COMMUNITY - FORUMS - FAN FICTION & ROLEPLAYING
Chances Are
+3

Chances Are:

by

Aeritz Drednir


...
5/6/2017 2:00:58 PM #1
+1

Chapter 1 Untouchable Dreams


No wrens sang, nor woodpecks knocked, the world about him was still. A splash of crimson sprayed across his face as a cacophony of rage coursed through his mind. Everything in this singular moment was drowned out by his emotions set ablaze by the loss felt in his heart. Another splash of blood flew as the knife plunged into his victim. A third strike, a fourth, the horrific violence continued unrelenting as his boundless anger poured out of him.

Kyer’s strong arms found no difficulty wielding the weapon and he allowed the sharp edge to work itself deeper into the prone frame locked beneath him. Blood ceased to spurt out of the punctured areas; as the owner’s heart soon went lifeless. Still the enraged boy continued the slaughtering; his innocence being lost with each strike.

Kyer rolled his head back for a second to catch his breath, taking in the surroundings of his parent’s lake front home. There had been so many fond memories in this house, but today those recollections were sullied by the intrusion and death of his mother.

The serene morning had called to her, drawing her out onto the porch. It was there where she sipped her brew and enjoyed the vista of the rising sun across the cove’s calm waters. It was also the location where her life would become forfeit by the hands of a murderous rogue.

His only intention was to steal from the Hauzer family. Yet he made an unfortunate miscalculation. He had not expected anyone to be awake. When the mother came out on that porch; it had startled the novice thief and before he even realized what he had done, his blade had found the lady’s chest. She was sent to the deck gasping her final breaths of life.

Kyer’s vision quickly took on a life of its own, as he spied something in his periphery. In the distance, dancing on top of the lake waters was a white and golden pillar of energy. Kyer watched it glide towards him, a calming and rhythmic movement. The closer it got to him the more at ease he became and the anger of losing his mother waned.

The ethereal light touched the shoreline and crackled, reacting to the new medium. Its golden rings swirling faster, the intensity of the beam grew brighter and overwhelmed him. His grip on the knife slackened as he lost focus of reasons to be holding it. More important to him now was determining the origin and reason for the light.

Kyer reached out to the heavenly creation, the knife falling out of his palm as he did. A violent pulse of white then flashed blinding him entirely.


“Kyer? Kyer are you still with us?” ribbed the older boy named Jaemiea.

Kyer jostled about coming to his senses. His daydream cut short by a familiar voice of both a friend and boss man. He stood up and staggered over to the nearby water bucket. The scum layer broke apart as the young man dipped the ladle through it. The flimsy can filled with water and was extracted by the small length of wooden dowel. He then brought the make-shift implement to his lips and sipped lightly.

Kyer Hauzer struggled daily to ease his mind from the loss of his mother. He had arrived too late and failed to save her; a murder that had left him orphaned and incarcerated. It was now two years into his life term sentence and the memory of that tragic day lingered with him with an unbearable weight.

Long summer days at the Brethen Prison Quarry, located just west of the providence of Eshendown, wore at him. For nearly two weeks, Kyer had been reliving nightmarish dreams. They were moments in time that had been lost to him and only now coming back. The dreams were memories that he would rather have left buried deep in his psyche and yet something had triggered their return.

“This one must have been rough Hauzer. I don’t think I have ever seen you look so pale, you are stricken with this ailment or fever, more so with each passing day.” The young Jaemiea said referring to the dream Kyer was waking up from.

“How much longer do we have for this break? I could use a few more minutes.”

Jaemiea looked over his shoulder judging both the time of day by the position of the sun and more importantly whether or not there were any guards around. Jaemiea then turned back to Kyer and silently mouthed the words, ‘no time,’ while shaking his head; a guard was indeed nearby.

The young prisoners were allowed three rest periods throughout the course of the day. This one was their morning break and Kyer, understanding his daydream had consumed his break time already, looked forward to lunch still several hours away.

Kyer’s recent visions were quick and undefined in his mind’s eye, having no purpose or measured reason to them. He was unable to lock his focus on any particular image save one. In each episode, at night or by day, a single point of bright light was shown. They were golden slivered shafts that felt as portals to somewhere else.

To Kyer, they were tears in the very fabric of the Dream World itself. There was nothing neither ominous nor malicious about them and if anything the light called out to him, beckoning him to continue in search of their origins. In every dream the light shafts were always unattainable to his touch and his understanding.

The frantic pace of the visions was growing close together as did the increase of frailty to his body. Alongside the dreams was the downward spiral of his constitution. Kyer could only assume the connection of the two was not coincidental. He, like his buddy Jaemiea, pondered if this was some sort of fever induced illness that was consuming his mind and body.

“Just another minute Jaemiea, I beg of you.”

“Be quick Hauzer.” Jaemiea pleaded not wishing for the trouble the delays could get them both in. His friend was in agony, and he felt bad for Kyer. In the end Jaemiea’s sympathy for his friend’s desperate situation outweighed his duties as a boss man.

Kyer took another drink of water and moved over to the bench that ran alongside the water cooler. His arms were aching and he kept his head lowered to try and shield his eyes from the intense sun that swept across the site. He wiped a bead of sweat from his brow; it was going to be a hard day.

Out of the corner of Kyer’s eye and several hundred feet away he could make out the ever moving chain of teenaged inmates moving in and out of the quarry. They were slow in their movement, but who could blame them. Their duties were simple and monotonous with no foreseeable end to the project. The hillside’s rocky crag swallowed up these societal rejects without remorse and spat them out on the far side of the cliff wall. Empty handed on one side and on the other, an arm’s length worth of orange rock.

The quarry was a simple layout being arranged in an oblong circular pattern. On one long side was the main cliff face that rose close to one hundred feet above the workers. On either side were the worker lines with the left acting as the entrance and right side as the exit. The opposite side from the cliff was the dump site, a sheer drop off of unforgiving depth.

Once the two friends had made their way back to the worker lines Jaemiea broke into a whispered conversation.

“Hauzer you have been slipping into those daydreams more and more in the past two weeks.”

“I know, mostly they come to me at night while I sleep, but as you can see they have found me at all hours of the day. I am so tired Jaemiea. When I do find sleep, my body is restless as the visions I am having are taking on the manner of nightmares more so than peaceful dreams.”

Hauzer, as the boys tended to call him, neglected to tell his boss man and friend about the golden ‘magical’ shafts of light seen in his dreams. He was an educated boy, one of the few at the site, and to speak of such mystical devices might lower the perception many had of him. Such qualities of respect of one’s mind were hard to come by in a place like the quarry and he could not afford to lose such a status nor a good friend in Jaemiea. Instead Kyer relayed the overall theme of his dreams; in particular he spoke of the events surrounding his mother’s murder.

“The dreams focus on her.”

“Your mother?”

“Yeah, I’m not sure why, but they do. You think she is trying to send me a message from the Grave World?” Kyer shrugged.

Jaemiea returned the shrug, “Maybe, one thing is for certain.”

“What’s that?”

“She needs to let you get some rest.”

“I know Jaemiea, I know.” He agreed.

“The Ministers are not going to care whether or not your dead mom is communing to you from the Grave World. In fact they will probably beat you and throw you over the cliff for just mentioning such a wild thing.”

“You don’t really believe me do you?”

Jaemiea shrugged again, “I don’t know Kyer. Something is different about you, that much is for certain.”

Kyer gave a small smile, happy that his friend understood his troubles.

“Doesn’t matter though Hauzer, the Minister’s won’t believe you. Sure, I have never known you to be sick. More importantly, I have never known you to be delusional either. However, they won’t care.”

Again Kyer Hauzer agreed but remained silent letting the other kid finish his thought.

“I really just don’t know what has come over you. Bad water?”

“Heh, then you’d be seeing stuff too.”

They both snickered a little louder than they should have, but luckily no one other than a pair of young prisoners seemed to notice. Jaemiea Sullivan had befriended Kyer knowing the boy incapable of such violence that he had been incarcerated for. Supposedly, Kyer Hauzer had killed his mother and her lover in a brutal stabbing. Jaemiea however was well aware of how the system could sometimes falter and take the innocent.

Selfishly though, Jaemiea was glad to have had Kyer join the prison, it finally gave him a decent buddy to spend the long days with, not to mention that Hauzer actually listened to his orders. Boss men were resident inmates termed for life. These young men, now in their twenties, had served in the quarry for no less than five years.

In the course of the five years, life termed inmates would either prove themselves worthy of the role of a boss man or not. With the title and duties of a boss man came several benefits including better sleeping arrangements and considerably less manual labor. Many of the boys longed for this title and did their best to try and earn it.

This was exactly the intention of this incentive program. The Ministers of the quarry had derived this formula of social engineering in an effort to maintain order and discipline. The young kids would behave if for no other reason than the hope of one day being a boss man themselves. It never occurred to the kids to make notice that no adult prisoners walked amongst them.

Kyer had only been there for two years and although he had made a name for himself as a hard worker he was by no means ready to warrant the freedoms associated with being a boss man.
Still in the morning’s fog, his mind adrift, he heard Jaemiea, his boss man call out to him again. “Hauzer! Wake up. You were about to drift off again, I can tell.” This time the request was more urgent and slightly threatening.

It was true Kyer’s mind was weak and drifted and as a result he had been standing idle for far too long. He needed to get his act together and get back to work.

The advantage to having boss men like Jaemiea around was to have a friendly face keep you in line before having to resort to the next line of authority, the Ministers. These ruthless individuals had very little feelings for the child inmates, resident or otherwise. They barked out orders and were known to beat prisoners on a regular basis. Today was no different either; a small show of this brutality was evident as Kyer made his way to his station and watched the young man two down from him limp away. The boy’s clothes were tattered and his face bloodied.

It was common place, this vision of boys and girls broken down to the lowest state. To those whom lived here it was called the ‘horrors of the quarry.’ It was a whisper under the breath to each other that had gone through this living hell. It was an effort among them to breathe some measure of relief to the minds of the Minister’s victims.

Every now and then an inmate would succumb to the endless tortures of these vile men and perish. On those days the whispers, “Horrors of the Quarry,” were spoken more vocal. It was those days and those alone that the phrase was allowed to be spoken aloud without repercussion. All other times the punishment for this saying, if overheard, was undoubtedly a beating. Not that the Ministers needed an excuse to strike an individual, but it certainly did not help.

One in particular was called Minister Drednir or ‘Dread’ for short as more commonly known and used by the young inmates. He was the worst offender of beating the prisoners and it was solely based on his mood. He was almost always buzzed and often times drunk completely. Dread’s impaired judgment and terrible perceptions of what he perceived inmates were saying about him kept Dread in a steady state of desire for thrashing them.

Minister Drednir cared little of whom was the target of his violence, he just wanted to project out his hatred towards someone, anyone. He enjoyed more than anything the look of fear in the eyes of his victims.

Hauzer was one of the hardier young men of the site and therefore given the task of rock chipping. Not exactly a chore desired or sought out after, but one that allowed an individual some sort of isolation from the constant chatter of other inmates. The prisoners were not supposed to speak and generally did not while out and about the dump site located on the perimeter of the quarry. The dig site where Kyer worked his long days however was fair game for idle inmate talking and gossiping.

There was one specific difference that kept the rock chipping area apart from other areas of the quarry. Ministers did not generally bother with patrolling it; they felt themselves above that station leaving such duties to lesser men. This left the maintenance of prisoners in the rock chipping area to be controlled by the boss men.
The young men in these roles were much more lenient on matters such as talking.

Hauzer did not like this facet of the quarry and wished the boss men would not be so forgiving. Kyer could not stand the ramblings of other inmates. Most of them were self-proclaimed innocent boys and girls whom were wronged in their previous lives. Others were mumbling incoherently on the verge of insanity.

What irked Kyer Hauzer most though were those who ranted about the system. They moaned over every little thing and were vocal about how inhumane the Ministers were. It was the obvious things that people spoke of that bothered Kyer. Why state things that all people could see or understand, it added no value.

So Hauzer was content with swinging the hammer into the rock. Its loud crashes combined with the other rock chippers’ hammering out all at different moments created a cloud of ambient noise that drowned out all else around them. In this noise cloud was solace, a peace that allowed him to think about his past. A past, although recently tainted, was full of very memorable moments that he struggled daily to try and keep fresh in his head.

Unfortunately this task of savoring memories was getting harder with each passing day at the quarry. Quite possibly the cruelest and therefore more horrific thing about the quarry was that loss of memory of when times were good to a person.

Vibrations from his hammering that normally were soothing to the muscles were today painful. His sleep deprived body ached all over. The ongoing restless nights had taken their toll on him. Kyer was required to fulfill a quota of rock chipping each day.

Therefore, even though he felt pain from head to toe, he dare not miss the goal. To not fulfill this amount was to beg for a beating from the wooden batons that hung at each of the Ministers hips. Kyer was in no condition to receive such blows.


5/6/2017 2:04:22 PM #2
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Chapter 2
Replacing the Fallen

Jaemiea Sullivan was not an intelligent young man and was frequently getting himself into trouble as a result. He did not normally seek it out, but always seemed to find it. In most Ministers minds he was harmless and still worthy of his position as a boss man. However Minister Drednir in particular had a bad taste for Jaemiea. If Dread could not find a victim to harass then he would seek out Jaemiea. Even his standing as a boss man earned Jaemiea little latitude to shield him from Drednir’s wrath. Their feud was long seated and unknown to any but to themselves, and neither showed any signs of ever changing the current status quo.

Another day had passed and Jaemiea watched his friend’s health slip further. The agony Jaemiea saw in Kyer troubled him greatly, so much so that he could stand idle no longer. Jaemiea took action, needing to do something for his friend.
He set out that morning into Ministry’s main tent.

“Minister Drednir, surely you have seen how sick the boy named Kyer is. Can you not let him work a lighter schedule until his strength returns? It would do none us any good to lose such a valuable and hard worker such as Kyer Hauzer.”

“You over extend your authority yourself. Boss men need not worry about these matters. Besides, when this boy you speak of dies another will surely take his place. No one prisoner is that special to the eyes of this Ministry.”

Jaemiea knew better than to pursue the issue but he had to try for Kyer’s sake, “I could work his shift my Minister, if that would help. I just ask that you please go easy on him.”

The sinister smirk on Drednir’s face suggested his opinion on this matter, more so than his words. Jaemiea was disgusted by the outward disregard for his friend and fellow inmate. How could the guards be so dispassionate?

“You do not decide the duties of prisoners and if you continue down this course of demands I will be forced the hand to reconsider your position as a boss man. Do I make myself clear, Mr. Sullivan?”

“Yes Minister Drednir, very clear. I was only wishing to ease the burden from this sick kid.”

A long stretched out finger pointed at Jaemiea Sullivan, “You think I do not care about this boy, is that it Mr. Sullivan? You think me heartless; I hear the nickname of Dread given for me.”

“Sir I was only…” Jaemiea tried to explain his reasoning, only to be cut off by the angry voice of his superior.

“Well Mr. Sullivan you are correct. I do not in fact care about your friend, nor do I care about you. Both of you had your chance to be men; to be Brethens. Yet both of you threw that chance away when you committed your respective crimes.

You were sent to me in this prison as derelicts of the Brethen people, they do not want you any longer and neither do I. However it is my duty to provide for you until the maker sees fit to claim you. Suppose that is what is happening to Mr. Hauzer? Suppose the maker, our god of all Brethen people has decided it is time to forgive and accept him into the afterlife. Who are you to change that outcome?

No Mr. Sullivan, you are a prisoner. As such you deserve no remorse on my behalf, not from a true Brethen who serves on the proper side of the laws of our land and our god. Both of you are failures and worthless in my eyes, maybe god can forgive, but I cannot. Now be gone, I care not to speak on this further; nor will I.”

Jaemiea left the Ministry’s tent disheartened by Dread’s rant. It was not easy to hear the notion that he and Kyer were forever doomed the life of rejection from the Brethen society only to be redeemed by the maker himself. After all, was not the purpose of his incarceration to help him return to the world as an atoned and free man? If not, what was the point of this establishment?

It was his understanding that the prisoners were given this time in isolation of the Brethen lands to figure out why their respective crimes were wrong, to pay penance for those crimes, and ultimately to receive forgiveness. He believed it was possible for the prisoners to pay their dues and reenter the cities as average citizens, their debts for crimes committed paid for and forgotten.

It was a child’s dream, Jaemiea knew that now, but he had never known another way. This belief had helped him through the years to keep his spirit uplifted. In one short dialogue with the Minister it was made clear that not one of the children in this facility was to ever reenter the lands of Diar, and never to be an equal to a Brethen outside these confines. Jaemiea sighed, muttering ‘horrors of the quarry’ under his breath.

--

Around midday, Jaemiea was giving orders to another kid near the dump site. He had no sooner spoken five words when he met the baton armed judgment of Minister Drednir. Dread was no huge man but he was stout and more than enough man to rumble with the twenty year old. Drednir seemed to draw from an unknown source of fuel that powered his rage and made him a formidable adversary.

Jaemiea took two direct hits, the first landing on the side of his head and the second pounding the center of his chest. The young man collapsed to the dirt in a heap.

“Minister please! Do not hurt Boss man Jaemiea. Please sir!
It was my fault, Mr. Jaemiea was instructing me to…” The boy pleaded.

“The prisoners will not speak unless spoken too.” Minister Drednir retorted cutting into the boy’s whimpering. Dread received a fast agreeable nod in return as the younger boy cowered in fear of the Minister.

After a few moments Jaemiea Sullivan was able to shake off the sting of the baton blows. “That is the last time you will ever hit me Dread.” Jaemiea mumbled under his breath.

Normally he would have just fallen and waited for the pounding to end. The young man had lived through enough of the harassment over the years. He had carried the burden of his sentencing for too long. It was time to make a stand as a man.

Jaemiea grabbed a defiant knee and prepared himself to lunge a retaliatory attack. “No young Jaemiea there is but one more time you will feel my judgment.” Drednir said.

The Minister turned to his side and plowed a powerful kick into the kneeling boy. The incredible force knocked Jaemiea backward instead of just dropping him to the dirt again. Off balance and with such a close proximity to the ledge it had been a fatal mistake Jaemiea made to defy the Minister.

Drednir watched the lad fall. The boy’s arms reaching out searching for some hope of being saved, but none was found. His eyes grew large and the panic set in; Jaemiea knew this would be the end. He was surprised of the quickness his life would end, but also welcomed it. He was tired of the quarry and its torturous ways.

“No!” shouted Kyer from afar as he witnessed the unfolding situation.

The Minister sucked in a huge breath, his mouth gaping open and his head tilting back, his eyes became closed tight. Obvious shivers ran across his spine and he shook them off shrugging his shoulders as the thrilling sensation passed over him.

Dread looked directly at Kyer for an instant as if in that moment the two of them were connected by a thin unseen force. Their eyes locked upon each other.

It happened so fast that Jaemiea’s life was forfeited that no one, especially Kyer saw it coming. There was nothing Kyer could have done to stop the violent actions of the Minister once they had been set in motion. Ache pooled inside of Kyer’s heart as he felt sorrow and anger for the act of violence committed towards his friend.

The quarry was silent, not a single kid made a move. Death was never the penalty for talking especially a boss man, but today it had been. Whether by accident or not, Minister Drednir was completely unremorseful. With a final smirk suggesting the latter, Drednir broke his gaze from Kyer and the dreaded guard walked away.

“The horrors of the quarry,” Kyer Hauzer whispered under his breath getting a nod from a passerby.

--

That same day the batch of newest of the prisoners made their way into the rock chipping area. There were three boys and one young lady; all looked to be in their upper teens Kyer would guess. Which of them would be meant to be Jaemiea’s replacement he pondered? It seemed convenient that they should lose someone so soon after these inmates had come into their mix.

He found himself staring at the girl for longer than he should have and for just a brief second their eyes had locked upon each other. He quickly looked away slightly embarrassed about it, but caught himself looking back one more time to catch a glimpse of her. She had long black hair and a shapely body. She was by far the only thing good that had happened that day.

It was not entirely uncommon for girls to be brought to the quarry, but certainly this particular lady did not fit into the mix. There was something about her that made her presence differ from all the other girls he had seen come through the prison. She did not have the look of a criminal, and from what he could determine in his ever so slight time of watching her, she was polite and kept herself clean.

Most of the females that he had seen over the past two years were twofaced and nasty, to put it nicely. Many became rather promiscuous with the bosses or even Ministers if they were shapely enough. They knew that their bodies were their easiest way to make their time here in the prison much easier. They would get preferential treatment on sleeping arrangements and food. Women were still required to work, but the afterhours were a lot more pleasant for them.

This young lady though, did not seem to care about making her time easy. She kept to herself and had, not yet to his knowledge, made any advances on any of the bosses. Maybe she was seeking atonement for some ugly criminal act she had committed. Whatever the reason, he wondered how long her uniqueness would last. Sooner or later the quarry seemed to get everyone. It broke everyone’s spirits and innocence; it was merely a matter of time.

He watched as she turned and was led away by one of the boss men. He appreciated from afar her flawless skin, a nice shade of tan that nearly glowed. Shining like a million reflections of sunlight her long straight, dark hair flowed below her shoulders and swished as she made the turn.

The new inmates were kept separated the first week of their incarceration. It was a customary way to allow some acclamation to the dig site. The Ministers thought that it was important that all the new people understand the hierarchy and the responsibilities associated with the site. It was also easier for them to watch for signs of suicide and malice when the new inmates were kept apart from the others. The hazing and pairing up would commence after the new inmates made their way into the general populace. There were no concessions given to separating the males from the females, however it was strictly prohibited for them to sleep together.

