The priestess’ prayer

The priestess rested upon the gold metallic rail with a sadden contemplation, her mind was quiet and free of distraction.

She looked out across the balcony towards to the sea that stretched out beyond Solaris’s northern harbour. Staring at the Sol with narrowed eyes, she hoped that it would reveal something to her that she was otherwise unable to contemplate.

She rested her forehead of the cool metal and it drew from it the relaxing soothing properties that helped focus her mind.

The priestess’s prayers would be cast to the heavens unknown.

It slowly become overcast, a rarity in these lands and the yearly raging storm of Tempia the Unrelenting Goddess was on her way to renew the lands of it’s much needed hydration. 

Sol was setting and it’s remaining warmth skipped across the waves and was failing to continuously light the day and the light from the wall held torches was flickering sporadically.

She felt the cold droplets caught upon her face. The carved stonework of the balcony was changing colour with every new puddle and each rain drop could be heard with a subtle clarity. As the rain poured more readily, soaking through her silken gown, she looked up at the last light of the setting distant star…and smiled.



Laura Steel © 2014

The Geneforged Sorceress (Part 1) Escape to Silvasung Forest

Having no home, there no reason to live beyond survival with in the city of Caldera was no longer enough for Anya. Having recently witnessed yet another family have their children taken away from them because of their Vis ‘taint’. She felt so helpless and lacked enough courage to act out and was eating away inside of her. The alleys and sewers had housed her for her entire life but being constantly on the run meant that she would never know a sense of peace. One she wanted so desperately but she knew if it was one she wanted it meant she could no longer stay. The urge to escape was always present but a level of complacency and apathy compelled her to stay, even with the Academy having successfully made the city uninhabitable for anyone who used Magik at any level.

After many preparations, Anya made plans to sneak out of the city and was almost flawlessly executed. She had managed to sneak a few meters out of the main city gate, before her presence was noticed. It was still enough to avoid being trapped inside the gates. The guards pursued her with raised voices orderings her to stop, with their pole-arms extended readily as if to carve the air and provide an aerodynamic benefit. Either through willful ignorance or sheer determination, their echoed commands fell silent on her ears. The guards in chase would not let up and they continued to pursue her relentlessly.

Anya ran as fast and far away from them as she could. With the open terrain all around Caldera there was no where to hide, apart from one remote location, Silvasung Forest. The steepness of the mountains and soft ashen ground made it hard to maintain her balance and caused unwanted strain on her already starved body.

As she entered the forest and disappeared through the trees, and out of sight, the guards gave up. They looked on with disbelief and a strong sense of relief; in their belief they saw that she was no longer their problem. Their chuckled among themselves, as they holstering their spears and swords, and walked all the way up to their original posts.

Running such a distance was agonizing and was unbearable. Anya’s legs ached all over, her blistered feet were sore and had a few open wounds. Her chest was pounding, like her heart was about to explode. After a few hundred feet inside the forest she had tripped on an outcropping root, falling fast onto her stomach. Her face was covered in thick ash that was underlying beneath the leaf litter, almost caustically burning her heavy set eyes. She propped herself up, shaking through her straining arms, with almost no strength left. Staying on her stomach would have prevented her lungs from grasping the much needed air they hungered for.

She looked back, stretching her head over her shoulder and saw that her hunters where no longer in pursuit, she could no longer see the dark brown ashen hillside or the towering Calderan city gates. Only the summit was visible, barely, and the plumes of steam that poured out from the various vents that ran along the rim of the basin, as well as lower down the mountain where the few rivers of lava that erupted from around the volcano, carved through the landscape like fiery snakes meandering for prey.

The forest leaves were of the deepest crimson and were present all year round. When they had wilted they would flood the rooted-over and bolder scattered floor. A sea of blood mirrored the canopy of the area and was broken only the thick weaving trunks, their branches reaching out like pale hands for any spare food.

No one entered the forest willingly. In days before the Academy, rumours of the forest being alive or haunted were told, as childhood stories to prevent children from running off to an uncertain end. Stories and legends have always existed about there Silversung Forest, so much so that even the top scientists of the Academy have deemed the forest off limits. No research teams were permitted beyond its edge, as all previous attempts had been met with groups of Calderian Academy students failing to return from the deepest reaches. Their attempts to control the forest from overgrowing were constantly hampered, were it only not for the rivers of lava and areas where no ash fell stemmed their intrusion.

The tranquil serenity of the forest warmed her heart and calmed her mind. She could hear the wind rush through the leaves and all the panic that beset her since melted. The fresh air free from ash was invigorating. Knowing she could no longer return and having lost all desire to do so, she picked herself up and proceeded to walk further into the forest, using it as cover to get as far away from Caldera as possible. Hoping that once she finds the other side she would find a better life for herself. That was until, the hissing started.


Laura Steel © 2015

The Shadowhunter – The Perpetual Nightmare

To many having being cursed with reoccurring nightmares would be a problem, but Laurena relished every opportunity that presented itself. It was the same one over and over, of her mother Elenanor. Even awake she can clearly remember the day her mother died, as clearly as if it just happened the day prior. She was on quest of vengeance over the the death of both her parents and no one could stop her, the nightmare would only perpetuate the hate that boiled inside her.

