Tom (WordWulf) Sterner
The earth is in a state of chaos at the end of a catastrophic world war. Wulf must leave his family to descend into the earth and seek a place of refuge for his People. He is accompanied by his comrade-in-arms, the Cajun, Angelo. Once in the “Labyrinth”, they are accosted by blood-thirsty mutant creatures and a raging assassin. Wulf faces many perils, not the least of which is the truth about himself and his People. The Patron knows, watching from his lair, “The Night Room”. Naked ladies dance on his fiery stages while he watches and manipulates Wulf. Lylia finds him there, cold as ice, she is forced to dance. Still she stands proud and proves to be more than the wicked Patron can handle. He laughs as she makes her danse, gifts her the tattooed skin of her rapist, sends his head to Wulf.
The Warrior is an epic novel of approximately 312,000 words. It is set at the end of a cataclysmic five year global war and the planet is in a state of chaos. Wulf leaves his family and the beautiful Lylia and descends into the earth to seek a place of refuge for his People. He is accompanied by his comrade-in-arms the Cajun, Angelo.
Once in the “Labyrinth”, they are accosted by blood-thirsty mutant creatures and a raging assassin. Wulf faces many perils, not the least of which is the truth about himself and his People. Is he a “Climber”, a soul thief, victim of a four hundred year curse?
The Patron knows, watching from his lair, “The Night Room”. The naked ladies dance on his fiery stages as he watches and manipulates Wulf. Lylia finds him there, on the wrong side of the one-way glass. She is raped and beaten, cold as ice and forced to dance. Still she stands proud and proves to be more than the wicked Patron can handle. He laughs as she makes her danse, gifts her the tattooed skin of her rapist, sends his head to Wulf.
Wulf emerges from the Labyrinth with the sultry lady doctor, Jennifer. She has saved him, shared the secrets of the Labyrinth and her brother, Hood. He discovers “After Earth”, a ship buried in the Earth and surrounded by the Labyrinth. He and Jennifer join Wulf’s children, find Lylia gone and a world gone mad.
Wulf rides with The Lords of the Dragon into the stronghold of the United Republic of Allied Continents (YURASS) to seek peace, only to be attacked by the merciless assassin from the Labyrinth. He returns to his home in the Great Stone Mountains, finds he has been betrayed by his brother and Boss Tongue, field commander of The Lords of the Dragon.
Finally he begins to listen to the metal voice from the Labyrinth. He makes plans to go with Jennifer, his children and a handful of faithful riders from the Lords, into the earth. The YURASS strikes and the enemy from the Land of the Rising Sun. An exodus begins as people in the cities hear about the wolf man going to live with the spiders and snakes. Wulf welcomes them and waits with his comrades and children, one thousand feet under the Earth, for the final ending to begin.
No one knows the sword danser
the maker of folded steel
temper of metal
fates of Nations
The Blade Diablo
Hood closed his eyes. “Yeah, tomorrow,” he mused, “Well, tomorrow we’ll iron out some details and then you’ll take Zakariah and Jennifer out of here. It will be Christmas in four days. We’ll tell Zak it’s Christmas break, a vacation. I used to always be busy on Christmas, playin’ ball, makin’ movies and commercials, humpin’ my women. So see, he’s already used to spending that time away from his Daddy. We’ll give it a couple of weeks and see. It’ll work itself out.”
Hood opened the wooden box and took out two more cigars. The two men enjoyed the silent ritual of biting, licking, rolling and lighting. Wulf breathed in the warm pungent aroma of the tobacco. “How will we travel?”
Hood smiled a little, his eyes half closed. “We’re in your basement, my little upside down turtle friend.”
Wulf was confused. “What do you mean by that?”
Hood sat forward, his massive forearms on his knees. “When you walk the wall through the paths of your lives you’ll have all the answers. You will find them there. Those caves and caverns you have seen, others you haven’t, the whole of the labyrinth, all of it was well known to your People a few hundreds of years ago. I’ve found their writings, their sign, down here everywhere. I haven’t been able to decipher it but I’m confident you’ll be able to figure it out. This room is directly under your Hunting room, Wulf. We’re maybe fifty feet down, I’m not sure. The City of the Dark Heart is above the Grand Arena. Your well is fed by the waters of my fountain.”
