Categories
Big City Lanterns

Big City Lanterns: Journey – Final Act

Deri opened his eyes to the sounds of ravens. He thought it was a strange but not unpleasant change to chickens. Although Deri forgot all about the birds as he ate his breakfast. After picking up some travel food for himself and the horse. Deri and Horse set off on the main road after he had to steal another stick of honey. As the cart rolled along the stone road towards the big city-

-a card is taken. Two dice bounced. The echo floated through time and space-

-Deri had started to call himself the honey bandit. Although in truth he hoped no one found out he was stealing. He’d end up in the dungeons for sure. And Deri had no desire to be locked away-

-a miniature is moved, and a card was played-

-he heard a noise. A cross-bow bolt barely missed his head. It took place without warning, and when a second bolt flew through the air, the horse bolted forward with all its speed. The cart rolled on the uneven stone road as she ran. Deri held on to the reins with all his power. The song he had made up was gone, because all that remained was fear. Another bolt barely missed him, and Deri wet himself as fear tried to escape.

Nevertheless, when they raced forward, Deri felt the need to look back. As he had done so, he saw four men riding large saddled mountain donkeys. As they tried to fire crossbows holding onto the reins, Deri had known who they were. Although if Deri hadn’t been so scared, he would have laughed. But fear told him to out run them. Get to the next village. Just keep going. But none of the sentences or the voice in his head helped him.

A bolt thudded and stuck into the cart. As the wheel hit the slabs at the wrong angle, his food bounced out. The only bag of food he had was gone. His hand shot up to his tunic and found his coin bag. The seconds flashed him by-

-the dice were rolled and the female hand took a card-

-the bandits began to fall behind. They fired a few more arrows, but as they fell short, they gave up. Deri would have cheered, but he was afraid to give them reason to chase him again. After all, they had already taken his supplies. Horse wouldn’t slow down until she was out of stamina, no matter how much Deri tried to stop her. As soon as they slowed down, Deri saw that the wheel was almost broken. As they trudged on, he hoped it would hold until he reached the next stop.

The next morning, hungry, with a cart that was about to fall apart and after they’d slept in a field Deri rolled up outside the blacksmiths. The man’s eyes had been lit up at the sight of the cart. He nodded at the damage and said,

‘Ten silver.’ Deri nodded and paid the man. After that, his coin bag had felt empty. Although there was some luck as the local bank was his branch, and he took out seven silver in tuppence. Five days later, when the wheel was fixed, the inn keeper and the blacksmith counted their blessings as they nearly robbed him blind. Withdrawing ten more silver, he left the village in the hope of making up the lost days on the road.

Deri was able to see the big city on the horizon long before he could see the walls of Nippa-kanta. This was due to the thick black smoke that the forges sent into the air. As the smoke rose, it collected high above the heads of the city’s residents. Like a sign you just had to follow. Although the smoke was not needed as a guide. Everyone knew that the old kings had ensured that all the stone roads in the kingdom led to the capital. They, or the people who do all the talking, said that the roads had been built so that the world was connected. All Deri knew was that it had made tax payment easier. Which made everyone happy that it was the Lords who paid the road tax. Just as the lords knew that their families had not paid taxes before the roads had been laid. And as far as taxes are concerned, they didn’t even go to the road system. The state of them told everyone that.

As the cart reached the queue for one of many gatehouses that officially became the Royal Capital of Nippa-kanta. Deri stopped looking at the King’s Castle, sitting above everything, and began to think seriously about turning around. There was a village that was not forty miles away, which might have had a vacancy in the local butcher shop,

‘If not,’ he thought, ‘then I could start a market stall.’

Deri tried to calm down as he started to stare at the castle. While looking at the large red marble blocks that had been salvaged from the sunken land of Letviana. Deri began to look forward to living in the big city. But the more he stared at the red castle, the more he wondered how the slabs had been transported across the country. Because they were enormous. And as the city grew closer, he was overwhelmed by the sight of the gargantuan castle, which could be seen by all those living within a radius of thirty miles. As the king’s home grew closer. Deri remembered his mother once telling him that the first king had built the large keep with its four larger wings. While it was the fifth king who had attached the wings to tall towers for defence. Deri’s mother had nothing to say about the thick red marble walls, but Deri knew they wanted to keep the riffraff out. And the nine towers that connected the thick walls definitely made sure that no one entered the castles without invitation. Deri also knew that everyone in the Royal Kingdom spoke about how the outer walls were added by the flamboyant king. Although the part they whispered in secret was how “he” was rumoured to have been a “she,” which Deri, of course, thought couldn’t have been true. As this would have violated the third royal law, which was established by the first king. Deri knew that some people in secret questioned it. Especially since it was chiselled into stone and no one could even regard the royal laws (unless, of course, they were kings, as a king could do everything he wanted), and the times had not moved much. [No matter what you say.]

What the inhabitants of the Royal Kingdom today described as modernity had experienced a golden age of enlightenment for the arts. The same people came to paint the king’s castle while drinking ceramic pots under the shadows, talking about the new age of peace and modern thought. And since the castle caused difficulties for local guards, as tourism always leads to crime, someone somewhere was making some money from it all. Ah, modern society, the King loved it.

The horse and cart grew closer to the massive grey city wall, which was the only thing Deri could see of the city. As he looked at the three hundred metres of magically formed rock, all Deri could think was,

‘I wondered who fixes that? The builders or mages?’

After some waiting in the long line, which had only grown behind him. Deri finally reached the front and was questioned by the local guard,

‘Eh, what’s ya business ere?’ The tall almost round shaped guard in long iron chain mail said in a strong South-Kanta accent. The guard inspecting Deri had begun to see if he could see any distrust in Deri’s face. As if it were something he could see when he met someone new. The other guard began to look in the back of his cart, and before Deri could answer, the younger, shorter guard spoke to his boss,

‘Eh sarge. He’s got nuffin in his ‘art.’ Deri smiled,

‘I just arrived. I am looking for work and the closest stables to sell the cart and horse, if you know of any?’ The first guard frowned and then replied with,

‘Where yose from?’ Deri frowned and replied with,

‘Ramming Stone.’ As no one called it Ramston outside of the village. The round guard nodded and then said,

‘Wel’ ya lordship might find a buyer at the ‘horse stables. Tis left just on the other side of tis wall. No-w move a-long your lord-ship.’ Deri snapped his reins while nodding at the guard. As the cart went through the gate, he hoped that he had understood enough of what the round man had just said to avoid going the wrong way. When Deri reached the stables, he realized that the big city was certainly very different from the countryside. But he had made it.

Categories
Big City Lanterns

Big City Lanterns: Journey – Act Two

The local village bank conducted its business from a single counter from within the ‘King’s Royal Post Office’. Although, the tiny postal office was only a minute attachment to the side of the inn. And at night, the office was given back over to the inn for illegal card games. No one in the village cared about the games. As the village’s only guardsman was also the person who organised the snacks. And although all this implied, the rural village was a small nowhere place. It was larger than somewhere in the middle of nowhere should’ve been.

Ramston, as the villagers called it, was two main roads with around three hundred people spread out amongst the thatch roofed houses and the local surrounding farms. Still, even with so many residents, all that could be said for Ramming Stone (as it was called on the maps) was that it had two taverns, a few stores, a tall red bricked inn, and was a stop on the main highway for all the dwarven mountain towns that moved their non-perishables to the big city.
As Deri wandered through the inn to reach the backroom, he ignored the deer’s heads on the walls. Whilst noticing his younger brother drinking away his inheritance.

Margie, the half elf, was stood behind the bar table, which served as the counter for all the village’s banking needs. And as Deri approached her, she smiled at him politely before saying,

‘Hello Deri. And what can I do for you today?’ He smiled politely as he removed his account booklet plus the letter from his tunic, and replied,

‘I wish to add this into my account, please.’ Margie checked over both as she took them. Opening the letter first, she stared at the stamp. After she had checked its authenticity, she began to fill out some forms. As his friend did so, Deri resisted the urge to tap his foot, and after five minutes the half-elf had stamped a new page in the booklet. Smiling, she handed only the booklet back to him as she said,

‘That is now twenty-five gold, ninety-seven silver, and thirty-eight tuppences in your depositary account. Is there anything else I can help you with today?’

Deri smiled as he took the booklet being offered to him and asked,

‘Where does Goldthread Banking Group have branches?’

Margie smiled. As he smiled in return, her cheeks began to blush slightly. Whilst she answered him with two questions of her own,

‘Why? Are you leaving town?’ Deri nodded,

‘I haven’t got anywhere to live.’ It looked like she was about to ask him a question-

-the sound of dice as they bounced across a cold, hard marble surface ringed out across the cosmos. A second in time jumped forwards on Caradesance. And suddenly-

-Deri’s lips were moving, although he couldn’t remember what he’d just said before,

‘-well, Marx got the butcher’s shop in my father’s last testimonial. And I need to go somewhere that has a job to offer me.’

Margie looked kind of hurt, but nodded and said,

‘Well, I mean we’re going to miss your singing on open-stage night.’ She blushed again whilst still looking hurt,

‘Is that so. Well, as I said, the Group has fourteen branch offices in small settlements along the main highway. And of course there is the main banking branch at Nippa-kanta. While I have to say the big city is the only place you’re going to find an actual job, they do say the streets of the big city are paved with tuppence. Maybe you can come back rich.’ Deri laughed. He nodded and said thank you and goodbye, before he then walked out of the inn.

Outside his father’s butcher’s shop. Deri found Marx already putting his belongings on the doorstep. Taking only a bag of clothes from the pile, neither of them spoke. Deri hooked up the waiting horse to the cart in less than a minute. Then as he looked at the butcher’s store, a tear rolled down his cheek, and as it faded away, Deri began to leave Ramston behind.

The sun had begun to drop below the horizon as Deri’s cart began to draw closer to the last farm on the outskirts of the village. Whilst the cart rolled onwards, the warm summer afternoon began to turn into a breezeless chilly evening.

Red, who had been pacing around his domain surveying his wives. Didn’t notice the horse, or the human, as the cart rolled closer to his land. His mind was elsewhere, as it had been for days.

Red stretched his wings and then began to wander into his harem. Halfway up the ramp, he felt the same feeling that he’d experienced three days ago. But, what with Red being nothing more than a simple rooster. He had no idea what could cause this strange feeling. Before the rooster went inside his building though, something caused him to watch the cart that rolled past. Whilst his wives wandered over to the fence to get a closer look. Consequently, a shiver rolled down the rooster’s spine, causing his rear feathers to shake uncontrollably.

The horse dragging the cart hadn’t noticed the rooster either. As she’d been thinking about food. Which for Horse was nothing new. Since she had little else to think about. Somewhere, just past the last farm leaving the village, Horse began realising that her new master still hadn’t stopped. She then began to wonder, how long this journey was going to take. The fields of grass had begun to get longer the further they went. Which she wasn’t going to complain about. Although, as the horse followed the stone road that ran through the meadows, she had a sudden realisation that the cart was empty. And after some consideration, the animal then came to a secondary realisation that its luck must have also been changing. Although later that night, Horse would have disagreed with the earlier version of herself. As all she had to eat was grass. Whilst Horse pondered the prospects of only grass, she yearned for the young girl that had come to the stables nightly to feed her carrots before bed.

The first few days on the road were lonely, bitter, and a nightmare come true for the animal. Horse missed her stables. She also missed the young girl she’d once surmised to be her master. Although, at the first village, they came to the horse’s mood lifted. The inn keeper had a shed where she found hay to eat. A stick of honey had also been hung in the corner. Which she had nearly devoured in one. And the shed was a palace to the animal, who had been kept in a small wooden structure she hadn’t been able to move about in. It was also warm. Filled with food. And she didn’t have to stand up to sleep whilst being attached to the horrid cart for another night.

However, Deri didn’t like the village. Or to be precise. He didn’t like the villagers. They were friendly enough to his face, but he’d heard them making jokes about him behind his back. So the next morning, after handing the inn keeper five tuppence coins for a breakfast, Deri left. Not even bothering to look around. Whilst Horse had to be dragged from the stables. She’d not wanted to leave the honey behind. As she kept trying to grab the stick in her mouth, Deri quickly caught on. So in the end, as no one was around, Deri stole it. And Horse soon followed him outside. Although once they were both back on the road, her attitude lifted as her master had begun to sing. And as he did so, Deri, unlike the only musicians he had ever heard before (Bards), composed his songs about what he saw. So as they left the village behind, the made-up song he sung was about the vast rose bushes in the meadows. Which for Horse sounded like a new food source. That evening, when she ate them, she decided she didn’t much like the taste of roses. And her stomach had agreed with her.