Kyer remembered his first week at the quarry and reflected back on it as he lay down to sleep that night. He thought about what had brought him to be on the wrong side of the law? Simply put, he had committed one of the worst kinds of crime, he had killed. He was a murderer.


The weekend was bright and sunny and he knew he had plenty of time to finish getting ready for his daily run to work. He looked out across the lake; the waters would feel so good tonight when he returned. Kyer slung an arm across his mother’s shoulders and leaned into the top of her auburn haired head.

They stood looking out across the deck of their split level home onto a small lake that butted up to their property. Its waters were always so serene and relaxing. His parents had both decided it was the perfect home to start a family and had quickly bought the property when Kyer’s mother had been pregnant with him.

His father had passed away when Kyer was thirteen. A slow death brought on by an infection originating in the leg. A very gruesome and painful way to go and Kyer had wished he would not meet the same fate. Kyer was now the man of the house and it was his responsibility to get the money, which he did by obtaining a job in town.

Oh how Kyer loved that lake. It was not an overly large body of water, mostly useful for its small fishing village. Boats would come out each day and make their ways stringing along nets in their wakes.

He left his mother alone on the back deck and went into the kitchen to refresh his coffee. He poured the black liquid into his cup and watched the steam roll off the top of it. Its heat waves clearly visible, he sipped on it for several moments. Soon he would be heavy at work and the heat waves would not be so kind.

Time to get started, he thought. First he went to his room and pulled the drape closed for privacy. He was turning into a young man and his mother had insisted that the drape go up for decency’s sake. It seemed a foolish thing at first, but now Kyer had to admit enjoying the privacy the thin sheet offered.

Kyer pulled out the heavy trunk from under his bed and opened it. He did not have many choices, but each item was neatly folded inside, thanks to his mother’s tireless help. He sipped on his coffee, as he took a second to decide his outfit.
Again he paced himself, he had plenty of time. The run to the mill was easy for him, and the sun had just crested the horizon.

He had donned his favorite outfit; such things he found were beginning to matter to him. He pushed his hands down along the creases ensuring that it sat right on his shoulders. He grabbed his pair of boots and was about to put them on but decided to refresh his coffee.

As he pulled back the drape he immediately eyed a dark shadow on the porch out back. At first he assumed it to be his mother, but this was definitely not the case. The figure was much larger than her.

His heart raced not sure what was going on. He hoped it was just a neighbor or a friend of theirs that had come over unannounced. He calmly padded out to the rear deck still not thinking any danger was afoot.

He opened the door and there before him stood a tall lanky man dressed in black clothes. He had a knife in one hand and Kyer could not make out where the other hand was. His eyes then dropped to the ground. At the strangers feet in a puddle of blood lay his mother. She was a lady who had never been the cause of harm to anyone.

He was not sure how the man had been able to get the upper hand on his mother without her ever crying out for help, but he had. The blood stained knife in his hand was evidence of that fact. Kyer could not believe it. In an instant all his life long memories shared with her passed before him in a blink of the eye. This man before him had just taken away any chance of ever making a new one with her.

Rage replaced any momentary grief he had at that moment. There was neither fear of repercussion nor thought of forgiveness. His only instinct was to kill.

With all his might he tackled the man in front of him. Grabbing him around the waist and tossing him to the deck. Along the way down the man’s head hit the handrail putting a huge gash into his head. The struggle did not last long, Kyer’s anger fueling an enormous amount of strength allowed him to cave the man’s bloody head into a pulp.

Over and over Kyer hit the man; he then saw the knife and picked it up. Kneeling over the top of the already dead stranger he raised the knife high in the air. He then pulled the knife down in a smooth arc and plunged the blade into the chest of the man. Repeatedly he struck until the strength to lift the blade was to exhausting. He fell to the side of the man’s body and stared eye to eye with the body of his late mother. The love of a child enduring, even pass her death, he looked longingly into her glossy eyes.

A year later he found himself found guilty of murder. The family of the stranger had come forward and made up a story of why the man had been at the Hauzer residence. They purposed that Kyer had killed their loved one and his mother in a jealous rage. They believed he had grown angry at his mother’s new boyfriend and feared this new man would replace his childhood father who had been long since passed.

It was a preposterous lie but the court system had believed it since there had been no witnesses or evidence to prove any other story. In his grief with an undying measure of guilt he did not bother to fight the court’s decision nor its life term sentence that was handed to him. Who would believe a boy of only sixteen?

“You are hereby sentenced for life in the murderous acts you have committed young man. This sentence shall be carried out at the Brethen prison quarry of Eshendown. Guards remove Mr. Hauzer from my sight. His corrupted soul pains me.”

Kyer glimpsed beyond the guards that grabbed a hold of his arms and once again saw a golden ray of light. His dream was communicating to him and Kyer watched it crest through the doorway. Its waves of electric current crackled through the air connecting the worlds of dream and reality.

Unlike previously, the beam struck his dream’s body, the raw energy piercing him and searching out his every extremity. Never had his dream body been able to touch or feel the white light, but now Kyer’s skin became sensitive as his hairs pricked and stood firm. Shivers ran from his lower spine and rose slowly to his shoulders. The tingling continued into his head bringing him suddenly aware; his eyes bursting alert.



5/6/2017 2:04:58 PM #3
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Chapter 3 A Touch of Luck

A long slumber was abruptly ended, eyes blinking open. Her lips parted and a whisper escaped. “It has finished.”

The process of tearing down and rebuilding the Chancer had completed. She had visited the Dream World the previous two weeks traveling between the planes of reality and dreams to another host, this magical being of the bredth called a Chancer.

She was visiting the young man this way in order to bypass his unique outer defenses. She recognized Chancers for what they were; chaotic ripples of the magic called ‘bredth.’ Their use and consumption of the life energies associated with the breath were completely unpredictable.

In order for her auras to work on him, she had to set up a dream-way passage to him. Hence forth she would be able to call upon her own magic, a life healing usage of the ‘bredth’, to help this Chancer out. Without this link the Chancer’s magic would deflect such attempts.

She turned to her side looking upon a desperate scene of humanities worst. Surrounding her were vile young men and women, villains of society most of them. Here she had found him. Unfortunately she had been increasingly making him sick over the previous two weeks, but she hoped today would make up for it. Today no doubt his luck would change for the better.

He was a rugged, rundown youth who was emotionally withdrawn. This man of little importance to all others but to her would be capable of so much more. Eiylia had felt his magic from a great distance away, had felt the irresistible urge to track him down, and knew he could prove to be the solution she had sought for decades. This Chancer was the answer to her predicament of immortality. He looked of insignificant worth to the world, but this young man was to be her and her kind’s protector and therefore she knew that he was invariably the key to saving the entirety of Brethen people.

--

Kyer Hauzer woke early with a certain spring to him not normally there. He felt alive and carefree. Jumping up from his bedding; he took in the fresh morning air. Mornings were the only time that dust was not adrift everywhere, and a person could breathe clean crisp air. It filled his lungs and a surge of strength pulsed through his large muscles. Kyer’s mind was also clear of his previous night’s vivid flashback. Somehow he had managed to wake before everyone else. Or so he had thought, unknown to him one young lady was wide awake. She was staring at him, a concentrated look on her face. She watched him mosey about making his way around the other inmates. The bedding area was arranged in a chaotic manner with bed rolls laid out on the hard rock surface in no particular pattern.

He had been looking ahead of himself and did not notice the out of place clothing pack that lay in his path. Stepping on it made him stumble falling to his knees and catching himself with an outstretched hand.

From his newly acquired vantage point he espied a shining object over in the food serving area. Never had he saw such an item there, the morning sunlight was hitting the object just right to reflect into his eyes. Curiosity set in and he meandered over to check it out.

The serving area was not much, a long table with several crates stowed underneath it. Each morning the cooks would bring up the days food and place it upon the table. Always the same dish too, a mixture of rice and oats.

The object he had seen was tucked away into one of the crates located under the table and only its lid was protruding out. A shiny copper colored lid which was perfectly situated to not be seen by anyone who would have been in line. It had been pure luck that he had witnessed its location.

He took another look around to ensure no bosses or Ministers were alert to his presence. Confirming his luck of the situation once more; he grabbed the jar, saw the label and quickly slid it into his garments. Slipping away from the spot, he began making his way back to his bedroll. Unbelievable, the jar was that of honey. To obtain this rare item was mind boggling. He now had contraband that would need to be hidden well.

Several more inmates were now astir among which would be bosses. He made a bee line to his bedroll and could not help but notice the glaring judgmental eyes of a distant face. Of all the kids it could be, none other than the new girl with her icy blue eyes stared at him; piercing through him. She was an apparent witness to his newest criminal act. Not sure what else to do he placed a finger to his lips and gave her the hush symbol. He would have to speak to her later and make certain she would keep his secret.


5/6/2017 2:24:25 PM #4
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Chances Are:

Chapter 4 Fleeing Echoes

Later that day he settled into a good rhythm with his sledge. He felt alive and his mood was at its highest it had been for as far back as he could remember. Normally and isolated man, brooding and immersed into his duties, today he was in such good spirits that he dared greetings to many of the kids that passed by him picking up their loads of rock. He even helped out a couple of the younger boys in gathering their stones to save them from having to bend over.

A smile and a nod were all the thanks and acknowledgement he received throughout the course of the day. It was all that he would expect from them too. He knew for them to say thanks or gesture more than the nod would possibly draw the ire of the bosses. He did not want to get them into trouble; he just wanted to bring a little bit of his cheerful mood to everyone else. He risked punishment if he were to be caught for his good intentions, but it was worth it. To share what he felt inside after yesterday’s events of Jaemiea’s death; all of them could use this small expression of levity.

The new girl saw from her spot in line the several acts of kindness from the man other inmates generally called Hauzer, his last name. She continued along the path waiting for her turn with him. He swung the great maul into the stone wall, splitting the rock with perfect strokes, something she knew she had a hand in on this day. Her aura of confidence and strength had been focalized on him. He was more handsome than she had first thought, and she admired his strong bulging back and shoulders. His arms especially were quite nice, she thought to herself.

It had literally been ages since she had a man put his arms around her. She missed the sensation of protection that it always gave her to be held like that. “Hmph,” she let slip from her thin lips as she amused herself with the thought; not that she needed much protection in normal situations. However the days to come were to be anything but average if her instincts were accurate.

Out of the corner of his periphery he eyed the new girl making her way towards him. Her presence drew his attention, and he wanted to believe it was for more than just the delegate curves of her figure. Who was he fooling though? He was just a boy and his attraction for the new girl was undeniable

Several weeks had passed since her arrival at the site. Of all the inmates who arrived that day none had proven of much significance to the daily activities minus her. Kyer enjoyed the glimpses he stole of her shapely body. Her poise and grace seemed disconnected from the quarry. He found himself drawn to her more and more each day that went by. It was more than just her beauty, a formidable asset of hers, it was the way she carried herself. The girl appeared unbothered or burdened by the events about her. Somehow she was able to keep her spirit lifted separate from the dusty rock and filth covered men who drooled at her.

It would be now of never he decided. He had to discuss that morning’s honey stash. He knew he would have to sacrifice and share some of the sweet nectar with her. A payment for her silence was what he figured it would take; surely it would be worth it though. Anything to help stomach the bland meals they were served every day. What if she wanted something else? He began to question. What possibly could he offer or trade that a boss man could not provide? Hopefully she would not require the entire jar; hopefully she would not blackmail him into losing it altogether. She finally came within range and moved alongside him ending all his queries.

He was about to make his case about the contraband when she herself put a finger to her lips much like he had done to her earlier that day, this time shushing him instead. With her other hand she wrapped her long slender fingers around his muscular forearm.

For an instant he was scared of the intimacy. No girl had really ever touched him, at least not one he had found attractive. Furthermore, no boss would allow such contact amongst the male and female inmates. Within a fraction of a second his worries drifted away. Instead of doubt he was filled with confidence and inner strength. He had now completely forgotten about the honey and all other distractions that had been floating around his mind. In their place was clarity of his duties. She released his arm and in a blink of an eye she had faded away into the line of inmates assembled nearby collecting their loads.

However brief the contact had been with her, he would never forget that moment in time and the sensation that washed over him when she touched him. What was it about her, he pondered?

There was just something he couldn’t figure out, she was different from all others in that quarry, and this much he knew for sure; she did not belong. The glimmer of hope that shined through those eyes of hers and the sense of goodness that she exhibited made her stick out from the rest.

He went back to work, gripping the mighty sledge and hoisting it up above his head. High into the air its weighted iron mass of metal went. Then he pulled it downward for the next strike. Just at that moment coming from just behind him, a boss yelled at an inmate who was straying off the assigned path. The minor distraction made Hauzer’s hammer clank across the rock outcropping he had been working on. The hammer continued to fly towards a smaller crevice in the cliff and landed extremely hard there. He stumbled a bit and tried his best to recover quickly from the missed hit.

Internally, the rock had felt anything but a missed strike. The impact of the blow shook the rock dramatically. Kyer had somehow managed to hit the very spot that several weeks earlier a fissure had been formed. Had it been left alone the fissure would have been harmless. With Kyer’s new found strength and energy both from the overdue sleep he had finally got and from the lady’s touch, the strike on the fissure managed to be too intense for rock face to ignore. The crack grew exponentially now. Rapidly it sent numerous smaller splits out into the internal matrix of the surrounding orange and black speckled stone.

At first the cracks remained internal and hidden but soon a rumble could be heard higher up on the cliff face where the rock was weakest. A boss man a hundred feet away from Kyer Hauzer was the first to notice and react to the impending quarry’s doom. This boss was ever watchful for changes in the workload of the inmates and keen eyed on the progress made within the quarry. He could see, from his vantage point, the onset of rock begin to fall and yelled out to the nearest Minister to him for help. He was frantic, arms waving and voice cracking, never was the message fully understood until it was too late.


Twenty prisoners ran down the eastern slope of the quarry in a manic rush. None wished to perish in the rockslide that was occurring behind them on the upper level. The sounds of rubble clamored about them echoing off the quarry’s cliff-face. Screams of dying men and women resonated as well, but those that fled tried to not think about it.

The thunderous booms of rock slamming into the ground grew louder forcing the prisoners to propel themselves more quickly down the slope. Among those that fled was Kyer Hauzer who trailed after the fine figured woman who had found him amongst the chaos. She managed to persuade him to follow her; more by her quick decisiveness than any other means. Thus far those quick wits of hers had saved his tail.

Kyer had initially been quite frozen in place when the rock began to crack. He did not comprehend the magnitude of what was occurring. Luckily she had prompted their departure leading them down the eastern slope along with some other refugees. The single strapped sandals, not designed for running, dug into their feet as they trudged down the steep dirt road. Up above and behind them more rubble could be heard crashing down from the quarry’s disastrous collapse.

Still holding his hand the girl looked over her shoulder. “My name is Eiylia,” she said loudly as her voice competed with the surrounding echoes of the falling rock.

The section of the quarry they then entered was where the debris was gathered up from the fallen rocks of the above dump site. More prisoners were located here with duties to load the orange and black speckled stones onto transport wagons. It was a much smaller operation than that located on the topside, but here too the Ministers stood alert.

The escapees cared not for the authority down here; their only worry currently was to save their hide from the perils above. The Ministers however did not feel the same. Five of the armed and well trained men came at them aggressively; shouting as they ran.

To add to the prisoner’s woes behind them trailed several more Ministers whose angered obscenities relayed that they too wished for the fleeing men and women to halt and submit.

The first of the Ministers made contact with the rush of inmates, cracking his wooden baton into a young man not more than fourteen. The act forced the poor teen to drop to the dirt ramp. A second inmate was then targeted as the Minister’s effective weapon rose to the ready once more.

The Minister swung high nearly connecting to his intended victim but missed the mark as the inmate slouched in their step just enough to parry the attack. Kyer was there in that moment taking advantage of the situation having lost the pretense of adhering to the rules of no violence. He tackled the minister low, forcing the legs of the aggressor to collapse together and buckle under the maneuver. Once on the ground, Kyer grappled the Minister’s head and dug it hard into the dirt, grinding it deep until the man struggled no more.

Eiylia stepped in next to Kyer and grabbed his shoulder. “Kyer we must keep moving. We do not have time to save everyone.” She pointed back up the hill to the quarry’s folly. “We are not yet safe, we must continue running!”

“Okay, okay.” Kyer accented shaking his head, looking upwards at the scene above. His wash of anger that derived from the Ministers’ lack of remorse for the fleeing inmates began to settle within him.

The collapsed rock face had now filled the rock chipping area he had come to be familiar with. There would be no going back to this home, this refuge, a place he had found to hide from the woes of his mother’s murder. Whatever became of this escape one fact was for certain; there would be no going back to this quarry. It would take thousands of men, many years to clear out the rubble that had fallen. To what point would it make to do so? No one would miss this prison site, there would be others created in its place.

The rock was now rolling through the worker line areas and would soon have nowhere else to slide but down on their location. Eiylia was right; they needed to get moving quickly.

Distracted in thought Kyer was punched in the gut by the prone Minister below him. Kyer had thought the man dead by his own hands, but the Minister fought back now struggling to get back to his feet. The well placed force of the punch caused Kyer to suck in his breath, however he felt no pain. His eyes grew wide and determined. He then dropped to one knee.

Hauzer grabbed the fallen Minister’s wooden implement of torture that lie next to them and held it firmly over his head. The Minister’s arms went over his face instinctively understanding what the inmate intentioned. Kyer pulled the baton down hard several times rage filling him as the not quite settled emotions reared up once more. When the act was complete Kyer took the young lady’s hand once more and followed her hastened pace pass the fray of Ministers and prisoners. Eiylia seemed to know where she was headed and it did not occur to him to question her intentions in the heat of the moment.

“Hauzer!” a familiar voice boomed from behind them. Unconsciously Kyer knew the slurred and angry voice’s owner. It was Minister Drednir, Dread. Somehow the vile guard had caught up to them.

“Kyer Hauzer, you will stop right there! You will pay for your act of murder.” Dread’s order resounded again, this time closer. Kyer glanced over his shoulder and winced as he caught sight of the mangled face that glared back at him. There would be no evading this confrontation.

Kyer let go of Eiylia’s hand. “Go on, I will hold him off as long as I can,” he offered. With that he spun around on his heels nearly kicking off the loose fitting footwear and stood his ground. Minister Drednir closed the distance to them rather quickly and Kyer felt the fear rush up his spine. He sucked in his breath, bracing himself and yelled out to his female companion once more. “Run Eiylia, Run!”

“Very smart man Kyer Hauzer, now get down on your knees and beg for my mercy!” Dread said firmly with no hint of being winded from his recent dash to catch up to the two prisoners.

“I said beg or feel the sting!” The Minister stated his hand raising the wooden baton threateningly.

“Yes Minister Drednir.” Kyer said as he slowly abided the evil guard’s wishes. Hopefully Kyer’s submission would steal enough precious time for the girl to escape. “You young lady.” Dread said as he pointed pass Kyer. “Grab a knee alongside your fellow prisoner.”

Kyer frowned as he now realized the girl had not fled as he had hoped she would. Why would she not take the opportunity to do so? Kyer did not understand her reasoning; he had given her the chance and she had not taken it. What sense did it make for both of them to be caught, punished, heck probably even tortured and killed by the likes of this insane guard.

Hauzer did not finish his line of internal diatribe before the baton found his temple. Pain echoed through him as the reverberations of the Minister’s sting found their way through his skull. Kyer’s head jerked to the side and his shoulder dropped dramatically the force of the blow was much more solid than any normal human could have possibly possessed, inwardly Kyer realized this; his fear grew even stronger then.

Eiylia’s head cocked slightly to the left as she witnessed the events unfold before her. She grasped the depth of her and Kyer’s predicament with this particular guard and it surprised her. She had not realized that a Breaker was near. Normally such beings exuded a high amount of magic called the bredth and she could detect them. However this had not been the case in this event.

Eiylia was normally in tune with all forces that dealt with the magic known as the bredth, but somehow this specific incidence of the bredth’s usage had gone unnoticed by her. Some other means of magical shadowing had taken place here, but then a sudden realization overcame her. Of course she had not felt or known of the breaker, for he did not exist until now. Breakers were not born with the magic, like she was. Instead they are given the potential to become one. Only heightened stress or large amounts of exposure to life magic can trigger their evolution, unlocking their powers. The quarry’s collapse along with both Kyer’s Chancer magic and her Risen abilities had made this Breaker. The poor guard did not even know what he was or what he was capable of yet.

Either way Breakers were notorious as developing into creatures of pure evil. Their drive for more power consumes them and is fueled by the fear instilled in their prey.
Eiylia looked to the bloody face of Dread, a man who had not come before them without passing through the avalanche unscathed. The deep cuts running down his face poured blood out of them, but she knew the pain would not bother this manner of being. She had dealt with the type creature that resided within the Minister’s body before. They were terribly powerful individuals that consumed the fear of others and used it to power their own magically enhanced bodies.

She and Kyer needed to flee as her powers might prove ineffective against another being of the bredth. Their only chance was that Kyer would be strong enough for both of them. Eiylia hoped that the link she had formed with Kyer the night before had taken hold and was developed enough to get them through. He had it within him to protect them, he need only believe it.

Kyer’s fear and pain did one thing very effective; they allowed him to focus on the moment. He crowded out the falling stone now raining down from the cliff’s edge overhead. He tuned out the thunderous noise that stifled out a person’s clear thought. Even with a second massive attack from the Minister’s baton that brought Kyer down to all fours, his hands sinking deeply into the orange dirt and his eyes going hard shut, he found inner peace.

