Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:50 am
Hey guys. This is the first story I've ever posted online, but i figured it's a good way to find out how good a writer i am, or if I'm so terrible I should give up writing forever. Here's the first two chapters, and I haven't decided on a name for the story, yet.
The young warrior slowly walked down the dusty packed dirt road, sword dragging a line in the earth behind him, the harsh sun beating down on his exhausted figure. Sweat trickled down his forehead, quickly evaporating before it could drip to the parched ground beneath his cloth-bound feet. His dirty blonde hair was so full of the dirt and grime of hard travel that it looked more brown then blonde. A tattered leather bag was slung over his shoulder, matching the torn animal-skin pants and patched leather armor that he wore. A ring of fur circled the cuff of each pant leg, dried mud caked on up to the young warrior’s knees. His vibrant violet eyes, the dead give-away of being from the tribe of the Sky, squinted against the sun’s cruel rays, desperately searching for any sign of civilization- an oasis, an outpost, anything. Wiping the sweat from his eyes, he lifted his sword up and caressed the hilt. It had been a gift from the High Elder when he had accepted this quest. But now it looked like his quest might end sooner then he thought. If he didn’t find water soon, he would perish out in this desolate wasteland called the Saturi’noch ‘the place of death’. As far as he could see, there were rocks, packed dried earth, shimmering heat waves, but no water. No buildings. No life. He sighed, remembering what he had been told before he left.
“Zarian! Wait brother!” The young warrior stopped at the edge of the mountain village, high above the clouds, where the air was so thin outsiders could not survive for long without oxygen canteens. His clothes were clean, fresh; gifts from the Council of Elders, along with the leather pack. He took a deep breathe of the crisp mountain air as he turned and waited for Mika’al to catch up to him. The older boy came into sight, stumbling slightly as he ran, carrying a long, not-very-wide package awkwardly. Mika’al’s wild dirty blonde hair blew every which way and he almost tripped as a sudden gust of wind swept through the mountains. Gasping, he finally reached Zarian. Handing Zarian the oil-cloth bound package, he bent over, coughing, to catch his breathe.
“What’s this?” Zarian asked, curious. Mika’al straightened, took one last deep breathe, and held out his hand for the package. Zarian dubiously handed him back the mysterious package.
“The High Elder thought this journey to dangerous to go weaponless, so…” Mika’al carefully unwrapped the package, revealing a shining silver blade, a golden hilt, unadorned except for a brilliant green jewel set into the center of the hilt. The clan sword, Sliti’oc, the ‘sword of the Wind’. Zarian’s trademark violet eyes widened in awe at the sight of the legendary blade, astonished that the High Elder could entrust him with such a weapon.
“But…this is…” He was speechless. Mika’al smiled and handed Zarian the sword.
“Yes. This is Sliti’oc. The sword famed for taking down the great Dragon Master, Banar’ii. And now, until your quest is over, it is yours. Once you have completed your quest, however, you will return the sword. But for now, it’s yours.” Mika’al grinned ruefully. “What I wouldn’t do to be in your shoes, Zarian. Only sixteen and yet you already have a quest. I’m nineteen and still haven’t been given one. Just…be careful out there. Okay, brother? The Saturi’noch isn’t known to be merciful. There’s a reason it’s called the place of death.” And with that, Mika’al walked back towards the village, waving farewell over his shoulder.
Zarian slowed walking. Sliti’oc had seemed so important then. What had happened that made it lose importance to the point where he let it drag on the ground? Ashamed, he stopped and knelt on the ground, carefully putting the sword down, and looked in his pack for a rag. He pulled out a semi-clean rag and spit on it, giving up valuable moisture, and polished the sword’s blade until he had gotten the majority of the dirt and dust off. He flashed the blade in the sun, squinting against the sun’s glare, searching the blade for any missed spots. A rare breeze passed through, ruffling Zarian’s hair, and bringing the sound of trotting animals to his ears. His head snapped up, and he, crouching down, glanced through narrowed eyes in the direction of the sound. Food. He needed water, but there would be moisture in the meat, plus animals needed water to survive in this hell. They would more then likely somehow store water. And if the animals weren’t wild, perhaps their riders or owners had water and food. He slung the pack back over his shoulder, and gripping the hilt of Sliti’oc tightly, he started off walking towards the sounds. It was risky, leaving the path, he knew. But to stay on the path and not find food or water within the next day would be a death sentence. If he wanted any chance at surviving, he had to go towards the animals.
