‘The Hole World’ should seem familiar to those that have been poking around here a bit, as it was mentioned to be the universe that my ’11 NaNo was set in (well, half of it anyway). This is part 2 of 4 of a group of short-stories that I did for a character in ‘the Hole World’ to help me figure out his back-story. I’m starting you off with 2, and probably won’t post the others because they are a bit overly revealing… if ‘the Hole World’ is ever finished and published, then posting those here now would ruin a plot-twist–although, I will perhaps post them some time in the future after publishing (assuming that part happens).
The Hole World
A burning star tore through the morning sky. Da’ande has seen many stars fall from the heavens of night before, and he has often heard from the elders that these stars were messages from the gods, but he knew there was something different about this star though. The fact that it was being sent during the daytime alone must mean something of importance. A message from the gods so urgent that it must be sent outside the usual tradition.
He watched it as it continued its decent, leaving a thick trail of cloud behind it. As it seemed to become closer he thought he heard what sounded like a distant scream coming closer and closer. Who has ever heard of a star screaming as it fell, screaming with an increasingly monstrous shriek that could rival that of the roar of a giant coludra. As the star was almost directly above his head, the screaming became so great that he was forced to wrap his whole head with his arms to block out his ears as they rang, causing him to almost writhe in pain.
As the star passed over, Da’ande saw something gleaming like the surfaces of the Sespa’ag Caverns. What could this mean, a screaming star falling with the shine of caverns that no one has ever seen the like of anywhere else in the world. Da’ande couldn’t conceive of any answers to his growing questions, but he knew that he had to know.
In the direction of the star’s decent and echoing scream, there came the noise of a crash that sounded as if the whole forest had suddenly exploded. The sounds of trees crashing and birds flapping and animals crying and scattering in fear came through in all directions. The gods’ message was apparently as unexpected for nature as it was for Da’ande.
Finally, after listening to the forest rumbling like distance thunder for several minutes, there came a stilling silence. A few birds still flew, trying to find their flocks that left them behind, and the subtle sounds of rustling leaves and falling branches settling to the ground. But all else was as silent as it was before the star was ever sighted.
Da’ande stared into the forest in the direction of the star, he thought to himself, It must have found a nesting in the ground somewhere, I should hunt for it to discover the message of the gods so it does not go unheard. Then the sudden realization of terror came across his young face, What if it went into the mountains of the beasts, what if it is found by a Loostrem, or Virdra first. I must hurry, even if it is at the risk of my own life.
Da’ande cupped his hands to his mouth and levered his arms as high as he can, filling his lungs with as much air as he could, and then quickly dropped his arms forcing out all the air almost at once, releasing a high pitch shriek that resonated through the forest, echoing until it became a sound of a beautiful song far in the distance.
As he listened to the distant song, he remembered back when he was first shown this magic of the forest by the elder, Edjode. He remembered how he had to force himself not to cover his ears as he was commanded against, even though the shriek was almost unbearable. But he remembered how the forest turned the painful noise into such wonderful singing.
From the near distance came the trampling and rustling sound that he was waiting for. Crashing through a line of brush, with a beam of sun light shining down on it revealing all the fine lines of its muscular detail through its fine pure white coat. The sight of the quine’s two long spikes protruding from its head ripping through the low branches made Da’ande almost sigh in disappointment because he knew already that it was a male that had responded to his call, so the travel would be on land, and hence slower. But either way, it would still be faster than on foot.
Da’ande wrapped his arm around the neck the quine to lever his balance and flung himself onto its large back. He gripped its long white mane and turned it into the direction of the fallen star, kicked his heels against the quine’s sides, and it took off into a swift charge.
He had ridden quines many times before, when he learned the call and first saw the magnificent beast crash through the forest from what seemed out of nowhere. Edjode had to lay a comforting hand on his shoulder to keep him from backing away. Even now it seemed huge, but back then, it appeared like a giant mountain towering over him. Its sharp horns protruding and making it appear so dark and menacing. It completely terrified him when Edjode made it apparent that he intended them to ride it.
