The Ex-Communitcated Champion – The Journey Onwards

After a week of wondering, having lost count of the days after initially leaving Solaris, Ayron’s journey had initially progressed unabated. Yet, as the cycles of day and night continued to rotate like clockwork, he grew progressively tired. Slowly hindered by the encroaching sand storm and forced to withstand the baring heat and dry course wind; as it seemed to mindfully face him head on despite any change direction he faced. His strength was waning, unable to find adequate game to hunt among the rocky strolling hill side, let alone not having the proper tools to even do so he was only able to collect the odd edible root or grub; all of which he would save in a cloth bag made from a stretch of his own tattered clothes.

The Kinship of Paladins survival training afforded Ayron enough to get by, even though had no previous call to utilise them until now. With distant screeches in the distance he instinctively took to making spears from just about any sized branch and flint he could find. Evenings were spent hunkering down in front of a small crude fire, and when possible, tucked away inside an alcove. Nights were spent trying to satisfy his hunger on his daily finds but not quite enough to realise his strength; only just enough in order to prevent staving death. He soon started to lose hope. He doubted his prayers to the Trinity were ignored, let alone even heard.

Further days kept counting by and one in particular saw Ayron hunted by a small pack of roaming Cervairas; their screeches were what he had heard days before. As they grew closer to the sounds became more piercing to the ear. The vicious little beasts had elongated bodied and narrow heads, with twisted jagged horns. Their foul scaly skin was bleached like sand and they had sticky long tongues that ended in razor sharp barbs; all of which adapted them well to the climate and for ganging up on prey. Before he could be their next meal, still having enough sense to not desire that outcome, he managing to gain some distance further down the long road. Or so he thought.

Before Ayron knew it, they were upon him. They charged at him while emitting their distracting screeches and were successful a few times in nipping and lashing at his legs with their barbs until they started to become raw and bloody. His strength sought only to fend them off but managed to successfully kill a few in the process. It was enough to see the pack retreat beyond the hills with their dead, no doubt seeing them with a more savoury outlook.

The adrenaline of being near death was enough for now but he new it would only be temporary before he passed out. On edge and desperate to not hang around, he noticed the terrain had bled into woodland. Walking further down the road, now reliant on his toughest spear as a walking aid, he limped towards the trees. Smoke could be seen bellowing beyond the canope and where the greenery was carved out by the road, evidence as clear as any of more civilized souls inhabiting the area. He continued through with straining limbs and aching bones, and was more than ready to collapse, until he could clearly see built structures.

Reaching the outskirts of the hamlet Harenamsil Ayron collapsed at the gates. The town guards, who noticed him, but dared not open the gates unnecessarily, rushed down from the log ramparts to aid him. They brought him inside and away from the dangers that lurked beyond. His exhaustion had beaten him but for now he was safe.


Laura Steel ©2015

The Shadowhunter Part 2 (WIP)

This doesn’t particularly flow well from the first part, while they are all still being written out but I hope you enjoy it all the same.


The Shadowhunter Part 2

Before I continue my story, it should be noted that most of this information did in fact originate from the Knifed Skull, so it is quite possible that some of the details have either been lost or embellished from the many drunkards within, I may have also embellished it a little for artistic reasons…anyway, I digress…

After a short hike trudging through the snow, Laurena had reached the outside of a now derelict mine the one the locals fearfully called Dreadstone; this was the very place the Circle of Shadows had instructed her to investigate. It’s infamy arose from the local lore of the resident miners and their descendants, of whom claimed the mine had a strange resonating ambiance and any simple touch of the abnormally dark purple metamorphic rock would instil a profound sense of horror. The unnatural colouration was also said to be certainly bizarre in contrast to the normal surrounding area, as if something evil was bleeding out from deep within the mine. Standing outside, while seeking shelter underneath an outcropping, she noticed the signs of it’s apparent use were present and sunken impressions were observable where they had eating into and around the rocky maw. The lack of any need for outside guards was obvious, to even an untrained professional, as the remote location in the craggy hillside was more than enough to keep it out of the view from prying eyes. The seclusion alone would have been enough to help conceal any wrong doing on it’s own, even without the raging blizzard that was now bearing down and blanketing out the mine from a far distance; the ominously evil looking clouds had deeply overcast the area more than usual, as if they had a mind of their own. The additional thickness of the white obscure haze was obnoxiously littering flakes of thick heavy snow, constantly clinging on Laurena’s ferapex leather hood and outfit; a speciality of this rare hide by the way, is that it’s reacts to the surroundings by changing its colour. Her stinging eyes, her bitter felt nose and bluing sanguineous lips were harshly numbing and painful, as the only parts exposed to the coldness in the ferociously biting winds. She edged closer to the rotten mossy timber framed doors and rested on the huge rusting handle of the now derelict mine. In doing so she could hear a faint echoing hum starting to creep into her ears, just barely noticeable through the howling gales and swaying barren trees.

Laurena shook off the build up on her boots before cautiously scanning the eerily ominous entrance, she pushed down hard on the stiff metal braced door and it screeched open as if in agonising pain. The outside light rapidly bled into into the pitch black tunnel, while Laurena’s naturally all-black Umbrian eyes required no effort to see further into the darkness inside; this was also a common trait of Umbrians, as many of whom would go their entire lives having never laid said eyes on Hexterra’s only star Sol. She forced her way inside, ready to confront any impediment within, knowing full well it was imperative that the truth be known; and she was certainly not one to disappoint the Circle of Shadows for that matter either. Besides which, at this point it was now the only option now beyond freezing to death from the elements outside, even as she walked a few feet inside the mine the difference in temperature was apparent and most welcoming to her core. The humming from within had grown louder and even more distinct, the rhythm was now clear and it was obvious there were people chanting what could only be assumed to be a sinister ritual of some kind; nothing good ever comes from rituals, let alone ones held in seclusion. Laurena knew about most known rituals most of which came from her spending many hours researching the various cults using the Shadowhunter Guild’s library, when she wasn’t otherwise hunting or training. She knew it was more than likely a soul-swapping ritual, one used to drain the soul of a person and transfer it into another person or vessel but couldn’t yet tell for certain the true purpose for the poor victim. The evidence gathered already would have certainly been enough to report back the Circle, to confirm their suspicions were more than just rumours. For her safety, as an novice in her rank, she was told to leave and report back upon any confirmation of wrong doing. Yet, as she saw no reason to pass up the opportunity, she decided to explore a little further, especially with the storm raging outside preventing any safe return. Feeling no imminent threat, Laurena crept cautiously forward to find out more, running her finger tips along the rough and slimy wall in the darkest unlit passages, guiding herself precariously with each footing and cautiously poking her head around each corner before proceeding inwards further.

