I’ve decided to include a preface in this edition of The Codex. I feel that in order for you to properly place yourself in the world of The Codex you need a little context. This eBook is a collection of my stories published in The Crimson Pact anthology; taken from Volumes 1, 2, and soon-to-be-released Volume 5.
The Crimson Pact anthology series is based on the acclaimed dark fantasy novella, “Failed Crusade” by Patrick M. Tracy and Paul Genesse. With their gracious permission, I have included “Failed Crusade” as the lead story in this eBook. This ground-breaking origin story features the heroes who made the Pact, and followed the demons of the Rusted Vale into the far reaches of the multiverse. All the one hundred plus stories contained in the five volumes of The Crimson Pact anthology have been written based off of “Failed Crusade.” While Patrick and Paul’s novella is an epic fantasy, the various stories published in The Crimson Pact vary in genre; from Steampunk and Romance, to Urban Fantasy and Sci-Fi.
The world of The Codex has a Sci-Fi bent to it, and takes place many years after “Failed Crusade.”
“Failed Crusade” ©2011 Patrick Tracy and Paul Genesse and originally appeared in The Crimson Pact Volume One
“The Transition” ©2011 Justin Swapp and originally appeared in The Crimson Pact Volume One
“The Merging” ©2011 Justin Swapp and originally appeared in The Crimson Pact Volume Two.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, and events are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. All trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
Justin Swapp lives in Ogden, Utah. He is currently seeking a home for his debut YA Fantasy novel, The Magic Shop. For more information, visit http://www.justinswapp.com.
By Patrick M. Tracy and Paul Genesse
Part One: The Rusted Vale
News of our victory came not in the happy shouts of the freed multitudes, but in the groaning voices of the animate dead. Ours was a victory that none would confuse with triumph. The best half of us lay broken within the Rusted Vale, the rear guard left to puzzle out the events that had been no more than far-off echoes within the smoke and crashing iron. We knew only that we had finally won, that the Crimson Pact was redeemed, that we could all go home. Tired as we were, no man lifted a fist to celebrate. No Blessed Woman smiled. No church Catechist recounted the litany of our good fortunes. The cost had been too high, the wager of battle too awful. In that moment, winning didn’t seem to matter. It would not be long before we found that even the brief illusion of victory would tear away like fog before the wind.
We had to reanimate the dead to learn the terrible truth. When we could find corpses whole enough to take the enchantment, that is. Most of them lay in torn, unrecognizable chunks no bigger than a man’s finger. Our front line troops had been destroyed to a man. No living soldier remained to tell the tale. How had our enemies, at the moment of their apparent defeat, disappeared into a rolling, living explosion of acrid fire? What twisted plot had allowed them to lure us in, only to annihilate us and make good their escape? Only the dead knew.
The landscape, a blasted waste of flaming corrosion, would never again support life. Nothing wholesome remained. Trees were charred skeletons; grass had turned to ash; even the rocks were glazed with black, tarry soot that wouldn’t wash away. The comrades we brought back had known torment no human mind could bear. Wrenching them back into their broken bodies was a crime we will spend our lives trying to forget. They screamed until we were forced to pulp their heads with the burial spades, providing us with nothing but fodder for night sweats and drinking binges.
You begin clean. You begin with fine intentions and a cause. The ending is always burnt black, broken promises strewn about with the dead and all you had hoped to do slipping through your hands like the steam of your breath in midwinter.