The following village along the road wasn’t that much better. They were pleasant enough folk. It was even a little larger than the last. But they were like most this far into the sticks. Two-faced to the individuals who passed through and kept their own local council. Which was why Deri didn’t stay long.

Village after village rolled by as the cart began to cost Deri in wear and tear. A wheel replacement here. The reins and leather attachment straps for the cart also snapped more than once.

Then, as the summer air began to get warmer, Deri crossed out of the region of Britstana, he was born in and crossed over into Daleum. As he did so, the people got friendlier, although he still wasn’t sure about them-

-a hand covered in jungle vines removed a well drawn card-

-Deri’s cart pulled up outside the first town he’d ever seen before, not remembering having turned off the main highway-

-two dice echoed across time and space, three cards were picked up by a female hand, and a miniature was pushed across the marble surface-

{It appeared to any observer watching from outside the situation. Like myself. That time had just jumped forwards by a few seconds.}

-Deri entered through the gates of Grof. As the gates were already open, it appeared as if that was the easy part completed. But he couldn’t figure out why he’d considered that. Then, as his cart rolled onwards, he observed the nomads hanging around the entranceway. And marvelled at the small farming plots stuck between two walls. Although the inner walls had no towers.

Grof, had once been an ancient vampire stronghold in the age of conflict. Which was captured during the prolonged one-thousand-year war by some almost forgotten lord. Whose family still ruled the whole county to this day. And Deri was impressed. So impressed, that at first he thought the place was Nippa-kanta. The tall walls, with its ramparts, nine towers and two enormous gates, were to Deri the largest construction he’d ever seen. Once the guards had let him past the inner locked section of walls, Deri was amazed by the lack of the familiar looking round plastered cottages. As every building had been constructed using the newish red bricks which the dwarfs sold.

People smiled and nodded at him as they went about their business. Inside the inn, the keeper even struck up a conversation with him, asking him about what he could do in the way of work, and then said,

‘Well, if you’re looking to settle down here, we have three butchers in town. We also have a boarding lodge if you can stand to be around trolls.’ Deri had felt a little taken aback and replied,

‘I was heading to Nippa-kanta.’ The inn keeper nodded, ‘So is everyone these days. One room for one night, then, is it?’ Deri almost said two nights, but paid for one night before he went off to explore the town.

At first everything seemed charming, welcoming, almost inviting-

-the dice rolled-

-he reached the Lord’s Manor House. Not realising he’d taken the right hand turning past the tailors and blacksmiths. As he did so, everything changed. Outside the manor house were four criminals in stocks. A crowd had gathered around them. Every person in the crowd was also throwing fruit, and not the soft variety. Carved into wooden signposts hanging under each of the criminals were their names and their crimes. Deri read them in his head as he stared in horror,

‘Jie Cobbler. Refusing to pay local tax.’

‘Alley Cat Sarin. Refusing to lay with the local lord for free.’

‘Bosin Thatcher. Sexual relations with an elf.’

‘Twiein Colegate. Sexual relations with a human.’ Deri quickly left the crowd and returned to the Inn. That night, as he slept, he dreamt about being locked into the stocks for kissing Margie. And in the morning, he left as swiftly as he could.

Other towns along the way were worse in some respects. In other respects, they were better, or all the speciesism was entirely hidden. Whatever the reason, Deri didn’t understand what he had seen in Grof. And he was pleased about that. But simultaneously, he couldn’t help but conclude that where he came from was the only place that didn’t have hatred for others. Which for the butcher’s son had come as a surprise. As he’d never seen speciesism before. And as he travelled, he hoped he never would again. As he proceeded through the land, his savings began to slip through his fingers.

The summer breeze began to get colder, whilst five cycles of the moon had passed Deri and Horse by. The leafs had begun to fall off the trees as the cart rolled up to the last town before the capital. There were no walls here, like the other towns. As there was no need. The land wasn’t owned by a lord, but by the King. And no one was going to go to war with the King. On top of that, all the land beasts created by the gods had long ago been killed in the age of heroes. Before the age of conflict had even begun.

{Although Lords are known to war between each other all the time. Seizing land, losing land. Killing each other for no good reason whatsoever.}

The town named Friemium was practically a ghost town. Deri knew in Elfen the name translated into sunshine village. But this place wasn’t close to the true meaning of the word. Especially, as the word meant the happiness place. Even all new builds that had replaced the cottages of former ages, had not only needed repair, but looked downright miserable. As did the locals, who kept their heads down low.

The inn keeper looked at him as he entered,

‘Off to the city?’ Deri nodded and replied with,

‘I am. I need use of the stables and a room for the night.’ The inn keeper made a noise in response, but said,

‘Stables, be free, but I’d tie your horse up around here. The room is five tuppences a night, food in the morning is an extra five.’ Deri paid for it and asked the inn keeper,

‘Anywhere I can get some food?’,

‘Here, or you can buy some food from the farms for travel if that’s what you mean.’

‘No butchers or groceries?’

‘Nah, not round here lad. Local goods get brought from the farms, or we send a joint three-week expedition to the capital.’ Deri began to think about opening a butcher’s store,

‘What happened to your butchers?’

‘He went bankrupt, then moved to the big city. Or that’s what I heard. I could be wrong. Businesses around these parts don’t survive long.’ And just like that, the idea of staying in this miserable place to do what he had always done, died. The innkeeper looked at him and said,

‘Why are you asking?’ Deri shrugged in reply and said,

‘Merely wondering is all. Is it possible to get an all-day breakfast? Please.’ After he ate in the empty bar, Deri went to bed, and as he slept, he dreamt of working in one of the theatres his mother had once told him about. Surrounded in his dream by tall walls and regiments marching through the streets with flags.

Categories
Lifeforms of Caradesance

The lifeforms of Caradesance – Elves

[Welcome readers. To the most backwards magical planet we call Caradesance. Where we have been learning about all the races which call the planet home.]

[My name for those of you who don’t know by now is Vin Attorn. And today I will be taking you deep into the enchanted forest of Britstana. Where the Elves of the former Tigrade nation still live to this very day. Or at least those that haven’t left for better opportunities do.]

[The stretch of magical forest, which is precisely the same length as the United States, is known for the four natural growth states which it has in abundance.]

[From seed into sapling is the first two states. When ready, it will grow into a tree like any other. This is known as the third state. Then when said tree becomes deadwood to feed the forest, it begins what is known as the fourth state. Such is the cycle of life. Although admittedly, whilst this does happen everywhere. Here in the enchanted forest this process can happen in the blink of an eye. Or it can take a hundred years for the acorn to even become an oak sapling. No one knows how this started, but the elves of the forest use this cycle to their advantage.]

[As such, most of the forest dwellings are linked to Hub City. Sending giant logs down multiple rivers to the small city on the coast. Only for the city to send food back down the river paths using carts. As they have no fruit trees or bushes. And trees take up all the soil space as it is. All the elf’s food comes from outside of the forest and needs to be transported in.]

[All elves are but miniature pink hairless creatures. Or they are until they turn thirteen. Sometimes fourteen in some cases. But at the correct point, their bodies will force them into a three-year hibernation. Where they will sleep until they’re awakened by the first lunar eclipse of the third year. When they wake, they do so famished and in dire need of a bath. The adult elf which has now emerged will also have grown hair for the first time in their lives.]

[The only known benefit to this hibernation growth state is that they will completely miss puberty. Luckily for their parents. And they will also be ready to serve the modern society, the second they emerge. Or they will be, after they wash and eat in that order.]

[There are of course five known types of elves. Though one type has not been seen for many years. The wood-elf, the low elf, the high elf, the blue elf, and of course, dark elves.]

[Whilst wood-elves are supposed to be connected to nature. This is only partly true. And is considered a full-fact only because they have some form of nature growing out of them. Although not all wood-elves can talk to the trees like the stories tell you. And most cannot control any form of nature. Oh! And they also have green hair which isn’t important. As most of this type of elf is also known to dye their hair blonde.]

[The low elf is not called low because they are wanting. But because they are low in magic. Thus, not a single low-elf can perform any sort of magic at all. So I suggest you don’t believe the blonde pointy eared idiot in the pub trying to swindle you of your tuppence.]

[High-elves. Well, they’re all mages. They have ginger hair like humans. And there is nothing else left to say about them. They hide away in libraries and universities. Digging into the unknown secrets of the magical world. Or they become policemen, at least from your point of view.]

[No blue elf has been seen for nearly two hundred years. Stories about them say that they were able to reach into your mind. Able to remove all your negative feelings, thoughts and dreams. Replace them with positivity and joy. Although who knows if this is even true. But what is known, is that when they vanished from the forest dark elves rose up to replace them.]

[Whereas dark elves are not raised, but reborn. They’re what happens to an elf who has murdered someone in any way imaginable. When they kill, something in the cosmic balance gives them use of dark magic. Which is unavailable to them until they change. Although with their black hair, black fingernails and total lack of bathing, dark elves are easily noticed in a crowded inn. Or the inns which let them in that is.]

‘Marken Cleanwood,’ the woman shouts from the window at the payment shed, ‘only call for a Marken Cleanwood.’ Marken forces his way through all the elves waiting to be paid. Reaching the front, he nearly fell over before smiling. The woman doesn’t smile back. She hands him his envelope before she shouts the next name on her list. He sighs before turning to leave. His chain-mail rattles as he does so.

The lengthy days, with the constant darkness, the unshapen morbid looking trees and low pay, were getting to him. And to everyone else in the forest.

As he forces his way back through the throng of those waiting, Marken clutches his pay packet close to his chest. As with everyone in Tree-town-thirty-eight. Or any of the other tree-towns. Marken works for Lord Nain’s forestry business. And everyone is paid simultaneously, or as close to. The pay is of course terrible, the hours are long and the work is boring as hell. Well for Marken it is. He had to sit about making sure no one took any of the tools without signing for them. Whilst making sure everyone hands in their identity paperwork before a tool goes out.

[The low elf is a guard. As a child he had imagined it was going to be moonlit chases through the trees. Capturing criminals who tried to run away. Whereas in reality it is nothing as glamorous.]

[After he had grown up to learn that no one investigated anything in the forest. Marken was disheartened to find out that if someone died then someone died. No investigation, or basic searching around for what happened, happened at all. If you were robbed, oh well, you were robbed. And the more elves which left each year, the worse it got in the forest. Crime they said was on the constant increase. And no one was going to do anything about it. Not even the Lord of the enchanted forest, who couldn’t have cared less about his serfs.]

A strong wind blew through the trees. As more autumn leafs fall to the floor, his body shakes whilst he tries not to glance upwards. This is when Marken hears a woman screaming. Everyone else around him hears it as well, but Marken is the only one who dashes off towards the sound of the woman in trouble. And not away from the sound, like the those around him ambling in the other direction at a faster pace.

Branches hit him in the face as he slides through the trees. As he plunges on towards the sound of screaming, Marken realises he is on his own. No one is following him. No one is going to help him. There is now only the darkness. The light of the two moons fighting the canopy to reach the ground. His footfalls, crunching twigs and dry leaves as he moves. His heart beats begin thudding out of rhythm as he speeds up.

Marken is now regretting his actions. His mind is cursing the part of himself which compels him to be helpful. The sound of screaming has now gone quiet. All he can hear is the sound of panting and his beating heart. As it thuds against his own chest. The tool guard thinks about calling out for help. He thinks about turning back around and heading in the opposite direction. But he can’t, someone needs his help (or needed, his mind screams) and this is the moment to help. The desire to do some good in his life drowns out the voice on the inside, as it attempts to scream over the helpfulness.

Something carries on overriding the screaming voice and tells him that pushing forward is the only course of action. And he knows it’s the right thing to do.

Another branch suddenly slaps him in the face. An enormous swelling begins to rise immediately. Marken’s head spins around. He tries to regain his footing but can’t. As he tries doing so, his feet go from under him as slips on something at the same time. He hears a noise as he grabs at the closest tree trunk. A pain begins in his head and flows through his neck. In the dark, whilst falling to the ground, he is sure that he can distinguish someone running away through the trees. Although, as his head hits the ground, all Marken observes is blackness.

‘Your nicked buddy!’ The guard says to him as he wakes Marken up. As two guards pick him up, his eyes open fully. Confusion follows the throbbing. Yet the first words out of his mouth are,
‘Did I save her?’ No one answers him though. And with his arms quickly tied behind his back. Whilst being plastered in someone else’s blood. The guard marches him down the main road.

People begin to watch from their windows. Those standing in the street glare at him as he’s marched past them. Their eyes bore into his soul. And yet none of them realise that he’s one of the victims.

