Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Fourteen

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Adar scooped up his blaster from where he had dropped it on the ground as he splashed through a mud puddle. The mud hit with a shock of cold, causing him to shiver. It was funny how some things seemed less important in the face of death and destruction. He would have taken care to avoid the mud on a normal day. His pants were already soaked through anyway and caked with dirt and grime. A black streak came down the front of his wet shirt, and it had torn in several places.

At least the rain had let up some during the last few minutes.

The wreckage and everything in its path were a terrible sight. A building that had been there one moment had been demolished the next. The ship had left a path of destruction all along the rest of the way. The alley where he’d been before the crash was blocked with rubble from the building. If he and Kura had been a few seconds slower, they would have been in the middle of that.

Kura was several houses down from all the damage, squatting at the side of the road beside a tree while clutching Lars to her chest. Adar frowned when he thought of all the children that couldn’t be shielded from the brutal reality that was enveloping them all.

Lars won’t remember what life had been like before all this. Melyah, if we can’t find Donni he won’t even remember his own mother. He studied Kura, wondering if she would pick up the role if Donni couldn’t be found. She didn’t seem the mothering type, but he’d learned over the years never to underestimate a woman’s maternal instincts.

Adar was almost to Kura when a rushing sound from overhead broke into his thoughts. He came to a halt and located another ship that came from the opposite direction of the first. It too looked as if it were falling out of the sky. A streak of fire and smoke came from behind it. It would hit on the far side of the city. They weren’t in any danger.

He hadn’t had the right angle on the first ship to see the smoke trailing behind it but he looked back and could now see a line that rose into the clouds from the direction the first ship had come. None of the other Hunwei ships had left behind the smoke. He hoped it meant these had been damaged.

“You’re covered in mud,” Kura said. He had heard her approach but hadn’t turned. “And you smell.” Lars peeked his head out from under her coat using his hand to push it away while the rain pelted his face. He gave Adar a smile that split his face in two.

Adar returned it and patted Lars on the head. “How’s the boy?”

“He’ll take sick if he’s out in this much longer. Didn’t you say we were getting close?”

Adar barely heard her response as he examined the rest of the sky looking for other ships. So far, there was nothing else. He wouldn’t mind if they all crashed, he just didn’t want to be dodging the things while trying to assess whether or not he could reach the Arches.

“You should take shelter while I go on alone.” Adar motioned towards the crash and the trail of wreckage the ship had left behind. “That’s where we were headed. I’ll scout ahead and see if the way is blocked.”


Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Thirteen

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

The breeze blew against Soret’s face, but she didn’t notice as she stared into the fire beneath the pot while taking deep, steady breaths.

She had tried to sit at first but had been too antsy to rest and had paced for a while after that. It was a matter of time until Adar came back. It might be safe to look for her father when Adar returned. She wouldn’t take Jorad with her, of course. The two would need to be kept as far away from each other as possible. Maybe after Barc had a chance to calm down, he would be more open to reason, and she would be able to prevail upon him to join them on the trip to Rarbon.

The others in her group spoke of Rarbon as if it was a great city that would be able to withstand the Hunwei. She hoped they were right but was trying to not let herself count on it. If Rarbon turned out to be the haven it was purported to be, then the smart thing for her and her father to do would be to go there. It would grate on Barc, but she might even be able to convince him to apologize to Jorad. It wouldn’t be a real expression, to be sure, but given how everybody in the group either feared or respected Adar, it would be best to have both Adar and Jorad as allies.

Barc’s face came to mind, the fear and the betrayal ripping through her as though it was a knife. She sighed as her heart raced and she returned to pacing. Even after reminding herself that Barc had already survived one Hunwei invasion, it was a struggle to stop worrying about him. To calm down her nerves, she focused instead on what she could have done differently.

A hundred different scenarios danced around her head, but it all came back to an inescapable conclusion. She had let others have too much influence over her. Originally, she’d felt like the men in her life were controlling her but she had decided that was the wrong way to look at it.

