(OsiriumWrites) Death Smith - I - Chapter 2 (Vacation and purpose)
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Seven months ago.
August, 13 AR.
England, London, Ealing Hospital.
In the background, Lance and Thomas hurried to complete their tasks while Daniel patiently heard the doctor’s grim diagnosis. The physician outlined the severity of the damage to Daniel’s arm and discussed the potential need for prosthetics, as well as the ongoing threat of infection. Although antibiotics had temporarily contained the infection, the road to recovery was long and uncertain. Despite the devastating news, Daniel remained composed, nodding in acknowledgement while silently appraising the wreckage that had once been his arm.
“Prosthetics won’t cut it unless it’s made from Rift material,” Dieter said, his thick German accent making his statement sound more serious. He clarified only materials found within a Rift could survive its passage. Daniel’s prosthetic, therefore, had to be made from the same material if he intended to go with it.
“It’s alright, Dieter. I’m done as a Rifter. We both know that this is the case,” Daniel spoke with a composed voice, signalling the end of their discussion. He looked up at the towering figure of the German beside him, only to be met with a resolute stare.
“We won’t know unless you try,” the man growled.
Daniel nodded in understanding at the doctor, his left hand finding its way to Dieter's shoulder in gratitude. He appreciated the sentiment, but the decision had already been made.
Daniel let out a rueful laugh, the sound hollow and bitter. “Seems I picked the wrong class,” he said to his friend when the doctor had left the room. “A Mage could still sling spells with one arm.”
“A Magier, huh?” Dieter scoffed, his lips curling in amusement. “You’d probably burn off your dangling bits the first time you tried to cast a fireball.”
“Pffft,” Daniel scoffed with a proud expression. “It would have to be a pretty big fireball to do that.”
The men’s laughter echoed throughout the room as the Rift-hound’s tail wagged with joy. Lance and Thomas sat in the corner, heads down and focused on their reports. Just as they were about to leave, Daniel noticed Lance staring at his arm yet again. He shot a pointed look in Lance’s direction and gestured him over with a flick of his head.
Lance's face flushed as he approached. "Sorry. I didn't mean to stare," he apologized.
“Yes, you did. But don’t worry about it. Check it out,” Daniel said, waving off Lance’s apology. He rolled up his sleeve, showing the scars that criss-crossed his arm. “A Skinner did this,” he said, his voice devoid of emotion, while the Rift-Hound let out a low growl, as if sensing the danger that the word represented.
“I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a pack of those little monsters,” Daniel said sarcastically, his expression darkening. “Their jaws are very flexible, and once they’ve bitten down, they just start spinning, grinding away at your flesh until there’s nothing left. It’s like being grounded down to the bone.”
Thomas, who had been eavesdropping on the war stories, turned pale as Daniel explained the skinner. Lance shuddered as he tried to picture the creature—a hybrid of a crocodile and a hyena. ‘And these Rifters battle these things for a living?’ he thought, feeling a mix of awe and horror. He knew not everyone had what it took to become a Rifter, as Rift experiences traumatized or permanently maimed many of the survivors. And those that survived their first experience intact would also need the proper mindset to go back in.
“How long does it take to lose an arm like that?” Thomas inquired, earning a swift kick to the shin from Lance. His best friend shot him a look that screamed, ‘Are you serious right now?’ Meanwhile, Daniel remained unfazed, as if he had seen injuries like this before.
Daniel mused on the topic; his gaze distant as he considered the answer. “It all comes down to size and maturity,” he finally said. “A youngling could take a few minutes to sand down an arm, but an alpha... about ten seconds?” He turned to Dieter, curious to hear his thoughts.
“Ja, seems about right,” Dieter replied, calmly weighing in as if it were a rather light-hearted topic to discuss.
Daniel then went on. “My Rifter class is that of a Ranger... or it was when I had both my arms. It is best to hunt a skinner from a distance during the day. They have poor vision in daylight, and you can spot them from afar. They get more dangerous during the night-time. That happened to me. Still, my days of wielding a bow are over.”
The conversation continued, and Daniel regaled the group with stories from his latest Rifts, with Dieter chiming in with his own experiences. They reminisced about the strange creatures they had encountered and the myriad of worlds they had visited. As they spoke, they shared fascinating stories of unique Rifter classes, like Necromancers, Summoners, and even Druids, alongside more common ones like Warriors, Smiths, Rangers, and Mages.
Thomas and Lance were enthralled by their accounts, lost in tales of distant, mystical realms that existed beyond the limits of imagination. The stories were so captivating that they could have been taken straight from the pages of a novel.
