Leuian in a cage!
DGate Short Story!
Standing before the last archway, Trialan was nervous enough about leaving the Training Ground without running into a big Thugian barbarian sailing into the Nexus of Realities going the other way. Only his superb Leuian reflexes saved him from worse than the bruising he got. The Thug was almost 7 and a half feet tall, easily weighed half again Trialan's 240 pounds, in heavy leather armor and appeared to be carrying his own personal armory on his back. Trialan spotted at least one weapon from each major class as the Thugian rolled over him.
"Oops, you 'K? Me not know it work like that." said the Thugian.
Trialan was already on his feet and facing the potential threat, and would have to admit the other recovered almost as fast. The Thugian made no threatening moves and stood in a relaxed ready stance as they looked each other over. Trialan retracted his claws and relaxed himself, then winced as he noticed sereral sore spots, especially where the other's shield had ground into his left shoulder.
"I'll be OK if I don't run into any more like you today. What are you doing coming out of the Spur gate? I thought it was a one-way trip." said Trialan.
The Thugian smiled and said, "Me be in Spur axidental. Got kilt when Firs' Aid not work so good no more, woke up on Taath's altar in Spur. So axed someone to sen' me back to Trainin' Grounds to finish trainin'. Fun ride. Me be Smakem Realhard, frien's say Smak...who you?"
Something about the big Thug set Trialan at ease, perhaps just his open friendliness. He returned Smakem's smile and said, "Smakem, you’ve got a good name, it fits you well."
Smakem nodded and laughed. "Yah, me Da' sed, this way maybe me 'member what to do in fight. So what you name?"
Trialan glanced at Smakem somewhat shyly. "Trialan...Trialan Errorr," and waited for the inevitable wisecrack. None came. Smakem had a perplexed look on his face and Trrialan decided he'd have to explain.
"I'm the last of eight kits from a poor family. My mother told me it was a joke that somehow ended up as my name. I personally think they used up all the good names on my brothers and sisters." Trialan shrugged, "I'm used to it now." Trialan changed the subject, "So how long were you in Spur...what was it like?"
Smakem scratched his head, "'Bout a day. It a real big place. Got to see 'round Town Square. Got to see some big guys in guild," he beamed, then saddened "but they not seem like Smak." He shook his head, "Worf be idol, him be best, make me want do everythin' good too. But him spit at Smak." The big Thug sighed, then brightened as a new thought entered his head, "me see other Khat, like you. She be real sad. Maybe you help her some."
"What do you mean like me?" asked Trialan.
'Got same god-mark." Smakem said, pointing to the jackal head on Trialan's arm. "She be in bank. She smart, sold old lantern to William Secian with good story. Make him laugh and give her money." Smakem smiled as he remembered the incident. "We talk after, 'bout how she got there and what she do later. Some peoples been real mean to her, me think keep her in cage long time."
Trialan casually covered his god-mark and asked, "What do you mean kept her in a cage? You mean she was in jail?"
Making a stern face, Smakem continued, "Me think that too, but she say no. Say they keep her in cage mosta her life, since she be kit, but she get out and hide in Spur. She not know 'bout other Khats, they tell her she a freak. She 'fraid they catch her and put her back in cage." Shaking his head sadly, "She not look good. Even me think she need bath and new clothes."
Trialan forgot about his tattoo as his anger built. "They kept a Leuian in a cage for most of her life?! Like an animal?" His claws extended and he rose onto the balls of his feet.
Smakem nodded, "Me try to make her feel better, tell her it not be like that no more. Tell her some 'bout Khats me know' Even tell her how to team up wid good peoples." He shrugged, " But den guy come to send me back to TG. Me no able to help more." He looked at Trialan and considered, "Me know you be new too, but if you see girl Khat named Ferrale, she say call her Ferra, you try help her. Me think she be good person in bad fix. Smak come back to Spur in few weeks. You help her, Smak help you. 'K?"
Trialan said, "You don't need to bribe me to do the right thing. I will find her and if she needs help, I'll be glad to help her. ...Of course, if you really want to help either of us poor folk when you come to town Smakem, I'm sure we can work something out." Trialan smiled.
Smakem laughed, "Me think you get along good with Ferra. Me almost bought dat lamp for me..."