Shouldn’t she be able to make her own decisions regardless of what others were doing? Nobody had held a dagger to her throat and made her do something that she hadn’t wanted to do. The situation had made the outcomes inevitable.

No, she thought, that’s wrong too. There isn’t anything that can’t be changed, if something seemed like it had to happen, that didn’t mean that it should happen. It doesn’t mean I couldn’t have stopped it. I was going along because I was afraid and lacked the skills to survive. I turned off my brain and trusted somebody else to use theirs. Well, she was done with that and wouldn’t let that happen again.  

“That water boiling yet?” Karn poked his head out of the arch. His calm demeanor had returned, but had his eyes narrowed slightly when he looked at her?

Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Twelve

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Adar ran down the street with Kura and Lars bringing up the rear. If he was shivering from the cold and exposure to the rain, he could understand why Kura was having such a difficult time with Lars. It isn’t coming down as strong as before, he thought, but we’re not getting any drier either.

He came across a dead Hunwei that hadn’t been burned to the bone and did a double take. The beast had died from a blast to the chest. A puddle of blue blood had formed around the corpse and was being washed away by the rain.

This isn’t a good sign. Adar lurched to a stop, spinning around with his blaster. He scanned the area, expecting to see Tere with a blaster pointed in his direction. When Kura stopped beside him, Adar put his finger up to his mouth. Lars—thank the gods—was quiet. Adar checked to make sure that the boy was still alert and was glad to see Lars’ eyes moving. The rainstorm wasn’t as loud as it had been before and didn’t provide as much cover for Lars’ crying.

Adar’s chest tightened, and he took his next several steps at a run until he forced himself to slow down so that he could think things through. Now was not the time to act rashly. They were too close to the Arches to continue to run as they had been before.

The further he’d gone from the tower, the more anxious he became that there might still be live groups of Hunwei about. This dead Hunwei seemed to confirm his fears.

Jorad and the others should have been back in the Arches long before the Hunwei invasion had gotten to this point. Xarda and Tarner should have seen to that. It was possible this was the work of Tere and Karn, but Adar wasn’t willing to bet on it. Jorad would have held out for as long as possible, trying to save as many townsfolk as he could. Confound that boy’s willful spirit.

“What is it?” Kura asked, her voice low enough to be a whisper but still louder than Adar would have liked.

“This Hunwei was killed by a blaster and has been dead for some time.” She was going to find out about Tere anyway, it might as well be now. “This was either the work of my son or somebody else who is trying to kill me.”

Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Eleven

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Wiping the rain out of his eyes, Adar blinked and looked around. His senses were heightened to a level that they hadn’t been before. Kura had done a good job of getting Lars to calm down. Lars was no longer screaming at the top of his lungs, but the boy was still fussy.

So much for hoping to catch Tere unaware, Adar thought.

The street looked much like any other, there weren’t as many dead, but there were a great number of homes that had been leveled by the Hunwei bombs. He supposed that most of the occupants of this street had been caught in the wreckage. At some point, search parties needed to be organized so that those who were still alive could be rescued.

With the governor’s mansion destroyed, Adar hoped there would be somebody else who would take charge of the city and see all of that was done, assuming, of course, the Hunwei didn’t come back to finish the job. Adar didn’t know enough about the political structure here to venture a guess as to who that would be. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be Isak. Adar hadn’t met the man, but he sounded like a fool.

Smoke curled up from the wreckage of the nearest home, but it hadn’t caught fire. That was a small mercy. The streets weren’t as wide here, and the homes were closer together. If a fire were to start, it would be hard to keep from spreading.

When Adar realized that things were too quiet, he looked back at Kura and saw she had Lars’ head tucked under her coat. The babe’s eyes were open and looked out at the bleak world. The kid was old enough he might be able to walk and was probably just on the verge of learning to mimic words. Jorad had been a lot of fun at that age.

Adar made eye contact with Kura who gave him a tight smile. He nodded back. They made their way down the rest of the street in silence.

A scream came from up ahead, and Adar darted forward around a corner, blaster at the ready. He lowered his weapon when he saw it came from a woman who was hunched over the body of a man. Her hair and dress were drenched, her legs covered in mud. She probably started the day wearing two sandals, but she was missing one. It was difficult for Adar to determine her hair color as it was dirty, but by her face, he wouldn’t have thought her much older than twenty-five.

