Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

For those who have been around here for a bit, you know what ‘Natural Selection’ is (the rest of you should look at the list over there, and catch up). I have mentioned that I wanted to do another one, but slightly different. While I have been trying not to put too much thought into it while I”m presently working on finishing a novel, I did try doing at least one story for it that I was going to try to put together for a mag submission. But, I never really got anywhere with it. I started it, but then just completely lost the direction to get it where I wanted it to go. What I have I think is at least somewhat interesting, but not what it’s supposed to be at all. It doesn’t tie in right with the universe I created so far for ‘Natural Selection.’ Although the character concept I have in this will probably be what I’m keeping, except for a slight timeline change, everything else would most likely get changed. And yes, I started writing this back during last year’s seemingly unending ‘Snowmageddon.’

Fallen Snow

English: Fallen leaves in snow.

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another snowfall—at least “snow” is what we called it. I’m of the last generation who would remember when snow reflected memories of child play and laughter—but now the word “snow” was simply what we called it hoping we didn’t think of what it really was. Hoping that memories of the sweet smell of frozen rain would replace the bitter stench so thick that you had no choice but to taste it—and always know what it really was.

The ashes of the fallen lay thick in gathered piles.

The snow came less frequent than it used to, but that only meant there were fewer of us left.

They have been hunting us throughout this world since I was a child. I remember when they first came—the ground was covered with real snow then, from a real snow fall the night before. I was excited to see it, as any child would have been—no school, snowmen and snow forts fully armed with snowballs to build—but I barely left my front door when the ground shook casting the loose snow through the air. The sky opened up as if a gaping hole was being torn open, and the whole of what was the sky became filled with a mass so large that it appeared to have no edges.

I had no idea what I was seeing; I had no idea how I was supposed to react to it. I stared in wonder, like one the many science fiction novels I’ve read just came to life before me. Everyone was outside, staring upward, as uncertain as I was—my mother was there holding my little sister, but I barely registered their presence as I was enthralled by the mass that just replaced the sky.

I don’t know how long after its arrival it was ‘til it made its first move, for when it was first seen, time didn’t seem to move in a normal fluctuation anymore, but eventually, its mass began to slide apart miles across, and revealed a cavern as dark as its own mass. And from the darkness of that cavern they dropped down like a disturbed swarm from a hornet’s nest.

We ran as those who didn’t run fast enough became scorched bones and ash. Eventually we gathered and mass a means to fight back, but the strategies constantly failed against their forces only to eventually evolve only in learning to hide as they tore this whole world apart. Fear became the normal state of being.

After they cut through the masses of us, rumors started that they were capturing some of us. No one knew why, but many had their own ideas, from past stories of creatures from the beyond collecting us to experiment on. The stories were always seen as only stories, until now when so much of them were already beginning to look so true.

The years went by, and the fighting slowed, but mostly because there we so few of us now that it was easier for them to take their time, and simply pluck out the stragglers for sport.

And so the snow falls. I survived it all long enough to reach an age where my grandparents used to predict the weather through the pain in their bones—my pain is constant and sharp.

Lightspeed

Lightspeed (Photo credit: i be GINZ)

I push the throttle to full and plunge through the void as existence blazes past me as no more than a perpetual glowing wall.

I have no idea how much of a lead I have on them, I’m mostly running on hope that I have any legitimate gain at all. The more I think about it, the more I get the sickly paranoid feeling that they’ve already caught-up, and if I went back to the cargo hold, I’d see them slithering through the shadows.

I don’t even know for certain where I’m going, and moving at these speeds without a destination isn’t normally considered safe—the navigation computer has been blaring its warning alarms at me since I entered into the jump.

I need time to think—I need to find somewhere to stop and hide, and come up with a plan. But nowhere is safe—not even for a minute’s rest.

I swear I can feel their miasmic breath across the back of my neck. I look despite sense, and see nothing but the empty cabin and my own reflection across the panels—staring back at me—mocking me with my repeating questions of fight-or-flight.

They killed her—she’s dead—and all I can do is run for my own life—running into oblivion fueled with cowardice.

I look down at the navigation, and see the Return Home on its menu—it would take me headlong back to them. Chances of getting out alive pretty much don’t exist, but I could sure as hell make them feel my pain.

I hit the return, and the warning alarm finally calms. I flip open the red panel, smash the glass below, and flip the switches that begin the count-down.

