The Last Immortal
by Mat Nastos
Synopsis: Deep within Wyren Wood, Broderick Longbarrel and the men of his unit find themselves stalked by an ancient, timeless being focused on revenge. It is up to the veteran warrior and his steam-powered rifle to discover the secret of “The Last Immortal.”
For the tenth time in as many minutes, Broderick Longbarrel blinked away the cold mist from his eyelashes and tried to catch glimpse of the death he knew stalked the men of his unit.
It had begun with the sound of a branch breaking, something almost unnoticeable in a forest, and then leaves moving in a non-existent wind. More than once, Longbarrel had caught the glimpse of a form moving just inside the huge trees that grew on either side of the rough trail he and his fellows were following. Twice he swore he locked gazes with eyes that burned of liquid amber, laced with flecks of gold.
Something was watching.
The Sycadian’s senses, tempered over nearly three decades of service in the Royal Caerllyth Army, knew it was there, lurking just out of sight beyond the ever present drizzle of rain that coated the thick, primeval forests of the Isle of Kern. Whatever “it” was had been following the squad of twelve soldiers almost since they step foot into what their lieutenant’s map had called “Wyren Wood.”
In spite of warnings of great danger found within from a garrison of local Ae’Shee militia, the lieutenant, one Jakobus Gwilt, freshly spawned from the Royal Academy in Pernith, had assured the men that his map labeled the passage was a safe route through to their rendezvous point with the rest of the Third Infantry Brigade in Highgate Keep.
Of course, Lieutenant Gwilt and his map were safe and dry back at the base camp on the coast, as far away as you could get from the “haunted” forest and still be on the Island. The man had taken over command of their platoon only two months early and Longbarrel already disliked him. Gwilt was soft, arrogant, and placed far too much reliance on books for his leadership decisions. He didn’t realize that books don’t win battles, men do.
His books had told him the area was safe enough for a single squad to scout and his books had told him to send a young corporal to lead the group of battle-hardened men Longbarrel served with, some for more than ten years.
One day soon, Longbarrel thought to himself as he pushed his way up to the front of the march, Gwilt would face a reckoning. Count on it. (end excerpt)