The scene made him think of Nelion’s last moments, and his mind went to his own son when he noticed several small children with the woman. The rain didn’t seem to bother her, but her children were shivering. The oldest child was red-eyed and wailing. The younger didn’t look like she was old enough to understand what was going on. She tugged on the pant leg of the dead man saying “Dadda” over and over again.

For a moment, Adar was no longer running through the rain down a street in Zecarani. Instead, he found himself in the Rarbon palace, kneeling over the body of his wife.

Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Ten

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

The sun peeked out of the clouds and Adar relished the feel of it on his face. His clothes were soaked through, and he was chilled to the bone. He kept moving his wrists and alternating which hand held the blaster so that he didn’t become too stiff to respond to new threats. It didn’t help matters that he was tired and starving. He stumbled on a loose cobblestone and almost lost control. He was forced to skid to a stop.

The encounter with Isak’s men still had his heart pounding in his chest. The deadly efficiency of killing and wounding multiple men with one blast made him wonder again how things would change if the use of blasters became widespread.

Melyah. The only chance we have of making it through all this is to arm everybody that can handle one of these infernal weapons. What would happen afterward once the Hunwei had been dealt with?

He snorted. Even though he pretty much knew this was mankind’s last hurrah, he couldn’t help but hope that this wasn’t the end. Hope, even in the face of insurmountable odds, was the one thing that kept him going.

Things could change. The darkest night always had a sunrise. That was why he needed the tablet. The forgotten weapons of their fathers brought hope.

As Adar and Kura drew closer to the Arches, he noticed without surprise the dead tended to be men. Every now and then, they stumbled across a woman. Most of them Kura passed without comment, but there had been several where she’d stopped, forgetting the dangers that lurked all about them.

It had been a struggle for Adar to not say something that he would later regret, but his patience was stretched to the limit. Enough time had passed that the lone survivor from their encounter before would have found Isak. Tere could be half a continent away by now. Erro might come charging at him again like a wild man, determined to kill or die trying.

Adar gritted his teeth, furious that so many different things were all going on at once. On any given day, handling one of these issues would have been plenty, but to have all of them forced upon him in the same hour? He must have done something to piss off one of the gods.

Or perhaps they were testing him to see if he would be worthy to handle an even worse task.

“Hurry,” Adar said, glancing back over his shoulder. Kura’s eyes were red as she gripped her blaster in an almost challenging way.


Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Nine

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Once Neare and Erro disappeared, Adar retrieved the blasters from the dead Hunwei turncoats and ducked into the home. He didn’t want to leave them lying around for Neare—or anyone else—to pick up. Neare had left before the stress of the situation had given him a chance to think about what he was leaving behind. Once he did, he would realize he’d missed an opportunity to pick up a blaster or two.

On the second floor, Adar found a bedroom and stuffed the extra blasters underneath the bed, careful to lift the blasters over the dust on the wooden planks, so it wasn’t obvious that something had been placed there. He looked around the room, wondering if there might be a less obvious place, but nothing jumped out at him. An old dresser would have fit the weapons and a dark corner beside a desk as well, but he figured that they were all natural places to look if somebody came in here hoping to find something.

I better hope they don’t come back right away, Adar thought when he looked back at the trail of water he’d left on the wooden floor, I should have stopped to kick the rain off my boots. The wood was untreated and would hopefully absorb his tracks quickly, but that would be cold comfort if the next time Adar saw Erro was down the wrong end of a blaster.

Adar had never thought he’d be glad that most of the burned Hunwei destroyed their own blasters. It hadn’t been too difficult to figure out how to get them to work, and Adar didn’t doubt that Neare or Erro would be able to figure it out given enough time.

He hesitated and stared at the bed, wondering if he should bring another blaster with him. He was down to one working blaster plus a spare and having extras kept coming in handy.

