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Of Twilight

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posted on Sep, 2 2004 @ 11:38 PM
I'm going over a sheaf of older short stories. I don't think I posted this here. Enjoy. It's exciting and new.

Of Twilight, Gods, and Moonlight

These are the kinds of nights people live for, I thought to myself as I padded along. A large, bright full moon hung high in the indigo sky, framed by the clouds seen only as reflections and lighter shades of blue against the growing darkness. Pinpoints of the strongest stars shone here and there across the tapestry above, as a slight breeze brought me another breath of cool, crisp air. The streetlights glared down a near-offensive amber color along the aging roads I walked, but I soon left it behind me with my troubles as I entered the sweet obsidian of the bike path. Shielded from the brightness by a row of houses on one side, and a burm on the other, it was a welcome change from the nightmarish monotony of Canadian suburbia. My eyes adjusted to the gloom with ease, obviously entering their element. But as they did so, they revealed another figure taking a midnight stroll like myself. Upon spotting each other, we stopped dead in our tracks.

Seconds passed as we struggled to identify one another through the shroud of the gloom we so desperately craved. However, I soon felt a rather familiar sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I managed to see the gleam of teeth in a feral snarl. The feeling got significantly worse when in her hand appeared a long, serrated and rather wickedly barbed shard of moonlight- quite obviously a dagger. So, she was a demigod like myself. Fine, so be it. I could see the sensuous lines tense. I drew my own blade, but not before she had covered half the distance between us in great, bounding leaps.

My knife’s weight and calloused grip brought a sense of comfort for the few seconds before my adversary’s onslaught was upon me. With a sharp report, our steel collided. Sparks flew, and for mere seconds, her face was illuminated. The flash revealed something more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. My assailant was a young woman, no older than myself. Cascading, gleaming, luxurious raven hair flowed down around her face, past her shoulders. A single shock of red hair, the color of the finest burnished bronze, drifted idly across the left side of her lovely face. The expression on her face, the one I had mistaken for animalistic rage, was in fact the grin of one absorbed in the rapture of an adrenaline rush. Her blazing eyes, shimmering as she moved, were the shade of blue that only all of Neptune’s great oceans could ever hope to match. An aquiline nose finished off the avatar of beauty’s features. In another instant, it was lost against to the darkness. The precious light was greedily consumed by the night, wisps scattered by the wind.

Time once again resumed its normal flow in my eyes. Not wishing to harm the fey creature, I reached with my free hand, and grasped her forearm. Pivoting on an extended foot, I sent her tumbling past me. I whipped around to see her land and roll away, only to come up again. Performing a quick handspring, her entire body entered the amber glow which I had previously despised. Tight jeans and a long sleeved shirt -both black- revealed a trim, athletic body. She was neither tall nor short, but quite obviously agile and strong. Her ample breasts heaved a little as she took a moment to size me up, before vaulting into another astonishing display of deadly gymnastic skill. Lithe, she sprung and dived with unimaginable speed. I feinted left and dove right, her blade nicking my ear.

Our dance continued for several moments, each fleeting motion in the dark coming closer and closer to actually harming me. Finally, she made a fatal mistake. Slashing across my face, she attempted to split both my eyes. I leaned back, letting the knife barely miss me and thrust my head forwards, head butting her. She stumbled backwards in shock, and with a kick I sent her weapon spinning off into the darkness. Mine flashed forwards, stopping an inch from her throat. I held it there a moment, showing just how close the reaper had come. She was still grinning, however.

Sliding my dagger back into its sheath, I extended a silent hand to her. Unsure, she looked at me quizzically, head titled slightly to the left. I could feel her appraising me. She took my hand with a nod. “Shayla,” she said simply. Her voice had a luting, harmonious quality to it. “Kaine,” I replied. After vaulting a fence to retrieve her knife, she returned and took a hold of my hand. Her palms were warm, sticky, and as we began to walk side by side, I could catch her scent in the breezes. She smelt of flowers long forgotten by Man, and underneath she reeked of vinegarish sweat. The blanket of our mutual need settled over us as we trod along in the shadows.

