Chapter 1:

Chapter 1

Fateless: The Silver Lining

Year 163 – Summer – Quartus Mensis –34th day

Tree-Fall Village, Velika Forest, northern Vale

The temperature inside the forge was nearly twice as high as the one outside. A black-haired girl hammered a steel ingot into the shape of a blade. The heat of the steam was draining her stamina away, but her focus remained sharp as her sweat streamed down her face. Hit after hit, for hours, the sound of the hammering steel followed the rhythm of her breathing. Exhausted, she placed the blade into the water and wiped the sweat off her face using a drenched rag.

Why are they screaming?

Vatra dipped the rag back in the water, twisted it, and approached the window. Her mouth opened as her world shattered again into the living nightmare she had wilfully tried to forget. She bit her lips; it wasn’t a dream. The pulse of her heart rose. A cold sweat prickled her back. A mother was running, and a child was screaming. A torrent of smoke was emerging from the roof of her neighbour. Vatra’s eyes blinked. The mother lay on the ground, a spear through her back. A torch circled in the air and landed on the roof of her workshop. In the distance, a man wearing a banner well known to the world was waving a black flag with a red hawk.

The Kalator? Why?

The sound of the workshop door reverberated in a loud thunder, followed by the shout of the old man who had raised her.

The old man –“VATRA, RUN!!!”


Vatra dropped the rag on the ground as she turned quickly. Running toward the next room, she grabbed a dull sword in a hand and her hammer in the other. After barely crossing the door, Harald was struck twice and fell to the ground, lifeless.

A tremendous pain gripped Vatra’s chest as if a hand were trying to crush her heart. She couldn’t breathe anymore, and a cold sweat swallowed her head. A sharp grasp closed in on her heart like her own life had been taken. Her mind was blurry, and her arms were shaking.

No, no, no, no, no . . . This can’t be . . .

One of the Kalator lay on the ground with Harald’s sword through his chest.

Kalator 1 –“That fucker killed Erju!”

Kalator 2 –“Fuck that guy!”

Kalator 3 –“Hey! Look at her! She’s frozen in fear.”

What do I do? . . . There’s three of them . . . Should I run? No! If I do, they’ll tell the others, and I’ll be chased down . . . I have to kill them first, but how? . . .

The nearest Kalator to Harald’s corpse kicked his head, breaking his neck.

Kalator 2 –“Shit the wench! The fucking clay-brain!”

Kalator 1 –“Ahahah . . . Did you . . . did you just?”

Kalator 2 –“Shut up, Baltrus. I can still walk. It’s nothing.”

Baltrus –“Ahahah. Hey, Kipras! Aurimas just broke his toe!”

Kipras –“Shut up, you two. We’ve got a damsel in distress over here.”

Baltrus –“You’re right. You’re right . . . Let’s rescue her. I’ve heard dark rumours. Apparently, there’s quite a few ill-intended folks in town.”

Aurimas –“It’s a village, you dumbass.”

Baltrus –“Ah, shut up!”

Kipras –“I don’t want to harm you; just drop your weapon.”

I have to do it. Just focus! You’ve trained for this . . . I have to stay calm. Stop shaking, you coward . . . STOP SHAKING!

Aurimas –“She’s not even pretty. She’s just an ugly slave from the East. And her right hand’s burned.”

Kipras –“Little girl, what’s your name? You understand me when I talk?”

Baltrus –“She’s alright for me and Kipras.”

Kipras –“If she doesn’t drop her blade, I’ll have to kill her.”

Baltrus –“Hey! Don’t kill her; I don’t want to sleep with a dead corpse. That’s disgusting!”

Kipras –“I’ll give you one more chance. Come on, you’re shaking . . . No? Alright . . .

As Kipras raised his sword above his head, Vatra’s felt her blood boil.


She stepped forward and thrust her blade into him, adding her weight to her strike, but her dull blade couldn’t pierce the man’s gambeson. Barely feeling her blade, Kipras glared at her.

