||City of IF
Free online storygaming
Joined: 24 May 2006
|Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:38 pm Post subject:
Well, I have finals coming up, and tho I'm only in the middle of writing my next chapter, i figured i might as well just post what i have and call it part one.
because !: Finals mean i won't be finished it up for a while, and 2: It's already ten pages.
So there won't be a DP here, as this is only part one of a very long chapter.
I apologize if it's a little rough; i was just trying to get it out on paper before i have to give up writing for a bit.
We rode down the dirt road, trees plodding by like the days of our journey. We had managed to find horses in the aftermath of the battle without too much effort, and had started the journey almost immediately, after gathering some money and other necessities.
I rode a brown horse, a mild gelding, which bore a white blotch along its right flank. He was a mild horse, easy enough to ride after I had gotten used to him. DuskTreader had wanted me to ride a stallion, but after several attempts she gave up on me.
DuskTreader rode the stallion herself, a large black horse with a warlike demeanor and a fire in his eyes. The beast from nightmare that had given me so much trouble (and a couple bruises) performed like a circus seal under her practiced hand.
She spoke, her eyes remaining on the deserted road, breaking the sterling silence that had stretched for miles, untouched by even birdsong.
“We’ll be reaching Ixia tomorrow. Tonight we’ll be staying in Dulca, a small town across the river from it. It should be small enough that nobody big would be there, but small enough that we won’t stand out too much.”
I hesitated, wondering if I should mention an idea I had been having.
I mean, I still don’t know what my power is. I have no idea how to defeat the Amaranth. Maybe it might be smarter to just... take a break somewhere. Go to a small town or something and take a while to figure things out.
I doubted I could convince DuskTreader without a better argument than what I had, so I kept my mouth shut for now. We still had a bit of time before we were in Ixia. Maybe we could stay in this Dulca place….
We plodded on, the sun still high in the sky.
We saw the picture before we read the words. Three crowns lying on some surface, piled in a jumbled heap.
Under that, in bold letters was the letters, “Three Kings Tavern.”
DuskTreader gestured towards the stable attached.
We dismounted and walked out steeds into the dark stable, trying to find the stable boy with only the light of an underfed lantern hanging out front.
“Hello ser. Greetings Ma’am.” A quiet voice broke through the darkness.
A boy stepped out, no more than eleven at most, his sandy blonde hair a bit long and hanging in his face, his blue eyes nervous.
The DuskTreader nodded greetings, before handing him the reins.
I started to do the same, but I noticed a hesitation in his eyes.
“Ermmm… Sorry ma’am, but what with the new taxes and everything… It’s two silvers a night for both of them.”
He looked to me for some sort of approval, but the DuskTreader was the one who spoke.
“That’ll be fine. Do we pay here or inside?”
“Inside ma’am,” he spoke nervously, already moving to stable the horses.
She swept from the stable towards the brightly lit inn, I following in her footsteps.
We opened the door to be greeted with a wave of warmth and sound, from the roaring fire in the hearth and from the fiddle and the laughing mob the crowded the room.
The room was packed, every table taken, and all by laughing people who talked and drank, radiating an air of camaraderie and friendship.
DuskTreader picked her way through the crowd, her mouth frowning in distaste as a more than tipsy man almost hit her with a wildly gesturing hand.
He did manage to hit me as I follow, but I don’t think he noticed.
We reached the counter to find the innkeeper, or the man I assumed was innkeeper.
He was like an elderly bear, in his prime one of those mountains of muscle that you always expect to refer to themselves as Krug, but now older and smaller. Still, he was taller than most men, and broader too, and though you could visibly see the signs of age in his balding white head and his face, his stance still radiated an air of oxlike vitality. His blue eyes sparkled with intelligence and humor as he leaned against the counter, talking to a customer.
A huge broadsword hung over the counter. It looked well-used, and in very good condition despite its wear.
He looked up at us with a smile as we stepped forward to the counter, putting aside a glass.
“What can I do for you two? We have some new ale from the south that many are partial to, and if you’re looking for something more substantial, we have some leftover stew we could warm up.”