Kyer’s body reacted in defense of itself. He blanked out all else but that of surviving through this event. Kyer knew and therefore his body knew that his mortality was at stake and it reached deep inside for the necessary strength to make it through. For a second in all the commotion Kyer was reminded of his failures. A vision from the tragic day of his mother’s murder blinked in his mind. As before with his mother, now another woman’s life was to be forfeited due to his inability to react.

Another memory flashed heightening Kyer’s resolve, this time a glimpse of his friend Jaemiea reaching out to him in the boy’s last moments. The frightened boss man whose last thoughts were to defy the very man whom stood before Kyer now. His eyes closed tight and his mind lost in the past Kyer’s body defended itself.

Eiylia watched a wayward stone, not a massive one but large enough to catch her attention. Its gradual decent from the upper quarry gained momentum and strayed off course from the other rocks falling all around them. It moved as if it were guided, finding its way to its intended target, the upper most part of Minister Drednir’s skull. The guard dropped to the floor lifeless ending his terror over them.

Eiylia knew the Breaker, a very powerful creature, would actually survive the injury it took to the head. They had remarkable regenerative capabilities. With luck though, the thing would not regain consciousness soon enough to follow them. She did not desire crossing paths with the Breaker again; they may not be so lucky the next time.

No longer threatened, she quickly took advantage of the situation and grabbed the hand of the stunned and distant minded young man. The Risen girl led him away from the scene and watched as he began to wake from the fog that had clouded out his mind. His eyes slowly opened and the wash of something hazy in his mind cleared. It was as if he had just woken, coming alive with the new morning. He knew it was midday and that he had been moments earlier fearful for his life. Why then had he lost track of time, had his courage slipped from him? Had Eiylia saved them rather than him? What kind of man was he, if he could not defend her? It was no different from his inability to save his friend Jaemiea or preventing the murder of his mother.

“It is over Kyer. We need to get moving. More Ministers will be coming soon; to the east into Eshendown and then to the desert we will find our safety from them. ” They left the quarry behind with little remorse, Kyer looking back one last time to evaluate the situation. The dust filled the lower level, hovering over the pile of loose boulders. He saw no movement within the disastrous scene; from the looks of it the two of them had been the only two survivors that had come down the eastern slope.

Her hopes had been given success; Kyer’s magic had saved them. Eiylia had just witnessed the awe inspiring feat for herself, sealing her beliefs in the man she had come to find. He had now proven to her that his magic and her awakening of it had been powerful. Her Chancer guardian had been found after all these years.

Unfortunate that this union had created a Breaker in this Minister named Drednir. Not surprising to Eiylia, she knew the forces of the bredth always found balance. If the ripples of life magic had allowed the formation of a Chancer to reach its full potential then it had also allowed the creation of the Breaker at the same time.

What, Eiylia asked herself, who was her opposite and what sort of balances would be made when she moved on from this world. The flux of bredth was changing quickly now, this next year or two would prove challenging for the Brethens.


5/6/2017 2:24:47 PM #5
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Chapter 5 Dreams and Prophesies

It was nearing dark when the hag entered the old mire. The small spindly woods making way for the thick knotted trees of the swamp’s interior. Its moss covered tree limbs reaching out to her, trying to slow her progress into the deeper parts of the region. There were small muddied streams flowing in various directions, some pooling up to form larger bodies of water that would be next to impassable by normal creatures. Her ability to levitate proved useful in places such as these.

At one point, at a small copse of trees located on a tiny island of sorts, she lowered herself to the ground. The hag then stomped on a fallen branch snapping it into an arm’s length twig. Doing so created a useful tool for warding off spider webs. They had proved very annoying to her.

She chose to travel by night into the marshy land when the life was most alive and alert. Her powers were most heightened wherever life was abundant; being able to feed off the living like a log fuels a fire. Everywhere around her the dangers of the swamp lurked, predators seeking out their meal for the evening. This night however, she was the most viscous and deadly of them all.

An aura of death shrouded the swamp’s visitor, killing any lesser creatures such as insects instantly that entered its perimeter. This aura was invisible by itself, but where it had affected was evident from all the wilted foliage and bug carcasses that were left in its wake.

A secondary warding emanated from her and extended several yards more than the death shroud. This defense was that of pestilence and its wave of disease would infect any creatures that were inside it. Unlike the death shroud this aura did in fact give off a certain greenish glow that floated around its owner like a gaseous cloud. It was darkest green at its outer rim where it clung to the swamp’s scraggly trees and then lighter back at its core.

Together the auras allowed her to leave a trail of life ending carnage of rodents and bugs whose’ each last breath became hers; each helping her to maintain her life force and the auras she wielded. She was as close to the incarnate of death as any creature could get, and many saw her as a pure evil. They would come to know that seeing her was to see their own mortality at an end.

She however considered what she did merely self-survival. Without the ability to steal the life from her victims she would perish herself, and that of course was not an option.

“Why do you have to kill all of my pets you old hag?” a grumpy female voice from deep in the thicket came. “You would think being a visitor and all, you’d at least have a little respect for other people’s homes.”

“You claim all of these worthless creatures as your pets?” The hag answered back “Why of course I do, who else is going to claim them?” Came the voice again and then a pause before it said; “Hurry up and get in here so nothing else dies. I’ve got some food prepared and we shant wait for it to cool before it is eaten.”

The hag entered the small hole in the thicket and continued into the abode of the marsh denizen.

“You know I don’t require food, Mercisae.”

“Not for you hag, the food is not for you. It is for me of course and I’m not about to let it waste. I don’t come by killing as easily as you.” Mercisae declared. “Now sit there and wait for me to finish.” She said while pointing towards an old stump resting in the back of the makeshift hut.

The hag sat with an air of indifference about her looking around the room. Numerous kettles and kegs were placed around the room each with a unique color and pungent odor concoction within. There were odd shaped tools and utensils cluttering the walls and tables, the hag could not fathom what all they were for?

Stacks of parchments were piled waist high throughout the room, creating a maze of sorts. The closest piles of papers were some sort of correspondences from a Della Panthrex with an address in the capital city of Ansirk, a place the hag was only vaguely familiar with.

Mercisae was not a diabolical human but she was known to cause mischief from time to time. Her mixtures and salves known throughout the land to do everything from cure swamp itch to grow whiskers on the unsuspecting. They were sources of income for her, to what it was spent on was definitely not evident. Those unfamiliar with her craft would not find anything of worth in her hut itself, for it showed no worth. The hag was not so naïve. She understood many of the items strewn about the hut were quite expensive and next to irreplaceable.

The inner chamber of the thicket hut also contained many plants, or herbs as Mercisae liked to call them. Some had curly vines wrapping themselves around objects and climbed up to the roof, while others had flowers. Some flowers were dainty pretty things, while others were wilted and looked of death. There were skinny stalked plants that grew three foot high in one corner while in another corner sat a pot full of white capped mushrooms, which had a slight hypnotic movement about them. Interestingly enough the lighting for the hut came from several glowing plant polyps that dangled from the center of the room’s ceiling.

The hag did not understand nor care what all the plants did, but she respected that the woman she sought, this witch of sorts, had the power to use them to help her see into her dreams.

Very few knew Mercisae was capable of this power, the power of a Foreseer. These rare individuals had the ability to withdraw the air from plants and mix it with the steam of boiling liquids in wondrous ways.

Foreseers were those who had the means to access the Dream World. For some people that meant she was able to look into their past. Many times the mind will block out terrible deeds or events that have occurred in a means to protect itself from the horrors and pain these old memories can bring to a person. Unfortunately these horrors have a way of finding their way into people’s dreams many years after the fact. Mercisae is sought out to determine the source of these old memories so that, maybe, they can be addressed in a more formal and proper way.

Others like the hag would ask for a journey into the Dream World to discover events not yet unfolded. This is where the true power of the foreseer is exhibited. It was also the most costly of her services due to the rare and large quantities of resources it consumed in the spell. Costs were of no importance to the hag though; she had to understand what the power was that she had seen in her latest recurring dreams.

“So you seek my guidance once more hag, do you?” Mercisae questioned as she finished her gruel and placed the wooden bowl down on a makeshift table which had a surface curved and barked like a fallen tree. In doing so a small spiral wound metal object fell to the floor.

“I have a name Mercisae; you might be wise to make use of it.” She replied threateningly. A bluff as it turned out, she knew her auras had nil effect inside this hut, the enchantments too great and ancient. She might be able to physically harm or even kill the Foreseer, a weak old human with tiny arms and a hunched back. This course of action though had unknown outcomes since she did not quite appreciate what hidden powers an old sage such as Mercisae held in reserve. Surely she had protections other than that which were evident.

Ignoring the threat, “Ha, you scare me not hag; I have what you want already prepared anyways. Did you want to evoke the seering liquids yourself?”

“Of course not,” she exclaimed. “You already have it ready?” She said amazed. That her motives were so transparent to this human displeased her. Such was the case and there was little she could do to change it.

“I do indeed, but I will warn you.” She paused to emphasize the next statement. “I needed to mix in some Syseria. Your voyage will go deep tonight.” Looking directly at the hag now, Mercisae peered into those glowing yellow orbs that were meant to be the eyes of the hag.

“Deeper than I have sent any before you. Luckily you are already familiar with the world of the nonliving and I suspect that this will not trouble you. I merely state it as a matter of fact that I have needed to send you through the Grave World to get you to where you want to go in the Dream World. It’s not a trek many would care to take. Death is hard enough to face when one’s time comes on its own.” She paused again, “Of course the payment will be much more significant this time.”

The swamp witch then began the ritual of summoning the liquid’s power not waiting for any response from her visitor. Her foot pumped on a bladder which shot air into a fire below the kettle of green liquid she stood before causing the flames to burn hotter. The hag nodded her head assenting to the witch that she was ready and willing to pay the additional cost, even though she noticed that the witch hadn’t bothered for her agreement to the arrangement. She then watched as the spell was begun. Unlike many of the hag’s own spells which needed chants, she observed none were used in this magical evocation.

Slowly the fluid in the pot began to swirl and then bubble. After a few minutes the roiling liquid was turbulent, its steam filling the room. The odor was putrid and made the hag wince even with her limited sense of smell. The air in the room then became heavy and opaque, much denser than the fog outside in the swamp. The witch’s hands swirled over the cauldron and swished to and fro to a rhythm completely unto her.

The hag, Therdra, more commonly known as Mistress Therdra to those she left alive, shifted slightly in her chair. She had become anxious of this new procedure unraveling in front of her. It was different from the last time she had visited the swamp witch. She tried to think back on her previous visit, but she could not find focus in her head to recall any details.

Her mind began to drift and the hut faded to darkness where her eyes could not see. All of her previous thoughts and concerns melted away. The smell of earth and decay filled her senses and she felt as though her body was adrift, but not of her own levitating magic’s. This was the start of her voyage, one into the grave, Mercisae had told her. Death was no stranger to her, that much was true, but the Grave World was.

She did not fear the Grave World, rather she respected that it held mysteries to her. Maybe this voyage tonight would prove to be doubly valuable to her. Therdra might catch a glimpse at some way to make use of this short trip through the place of the dead. To better understand the place where her auras took the living might give her the means to tweak the aura and make it more potent. There might even be a way to create a new spell or summons that would originate from this plane of existence. She would do her best to keep an open mind about such things.

As earthen smells transitioned to those of sulfur, the cold set in. Chills ran up her spine and her drifting slowed as the first of the images flashed through her mind’s eye. She was shown a deep cavern as deep reaching as she could see. It stretched out in all directions and was immensely tall with only the occasional stalactite protruding down letting known that a roof even existed. In the distance, a faint but steady humming sound could be heard.

Everywhere a red haze hung and confused her sense of depth perception. It clouded and disrupted her ability to pinpoint any particular facet of the image. Millions of dots moved around on the cavern floor which was smooth and devoid of any obstacles or barriers. It had been cleared out by or for these dots she presumed. What were they though? Then she drifted on and again the smells of her surroundings changed as the image faded away.

This time the sulfur was replaced with the smell of sweat and a new image formed. She was now situated atop a plateau of orange and black spectacled rock. Dust was kicked up all around her and it too dampened the quality of the image she saw. Humans walked the surface here, their silhouettes easily identifiable.

A single shining white light was shown to her. It highlighted one particular individual that lay asleep on the rock surface and was covered in a thin blanket. Then quicker now, her image faded and the smell of blood filled her nostrils.

A great war scene unfolded in front of her this time. The bloody bodies of soldiers scattered all around her feet. The death toll in the thousands from what she could tell. Rotten flesh hunks covered discarded weapons of steel.

In the distance atop a great castle’s parapet she made out a lone single female with long black hair and ornate robes. The female’s power was obvious as she cast down white light in streaming arcs decimating hordes of the oncoming combatants of the castle. Each strike crackled as it sizzled through the air, its white beam encircled by a golden energy.

This young lady was defending the structure. Therdra could not tell if it was the lady she had seen in the previous image, but she guessed it probably was.

Mistress Therdra knew her time was limited in this vision and wanted to see if she was in this future somewhere as well. She then turned her attention back on the offensive attackers. Their numbers were unbelievable, who could amass such a great army? At the rear of the massive army a dark green cloud swirled, brighter than she had ever thought possible and told of their leader and answered her question.

Time passed and the witch Mercisae held fast the link between the various worlds that Therdra was traveling amongst. Her purpose was to show the hag the mystery of her future, a taste of the near events and a healthy dose of the great war that was to come. A time when Therdra’s power would be at its utmost potency to whatever end she would choose. This was what Therdra wanted most of her existence.

Power to control the humans which she despised so very much was her ultimate goal. They were the ones whom had disowned her so many ages ago. Humans and their ilk, with their societies and cliques, were so egocentric believing they were the only species that mattered. Taking advantage of every aspect of the land, hypocrites she thought. Yes, she would strive to rule them so that she could feed on the very air they breathed. She needed only to know that the power was attainable and in which direction to start towards it. Then one day vengeance and justice would be hers.

When the spell was complete, the air swirled back into the waters from which it had come and then went still. Its turbulent surface now calm, not a ripple could be seen. Therdra was silent, she knew she did not need to explain the visions she had seen. Knowing that the Foreseer had been witness to it all. The hag, Therdra, waited patiently as Mercisae ended the spell and did her best to decipher and recount the messages displayed to her during this time.

Of the many images she saw, the most peculiar had been the millions of dots in the Grave World. She understood that this had to be the realm where the dead awaited judgment. She knew then that since the dead had nothing better to do than to just mill around in a cave that she could ‘borrow’ them for a while. An evil grin formed as she now realized the source of her army had been found.


5/6/2017 2:25:11 PM #6
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Chapter 6 Eshendown Gardens

Kyer had been wrong; there had been survivors of the quarry’s fall. Of the twenty fleeing prisoners ten had been pelted or crushed to death, their bodies never to be seen again. Three were badly injured with one of the three having legs mangled beneath a large boulder. Five of the young prisoners stood waiting for the recovering ministers to tell them what to do and two of the remaining inmates, Kyer and Eiylia, now fled to the east heading for the lower garden villas of the city called Eshendown.

Only four ministers had survived on this side of the quarry and they stared back at one another and to the prisoners; no one spoke. That is until Minister Drednir, who all thought had been slain by a wayward rock splitting the man’s head nearly in half, stood once more. His skull not looking so damaged as everyone had thought it to be and Drednir seemed unencumbered by any pain.

“Drednir, you live?” The nearest Minister to him asked more than stated.

Drednir ignored the man and began spouting off orders as if it was his place to do so.

“You four find horses and take these prisoners to the northern ramp. Meet up with those you will find there and then report this disturbance to the Eshendown Province constable. In the meantime, Hunsren Mafly and I will pursue the two that fled east.”

Hunsren Mafly and the other guards made no move to follow Dread’s orders. They were all of equal station and since Drednir was often times drunk none were used to taking him serious.

A familiar tickle wafted through the air and distracted Minister Drednir. It was a smell he had come to enjoy over the past couple of days and he savored now as it presented itself to his nostrils. He tracked its origin, ignoring for the moment the insubordinate guards. They would be dealt with if necessary.

A sobbing female’s whimpers helped give away the wonderful aroma’s source. She cried out her desperate call for help and Drednir walked up near to her, his head tilting inquisitively. “What have we here?” He asked.

“Please Minister, help me!” She pleaded.

“Of course young one, of course I will help you.” He said as he reached down and palmed a fallen rock. He then raised it above his head deliberately so that the girl could see him do so. She screamed out for help again, this time looking on to the other Ministers, all of whom stood idle in disbelief that Drednir would actually follow through with the threatening act.

“Of course I will.” Drednir repeated softly basking in that aroma of fear that the girl breathed outward to him. With a mighty hurl, the stone flew downward and collided with the girl’s face killing her instantly.

“Drednir!” The other guards shouted in unison and laced with accusations, their eyes wide in astonishment.

The crazed guard turned about from the murdered girl and strode to the nearest Minister and yelled point blank at him. “She would have slowed your progress!” Drednir then sighed and restated in a calmer voice that which he had earlier charged of them. “You had all better make haste to Eshendown.”

Only one guard, the one nearest him, offered up a rebuttal. “How dare you go against the Minister’s code and execute that girl without a trial. Yes, she tried to escape, but she should have been tried for her act, not slaughtered!”

In range of this guard and using the very same hand that had just slung the rock; Drednir slapped the man. His sleeved shirt ripped as he did, the muscle beneath it pressing hard against the material beyond its limits.

It was a jarring blow, one that separated the man’s jaw from his skull. It was an inhuman feat of strength and honestly Drednir was unsure how he had achieved such a strike. He felt incredibly strong and knew not why, nor did he care for the time being. He was glad his body was finding strength within itself to match the need of the situation.

His anger grew from the inaction of the other guards and Drednir raised his voice even higher than before. This time it bordered on a shrill, crackling on the last two words.

“You will respect… my command!”

He pointed to the dying guard on the ground that held his face and called out in pain. Drednir then turned the crooked finger to the remaining Ministers. “You three will ride to the northern ramp and then on into Eshendown.”

None thought to challenge Minister Drednir further. After their acquiescence to Drednir, the other guards gathered up the prisoners and began the tedious trek to the northern slope.

Minister Drednir’s mind flashed to the face of Kyer Hauzer and of the girl. Anger and angst continued to well up in him. Even if this hunt would test his every whit and strain every ounce of his body he would find these two refugees. There was something primal with how Drednir despised the boy who had escaped the quarry and who defied his authority. Drednir let out a growled name under his breath. “Kyer Hauzer.”


Their shadows grew long as the sun set to their backs. The two traveled swiftly leaving behind the rocky crags of the quarry and its outlining hills. The tall rock formations had been Kyer’s home for more than two years and he was now overloaded by the breathtaking beauty of the trees and foliage around him. He had nearly forgotten the immense colors and smells of it all, having lived amongst the dust and drab of oranges and black stone.

They moved across the difficult terrain sprinting whenever the opportunity arose and the hills gave way to small clearings. As the evening approached they had made good progress; in fact better than expected progress. Kyer wondered how they had maintained such good stamina for such a long distance. It seemed almost impossible, but he concluded that the fear of capture had spurred them on.

Familiar backdrops sprung all around as they entered the valley of southern Eshendown, a part of Diar Kyer knew quite well. The province of Eshendown was a vast countryside consisting of farmlands. It stretched on for miles and was ruled by Lord Wallace Manti who resided in the town and its keep at the northern part of the province. His lands were arguably considered the most fertile in all the Brethen lands. From Kyer’s perspective he would have to agree, having grown up eating the Eshendown bounties.

They walked on through the night using the moonlight to help them find their footing. There was little dialogue between the two, Kyer brooding as was his normal nature. The hours crept by as they navigated the simple woods outlining the Eshendown Gardens and as night gave way to morning the two had found the main road through this part of the province.

Padding along the soft leaf cover that had yet blown away by the summer breezes, Eiylia reached out to Kyer’s hand enjoying the connection it brought to her. She led him away from the main avenue and behind the farm cottages. Paying attention to her movements, she kept their path heading east. It was a difficult task to avoid the view of eyes that might give away their presence but she knew that she needed to do so.
Kyer’s legs felt strong like he could go on for the rest of the day. Was it simply the electrifying grasp of this attractive girl that distracted the weariness from his legs? He let a grin cross his face. Dang she was intoxicating and the way she was holding his hand hopefully meant she liked him. Consciously he decided it was time to break the ice and start up a conversation with the young beauty or else she may start to lose that initial interest in him.

As if Eiylia had asked him a question Kyer spoke to her. “Alright let us keep going till nightfall. We should be far on the other side of Eshendown by then. What will we do about food or worse what if we are spotted?”

“I was thinking of that too.” She said as her hand disengaged from Kyer’s and gestured slowly, her open palms rising upwards. “We’ll just have to handle that as it becomes an issue for us. Most likely the farmers here will not confront the likes of you and me. If they do spot us they will merely wait until the Ministers pass by and inform them of their accounts of us.”

Kyer looked down to his blood stained prison top and again had to agree with the wise girl. Not only did she have a terrific body she had sharp intellect about her; an asset he admire greatly.

She had not addressed the food query but he let the matter alone for now as his belly was not yet pressing him to do so. “Alright my lady, after you,” he gestured.

Could it be possible that feelings for her were arising within him? Was it wise for him to let his emotions dive into such things at a time such as this? For goodness sake, he was fleeing for his life at the moment. Besides, what was the point of getting his hopes up?