In the town’s only tiny red brick guardhouse. They have only two cells. The townsfolk always said they didn’t need more than two. After all, if the criminal isn’t at the scene of the crime, then nothing is going to be done about it. And as both cells were always empty. Only having two didn’t seem like a bad idea. Although sitting behind a large table is the commander of the only guardhouse in town. And although he is known to be a powerful mage who went by the name of Dippska. He is also known to be one of the few mages to stay in the forest voluntarily.
‘What’s this?’ Dippska said glancing up from his table. The sergeant answers his commander whilst still picking his nose,
‘We found him asleep on top of the body.’ The commander makes a noise towards his underling,
‘And that’s a reason to arrest a low elf?’
‘Well, he was on the body. I just said that.’

[The criminal had been on the body, so he’d arrested him. To the young plucky sergeant, it had at the time seemed fairly straightforward. As for everything else, well, he didn’t get paid enough to think about that.]

‘Clean him off, check that head wound and- wait your Marken, aren’t you?’ Marken nodded. He looked around and said,
‘Yes, sir.’ The commander shook his head,
‘Let him go. He’s a guard for-’ Dippska took in a deep breath and then carried on speaking,
‘What did you ascertain then guards-elf?’ Marken, as he is untied, puts his hand to his head and winces in pain. As he looks at the blood on his hands, he begins to tell the commander what he had seen and done,
‘I had just collected my payment envelope. I was walking down Little Shrub Road towards my apartment at thirty-two red-bark street. The fourth-’ the commander starts to move his hand in a twirling motion which causes Marken to skip ahead in the story,
‘A woman began to scream. Everyone ignored it as they trudged forwards. But I couldn’t sir. I had to do something. So I darted off under the newer tree-apartments between the green belt. As I reached the crime scene, I was hit on the head. I think I saw the figure rushing off. But I didn’t observe anything of use, sir. It was just too dark.’ The commander made a noise then glanced down at his paperwork as he said,
‘Clean yourself up. You two clean up the body and go tell the family. Your all to keep your eyes open for a dark elf. Whoever murdered that poor woman has been reborn by now. It only takes about twenty minutes. Now move it I just gave you all orders.’ Marken doesn’t follow the other two guards out. He looks at the commander’s grey hair and says,
‘Sir. Don’t you think we should do something else?’
‘Like what tool guard? Pressurize people to sign something and show identification?’ That hurt Makren’s feelings. But he finds it in himself to answer without any emotion,
‘Search for the killer, sir. Check with people. Knock door to door-’, the commander looks up as he cuts Marken off,
‘Ah, these new ideas I hear coming from the Dwarven Mounties. How novel. Although you appear to forget that here in this town, no in this forest, we will never find the killer. He has most likely run a mile. Or maybe he’s currently riding one of the logs to the hub. Do you know that by the time a rider reaches the log hub, that we wouldn’t even be a quarter of the way? He is likely to get on the first timber wagon going to the royal capital. And that is still before we even reach the hub.’
‘Sir, who says it was a male?’
‘She, he or even a troll, it doesn’t matter. Unless we catch them in the act, we can’t do anything.’
‘But-’ The commander looks like he is about to scream at Marken. But the words that cut him off aren’t nastily said,
‘If you want to learn all that new stuff then go. I mean it. Go to the mountains and learn all the new dwarven enforcement ideas.’
‘I didn’t mean-’ answering the commander doesn’t go the way the low elf is hoping it would go. The commander’s face turns red as he cuts Marken off for a third time, almost screaming as he does so,
‘And I don’t care what you mean. You youngsters all want to go off and see the world. To learn new things, well, if that’s what you want, then go. Go on then. The door is right there. Do you know what? I’ve had enough of you-’ which Marken believes is a bit too far. This is after all the first time he has spoken with the commander, ‘-and all the rest of the youth of these last decades. Do you know what? You’re fired. Get out of my sight before I decide you need to be put in the cell after all. GO!’

[Another murder in the forest is left unsolved. Only to be added to the long list of crimes which keeps on growing by the day. Along with the murder, no one noticed that the delivery of ale had gone missing. Although when the landlord isn’t there to collect her delivery- oh wait. My bad, she was murdered. Quickly moving on.]

[The low-elf is out of the job and with everyone in town presuming he is a murderer. Marken does what all youngish elves do with their lives in this new modern world. He got the bond back on his apartment, cleaned out his bank account and headed off to the world outside the forest. With no real destination in mind. Marken heads towards where guarding is becoming a career and not a chore.]

[And yet this is what life is like for the elves of the forest. They work constantly without thanks. They live in fear that that day would be their last. Or they are forced to leave their ancestral home to find work. And I must note, if the decrease each month carries on the way it is going, then in fifty years time the forest will be like the troll mountain towns. Barren of all but those who have a reason to stay. Which is always linked to illegal activity.]

[Next time on lifeforms of Caradesance. We will be taking a fleeting glimpse into the life of a dwarf as they move the modern universe forward with their digging, tinkering and sluggish advance into the surface-world.]

Categories
Big City Lanterns

Big City Lanterns: Journey – Act One

Astra and Apollo carried on orbiting Caradesance. Whilst the two moons sunk below the western horizon for all those who called the Royal Kingdom home. As they did so, Heilbronn rose over the eastern horizon, bathing the nation with a slow-moving warmth. The planet itself didn’t notice the change in the day and night cycle. As the world merely continued to orbit Heilbronn, it carried on bathing itself in what it called parental love.
The orange parent star, and the only star of that colour in the tiny universe, {the size of a large nebula} insisted on spitting waves of raw magical energy towards its children. Whilst the goldilocks planet was the only child that enjoyed the warmth its parent supplied. The star ignored every event happening in the Cosmos. And simultaneously the planet of Caradesance. After all, interstellar balls of magical plasma do not make great parents. All you need to do is ask the five children Heilbronn had already ejected.

The sphere that was larger than Earth continued to hurtle through the void-sea, never learning about the lifeforms which lived on its surface. Whilst the planet’s grandmother captured a random lost comet, that had basically been travelling from nowhere and going nowhere. Caradesance’s grandparent wasn’t a star like its mother though. Instead, it was the entire magical force that held all three hundred stars in one place. Never allowing the stars to drift apart. So far, every object scooped up in the void had been safely captured by this force. And these same objects circled around some of the planet’s aunties, playing with its cousins. As they interacted with its relatives, the cosmos carried on expanding. Whilst the orange star resided comfortably in the centre of its own miniature universe.

Certain prominent names in all time and space continued to observe Caradesance from the home of the gods. And as they watched, two D-9’s bounced across a marble table.

A warm morning summer breeze commenced its travel across the planet without thought. And yet, as the wafts of air moved, it absorbed the energy coming from the orange star. The raw magic collected by the planet’s weather cycle was usually deposited by light showers, but occasionally more independent breezes could form into colossal storms with magical properties. Which would then become erratic natural forces of nature, creating destruction. Today was luckily not one of those days.

{Sat on the thatch roof of Old Man Whistle’s farmhouse. Watching the eastern horizon in the morning. You would have seen the sun lazily rising over the tall misty mountains. And if one had good enough eyes, then one might have been able to see the light pink specks of magic falling. As the specks were slowly captured by the planet’s atmosphere. I would love to climb up the village roofs, as a child, to watch the morning sun. Experience the warmth of summer, as the rays bathed my face. Smell the pollen, as the magical flowers opened for the warmth. Ah. Describing it to you now, brings back so many memories. Ah well, I suppose I need to move on. Or I’ll be talking about the weather the whole time.}

As the rays of first light hit Old Man Whistle’s breeding coop, a simple rooster was awoken as his finely tuned internal alarm-clock went off. Whilst the animal woke up, it began to eyeball its surroundings. It knew something was different this morning, although the rooster by the name of Red simply didn’t know what. Going about his normal routine because he might never know what had changed whilst he slept, Red began flexing his wings, as he glanced around the coop once more.

The rooster began to head outside whilst it held its head high. The animal quickly decided to glance back inside the harem. {Which is what he called the coop filled with his wives.} As a strange feeling went down his spine, Red decided there was nothing wrong. There couldn’t be. Every other morning so far in his life had gone as planned. So his mind, with this point at the forefront, followed his normal routine. Even though the rooster could sense something was off.

Red knew nothing about where he lived though. He knew nothing about what his species was. Or where his life would take him. These sorts of questions, after all, are all the sorts of questions that intelligent beings ask. And this athletic, but simple male Welsummer breed of chicken, could only know what his genetics told him. Which were telling him; now that the sun had risen into the sky, that it was time to announce his presence to the world.

So, without any thought about what he was doing. The rooster strutted over to the fence which surrounded his harem. With a simple bit of mad flapping, with a half jumping action, and a lot of kicking at the ground, Red was stood on a corner post overlooking his land. He didn’t have any time to take in the view though. As there were natural urges that he couldn’t ignore screaming from within. Without any thought, Red then let out a loud, almost screaming monologue. The words (In High-Male-Chicken.) were mostly bragging about the size of his domain. But as the rooster obeyed its genetics, Red managed to get louder of his own accord.

As old man Whistle forced his eyes open. The sound coming from his rooster got louder and louder. Whilst the farmer tried to bury his head under his pillow. Everyone else in the medium-sized village, that existed along the King’s Main Highway, was roused from their beds. As more and more roosters joined in with the choir, the villagers moaned as they all cursed the many local roosters.

The local butcher however couldn’t wake himself.
{I couldn’t.}
No matter how hard he tried.
{And goddess did I attempt to.}

As the ghostly figure stood surveying the husk of his former self, the butcher finally said something,
Damn. I should have laid off the roast beef dinners.
The apparition of the butcher had been eying his body, since his heart had given out. Which had happened at some point in the middle of the night.
{I didn’t even notice it happening. And couldn’t tell you when either.}
As the ghostly figure stood there for well over another hour in silence. People outside in the street began to go about their business. Which some might say, when compared to the butcher at that moment, was simply the business of breathing.

A microscopic ball of bright white light began to form just in front of his bedroom door. As it grew, the ball began to spark with tiny white electrical zaps. Which then cascaded across itself, as it began to grow even larger. The ghost of the butcher was still gazing at his body though, and he felt like he needed to say something. Although all the apparition managed to say was,
I should have sorted out my affairs.

[Sh. This is my entrance.]

A voice answered him. Which the butcher hadn’t been expecting at all. Whilst the voice spoke; the tiny ball continued to grow. Until the inverted ball of light was roughly about the size of a watermelon. The voice had also caused the ghost to turn around. As the butcher did so, he noticed the floating bright rip in all known reality for the first time.

No time for that.The voice had said. The butcher, who was still staring at the light as it grew, didn’t know what to say in reply. So the ball spoke to him for a second time. And as it did so, the ghost began to tilt what would have been a head for someone formed of matter,
Now. If you would be so kind as to climb into the light. We can be off. I am running a bit behind schedule, as you might say.”
The butcher, who’d never speak in such a manner, still didn’t know what to say. Although he also didn’t need to be asked a second time. Especially as the body was beginning to creep him out. It had the face of someone who seemed so familiar. But as the blank face stared up at him, all memory of whom this person once was seemed to be fading fast.
Then, as the butcher climbed inside the light, someone began to knock on the bedroom door.

Deri Roge was tall. He was a wide shouldered, pastel skinned, long red haired-

[Which is basically the same for every human on Britstana, so move on.]

That was unable to use magic. Although that wasn’t a problem. Only about half of each family could use magic, and no one had ever discriminated against him for being a non-practitioner. Most mages were also so stuck up, that Deri couldn’t have cared less about what they thought of him. Which he also knew, because both his brothers were mages, and he didn’t care what they thought of him.

{He’s never gotten on with his brothers.}

[Tell the story, or I pull the chair’s functions.]

Deri’s current issue, or the one that most pressing. Was that his father’s butcher’s shop had just been signed over to his older brother Marx. And as this freckly human sat in the attorney’s humble office, which was situated above the local blacksmiths, the middle-born butcher’s son was beginning to get annoyed,
“So after working for him for the last eighteen years. For no wages I might add. I am to get next to nothing?” Deri didn’t feel apologetic about asking. His father had sent his brothers Marx and Prog to a private mage school. Leaving him to work, and basically grow up in the shop. So naturally, Deri had assumed he would at least own the place after their father’s death. Which had also happened in the form of a heart attack, whilst the old man had been asleep three days earlier. They’d buried him the day after, and had thrown the old man a better send off than it seemed he’d deserved.

