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Falling: An Epic Fantasy

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posted on Oct, 13 2017 @ 06:34 AM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

Pretty much haven't read a lot yet but what i have reinforces how far i have to go as a writer , Bookmarked for a solid read later . Took me hours to put a story together in the latest comp and reading back a few days later i just looked and thought , wow you have a long way to go . This kind of writing is what i aspire to . Thank you .

posted on Oct, 13 2017 @ 11:06 AM
a reply to: hutch622

Hey Hutch -

Pretty much haven't read a lot yet but what i have reinforces how far i have to go as a writer

I would say don't put yourself up against another writer. If I evaluated myself against the likes of Tolkien, Jordan, Martin, or any of a dozen other writers I admire, I wouldn't have ever started writing the story that's in my heart. Focus on the stories you want to write; write them the way you think/feel they should be written. I think readers can sense authenticity and they follow it. Sure there are some technical things, but I think 90% of writing is finding your voice and transcribing what is inside you trying to get out.

Took me hours to put a story together in the latest comp and reading back a few days later i just looked and thought , wow you have a long way to go

The SS competitions are funny that way. The first time I entered one (SEWC in 2016) I wrote out a quick story inspired by Falling here, then without too much thought posted it. Then, I went back and started reading the other writers' entries. Yeah, THAT was a humbling experience. There are some very talented writers on this site, that is true. But sometimes a story pours out of you in a flood, and sometimes it is a carefully crafted, deliberate and detailed work that requires revision. Both are perfectly valid. For myself, "A Song for Eli", "Hunter", and my latest "Shoes" all poured out in a flood. "Master of the Estate", "The Cardinal", and of course "Falling" were all carefully plotted out, deliberately written and revised stories, that in some cases I agonized over for days.
I guess what I'm trying to say is let go of what you think other peoples' standards are, and just write. It will come out with your voice, filtered through your soul. That will speak to people between the words and lines of text.

This kind of writing is what i aspire to

This is profoundly high praise, which leaves me (ironically) without words. Thank you, Hutch.

Hopefully this comes across as encouragement from one aspiring writer to another. I'm not even published, much less a professional writer. I'm just a computer programmer who felt a story trying to get out. So with that in mind, keep storytelling, my friend!

posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 02:49 PM
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123 - Recovery

Kaena woke in a bed, her mouth parched. Her head felt as though all of the giant Avaanse alarm bells were being rung inside of it. She pressed her fingers on her eyes and groaned.

“Welcome back,” came Gaalen’s voice. A hand reached for hers and squeezed gently. Her right arm felt as if someone had beaten on it with a blacksmith’s hammer, as did her left shoulder. And the pillow underneath her right calf seemed to be squeezing the life out of that leg.

“What happened? I don’t remember anything after,” she shook her head. It was hard to keep her thoughts, her head felt scattered. She opened her eyes and looked at Gaalen, then around the room. “Where am I?”

“You’re in the Temple. I brought you here last night. You were attacked.”

“Attacked? By whom?”

“By what, is more accurate. We’ve never seen anything like them before.”


He nodded to the other side of the bed, where a slender, dark-haired woman with unreadable eyes sat primly. Something about Seeress Meron had always made Kaena slightly uneasy, as if she was somehow so emotionless that she was not entirely human . And yet, now she suddenly seemed less alien somehow, as if Kaena could see a real person underneath the soldier’s armor. It was almost as if there was an odd kinship with the woman. While the Seeress was as lovely as always, Kaena could now see a weariness, a haunted look in her eyes, as if she had been witness to horror she could not un-see. She had seen that look before, in cadets sometimes after their first hard defeat in the field. She looks broken.

She shook her head, trying to focus.

“Why can’t I think straight? Why don’t I remember anything?”

“You were attacked by a demon, Lady Commander. Actually two, in point of fact. They are venomous, but appear to be a lower order than the gith-gesaarm, as I was able to extract their venom and for the most part heal your injuries. I apologize, however, I could not remove of all of it. Their bites appear to resist my methods,” she said softly. “I suspect whatever you are feeling is a remnant of their venom’s effects.”

“Kaena, I brought Grond in. We found evidence that those things were deliberately released into your room.”

Her heart froze. Lowaeren. But why? It’s not Shadow Night yet! Unless he wants to take me out to put someone else in that will be more compliant.

Something the Seeress said set her teeth on edge. Demons?

“You said they were demons? Demonic, as in Ngak the Darkness?” She asked the Seeress, who nodded in confirmation.

“Why, Lady Commander? Have you recalled something?” Her eyes were suddenly sharp and penetrating, almost as if she could read Kaena’s thoughts. Whatever connection she had felt was abruptly gone, and the Seeress seemed her unknowable self again.

“No,” she said quickly, “it just doesn’t make sense. Why would,” she halted. She had been about to say “Lowaeren”, but changed at the last instant. “Why would Ngak want me dead?”

“Ngak wants us all dead, Lady Commander. As many as he can take,” she replied, dismissively.

“Of course,” Kaena replied faintly.

The Seeress stood up without warning. “I should leave. I have other matters to attend to before our departure. I assume you will be delaying the trip to the Eastlands, given the circumstances? I believe you are in command, yes?”

“I am in command, yes, but there will be no delay, we leave on schedule.”

“You should not push yourself too hard, Lady Commander. What you have just been through was very hard on your body. You should take rest, food, and water. As much as you can get of each. And very little wine, if any,” she admonished.

Kaena should her head. “No. I will eat and drink as you instruct, but we dare not waste even a day. I would like to leave at first light tomorrow, but I understand the Queen has some remarks and wishes to conduct a formal send-off.”

“I see. Very well, I will be ready.” And with that, she exited, walking with a grace that made Kaena feel brutish and un-ladylike.

posted on Oct, 17 2017 @ 01:25 PM
Note Bene: Just a short - but important - episode today. Enjoy!

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124 - A New Plan

Gaalen studied her, his face grim.

“Why do you look like that?” she asked.

“Like what?”

“So serious.”

“I’m sorry I was not there to protect you,” he said, looking down.

“There may have been nothing you could do, Gaalen. I can’t remember anything,” she shook her head. “Who knows? We may have both died if you had been there. Let it lie. I am safe, it’s over.” She didn’t want him pressing into this. She didn’t want him asking too many questions.

“I will find out who did this to you.” His mask was set, eyes intense. He was furious, she recognized the signs.

“Let it lie, Gaalen, please. It won’t matter on the trip anyway.”

There was a long moment, where his face slowly softened.

“So, you are going after all, then?”

Her heart broke for him. He really would leave, drop everything and run with her. But she knew now she would never be free, that she would die in service to the Bastion. She only hoped it was doing something noble.

“It was a beautiful dream, Gaalen. But one I cannot have.”

“We could wait, plan it better – go after we come back and the Makata are dealt with.”

“We might not survive that long, you know that.”

“We could die today, Kaena, what does that matter? I love you. I want to grow old with you, not have one of us die on a battlefield for something as ephemeral as a queen’s realm.”

She gazed into his eyes. He may not believe in Queen and country, but he believed in them, in her, she could see it. She took his hand.

“Alright. After. When Ixitzaalok is dead, we leave. Agreed?”

He hesitated. “Agreed.”