With that, Smakem turned and walked through one of the other archways and disappeared. Trialan went to follow him, but that arch just wouldn't let him through. After several minutes, he took a deep breath and stepped through the archway to Spur.
Hover Cursor for Editor's Note.
““Life is a handful of short stories, pretending to be a novel.”
A Dragaon's View on Religion
DGate Short Story!
Plumes of smoke poured into the night sky, obscuring the illumination provided by brief charges of an intensely bright fire that shot from the mystical being. This was my fault - my village, my people, I have betrayed them. But I knew it would come to this, and yet, as I see everything I have known destroyed before me, I would not change it...
It began as any normal day would in my life, breakfast and some time spent at the library. I believe I've read at least half of that library, and all I needed was time to finish the other half.
Hmm... the library is gone, now... I hadn't thought of that until now. No bother, this knowledge is more than what I could find in a pile of old, rotting books.
There were six rows of books, double-sided shelves of a dark wood that I hadn't seen anywhere but there. I always started at the bottom of the shelves and wound my way up to the top. I liked to think of it as some sort of ascension to the fullest knowledge, and the physical act of rising up to grab the book on the next highest shelf helped me remember that each time.
That day was the first day I spent on the fourth row, and I started at the bottom as I always did. I grabbed the first book, lower left corner, and I would like to say that I immediately felt it's importance, but I did not. It was a simple book, bound in the hide of some animal that must have had spots, and written on pages of a thick, yellowish paper. It was heavy with dust, but that wasn't exactly uncommon in a library such as this.
I carried it over to my normal reading table, and set it down in front of me as I dropped heavily into my chair. The book creaked as it responded to my gentle pry, I had always worried about ruining a book, seems like a waste of time considering current circumstances, though, doesn't it?
A Dragaon's View on Religion .. Cont.
The first page was uninteresting, the second, third, in fact, the whole book was worthless. I don't even remember its subject matter, but I do remember the illustration on the final page. How could I forget? It is the whole reason this had to happen.
The book was written in a solid black print of remarkable penmanship, but the illustration on the back was beautiful and full of color, vibrantly jumping off the page to mingle with my delighted eye. I noticed at that exact moment that it was some sort of map, and the town I lived in, this pile of accumulating rubble, sat directly in the center of this page. I had seen this map before, but this one had some markings on it that didn't make sense. For example, it had the old orange grove marked in the correct place, but the grove had been burned down years before I was born.
But the most important difference was that of the symbol of a scaly claw that was near the East Mountain. At the time, I had no idea what it was, but obviously, it piqued my curiosity, and I made plans to set out for that spot on the map after lunch.
The East Mountain was only an hour's hike, although painfully uphill, my body does not appreciate any exercise that does not involve the mind. Anyone else could have made this hike in half the time, but I digress. What I found there upon arrival is the real reason for the destruction of my city.
The mountain, at this point, was actually more of a sheer cliff. Numerous streaks of rock and mineral types common to the area shot like bolts of lightning through the face of the East Mountain, meeting their fate as another streak bounced off, from marble to granite to sandstone, it was almost as though a giant had created a mural for my viewing pleasure. Thick bushes and vines raced to the top of the mountain to attempt to cut off the momentum of the rocks, leading my eye to the top. I almost think that they were placed there intentionally, even I was struck by the beauty as I imagined a war between rock and plant that was being waged slowly before my eyes. But I am not one for beauty, I am for knowledge, and what was at the base of that mountain was the only thing that interested me.
I pressed forward to the thick of the green, instantly noticing a new smell that I could not quite place. But the shrubbery was too thick to see through and I grabbed some of the fallen stone that held a sharp edge to slash at the roots. A few of the bushes collapsed from their own weight and lack of a base. What I saw then was... well, it is hard to explain. It was perfection, it was bliss, it was... the scariest thing I had ever seen in my entire life. I jumped back, falling to a prone position, and unable to muster the strength to rise again from the intense fear that racked my body.
Two silver eyes peered from the deep darkness that extended underneath the mountain and behind the wall of plants, slowly blinking. Suddenly a voice erupted, I do not remember what it said but it was quiet and powerful, emanating heat and the stench of death. At this point, I was sure of my demise, but the eyes... they did not stir. They sat calm as the figure that claimed them slowly came into focus, a wicked smile across the beast's face. I had not seen this being before in the flesh, but the descriptions I had read made me completely certain it was a dragon.