As Da’ande watched the forest whip by with such speeds that the trees seemed to form a single solid wall and the horizon before him continued on forever, he remembered how Edjode lifted him on his shoulder and commanded him to mount the great beast. Da’ande’s body was trembling so badly that it almost made his muscles ache. As he gripped his knees against the quine’s body as tight as his small legs could, he could feel the coarse lines of each hair in its fur. His stomach turning from each of the animal’s subtle movements, its back and shoulder muscles contracting as it snorted and thumped its hooves at the ground.
Edjode mounted behind him and commanded the animal to walk at a slow pace around the area a few times. As it went around, Da’ande with drenched eyes began to realize how unfounded his fear was, and he began to relax his posture, and his stomach began to settle. Then out of the corner of his eye, he sees Edjode’s foot move, slightly kicking the animal’s backside, and in a brief moment the whole world became a complete blur.
It happened so fast that his mind didn’t even have time to try to regain its fear that it had just gotten over. All he could do was find himself with a smile on his face so wide that it began to make his cheeks sore. The feel of the wind blasting in his face, blowing his long hair back so fierce that he had to wonder if he was blinding Edjode.
Da’ande traveled into the direction where the fallen star should now rest until the sun had reached almost directly above him. He commanded the quine to cease its unrelenting stride, and he slid off from its back—if he didn’t still have an arm resting on the quine, he probably would have dropped instantly to the ground, as he’s forced to realize the effects of riding for so long.
Legs still tingling and muscles still painfully slow to respond, Da’ande guides the quine to a nearby stream to drink, and finds himself a well shaded tree with a soft patch of grass and moss to recover beneath before he continues onto his journey. He watched the animal as it wondered about and grazed on some of the longer grass along the bank of the stream in a seemingly random pattern, and took in the smells of the blooming flowers filling the air, and the soft sounds of chirping birds hidden in the trees, and finds himself drifting off.
Da’ande sees himself on the back of a quine flying high above the world. The air chilled his skin until it’s nothing but bumps as he commanded the quine to rise higher and higher, and then dove into a large cloud. The smell of the thick mist filled his sinuses to almost make him understand how it would be to breathe underwater, and flooded his eyes until there is nothing to see but shades of white and gray.
He exited the cloud with a huge swirling puff behind him, and felt the cool breeze as the sun turned the moisture coving his face to vapor. The quine free glided on the invisible streams of air as if the hands of a god were guiding its great wings along its path. Da’ande looked down at the tops of trees with their patchworks of fields and water flowing by with such perfect grace that it was almost hard to tell who was really moving—was it them, or were they simply standing in place while the whole world moved around them.
He looked behind him, and he saw the flaming of the falling star coming towards him. The sun glared off its surface almost blinding him and forced him to squint his eyes as he focused on it. As he continued to stare into the burning star and his eyes adjusted, he began to make out a face inside of it—the face of a child—no, the face is his age—no… the face is an old man.
As the falling star began to pass him, he heard its great scream. Shrieking louder and louder until it made it feel like his head was about to explode. He tried to cover his ears to block out the falling star’s painful screaming, but it didn’t help. It just continued to get louder and louder and—
From somewhere in the distance he’s awoken by a scream, and he jolted himself upright. Da’ande looked around to reorient himself and remembered where he was. The sun was now directly above him, so he hadn’t slept long.
He remembered back to his dream, the faces in the falling star, and the scream, The scream that woke me—was it just fragments of the dream, or was it real?
Then he heard the scream again echoing from just a short distance up the stream. I know that was real.
Da’ande jumped to his feet. He noticed that quine he rode there on wasn’t anywhere to be seen, and he didn’t have time to try to find it or call another one. He quickly looked up at the branches of the trees around him seeing how close together they are. He rocked to the balls of his feet, and in an almost effortless stride, bound up to the first crotch of the tree he was just resting under. Da’ande sniffed the air, he takes in a couple of smells that stand out but the smells of the stream’s flowers are too over powering to be able to identify anything.
He looked at the limbs of the next tree in the direction that he heard the scream and quickly analysed the sturdiness, and bound from his tree to the next, and then to the next after, and again with gaining rhythm and speed that it becomes as natural as walking on the ground for him. In the midst of each jump, he takes in another taste of the air in hopes of identifying what he’s about to come up against before he arrives, but the wind is failing to play in his favor.