It wasn’t before too long that she happened upon a pair of cloaked individuals both standing together in a dimly lit cove. They were preoccupied with a minor conversation of no significance but in still anxiously governed secret as too look busy and to avoid not being caught doing nothing of import, both were completely oblivious to Laurena’s presence, so they made poor lookouts to be sure. She crept forward, step by step with one eye on the floor and another on her company, using the shadows for cover while inching up through the narrow passage upon the two cultists. When she was just a few feet away and still unnoticed, she watched them intensely for a brief moment. When she felt the time was right she unsheathed her sword, while picked up and throwing a loose stone behind and beyond the conversing pair. In their confusion of the startling sound they both turned around to check on the noise, as they done so Laurena got up and reached around the throat of the closest cultist and with her sword dragged it between both of his ears. Without hesitation she then pushed him aside and moved into position as she thrust her still warmly dripping sword clean through the second cultist’s neck. Both had slumped down as quietly as possible and without possibly alerting any distant ears with screams or shouting. Afterwards she causally dragged the bodies into a dark corner out of sight and out of mind; this was Shadowhunter training at it’s finest and it was executed flawlessly.

Laurena continued to traverse through the narrow winding tunnels and sparse widening caves, edging herself through the dangling dead roots through the rocks and dirt or stepping over the occasional critter that scurried in a panic out of her way. After a few minutes of walking through now dimly lit tunnels, and almost getting lost in the maze of pathways before realising her curious mistake, Laurena happened upon an natural crack in the wall. Through this opening she could see into a colossal cavern, which was properly lit with magical sconces and perma-fire torches posted all around. One beam of streaming light could be seen permeating through the ceiling and at the base of it grew a single solitary dreadwood tree, it was covered with a strange assortment of ancient inlaid runes and markings; of an old dialect that was way too obscure to any one currently alive to read. In the middle of the spacious cavity a single secretary stone cast altar lay proud, it was covered in cracks worn from age and overgrown with aged lichen and moss, additionally baring strange glowing symbols intrinsically carved, which were too far away to be analysed. Overshadowing the altar was a gigantic statue of what looks like the God Fabricus, it was protruding with it’s own apertures and thick wound wires feeding through it and with a strange turquoise coloured energy glow pulsing like blood in a person’s bulging veins. On top of the altar laid a single young man, bound firmly still, yet concious and unable to escape untimely planned fate. To the side of him a large metallic sphere rested precariously and more of the same cloaked cultists were surrounding them both, while chanting the ritual that was now very noticeable for soul-swapping. The young man was undoubtedly to be sacrificed to fuel the contraption. One of the cultists had his cloak woven with metallic inlaying designs and stood directly underneath the statue clearly apart from the rest, he began to speak…
“Brothers and Sisters!” he pronounced loudly. “We are here to offer this sacrifice to one of our most beloved and cherished member of the Pantheon of Deusan; the Arbiter of gods!” The cultist leader’s voice echoed throughout the cavern, while Laurena wasted no time continuing through the tunnels further, still able to over hear what was said.

  “A new age is dawning…and for too long our future has been held back by a repressive regime. No more shall the wickedness of the Shadowhunters or other heretics, continue to plague Umbran as they unjustly rule over everyone, clouding the population’s eyes with colourful propaganda. For too long has their greed and oppression has kept the Umbran people from progressing to an age of peace and prosperity. Continuously have they ignored the pleas of innocent citizens plight, those who bare suffering wrongfully, meanwhile using their guise of their protection under a broken wing. All to ensure their twisted religion and it’s polluted ideals, corrupt everything they touch. They wilfully imped the development of a stable government, one of full morality and decency. To this will say, NO MORE!” The leader continued unabashed.

Meanwhile, Laurena had worked her way into the cavern, hiding behind a large outcropping but keeping an eye on the spectacle.
  “Oh!, he of creativity and grand design; God of Invention. Fabricus. We offer you this soul to fuel our ambition and to imbue this tool of most magnificent destruction, so that we may finally rid the world of those soulless mercenaries the Shadowhunters!”