Meanwhile, in the middle of the Ariac Sea…
“Sari! Are you going to just sit there or are you going to catch some fish?! Your father will not be pleased if you come home without any! Stop daydreaming!” The nasally voice shouted from across the fishing nets. Dulayn, Sari’s family’s neighbor and self-declared babysitter to Sari, had been nagging Sari all morning. The floating colony of Areinstra was a fishing colony. They ate fish, they bartered fish, they delivered fish to other colonies in the clan of the Sea. Fish, Fish, Fish. Sari sighed, brushing shoulder-length brown hair from her shining silver eyes. If she saw another fish, she’d- Suddenly a large brown trout leaped out of the water in front of her, and hit her on the chest. She shouted, and, off balance, fell off the dock into the water. Dulayn shrieked with laughter, bits and pieces of the fish that she was gutting stuck in her salt-crusted dark brown hair, close-set once bright but now dull blue eyes stuck in a constant squint from the sun reflecting off the water. Dulayn was not an attractive or pleasant woman. Sari spit out some water and glared across the nets to the other dock at Dulayn. Her old, worn, leather clothes didn’t get soaked, the water would slide right off, and Sari enjoyed being in the water, but being humiliated in front of Dulayn was not a good enough reason to be in the water. She climbed out of the water back onto the dock and grabbed the flopping brown trout, throwing it into the nets that were slung across the two docks, tied to four posts on each side. The net was already half full of fish. Sari sighed again, and scrubbed at some sea slime that the fish had splattered on the front of her sleeveless leather shirt. At least the unexpected dunk in the sea had washed off some of the slime off the shirt and shorts already. The clothes were made from the skin of karilay’n, ‘sea serpents’. Granted, they weren’t real sea serpents; her father had told her all of the real ones were hunted to extinction hundreds of years ago. These were like the younger cousin to sea serpents; only averaging fifteen feet long and two to three feet wide, they weren’t very large compared to real sea serpents.
“Sari! You’re daydreaming again!” Sari wished that she could shout back a clever retort, but she couldn’t. She never would. It wasn’t that she couldn’t think of anything to say. She was one of the Broken. She couldn’t speak. She was mute.
Meanwhile, deep in the Volro’xe Volcano…
The whooshing sound of the wind mixed with the crackling sound of fire and the calming sound of waves in the dark chamber. Shadows were cast throughout the dim room by torches bolted to the wall. The stone walls were covered in carved runes, and encrusted with gemstones and veins of precious metals. Surrounding the circular room, their backs to the wall, were the apprentices. The Master stood in the center of the room, the torchlight causing his shadow to split and fragment every which way, his dark blue robes seeming to suck up every last drop of light. He stood in front of a podium on which were three crystal orbs, one made from fire, one made from the wind, and one made from the sea. They were supposed to glow from within with a steady light. But they were not. The light flickered and pulsed like a dying campfire in the wind. One of the apprentices stifled a sneeze, the Master shooting him a glare. The young apprentice looked down in shame, his glowing white hair falling about his face messily. The Master resumed looking into the orbs, trying to see what was disturbing the elements. The young apprentice looked up at the stone ceiling of the cave, his back pressed against the wall. It would amaze any onlooker if they realized they were miles within a volcano, underneath the magma pit, in one of the strongest magical distortions in the world. The apprentice closed his dark, chocolate eyes, trying to remember what he had been taught. Magical distortions were areas where one dimension connected or almost connected to another dimension, increasing the magical properties of that area by ten-fold. The Master sighed and closed his eyes wearily. Although he spoke not a word, the apprentices began to file out of the room through a narrow passageway that led back to the surface. All except for the young apprentice.
“Sir?” He stepped forward hesitantly. The Master looked up in surprise, his brown eyes seeming to pierce right through the apprentice’s soul. The apprentice flinched.
“Yes, Wei’loc?” The Master’s voice was weary, but touched by kindness. But Wei’loc wasn’t fooled. He knew if he bothered the Master with too many questions, it was a distinct possibility that he’d never leave this chamber alive. The Master wasn’t known for his patience.
