Jovial

A-Z April Fantasy Flash Fiction, part 10. Character: Perandes

Are you peeps reading the previous parts~? Do so here!

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Jovial

After that spectacle of pitting Legande against the guards, the king waved everyone away from him.

“Not you, High Ambassador!” He called after me as I bowed my head and was about to turn on my heel, “Pray stay a moment longer.”

I could hear Arancia chattering excitedly to Legande, their voices fading into the distance. The three guards limped off, muttering amongs themselves, then gruffly shouted at a subordinate to fetch them new pikes. I obediently stayed, and his highness waited for the noise to die down before he spoke again.

“Well done, High Ambassador. I believe you have discovered the solution to a grave, long-standing problem of our nation.” The king announced in a sombre, stately voice, unbefitting the jovial expression that invaded his otherwise immaculately controlled face. ” As you undoubtedly know, we have always had a significant disadvantage in battle against our southern neighbours, despite our numbers, and perhaps more importantly, our superior technology and sorcery. Those beasts were created to thrive in the barbaric condition of war, it seems, and our soldiers cannot keep up with their physical prowess.”

I nodded approvingly. The king grasped very well, for his young age, what made the war against Súthenaira such a perpetually fruitless venture. Súthenaira was the land of the Faekind and the Beastkind, the immortal races of the known world. There, they allowed all manner humanoid monsters to live, as long as they could fight for the land, like Shifters, Serpents, or even Vampires. There had been reports from Escaton castle that a young Sylph had been captured some weeks ago, who had survived a jump from the highest tower into the icy ocean, and had almost escaped on several occasions. They were all vicious creatures.

“Our enemies are indeed the most vile kind of fiends, and it seems like this Legande man now resembles them.” The king concluded, “It may be an unsavoury thought, but in order to defeat the monsters, we may need some monsters of our own.”

“That is a wise insight, your highness.” I replied with a bow. These had been my very thoughts when seeking out Legande. Though it pained me to see his resemblance to the vicious ‘Nairans, it also gave me hope; perhaps I would not need to see again a massacre such as the one I survived. Perhaps, after milennia of struggle, this evil folk from the south could be defeated once and for all, and our people could finally live in peace.

The king studied my expression once more, before he announced in his most regal tone, “Then it is decided. Have the sorceress girl raise an army of soldiers from the dead, and let this man Legande train them. Soon, with divine aid, we may finally have our long desired victory.”

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Instinct

A-Z April Fantasy Flash Fiction, Part 9. Character: Jaé

Dear Readers, this is the 9th installment of a continuous story! Please read the previous parts over here!

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Instinct

Reality was gone, and there was only pain.

This pain was different that the kind inflicted by my torturers during the past weeks. That had been bad too, but predictable, indifferent. The kind of pain I had been trained to expect, to endure.

This was a wildfire, spreading from my neck through my bloodstream, burning, disintegrating everything that I was. It was also strangely liberating. Any moment now, I would be released from my broken and shredded body, spread mighty wings and fly from this dungeon, away from the suffering carried by the wind into the next life. This had to be death, I thought, as I listened to my accelerating heartbeat, and my own screams, which sounded disembodied and distant.

I was wrong. Perhaps not entirely, as I would find out, but I was completely misinterpreting what the last fragment of my sane mind had just imagined.

My heart eventually gave up, and for a moment, darkness and silence enveloped me completely as I closed my eyes, breathed out one last time, and felt like falling into a deep sleep. Contrary to my expectations, this was not the end.

After an undefineable stretch of time, I heard something.

No.

I heard everything.

I was still unmistakably in Escaton castle, in the dungeon, but the dungeon had changed. It seemed to contain so much more of everything than before. There were so many signs of life; heartbeats and breaths, movements and slight twitches of muscles, all individual, distinguishable. I counted seven other prisoners in my immediate vicinity, ten more scattered around some paces away, and the interrogator. Water droplets rolled down the columns, and dripped off the ceiling. One landed on the gory stone floor. The next on a prisoner’s skin, the third on something metal.