I sit back in my chair, and wait.

Samurai Duel

Samurai Duel (Photo credit: warpafx)

I unsheathed my sword with a fluid movement and presented its sheen as a warning towards my opponent, “Come for me!”

With my taunt fueling him, he shot from his spot, and I charged from mine. Our blades struck and found flesh, drawing lines of blood.

I fingered at the wound that stretched up my right bicep, and he, wondering if I just removed his appendix for him.

“Draw!” We heard in slurred voice from the side-line, our only available witness to the duel.

“Draw?” my challenger questioned, “Well, what the hell are we supposed to do with that? Who hit who first, you drunk old fool?”

The witness narrowed his eyes at the assigned label, “I told you, boy, it was a draw. You both drew your bloods at the exact same time. Now if ya want, you can both hack at each other all night, but I imagine we’ll all be sober before that gets us anywhere and completely forget what the point was.”

My opponent threw his arms out and looked more defeated by the witness than me, “Well… what…” He looked at me with increasing exasperation, “What the hell are we doing, then? Are we gonna go again, or what?”

I just looked at him, and with barely a thought, I drew my dagger, and draped the blade across my opposite bicep, creating a sting of red.

“There,” I said sheathing my blades, “My blood is drawn, now let us go back in and drink before the feeling sets in.”

My opponent stared, stunned and at a continued loss, “But… you insulted… my wife, wasn’t it? That can’t go… you-know-what, screw it…” He finally said and sheathed his blade while walking back towards the pub, “You’re buying the rounds—I did win after all…”

The Gunslinger

The Gunslinger (Photo credit: The mofoJT)

So, ‘Natural Selection’ is done, and all that remains of it is the past posts that you can read and re-read ‘til your foot gets stuck from kicking yourself in the ass for not pushing for me to continue the project. But don’t fear, as a bonus for you, I shall provide you here with the DVD Extras. These are bits that I wrote in ‘Elimination’ that ended up getting changed for one reason or another, some of the bits got recycled, in what you got, while the rest was simply left in the scrap file (I’m sure I had to of mentioned this before, and if I haven’t, I am now: never delete large amounts of writing no matter how bad you think it is, always put it in a scrap file. There will always be bits in it that you’ll find useful that you would have lost otherwise—plus, it gives you something to put on your website to appeal to the fans—I’m going to have those some day)

This is the original version of how it started just after Bahb hit the button. I tried writing Father with a cliché Southern-draw, so trying to figure out his dialog was always interesting, making this speech fun to write, but in the end, it was just too much “blah, blah, blah” with nothing happening and was killing the pace. So, I pushed back the zombies (the fight with them was going to start in this story, but then decided it was more dramatic to end it with them coming), I put Bahb’s guards back because I couldn’t figure out any way to get him a weapon that wouldn’t just leave him hiding behind the aliens for most of the story (even though most of his efforts of fighting were useless, I needed to keep the concept of him not backing down—since that’s the direction that kept getting chosen, so I wanted to keep that reflected as such):

What is that—Oh-dear-god—“

There was a slight pause, and a popping sound that came from the other PA speakers, and Fathers voice came over all of them at once, “Attention, my children, this is your father. It would seem that Hell has opened its floodgates and we are in the direct path of its fury. You are the greatest of a whole new species of mankind—now is the time that you must prove yourselves! Now is the time you must fight for the survival of this species! Defend our children, defend our families—“

A load groaning sound came across the speakers, followed by the sounds of multiple gunshots, and them the speakers suddenly cut out.

The room was flooded with a red strobe and a blaring alarm, and the capsules containing Soo and the other alien began to drain of their fluid.

They’re waking up now…” the unknown voice announced in Bahb’s mind.

The glass chambers started rising up in sync and the two grotesque creatures slumped over and dropped to the flood with a wet slosh, and with tentacles splayed about randomly. They lay limp and seemly lifeless in pools of excess liquid. Just as Bahb began to work up the courage to try to check them for signs of life, the being he knew as Soo began to move a tentacle, and then another, and then started to push herself upright. Shortly after, the other began to do the same.

Bahb went over to Soo and crouched to her level, “Are you ok?”

Soo looked at Bahb with a slit eye at the end of a long stalk, and directed the other towards her companion. Bahb looked between them, and notice they had their stares locked on each other.

“Am I missin’ something?” Bahb asked.