As the cultist finally finished, the statue of Fabricus lit up, brighter and radiant than before and with a soft turquoise glow surrounding the bound person on the altar. Just as the cultist almost built his strength, with the aim to plunge the dagger downward, Laurena had risen from her hidden cover and threw a knife, taken from her hip belt, towards the lead cultist. The knife cut deeply into his arm and he was forced to react, recoiling in pain and by dropping his dagger, simultaneously with both of her jagged swords now ready in each hand, Laurena ran forward and sprung off of a raised rock into the air. She landed harshly on top of two of the closest cultists with both swords squarely wedged through their chests. By now the rest had already stopped their chant and after having noticed her timely unsubtle intervention, all drew their own arms in reaction against her. The remaining cultists seized upon her and one by one they attempted to attack the young Shadowhunter. With their mindless ferocity they all one after another succeeded in failing, as she shredded through them as if they were like nothing but garden weeds. Before the last one fell, a series of loud bangs echoed through the cavern and Laurena without thinking reacted to seek cover behind the altar.
  “You wretched beast!” interrupted the lead cultist. Pointing a strange handheld device towards Laurena, who was now panicking, unsure as to the strange power the cultist held.
  “The Shadowhunters attempt once again to curb their own demise, ignorant to the thought to the continued suffering that would ensue.” His voiced echoed of genuine belief and that his actions were more than justified. “Have you any idea who you are working for you wicked little girl? One who would so readily cut down so many people who’s only goal it was, to bring peace to Umbran!”
“You’re the one attempting to kill a kid, to fuel that soul-bomb of yours!” Rebuked Laurena, who knew exactly what the metallic sphere was from her studies.
“This lost-soul forfeited his right to a life, when he took the life of another!” He countered. “Just as you have lost the right to yours, many times over, for which your suffering will be immense in this life and the next!” Upon finishing his sentence he took shots at Laurena, who was now pinned down as sparks and chips of stone flew off around her head and would feel her heart throbbing rapidly like it was trying to escape her chest. Using the opportunity the lead cultist had made his way around to expose Laurena’s vulnerable position, as she glanced up at the strange engrave device held in his hands, as she feared the end.
“You think you have won? Your order of sinners will pay the price regardless th…” As the cult spoke the young man on the altar had released himself from his bonds and had flung himself selflessly onto the cultist, both cascaded down, one on top of the other. A few more shots were heard, which pieced through the young man’s body. Before the cultist could shift him off, Laurena had seized the opportunity by running over and slicing cleanly through the cultists arm and finally head. Taking a moment Laurena turned over the draining body to check on the young man, his face was pale even for an Umbran. Horrified and sick with grief, Laurena instantly recognised who the young man as the one she had saved just two days prior.
“I’m so sorry!” She urged, examining the fatal wounds to the young man’s chest, furious with herself.
“Don’t…be” He strained, coughing up blood. “You saved my life…twice, it was…the least I could…” Before he could finish his sentence he passed away and slowly slumped back, finally being rendered motionless and cold. Laurena screamed in anger, punching the floor with her fist ignoring the physical pain. She laid the young man’s body in a more dignified position and walked over to the lead cultist, staring at him profusely with disgust, as if in attempt to curse his very soul before it finally departed. Having recognised the power she bore witness to moments earlier, she took possession of the dark metallic device scattered on the floor and a second which had been holstered and unused. Testing out the devices in anger, she shot repeatedly at the towering statue and after significant damage to its face and apertures they stopped glowing rending the whole whole thing useless. Later, waiting by the exit for the blizzard to stop, Laurena stood restless and reflective; deeply saddened by the outcome of her actions and constantly trying to replay what went wrong and how it could have ended better. She started to ponder how Methias and more importantly the Circle of Shadows would evaluate her actions; their motives, as with everything else, were difficult to understand. After a few hours she made her way back to Umbran, somewhat altered from her experience.


The Shadowhunter Part 1 (WIP)


Laura Steel © 2015

The Shadowhunter Part 1 (WIP)

This is unfinished, written over the first 4 months of the year. When/if it is ever finished, I don’t know, but I felt that I might as well upload it now. Hopefully It will give me the chance to clear my head to finish it later.


The Shadow Hunter Part 1

One late night in dreaded lands of Mortister. Among the dark forgotten alleys that crookedly aligned from the main parenting streets, in the abyssal dark capital City of Umbran. A repetition of faint panicked screams and rapid klatter feet on cobble echoed throughout to the overclouded sky. Two very distinct sets reverberate between the houses and closed down market stalls, amidst the scuffling of drunkards, vagabonds and critters that plagued every day night-life. A fresh faced young man who was barely in his twenties was in the unfortunate dire process of running for his life. Where prevailing common sense would have prevented this, unknown events leading this poor soul to foolishly brave the streets will always be a mystery. This was nothing new in Umbran of course, many people died daily and for the most part it has merely became something to the liking of white noise, to it’s unrulier citizens or those too scared to act upon them. A figure of female form; much filthier and menacing, dark and wicked with her stride, who wore tattered clothes and boasting a stained grubby black hooded cloak, was in a relentless pursuit. She was enjoying the chase, cackling between breaths, ever slowly catching up and making ground on her young fair prey. Her whitened knuckles were clutching a twisted rust costed dagger with scratches and chips emphasising its age and use.

  The young man had inadvertently hasted too much in his tiring panic and he had found himself with his path impeded by nothing but horizontally stacked bricks and mortar. He frantically searched around desperately trying to locate any method over the ill-placed barrier; a foot hold, a railing or anything that could inch him over. In his vain attempt however, his foot slipped scaling the wall losing an already uneasily gained position. He fell back and landed on his foot awkwardly, painfully twisting his ankle, he was no longer able to stand much less run. He remained stuck on the wet grimy floor, helplessly heaped and in pure agony. He tried shuffling back into a corner, with a burning desire to prolong his life for as long as possible, his poor attempt would only deny the inevitable. Yet as he struggled, and his back pressed against the wall, his legs became paralysed stiff like dreadwood. Nothing he could do could stop the maliciously advancing woman looming towards him and the small amount of doubt he had; that he could escape, was gone.

  The alley’s entrance had now all too eagerly been seized by the hooded female pursuer. She was creeping forward, inch by inch, slowly closing the gap between the two of them, savouring each and every foot step. His fear intensified as the disguised shadowed face grew larger and darker, masked by wrapped black cloth around her nose and mouth. She pulled back her cowl and yanked down her mask with her free hand to reveal a widening dark smile expressing her malicious intent proudly. Her grubby half-shaven head with slicked back hair fell into a twisted greasy pony tail. Her face was scarred multiple times; with clean cuts of a clearly ritualistic and symmetrical style and others which were random, bumpy and red; which could have only been from altercations. Her sunken dark eyes seemingly scanned to locate the best place to pierce the clutched crooked dagger into the man’s most vulnerable of the fleshiest part first.