Dull green scales shifted along the massive wyrm as it raised it's head slightly, curiously observing me while maintaining it's fierce-some posture. It spoke again casually, as though I were a wandering deer looking for vegetation to sustain upon. These words, I did not forget, "Sit up, you who have found my home. Tell me why it is here."
Words quickly came from my mouth, but they had not been rehearsed in my head, more of a reaction. "The map!" Utterly foolish now that I think about it, the dragon asked why I am there, and I tell it a map made me do it. Brilliant.
"I see the masters of your kind have changed since I last met one. Where is this map you worship?" it asked while staring blankly at me.
The words came quick again, but I had a moment to quickly refine them so I did not sound like a babbling idiot, "In the town to the west, where I live."
"All of this town worship the map that speaks to them?" it quickly responded.
"Worship? No, I mean, I found a map that had a symbol here. My faith is in Sa, not a piece of paper!"
"There is little difference to me. But speak of your god," it said, looking almost amused.
"Well, Sa created magick and teaches all of his supplicants knowledge of it," I said, while carefully watching my words. I had come to realize that if I didn't say anything inflammatory, perhaps I would not be inflamed by the mystical breath of a dragon I had read about.
His green scales began to contract and expand violently as an odd noise came from his grinning mouth. I think I had made him laugh, but he quickly spoke, "Created magick? Perhaps this figure had created the magick it knows. Perhaps that is why it lives in a small village without any strength."
"What, you believe YOUR god created magick?" jumped from my mouth, I immediately regretted the decision to insult the dragon's god.
The grin that had graced his powerful jaws quickly turned into my death warrant, twisting itself into a growl, his clenched mandibles uttered, "I do not follow a god. I would not subject myself to that weakness. Continue to speak it's mind, it should find that bravery followed by cowardice will be met with more aggression than further bravery."
"Y...yes... well...," I stumbled for words that would sound brave, "Why do you not follow a god?"
Jaws relaxing again, they began to speak calmly, "Perhaps it would follow the town idiot should it alarm the villagers of an incoming attack?"
"But that's not what I asked!"
"It is precisely what it asked. It will see that these gods that are followed are no more than town idiots high upon a tower that it cannot see. Perhaps these gods have a better view of what it wishes to see."
"I still don't understand what you mean...," I responded, it's riddling tongue was something not even I could understand.
"Perhaps it is too foolish to understand intellect. I will rephrase so that the lesser can understand. This god that it follows does not have any power beyond what one such as I do. It simply chooses to use it's power oddly, to aid those who fund it."
"How come Sa can give me power? How come Sa can dress my wounds? How come Sa can help me see? And you don't do any of that."
"The god chooses to. The god is no more than a simple magician. All of these things I am capable of, but would not share my strength upon those who are lesser. The god has gained some ability to use magick from far distances, so far that the lesser cannot see with it's blind eye. Should it find Sa, it will see the weakness of the god, it shall see a mortal behind a closed door hovering about a item of strong magick that the god does not understand, but can use. It shall see a frail being answering the prayers of the weak in exchange for a puny sum of gold. It shall see the fear upon this god's mortal face upon the discovery of the secret. It shall see an attempt to conjure up a story about how the god created the magickal item to answer prayers. It shall see the god fail at all it expected of it..." I cut it off, "Wait wait wait... I read that dragons don't even believe in gods. Why are you admitting to it?"
A tuft of smoke billowed from underneath it's nostrils, and encroached upon me with a slight snort, "I do not speak for any of the others, I do not care to represent them in anyway. However, it is I that believe in the existence of what it calls gods, and what I call anomalies. Lessers that found something ancient and powerful and learned to wield it's power, and are lucky enough to have those such as it follow blindly. It is all rather amusing."
"So... someone named Sa exists but it's just someone who fell upon an item that can transcend it's magick across the world?"
"Only its kind attempts to simplify intellect. Perhaps it is why they would not come to power themselves. But that is all I will speak, and that is the last it will know of my words. Should you doubt that I have greater power than it's Sa, it shall spread my word and cause destruction to those that hear it," he spoke harshly before disappearing from my vision. At the time, I did not believe the dragon... perhaps I should have, perhaps it just assumed I would blabber to the town of my findings and it would come anyway.