Wulf gaped at him in open-mouthed wonder and disbelief. “I am an historian of the Native Peoples here, my People. Nothing you have said is on record. The People always lived above ground, sometimes in caves on the faces of cliffs. There is no record or evidence of underground dwellings.”
Hood laughed derisively. “Yeah and who writes the histories, my friend? They took everything else away from your People. Why would they leave secrets such as these? What about lost civilizations, those who migrated to cliff dwellings to escape enemies and then, poof! They were here one minute, gone the next, wiped from the face of the earth without a trace. In the wall you’ll find the chapters of the Dark book, the truth. There you will find the answers.”
Wulf had his hands over his ears, as if to shut out what Hood was saying. Hood touched his knee. “Look Wulf, just try to keep an open mind. I’ve had years to digest all of this and I still can’t bring myself to fully believe half of what I know to be the truth. And I wasn’t a learned historian like you are to start with. Tomorrow noon, me and Zak, we got this little train thing. Zak loves to drive it and he’ll take you out of here. When you get topside, a limousine will drive you to your home. I don’t walk the wall and play all this hocus-pocus bullshit with Zak and Jenny and you don’t either, okay?”
Wulf nodded, still not comprehending all of what Hood was telling him. “Who will drive the car?” he asked.
Hood raised his hands in a defensive gesture. “Wulf, you have to learn to trust me. I’m getting Zakariah and Jennifer out, entrusting them to your care. It’s all worked out. The hardest part is imparting all the crucial information to you so you can make use of all of this.” He spread his arms expansively, encompassing everything around them, before continuing. “It’s crazier than shit out there, Wulf. I don’t know if it can stop now that it’s got itself started. The end of the Great Conflict will be the beginning of mass migrations of people, nomads and gypsies, taking what they may. They’ll be coming to your precious Stone Mountains, Wulf.”
“The endings of wars are always new beginnings. This one is far from over, believe me. A new madness will soon sweep the land. A warrior can fight the fight when he must but even the best become battle weary, need a place of retreat. They’ll take that place from you and then leave what they’ve destroyed in their bloody wake, believe me. They will come. You can’t fight them forever. They are too many. You’ll need a place to go. That’s all I’m offering you here. When the time is upon you, bring the children, mine and yours, down here. Save them. Protect them. Fuck the rest!”
Wulf ‘s resolve was slipping. He felt his eyes filling with tears. “That is what brought me down here in the first place. I was to find a place to conceal a laboratory so we could gear up for further fighting with the URAC. It has been going on for too God damned long!”
Hood got up and knelt before Wulf. He took Wulf’s head in his hands. Wulf could smell the pie, the cigar and something else. It must be the medicine, he thought, no, the disease or the physiology of both. Hood squeezed his face until it hurt. “Wulf, the immediate answers you seek, they will come in their own time, an end to the assassinations, a temporary peace enabling you to unite the Councils of the Thirteen Nations with the URAC.”
Hood pulled a leather case from beneath a table near where they were sitting. He set it reverently on the table. His hands trembled as he opened it to reveal an antique saber and scabbard. He lifted them from the leather case and laid them across the arms of Wulf’s chair. “Take this and wear it in all your affairs of Council. It is no Excalibur but it will assist you in seeking peace and a seat of authority amongst the tribes of your People. Let them take your guns, all other weapons, but insist on keeping this piece. You are already branded an eccentric. They will humor you this little bit, lest you attend them with your epileptic fits.”
Hood caressed the blade. “This was taken from the battleground at Gettysburg. I used it last in that life to dispatch my injured and suffering horse in the battle before joining your brother as Captain of the Guard. I wiped the brave blood of that gallant horse on my Confederate trousers but that’s another story. I used it in this life for my magnificent Diablo. It has a strong history of dispatching old war horses. Remember that when the time comes. Now it is yours. Cherish it and remember the warrior, Diablo.”
