Author Topic: Slivers (18+)  (Read 137 times)

Azar

  • Wyrmling
  • *
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
Slivers (18+)
« on: October 06, 2017, 01:51:28 AM »
It was dark and peaceful for what felt like mere moments before he felt something beneath his feet and backside. A rhythmic vibration. Then sound bled into his senses. The low rumble of a 6 liter turbo diesel engine. He could smell the exhaust fumes. He was moving. There were voices as well....

"This seems like a biiiiig f****n' waste of time and resources.." a mans voice rang out. It was muffled and tinny, as though it was coming from behind something metallic.

"Shut it, Mason... The cap says it's important, so it's important." another mans voice spoke out, also tinny and muffled.

Azar finally opened his eyes. He was in an armored truck... He didn't know how he knew that fact, but he did. There were 7 men in the back of it with him, 4 sitting on the metallic bench across from him, and 3 sitting on the same bench he was seated on. He was seated closest to the 2 armor clad doors at the rear of the truck. All of the men were dressed in heavy duty tactical armor. Pouches containing ammunition lined their vests and belts as well as other various tools and equipment they deemed necessary for whatever 'journey' they had embarked on. They all carried automatic rifles as well as smaller caliber sidearms at their hips. He couldn't quite see the 2 men in the front of the vehicle through the armored doors that separated the rear from the cabin, but they didn't seem as heavily equipped from what he was able to see.

Then there was Azar... As out of place among the men as anyone could be. His clothing was dirty and tattered. It was baggy and as loose fitting as it always was. A scarf covered his face, all except for his calculating eyes and long, onyx hair. He didn't particularly care for the smells of this world, and the scarf helped with that somewhat, but it was a necessary, and a temporary discomfort. At his side were his 2 blades. There were no firearms. There was no ammunition. He didn't even know he was himself, really... He just knew he was a man who was sitting in this confined space with these other men. He knew he was different and out of place.

In between the two benches, perched on the steel diamond plate floor of the vehicle was an awkward, lead plated metal crate seated on a wooden skid with a handle on the back end. It was a 3' X 3' cube. Azars gaze left it from time to time to get a better look at his surroundings, but it never strayed away from that crate for too long. He didn't know what was in it... but somehow he felt like he should have. It felt surreal, but he knew he was meant to be here for one reason or another.

It was quiet for some time, aside from the monotonous rumble of the engine and the turbo whine, occasionally changing in pitch when they accelerated or decelerated. Every now and again he felt them come to a stop, hearing the faint sounds of automobile horns from time to time.

Azar idly closed his eyes for a few moments before he heard the face plate of one of the mens' masks creak as it was swung up and away from his face. The faint sound of slimy chewing was heard, prompting one eye to open a bit, flitting to the crate, and then to the man, staring right at him, and that man looked right back at him. Azar sensed uncertainty behind the mans well executed stare of absolute confidence.

"Cap says you're some sort of hotshot 'specialist'." he said, sounding utterly unimpressed, continuing to chew his gum obnoxiously. "You know anything about that, guy?" the man asked. It was Mason... He remembered the mans voice from before, and the name the other man associated with it.

"No." Azar said simply in reply to Mason. There was no tone of defiance in his voice. Indifference, perhaps, but that was all.

"Then what're you doin' here?" he asked insistently before the other man from before interrupted him.

"Mason, spit that f****n' gum out." he said sternly. He hadn't removed his faceplate yet."It's annoying the sh*t out of me.. In case you've forgot, we have headsets.." Whoever it was seemed to be in a position or rank that trumped Masons, as Mason complied with the order after a brief moment. Azar had closed his eye again by now, but he heard the man spit the gum onto the floor. The other men sat quietly, swaying every now and again when the vehicle made a turn or found a bump or other form of un-evenness in the road.

Mason leaned forward a bit and turned to the man who seemed to reprimand him. "How's Stace?" he asked the other man who had spoke to him earlier. Azar wondered if they were close somehow.... Yes. They were friends.

"She's fine... Visited her in the hospital this morning. The chemo f**ks with her pretty bad, but she's doing ok." he paused for just a brief moment in the banter. Azar could sense he didn't really like talking about the condition of this 'Stace'.... He was going to change the subject... He was going to mask his discomfort with a joke. Again, Azar was a little confused as to how he knew it was going to happen that way.

"Hows your mum, Mason? We went at it pretty rough last nighahaha.." he started laughing before he could really finish the last word. A few of the other well equipped men chuckled for a few moments.

Azar couldn't really make heads or tails of what was so funny about it though, but Mason didn't seem to take offense to it. It was just the type of men they were. City boys. Crude and immature grunts. Sure, they were probably good at what they did, and their positions afforded them a bit of leeway on how they behaved... They risked their lives, dealt with death, criminals, gangs... As long as they were professional in public, and carried out their duties, they had a bit of slack.

"Well... She said her eyes are pretty tired from staring into that microscope for so long trying to find your tiny pecker." he said.

Azar shook his head a little, still not finding the humor in any of it. Not because he understood it and simply didn't think it was funny, but simply because he didn't understand it at all. Azar loved his mother. He wouldn't have appreciated such a remark, personally. Mason caught Azars head shaking and turned to face him again.

"Seriously Jimmy.. Who is this prick?" he asked again. Azar was not one to take offense easily, and he didn't, but the mans obnoxious demeanor was becoming tiresome.

"The man who may be instrumental in your survival if the object inside of that crate finds itself, somehow, no longer inside of it." he said bluntly and as a matter of fact. It wasn't a brag. He took no pride in the things he had to do. He wasn't specific as to its contents, but he knew it was dangerous to the future, and the history of this world. This, too, was something he just knew... The how and the why still eluded him.

Masons eyes widened and he burst out in laughter.

"Pffahahhaah.. and what are you gonna to do if that happens? Cut up some onions and make it cry?" he sort of gestured to Azars simple and unassuming choice of weaponry. Perhaps his 'brotherly' jibing with Jimmy had eased their moods a little, because Jimmy didn't interrupt him this time. He was as curious as Mason, but his position demanded a higher level of professionalism. All of their positions did, but Jimmy's did more so than the rest.... to a point.

Azar glanced down at himself, one brow raising. "Suffice it to say, I hope you will not have to find out." Azar replied simply.

"Uh-huh... and what are you, some sort of kung fu master?" he asked, making some mock knifehand strikes and other general 'chops', but Jimmy interrupted him this time. "That's enough..." he said, but it didn't sound like he wanted to say it. Mason just sort of shrugged and leaned his back against the metal wall behind him again.

"So where are we going, anyway?" Mason was asking, and in the same instant he finished his question, Jimmy was already responding. "You sure ask a lot of questions... Can we just ride in peace for once, Mason? It's hard to fantasize about your mum when all I hear is your dumb ass." Jimmy said.

Azar shook his head again, still clueless as to why one would be fantasizing about the others mother. He truly felt out of place in this strange world.

The surface the armored truck was travelling on got a lot rougher. He could hear the crunch of dirt and gravel beneath the tires.

"God DAMMIT I hope we're almost done with this s**t... I'm getting hungry.. Gonna get me a fat pastrami down at Full Belly's." Mason said before flipping down the face plate of his helmet.

"Almost." Jimmy replied.

Maybe 5 more minutes passed, and all passengers were quiet. The trucks engine struggled as the surface grew even softer, but it eventually got them there and came to a stop. None of them truly knew what to expect when the heavy doors at the back of the truck opened, so perhaps a bit of tension had washed over each of them. Azar knew he felt as calm as ever though.

The driver smacked the palm of his gloved hand against the metal gate separating the two compartments a few times, as if signifying that they'd reached their destination..

Jimmy, the man who seemed to be in charge, was the first to stand, his rifle held high and close to his chest. "By the books, boys..." was all he said before he walked toward the doors at the back, crouching very slightly to avoid the ceiling. One hand left his rifle and grabbed onto the lever that unlatched the doors. He rotated it upwards, the sounds of shifting metallic mechanisms at work behind the metal plating ringing out, followed by a solid 'THUNK'. Jimmy pushed the door open with his foot.

They were on a secluded beach. Waves lapped gently against the shoreline. The weather was peaceful, and there was a light breeze. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. All 7 of the passengers in the back eventually shuffled past and hopped down onto the sand, loosely spreading out. Azar finally rose and hopped down into the sand as well. A bit of a smile slid onto his lips as he knelt down, picking up a handful of the sand, letting it fall out between his gloved fingers.

Mason had been watching him, apparently. "...F****n' weirdo, this guy." he sort of chuckled a little. He truly wasn't trying to be mean, it was just the way he was. A crass, abrasive, obnoxious jokester.