They’re talking… I can hear them…” The voice stated, “Would you like to hear them too?

“That would be—“ A piercing pain shot through Bahb’s mind, with him clasping his head with his arms, barely managing to stay on his feet. He suddenly heard the sound of thousands of voices, frantic and screaming. Slowly the voices began to calm, and filter down to fewer and fewer, until Bahb heard a conversation between only two.

…they tried to hide him from us… the experiment is ordered to be brought to an end… all results so far must be cleansed…

Everything?

We are to retrieve the evidence of their violation… otherwise, everything must be subjected to elimination…

And so it must be… no one can escape the Selection!

“What the hell is the damned ‘Selection’?” Bahb blurted out, “Everybody that has anything to do with this damn crazy cult keeps going on about ‘there’s no escaping the Selection’ or some crap—what the hell—“

A sudden sound like a surprised gasp sounded through Bahb’s mind from the two creatures. The one that was Soo suddenly began to melt into an abstract of itself, a multi-colored blob, phasing into a shade of skin, and sprouting arms and legs, and becoming the woman that Bahb had come to recognize as Soo—also naked again.

Soo examined Bahb with her infinitely dark eyes, “Bahb, were you able to hear us just now?”

“Um… yes…” Bahb answered with uncertainty.

With Bahb’s single word, he was alerted to the metallic sound of an unsheathing blade behind him. He turned and saw a man with long black hair, darkly tanned skinned, and narrowed black eyes, standing with his right armed formed into a long blade directed at Bahb’s temple.

Bahb narrowed his eyes to match that of the alien, “Is there a problem?”

Who is this? He is not one of them…” Bahb heard in his mind.

He was useful in getting in here… he may continue to be…” Soo’s mind responded, and then out loud to Bahb, “Bahb, how were you capable of hearing us communicating before?”

“Present tense—I still can,” Bahb responded, “And I really don’t know the how of it. There’s another voice that I’ve been hearing since I got here, aside from Scarlet’s and yers. I assumed it was me losing my mind, but then the crazy started becoming a bit more functional that is probably normal for crazy.”

The other entity I detected earlier,” Soo announced in her mind.

Is it the evidence?” The other asked.

“If you and yer naked friend here are just gonna stand here mind zapping each other, I’m gonna go back to finding Scarlet now,” Bahb interjected.

Bahb walked to the doorway leading to the outer lab, while grabbing a couple of lab coats and tossing them in the direction of the aliens, “If you don’t mind, you two are make it feel drafty in here.”

Bahb went to the main door. He glanced out the window noticing that his two guards seemed to no longer be anywhere in sight, “They must have been pulled away by whatever that commotion over the PA was…

“Commotion?” Soo asked walking up behind him.

“Damn’it, is that thing still on—am I gonna be permanently incapable of a private thought?” Bahb said and continue, “When Father was speaking earlier, something was responded to with gunfire.”

Kyriakos’Dionysodoros’Eli’Mongkut’Jorje,” Soo’s mind blurted out.

Gesundheit…” Bahb responded, “Ok, that joke is weirder when it’s in my head. You mean that Jorje guy from the cemetery? What about ‘im?”

“Jorje guy?” The other alien responded out loud for the first time.

“They should have been here at least a month ago…” Soo said, “The hibernation must have weakened the signal… I am not sure what they were doing between time… no matter, the elimination has begun, and we must complete the mission now…”

Soo’s counter part crossed his bladed limb through the door and it fell to fragments before him.

“Not to sound like I’m criticizing the quality of yer handy work, there, but it was actually locked from the inside—where we presently are,” Bahb pointed out, “You happen to have a name?”

“Irfan’Ramachandra’Arjuna’Tafadzwa’Gaun” The alien responded while walking over the destroyed door and into the corridor.

“Ok…. Gaun… what’s the plan? If you two are gonna start escaping, that’s fine, but I still gotta find Scarlet before I go anywhere—with or without the either of you,” Bahb paused, “But, I’m not gonna lie, I’d rather have at least one of you incase I come up against another Evo along the way.”

“I believe the ‘Evos’ will be indisposed,” Soo responded, “However, I will accompany you, while… Gaun… continues our mission.”

Why are—“ Gaun started in his mind.

Silence! Follow my command!” Soo responded with Gaun simply giving a subservient nod and began making his way down the corridor at an unreal pace.