“The elements…something is wrong, isn’t it?” Wei’loc asked, hesitantly.
“Yes, Apprentice Wei’loc. Something is very wrong.” Wei’loc waited for more, but the Master just stood there, those piercing eyes burning into him.
“Is…is there anything we can do to fix it?” Wei’loc began to slowly back away, towards the passageway, not wanting to test the Master’s patience more then was necessary. The Master shook his head slowly.
“I truly do not know, Apprentice Wei’loc. We will see how everything goes.” And with that, the Master turned his back on Wei’loc and returned his attention to the Elemental Orbs. Wei’loc knew when the conversation was over, and fled from the chamber, his grey apprentice magic user’s robes fluttering about him.
Back in the chamber, the Master debated what he should do. He needed to warn the other clan leaders about the trouble with the Elemental Orbs. However, the other clans did not trust anyone from the clan of Fire, after they had joined with the dragons in the Savage War. So he couldn’t send one of his full-fledged magic users, they’d just be driven out of every town they came to. A boy, perhaps, might be more easily trusted and believed. But most of the apprentices took after their mentors, quiet, serious, with eyes that burned with hidden passion. Those burning eyes disturbed many people; they physically felt the gaze, a soft burning sensation. Another reason to send an apprentice; their eyes did not yet fully contain the power to burn. But what boy could he send? Most of the boys would love the chance of adventure, although they’d all hide it well, just as a member of the clan of Fire should. Hmmm. One apprentice intrigued him. Wei’loc stayed behind when all of the others left. The Master knew his own reputation, knew the fear the boy must have had, yet he stayed to ask his questions. The Master needed courage like that on this quest. Anyone with courage less then that would break down at the first sight of trouble in the quest. And there would be trouble. The boy, Wei’loc, he had the courage for it. But did he have the skills needed? The strength to overcome any challenges he might face? He must be tested to find out. The Master would hold a tournament. If Wei’loc failed, perhaps another boy would pass. The message would still get delivered. It had to.
Sari rested in a hammock in her cabin, the gentle swaying from the motion of the floating colony making her drowsy. She heard the soft swooshing sound of the waves as they neared the colony, the quiet little splash as they hit the colony. She stared at the wooden ceiling, examining every familiar crack, chip, and whirl in the wood. She had lived in this little room for as long as she could remember, and she would still live here unless she got married. Or was chosen for a quest. But that would never happen. Not only was she a girl, she was also a Broken. It was a common idea that those with disabilities weren’t as good or as smart as people without disabilities. And since Sari couldn’t speak, she couldn’t correct those mistaken people. It was beyond infuriating. And that Dulayn! She drove Sari crazy, always taunting her, acting like she was so much better then Sari. Sari barely remembered her mother, but she did remember she once said, “Sari, no matter what people tell you, remember this. You may not be able to speak, but that allows you to listen much better then everyone else. They’re all too busy talking to stop and listen, but you… you listen always, always silent, quietly noticing everything.” And indeed, it did seem her other senses were much better then everyone else’s, even if she couldn’t speak.
“Sari!” Her best friend, Rya’il, shouted down the ladder that led to the deck of the colony. All of the common workers’ quarters were beneath the decks; the higher-ups were the only ones with living quarters above the decks. Sari swung out of the hammock, landing softly on bare feet, the wood floor feeling cool to the touch. Most people in the clan of the Sea didn’t wear shoes, unless they were skintight light, leather moccasins that didn’t weigh much in the water. She walked to the ladder and looked up at Rya’il curiously. Rya’il’s chocolate brown hair blew around in the sea breeze, and she brushed it out of her eyes, annoyed, revealing the crescent shaped scar above her right eyebrow that she had gotten in a fishing accident years ago.
“Your father wants to see you, Sari. He’s in the Elder’s cabin. Is everything okay?” Rya’il knew to ask simple yes or no questions that Sari could answer with a nod or shake of the head. Sari shrugged and began to climb up the ladder.