He addressed me, obviously expecting me to be in charge.
DuskTreader spoke, her tone icy. “How much for a night’s stay?”
The innkeeper turned to her. “It’s four silvers per head, but for both of you, since you make such a cute couple, I’ll make it seven, Mistress…?”
“We’ll be needing two rooms. If need be, I’ll pay full price.”
The innkeeper’s smile was now looking a bit fixed, but I thought I sensed genuine pleasure at what he said next.
“I’m sorry, but we have only one room tonight. As you can see, this place is packed.”
He gestured towards the laughing crowd. “What with the army the Amaranth is raising, the inns are packed all through the town. You’re lucky we have one room at all; a mercenary was found stealing and was forced to find alternate residency in our town cells. If you want, you could check the Winsome Wench, I hear several guests died from Old Mady’s chili.”
The smile was looking much less forced.
DuskTreader frowned and I saw her glance across the room. I also saw her hand tighten on her staff as if she was considering using it on someone.
“One room will be fine.” I spoke mostly to stop DuskTreader from doing anything rash to fellow travelers.
DuskTreader gave me a poisonous glance, but nodded her head in acceptance.
The innkeeper looked a little closer at me, his eyes suddenly a lot sharper, and I felt for a moment like he was looking deep into my soul.
For some reason I thought of Mr. Rook, my history teacher from college. He had had that same piercing gaze, and he’d been pretty big. He had actually been a pretty cool guy, if a bit obsessed. I even remember one time for the school fair he had had brought out replica medieval weapons. Half the kids dropped them almost immediately.
Then suddenly he glanced away, once again in kindly old man mode.
DuskTreader took out the leather pouch and counted out nine silver pieces we had looted from dead soldiers. As she replaced the clinking bag beneath her cloak, I noticed a couple of wandering eyes not quite as drunk as they had been the moment before.
DuskTreader seemed not to notice.
“We have two horses in the stable.”
The innkeeper’s right hand reached to the coins, finger deftly arranging them into a pile before he picked it up and deposited it in a hidden pocket. I noticed that he was missing his ring and pinky finger, the reason for his deft maneuverings.
“The room is the third door on the left when you go up the stairs. And you’ll be wanting dinner then?”
The DuskTreader shook her head, headed upstairs with her staff. I stayed. We had ridden all day, and the last meal we had had was yesterday night.
“And what’ll you have?”
I hesitated. Apparently DuskTreader hadn’t trusted me with the money; I had only managed to sneak a couple of coins into my pocket.
“How much is stew and a beer?”
“Five for the stew and another two for the beer.”
“Yeah, I guess I’ll have that.”
I fumbled out seven coins, a mixture of metals from my pocket, placing them on the counter. The innkeeper raised his eyebrow, takes a single silver coin from the pile.
He places three copper coins on the table, leaving me with several silvers and a couple gold coins. If I had been looking behind me, I probably would have seen those suddenly sober eyes again.
“Lissa!” he shouted. “A bowl of stew for this fine gentleman.”
He turned back, not listening for a reply, poured beer from a pitcher and set the glass in front of me. Then he poured a glass for himself and settled down in front of me. He gestured wordlessly at the stairs DuskTreader had gone up.
“It’s a long story.”
“Well, we’ve got some time, don’t we?”
I hesitated, working out the details of our cover story.
“Well she hired me a couple towns back to be her bodyguard, apparently after her old two bit the dust. Something about pissing some bad people off. It’s a hard job, but she pays a bunch. Probably some kinda lady or something.”
“Traveling a bit light for a lady.”
“I heard that the same people killed her old guards had her flee town awful fast.”
The old man gave me that piercing gaze for a second, then snorted.
“Loada crap if I’ve ever heard one. But whatever. You’re a paying customer and the customer is always right.”
I didn’t know what to say; luckily I didn’t have to say anything.
Someone further down the counter yelled and waved and the old man slid down towards him.
I finished the beer quickly, then the stew, when it came, and went upstairs before our conversation could resume. I walked down the corridor, counting doors until I got to the third, and entered.