And this is the alternate final fight between Bahb and Soo. Originally, Bahb actually got Father’s pistol-cannon, because I just completely loved the idea behind that gun, but after re-reading what I wrote, I declared that the fact that I just juiced Bahb up like a Super-Evo wasn’t really being sold the way it needed to be. So, I took away the gun, pointed out the healing, the reflexes, the strength, and just hand-to-hand stuff:

Bahb gripped the pistol-cannon and became one with it, turning on his heels; he aimed at the charging Soo, and fired an explosion of thunder, sending its giant bolt through her chest, and being followed by another being sent through her right shoulder, completely removing her bladed limb. He then went to his feet and moving toward her, fired again, and again.

When he reached her, and stood over her switching body, it was phased between her human and original state in a fit of chaotic confusion. Bahb crouched down, and threw his fist through the grotesque thing that was Soo’s face until he felt soil behind it.

This is a beginning of a short-story in the world of ‘Ravenblood.’ It’s only the beginning because I seriously have no idea where to go from here at all… well… I know how it’s supposed to end, I just don’t know what supposed to happen between it all. Basically, I was writing a short-story for every character in ‘Ravenblood.’ I first wrote Ravenblood’s POV, then I wrote everyone else’s—essentially establishing a full timeline for every single person in the over-all story… which worked fine for everyone except Chirho… which bothers me because he has more insight to earlier portion of the timeline than anyone else.

But, anyway, this should give you a taste of ‘Ravenblood’ without revealing a single thing in all of ‘Ravenblood,’ which works perfectly. Oh, and, though it didn’t get established in the story yet, Chirho is about 3 or 4 in this portion of the timeline—Rangers train as early in life as possible.

 Chirho

the Rangers

English: A European Rabbit afflicted by Myxoma...

English: A European Rabbit afflicted by Myxomatosis in Shropshire, England. Photo by Chris Bayley. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The rabbit’s heart raced, thumping like a snare-drum. It sniffed the air as the wind blew in a strange breeze that couldn’t seem to choose a direction. The rabbit’s ears twitched, constantly scanning its surroundings, searching for the source of the disturbance that it felt only in its bones.

It was able to convince itself that it was nothing—just the electricity of an oncoming storm—there’s nothing to worry about. So it went back to grazing at a blade of grass, to take in a morning meal before the storm arrived.

Then, just as the rabbit had managed to fully place all of its concerns out of its mind, a sudden whistle in the wind shot through, as if the air was just sliced in half. And—

“How did I miss?” Chirho cursed as he stared at his arrow sticking out of the ground a few yards in front of him, as, what would have been his breakfast, hopped away, “I had it!”

“Did you?” Theteps asked in his annoying way of simultaneously answering.

“Yes, Theteps, I did everything you said to do. I listened for its heart, I watched its reactions to the wind—I did everything seeing through the rabbit’s eyes.”

Theteps smiled and placed a strong hand on Chirho’s hooded head, “Did you, now, cub? Or did you let your imagination trick you, and allowed you to mistake your own eyes for the rabbit’s?”

Chirho thought back. He remembered staring down the point of the arrow, focusing until it became one with the target. He could see the rabbit, and it seemed to be ignoring anything around but the grass in front of it. He breathed in, and out, trying to block out the thudding in his ears. And, when he was certain he had a sure shot, he released. He watched as the arrow soared, and then plunged through the dirt that should have been a rabbit’s heart.

The image in Chirho’s head was interrupted by a tight gurgling in his empty stomach, “I know I did everything right, Theteps.”

Theteps closed his eyes, “From the rabbit’s eyes, I saw a young boy walking through the woods. I watched that boy as he clacked an arrow to his bow, and pointed it in my direction. I listened to his loud breathing, and his heart beating as he drew back on his bow. When I heard him swallow hard, I knew that he was releasing his arrow, and I should run now. And so I ran back towards my hutch and continued finishing my meal while still watching the boy as he yelled at his arrow.

“And now I watch as a man I didn’t notice before appeared out of nowhere, and approach the boy. The man’s sudden appearance alarms me, but his state of calmness tells me he isn’t a threat for now—but I still watch, uncertain.”