A swooshing of the air, a sickening crunch, a bloodcurdling scream of agony, shattering the dank, thick air, an unpleasant contrast to the signs of life and the water drops. The interrogator had hit the man with a solid steel rod, breaking the bones in his leg. After the screaming stopped, the man panted and babbled incoherently while his heart raced. The water continued to drip, the prisoners lived and breathed. Above the ceiling, footsteps moved about, bored guards shifted their weights from one leg to the other and poked the floor with the shafts of their pikes. The ocean’s waves rhythmically crashed against the walls outside. The wind howled through some openings.

A cool touch on my shoulder. That, I was not expecting. It came with no sound, nothing to betray a presence, yet it was very clearly the grasp of a hand. A hand from a cold, silent body. I opened my eyes, and took a sharp breath. The air rushed in, though I did not need it; it brought no nourishment nor relief, only more information. So many smells and movements, yet I did not have the time to sift throught them. All my attention was on the hand on my shoulder, and on whom it belonged to.

His skin was flawless and pale, his eyes a serene well of melting gold, and his somewhat angular, yet graceful face was framed by long, straight, black hair. His expression was curious, expectant, yet friendly, and he looked not much older than me. Very quietly, a faint memory called out from my mind, telling me he had come to rescue me. All this took only a moment to register, before his touch tore into my attention again and compelled me to move. I did not think, or consciously decide. My body almost moved by itself, propelled by an instinct.

I swung to the side, away from his hand, pulling my arms free, breaking the chains, twirling through the air, and lithely landed on my feet, on the ground. It was an effortless movement, where time seemed to wait for me with every detail. As the chain crashed to the ground with a clanging racket, the interrogator startled and wheeled around, reaching for a weapon. I sensed hostility in him, and felt it mirrored in me, a wild urge. I could not have run away, even if I wanted to. The prospect of a fight called out to an overwhelming new strength in me. By the time the interrogator finished his turn and faced me, I was already at his throat, and slammed him into the stone floor with all my force. His panicked heartbeats ceased at once.

I turned towards the silent one again but he was already running off, out the doorway and up the stairs. I lunged into a sprint to follow him, though he did not seem to slow down, as the rest of the world did around me. In a moment we were out in the courtyard of the castle. He had swung a door open, making a deafening noise, and so all the guards were alerted.

Ordinarily, this would have been the part where I made a run for it. Now I felt my muscles tense as I glanced around surveying the approach of each frantic guard. Everything in me longed to fight, to use this strength that was ready to explode from within me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the ‘Nairan boy curl into a loose crouch, his glance locked on the nearest foe as he waited for the distance to close. I was too impatient. Without another conscious thought, I hurled myself forward, and as I did, a fierce, beastly growl erupted from the depth of my lungs.

“Alarm! Vampires!” The lookout cried, as chaos descended on the castle.

Believe Your Eyes! #4

Howdy, peeps. Welcome to BYE, a weekly post that will introduce you to a (hopefully) new discovery in the real world ~

OMG so I really don’t cry often because of comics or books or movies or whatever but… I found a webtoon that makes me cry like hardcore.

Check it out here: My Kitty and Old Dog

Like seriously check it out. It’s about the love between humans and animals. Having been the faithful servant of quite a few critters in both past and present (and hopefully future!) it touched my soul on the deepest level.

Cya later folks. :3

And be kind to the critters around you ❤

Heroic

A-Z April Fantasy Flash Fiction, Part 8. Character: Arancia

Dear Readers, this is the 8th installment of an ongoing story! Have you read the previous entries~? 

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Heroic

The former thief revealed his name to be Legande. I listened, rapt with joy, as he told us of his heroic exploits in his newfound honest life as a soldier. I has never known my touch had been so powerful. I had just wished for his young friend to stop crying so bitterly after the execution.

The king mustered Legande, looking extremely intrigued, yet doing a magnificent job at hiding it. “High Ambassador, can you confirm these claims? Have you seen the man do what he claims to be capable of?” He asked, while still scrutinising Legande with his observant eyes. I had a feeling that the young king was not the breed of “useless nobility” that was often badmouthed on the streets.

High Ambassador Perandes, in his best impression of a humble servant, replied “No, your majesty, though there are many who have.”