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Lance’s eyes were strained as he checked his phone again, mentally calculating the time he had left. ‘One hour.’ He ignored the unread text from his brother again. “You realize you don’t have to keep throwing the ball, right?” he asked his friend, hoping to end the mind-numbing game.
Lance’s eyes followed the ball’s trajectory as it flew past him. He deftly shifted his weight to the side, snatching it out of the air with ease and depriving Thomas of another irritating ball toss.
“Give it back, man. You know it helps with my nerves,” Thomas grumbled, shooting Lance a disapproving look of betrayal.
“Don’t be nervous. The uniform looks very slimming on you,” Lance said with a grin, followed by Thomas throwing a small packet of sugar towards him.
Though his athletic build didn’t exactly lend itself to diplomacy, the red-haired man tried his luck anyway, his hand hovering near the bowl of sugar packets on the table. “You know what I mean,” he said. “You know what I mean. I need a smoke and I still need to wait an hour because of that bloody new rule.”
“Ah, well. New policy, new rules,” Lance replied, not feeling any sympathy for his friend’s unhealthy habits. He had tried for years to get Thomas to quit smoking, but the man was as stubborn as an ox.
“They didn’t consult me about this,” Thomas said sourly, no doubt feeling the cigarette pack and lighter burning a hole in his pocket. He always had those things close at hand.
Lance shot Thomas a concerned look. “You know those things are going to kill you one day, right?” Thomas just shrugged and hurled another sugar packet at him. Lance caught it and grinned. “Geez, you’re such a baby,” he muttered, setting the packet back on the table.
“Bite me,” Thomas said, his voice somewhat irritated.
A grin twisted Lance’s lips as he stood up. “You know what? Scratch that. The uniform doesn’t do you any favours. It makes you look fat.” With a yawn threatening to escape, he sauntered towards the remaining tasks on his checklist. The relentless work hours and added shifts had drained him. All he wanted was to slip into bed and escape from the world.
‘Chicken would be good... perhaps a taco?’ he thought, deciding what to have for dinner. The ache in his stomach hinted that he would need some fresh vegetables or a proper meal at some point. For now, a microwave meal would suffice. Not long after deciding on his meal, he noticed that his colleagues from the late shift were arriving. He knew most of them well, occasionally sharing drinks with them after work. Some were newbies or interns, too green to form an opinion on yet.
Thomas was Lance’s oldest friend. He looked and acted like a stereotypical jock, with his fiery red hair and quick temper. But Lance knew that beneath the tough exterior was a man with a kind heart. Thomas was a master at whining and complaining, but in times of crisis, he was the rock everyone could count on. He stayed calm under pressure and never wavered in his loyalty to his friends.
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With his shift nearly over, Lance went to check on his VIP-Patient, Daniel Wells. Nearly every hospital had its doors open for Rifters, but few hospitals could handle the assortment of injuries Rifters could sustain during a Rift. These brave men and women frequently got stabbed, cut, or even bitten by strange monsters. Beyond that, there could be strange acids or poisons involved. And sometimes, they encountered things that even medical professionals couldn’t fully comprehend.
While Rifters skilled in the art of healing could typically address most injuries on the spot within a Rift, some wounds were simply too severe. Daniel’s condition fell into this category. Even restorative potions, which could have helped him recover, were few and far between, not to mention exorbitantly expensive.
Lance knocked softly on the door before peeking inside and asking, “You got a minute?” After receiving an affirmative from Daniel, he stepped into the room and saw the man seated in a chair, scribbling notes on a stack of papers Lance had dropped off earlier.
“Hey, lad. Just jotting down some notes to get my thoughts in order,” Daniel said as he looked up from his papers. Lance couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy under the weight of Daniel’s piercing gaze. Though his eyes projected a sense of wisdom and knowledge, they also conveyed an intense level of scrutiny. Still, looking at the one-armed man like that was painful.
Lance didn’t feel sorry for Daniel, but he felt a profound sense of grief. Despite their popularity, there were not enough Rifters to be in every place at once. An uncleared Rift could quickly turn into an outbreak, with whatever horrors that lay beyond spilling out and forming a permanent connection to the world. ‘How many more people could he have rescued if he had sustained no permanent injuries?’
As more and more Rifts appeared, the threat of an outbreak would grow as well. Governments took great care in monitoring Rifts and deploying armed forces and the military where they deemed it necessary. Depending on where the Rift was located, it could mean an outbreak might occur in a heavily populated area. For Lance, losing even one Rifter, like Daniel, would be a great loss for the world.
“Are you all right for the rest of the day?” Lance asked, waiting for an answer from the Rifter as he stepped further into the room.