Azar didn't really acknowledge the mans statement, and instead leaned into the back of the open truck, grabbing hold of the handle on the back of the wooden skid that the metallic crate was perched on, sliding it closer to the edge where it could be more easily handled.

Jimmy trotted over, seeing that he was preparing to move it. "I know we're under explicit instructions that you're the only one to handle it, but let me help you... That thing's gotta way three or four hundred pounds.."

Azar already had both hands under it by then, and was already lifting it off the wooden skid with plenty of ease. Jimmy didn't step back in astonishment, but his helmet sort of tilted to one side, trying to wrap his head around the fact that a man of his size and build was able to lift that crate so readily.

"You.... uh.. okay then." Jimmy said as Azar just walked toward the shore and sort of tossed the crate down carelessly. He knew that percussive disturbances wouldn't affect anything, somehow. The other men didn't, and a couple of them sort of took a cautious step back, put on edge by his 'handling' of the object. Azar finally turned to face the truck and the men who were spread out around it.

"Thank you." was all he said, but it carried some strange finality. He didn't move any more. He just stood there and watched the men. Mason lifted his faceplate and looked at him. "Well? What now, tough guy?" he sort of said in a snide manner.

"Now you may leave. I'm sorry you were ordered to accompany me for this." he said and turned from the men, looking out to the sea. It smelled... dirty... The water was not clean like he was accustomed to. His nose sort of wrinkled a bit before the quiet was interrupted again.... it was Mason again. Who else?

"That's it?!" he shouted questioningly.

"That's it, for you." Azar replied calmly. Their part was finished. He still wondered how he knew their part was over, and why the men in dapper looking suits insisted an armed unit accompany him, but those were their conditions.

"Ohhhhh no no no no." he seemed irritated as he started toward Azar. Jimmy spoke up though.

"Mason!" he paused, waiting to see if Mason straightened up. "..That's enough... Let's go." he finished.

"Tch..." Mason sort of hissed before spitting a phlegmy loogey onto the beach and storming back to the truck. Azar thought it was odd, that through all the talking and questioning that man had to do, not once did he ask about what was in the crate. None of them did. It was better that way though...

What was to happen next would remain a mystery to the men... Why they were just leaving him there with the strange crate, what he was going to do with it, what it was. They would never know... Nor would Azar, it would seem.

Once all the men were in the back of the truck and he heard the engine roar to life again, he stepped towards the water, glancing to the metal crate for a moment, simply staring at it curiously before looking back out at the water. Why was it so dirty? Why did it smell so.. unnatural?

He knelt down on the dampened sand next to the shallow water and removed one of his gloves before looking down at it to bring a cupped handful of it up to his face to examine more closely. What he saw in the waters reflection startled him though. It was himself... It was his own eyes. The face he knew from reality.

That's when he abruptly sat up in his bed, inhaling a deep breath of air..... He was in his room at the inn now... One hand reached up to grab his chest, sort of feeling himself there before his hand found his face, trailing up to find his hair before his fingers ran through the long strands.

It was just a dream... but why did it feel more like a memory instead? That... never happened in his life... He'd never been to that place. He'd never met those men... He'd never seen that metal crate until now... He just knew he hadn't, but he couldn't shake that feeling. He swung his legs off the edge of his bed and opened the small, leatherbound journal that was on the table next to the bed... it didn't take long for him to start illustrating, and writing.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2019, 06:57:31 PM by Azar »

Azar

  • Wyrmling
  • *
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
Re:
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2017, 10:01:24 PM »
The sky was clear and one solid, even hue of blue. Not a single cloud marred that pristine ocean of sky. The sun felt... close, and very hot. He was walking, slogging through loose sand. Despite his strength and endless endurance, it was still a laborious task to walk while your feet slid and adjusted as the specks of earth slid out from beneath them. It was even more laborious when the distance was miles. Perhaps a hundred or more. There were camps in the desert. Temporary huts set up by whoever the masses of surrounding people were. They appeared more primitive than others cultures. Not less civilized, just.. simpler. They all wore very basic clothing. They may have been tribal, even. He could make out 6 distinct variations in the way they were dressed and decorated.....

Yes.. That's it.. There were 6 tribes. He'd have stopped to reflect on that if he could have, but his legs kept carrying him along. He couldn't stop himself. It was like his legs were not his own, yet they also were. The strange new experiences kept coming though. Every now and then he could feel a few flecks of sand hitting him in the cheeks, blowing from the crests of the sandy dunes he was moving between. He felt encumbered. There were leather straps wrapped around the palms of both of his bloodied hands. He wasn't bound though... he was gripping onto them. The straps trailed over each of his bare shoulders and traveled back to a harness that was connected to 6 strange, metallic 'sled-like' boxes. They were rectangular. Ornate engravings covered each of the 5 exposed sides of them. They were heavy... They were solid gold, except for whatever was in them.

What was this gathering? A festival? No... he was the center of their attention. He was being punished. No.. he was atoning... was this out of respect and duty? That must have been why he wasn't running. Why he wasn't 'getting it over with'. He'd done something... Wrong to some, right to others... He wondered what.. He couldn't remember..

The trail of those gathered sprawled out ahead of him for as far as his eyes could see. In the great distance ahead he could see 6 towering, tan monoliths angled out of the desert, slanting up into the sky. Based on how high each reached into the sky, he gathered they were well over six or seven hundred feet tall.

For some reason he didn't quite know just yet...  but he still felt like This was all new to him. He'd never seen this place, or met any of these people. At least to the best of his recollection. Those moments passed by so slowly, but then he felt a warm wetness strike his cheek, accompanied by the sound of a mans lips and a sharp, spiteful grunt. "PTOOH!" ...He knew what it was.

He didn't stop to wipe away the spit though. He looked straight ahead and kept walking. Oddly enough, none of these people spoke any actual words to him. Perhaps it was their way, or the way of whatever this strange ordeal was. Some of the people gathered did not seem angry though. Some smiled. Some were crying. Some turned away once they had seen what they had sought out to. Some threw stones and handfuls of sand... And others spit and hissed. He thought such varying reactions to the sight of him to be strange, but every passing moment was new, so he couldn't really grab hold and think deeply on these things just yet.

Many hours passed of this. The landscape never really changed, nor did the reactions of the people. The massive structures ahead grew larger and larger as time went on. There were no strange, unique markings on any of them. He was better able to discern their massive size as he drew nearer. It was an astonishing sight... He was able to discern that they were indeed each perhaps a thousand feet tall. They were long, and each had many clearly defined obtuse angles. He almost felt like they were all part of the same structure. That they met somewhere deep beneath the sands.

More time passed, more sweltering, laborious hours. The crowds of gathered people seemed to start thinning out the nearer he got to the structures. Those onlookers closer to the monoliths started to appear dressed in a more clean manner. Their clothes were in better condition. The fabrics were finer. They adorned more decorations and bared more symbolism. They were all much calmer than the greater masses who'd gathered for the past hundred miles or so. Eventually there were none left on each side of his path, and only a vast stretch of flat desert ahead, much different than the sandy dunes behind.

In the distance, and in a large sandy clearing between where the monoliths all seemed to submerge beneath the land, he could see 6 dark specks. He knew that they were people. There was no more detail to be had than that though, and it was still hard to even make them out. It was windier here. There were no dunes to break up and ease the breeze anymore, so there was a lowly elevated sandy haze between the small gathering and himself.
He could clearly make out 6 small dwellings as well, sprawled out in a crescent shape.

Compared to the journey behind him, it wasn't much more time before he finally arrived. The 6 figures all approached him at once. All wore flowing robes of differing color and decoration. Two were women, and the remaining four, men. All carried ornate wooden staffs with intricately carved heads at the top of each. None were the heads of any species he knew of though. Somehow he'd have expected them to be based on animals, but that was a little narrow minded and obtuse, he supposed. Still.. he found the strange staffs quite curious. He'd come to a halt by now as the figures approached him, and he'd have taken that time to think more about the staffs they all carried, but words began to escape their lips.

"Qara ravakq, Azar." one said, immediately followed by the next, and then the next, and the next. "Qara ravakq, Azar." They all said. Their tone and demeanor carried no traces of ill will or malice. No anger, no hatred. It could have even been described as 'professional'. They said what they had to, and that was all. Like this had all been pre-arranged, and there was nothing else to say at this point.

Why couldn't he understand them? He wanted to so badly... Why did they call him that name? Why did he feel like he knew them? All questions he could not answer, but somehow he knew to proceed further past them... As the last one spoke the same words as the rest, he felt the sands shake beneath his feet. His hands still held tight to the leathery straps though. The shaking grew more intense, and ahead of him, a slit formed. Sand spilled into a black chamber below like a glistening waterfall. The slit grew larger and larger as the ground continued to rumble. At this point, he simply stood and watched, glancing over his shoulder to the 6 figures behind him one last time before he was to enter whatever unknown place awaited. He didn't feel afraid or uneasy. He was a little awe stricken, but somehow he felt like he would know what he had to do next.

