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

A letter to my dearest

25th October 1915

If this letter is found by another, please see to it that my Elaine receives it…

My dearest Elaine S.,

  I know not if this will reach you but I hope in high heaven that it does. I long for your letters.

  I just wanted you to know that while I am in the grace of His Majesty’s service I do so with high esteem despite what we are up against. Our training was rather quick but given the circumstance we are told it will do. The boys I am with are some of the finest men I have had the fortune to know, save one, but in that I will not divulge into it further.

  For nearly three days now we have had to dig in, my back is not as strong as others, evident as the ache is starting to kick in. Most days we are digging, revetting the sides and standing to, some of the younger lads have picked up the slack, while me and the older boys keep watch. It’s next to impossible when it is dark, but it’s the safest way to get any work done. It fills almost pointless when the rain caused one of the sides to collapse yesterday, so many hours were wasted. Our section is newer, so some of the sappers are still setting up right behind us. Beyond all that and the constant cleaning of my gun, its the boredom of just sitting around while waiting for new orders that’s keeping most of on edge. One of the lads who did have a pack of cards dropped the bloody things in six inch high puddle this morning and ruined them, he’s written home asking for more but it’s likely to be weeks before we see them. I am only left with my thoughts of you and the fun we used to have to keep the dullness away.

  Like my fellows beside me, I have developed bout of trench foot, which I have the most unfortunate luck deal with. It is not as bad as others, but a keen eye and a medic’s touch will see it better. The worst thing is the damn lice, if it’s not the lack of comfort from the cold and wet, its the bloody itching. We have to steam the cloths to help kill the plagues of the little bastards, but they always find a way to antagonise us. It is not so bad during the day while we work, but trying to get any sleep is next to impossible. The echoing sounds of shells and bullets only add to my restlessness, next doors dog barking trifles in comparison. I would do anything just to lie next to you one more time.

  I doubt I will have a further chance to write you again any time soon, as we will be proceeding further to our next objective soon. The outcome will be left to our superiors and our lives in the hand of our creator. I pray every time we have to stand to at the front, if not for myself but my brothers besides me, and for you my precious angel.

  Finally, I want you to know that you are to me the best of women. For that I will be eternally grateful and for the time we have spent together. I long for the day that you and I are reunited. That and your delicious cooking, the thought of it warms my heart so. Thank you for the smokes too, I received them the other day. A much welcomed relief and certainly an improvement from the ambient smells we have to endure. Please send my love to everyone at home for their gifts too, they have brightened my days up no end.

Yours forever,

A. Sgt
Charles D. S.

P.s – I know that it may be too much to ask but could you please look after my mother from time to time. I know she will worry and I cannot bare the thought of her in such a state. We did not leave under the best of circumstances, as you may know, and I regret that I may not get to tell her I am sorry.


Laura Steel © 2014

The Towers

I guess I might as well keep writing this, screw Andrew, I like keeping a diary and it’s not childish.

  No one knows why it really happened, they just landed, the towers crashed all over the planet. They stand I guess…twenty stories high, have brushed metal towers and bevelled square edges and random panelled faces; one I saw had a ramp which lead up to what looked like a door of some kind. They landed pretty much anywhere from the countryside to the middle of cities. Even on peoples houses while they slept; quite lucky if you ask me compared to what the rest of us had to deal with. They completely rooted themselves into the ground with huge four corned opposable leg-like appendages that looked metallic and to a point, they dug into the ground as stabling foundations. We heard on the car radio that the government and was heavily criticised and it wasn’t as if they could have done much, the pot shots the military took barely scratched the paintwork, as the reporter desperately described, this is before “they” appeared…

  Its been only a week after the towers appeared, the undead…or what ever they were meant to be, they looked half-human at least or they wore our faces as some sort of sick joke. Bloodied with limbs missing – from what I don’t know…others like them? Hungry and twitching like they had an itch they couldn’t scratch. They are apparently roaming the country; possibly the world, with a relentless sluggish haste, adding to their own as they did, they were seemingly unstoppable. The military were just overwhelmed and the police were a joke…now they’re “something”…else.

  I guess me and my friends were lucky, having been out with a group of us on a road trip. All eight of us stayed out camping in a woods, though it wasn’t my idea as I kinda hate camping. I had only gone because of Charlotte, but she didn’t take notice of my rather nervous advances, even though we were the only singles going…it doesn’t matter now.

  We returned to Reading hoping to find our families but we only found these towers and undead. We drove through most to get home though we did have a few close calls. We stopped for food at a local corner store thinking it would be safer than a supermarket. I knew Shaun was bit, he kept clutching his ankle and was sweating despite the car’s AC being on. I discretely mentioned it to the others when we went for fuel…so we left him…at the garage. Clare won’t stop crying, but she knew just was well as we all did that he would have turned on us if we hadn’t – I hope who ever reads this will understand that…oh god the guilt makes me sick.

  An hour ago we started to make our way to one of the towers. A few other survivors had passed us with knowledge that apparently these towers are not the cause of the undead, but were instead shelters. They had opened up but those few who had braved their contents were never seen of again. Alex didn’t come with us, he said it would be stupid to follow these rumours suggesting instead we should be heading as far away as possible, back into the countryside away from everyone. I don’t know, I just wanted us to stay together, so I stuck with the rest of us who wanted to stay and find others. His wife Lisa left with him, she just found out she was pregnant, so I guess they didn’t want to risk it.