Quietly, we walked. Neither of us spoke, instead intent on enjoying the serenity of the night. Like wraiths we came, and like wraiths we went. We could see people, but none like us. Mortals cavorted and lived and fought and died as our shades passed them by soundlessly. Stars winked in and out above us. Drifting, ever drifting, along the back paths and in ravines, we did what we could to prolong the night. I remembered countless legends and stories that both the Mortals and our race had about the stars. Sometimes, a quirk of a smile overcame me. Shayla would look over at me, as if to question what was so funny. But we said nothing.

Finally, we came upon a great field of grass. In the moonlight, it shone dully. I walked to the center of the sea of green, watching little waves roll across it as the breezes continued to chase me. Selecting a spot at random, I lay down. I could not see my lovely, nor hear her. I looked up across the sky, seeing the majesty of it all. With a thump, I heard Shayla lay down not far from me. I looked form horizon to horizon – houses all around, and in the center was the twisting, lilting mosaic in the sky. There, a band of purple crossed from one end of my vision to the other. A sigh erupted to my right. This was peace, and calm, and serenity. This was everything I had left behind.

Spurred by this errant thought, I called out, “Shayla, where are you from?” She, in turn, got up on her elbows and replied, “Not that far from you. Front Street.” Frowning, I got up as well and looked over at her. “No, I mean where are you from?” she thought a second, and whispered quietly “Tarl.” I thought back to the Land where we were born amongst other demigods, angels, and demons. Tarl was a city in the clouds, a place of fantastic beauty. It had been toppled to the ground in the Great War. A simple, peaceful place destroyed by the greed of its inhabitants.

After an uneasy moment, she asked the same of me. I told her of my home in Isam – a city that was one part necropolis and one part forests. I smiled at the memories of my childhood, chasing will o’ wisps amongst the boughs of my home. It was a place of perpetual dark, where no stars could be seen. That was why I roamed the twilight, to remind myself of a place I could never see again after the full gods had exiled all the demigods amongst the planes of existence. Now, we two had met in the squalor and sickening tedium of this suburban hellhole.

As a child, I had been terrified of the sunlight. The first time I had seen it, my family and I were emerging from my wooded haven as we were shepherded into portals by the malign servants of the gods. At first sight of the brightness, I tried to flee. It was too bright! But my parents held me fast, dragging me kicking and screaming, towards the infernal heat of the sun. I could hear spirits wailing behind me, begging us not to leave them. Even now, it makes me uncomfortable.

As dawn, fiery and burning, began to rise in the east, we rose. It was time to retreat back into normality, where we were supposedly normal human being living normal lives. But part of me will always long for the night, where the phantoms of our people lived. Both myself and Shayla left so much behind. We paid for the sins of the fathers. But at night, we live again amongst half-forgotten memories bolstered by fantasies and the magic of the night. Perhaps we shall never go home. And perhaps we are fated to wander the nights of this pathetic world for all eternity, bemoaning what we most likely never had to begin with. I prefer to think of my home as that place in the moonlight, where I can be free once again….


We sat there, in the deep dark, around our precious fire. The clearing in the woods had become a haven for us. We all wore long, heavy cloaks of grey or black to keep off the night’s chill. All five of us just sat there, remembering and watching the flames leap and pop, trying to fight their inevitable death. Just like us, in a way. We just all leaned towards the fire, hunched over or sitting on logs. High above us, the stars glimmered coldly, like pinpoints of ice on the ocean at night. We watched them nightly, almost following them as they traversed the sky. Here, out in the bluffs, there was peace. We sat shrouded in thin mists, and remembered out homes, worlds long forgotten by mortal man.

The forest, as usual, was alive with little sounds: the rustling of leaves, the chirp of crickets, and the small scurrying of woodland animals. Beneath the canopy of pines and maples, the half-moon hung in the sky, large and orangish. Harvest moon, the mortals call it. We sat in the fog, listening quietly, no one so much as saying a word. Presence was enough for the lot of us.

In a rare fit of pique, I raised my heavy, oaken flagon to the other four demigods who sat by me every night. “To good friends and faraway times!” I called out to the dark, if no one else. Grunts and murmurs greeted it, intangible. The sounds of the wood once again filled the cool air around us as the sounds of voices faded into oblivion. We were almost always morose, with our strong, bitter drinks and stronger, yet more bitter memories. Both roiled through our hearts and stomachs, helping to ease our mutual homesickness for a little while. We sat there, wishing for a past centuries dead, trying to survive in a present that we simply could not accept, and having no future worth speaking of. Always depressed, we were.