One blink of his dry eyes was all it took to separate him from this dream... no.. this distant memory, and from the lucid reality that was the cool, cozy comfort of his room at the inn. When was that? WHERE was that? He sat up in bed, sweat on his brow and torso. He had plenty of questions, but he had to record the things he saw and felt before it was too late. He stretched out his arm and opened his journal on the table beside his bed...
« Last Edit: November 23, 2019, 07:02:41 PM by Azar »

Azar

  • Wyrmling
  • *
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
Re:
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2017, 02:15:00 AM »
A small arm stretched forward and into his vision from over one of his shoulders, reaching out to a cow that stood before them. The child opened his hand wide and placed it on the cows undulating snout. It was peacefully chewing on a mouthful of cud while the boy started to pat it there. Apparently it was accustomed to being around people. There was pasture for miles, and he was standing on the side of a dirt road that cut down the middle of the grassy fields.

"Mom said you spoke to a dragon a long time ago... She said it came from the sky." the words interrupted the silence that preceded it, the voice coming from just behind his own head. A boy was sitting on his shoulders. He had to be maybe 7 or 8, judging by the pitch and tone of his voice, as well as his weight. He didn't know what they'd been talking about prior to this moment that prompted the boys words.

"Sheeee said it told you its words with lights, and that it was as big as a mountain!" he bragged innocently, as though he had some sort of leverage. Like he was in a position where he knew something that Azar wasn't supposed to know.

He laughed heartily when he heard that, but something about laughing felt wrong. He'd heard all the stories from the boys mother before, but he played along as though he didn't anyway, even if he felt sure the tales weren't true.

"Ahhh yes.." he started to say as he stepped away from the side of the road where the cow was grazing and started walking again. He felt that the boy somehow idolized him for innocent, childish reasons. His mother spun a compelling yarn when she told him of these visions she had. He wasn't so cold hearted to outright deny the boy whatever tales he liked to believe in, though.

"Anantaboga...." he added in a tone that conveyed it was 'difficult' for him to remember the name, for theatrics or something to that effect. "Yes... I remember now.." but he didn't go on to elaborate about the description the boys mother had given him. He left the rest up to imagination.

He idly kicked a rock that his feet had found on the dirt road, trying to keep it tumbling along in the path ahead of him. He kicked it out a good 20 feet or so and he somehow felt satisfied that it landed where he had hoped. When was the last time his mind had been clear and free enough to take satisfaction in something so simple and meaningless? It was just a passing thought, it seemed, because he began to feel somewhat nervous.

Stretched down at the end of the old dirt road was a typical, white farm house, as well as another dirt road leading off to what looked like a few barns and a windmill.

"What did he say?" the boy asked, his lower legs that hung down were idly swinging back and forth.

"She." he said.

"Okayyyy.. What did she say then? " the boy asked impatiently.

Azar chuckled a little. He didn't quite know what to say, so he sort of made it up. "Uhhh... I can't remember all of it.. Something about a time of fading starlight... and a great ark... That's all I can remember.. sorry bud." he said, shrugging a little, causing the boy to hold on around his head to keep from losing balance.

Azar started jogging a bit to startle the boy somewhat. He'd probably get a kick out of it. He also felt it may have been a way to change the topic. Despite his disbelief in these tales, something was uncomfortably serious about the boys mother when she told them to him. If anything, he worried about her. He'd met people who claim to have visions before, but she never could. It was something that just happened to her one day. In her case, he worried it was an affliction of some sort.

The boy smiled the whole way, but Azar eventually slowed down to a easier stroll as they approached the house. "You're gonna stay for dinner right?" the boy asked as Azar was examining the house that stood before the two of them.

"We'll see." he said, a small smile on his lips. It wasn't only out of happiness though. He felt some regret in that moment. He wasn't quite sure why.

"I'll go tell mom you're here!" the boy exclaimed as he struggled down to the ground, holding onto Azar in a few different places as he maneuvered. He ran right for the door as soon as he hit the ground. There was a wooden sword on the boys back, fastened by an ordinary thin rope that was around one of the boys shoulders. He must have been out playing. His pants were dirty, as were his elbows and forearms. He still struggled to put his finger on where he and the boy met up though.

His mother had already heard the commotion. It was a quiet old place. She was standing in the open doorway, leaning against the door jamb just as the boy reached it. She was in her early twenties, perhaps. Pretty. Smooth skin on her face. She wore a long, plain brown dress, and an apron covered her torso and upper legs. Something in him felt uneasy when his eyes fell upon that face and her lips did not twist into a bright smile. A smile, but by no means brimming with joy. There was something else there when he watched her and offered that same sort of smile in return, concealing something they both chose not to mention right now.

"It's been a long time, Kay." he said. Was that the womans name? Kay? No. It was Kalen, but most who knew her shortened it. He felt hesitant saying the words to her. There was an underlying feeling of hesitance the whole walk here, he felt, but didn't want to disappoint the boy.

"Yes it has." she replied bluntly to his greeting before turning to look down at the boy. "Erik, go inside and get out of those filthy clothes." she said as she swatted him on the butt. Erik... He thought on that name for a brief moment, watching as the boy ran off and vanished inside the farm house.

Kay stood back up and crossed her arms, leaning against the door jamb once more and staring him down. That smile that was on her lips was gone now, as was his own, and a heavy tension hung in the air between them.

"I thought I told you that after we buried Edmond I never wanted to see you again. You did... you did something to me...  you took Edmond away. I never wanted to see this sh*t!" she was saying in a loud, almost hissing whisper, her voice box adding pitch and tone to some of the words here and there. Perhaps he wasn't quite prepared for this, despite expecting it somehow. Her demeanor changed so quickly once Erik had ran off to change. She didn't want Erik to see it... She was hiding it from him.

"You got what you wanted and left Eddy to d--" she paused and composed herself when she heard Erik running back down the creaky wooden halls behind her and straightened up... Like she was a different person. "I should check on dinner. You're welcome to join us though." she said cheerfully as that smile slid back onto her lips. All of her words caused his chest to feel tight. He didn't feel the need to defend himself, either. His mind frantically searched for glimpses of that time she was referring to, but he was unable to grasp what he was looking for. He couldn't find any more perspective, but the way she reacted was enough to guide him.

That smile he wore before was back as he casually shook his head. "No. I should get back on the road." he said and, before he could even finish the whole sentence, Erik chimed in with a long, heartbroken moan after hearing that first word. "But you said yo--" he started to plea as he ran over to him, grabbing onto his loose clothing.

"I said 'we'll see.' Perhaps next time, Erik... I have something important I have to see to... Something the dragon told me to do..." he interrupted, adding that last bit to give the boy hope that his reason for needing to leave was valid enough. A slight empathetic frown tugged on his lips as he knelt down to console the boy. His gaze to Kay over the boys shoulder would imply he'd not return again, despite saying 'perhaps next time'. After a few moments of the boy moaning and crying, he put both hands on the boys shoulders and backed him away. He couldn't quite put his finger on why the boy cared this much. That, in itself, was unsettling to him.

Kay had gone inside by now. She had nothing else to say, but Erik still stood there sniffling. Whatever hate or disgust Kalen harbored for him did not blind her to the fact that she knew Azar was no threat to the boy. She at least trusted him that much, despite her claim that he'd somehow been responsible for the way she'd become.

"Armor yourself, for it may be some time before I see you again, Erik." he was saying to be gentle. He'd never return in their lifetimes. "Take good care of your mother... Be strong when she spins her tales." he added.

It was as if part of what he said had jogged Eriks memory. "You don't look that old to me, Azar." the boy said as if he was referring to something Kalen had said that Erik had taken out of context. He was smiling a little, having overcome whatever childish fit of emotions had grabbed hold of him for those brief moments.

The peaceful scenery and the tenseness that hung in the air were both torn away from his senses as the boy spoke his name.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2019, 07:22:05 PM by Azar »

Azar

  • Wyrmling
  • *
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
Re:
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2017, 12:56:28 AM »
A gentle 'thump' from beside him caused him to awaken from whatever slumber he was in. Or was he awoken into something? He felt the weight of one of his forearms across the bridge of his nose, covering both of his eyes. It was too bright in this place... Where was this place, anyway?

Another thump, this one creating some vibration in the 'room' he was in. Then the voice of a woman rang out.