She stood up and kissed him, and they embraced, holding each other in silence for a time.

posted on Oct, 23 2017 @ 10:59 AM
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125 - Prelude

The delegation, nobles, and onlookers were already assembling in the courtyard of the palace. The steps leading to the keep were adorned with gold and black, the colors of House Daecullon. A wide, gold-trimmed black carpet was being laid on the steps themselves. Ladies in waiting for both princesses and the Queen prepared their chairs, while the palace chefs scurried about making refreshments ready for the royal family. In the yard, his men worked to prepare their gear, double-checking packs, weapons, saddles, and bridles. The drivers were inspecting their wagons, their teams, and the hitches. Joen was checking over Gaalen’s mount, Ais’e , and his own, Taedr . Quartermasters were verifying the amounts of supplies to be sent along, and messengers ran everywhere.

He stood in the breezeway facing north, watching the bustle distantly, his mind a million miles away. To his left, the Blackhawks were bathed in the early light of morning, their snow-capped peaks on fire with the orange glow of the sun. Between the twin heads framing Avaanse Harbor - Tullon Head on the right, where the Bastion stood, and the Hammer on the left, the jagged, treacherous western wall, a foretaste of the foothills of the Blackhawks - Graygate Bay stretched on to the horizon, the waves fading into a perfectly straight line.

“You seem somber, Amaerke Lord Captain,” said a kind voice, as a strong hand gripped his shoulder. Gaalen’s elevation to Amaerke had been performed by the Queen early that morning, under his mother’s glittering eyes. She had seemed a strange mix of pride and consternation. Perhaps, he thought, that is because I am now her equal in station. Yet I never will be truly her equal in society. No other Amaerke can be controlled with a kir. He had begun to wonder if he was in for far more trouble than he had initially thought.

Gaalen turned his head to glance at Prince Taarvaes, smiling warmly at him.

“Just a bit nostalgic, I suppose. Always get a bit pensive before a journey.”

“And you feel like you should be here to defend Avaanse, or better yet, charging out to take Ixitzaalok head on in the fields.”

Gaalen just smiled at him. Taarvaes had a way of striking right at the heart of things, even if he did not know the exact circumstances.

“Has Lady Macosai told you what she’s going to do?”

“Partially. It really does appear as though they are heading this way. She is being a bit more reticent than she has been previously, but the prevailing thought is that she will send out a harassing force. Maybe Coelaan’s Color, but more likely Lady Captain Silnae.”

Gaalen nodded. It seemed like a sound strategy, and either Lady Captain would execute it flawlessly. Raena Coelaan’s Color was a lighter and faster outfit, but Everyn Silnae was creative and intelligent, with a ruthless streak that she would use to demoralize the Makatans.

“How was your evening with Anna?”

Gaalen smiled.

“She’s remarkable, Taarvaes, and not what I expected at all. Honestly,” he glanced at Taarvaes, “she’s so elegant and regal when she’s in public. But last night, she let me see Anna, not the Princess. Does that make sense?”

Taarvaes was grinning from ear to ear. “She does that on purpose, of course. She’s not nearly as gilded as she lets on to the realm. Mark my words, she is more vulnerable than she will admit,” he said seriously. “You will need to protect her at times.”

Gaalen just nodded, as Taarvaes placed a hand on his shoulder.

“I couldn’t be happier that it’s you, Gaalen.”

He felt like there was a boulder in the pit of his stomach. He managed a smile for the Prince, but said nothing.

“How is Kaena? I understand there was an attempt on her life last night.”

“She is recovering, but still readying herself to go. You know as well as I do she’s built out of steel and boiled leather.”

Taarvaes chuckled. “That she is. I can tell you truly I never want to face the pointed end of her knives.”

“Nor I.”

“I doubt you would ever have to worry about that, Gaalen.”

Gaalen looked back out over the courtyard. “Perhaps, perhaps not,” he said softly.

“She knows, of course, doesn’t she?”

He nodded.

“And how is she taking the news?”

“Surprisingly well. She told me she’s always known this day would come, so she was ready for it. I don’t imagine that makes it any easier, though,” he finished wryly. “Kaena is strong, intelligent, tough, and beautiful. She will find someone to make her happy, of that I am certain.”

“Gaalen, I could speak with Anna--“

“No,” he cut in, “I think that would be a bad idea.” The Prince started to protest but Gaalen raised his hand to forestall it. “Taarvaes, I know you mean well, but she needs to find love, not just an advantageous match. And love cannot be decreed by the Queen.”

“You’re right, of course,” Taarvaes nodded, stepping up to the railing of the breezeway, next to Gaalen. “I feel for her, though. I’ve known Kaena almost as long as you have. She doesn’t let people in easily.”

Gaalen shook his head in agreement, and for a time they just stood in silence, watching the final preparations in the yard. It would be time very soon now. After a few moments, a herald trumpet sounded.

“That would be Mother, on her way. It appears your departure is imminent, Lord Captain.”

“It would be appear so, indeed, Prince,” Gaalen said.

posted on Oct, 23 2017 @ 11:02 AM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

Thank you Shep!
I enjoyed the 'intermission' conversation between you and the member above as well.
You're encouraging and supportive, what every human should/can aspire to be.

posted on Oct, 23 2017 @ 11:29 AM
a reply to: TNMockingbird
Hi Chirp! I hope things are just spectacular on where you're at right now - I imagine you have all sorts of color to marvel at, yes? Up here we peaked about 1-2 weeks ago, I think. They're talking snow for Friday.

As for encouraging, I guess I just really admire several writers on this site - one in particular I'm thinking of is JustMike. His hallmark to me is exactly that - his encouragement of other writers, his willingness to share and guide and coach and support. There are many others who have that same attitude (ahem! like you, Chirp!), and I think it's what makes the writing community here so special.

posted on Oct, 24 2017 @ 01:54 PM
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126 - Blessing

He turned to head out toward Joen, but Taarvaes grabbed his sleeve, and Gaalen turned back around. Taarvaes grasped his arm in a firm grip.

“Be careful, Gaalen. You will travel through some wild land. I know you will do your duty.”

“I promise, my Prince.”

"You call me 'brother' now, Gaalen." Taarvaes clapped Gaalen on his upper arm, then released him.

“Gaalen,” Taarvaes called out as he turned to go. He glanced at the Prince. “She really does like you. She couldn’t stop talking about you yesterday.”

Gaalen smiled and nodded, but inward he withered. He was going to disappoint a lot of people when he killed Ixitzaalok, then disappeared with Kaena.


The Queen sat on a heavy, gilded chair draped with a gold and black cloth, Princess Anna to her right and Teryn to her left. Taarvaes had taken his place standing behind the Queen and Teryn, and the Queen’s advisors stood to his sides and behind him. The delegations - had assembled in the courtyard’s plaza, before the steps. Lady Captain Jeina Rivercross stood in discussion with Bryn, undoubtedly reviewing their plans. Lady Devoraac stood with her daughter, the Lady Aine Devoraac. Gaalen caught Bryn’s eyes stealing glances at the younger Devoraac, even has he spoke with Lady Rivercross. As much as he disliked the elder Devoraac, he hoped his oldest friend in Avaanse had somehow found what he was looking for.