…the panic in the twelve year old was quite clearly evident to her by the thumping of her heart even if she knew nothing of the reason. It was about to explode out of her chest. Along with her mother, they had reached their home in the poorest district in Umbran.

“Common hunny…quickly!” Elenaor was much faster and agile than her teenager and done her best to keep her at the same pace.

“Mum your hurting.” Laurena tied running running through the streets as fast as her mother but could have not kept up. Her hand was held tightly, which felt like her arm almost about to be yanked out of the socket…

A Day prior Laurena’s father Raenes attempted a kill contract assigned by the Shadehunter guild, he had failed. It was meant to be a simple run, no different than the ones before. A rather disgusting vocation to some – the basis for the negative notoriety of the Shadehunters, to those outside Umbran that is. To the Umbrani it was little more than a job, one that brought home the standard going rate. A few hundred aurams for a life, that was just enough to keep their family going for awhile. Death was apart of their culture, one where only the strong survive and the weak are culled…or those who could afford to have another killed.

…with out trying even explain the situation to her child Elenanor rushed through their home without stopping. Dashed up the creaky wooden steps into Laurena’s bedroom, her mother prised open a secret wooden panel of the wall towards the back room. It used to be for storage but when their daughter was born it was converted into the only bedroom. Elenanor shoved her child into the tight space as much as possible, to the point that a bare supporting frame dug into the side of her, the adrenaline would stemmed the pain.

“…you must hid here my dear…and don’t make a sound!” Elenanor was panting from the terror that had beset her.

“But….mother?” asked Laurena as she tucked her knees to her chest even though it hurt to breathe.

“…No honey! Be quiet…and don’t move…promise me you won’t say anything…regardless of what you hear!” Elenaror knew time was short.

“Mother…what’s happening?” Laurena still confused in her inquiry.

“…Promise me!” Elenanor pleaded as she draped her necklace of the Goddess Noxia around her daughters neck. Laurena nodded as tears rolled down her cheeks.

“I love you!” Elenanor whispered. The loud crash of the front door had indicated to her that time had now ran out. She closed the wooden panel in front of her child.

“BITCH! Where are you?!” Bellowed a low rumbling voice in the next room.

Elenanor had unsheathed her sword and stood ready in the centre of the room as the door was almost smashed off it’s hinges.

“There you are you whore! You think you and you husband would get away with it?!” The large brute had found out who she was from one of the locals, undoubtedly sold out by a neighbour.

“Where’s my husband?” Elenanor asked even though she didn’t want to know.

The brute chuckled. “You mean that worthless skinny fuck. Who’s neck I snapped like a twig.” A deep sense of remorse flooded Elenanors entire body as she knew he had not lied or exaggerated .

“Nooo! You bastard!” Elenanor didn’t even try to contain herself. The rage over her spouses death built up and she lunged at the tall brute hoping to avenge her husband.

Her quick feints and deft attacks would have been enough for most, even without all the years of training and being a member of the most ruthless guild of mercenaries. The larger built up body of of the overbearing man-statue had far more experience as a fighter, proving to be too much for her.

Without even drawing his greatsword that was firmly sheathed on his back, he had knocked the blade from her hand and grabbed her by the neck with the other. Eleanor struggled to free herself from his grasp, trying to pry his hand away for one minute gasp of air.

A shallow gargling sound poured from her mouth and with one tight grip of his hand, a distinct crack echoed through out the house. Her hands dropped to her sides as he let go and Elenanor’s lifeless body fell into a motionless slump. He looked down at her corpse with a side worn smirk.

“Humpf, not worth my time…but no one fucks with Lugo.” He scoffs and walked out.

It’s at this point that Laurena wakes from her nightmare, something that used to be accompanied by a scream of terror, but after some months it fell silent. The same one that wanted to escape on the actual day of her mother’s death.

She still remembers covering her mouth with both hands, in an attempted to not scream out in pain, hoping to not attract Lugo to her location. Laurena had unfortunately bore witness to the whole event through the crack in the wooden panel. Paralysed with grief knowing how badly she wanted to help but couldn’t.

To see her very own mother, killed so effortlessly was unbearable. Specially from the woman who taught Laurena how to hunt and kill just as soon as she was old enough. It was the Umbrian way. Taking the life of another way often key to survival and it was the responsibility of the parents to ingrain it on their offspring as soon as possible. How could she even contemplate avenging her parents if they was meant to be the best hunters Laurena knew, let alone ever have the strength to do so.

She just caught glimpse of her mothers killer – who she at least now knew by name and one she would never forget. She could see he wasn’t human, a “Stonekin” in fact, remembered from one of her parents stories. His wide broad face was clear to see even through the slimness of the cracked panel. She done her best to remember his appearance as best she could. He was the first she had seen so up close and the tales of the Khryosians would allow her to recognise their appearance with little effort.

…for several hours Laurena sat their in her hideaway. Crying into her arms hoping that at any moment her mother was going to pull her out and hug her and say everything was alright. She never did. Her body remained in the same position, drained of all life and had turned paler than her Umbrian skin was already. No amount of wishing or praying would change it. Laurena knew now that she was now alone, from now on she would be on her own to fend for herself.