"I told you this was a bad-" the woman was saying before a man interrupted her rather curtly, but also calmly. "It's fine." the man said as though her words were interrupting some sort of focus he had, but as soon as his last word was out the woman spoke out again just as quickly as the mans last word ended, and with a little more insistence this time. "We'll end up like the rest of them!" she shouted. Azar detected fear in her words, and perhaps even a bit of panic. He finally sat up on the hard cot-like bed he'd been resting on. It was attached to the wall, perhaps even part of it, and was composed of a cool, smooth, light grey material. Perhaps some form of plastic or other polymer. The velvety 'pad' on it where one would lay, if one could even truly call it a pad, was perhaps only an inch thick or so, but was deceptively comfortable for how little there was of it.

There was a window on the wall next to him when he sat up, as well as a strange black reflective surface built into the wall beside it. Strange lights peppered its surface in the form of different symbols and lines. Most of the markings were green in color, aside from a couple that were red or blue. He studied it for a moment, but couldn't make out what any of the symbols meant. He could discern that it was certainly a written language of some form, but what it said was beyond him.

There was a blueish light shining through the window. It hadn't been on him when he was laying down though. He glanced across the small compartment he was in at the opposite wall where the light struck. The angle at which it entered this boxed in room shifted somewhat, but it wasn't the source of the light moving. This box was moving. He blinked and finally looked out the window just as a fairly large rock scraped along the side of the structure he was in, causing him to duck his head down quickly before getting a look outside.

"We - are - going - to - die, Harrick! Just like the rest! They've already become unsettled!" the womans voice rang out again, clearly accentuating those first 5 words. What was she referring to? He wondered.

Harrick? To the best of his recollection, Azar had never heard that name before. From where he sat, he couldn't clearly see the two others that were in this place with him. There was wall separating the portion of this 'space' that he was in from where they were, but he was not a prisoner. There was an open doorway in the center of the barrier between him and the others. He could see the dark silhouettes of the two through the doorway, but only a little less than half of each of them. A faint green glow filled that smaller compartment they were in, outlining only the edges of their partially visible forms in a faint green line. Occasionally the color would shift slightly, or highlight them differently. He could make out more of those strange black, reflective panels in front of them though, peppered with more green symbols and other various markings.

"He paid us a hefty f***ing sum, Esha'." the man paused, focusing on whatever task at hand he'd been partaking in. "We're not turning back now." he added. Azar saw Herricks silhouette lean towards this 'Esha' woman and could hear faint whispering, as well as the outline of the mans lips moving. "....plus.... we gon.......... ould kill us..." was all he could make out before Esha nervously blurted out "JUST WATCH THE F***ING DISPLAY!"

...And again, and at least to the best of his recollection, another name he'd never heard before.

...Plus what? Kill us? Who, or what, could, or would kill us? What was going on?

Azar turned back to the window and peered out. It took his eyes a moment to adjust to the blindingly bright and green point of light off in the vast, dark distance. Every now and again it flickered as rocky objects passed in between whatever he was in and the light source, their outlines just barely visible due to the contrast between light and dark. He brought up one finger and placed it in his field of vision just far enough from his eye to obscure the source of light, allowing him a clearer view of whatever else was out there. It was not a light, but a star. His head jerked back as he came to realize he was somewhere truly strange. He brought his face back to where it needed to be for his finger to block the light and studied this  void. Rocks. Thousands. Perhaps millions, varying in size and shape. Some had to be miles wide, while others only meters across. Scattered here and there were much more out of place objects. They weren't natural like the rest of the rock that surrounded them. Battered old derelict structures. Many with smooth surfaces, aside from holes and damage. Though mostly composed of smooth materials, the structures had sharp edges here and there, as well as some with much smoother contours. Some bore symbols on the outside. So many of them looked vastly different from one another. He couldn't tell what they were, or what they were once supposed to be.

He saw the green point of light shift. They were turning.

"Plotting approach vector. Margin of error well within acceptable parameters... Distance: one kilometer." Herrick said, but it sounded like he was talking to himself more than to Esha. Perhaps it was how he focused, or concentrated. Azar saw the mans silhouette shift in a manner that made it seem like he was looking over to Esha. "Vector set." he said, almost sounding reassured by the low 'margin of error'. It would appear that Esha was not so assured.

"You BETTER not get us all killed... This place doesn't play by the rules."

Azar had finally stood up and approached the open doorway separating these 2 others from him and leaned against one side of it. There was too much talk of danger and dying for him to remain silent any longer... Only, what he wanted to say is not what came out.

He low growl escaped his throat. Not one out of anger, but more out of a lack of faith in these two. "Yes, Herrick... I trust you will not get us all killed." he said to Herrick. The man appeared human enough, now that he was able to get a clearer look at the mans dimly lit features.

Herrick groaned out, as if displeased by the fact that not only was Esha doubting him, but now Azar as well. "Oh, you wanna pilot this thing then, wise ass?" he said. "I'm the best pilot in the sector." he said as if to reassure the two who had brought his ability into question. "I wonder how many times I've heard that before." Azar quipped back at the man, smirking slightly.

"Probably a thousand or so, but none of them were cr-- ahem.. brave enough to accept your... generous offer." he said before adjusting in his seat, leaning forward a bit more as though he was prompted by information that had flashed across his display in that moment.

"Five hundred meters......" he said, staring at the display, his eyes flicking up to the window in front of them to peer out every now and again. "Four hundred..." he continued. Azar idly glanced over at Esha in that moment, if only to ascertain her disposition to everything that was happening. Her body was clad in some sort of tight, dark leather material, and an odd metallic device was attached to her ear, a clear, glassy material bowing out from it in front of her eyes. He caught the faint twinkling of lights on the inside of it between her eyes and the surface of it. Odd.... "Three hundred...." he added, immediately followed up by some words from Esha. "Scans still indicate no activity." she said with that nervous tone still present just beneath the surface of her voice.

"They will not detect activity... This..... is not such an object." Azar said to the woman. He didn't quite know what he was doing here, but somehow he knew to say the things he did. He'd gathered they were all out here for something, that they'd come to some sort of agreement, and that it was extremely dangerous. He was putting two and two together, even as out of place as he felt. The derelict objects.. those must have been the 'rest' who Esha spoke of earlier during her insistence that they were going to die. Were the 'rest' seeking the same thing that he was? Why?

"Two hundred." Herrick said, interrupting whatever thought Azar had been caught up in. "Slowing approach. Get ready, 'boss'.'" Herrick said, quite a hint of sarcasm on that last bit.

Esha looked over her shoulder at Azar. "Make it F***ING QUICK. I want to get the f**k out of here..." she said to him. He raised a brow and snorted a little bit before turning back towards where he was resting not long ago. He knew to push his hand against a panel on the opposite 'wall' of his bed. An odd, airy hissing sound escaped as the panel seemed to slide up and into the wall above it. There was an object inside that he decided was some sort of armor, or a suit of some kind. He reached out and started taking pieces. The insides were composed of an odd, almost elastic material, and the outer material was hard and smooth, like the material most of the walls, panels, and even his bed were made out of. It was almost like iron plate armor, but its weight was incomparable to that of iron or any other metal he knew of.

He reached out and began donning each part onto his body. Shins, calves, forearms, upper arms, torso, and then the helmet. It was dark at first, but almost as immediately as he put the helmet on, symbols and other markings appeared before his eyes. He blinked and studied them for as long as he could, but finally glanced over to the bed he was laying in. Small boxes outlined his two blades that were there, and he reached out to take each, bringing them to his side and sliding them into 2 hoops molded into part of the suit he'd found himself in.

"It knows we have come. Engage the barrier and open the doors. When I am out, plot a path to a safe distance." he said. Esha threw both her arms up, staring at the screen. "Scans STILL do not indicate any activity!" she sort of snapped out. "I told you, they will not detect anything.... Do as I ask." Azar said to her. He still didn't know why he said any of these things, or how he knew to say them.

He turned and moved into a smaller area at the far back. "Do it, Esha." he said and she quickly complied. He faced the door just as it started to slide up, a strange shimmer following the bottom of the door as it traveled, revealing the vast black ocean of stars and rock and debris behind them. He gave one last glance back toward the front of the 'ship' as if to reiterate that they do what he asked. Turning back to the opening, he stepped through the shimmering barrier and out into the cold weightlessness of the void. It was a truly strange feeling to experience, but he seemed to be  calm about it, despite how new it felt to him.

His gloved right hand reached over to a small panel on his left forearm, fingers tapping a few symbols here and there, causing more symbols to appear before his eyes within the helmet he wore. Almost like they were plotting a path for him. His eyes shifted just a hair and he felt himself move. He didn't know how he was being maneuvered, but somehow knew that he was causing it. Eyes adjusted again and he moved more, and in the direction of a monstrous rock off in the distance. It looked like a mountain from where he was now, but its surface had to be perhaps only 50 meters away. The size of the 'ship' he'd just left paled in comparison.