Kipras –“You bitch!”

Kipras swung his blade sideways, but Vatra crouched under it, dodging the blade by an inch. As Kipras raised his arm to strike again, she smashed his hand with her hammer, crushing his fingers between her strike and his sword handle. The man dropped his blade in a loud scream, only to be quieted by the same hammer connecting with his jaw as Vatra rose up. The man collapsed to the ground, either dead or unconscious. The two other Kalator raised their blades and rushed her. Vatra dropped her weapons and grabbed the sharpened sword laying on the ground before retreating to the other room.

As Aurimas crossed the door, she tightened her grip on the sword with both hands and cleaved into his gambeson, making a light wound in his abdomen. The man’s face contorted in pain, but he pushed the sword back with his own and barged in. There wasn’t much space to maneuver their weapons without hitting the wall. Desperate to kill each other, both opted for the thrust.

The Kalator’s blade came quickly as Vatra raised her own. As she swiftly stepped to the side, her foe’s blade grazed her left arm. Vatra thrust her blade through Aurimas’s neck. As she stepped back, Baltrus struck her blade, pushing it to the side before closing the gap and punching her in the face with such strength that Vatra stumbled to the ground.

Baltrus –“You fucking whore!”

She had barely hit the ground when he grabbed her head and smashed it against the floor twice. Baltrus then turned Vatra on her back and started to cut her clothing. Blood flowed in her eyes, and it felt as if the ground were shaking.

It’s so dark . . . Still . . .

Vatra moved her hand, but Baltrus stuck his dagger in the floor on the left side of her head, making a cut in her left ear.


She could hear the pounding of her heart pulse in her head. She felt her blood flow quickening. Her vision and focus were coming back. It was as if time were slowing down.

Focus . . .Just focus . . .

As Baltrus lowered his pants, another Kalator entered the room.

Kalator 4 –“What happened here!?”

Baltrus looked toward his ally. Seeing he wasn’t watching, Vatra grabbed the dagger with her right hand. Using her arm as a lever, she pushed with her left hand to remove the dagger from the floor.

Baltrus –“Hey, Mathias! You’re just in time to give that bitch the reward she deserves!”

Mathias –“Did the blacksmith kill them all?”

Baltrus –“He killed Erju. She went on a rampage and . . . Grhh!”

Using her left hand, Vatra wiped the blood from her eyes. She missed his throat and struck his jaw. Panicking, Baltrus tried to grab her wrist, but she slashed his fingers off before thrusting through his throat.

Mathias stepped to the side and tried to thrust his blade at Vatra. Grabbing Baltrus’s wrist, she pulled him down onto the blade. Doing so, she was now wedged underneath Baltrus, while Mathias’s blade was stuck in Baltrus’s shoulder. As Vatra released her legs from Baltrus’s weight, Mathias pulled out his dagger. Vatra dragged herself backward while raising her dagger up with a shaking hand. Mathias leapt above Baltrus and kicked Vatra’s hand with his iron-capped boot, tossing her dagger away as she groaned in pain.

He then lunged at her. The dagger struck the wall as she barely dodged it. Vatra tried to run away, but Mathias grabbed her head and held her against the wall. Vatra grabbed the dagger’s handle. Mathias tried to push her face further, and his hand slipped on her bloody face. At this moment, Vatra bit his index finger as hard as she could. The man dropped the dagger handle to punch her when, using all her strength, Vatra smashed her right arm downward onto the man’s hand, shredding his finger away. Mathias yelped in pain before grabbing her by the neck with both hands.

As he was pressing her throat against the wall, he pulled her upward to strangle her with her own weight. Unable to breathe, Vatra grabbed for the dagger with both hands. The blood in her head boiled as Mathias stared straight into her eyes. When her vision got blurry, she felt the dagger loosening from the wall. Holding it in her left hand, she stabbed Mathias under the arm, piercing his lung. Mathias gasped. As he tried to break her neck, Vatra rotated the dagger, shredding Mathias’s flesh. His grip slowly released as he stepped back and stumbled to the ground. He choked as his blood filled his lungs.

