The Infernal Engine

Liam Brockley

<b>Day One: </b>Your collection of guns rattles in your cart as you spur your horse onward down the dreary trail, past foul-smelling creeks and squat, ugly hillocks. You glance again at the map the black-robed man gave you at the barhouse. You are far from familiar roads by now, and you worry, as you have countless times, that this is a fool's errand. Perhaps the strange, earnest little man only lead you astray for his own amusement. You hope you will be paid well, if you ever arrive at the place he told you about.
Soon you begin running across tumbledown farmhouses occupied by families of sheep herders. None of them want to talk to you once they find out where you're going. When you ask for directions to the <i>Great Machine</i>, they spit at you and flee, making strange gestures with their fingers as if warding off evil.
As you pass through yet another tiny village, you see an old man by the side of the road. He has probably been abandoned by a family that couldn't afford to feed him. His ribs show through his taut yellowed skin, and he shakes visibly. He is obviously close to starvation.
Offer the old man some bread.
Continue on your way, no need to waste time.