"You read us, 'boss'?" Herricks voice came through by whatever means they were using to communicate with him, sarcasm and all. "Yes... Moving towards the opening now." Azar replied as simply and informatively as possible. "Plot a course to safety now. I will let you know when to return for me." he added before studying the large hole in the craggy surface of the rock that sprawled out before his entire field of vision.

"Plotting course." Herricks voice said over the method of communication being used.

"Thanks, buttercup." Azar replied. He glanced back to see the 'ship' moving away toward wherever the nearest point of safety was.

Esha was still nervous. He could hear it in her voice, but she talked anyway. Maybe to keep her mind off the 'gloom and doom'... She'd pick the wrong topic to idly bring up though.

"Vantas said this place was cursed... That billions of lives were snuffed out when this world was destroyed...." she said, sort of groaning out the last couple syllables, realizing that her idle chit-chat wasn't helping her current disposition. Azar didn't know who this 'Vantas' was. "Yes, and that their spirits haunt this asteroid field..." Herrick chimed in, chuckling after. Azar could hear the sarcasm in his voice. Maybe there was even a little hint of glee in the fact that he thought he was teasing Esha. Was Esha right to be worried? Or was Herrick right to remain calm and confident? He wondered about that before his eyes flit back toward the opening. "Less talking, more paying attention to your instruments, Esha..." he was saying, before feeling like he wasn't going to be able to talk soon. "Now entering the opening." Azar said with finality as he started to vanish into the dark maw of this massive rock. Light began shining out from the suit he wore when things became too dark.

The passageway was wide, perhaps three hundred meters across, at a guess. The circular walls appeared smooth, as though carved into the rock with some razor sharp instrument, or perhaps thousands of tiny, very precise ones. He couldn't tell if it was carved out by technology or by ancient hand tools. No scans had ever been successful in determining its age or true place of origin, or so he'd been told. Somehow he knew it was this place though. That it was due to the effects of whatever he'd find here. It was easy to lose track of how far he'd travelled into this rock, and he still couldn't quite wrap his head around the symbols projected before his eyes by the helm. It wasn't long, though, before the surrounding circular tunnel stopped passing him by and he was surrounded by blackness. A chamber of some sort? The light projected from this suit he wore couldn't seem to reach far enough to illuminate anything in this place. He could see a sliver of the greenish light in the tunnel he'd traveled through to get this far, but nothing ahead of him or around him now. A red symbol appeared before his eyes though, flashing quickly. Somehow he knew to stop whatever was propelling him, and not a moment too soon. A massive stone face appeared a few meters in front of him just as he came to a halt. He looked for the top of the statue, but the light still didn't quite travel far enough to reveal it. He couldn't see the 'foot' of it either.

He blinked. The sheer size of it was staggering. He couldn't quite put a 'name' to whoever, or whatever the statue represented. There were not two eyes, there were many. Perhaps a dozen or more. There were no lips. There was no nose. There were strange creases on its surface. Perhaps the contours of the face that this statue was modeled after. He started moving himself again, floating in this vast, dark chamber, finally coming across the face of another massive statue. This one had the lips of a humanoid, but the two eyes were spaced oddly far apart, and the bridge of its nose appeared much wider than that of a normal man. He felt like this place was a part of something more at one time. Perhaps it was a part of the world Esha had claimed used to exist here. He continued propelling himself throughout this place, seeing more faces of statues. He counted six total before he felt there were no more. There was something oddly familiar about them. Like he'd seen them before somewhere, but he knew that couldn't be true. Finally, he descended to the foot of the last statue he'd revealed. Each one had to be over five hundred meters tall. The light he gave off illuminated a marble-like 'floor' with steps leading up to one central location. He imagined they led up to a location between the six statues, but couldn't say for sure due to the fact that his light never seemed to reach far enough to tell.

He counted the steps as they passed beneath him, but they felt like they would never end. Eventually they did. Perched atop the 'plateau' of finely carved stone was a pedestal, carved from stone as well, and hovering just above it was a small metal box, each side perhaps only half a meter in length, strange runes engraved on its sides. Symbols from his helmet appeared before his eyes, forming a square around the object, as though somehow trying to highlight it for him. He had already seen it, so such an aid was unneeded, but he wasn't quite sure how to disable whatever the overlay was.

The symbols before his eyes seemed to flicker though. Was the suit failing? Was it his own eyes? No, he gathered that it was the suit when he felt himself come to an abrupt halt and the light that was spilling out of it ceased to shine any longer. It was truly dark then.

"Esha?" he asked, but somehow he knew there would be no response. He was too far in. "Tch.." he hissed and brought one arm up, using the other hand to try to manipulate whatever 'controls' were on that forearm from when he was leaving the ship earlier, but it was to no avail. He reached out to where he could last see the strange box, but felt nothing in his grasp. There was nothing. No.. There was something. There was a voice. It sounded familiar, yet not. Sharp pain shot through his temples as it spoke into him.


I am the light when your life is at its end.
The still burning candle when darkness descends.
I am desire, warmth from the fire, fueling your steps since your journey began.
I am the fear twisting tight around your throat.
I am the life giving spark hiding deep within your soul.
I am your aura.
I am your salvation.
But we are still not whole.
We are not yet ready to be.
In time, we will be. In time.
We are the Shaper, but not yet.

I will be lonely without you.
I will miss you, Azar.



And that was when the voice stopped. The muscles in his jaw had been tensed, and his teeth were clenched tightly together to the point of causing blood to trickle out from his gums. Blood had poured from his nose and ears as well. He could feel the warm trickle. The pain stopped and he felt himself tumbling. Each of his limbs outstretched, as though by centripetal force. They felt like they might tear away from the rest of him. The tunnel.. He was travelling back through it at speeds he'd never felt. It wasn't long before he felt the light of the star upon him again. It was heat he hadn't felt when he was out in the void before. Perhaps because the suit had failed now? He frantically looked around, trying to ascertain if he was going to collide with any of the objects, but he was spinning so quickly that he could not. Somehow he knew to try hitting the area on his forearm where the 'controls' were before, but nothing happened. Was this the end? Where was the ship? He hadn't signaled to them... It wouldn't have mattered if he could have though. He didn't know that it, too, had met the same fate as the others. This place was not for anyone else, but that was also something he was not aware of.

He was alone. No.. He couldn't die here. There had to be a way. He reached for the dark hilt that had been fastened into the molded hoops at his side, and just as his grip tightened around it, he felt a sharp impact against his back.

He shot up in his bed in that moment, but fell off the side, vomiting uncontrollably onto the floor beside it, drops of his blood finding their way to drip off his face and lips and chin. His whole head hurt. Now awake, he had no idea what had caused such pain and nausea.

Azar

  • Wyrmling
  • *
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
Re:
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2018, 03:59:53 AM »
He knew he was kneeling on both knees, torso upright, arms resting comfortably at his sides in a sort of meditative posture. Inside, he didn't feel comfortable though. He couldn't tell what he was thinking, but he knew he didn't like it at all. He was covered in sweat, onyx strands stuck to the sides of his face in spots. He wanted to shout. He wanted to rip his hair out, scratch whatever was causing him to feel this way out of his mind. It felt soul crushing. He couldn't do any of those things though. He felt stilled by something. Numbed. Perhaps restrained may have been a better word for it though.
 
In the dimly lit room, a few candles yawned in the periphery of his vision, and wherever he was smelled like honey, blood, and a hint of cinnamon. It was quiet, aside from the occasional crackling from a burning fire place that must have been in the room, somewhere outside his field of view. None of this made any sense to him. It was difficult to make sense of things though, when one wanted to tear his own mind out. It was also becoming exceedingly difficult to feel sane. He wanted to move. He needed to move. He needed to claw and scratch and struggle. If only he could have known why.
 
It wasn't too much longer before he heard voices approaching from behind him somewhere. They were just faint murmurs at first, but as they approached, he could hear them a little more clearly. The words did sound a little hazy, or fuzzy, but it was enough to catch some of it. Two women. Their tones and inflections gave him the immediate impression they were not 'friends'. They did not sound like enemies, but perhaps 'strong annoyances' to one another. Who knew if it would stay that way?  
 
"Oh dear, I've no choice in the matter. You will choose what you feel is best regardless of what I have to say, and I accept that." one of them said calmly, but with a hint of her second nature whimsy. She must have been replying to something the other had said previously, before he could hear.
 