The elf who was the only attorney for fifty miles shifted around uncomfortably in his seat. Somehow he was managing to ignore the looks that he was getting from the three Roge brothers,
“As I have already told you. According to this last testimonial, you are to be paid ten gold. Then you are to be given your father’s horse with the cart. That is all it states for you.” Deri frowned at the elf’s answer. In his mind what he was getting was nothing at all. Which not only hurt a little on the inside. It had begun to appear on his face. What particularly hurt though was that he’d been helping the decrepit man with almost everything since their mother had died. Whereas his two brothers, who sat either side of him, had been getting the finest education money could pay for.
Still, as the three of them stared at the elf who had twigs in his hair in almost disbelief, Deri took the opportunity to use the quiet room to ask,
“Is that all?”
Marx, his eldest brother, went to say something. Whilst it was Prog who shook his head and began talking over the top of whatever, Marx was about to say,
“After taking rent and food into account, it is more than your due.” Deri went to reply but the attorney cut him off,
“There is no point in arguing. So if I can just move this along. Then we can all go our separate ways.” The elf did not look comfortable. No one said anything either, and as such the attorney smiled before carrying on,
“Now Prog. It says here that you’re to be given five gold. And that you’re to go live with your grandmother. After that lad’s it says nothing else at all about you three individually. As such, the bank account attached to the butchers is Marx’s, as he was given the store and that is the law in these matters.”
Prog was now angry as the younger brother had imagined his last two years of schooling was still going to be paid for. Although Marx sat there as quiet as a mouse, since all three brothers knew how much the only butcher’s shop in the village earned in yearly profit. Their father had not died a poor man. Merely a disorganised one.

The attorney sat up straight as he brushed his thick fur robes before saying,
“I am sorry. But this testimonial is the last-wishes of your father. And as Lord Herman Vin Burglan has signed the document. Then I am sorry to say it’s unfortunately the law in these proceedings.” Prog said something under his breath. The attorney smiled weakly before he replied,
“I’m so sorry that there isn’t more that I can do for you all. But I simply can’t suggest anything off the top of my twigs. Now I must be hurrying you out. I have two more appointments today that I need to take care of. Oh, and a wedding license to process for the Sheltons. Do you know Mara and Boddi? Such a lovely couple. Their big day will be such a wondrous event.”
Deri couldn’t help but nod. Everyone knew everyone in the village after all. Whilst Deri had nodded, his younger brother stared at the elf who appeared to be oblivious to the threatening expression. The wood elf though simply said,
“Anyway here is your paperwork. And you all know what happens next?” As the attorney showed them the door, Deri felt like hitting Mister Doir violently in the face. Instead, he put his head down and walked out without saying a word.
The three brothers didn’t speak as they all marched down the stairs.
As they walked single file through the blacksmiths to the street outside there was a growing silence between them. As not one of them even looked at each another, the absence of sound only grew worse between them. And as the three of them stopped near the inn, Marx was the first that went to finally speak. But before he could do so, Prog simply turned and stormed off into the inn. Marx’s mouth stopped itself from forming words, as he was now left alone with Deri. And whilst the eldest brother began to look worried, Deri surmised it would be better to step away.

Categories
Lifeforms of Caradesance

The lifeforms of Caradesance – Trolls

Empty page.

[Welcome-]

Whispering in the background. A hefty slap that connects. Another argument which ends with-

[-so we’re going to take it in turns. Now be quiet!]

Three deep breaths. A smile the reader can’t appreciate. Another slap for good measure. The sound of moaning, as it drifts through a location infinite in its size.

[I am sorry about that. And once again, I would like to welcome you to the lifeforms of Caradesance. Where we are on a journey of discovery through the intelligent kingdom. Using the most backwards planet in the whole multi-verse, as our point of reference.]

[Today’s reading pleasure brings us into the enormous wet valleys that form the nation known as Mist. Known for its deep cavasses that remain the same as they did upon forming. This is a location where waking each morning, you’d be met with what the mountains are named after. As the mist clings around all day anyway. And it is nothing special. The mist has no deep hidden magical properties. It leaves no blessing upon the ground. It’s simply moisture which hangs in the air, dimming the light which strives to reach the ground.]

[In this immense, muddy, inhospitable location, nothing much grows at all. Or, at least, nothing you could survive on permanently. Most of the local food is brought in from the outside, or is grown within the dwarven subterranean glow caverns. And due to this, hidden deep within the once snow-covered, continent spanning, mountain range; lives no one, but the harshest of all types of people. And it is in this damp, rocky, rugged terrain that the trollist-rocanaia is said to have evolved. Or more commonly known as, a troll.]

[Most scientists will say that the evolution of the troll could only have happened by magic. Their silicon body is a mystery to all who attempt to study the being. None attempt to study them anymore. Not even the trolls themselves. And as the chair won’t look back far enough in time. I can only guess at the truth of their birth. Although, I do not like speculating. Because magic and science are areas, where only the verifiable facts must be examined. And I am, most definitely, a goblin of magical scientific study.]

[Each troll born is built not unlike a tiny geode in the beginning. It forms under pressure, and with an act of sexual reproduction, which we will not talk about. That is a conversation about the birds and the bees. And this is a conversation you should’ve had by now ladies and gentlemen with your parents. This is not troll porn. That is a different frequency.]

[Ahem! Do not look for that book, disgusting.]

[Now, an egg-ta-de is formed on the mother’s left shoulder within hours of conception. For the first five days it begins to grow slowly. As it does so, it forms a large shoulder pebble. Which will then fall off when everything is just right. As it detaches from the female it so without causing a single ounce of pain.]

[From that moment, we watch the pebble grow tiny arms and legs. But it’s still unable to move from the countertop where it will mature.]

[The miracle of silicon life, at this point, is forming a brain and mouth. Once finished, the pebble will need to eat. Which it cannot manage until it moves for the first time. Internal stored energy in silicon cells will have to drive its growth forward. Once it moves, the immature stomach needs feeding almost immediately. And as the mother knows this, she constructs a bed of rocks. With leaves used as edible blankets for the next few days.]

[Once the pebble has eaten its countertop bed, they should have become roughly about the size of an adult human hand. The small stone must then find a way off the counter. And find a spot outside to continue its transformation to adulthood. Or in a few hours, it will simply be a rock thrown to the side of the road. Like all the other failed troll children that are scattered across Caradesance.]

With three wobbly rolls. The troll toddler is upright. Legs shaking unsteadily under him.

As it glances around itself. Its eyes open fully for the first time. Gaining its first shred of confidence from gaining its sight. The future mammoth begins to explore the countertop. Each bit of raw organic it finds is eaten quickly, adding to the energy reserve it needs for its transformation into adulthood. The moments add up though, and now, the toddler must get off the countertop.
Deep within the troll; a drive, a need, or a calling from a primitive location, is surfacing.

[Few know what this drive is called, but we will call it a desire.]

And this driving desire is now screaming within. It is advising the toddler to plant its legs into the soil outside. Telling its brain that it will need to stay there with its rocky skull touching the air. The internal-primitive-desire is simultaneously praying for rain. Telling the silicon pathways, that it will grow strong like a fierce storm, if it rains.

So at the counter’s edge it examines the floor. Surveying the cobblestone slabs only once. The toddler dives off of the counter. Simply hoping for the best. It rolls across the floor, as it lands. The youngster giggles from the sheer excitement. Whilst it begins wishing it could do it again. The baby troll stands upright knowing it must now search for a way outside.

But help is at hand. Its mother has come to check on its baby.

The kitchen door opens. The small rock can now perceive the outside world. It can feel the wind on its skin. It can smell the scent of mud. Thusly, its desire to begin growing. The desire, which begins to burn within, is brighter than before. And the young troll knows what it must do.

The toddler proceeds to rapidly move forward. At first, it stumbles over its own feet. But, it continues until its standing in soil. As nothing can stop the troll now from trying to grow up.

[Nature, after all, has taken over.]

So it plants itself into mud. Forcing itself deep into the ground. Until only its head is visible. Instantly the mud-coma takes over, and the toddler will now lay in wait until the first full moon.

[Or maybe even the second full moon. That depends on when it planted itself.]

[At the correct full moon. The troll child will begin to move at midnight. Climbing out of the ground on their own is the final test. And failure means they will become like many of the rocks lying around the mountain. Stuck in the ground, unable to move, unable to talk, and worst of all, they’re still partly alive. Once free though, the child’s grandparents name them by placing an item onto their chest, and the whole tribe dances until sunup, chanting the new name to all the gods for a blessing.]

[Those without grandparents, are named Rock. And there are a great many Rocks in the world.]

[If the child is fed well, cared for, and raised correctly, they can grow to become an impressive seven-foot-tall wrecking cart. In Nippa-kanta, in this modern age, well-fed trolls have caused the reinforcing flooring sector to thrive. Whilst in the countryside, most troll houses are still built like bungalows, low to the ground, and shaped like domes. Although, nearly all the mountain troll towns are now improvised areas where they fight each other, for the right to work.]

[In the valley town of Piptron. Our young pebble has grown into a troll. Where he now spends the days, as the village lookout.]

[Piptron is like most of the mountain villages and towns. Troll migration to the capital of the Royal Kingdom has left it nothing more than a ghost town. Round plaster buildings with thatched dome shape roofs which are left empty. Only to be ruined by the elements over the passing seasons.]

[If I was to describe this location in a simple phase. It would be as an excrement-hole. Which for the local trolls who stayed is preferable, as no one visits a toilet. Unless they need too, of course.]

‘Billflower?’ The skinner shorter troll said glancing at his colleague,

‘What is it Mandrake?’ Billflower asked still watching the worm climb over his foot,

‘Well, no one comes here right?’

‘That’s correct.’

‘Well, I was just wondering.’ The worm fell off his foot as Billflower felt the need to ask,

‘Why?’

‘Because that’s a cart, isn’t it?’ Billflower begins to stare off from atop of the tall pillar of stone they were both sitting on,

‘Eh. You’re right. Go call Rock, could be the Dwarven Mounties. And get ready, we might have to burn the crop.’

[Normally no one dares come this far into the mountains. But riding along the road from the nearest town down, is indeed a cart being dragged by two enormous mountain donkeys.]

[Sitting behind the reins, checking out the scenery, is a vampire. A well-dressed bloodsucker, who is far from his native land.]

The cart which pulls up alongside the pillar has only one occupant. Whilst the mountain donkeys begin stamping their hoofs at being forced to stop. Billflower is not worried as he looks down at the vampire. Watching him with a smile on his face, the vampire says nothing to the troll. As two natural enemies now stare at each other, one looks like he is trying to be friendly. Whereas the other rocky face is blank, showing no emotion externally, but is bewildered on the inside,

‘You’re a long way from home,’ the vampire agrees with Billflower and smiles once again before he replies,

‘I am looking for slat.’

‘You a Mountie. You must tell me you’re a Mountie, if you are a Mountie. It’s the law you know.’ Billflower said with a look of apprehension on his face,

‘I am not a guard of any sort. I, my worthy troll, am money wandering around. I want to pipe your substance to the big city.’ Billflower doesn’t reply to the vampire, and suddenly he’s waiting for the law enforcement dwarfs to jump out from under the cart.

[Vampires and trolls are not only natural enemies. But these two are, in fact, ancient predators and prey. No one knows when the hunting of vampires stopped. But most historians would agree the trolls did so, roughly, before the end to the age of conflict.]

[In the time when hunting vampires was someone’s day job, only the troll race evolved to better hunt their prey. Due to this, a single bite from a troll is not widely known to be, but is deadly. They also became stronger than their prey, although this was at the cost of speed. And no one knows when they lost their coloured yellow outer layer. But troll evolution replaced it with an worn grey that allowed the hunter to better blend into their surroundings. Leaving only picture writings in the caverns across the mountains, which told all trolls their history.]

‘Who you?’ Billflower turns towards the voice and spots Rock, who is now marching through the broken-down village. The vampire smiling in his fine fur robes replies with,

‘I am looking for a slat supply.’

‘You didn’t answer my question. What’s your name?’

‘Brevino.’

‘You a Mountie? You’re to tell me by law if you are.’

‘That’s not true, and I’m not.’

‘Well, I don’t know. What if I said I don’t have any?’

‘Your neighbours said you do. They sent me up here after I asked them,’ the vampire looks around himself, ‘and this is the last town on this mountain road.’

Rock nods. He thinks about it for a minute before asking,

‘What do you want with it?’

