View Full Version : The Cloud-Capped Towers
August 12th, 2009, 7:21 AM
So, this is my novel about angels. The title 'The Cloud-Capped Towers' is subject to change, btw.
Anyway, here is the prologue that I have written. Enjoy.
Links to chapters if you don't want to read them right here:
Chapter 1 (http://veritaslux.deviantart.com/art/The-Cloud-Capped-Towers-I-104687238)
Chapter 2 (http://veritaslux.deviantart.com/art/The-Cloud-Capped-Towers-II-130065294)
Chapter 3 (http://veritaslux.deviantart.com/art/The-Cloud-Capped-Towers-III-130097053)
Chapter 4 (http://veritaslux.deviantart.com/art/The-Cloud-Capped-Towers-IV-133355397)
Chapter 5 (http://veritaslux.deviantart.com/art/The-Cloud-Capped-Towers-V-134237968)
Chapter 6 (http://veritaslux.deviantart.com/art/The-Cloud-Capped-Towers-VI-134100272)
Chapter 7 (http://veritaslux.deviantart.com/art/The-Cloud-Capped-Towers-VII-134238166)
Chapter 8 (http://veritaslux.deviantart.com/art/The-Cloud-Capped-Towers-VIII-134440871)
It was dark. The cool night-air was crisp against the pale, waxy skin of the Controller. His white wings shimmered gently in the moonlight, which was just peeking in through a small glass square in the wall. He looked around with his jet black eyes, waiting for a sudden thud of shifting books, as a new one was formed and sorted. Flicking back his blond hair, he breathed deeply, getting ready to absorb the certain pain of childbirth.
He sighed the same morose sigh that he had sighed every night for the past fifty-three years he had been Controller. His vitality seemed to be an endless struggle, checking that books had been rightfully created, checking that every new child was named. All of this for a Messiah that would seemingly never come!
A groan, and the Controller knew that the birth had taken place. An inkling of an idea formed in his head, and he suddenly understood the life of the newborn. This was the curse of the Controller: knowing every living thing’s life and destiny, knowing their every thought and fear. Standing on the brink of everything, watching lives unfold exactly as predicted.
Shaking his head out of the mist of pain, the Controller walked down a long aisle of shelves, all laden with heavy and archaic books. Searching for the newborn’s name was not easy, what with hundreds of thousands of books to look through. But yet, there was the book, named with the child’s angelic name. Picking out the thin book marked ‘Soldehr’, he flicked open the first page, and checked the declaration. She was an elven girl, born to a simple family in Ab-Montr. Pity, he thought, as he foresaw the ultimate death of this girl.
Sighing, he replaced the book, the Controller returned to the very back of the library, taking his seat in the battered leather chair that he had sat in for what seemed like eternity. It was relaxing, to sit down after a bout of pain, yet soon it became very boring, with nothing to do but wait and hope. Hope that the Assessor would come someday soon.
Resting his head against the side of the seat, the Controller shut his eyes, reflecting silently for five minutes, before dropping off into a deep, dreamless sleep.
* * *
It was the pain that woke him. He had been sleeping for four hours, by the look of the sunlight. He rubbed his arm as it pounded with anger, as if there was an angry demon trying to tear itself out. It was the pain of a new life, the pain of a new child being born. He could tell that in an instant; there was nothing in the sterile, isolated place that could harm him other than that.
Yet this pain was pain like no other that he had ever experienced before. It was like somebody was ripping his heart from his chest. The Controller slid out of his chair, onto the floor, where he clutched at the blue carpeted floor, as if he were trying to cling onto the world.
He could hardly believe the incredible amounts of pain that were coursing through ever fibre of his body. Without thinking about it, he began groping at his own flesh, trying to rip his body apart to keep himself from this agony. His arms were now crying tears of blood, gashes across his face from where his fingernails had dug into his skin.
His skin refused to stop aching; it was as if an inferno had been set alight in his flesh, every lick of the flames causing him even more harm. He could not stop this pain, that was apparent, but what was causing it was the nagging question that took up the rest of his mind.
Attempting to use his voice for the first time in years, he found it hoarse and rough, yet still, he screamed for his life in mangled tones. He used what Clodhrian he could remember to try and shout to the outside world, but deep down, he knew that nobody could hear him.
He was going to die, he knew it. It was a gut feeling that he sometimes felt when lives below the Great Cloud flickered out. Yet this time, he could feel his own life dying like fading candlelight.
The Controller writhed his way down to the great oaken doors that hailed the entrance to the library, hoping that the doors would open to let him out. But the pain was beginning to die away now, the child had nearly been born. He was fading away, at Death’s door. And then, the inferno stopped. And he realised.
His face wide with shock, the Controller read the boy’s life, confirming what he had already suspected. The realisation came like a rush of blood to the head, and it was bittersweet. He was still begging for his release under his breath in Clodhrian, and the Library was resisting.
The Controller stopped thinking, stopped muttering, and lay there, looking up at the great domed ceiling. He felt the air against his skin, the ground against the feathered wings that he wore, and finally told himself that his time had come. But then, just as he thought it all over, a creak.
The great doors of the Library were opening slowly and steadily. A silhouette was standing there in the moonlight, clothes rippling gently in the breeze. It was a young angel by the look of his height, and he had apparently just been granted his wings, which shimmered with golden lustre.
