Avarice

"Get out!" Josiah cried as he stumbled forward carrying the limp form of Abigail. Light filled the cavern behind him accompanied by a bestial roar. He lurched forward as he ran pushing Serenity before him as she looked back in horror.

There came a sharp pain as a rock fell from the tunnel roof and struck his shoulder. He stumbled to one knee, crying out and strong hands caught him. The Ashen, the Ashen had returned from communing with that creature and now they were all running together as the tunnels collapsed around them.

"This way." One Ashen hissed as he leapt down an open passage to their right and was held back just in time by another of the wild tribesmen as the tunnel collapsed crushing the other man in an instant.

"Keep moving." urged the man who had saved him and it was all Josiah could do to nod and run onward into the darkness.

Behind he heard the release of power once more as stone descended to close the tunnels after them. What the hell was happening back there, what was that thing? Abigail stirred in his arms and he willed her not to wake, not now, not in her state of mind.

He caught a glimpse of the two other strangers, Phyz and... no the names escaped him. They did not look back but seemed to be running with a purpose, perhaps they knew the way out? Serenity was nowhere to be seen now. Lost in the chaos and darkness.

How had he come to this? He had risen from the streets of Dusk to become its ruler. He had no equal in power and influence. He had brushed shoulders with the city elite and gods damn it they had feared him. They would fear him again he decided. This would not stand. He would not die here in the dark amongst filthy savages.

His shoulder ached and his lungs burned from the effort of running but he still forced himself onward. Abigail. She was the key, if he could calm her rage, harness her hunger. She held power he did not truly understand, but by the Maelstrom he could use it. With her under his thrall he would tear the damned city wide open make the bastard beg for mercy. First Dusk and then Elesium. He would see them all crushed beneath his boot.

What was more Abigail carried his child. A legacy! for the first time he had something beyond his own avarice to strive for. His child would inherit a everything that Josiah could squeeze into the iron grip of his ambition.

There was light ahead now. He fixed his eyes on the brightening dot and pushed himself towards it with every once of will he could muster. He could feel the cold rush of fresh air and the hear the gasps of freedom of several of the Ashen ran out ahead of him. He laughed despite his fatigue as he stumbled out into the Darklands beyond only to come to a sudden halt at the sound of gun fire and bodies dropping to the ground.

One of the Ashen rolled to lay at his feet, eyes wide open in death. Slowly Josiah looked up to take in the semi-circle of Elesian soldiers surrounding the tunnel mouth. Weapons trained on himself and the few remaining Ashen that had emerged with him.

A massive automaton stood at the centre of their ranks and stepped forward, steam hissing from its huge metal limbs. It raised an arm mountain canon towards the trapped men and spoke with a deep metallic voice.

"Discard your weapons and surrender. You will be processed and escorted to the Graymire internment camp where you will be sentenced in accordance with Elesian law."

One of the Ashen made to run and the Mechan moved light lightning, raising its arm and opening fire. A shower of blood and flesh sprayed Josiah and Abigail as the the mans head arms and torso were shredded by the shot. The remaining legs and groin wavered for a second then slumped to the earth with a thud.

"Fuck." Josiah breathed as the blood and gore dripped through his hair and over his face. "Fuck."

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