After she built up the courage to venture forth, she prized open the panel. She could see her mother so much more clearly. The deathly stare of her face with the her eyes still wide open was still worn. For a moment Laurena could have thought that her mother was still alive and merely jesting, but the realization would soon sink in that her mother would no longer be able tell Laurena just how much she loved her…

She awoke and sat up. She caressingly rubbed the Noxia pendent around her neck. The last parting gift from her mother brought some comfort from her dreams but it would quell them. As disregarding of passed on loved ones the Umbrians were, Laurena couldn’t help but feel nostalgia.

Even looking onto the side of her cabinet sat a painful reminder. Her training sword she had as a child. On her twelft birthday, the “coming of age” day that all Umbrani go through is to be presented with their first proper weapon. Training had been done with dull toy-like imitation and used just as a child would. It couldn’t cut through bone or flesh but sharp enough to cause pain from a lack of concentration.

Her parents trained her well in survival but not how to cope with their untimely departure, that was never in their nature as good Umbrian parents. Every new day was perpetuated with the searing pain of losing her parents, renewing her vigour to find her parents killer. She knew it was only a matter of time the Lugo would return to Umbran, as she could never afford to travel beyond the furthest edges of the continent Mortister.

She wouldn’t stop to avenge her parents, it was just a matter of time.

Laura Steel © 2014

The Ex-Communicated Champion (Part 1) – The Long Road Ahead

Across the open plains of Luminter the lone Champion walked. The open plains that stemmed from the horizon were never ending. The only furniture that would break up the monotony was the odd farmer’s house. All of which barred his entry for fear of being brandished criminals themselves. Hedgerows and fences marking their assigned plots of land, stretching out over the rolling hills. The path itself was cut up with bridges that provided the necessary passage over the man-made streams which provided irrigation to the farmlands.

It hurt to walk the long road. He had such an ache in his heart that he could feel building up after every step he took. Having being branded an exile by his people was undoubtedly unbearable. The family he saved was all the justification he needed, no ounce of regret would ever have a foothold in his mind.

He knew that the only way forward could lead him into unknown dangers but that was all the more reason to push forward. To break away from the harsh religious dogma of his former Order. Their strict laws prevented him from doing what was right and honourable. Even if his reputation was officially in ruin, the Solarani would always remember the hero that stood up for his beliefs, something that has rippled through the hearts of others.



Laura Steel © 2014


The Shadowhunter – Dreadwood Hunt (Part 1)

A battle was raging in the Dreadwoods. Laurena had chased the gang to their hideout in a glade to where they would store their ill gotten gains. She was currently fighting against three opponents. They had surrounded her and were poised to attack. Their boss Lugo, who was experienced enough to make sure his cronies went first, watched from the sidelines, treating them as nothing but fodder for her blades.

“We’r gonna ‘av fun wiv you!” Sneered Krane. He eyed her up, thinking of more than the fight he was currently preoccupied with.”

“Heh heh…Yeh. Whatcha finking Raz? Free of us…one ‘ole each?” Smirked Brohz. Looking towards he comrade.

“I gets ‘er head…after I removes it from doe’s prit’ey shoulders!” Insisted Raz. He lets out a furious scream as he charges forward to strike.

It was cut short when in one deft move she side steps him and with no appearance of removing the blade from her sheath, sliced clean through his neck. It bounced across the grassy floor, flattening grass and flowers alike. It wore a surprised look of disbelief of how it could have happened, as his body slumped to the floor with thud.

“Fuck me…grrr get ‘er!” Fretted Krane. Signalling his remaining comrade to attack at the same time.

“Bitch we’re gonna gut yu!” Angrerly shouted Brohz as they both closed the gap.

Laurena danced between them gracefully, a leaf lighter than wind. The pang of steel on steel echoed through out the woods with the leafless twisted trees, as her twin swords clashed with each of theirs. Brohz attempted to strike hard when he thought an opening appeared, once deflected Laurena positioned herself behind him struck across his back, he fell letting out a groaning pain.

Krane attempted to strike only to be parried with such force that he was spun round. Recovering Krane returned to his original orientation to find a lost target. She could not bee seen.

“She’s right behind you, idiot!” Lugo shouted in frustration.

Krane readied his weapon in a futile attempt, as he looked around, she had plunged one of her sword through his chest. His body gave out and lost grip of his weapon and his knees gave way denting the ground. Laurena instantly pulled out her holstered gun with her now free hand and shot Krane through the back of the head, the force propelled him of her sword.

Now there was only one left, Laurena walked towards Lugo who had now unsheathed his great sword. As she walked past the still wreathing body of Brohz, who had until now been drowning in his own blood, she shot him to end his suffering.