  “Now…your…mine!” Her sickly sweet voice teased through her grinning cracked lips.
“Wh…what do you wa..want!? I’ll give yo..you money!” he pleaded desperately.
“Oh I what I want from you…is his hidden under that juice flesh of yours!” her vague psychotic response only added to the young man’s terror, who was struck silent, realising no bargaining could be brought or pleas to be made.

  Just as she rose her hand above her head, his in pathetic defense, gathering the force necessary to strike a fatal blow, her face instantly and inexplicably dropped. Only a pained grunt emanated from her throat, like a table had been scratched across polished flooring. Her mouth had lost it’s wicked twisted smile and her eyes darkened further still yet rolled backwards and seized into nothing but bloodied dull-white orbs. Thick crimson fluid had ejected all over the young man, staring up confused, as he wiped it from his face. It profusely pour out of every orifice from the villain’s now twitching head and body. Seconds later, the twitching stopped and a bright red line had magically been drawn diagonally across her head. Soon signs of this enigmatic prevention had been made clear, as both halves of the woman’s head had slid away from one another and fell distant. The now eviscerated corpse slumped away into a bloodied pile, to reveal to the young man and initial yet unplaced fear, yet another dark hooded figure.

  To his amazement and relief, gazing at what stood before him, his anxiety dissipated slowly. Nothing gave off the impression that one malicious force had simply been replaced by another and this was certainly an alternative replacement. This one was much slender than the last, curvier and smaller, who was certainly more subtle in her poise. She was well armed and bound in skin-tight leather with her hood covering over much of her face. Pure white satin hair fell down the sides, leaving barely any facial features visible apart from her blackened wine-red lips and the tip of her slender pointy nose. She was someone who had previously heard the cries of the frightened defenceless creature, still languishing on the floor, seeking to assist their desperate pleas for help.

The hooded heroine pulled away her curvy jagged sword from the now decapitated mess on the floor and flourished it magnificently into her back holster, before kneeling halfway down to extend out her hand in aid.
  “Are you alright?” asked the hooded woman, spoken in her soft yet husky voice.
  “Y…yes…” the young men trembled, while slowly calming down.
  “Good. Do you live far?” She asked concerned.
  “N…no, ju…just a few mi…minutes away…”
  “Com’on, I’ll see you home.” The woman’s words placated the man’s fear enough that he willfully grasped his saviour’s hand and found himself gracefully aided to his feet.

  The time both spent walking and limping the distance to the young man’s home was met both conversing with silence. He was still quiet uneasy while she was calm and composed. As the young man finally stood at the entrance to his home he begin an attempt convey his gratitude, however as he turned around, all he found was an empty moon night lit street. His eyes scanned around and between the darkness of shadows yet met with no result. There was no evidence to even suggest that the hooded women who had saved him earlier was ever there in the first place. Yet still he yelled a most sincere “Thank you!” out to his rescuer, completely apathetic to the ears of his neighbours and the creatures that lurk unseen. Hoping that his gratitude would echo beyond the darkness and fall upon his saviour’s ears. Now safely home, he knew full well that night; could have been his last.

Later that evening, the young hooded woman had preceded onwards towards the large guild hall in the centre of Umbran. It was the headquarters of the most famous Shadowhunters. The sacred home to the agents of Umbria the Goddesses of Death (after which the city was named) and her unseen twin Noxia the Goddess of Darkness. It stood majestically towering over the surrounding houses and markets stalls to anyway, that stretched out for miles around. It had always existed as something of a symbol for for the downtrodden citizens. The iconic structure meant more than just its cathedral-like Gothic structure. One of justice, honour and more all-importantly vengeance. Where values of strong moral judgement were prized, higher than any amount of gold or shiniest jewel, in what was a rather an unruly nation and more so because there no real official “government” that proceeded over any of the entire Darklands.

Opening the great double wooden doors into the Shadowhunter guild, the young women was greeted by apathy from everyone. The great halls were flooded by fellow hunters, mentors and their apprentices either chanting silent rituals. The almost inaudible hum rang out through the halls of hunters chanting and praying, while others were training in the various forms of combat which permitted hunters to operate to an almost silent level of noise. This was the usual level of activity that was typical from an evening’s business. While the young woman was no longer considered an apprentice she was always greeted with much contempt, even though her parents were rather famous hunters; when they were still alive that is. She would never benefit from their celebrity-like status. Not longer after arriving she was greeted warmly by a familiar face, much more than the others would ever have graced her with. It was by her former master and her adoptive father Methias, who was something of a living legend in his own right.
  “Ah Laurena, just in time.” spoke the greyed bearded old man with enthusiastically open arms.
  “Methias?” Laurena confused by his unusual cheeriness.
  “The Circle have finally made a request that you grant them an audience. How bout that eh? I can’t believe how far you’ve come, many never get to see them. Although saying that, I did train you so it’s no surprise.” He was always the boastful type but everyone knew him as the only man to have ever killed a Ferapex with his own hands, so to them it was justly so.
  “Oh…” replied Laurena reluctantly.
  “OH?” Methias astonished at the young woman’s apathy. “The Circle of all places wished to see you and all you can say is Oh?…Bloody hell girl you really need to lighten up. This is a tremendous honour you should be proud!” Methias rapped his arms around his daughter’s shoulders, hugging her as only a father would, while urging her forward towards the Circle’s chambers.
  “…Fine, lets go.” Laurena reluctantly followed her father down the great hall, which lead to many of the anti-chambers to the guild.