He heard the scream again as it is broken off into a muffle, and he suddenly came to a dead stop. He stopped himself so quickly that he almost threw himself off balance as he lunged for the base of the tree with as much grace and silence as he could. He crouched, and looked down at a mass of movement only about a stone’s throw away.
Snarling and brandishing their teeth in a swarm of chaos, with their hard shelled clothing, long spikes on their heads and in their clawed hands made from what they stole out of Sespa’ag. Bellutors. Why would they be this far away from Loostrem, even they wouldn’t bother trying to claim hunting grounds here. Then Da’ande’s eyes widened, They must be searching for the trail of the fallen star too—but… what was the scream?
Da’ande inched his way around the tree to try and get a better view, and as a bellutor slightly moved, he caught a glimpse of a frail arm covered in marks of blood weakly struggling in its movements. And in another glimpse, he saw the half open eyes of a young girl. I have to help her before they kill her—if they haven’t already.
He stood-up, finding a sturdy balance, and cuped his hands to his mouth, levered his arms as high as he could, filling his lungs with as much air as he could, and then quickly droped his arms forcing out all the air almost at once and the quine call shrieked and echoed off the trees with its beautiful song—the bellutors’ ears could never hear it.
As the song rang, he could see the eyes of the girl widen. Looking around as she continued to helplessly fend off the bellutors, and her eyes locked on Da’ande’s silhouette perched in the tree high above them.
As the song continued to reverberate off the trees, Da’ande saw a white streak moving and weaving through the trees like a phantom from the direction of the stream he was resting at, Looks like he didn’t go far after all.
The quine charged directly to the bellutor party without hesitation and with its head down and two horns forward, it drove the spikes directly into the nearest bellutor’s back, completely cracking and shattering its shell as easily as if it was never there. The quine lift its head driving its horns deeper into the bellutor’s back until the tips just peaked out the front of its chest, then the quine violently shook its head flipping the savage into the crowd of stunned onlookers.
The bellutors stood in stunned indecision as the quine flails to its hind legs, its front legs thrashing violently while it let out a large booming sound—a sound that Da’ande had only heard in the darkness of night in the distance of the forest and could never even had guessed that such a terrifying sound could have ever come from an animal like the quine. As the quine dropped its front back down, it landed with a thunder that visibly shook the ground around it. And in an instant, the bellutors charged.
Their hand-spikes flailed in the air glaring of the light of the sun, striking the quine at random as they clashed with its powerful horns. With each bellutor that finds a place to charge, another dropped to the ground and dies with gouges and eyes ripped from sockets and jaws and limbs lying to the opposite side of the clearing from the bodies.
The quine kept fighting as unrelenting. Out of the whole group, there now only remained four bellutors. With their numbers thinned, fate forced them into a simpler strategy to overwhelm the quine with their blows while being able to easily avoid the quines blows.
A bellutor’s spike suddenly rose to the air in a beam of light that made the whole thing almost appear to glow, and it dropped down with brute power. Da’ande heared himself let out a loud “No!” as he saw the quine drop to its knees with a force that caused its face to almost bounce off the ground as it struggled to get back up beneath the continuing blows of its attackers. Just as he realizes what he did, Da’ande saw two of the bellutors look directly up at him with their narrow blood filled eyes.
Da’ande frantically looked around him thinking, I can’t run, if I do, the girl will die, and now the quine will die too, but if I stay up here, I’ll be sure to join them both on the other side.
Then as he looked down near the base of the tree he perched in, he noticed the gleam of a bellutor’s hand-spike. I can’t, we have been made to swear never to use the shards of Sespa’ag to draw blood.
He then saw the bellutors knock the quine to its side as its movement slowed—while one remained to hack and prod at the animal, the other went back over to the girl whose eyes were no longer open—and looked down at the two now charging to him with foaming sludge oozing over their teeth as they whipped and snarled.