“What?” Chirho looked in the direction he saw the rabbit run, where a large clump of ferns grew around a tree and saw, just barely reflecting in the light, a slight glimmer of two eyes staring back at him. He narrowed his eyes at the glimmers and glared in frustration—

“The boy sees me, now,” Theteps continued with his eyes still closed, “His eyes look angry. He’s lifting his bow up, ready to throw it—it’s large enough to hit me without much effort. I should run and hide in my hutch until he’s gone—“

Chirho stood with his bow in hand—with his arm cocked back, frozen with Theteps’ words. He watched the two glimmering eyes as they watched him, and suddenly they moved. The rabbit’s furry body instantly disappeared into a hole beneath the tree.

“You see, cub,” Theteps started as he opened his eyes, “At your age, it can be easy to confuse imagination with empathy. But you can’t just imagine you see through the rabbit’s eyes, you actually have to listen to the spirit of the wind, and the trees, and everything around you, and actually see through the rabbit’s eyes as if you actually were the rabbit.”

‘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

the Message

Clearcut Formerly Known as Forest. The "B...

Clearcut Formerly Known as Forest. The “Black Hole”, near Clayoquot Sound. For scale, see the tiny person in the center. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

beast-of-bray-road-625x450Snarling 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.

“Tolypa Tanrue.”

“’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.

This story is essentially a display of me blowing off frustration during a very dark point in my life (those who know me have ideas of the details, but I’ll spare the rest of you). It started off simply with the first image of the story—it ran through my head for almost three days straight, then I finally gave in and wrote it out assuming I would use it for something later… next thing I knew, there was a completed story in front of me. The name is another of my joyful plays with the letter ‘y,’ similar to Syn, it was something that I thought up a bit ago with little idea what it would be used for, but kept it around anyway. In addition, you will also get an extract from the novella version of this (yep, there’s one for this too… it starts with a short-story, then my brain just wants to see where else it can go).

Cÿd:
Red Stream, Wet Dirt, and Scars
Red stream

Red stream (Photo credit: Tim Green aka atoach)

I watch as the glistening of a red stream flows, merging into the horizon. I lay in the cold wet dirt—unblinking, hypnotized, I watch the stream of red until it appears as an ocean flowing on forever.

My daze is wavered by the stinging of my eyes—the sweat tainted with my filth pooling and dripping like tears, falling and disappearing into the wet dirt—into the red stream.

My body resists as I command it to rise. Every muscle flames as if to tear through my flesh, but I plant my hands into the wet dirt—into the red stream. I claw my fingers, stabbing deep—so deep, I can feel the squirming life below, crawling and exploring their way through my fingers. I push myself to my knees, my spine ripping with pain through my body. I slip to my elbows, drunken by the sudden erection of my head and the over-flow of endorphins—my body’s own battle to fight against the pain.

I push myself back up. I feel the handle of my blade still beneath my palm pushing against my hand until I am forced to grip my fingers around its leather wrap—a feeling so natural and familiar that I react to it by almost complete reflex. With my sword in hand, I rise to my feet as if powered by the feel of the cold steel as I clench it tighter, turning my knuckles to glow red to white to red.

I raise my eyes and gaze upon the man who stares down to me with such arrogance—as if he believed he had won before his sword was ever drawn. How long was I lying there since his last devastating blow—how long has he been standing there waiting for me to get back up—was he waiting for the sake of honor, or because of his own swelling arrogance.

His bare sun-darkened chest, covered in thousands of scars of random ages and depths—as if he had been fighting endlessly since the beginning of time without a moment of peace. So many battles that he must have won, even if at the edge of his own death, he came out with some deciding trait above his opponents that declared him victor—be it skill, speed, strength, or just constant luck. How many of those faces could he still have in his head—if I fall, will he remember me, or will I just be another unnamed blood-stain splattered on his sword and clothes.

The sun gleams off the steel of my blade forcing me to squint my eyes to focus. Staring my opponent dead in the eye until all I see is him—his every movement, the slight involuntary twitching of a muscle, the slow rise and fall of his chest, the blade of his sword gleaming as if in response to my own—two swords signaling each other with their secret language, screaming for their craving to meet with flesh and blood.

The sweat of my flesh turns to vapor as the noon sun stabs into me. The sensation of the heat tries to make me lazy, and force me to surrender to my wounds. I force away the cloud in my head, and feel the sudden coolness of a breeze that seemed to come out of nowhere, as if sent by the gods themselves as a sign—a sign to begin attack. And so I brace the balls of my feet deep into the wet dirt—into the red stream—and I lung forward in a swift charge.

