Legal Theft Project: Battlefield Mud

She blinked. The dead were not supposed to do that. She blinked again, but the corpse kept moving. She scrambled back, reaching for her fallen sword. Around her, more fallen were starting to stir. The dead from both sides of the battlefield were rising in jerky movements. The soldiers in her company drew together and backed away from the rising horror. Bad enough to be too hot, to be fighting until you dropped, to square off around your fallen friends, now they were rising, and they were turning on you. Regardless of side, the risen dead were turning on her people. The enemy seemed equally off balance, but the dead were not attacking them and so some brave souls pressed forward with them.

This meant a mage. It was hard to take controlled breaths and narrow her focus to battlefield necessities. She wouldn’t be the only one who would be trying to find them. She was just the one with the best chance of finding them. She hacked her way out of the battlefield to the outskirts of the engagement area. Some soldiers were fleeing, her side taking losses which then shuddered and rose to turn on their former allies. Thankfully they weren’t very good. But there were more of them all the time and slow and stupid could still kill you. She darted off down the path, circling round the edges of the enemy line. There were a few sentries, but most were distracted by the sounds and action on the battlefield and she slipped by. One of the benefits of leather armor over chain or plate. Less noise to give you away.

She saw the mage standing on a slight rise, before the sun, explaining why they hadn’t spotted him before. He was chanting as a score of prisoners knelt around him. All were bleeding from gashes in their left arms. She focused on narrowing her view again. No use raging, more use attacking. Unfortunately there wasn’t any cover which meant the handful of guards around the rise would see her coming. She had to stop the mage regardless. She shifted to get a better view and her foot slipped in the soft soil. She looked down at the dirt and gravel. There was more than one way to halt a spell.

She sheathed her sword and unclipped her waterskin. Twisting off the cap, she damped some of the earth around her feet. Putting the waterskin away, she knelt and gathered up loose gravel and damp earth. Mudball in hand, she scanned the surroundings, she would need to be a good shot.

She got as close as she dared and stood up, launching the mud ball at the mage and following it with a charge. The guards shouted and leaped to halt her progress and the mud ball sailed just off center of the mage’s mouth. Whether it was the impact or the unexpected taste of mud in his mouth, the mage faltered, and with that single hesitation, the spell shattered. The mage collapsed under the backlash of the sundered spell.

Job done, she turned and ran. The tide of battle would be turning and she needed to lead some of her squad back to that hill.


This first line has been stolen by opportunistic thieves. Keep an eye out for those blinkers!

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Legal Theft Project: Sun Fall

The rage surging across her skin was probably making her stupid, funny how she didn’t care. She was glad Jo was on watch. Jo would have struck someone by now. Lara took a step forward into the watery sunlight streaming in from the council room’s skylight. She threw her hand out and raked it to the side gesturing to the whole room. “We’ve lost too many, to walk away. Sisters, brothers, friends – and now you ask us to run? We are not losing our-”

Her father cut her off with a cold word. “Yes. We’re losing.”

“We will if we-”

“No.”

Lara bit her lip to keep from screaming and took comfort in Callen’s quiet presence a step back and to her left. Across from her, her father continued. “We’re losing and if we don’t want to lose everything, the three of you are going to run. And hide. And stay hidden. No last ill considered attempts to avenge your losses on the enemy before you die-”

Lara turned to the man on her father’s left. “What did you tell him Azazael? Did you see us dead? Are you running scared?”

“LARA.” Her father glowered at her. Callen stirred to put a hand on her shoulder. Azazael lowered the cowl of his white robes and looked at Lara. “You’re the ones with the best chance.”

Even through her anger, Lara could see how weary the seer was. They were all weary. Weary was the inevitable side effect of fighting for your life for fifteen years. Weary meant you weren’t dead. Azazael stepped back and Lara’s father ran a hand over his face. Lara felt cold inside, her father looked… lost.

“Those of us here.” He gestured to the council members standing back from the confrontation, all of them powerful, all of them old. “We have no choice but to fight. It’s in our blood and we are too old to fight fate for more free will. But you three. You aren’t restricted. You’re still young enough in power to make your own choices. Azazael can’t see his own future, but he knows the three of you have a good chance of making it out. So yes, we are asking you to run from this battle. We are asking you to carry the entire weight of this war on your shoulders for years. We are asking you to watch us die. And then carry on living. Then one day, to start the fight again. And believe me, I would not ask this of you if I had any other choice.”