I have to…
In a single leap, Da’ande jumped from his branch and landed in a crouch. He quickly bound over to the hand-spike that he found to be still clenched in the dismembered arm of a bellutor. He pried the spike from its owner and took grip of the handle. He tried to lift it and almost pulled his shoulder from its socket. He looked at the charging bellutors closing in. He took the handle with both hands, struggling with what feels like every muscle in his body ripping out. He lifted the spike to the air, and swung it with all the force he could find in himself, connecting with the neck of one of the bellutors. The head flew off the shoulders and struck the other in the chest, he stopped as the head lay rolling back and forth at his feet.
As the body dropped, Da’ande just stared at it completely stunned at what he just did—as stunned as the bellutor. The other bellutor glares at Da’ande, and charged at him swinging his spike for the top of his skull, but Da’ande quickly bashed it with his own spike. He then swung back thrashing his spike across the bellutors chest, but as it struck the bellutor’s hard shell it only made a loud bang that knocked both back a step.
The bellutor swiped his spike at Da’ande again, and Da’ande quickly ducked—the spike removed a lock of his hair from his head. He raised his spike, striking the bellutor’s shell-exposed arm, sending it flying in the air with its spike still in hand. The bellutor yelled a horrible howl of pain as its blood rained everywhere, turning the ground around him to mud, and dropped down—still flailing and clawing at the ground, and grasping his stump as he writhed.
Da’ande looked over to the other two bellutors who were now taking notice to the turn of events, and started towards them. He met with the one that was at the quine half-way and clashed spikes with it. As the bellutor took another swipe, Da’ande dropped to a knee and bashed his spike across the bellutor’s legs as hard as he could, creating a spark against the shell, sending the bellutor’s legs behind him, and the bellutor face down in the ground. Da’ande rose back up, and plunged his spike down on where the bellutors neck connected to his shoulders, and pulled it back out with the spike covered in blood and dirt.
Da’ande then turned to the final bellutor who was hovering over the girl. The bellutor came charging at him with full speed, and as he opened his mouth and bared his teeth letting out a savage snarl, Da’ande plunged his spike down his throat, and pulled it out, and the beast dropped.
Da’ande looked around. The bellutor with the severed arm’s flailing slowed to barely anything, and then came to a complete rest. Da’ande looked at the other bodies, and then down at his hands completely covered in the blood of the bellutors as they still gripped the bellutors’ spike. He suddenly dropped the spike to the ground and backed away from it, and then dropped to his knees. He looked at the ground caked in blood filled mud, and looked at the blood covering most of his body. He just stared with his mind racing and numb.
He heard a low moan from off to his side. He suddenly came to his senses and remembered the girl. He ran over to her, and knelt beside her, putting a hand by her face to feel for breathing. She’s still alive, but I need to treat her wounds if I expect to keep her that way.
He quickly gathered all the roots, and berries that he could remember their magical uses for and some short branches and large leaves for splints and bandages. He dressed all her wounds and splinted her broken arm and leg, and forced the juices of a berry and root mixture into her throat and let her rest.
He looked upon her. Her long flowing hair like nothing he had ever seen before. Like the color of the blood that flows through his body, with its magic of life. The very fine detailed lines of her lips, and her face. He stared at her, watching her in awe, and finding himself completely breathless.
As he sat letting his own body recover, almost allowing himself drift away, he felts a hand lightly touch his arm. He looked over, staring into eyes with sparkling colors he had never seen anywhere before. He forced his composure, “You’re alright…”
She gagged for words at first, then she spoke with a voice that sang to him like the song of the most beautiful bird, “I… think so. But, how? I remember hearing the quine call… then you… then… nothing.”
He looked over at the quine that sacrificed itself for them, and then down at the blood that still soaked him. He couldn’t say anything.
Her eyes looked down at the blood covering him, and looked up into his face, and he knew she understood what he did.
“What’s your name?” he finally got out.
“’Tanrue’? That’s atleast two suns from here. What are you doing way over here?”