But I had learned something that no one else had, I had taken the thoughts of a dragon straight from its tongue and now it is on the sheet of paper. Even as I look upon the destruction of everything I ever knew before me, I know the dragon cannot stop me from writing this. I will hide it somewhere that it will never find, so even if it does find me, my legend will live on.
“A short story is like an old friend who calls whenever he is in town. We are happy to hear from it; we casually fan the embers of past intimacies, and buy it lunch.”
Dgate Short Story!
Noon, 3rd of Mateth, Year 305:
Today my crew and I embark upon a journey that will end in the greatest success of seamanship to date. My crew, mostly Rathanian, will begin at the Darkith River mouth on the south end of the Rathan mountain range. From there, we will head south through the great city of Spur and pick up valuable cargo for our final destination. After Spur, we will follow the Darkith to the Meetpoint where it makes a sharp turn west into the ocean. From there, we will sail west, northwest, and west again until we land on Saldaea's storied shores. We set sail in an hour, on our new vessel "The Siren." I'm pleased because I was able to name this wooden marvel myself. I chose the name because of it's grand size, the largest to date built in any parts that I know, so large the waves crashing against it echo off into the distance. Hence, the Siren wails it's arrival well before it's there.
2:00pm, 3rd of Mateth, Year 305:
I was too excited to hold off for another day. We set sail and the ship is very sea- worthy. We're heading south on the Darkith as I write!
12:30am, 5th of Mateth, Year 305:
The voyage goes well so far. Most of the crew is asleep, but I am still as giddy as a schoolboy. I don't believe I've slept yet, and we're entering day 3 of the voyage. We haven't even had as much as a bad gust of wind yet, the river is very smooth north of Spur. I've heard it gets rougher, but there's nothing the Siren can't take!
Noon, 6th of Mateth, Year 305:
I can tell we are getting close to Spur, off in the horizon today, one of crow's nest crewmen spotted a clock tower off to the south, which I am sure is near the heart of the grand city. We are supposed to pick up some cargo on the docks in Spur, I think I will let the crew off at the Fairgrounds for a night if we make it before the 10th of the month.
6:00pm, 9th of Mateth, Year 305:
We've arrived in Spur, at the Western docks. The clock tower looms high above to the east, the beacon of hope it was for this early part of the journey. I can't help but stare at it, and check the time every minute. We arrived at 5:43pm, according to the tower, and the cargo was loaded by 6pm. Although I don't agree with the cargo(a few slaves of Rijom descent), it is what funds this journey, so I suppose I can't complain. Oh, and I kept my promise to the crew, a night at the Fairgrounds and even the tavern if they can get themselves ready for the voyage to Meetpoint tomorrow.
2:15am, 10th of Mateth, Year 305:
(Barely legible writing, all you can make out is: "pitcher race", "talken", "puke")
11:00am, 10th of Mateth, Year 305:
Perhaps that was not a good idea, the drinking and partying. Everyone is a bit slow today, but that's alright, we can rest tomorrow night in Meetpoint before we head out into the ocean. Our cargo is safely loaded, and our great Siren is heading south to Meetpoint.
5:43pm, 10th of Mateth, Year 305:
Oddly enough, the clocktower is broken. We can still see it with a telescope halfway between Meetpoint and Spur. It's stuck at 5:43pm. No matter, though, we'll be in Meetpoint by midnight.
5:43pm, 10th of Mateth, Year 305:
I really don't understand what is going on. The river is flowing south, the ship is moving, I can SEE the land going past us. But the clock tower is still the same distance away, and it STILL reads 5:43pm. This just doesn't make any sense.
5:43pm, 10th of Mateth, Year 305:
Well, I think I understand it now. A dark fog has rolled in all around us, but up on the crow's nest it's clear. The fog is probably causing some funny reflection of the moonlight. It's actually night time now, but the clock still reads 5:43pm. I think I will set the anchor and call it a night due to the fog, hopefully they'll fix that clocktower in the morning and this storm will roll over us.
5:43pm, 10th of Mateth, Year 304:
I can't believe my eyes! Or my ears! Or anything that is happening! I woke up because of some odd noises in my cabin, some weird howling, like a relentless wind. I looked outside my porthole, and the fog was completely surrounding us. So I go to make note of it in the Siren's official captain log, and the heading for this entry was already written down. Now, I can understand if I accidentally wrote it down beforehand for some reason. But I wouldn't have written the year 304! So I tried to erase it and write over it, but each time I do I write 304! I AM TRYING TO WRITE 305! I must just be tired, I'll go back to bed and try again when the sun rises.