Every time he allowed himself to feeling comfortable about someone. Heck every time he had known love for someone he had lost it. He was unable to keep those in his life from perishing. His bad luck followed him around and those with him were always the worst for it. It was better to travel with her for some reasonable time; then when a suitable breaking point could be found, they would part. She was better off without him in her life. In silence, his brooding recommenced, his head lowered, he followed her.

Cottages lined the lanes, their well maintained gardens a sign of the caliber their owners possessed. Kyer knew the Eshendown culture as he and his father had traded with them often times. They were vegetable and fruit farmers here in the southern end of the province, each with their tiny plot of land focused on one specific variety of seed. On the right he saw fat green tomatoes near ready to turn ripening age. To their left Kyer saw the orange and yellow of slender peppers that curled at the ends.

Having stumbled into trouble in the gardens when he was much younger, he knew not to tamper with the plots. These gardens would be enchanted with warding spells giving alarm to the farmers of any varmints or trespassers who may enter them.

“Kyer, what in Diar were you doing in those strawberries?” His father had asked of the wiry brown eyed boy. He could not escape the truth, Kyer knew better, for his father seemed to always know when he was up to no good. Kyer had only wanted the sweetness the small red fruit offered and at the age of six who could blame him.

They had traveled for hours along the road heading north from their fishing village to this more modern part of the world. He reveled in the spectacles of magic and technology. There were small magical rain clouds that would form a few feet off of the ground in one field. Then in another the boy saw the rotating arms of a mechanical harvester, those in particular had always been eye-catching.

On this day, Kyer had snuck off into the strawberry field while his dad had gone into the Felizado cottage to work out the trade of fish for fruit. It was a semiannual event for the Hauzers. Mr. Felizado had cut the meeting short after the alarm enchantment had gone off inside his residence letting him know his precious berries were being trespassed on.

“Kyer! I said what were you doing in Mr. Felizado’s strawberry patch? You will answer me boy?” His father asked more firmly stepping into the fields.

Kyer dare not lie, he knew to do so would only bring a more severe punishment. Instead Kyer did what he did best, he slunk down in the shoulders shrugging, his lip pushed out in a pout. He closed his eyes and sunk into his mind, allowing the swatting hand of his father to spank his bottom. When it was over, Kyer opened his tearless eyes and brought himself to look at Mr. Felizado.

“I am sorry sir.” Kyer said in a shy but convincing voice. “They are just so tasty.” Mr. Felizado had a hearty laugh and messed Kyer’s shagging brown hair. “Quite true Kyer. Your father and I were just discussing that very fact and that such fine specimens should fetch an even greater pull of trout this season.”

An stern glare from father to son and then to the gardener made it known that Kyer’s father knew he was being schemed. There was little he could do though, it was forbidden to enter an Eshendown garden without the consent of the owner and if this trespass went on record it would mean a possible hard summer’s labor at the Eshendown Quarry for his boy. The father needed his son to help him in the fishing business and could not afford to go that long without his second fishing rod holder.

“Very well, the price is agreed upon. Till next time, good harvest to you my Brethen.”

“May the waters of Diar be full of life to you my Brethen.”

Kyer only had a hand full of memories left of his father, so each was cherished. Even the recollections of when Kyer had got into trouble were nostalgic. Losing his father was a dark time for Kyer.

His father was a proud man and had not told anyone of his leg injury. It had been a minor scrape from a harvester found on the Felizado farm, but Kyer’s father had let it fester. By the time his mother saw the wound it had spread its poisonous rot throughout the leg. Kyer’s mother tried every salve and herb dressing she could think as she tended to the puss pocketed leg. She drained the fluid several times a day and applied leeches to suck the filth laden blood in the extremity. A last effort to save Kyer’s father was made by severing the leg. However even this did nothing to slow the pain or spread of disease, the infection was too great.

The pestilence had riddled the man’s liver. It was a slow agonizing decay of his great father, a man Kyer had thought was invincible; so strong and hearty in his younger days. There had been nothing Kyer could do for his dad, and he watched day after day as his health declined. If only Kyer had been old enough at the time to earn money and make the journey to Ansirk and seek out a mage.

The wizards in the Wisentrop District of Ansirk knew of formulas that could provide a magical remedy. Their vast knowledge of the mystical ways stood the only chance to reverse the disease in his father’s body. There was no money for such things, nor would his parents allow a debt of servitude be paid in exchanged. It was never even given a second thought.

The memory of his father faded as quickly as it had come. Along with the sadness and feeling of futility, it had reminded him of the mistake he, as a boy, had made so many years ago.

Even though Eiylia and he would need food at some point, the only way the two would obtain any of the hearty nosh from the gardens would to be through trading services or goods. Neither of which would fit into their current circumstances. They had nothing to offer in trade, nor would any farmer likely take them as farm hands under the consequences of harboring a fugitive.


5/6/2017 2:25:36 PM #7
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Chapter 7 Troubles Aloft

Kyer and Eiylia settled into a nice hiding place when the light of the day was far gone and their progress had slowed so much that they had little option other than to stop. The moon hid itself that night giving them none of its useful illumination as it had the night before. Under Eiylia’s advisement they covered themselves up with a scatter of twigs and leaves concealing their position and then slept.

They woke the next day to a darkened sky that threatened bad weather. Pushing off their covering the two arose from the twisted and exposed root structure that had done well at hiding them through the night. They then gathered themselves and continued onward heading further into the lightly wooded area.

Several hours had passed when the first of the showers broke through the cloudy skies, drizzling rain upon them. It was not a hard rain and although it tried its best to annoy the escapees that soon found them trudging through muddied land, their spirits were not dampened.

Eiylia was a Risen, a creature born with a limitless supply of life energy known as the bredth. The Bredth flowed outward from her body into an aura that not only surrounded her; it affected those whom were inside its radius. The main function of the aura was to garner a centralized focus on what a person needed most. Its power was able to subdue the fears, doubts, and worries that would normally hold back a person from achieving this goal. In their current flight from the prison it allowed Kyer to lose track of his frustrations associated with the rain. Furthermore, he was able to ignore the fatigue in his lungs and the strain on his muscles, thus allowing him to push through the discomforts and run for longer than normal periods of time. In essence she had increased his resilience and stamina.

Through the course of the day, the sky had grown glummer and Eiylia knew that they would soon need to seek out shelter.

“Well at least we won’t have to worry about being tracked in this mess.” Kyer suggested wiping his face.

“I hope you are right Kyer.” She too had been thinking the same thing. It was nice to see they were thinking alike.

The two let their tracks and scents melt away into the wash and the drawing night. Both of them strained their eyes to find refuge. As luck would have it they came across a farmhouse that offered some options. Would they chance a meet with the owners and ask them for entry into their home? Not likely to be a good choice.

The other option was to hide themselves in the one of outbuildings. There was a large horse barn and several sheds. One of which was a small wood shed that offered a place for them to stand out of the heavy downpour without trespassing into any structures.

They huddled themselves up under the extended eave of the large wood shed. Rain pelted the roof and drowned out all noise except for the booms of distant thunderclaps. White flashes periodically illuminated the area around them.

To their left side, a long series of hung clothes were getting themselves saturated by the torrential downpour. The two ex-convicts with their inmate clothing needed to get out of their attire and into something less identifiable of their previous living arrangements.

Eiylia was not comfortable stealing but knew it probably would not matter to him much, so she decided to deflect the issue onto him. She looked sidelong at him and pointed to her top, silently trying to get the idea across to him that she needed a new one.

Kyer just stared to where her hand had led his eyes and became fixated on her bosom. Her breasts were soft mounds lifting her shirt up with every breath. He could easily identify her small nipples as they protruded out slightly from underneath the thin cloth.

He had done a good job at keeping his desires at bay, a habit he had developed in the Brethen Quarry. No longer was he bound by the code of the prison and the sense of freedom was now settling in. He did indeed begin to want this woman before him.
Eiylia’s eyes snapped, locking them to his, she then grabbed the rounded pole that supported the tiny roof they hid beneath. A crooked smile telegraphed her frisky mood to her new partner. She stood; leaving him crouched up against the wood pile, hands gliding around the pole she displayed her body to him. The thin material of the prison uniform showed off every asset she had. He loved how it held her pert breasts and accentuated the curves of her hips.

Slowly she danced to a song that played in her head. Gyrating downwards to her knees and bouncing her slender figure as she cooed lovingly. Her seductive blue eyes looked back to him in search of arousal and satisfaction. She worked her spell on him with adeptness and finesse; she had no equal at this charade.

Kyer had lost time for a moment as he thought about the young lady before him. He could not control the lustful urge to see her body move nor the need to be with her intimately. The idea of grabbing Eiylia around the waist and dancing with her wonderful body slipped into his thoughts and now was back out quicker than he could manage. His breathing slightly labored and he struggled to get recomposed as the feeling of guilt washed over him.

She saw the wave of emotion hit Kyer and had not expected it. Eiylia was not aware of why it had happened to him, but she knew that she needed him focused at the moment. She would search for the reason to his change at a later time.

“Everything will be okay.” She whispered as she gently placed a hand on his shoulder. She looked into his brown eyes and gave him a reassuring nod.

Like at the quarry, Kyer then felt all his troubles fade away. The touch of Risen life energy flowed into him stronger than that of her aura. The guilt was no more and he felt the tension in his chest and loins ease. He blinked a few times and wiped his brow, unsure of why he had felt guilty in the first place.

“Let us get out of these clothes, grab us some of those.” She pointed to the clothes line. His focus now set, he set out to exchange the clothes they wore.


Drednir could not explain to himself how he had managed to track the young boy and girl; it just seemed to make sense to follow them to this farmhouse. It was as if he could smell their scent in the air, a notion that seemed preposterous given the heavy rains that would have stifled any such abilities. He was not that good of a tracker, never had been. Something tickled his nose with every breath he took and helped him sense the direction of his prey.

--

A hard knock on the door brought the husband and wife farming couple from their slumber. The man was fast alert and reached his feet quickly while the wife held onto notions of remaining in her bed. She believed the knock a remnant of the storm’s chaos, she could sense no other manner to the clatter given her grog state. The husband though took the knock as something else entirely.

A second knock, this one more forceful, brought the wife into alignment with her spouse. The second knock was not that of a falling limb from the winds, nor was it the clatter of some farm implement in their fields. She now sensed the urgency in the rapping on the door, and knew deep down something was indeed wrong. It was only a hunch, but that feeling came from deep in her gut.

“Be careful Jon,” the wife said in cautious voice.

“Hush woman, it is probably nothing more than a weary soul seeking shelter from this devilish night,” referring to the incredible storm whipping about outside. A rain that had no doubt flooded much of his lower field, a thought that weighed heavier on his mind than any odd stranger making a call on his home this night.

As the man approached the door he heard the loud raspy voice of a man beyond. “Stand aside Mafly, we have no time for this sort of civility.” The sentence ended abruptly with the thundering of the door being bashed in. It flew off the hinges, splintered beyond any repair and lay at the farmer’s feet.

“My word what is the meaning of this intrusion.”

A finger pointed at the farmer and the raspy voiced man spoke. “You will dispense with asking any further questions and instead concentrate on our inquiry. I am Minister Drednir and this is Minister Mafly.”

“Oh yes Ministers, how may we be of assistance to you two.” The farmer expressed sincerely as recognition of his small farmhouse’s intruders settle in. The half dressed man stood tall in front of the Ministers, he was aware of the peril he was in. The farmer sought only to help the Ministers, recognizing the uniforms of the men and the positions in the Brethen kingdom they held.

“Kyer Hauzer and his companion have fled to this farm; you will give them refuge no longer. You will reveal them to us at this time.”

The farmer was inherently a good man, believing in the law and those who helped maintain those laws for the kingdom. It was a belief that did not serve well for the poor man on this day; Drednir’s wrath was upon him.

“Sir I know nothing of this couple you seek. I assure you I shelter no one. Only my wife and I are here.”

“Kyer Hauzer!” Minister Drednir growled, as anger reflected in his tone.

“Sir, I know not of this name,” the man restated.

Drednir strode over to the man his eyes squinting. “Kyer Hauzer!” He growled once again.

Hunsren Mafly shook his head, “I do not believe they know of our prisoners Drednir.” With a swift movement Drednir’s open hand clenched the farmer’s neck. “You will tell me where they hide.”

With his neck held fast by the grip of the crazed Minister, Jon wanted nothing more than to give this guard what he desired, but he could not. Jon could not give him information he did not possess. The farmer was frozen with fear and uncertainty, his lips failing to find the words that would please the mad man.

“If you will not respond with their location, then you serve no purpose to me.” A strong squeeze by the Minister’s hand and the gasping man fell limp. Minister Drednir tossed the man aside soaking in the man’s last moments of fright.

Remembering a similar incident at the quarry, Hunsren Mafly made no attempt to correct Minister Drednir. Instead he feared the wife would soon join the husband, Hunsren silently excused himself out the back door. He wished not to partake in any of this massacre, and feared for his own safety.

“Kyer Hauzer!” Minister Drednir said while advancing on the distraught woman.

--

No sooner had the two finished donning a new but very damp wardrobe, a difficult task in the sopping rain, did Kyer’s heart skip a beat. He watched the farmhouse back door open and Minister Hunsren Mafly poke his head out. The Minister was obviously in search of something, most likely escaped prisoners such as them. Although it was impossible to do so, the two tried even harder to force themselves further into the wood pile. There was essentially nothing they could do to keep from detection; their chosen position was quite precarious.

A sudden blast of light erupted across the sky. Kyer could not have wished for more ill-timed lightning strike. The glowing skyline highlighted their bodies perfectly and Minister Hunsren could be heard shouting off into the farmhouse. “Minister Dread, I see the two out back!”

Without hesitation Kyer and Eiylia sprinted to the horse barn nearby. They entered through a side-service entry.

The building groaned as the howling wind strained the wooden structure. Inside plowing bred horses snorted in protest to the noises of the raging storm. They were not comfortable staying pent up, their natural instincts to seek shelter in the lee of an oaken copse of trees.

Both refugees, with extended arms, searched their way through the barn. They were given only brief glimpses of their surroundings by the outside lightning flashes that winked through the slats of the barn’s frame.

They scrambled pass the feed storage area and the tie down area for the horses. Eiylia pointed to a far off ladder that led upwards into the hay loft. Kyer feared this as an obvious place to hide, but kept it to himself seeing no other alternative.

Kyer stood watch below as he watched Eiylia ascend the ladder and make her way deep into the tall stacks of busheled hay. When she was clear, Kyer followed up as well, skipping every other rung and almost making it to the top when the large double hung barn doors flew open.

“Horrors of the Quarry,” Kyer mumbled under his breath.

Ambient light from the outside made its way into the structure followed by the shadow of two ominous figures. The horses neighed incessantly, their angst heightened with the entrance of the two newest to their haven. Something more ominous than the storm waged in these two and worried the horses more.

“Kyer Hauzer, finally we meet up again. We have much to discuss. I would like to speak with you now, please join me down here will you?” The hissed voice of Minister Drednir crackled through the barn.

With pulled back ears the horses slammed their hooves into their stall doors, their discomfort and desire to escape the confines growing larger. Something about the entrance of the two newest humans spooked them further.

“Kyer Hauzer,” Drednir reiterated. “You shall join me down here.”

“Very well Dread, let us finish this,” Kyer spoke confidently.

The Risen’s power had flowed into Kyer ebbing he fears within him. It gave him focus on that which he must do and all of his other emotions had succumbed to one singular desire; to end this struggle with the Ministers. He could not let Drednir have Eiylia; the evil man would likely kill her for their escape a definite sign of their insubordination. Drednir had already shown how committed he was to extracting justice for those who broke the rules of the quarry; he had done so with Jaemiea. Kyer’s mind flashed the image of his best friend Jaemiea’s last movements; the boy’s arms fully extended reaching out for help and never receiving it. Kyer then recalled his mother’s last moments, her face lying on the wooden decking; he had failed her as well. He could not fail Eiylia, he could not lose another.

Kyer dropped down from the ladder and stepped in front of Drednir and Hunsren. A raised arm across Mafly’s chest, Minister Drednir stopped the colleague short. “Minister Hunsren, excuse Hauzer and I for we have some unfinished business to settle.” Then Drednir added with emphasis, “just the two of us.”

No further words spoken, Drednir dropped his shoulder and launched one foot forward signaling his intentions towards Kyer.

A wash of undefined raw energy tingled across Kyer’s skin starting at the center of his back and pushed itself outward to each extremity simultaneously. Kyer had no understanding of what the energy was only that his body grew ready for the fight ahead. His blood was pumping faster; he felt his heart beating hard in his chest.
Drednir came at him quick, a rush that seemed inhuman. The boy’s body was slammed hard by the Minister’s shoulder and set him off his feet careening towards the wall. Kyer hit the wooden structure in an explosion of splintering timber. The surrounding wall and one of the main barn supports decimated from attack.

Kyer should have been mangled in the resulting crash through the stall wall. He looked down to his body and observed a golden sheen covering him almost as if he were protected by it. He arose from the scattered wood, his head cocked to the side. Kyer then pushed aside a dangling board and reentered the main hallway of the barn, the Minister waiting for him there.

“What is this?” Drednir inquired. “You have been inflicted with this magic that also kept me alive in the quarry.”

Kyer was succumbing to the magic within him, his mind becoming distant and befogged. He was no longer within the radius of the Risen’s aura and had lost her focusing magic. Her sorcery had allowed him to stave off the infusion of his own Chancer powers, but now Kyer’s eyes had glossed over and faint gold glow now grew from them. He was losing track of his own movements and unable to respond to the Minister.

Seeing no response from his subject infuriated Drednir further and he rushed into Kyer again. Using bare hands he struck the once-prisoner’s gut repeatedly. Each strike more than any normal human could have taken yet Kyer took the punishment unyielding.

Hunsren seeing the difficulty Drednir was having in subduing the prisoner moved in and offered assistance by smacking his wooden baton upside Kyer’s head. A minor attack than that of Drednir’s blows, the Chancer’s head twisted his golden globed eyes and stared blankly at Hunsren. Hunsren Mafly was startled and confused by the obvious magic that was afoot and dropped his guard for a moment.

“I told you this matter was between Hauzer and me,” Drednir shouted at Hunsren. “You will obey me.” A straight arm swung about and collided with the other Minister. Hunsren’s face expressed his surprise as he flew across the barn floor and slammed into a distant wall.

“Now Kyer Hauzer where were we?”

From high above Eiylia looked upon the three men in combat. She debated whether or not to assist but had seen the golden tell-tale Chancer magic show itself. She assumed Kyer would then be alright, but then again this was a Breaker they were dealing with.
Breakers had arrived to that name for a reason; their ability took the form of incredible strength and could break the circuit of magic flow even for beings as powerful as her and Kyer. It would be immune to her Risen magic, and quite possibly if given enough time it could manage to breakdown the defenses of the Chancer as well.

The Risen watched for a second time a brutal plow from Dread that sent Kyer across the room below. She watched as his bredth became laced with a fright that was inhaled by the fallen Minister’s last breaths. It was the infusion of magic that Eiylia had feared could happen; an event that could foster a surge of energy needed by the Breaker and destroy Kyer.

Minister Drednir’s nostrils flared soaking in Hunsren’s fear. “Ahh, what is the meaning of this feeling? Minister Mafly it seems you have been the source of my new found power.” Drednir angrily said wrongly. “What kind of wizardry are you into? I had thought that this was all due to Hauzer, but now I taste it in the air that you breathe out.”

The deranged Minister then added, “No it is both you, yes this must be the case, both of you have conspired and done this to me. No more though, this ends now, you will not continue your heresy, nor your damned wizard’s work upon my body.”

“Drednir, no, I have had no part of this,” Hunsren Mafly begged, his body still in extreme pain from the last bout with Dread.

“Hunsren Mafly you have cast your last spell,” Drednir said while reaching down and with one strong arm lifting the colleague up into the air. Drednir then tossed the frightened man through the barn’s exterior wall collapsing another main support beam and killing the fragile man.

“Now again I ask you Kyer Hauzer, where were we?”

Kyer made no response, standing erect and motionless. The beasts in their stalls snorted heavily and beat their hooves on the walls trying desperately to escape. The horses could no longer stand it, needing to flee their confines.

“Very well Mr. Hauzer, have it your way. You were warned as was Minister Mafly. This now ends!” As with his colleague Drednir lifted Kyer and tossed him aside, this time hoping to end a life by sending Kyer into the large iron anvil that rested upon a work table in the corner of the barn.

Unable to see Kyer any longer and fearing the fate of Hunsren Mafly would be that of him, Eiylia stretched her hands out before her and called forth the life magic inside of her. She knew a Breaker was next to immune to her power, but she did not care. She had to do something; she could stand aside no longer.

Downward shafts of white magic streamed from her hands and hit Drednir’s chest with explosive force. A crackling sound similar to the lightning outside pulsed as her magic cut the air itself. Drednir was subsequently lifted off his feet and sent into the depths of the barn.

The Breaker brushed off the shock of having the Risen’s power hit him, and looked upwards to its source. “You should wait your turn little lady. I will come for you next after I have killed Kyer Hauzer.”

“No!” Eiylia screamed from on high, and then sent down more streaks of bredth magic into the Breaker. Again Drednir was thrown across the room, this time not getting up as quickly.

She could not describe it but her emotions for Kyer rooted themselves deep. It was a phenomenon she had not expected to occur, not so quickly at least.