The Sol was setting and her shadow stretched out across the grass towards her next target. It started to rain as a gust of wind picked up, a storm was coming. Even Lugo a brute of his experience, still hadn’t anticipated that Laurena would face his men and still be alive. He would finally taste a minor fleeting moment of anxiety before the adrenaline kicked back in…



Laura Steel © 2014

The Wandering Poet (part 1) – Atop Mon’Aurum

Packed with supplies and tools, a rather exhausted poet Gredoe, from a small town in the eastern continent sits down to catch his breath. Among the clang of pots and tenting equipment is his pockets of pens and parchment. Collecting his second wind took longer as he wanted as he looked back onto the canopy of the of forest he had just walked through and the cliff he had to scale reach the mountain top of Mon’Aurum.

The cold was starting to nip through his thick clothes. The light was dimming and he knew he had to set up camp. But he knew he couldn’t.

“I should unpack…but I will just get this down…” Said Gredoe to himself.

Inspiration had struck and his instinct was to grab his writers tools, not the ones to survive.

“Now where was that pen?” He dumped down his back pack without a thought of care over it’s contents.

“Ahh here we go.” The pen held in his right hand had touched down on the parchment that was stored in a leather bound case which was caressed with his left.

“Oh my yes!” His ideas sparked the front of his mind like a crowd trying to fit through a narrow door.

“Brrrr, just wish it wasn’t so cold!” Mumbling to himself like the madman his home town proclaimed him to be.

Even at this altitude and temperate, it was too much for even the excitement to block. There was however a far pressing matter to attend too.

Continued: Poems of the Wandering Poet (part1)

Poems that were inspired as a continuation of this flash fiction.

Laura Steel © 2014


On the run

On the run

For one such renowned respect to be found with the blood of another Solarian on their blade could never be contemplated. But there was an unspoken love for those who dedicated their lives to protect those of others.

The Knight Raezial was in such a position but allowing the deaths of innocent people with out a fair trial could not be tolerated, even from a death sentence dictated by an Inquisitor towards a family, which was still within the confines of the law.

The law itself was considered to have been abused by many, examined often about it’s validity. It was, however, by many, considered as such from the peasants of the town of Forasurb, to even the scholars of Solaris; although the latter never spoke out about it in public.

The razored edge still dripping with the viscous bodily fluid of their superior put them in a very difficult position. She had broken the law, unquestionably and without remorse – but in many eyes justified. Knowing her fate was sealed, she had two choices: hand herself in – or run.

She knew it wouldn’t be ideal, starting a new life outside the region of the Order’s influence would be a welcome reprieve and would permit a career in helping those in need outside bureaucratic interference.

A much relished distraction for someone who had grown tired of the laws that seemed so unjust – to those it was designed to protect. She wouldn’t be the first to do so in the Orders existence. She made her choice with the cheered praise of the crowd, even when they knew that had lost another champion, just like Lord Ayron.

Laura Steel © 2014




Among the citizens of the morally dead only a few could survive the anarchy unimpeded. The virtuous that were trapped with in the cities walls: the unfortunate population that would suffer the most. Paying the price for their unavoidable choice of where they could live.

The evil laughter of malicious men and women generated nothing but a profound sense of paranoia and dread in their victims. Would they be the ones to end the suffering – or merely prolong it?.

It would take a brave soul wading through the darkness. Carving the blacken hearts from their still standing corpses. The corrupted wake that thickened with every passing day, was cut through when she took the lives of the sinner’s.

Justified by those who she had saved, their conversations praised her heroism, her violence was a continued albeit welcomed cruelty. In the grand scheme of things such celebrated acts would leave no real lasting mark on the wicked. Unlike those who had wrought pain on the innocent.

Cowering families would stare up through tears at their saviour with awe. Such strength used to fight the unending evil the city breeds. Their lips quivering with fear, ushered two simple words that any good deed requires. “Thank you!” was spoken, yet left no sound to be heard.

Every one slept easier, for each of her deeds done brought salvation unto them all.

Laura Steel © 2014


The Wayward Prince (part 2) The forest village of Silvand

Opening the right door Kellum enjoyed the wave of fresh air that he had somewhat lost familiarity with. The sooty dust and metal tang of the smithy was more distinct in contrast, he had to regularly snort just to clear his nostrils. He wasn’t previously warned of the hazards of smithing before he was taken to live with his uncle but it was an adjustment he had made early in the years living with his uncle.

After his parents died, Kellum was taken miles away in the forest village of Silvand. The alternative was the orphanage of his hometown – which was not known for it’s high standards or safety record when it came to those left in their care.

Even with the death of his parents he didn’t allow himself to feel too sad about their passing, focusing all his energy to living his life with purpose. A value his uncle instilled in him while he was young and adjusting to the major change he was forced into.

He was rather cocky and at times required a minor cuff from his uncle to rein in his behaviour. Taking up his uncle’s profession was to earn his keep but even with the enthusiasm towards the trade, he was currently consigned with more menial tasks.

“I hope that cart arrives soon, it was meant to be here by now.” expressed in frustration, the blacksmith’s apprentice was like most younger men a sufferer from a lack of patience.

“Uhh…Oh calm it, it’s due soon. Clear a space for the new sacks.” replied his uncle Trint – the Master Blacksmith, in an almost grunting fashion through his large bristly grey beard.

He coughed for a few seconds bringing up a chunk of metallic red phlegm, spitting it into the furnace. Still monitoring intently the slowly whitening sword blank resting in the roaring furnace. Periodically turning it over to balance the heat evenly, all while pumping fresh air into the furnace with the foot bellows.