So does that ridiculous looking dagger, if I’d known what that Ou Qui was giving me, I’d have given him gold coins and tried to buy some more. The Ou Qui’s shorts swords hadn’t been covered with the black tar-like residue, but Adar didn’t see any reason why a sword that had been similarly treated wouldn’t work just as well. He wouldn’t do something like that to his Radim sword, but he wouldn’t hesitate to do that to a cheaper weapon.

He had tried to keep count of the number of shots he got from a blaster, but he’d been unable to be exact. From what he could tell, they all appeared to stop working at random times. One blaster, he’d been able to use for a greater number of shots, the next had been far fewer. Perhaps they all had the same capacity, and it depended on how many shots the previous owner had used. That was something to think about.

He went back downstairs. He still had two blasters and carrying the additional one while also lugging around his sword was already a bit much, not to mention adding a couple of more. He would just have to return for these when he could.

Because Neare and Erro might be watching the front of the home, Adar returned out the back door and moved from there out towards the street. He didn’t want them to think to look in the home for the blasters.

Who am I trying to fool? He wondered. Chances are good they will stumble across a couple of dead Hunwei with working blasters anyway. How many did it take for me? Five? Ten? He didn’t like the idea of having to keep an eye out for Neare and Erro as well as Hunwei, turncoats, and Tere, but a man did what he had to do. Adar wouldn’t put it past Neare to ambush him, despite Neare’s conciliatory words to the contrary.

Adar paused before coming out into the open of the street to check either direction. He had thought that Erro and Neare would have already disappeared, but they were several blocks away, walking in the middle of the street. Erro had stopped struggling, and they were moving quickly.

Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Eight

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Adar slid to a stop, wiping rainwater out of his eyes while gasping for breath as he put his back against the rough lumber of a shed. He brought up his blaster so it was ready in case Hunwei or turncoats or Tere stumbled into the backyard of the home he was cutting through.

The extra blasters Adar had slung over each shoulder cut into his back, and he eased up off the shed while still trying to take advantage of the lip of roof that stuck out overhead. It was the first opportunity he’d taken for shelter since killing the last turncoat, and the rain looked as though it was finally stopping anyway.

Figures, he thought. That’s just about what I’d expect today. Now I just need a dozen or so turncoats to chase me and things will be right again.

Adar shook his head as he looked at the remains of several dead Hunwei. The tower had done its job well. He was more than a dozen blocks away from it and was continuing to find the burned out armored husks of the Hunwei.

He had no way of knowing the effective range of the tower. The further he got from the tower, the antsier he became. He hoped all of the actual Hunwei in the city had been killed, but he wasn’t going to count on it.

The smell of charred flesh still hung heavy in the air and overpowered a nearby pigsty. The pig looked up at Adar and grunted pitifully. It’s back was covered with water, mud, and bits of hay. The pen lacked even a rudimentary shelter. He figured the animal was typically kept in the shed at times like this.

He would never have thought he’d prefer the smell of a pig manure over anything else, but he now found himself wishing for that unique sickly-sweet stench rather than the odor of the dead Hunwei. He’d hoped the smell wouldn’t be as bad the further he moved from the tower, but from what he could tell, the distance hadn’t made a difference. The smell was far better than having all the Hunwei alive, but that didn’t make each breath any less unpleasant.

Movement at the corner of his eye drew his attention, he brought up his blaster.

Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Seven

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Neare and Erro’s path to the home had been blocked when a group of Hunwei marched through, herding people before them as if they’d been cattle. At that point, if it would have only been Neare, he would have ditched Thon and made a break for it. Instead, he and Erro had abruptly turned and gone the other way, dragging Thon behind them without regard to his condition. More than once Neare looked back over his shoulder, expecting that the Hunwei would be chasing after them, but he’d been surprised to see nothing of the sort.

Neare had lost count of the homes and streets they’d passed while they’d dragged the man away as fast as they could. At one point, he’d checked on Thon and decided that they were rescuing a corpse. Thon’s head hung, bouncing around whenever they dragged him over a rough stone, or one of them lost a grip on his hand.

Pulling to a stop, Neare had been about to prevail on Erro that Thon was dead when the man had moved, coughing and muttering something that Neare had been unable to hear.

