Age of Rust


Age of Rust is a tale of displaced youth, the struggle for life, and the peril of love in war-time.

Age of Rust

by Thaddeus Yeiser & Conrad Bair

Genre: Dystopian War Fiction


No records show how it happened, though everyone has their beliefs as to why the golden age of man fell seven hundred years ago. Since, humanity has managed to rebuild a modest civilization from the ruins. Now a medieval war begins to ravage the land once known as America. The lives of six young men become ensnared in the violence as they serve the Eastern army. Chief among them are Tavin, the son of a respected general and Seneca, a physician drafted away from his studies.

Loved ones left at home are threatened when Kayzitt, the zealot Western officer, leads his marauders behind enemy lines. His cruel methods devastate every community he encounters and the East seems doomed to fall under its own weight as he makes a name for himself in the legends of the militaristic West.

But the six heroes notice that something has changed inside themselves. Their minds are subtly connected in a way that cannot be explained but lends them increased prowess on the battlefield. Inevitably, their skills place them on a collision course with Kayzitt that will shape the future of the nation.

Age of Rust is a tale of displaced youth, the struggle for life, and the peril of love in war-time. It is an ode to masculine vainglory and the valor in conflict as it bridges with the feminine witness of human corruption and loss of innocence.

We say that we would do anything for each other, but in the worst times will they listen to me? Will they be able to comprehend what is at stake? Will they rise above themselves and meet the challenge? Can they possibly understand how wrong this can all go? We call ourselves warriors, but I question if they know what that title entails. 

  The howl of a lone wolf found Tavin’s ears, making them hum with the steady tone despite the miles between. As if to listen closer, Tavin pulled away from the girl, peeling his lips off hers and craning his neck to look out the chapel window. Hauntingly, the howling stopped, slipping off at the end of its note, but Tavin kept his gaze beyond the stone walls. Something about the timbre had snapped him to attention. Outside the night was cool and still, the moon and its light had disappeared behind the mountains around the town and on the horizon was the hint of sunrise.

“Do you not like wolves?” asked the girl. “Do they scare you? I think they are beautiful creatures. Lovely, when you get past the teeth.”

Tavin turned to her again. She was soft in the gentle light of night, a thin thing who was admirably young and energetic. 

“No, I’m not afraid of wolves.”

He flashed her a reassuring smile. It was his smile that people were always drawn to. They could not help but smile back. He touched the woman on the jaw and rubbed the same place she had been rubbing his beard moments earlier. Their eyes locked for a lingering, peaceful moment.

Feeling the hardness of the ground against his knees, Tavin stood to relieve it. He covered her kindly with the blanket they had borrowed from the chapel offices, and then walked to the window of their steeple hideaway. Tavin had looked forward to sneaking up here with a woman for the past week, but now something chewed at his stomach.

“Do you even remember my name?” she asked with charming accusation.

Tavin could feel the arrogance in his automatic grin.

“Of course, Marlies. Marlies, Marlies, Marlies,” he echoed.

“I’m impressed, all you soldiers tend not to care about the details.”

“Well I’m not most soldiers,” Tavin said, his eyes, now adjusted to the moonlight, on the flickering lights in the distance. He propped his elbows on the cold hard surface and tried to look closer. Campfires, he assumed, but they looked different. The drift of chilled air through the window had an anxious scent.
“I thought as much when I first saw you in the tavern. You have such serious eyes for how you danced around.” She made more room beneath the blanket again and adjusted herself. “Here, I’m cold, get under the blanket. What interests you so much about the window anyway? Are you trying to see the Western camps?”

Tavin paused, then turned and rejoined her as she requested. It was much warmer beneath the blanket and she was much softer than the stone walls. 

“Perhaps I was,” he said, “there are three thousand of them out there in the fields. We should be able to see them from up here. But it’s still too dark.”

“Three thousand? Really?” she asked with a tone of false surprise. “My father was saying that there are only four hundred of you here to guard the town. Is that true?”

“Yes, it's true,” Tavin sighed. “I did not think it a point of discussion.”

“Don’t be naïve.” She hit his shoulder. “It is the only point of discussion these days. Why do you think they haven’t attacked yet? It makes me so nervous, the way they sit out there and burn their fires and ride their horses close to the walls and shoot arrows at the blockhouses.”

Tavin sighed again. The horizon was a bright purple now but there would be another hour or two until the sun rose. 

Well, they don't exactly know how many of us there are, so… we'll let them take their time. At least until reinforcements can get here. As soon as that happens my friends and I can finally rotate to the fortress.”

“It figures. I didn’t think this was going to last long,” she replied. “You and I, I mean; though the war as well. I suppose I never thought either would drag on like it has.”


“No offense, the war drags, whereas you have been a welcome surprise.”

“Well the reinforcements still haven’t come. And there’s been no word to suggest they are coming soon. You might have to put up with me a little longer yet.”

But there was a chewing at his stomach that made Tavin feel the beginnings of terror. The way his words reverberated off the stone walls of the chapel pinnacle, cold and hollow, he could feel that they were wrong. He stirred beneath the blanket again, agitated. 

“What would happen if the West takes the town? What would happen to us? Am I just another notch on your scabbard? I think that we could still be happy no matter who is in charge.”

Tavin glanced to where his swords lay propped against the wall. For a second, he regretted having ever removed them. They were a defensive comfort in times where comforts were few.

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Thaddeus Yeiser was born in Butler, Pennsylvania and later lived all over the Keystone state including Erie, York, Selinsgrove and Harrisburg. He studied broadcasting and film in college and helped run a sports radio station. He now works in Sales Management in Delaware. When he’s not writing, you can find him soaking up nature or following his favorite sports. He is a student of history and a lover of scotch.

Conrad Bair was born and raised in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. He studied biology and philosophy in college and has worked in Healthcare ever since. Primarily he enjoys hiking around the country, but visiting family in Pennsylvania is a close second. He lives in Arizona with his long-time partner and two spoiled house cats. He loves writing, painting and music.

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