While not over-weight person, his sturdy frame made easy work for the hammer and bellows. Despite his age he was one of the strongest and hardest working in the village, after decades of forging the towns weapons and tools. The heat dried skin on his hands coursed with minor cut and blister scars, all reflecting his near life long experience.

His skill was renown and much prized, so much that he was once commissioned to forge the armours of the royal family in Khrusos – the city of gold. The city resided in the large underground cavern in the mountain, beyond the forest’s eastern edge.

“There it is now…afterwards mind if I go get something to drink?” Kellum asked as he noticed the faintly audible sound of the traders cart’s arrival.

Kellum proceeded to open the second of the double doored entrance into the smithy. Spotting in the distance the two Octeqous, pulling the large trader’s cart through the entrance. Their hooves rapid klopping along the cobbled street was a clear indication for everyone in village to know that it had arrived, their sound was unmistakable. The large eight legged mares made easy work of the even larger cart, as it took up most of the street width and much of the village was previously designed to facilitate this. The shear weight required metal reinforcements on every load bearing part, especially on each of the six metal wheels – half of which squeaked with their unoiled axles.

“That’s fine, but don’t get drunk…I will finish this sword soon and it needs honing.” Trint said in an almost demanding way.

“Ugh…I’m always honing or polishing, when can I actually start trying to forge them?” Kellum impatiently asked.

“Hmm…when I’m convinced you won’t hit your thumb or burn the smith down.” Rebuked Trint. “Hand me the straight peen.”

Kellum picked up the hammer from the side shelve and chucks it under arm towards his uncle. Trint sighed as he catches it firmly by the handle.

“And that right there is why you are not yet ready.” retorted Trint.

Kellum looks away realizing the evidence of his inexperience from the wisdom his uncle just imparted.

Staring out from across the street, Kellum spots another of the townsfolk Eldrik – a much credited rival because of their similar age. Walking out of the house of a young woman Graecy, Eldrik caressed her hands as he whispered into her ear causing her to giggle uncontrollably. Kellum saw them both part ways, screwing his face up with frustration. He walked back into the smithy to continue his work.

“Can you believe that?” asked Kellum, venting his frustration towards his rival, hoping for some sympathy from his uncle. His uncle looks up to spot the vacating Eldrik from the porch of Graecy’s home.

“Egh…what would you expect…from the mayors son no less. Doesn’t know the meaning of hard work that lad…and thick between the ears too if you ask me. Don’t let me catch you acting like that. Or you’ll be out on your ass faster that a Velox on heat!” Trint was all too aware of the promiscuousness of the mayors son, who had at one point been found by Trint, in the company of own daughter Elize.

“He is such a Monghound…he is never satisfied with just one girl.” Kellum continued as he turned towards the trader who had now pulled up and stepped off his cart.

“He has never thought with his head that one…and if he goes near Elize again, I’ll finish forging this sword and cut him in two with it!” Trint gritted his teeth together and grasps the blank harder as he imaged using it on Eldrik, the towns more sexually active individual. He coughed several times as his deep breaths caught some extra ash from his heavier breathing.

“Hello sir, your order: twelve bags of mobius. That’s three hundred and twenty Aurens.” the trader initiated the pre-ordered sale. Opening the side of the cart where the bags were located.

“ Here ya’ go, same again next month?” said Kellum as he unhitched the bulging pouch on his hip.

“Certainly Sir, but it will be more per bag next time.” replied the trader.

“Again? That’s practically every month!” Kellum responded somewhat alarmed.

“I’m sorry but apparently the alchemists are disappearing, which lowering the amount the rest can make. Hence the price rise.” explained the trader, annoyed that it wasn’t the first time he was asked the same question.

Kellum counted out the required amount out of the pouch attached to his belt – he took pride in knowing he was at least trusted with such a large amount.

“Thank you sir.” The trader eyed up the money ensuring the complete amount and stored it in his lockable wooden casket.

“Til next month.” replied Kellum reluctantly.

He finished the sale and started to lift lifted sacks of Mobius coal off of the cart, stacking them one top of another just inside the smithy, after the last bag the trader moved his cart off to further down the street. Kellum’s clothes were covered with the bright red alchemist dust, some of which had clearly leaked from a bag with a minor split.

“Aaand done…” Kellum let out a sigh as he slumped down the last of the bags – attempting to brush off some of the dust that had built up on his arms and legs.

“I’m gonna go head out for lunch if thats ok?” Kellum looked at Trint expecting an answer, yet his uncle was fast away with his thoughts.

“Uncle?” Kellum asked trying to get his masters attention with no effect. “UNCLE?”
Trint finally looked up as he finally took notice.

“Huh? Oh yes…sorry, yes you can go…but don’t get too Drond-assed.” Trint looked back down, taking the blank out of the furnace which was glowing pure white. He walked over to the anvil beside the furnace, taking hold of his smith hammer and laid the sword down on the anvil.

“I want this blade finished by the end of the afternoon.” continued Trint without even looking at his nephew.

“Of course uncle.” replied Kellum as he walked out of the smithy.