Hood stepped back and Wulf stood up, saber in one hand, scabbard in the other. He shoved the saber into the scabbard with a quick deft thrust. The two men stood in silence. The only sound was the ringing of the aged chromed steel. To Wulf’s ears it was the heart rending shriek of Diablo.
Hood picked up the box of cigars and went to put them away. When he returned Wulf was standing, the saber hanging at his side. Hood appraised him, gave him a nod of approval. “It is a handsome piece. You wear it well.” There was a definite sadness about him, an absolute melancholy that comes over a man maybe only once in a lifetime, that this day, this long awaited event must finally come to an end. He embraced Wulf long and hard, making him feel like a child in the arms of a bear. “Good night, my friend,” he said as he left the room. Wulf saw the light in the passage switch on and then off as Hood descended the labyrinth, on his way into the open mouth of his sleeping chamber, the teeth of the earth.
Wulf rode the elevator up, stepped out onto the upper walkway. He was drawn to the fountain, the water spray reflecting pinpoints of light from the skylights. Stars in the heavens, he wondered, or mirrors? Why was the water crying now? It had been laughing gaily before. Hood’s melancholy owned him as he entered his room. Light followed him everywhere. He didn’t want or need it. This was a time for darkness. He cursed the light, his lack of control over it, then remembered the chrome disc on his wrist. He removed it carefully and dropped it into the pocket of his shirt.
He was immediately engulfed in the absolute darkness of the labyrinth, a living and necessary part of night creatures crawling, feeding, breeding. He rubbed his wrist where the disc had been and closed his eyes, going in to examine his interior darkness. He felt his body sway to the song of the falling water. “Why does sadness own me?” he asked himself as he felt the old loneliness coming to invade, threatening to overwhelm him. He made his way slowly to the chair, tired and weary beyond words, disconsolate.
As Wulf fell into the chair he thought about Fang but the cat was not there. He reached behind the pillows of the big chair. He was forced to lay down to reach them. He pulled out his furs and blankets, hugged them to his breast, tasted the wildness of the furs. The chair was so large he could sleep in it like a bed, throwing his legs over the side. Sometimes when he was at home he would make the conscious waking choice, put the sad man away and invite the wolf to devour his loneliness. The wolf knew how to be lonely. And sleep would come, a howling respite.
Tonight he was as much home as he could ever be without actually being there. He shoved the blankets back behind the pillows of the chair. He relieved himself of the burden of his clothing, rubbed the wild furs against the nakedness of his bare skin. He lay back in the embrace of the chair, the skins pulled over him, searching in the darkness for the feral eyes of the wolf. He was soon joined by a quickening of breath, the soft pounding of his four feet against the face of the earth. He got the blood scent and peered out at the fragile little man curled up in the chair sucking his thumb. He flew into the face of the wind as it carried the scent to him, the coppery aroma of impending death, joy of the kill. He left the sad and lonely man with the weakness of tears in his eyes. And he thrilled into the jaws of the night.
The mad dreams came, the night parade, the dead woman’s face, only tonight it rode a screaming black stallion. The woman’s death’s head voices roared, “Diablo!” And a worm crawled out of her mouth, white and fat, burrowing itself between her bleeding lips, feeding. Then his children came to rescue him. They danced and sang, laughed and called him Father, Father, Father. Wulf sang the songs with them and longed for her danse. He embraced his children, each in turn, awaiting the appearance of Lylia, her smoldering eyes, scent of lilacs. But she didn’t come and the wolf took him once more to visit the kill, wrest his share from the feeding pack. His primordial voice found itself, fresh blood flowing from his jowls, as he drifted further into the nether world of his sleep.
Later he saw himself walk into the Hunting Room. She was lying in the man’s chair, covered by his sleeping skins. The man knelt down close to her, attempting to join the rhythm of her sleep. His lips a breath away from her lips, he tasted the warm scent of her soul. He pushed her dark hair back, rubbed the flat plane of her cheek with the back of his hand. Her eyelashes, long and dark, lay like spider fingers against her beautiful fair skin. He hungered for the fullness of her lips, the promise of a kiss. There. He let his lips have a taste, just a touch, and he backed slowly away.