“Interesting.” The king walked around Legande, seemingly very deep in thought. Legande stood straight and decorous, yet he seemed quite apprehensive when the king examined him from behind. “Highly intriguing are the workings of sorcery, and it seems a formidable being has been created. Formidable, though unfortunately an abomination to humanity.”

At these words my stomach sprung into a tight knot. I had apparently been fooled by the lavish beauty if the royal court.

“Guards! Knock him out!” The king commanded, with an authoritative gesture. Three guards stormed in, brandishing their pikes.

“No!” I screamed, unable to bury my dismay any longer, though my feet were rooted to the ground in fear. Dispair washed over me and I felt I would drown in it as Legande, with a resigned expression, turned to face them. He stood his ground, waiting for them to come to him. I held my breath and dared not move.

The first guard swung the blunt side of his pike towards Legande’s head, the blade whistling through the air, but he sidestepped the blow and caught the pike by the shaft. His grip must have been hard as steel; the shaft shattered into splinters. As the guard reeled back from surprise, Legande caught the blades half of the pike before it hit the ground, and held it defensively in front of him.

The other two guards, hesitant, glanced towards the king but he was relentless, so they sprung into a half-hearted attack. Legande, with a simple, effortless, sweeping twirl of his newly aquired weapon, cut through the shaft of another pike. The third pike remained intact by a miracle, the guard parried the strike with the blade, and the metal on metal echoed with a resounding scrape through the quiet courtyard. Another of Legande’s attacks sent the last guard staggering and falling back, and as he lay sprawled and panting, Legande pinned him down, broken pike at his neck.

The tension was broken by the king’s unexpectedly jovial chuckle.

“Well done, well done!” He clapped his hands. “What a wonderful abomination, indeed. You have passed my test”

I could not believe my ears. An exhasperated sigh escaped my mouth as I went limp with relief.

Glorious

A-Z April Fantasy Flash Fiction, Part 7. Character: ShaRo

Dear Readers, this is the 7th installment of a continuous story! Please read the previous parts over here!

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Glorious

The war raged on our northernmost islands, where the ‘Nōrian invasion had landed. Knowing we could not fight the vastly superior, modern ships of their fleet, we had let them disembark, taking our chances on land instead. They had the numbers by far, and it was a monstrous piece of brute force. We were outnumbered, but had the advantage of the familiar ground, that had been specifically prepared to repel invaders. The front did not push far inwards before it came to stagnation. What followed was the deadly game of endurance and consistency, a war of attrition. They attempted to hammer at our defences, but we eluded them wherever they went, and struck back from where they least expected it.

Six weeks after the start of the invasion, I was to fly off my course again, to Escaton castle behind the enemy lines. A Joou, a Shadow, had gone missing on a mission there some weeks ago, and there was good reason to believe she was being held captive. Of course they’d normally send another Shadow on such a rescue mission, but most of them were busy around the front, or behind the enemy border, my KanCHo apologised, and this rescue was going to be a little different from the usual. They needed knowledge of the area and the defences, they needed a vampire, and they needed one who was old and strong enough to change someone. According to the records, she just turned fifteen today, the commander assured me, so everything was being done by the book.

Getting into the castle was harder than I had anticipated. The ‘Nōrians compensated for their dull, human senses by the sheer number of guards spying in all directions. I circled overhead, flying high out of sight, waiting, looking for an opening, until I found the one the captured assassin had most likely used; a window at the bottom of the tower, accessible by climbing the cliffs from the water. The window promised a convenient entrance; it was likely close to the dungeon. I veered away with the next gust of wind, plummeting into the depths and plunging into the ocean.

The guards, though vigilant, did not spot me approaching under the murky surface of the water. The crags of the cliff obscured my climb to the window. I listened for guards on the inside but there was not one nearby; the wretched stench and screams of the dungeon kept them away.

I swung inside, and landed silently on my feet. The dungeon was just ahead, behind a locked but unguarded solid wooden door. A noble effort, but no match for my kind’s strength. I pried it open, and the lock was bent beyond repair as I slipped inside. No doubt someone would notice eventually, but soon that would not matter.