I caught Shayla glancing at me again form underneath her hood, the thick wool barely concealing a small smile. Sometimes, I catch her staring at me; eyes alight with something I cannot describe. I don’t know what she thinks. We were about as close of demigods get on this plane. The others are quieter, more secretive. We all bore weapons, as we had killed another demigod for each one that had joined our sad troupe. Not every one of us was sane, nor particularly nice. When confronted, many resorted to violence. That’s how I met Shayla, actually. But, no matter. I stared back at her, wondering what was going through her mind. She blushed a little, and went back to her thoughts. I frowned, suspicious.

I was interrupted from my reverie by the heavy footfalls of a number of mortals, all seeming to be heading towards us. Startled, I leaped to my feet, hand on the hilt of my father’s elongated katana. Long and graceful, it was the last relic of the life I had left behind. The grip, hard in my hand, brought instant comfort. I had always marveled at how effortlessly my father wielded it. Now, it was mine. The others stood slowly behind me, the only sound made being the rustle of their cloaks. With a simple gesture, I told my fellows to hide. They each nodded slightly, pulling up hoods and drawing the dark cloth around them as they silently melded with the shadows around them.

The large, brutish morts ran into our clearing just after I had scaled one of the nearby pines. They charged in, weapons raised. Even from my lofty perch, I could see the blue tinge to their weapons. Godforged. Some bastard had given them the weapons needed to kill us. Quick glances to the shadowed forms of the other demis showed looks of surprise or grim determination. They saw the same thing that I did. Their looks back were branded with anger and hatred. Who would do this to us? Why? I watched their movements, mannerism- all were inexperienced fighters, particularly with these weapons.

The mortals were talking in loud voices, looking around and pointing at the obvious signs of us being nearby: the fire, some tracks, and the forgotten bottle of booze.
As they began to argue, we grew antsier. I shifted from foot to foot on the branch, trying to return circulation to my legs. Grumbling beneath my breath, I looked down from thirty feet up. One, trying to be the leader, pushed another, cursing loudly. Before I knew it, one of the Group had broken rank. Things had turned ugly.

Time slowed. A large, curved blade was flung the shadows, attached to a spiked chain at its center. It struck one of the flunkies, tearing through their collarbone and upper chest with a gout of blood and the audible cracking of bones. Its back arched, and as it pitched forwards, the wielder yanked violently on the chain. A wave formed, tearing the thing up and out, returning it to the wielder. The mortals barely had time to register shock before the others emerged, standing with weapons hanging limply by their sides. I stood, drawing my sword and letting it hang by my side as well. “Leave or die,” I boomed down towards them. They bunched together, snarls framing animalistic faces.

One went for his belt. Before it could fully get there, one of my friends, armed with an axe, had hewn it off just above the elbow with a single stroke. Carrying the momentum, he followed all the way through until he had swung a full circle, entire body turning, before severing the head with another stroke. The spray from the shattered stump of a neck flecked the morts’ terror-filled faces, framing them for an instant in time. I leapt into the air, sword point downwards, target selected. The others lunged and struck from their respective spots as I dived towards the would-be leader.

With a mushy thud, my blade went clear through the torso of the last one. I stood, barely keeping my balance atop the pile of corpses. I looked around the clearing, feeling sick to my stomach. Sprays of blood had spattered the trees red. The sanguine stuff dripped from the tips of leaves, the sound of which was the only noise we could hear. Shards of bone were stuck in the trucks, glimmering in the fading firelight. The world seemed to be spinning, revolving around our glade. I felt an awful sense of vertigo begin, and I fell to my knees, leaning on my sword and gritting my teeth against an existence that seemed wanted to break me.

We watched the gore mingle with the opaque, muddy water of the stream, little rivulets slowly disappearing into the greater whole. After cleaning our weapons, we quietly debated about what to do. We could stay or go, but both meant loss. We opted to try and leave our problems behind. It was our one way of dealing with problems: we ran, just like our parents before us when they had been exiled from their plane. As we loped through the forest, heading towards the rising sun, I cast one quick glance behind me. In the clearing, the fire had been smothered by the bodies.