  We reached the closest tower we could see from the horizon. We had to take a few detours to avoid a few mass gathering of those things. When we got it we could see what it had landed on. In between two house’s gardens, both buildings were sheared in half, rooms were left bare; destroyed along with any furniture or possessions those people had. I could see that one of the rooms had brightly coloured, cartoon wallpaper. I really hope it was empty at the time. The tower’s roots had crushed another two houses and cut of an entire road either side. We could see the ramped entrance; wide open and somewhat inviting.

  We could just see inside but it was bright, brighter than the dwindling sunlight. A greyish mist was pouring out continuously from some vents, hazing over the lights, blurring what we couldn’t see inside from a distance. We drove the car up as close as possible and walked up to the ramp peering inside cautiously. We only had the option of going in at this point, a few undead had built up behind us and we were in no position to fend them off. We all climbed inside before they could reach us and stood in the middle of what looked like an elevator. There was a panel with what looked like a button; it was panicky pressed by Andrew’s girlfriend Yvette, before those things got close and it activated – She was so gorgeous but a bit dull. It raised us up into a bright light, I don’t know what I was more afraid of, the creatures outside or what awaited us inside…

  I don’t know how long it has been, there is nothing to say what time it is, it feels like weeks. I’m all alone here. Andrew and Yvette aren’t with me, I have no idea where they are. I’m just in a small room; horizontal panels of sterilised white are around me, smooth polished floor and ceiling; which had a bright light that I strained to look at. I’m sat on what would constitute a bed; it’s soft enough. There’s a metallic toilet protruding out the wall – at least that’s what I’ve used it as, and there’s that machine on the wall that produces glassed water and food; it like a paste of bland chicken – I’d kill for pasta bolognese. What am I meant to do here? Is this a safe haven or a prisonn…ugh…stuppid pen…seems to be runnning out… i I love e …you…mu mum and dd dad and Andrew. I missss you…soo.. m much!…


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

Champion Chess King of the Office Orchastra

The King felt mighty as always. Walking through the streets of his beloved city, turning between the stalls and shops, weaving his way to his glorious castles throne room. Looking upon his subjects with an absolute authority. They paid him no respect of course, as they were distracted with their own daily duties, some hacked away at slabs of meat, others arranging displays of goods. One weirdly toying away with a strange contraption that produced parchments with a strange dialect, one after another, dozen after a dozen. It made no difference, it was what was required to run the city of this magnitude. He reached his throne room and sat down. Placing his sceptre and de-robed his velvet gown. he looked out beyond his realm…
  “Do you have those reports?” asked Paul – his “advisor”. The monarch looked up distracted.
  “Hmp?” The monarch was unduly addressed and ill prepared.
  “Do you have those reports I asked, the one with this months expenses!?” asked the manager clutching a tome of paper.
  “Oh yes…I’ll send them right now…I finished them at home.” said John in a culpable way. He plugged in his USB stick into the computer and within seconds the screen on his desk blurred his vision for a moment as his eyes adjusted to the radiant light. Windows appeared one by one as he took hold of the poor little mouse and with a few swipes and squeaks, his royal duty was performed. Digitized into pulses of energy and shot across his realm into a distant corner where their intended destination. Ordered Emissaries carrying out the royal decree.
  “…and sent, Paul. Is their anything else you needed?”
  “Yes, would you mind staying after work for a bit? We need to go over a few things ready for the CEO’s visit tomorrow.” John knew it was more of a command that a request.
  “Uh…” John paused to think of anything, his eyes darted upward and side ward looking for the relevant information behind them…his friends would have to wait at their appointed dinner date.
  “Is there a problem?” Asked Paul in a overbearing way, already expecting a “yes”.
  “No Paul, that should be fine.” John complacently relented away his free time. Paul walked off beyond the partitioned wall and could be heard faintly speaking to an unknown entity…it sounded like Mark from accounting. When John felt that Paul was out of ear shot he let out a quiet sigh, it still seemed to echo and caused an un-euphoric wave for fear of being heard.
  The Champion chess player had slumped into his chair feeling relief that the move he just made wasn’t as bad as he first though…he wouldn’t have been a Champion if it was. Putting his opponent in a position just where he wanted, it was all apart of the master plan, smirking on the side of his face for a moment as he contemplated further action. He arranged his pieces neatly with an intense focus, making sure they were all facing fully in opposite direction, facing down the other army on the other side of the board. Polished, gleaming. Ready for war.
  “Their my beauties, will win this infernal game!…The check might be yours for now Sir! But mine will superseded a “mate”!” John whispered to himself…it was a Championship match after all.
  “So once again the “champion” is held back once again!” spoken by a mysterious figure. Who in fact said “chump” not “champion”.
  “What?” asked frustratingly.
  “Paul has you working late again doesn’t he?” said the accountant – Mark was his official name. Unofficial one everyone else knew him by “that twat”.
  “Oh yes, third time this week.” John looked towards his screen continuing his work, not wanting to engage further.
Mark added a snide addition “Have fun!” as he sleuthed beyond sight, chuckling and readjusting his tie and tidying his slick gelled hair. Taking a sip of his cappuccino, or mocha. They all smelt the same to someone who hated machine brought.
  The hours were monitored winding by, the wall mounted device and it’s twelve numbers was the conductor and the black batons instructed the entire orchestra to play in tune. The audible sound of instruments made an unattractive music that everyone was forced to bare. Click after click, ring after ring. The occasional “Oh shit” when coffee was spilt on important notes. Or the creaking of the main office door that needed better hinges. John felt sure that his music would be glorious. Standing in front of the audience waving his batons with styled flourishes and flicked gestures. His conducting would sound magnificent and the piece would end with the anticipated crescendo of “finally it’s 5:30”.


 This was for my first homework for English class at College. A story in the style of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (1939) by James Thurber.


 

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