DuskTreader stood in the candlelit room staff in hand, gazing at the double bed with a frown on her face. I closed the door behind me slowly, wincing at the scraping of the door along the floor.
DuskTreader looked up, her eyes bringing to mind polar bears, blizzards, ice sculptures, cold nights lying in the snow.
I stood waiting for the furious firestorm to come, but she silently went into a door I hadn’t noticed, occupied as I was by her furious face. The door closed behind her, leaving me standing in that sparsely-furnished room, bare except for the bed and a small desk with a stool in the corner.
Looking at the bed must’ve reminded me how long the road had been, or perhaps my hunger, now sated, was no longer my first priority, but suddenly I felt horribly tired. I yawned, and blew out the stubby candle on the desk, before fumbling with my shirt. I wasn’t quite comfortable enough to be taking my pants off with DuskTreader around, even in the next room. I was so tired that, despite the various bumps that I received stumbling around in the darkness, I fell asleep as soon as I was under the covers.
The fish slices through the water, its dark scales blending into the muddy river. The moonlight shines down on the surface of the water, showing the fish’s prey clearly by its silhouette. An insect, some waterwalking bug strides along the surface of the lake, unaware of the predator beneath. Then, suddenly, as the black fish streaks towards the surface, the insect seems to realize its danger and, with a buzz of wings, launches itself from the pond, sending ripples along the surface.
Some dark shadow swoops through the night air and captures the insect neatly in its beak, before flying away to enjoy its meal.
I woke up. At first, I was unsure of why I woke.
Then I heard a muffled sob, felt a trembling, and warmth against my body that I hadn’t felt when I had fallen asleep. I turned, caught a glimpse of hair like a raven’s wing at midnight, before, with a sudden jerk of surprise from my movement, she chokes the sob.
I hesitate, half rising, unsure of what to do. I touch her shoulder lightly, waiting for her to jerk away. She doesn’t, instead almost snuggling into the fleeting touch, unwilling to let any human contact, however repulsive I might’ve been to her, vanish. She turned, and I saw tears clouding her purple eyes.
She hesitates, shifting closer to me, her movements like that of a delicate baby bird. I put my arm around her like I used to do for Katya. She cried into my chest, silent sobs wracking her body.
I just held her for a time, all too aware of the warmth of her body against mine. Then, hesitantly, I smoothed that dark hair down in a soothing motion.
I had done that for Katya as well.
Slowly, her sobbing stopped and her breathing slowed, and the tears against my chest slowed.
I continued to hold her, afraid to wake her.
I wondered why she had been crying, thinking perhaps of horrible pasts. But she was so… spiky, I guess, in life. It was hard to think of her as the same person who I had traveled with this whole time.
I thought suddenly of the candles that lit her room, and of the darkness of this one. But… scared of the dark? Really?
But then a small voice in my head, the part of me that has always been the part that really saw things, whispered.
It says something important when almost all of the horrors of this world are named after darkness.
And, after thinking about it, I guess it was true to an extent. Perhaps not PoxBringer or Creeper, but NightStalker, DuskTreader, the Dark Lord, ShadowSworn, NightBringers….
I don’t believe I got much sleep that night, although I did doze off eventually.
We plod again down the forest road. The horses are now well rested.
DuskTreader had avoided my gaze all morning, refusing to speak of what had happened last night.
I was content to allow her to forget it. I wasn’t sure what to make of it myself.
So we plodded along, silent.
Suddenly, I heard a buzzing sound, and I fell from my saddle from a sudden impact in my side. It didn’t start to hurt until I hit the ground, face halfway in the mud.
I could see DuskTreader’s stallion stop, and I saw booted feet blocking the road.
I hear threatening voices, and DuskTreader’s voice replying, but for some reason understanding escapes me, though I know I should understand.
“Put down the staff and hand over any coins you have, or you’ll find yourself in the same situation as your companion over there.”
“Is that really the smartest thing to do? I could destroy you before you reach me.”
“Aye, you might. But you can’t kill those you can’t see, can you? And we have archers stationed all around. No minor sorceress such as yourself would be able to flush them all out before they could spit you.”
“Who says I’m a minor sorceress?”