The ringing clang of struck metal started as Trint repeatedly struck the red hot blank, the rhythm of the metallic pings echoed out and into the street. Glowing white sparks of metal specks shot out from the impact, bouncing off every surface only to vanish from sight.

Kellum continued to walk down the cobbled street towards Clara’s, past the various occupied stalls and through the crowd. It was his favourite place to eat or drink, partially because it was the only public house for miles around and largely because his Uncle lacked the culinary skills to provide edible food for either of them.

The town of Silvand itself was in a glade, cut into the centre of a forest – one that had a large river snaking through, cutting the forest in two halves. The town sat solely on one side of the river and acted as the only port in the forest. It became a resting stop for travellers, traders and the towns fishing fleet used the river to supply much of the food. The buildings of the village were all made from it’s timber. The surrounding palisade barred any of the wild animals from overrunning the town and blended it almost seemingly into the still living counterparts.

Walking past the towns lumber mill which had been incorporated into the dock, running from the large retractable water wheel. Kellum looked out onto the fishing wharf which normally had his best friend Nieko reeling in the day’s catch from one of the fishing fleet. The two would often catch sight of each other and rudely gestured to each other, in a way only really good friends accepted, before continuing on. Today however Nieko wasn’t present. Slightly puzzled Kellum accepted his friends absence and continued onwards towards Clara’s.

“Hello Kellum deary” Abruptly spoken by one of the villages elder residents.

“Oh Hello Mrs. Casta” Kellum responded reluctantly wishing he had been able to elude the old women.

“My, my aren’t you getting big…you should meet my granddaughter…you two would make the perfect couple.” Mrs. Casta explained with much enthusiasm in her croaky broken voice.

“Uhh that’s ok Mrs. Casta…I uh have to go…Uncle needs something…and I uh…need to get it for him.” Kellum barely finished his sentence before running off towards his intended destination, forgoing the pleasantries normally exchanged when parting with a known face.

“…ugh why must she always pester me, I don’t even like her granddaughter.” he spoke to himself knowing he was out of ear shot. He sighed, feeling a pang of guilt over his action as if he was trying to reassure why he abruptly left.

The octogenarian wouldn’t have fully understood even if he hadn’t left it too late to tell her the truth. He was all too aware that her granddaughter already had a girlfriend to which she was betrothed too. It was clear to everyone that shed suffered from the illness Mindrot – but little could be done so she was taken care of by everyone. Bound by her illness to repeat the same thing over and over, every time they met she would ask the same thing, except the rare occasions where the symptoms subsided briefly to allow for new memories. Kellum continued on towards he intended destination and entered the tavern called The Twisted Viperene when it was first built, it was now called “Clara’s” informally – of whom is the current proprietor.

Greeted by other patrons who were already enjoying their afternoon lunch he found his favourite table, who was to his surprise already occupied by his friend Nieko. Kellum sat down opposite his best friend while Nieko signalled for two drinks to the hostess who brought both over – smiling at Kellum as she placed them down. He responded with an awkward slightly embarrassed smirk. He turned his attention back to Nieko. The waitress walked off feeling slightly disappointed by the encounter as she had done so previously.

“Your here early. What happened…got tired of flinging fish already?” He jokingly ask due to Nieko’s abnormal presence.

“Pfft, what fish there was…it’s like they all pissed off. It’s been happening for days.” Nieko explained.

“The fish have been getting less…and no we haven’t fished ‘em all. ” He continued frustratingly, the fish from the river was an important source of food and income for the village.

“What they’ve finally been scared off looking at your mug.” snipped Kellum jokingly.

“Hah, from yours more like…you know I can just ask them to hop into the boat with my good looks.” Nieko remarked almost as if it was a genuine fact. They both shared a chuckle before Nieko interrupted.
“…but seriously they are getting spooked and it’s not normal. Something is scaring them off good.” He adding worryingly.

They both continued to enjoy each others company for an hour before they merriment was interrupted. Crashing through the door bringing in with him the rain and wind which had picked up through out the hour. A clearly exhausted man completely drenched from both the rain and his own sweat. His interruption caused everyone inside to turn to look towards, looking upon him with a jumpy anxiety and suspicion. The stranger walked up to the bar panting clutching his left arm. The cloth was cut through which had an open sore caused by a sharp tree branch, watered down blood had stained the tear around it’s edge and surrounding area.

“…water…p…please.” The man was clearly dehydrated and was covered heavily in dirt, including his hair and short beard.

Clara who was bar tending at the time poured a mug of water from the only barrel that contained the pre-heat treated liquid, hesitantly giving it over.

“ you go.” Clara placed the full mug down on the top of the bar taking a step back, looking over to one of her more trusted patrons, her eyes almost asked him to make sure he would protect her should things get more violent.

“…thank you!” replied the extremely grateful stranger. Downing the mug as quickly as possible, overflown water from his mouth leaked and trickled down his neck. The droplet collected the dirt in it’s path. Caught by his collar staining what little cleanliness was left.

“Where’d you think he’s from?” ask Nieko in a whispering volume. Nieko and Kellum turned to look at each other, trying to keep one spare eye on the newcomer.