‘I want to coordinate shipments to the capital.’ Billflower didn’t like the vampire, or the way he spoke. His mind is focusing on how all posh people in the big city sounded like the bloodsucker. Whilst it is also ignoring the fact that the vampire isn’t wearing clothing from Nippa-kanta. Billflower, who did the current drop every two years to the Capital of the Royal Kingdom. Not only got to meet his sister (who had moved away ten years ago), but also learnt early-on that they all spoke differently.

[If he was paying attention though, then he might have also noticed, that the vampire wasn’t wearing a single piece of flax. Which is the number one material for all clothing of the kingdom.]

Even though the vampire didn’t sound Nippa-kantian. Billflower didn’t like the situation based on a gut feeling. Although his brain put the all the natural hatred and doubt to one side for the bag of gold which almost appears in the vampire’s hand.

‘We have a pipeline to the capital.’ Rock, glancing at Billflower, (who they all knew didn’t know when to shut up), shakes his head at his lookout. Whilst the vampire smiles softly before saying,

‘I was on about Edenborough.’ Rock, nodding in reply, says with an expression of apprehension,

‘How much you after?’

‘Well, I only have four hundred gold to start off with. I was hoping that would fill this cart.’ The troll, obviously the boss to anyone watching. Begins smiling, whilst showing a full mouth of black-tarnished silver teeth,

‘We can do that.’ The vampire smiling gave a cursory curt nod asking,

‘So, you can fill this whole cart with slat, for four hundred gold?’

‘I just said yes. Didn’t I?’ Rock said looking around at the trolls who were with him.

Seven dwarfs begin to scream out of nowhere. Their fake breads flap in the wind as they move,

‘Mountie Drug Law Enforcement, down on the ground! Down on the ground!’ Whilst they are jumping off the back of the cart, their moving around, and watching for more enemies. The dwarfs scream at the trolls once again. Whilst Billflower is following the scene with a growing confusion. The back of the cart was empty, his mind kept on saying.

Crossbows are suddenly pointing at the residents. [The magical variety which could kill me, or you.] But they aren’t going to kill a troll, much less deeply penetrate their rocky shell to cause actual damage.

[Guards after all aren’t allowed to kill anyone.]

Brevino pulls out a sword from his expensive fur coat. The dull iron appears harmless to the trolls, until they realize there is a gem in the handle. A purple ruby, charged with air magic using the gold enchantment method of magical transference,

‘If I touch you with this, your body will fall to pieces. So, lay down on the floor, with your hands on your head. Now!’ The trolls take a step forward, glancing around as they do so. After all, seven dwarfs in chain mail had just appeared out of thin air, who knew what could happen next,

‘Turn around, return to your burrows.’ Rock said with a deadly glare.

[No one, and I mean, no one, is moving. In the past, the troll numbers would have kept the dwarfs in their underground mines. Now, though, the dwarfs have claimed inside and outside of the mountains. This latest drug enforcement operation, is yet another attempt in their extensive list of pushes, where the Mounties struggle to even flex their sword hand.]

Billflower jumps off the pillar without thinking. He only knows he must attack. Surprise his prey, and use his prey’s confusion against itself.

As he is falling towards the vampire, the blade in the bloodsucker’s hands slashes towards him. The sword though barely misses our troll. Whilst the lookout lands on the vampire with a full body slam.
The massive weight landing on the cart causes one of the wheels to snap in a shower of splinters. The two donkeys bolt inwards free of their reins. And as far away from the noise, as they could go. The distraction, though, is enough to cause not only cause hearing damage. But this is also enough to cause a panic to rise in the dwarven ranks.

[This is not the first time the MDLE had turned up to clean up the improvised location. And these dwarfs have heard the troll sagas, like every other person on Britstana. We’ll tell you them at a later date.]

The sword sent flying through the air is of little use to the vampire, who is now struggling with the troll trying to bite him. Whilst one of his legs showers the grass with blood. Its natural healing ability is reluctant to stop the flow immediately. Although the blood begins to slow down after a few moments. But the vampire is now weak.

Billflower suddenly attempts to grab the bloodsucker’s paler face, who is still trying to wriggle out from under two tons of weight.

Whereas two of the dwarfs decide to fire their bolts into the troll. Although this has little effect, and the two bolts certainly don’t stop Billflower from wrestling with Brevino.

The other five dwarfs are standing their ground, watching as nine advancing trolls continue to move slowly forward. None of them open fire though, as their arms are shaking. And suddenly, they have to make a choice. Four of the five dwarfs begin to leg-it, as fast as they can. Which for a race that is on average four-foot-tall is extremely fast. The lone shaking dwarf lets his only bolt loose, as the other two also decide to run away from the wrestling match.

Rock pulls the iron bolt out of his arm. Smiles. Looks around himself, and then looks down at the dwarf who is now crying,

‘I’m just doing my job, please, please don’t hurt me.’ The troll laughs at him. With one stabbing motion, he plants the bolt into the dwarf’s forehead. The leader of the town does so again, and again. In what can only be described, as an extremely violent crime. Rock stabs the member of the mountain law enforcement until there is nothing left of the guard’s face. The surrounding trolls are laughing, as the tiny body is now, little more than a bag of broken, well everything.

Billflower, who is still wrestling with the vampire, begins to chuckle. His arms are now holding down the victim. Billflower applies pressure. And they all hear a loud- SNAP!

The sound travels across the mountains, echoing off of the hills. Causing everyone to hear the sound. Even the dwarfs, as they ran off down the road. Billflower titters, and starts to drag the vampire across the floor, as blood splutters from his chest. The trolls all laugh together, as the vampire whispers,

‘Tell my brother Trevino-’ Although his words are cut short, as the troll has his massive mouth over the vampire’s shoulder. There is no helping the officer of the law, as one quick bite is all the predator needs. The troll drug cultivators stand there watching, as the vampire begins to convulse on the floor. Shaking, as the silver toxin travels to the brain. The vampire dies in mere seconds, exploding into a pile of ash at the end of his life. Once the body goes limp, Rock studies Billflower and says,

‘Well done BF, you’re now in charge of defence measures. Dwarf-Pebble, go find that sword. And the rest of you, clean this waste of space up. We’re going to have more trouble sooner or later.’

[In the mountain troll town, dominance of the alpha’s land has been settled for the moment. A new semi-alpha has been promoted up the chain. And the war on dangerous narcotics has two more casualties to add to the growing list.]

[Next time. We will be going to the enchanted forests, in the north of the Royal Kingdom. Where the tree homes of the elves, give birth to five sub-races. Until I narrate, at you again, live for the moment, but remember to stay safe.]

Categories
The Lost Mage

The Lost Mage: Getting Lost – Final Act

Marking the days gone by quickly turned into watching the passage of the moons as they trailed across the sky in their monthly cycles. After a while longer though, the passage of time started to mean nothing at all to Pip. Although the longer he stayed, the more the young mage became certain that he was alone. And unable to escape.

In a four-month cycle period of the two moons. Pip achieved some personal goals that he set for himself out of sheer boredom; he’d spent a full seven hours following the beach around the island learning that the island wasn’t as grand as he’d hoped. Afterwards he’d begun climbing into the hills. Where the young mage scaled the largest of the two rocky outcrops.
{Avoiding the bird mess where he could.} Only to discover that there were islands that surrounded his new home. Smaller than his own but still there visible to the naked eye. Pip had also found food in abundance. {Once he figured out what was food and what wasn’t even close to edible. Three painful bowel movements passing out tripping yellow spots and a case of sickness later I might add.} He’d then spent a cycle and half completely knocking down the rotten structure. Only to build himself a new smaller home from the rubble as he mixed some new materials into the works. {Including his palm leaf roof design. Which is only mentioned due to how proud Pip was of the idea.}

While he’d been clearing away the ruins, Pip had also found a cellar under the derelict. This was where the lad had taken to cultivating a small collection of mushrooms which he’d found in the jungle.
A clearing around his round tiny windowless stone hut was where he’d spend the mornings farming all the crops that he’d foraged. The mage farmer had even found a goat wandering in the hills. Which brought meaning to his days. {Along with a companion to talk too.} Pip would have summed up his new life as peaceful. Which had over the process of time become comforting. Although that was because it felt as if {if only almost so like} he was back home on his parents farm.

The waves were still for once as the lost novice reached the beach. Wandering along the shore in search of the pile of driftwood he’d stacked yesterday, Pip whistled a song his mother used to sing. A tame soulful low beat melody which the bards would play as they toured the inns. And although he remembered the tune, the name of the song escaped his grasp.
Whilst the young mage stacked a new driftwood pile, he spotted yesterday’s mound up ahead. And as Pip started to stroll towards it, he was still whistling to the wind. A whisper floated past which appeared to be carried on the wind itself,
‘Decide what to do.’
The voice forced him to turn around as the young novice contemplated what to say. Although a glint across the water had drawn his attention and the whisper spoke to him once more,
‘Help them or betray them, but they are your transport home.’
Water at that moment surged up the beach. Which caused the lost mage to proceed towards the treeline as fast as he could. Nearly tripping over his feet as he did so.
The mile of morning beach was quickly replaced with water as a length of sand no bigger than four people laying down, side by side was all that was left. Whilst the water had washed away his stacks of wood. He studied what remained as waves began to crash in front of him.
The water itself seemed to be bubbling. As the lad stared at the salt waters, he swore that there were people moving just below the surface. Pip began to think that was crazy as he noticed there was something else. And as this new object appeared over the horizon it seemed to be chasing the strange bubbles. Whilst Pip struggled to find the words to describe what he was seeing. He studied what he knew was at least made of wood. Whilst Pip recognized that the wind was blowing the tall white flax sheets. The novice’s mind realised the sheets were used to push the wooden object. As he understood all known concepts of the element of air, the magical principle of directional thrust and atmospheric pressure, the connection was easy for him to put together. His mind quickly flagged the object as his means of escape. His mind struggled to grasp what the object was, though as he heard men laughing and shouting across the water.
The bubbles which swished through the water gained speed. Until suddenly they’d reached the beach where they jumped out onto the sand. Each landing non-bubble at this point revealed a strange but beautiful woman. Their tails were like the creatures that he had seen in the water, but the women weren’t creatures. Pip could tell simply by their faces. As they noticed him though, they all began to scream at once.
Pip ignored them as he was still transfixed and staring at what he’d named a water-plough. The novice suddenly realised this plough was hunting the women. To what end he didn’t need to know. {After all he had a chance to be a hero. Few ever managed to gain the chance to be anything.} Pip knew this, so he wasn’t about to blow the chance. He instantly began to understand the voices as they shouted across the water, confused by them speaking Britstanaian. A burning anger began to rise within him. With each sentence from their lips, the anger grew. Something then took over after a few seconds of the fire burning through his mind. A force which shaped Pip’s decision for him.
Flashes of memory rose to the surface. Each flashed for but a nano-second, showing him a time when he’d been bullied at the college. A time before, his friendship with Marx had given him protection from the sons and daughters of the lords and ladies who operated the lands. His mind went blanker than it ever had. The internal force cleansed him of every doubt he’d ever processed. A raw connection spoke within him, it reached out and connected with the air which then began to flow back along the link.
The novice’s arm fired upwards. Fingers stretched towards the sky. Without any guidance from his mind, the element of air flowed into him. Instantly Pip’s subconscious called forth a ferocious wind. The sky turned black in less than a second; the merwomen’s cries had been cut off by the sound of thunder as lightening streaked across the sky. The winds rocked the sail-plough from side to side. Gusts tore at the ocean which sent heavy waves clashing against the vessel.
Pip screamed out in agony; as he had never felt such power flowing through him before. Although as he wasn’t in full control. What happened thereafter surprised even himself.
Bolts of lightning began to strike the ship as he screamed out to the sky,
‘AUISTRA!’
Pip heard the men screaming, but it didn’t appear like his subconscious was finished. The storm intensified as he focused too simply stay awake. Gale-force winds began to tear at the sails as if the winds were shards of glass. Giant streaking bolts rained down upon the wood once more with a deeper intensity. And as the bolts connected with the vessel, the raw natural magical power of the storm ripped the wood apart within seconds.

Pip dropped to his hands and knees. His body was almost drained of everything he had within him. Whilst the clouds vanished they looked as if they’d evaporated. The women on the beach stared at him, their voices now quieter simple short whispers. As waves of desire strange, the inner-forces and the wind talked only to him. And as they talked they cut through the mermaid’s words; drowning them out whilst the syllables had floated through the air,
‘They’re yours to watch over now.’ But as the young storm mage tried to focus on the wind’s words which were repeated to him. A magical tiredness hit him harder than it ever had before. All he managed to comprehend as he dropped was the women’s tails turning into legs.