Biting off a curse, Neare saw that they were alone and headed towards the closest structure, which turned out to be another home. It was made of red brick. A wooden bench on the porch had been smashed. Neare envisioned a Hunwei falling on it and figured that he wasn’t too far wrong. The door had been busted off the hinges and flung across the room.

He relaxed even further when he saw the disarray of the sitting and dining  rooms. The Hunwei weren’t going to walk past this house and think they needed to check it out again. Chairs were overturned, windows had been broken, and a bookshelf had been pulled to the floor. A fire burned on the hearth of the dining room, but it was low and hadn’t been tended to in some time.

A table not far from the fire had miraculously survived through all the rest of the damage. Neare considered placing Thon there until he looked down at the bleeding man and realized that even if he and Erro could lift him, his weight might break the table legs.

“Quick,” Neare said once they’d pulled Thon off to the side and out of view of the doorway. “Scour the house for anything we can use as a bandage.” Erro opened his mouth, but Neare stopped him with a growl. “Just go. Anything will do.”

Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Six

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

The woman rolled over towards the short man, tossed her head to move her blonde hair out of her face, and kicked her bound bare feet into his groin. He clutched at his crotch, screaming as he doubled over.

She squirmed up into a sitting position. A bruise was starting to form on her cheek and Adar had caught a glance of a bloody leg underneath her dress when she had made contact with the short man. She scowled and yelled something Adar didn’t understand.

Adar stepped back from the bed and hoped that the woman didn’t try to attack him as well. She might be afraid that he had saved her while planning to take her for himself. That sort of thing was known to happen, and any careful woman knew to expect it. Distance should discourage any fear she might have of that possibility.

He turned to the door as it swung open.

So much for hoping to have the situation resolved before the turncoats found me, Adar thought, as he pulled up his blaster and pointed it at the Hunwei turncoat in the doorway. The human eyes stared back at them through the visor of the Hunwei helmet. The turncoat’s blaster was pointed at Adar.

Adar pulled the trigger of his own blaster while dodging to the side. He should not have bothered. The Hunwei had been focusing on the woman with a hungry look in his eyes and now looked down in surprise when the blast tore through his abdomen. A scream escaped from the man’s lips, and he grabbed at the spot where he’d been hit, his gloved hand unable to cover the large hole that had formed there.

It was the first noise that Adar had heard come from a turncoat that sounded human.

Lord of the Inferno – Chapter Five

This week’s episode features a chapter from Lord of the Inferno, Volume Two of War of the Fathers. War of the Fathers is available as a free ebook if you sign up for the Dan Decker Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Adar must have surprised the Hunwei turncoats when he stood up wielding one of their own blasters because all three of them froze. They weren’t used to people that fought back, much less those that used their own weapons against them. From where Adar stood, he could make out the body of the last turncoat that he’d shot. The blast had taken the man in the head and then moved through the top of his back. The ghastly sight caused a small whisper of remorse that he pushed out of his mind. It wasn’t his fault the Hunwei had raised a generation of humans who fought for them.

It wasn’t the fault of the turncoats either.

Raindrops hit his face as he looked back at the Hunwei turncoats, blinking through water that trickled down his forehead and into his eyes. It hadn’t been raining before he’d come out of the alley. It must have started right after he spotted the turncoats. The action had kept him from noticing the rain, and he was surprised to realize that he was already quite wet.

The all too human eyes that stared back at him from the alien armor caused him to growl quietly. It was wrong, very wrong that he was fighting humans that were armed like Hunwei. The moment lasted for several heartbeats as they all stood looking at one another. In the next, everybody moved.

“Bloody Melyah!” Adar muttered as he twisted, running for the closest building, a two-story home that was less than ten feet away. He ground his teeth when he realized all of this was getting in the way of him catching up to Tere. The hesitation of the turncoats was gone, and blasts from their weapons tore through the spot where he’d been mere moments before. One of the Hunwei must have anticipated where Adar was heading because a blast flew right by his face, the heat of it burning his nostrils.

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