Daniel had already been in surgery a few times, at first to save the arm and later to improve the condition of what remained. His current reason for staying in the hospital was to have further tests and examine the scale of the nerve damage. To make matters worse, it turned out that monsters such as a Skinner also carried nasty lingering infectious material in their saliva. Even a Rifter as durable as Daniel could still be susceptible to these types of things. This meant that he’d require frequent treatment to prevent the infection from getting worse.
“Yeah, I’m all right, lad. Thanks for checking up on me, lad,” Daniel replied, setting down his pen on the table. “Dieter’s out with little Hans and grabbing some things from my car. You almost finished with your shift for the day?”
“Almost done. Just need to grab my backpack and update the late shift,” Lance replied, his smile reassuring. “Brendan or Sophia should be taking care of you tonight. They’re both excellent nurses.” He hesitated for a moment, thinking about his experiences helping other Rifters. Most of them had severe injuries or an aura that made them hard to approach. As an introvert, Lance didn’t enjoy dealing with haughty Rifters who were idolized as heroes.
Despite being a Rifter, Daniel felt surprisingly normal to Lance. It was difficult to put into words, but there was something about the man that made him seem like just an average bloke. If Lance could ignore the crystal-like object in the centre of his chest and the fact that he was missing an arm, Daniel would blend right in with any group of dads.
The man’s build was the product of a lifetime of labour: compact, strong, and purposeful. His hair, once brown, was now shot through with grey, lending him an air of gravitas. But his brown eyes were lively and mischievous, defying the wrinkles that clustered around them. It was a face that spoke to experience and endurance.
Lance cleared his throat, suddenly unsure of how to proceed. “This might sound weird or inappropriate, but... do you think you’re going to miss being a Rifter?” he asked, watching the other man’s face for any sign of a reaction.
“Yes and no,” the Rifter said, with a thoughtful look. “I won’t miss the pain, the hardships and the constant fear,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand when Lance appeared to be surprised by his answer. “Every Rifter is afraid, lad. Every time we stepped into a Rift; we knew we might not come back. That kind of fear stays with you. What, did you think we were all made of steel or something?” the Rifter asked, with a wry grin.
“Don’t believe everything you hear,” the Rifter said, leaning back against a tree. “People think we’re all crazy adrenaline junkies, but that’s just nonsense. Most people who earn their shards don’t even want to become Rifters. And even if they do, it’s difficult. The terrain, the creatures, the lack of sleep... it’s a bloody nightmare. Compare that to a comfortable bed, a warm meal, and a bottle of scotch… Simple choice, right?” he said with a smile before looking down at his left hand, as if gripping some invisible memory that he cherished.
“But finding people in a Rift and helping them survive? Clearing a Rift and restoring hope to a city? Even just being present and on the scene calms people down. That feeling of doing something good? I’ll always miss that feeling,” Daniel explained as the smile widened.
“I think I understand. It makes sense,” Lance said respectfully before nodding at the man. As he made his way out of the room, he caught a glimpse of Daniel still staring at his remaining hand and whispering something about ‘purpose’.
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Support "Death Smith"
Antibiotics wasere suppressing it for now, but he was looking at a lengthy recovery.
“They didn’t consult me about this,” Thomas said sourly, no doubt feeling the cigarette pack and lighter burning a hole in his pocket.
Beyond that, there could be strange acids or poisons involved.
Lance was introverted in nature, and an arrogant Rifter that was hero -worshiped was usually something that he preferred to avoid.
I was wondering can someone enter a rift who isn't a rifter, survive, and become a rifter?
Thanks for the tips!
No, someone/something has to contain radiation/energy from the Rift in order to pass through it. If not, it gets vaporised.
The only chance to become a Rifter is to be (un)lucky enough to be in the spot where a Rift forms.
It gets explained more in depth at later stages in the books as to his reasoning behind it. Short story: Daniel is a very protective individual that wouldn’t want to endanger his teammates because of his lost limb/lingering infection.
Prose Piranha ago
“My Rifter class iwas that of a Ranger... when I had both my hands.
“My Rifter class is that of a Ranger... or it was when I had both my hands.
Lance and Thomas kept a low profile and were busy filling in the day's report.
Some people were far too traumatised or were permanently wounded from their first Rift, or permanently wounded to become a proper Rifter. Consider the word "maimed"?
Daniel explained what type of creatures he encountered during his last Rifts and with Dieter filling in here and there.
Some had more common Classes such as a Warrior, Smiths, Ranger, or Mage, but there were also more unique ones such as a Summoner, Necromancer and even a dDruid.