5:43pm, 10th of Mateth, Year 303:
It SHOULD be morning, but the black fog is still all around us. Some of the crew members said they heard chanting last night from the cargo hold, which is near their quarters. One of the crewmen climbed up atop the crow's nest again to get a look around, the fog has reached higher though, and he can't see anything. Except the clock tower, which still reads 5:43pm. I don't understand how he can still see it, so I went to look myself. And it stood there, shrouded in fog, nothing around it but a dark grey fog. Nothing around us but dark grey fog. The river is still flowing, and I think we would move if I raised anchor, so I raised it in hopes that we get out of this weird fog.
5:43pm, 10th of Mateth, Year 302:
Every time I write this damn year down, it's not the right year! What in Set's name is this! I don't even try and change it anymore; it's proved completely futile at this point. We haven't moved out of this fog, the crew is getting sick and angry, and I don't know what to do. We'll have a meeting tonight about this.
5:43pm, 10th of Mateth, Year 297:
The meeting proved useless. I am getting very fearful. The crew continues to hear chanting from the cargo hold, so we stopped giving food to the cargo, it will be easier to just kill them off than to listen to them moan. I am completely out of ideas. Hopefully this storm will pass us over. Oddly enough, the clock tower is now in visible view without the use of the crow's nest or telescopes. Surely this means we are moving north now? Perhaps Spur is nearby.
5:43pm, 10th of Mateth, Year 267:
We have been here, I estimate, 2 weeks. Most of the crew is sick, we have ran out of food. The cargo is most certainly dead, so we dumped them over the side of the boat to help with the stench. Good riddance, I say, so much food wasted on them that could have helped the crew last at least a couple more days.
5:43pm, 10th of Mateth, Year 162:
I have given up hope. Half the crew is dead; they rest in the river along with the dead cargo. I have kept enough food for myself to last a few more days, as I am the captain and most important. The year is 220 on this journal. The time is still 5:43pm, the clock tower is only about 30 feet from the hull, but we don't seem to be getting any closer. Oddly enough, there SHOULD be land where we are floating, but it's just a raging river. The fog is so thick, that when you inhale you can see it go into your nostrils now. I don't know how much longer we can hold out.
5:43pm, 10th of Mateth, Year 0:
Year 0 it reads. The beginning of time? I don't even know, but I am so fearful that I do not fear anything. The last of my crewmen died today, and I was the only one to push him off to his watery resting place. I don't know what to say. The clock tower is right next to the ship, starboard side. When I reach to touch it, my hand keeps going as if the brick and mortar it's made of isn't there. It's still 5:43pm. There is still fog. I have lost hope, I will go to sleep now and maybe I will never awaken.
5:43pm, 10th of Mateth, Year 0:
That is good news; it still seems to be year ... strange. I hear the chanting and moaning again, I will go look outside my porthole, which is where it sounds like it is coming from...
My dear Set... I ... cannot ... how? They are coming back, I see them! They are them, but they are not them! Their skin has rotted, their eyes are missing, and they are the dead! The moan and groan and they are heading this way. I do not know what they will do to me... wait... the cargo? The cargo is amongst them. The cargo are actually moving about, and, and, I cannot believe my eyes. They are ordering them in this direction. My men, my brave men, they march in this direction!
How is this possible? Will Set help me? I write to only you now, my lord! You must come and (the ink spills across this section)
My lord, what have they done? They are destroying the hull from the bottom, they are going to SINK THE SIREN!. I can hear their ghoulish claws digging into the beautiful wood of this vessel. The moans, they are terrible. I can hear them coming into the ship, it's beginning to list...
I just locked the door and put my drawer against it. I have my blade at my side. I will go down fighting if I have to, even if it is my crew.. but it is not my crew. They are dead, I can seem them from the porthole, and they are ghastly figures, much like skeletons but with some of the flesh remaining. They march slowly onto this ship... what's that? I can hear them coming down the hallway. They are headed this way. If I shall perish, whoever finds this let it be known that I, Castilus J. Seaman, Captain of the Siren went down fighting for his ship! They come close now... I hear the chanting...
Hover Cursor for Editor's Note.