There were the sound of footsteps, followed by the sound of another set after a bit of a pause. "I will do it." the other voice said, seeming certain of her decision. He had no idea what they were talking about, of course.
 
They were much closer to him now. The other released a heavy sigh, as if she still thought this was not the best course of action. "You will bear a heavy burden for this. You confine something which needs time to mature. Neither of us know what might happen." she said, but never tried to tell her not to. Dissuade, perhaps, but that was it.
 
"You have no choice but to accept it. He is already confined." the other replied calmly, seeming assured of the fact that she didn't need to offer a more elaborate reply than that, nor that she would allow herself to be dissuaded. "Leave me alone with him now. I've made my choice."
 
"May we never meet again." he heard the more 'colorful' of the two saying. Something about it didn't sound truly sincere though. He couldn't see them, so body language couldn't help him either.
 
?Remember, you are bound to silence. I will end you shall he find out by your hand.?

There was no reply given to that remark, it seemed. Just the sound of two heavy chamber doors coming together to seal the room. He could hear quiet breathing for a time. The gentle rustling sound of shifting fabric eventually coming from behind him. He felt the gentle touch of the tips of fingers on the back of his head, sliding gently around each side, feeling his body start to lay back. He felt something gently brush against the hairs on the top of his head, accompanied by the warm breath of whispers as her hands effortlessly lowered his head onto a pillow.
 
He never knew what she whispered. His eyes had shut themselves on his way down, so he never got to see who it was. He knew he felt serene when he felt the touch though. His eyes opened again almost as quickly as they closed, and he was sitting back up. He was hearing all the words again in reverse. He eventually rose, walked backwards out of the small wooded abode, backing down a wooded path for a time. It wasn't long before minutes were passing by in what felt like seconds. Unwinding or unraveling. Those unnaturally short minutes turning into hours. Things flew by. Feelings. Voices. Sights and sounds and smells and sensations. Things were very colorful for a time. Unnaturally colorful, and the color smeared as if in an artisan?s dream, accompanied by a cacophonous rush of sound. He felt a great disturbance in himself as those moments passed by. It was all happening too quickly for him to understand what he was experiencing, and the overwhelming feeling, physically and mentally, felt like it could tear apart every fiber of his being. It was time crossing over time, moving and bending, breaking and rebuilding memories, dreams, visions and mind threads. It passed quickly though, and things became dark. It remained dark to him for some time before a maelstrom of images and sensations exploded around him and in him. Fragments of a long lifetime rushing by in an instant, winding down to an eventual beginning.  
 
Just how much time could possibly pass by? Years? Decades? Centuries? Longer? He eventually reached the beginning, the first moment he felt he could have possibly known. He was smashed through that barrier though. Into a place he'd never have imagined could have been. If he'd passed a beginning, then where was he now? That thought left his mind as quickly as it entered it though. The only thing visible to him now was an even shade of azure blue. The color splattered and began to become clearer; slowly, at first. It was the sped up sound of the noisy frog echoing out that truly cleared the smattered blue sky. The feeling of warm wind gently rushing across his face was accompanied by the soft sound of reeds rustling against one another in the breeze. It smelled like a pond. It must have been late in the spring. It took him a moment to realize he could move. But of course he could move, he thought. What a silly thing to question. He sat up, a yawn escaping his lips out of contentment, feeling totally relaxed and natural in the spot he was at. Like he was supposed to be there. Like it was just another normal day out in the wilderness somewhere, and that nothing out of the ordinary had happened at all.
 
Must have been daydreaming.
 
He reached over to grab the simple fishing pole he'd laid down on the ground beside him, grabbing the line with one hand while he brought the rod back, swinging it forth and letting the line out with his other hand. A satisfying splash echoed out on the surface of the calm water.

As the life tide was painted backwards, the woman watched until the sun set. As darkness bled into the horizon, nothing would be the same.

Azar

  • Wyrmling
  • *
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
Re: Slivers (18+)
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2019, 09:04:29 PM »
"Everyone thinks I'm weird." he groaned out the words, as though it was an excuse for something.

"That's not true. And even if it were, you shouldn't worry yourself about what everyone else thinks." his mother said, looking out across the gently rippling waters.

"Even the seers said I was weird!" he retorted. "They said they haven't decided what to do, and that I have to stay home. It's not fair." he added, a bit deflated now.

A motherly chuckle came from her throat. "Oh Azar, they didn't say you were weird. They..." she paused for a moment, a thoughtful expression finding its way to her face. She slid the handle of her fishing pole down into a small hole in the ice, allowing it to remain propped up without being pulled into the depths if something decided to take the bait. Her head turned to face Azar a little better. "No-one knows what has happened to you. You know that, love. We only want to keep you safe, and we don't want anything bad to happen by accident."

She paused and let out a small sigh, lowering her back down onto the ice. Long, orchid black hair that wasn't constrained within the fur lined hood of her woolen parka cradled the sides of her face, forming little black trails on either side of her. She coaxed him into laying down with her with a casual beckon of her hand, allowing him to rest the back of his head on her upper arm.

"It may not seem fair, and it may be difficult for a time, but you are a strong boy, Azar... You used to train with Valynard daily. You have endured so much. Think of it as another challenge." she gave pause for him to respond, tilting her head a little to look at him.

"That's different though!" he argued. "This is boring and training with Val and the men is fun. I can't even do that anymore." he said, recalling how he had hurt Tovran a week prior.

The confinement. The waiting. The wondering about what the council would decide. The boredom. The alienation. His own confusion surrounding his affliction. All these things weighed heavily on his heart, and his mother was well aware of it. She could only provide so much comfort though. As cherished as he was to her, she was painfully aware of and limited by her responsibilities as a mother, and as a member of the village.

"It's just a different kind of challenge. You used to train your mind each day as well. What do you think old Yarro would say if he saw boredom get the best of you? He will lend you any book you want until you can study at the hall again with the other children." she began to rapidly pinch the side of his belly with her fingers and thumb, causing him to squirm and curl up a little on the ice.

He didn't want to laugh- he was still going to be displeased. Despite the numerous times he'd seriously considered the events and the resulting actions the adults had taken, he always arrived at the same conclusion-- that each precaution was indeed reasonable. He just hated the fact that it was him. Why couldn't it be someone else?

"Huh? Huh?" she was sort of goading him as she attempted the diversion. "What book do you want to read? Huh? What are you gonna do?" she was relentless in her deftly executed manipulation.

Of course it worked. He erupted in laughter, squirming and trying to maneuver his torso away from her fingers.

"FINE!" he managed to blurt out between laughing and trying to breathe. "Fine fiiiine! Stop!"




"Hey! What are you doing to that boy?!" he heard a mans voice boom out from behind him. He and his mother both craned their heads back to see who was there.

With his shoulder leaned up against the side of their abode, looking smug, stood Valynard. Flowing down from his shoulders like a silken waterfall was the Watchers robe. Ivory with fine golden trim on the edges of the hood, the loose cuffs, and the bottom. Sewn into the chest of the robe was the Crest of the Emissary and the great shadow of their world behind it. He wondered how many shoulders it had rested upon during its passage through the ages.

"Val, you imbecile." his mother retorted and sat up, her lower legs still hanging over the edge of the ice where she was sitting. She uttered a brief incantation and the fishing line at the end of her pole began to reel itself in, forming a neat coil on a small hook fixed to the top end of the handle.

Valynard didn't seem offended and merely shrugged, as if to admit he probably deserved being called an imbecile.

"I suppose I've been called worse things, Yvaine." he replied.

"We'll be ready in the council chambers in half an hour. They're in recess now." Val said, shifting his attention to Azar. "Well lad? Did you catch anything?" he asked.

"Just a few hardfish." Azar replied. "I put them back though... Why do all the fishers kill them? They don't even eat them." he asked.

Valynard had sauntered over to where they were sitting and stood nearby, arms crossed as he looked out to the boats on the horizon.

"Well... They didn't always. I think it's because we no longer need them, and they'll eat anything, including the bait meant to catch the fish we do need. The fishers have important tasks, and some feel that time wasted pulling in a hardy is time that could have been spent catching something better." he sighed a little, figuring in advance that his words wouldn't change Azars mind. "Honestly, I don't think there's any way to prove killing them helps anything though."

"Well it's n--" he was responding when Val interjected. "Not fair, I know. Many things don't seem fair sometimes, like what has happened to you, for instance." he said.

"Keep at it for a while, and if you catch any more hardies, keep on throwing them back." Val smiled with a wink and a tap on the shoulder, trying to avoid the topic of what had happened to Azar, before glancing over to Yvaine. "I have a few more things to attend to before they reconvene, but I'll see you at council. Good to see you both."