Gaalen scanned the crowd that had assembled - word of Ixitzaalok’s attack and the delegations’ missions had spread, and subjects from all walks of life gathered to see the three delegations off. There were commoners, merchants and peddlers, Temple servants, performers, craftswomen, and nobles all lining both sides of the broad crushed stone avenue. More nobles lined the breezeways to the left and right of the Queen and her retinue, and palace servants leaned out of upper windows or from balconies to view the ceremony.

He spotted Lady Macosai, speaking intensely with several Ladies Captain. She was in a stern mood, Gaalen could tell by the expression she wore. Over to the other side, he caught sight of his own mother, a cold mask of fury on her face, alternating between giving Kivioen what seemed a harsh reprimand – for the man looked profoundly abashed as she continued her tirade – and directing distasteful glances at the assembled delegation to the Eastholds. What are you up to, Mother?

Even Elder Poliara and Seer Lowaeren waited patiently, although Lowaeren wore almost as rigid an expression as his mother did, and he also seemed to focus on the Easthold delegation. Occasionally he would lean in to speak to Poliara, but her gaze never faltered – she remained focused the entire time, on Gaalen.

After a few more moments, two silver herald trumpets sounded a low, brassy call in harmony, signaling the Queen’s address. She stood regally, gathering her skirts and stepping forward as the crowd cheered. She let them applaud and shout for a time, then raised her hands for quiet. The Queen was well-loved in Avaanse, and the crowd obeyed rapidly.

“Ladies, Lords, and loyal citizens!” she called out, to another cheer, even some of the nobles. She waited as it settled down. “I tell you today that it is true, the Makata have attacked us. But,” she held her hands up to cries of alarm, gasps, and murmurs arising from the commoners. “We are strong, and like we have always done before, our best and strongest will repel this threat also. Today we send word out to gather our people together for the defense of our realm,” her voice rose in a crescendo. “To the West, to the South, and to the East the call will rise. And the Maarkes will answer! The Makatans will not prevail. We are Aavelae!”

She finished with a shout, both arms raised, and the crowd erupted in cheers. “Aavelae! Aavelae!” while others cried out, “Daecullon! For Queen Tirina!” and still others chanted out “Tha syn a kleidiam a’us an sha’yath!”, the Aavalaean motto “We are the sword and the shield!” in its original Old Aavalaean form.

After letting the cheers ring, she raised her hands once more for quiet. Anna and Teryn both stood and took positions to either side of the Queen.

Gesturing to the three delegations, she called out, “Amaerke Lady Captain Jeina Rivercross. Lord Captain Bryn Robaer. Amaerke Lady Missei Devoraac. Lady Aine Devoraac. Lady Commander Kaena Quae Milaener. Amaerke Lord Captain Gaalen Braeghe. Lady High Commander Kili Macosai. Seeress Lady Siere Meron. Approach the Queen.”

They all came forward in a semi-circle before the Queen, standing three steps above them. Those with Bastion status bowed, while Seeress Meron, Amaerke Devoraac, and her daughter all curtsied.

“With you go our hopes. Rally the Ladies of the land, rally the Colors of Aavelae, and bring a mighty hammer to the defense of our realm. May you ride with the grace of the Merciful Father.”

She turned to look at Anna, who stood and glided down the steps toward Gaalen. She stood one step above him, her eyes just slightly above his.

“Come back soon, Amaerke Lord Captain. Come back safe.” With that, she leaned in to kiss him. The crowds, still joyful at the news of their engagement, applauded and cheered.

“I shall see you soon, Anna of Daecullon,” he said seriously, and for a moment they studied each other’s eyes.

As Gaalen turned toward the Easthold delegation - the largest of the three parties leaving - he caught Seeress Meron’s flat stare. Kaena’s face was a stony mask, but her cheeks and neck were red, and she was not meeting his eyes.

Uncomfortable, he made his way toward where Joen waited with their mounts.
edit on 10-24-2017 by PrairieShepherd because: adding division for clarity

posted on Nov, 3 2017 @ 04:37 PM
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127 - Departure

They left the north plaza of the Palace - Esaera’s Square - at a trot. The assembled crowd needed to see some urgency and energy in the defense of their realm, so Kaena brought them out at a brisk pace. As they passed under the palace grounds wall, between the two squat watchtowers and past the heavy oaken gates, standing open.

As they reached the road, Bryn, Lady Captain Silnae, and Lady Devoraac along with their retinues all turned left to head out of the south city gate. Members of Robaer and Silnae Colors both trailed them, while a much smaller contingent of Devoraac Color followed the stern head of their House. Lady Devoraac’s liegewomen would likely meet her on the road to the southlands.

The shoes of their horses clattered against the cobblestone path as they wound their way around the Central Market. Above them, the Greatmoon was in its waning phase, just rising on the horizon. Crowds lined the road, some waving and cheering, others standing stoically. Children ran ahead of the delegation, smiling up at Kaena or Gaalen and squealing with delight. Seeress Meron rode with her head toward the ground, lost in her own thoughts. Kaena caught his eye and smiled shyly at him, before catching herself and turning her gaze away.

There was another Seeress along - Seeress Yna Idrasyl - and two Bearers who seemed to serve her. She was apparently a peer of Seeress Meron, as there did not seem to be any deference or precedence between the two.

The strong, well-built buildings of the inner city gave way to less expensive, less well-constructed houses and buildings of the outer ring of Avaanse. While they were not going through the poorest quarters of the city, the eastern neighborhoods were certainly not for the gentry. Fewer and fewer people lined the road as they approached the city wall and passed through the outer gates.

Avaanse was situated mainly on the east bank of the Ash at the confluence of the Ash and the Crystal. Just north of their joining, they emptied out into Greygate Bay, under the watchful eyes of the Bastion, situated on Tullon Head on the east side of the Bay. The land Avaanse sat on was flat, but hard packed and able to support the buildings in the city. The same bedrock that rose up to form Tullon Head extended under the city and formed its foundation. The east bank of the Ash rose steeply from the water, and floods of the city were rare even in very wet years. The area between the two rivers, and the west bank of the Crystal, however, were both subject to serious flooding.

The land climbed gently as they left the confluence area, beginning to rise and fall in low ripples of earth. Residences began to spread apart outside the walls of Avaanse, becoming interspersed with fields and pasture or wooded lands and empty meadows of tall, golden grasses. Nahak, sheep, and tra’elopei grazed in the rock-fenced pastures. Farms grew wheat, oats, uji, kulic, and other grains, and raised hakar or yanec for eggs and meat.

Scattered throughout the farmland, usually at the intersection of multiple fields or pastures, were small, mortared stone or brick buildings, each with a stout hiran or noblethorn door. These were tae’richit, or “stone houses.” Tae’richit served as shelters for the field workers when animals like ges’etaaken, aiyuun, or gith-gesaarm attacked. Farmers and ranchers in Aavelae had learned no one was safe, and an attack could happen at any time. Most tae’richit would not withstand the attack of an alkasanni, or a torpae, but those animals usually did not attack without significant threat or provocation. Torpae, for example, were primarily herbivores, and did not see humans as a threat unless they were attacked or their young threatened. Tae’richit would hold off ges’etaaken and even aiyuun easily, and usually be enough of a deterrent to make gith-gesaarm leave in frustration, though they were unusually cunning and had been known to figure out how to open or destroy weak doors.