“Hmm…” Rya’il shrugged, too. “Well, let me know how it goes!” She winked and moved away. Sari squinted at the bright sun as she left the cabin, hand futilely over her eyes, trying to shade them as she scanned the deck. There were a few people milling about, some men on the east side of the colony, fixing nets. Two children were playing a game of chase over on the north side. She turned around and looked to the south side. That’s where the Elder’s cabin was. Why would my father be talking with the elder? She started walking towards the cabin, the sun-warmed wood feeling good beneath her feet, contrasting against the cold pit of apprehension that was growing in her stomach. She thought back to everything that had happened earlier that week, searching for anything that she might have done wrong. Nothing. Sure, she had slipped some fish grease into Dulayn’s bottle of soap, but nobody saw that, and Dulayn didn’t even notice, just commenting on how ‘this new soap feels nice’. Sari sighed as she arrived at the door to the Elder’s cabin. She took a deep breath before pushing open the door and walking in. The smell hit her first- smacking her in the face almost as if she had literally just walked into a wall. Rotting seaweed. Old fish. Long-forgotten food left to slowly decompose in the cluttered corners of the room. Sari choked, almost throwing up; this was how the Elder lived? Amongst this disgusting stench? As her eyes adjusted to the dim interior, she saw her father, hands clasped behind his back, head bowed respectfully, standing in front of the Elder. The Elder was sitting back in a large chair made from the hide of some sort of furred animal, smoking a seaweed pipe. That explained the smell of rotting seaweed. Behind the Elder, in the shadows, stood a shadowy figure, who Sari couldn’t quite make out; it was too dim. At her entrance, her father turned around.
“Sari!” he cried, arms opened wide for a hug. Sari embraced her father, looking curiously at the shadowy figure behind the Elder.
“Aah. I see you’ve noticed my son, Xcielion.” The elder spoke for the first time since she had entered the room. He heaved his great bulk up out of the chair and coughed as he beckoned his son forward. Sari had never seen the Elder this close up before, he was a lot fatter then she remembered, and he didn’t look to healthy. The son stepped out of the shadows, and Sari involuntarily gasped. She felt her father’s hand on her shoulder squeeze slightly. A warning. Xcielion’s face was heavily, heavily scarred. It looked like at some time or another he had been severely burned; a patch covered one eye, it had either been lost completely or was too damaged to see with. The other eye had lost its color; it was a dull clearish-grey color. His mouth was crooked, half open. It looked like it didn’t close properly. Sari wrinkled her nose. That explained the old fish smell.
“It’s quite alright, my dear. Most people are startled by my son’s appearance when they see him for the first time. As you can see, he was in a little accident years ago. He was struck by lightning thirteen times when he foolishly went out in a terrible storm. He was very, very lucky to survive. His thinking wasn’t affected, but his appearance… well; let’s just say it’s been difficult finding a possible mate for him.” The Elder gasped at the end of this, quite out of breathe. Sari couldn’t help it; she felt a disgusted look coming on to her face. The Elder wanted her to marry his son, someone who was far more Broken then her! Yes, it was an acceptable match, for it was considered that if two Broken paired, then they made one whole, but Sari was disgusted by this. She turned to look at her father in despair, but he wore a pleading look.
“Sari…please-” her father started to say, but she dashed out of the cabin, letting the door slam behind her. She ran across the deck, leaping over piles of tangled and coiled rope, dodging around some barrels, before coming to her little hiding place at the back end of the colony. When she was little, she had found this little space, maybe three feet by three feet, where she could hide and no one could find her. No one could find her because a false wall at the back of the colony, near the storage closets, hid this little room. She suspected it used to be for smuggling. Sari lit a candle; the little light casting flickering shadows over the wall. She huddled in the corner of the room, wrapped in some old woven blankets that she had hidden there around her, and wept until she fell asleep.