Pip’s body had been laid on a stone table and was snoring lightly. Even though his mind wasn’t asleep anymore. And as his skin lay on the cold surface, the sound of arguing somehow began to drift through the dreamless haze,
‘-but we can’t.’ The angered female voice finished off lamely. The next speaker spoke softly but with a passion that stoked her words,
‘This human mage saved us. He didn’t have to. And yet we are still here because a human saved our lives. Need I say that again a human. Not only is he a human, this one has a strong connection to nature and that very connection created a storm that was astounding. And we all saw him do so. We need not fear him that is my say.’ Several women then murmured an agreement. The first voice did not join in the chorus though. It appeared that the angry woman that had spoken first simply wanted to get their tuppence in,
‘He is a human you are right on the doubloons there. And are they not the ones who hunt us for our scales. This could be a trap.’ There was an anger in the woman’s words as she finished. Before they all began to argue though, a third woman began speaking,
‘We only know the facts, and we cannot guess the will of Clelia, the goddess of the winds. We cannot say he is a danger to us. He is unlike the humans who hunt our race. He certainly doesn’t look like those who use us in their dark blood magic. This is true to us by looking with our eyes, so it is fact. His hair is red, his eyes are green, his skin is a type of pinkish colour, and he is shorter than most of the humans that I have encountered before. Fact again.’ As they all agreed, the voice which held a tone of wisdom continued,
‘And only Clelia knows how he reached our island. Until he can tell us of course. But as the autumn season draws near and the sea-storms come with colder seasons. We need some type of salvation. It then becomes another fact that we may yet need to survive long enough to witness the next season. And this pink human will be our salvation once again. If he agrees to help us.’ No one said anything. So the voice carried on yet again,
‘We must face the facts tail-on. So that we can draw the correct conclusions. I know he is not with those who hunt us. We have never glimpsed his skin colour before. This human must have been sent here to help us, or he has his own issues with the wood-builders. And these are the facts as I understand them. So we will ask him for help. That is a fact.’ There was a larger chorus of agreement this time. Pip couldn’t react though as his mind fell back into the  deep slumber re-joining his body which had never left. Whilst dreaming he began to dream of his mother who was baking bread while whistling.

A spasm in the leg was followed by all his torso muscles bolting upright. The women gasped as one as it happened. Whilst a bunch of hazy thoughts washed over young Pip. It took a few seconds on top of that for him to remember that this wasn’t the valley of his birth. But was that strange location surrounded by even stranger tasting water. The place that not long ago escape from had also seemed impossible.
As Pip gathered up his thoughts, the mermaids began to stare at him. Whereas one of the youngest spoke up as she glanced around the elders. Although she sounded more curious than she did, frightened,
‘Is that what happens to them? When they use our scales I mean?’ No one answered her. Pip barely managed to croak for water as he tried to hold himself upright thanks to only saying one word. As they all still stared at him, a tall blonde brought over a drinking shell. Holding the twisted horn in one hand, she placed it by his lips. Pip sipped at the clear liquid inside before weakly asking,
‘Where am I?’ They all looked at each other as the eldest of the women answered him
‘The island of Teevin. How did you get here?’ Pip barely managed to answer her,
‘Inside a magical storm. I presume.’ He attempted to fully sit up but simply couldn’t. His bones felt like jelly and all his body-tissue had begun to feel like stone. As they were all staring at him, Pip decided at that moment to try to get information,
‘How far away is the Royal Kingdom?’ He asked. They all looked at each other once again. Whilst it was the blonde water bearer who it turned out was the softer voiced female which had answered him,
‘None of us know of this island called King-dome. You are on the island of Teevin. Which is one of many islands that make up a part of the half sunken nation of Jutland.’ This answer confused Pip. But as he went to ask more questions, the doors had burst open. And a teenager began speaking quickly,
‘From the rocks we have observed six masts appear on the horizon.’ Pip who was now studying the well outside asked weakly,
‘What are masts?’ They all glanced at him slowly as if to say with their facial expressions that he was stupid. Whilst the oldest of the women spoke to him with an urgency to her voice for the first time,
‘We have but a few hours until they arrive. Help us please and I will tell you everything that I know. We will also give you anything that we can give. Please the hunters can’t find us here and there is also nowhere for us to go anymore. We will starve or be forced back into the water where we will surely be killed.’ Pip thought he seemed better. Although he knew that he was still too weak to carry out well any summoning at all,
‘I do not know how much help I can be to you ladies. I need to rest.’ The elder nodded and the soft voiced female strode forward after picking something up off the floor; in her hands was a large wooden box which the older woman took,
‘In this box are the scales which fall off us during our transformations.’ She said nothing else. Pip felt even more confused and needed an explanation of what she meant. The softer voiced mermaid replied with,
‘One was placed onto your arm when you slept. After your skin absorbed it you woke up instantly. It also appears to have healed your scarred hand. You’re an air mage, are you not? Can you not use these and tap into the vast magical well of nature?’ Pip nodded at the soft-spoken female and smiled before he answered her weakly,
‘I am but control has always been out of my reach. I think anger fuelled the storm.’ The elder nodded in understanding before speaking,
‘The men of darkness as we call them will carry on hunting us all until there are no merpeople left. When they catch each of us. We will be submerged halfway in salt water. They find it easier to strip the scales off our tail before killing us that way. Does this not anger you once more?’ He didn’t answer her, so she carried on speaking,
‘We have no male elder. We are also the last of our tribe. After us there will be no new generations of the Teevin. The other tribes that are spread out amongst the islands are also being hunted to extinction. There are but a few thousand of us left now amongst all the islands of Jutland.’ There was some anger rising within Pip, but he’d still been too sleepy. He rose one hand up towards the elder and said,
‘Please place only one of the scales into my hand. I need to determine if it wakes me fully.’ She opened the box; the scales shone in the candlelight as the elder did so and one blue-green scale was picked up from within. The old mermaid with grey hair let go of the scale and as it touched his skin; the scale was instantly absorbed. Pip felt the need to force a smile as his body relaxed. But as he still hurt, Pip didn’t try to move straight away. Then as his head cleared he decided he’d better move and said,
‘Now we’ll all go to the beach and when we get there I will need two more.’ With that statement they all accompanied him to the beach. Well after helping Pip to stand upright that was.

As they all strolled through the jungle, Pip paid attention to their clothes. Every mermaid wore almost the same shade of orange exotic fabric. Which appeared shiny in the sunlight and seemed to be pretty thin. Although the fabric fascinated him-

[Ha! And it’s not how revealing it is. When compared to what he has seen women wear where he is from no?]

{Mister Roge Tuts loudly}

-as it was bound into skirts and tops wrapped around them tightly. Whilst using enough layers to hide anything which might have been tantalising to the male mind. The women had used hulking black needles to make sure the fabric didn’t unravel. And as he studied the orange lengthy dress of the soft voiced blonde, she blushed quickly, turning her head to stare off into the trees.

There was then no time to be wasted. These women needed his help after all and the lad wanted to play the hero. He wanted to learn everything about them. Pip also wanted to learn all there was to learn about the island. So forgetting the clothing, Pip began to get to work straight away as they came out of the trees.
As he turned kicking up sand the young storm mage noted the elder had also already taken two scales out of the box. And she was holding them towards him,
‘Do you not want more?’ She asked him whilst holding them out as she waited on his instructions. Pip shook his head smiling in response right before they were dropped into the palm of his hand. The scales which seemed to be absorbed by the skin; as if they were water. Quickly disintegrated and were absorbed by his pores even quicker. As they blended with him, he’d watched his hand with slight fascination. Once they’d finished blending they allowed his skin to absorb the magic from the air. The outer layer of his skin felt as if it tingled as pins and needles flowed through his face. Around his feet the sand began to twirl. Whilst a minor gust of wind came out of him and carried a small blast of sand towards the ocean.

Pip smiled whilst turning to fully watch the ocean. He’d never been in full control before which caused his smile to grow. This time, as he focused, the thoughts which popped up didn’t blunt his concentration in the slightest way possible. Which normally was a lot as he had trouble focusing on one task.
But right then well he felt different. Internally he could perceive the change but if he attempted to tell you. Then well it became almost an impossible description for anyone to communicate. But it felt balanced. He seemed to experience everything within that split-second. His mind formulated choices normally beyond him. And he could suddenly do what others trained for years to accomplish.

As he sent his mind out across the wind, Pip could see further than his eyes let him. And whilst the vessels were still over the horizon from the beach. In his minds-eye they were all within his grasp at that very moment.

{Ready for the roasting.}

Both hands shot out towards the sky without warning. Black clouds began to form before everyone’s eyes. The clouds after only a few seconds began to twirl around each other, moving as they did so. Waves swelled as the storm began to then move away from the shoreline. The skyline got darker as a cyclone of impending death moved through the air. The winds which twirled downwards with forces no one in this part of the world had witnessed or no one alive that was cut the water as it connected. Waves mixed with the tornado as the winds began to batter the ploughs before doom even reached them. And over the water Pip could hear the sound of screaming as men called out to their gods. Forgetting all about their families in the last moments of their lives.
In less than ten seconds though, the ships were sunk. The men were simply dead and the storm that Pip had called forth had begun to break apart.
Whilst the sunny skies returned, all the mermaids began to cheer. They hugged him on the beach as they celebrated their survival. Some even kissed his cheek as every single one of them danced around him singing towards the sky.

Later that night after an enormous fire had been lit on the beach. Pip felt like a Hero with a capital h. He smiled basking in their celebrations. He danced with them; he drank something they called Rum. They all chanted Lost Mage over and over to the sky as he told them about the storm which’d carried him to their island. They kissed him on the cheek in celebration, and they all danced until the sun rose.
Whilst they all celebrated, Pip had decided that all his questions could wait until tomorrow
‘After all’ he’d pondered whilst dancing with the group around the fire, ‘I’m useful for the first time in my life.’

[I’m glad you decided to watch all that.]

{Mm. I still don’t know if Marx is alright though.}

[Well, that’s because he’s hidden himself away from all interference. A charm known by few that can be worked by even less. He got out of the storm, didn’t he? Anyway Marx has a strong magical connection and a brain that others are going to envy.]

{But what is he doing now. Is he okay? He could be anywhere; he could even be in a shallow grave.}

[Contemplate this. We know he got back to the college. The college being charmed means we can’t peer inside. We know he studied and produced a charm that hides him away from all prying eyes. And from being used by the gods. We also witnessed him take over your shop. So we know he is okay until he dies, of course.]

[So does he-]

{Does who?}

[Pip does he get off the island?]

{I guess we’ll have to find out.}

Categories
The Lost Mage

The Lost Mage: Getting Lost – Act Two

The sand that the novice was asleep on had covered his entire body. Each tiny grain had not only managed to get under his clothing but was clinging to areas that are best left unmentioned. Whilst the substance had coated his red hair with thousands of grains that made him appear blonde. The tide that had continued rising while he had slept was lashing at the lad’s bare feet. Driftwood had been deposited around him as waves climbed the sands; trunks of trees battered by the ocean smooth straight worn planks from somewhere the gods only knew and almost rotted lumps that had dug into the sand.

Pip opened his eyes still dazed, weak and drowsy. As the young mage attempted to regain his sanity, he tried to take in his surroundings. Uninterested in where his boots were, the novice noted the thick jungle behind him. Whilst calm blue waves rolled over the golden beach. A world of wonder existed around him sights that he could only guess no other mage had seen before. And none of it seemed familiar to him.

Pip had no idea where he was. In his head he was now torn between the beauty of the scenery and a deep desire to be back home. To stroll up the garden path at the start of the weekend have his mother bake her village famous pie and talk about his studies with his father over the local moonshine.

The young adult wondered if he’d been brought into Nivrean, the home of the dead. After all, Pip had lived his whole life in the same location. He’d never even seen the ocean before he had never left the uplands and people where he came from only talked about the local magical woods.

{People of the Royal Kingdom don’t talk about the ocean. It is simply not the sort of thing to do; it might give others the idea that the ocean is a safe location.}

[Never having left the nine valleys of the Sauw uplands which sat near the base of the white dwarven owned mountains of Mist. The lad’s simple childhood had seen him raised by his mother and father on their huge potato farm. When he had turned thirteen his magic had come into being as they called it. So, as was customary, Pip travelled down to the largest valley near the Royal Lowlands to attend the mage’s college in the town of Grafft. The last town on the king’s highway.]

{Shhh. It’s my time.}

‘Has anyone ever seen this?’ He asked himself. Sand getting into his eyes caused irritation as he moved. Tears swelled up before coursing down his face. As they cleaned out the sand, Pip struggled not to wipe.