As the day waned, the land began to roll more dramatically. They were beginning to enter the Anyarthuah Heights, a region of rolling hills punctuated with mounds of shale and granite. It was not rough country, but neither was it prairie. The High Road, the highway they traveled on, would turn south and east tomorrow, eventually splitting in two at the Jukarga Valley. One spur - the Rosian Road - would follow the valley winding its way east to the border of Mons Ros. The other would continue southward toward and past the western edge of the Eastholds, eventually rejoining the Ash River several dozen leagues east of South Market. Well, where South Market used to be.

Kaena called a halt as the sun touched the horizon, to give them time in the light to get the camp set up. The Greatmoon was waning toward Shadow Night, and the false night was not as bright as it was during other parts of the year when the Greatmoon was full. They would need to be setup before dark, in order to remain safe. Of course, they were still well within the borders of Avaanse Maarke, but it never hurt to be cautious.

posted on Nov, 5 2017 @ 09:14 AM
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128 - Ally

After the camp was setup, Gaalen sat reviewing orders in his tent by the light of a candle. He felt a light breeze as the tentflap opened and Joen stepped in.

Amaerke Lord Captain,” the young man said politely, bobbing a bow.

“Joen, you know I don’t require you to bow every time you enter my tent.”

“It’s the proper thing to do, Amaerke Lord Captain.”

“I’ve also told you a dozen times, when we’re alone you may call me Gaalen.”

“You have indeed, sir,” he said rigidly. He nodded, his bright blue eyes downcast. The boy rarely went with his head covered, unless they expected trouble. His straight, light brown hair fell just past his jawline, and occasionally dropped in front of his face on the left side, so he was frequently pulling it back across his ear surreptitiously.

Joen was a fine squire. He took his duties seriously, studied hard, took ownership of his responsibilities, and did not make mistakes more than once. But the boy was so incredibly formal that Gaalen had trouble relating to him. He always used the title ‘Lord Captain’, and now with ‘Amaerke’ thrown into the mix, their interactions would border on the ridiculous. Gaalen had a wild thought to get the boy drunk on wine just to see what might lie under that shiny, pristine façade.

“What is it you wanted to see me about, Joen?”

“A note has arrived for you, my Lord,” he said, sticking his hand out toward Gaalen to present him with a neatly folded envelope, sealed in blue wax. The signet was not one he recognized - a dove taking flight, a ring of thorns in its claws. Gaalen turned it over in his hand, and it appeared untampered with. He broke the seal and unfolded the envelope as well as the note it contained.

Meet me past the horse pickets after First Moon sets.
A friend

“Thank you, Joen, that will be all for tonight. Take your rest, we will get an early start tomorrow morning, and I expect you ready to go. Understood?”

“Yes, Amaerke Lord Captain,” he bowed again. Gaalen sighed.

“Then off to bed with you, lad,” he said with a smile. Joen turned and left.

Gaalen poured wine into a plain metal goblet and drank deeply. First Moon would not set for another two hours, so he had some time to kill. He brought out his copy of Feda’ai Eisalctus yu Kei’arai, and began to read where he had left off.

posted on Nov, 6 2017 @ 03:10 PM
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129 - Accusation

The time passed quickly, and First Moon dipped ever lower on the horizon. After donning a lightweight, dark cloak against the cool autumn evening, he strapped his sword belt on, he headed out of his tent. Jolitei was on watch, his back to the fire, scanning the forest for movement.

“Lord Captain,” he nodded.

“Sir Jolitei. I appreciate your discipline, soldier.” They were only a day’s journey outside of the city of Avaanse. The land was well patrolled, and creature attacks were uncommon this close to the city - not unheard of by any stretch, but it was not likely tonight.

Jolitei nodded and smiled, then resumed his scan of the forest. Gaalen continued through the camp to the horse pickets, passing Kaena’s tent in the process. It was dark and quiet. She was already asleep, as was most of the camp. The Seeress’s tent was also quiet, but a dim light glowed - she either kept a lamp on all night or she was still awake. Sir Galicarr waited outside her tent, attentive and still. Just a few voices talked quietly from the end of the camp where his men had set up a small fire.

On the far side of the supply wagons was the horse line. Two Braeghe Color soldiers - Paarli and Etruesdan - guarded the picket. That many horses would be a temptation to certain carnivores. They had spares along, but it would take nearly three weeks to get to Lithelhold. They could not afford to lose their mounts.

A good dozen or so were Elamaran nahaks, which were not only horned but had bony studs along their backs. Nahaks were difficult to break, but when you were able to, they made fiercely loyal, hard-working companions. The other breeds of horses were tied up, but thenahaks were not. They simply would not wander, and tying them up restricted their natural self-defense. Left loose, however, they were effectively an additional fighting force if the delegation were set upon by predators. Gaalen had seen a nahak gore a ges’etaaken and toss it fifteen feet. They were formidable creatures in their own right.

He brought a julafruit treat to Ais’e and Taedr, then continued past the picket line a bit. He found a large hiran tree and moved to the far side of it, pulling his dark cloak around his shoulders. Closing his eyes, he listened to the sounds of the forest, picking out calls of night birds and nocturnal insects as they searched for food and mates in the dimness. The forest was always alive, always active.

“Do not turn around, Lord Captain,” a soft female voice said behind his ear.

“Who are you? I don’t recognize your voice.”

“That’s as it should be. It is safer for both of us that way.”

“What do you want? Why are you on this delegation?”

“Our mutual elder acquaintance felt it necessary to have someone besides you along. In case you needed assistance.”

“And how are you supposed to assist me if I don’t know who you are?”

“I assure you, Lord Captain, if you need me I will know. I have a rather uncommon set of skills.”

Gaalen grunted. “So what do you want? You initiated this meeting.”

“To deliver a message. You must be very careful. Not everyone close to you can be trusted.”


No response.

“I asked you a question. You’re accusing someone near me of being a traitor. Who?”

“Be wary of the Lady Commander.”

“That’s ridiculous. She’s the one person I have absolutely no doubts about.”

“She is working with agents known to be hostile to Aavelae. She is not to be trusted."

“You and I have nothing further to speak about.”

Disgusted, he started to move off, back to toward the horse line.

“Lord Captain,” she whispered fiercely, “You must listen!”

He spun suddenly, darted back, and grabbed her by the shoulders, getting a good look at her face. He recognized her as one of the Bearers on the delegation, attached to Seeress Idrasyl. Her skin was tanned, her face framed by light brown hair. She was neither beautiful nor plain, rather she was quite ordinary. The muscles in her arms and shoulders that he held on to, however, were solid. This was a strong woman.

“’I must listen?’” he hissed. “You have accused the only person I know I can trust of treason. Meanwhile, your Elder sits in her bloody Temple and lets others do the dying for her. I’m not a pawn on a gameboard, and neither is Kaena. You can take your accusations to the bloody Abyss and burn. Tell Poliara we’re through.”

He turned to stalk off.

“Lord Captain, please!” she whispered frantically. “This is a diversion! You are supposed to be in Avaanse! The Makatans will make it to the capitol, and without Meron Color Avaanse will fall! She is dangerous! She and Lowaeren will sabotage everything and we will all die!”

“You don’t know what you are saying. Go away.”

