The Battering Ram

(I’m still posting a few standalone excerpts from my upcoming novel, “I Despise Your Prophecy”. The majority of that posting happens over at But I’m writing a long chapter right now, and I didn’t have a chance to write a new story for the blog.

…and honestly, I like this tale. I know what it feels like to have someone basically pick you up and use you as a battering ram to break down some door, just to get at what they want. 

And that’s pretty much exactly what happens when you’re a Chosen One in a world where the White Wizards don’t care who dies, so long as, eventually, the Dark Lord goes down as well.

Susane doesn’t die. She’s taken prisoner, instead.)

Susane awoke all at once, as was her tendency. The chains had been removed, on the condition that she not immediately attack whomever might walk through the door automatically, a promise she’d…mostly… kept.

And she said, under her breath, but enunciating each word, “Today I get out. If the Stars align.”

It was a hateful little bit of irony; but it made her smile, and she’d learned the value of a little laugh in confinement, even if it’s at your own joke. The Stars didn’t give a comet’s ass if she escaped. Nobody did; nobody but her. Nobody even thought she was important enough to be a threat; even the Dark Lord hadn’t killed her.

She would show them.

The door was some kind of ironwood, inlaid with actual iron, and swinging ponderously on very, very thick hinges. It looked as though you’d need an axe taller than Susane to make a dent.

Susane didn’t have an axe. She had Susane; and that would have to be enough.

Slowly, she stretched, as she waited for the first meal of the day. Experience had taught her that they wouldn’t slide food through the slot if she was actively attempting to destroy the entry portal at the same time. It had also shown her that nothing on her tray was going to be much use as a battering tool—with the one obvious exception: she wasn’t poorly fed here, and food, like rage, was fuel.

She ate. She stretched (one pulled muscle can give you two days of frustration, as you can’t really hurl yourself at something if a part of your engine’s going to give out under pressure.) She did the first of several sets of exercises through the day (at least she’d had a Warrior to watch for months; she’d resented his company then, but you could take tools out of anything.) She mumbled what she hoped was an incantation (she hadn’t paid as much attention to the Wizard—and turned her attentions to the door.

She shifted her body sideways, pulled her head back (she still had a trace of the lump from when her efforts were a little less…thoughtful)—and threw herself, hard, at the door.

The door held.

She threw herself at the door.

The door held.

She kept on doing this until she was out of breath and her shoulder was screaming polite demands to be grafted onto a different body altogether, one which might respect it just a little more.

The next meal came. She ate. She waited.

She turned the other shoulder, took a deep breath, and hurled herself at the door.

If victory were measured by physical marks, the door had left many more of them on her than she on it. But she was fairly sure there was a small dent—it was what she aimed for.

And, as long as she avoided doing herself permanent damage, she would heal, over time.

The door would not; it was static. It could not grow or change except by outside force applied to it.

Susane had been like that door; at least, that’s how she thought of herself. Although it was more accurate to say she’d been a battering ram, meant to open the way for others, but not necessarily meant to survive the attempt.

But now Susane’s goal was to be nothing other than herself. No Fate, no Stars: just purpose

Every night, with the third meal, came another little seashell, and a few books. Susane hadn’t been much of a reader, but confinement is a great motivator of mind-occupying activities.

Most of them were on martial arts. Susane assumed this was a cruel bit of sarcastic teasing; but the joke was on The Dark Lord; she read them carefully, and what she could glean from them, she brought to bear, every morning. She was even starting to meditate, slow breaths in and out; it was said you could gain more force that way, and if that was true, then it was worth doing.

Was the dent in that door just a little bigger today?

If not, it would be.

Shoulders aching, mind strangely content, Susane went to sleep.

~Jeff Mach


My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities, put on events, and make stories come into being. I also tweet a lot over @darklordjournal.

I write books. You should read them!

Jeff Mach Written by:

Jeff Mach is an author, playwright, event creator, and certified Villain. You can always pick up his bestselling first novel, "There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN"—or, indeed, his increasingly large selection of other peculiar books. If you'd like to talk more to Jeff, or if you're simply a Monstrous Creature yourself, stop by @darklordjournal on Twitter, or The Dark Lord Journal on Facebook.

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