I found her at once. Hanging from the ceiling by a chain, between the grey stone columns, racks of grisly instruments, and spiked cages, she was no more than a limp rag. Gaping wounds, an array of stabs and slashes told of the torture she had been through. Her light blonde hair almost glowed in the dim darkness, but was streaked with crimson smears of her own blood. Her heart still faintly beat, though there was not much strength left in her. The dungeon echoed with screams; it seemed another unfortunate soul was in session at the moment. A perfect backdrop. Nobody would suspect anything until it was too late. Keeping to the shadows of the columns, I inched closer and closer, careful not to attract the attention of the other prisoners, who were scattered here and there, tied up on the floor, or locked in a cage, all bearing the same gory wounds.

The girl was still more alert than I expected, a great feat considering the condition she was in. She gasped as she saw me climb a column beside her.

“Who are you?” The whisper was barely a breath.

As was customary, I gave her my formal designation. ŌuekKaShiAn NaiRaShan CheeRionTe ShaRoOuNaiGo Borderguard of the Turqoise Flag, named ShaRoOuNaiGo.

She replied with her own designation. NiikKaShiAn Joou CheeRionTe JaéAnJoou. Shadow of the White Flag, named JaéAnJoou. She was indeed whom I was seeking.

“SeonTéGaai, SaeKi”.  Hold on, archer. “This may hurt, but freedom sometimes does.” I whispred as I leaned closer to her neck. Her feeble heartbeat beckoned from below her skin. I drowned out the tempting sound from my mind, steadied myself, and before either of us could hesitate, bit her.

The raw strength with which she screamed as I withdrew into the shadows startled the surrounding prisoners. They stared at her with wide, terrorised eyes. The interrogator walked by to see what was going on, but, seeing her, just sighed, bored, and went back to his victim. Only I knew that Jaé was not dying, but being reborn, and nobody knew I was here. Only I knew that this painful, new-found strength was turning her into a glorious monster.

Formidable

A-Z April Fantasy Flash Fiction, Part 6. Character: Perandes

Dear Readers, this is the 6th installment of a continuous story! Please read the previous parts here: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

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Formidable

In the warm, sunset light, I led Arancia through the courtyard, between vivid bushes of blooming roses, each plant bred to perfection by the skilled gardeners. She looked nothing like the beggar girl I had picked off the street earlier today; She walked with pride and grace, her head held high, the queen of the roses in a splendid magenta dress. I knew there flowed no noble blood in her. She was the daughter of a jewel merchant. Nonetheless, I would have mistaken her for a princess.

The king awaited us in the easternmost corner of the courtyard. Surrounded by the sweet, heavy atmosphere of a warm, rose-scented evening, and the fine white silk of his gown, the king resembled a young divinity. Even as he was still a prince, I had often entertained the bemused fantasy that he was perhaps a secret descendant of that powerful race we knew only from ancient legends. He turned around to face us and I  bowed deeply before him.

“Thank you, High Ambassador.” His majesty spoke, his voice soft and measured. That was all the attention he graced me with for a while. Seeing Arancia’s graceful curtsey, a delighted glimmer flickered in his expression.

“Dear Lady, I thank you for coming.” He said to her. Their gazes met and intertwined as Arancia bowed her head lower.

“We pray you take no offence if the pleasantries are left for another time. As it happens, the matter is quite of urgent nature.” The king, knowing Arancia’s background, was doing his best to speak clearly, I noted appreciatively. He was still very young, too young by some ill-mannered opinions. The monstrous aggression of the ‘Nairans had forcefully thrust him into his late father’s place.

“Send him in.” The king gestured towards a door, and it promptly swung open. In walked a tall, slender man, dressed in the comparatively simple clothes of a soldier. He carried no weapon, as was proper in the presence of nobility. He first greeted the king, then Arancia, then me, with seperate, somewhat curt bows. Arancia in front of me gasped as she saw his face. It was the man she had revived years ago. I had heard rumours about him, tracked him down in the run-down district of the poor, and persuaded him to follow me to the royal court.

On my prompt, the former thief recalled how he had indeed been hanged that day, but had then awoken in the street, with the little girl Arancia kneeling next to him. The flabbergasted guards, after a few shocked questions, had attempted to arrest him again, but he was easily able to escape them, much to everyone’s astonishment, including his own. He could suddenly run faster than any man, and was stronger than humanly possible, thanks to Arancia’s gift of the returned life. He had decided to use this gift for good, and joined the king’s army. He had since turned away from crime, and had a respectable, if modest, family. The king listened with growing interest. As the man finished his tale, the king looked to me, his authoritative gaze flashing with curiosity.

