A log popped and hissed loudly, sending sparks drifting into the stone room. Grahlius drew her child a little closer into her breast, sighing heavily. The little girl reached up, her small fingers twirling around her the wispy hairs protruding from her mother’s chin, just like her wife had used to do. She stroked her child’s hair tenderly, feeling the lack of ease this night always brought with it.
“Mama, why do we fear this night?” Continue reading “The Longest Night Comes!”
Qua’Jon’s body hit the ground with a thud. He lay there for a moment, unsure of what was happening. He had seen Gwenich walk behind him with the knife, and suddenly his body was no longer supported by the bounds that held him. He rolled to his back, soft black dirt clinging to his tattered garments. Gwenich stood above him, knife in hand. The strange smile had never left her face.
“I know you like the elf, Eernon, but we can’t be riskin’ him being close to his people. He’d find some way to alert the guards and you won’t ever learn no magic. This is crazy. Jus’ let me put a point in ‘im and we don’t have to worry.”
Eernon looked at Vanlaug with anger in her eyes. “The elf lives. I’d sooner kill you at this point.”
“He’s right, Eernon. We don’t have to kill him, but we can’t take him with us.”
The voice was Ingdols. Gwenich could recognize it, though she could not see its source. He sounded far away, as if he were yelling through a wall. Her eyes were full of ghost images of the forest: vague outlines of trees and brush, a grey smudge where the cave had been. It was all fading slowly to black, leaving her field of vision a dark impenetrable curtain.
“Gwenich! Yarlloth fight me, girl. Can you hear me?”
She wished she could count the rain drops. They came through the air in an ever increasing rate, causing a beautiful anxiety to well up in her stomach. Gwenich was anticipating something, though what it was she did not know. There was something in the very air itself that she couldn’t quantify. It was like the charged electricity before a storm but different. It was softer and more deadly. It felt like whatever waited behind it all could tear the world apart. Continue reading “The Coming of the Astar Uln, Part 12”
Venul ran her soft hand over the child’s face, smoothing her hair and caressing her jaw. She was careful to stay away from the now bandaged wound Mishtil had sustained. She gazed at the unconscious goddess lovingly, a small amount of concerned pain milling with the peace in her eyes. Her finger tips trembled despite herself as she thought of what would have happened had Tadis not been hunting and came upon her.
“Sweet Tadis. You are truly a blessing. You are stern, yet soft of heart. Thank you for saving our young goddess.”
Mishtil and Drugar Wormchomper had wandered around the woods for half the day. Dusk was starting to blanket the land as the sun sank behind the western hills. The brilliant shades of autumn afternoon were giving away to soft shadow bathed in crisp air. Still, the other companions we’re not found.
Currently, the pair sat with their backs to a great oak. Mishtil had found some apples in the wood that she now cheerily munched on, her feet swaying back and forth to some imaginary tune. The child goddess had begun to worry, but that dissolved as the sweet juices of the fall fruit sat upon her lips. Her free hand stroked Wormchomper’s head as the badger nestled it against her leg.
Echos of a song ran through Mishtil’s head. The words and melody were far away and it seemed she forgot more of it with every fleeting moment. The child god’s eyes were closed against the light. It had flared unimaginably bright for a moment and created an impossibly loud boom that seemed to split the very sky asunder. Everything was disorienting and she could no longer feel Yurilda. It was as if some sixth sense she has always had but never recognized was suddenly gone. A surge of anxiety welled up in her throat.
Then she opened her eyes.
Qua Jon wandered alone with his familiar through the forest, the increasing winds rattling the tall pines around them. Fat drops of rain had started, slapping against leaf and pine needle alike. He drew his tattered and worn green cloak tightly against himself, drawing his hood down low over his eyes.
Despite the worsening weather, the man had a wide grin on his face, like a child in awe of the unexplained. He even giggled slightly, drawing attention from the badger that crept around at his feet. Wormchomper stared for a moment, her head tilted to the side. Appeased that the noise did not mean anything immediate, she went back to shuffling along the ground, rooting in the soft decomposed pine needles and sniffing the air.
“And if you lose em, don’t bother coming back. Bunch of damned fools that should know better. Who the hell would leave paradise? Everything you need, and you all run off to some demon spawned shit hole”
Drugar looked over his creations, pride showing on his face despite his bluster. The gods had gathered on the edge of the storm and had split off into two groups: those that would go and those that would stay. For those that would leave, Drugar had crafted a gift to help them on their way. He presented them, one by one.
Druhaus stared out her window, watching the fury of the winds whip about loose dirt and stone. Her home, which she shared with her brother, hung on the edge of the eternal storm. Never had the tempest advanced on their dwelling, however. She spent much time looking into its depths, mouthing words no ears would ever hear. It was as if their shack was the divider between chaos and order, existing in a place that was neither.
“I will remind you again, sister, that we have a task. You voted yes at the council, so I would expect you would work to find a way into Samsarras. Unless, of course, you changed your mind.”
“Look at it. All that untapped power. It is chaos! Beautiful and untamed! The beings of this place are all too eager to throw their lives away to one demon or another. They tear down each others cities. Why do we not have this sort of glory?”
Druhaus’s fingers trailed over the glass ball, leaving a smear of grease. Her face was twisted in a jagged, uneven smile, her eyes wide with excitement and mischievous delight. Silwyn ignored her, instead watching as the lands of Samsarras scrolled past her in rapid succession. There were oceans and forests, mountains and deserts. Some of the people of this world soared on great wings while others burrowed into the earth. There was such wonderment!
She giggled, her golden hair blowing in the eternal breeze. Silwyn’s eyes danced about the horizon, scanning it for something new. She’d been to the ends of Yurilda and back. She had seen all that was to be seen. Still, she felt mirthful.
Tadis was paying no attention to her, instead gathering berries. For each one they picked, another instantly grew in its place. Red juice stained their teeth and chin, as Tadis made sure to sample each handful. They were content and in their place.
“Tadis, you know there are other places, don’t you?”
Gerund motioned to the innkeeper for two more drinks. The elf responded, albeit with a look of slight contempt. Aglanthol picked up on the exchange and placed five elnar on the table, enough to pay for what they had with some left over. The first mug had eased her spirits a bit, relaxing her. She felt more willing to listen to the sailor now. He was brash, but he did seemingly mean well.
“No, you are right. That was far from the end. The party who had descended into the depths came back out as heroes. The rumors of their battles would circulate every night and grow ever larger. It’s hard to say how much of their reputation was deserved, but such is true of most, for better or for ill. They rode at the back of the column when we entered the pass, still recovering from their injuries. When the ambush sprang, it was one of the humans who gave the command to retreat. Continue reading “The Silence and the Stillness: Part 3 of 3”
“Ay! Lass! What is it?”
The voice boomed from the man by the window. It sounded raspy and congested, raw and deepened from the sea air. Aglanthol hoped he was yelling to the woman at the other table, but knew it was unlikely. She sat silently, continuing to stare into the flames.
“Ay! You got an ear, yah? What is it? I got some time to murder.”
He was loud, as people of his race tended to be. He had no tact or subtleties. If he were an elven man, he would have gone about his business, leaving the room in peace. The sailor was certainly no elven man.