He shook his head and walked away to the sound of her desperate pleas faded into the forest behind him. “Lord Captain! I know why Amaerke Meron is sick! You are not safe around Lady Milaener! Lord Captain!”

posted on Nov, 8 2017 @ 11:27 AM
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130 - A Walk Through the Camp

Gaalen sat in his tent two evenings later, still simmering over the spy’s remarks. He had learned her name was Naadi Aldaahala , but little else about her. A gentle pressing of Seeress Idrasyl yielded little -she knew virtually nothing about the woman except that she was a couple years his junior and a relatively new initiate. It was unusual, Idrasyl had admitted, to have a Bearer initiated at that age, but not unheard of. Naadi claimed to come from eastern Burneval, driven up to Aavelae because of her faith and persecution by the Makatans. That seemed believable to Gaalen, he had heard some Burnevali on her tongue and she had the look. The Makatans themselves typically had black hair, an olive complexion, and dark eyes, but the Burnevali of the same region tended to short, stocky, green or blue eyes, and hair various shades of brown.

How could she think that Kaena was a traitor? It didn’t matter to him what evidence she could produce. He knew Kaena, knew her heart perhaps better than anyone. Perhaps her loyalty to queen and realm was not as strong as her loyalty to him, and his to her, that may be true. But her principles would not allow her to betray the Bastion or the crown. It was not within her.

He couldn’t think of anything that could make her turn treason. Not even a threat to her family. Kaena was a Milaener. Milaeners were an old, even ancient Aavelaean family. The most famous Milaener, Queen Gaera Milaener, was forced to watch her entire family be murdered by the insane Burnevali monarch Faran Alahnijaha before her eyes were put out during the First Burneval War. She never relented, refused to surrender, refused to pay homage and tribute to Burneval. She was put in prison in Burneval for a decade until her sister Tenna Milaener led Aavelae to victory in the First Battle of the Crystal River, routing the Burnevali army under the rallying cry of “A’thivalu Milaener” – “to avenge Milaener” in the Graytongue. For a Milaener to betray would not be a simple dishonor; it would go against the very blood than ran in their veins. No, Kaena was no traitor. He was sure of it.

Trying to put the woman out of his mind, he put the various orders and messages he was reviewing away, then left his tent to circle through the soldiers’ camp. He stopped here and there to speak with the men, trying to draw them out to find out how they felt about their journey so far. It was difficult to get men to relax around him. He was continually surprised at how they seemed to regard him, but knew there were always things they kept back – that was the way of it between leaders and those they lead. He had different ways of getting to the truth, though. You could many times tease out what a man truly thought by listening carefully. Indeed, Gaalen believed an important trait of a leader – perhaps the most important trait – was the ability to really listen, and to convey real comprehension to the speaker. People want to be seen, they want to be heard, his father had taught him.

It was a fine line, however, between hearing and understanding someone, and allowing them to persuade you and direct your decisions and actions. Hearing a man’s opinion was one thing – agreeing with him rashly, without careful thought was one way leaders got into serious trouble.

After he reached the far edge of the Braeghe Color camp on the southwestern half of the camp, he began heading back to his tent through the northeastern half. Walking up the pathway he drew close to one of the soldiers’ campfires, ringed with several of his men - Sirs Grond, Etruesdan, Paralan, and a few others. They immediately stiffened and saluted, even Sir Grond, who had served with Gaalen’s father Hyn.

Amaerke Lord Captain,” they said, almost in unison.

“Gentlemen,” Gaalen responded, returning the salute. “Take your ease. Sir Grond, we break out of Avaanse Maarke tomorrow, I want double watches while we are in the Teriggan Forest.”

“Of course, my Lord, I expected that,” he responded promptly. Grond was a ruddy, stout man, with squinty eyes and a squat nose. His graying hair only retained hints of the fiery orange it once held, but his temper had lost none of that same spark. Grond was intelligent, loyal, and one of the few people Gaalen had no doubts about. His jovial demeanor was always welcoming, and yet, he was firm with the younger Colormen when needed, and regularly drew out their best.

“Sir Etruesdan, may I see your sword?”

“Yes my Lord,” he said promptly, drawing it smoothly and laying it on his forearm, pommel toward Gaalen. The sound of metal had accompanied his draw. Gaalen took the sword and inspected the blade.

“Good. Well-oiled and plenty sharp. You need to replace the cork and leather around your scabbard’s throat, though. That draw made too much noise, and we may have occasion to require silence on this journey. See to it.”

Gaalen returned the sword to Etruesdan, who nodded and replied, “Right away, Lord Captain.” The young man trotted off back to his tent. Gaalen regularly checked various aspects of his men’s preparation. Sometimes you had something to point out, such as Etruesdan’s noisy scabbard. Other times there was nothing wrong, but the mere act of asking to inspect a sword or scabbard, for example, triggered others to inspect their own and make repairs if necessary. It was enough that the men took it upon themselves; all they required was a gentle reminder.

These were good men, Gaalen knew that, but discipline was like a city wall. It needed to be maintained, or it would fail just when you needed it most. He did not want to nag or hound his men. That led to disrespect and defiant carelessness. Gentle, firm reminders, here and there, sufficed. Neither did he dress his men down. Public humiliation only served to garner resentment. It was one thing to be harsh on a cadet at the Bastion – he had done so himself. Or to have an edge in his reprimand of a new recruit’s carelessness. They had no frame of reference, they had no idea what the stakes were out here; that their negligence could very easily cost someone their life. These men knew. They had seen it, over and over again, on both sides – lives saved for diligence, lives lost for sloppiness. They knew.

He bid the rest of them goodnight and headed back up toward his tent higher up on the small incline the camp was laid out on. Passing the last of the Braeghe Color tents, he came to a wide, flat area where the Temple personnel - Seeress Meron, Seeress Idrasyl, and two Bearers - had pitched their tents. He assumed the smallest tent of the three held the Bearers, while the other two were the Seeresses. The Temple women apparently liked their privacy, because the tents for each were almost as far away from each other as possible in this clearing.

As he moved through the thin line of trees into the next clearing, an alarmed shout rang out from behind him.

posted on Nov, 9 2017 @ 02:34 PM
Note Bene: Hi folks - just a quick note for anyone reading. I'm about to post the next episode, 131 - Demon. We are getting into the cutting-edge brand new stuff I've written. Just a warning that pretty much from here on out, what you're reading is essentially once-through writing, with once-through editing. I apologize in advance for typos, syntax errors, and repeated phrases/words. I usually try to fine-tooth-comb those all out, but I'm trying to keep some semblance of regularity in getting material posted, so I'm rushing just a bit.

Secondly, the demon in this next scene says several things. Here is what they mean, in order:

Demon (to Siere): “Isa soelarum elincquatis, Meoxis. Aho eliquati etus rictas, yeijasa.” => "Leave me alone, Meioshi. Leave now or die, [pejorative]."

Siere's response: “You do not belong here! Electus Geaomm, non Nglakkloth! Vade adommum Ngakkloth nahalutim estrui!” => "You do not belong here! This is Aomm's Garden, not Ngak's house. Go back to Ngak's house or be destroyed."

Demon (to Siere): “Ser demaitis, Meoxis! Etus tunil! Ma non Kei’ara’i, san etus gracivis tin.” => "Release me, Meioshi! You are nothing! You are not Kei'Arai, you are a grave worm."