“High Ambassador, can you confirm these claims? Have you seen the man do what he claims to be capable of?” He asked, raising his hand to his chin, deep in thought.

“No, your majesty, though there are many who have.” I replied.

“Interesting. Highly intriguing are the workings of sorcery, and it seems a formidable being has been created. Formidable, though unfortunately an abomination to humanity.”

The king mustered the man, sinking into his observation, walking around him, each pace a stately, graceful one. I longed to know what thoughts went through his mind, wondered of the world that royalty could see. As he completed the circle, he suddenly called out “Guards!”

The door swung open and three guardsmen, armed with pikes, trooped in.

“Knock him out.”

Eloquent

A-Z April Fantasy Flash Fiction, Part 5. Character: Jaé

Dear Readers, this is the 5th installment of a continuous story! Please read the previous parts here: 1. 2. 3. 4.

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Eloquent

Six more dead Nōrian noblemen later I was forced to fire off my second arrow, as I made my frantic escape through Escaton castle, a monstrous fortification on the cliffs of the southern peninsula of Terenōr. I released it, bitterly scolding myself for my silly blunder. My target this time had been the lord of this castle, a charismatic commander of the sprawling war effort his kingdom had launched against us. I had silently cut down some guards on the way up the tower from where I planned to shoot him, while he crossed the battlements on his regular inspection.

I had completely forgotten about the evening change of guard.

The bodies of the guards were discovered amidst angered shouts, just as I drew my aim on the marked man, crouching at an arrow slit. Startled, I released. I missed. The arrow clattered against the battlement wall an inch from the lord’s head, the noise of my failure echoing between the cold stone walls. The alarm was immediately raised, and a horde of soldiers came trampling up the tower stairs.

That was where I shot my second arrow, into the thick throng of men. In the steep, narrow staircase, the heavyset man who’s eye my arrow pierced, staggered backwards in his last throes, hampering the guards’ advance. I sprinted up the remaining section of the tower and burst out the trap door into the open air. To the north, the castle, now bustling with uproar, was sprawled over the rocks. On the other side was the deep drop of the cliffs and the darkness of the ocean, furious with the wild waves of the nearing storm. I did not hesitate. With three last strides I was at the edge, kicking off the grey castle bricks into the windy depths.

I took a deep breath as I plummeted downwards, the daunting crests of the waves rushing closer and closer, until I broke the surface, and the water rushed past my ears. The current thrust me towards the cliffs, and I lunged upwards for air. There was nowhere to swim to, except the jagged rocks. My only hope was to hide there, and pray they thought me dead.

Unfortunately, I had barely started climbing up a slippery wet rock when the boats arrived, swiftly riding the wind. Despite my best efforts, I was suddenly caught by a rope sling, tugged down into the water, and hauled straight back to the dock. There, none other but my target awaited me, with a contigent of soldiers, all armed to the teeth and at the ready. They pulled me up by the rope and crudely shoved me forward, making clear that they would not go easy on a trespassing attacker. I did not want to let my target go, figuring I had nothing else to lose at this point, but I knew could not break free from the steely grip of the burly men. My captors shoved me this way and that, gruffly yelling at me, or amongst each other., until the lord gestured them to silence.

“My child,” He cooed in a theatrical voice that oozed like rotting honey, ” You need not live your life as you do. You are but a child, and they cruelly send you to commit such horrors. Let us help you! Stop struggling, and we will send for someone to take you in as their own, so you may thrive in your upbringing!”

I guessed that was what they said to all of us, at least to those of us who were stupid enough to get caught.

“How eloquent.” I sneered through my gritted teeth, “I will not succumb to being brainwashed by a diseased, filthy breed such as your own!”

I blacked out as one of the soldiers rammed the shaft of his pike against my head.

I woke up in the hellhole dungeon of Escaton castle, amidst tortured groans and screams of the other prisoners, hanging by a chain from the dripping ceiling.