The magic of her last attack sparked upon loose hay strewn on the barn floor and set it ablaze. The fire spread quickly finding plenty of combustible material to fuel it. Eiylia swung herself over the railing of the loft and glided down; arms outward and streaks of her life fused magic beneath her feet connecting her to the ground and lowering her gently to the floor level.

“Kyer you are alive, thank goodness,” she said joyfully when she rejoined with the young man. He was reclaiming his motor skills his head shaking. She watched the glow of his eyes and the shine on his skin dissipate, his inner bredth magic in the form of incredible defenses no longer needed.

“We must get moving the barn will not stand much more punishment.”

“What about Dread?” He asked.

“The two Ministers are not a worry right now. Can you stand? We need to get out of here.” She urged him, reaching out to clasp her hand with his. He took the offering and allowed her to help him stand.

“What happened to me, the last thing I can remember is Dread and Minister Hunsren coming into the barn?” He looked around and finally took in the flame engorged building. He felt the urgency that she had been trying to convey.

“Here help me open these stall doors, there is no need to let the horses perish due to our ill-judged hiding place.”

They followed the running horses out into the pasture beyond, watching the animals buck their protests. They were happy to be free. Would Kyer and Eiylia ever find that sort of peace?


5/6/2017 2:25:56 PM #8
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Chapter 8 A Pirate’s Fate

Fardea's movements were precise and snapped exactly where she planned them to be. She crept down the corridor and entered the large dining area; her head on the swivel as she maintained vigilance. This mission had not been a challenge thus far, but this would prove to be the most treacherous segment for this master of stealth.

Her feet padded softly, crisscrossing each other as she maneuvered through the congested underbelly of the pirate vessel. The men lay about her, drunk and passed out from the evening’s festivities. Fardea Panthrex knew exactly how to entertain a room full of questionable characters, her voice and charms not going unnoticed as she swayed her hips and sang to the rhythmic beat of the hide-skinned kettle drums.

They ogled and fondled her; she had even let them do more so long as it meant gaining their confidence. She herself had a questionable character, but one would never have guessed her anything more than a traveling gypsy. She appeared to be a woman built for male entertainment, available for a hand full of gold coins. None could have known she indeed was for hire, but not for entertaining. She was a lethal purchase.

Deeper she waded into the sots, their unbathed bodies enough to make her gag. The goal was to close though, she had to continue. It had been two weeks of disguises and subterfuge to get her to this point. She could not let that much hard work go to waste. She needed only to remain undetected a few minutes longer.

Fardea's hand slid down her trim body and rested lightly on the hilt of her favored dagger. Darcelli was the name of her mark. The pirate clan leader had been the bane of her mother's endeavors. His pirates had been chartered to steal goods from the merchant shipping lanes and funnel the proceeds back to the Shadowling Faction.

Lately those funds had been lacking in substance. Darcelli and his men had begun to take more and more of the booty for themselves. The men, like all men, had become untrustworthy allies to the all female guild of thieves. It was time the pirates gained new leadership; someone who would adhere to previous arrangements Fardea's mother, Della Panthrex leader of the Shawdowling Faction, had conceived.

The pirate galley was not ornate but it was vast, housing hundreds of the pirates. Fardea slid back to the shadow of a massive wooden support beam as she contemplated her next move. The ship’s mead hall, from what she had determined over the course of her two weeks with the pirates, was the only way to access the personal chamber of Darcelli. A single alert guard now stood between her and the pirate leader, not a worry for such a seasoned assassin as Fardea Panthrex.

Each footfall was timed and calculated as she made her way to the guard. The dagger now slipped from its sheath and poised along the straight line of her thigh. Fardea crouched, biding her time to the perfect point at which to strike, unseen and silent in her approach.

The glint of steel was the final vision the guard had; his throat severed so that he was unable to shout out his death cry. Fardea's hands held the guard upright for a moment as she obtained the pirate leader's bed chamber key. She then draped a thin blanket across the man and let his body slouch down along on the wall. She hoped the ploy would fool any drunken sot that might wake during her visit within Darcelli's chambers.

The room behind was lavish, its walls adored with scenic tapestries and the floors covered by exotic furs. Several naked females sprawled themselves on the floor, their bodies writhing. Fardea quickly disrobed herself to blend in with them, even letting her prized jeweled dagger rest beneath her clothing. She intertwined her athletic frame into the mix of bare flesh keeping the distant goal of a pot bellied Darcelli in her path.

These people too had drank and entertained too much and had not noticed the additional female that entered their midst. She was one of them in that moment, her ability to meld into this and any surroundings she encountered always perfect; the skill of a master assassin.

A deep and grumbled snort escaped the lips of the pirate leader as he slumbered. Dreams of the numerous women and ample amounts of booze no doubt dancing through his thoughts as Fardea's lithe body curled itself up behind the obese man. Her muscular legs slid through the plush pillows he had sank deeply into. Ever so slowly and even quite seductively her lovely legs wrapped about his upper torso. If he were to be roused by her movements and find her in such a precarious position she would have little difficultly playing off a different agenda that would please him.

She brushed her hands through his damp sweaty hair and then let her fingers tickle the backside of his neck. Her bare legs locked and clamped his arms tight against his sides; he was forced prone. She felt him squirm as he began to wake. She had jostled him too much.

"Hush now," she began to softly sing.

"Hush now Salt of the Sea, there isn't need to cry, the world will soon be, rid of the man known Darcelli.

Hush now Salt of the Sea, Shan't let you further pry, The females of Shadowling bid farewell the man Darcelli."

The whispered lullaby relaxed and subdued the pirate leader. His shoulders slouched upon hearing her intoxicating voice. Fardea Panthrex the master assassin then squeezed the main artery in his neck with the simple pressing of her fingers. It was subtle and could have easily been misconstrued as a lover's embrace if she were caught. However as with every lethal move she had ever made, her timing had been impeccable and none witnessed her murderous act. With a final guttural gasp, the man went limp.


Several days had passed since the unexpected death of their leader Darcelli. Many fights had broken out as the savage and unremorseful pirates scrambled to replace the vacant position. One such contender was a young man named Benny the Boot. He was a squirrelly lad whose adept usage with the blade made him the most likely candidate; for none had beaten him, and none in their ranks could.

On the top deck of the pirate ship, yet another of the skirmishes broke out. "Nigh, I shall not giveth quarter. You be sittin in troubled waters and me n'ver spare the likes of you." Benny the Boot exclaimed to the would-be assailant going by the name of Jaris Hadly. This had been the third attempt at Benny's life since he had appointed himself into the role of clan leader.

"I'll have your throat Benny," Jaris replied as his long saber dashed towards the new pirate leader.

"N'ver!"

The two danced their swords in a clanking of thrusts and parries. Benny, the better of the two fighters, had little difficulty at evading each of the Jaris's attacks. A slice dead center at Benny's head was swiped away with his left blade while the right blade whipped a long gash through Jaris's abdomen. The man winced drawing back into a defensive posture his free hand wiping the blood from the wound as if to check its severity.

"Argh, is that all you have Benny? I've got worse cuts from the rigging of our spar," Jaris taunted.

"Ya needin not worry much longer about me," Benny coolly stated back.

Benny swooped his blades in low, both of them, and curled them upwards at the last second. Jaris managed to sidestep one of them, but the other slipped through his rib cage finding the soft organs inside. His saber dropped from his hands, his mouth gurgled blood, and then he collapsed to the ship's decking.


Hours later as the sun set below the sea's horizon a leather clad female stepped into the wheel house, Benny the Boot's new station aboard the vessel. "What manner tis intrusion?" Benny shouted hoping to alert his newly appointed guards. Unfortunately for the green horned pirate leader his protection had already been compromised, both of whom lie dead outside and hidden from view. Fardea the master of stealth had remained undetected for the ship's journey thus far; only now showing herself for whom she was.

"You and I have terms to agree on," Fardea retorted.

He strode over to the delicate looking female and pushed out his chest. "I be thinkin so sweet britches. I wonderin if me new job had perks with the likes of pretty things like you." His hands went out in search of her slender hips and met the sting of Fardea's dagger. Benny's lightning reflexes drew back his hand quick.

"What tis sweet britches? Why you be tis way?" His words lashed out in response to the attack, so too did his drawn pair of thin bladed swords. He crossed them over his chest, their sharp points facing outward.

"As with your predecessor, the Shadowlings have an offer for thee," Fardea Panthrex stated pertly.

"Shadowings?" Benny questioned shortly, but quickly coming to an understanding as he recognized the small symbol of an eagle's talon seamed into the right breast area of her black armor. "I be thinkin. Now I be tis clan’s leader nye Darcelli and me thinkin tis clan not be in dealings with you all." He lurched forward with a direct and easily telegraphed strike that Fardea evaded with comfort.

Benny watched the beauty slide around his blade thrust with smoothness he had not been accustomed to. Salts of the Sea, as the pirates commonly called themselves, were sloppy fighters and never gave Benny the Boot much difficulty in defeating. Her nonchalant demeanor in the evasion led him to believe this was no ordinary gypsy girl. She was a well trained warrior and he had better not hold any punches on her.

The Pirate leader pushed the attack using his second blade to whip a downward arc that came close to grazing the admitted Shadowling female, but as with the first, it missed the mark. Benny kept his wit and frustrations continued to build within him. Had he met his match with this girl? He could not let it be so.

The pirate clan's alliance with the Shadowlings had never shown much promise. This was why the former leader of the clan, Darcelli, had skimmed larger sums of gold off the booty they pirated. Darcelli had tried to look out for his shipmates, and now it was Benny's turn to do the same. Benny the Boot would sever the ties to the female guild of thieves and accomplish what the former clan leader had failed to achieve; freedom for the Salts of the Sea.

"So you thinkin that marlin spike will do me in there girly, I be thinkin not," Benny shouted referring to Fardea's jeweled stiletto dagger.

Never at a loss for words, Fardea quickly replied. "There is no doubt that this blade shall do what is needed tonight. The real question is whether that need will be you and your clan's demise or a proper union sealed in a bloodied handshake."

A clash of steel rung out through the small room as Fardea used her blade to deflect another attempt on her life.

"You can not win, Benny the Boot," Fardea explained simply, her foreign accent pronouncing his name in a silly manner.

Benny disliked the arrogance this Shadowling possessed. She mocked him. How dare she try and strong-arm him into a pact with her guild. The Salts of the Sea would not go into deals of extortion so quietly; a fair fight was no longer in the interest of the clan.

Benny reached into his tunic and pulled out a silvery cord of twine. A crooked smile beamed just before the sailor uttered, "Lash-eigh-la." The rope blinked bright one time in his open palm.

"Can’t win ya say! Benny the Boot not knowin the meaning of losin a fight." He then clenched the twine, reeled back his arm, and then pitched the balled up cord toward Fardea.

During its flight, the magical rope grew in size and developed a life of its own. It warbled across the open space between the two warriors until it collided with her chest. Fardea could not escape its path and the cord wrapped itself around her body; her arms became bound.

In a rapid succession of stabbing strikes Benny tried to take advantage of the situation provided by his magical trinket. "Stand still will ya," Benny mumbled in dismay as the girl turned and curled her body to avoid his barrage.

Fardea disliked magic, especially when used in melee. It broke so many rules of engagement and even though Fardea was a Shadowling, a guild known for such dubious tactics, she held the belief that a true blade wielder did not need such implements. Fardea was more than just a warrior of the blade she was adept at pugilism as well. Her long legs now became the tools of this negotiation.

She pivoted about on one foot letting her momentum build in her position. At the last second her free leg lifted up snapping a swift kick into Benny's face toppling him to the deck. Still bound, Fardea strode over and straddled Benny lowering herself on top of the dazed man.

"How do you like not being able to use your arms?" she asked the trapped pirate leader.
Her arms still magically tethered to her body one would think Fardea limited in actions, but she remained in full control of the jeweled dagger left in her hand. She dipped the tip of the long knife to the top of Benny the Boots trousers and gently prodded.

"Now let us talk the terms the Shadowlings are willing to allow the Salts of the Sea to have along these trade routes," she sternly said getting a grunted and submitted sigh in return.

It was happenstance that Earl the Gray should romp into the room at that very moment. The galley's cook had brought his good friend Benny an evening snack. Now he was witness to his favorite patron's predicament as Fardea held Benny the Boot captive, a jeweled knife pointing at his groin.

"Call to arms!" yelled Earl the Gray whose long beard was indeed the aptly named color. "An intruder attacks our boss."

Fardea quickly stood; her negotiations with the pirate leader would recommence at a later date it would seem. With help on the way, she would have to forego coercing Benny further. There was little she could do to change the outcome of this encounter. Her hands still magically bound to her sides, she gave up any pretense of coming out this ordeal unscathed. An exit strategy would need to be formulated; else she would end up being the one strung out on the decking.

"Hold fast girlie," Earl spouted while pointing a fat finger her way. His other hand held delicate on a small tray of fruit and cheese.

Fardea smiled, "Why thank you kind sir, I think I will have a slice before I leave." She strode over to the cook, tipped her head down to the tray and bobbed a single piece of brie.

Earl was beside himself, "You can't have the cheese."

"Why did you offer it then? Clearly you brought Benny and I the snack to help smooth the way of our negotiations."

"Nee goat tee..what?" The gray bearded man said flustered. His patience run out, the pot bellied man reeled back and attempted to smash her face in with his tray.

A simple dodge was all she needed to avoid the mishap attack; her hand sneaking out catching a piece of fruit in mid flight. "I guess you want me taste the grapes too, very well."

Earl swung at the leather clad female again but this time she wheeled around letting the tray glance off her back. The cook began to understand the truth of his situation. This woman had obtained the upper hand on Benny and all the pirates had seen his prowess as a fighter. She was not to be taken lightly. Earl's head rolled from side to side in search of a real weapon, the tray of food falling to his feet.

Fardea took the opportunity to lay into a run. She dropped her shoulder and slammed into Earl knocking him off his feet. She then launched out the doorway. A quick assessment of her options did not leave much to be desired.

The captain's doorway was positioned near an outer railing and the barnacled beam was the only obstacle now in her way of the open sea. However, risking a jump into the water was unwise with her arms still bound; so she put that escape route as a last resort. She needed to find a way to get the magical netting off first. Three men ambled towards her from the aft deck, yet another avenue that did not present itself with the best of options.

Back on his feet, Benny helped his dazed friend Earl gain his composure and then scampered out of the wheel house in search of the woman who had bested him. "Where ya be, ya little hussie. I be needed to have words with ya." To his amazement she was not at the entrance. He looked right; to his approaching men, each waving and yelling at him a warning of some sort. He looked left.

"Hussie this?" Fardea exclaimed as a boot hit Benny sidelong in the jaw. His head whipped about, but he took the punishment well.

"Aye missie, let’s dance some more. I be thinkin you want to figure out a way to get close to me again." Benny retorted his blades out once more. He didn't wait for a reply. A slash swept in on the Shadowling assassin.

She did not have much room to manuever, her back on the galley's rail. Fardea managed to avoid the first swing by swiveling her hips and sucking in her belly. That was as far as her luck granted itself. Benny's second blade found home, sinking into her exposed arm. Blood spurt out from the deep gash as he withdrew the sword.

"Ya see missie, I be a worthee dance partner afterall," he reveled.

"Sweet heaven," Fardea said, wincing from the pain that shot through her. Damn the magic netting, she thought. If it weren't for it, she would have easily taken this man out. Fardea pushed through the frustration of the situation and agonizing sting of her wound.

Her eyes locked on Benny's, his men now at his side. Five total now scowled at her, with more surely on the way. She could jump for the surf or make her stand, either way presented no easy way out. It was time to resort to desperate measures. A parlay, laced with a Panthrex's unique way of flirting just might get her out of this mess.

Fardea let out a deep sigh, pushing out her chest in the exhale, then turned to the railing. She began to cry letting her tears and sobs be obvious and loud.

"Thinkin o' jumping my sweet little girl."

She nodded with an emotive sob.

"If you cede, I might be makin use o you. Does you consider this option?"

She allowed a small break in the tears and accentuated her accent, "You would give me quarter?"

His eyes were honed in on the tears dripping into her ample bosom. "I be an honorable pirate, o course I be given a beauty like yourself quarter."

"Very well, you win Benny the Boot. I cede."


5/6/2017 2:26:27 PM #9
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Chapter 9 Fair Seas

It took Fardea a mere hour in Benny’s private chamber to get the dumb sailor to forget she was supposed to be his captive and not his lover. Her seductive movements made it obvious that she was a capable woman in the bed and needed only have her hands freed to work her body even better for Benny.

“Lash le zoen” Benny commanded releasing the magical net that had bound her. Moments later a dazed Benny the Boot ceded to the Shadowling assassin as a newly released hand grabbed a tight squeeze on a part of the sailor’s anatomy that he had no desire to lose function of.

His full attention hers, she peered up to him “Now back to our negotiations.”

--

Later that same night, while the pirate galley ship gently rolled across the sea under a blanket of stars, a tall man stumbled out of his bunk and exited his quarters. He then made his way to the aft part of the hallway and climbed the teak stairwell to the main deck of the galley. Along his way the large man crashed into walls and tripped up stairs unable to maintain his balance.

On deck, he managed himself to the rails and vomited over the edge. The liquor along with his fish and chowder dinner from the evening’s meal spewed out across the rail, some of which was caught in the wind and brought back to splatter on his dressy clothes. Without thinking he then brushed the vomit stains with his bare hands smearing the smelly acidic substance deeper into his clothing.

The man rolled about placing his back to the rail and dropped his head backward and peered into the skies above. The stars hung bright in the heavens this evening and all the wonder that was in the universe was lit up for his viewing. He stared at them for some time, trying to make out the constellations he could recall from his childhood lessons.

“Quite a magnificent night isn’t it.” A foreign accented female voice came. He looked down and could not believe his eyes. Standing to his side, presumably the entire time of his recent episode, was to his knowledge the most breathtaking woman he had ever laid eyes upon.

“You have no idea how much so!” He managed to utter as his eyes gawked at her beauty.

“What? Not even the possibility of a chivalrous response to a maiden such as myself. What manner of lady do your eyes make of me?” She retorted teasingly.

“I’ve given up on all that nonsense.” The large man slurred.

“So you don’t even try to suggest an apology, nor do you address me in the proper titles. You haven’t any manners at all, do you?” A smile grew on her thin lips and a small chuckle could be heard. He blinked and realized this fair lady was in fact toying with him, taking advantage of him while he was inebriated.

He returned the laugh was alert to her jest, “I hadn’t presumed you to be a lady who would care for such things. I fancy the idea you’re the type of dame that would associate with the likes of someone like me.”

“Ha, I’d never stoop to keeping company with the likes of you, not ever!” She enjoyed the challenge of sass he was beginning to show her.

“Ahh, but it would seem as though you would, for you are the one who struck up this conversation, not I.” He paused and then added, “My Lady.” He laughed at the end of that remark.

They both then stood looking at each other, exchanging smiles and laughs. It had been a long journey across the sea and to what end they had not met before this was unknown, but certainly they both enjoyed the amusement of discovering each other now. They would be friends for sure for it was a rare to have a connection made by two individuals who understood a good laugh at the expense of society’s rigid formalities both had come to loathe.

--

Later once her companion had gracefully made his exit in search of more rest, she propped a crate on its side and set herself up in a good restful position. She would allow herself a mild slumber before daybreak hit and the bustle of the ship became too great for her to avoid. This would be her last day on board the pirate ship and concluded the last official business her mother had set up for her. All that she needed to do now was report back to the Shadowling Faction house located in Ansirk. The journey to the Brethen capital city would skirt Hell’s Holler and Keeper’s Dale, a two week hike that would prove lonely.

Her thoughts betrayed her Shadowling heritage as she began thinking of the man she had met a few hours earlier. Did he really like her or was he just being cordial? He was probably akin to all men and was looking to score points with her to ease her into his bed. Again she hated to admit to it but she could surely see where she might not mind such advances. Fardea couldn’t help get over how handsome and charming the large man had been.

He was a drunk or so it would have seemed. Maybe he was just enjoying the last night of the voyage and had got carried away. Did she really just defend him? Did she really care what this man did or who he was? Did she care what he thought about her, should it even matter to a member of the Shadowling Guild? She knew better than to get emotional about a member of the opposite sex, no good could come of it. It was a sign of weakness to a Shadowling member. Besides men just weren’t worth the hassle of such notions.


5/6/2017 2:26:49 PM #10
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Chapter 10 Streets of Eshendown

On the morn after their first meeting the galley reached the shores of Diar’s mainland at the city of Eshendown. The sails were drawn back letting the weathered ship drift on the channel’s tide to a merchant dock, as the main cargo of this vessel was the malorni fruit from the Naresomnu Isles.

The large man, clean shaven and clothed in his finest attire made his way down the gangplank as a familiar voice caught his attention.

“Do you have much business to attend to here in Eshendown?” The delectable female from the night before asked him.

He had to admit that her sultry voice was next to as exquisite as her curvaceous figure. The combination of the two would rank her at the top of any man’s list of ideal traits, but for him yet two more attributes set her apart. The pleasing demeanor of her humor coupled by empathy or disregard for his drunken stupor last night set her soaring on his personal list. He would have her by the end of the day; there was no question in his mind of this point.

“My Lady,” he chuckled with outstretched arms gesturing her to join him.

“I thought us past such formalities.”

“Ah but it is a new day, the light of which shines down from the heavens upon you with fair rays of splendor. I dare not presume such a thing is cast on the likes of any maiden better. No, you my lady have been sent from god himself to grace me and I shall not ever forget the day our great father has offered up his most lovely creation.”

