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.]

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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.