War Mage

Just behind the front line, the Ravens wait for any mage who tries to desert.

War Mage

In “Swords & Steam”, Flametree Publishing (2016)

steampunk / fantasy (short story)

Excerpt

"Is it always like that?" Myrell asked. His upper lip was crusted with dried blood and his face was deathly pale.

"That was an easy one," said Otring hoarsely.

Getan leaned back against a pile of sandbags. They were still close enough to the front that he could hear the distant crack of rifle fire and the occasional hollow boom of thaumaturgic artillery. There were death spells being used somewhere too, probably Keldite mages probing the Shulan forward trenches. He could feel them at a distance, pinpoints of dark magic picking at the fabric of reality.

He felt sick and shaky, with a slow ache in his bones that was more than just the result of spending too much energy in too short a time. The alchemists had changed the formula of the dope again. The new stuff was more potent, rich with magical ingredients and stimulants, but the come-down was a killer. He peered at the injection site in his arm. It looked swollen and angry and he wondered if it was infected. He would have to watch that; hygiene was next to impossible at the front.

“Go get some sleep,” Otring told the boy. “We may be back in action in a few hours.”