She slightly hesitated, looking at the ground and then back up at him, “I was flying on a quine, and allowed myself to lose track of how far I went. But then… something fell from the sky—not like anything I’ve ever seen before. It looked like a star, but… something came from it and struck the quine’s wing and I had to let it land. And then I just traveled on foot for awhile trying to make it back towards the valley, until it’d be safe to call another quine. Then the bellutors came. I wasn’t expecting them to be out this far, otherwise I would have never traveled on the ground. I… I thought I was going to die… I thought… but then I saw you. I wasn’t even sure if you were real until I woke up and you were still here. You…” she looked down again at the blood covering him, “…you sacrificed everything to save me… you didn’t even know me. Why?”
Da’ande looked into her eyes as they shimmered in the light, and he looked at the ground with blood pooling as it dripped from him, and he just stood-up and walked over to the battered body of the quine. He spoke to its spirit with his mind, he thanked it for making the sacrifice it made for them, and he begged it and the gods to forgive him for letting it all come to this, for the sins of shedding blood and desecrating Sespa’ag. He repeated his pleas over and over again until he felt cold droplets of moisture stream down his face. And he felts a gentle hand lay upon his shoulder.
He glanced up at Tolypa, “You shouldn’t be walking until I’ve had a chance to get you a walking stick…” he said with cracking voice.
Tolypa just wrapped her arm around him and held him close to her as he continued to silently plea and cry. He lay his face into the quine’s bloody body, digging his eyes into its fur soaking it with his tears. Then he suddenly held his breath. And just lays there completely silent and still. As he felt his face very slowly rising and falling, he realized, The quine’s not dead.
His head quickly propped upright, his eyes wide in disbelief, he looked over at Tolypa, “Do you know if the magical roots and berries work on quines too?”
Before she even had a chance to respond he was already on his feat and running to the forest for more roots and berries. He came running back minutes later with his arms as full as he could get them, and started to work on crushing and mixing everything, as Tolypa came hobbling over and began helping him.
Da’ande spent nearly ten suns treating the injuries of the quine and Tolypa, running back and forth to the stream for water, and tracking down things that were safe for both to eat—and staying up at night to stand guard against anymore bellutor parties that luckily never came. As the time went on, Da’ande was finding himself more enchanted by Tolypa, sitting for hours talking with her whenever he had the chance. And Tolypa was beginning to find him equally as interesting.
The quine proved to be a fast healer, and was soon showing almost no sign that it had ever seen the sight of battle in its life. Tolypa’s wounds healed well enough that she no longer needed a splint, but she still had to force herself to use the aid of a walking stick, and often the quick reflexes of Da’ande as she lost her footing—sometimes on purpose just to have him catch her.
When Tolypa was well enough to travel, and the quine could be ridden at atleast a moderate pace, Da’ande prepared to return in search for the fallen star. Not far from where they were, they were able to find the place where it first struck the forest, shards of destroyed trees lay everywhere. They began to follow the trail that it left, which appeared to be a trench deep enough that the edge came up to about Da’ande’s waist.
As the sun reached directly above them, they saw the gleaming of the star in the distance nested at the base of Virdra. They approached it with caution, Da’ande constantly sniffed the air and checked the ground for any traces of bellutors or angdra—nothing significant was found.
They reached the object that appeared to be a large rock from Sespa’ag, but somehow, it seemed different—like it was more than just a rock. He walked over to the rock and suddenly stopped, and crouched to the ground analyzing it.
He looked up at Tolypa still mounted on the quine watching him, “Something was here, but I don’t recognize the tracks. It appears to travel on two feet like us, with foot coverings, but it’s too small to be a bellutor.” He follows the tracks for a bit, “They seem to go all over the area like whatever it is was exploring. But, from what I can tell, it came out from the rock.”
Tolypa looked at the large rock, “It fell from the sky—what would come out of a rock that falls from the sky?” She stopped and thought about her question, “Is it a god?”
Da’ande looked up at her, “I don’t know. Why would a god fall from the sky, they don’t belong down here.”
“I’ve heard elders speak before of gods being thrown down from the skies as punishment for evil deeds. Maybe the god is evil.”
“I don’t—“ Da’ande’s eyes followed a trail that lead away from the rock, and standing before him he saw all the faces that he saw in his dream.
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