“I don’t know, can’t imagine it’s far.” Replied Kellum equally as loud. “Can’t have come far, must be from Khrusos…come to think of it he looks familiar.” Kellum knew he saw this man somewhere before but his recollection wasn’t perfect.

“Really? Your probably out of it…and only on the one tank.” Nieko’s snide remark was lost on Kellum who was preoccupied trying to remember where he last saw the outsider.

“Yeh…I know I’ve seen him somewhere.” Un-able to recall frustrated Kellum greatly.

They both drank from their tankards to appear less inconspicuous hoping it wouldn’t draw his attention towards them. The other patrons weren’t as worried.

“Is there a room I could rent?” asked the now un-parched newcomer.

“Umm…yes we have one available…mind if I ask your name?” Clara asked hoping it would help ease the tension.

“My name is…Jaeson.” Hesitating for a second to think of a new name.

“Ok..Jaeson. The rooms are 10 Aurens per night.” Clara informed him, remaining slightly suspicious.

Jaeson retrieved the required amount from the over burdened purse in his pocket, almost spilling coins on the floor handing them over. Clara accepted the transaction still on the side of caution.

“I’ll have someone show you the room.” Clara replied, signalling one of her hostesses who took Jaeson to the first floor.

“Hmm, now I definitely know that’s not his real name.” Said Kellum quietly. Watching the hostess and Jaeson disappearing out of sight to the where both guest rooms were located.

“It doesn’t matter…we should go or we’ll be in the shit.” voiced Nieko downed his remaining mouthful.

“Yeh, try and catch something this time. Ever tried using bait?” Kellum joked, after finishing his own drink.

“I will when you inevitably cut one of your fingers off.” Nieko scoffed as they both stood up and walked out of the tavern.

After leaving the building and walking down the street, both patted each others shoulder and parted ways back to their work. Kellum looked back onto the tavern knowing all too well that he had seen Jaeson years before but the specifics still eluded him. Trickling memories came to mind of a person who looked like Jaeson. Of someone who had come to the smithy to order something special. At the time Kellum was much younger and still feeling the loss of his parents.

Kellum walked back into the smithy were he saw the blade he needed to work on, placed on the stool in front of the grinding wheel. He picked it up and sat on the stool, starting to spin the large six foot radius stone with the foot peddle, stopping briefly as he finally remembered…

Laura Steel ©2014

The Wayward Prince (Part 1) The gold city of Khrysos

Perched on his favourite balcony sitting reclined with his feet resting on the railing the Prince, Jayanis Aurumis the Forth, of Khrysos – the City of Aurum, he would waste away his empty days apathetically devoid of any activity. Dressed in the lavish regalia bearing the symbol of his families crest. Intrinsically woven cloth lined with the purest of silk that went beyond comfort or style. Clothing fit for the future king was wasted on the Prince’s sense of humility.

The elegantly designed, solid gold crown he was expected to wear at all times was often thrown on the floor in a personal acts of defiance. Anger would cause him to remove it violently to the point that the crown had received scuffs and parts of the crown were no longer set at the originally cast position.

To anyone who would look up from street level would see the faint image of the Prince, as a lifeless gargoyle, disappearing to periodically to fill his stomach and empty his bladder. Or when he was called away to fulfil his royal duties.

Staring blankly out towards the open city below he would watch its busying populace below. Bored and devoid of a life of his choosing he would casually watch his ‘future subjects’, like ants in a colony mindlessly going about their business. His life, he knew, would be force lived, if unchecked. One that would mean controlling the lives the of autonomous masses below. A responsibility he knew he couldn’t maintain with any level of enthusiasm or content.

He would often look out towards the luminous caveline and inwardly sigh. Boredom would hypnotise him to just stare at the dark jagged roof inside Mon’Aurum, the mountain in which the city was carved out of centuries before. Mon’Aurum was the largest of mountains overlooking the rest of Hexterra. It’s peak even reached over the volcano city of Caldera and the floating city isles of Nubinsulam. The summit not visible from ground level, permanently piercing the clouds all year round. Along with a thick blanket of snow stretching out from miles around, white was a boring colour for this continent’s theme.

Pillars of supporting stone would hold up the rest of the mountain, stopping it from burying the city. Gigantic stretches of of bioluminescent fungi colonies kept most of the city bathed in a permanent soft white-blue light, enough to allow everyone to see well and live and work normally. While there was no true concept of day or night inside the cave, time was controlled to coincide with that of Sol – the planets star. Mechanically operated clocks would track phases of the day with everyone working shifts to maintain a consistent level production.

The Prince spent most of his time dreaming of what life was like outside the cavernous maw, he was bound to the castle. A prisoner in his own home, prevented from leaving to pursue his own adventures. When he was studying as a child he would often read books in the cities library about the world outside. The wonders it held explained to him in the form of tomes, detailing various places, animals, plants and the general concepts of outside life.

This fact was kept hidden from the King who would have most likely banned him from learning of anything other than the city and royal functions. The fact that he knew of a life outside of the mountain would fuel his curiosity. Leaving a burning desire to explore beyond the city and outside the mountain. Something which would be dismissed by his over bearing, over protective father.