While walking through the great hall, Laurena noticed a rather tall, medium built muscular man, his skin was so pale, even for an Umbran, as it was almost translucent. He was scarred much in rather the same ritualistic way as the other woman Laurena had dispatched earlier. He was armed with more than he fair share of weaponry; much more than was needed for any Shadowhunter. As the two crossed paths they looked at each other, his eyes narrowed as did hers in reaction, Laurena felt as if he wanted to curse her strongly, yet was not permitted to do so loudly. Laurena stood there watching him walk off towards to exit…
  “Laurena!” shouted Methias. “Lets not keep the Circle waiting!”
She finally caught back up to her former master, following his shadow towards the Chamber of the Circle.


The Shadowhunter Part 2 (WIP) 


 

Laura Steel © 2015

The Shadowhunter – Winterbound Training

The thick blanket of snow from that evenings fall had yet to settle on the land of Terumbra, the woodland trees and snowfall left the visibility too low to make any sense of direction. Cold, hungry and tired, the young Laurena was out traversing the woodland, under the wing of her Shadowhunter mentor Methias. She didn’t really know why they were out there, she didn’t really trust him, but the young recruit was to be trained on how to be quiet; a vital skill for their trade.

Today the rather novice Laurena could only hear her own footsteps, crunching under the think white blanket, they were so numb she could barely feel her toes. Frustration would have to wait while she learned to copy Methias in his stealth approach, through the twisted black bark and bare intertwining extremities; reaching out like wooden claws, wondering how his footsteps were so silent as his breathing.

“How long will we be out here?” asked Laurena impatiently, rubbing her crossed arms in a vague attempt to keep warm. Methias slowly cocked his head to the side.

“As long it takes…and lower your voice.” his stern reply just barely audible through his cloak’s hood. “..and ease the weight on your feet slowly…control your breathing…in and out the nose.”

Laurena tried her best to mimic her mentor’s movements, but it was in vain…then Methias shot his hand skywards.

“…Hold it!” he whispered. Both ducked down lower until they were almost buried under the snow.

“…what is it?” Laurena replied mimicking his level of voice, startled by his abruptness.

“…we’re not alone…don’t move!” He tried to explain as fast and quietly as he could. The falling snow added to their camouflage.

Through the trees was a vaguely visible shape. A large creature, much larger than anticipated, emerged, carving a path through the snow with its large paws. It’s furry hide swiftly shifted in colour to unmatch it’s surroundings. It rose it’s shallow feline head into the air and took several deep breaths in. It smelt something!

Laurena’s heart was pounding, even it didn’t smell the two of them, she was sure it would hear her heart’s thumping echo inside her chest. She covered her mouth with both of her frozen gloved hands, swiftly blocking the steamy breathing being expelled rapidly in and out. Her eyes narrowed and fixated on the beast, watching so intently, beyond the falling snowflakes than canvassed her eyes. Her feet remained firmly still, if the the fear didn’t cause it, common sense would prevent her fleeing. She was too afraid to do anything else.

After a few terrifying moments the beast gave up, gave a strong snort as if out of frustration. It’s hide shifted back into the white landscape, into obscurity, wandering off through the woodland bored from it’s failed hunt. Methias knew they were downwind from the beast and the wind and snow were too heavy for it too pick up their scent, something he didn’t tell his apprentice.

“Heh heh…that was fun wasn’t it!” lightly chuckled Methias, as he looked back upon his young petrified apprentice.

Laurena gazed upon him with a mixture of disbelief and anger. It was the first time in the five years since she started her training she had heard him laugh. She certainly didn’t expect him to lead them both into danger.

“Not many get to see a Ferapex and live”. He cocked a sidewards smile. “Comeon…we should head back.” Methias started walking towards Umbran, seemingly without the aid of stars or compass, but Laurena understood he knew the way. She knew she could trust him, albeit uneasily, and today proved why.


Prompt: http://jeremysdailychallenge.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/3linethursday-week-ten/


Laura Steel © 2014

The Wicked Wisp

On the most devilish of nights, in the darkest reaches of Impium wood, an unholy grove exists. Rumours are foul of it’s inhabitant. Fouler still? The smell; rotten, musky, with just a little bit of mould.

Haunted by non other than the Wicked Wisp of Impius; unspoken by the locals. Tales tell of a spirit most horrid, named of a place so dreadful such as this. Radiator of that oh so sickly orange aura. It’s wickedness, told by drunken truth and basked in sobered doubt. 

It’s cheeky grin and evil emanating eyes are the first and last to be seen by those curious looking fools. Distance of miles nor dodging of trees will not save those foolish enough to enter it’s realm; the twisted woods both dead and undying. The eater of lost souls, the devourer of bone, knows where you roam.

You may have heard of it’s charm, that sweet childlike laughter, but do not be fooled it’s not there for games.

No sword can fend it off. No shield or armour can save your hide. No magic can disperse it’s malevolence.

Reader please beware!
This is your only warning!
Do not proceed on!


Prompt: http://jeremysdailychallenge.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/sunday-photo-fiction-october-26th-2014/


Laura Steel © 2014

 

The Ex-Communicated Champion (Part 2) – The Hagiren’s Call

Having walked for days, the far reaching plains had turned into rockier hills. The grass was thinner and the ground was steeper. Aryron hesitated. His ears picked up on something strange, it was the sweetest of sounds. It was hard to determine what it was, it sounded like the gentlest of voices from a most angelic seraphim. He looked towards the darkened cave to his right. Focusing on the entrance, the ringing melody in the air grew louder, this is where it was coming from.

He entered the cave with very little concern. The sound echoed through the jagged mossy walls. Navigating through the twists and turns, stepping over outcrops of rock that would have tripped him or almost slipping on the dusty gravel that poked through his thin leather shoes. 

The cave opened out into a sunlit cavern, it was a hidden oasis of beauty. The roof was open and a ray of brilliant Sol light cascaded down into a column. It bathed a magnificent tree; full of the most vivid pink blossom, which rained its petals in a haze, from it’s base and grew towards the opening of the ceiling above. Through out chamber there was thick grass and flowers of the most vibrant of colours and shapes.