Demon (to Gaalen): “Alest san gracivis tin. Sha decorasit abukinest etus edemis, elhaemit.” => "Another grave worm. I will peel off your skin, [pejorative]."

Siere: "Juntal Ngakkloth nahalutim oress!" => "Return to Ngak's house now!"

Demon's final response: “Uhu ahomeratis asethlin,” it cooed at her. Then it snarled, “Sha decorasit abukinest eta edemis, eopremir uhu ricta thorsos, Meoxis!” => "You love the man...", then a rather graphic threat I see no need to translate.

Alright, without further ado...

posted on Nov, 9 2017 @ 02:34 PM
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131 - Demon

Immediately Kaena stepped out of her tent, coat loose and knives flashing. Gaalen’s sword flew out of its scabbard and he spun around, dashing back toward the commotion. It was a woman’s voice.

He broke into the clearing where the Temple tents were. Seeress Meron - in her shift and a loosely tied robe - was running barefoot toward the Bearers’ tent, shouting. Seeress Idrasyl came out of her tent, looking bewildered. Lanceguard who had heard the shouting flowed from the Bastion clearing into the Temple clearing, weapons drawn.

“Seeress, what is it?” He shouted, but she did not respond. It seemed that before her the air was glowing white, like a shield, and gathering in strength and brightness as she sped across the turf.

He turned to follow her, and as they reached the Bearer’s tent the glowing shield seemed to expand, like outstretched arms wrapping around the Bearers’ tent.

“Seeress, what is it?” he demanded again, as he caught up to her.

She glanced at him for just a moment, then her gaze returned to the tent. “Something is in there. Something wholly evil.”

She closed her eyes, and the glowing ring grew another finger that reached through the flap and into the tent.

Suddenly a hissing, harsh voice rang out. “Isa soelarum elincquatis, Meoxis. Aho eliquati etus rictas, yeijasa.”

“You do not belong here! Electus Geaomm, non Nglakkloth! Vade adommum Ngakkloth nahalutim estrui!”

A tall figure, like solid shadow, emerged from the tent. It had the shape of a human, and it moved smoothly, as if it was floating, not on the ground. It was loosely wrapped in what looked like pale bandages, and a greenish-white glow came from the sockets in its skeletal, sharp-toothed demonic head. Blood oozed from between the wraps, dripping on the forest floor, lit up by the First and Second Moons, and the light of the waning Greatmoon.

“Stay back, all of you,” Seeress Meron commanded, “do not approach it!”

The visage scanned the humans who had assembled - Kaena had arrived, Seeress Idrasyl, and several of Gaalen’s Colormen. All except the Seeresses had weapons drawn, and were in combat stances or crouches, ready to fight any moment.

“Ser demaitis, Meoxis! Etus tunil! Ma non Kei’ara’i, san etus gracivis tin.”

Gaalen’s head spun. He was face to face with a demon, he could feel it, feel the evil radiating from it. He raised his sword, and the demon turned toward him.

“Alest san gracivis tin. Sha decorasit abukinest etus edemis, elhaemit.”

His skin seemed to burn, and if it had been possible, the demon seemed to grin.

“Juntal Ngakkloth nahalutim oress!” shouted Seeress Meron. The creature spun its head, then lunged at the Seeress. She cried out and the glowing shield flashed like lightning. One of the Bastion Lanceguard yelled a battle cry and ran toward it, sword swinging.

“No!” screamed the Seeress. The soldier’s sword ripped through the demon’s bandages, and they shredded, spraying blood into the air. As they knit themselves back together, a pale mark like a scar appearing where the sword cut through them, the demon reared back and laughed. A shadowy, clawed hand shot out to grip the soldier’s throat. It lifted the soldier like a ragdoll and slammed him down to the ground. Then it pounced on his body, ripping him open and tearing out his insides. Covered in blood and flesh, it turned back to Seeress Meron and cackled madly, then lunged at her again, seeming to slam into the shield she held. Another flash of light lit up the clearing as the Seeress cried out and went to her knees. The demon roared in what seemed to be frustration, pounding at the shield she held and shrieking strange words at her.

“Get out of here, all of you! You cannot fight this creature! Leave!” she shouted.

Gaalen’s body hummed, and he raised his sword, focusing on his kir and his breathing, centering and calming himself. All at once he heard both clearly and distantly the shouts and challenges of the soldiers, the terrified shrieking of Seeress Idrasyl, the energy of Seeress Meron’s shield. Her power grew louder in his ears, like a chord struck on a lute, but richer, and perfectly in tune, slowly growing in intensity. He took a step forward.

“Lord Braeghe stay back! This is beyond you! I will Compel you!” The Seeress’s sharp rebuke was strained, as if she bore a great weight on her shoulders.

“Gaalen,” came Kaena’s voice also, heavy with anxiety and tension.

The demon scanned the ring of humans surrounding it. It leaned forward toward Seeress Meron, and again seemed to grin.

“Uhu ahomeratis asethlin,” it cooed at her. Then it snarled, “Sha decorasit abukinest eta edemis, eopremir uhu ricta thorsos, Meoxis!”

It began to reach for Seeress Meron, then suddenly launched itself at Gaalen. The harmonic rush in his ears seemed to come to a thunderous focus as he stepped into Seeress Meron’s glowing shield. Dimly he heard Siere and Kaena both screaming at him. His body felt like it was vibrating, as if lightning coursed in his veins, bursting forth from his skin. Something in him raged at the demon, the darkness, the evil, and he suddenly felt purpose, as if his whole life had been headed toward this moment. He parried the demon’s strike, then countered as fast as he could. It felt as though his sword had struck flesh and bone, and the demon roared in what seemed like pain. He ripped the sword back, then swung again, cutting through the creature’s neck. An earsplitting shriek ripped through the night, and a flash of greenish light exploded outward from the demon, knocking Gaalen back to the ground.

posted on Nov, 14 2017 @ 08:37 AM
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132 - Cats

He scrambled to his feet and retrieved his sword. Everyone was picking themselves up off the ground as well. Gaalen noticed the glow of the Seeress’s shield around the Bearers’ tent was gone. A pile of char lay smoldering on the ground, a dark blotch next to Juliao’s mutilated corpse.

Kaena was eyeing him strangely, as if she did not quite recognize him. The Seeress was staring at him as well, her usual flat, unreadable expression on her face.

“Thank you, Seeress. I don’t know how, but you destroyed it.”

“I,” she began, then glanced at Kaena. “Of course, Lord Braeghe.” She looked puzzled.

Gaalen stood and went to see to his men, admittedly avoiding going into the Bearers’ tent, afraid of what he would find. None of the other men there had been injured, but they were all shaken by what they had seen, and by Juliao’s grisly death. He gave them encouraging words and sent all of them except Sir Grond back to their tents, with double watches for the night. They left with quiet mutters and furtive glances back at the scene outside the Bearers’ tent. Then he turned to Kaena and the Seeress, who were in low conversation.

“I won’t ask you two to go in there. I have a feeling I know what we will find,” he gestured to Grond, who nodded in agreement.

“Gaalen, the Seeress and I,” Kaena started.

“Lord Captain, we must speak privately. Now,” said the Seeress. “Lady Commander, would you join us?”

Confused, Gaalen instructed Grond to begin investigating the Bearers’ tent, then followed the two women.