Vatra spit out his finger and dropped on her back in terror. She was feeling dizzy, and an awful taste of iron lingered in her mouth. Still choking, Mathias glared at her with bloodshot eyes. Blood was flowing off his mouth at each cough.

Harald . . . Everyone . . .

Vatra rose and wiped the blood off her face with a rag when she heard more voices outside her workshop. She approached Mathias, bent down, and pulled the dagger out of his corps. As she stood up, Mathias tried to grab her leg, but he was too weak. Vatra opened the backdoor and scanned the area. No one was there. She ran toward the forest as fast as she could.

After two miles of running, the adrenaline ran out, and she threw up. She was losing blood and was out of breath. She was freezing. Her body shivered because of her shred clothing. Using the resin of a tree, she filled each of her wounds to stop the bleeding and tied her shredded clothes back together using the rag.

I need to go south. To Avem in the Vale, they will help me . . .

When the sun went to sleep, Vatra was hungry, tired, and frozen. She could see the full moon rising in the sky, but she was still walking, tears building in her eyes. She smelled something fresh. It was an apple tree. She tried to reach for one to satiate her hunger when she heard the growl of a wolf. She slowly turned around in fear. There were three of them, and while the larger was growling in the middle, the others were stalking her sides.

They were getting closer and stepping back as if they were testing the reaction of their prey before attacking. Vatra took the rag off her clothing and rolled it around her left hand. When the first wolf jumped on her, she held her ground and let him bite the rag before jabbing her dagger in its right eye. She had barely pulled her dagger out when the other two leapt on her. She couldn’t dodge them. She raised her right arm in the air, away from the fangs, as the two wolves bit her on her left leg and waist, dragging her to the ground.

A hoarse, blood-curdling scream of pain blasted her breath out of her lungs as her muscles and skin were being torn apart by fangs and claws. Stricken by fear, as her head slammed into the ground, she struck the wolf biting her waist without aiming or even looking its way. Her dagger stabbed the wolf’s ear as her strike missed and her wrist jarred against its skull. The wolf jumped backward before attacking again.

Releasing a war cry, she plunged her dagger into the beast’s mouth and through its palate and brain as its fangs were closing on her arm. Now that she was on the ground with both arms restrained, the last wolf climbed on her to finish the work. She stared into the wolf’s eyes as tears flew down her cheeks. Her dagger was in the second wolf, but his teeth were still gripping the flesh of her arm. Her rag had been shredded, and her bruised left arm was shakingly held between her and the beast. Growling as he stepped on her chest with all his weight, the wolf looked at her and saw the moon sparkles in Vatra’s eyes. Vatra whimpered, filled with terror as the beast drooled on her face.

Death was glowing beyond her. She was losing her will to fight when she felt a cold grasp on her heart. Her breathing slowed. The air was so heavy she could feel it stroke every inch of her skin. She could smell the blood flowing off her wounds, the putrid breath of the wolf, and the moistened iron of her dagger. As her senses were getting sharper, the tremendous pain of her wounds lessened as if she weren’t herself anymore. She felt a strange, calm anger reaching her mind. When the wolf lunged on her, reaching for her neck, Vatra pulled her right arm out of the dead wolf’s jaw, shredding her skin in four lines. Blood dripped from her arms, streaming on her dagger as the moonlight reflected on its edge. Crossing sight with the beast in a war cry of agony, she saw her own anger in its eyes when the steel of her blade pierced its neck.

Crumbling on her, the wolf gasped. She could feel its sporadic breathing. It was drowning in its own blood in a slow and dreadful agony. As her foe had been vanquished, the strange grasp on her heart left and so did the strength of her limbs. Vatra’s sight became blurry. Her arms felt weak again and cold. Desperately, she cut the wolf’s throat open as she faded into the abyss of her mind.

I need . . . blood . . .

Taylor Victoria