Arok (The Golems of Astaphor)

In a post-apocalyptic world where humanity is struggling to survive after a terrible war, one girl makes a startling discovery about the past and uncovers a Golem: a mechanical construct that acts and thinks like a human, and possibly the last of his kind. However, there are others that would find the existence of a Golem very interesting indeed....
Cover image by Keepwalking07 on Deviant art.


1. The discovery


A part of Kiri knew that it was another vision, but that part of her was far away, swept aside by the strongest vision she had ever experienced before. A huge ghostly giant swept past her silently, as even bigger things flew by overhead. The empty, ruined street she had been on was suddenly bustling with ghostly apparitions, the buildings suddenly repaired and shining whitely in their former glory. It was wonderful and terrifying. At her chest she could feel the crystal growing hotter, approaching scalding, the light of it shining through her clothes. Soon it grew too much for her and Kiri tore the chain off her head, and as quickly as that the vision ended. Kiri suddenly became aware of eyes watching her. She knew she must have made a commotion, and suspicious mothers and their children watched them from empty doorways. They think I'm just like mum, she realised, Maybe I am. Kiri then became aware that the crystal in her hand was still glowing, still hot, and now a strange beam of light was pointing towards the edge of the slum. Without knowing why, she followed it.


After half an hour of following the line of light, Kiri could no longer look at the crystal directly – it was pulsing, faster and faster, brighter and brighter, and the line of light coming off of it was thick and strong now, pointing dead ahead, at something on the floor. She knew she shouldn't be here, she was in the underground, and gangs and worse made their dens here.  A single spot of light from a hole in the ceiling was the only thing that illuminated the shape on the floor. It looked to be made of metal – it glinted and shined as Kiri moved closer. As she neared the shape her heart nearly stopped. It looked like a human. But no - a human made out of metal. The metal man was lying on its back, the right side of its chest caved in, showing mechanics underneath the likes of which Kiri had never dreamed of. The crystal stopped pulsing. It was making a high whining noise, the beam of light pointing directly to the metal man's head. The head had no nose, but otherwise was just like a slight young man's face. Where the nose would have been was an odd rectangle, protruding two inches from its face. The rectangle had a diamond shaped opening, and this was where the beam was pointing. Not knowing what would happen or why she was doing it, Kiri inserted the crystal into the groove. A series of mechanical clicks followed, and the crystal sunk into his head, replaced with the same flawless smooth white-grey metal of its body. Then a blue light began to glow from the man's eyes, dull at first but getting brighter, and a high thrumming punctured by more mechanical clicks began to emanate from his body. Kiri threw herself away from it, tripping over in her haste, her eyes widening as the man's fingers began to twitch. Suddenly the eyes turned a baleful red and narrowed to a spiteful glare as in an instant the man came to life, sitting bolt upright and looking past Kiri, its left arm outstretched to something only it could see.

“JORMUNG! NO! NOOOOOO!” It screamed in an odd tinny voice, like someone speaking through an empty metal tube. Just as quickly as its eyes lit they dulled, fading as fine metal eyelids shut. It fell back – unconscious or dead, Kiri did not know.

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