He put his hand over his heart to see if it was still beating. Only to become confused when it had done so. As his sight had become clearer, the novice tried to brush the sand that he saw  off his arms. This time, as he rubbed, the movement caused a red friction burn.

Pip looked around struggling with his new location as more sand had stuck to him. Questions kept on forcing themselves to the surface of his mind. But the novice had no answers.

As he realised he could bathe in the ocean, the young mage asked the island

‘Where am I?’ Although the island didn’t reply to him.

The water washed the sand off with ease which caused Pip to dive under the water to make sure that he’d got rid of every grain. He laughed as he did so, removing his shirt. Which floated away from him along the top of the waves. The temperature felt so pleasant on his skin that he hadn’t even noticed. The water was warm, relaxing almost calming in a certain respect, and as he bathed the warmth eased his muscles. The water felt like the underground heated baths in the collage which made him think of the home once more. As Pip paddled around enjoying the water, he noticed there were creatures swimming about near brightly coloured floating plant life.

‘What are these strange creatures?’ He asked the wind whilst the water finished taking his shirt.

As the sun had begun setting, Pip decided warmth was needed. Or he would freeze to death. Although that was based on his knowledge of home where the nights in the valleys were bitter and relentless no matter the season. There was a lot of driftwood littering the beach and some of it Pip found out quickly was days old. So delicate and dry that it had begun crumbling in his hands as the novice had picked up the pieces. Whilst some larger pieces had still been fresh and wet.

‘I wonder if Marx had managed to get to safety?’ He asked himself as he mused about his friend’s whereabouts. Whilst wondering what had happened to Marx, the young mage dug a hole in the sand near the treeline.

As he gathered himself a small collection of timber and began to arrange the wood in the stone ringed sandy hole, the young mage’s mind turned to the search for him. How the college professors were likely trudging through the valley digging into the ground

‘Or they think I’m dead.’ He said to the fire pit as he stacked the last dry piece.

Pip saw no way for him to start the fire as there was no flint laying on the sand. He thought about trying to summon lightening, but he was still too exhausted and that would have taken more focus than he could muster. Using an old trick his father had used to light old hay on fire, he began to gather dried grass. Rubbing a dry stick in the grove of a larger log, Pip began to rub until the wood gave him slight puffs of smoke. With one brief lungful of air, he blew at the dried grass.

It caught alight instantly

‘Who needs magic?’ He asked the wind which helped his fire grow with two abrupt gusts.

Within a second, the fire in the tiny pit was ample enough to provide him heat as it had begun dancing in the air. His stomach rumbled as he watched the flames, judging the lukewarm breeze as it flowed off the ocean. But Pip had also known it was too dangerous to search for food at night. The lad watched the two moons beginning to travel through the sky as he listened to his stomach. Whilst a tiredness crept over him once more although this time it wasn’t from use of magic. Or from a magical storm but was his own body telling him that he needed more sleep to heal.

When Pip woke it was to the sound of birds squawking. The sun had risen just over the horizon, bathing the beach in a warmth he had never experienced at sun up before. Whilst the beach had grown in the night as the water seemed to have receded leaving a broad damp area crawling with sand worms. It left behind shells more wood and bundles of strangely colourful seaweed. {Which was another thing he didn’t yet know about.}

Pip looked at the bulky white birds making all the noise. Each had bright yellow beaks which he had never seen before on any flying animal. They flew about showing their underside which was a blackish grey colour. Although they weren’t quiet whilst they hunted the wet sands for food. Pip laughed as he watched them
‘I suppose that’s breakfast if I can catch one.’ No one answered him. And as he had stood up, all the guls close to him flew off in a flurry.

Pip had begun striding along the sand whilst he ignored the yellow fruit hanging off the trees. He had no idea what they were, so his eyes completely missed them. The seaweed that had started to dry out in the sun left a smell in the air which told his brain it shouldn’t be eaten.

As sweat began pouring off him, Pip realised he needed hydration. With one hand, the novice scooped up a handful of water from the ocean, put it to his lips and began to drink. The taste of salt made him spit it out almost immediately
‘Goddess what is that?’

As the lad glanced at the water he wondered once more if he was in Nivrean. Trapped in the afterlife with his body still intact. Glad that when he had been splashing about that none of the water had gotten into his mouth.

With each step taken, the heat that beat down upon him caused the lad to become slower. Almost sluggish, he began to drag his feet through the sand. A rumble from his stomach told him that he needed food.

As he hoped to find someone else or somewhere he could stay until he found out how to get home, the novice carried on following the beach. Whilst sand continued to gather in his leg hairs with each step.

Pip noticed a small river emerging from the jungle. The clear liquid flowed directly into the ocean whilst it had travelled across the sands the water had appeared so inviting. Without thought, Pip had almost glided towards the invitation.

As the stream glistened in the afternoon sunlight, the young mage knelt next to the water, tasting it with one finger. Before he then began drinking the liquid by the handful whilst getting bits of sand in his mouth. He choked himself then spluttered but nothing was going to stop him from the cool relief that the water was providing.

His stomach soon felt full but the water hadn’t been enough to stop the pain. Which his body reminded him after standing upright. His back ached which dulled his hunger but brought more questions to the forefront of his mind about where food could be. Then questions he hadn’t wanted to begin answering at that point floated to the surface.

The novice decided he needed to follow the river in land in search of people and hopefully food. The trees blocked his sightline as he moved through the cool water. Since before entering the jungle they’d towered high above his head, but at that moment he couldn’t determine anything else as the thick canopy covered the sky. Thick vines that hung almost everywhere told him it wasn’t like the Enchanted Forest which he had heard about while growing up. But since everything had seemed new, Pip didn’t know what to do with the information that he was obtaining. Or the lack of.

Whilst Pip continued searching for food something began to start appearing between the trees just up ahead. As he scanned them, the novice thought it possible that these grey magical trees were fashioned using stone. Almost excited from a discovery he might be able to work out, Pip began to hurry through the stream.

The trees turned out to be a structure of some kind, causing the young mage to feel surprised as he approached it. The derelict building was sitting in the centre of a clearing that seemed to be losing the battle against the overgrowth. Whilst the building itself looked as if it had been losing the battle with the elements.

With a stomach that began to ache once more, Pips mind turned back to the search for food. Out of desperation, the young mage pushed the rotten door out of the way. The floor had been littered with broken slate tiles. On his left Pip saw a corridor two rotten beams which had fallen in destroying the rooms that once existed on either side of the strip and anything that was within had long since been claimed by nature.

Searching around the rear of the building, Pip had noticed two half rotted posts sticking up from the soil. In an area which must have once been cared for at some point, the plants within seemed to the lad to be laid out in rowed but overgrown with weeds.

He began to kick away the tall weeds; foraging for vegetables that might have been growing in the ground. With some heavy kicks, time and patience, the novice had soon found some sort of brownish orange potato, a few purple carrots and a teeny hidden bush that contained what he had hoped at the time were edible berries.

‘At least I have food.’ He had said glancing around the clearing, wondering what happened to the people who once lived here.

Categories
Lifeforms of Caradesance

The lifeforms of Caradesance – Humans

Silence.

An empty page.

The absence of words.

The sound of someone being slapped. A trivial muffled argument began between two comrades. Which was followed by yet another slap. Both goblin and fourth dimensional butcher had been forced together by circumstance-

[Get out of the chair and stop writing!]

{No!}

[I’ve had enough of you.]

The goblin slapped the butcher once more. The hand collided with his face, leaving behind a dull ache. The goblin flexed his physique, as he prepared to lash out once more-

[Stop writing and step out of the chair.]

The goblin whacked the defenceless butcher. Vin tried to rip both submerged hands from the red crystalline goop.

{Which forms the words you’re reading, by a means of goblin magical technology, and some heavy amounts of thick black builders-tape.}

Mister Roge struggled-

[I am Vin Attorn, and I was once a hob-goblin of the slowest order. Now I am but a humble goblin watcher of time and space. As we travel together through the multi-dimensional universe, I once more return to the most backwards planet in the whole cosmos.]

Pause. The sound of rustling as something metallic is thrown away. The crunching sound of fried potato slices.

[Sorry. I hadn’t yet eaten my breakfast.]

Pausing once again.

Complaining in the background.

I lash out for the sake of quietness. Glad that I did so.

[Today, we are going to start our journey on the continent of Britstana. Where life is a little less primitive, and has been roughly moving forward at the pace of a giant space turtle. So I would like you to sit back and relax. As I take you on a tour of the so-called intelligent races of Caradesance, with me Vin Attorn.]

[In what I’m calling the lifeforms of Caradesance.]

We are beginning our journey at the seaside. A beach that is between two large cliffs of volcanic stone. Ocean worn pebbles and rocks, scatter the half a mile long local resort in large round or ragged black stone. Whilst a bank which leads up to the village has the most splendid summer flowers. Causing those walking down to the rocks to sneeze.

The mid-day sun is high in the sky. Which is bringing the almost hairless homo sapiens out of their crude round stone buildings. Like many intelligent beings across the multi-verse, these hairless apes tend to live in family groups. Finding a strange comfort in conforming to hierarchal obligations, that they tend not to share around.

[In the animal kingdom an important factor to life is would be predators. Forming large packs or herds discourages these hunters. Keeping not only kin alive but allows larger amounts genetic information to be past along, and allows for greater numbers of sustenance to be found.]

[Humanity has over the course of its evolution developed away from the herd mentality. Forming a stronger family bond than others of the animal kingdom. Although their bond only keeps its own members safe, whilst ignoring those outside the group, unless it’s to their obligations.]

[This animal desire to stay safe is what holds the Thatcher family together subconsciously. As they live along the north-eastern coastline in the small village of Nix. Their names for the record are Mic and Debra Thatcher. Both mother and father Thatcher have three children by the names of, Derk, Din, and Darren. Other than that, nothing else about them is in fact important. They’re but a grain of sand amongst billions.]

Their children, like every other red-haired child on the rocks, are throwing small stones into the water. Deb, screaming at them all to stop behaving like fools, is still standing on the costal walkway off the rocks just before the bank amongst a collection of mothers. Unpacking food from a straw basket, Mr. Thatcher, with a smile on his face, took a sip of local ale from his tankard whilst sat on the pier laughing with the other fathers.

[As we watch the beachgoers, I must note that while nothing can hurt our humans whilst they are on land. There are things which lurk in the water that shouldn’t be so easily forgotten about. And I am not just on about the undercurrents.]

Laying beyond the rocky beaches out in deeper water are four large manic prandial fish. Swimming around their children, the adults are following the vibrations in the water. Slow-moving underwater patterns which allow them to find their food, and are given off by anything in the water.

[Named after their sweet, tasty, highly sugared flesh, and their obsessive collective nature. These fish are more related to the lobster than a tuna. Although thanks to the magic of Caradesance you would think they were five-foot-long fish. Armoured, and armed with pincers where some fish might have a neck fin, an adult prandial is the deadliest hunter of the ocean.]

This collection of manic prandial is also a family unit. As they glide through the water they’re searching for schools of tuna. Having been brought close to the shore by new vibrations in the water. The adults are still unsure about the situation. Thus mother, and father prandial, are keeping their two young close to them. Swimming circles around them whilst they sniff the water currents.

A splash happens at the edge of the water moving outwards, the pattern that reaches them only takes a few seconds for them to register. Knowing that it’s different from the inconstant vibrations they’d been following, all the members of the family unit begin to slowly move towards the shore.

They smell their dinner option as an underwater scent reaches them. This new scent to the younger members is a pleasant surprise. An opportunity for the younger prandial to eat meat that they class as rare.

[And this is something neither of them can pass on.]

The two juvenile prandial do not wait for permission. Both shoot off through the water, as fast as their immature fins let them.

[To live and to eat to the prandial are the same thing. They have permission to live, so they have the right to hunt. And hunt they will do.]

[And that internal nature of the magical not-a-fish, is what has kept them alive throughout the ages. Each armoured fish is born knowing that they must eat, need to swim, and must give-in to the urge of mating, so that they can survive.]

With a speed that would beat the extinct moor-panther, the younger two-foot-long animals begin swimming towards their prey gaining speed. Within moments, they’re close.

[No one has spotted them.]

Derk, the youngest Thatcher child, was playing in the water. Being only six-years-old, the smallest child is ignoring what the adults have always told him about the ocean.

Because he now knows his brothers are no longer paying him any attention, after glancing at them. The child walks a little further into the swallows to splash around some more. Derk’s grin widens, as he begins to enjoy his day at the beach. The small child playing didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.

[The fuss though is about to become apparent to Derk.]