Under the tree sat the most beautiful of creatures. Her flowing gown flowed with the air. Ayron walked closer, his heart was now tethered and was being pulled ever closer. He knelt before her, trying to see beyond the weave of golden shiny hair.

As he reached out too uncover her face, she stopped. The seemingly fragile face turned; radiant blue eyes turned raging blood red, perfect porcelain smile into a toxic razor maw, soft smooth skin into grey wrinkled leather.

She screamed with an ugly high pitch and with her dirtied claws reached for his face – She pounced! 

Without thinking, Aryon took hold of the nearest branch by his feet and lodged into the beasts neck. 

The sweet echo was reduced to a gargled moan as it slumped across the tree’s roots. Shaking his head he had realised what he had done, the deathly error that almost was. Around him the deception faded. The green grass wilted, the flowers had dried to dust and the tree was but a mouldy husk of a stump. The branch was a femur of a past victim now dripping purple and reeking worse than death. Hagirens were not known to inhabit these parts, atleast to Ayron’s knowledge, but here one lay motionless. 

Ayron came full to his senses looking around to see the previous victims of the Hagiren’s call. Stepping over their remains both new and grayed, all gnawed clean, crunching under foot. He walked back out in a daze. Outside the cave that was nearly his tomb, he collapsed against the rocks, he sighed and cleansed his sweaty face with his bare palm. Having learnt his lesson, he looked skywards and thanked the divines for their aid, gratefully continuing to walk on.


Prompt: http://jeremysdailychallenge.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/tuesday-conundrum-14-october/


Laura Steel © 2014

The Shadowhunter – A sleepless stormy night

With no curtain to draw and sat alone, Laurena stared blankly out of her bedroom’s only four pained portal. Buffeted by wind and rain, the rapid pitting and rattle flooded the room. The clear barrier was the only defence against the elements.

It was only to be made worse with the flash preceding rumbles. In the distance an approaching monster roared. Her eyes took notice of the periodical bursts of light and sound, They grew louder and loader as the minutes pasted. Laurena’s ears peaked at the impending monster; it’s rapid flashes and booming roars…the beast was getting closer and closer and closer.

Staring drearily at the streets below through her heavy eyes, there was always life in the late hours in Umbran. The light from the setting Sol would not wane the citizens from their duties nor the ability to carry out tasks. The shambling Bone-servants were also carrying various sized crates and barrels, autonomously done, so fearlessly due to lack of emotions. Just pale drones following magik orders. Their ossein feet slushed through the muddied cobble. The patting sound of cartilage was easily drowned out by the rain and the accustomed ears of the cities residence.

The creeping demon was coming and his rolling body blanketed the sky with it’s dark purple hues, lit up with the jagged streaks of forking bolts, swiping it’s claws across the blackened overcast sky.

Lightning storms were not uncommon for these lands but in the mid-year month of Ignary the storms raged more aggressively. The hottest month of the year and the region around Umbran where the perfect combination for the destructive randomness to strike furiously across the horizon.

Closer the strikes became. The booming sound rattled the glass that Laurena’s head caressed to cool from the stuffy midnight air. Quietly contemplating in a dreamy state about past regrets and desires that would always go unfulfilled.

Suddenly just a few streets away a bolt struck the top of a house and it exploded with an massive burst of fiery debris. Feint agitated screams of the unexpected rang around the neighbourhood along with the feint hint of children’s shaky crying.

Laurena’s heart pumped an unwanted amount of adrenaline through her veins and her eyes sprung open to bear witness to the destruction of wood and slate tiles. The beast had claimed a victim, it’s claw had gouged out a chunk of roof top. The harsh rain fortunately quelled any fire but not enough to suppress the smouldering supports, randomly spewing sparse embers, that once existed where a gaping wound was now present.

After the excitement subsided Laurena quickly grew tired of the boredom she was forced too returned to. She slumped her head back down on her pillow to stare at her own ceiling’s wooden beams. The storm had still not passed but was fading. Satisfied in it’s hunt.

It would take hours of frustrated turning and apathy, before she…finally…drifted…into…a…


 

Prompt: http://jeremysdailychallenge.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/weekend-medley-45-october/


Laura Steel © 2014

The Ex-Communicated Champion – The Hard Life

Watching the cool flowing water meander around the mossy rocks and hovering fish scales glisten from the noon day glare, a secret break away at his favorite spot on the bridge. Sol was unhindered most of the day, however dark rolling clouds appeared creeping from beyond the horizon, blanketing the far lands with thunderous rain. The sweet song of birds euphorically burst through the air, a brief distraction from the strain of turning straw, they almost sounded like they were warning each other of the impending weather change. Standing there, alone, doing nothing wasn’t appropriate behaviour for a young farmer. “A farma’ ain’t allowed no breaks, doin’ nofing means no food for uv’ers!” So says Joah’s father…

It was too hot to work even as the clouds slowly strolled across the sky, the last hours of the lit day burning away fast. Even though he should be working constantly and his father would have had him scorned for not doing so, he was in no mood.
“Works not over til I say!” is what he would have said, or “Ya idiot, not like this…can’t you do anything right boy!” Anything he had done was never enough and what work he had done was always criticize or belittled. Days were hard, long and tiresome. Just as he father’s father before him and so on for atleast a few remembered generations. “Men of’tha house ‘av muck for blood…ya know.” Was he favourite saying to anyone with ears.

“Ya mother will ‘av your ‘ide if ya slack off!” He would say to Joah if he saw him as he was, gawking into the wavy waters mentally distanced from everything. His mother wouldn’t have said anything of the sort, but she couldn’t really complain…not if the occasionally blackened eyes were anything to go by.
She used to sing songs to Joah as he slept as a baby and further more until his teens, they abruptly stopped after then.
“He’s too old…ya hag, he needs ta man up now… You’ll soften ‘is ‘ead.” Heard late at some untold hour of one cold night. After which they did.