The Seeress led him and Kaena back across the clearing to her tent, and bid them to enter. They followed her in, and she turned to face Gaalen, Kaena moving to stand near the Seeress. Suddenly it seemed like he was being interrogated.

“Seeress, what is this?” Asked Gaalen, casting a sidelong glance at Kaena. He felt like he was looking at a ridgecat and a hillcat – natural enemies – working together to catch a single prey.

“Why did you not stop when I told you to? You could have died!”

“I,” Gaalen hesitated, “I’m not sure, Seeress. It felt right, I suppose, as though I had to attack it. I actually assumed you would stop me. You said you were going to Compel me.”

Siere looked at Kaena. Gaalen was growing more uncomfortable by the moment. “I did Compel you. It had no effect.”

Kaena nodded. “I Compelled you also, Gaalen. It was as if you had no kir at all.”

Gaalen looked from one to the other. He realized his mouth was open, so he closed it, trying to process what he was hearing.

“What are you saying?” He did not direct it specifically at either of the women looking seriously at him.

“Lord Braeghe, the demon was banished, not destroyed. But regardless, I did not do it,” Seeress Meron stated. She looked him in the eyes. “You did.”

posted on Nov, 22 2017 @ 12:52 PM
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133 - Worker

“Lord Braeghe, the demon was banished, not destroyed. But regardless, I did not do it,” Seeress Meron stated. She looked him in the eyes. “You did.”

“But, of course I didn’t. You said it yourself, you could barely constrain it. It must have been something you did.”

“No, it was not,” she shook her head.

“Maybe I struck the final blow, but you must have done something. To my sword, or weakened the demon, or, I don’t know,” he spread his hands helplessly. “Juliao’s sword went right through it, you saw that! Mine is no different from his!”

“Your sword, your arms,” Kaena struggled for words. “Gaalen, they were on fire. White fire.”

“That’s impossible. I think I would feel it if I was on fire. You must have just been seeing the shield that Seeress Meron was using to contain it,” he said dismissively, looking between her and the Seeress.

“There was no shield,” Kaena said. “I couldn’t see any shield.”

“But, it was plain to see. It was glowing all around the tent!” He looked from one to the other. “Seeress? Tell her! I don’t have tamborae, you do!”

“I had nothing left over to help you or attack the demon. Whatever happened to banish it came from you, Lord Braeghe. And I can tell you your sword alone would have had no effect on a creature of shadow like that.”

”But that can’t be! You’re saying,” he trailed off.

“I’ve had my suspicions since the time I healed the girl in the Temple, but now,” she shook her head, her dark chestnut brown hair waving. “There is no longer any doubt in my mind, Lord Captain Braeghe. You are a Worker.”

Kaena and Gaalen both goggled at the Seeress.

“Seeress, I cannot be a Worker,” he said, as if he were face to face with a venomous snake ready to strike. “I will be Prince Consort,” he trailed off, his mind spinning a thousand thoughts in his head. “It will destroy the engagement. Father of Mercy,” he shook his head, trying to sort it out.

Seeress Meron glanced sidelong at Kaena, who said, “What is it, Gaalen? What do you mean?”

“Something she taught me about people who are given this ‘gift’,” he said the word sarcastically. “They can’t have children. Even if only one of the couple can use her tamborae, they still won’t bear offspring. She is telling me the most important duty I could possibly have in a marriage with the Princess, I cannot perform!

Kaena’s eyes widened as she worked through his response. She turned and studied the Seeress as if seeing her in a new light, and Gaalen saw a softness in her eyes he almost never saw outside of when they were alone . The Seeress, on the other hand, looked away from both of them, her face a pale mask, as if carved of fine stone.

“I’m sorry, Lord Captain, I know this must be difficult. But I am certain you will adjust, as will the Princess,” she said softly.

Gaalen threw up his hands and turned away from them. He heard Kaena speak quietly to Siere.

“I don’t think you are fully grasping the implications of this, Seeress. Queen Tirina’s rule is sound, that is true, but outside Avaanse Maarke, there are enough Ladies more loyal to Braeghe than Daecullon that it could cause an irreparable rift. They would see the Princess breaking the engagement as an insult to Braeghe, as it would be insulting to Daecullon if Gaalen broke it off. But on the other hand, if Gaalen doesn’t produce an heir for her, she may be forced to set him aside and take another Consort. It could easily escalate.“ She shook her head. “This could start a civil war.”

posted on Nov, 28 2017 @ 02:15 PM
Hi folks - for anyone reading, I apologize for the delay. Truth of the matter is that, well, the next scene isn't actually complete yet! I'm working on that, but it will be a busy week for me this week. Hopefully things will calm down after the 6th and I will be able to have a few weeks where I write more. In the meantime I will continue to try to finish this next scene as quick as I can.

If you're reading this, then, well, thanks for reading!

posted on Nov, 29 2017 @ 12:27 PM
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134 - Death at Last

Gaalen woke in the makeshift canoe. He should be dead. The small vessel had been tossed to and fro in the storm that had blown up over him. He felt sticky wetness at his temple. When he pulled his fingers away they were stained crimson. It was a miracle he had not been thrown out of the boat.
He was pleased to see his forethought of tying down his supplies and a spare paddle was not in vain. There they were in the bow of the small craft, sodden still but intact. He reached for a waterskin and took a deep draught. He hoped he would have enough.

The storm had cleared the haze that had lingered before. Now he could see, there on the horizon, the faint roughing of the smooth line where the sea met the sky. He judged he had five or six leagues. It would be a long paddle.

With measured strokes, he started toward the land. He had hope now.

By noon he could see the land clearly, and by mid-afternoon the peaks and valleys of low mountains spread nearly all the way across the horizon. It had to be either the mainland, or a very large island. Either way, he had a better chance of survival on land. His time was running out on the water. His hands bled, wrapped in bandages, his head hurt, his stomach had rebelled from a steady diet of smoked, salted fish and the one pale yellow fruit he had been willing to try on the island the ship had left him on.

As the sun sank behind him, First and Second Moons rose, throwing enough light that he could still just make out the land. It was taking him longer than he expected, and now he thought he would be paddling all night. His shoulders screamed with every motion.
I will not give up. I will not make their sacrifice for nothing. He took short rests, just enough to give his shoulders and hands a break. He dared not sleep, for fear of another storm or some creature finding him.

By midnight the Greatmoon was rising, bathing the ocean in purple rays that reflected off the water and illuminated the looming coastline. He fought to stay awake.

As the gray of pre-dawn began lighting up the sky to the east, he saw a lagoon, blue water even under the gray sky. The beach of fine white sand beckoned to him, the lush trees waving gently in the slight breeze. It seemed land had never seemed so beautiful to him.

With renewed effort he pushed toward the lagoon, past the horns of sandy beach at its mouth. He could almost feel the land, the sand in his toes.

The boat bumped into something with a loud thud. Then another a moment later. He leaned over the side to see a dark shape moving in the water beneath him.

He jammed his paddle in the water as fast and hard as he could, but his muscles were so exhausted the strokes were painfully feeble. The shore grew closer, by inches, but it may as well have been miles. The dark shape circled out in front of him.