I hold my sword across me in guard, prepared for any move he could make against me as I charge. He’s not moving—he’s still standing there with the same look of arrogance—is he really so confident in his ability to counter whatever I throw at him that he would just stand there unphased and wait for it to come—have those scars brought such experience; such sense of immortality—or does he wait for my own death dealing strike to end his life of steel, blood, and war.

It’s too late to change my attack now, it would risk putting me off balance, leaving me open for even the simplest of blows to become deadly—is that his plan, to throw me off, to force me into his game so that he can defeat me as easily as a three year old child. No, I can not falter my own strategy, I must force him into my game if I am to win.

I reach him in range of my blade, and I raise my sword swiping for his exposed neck. It was so sudden—a flash of light, and a split second of a sharp pain that throws me to my side. I look up at him from behind—he never moved, he still stands as he did before. And the sharp pain returns—I look down to see a red stream flowing into the wet dirt—slashed deep across my body from collar bone to my waist, tearing apart the more I twitch in response to the pain as the red stream flows into the wet dirt.

He finally turns and looks down at me, I look up at him and strainfully force out my words that tear at me with each breath, “How… you never moved… how…?”

He holds up his sword against the light of the sun, and a red stream flows from it raining into the wet dirt—as if to respond showing that he must have obviously somehow… moved—moved with the swiftness of the flashing lightning—there was never any thunder to follow but the sharp pain.

I stare into his eyes and see what I thought was arrogance. I stare until his face begins to haze and separate into distorted shapes, “Who… are you…?”

He crouches down, his sword held behind him—his movement so sudden, so fluid… or is it in my head. His lips move, but the words seem to take extra seconds to reach me, “I am the one who has sent you to the next life—you have no use of my name…”

“Your name… as I lye waiting for my end… as it is creeping unto me… please… tell me your name… so I may warn the spirits of my next kin…”

He simply smiles with a smirk of what I thought was arrogance. I see him move his hand to me—I think he laid it on my shoulder, but I can only barely feel the foreign pressure to indicate his touch. His hot breath blows across my ear and my mind slowly translates the vibrations in the air, “The spirits of your kin are soon to be gone from the world, for you are now the last… I am Cÿd… … …” His presents seems to simply fade away… or I never saw his movements.

His words echo in my head, “…the spirits of your kin are soon to be gone from the world…”—my eyes stinging as the sweat tainted with my filth pools and drips like tears, falling and disappearing into the wet dirt—into the red stream, “…for you are now the last…”

I watch as the glistening of the red stream flows, and merges into the horizon, “…I am Cÿd…” I lay in the cold wet dirt—unblinking, hypnotized, I watch the stream of red until it appears as an ocean flowing on forever… … … “…Cÿd…” … … …

Cÿd

Prologue: Red Stream, Wet Dirt, and Scars

Scars

Scars (Photo credit: svimes)

I remember it every time I close my eyes. The hot stink of the mid-summer sun burning down, casting gleaming rays through the dark smoke-filled clouds as they blanketed over the sky and burrowed through our farm.

I watched as a stream of the reddest blood I have ever seen flow in front of me, the sun gleamed off it in a way that made it appear somehow infinite—infinitely deep, and flowing on forever like a great red ocean.

I sat there under our table huddled with my knees as tightly to my chest as I could get them as I looked through the legs of a chair like the bars of a cage, and stared out our front doorway. The red stream branched slightly towards me as I watched it creep through the crevasses in the cold ground. I just sat there hypnotized by it, it was the only thing I could see, it’s the only sign of anything since I heard my father’s scream.

I’ve never heard such a sound from any man before. It took me a few seconds to even realize that it was human, then only to somehow recognize it as my father’s voice. The horrifying sound echoed through my head as I watched the red stream flowing through the cold wet dirt.

Where’s Mother—she went out after Father and my brothers… after the yelling and screaming started. Why didn’t she come back—why isn’t she saving me—why isn’t she coming and picking me up before the red stream reaches me?

As I was about to push out the struggling breath to cry out for her, I was instantly silenced by a sudden crash against the outer wall. A brief instant later, I saw a hand before the doorway falling limp—somehow falling with the grace of a dead leaf from an autumn tree. Slowly, I crawled from my sanctuary under the table with the sluggishness of a thousand hands holding me back—but I had to see, I had to see who’s hand lay lifeless before my eyes—I had to know.