"Alright Val. See you there." she replied. "Va'rel, Val." Azar replied. Val offered a slight bow of his torso to them both before turning on his heel and strolling off.




"I'm going inside to start the boil. We'll have dinner when I return from council." she said, leaning over to kiss the top of his head before she grabbed her pole out of the ice and stood. "And--" she started to say. "I know I know, don't leave home." he moaned. She flashed a motherly smile and started to walk away.

"WAIT!" he shouted back to her. "What is it love?" she asked.

"What about the book?" he'd almost forgotten.

"I will ask Yarro at council. What book would you like?"

A sly grin slid onto his lips. She had told him any book. Deep down he knew there were limitations, but he would certainly, at the very least, attempt to use this to his advantage.

"Uhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmm..." his eyes shifted upwards so to appear deep in thought. "Codex Nibiru." he said, trying his best to appear serious.

Yvaine let out one solid "HA!" and smiled at him as though she was aware of his hastily concocted scheme.

"Perhaps you should think of another, you know they don't let the codex leave the library." she suggested.

"Fiiiine... The one with the animals from the southern regions-- but ask about the codex anyway please!" he said.

"I will, and I'll see you at dinner." she said and finally made her way around their abode to go about her tasks.





Azar fished for a while longer while Yvaine went inside. It was a couple of hardfish returned to their homes and an hour or so later when he'd finally decided to retire. Plus, he expected his mother to return from council soon, which filled him with anticipation, as well as anxiety. He wondered what they had decided. If they could make him normal again. If he could go back to life as he knew it before.

When Yvaine returned home from council, Azar was seated at the table in the middle of their home. Head down, staring intently at a drawing he'd started.

"Va'lal mother." he said, but didn't turn his head away from the page.

"Va'lal, love." she replied in kind, rubbing the top of his head with her hand before she started to remove her heavier layers of woolen clothing. After hanging the garments on hooks near the entrance she moved over toward the boiling pot of water that was hung above a small, gently glowing mound of stones. She stopped for a moment to look over his shoulder at the drawing.

The tip of his tongue was poking out from between his lips at the side of his mouth, occasionally shifting to the other side while he concentrated on translating the details in his mind into details on the page.

"What is it?" she asked, her hand resting on his shoulder while she peered down onto the page from above him. "It sort of looks like a hardfish."

"Sort of. She has 12 little eyes and spikey teeth and thick plates like hardies." he tried to explain. There were no other objects illustrated on the page to bring its size into context for an observer. "She's REAAAALLLLYY long, and big as a mountain. She's magic, and people can live inside of her body and travel through the sea, or even the sea beyond the skies, like Nibiru does."

"Is that so?" she replied and moved over to the boiling pot. She'd added the main ingredients before leaving for council, but sprinkled in some extra spices before beginning to stir and occasionally taste the stew.

"How will she live in the sea beyond the skies? Nibiru is a world of great, and very smart beings." she said.

"She's magic mom." he reiterated that fact bluntly. "Yarro says it's everywhere, and all around us. Why couldn't she be magic too?" he asked.

Yvaine laughed a little bit. "Well, I suppose I don't really know. Either way, it's a fine drawing."

He drew for a few more minutes before hearing the sound of a sharp suckle from behind, that of a finger being cleaned off by her lips. "It's ready Azar. Please clear your pencils and paper off the table and wash your hands." she said, getting the necessary utensils and bowls ready as he did as he was asked, sliding the small tray everything was on beneath his bed in the adjoining room.

When he returned, two large wooden bowls were on the table, steam rising from the contents of each. She'd already been seated, and he pulled up a chair beside her.

"Sooooo... did they figure out how to make me normal again?" he asked the burning question.

"No love. Not yet. There is much we discussed, but that is a bigger conversation for tomorrow, yes?" she replied, bringing her spoon to her lips and slurping down some of the hot broth.

"Great... I'm going to be bored forever..." he sort of whimpered before taking in a mouthful of the stew. It was delicious, and his enjoyment of it was painted on his face.

Yvaine watched him for a moment, feeling the weight of being so helpless to him. She knew it was no-ones fault, but as a mother, it was a great burden to bear. The fact that he so clearly enjoyed the stew warmed her heart a little bit though.

"The caravans from the southern regions were here last week, so I traded some of our seal pelts for some elk meat and other spices." she said, figuring that the use of different ingredients may have been what lended itself to the fresh experience. There were various sources of meat and spices in the far north, but certain things required trade with far off nations. Things that were simply in lack of abundance in their region.

"It's really good mom. I wish the traders would come here more often." he replied, stuffing his face again after he was finished speaking.

She chuckled. "Me too." was her reply.

"Oh!" he said before swallowing his food, almost drooling out a little stream of broth from his lips. He swallowed it down, but Yvaine was looking at him, aware he had something to say.

"Diiiiid you get the book?" he asked over to her.

She sighed, "No, love, sorry. Not the codex, but Yarro did lend you the one with the various animals. It's in the bag by the door. You can read it after supper before bed."

He shrugged, and didn't seem too distraught over the fact he hadn't got the book he wanted. He knew it was probably out of the question from the very start, so there wasn't much to be upset over.

"Oh.. Well thank you for asking. I haven't read all of the animal book yet anyway." he said, as if to convey to her that he wasn't upset. "Plus, it gives me ideas for things to draw." he added.

"See? You won't be bored." she smirked over at him, trying to be somewhat comforting anyway. She knew that a boy his age needed more than drawing, reading and fishing to stay occupied, but it was something at least.

"You can draw giant, magical, vicious cats and berry bears and cliff boars and all of the other animals we never see here." she said with a tone of intrigue and wonder in her voice, as if to say she'd be interested to see what his imagination came up with. "Then you can show all your friends when you go back to study."

He was eating like any boy would be, but he seemed preoccupied with whatever was on his mind. Perhaps the animals in the south. Or the sea beyond the skies. It could have been any number of things. A 13 year olds mind would have the tendency to wander, after all.

Before he knew it, they were done and his mother was asking him to go clean out the bowls and utensils while she picked things up inside.

Valynard had strolled up while he was outside scrubbing the bowls with shaved ice and ground herbs. Val wasn't wearing the robe any longer, only his knee length gambeson, kratornus scale armor, chausses and greaves.

"Well lad? How was the elk?" Val asked. Azar turned to face him, looking a little confused. How could he know?

"I can smell it across the village!" he said, picking up on the boys look.

"You can?" he asked. "..You can smell really good, Val. Is it from being the Veil Watcher?"

"I was just spinning a tale. Your mother had mentioned it in conversation at council." he chuckled a little. "I had you though!" he added, gently wagging his finger at Azar.

"Ha ha, very funny." Azar sort of grumbled.




Yvaine parted the thick curtains of leathery seal pelt and wooly hides to see Val and Azar. "Can't you see he's trying to clean up, Val?" she asked.

"Yes, yes. I'll leave the boy alone." Val said to her. "May I come in?" he asked. She nodded and held the curtains to the side for him.

When Azar was finished, he brought the bowls and utensils back in to find the two of them sitting at the table. Val had brought along his pipe, and was passing it to Yvaine who smiled and took it from him.

"Yuck!" Azar pinched his nose with his free hand as he walked past them to put the dinnerwares away.

Yvaine and Val both laughed.

"You may enjoy the starkelp too when you're older, Azar." Val said, but something in Vals eyes betrayed his words. Azar couldn't quite place his finger on what it was though, and simply chocked it up to the effects of the kelp.

"Can I get the book from your bag mom?" he asked.

"Of course." she replied. Azar walked past them again and rummaged into the bag, finding the book after a couple moments. The way he pulled it out and regarded it caused a bit more laughter from Yvaine and Val.

"WhaaAAAttt?!" he faced them with a furrowed brow. He wasn't offended though.

"Nothing." Yvaine said. "You. You're cute." she added, smiling like an idiot at him.

Val had caught a glance of the book amidst their brief back and forth.

"You know Azar, there are even more animals in the south than are shown in that book. So many more. I couldn't remember them all when the librarians asked me about my travels though." he said. "Once you are better, you may be able to accompany me on an expedition. Having another person to help remember would be great." he added. There it was again. Something was off about his words, but again, he couldn't quite make out what it was. Perhaps due to his young age and lack of wisdom.

"I'd love that, Val." he said.

Yvaine was smiling. "Go on and read in the other room, love. I'll be to bed in a while when Val and I are finished speaking."

Val nodded as kindly as he could with a smile on his lips. "Don't get lost in that imagination of yours." he said.

Pelts and furs separated the small bedroom from the main living area, which he parted and disappeared behind.