He hears screaming from his mother, who is now running towards him almost tripping on the rocks. Waving back, the child continues to splash in the water. His father jumps off the pier, and begins running through the knee-high water, ignoring all danger to himself. Still, the boy, splashing in the salt water, is ignoring all the warning signs.

Both adolescent prandial could feel the secondary lighter vibrations travelling through the water. But their focus is on lunch. Because they’ve committed themselves to this hunt, nature takes over.

[It is now, hunt, or stave. That is how the animal kingdom works from their limited perspective.]

The larger of the two glides out in front, jumping at the child the first chance it gets.

[If you were to observe this in slow motion, then you would see twenty thin legs unfolding out of the very skin of the creature. Alas, there is no way to show you this. And it does happen quite fast.]

The creature, ignoring the crying defence mechanism of its prey, draws closer on its elongated, spiderlike legs. Crawling along the rocky beach, and struggling to breathe, the eldest of the two prandial is now close enough to swipe with its larger pincer.

[It barely misses the young boy, but whilst the animal knows it has used the wrong tactic. The creature knows also that it must now retreat. That is if it wants to hunt again. Every cell in its aquatic lungs is now screaming that it must hurry back into the water.]

The smaller of the two predators waits until its brother is in full retreat.

[It uses its siblings’ failed attempt. Noting distance and speed. Which is all the animal needs.]

The fish launches itself from the water with all twenty legs unfolding. One second is all it takes, for the prandial youth to begin pulling the miniature human into the ocean. As it does so, the fish knows nothing of the rocks which are bouncing off its armour. All the prandial perceives is that the prey appears to give itself over without a fight. Dragging the child deeper into the water, the fish begins to drown its food before the family shares in the hunt.

[Whilst on the shores of the beach, life is now changing for the family. They are suffering the greatest loss possible in the circle of life, and they must adjust to this new reality.]

[Next time on the lifeforms of Caradesance. We will be going to the natural home of the trolls. High in the valleys of the mountains of Mist, where these most interesting intelligent beings are forced into manual labouring roles.]

Laying beyond the rocky beaches out in deeper water are four large manic prandial fish. Swimming around their children, the adults are following the vibrations in the water. Slow-moving underwater patterns which allow them to find their food, and are given off by anything in the water.

Categories
The Lost Mage

The Lost Mage: Getting Lost – Act One

Caradesance progressed on its course around Heilbronn whilst it played tug with its little sisters. A recreation that had been going on for a few millennia. None of this though was even remotely remarkable in the grand cosmic scheme.

{But planets do what planets do, who are we to argue with their way of life.}

Although if it wasn’t for the fact that all the world’s exo-relatives had lifeforms; our favourite planet would have been a beacon of hope. In what was otherwise only a minor magical universe, no bigger than a nebula.

Heilbronn continued to spit waves of adoring heat towards the planet. As Caradesance collected the waves with joy, it kept on turning.

A huge elemental plasma blast built up on Heilbronn’s surface. The magically charged sun constructed of plasma fired the energy outward.

The highly infused waves struck the planet’s upper atmosphere as the citizens of the Royal Kingdom opened their eyes. The planet’s magnetic biosphere blocked everything harmful out whilst the high intense burst of magic collected within the planet’s four natural elements. As they became entangled with the planetary airstream first, the winds caused the trees to sway. The elemental flow already had too much stored within its cycle to stay tranquil as such this started a natural magical cyclone.

‘Marx!’ Pip screamed whilst he struggled to stand upright in the meadow. The winds that had arrived out of nowhere had collected Marx with a violent force, sending his only friend high into the air. Each flurry that rolled down the black rock of the mountains blanketed trees with mist which blinded Pip and caused him to lose sight of his friend. The novice could only guess at where in the mountain valley Marx had fallen. Pip forgot about his own situation for a split-second and tried to cover his head from pebbles thrown at him.

Pip called out his friend’s name once more, but as he did so not a single syllable escaped. A storm mage’s voice, even a journeyman’s would normally have been carried on the wind. The novice tried to call out once again, which caused his skin to purple from the effort. Gusts of sharp winds then took the air out of his lungs, which caused him to choke.

With each second that passed, the young mage tried to push towards the treeline, barely able to see the dark silhouette comprised of leafs.

A frozen rain began to pour and drenched his red hair. The large droplets pelted his flax blue shirt and blue kilt. Whilst the wind pushed him further down to the ground his boots already filled with water became caked with mud. The gusts that became gales were sharp enough to cut the skin within a few seconds. As the lad tried to call out to Marx, he failed. Blood leaked from several minor cuts, the black sky flashed white three times, lighting up the mage’s green eyes.

‘No not now.’ Pip thought. What little magic was within now struggled harder than before to search the valley. As it slowly did so, each muscle in his body vibrated from using a location spell. Every drop from his internal well of magic then bled dry with the repeated use. Whilst Marx was still out there and likely injured, causing Pip to cry out in panic at that moment.

The massive downpour in less than a second saturated the ground. As the rain fell, both his feet sank in the mud and the novice struggled. The ground swallowed one leg. As it became almost fully submerged, the winds unleashed a pressure of force against his back. His entire upper torso then clashed with the gale which pushed him to and fro. With each gust that attacked the lad, the winds caused extensive pain to his hip joint. As young Pip felt fear, his leg twisted and began to cause him to wish that he could scream.

The sky flashed white once more whilst the rain swiped at the novice. With each gust, both cheeks lost colour under the abuse. The constant flashes of lightening caused him to unexpectedly become blind. The shadows of the trees replaced by thick black lines. Pip could smell the magic in the air, it had an strong aroma of grass and ozone, a sweet, almost metallic scent. As it washed down from the mountains of Mist entwined within the elemental forces of nature. These raw natural magical blasts washed over the soaked young novice. The pressure snapped around him and sucked his leg out of the ground.

With his boot freed, Pip’s brain began to cross at multiple purposes, all his determination was focused on finding a way out of the storm. His escape had become visible for a fraction of a nano-second. The sky suddenly flashed bright green only to be followed by a deep crimson shade which Pip hadn’t been able to appreciate as he was thrust into the air.

Suddenly there wasn’t anything to grasp. The smell of the wet grass was no longer dancing around him and all sound had vanished. Each thought that formed told him he was dead. Although the young mage had still been able to experience the raw crackling power of the elements.

Weightlessness. It was all Pip had been able to discern. Followed by a voice that had not entered though his ears but had still left his lips,

‘Is this the afterlife?’

No one answered the question or gave any response.

A deep blackness smacked his face which left him with a headache. Without warning, Pip began to feel sick, which caused a strange sensation within. Before a bizarre split-second drilling, pain began in his right ear and then left through the other. Pip felt confused about everything currently happening as his internal thoughts continued to scream. The smell of salt had snuck up out of nowhere. The novice moved about blindly as a strange substance stuck to his wet face. As the coarse grains gathered whilst he tried to rub his face, spreading them everywhere. The grains of brown seemed to gather the more he wiped his face. The mage stopped moving about. A wave of tiredness rapidly descended through his body, forcing him to collapse back into the sand. Whilst both his eyelids had fastened closed.

Categories
Prequel

Prequel to all

Silence. Or to be more accurately labelled; the absence of words.

{So, I’m guessing that you’re just seeing white?}

{Wow. Okay, so black scribbles on a white background-}

[They aren’t going to see more than that. They live within a different existential crisis to us.]

{I am once again certain that you mean dimension.}

[No, pretty sure I meant what I said.]

{So, if they’re only seeing scribbles-}

[They call them words, Mister Roge.]

{These letters that they’re seeing, they form as I speak yes?}

[As I have already told you. When you sit in that grand black marble chair, as you are, and touch the red crystal goo within the grooves of the arms, which you are doing, then what you say appears in their dimension on something they call digital paper.]

{Curious.}

Silence

[Aren’t you going to speak to them then? You did ask me to set all of this up for you.]

{I’m not sure what to say now.}

Silence…
Followed by an extremely short burst of static…

{What are you doing now?}

[I was just fiddling around with the equipment.]

{Well, don’t…}

{I suppose if I think about it. I should start with who I am and how I got here-}

[That is a story all on its own. Don’t start with something too long. You don’t want them running in the opposite direction. You’re probably scaring them away as it is.]

{Then how would you start it. Once upon a time in a far-off location-}

[That’s from that film they watch on Earth… Oh, damn. You knew that was going to play with my head and begin to annoy me. Damn, damn, damn. What is that bloody series called?]

{Star something. Look help me out here. How do I start this?}

[Well, how about telling them who you are and where we are?]

{Okay, I can do that. My name is Marx Roge senior, and I was a butcher before this. We appear to be inside a pocket of sub-magically-inverted-light which passes through everything and nothing. At this moment in time, we are about the size of a preon, which is smaller than a quark-}

[They might not know what that means.]

{I am going to hit you in a minute.}

[How? I have a body and you don’t. When we explore the facts of your new existence, you need to think about what I gave up for you. Then note that this preon is my new home and you sir, you are in fact only along for the ride. You would do better in this new reality, if you first acknowledge your current situation.]

{So, you’re going back to collecting souls then?}

Silence

{You haven’t answered me.}

[And I wasn’t going to. Their observing you, you know.]

{I thought you said it was called reading.}

[Hahaha. And here I am remembering, that you couldn’t even do that simply task before I found you.]

{Yes, I remember. Oh, how the wise and powerful hob-goblin had to teach the country butcher how to read and write. How big you must feel? Bloody narcissist.}

[Do you want to be delivered to Nivrean?]

{I want to breathe again.}

[Ha. Never going to happen and it isn’t even remotely possible. You’re now just energy, which exists within the fourth dimensional meadow that expands throughout the cosmos.]

Deep goblin breathing but no more words followed…

{What are the screens for again?}

[Mmmm. Tell me again why I didn’t deliver you?]

{The screens?}

[Number one is for viewing planets or to be more specific, viewing individuals on any number of habitable worlds across the cosmos. We can also view any time period possible, forwards or backwards. But you already figured that one out when you were watching the Kings of Old.]

{They weren’t as interesting, as I thought they would be.}

[The second screen is for observing Nivrean, so we can make sure they are not searching for us. The third is wired into the CCTV feed from within the home of the many gods, which is mainly just, so we can be noisy. Gods after all can sometimes be enjoyable enough to watch.]

{And the fourth?}

[I was getting to that, Goddess help me. The fourth is not hooked up, but I was going to use it to find signals and watch sports. We just need to get close enough to a nano-singularity, so we can receive what science folk call broadcasts.]

{I am not sure that I want you doing that. It sounds dangerous.}

[No more precarious than our own current situation.]

Silence

{Should I tell them about our situation?}

[What, that I ignored the rules of the cosmos. Left my home and job behind, only to have you follow me around. Just so we could wander around the expanse between the atoms, as fugitives of the cosmos.]

{No that we are rebels against death itself.}

[No, we are not. Why did I ever give you your memories back is still beyond me. I could be sipping rash’tan juice on a cosmic beach right now.]

{How are we not?!}

[Because you’re still deceased! You have no physical body, you’re barely a glimmer of your former identity, and all you do is watch Caradesance, as if it was a history program.]

{Well, the planet is interesting to me. What would you be like if you had stayed in the same place all your life? Then along comes your demise and you find out that this new experience you have been given, is a lot bigger than you could ever have imagined. Eh?}

[What you on about now. Your home-world or the cosmos?]

{Both. The way I see it, it goes like this; we don’t need to go into the afterlife. We have this bubble, with a space inside that is immeasurable to the mind-}

[And yet you can touch the walls if you want…]

Silence

{Audience, readers, those who like my scribblings, please ignore the hob-goblin. He is the very tip of a male’s sexual reproductive organ, and I was brought up not to use bad language like that!}

[Goddess help me. Where they’re from that isn’t even a form of bad language.]

{And yet, I still feel that it is.}

Silence

{So, the reader now knows where we are. Who we both are. How you can be annoying and that I am a spirit in a fourth dimensional shell. What else is there?}

[How about telling them and a doctor of the mind, why you feel the need to begin watching one group of people like a pervert and that you want to tell another group of people, about what the first group are getting up to.]

{It’s not as bad as you’re making it out to be.}

[I think it is.]

Wallop, smack, and kick.

{What you doing now?}

[Trying to watch the serpents play the hawks. But the bloody thing keeps asking me for credit card details.]

{Well, I am Marx Roge and I think that I will leave this introduction here. My assistant, as you can most likely tell, won’t concentrate on doing this today.}

[I am not your assistant. On top of that, I have already bloody well told you that I am not talking into that machine. Just so you can carry on feeling useful.]

Static… Followed by true silence, the type of silence you heard before the words began to appear…