I reached out my small hand to touch the large fingers covered with sprinkles of blood, and even before I could see around the corner of the frame, I already knew—I knew that gentle but somehow strong hand almost better than I ever knew my own. The hands that I saw throughout every day from my very first day of life—as they cleaned me, clothed me, fed me, and held me.

I crawled to see her face, her eyes still staring, struggling to cling to life. Her gaze suddenly jumped its focus over to me, and almost frightened me enough to fall back, but I resisted, She isn’t gone, she’s still going to get up and save me—I will still have her gentle touch to nurture me—she’s not gone.

I put my small hand into her hand that always seemed so large and gentle—so strong. I could feel the muscles of her hand as they struggled to move, but allowing her fingers to only barely twitch. As I stared into her eyes as they stared into me as I wished for her to take my small hand in hers, I heard myself crying out with partial words through my tears, “Mother, get up, get up! Why aren’t you holding my hand? Get up!” I order her with anger and tears over and over, “Mother, get up! Hold me!”

Her fingers still twitching in timid struggle, her eyes begin to pool with tears, filling until almost her entire eye was blurred with water. Spilling over, across her nose, and down her cheeks and streaming along the detailed lines of her lips until the stream found its way to open air. It fell in glimmering drops that seemed so small, but seemed so very big as they splashed into the cold ground, disappearing as the dirt soaked them in.

I watched her tears as they fell with my own until the ground turned to mud. I watched as her eyes stared into me—I watched as her twitching fingers stopped twitching—her eyes still staring into me, but somehow different… as if there were some candle burning somewhere inside them that was suddenly blown-out by a breeze. I knew… it took time for it to really hit me, for it to tell my mind to react, time that could have been a mere second, or several hours—I couldn’t tell. But still, from the very moment that I saw the light leave her tear filled eyes, I knew that she was gone. My small, frail hand still grasping at her lifeless fingers, pulling and nudging her as if to some how wake her, but I already knew it was useless. They say a child so young can’t possibly understand death, but I know that I somehow understood it in every detail from that very moment.

I sat there on my knees staring into her lifelessness until my tears turned hot—so hot I almost thought they’d burn my face. As my tears burned I clenched my small hands into fists—fists so tight that I could have pushed my fingers through my palms. That’s when I could somehow feel him there—feel his presence as if I could feel the weight of his shadow blanketed over me.

I turned behind me to see in the distance through all the mist of the smoke-filled darkness, the silhouette of a figure clenching a gleaming steal blade. I stared until my eyes focused and the smoke cleared, and I saw a man staring down to me with the coldest dark eyes I have ever seen. His bare sun-darkened chest completely covered in thousands of scars of random ages and depths. His sword and hands dripped with streaming rains of blood.

I saw laying around him, the edges and silhouettes of more bodies that I already knew before I ever checked them were the bodies of my father and brothers—their screams from before still echoing in my head.

If I told you I wasn’t afraid, you’d know I would be lying, but as I stared into those cold dark eyes, my anger rose to completely overshadow any sign of fear. The tears covered my face, burning even more into my soft cheeks, my fists clenched so tight that I could feel small streams of blood trickling off the sides as my nails stabbed into my palms so deep that when I later pried them open I found that I had my own blood-dabbed skin stuck beneath my tiny nails.

I stared into those eyes unblinking, ignoring the dry burning, waiting—waiting for him to come for me and take my life as he did my mother’s. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hopelessly fight him with my rage, with my only weapons being my small infant hands, allowing me to add to his collection of scars with tiny specks. Or if I wanted to simply lye down and let him plunge his blade into me like a skewered pig so that I could be released from this world and see my mother’s light-filled eyes again—feel her gentle hands again.

Just as my anger caused me to loose patience and I was about to yell out to the man covered in scars, a sudden gust of wind blew, bellowing a ball of curtaining smoke so thick that the scarred man became completely engulfed. His silhouette merged and faded into the cloud, and when the wind finally broke it up and blew it to mist, the scarred man was nowhere to be seen.

I looked around everywhere I could see, he couldn’t have possibly left sight completely in that short of time. Even if he was as fast a runner as my brothers, there was nowhere he could have hidden—he was just… gone.

And I was left sitting there, my rage returned to grief as I looked down at my mother’s lifeless eyes. Sitting there in the red stream—in the wet dirt—the image in my head of the man covered with scars.