A laugh. “Just like all of you witches. Always claiming to be better than you are. Would any major sorceress be really wandering around these parts with no symbol and only one guard? All the major magic-users are part of the armies, and there’s no army this close to Ixia. So if you’ll just cooperate, you’ll get out of this alive. Normally I’d kill any magic-user, but it seems like such a crime to waste such a fine figure of a woman as yourself.”
“You’ll pardon me if I don’t thank you for your compliment.”
“And anyways, you’ve been negated by now. No matter how strong you could be, a buffer from any level mage could block you, if they took long enough. And you don’t think I’ve been talking just to pass the time?”
A sharp intake of breath from the DuskTreader.
As I lay there, the colors started to fade, blurring together, and it got harder to breathe.
I saw the boots get closer.
“He’s still alive!”
“Finish him off. We don’t need him, and perhaps the lady here needs to be shown we’re serious.”
A boot kicked me onto my back, and I saw the sun. Its glare blinded me, but I can see the outline of a person, and I can see a sword.
The man flourished it, then started to bring it down.
Some part of me erupted then, some animal instinctual part that burst from behind the veneer of civilization that had evolved over thousands of years.
I saw my actions as if a dream, from behind a red haze.
A hand shot up, grabbed the sword by the blade and tossed it away. I could hear fingers snap at the speed of the movement.
The hand was black, completely so, and ending in points.
Some kind of scaly exoskeleton covers it.
Suddenly I’m up, and my other hand went down to my side. I heard a snapping sound, then my hand shot up to stab the man in the eye with a splintered wooden shaft.
I turned to see other men watching in amazement, in shock and terror.
One of them broke and ran, dropping his bow on the ground.
I picked up the body of the man by his wrist and throw, and with a scream the runner falls.
Suddenly, an arrow whizzed towards me and hit my chest, simply bouncing off.
As if a signal, three other arrows flew towards me.
I felt pain in my lower back, the first I’d felt since I’d fallen from my horse, and three legs dart forward to catch the arrows before they hit.
I say legs, because they looked like spider’s legs, delicate and thin, covered with strands of fur.
The legs moved suddenly, and the arrows flew through the air, and three men feel from trees.
I walk forward, still moving as if in a dream.
The remaining men charged, and my hands and legs moved by themselves.
The first fell as a leg crushed his throat, the second as my hand went through his head, the third from a casual backhanded blow, all as their swords bounced off my darkened skin.
The fourth fell as a leg brushed his cheek almost tenderly, the stick tendrils adhering to his skin as the leg flew past, and with a snap his head turned to an unnatural angle and he collapsed.
The last one was held by all four legs, each to one of his limbs. Slowly, struggling, he was brought closer to me, as a hand reached up.
That instinctual savage part of me filled my mind.
I bared my mandibles, brought him closer to me to feed.
Then my eyes caught my reflection in his terrified eyes.
A blackskinned monster stood there, human in appearance but all the more terrifying for it, his eyes savage and bloodthirsty and animalistic.
I recoiled from the image, horrified, the red fog dissipating from my vision as my legs followed, tearing the man apart as the legs became black fog which returned to within my body.
Red blood splattered my face.
I stared forward blankly, shocked by the image I had seen.
“Sorry, I wasn’t much help, but I had to deal with that magic caster. He proved most troublesome and annoying, but once I got past his pesky dodging I crushed him like a… Are you alright?”
I fell to my knees, shaking, looking at my bloodstained hands through bloodstained eyes.
What was I? What kind of monster….
I felt a comforting arm around me, and a hand patting my head, and I cried.
Tears turned to darkness with a sudden burning from my side.
There we go.
And while There is no DP, i think there still may have been enough there to pique your interest.
Hoped you liked it.
Joined: 01 May 2008
Location: Deep within the music of the night
|Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:09 pm Post subject:
|This is really good.
I think one thing you could do to keep the length down is have longer paragraphs, or condense those single sentences that add a whole extra blank line...
Just a small thing.
You do seem to switch from present tense to past a lot- are you writing in past or present? It's really hard to tell.
Apart from that, it's really good!!