Lara drew closer to Callen. Silence hang heavy at her father’s pronouncement. It was the first time she’d heard him admit that they could not come back from this. That in this case, the dark seemed victorious.

“You let them win?” she asked. “Let them overturn everything? THEM?”

A long moment passed before Azazael spoke. “No. We’re asking you to let them think they have.” Azazael was not much older than her, but right now he looked ancient. “Dark is going to rise victorious, but as long as sparks of light exist, there is hope that the dark will not reign forever. The war is not over, even if it looks it, as long as you three live.”

Lara met Azazael’s eyes and she knew they had her. She and her friends would run.

“I’ll find Jo,” Callen said. He waited for her nod before leaving. Lara waited for his footsteps to fade and for the council members to leave the room before throwing herself at her father. He gathered her close and they embraced as the sun danced patterns across the floor. Lara cried hot tears and was mildly surprised that her father did as well. “You better make them pay.”

“You know I will baby girl.”

“I love you.”

“I love you.”

Lara stepped back from her father and did her best to commit his face to memory. She hugged him again. Then turned and left the council room as the sun faded from the sky. Time to run.


The first line of this piece was stolen from Kid over at TheGateintheWood. Check out the merry thieving band for more fiction.

Legal Theft Project: Countdown to Burnout

Aaron was not getting much sleep. While not unusual, it was irritating that his subconscious was the cause. No matter, it suited today’s cover to be a bit tired. He let it show in the slight droop to his shoulders, and the lazy way his eyes tracked the streets. He’d never enjoyed being likened to a cat, but he admitted that no one cared if a cat watched them as long as it lazed unthreateningly.

“Here’s your coffee.”

Aaron looked up and smiled gratefully at the waitress. “Thanks.”

“You enjoy and let me know if you need a top off.” She returned the smile before attending to other tables.

He wrapped his fingers around the mug with the same pleasure as a person discovering their keys in the first place they looked. He sipped and watched the movement on the street. It was getting worse. Few people wandered. Everyone out marched with purpose and most of them scanned the streets as if waiting for an accident. It was not quite the air of an occupied city. No one had the hunched shoulders and tense faces of those who feared. Aaron sipped at his coffee. He never enjoyed the drink, but it served his purpose.

A group of boys in perfectly pressed uniforms, shoes and shirts shining with righteousness jostled a few civilians who were chatting across from Aaron’s bistro. The civilians scattered like so many birds startled from a bush. Aaron noted one of the civilians glance back at the recruits. An older woman with strong features she stood straighter and her strides remained the same, but shorter and more staccato. No, things were getting hotter here in the city and Aaron did not regret causing it. He frowned into his coffee. Those sort of thoughts were becoming more and more common. He would have to be careful.

He reached into his bag and withdrew the files he wanted to work on. His fingers touched something cool and smooth. He withdrew the object as well. A music player, left over from a job, and maintained as a useful prop for his civilian personas. He hesitated briefly before unwinding the earbuds from the case and putting them in. Maybe there wasn’t even music on it, but of course there was – it would not do to neglect details. His lips twitched in the briefest of wry smiles. He could not remember the last time he’d listened to music for pleasure.

He pressed play and opened his files. One for me, one for AJ, one for E, and one for H. He sipped his coffee and ignored the way it soured in his stomach. One way or another he was getting out, even if all the storm currents in the city boiled over. If it was that simple, he’d be gone. But people never were – and people…

Aaron took a long pull of his coffee. Forget being Aaron, forget the other people Aaron could be, right now he needed to focus on keeping each of his plans on track, and do it quickly. He put pen to paper and got down to work ignoring the taunting voice in the back of his head that if he messed up, if he failed, then the storm would be his fault, that maybe… maybe he’d always been a failure. But of course that was ridiculous, he just needed more sleep.

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I’ve been robbed! See what the wonderful Kathryn wrote with this first line on her blog. It may not be up yet due to the influences of dark magic.