Just as he recovered for another stroke, the shape barreled toward him, then in a spray of water and sharp teeth whatever it was fastened its jaws on his paddle, splintering it in his hand. The motion of the boat kept him moving forward for a time, but he was slowing down.

Then the creature butted the bow of the boat and it turned. Again, and again. It was turning him back away from the shallows. He would need to swim for it. Just a hundred paces, he could feel the sand.

Knife in hand, he dove, kicked, and pulled. He was a good swimmer, he had grown up on the shore of a lake. But his body was near its limit.

He sensed more than saw the water creature coming for him from the side. He spun in the water as it wrapped its jaws around his chest, squeezing the air out. He brought the knife down on its head over and over again, body screaming and muscles weakening. He fought the urge to breathe in the water, his lungs felt like molten metal inside him, and he was nearing panic. He was so tired. It would be so easy to just sleep.

Kaena’s voice came to him then.
Don’t you dare, Gaalen Braeghe! Don’t you dare give up!

With renewed fury, he stabbed the creature again and again until it finally convulsed and let go. He kicked with the last of his strength and burst through the surface in a pool of boiling blood and foam, gasping desperately for air.

Floating on his back for a moment to catch his breath, he watched the sky. The sun would be up momentarily, and it would be a beautiful day. He turned over and kicked his way to the shore. As the sandy bottom hit his knees he scrabbled at the seafloor, dragging himself to the water’s edge. Standing on his feet as the first blinding rays of the sun shone red and orange over the trees and onto his face, he staggered through the shallows to the beach, collapsing on the sand and blacking out in utter exhaustion.

He was shaken roughly awake, then turned over onto his back. A massive, gray face, with brilliant white hair and strange pearlescent-white eyes, looked at him with a furrowed brow. The creature grabbed his face, then snorted in disgust. It stood, then lifted some kind of weapon – a strange spear with blades on both ends. Shaking its great head, it stepped on his chest and placed the blade right at his throat as a female voice called out in a throaty alto from beyond the beach. His breath squeezed out of him again, Gaalen closed his eyes to welcome death at last.

edit on 11-29-2017 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 13 2017 @ 01:14 PM
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135 - Demonslayer

Gasping for breath and clutching at his chest, Gaalen woke in his tent, in bed. The dream - so vivid he could almost feel the grit of the beach and smell the salt spray - lingered with him. His pulse raced and a cold sweat dampened his brow. Tentatively, he got out of bed in the early dawn, dressed, and grabbed some water from the table. Trying to shake the dream off, he headed outside into the camp to begin the day. There was work to do.

Kaena was somber after the burials of Juliao and the two Bearers. Gaalen and Grond had gone into the tent, finding largely the same scene as had been in the Palace what seemed so long ago when the undervalet Jedron was killed. The younger Bearer – Seeress Idrasyl’s personal attendant – had been murdered like Juliao had been. Naadi’s corpse, however, resembled Jedron’s from the Palace, but it was clear the demon had only begun her torture. Gaalen and Grond found her bound naked to a chair, but aside from a few places on her legs and arms, her body was largely untouched. He and Grond could not immediately ascertain how she had actually died, for the injuries she did have did not appear mortal.

Seeress Meron performed final blessings and prayers for all three, and Kaena allowed the group to stay in the camp another night. Gaalen wasn’t certain if there was some sort of hierarchy at play between the two Seeresses, even though Idrasyl was clearly older than Seeress Meron. However, likely the younger performed the burials because Seeress Idrasyl was visibly distraught, weeping openly throughout the burial rites and secluding herself in her tent the rest of the day. After consulting with Kaena and Siere, Gaalen set Joen to bring her meals throughout the day. All of them were returned untouched, save water. At dusk her silhouette could be seen kneeling and rocking back and forth on the floor of her tent, the flickering of candlelight behind her.

As night fell, the camp was quieter than usual. Gaalen decided not to forego his usual rounds, despite not feeling up to it. He pulled on his jacket, and strapped on the ancient sword of Braeghe, then ducked out into the cool evening air. It was a clear night, though he could see the faint flicker of lightning in the distance to the northwest. Heading out through the Temple area to the Bastion camp, he began circling through the opposite way he had before. He returned the salute of a group of soldiers, and pressed onward, nodding to the supply drivers as he passed. Rounding the southeast edge of camp, he felt eyes on him. As he passed, men emerged from their tents, or those already outside fetched their compatriots inside, and they followed him. They spoke to each other quietly behind him as he walked, in hushed tones. He only caught one word: “Demonslayer.” He stopped, and turned to face his men.

“Gentlemen,” he greeted them. “I’m sure you are all curious what happened yesterday, and I imagine you, like I, am grieved over our brother Juliao’s death. I want you to know that the creature responsible has been dealt with, and I do not expect any more attacks. That does not mean we can lessen our vigilance; you know as well as I do we are in wild country. Keep sharp, keep your wits about you, and we will feast in Lithelwaite when we arrive safely.”

The men remained silent for a time, then a voice from the back called out. “Lord Captain, is it true? Was it a demon?”

Gaalen thought for a moment. What was the best path? Would they panic if they knew it was a demon? Fighting creatures of flesh, blood, and bone was one thing. Fighting the supernatural was something else entirely. The decision was taken from him, though, when Grond spoke up.

“Aye, lad, it was a demon. Ask that girl Seeress, she’ll tell ye. An’ our Lord Captain here he struck it right down, he did.”

The men looked at each other, and he heard the word “Demonslayer” again.

“Sir Grond, I’m not entirely sure what happened last night. All I know is that one of ours is dead, and the thing that did it is gone. Now, all of you should,” he began, but one of the younger soldiers pushed forward, then turned back to his companions.

“Lord Gaalen can kill demons,” he started, in a loud voice.

Grond cut in, “That’s enough now, lad.” But the young Lanceguard continued.

“He can slay demons! There’s nothing that can stand up to us!” The men cheered, “Lord Gaalen! Lord Braeghe! Tha syn a kleidiam! Demonslayer!”

“Stand down, Renegar!” snapped Grond.

“I follow him,” Renegar pointed to Gaalen, “not you,” he said evenly.

“Renegar!” Gaalen barked at the young man. “You say you follow me? I placed him in charge of you, so to follow me you show him the respect a Sergeant deserves. Am I clear, young man?”

Immediately, Renegar ducked his head. “Yes, Lord Captain, I apologize,” he said softly. Gaalen studied him for a moment, then nodded curtly.

“Men of Braeghe Color,” Gaalen started, “Whether or not that was a demon, and whether or not I had anything to do with its defeat is irrelevant to our task. We are to get Lady Commander Milaener and Seeress Meron to Lithelwaite. That has not changed. Maybe I did banish that thing, but I might not have the same luck with aiyuun, or rochfendre, and you all know that. Now, make sure you are prepared to leave at first light. We cannot stay here another day. Am I understood?”

There was a hearty, “Yes Lord Captain!” from the men, almost in unison.

“Then be about your duties,” he dismissed them. “Not you, Grond, walk with me,” he commanded.

posted on Feb, 16 2018 @ 11:06 AM
Hi folks - I really do apologize for the long break. However, there is some good news. I've been working on the next scenes in my spare time and have a few written. Again, these are cutting-edge, PrairieShepherd-just-wrote-this-and-maybe-proofread-it-once scenes. You've been warned.

Without further ado...

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