* * * *
A tremendous boom immediately followed by a loud crashing sound startled Sari awake. She groped about in the darkness; the candle had gone out, and it was pitch black. She found a wall and slid her hand across the wall, searching for the outline of the false wall. Right as her fingers found the crack, a scream of pure terror echoed right outside the wall and a body thudded into it, crashing right through and landing on top of Sari. She stifled a scream as she squirmed out from beneath the wall and looked at the motionless figure lying on the collapsed wall. It was Dulayn! Sari’s breath caught in her throat as she cautiously prodded the figure with her foot. It came away wet with blood. Her eyes widened and she backed away quickly, putting her back to the wall. She tried to peek outside, but it was a dark moonless night, the only light being cast from the dim stars. She realized, though, that the only light wasn’t from the stars, there was also a red flickering light cast across the deck, and screams tore the air. Her breath came fast and her heart beat rapidly as she crawled outside and peeked around the corner. A terrible sight confronted her. There were men dressed in dark clothes made from the skin of black sea snakes carrying torches and scimitars cutting down the people in Sari’s colony and setting fire to everything, shouting as they did so. One man ran past shouting at the top of his lungs and swung his sword hard, beheading someone that was climbing out of their living quarters onto the deck with a spray of blood. The lifeless body crashed back down below and a scream was heard as the other inhabitants saw the grotesque headless figure. The man pushed over a barrel of fish oil, dumping the contents down below, before throwing his torch down after. The fire instantly caught, flames roaring out of the hatch, the screams below gaining in pitch before going ominously silent. This was happening all over the colony, people being hacked with swords, burned alive, killed mercilessly by fellow clan members. Tears flowed down Sari’s face as she hid behind some barrels, watching the violence, unable to do anything, paralyzed by fear. One man in particular caught her attention; he stood in the center of the deck and watched the scene, face completely impassive, eyes cold and emotionless. The sound of an explosion right above her made Sari jump, and looking up, she saw the entire watchtower come rushing down towards her, looming bigger by the second. She tried to scream, but not a noise escaped her throat, and she found herself suddenly unparalyzed and she leapt out from behind the barrels as the watchtower crashed down on where she had been hiding, the barrels crunching under the weight, fish oil splashing out over the deck. One of the invaders threw his torch onto the mess and flames instantly roared up, engulfing that whole area. He then noticed her and shouted, coming towards her. Her heart felt like it stopped for half a second and she scrambled to her feet, her shoulder screaming in pain; she must have dislocated it when she leapt out of the way. She ran across the deck, dodging grasping hands and weaving around her pursuers, before slipping in a puddle of oil and tumbling to the deck. As her pursuers neared, slowing to a walk, grinning as they knew she was trapped, she looked around frantically for a way out, and she saw a metal rod used to anchor the nets. She swept it up and her hands and leapt at the nearest attacker, face twisted in a snarl. He stumbled back in surprise, shouting, and she swung powerfully at his head; all those years pulling the heavy nets laden with fish out of the sea really builds up muscles. She relentlessly pounded the man until he was unconscious, his surprise causing him to panic and attempt to flee rather then fight back. The other men stopped, taken aback. The man who had been standing in the center of the deck emotionlessly, began to walk over to the commotion.
“Come on, you pathetic excuses for men. Surely you aren’t scared by a little girl!” he shouted, drawing his sword menacingly. The other men’s eyes flashed with fear and they circled Sari, closing in. She twisted around, swinging the metal bar, feeling the edge of panic beginning to twinge upon her mind. Suddenly the men all attacked, jumping at her, swinging their swords, shouting. Sari ducked the first swing and slammed the edge of the bar into the man’s kneecap; a loud crack being heard as it broke. The man screamed and fell, clutching his maimed leg. Sari would have then ran, but the other men moved to fill in the spot left from the injured man. She desperately swung the bar and dodged swings from the men; they were clumsy with their swords, but they were stronger, wearing her down. She cracked someone in the temple, then on the return swing broke someone’s nose, her arms beginning to feel leaden. The emotionless man who appeared to be the attackers’ leader spit to the side, disgusted. He sheathed his sword and shoved some men out of the way, coming towards Sari. She backpedaled and swung the bar at him and he reached out and grabbed it in mid-swing. Her eyes widened in shock and he twisted the bar out of her hands and slammed the back of her head with it, her unconscious form crumpling to the deck. He wouldn’t admit it, but her spirit impressed him. Enough so that he wouldn’t kill her. Not outright, anyways. He turned to look at his pathetic men.
“Pah! You call yourselves fighters? You couldn’t even take out one girl! Throw her overboard and light the rest of this god-forsaken colony. We’re going home.” They all gave a feeble cheer and began dumping out fish oil everywhere, torching the rest of the floating colony that once was Areinstra. One man grabbed Sari and, lifting her up, cast her over the railing into the cold, black water below, her small form barely making a splash. Areinstra was no more.