“My name is Fardea.” She beamed, fighting hard not to melt under such compliments.

“A very fitting name you have indeed, my lady. You can call me Al.”

“An Al you do not look like, nor do you have the look of one of the Salts of the Sea.” “Well everyone calls me Al these days what can I say? Since we are talking about it you don’t look like a pirate yourself. In my case though, I will tell you a simple matter of coin allowed me quarters with the Salts. I have plenty from my adventures. And you, what brought you aboard?”

Fardea smiled in spite of herself. “Coin, yes my voyage with the Salts of the Sea was also a matter of coin. One which is now settled I am happy to say.”

“Good, I am happy to hear it. Then you are free to spend the day with me. Let me tell you of my adventures.”

“Why do I get the feeling that you enjoy talking about yourself?”

“Well if you would rather I spin a tale about you.” He swatted his hand on her rump. “I mighty fine tail it is too.”

“Presumptuous aren’t you. Lay a hand on me again and you might not get it back.” Although both knew they were empty words. She had liked his flirting, it was genuine, and such a dramatic change from the sleazy advances she had endured over the previous weeks.

It was not like her to be smitten. It was not like her to feel much for a man at all. Even worse, men found at sea were often scum. They were pirates or greasy merchants both of whom desired only one thing from a pretty little woman of her likes. She could see through this handsome man’s praises, catching the laughable nature of it. There was no way he was sincere, he was joshing with her. For that fact along with his incredibly muscular pecks she found herself enamored, a manner foreign to her. As foreign as the accent she had crafted throughout this assignment.

The sun crested the building tops of Eshendown marking mid morning and the hustle of the major trade city for this province was wide awake. The two sea farers walked astride one another enjoying each other’s company. To their sides were merchants selling everything from marvelous Couchu beads to the luscious fruits of Eshendown Gardens.

“My good man you should take a look in my shop.”

An odd little man, at least little in comparison to Al; as were most men, tried his best to coax what he assumed to be a couple.

“Why would we want to?” Al remarked offering at least a slight suggestion that the little man’s shop was of interest, instead of snubbing as most passersby were doing to the little man.

“Many wondrous things I have.”

Al was still hesitant.

“Your lady friend, she would enjoy my shop as it caters to only the most glorious of women.”

Al’s smirk grew wide and he side-glanced over at Fardea. Then with his best aristocratic voice, “My dear Fardea, maybe it would be appropriate to purchase you a gift. That is, given what I put you through last night. I would hate for you to remember our encounter with those sights and scents.”

He turned back to the vender. “You have fragrances?”

“Yes, yes many fragrances do come in.”

Al once again looked over to Fardea. She purse her lips, and then stated, “I hope you have more ways to ease my mind of last night’s events than mere trinkets, clothes and perfumes.”

His smile widened. “After you,” he held the door open letting her and followed the merchant inside the small store.

“You see I have wonderful things for you madam. You see?”

She shrugged off the decencies offered from the vender, knowing their nature. This odd little man needed only their coin, and did not truly think highly of her. She herself was an excellent craftsman of the word. She knew the precise language to motivate people, just as this merchant was attempting to pass off on her. Little did he know who she represented or he would have shied away from her and Al.

The man continued, “What about this dress? It would show off your figure.”

Al could not help but agree, his eyes having locked on Fardea’s athletic backside ever since they had entered the store. Al then stood back watching the salesman make his pitches but more importantly he loved the reactions on Fardea’s face. At first she showed restraint from enjoying herself but as time passed and more inventory was displayed to her she opened up. Her smiles grew genuine and her laughs hearty.

“Behind the curtain there you should go. This gown was meant to be yours. Please, please try it on, you will see,” he offered her.

“Oh I don’t know, it’s quite nice” she replied coyly.

“Yes you should certainly go behind the curtain there. Your gentlemen friend will hold your things.”

The façade she had portrayed thus far was melting away and Al could not help himself but join in the fun. “I’ll hold onto her. Is what I’ll do.”

He gripped her around the waistline and gave her an encouraging thrust towards the curtained off section of the shop.

“Why I never,” she exclaimed.

“You never?”

She ignored his obvious and playful insult but could not help but flirt back. She ran her fingers through his long hair as if to suggest the proper method of wooing her.

“What part of gentlemen did you not understand? Certainly not the gentle part.”

Al made an obvious foot stamp on the ground, almost out of what would seem protest, but pointed to the ground at his feet. Under his boot was a giant waterbeetle.

“I had hoped to be your knight in shiny armor come to save the day, but gentlemanly is what you prefer. Then a lady of your stature no doubt deserves such a thing. I will oblige.” He then left the changing room abruptly, leaving Fardea alone in her thoughts.
He had respected her wishes. She would not have tried so hard to fend him off if she had known him to be cut of a different cloth than every other man she had encountered before. He was the perfect male in respect to his physique, no woman would question that. This alone would have granted him the access he needed to her body and advances towards her were not undesirable.

The fact was, with his body of iron and the heart of a gold he got a reaction from down below her waistline that she had not felt in many years. The sensation pulsed quickly and washed over her. She grew red in slight embarrassment; lucky no one could see this on the other side of the curtain. If only she could get a few private moments with this large man.

An hour later their little excursion into the tiny shop was at its end. Fardea was now garbed in a fresh dress meant for an aristocratic maiden and her lips were as luscious as the rubies seen only in the Mynler District’s finest jewelry store. She was a gem and Al was proud to have her by his side as they exited the shop, but before he left, Al wowed her yet again.

“Looks like she has everything she needs good man. This should cover it.” Al flipped the man a dull silvery coin and the man examined it.

Fardea could hardly believe her eyes. The face of King Connald Blake was stamped into the front of the coin and on the back was the Brethen King’s crest of a striking eagle. Unquestionably it was a platinum piece and more than ten times the amount necessary to pay for their items.

“Care to grab a bite to eat. I am sure all of this shopping has made you famished.”

She blinked long in introspection and then directed her hand to the Jester’s Tradition. It was time to seal the deal. She could easily lift this man’s coin purse from his possession and he would be none the wiser. However a man of his wealth would surely be worth more than what he carried on his person. He would have a stash of more coin nearby and she need only gain his confidence to find its location. Besides, who could resist a chance to be with a man of his magnitude? If his size was anywhere near proportion then she would certainly enjoy this caper.

Al was use to the type of woman who was quick to take him to bed, but never without paying the brothel manager for the chance to do so. Fardea was not a woman he was about to let slip by; she was far too shapely to allow that to happen, besides this is probably how she made her coin. To that end, he assumed her fare for passage to Eshendown had been paid for in a similar fashion.

In truth, she very well could be the most attractive woman he had ever had the pleasure of meeting. So what if she was promiscuous, so long as her toned curves translated to honed skills at pleasuring him. He had no intention of settling himself down; that was a matter his father no doubt would expect of him. Al was not ready to partake in that endeavor.

Another platinum piece was offered for their room, getting an overwhelming response from the Jester’s Tradition hotel staff. The manager soon barked out orders from behind a partition making it known that Al and his companion were to be treated with the highest of regard.

The best room of the inn was conveniently made available to the well dressed couple. The Jester’s Tradition owner would be alerted, for the mere platinum piece had the sufficient monetary value to pay rent to several rooms for a couple of weeks.

A short while later the manager spoke up in his best mannered voice. “Sir we have your room prepared as you have instructed. Will there be anything else?”

Al looked to Fardea for her input. A blank stare was returned. She was beside herself with this man. Every touch and look was electrifying; awaking her body with quivers no man had ever been able to achieve so readily. Men just never took the time to pay attention to her needs. The lesser of the sexes always held one thing on their puny one-track minds. This man continued to surprise her though.

Al thought about it for a second having no response from Fardea, “we will dine in a short while. Have mutton prepared for us.”

“Very well sir.”

Fardea could not help but give in to her giddy feeling of having a man be thoughtful and to ask her what she would like to do after what both of them now knew was going to be a strictly physical encounter. Did he really expect to spend time with her afterwards?
Most men would simply get what they wanted and come up with some silly excuse to make a hasty exit. Fardea never played the part of the settling sort so men probably did not suspect she would mind if they departed so quickly. This man did not except her pretenses and seemed to be genuinely trying to woo her. This of course was foreign territory for a woman who spent most of her time in the shadows of others relationships.

No sooner had they entered the room did familiar hands wrap themselves around her slim hips. Unlike before though he did not immediately spin her around. Instead she felt a soft breath against the nape of her neck just before his lips gently touched the same spot. Fardea swiveled her head trying to sneak a peak of her new lover. His body slid in closer the man’s muscular pecks the first to rest near her.

“I have thought of nothing else since I met you. Men would kill for one chance to be in a room with such an exquisite beauty such as you.”

His voice was but a mere whisper, but it resonated deep and excited her further. She loved how masculine his voice sounded, which was an odd thing to admit considering she did not care to associate herself with the opposite sex. Fardea had never known a man who commanded such charisma.

“So you would kill to be here with me, and here I thought you would only be slaughtering bugs for me.”

“Oh, come now and give me some credit… it was a big bug.”

She swiveled further and instinctively he raised his hands to rest upon her shoulders. Meanwhile her hands began to roam about his firm body.

This was going to be a good night. In fact, she may have to allow this new affair to run deep before she made her move to relieve him of his worth. There was no need to rush it.

Exhausted the two lay together their eyes searching one another. To her astonishment Al made no move to make a hasty exit as many self important men would attempt to do after an affair such as this. Instead he lay back in bed and extended his arm out welcoming her to lie with him. She nestled in close, his large frame providing ample room for her to do so. The moments went by and neither said a word; each enjoying the glow of a job well done as evident by the free flowing perspiration.

No man had ever created such intense feelings inside of her and she still quivered at the memory of their recent bedroom union. The turmoil inside of Fardea was not physical alone. She felt vulnerable to him, a feeling alien to her but somehow quite pleasing for this Shadowling.


5/6/2017 2:27:12 PM #11
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Chapter 11 Following Visions

The hag was no more than three miles out when she felt the tremors. Ahead of her, along the path she had been sent towards, a large cloud emerged above the crags. Was it smoke or dust she could not determine from here. It did not move like smoke and so she was left confused by it. A wave of the bredth, the life magic carried on a person’s breath, hit her; what had happened? It was too weak in nature to be of any use to her, but she recognized it for what it was. It was the last gasps of hundreds of humans all ending abruptly.

She had arrived much too late to reap the rewards of this prison site. The bodies were strewn about in lifeless masses. So many humans had been wasted in this accident. So many instances of the bredth lost to her insatiable appetite, she would need to travel elsewhere, maybe to the city north of her called Eshendown. It had been a long trek across the rough terrain south of the quarry; her power lessening with each step.

Therdra had hoped to find life around the quarry’s locale. She did not require much life force to sustain herself, but she did not like to maintain herself at such a low level. Doing so left her vulnerable as her deadly magical auras became next to unusable. This spot of death, with all of its earthy smells and rotting corpses, was reminiscent of her recent journey to the Grave World. It had been a distracting side venture Mersicae had taken her on in order to see Therdra’s future. The foreseer’s magical steam had waft into Therdra letting her mind drift from the realm of reality and through the realm of the dead in the Grave World.

It was during this excursion that Mistress Therdra realized that some of the dead were held captive, locked in limbo. She did not understand the mechanisms of why only certain numbers of the populace were held in this transitional place, it seemed contrary to conventional religions. Generally it was said that the dead would transit directly to heaven or hell.

Mistress Therdra was not hung up on religions of any nature and certainly not bound by any of their covenances. She did not worry of deeds that would put her in the favor of the gods, nor did she fear the likes of daemons or devils. Therdra was an entity all on to her own, and heeded only that which helped her survive and in her current venture to thrive.

That notion prompted her to consider this a good time to begin her experiment on the dead. It was her belief that the life steeling magic she wielded was powerful enough to animate the dead. She had seen the truth of this ability in her visions shown to her by the foreseer Merciscae.

She lowered herself to the rock surface and let her weak aura filter into the corpse. Nothing happened; Therdra could not seem to channel her power into it as she had hoped.

Mistress Therdra knelt and brought her hands to lie at the corpse’s neck, just below the base of the skull. She focused every ounce of energy within her. The body convulsed as the power within her rippled outward. The green glow transitioned to a faint lavender hue and encased both her and the dead body beneath her. Laborious breathing was followed by a mumbled chant as Therdra reached out to the Grave World to steal one of its denizens.

Her powers were not at their peak for she had not fed on the living in many days. Soon the strength in her gave out; the power needed for the animation spell too taxing. To her amazement, just as she was giving up, the corpse’s head lurched and its body wriggled. Further in awe of her newfound ability she stared as the creature’s arms pushed on the dirt attempting to lift itself off the ground. A guttural moan then escaped the lips of the dead body as it slumped down lifeless once more.

Her experiment had shown promise, but ultimately was a failure. She would have to attempt the feat once she had fed and her powers were heightened. Mistress Therdra rested her weary head back upon the dead man’s belly and closed her eyes, her aura returning to its normal shade of green. She must rest for a bit.


Stumbling across the broken rock a single man searched the debris for other survivors. The young man remained alive seeing the collapse of the quarry from a distance. He had been fortunate to have reigned in the wagon’s horses in time to stay clear of the destruction.

Now that the dust had settled he felt obligated to seek out those who might have lived through the quarry’s folly. There was little hope, but still he held out for the promise of it to be so.

The young minister named Juswen spotted an elderly woman and moved to her. She was horrific to look at, and at first Juswen thought her a victim of the collapsed quarry. Some stray debris must have mangled her badly. Upon closer inspection he could tell that the woman’s deformities were not caused by the collapse, more likely an inherent trait of her aging. The hag looked malnourished and her tattered clothing alluded that she was poor.

Her head rested on the belly of a dead male. She must have known the man was Juswen’s first inclination. Wait, he thought, he knew that man. The ugly female was stretched out on a friend and boss man he had known for many years. Juswen was happy to see his friend was being comforted by this woman.

He approached the ugly woman and began to take note of more of her features. Anger grew within him as he now saw more clearly the person at his feet. This female creature didn’t look human. Could this be the source of the quarry’s demise? He moved several feet from her. Its face was gaunt with sunken eyes and shallow cheeks. The sun hit her and was absorbed by her ashen skin. Her hair was long, stringy and knotted into clumps around her shoulders.

She slept, he thought, she slept amongst the dead basking in their decay. She was uncaring and reveling in her handy work. He marveled at her unnerving audacity to blatantly show off her ill contempt for humans, in particular his friend.

What was she, he wondered? Her features were humanoid, but twisted somehow. He had dismissed it at first as he did not understand its significance, but there was also a strange, faint green cloud encircling her. He was not sure what to make of that.

As he questioned the origin of the creature before him he noticed that her breathing was nearly nonexistent. As if the mere act of raising and lowering her chest was alien to her. He shrugged; soon she would breath no more than that of the orange rocks and the dead around her, he would make certain of it.

He looked around for a stone that would fit nicely into his palm. His intentions were to smash the rock into her pale face. He was curious if she even had red blood flowing through that disfigured body of hers.

She needed to wake though. She needed to be aware of him. He needed to feel her remorse for her murderous act. Then he could exact justice on her, sending her to her maker with a clear conscious.

Juswen was a minister and only recently placed in charge of handling the shipments of the quarry rock. For many years he had been in charge of the young prisoners, his ability to keep them in line through brutal punishment a requirement, not to mention a facet of his occupation he enjoyed. He would make use of those skills now, exacting revenge for all of his fellow ministers who had perished in this rockslide.

No mutant creature would get away with this act of lawlessness on his watch. He would see her drink her own blood before the end of the day was over. He moved over her now and began to kick at her side with his boots. She stirred but did not wake. He kicked her more, no doubt cracking ribs at this point.

A single eyelid slid open and a bright yellow, cat like eye stared at the man attacking her. She exhaled and blew it towards him. Unconsciously he breathed in her poisonous bredth magic. He felt a surge of energy course through him as her death laden breath filled his chest and began to work its way through his body using his circulatory system like conduits. She remained still keeping the spell she cast upon him as strong as she could manage in her weakened state.

As the last of her breath entered the man and he had the magic completely circulated within him, she changed the direction of the flow. Therdra extracted it from him. She pulled at her bredth magic now inside him, not waiting for him to exhale it.

He lurched backwards and lost his balance, collapsing to the rock floor. Desperate he fought at the convulsions and the gut twisting pain. Retching and tossing on the ground he struggled with what felt like an inner demon stealing his soul. In a final motion the man flashed his eyes wide and then lost consciousness going limp. The last thing he saw was his would be prey’s eyes, those yellow orbs looking back at him. Justice had not been found this day.

She rose from the quarry’s floor in a reverse falling motion. Her assent was complete when she hovered several inches off the ground and stood fully erect. She gave the man a defiant look, adjusted her blouse and then floated off.

Drifting about ten yards away from the fallen man she stopped and turned back towards it. It was time to experiment again. Her powers returned to her fully; the life force called the bredth teeming in her once more.

Her eyes grew bright and her hands rose above her head in a swinging motion. At her wrist, she began to create circular motions. Small pink and lavender sparks formed at the tips of her fingers. The hag then chanted an ancient dialect and focused the words on the man laid out before her.

Juswen stirred, his death halted and stolen from him. A distant but faint humming sound could be heard from a source Therdra knew to be the Grave World. After several long moments of squirming he began to rise. His insides still mangled from its encounter with the hag moments earlier.

The dead man staggered to her side, her faithful companion; for about a minute. Like the previous attempt this animation collapsed as her spell failed. She let out a smile uncontrollably; her ability to steal from the Grave World was indeed possible even if something in the spell was lacking. It would be only a matter of time before she determined the proper methods to enact the spell correctly.

Merciscae, the swamp witch, had shown Therdra the key to that destiny. Infinite power was available via a source called a Risen. The risen female, as described to Therdra, was the being of magic capable of producing the life essence called the bredth.

A creature she had never heard of before then, but one she now understood was the equivalent to her own power but nearly a polar opposite. Where Therdra was devoid of bredth on her own and needed to obtain it from the living, a Risen was filled with nearly limitless bredth. Therdra’s powers were centralized around death and plague and this Risen was more about life and health.

Though her time in this world had been limited, the hag had thought bredth magic was finite, neither being created nor destroyed. For her to hear otherwise was inspiring. She would catch up to this Risen and siphon off its power as she needed. With that much energy the hag would have little trouble casting spells of the magnitude she had been testing on the dead.

Then again, the thought of a limitless supply of bredth peeked Therdra’s interest further. If she did somehow bind this Risen girl’s power to her own and steal her inner magic then Therdra would not need the army of dead. Mistress Therdra suspected however that the minions she had seen in the vision were for subduing the Risen woman so that she could capture it.

It was unfortunate that Therdra did not find the Risen in the rubble that was once a quarry. However, evidence of magic floated in the air leading the hag to believe the powerful being had recently passed. In her estimation the creature with such unlimited supply of magic had most likely had a hand in the destruction. Therdra drifted onward, trailing the scents of bredth.


5/6/2017 2:27:32 PM #12
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Chapter 12 Dreamy Nights in Hell’s Holler

For two long days the two quarry refugees ran across the flats of Eshendown. The lush gardens and green canopy thinning the more east they traveled. The trees now swept back; leaning to the west as the leaves searched for more hospitable climes. Ahead the ominous sands of Hell’s Holler loomed.

Kyer and Eiylia put as much distance as they could between them and the Ministry.
The two could not afford to be tied to the destruction of the farmstead nor the collapse of the quarry. With every step they took, even as they neared the desert their freedom was more assured.

They no longer wore the garb of prisoners and felt safe that they could blend in, yet the nagging feeling that they were being pursued persisted.

“Eiylia lets rest a minute.”

She tilted her head back his direction, “Okay, but only for a moment we still have much distance to cover.”

“More? How can we? The desert will not allow us to go much further. We need to begin heading north to avoid the dunes.”

“You need not worry about Hell’s Holler. Its bite is less of a threat than that of your Minister. This I assure you.”

“I just wish I had a better recollection of what has been happening. Everything is clouded out with regard to Drednir finding us.” Kyer still had not figured out how the enraged guard had found them at the farm. The storm should have washed their tracks into obscurity.

“Eiylia, you said Minister Hunsren Mafly perished in the fire. Do you really think Dread will continue after us alone? Was he not killed in the barn as well?”

She tipped her head and brought a hand to her forehead pushing a few strands of hair aside; closing her eyes she softly spoke, “No he survives, and yes he will come after us. I know he will. He has our scent now.”

“What in Diar does that mean? I have so many questions. Our scent,? is he a tracker, I never heard that about him? Also, how are we not tired Eiylia? It isn’t right. We have been able to run too far; no water and no food. I mean, I do not even feel the least bit winded.”

“Kyer I know you have questions. I want to answer them for you, but I can’t. Not now, please, I need for you to be a bit more patient. Let us cross Hell’s Holler and then I will tell you everything.”

“Well in that case forget it; chances are we will never live to the other side. Our chances of becoming lost and dying of thirst are vast. Have you no idea what Hell’s Holler is. It is a deamon’s land masked by the dunes. If we enter it, we will never exit.

Some say the deamon’s who created it are still there in hiding. They purposely lure the unsuspecting into the clutches of the desert and then confuse them with shifting the sand and befogging the mind. Those trapped wander aimless; unable to determine their path forward through the use of stars or sun.”

He continued, “Please, we should not make another mistake like we did at the farm. Let us head north from here and eventually swing back into the town of Eshendown. I will be happy to let you go your own way at that point. I have troubled you long enough.”