A knocking of his bedroom door would bring him out of his trance. Before he could answer the door swung open to reveal one of the King’s couriers. The courier extended the issued command of his father for the Prince; to report to the throne room for yet another political meet. Many of which would serve as training for the Prince in the days after his father’s rule. This meets would consist of various diplomats from outside the city, the few who would be allowed to enter the city, save for traders which were limited to posts outside the cities limits.

In his younger days the prince would often speak out of turn. Asking questions of the diplomats; about life outside, descriptions of where they came from, and general world events that have happened. Always at the cost of infuriating his father feeling embarrassed that his son spoke out of turn. An example of his already increasing reluctance to rule, each time a spur that would hasten his desire to escape and one he repeated knowing so. This time would be the last.

The young Prince now infuriated could no longer stand the intolerability of his fathers rule. Stormed back to his room, crashing through the bedroom door. He planned to escape the his confinement once and for all. He knew he couldn’t wear his best armour or take his sharpest sword, they were too recognisable. Packing light and sparingly, excluding all of his luxuries that would have made his post escape all the more easy. Save for one particular item.

He searched his side desk for a small decorated wooden box, inside was covered with a pure silk. Cushioned in the middle was something very precious to him. A locket, one that once belonged to his mother. It was to be given to the Prince’s sister but after their deaths he took it as a keepsake to remember them by. It was intrinsically designed by the best goldsmith available but was more elaborate in design than more common variants and was encrusted with small emeralds on the outward facing lid.

He flipped open the locket with his thumb to reveal the two portraits; one of his dearly departed mother and the other his sister. Reminiscing briefly on fond memories of both of them before continuing to pack. He threaded his head through the chain attached to the locket to keep it safe next to his heart, continuing to pack the bare essentials that wouldn’t hinder his departure.

After sneaking through the castle courtyard the Prince had made it into the streets of the city before his father found out of his absence. Guards sent to collecting the young royal failed to find him, with only evidence of his furious outburst littering the room and the torn bedsheets making a make shift rope still attached to the bedpost. The guards reported the lack of the Prince’s presence back to the King. In a fit of rage the King demanded that all available hands be sent out to scour every inch of the city to find his wayward son.

Dressed in a tattered cloak “borrowed” from a servant, the Prince was now camouflaged to blend in with the locals, the only difference was his stockier build over most. Making his way through the streets he noticed guards lifting the hoods of others to reveal their identities. Before he could dodge the guards walking towards him, he felt the heavy patter of a metal clad hand grasp his shoulder. Forced to turn around, his face was now in full view of the pair of guards.

The guards instantly recognised their future monarch declareing that he must return or face being arrested. Politely declining their offer the Prince started to walk away, forcing the guards hand. Attempting to arrest him the Prince had disabled both guards in a spectacle of flurrying moves that left both of them unconscious.

The noise of clattering metal armour and the remains of one of the food stand one of them crashed into attracted more guards to his location, Using the echoing sounds to locate the residual commotion as the Prince dodged his pursuers through the side alley ways behind the commercial buildings.

With no clear way of leaving the city he paused to ponder his next move. Seconds later he could here the beckoning whisper of an old man behind him. He spun round to confront the old man but much to his relief there was no intention of hindering the Prince’s escape or alerting his presence. The old man mentioned the existence of a secret tunnel which lead outside.

The tunnel had been carved out by desperation of the people who found living in the city too much to bear. Reluctant at first he followed the old man to the tunnels entrance, located in a forgotten part of the city and buried in a dark corner of building used only for squatters and rats.

Crawling through the tunnel was hard. Much harder for those who were of stockier build, as was the Prince. Narrowly fitting inside he would have to drag himself through. Panic and fear would have to be suppressed if he was to find the end. Inch by inch using his elbows and toes to bore himself through. Forced to take breaks to cough when too much dirt became lodged in his lungs or find the extra energy to continue.

Hours felts like days and with no way to turn around and go back he had only one direction to go. Only the grey brown interior with a black abyssal pit lead his way. The consolation came from the luminous fungi that sparsely grew along the entire length of the tunnel, enough light permeated for him to see the locket almost dragging through the hard dirt. Inspiration for him to continue forward.

What seemed like an eternity later the ambiance grew lighter. Fresh air could finally be felt on his face, the smell filtered through the dirt clog nostrils. He knew that his freedom was soon to become a reality. Continuing forward with a second wind from the new breeze chilling the last molecules of moisture in his mouth. The light at the end was barely visible through the concreting dust in his eyes.

Finally exiting through into the white mountainside forest, he slumped in exhaustion on the snow. A soft blanket would sooth his aching body. Unable to even feel the cold in his hands as he scoffed clumps of snow to re hydrate his near husk of a body. He cleared his eyes as best he could and painfully opened them, only to have them react and shut again. They were now struggling to see the brilliance of Sol and would have to grow accustomed to the new light.

He would have all the time he desired now, with the only possession his trusted locket and the clothes he was wearing, he finally brought himself to stand. Walking down the side of Mon’Aurum the vague image of a settlement and it’s smoke stacks would be his beacon through the dense forest. This is where he knew his adventure was going to start.