Nothing but hardship followed in the years to come. Tiling, sowing, scything when crops were bound. Chopping and hunting when coldness hardened the dead fields. This was the time table over and over for years, with the ever so rare trip to the nearest market. Time spent was over efficiently, with no moments for merriment. Watching the other boys and girls in town playing their games was as close to fun as Joah would be allowed, being cuffed on the head when any spark of enthusiasm for fun presented on his face.

What happened next was unpredictable and unconceivable to Joah and his father. The old man found himself pounced upon and left writhing on the ground, after his throat was gouged out by the razor teeth of a Diralupa. Joah ran over to find the large bulky, black matted hairy wolf-like beast, who had pinned his father flat into the tilled soil, too preoccupied to noticed anything else. It had unknowingly sprang out of now to Joah’s father’s surprise where during the dusky hours of the day. Waning light limited the detecting of the creatures presence and the out lying wooden fences provided no protection other than to mark the field’s limits.

It had rather boldly found it’s meal miles from it’s den in the hills. Rumours of it prowling the hillside had circulated the local towns but Joah’s father paid no heed as stubborn as he always was. Joah strangely felt a sense of remorse, panic and anger when he realised the predicament his father was in. Emotions he was not expecting to feel for the man who he had to suffer, for so many gruelling years.

Confronting it with the four spiked fork Joah grabbed while sprinting in aid of his father, screaming muffled with gargling as he tried in a vain attempt to prise off the beast looming over him. Joah lunged the fork into the side of the monstrous form who was still wearing the viscous crimson around it’s maw. The four honed spikes pierced the creature’s hide inch by inch into and through it’s inner organs. It staggered away on each of its four paws letting out a wincing cry as it meandered off into a slump.

Joah looked upon his father, still in the throws of death, who in turn looked up at his son with pleading painful eyes, wishing that his suffering would end. Joah stayed his hand briefly, almost enjoying the pain his father was suffering. Pity took over. And without thinking he lifted the fork vertically above his head and landed the mercy blow. He threw away the fork and walked slowly over to his favourite spot on the bridge, panting a heavy remorseful breath that mismatched the thumping in his chest. Staring at the darkened waters, the fish that once beautified the river were dimmed from sight. He looked upon his home were the light broke through the windows, unable to find the words his mother would have to hear when he returned.


 Prompt: http://jeremysdailychallenge.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/challenge-wednesday-17-september/


Edited: 26/09/2014

Laura Steel © 2014

Travelling Companions (Part 1) – By the campfire

After a brief meeting in a small town, Ayron Glorand and Laurena Reaver found themselves as travelling companions, both in need to mutually traverse the Tenelunca Cave, as it’s not a solo-able journey by any means. After a few days, the two have made camp along the widening road some miles south of the cave’s entrance. Rolling hills flanked each side, blocking the horizon. Both were sitting in a quiet contemplation, while the camp fire flickered and spat embers, which died instantly on any surface.

Ayron occasionally took a bite from his roasted Pavorsus leg, thanks to Laurena’s hunting prowess. It tasted awful, but he didn’t complain. Laurena just nursed her meal, still skewered through with stick, distracted about past events. Ayron found himself caught staring by Laurena, who is more spatially aware than he had given her credit for.

“Why are you staring Solaran?” said Laurena, as she replaced her food with sharpening her jagged Dreadblades with a whetstone. Her head unturned her towards Ayron.

“My apologies my lady. I could not help but wonder,” he explained. Unafraid to look away after being caught.

“Wonder what? What makes me unnerved, because -”

“- No that was never my intent,” Ayron interupted. “Besides your are not nervous. If you wished me harm I would have been so already!” he said in his ever passive voice.

“So what is it you want to know?” she asked.

“Why, just how a woman of your inner beauty and grace, has eyes so clouded with hate, and a heart so leaden with grief,” Ayron inquired.

Laurena said nothing. She glanced under her hood towards Ayron’s face, illuminated through the fire.

“I was hoping to alleviate you from your pain, should you would allow it,” Ayron offered .

“And what do you know…of my pain?” Laurena asked, sheathing her weapon.

“I know you dwell on only one thing, of loved ones who have been taken from you.” Ayron asked, as if her could see straight into her heart.

“I have long since gotten over that,” Laurena said dismissively .

“Have you?” Ayron insisted. “I suspect you have thought of little else, other than to see them avenged.”

“I am an Umbrian, it is our way.” Laurena deflected.

“Is it? I was under the impression that there was more to your people than seeking revenge. That you also know of honour and respect and comradery.” Ayron saw through the typical stereotype of her people, despite his inexperience of communicating with them.

“…and what do your people know of honour or respect, when your people are forced to live a life devoid of freedom,” rebuked Laurena.

“If you are referring to my peoples involuntary indoctrination…you my be right,” Ayron conceded. “But it does not deter them from peace, friendship or love,” Ayron admitted, with a mixed sense of guilt and hope.

“So why help me, I fail to see what you would gain?” asked Laurena.

“I was hoping to gain a friend, but more importantly, to not see someone capable of so much more than becoming a construct of hate,” Ayron explained, with genuine intent.

“I have been consumed by hate for far too long to be saved,” Laurena replied, as she rubbed the Noxia pendent with her finger and thumb, half caught back into her old thoughts.

“I do not believe so my Lady. You have the inner light of Lumia burning within you…I see it. Beyond your pale skin, white hair and blackened tunic, you glow with an iridescence aura of compassion,” Ayron boasted.

“No. You merely see the empty shell of a person, a person who could have been. No more, no less.”