[EDIT: Reminder to post comments. Post comments, dammit!


[edit on 2-9-2004 by DeusEx]

posted on Sep, 2 2004 @ 11:55 PM
Oooh I like this one!
Very visually descriptive. I could *see* what was going on.


posted on Sep, 3 2004 @ 03:15 AM
Jesus, Deus, once you get some life behind you, with your way with words, you may very well be a writer of our time.

posted on Sep, 3 2004 @ 12:06 PM
thanks intrepid, banshee. I'll try to post more tonight.

And I have plenty fo life behind me!


posted on Sep, 8 2004 @ 08:43 PM
Not bad, I bet you could get a publisher and put out a book of short stories if they all are like that.

posted on Sep, 8 2004 @ 09:46 PM
Thanks, Tenacious. I was actually considering it, but I don't have enough built up...yet. There's plenty floating around on ATS, though. I've competed in every short story competition I've been aroudn for.

[Seek me out, son of Durotan...]


posted on Sep, 11 2004 @ 11:14 PM
We ran until days became weeks, weeks became months.

The further the traveled, the more organized the attacks became. We fought near-constant running battles. Everywhere we passed, we heard news from other demigods who had gone to ground. Some mortals had found out about our existence, and for some reason, decided to eliminate us. No one knew the reasons behind the assaults. Eventually, I decided to head north with what was left of my troupe. We few solitaires had been reduced to four, having lost Ophelia to a recent raid. Erik was badly hurt, while Heathyr was only moderately more wounded than myself and Shayla.

We tracked our way north, eventually crossing into Canada through an unguarded patch of forest. We kept to the wild, trying to avoid cities as much as possible. Logic dictated that they would be infested with informers or worse. Therefore, we slowly trudged into the heart of the Laurentians.

The only town I can remember visiting during the time was barely even that. It was called Pine Hills…a not-so-subtle name for fifteen houses and two stores nestled in the core of one of the largest pine forests on the face of the planet. There was only one road in, and it was little more than a dirt path. We came in the dead of night to that accursed place, expecting little and wanting little save a few supplies.

Two miles outside of town, Erik called for a rest. His wounds still bothered him- all along his sides and arms were cuts and nicks from shrapnel and two gouges from near-misses with godforged weapons. We all crumpled to the ground where we stood. Each of us was exhausted from our trek. We knew the stakes, however.

Beneath our heavy grey cloaks and traveling garb, we were the same. Tired, desperate and bemoaning the powers that be, we had been forsaken by nearly everything we still held dear. Almost. I leant against one of the few oaks that thrived up there, groaning. Somehow, Shayla managed to stagger over. Half a smile crossed my face. She was always doing these sorts of things now- a whisper of a touch here, a shadow of a hug there. She slumped over next to me, leaning her head against mine. Our faces still wreathed in the darkness cast by our hoods, we took a few minute’s rest.

Heathyr removed her woodenly flute from a pouch. It was a simple instrument; hand carved and handed down to her by her parents. Such relics aren’t uncommon, but they carry much weight among our people. We all respected her for her abilities.

She began the song. It was the same one she always played, the same three bars repeated over and over again. A high, windy tune, she claimed it reminded her of Ghenna, her home. We all liked it, so we let her play it. Sad and distant, it always seemed to have an aching tone of hope to it. It was a hymn to us, the nomads eternal. It was a lament for what we had lost to the greed of others, our defiance of death, and our dirge all in one.
I don’t know how long we sat there, under the full moon and stars. It had been a long time since we had rested like this. There was peace out there, in that forest. I could feel Shayla breathing against me, almost content. I knew I had feelings for her, and she some for me. I didn’t know just what kind back then, or how to express them. I just didn’t think there was time, living day to day with the hounds nipping at our heels.

Eventually, though, we got back, and continued the trek. We dared passed through town, and I can honestly say I enjoyed the fair sensation of the mortal’s fears. It served them right. Before too long, we were in deep forest again. We walked for the night, and come the day, we begun building. Knocking down trees, we built small cabins for ourselves out there. It was a last hope for a peaceful life, spent unhunted.


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