“I know you should not do so Kyer, but I need for you to trust me. Your luck has changed and it will see us through the Holler. Eshendown is not our future; the Ministers there will have been alerted of the quarry’s collapse by now and will be on the lookout for stragglers such as ourselves. No we must move on, the vast capital city of Ansirk is our only chance for obscurity now. You have to trust me Kyer.”

Hauzer sensed she was holding back information, but decided not to push the issue. The mysterious beauty had been trying to save them; and thus far however unlikely it had been the two had escaped the reach of the Ministry. He owed her a token of space to work through whatever it was that plagued her, in time she would explain herself. Somehow he felt connected to her and trusting her was an easy gift to grant the lady. Kyer assented to her plea and changed the subject, “A little further then, have you ever been through the Holler yourself?”


Minister Drednir rolled the half burned beam off his legs and sat up on one extended arm. It had been the last of the debris that bound him in the ruins of the farm building. It was a miracle that he should survive the collapsing barn.

Not a miracle he corrected, but magic. He watch with diminishing astonishment as his broken legs mended themselves right before his eyes. What matter of mysticism and madness was this? His dislocated knee slowly maneuvered itself back into proper alignment as newly grown ligaments wrapping themselves around it pulled taunt.

Anger welled up in him as the notion that some form of magic had been used on him. He would seek his revenge on the person responsible for it and right now that person’s name lingered in his mind like the sooty stench of the embers scattered around his body.

How long had he been buried alive in the debris? It had to have been several days for the maggots had already arrived to cover his dead partner Hunsren Mafly; the wiggling bodies having no difficulty with taking advantage of this situation. More rage filled Drednir as the name pursed his lips and echoed lightly on his breath. “Kyer Hauzer.”

“Sir, you survived.” A voice startled the Minister. “Are you alright?” The voice continued from behind him.

“I am, help me stand.” Drednir said while extending out his hand.

“The storm did so much damage. Lightning I suspect started this fire. You are a hero for trying to save the horses.”

“Yes, lightning indeed,” Minister Drednir tested his newly healed legs then looked up at the ill-fated man. “Now tell me, which way they have gone?”


On their last night in the lower plains of Eshendown they sat beneath the stars of the cloudless night facing one another. The moon’s glow allowed ample light to make out each other’s facial expressions during their conversation. Kyer could not resist letting his eyes linger downwards from time to time as he spied Eiylia’s newest position. She had brought her legs up close to her body causing the loose fitting outfit to ride up her thigh.

Kyer had never been intimate with a girl directly having been young when he was placed in the quarry. He had matured in the prison, learning the values of intimacy from what was seen. There had been occasions when the ministers opening forced themselves on the female prisoners. It was a spectacle to witness from such young eyes, but informative.

The acts he saw had always seemed so violent in nature and Kyer wondered if it was necessary for the process to work correctly. Looking at Eiylia he suspected there could be gentler ways of pleasing a member of the opposite sex. There just had to be and his lust for such methods, if they did indeed exist, aroused him.


“When the dance was complete she slowly moved and rested her bottom on his lap. Gently she rocked her hips and grinded on top of him. She then reached down placing her hands on his wrists. Eiylia pulled upwards bringing his hands up to her breasts so that he could caress them through the fabric of her top. Doing so made her squirm a bit, only adding to the pleasure he felt with her in his lap. A soft moan escaped her lips as he planted the first kiss on her neck and then a nibble on her ear.

For hours they could make love. Together they would be as animals in heat. With fervor and stamina neither one tiring, each coaxing the other to push the limits of their bodies, they would continue deep into the night satisfying each other. The sweat rolling down their bodies, hands touching skin, the pace would then quicken, until a final ultimate climax of pleasure for them both was fulfilled.


Eiylia blushed, a feature gone unseen in the shadows of the night, and for that she was thankful. She did not want to embarrass the boy.

She saw Kyer’s eyes locking on her exposed legs and she slowly drew the clothing down to conceal the flesh of her thighs. She knew better than to tease a man of his age, their body in turmoil as they grew from a boy to a man. Still it had been flattering and she could not deny her attraction for him as well; no matter the significant age gap between the two of them.

He was a strong and handsome young man who had willingly tried to sacrifice himself for her twice. Kyer could not have known that a gesture of this order was unnecessary. He did not know Eiylia was an immortal being, a creature of magic, a Risen. He did not know that she had walked the land of Diar for centuries before he had been born.

Kyer did not know, and because of those selfless acts maybe more so than his chiseled jaw line and rock hard muscles, she found herself drawn to him. In truth, she was falling for him.

The two had not spoken much during their flight for fear of their voices carrying to ears that might give away their location. Now that they near the entrance of the desert known as Hell’s Holler, those fears had subsided. It was then that a comfortable conversation had erupted.

“Tell me something about yourself.” Eiylia suggested, trying to begin a dialogue with the young man.

“Well, what would you like to know?”

“Tell me how you ended up in the quarry. You do not seem like the sort that would belong in a prison.”

Kyer spent the better part of the evening reflecting on the circumstances that had taken him from the shores of his childhood home and into the quarry.

“Why did the court not believe you?” She asked as he got to the part where he was convicted in the murder of both the intruder and his mother.

“I never got to speak. If you recall, children are not allowed to speak in the courts. A Magistrate would never allow it.”

“I remember when they made that rule; it was quite an unfair one indeed.” She mentioned.

“What do you mean you remember when it was made?” He asked puzzled.

“Oh, I meant only that I recall when it was that I was told of it. That is all.” She quickly corrected herself.

Kyer ignored her odd comment not connecting her meaning. “Anyway, since my father had passed many years earlier and my mother was the victim of the crime, I had no one to represent my side of the matter. The intruder’s family was able to tell an entire set of lies with no rebuttal.”

He took a second then added, “I did not get to defend myself. I did not get to defend the honor of my family. Nothing…” Kyer brooded. “I admit I did not try so hard, still in shock of what had happened to her. The idea of solitude in a prison sounded okay actually. Little did I know how fate would deal me a hand amongst a bunch of noisy kids. I ended up farther from solitude than I could have ever imagined.”

“Were you not angry about all of that? Did you not want to get revenge on the other family or maybe even the Magistrate himself?”

“At first sure I did, but the years passed by in the quarry and I guess that place gave me a different perspective.”

“You don’t think you had anything to do with it do you? You don’t feel guilty of any of it, right?”

“Well regardless of what you think of me, I am a murderer. I have killed men.” He said matter of fact and forcefully. “You saw what I was capable of doing with those guards when we were in the lower section of the quarry.”

“No Kyer, you are not a murderer, not even by any stretch of the imagination. You are decisive and protective. You do not fear placing yourself in harm’s way to help those in needs. That is what I saw at the quarry. You helped those other prisoners escape, you helped me escape. You are not a murderer, instead I see you as a cavalier for justice and vanguard for my safety.”

“Such kindness, I wish I knew how you do it Eiylia. You walk through this ugly world and you don’t see the faults of others.” He left it at that not fighting her words to hard. She had echoed what he hoped he did stand for.


Eshendown was the last habitable refuge that stood between the quarry to their backs and Diar’s smallest desert known as Hell’s Holler. A fiendish landscape of endless sandstorms and searing heat making the quarry seem a more hospitable locale.

The Holler spanned the large floor between the shadows of two moderate sized mountains. Fables spoke that the devil’s own breath had scorched the valley here, stretching from the southern tip of Eshendown to the western wood of Keepers Dale.

Heading east into the desert, to an almost certain maw of peril. Kyer Hauzer continued to question the logic of their current plight. Was this another poor decision? They had been lucky in the barn with the ministers; if not for the fire the two would have certainly been captured or killed.

Kyer followed her, giving little resistance in the matter. He had only met this girl a few days ago, and whether it was the smooth curves of her body, the gentleness of her voice, or the quick wit she wielded, he had to admit to himself there was something there. He was slowly falling for her; he would probably follow her wherever she wanted to go.

She urged them to continue; stressing they could survive in the dunes. She pressed her point that no Ministers would look for them this way. He would imagine not, why bother, it was a fools escape route.

“To the northeast is a city of good size known as Eshendown. I am aware of this Kyer. Do not think I take us into the Holler without reason. We can first assume that Eshendown is where most, if not all, of the other escapees would have headed towards.

They will seek refuge where they can and try to go underground into the very slums that most likely made them convicts in the first place. Many will seek a second chance at life in order to beat the system that has already failed them once before.”
She looked over at Kyer, seeing past his shoulder the expanse of rippled golden sand.

“The Ministers will be quick to pick up on the trail of the northern travelers. I suspect that they will anticipate the captives to run to the city. Swift couriers would have made it to Eshendown by now informing the authorities of the incident at the quarry. Road blocks have undoubtedly formed in response to catch any of the less crafty convicts. Patrols sweeping outward from Eshendown will find the inmates not directly caught. In time, many of them will be rounded up and either punished, incarcerated, or slain as necessary.”

Kyer cringed at the notion and upon seeing it she then added, “With steady progress we will make our way east, saving us from this fate.”

They walked deeper into the belly of endless mounds of sand dunes. He had thought initially before her story that they would only skirt the inner lip of Hell’s Holler, eventually making their way back to the city to the north. Two hours into their travels it became obvious to him that she had no intention of ever doubling back, circling around back into Eshendown, nor were they making any effort at heading south. By all accounts they were headed east, but honestly he had not the slightest clue which direction they were traveling. The sun had somehow lost its pinpoint glow in the sky. Instead the desert sky was lit up bright from every angle. Equal lighting shone forth from all directions, was it midmorning, midday, or late afternoon he could not discern. As with his notion of feeling like he was walking east, he felt that it was near noon, but he was uncertain.

“Eiylia, it has begun… the daemons.”

“It is not daemons Kyer, merely the reflection of the sand in the air that gives the illusions you see.”

“Illusion or not, I am lost. Are you sure we are heading in the right direction.”

“I believe so.” She hesitated and looked about. She too could not use any markers to differentiate the path.

“Huh.” She muttered. “Well, maybe not. Kind of hard to tell isn’t it?”

“Hard” he laughed. “Heck it is impossible to tell. This isn’t good Eiylia. I know you said to trust you, but maybe we should start back the way we came.”

“I suppose you have an idea of which direction that is.” She smarted back at him; a contempt look on her face letting him know he was about to lose this discussion.
Heading back was hopeless, apparently a plan not fully thought out on his part. He could no easier take them out of Hell’s Holler the way they had came, than take them to its far side. His mind boggled with the enigma of similar dunes that were virgin of any footfalls. Even the tracks that should have been left only moments ago were somehow lost already and therefore all schemes of travel were thwarted at their inception.

She shrugged it all off and continued walking. Eiylia had something in mind, some route that eluded him. She would not lead him to his death. There was something about her that suggested that she did in fact have a method to this madness and he only need to be patient to find it out. So they continued, the lady confidently walking in a direction she considered correct.

Gone were any hopes of ever seeing the rocky crag Kyer had called home for his most recent years. A place he was actually reluctant to leave behind. He had become comfortable there he summarized. He had little desire to move past both the loss of his mother and the blood that was on his hands. He missed her terribly, the image of her still lingering in his mind. He used these images to help him distance his mind from the grueling trek that lay ahead of him.


“Honey you’re home!” his mother exclaimed while walking towards him with open arms.

He entered his home; it had been a long day at work. One of the boilers had broken down and he was sent in to fix it.

“Oh I am so glad you are here, I missed you so much!” she continued to say.

His mother wore a stained apron that hung about her slender frame. He remembered that smile of hers beaming towards him as she neared. No one would ever be able to measure up to that sense of welcome that she offered him each day.

“Hey Ma,” Kyer had replied. “Have you missed me? I hope we are having something warm for dinner tonight.”

She leaned into him planting a kiss on his forehead. Her once auburn hair falling across her shoulders as she did so. The two of them had done alright since his dad had passed. Sure times had been tough, but they seemed to have endured the worst of it.

Kyer had needed to take up a job to help with the money. He had been lucky that his father’s employer had agreed to allow him to take the vacant slot left behind from his dad. The days were gruelingly and no concessions had been given for his young age. If anything the older workers expected him to do the more strenuous tasks. Kyer never balked and had made a name for himself over the years as being a reliable and hearty worker.

“Tell me about your day at the mill,” she spoke breaking his train of thought, weary from his long day in the hot room of the boiler house. “I am just about finished with dinner and yes Kyer, we are indeed having something warm.” He watched her move over to the counter in the kitchen area; he was a lucky guy indeed to have a mother like her.

“What are we having?” he probed, now smelling the aroma of cooked vegetables and meat.


“Kyer… KYER!” Eiylia said loudly trying to get his attention.

“Huh?”

“We can pause here if you like? I can tell the sun is wearing you out.” Eiylia half asked of him.

“I am fine actually, I am not sure why, but yes I am fine.” He replied. “I was just thinking of something.”

“Memories can be soothing, but some too are painful. Careful which ones you choose to hold onto.” The young lady said sagely still intriguing his curiosities. She had yet to divulge any real details of herself.

She neither spoke of her origins nor of her reasons for being incarcerated. Both of which he had to admit to himself, he was wondering. Surely her beauty was not so much that it compelled him to want to know her. Was he really that simple minded he pondered.

No it was the complexity that was this woman that kept him wanting more information. When she did speak, she exuded a notion that intelligence was brimming behind her naturally exquisite face. So there was in fact more to his desires than mere physical attraction.

Kyer’s answer, to her wise words, was an effort to extract that information. He figured the only way to get some was to share some. “You are right Eiylia, I was in fact thinking back to memories that are painful. My mother…” He gulped slightly realizing the gravity of this topic was more than he was at first ready to speak out loud. He continued, never the less, a certain ease of doing so brought on by the returned look on Eiylia’s face that welcomed the sharing of his background.

“I was thinking of my mother.”

Eiylia did not motion nor reply.

Kyer shook his head, “I am sorry. Maybe I should not lay such burdens of emotion across your shoulders.”

“The loss of a family member is hard for people to get over, no matter how much time passes it would seem. I too have lost many people in my time. Cherishing their memories is an important part of the legacy they leave behind. You need to find a balance with how you remember her. Try not to focus only on the negative aspects of her life, such as the day she passed.”

“It would be hard for me to argue that logic. So you too have lost someone?” He probed.

“It was a long time ago.” She replied to her inquisitive companion. Eiylia could tell Kyer needed comfort, so she let her normally private feelings roll off her tongue to this man she barely knew. “She was a great friend of many years. She was very close to me, like a sister, I suspect.”

“Meaning, you do not have any sisters?” he continued to prod.

“Well not exactly, I am…” she paused. “I guess you could call me the only child born from my mother.” Kyer found her answer odd sounding, but he left it alone.

The two continued on this line of talk for several hours, letting the glow of the day ebb away. Then as the stars peeked themselves from the night sky, another illusion as Eiylia pointed out. The stars were in fact, as she demonstrated with a swish of her hand about his face, merely more sand adrift in the wind.

With the light of day gone, a chill quickly came upon them and they huddled close to fight the chill. They stared into each other’s eyes as though more was to be said yet comfort in silence finally brought them to sleep.


What Drednir needed most was water not rest, but even though he traveled day after day without it he did not die, nor did his body crave its life sustaining qualities. Damn the magic and damn Kyer Hauzer for casting it upon him. It was unnatural to exist in this manner and Drednir would make the one responsible for it to pay for the unholy act.

The Minister made tremendous headway across the desert for nearly two weeks, always with the rising sun in front of him and the setting sun at his back. What was it that drove and maintained the two convicts? Again the answer to his query was magic; the two ‘demon’ fugitives had somehow learned to wield a power that held all of their lives, even his, forfeit. In Drednir’s mind it was the darkest kind of evil.

“You prayed to the minions of evil that is what you did” Drednir mumbled under his breath. “You waited for the bearers of darkness to grant you the spells to destroy my lovely quarry and set you free. You embraced the demon powers when you stood against me, and you praised your unholy gods when they granted you freedom from the Brethen laws.” Drednir shook his head defiantly before continuing his manic rambling.

“Your gods are not perfect, not like mine. Your demon allies with their magic have poured over the cusp of their intent and infused a good man with this darkness. I will not subject to them, nor will I subject to you Kyer Hauzer. The magic I have been given will be used for good. I will smite thee and all those you have diseased.”

Although Minister Drednir did not know the name for it, his nostrils flared soaking in the trailings of the magical scent known as the bredth. It was two streams interlacing themselves through the air. They were quite distinct in nature and Drednir found that with his new set of abilities, tracking Kyer Hauzer and his companion was quite easy. It occurred to the minister that the direction they were traveling was directly for the capital city of Ansirk. Could it be that the two demon lovers intended to create havoc there, or worse were they headed for the keep itself. Was King Connald Blake in jeopardy?

Minister Drednir could not allow that to happen. He would need help and there was only one individual he knew of that could assist him in this endeavor and that was Father Davione.

The mere mention of demons would perk the father’s interest no doubt. A better ally in the war against evil could an individual not find. Davione was versed in the dealings with evil such as this, he would have the answers. He might even know how to cure the magic that had stricken Drednir’s body.


5/6/2017 2:27:48 PM #13
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Chapter 13 Found by Chance

The remnants of the bredth blanketed the burned out farmstead allowing Mistress Therdra to find the site of destruction easily enough. As with the quarry she had arrived too late and no humans remained for her to siphon life from.

It was no matter; she had been feeding her appetite with the wildlife surrounding the gardens of Eshendown. Whether it was squirrels, strawberry plants, or grasshoppers it made no difference to her; each living organism filling the void within her. Her magical auras of death and decay were now maintained at good levels.

She hovered around the farm trying to piece together the events that took place. Several dead bodies were found within the farmstead. A couple had been slain in the cabin structure, victims of a Breaker. She saw the obvious trail of its fear laced magic around their throats.

Around the side of the cabin was a burned out shell of an old barn. Inside that was a mixture of various forms of the bredth. Some of the magical air was pure, while another stream was again laced with fear. The rest was quite unique; a form of the bredth that was chaotic. It was such a rare phenomenon to see so many forms of life magic in one place. The odd part was that it appeared as though the pure bredth was tethered to the chaotic bredth.

A tether, why had she not thought of that? The key to her spell of animation was held in that concept. If she could bind her magical breath in a steady flow from herself to the dead then she could be able to maintain the spell for a longer duration. She was eager to retry her spell.


Yet another day passed and still Kyer followed behind the beauty. It was an easy enough task to keep her in his sights, as she was quite pleasing to the eye. However there was still the matter of whether or not she was taking them to their doom that haunted his thoughts.

Both of them caught movement out of the sides of their vision breaking their respective trains of thought. Something large and bulky had discovered them. Their luck had turned to the worse. Yet as quickly as it had arrived the bulking mass disappeared. Only a skittering sound of something burrowing in the sand remained.

“Kyer did you see that?”

“Yes, what was it. I know I saw something, something big but now it is gone.”

It was abnormal for anything to sneak up on her. As a risen her senses were tuned in on all life that surrounded her. To date, and she had lived a long time, nothing had ever been able to sneak up on her.

Urgency to discover the source of the sighting now pressed on her. What was it that moved below them in the dunes? Then as if to answer her question an explosion of sand was thrust upon their backs. The beast emerged with great force, springing forth and launching itself at the two.

“Eiylia look out!” Kyer yelled pushing her aside as a massive set of outstretched pinchers caved in his chest.

With Kyer slumped face down in the sand Eiylia used the opportunity to launch her searing light into the creature. The energy made not even the slightest mar on the thick shell of the insect. Eiylia was beside herself, this creature was naturally immune to her powers. However unlikely such a thing was she had just witnessed it.

Eiylia was quick witted, finding reason for the dilemma she was confronted with. An impenetrable barrier of thick armor encapsulated the creature. This kept its mind and body safe. A hide that thwarted her magic’s offensive capability and as it would seem prevented her from sensing its life essence. It could possibly be an ancient race of beast; a race having been born from the era of dragons and trolls. Beasts whom walked among the living but did not share the bredth magic binding humans, animals, and plants.

Dazed but still alert Kyer struggled to reclaim his footing and look up at his attacker. Its insect like eyes on long reedy stalks stared blankly back at him. Kyer should have been afraid for he knew this primitive desert creature no doubt had only one thing on its mind; to feed.

Nothing short of a miracle would save them from this four legged, heavily armored bug. Eiylia moved to his side hoping his Chancer abilities would shine through once more as they had in the farmstead a few days earlier. However she knew his bredth magic was unpredictable, its evocation not always producing a result that provided a direct path to understanding or in this case to safety.

“Kyer listen; I need you to listen to me.”

“What?” he answered back, rattled from the encounter. There was no hope for them, he knew this. Neither of them carried a blade, not that it mattered in this situation. His lack of training in such things would offer up little against such odds. Only a highly skilled warrior with the sharpest of blades stood a chance to this man sized beast.

Kyer was a fisherman turned inmate, neither of which could be of use in this fight. Her hand reached down and grasped his arm letting her risen power flow into him unbridled. It soothed him further and he did indeed hone in on her assertive voice.

“Kyer you must listen.”

“I am.”

“Good, now figure out a way to save us.”

“Easier said than done.” His mind had already been racing to that end, yet her plea coupled with the unseen force of life magic from her touch pushed him further to seek the answer. An answer which transcended his known conscious from deep within, a search then began that was bound by his Chancer magic. It sought out that which would see them through the encounter.


The seconds crept by like minutes, but then Kyer could swear he heard the reverberations of an odd thumping noise in the distance off to his left. It was faint and most likely another crab like creature coming to feed on Eiylia and his bodies as was likely his predicament’s end. Yet a hint of something else stirred his hopes.

