Hello to the old readers and the new readers alike who have found this. As a brief starting note, this story was the first I ever dared to put up on Wattpad, and I finished it nearly two years ago. And I was very, very stupid two years ago, which led to this. But as it's the first thing I ever wrote - finished - I suppose I'm sort of proud of it, so its still up here, ridiculous as it is.
My point - my writing has now progressed, and keep in mind that I've done far better than this. You've been warned.
The enormous metal gates make an unholy groaning noise as they shut.
I’m serious, it’s appalling. Like zombie cats being tortured.
Awful, groaning, waily noises, with an underlay of the dull clonk of the gears that make the doors move.
It’s probably a good thing that it’s so abominably awful, because it is kind of a warning. In general, it’s just saying that you’d better be inside the Compound when those babies shut, because there ain’t no getting them open until morning.
Indeed, a few stragglers are racing in now. Nobody wants to get shut outside the Compound at night. You might survive an hour, maybe two. Once the Wolves and the Vamps come out, you’re pretty much dead.
I’m dead serious.
I’ve seen dozens of people not make it back in before the doors shut, and none of them came back.
One of them was my brother.
Jarsha Valiant. You’ve probably heard of him. Or not.
I’m Hero, by the way. Hero Valiant. I find the name rather ironic. But don’t judge me, dear reader. That is, after all, all I can know you as. If you read this, I have no doubt you will end up knowing me better than I will ever know you. I don’t know if I will even be alive when you read this. I don’t know if there will be anyone alive to read this.
And yet I’m writing anyway.
But on with the story.
Jarsha Valiant. Yeah. My elder brother. He was pretty well-known in the Compound. He made exceptionally good weapons and shields, you see. I’m good, but I’ll never be as good as him. It was a great loss to us all when he got locked out one night two years ago, when he was eighteen, me being fifteen. He had gone out to find Melisane Verdict’s missing boy.
Needless to say, neither of them came back.
I try not to let it bother me.
It’s bothering me a bit now, though.
Watching the gates close again. The sky is red tonight, streaked with grey and black clouds. The gates to the Inner Circuit have just been closed, and they stand tall and strong behind us, giant metal monuments in bronze.
They shine eerily in the sun’s last light for the day.
The gates close tight with a clunk, and a grating noise as they automatically lock.
The way the Compound is set out, you see, is like this.
There’s the giant Inner Circuit, as it’s called, which is basically a small city, about two and a half kilometres long and wide, surrounded by forty foot high walls made of solid metal. The city isn’t even exactly small, they’ve really packed everything that they possibly can in there. It’s certainly the smallest Compound in the Empire.
Outside of the Inner Gates is what we Warriors call the Waste. Just a skinny, barren plain, at the most twenty metres across. Then there’s the proper Gates. The no-nonsense, fifty foot high, metal gates, embedded with spikes and arrow shoots, that completely surrounds the Waste, which completely surrounds the Compound. Then the outside is after that. I’ve never been, and every sane person in the Compound hopes to high heaven that they’ll never see it.
We’ve got a pretty good defence system going here, you see.
If it fails, well…
We’re pretty much all screwed.
A terrible, spine chilling howl spirals into the air from the Outside.
“Hands ready?” roars someone from down the line.
“It’s starting,” murmurs Leo from behind me. He’s a lion of a man, Leo, with shaggy ginger hair, dark, dark eyes, and built like a bull. He’s got solid bits of metal draped over him, like armour, and a long bronze sword in his hand. He looks like a warrior, straight from the warzone.
Haha. I made a funny.