“Then why do you strike at those who wrong others? Parry the blades of brigands and thieves, that would harm others, just as if they had harmed you. Right the wrongs that would leave many without justice – With a passion to help others, without need for praise or personal gain,” Ayron said, trying to justifying his inquisition.  “It is that I wish to save.”

“Even if you could, and even if I wanted you too. It wound’t matter until-”

“-Until what?” Ayron interrupts abruptly.

“Until I rid the world of one particular monster,” Laurena replied, sullenly, as she wrapped tightly around her pendant and her teeth clenched to almost crush them at the thought.

“Would that really help,” Ayron pleaded. “There are always other monsters out there. Some of which are far larger and far gruesome.”

“Maybe so,” Laurena hesitated. “But none that gone this long with out punishment, none that have deserved my blades piercing their heart more than that of my quarry.”

“And what would you do when said monster is slain? Rejoice perchance?Live the rest of your life in peace? Or will you find yourself with nothing but emptiness?” Ayron asked, persistingly, as he finished the last his Pavorsus and dumped the remains on the fire, while embers spat forth from the slowly dying fire.

“I will be, set free,” Laurena said.  She then laid down with her back turned to Ayron and the fire.

Looking one last time at Laurena with a genuine concern, Ayron turned on his back; to stare at the stars blanketing the clear night sky, and slowly drifted off to sleep.


Laura Steel © 2014

The Geneforged Sorceress (Part 2) – Lost in Silvasung Forest

It was days after Anya first entered the Silvasung forest, losing the danger of being hunted by the guards and the hissing, the ominous hissing which sound fell upon her stubby ears gave her a boost of adrenaline, enough to sprint faster and further into the forest’s depth. She was lost, surrounded by vegetation and had no clue or indication as to her location. The summit of Caldera could act as a point of reference but only during the day and only if the weather was clear enough that the cloud ceiling wasn’t obscuring the steam spewing beacon. Using the main road would have been too risky when she had first escaped, even if she did know it’s location she dared not return to it.

Her feet were in agony and went into spasm frequently while she tore fresh pieces off her cloak. Taking the self made bandages off her feet stung relentlessly. Is was the best attempt she could do to protect the open sores that were created through the exertion of running practically barefoot. The ash that was buried under the leaf litter still managed to find it’s way into the wounds and caused a minor sting that to her concern became duller by the day. Stepping on the smallest of stones however sharp was still noticeable and when dug into her fleshy soles provoked the pain to continue.

However bad the hurting she felt, it was mild compared to the bitter coldness of the nights. The first night away from the ambient warmth of Caldera was a drastic change for her body. Being a cold blooded creature the slightest change affected her, lethargy and depression kicked in, an almost minor sense of regret crept into her mind. ‘Was this really better than her life before escaping?’ While she was adept in survival the change in environment would prove to be a tremendous challenge, a far cry from the hazed alleyways and sewers of the city. Trying to start a fire was next to impossible because of the wood’s high resistance to burn and trying to ignite anything flammable would instead consume more energy than it would take for it to combust, something she was in short supply.

There was a strange lack of flesh based life for a forest of this size and with no clear indication as to why. Anya’s stomach was demanding, yet another ache brought to the forefront of her mind and required a sacrifice however small, to end it’s torment. The only life apart from the young drake herself was and assortment of insects found under the deadwood and moveable moss covered rockery. All the little morsels could be hidden under nearly every inanimate but moveable object and just required a small effort to overturn their protective homes.

Lifting a chuck of decayed wood revealed a plater of scurrying miniature life in an assortment of shapes antenna and many many legs, it would take a deft hand just to provide a small mouthful. For a carnivorous race like the Calderani, insects were not the palatable choice for those who become accustomed to dine of the meatier farmed livestock. Living rough in the shadows of others and the alleys of the Calderan streets, food wasn’t handed out a plate. So the feast before her was more that she would have eaten normally over the course of any week.

Greed filled her mind knowing that it still qualified as edible food, the requirement she needed to sustain herself. While the numerous appendages and frittering of many legs would have deterred many, Anya’s instinct and desire to survive kicked in. Hunger closed out of her mind the hideous sensation of each of them crawling around the inside of her mouth and over her dry forked tongue. There was no hesitation to chew and their wriggling bodies were brought to an abrupt end with her pointed teeth shearing through their carapace, barely mashed into a paste before being swallowed.

After a few cringing moments and cracking of abdomens, her belly filled enough that she felt content that starvation wouldn’t claim her, something she very rarely enjoyed. She continued her journey further into the forest. After many days walking with the agonising pain, fear set in as she knew that she could no longer continue. While her mind had the determination her body had no energy. Her legs froze stiff and could no longer hold her fragile weight, she slumped to the ground almost splitting her head open on a sharp outcropping rock, the war she fought against the pain had come to an overwhelming conclusion. Anya’s last conscious moments were of the horrible sound she tried sparing herself from the first days of her forestry hike.

…the hissing had returned.

From out of the bushes appear a blur of white hideous maws of miniature razor sharp teeth with legs and eyes attached. The hissing was the sound of millions upon millions of these small bug like creatures pouring over one another, struggling to be the first to their next destination. It almost appeared as a liquid slushing through the undergrowth where they slivered over and through everything in it’s path. They meandered towards Anya as incarnation of Ignaria and saw no resistance to their devastation, just as one would expect a creation of the Goddess of Destruction who would see to the end of everything good or bad. No remorse, no guilt. Just an eternal wave of devouring macro plague looking for a new host.

Reaching just inches beyond her feet a blinding light flooded the area and a strange force shield blocked the creatures which was just as close from the opposite side. The white mass piled up against the bubble, damned up by a protective magik. Anya was inched away hands first by an entity unknown towards an unknown destination…


Prompt: http://jeremysdailychallenge.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/tuesday-conundrum-26-august/


Laura Steel © 2014