chested with arms to match. His dark skin and love of golden jewellery had lead people to think he was of Egyptian decent. Cairo had grown up on stories of ancient gods, loving each and every one and before arriving at New Fairbank had spent four years interning at the British Museum, taking the opportunity to learn all he could about the mysterious history of Ancient Egypt. Cairo used all he had learned to further the myth that he was Egyptian and it was not long before he had adopted his name leaving his birth title long forgotten to all but him.

Cairo had been in the crypts many times. He knew many things, most importantly he knew the smells.

It had quickly become obvious to Cairo that every part of the crypts had a different smell depending on what lived within. He knew that the demonic areas smelled of burning sulphur, a smell he could never understand as the demons themselves never smelt of it, and I matter how hard he searched he never found the source.

Cairo also knew that the undead areas smelt of a strange combination of damp, rot and dust. It was a warm taste that brought back memories of his time at the museum. The posse was searching for undead, but this smell did not bring back fond memories at all.

Throughout the crypts you would find strange beings that didn't fall under the main categories, these had all been lumped together into one group; The Brood. Cairo knew that despite their differences, all members of The Brood shared the same characteristics; the smell of cold fear, and a taste of panic laced with hopelessness.

This smell was different to all of the others. It was acrid with the taste of bad coffee the morning after a long night drinking. This was the smell of the Skittering Shadow, the Vermin.

Cairo carried two weapons with him; a double barrelled shotgun and a large two handed sword. He had never learned the art of sword fighting, or even how to properly fire a gun. He had learned the basics through trail and error, and the many scars that covered his torso revealed how most of these lessons were learned via more error than trial.

Cairo's tactics were straightforward and interestingly effective. He didn't bother aiming for weak spots or vulnerable positions. He never messed with parries and guarding. He would hit fast and hard, if the Beasty was still standing, he would hit it again and again until eventually only one of them was left and the other nothing more than a bloody pulp. If that didn't work, a shotgun blast to the face at close range was always effective.

Cairo grinned to himself as he saw Claire setting off down the wrong tunnel of the crypt. He cared not that she risked his life by going the wrong way, only that she risked her own as he knew when it came to loot distribution there would only be one returning to the surface and that was what counted.

Behind both Cairo and Claire stumbled Brute, now here was a pathetic excuse for a man, thought Cairo to himself. They had walked for many hours within the crypts, they had long left the mines and early grave sites and were now approaching the hives, but despite all of this this man was somehow still intoxicated despite not drinking a drop of liqueur after leaving camp. The man stumbled about while continuously muttering about some lady of luck all the while talking to his revolver when no one else would listen to him.

Cairo thought about how simple it would be to break every one of their necks before they even realised what was happening and with a sly smile he allowed this thought to rest a moment longer.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

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