Azar started poring through the pages, trying to find the things he wanted to know more about, and things he'd not arrived at yet. He could hear the murmur of Val and his mothers conversations and the occasional bout of laughter, but his attention was in the pages. They were probably talking about something boring anyway, like gossip regarding new mates in the village, or someone neglecting their communal duties.

Eventually, his eyes closed and he drifted off with thoughts of his magical hardfish and other animals on his mind.

He felt conscious though, but it was dark. As dark as anything he'd ever seen. "Hello?" he felt his lips move, but he never heard a sound.

"Weird." he added. He didn't feel scared though. He didn't feel cold, or warm, but he knew he was somewhere.

After a moment he saw twinkling little specks of light around him. He tried reaching out to touch them, but they seemed too far away. More and more bright little specks appeared. No matter which direction he looked, little shimmering specks of light.

He started waving his arms and kicking his legs, as though he was swimming. He couldn't think of any other way to move himself.

"It's the sea beyond the sky!" he shouted without a sound, coming to this realization after his attempt at swimming.

He knew he was lucid, and that brought him to the conclusion that he was also dreaming.

He wanted to devote a bit more attention to the thoughts surrounding what was happening, but the eruption of a bright, undulating mass quickly caught his attention. It was so close. He couldn't see anything but this object.  He wanted to back away, and the object grew smaller just as he'd desired until it was a little smaller than his fist, just floating at arms length in front of his face.

He extended an arm, index finger first, to reach out and touch the object. He could feel the object as the tip of his finger barely touched its surface, but it wasn't hot or cold. He could see its surface sort of buckle with strange elasticity, gently pushing back against his finger as he applied a little more pressure, and this exacerbated the strange undulations on the object somewhat. It felt akin to the clay they used in study one day. He pulled his finger back just a little and reached out with his other arm as well, fingers wrapping around the glowing orb. Its brightness lost a bit of intensity when he took hold of it, giving off only a soft glow then.

He squeezed it, only to watch as the orb was forced out between his fingers and the sides of his hand.

He started to shape it. His initial squeeze had already given it a somewhat elongated shape with small ridges on the top where it had tried to squeeze out between his fingers.

He used the edge of one finger nail to carve a little dot in one end, and then another, and another. The initial shape he'd given it had given him an idea.

"Twelve eyes." he said to himself, adding more little dots until there were twelve.

He started to shape the ridges into the form of the segmented shell of a hardfish.

He used his finger nail to form the maw and carve the spiny little teeth.

After a time, it was a fairly good representation of the drawing he'd been working on earlier in the day.

Bigger. It needed to be bigger.

If he'd moved away from the bright mass earlier, surely moving towards this would increase its size. At least, that was how he'd reasoned things out. He let go of the figure and simply tried moving his arms like he would have had he been trying to swim forward.

It worked, even though it shouldn't have. He wasn't aware of that though.

As he got closer, the fine details that should have remained rough seemed to take form. Creases on its face, the jeweled finish on its beady eyes, the mild translucence of its teeth, the sharp edges between each segment of its shell, the texture of them, the short spines at the ends of its pectoral and dorsal fins. While most of it bore the semblance of a hardie, it was many times longer than one would be, similar in length and general shape of an eel or a snake.

"Shes huge!!" he shouted. There would have been a look of bewonderment on his face, but he was alone here.

"Heh. No-one will ever be able to catch you." he said with a sense of satisfaction.

The closer he got, the bigger she seemed. He started 'swimming' around her, looking at all the finer details that had come into focus.

When he was next to the maw exploring all of its little crevasses and the eyes, he thought she needed a name.

"Golgo-- no." he interrupted himself. "Hmm.." he was mumbling to himself pointlessly, coasting around her facial features, examining the sharp ridges and the reflections of starlight in her glassy little eyes. Well, they were't really little, but compared to the sheer size of her they might have seemed that way.

"Anantaboga. You're Anantaboga." he said, extending his arm to point at one of the eyes before him.





"NO!" he heard his mothers voice shouting, followed by grunting and the clattering of objects.

His eyes opened only to be greeted by Valynard hovering over him and a sharp pain in his side.

"AHHH!!" he shouted, seeing the dagger rising above him again. Val had missed an immediately fatal stab, but he was seriously injured. His mother must have done something to knock his blow off the mark.

"Ana..nnt.." he coughed in a panic, and in immense pain, trying to invoke the name of his new friend. "MOM!" he shouted, his body reflexively curling into a position where he could try to protect himself from a second blow. Valynards figure blocked his sight. There were 3 streaks of blood on his face, like those left by the scratch from finger nails.

Just when he thought he was done for he saw the glint of polished steel from over Valynards shoulder as it came down into his back, followed by the shriek of fury and anger from his mother. He saw her fingers on the side of Vals face, trying to claw his eyes and fleshy cheeks and pull him away while he reeled from the knife in his back. Trying to do as much damage as she could to the man. She sounded like a vicious animal.

Val winced and turned to face his assailant, bringing the dagger away from Azar to turn it on his mother. Azar heard her whimper, and then her voice was gone. He could hear the slight shuffling of the clothes she wore rubbing on the ground near the table just outside the bedroom though. She was moving.

While trying to see from his defensive posture, he saw a glint of light on something at Valynards hip. The hilt of his sword. The white, polished handle reflecting light from the living area. Before Valynard could turn his attention back to Azar to deliver the final blow, Azar had taken the opportunity to reach for the handle and pulled.

He'd expected to hear the gentle slide of steel, but instead heard and felt a cacophonous eruption of sound and pure, blinding light. He didn't know where any of it came from, but he shouted as loudly and as fiercly as he could.

"STOP IT VALYNAAAAAAAA---" as the blade emerged further from the hilt at Vals side, the sound and the light grew louder and brighter until he couldn't even tell whether he was still screaming or not, and everything went dark.





And then he awoke, coughing and shivering. There were no dreams he could remember. Opening his eyes took some effort. His eyelashes had frozen together, it seemed, but after a moment of rubbing them, he succeeded.

A storm must have passed through. Fresh snow covered the ice, and it had drifted up against his body. It wasn't snowing any longer, but the winds howled across the cold plains with ferocity he'd never witnessed before, carrying the snow that had fallen with it. He didn't know how long he had been laying there, or how he came to arrive.

His side was covered in frozen blood, but there was no pain. He lifted his garments to check, only to see a scar. The only pain he felt was in his muscles. Every single one.

He tried to stand up, but was unable to just yet.

His stomach growled at him. His lips were cracked and tasted of blood.

He had no food. Only his clothes... and Valynards swords?

He didn't understand. Had Valynard tried to kill him and, thinking he was successful, dumped his body out in the wastes? That had to be where this was... The wastes to the west. The mountains in the south were still where they should have been though. That should not have been so.

There were no markers for anything either, which was strange. Even the wastes had markers.

"Uhhnn..." he sort of groaned out and gripped his head, just sitting there for a moment. "Mother..." he whispered.

He felt was going to die here if he didn't find a village soon. With every last bit of strength he had, he rose to his feet, using one of the swords as a prop and slinging the other one over his back. The winds ripped at his loose sleeping garments, which only worsened his chances of balancing.

He still didn't understand why the swords would be here with him if Valynard was successful in overpowering him. It was too much to take in. He took a few steps and fell to his knees, exhausted. Tears streamed from his eyes. He felt so helpless.

His final attempt to cover ground ended the same as the previous one. He made it a few steps and collapsed.

He rolled onto his back, looking up at the clouds. He could barely catch his breath, and succumbed to the small comfort of simply laying there.

It was difficult to keep his eyes open. So tired... So cold... So sore... So weak... So comfortable.. Just another minute to rest, that's all.

Each time he closed his eyes to blink, the closures lasted a little longer than the previous one.

Finally, he let them close. Not because he wanted to, but because it was too difficult to stop it.

"Just... an..other min.." his voice faded.




A loud, deep groan echoed out around him. It was akin to the sound of hot metal bending and straining and under great duress while it cooled, accompanied by thunder crackling and rumbling across the sky.

The sudden shock of such a disturbance let his eyes open.

A pattern of lights taking up nearly a quarter of the sky rapidly twinkled from within the clouds above. The pattern repeated, and eventually the clouds heaved down toward the ground until they were finally pierced and displaced by the colossal, silvery visage of beady eyes, jagged crevasses, and a maw filled with rows of needle like teeth, steam gently billowing from its hard plates. The flashes of light continued as it hovered there. He couldn't see beyond its face, but he'd have guessed the rest of it was still in the sea beyond the clouds that obscured the blue sky.

"Bigger...than a... moun...tain.." a faint smile slid onto his lips, and his eyes closed one last time, the last things he felt being only warmth and the sensation of sudden weightlessness.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2019, 04:04:00 PM by Azar »