Replacing the thumps come a shout that was certainly human. Kyer’s prayers had been answered. There was still a chance of survival after all. It might not come from him, but none the less, he would take it. The thought of his life ending in the moment of yet another failure to save someone he cared about was disappointing.

The taunts closer now, Kyer leaned over and through the crustacean arms of his distracted aggressor he made out two silhouettes moving towards the fight. The beast moved, re-situating itself above Kyer’s prone body.

A sharper pain than he had ever felt pierced through his thigh as the tip of the man sized crab’s clawed foot nipped him. It tore through his leg with ease leaving a massive hole in his clothing. Kyer’s blood flowed freely and he was gracious that nothing vital had been punctured.

To Kyer and Eiylia’s amazement his attacker moved off to confront the new arrivals. For whatever reason its interest in him had waned now favoring a noise making man heading towards them instead.

“Here,” the man shouted “Over here you ugly Unileck.”

Kyer managed to stand with only a small wince of pain from his leg injury. Eiylia moved in next to him as useless in this fight as he was. They watched as the two new arrivals, weapons in hand, began to defend themselves from the insect-like creature.

Crisscrossing pincer strikes on the six and a half foot tall man were not only avoided but the man managed to slice deeply into each. Green goop spurt out of the gashes but did not slow the huge beast. If anything the thing was enraged further by the assault.

This desert menace had never known an equal in these dunes. The overly large man was certainly a match for it as luck would have it. A formidable man, with rippling muscles bulging at the seams of his satiny attire, boomed his voice with each successful hit. He obviously found pleasure with fighting.

“You want more. Good!” was heard as another strike nearly lopped off one of the legs that had stepped into range of the hulking man. “Guess you don’t need all four do you?!” came the follow up taunt.

After a couple of minutes of back and forth swings of pincher and sword the man concluded the combat with a final stroke flowing into the maw of the crab creature and severing its tiny mind in two. As an added measure of assurance that it would not rise again, the man lopped off several of the bug’s appendages. The four strangers then merged up.

“You’re not much of a warrior are you kid?”

“Hmph, hardly, never swung a sword in my life actually.”

“Never? I find that hard to believe.”

“A big sledge hammer, does that count?”

“Um no. Where have you been hiding out? No father would let a kid grow up without at least teaching him a little bit of blade work. How have you managed to make in these lands without any training, these are not the most forgiving of the realms, you know?”

Kyer’s head lowered slightly, his breath still finding a simple rhythm. “My father passed many years ago.”

“Ah, that would explain it. Sorry to hear that. Still, you shouldn’t be crossing the Holler without someone to protect you. That young lady of yours certainly isn’t going to fill the role. She doesn’t look the part, too frail.”

“Who are you two?” Eiylia inquired ignoring the insult.

“Ah yes introductions, this is Fardea and you can call me Al. Lucky we happened upon you, things were not looking so good for you. So who might you two be and why in Diar are you out in the middle of this forsaken desert?”

“Yes, yes we are indeed lucky you stumbled on us. I am Kyer, Kyer Hauzer.” A hushed word escaped Eiylia’s lips, “luck.” The word held in it a hint of sarcasm; as if to mention a punch line that Kyer and the others were not privy to.

“She is Eiylia” Kyer offered.

“A pleasure to meet you” Fardea replied sensing more to these two than random travelers.

“Well Al you did indeed prove yourself true to your tales this afternoon. You are indeed my knight in shiny armor come to save the day. And here I thought you might have been all brawn and no show.”

“Well why couldn’t I be both my fair lady?”

“Oh, you could, but seldom does a man come along who can fill those shoes.” Fardea was a member of the Shadowling Guild, an all female assassin’s organization; as such her dealings with men over the years were seldom on good terms. So her statement was factual, from her point of view.

“So wait you two do not know each other?” Eiylia asked.

“I would not say that. She and I have gotten to know each other quite well over the past couple days. Met up in Eshendown and been traveling towards the capital ever since. To be honest I’m not sure how we happened upon you. The Holler is a strange place, sometimes it steers you in miles around your own tail and other times it leads you to complete random strangers it would seem.” The deep masculine voiced man said jokingly.

“Strange how the world works, we too have just met” Kyer added.

Fardea could tell more was to be said about these two’s relationship. No unarmed youngsters, who were newly acquainted, would have stray this deep into Hell’s Holler without provocation or reason. The girl’s milky pale skin shimmered in the sunlight, a dainty creature somehow ethereal and bordering on angelic in appearance. Fardea could not place her finger on it but the way the young lady held herself exuded power. From her experience as a Shadowling assassin Fardea Panthrex knew that power generally meant the person had wealth or access to it.

“You mind if we travel together for a bit?” Fardea asked, needing to keep tabs on this duo for future reference sake. If she played her cards right, a handsome reward could follow this rescue. It would be nice compensation for her recent weeks stuck aboard the Salt of the Sea’s ship at the mercy of Darcelli and Benny the Boot.

Kyer quickly replied, “Not at all, heck in all honesty we were getting ourselves quite turned around. So even if the bug had not had have eaten us, the Holler would have eventually consumed us.”

“It was a Unileck. Nasty critters, but I’ve dealt with them before. They hate noise as it turns out and will attack anything that disturbs their slumber. That is how I was able to get their attention so easily. They are not very smart, but my fellow Brethen they are strong and fast.”

“I’d have to add tough too. Its skin was like a crab I’m use to seeing on the shores of Awledon“

“You know of Lake Awledon?”

“Lived there all my life, we do not have things like Unilecks hiding about.”

“I bet not, fortunate too. But its skin was not so tough for Eversharp.”

“Eversharp?”

“My new sword of course. I know it doesn’t look like much, but a finer blade you will never come across. Just found it on the Isles of Naresomnu apparently I needed it more than that horde of goblins.” A hearty laugh ensued from the large man.

“Hey how is your leg? I thought I saw it get stabbed by one of those legs.”

Eiylia stepped forward in-between Kyer and the large man. “His leg will be fine.” She saw no need for these two to know of her life magic that had already helped Kyer’s leg begin to mend at an accelerated rate unbeknownst to him.

Eiylia further broke the jovial aftermath of surviving the fight and urged them to continue their trek. It was unnerving to think that more bug-like creatures could be astir without her knowing. She needed to be back in the comforts of normal living entities.


5/6/2017 2:28:04 PM #14
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Chapter 14 Ales and Tales

That evening under the cover of night, Eiylia sensed a settlement nearby, possibly a couple more hours walk at their current pace. She could always sense the usage of the bredth and it kept her alert. Where there were large amounts of life whether it was a forest or a human settlement, the bredth flowed thick. She could follow the stream of life essence known as the bredth from one living creature to another like the currents of the wind.

A couple hours before daybreak, the four finally moved towards the glowing lights of a settlement. The dunes settled themselves into gentle mounds and several structures outlined the encampment.

“This is where we go our separate ways; I wish you two the best of luck and this time stay out of trouble.”

Kyer laughed, “You to my friend. Be well.”

“My Brethen.” Al replied.

It had been a long time since someone had addressed Kyer with that statement. The words ‘My Brethen’ was never uttered to prisoners being an address reserved for citizens in good standings with the laws of the land. He was humbled and honored to be seen as a normal man once more.

“Your Brethen,” he replied looking on as the large man and his mate moved on leaving him and Eiylia alone once more.

The settlement was comprised of shacks, tents, and a few more sturdy buildings. Understandable the small nature of this place on the outskirts of a desert, not many people would make this their home. It was surrounded by vast open spaces of sand and little vegetation.

By the looks of it, this was a layover spot for traders and tourist on their way to larger cities, such as Ansirk to the north. It housed a couple hundred residents and another hundred were folks just passing through.

The streets were dusty and filled with thick sand. He would hate to have to drag a cart through these, he amused as he saw a fruit stand set up on one corner. It was closed for the evening with its shutters pulled down; the wide tires made it stand out from others of its kind he had witnessed in his past.

On the opposite corner a man stood leaning against a pole staring off into the distance. He was garbed in tattered pants and shirt. By the looks of him he looked to be homeless and needy. He was not begging, but certainly set upon desperate times.

“We should get something to drink,” Eiylia suggested.

“Do you think it will be safe,” he replied, meaning that no Ministry would be looking for them here so far east of the quarry.

“So long as we do not draw attention to ourselves we should be alright. No one will suspect us anything more than that of roaming travelers.”

“I hope you are right Eiylia.”

A short while later, the two ‘travelers’ made their way to the far eastern side of the settlement finding an inn suitable to their needs and disposition. It was by far the largest building in the town and from the smells of it had warm breakfast mash on the menu this morning. Kyer’s belly grumbled at the notion of getting itself filled again after such an extended time without any form of sustenance.

The inn reeked of debauchery, its name speaking volumes of what went on inside. Kyer took note of it as he entered inside. The rickety metal sign hung from the second floor balcony read: Howler’s Brothel.

They sat across from each other in a darkened recess of the downstairs pub. Kyer could tell the inn had several functions, of which he did his best to ignore. Several scantily clad women walked around the room wiggling provocatively to those who gave them the jingle of their purses.

Eiylia gazed deeply into Kyer’s eyes a slight pursing of her lips as if she were questioning whether or not she should tell him something important. Then with a hesitant sigh, her mind made up, she began.

“Kyer it is time to explain a few things to you. I have asked you to remain patient long enough. I know you have many questions, I will do my best to explain some of the answers to you now.”

He nodded his readiness but for the moment cared more about his dark ale that was placed in front of him.

“I have not been completely forthright with some important details of our meeting. We did just not meet by happenstance Kyer nor did our escape occur by luck alone. I have sought you out for many decades, finding you only recently.”

Kyer’s expression said plenty to her, his opinion toward her was one of child towards a fable teller. He did not believe nor understand that which she spoke of. “It is true, you must hear me, you must believe in my words.” She said. “I am not what I appear to be. I am a Risen and I have lived for hundreds of years. Centuries I have walked the land of Diar, traveling from realm to realm.”

She paused long enough to sip her water and stretch out the conversation to help Kyer in his digestion of everything she was going to tell him. She had plenty of time to pace herself and report the details of who she was and more importantly who he was.

“There is more that you should know, most importantly the extent of your role in all of this. First I must explain what the bredth is. Have you ever heard of it?”

Kyer shook his head no, took a long sip of his dark brew wishing he had a couple more down his gullet before absorbing a story of this magnitude. Never had he heard such outlandish things. The kids at the quarry had many a tale to help ease the long nights, but none had ever spun a tale such as this. A woman of her gorgeous stature could be no more than twenty years old.

“The bredth is a form of magic; many would classify it as air-elemental in nature. Those people would be wrong, as many wizards who have studied the field of air elemental magic could tell you. No, the bredth is much more intricate than that. It is true that it flows like the wind and carries itself from person to person on the air we breathe, but at its core the bredth is a magic that intertwines itself with the life force of every living thing in Diar.”

She waited for Kyer to acknowledge he was still listening to her and then she continued further. Eiylia dove deeper into the lore of the bredth. “More succinctly to our conversation tonight I’ll discuss the five types of beings who are created from and make use of the bredth in one form or another. They are Breakers, Chancers, Foreseers, Risen, and Wraeths. ”

“So what does this have to do with me?” he asked just before taking a long draw off of his stout brew.

“As I said I am a Risen, and Kyer you are a Chancer.”

For the next ten minutes she explained in more detail the function of a Chancer. Most of the information went beyond Kyer’s understanding. He wanted to believe her, but the story she was spinning was quite outlandish and mythical. He had spent many days traveling with Eiylia and had never put her into the category of deranged, in fact, she had proven to be quite the intellect holding up her end of the conversations with ease.


“Surely you boast?” Kyer stated as a matter of question to her and not of fact. “It cannot be, how could something like this happen to me. Is it a spell? Have you damned me Eiylia?”

Eiylia had now finished her telling of his innate ability and special purpose she had envisioned for him. The two sipped on their beverages while she had done so. She drank only water and although he knew he still needed water, he had ordered tall stout ale. Kyer more guzzled it rather than sip as she was doing with her drink. He was at first worried about how they would pay for the drinks, but he was now more concerned with what she had said. “So tell me again how it works.”

“Well first I am not entirely sure how your use of the bredth works.” She started in. “I do know that unlike me, you may not ever have direct control of this power within you. This power though is, in many ways, more incredible in nature than mine.” His eyes still showed indifference, she was not getting through to him.

“Imagine this glass of water,” she said, pushing her glass to the middle of the table for better examination. “Suppose it was filled with bredth, this power in the breath of the living I have been telling you about. Now for me the glass is pretty much always full, and I have abilities that draw from this full glass. I am called a Risen.” She paused gauging Kyer’s understanding of what she spoke of and then continued.

“There is the opposite side though, when the glass is nearly empty. They are called Wraeths and their power allows their empty bodies to steal the bredth of others and thus filling them up.” She paused again. “Does that sort of make sense?”

He nodded his head and confirmed that he understood that much. “Eiylia, that kind of reminds me of how things worked back in the quarry. I would chip away the rock from an endless supply on the cliff face. The other inmates though were depositing the rock off the side of the cliff into a vast void that never filled.”

She smiled, “That is a good enough analogy for now Kyer. The hard part now is trying to explain how your kind, a Chancer, fits into all of this.”

She looked at and then took ahold of the glass of water. “Your glass would be filled with steam,” she tried to explain. “It is boundless outside of the glass, or your body, ever expanding into the air. In the glass though and inside your body.” She pointed a finger at him, “the bredth stays trapped but still volatile and unpredictable.”

She could not have picked a better analogy for him. He recalled the way steam was formed in the boilers back where he and his father had held a job. It had been several years since he had thought of that place. As he recalled it though, water was heated up until, just like she said, it changed from liquid to a gas.

So she was trying to tell him his power was unpredictable, unstable, uncontrollable, and further more dangerous. The worried look grew back onto his face and he took the last swig of his ale, thinking maybe he should have another.

“The bredth more precisely is chaotic inside you. It is why people I have met with your ability I have called Chancers. Every action with them and now you involves a certain level of risk. To date though, and I have been around a long time, I have never known a Chancer to have bad luck. For whatever reason, the chances are generally in their favor. It is why I suggested we sit and drink without worry of payment.” She told him.

“Remember the honey you found?” Eiylia continued. “Now, remember how it made you feel.”

“Yes, I couldn’t believe my luck.” Kyer said.

“What about the rockslide? Do you really think you are strong enough to create a slide of that magnitude without some use of magic such as what I speak of?” She asked using another example.

“I see what you are saying, but it could be all coincidence. Sure it is luck, but magic. Why all of a sudden would I have magic? I mean hell Eiylia, I was incarcerated for having extremely bad luck.” A rasher toned Kyer said. “I lost my mother, my father and even my closest friend. Heck I even almost lost you just here recently” he added.

“I know about your family Kyer. I learned of it when I sought you out. They should not have put you into that place, and yes back then you still did not have use of the power. Remember the steam Kyer?” She asked.

He nodded, “yeah.”

“Well, Kyer, I am the heat that made the water turn to steam.” She stated while staring directly into his eyes.

It finally clicked in his mind that her arrival to the quarry had been what caused his illness the day Jaemiea had died. He could picture it now; his body was boiling inside from whatever her power does to someone like him. Then the next day when his water was finally turned into steam he had felt calmness in his mind and body.

“What is it you have planned for me Eiylia?” He asked.


5/6/2017 2:28:19 PM #15
+1

Chapter 15 Noose Ends

He strode into the settlement sometime around noon. The heat of the day was not quite at its peak, but still close to unbearable. The streets of the small desert community were therefore barren. People in Howler’s Settlement tended to conduct their errands in the evening as the heat of the day waned and the night set in.

Minister Drednir stared blankly at his reflection in the window of a nearby storefront. A gray haired man of average build peered back at him with a tattered prison guard uniform draped across his broad shoulders. The likeness in the window’s glean spoke volumes of what the man had endured in crossing the Hell’s Holler desert valley. Many citizens, he suspected, would cower at what they would see in him. It didn’t matter though, he needed to see the Magistrate and obtain more ministers. Kyer Hauzer and his colleague had proved to be both dangerous and resourceful, eluding capture twice.

He moved further down the street finding the local Ministry easily enough, given the telltale wooden columns of the front entrance. Inside housed the ministers used to keep order in this small settlement as well as the judicial branch for the town.

The building would be home to the Magistrate and his guards, as well as containing a court room where the man would conduct proceedings.

“Whoah!” came a shout upon Drednir’s entrance. “You shall halt and state your business in this Ministry.”

“I shall speak with the Magistrate, I am Minister Drednir of the Eshendown Prison Quarry.”

“You’ve come a long way, Minister. Are you all right, is that your blood?”

“Stop wasting my time with pleasantries, take me to him now.”

“Yes sir,” obliged the guard not wishing the ire of the bloody garbed man.

Once inside the Ministry, the Howler’s Settlement Magistrate became infuriated by the interruption of a lesser stationed and filthy individual. He barked down from his pulpit soon after hearing the outlandish tale Minister Drednir spoke about.

“We cannot assume that the events you speak of are the results of the actions from these two inmates you speak of. You and your fellow ministers have failed in securing the quarry. Your inadequacies are what led to a coordinated effort of many lawless individuals whether they be wizards or trained demolitionists is what destroyed the prison. It was not the work of children whom many of which have not seen freedom, nor desired it for some years. Many of them have no ability to read, not to mention have no access to any books. Minister Drednir, how do you propose they gained these mystical spells of destruction and immortality that you speak of.”

“I did not come here to be questioned in these matters. I only seek reinforcements against these dangerous fugitives. I traveled across the desert and did not perish; a feat only magic could have aided me in.”

“Magic, bah, the sun has got to you Minister Drednir. Of course you had supplies to assist you in your trek. We have been in this settlement for many years and have seen hundreds of merchants and travelers cross that desert. It is no mystery the challenges it brings. It does not deceive in its ability to consume humanity, but you had to have food and water to cross. You merely forget this fact, having let the heat fade your memory of them.”

“Fools, all of you. I shall not waste my time with you further.”

“Now, now Minister. We have many questions still to ask of you. A resolution and measure of justice must be sought for the loss of the prison and the escape of so many. In our eyes no prisoners could have made the trek across the desert without the provisions I have just spoke of, and therefore you are not in fact following any. We the council believe you a deserter of the incident.”

“Guards remand the Minister.”

Heat welled across Dread’s skin as his rage filled blood coursed through his body. “How dare you threaten to incarcerate a Minister. I am the law!”

“Not any more, your days as a Minister ceased the day you left your post.” The magistrate then sent a hand cue to his room guards stressing the need for them to act on his behalf.

Drednir was now aflame with disgust of a system he held in high esteem. The laws of the land had failed him and all civilities for him were now over. His blood boiled knowing that further talking would do no good, once a magistrates order was issue there was little anyone could do to reverse it.

The Minister’s eyes darted to the left as he caught sight of baton heading for him. Luckily for Drednir, the guard had only swung half heartily in a gesture meant to deter a violent outburst from the newly deemed outlaw. Drednir was supposed to submit after the strike, and Dread did feel the impact as it caught him midway down his chest.

Drednir had not expected an attacked so soon, a mistake on his part. However neither luck from the half swing, nor the fault of leaving himself vulnerable matter. The magic within him was already at work minimizing the pain the blow had. The once-Minister recognized it immediately, registering that his body was repairing itself like it had at the quarry.

“Very well, we will take this to the next level. Remember Magistrate, you took it here.
We did not have to go down this road.”

A grin quickly spread across Drednir’s face, “Surely you can hit harder than that young man,” he said.

The guard replied to the snarky remark with a vigorous new swing of his baton. Drednir lifted his arms allowing the strike to hit his midsection unchallenged. He was prepared this time and felt the impact tremble through his body. The pain from the blow was there, but Drednir shrugged it off embracing his new magical abilities of fast healing.

The astonished guard lowered his weapon, confused by his inability to fall the Minister to the floor.

From across the room, the Magistrate exclaimed “What is this madness? No man can take a hit like that and shake it off like it was a pesky fly.” The guard shook his head in agreement.

“It’s a kind of magic. I have been trying to tell you that, but such explanations are no longer necessary. I see now that I was wasting my time with the likes of you. Now you shall see my new power and you will respect it.”

Dread winked at the guard and then quietly spoke so that only he could hear, “care to try your luck again?”

“Your damn right I do!”

The guard pulled back and raised his baton high above his head then swung downward with all his might. This time there would be no question of taking out his opponent. With a broadening smile, Drednir reached out with his open palm catching the wooden shaft and dead stopping it. Drednir then instinctively drew in a deep inhale of the surrounding air soaking in the fear that had arisen from the guard and magistrate alike. Their futility in subduing the rogue Minister had shifted to fright as they became desperate to figure out a way to get the upper hand, realizing that there may not be a solution.

“Ah ah, that is not nearly good enough my young friend.” Drednir ripped the weapon from the overextended guard taking him further off balance. Minister Drednir then clubbed the poor man in rapid succession. Every new strike dug deeper into the man’s flesh and soon the scene turned gory as a shower of blood flew across the room. “Not at all good enough my fellow guard; not even close,” Drednir concluded.

The room fell silent in the aftermath of the guard’s murder, the aura of fear and death filling the void. Minister Drednir swiveled his body, and lowered his head in a bull rush towards the exposed magistrate. Drednir did not care if the lawman was unarmed. Such notions no longer mattered to him as his frenzy grew strong; gnawing at any social morals that remained within him.


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