The new angel walked into the Library, breathing in its scent, and unaware of the dying Controller on the floor. The angel was clearer now, with only the half-light of the spacious room, instead of the glare of the moon atop the Great Cloud. The youngster flicked his brown hair back, in the same manner that the Controller would do every so often, and stared at the dying angel on the floor.
“My name is Mordrenr,” he whispered ethereally, only just loud enough for the Controller to hear. “You are dying. I am your successor.”
The Controller looked up at Mordrenr, with wonder in his eyes.
“You were chosen for this post?” he asked in a cracked voice.
Mordrenr inclined his head towards the golden wings that he wore on his back.
“Is it not obvious?” he replied.
“Then take my memories and my thoughts, and the previous Controllers’ memories and thoughts, and serve your duty.”
The Controller raised his head and stared into the eyes of Mordrenr. Everything that he knew was being poured into the mind of the young angel, who was drinking it in with a sincere look on his face. After two minutes, the process was complete.
“Thank you,” muttered Mordrenr, even sounding more knowing and old. “Rest in peace, knowing that you have passed your title to a worthy successor.”
He started to walk off, amongst the dusty aisles of books and shelves. But a gasping sound from behind him made Mordrenr turn around.
The former Controller was looking up at him, while clutching his throbbing chest. He breathed deeply, and said his ultimate words.
“He lives. The Assessor. He has been born.”
His final breath rasped in his lungs, and as he snatched at his failing heart, his head fell limp, and the Controller was dead.
The words echoed in Mordrenr’s head, as he stalked off to the very back of the library.
He lives. The Assessor. He has been born.
August 12th, 2009, 7:22 AM
I - A Simple Life
Cysagh arose groggily, looking around bleary eyed in the half-light for his shirt. He stumbled time and time again, wading through the assorted things that littered the ground.
When at last he had found it, Cysagh stripped his pyjama top off over his somewhat messy brown hair, and pulled his fading blue shirt over his wiry torso. The shirt was old and getting smaller, but it was good enough for a day’s work in the mill.
He darted through the house warily, and out of the open front door; where his father had most probably exited half an hour ago.
It was cool outside, the morning air gently nibbling at his bare arms. The sun was peeking from between two hills, which lit everything with a blinding glare. There were light, feathery clouds scattered amongst the brilliant blue sky, but bringing no threat to the glorious day that was promising to unfold.
The streets of Épyren were empty but for a few early market sellers, and young children playing games of Chase in the alleyways. Cysagh walked briskly, so as to avoid lateness by engaging in conversation and committing himself to chatter. He quickly came to the end of the road, and climbing a steep, muddy hill, was in the long, dark shadow of the Épyren mill.
The main room was big and spacious, with only the huge grindstone taking up any room in the centre. Underfoot, the familiar sound of creaking floorboards echoed as Cysagh walked over to the spiral staircase.
He climbed the eighty-three steps, taking care not to touch the splintered and rough banister. Cysagh reached the top, and ventured into a small side room, where the mill’s manager was waiting for him.
“Cysagh,” he began, in a deep rumbling tone. The light caught his bale face as he turned towards Cysagh in the cramped doorway.
“I’ve plenty of work for you today. Get it all done and you won’t have to return tomorrow, unless an emergency happens.”
Cysagh smiled at the prospect. He barely ever got days off; he would devote this scarcity to scavenging and treasure hunting.
“Firstly, you’ll need to load some corn into the grinder down there, and then start grinding away. Paleum should be here soon, he’ll take over after you. Then, go harvest some of the ripe ears, and haul them inside. Report back to me later, and then you’re done for the day. Got it?”
“Yes, sir,” Cysagh said obediently, with determination in his voice. He immediately dropped the three bags of grain from outside the office down to the bottom floor, and then jogged down the stairs himself. Loading the bags into the basin, he ran over to the stone lever, and started to coerce it into moving.
It was back breaking work, for sure. Getting the long, wooden handle to work was one thing, it was another to grind for an hour or two. Yet Cysagh was not feeling the pain as he normally would. He was already planning his route through the forest, and thinking about where some good treasure troves would be found.
Time seemed to fly past, and it was only when the sun was so hot on the back of his head that it was causing him a slight headache when he realised that he had been at the grindstone for nigh on two hours now. Wiping the layer of sweat from his brow, Cysagh suddenly realised that Paleum was standing there in the doorway.
“How long have you been watching me for?” asked Cysagh jokingly.
“Only ten minutes. It was rather amusing to watch you mumble to yourself, oblivious to the fact that I had already got here,” responded Paleum, with a chuckle at the end of the sentence.
“Alright then. Here you go, it’s nearly done. I take it that the Boss has told you what to do?”
Paleum nodded in an answer, and took the now sweaty lever from Cysagh. With a brutish push, Paleum was away, working his stocky upper body as he pushed the grindstone around at a steady pace.
Cysagh stared absentmindedly into space for a minute, before walking out of the open back door into the corn fields. He felt as if he was boiling in his skin, the sun was so hot.
The corn was perfectly ripe, yellow and plump inside the rough and papery casing. It was a simple job of picking the ears off of their stems, although made hundreds of times more difficult in the sweltering heat.
His arms and legs laboured though, and in automatic motion, he picked a quarter of the field. Finally calling it a day as the sun began to fall from its position at the top of the heavens, he hauled two sacks of corn inside, and lay them down next to the doorway.
Paleum was still working away at the grindstone as Cysagh walked in. He could hear a grunt coming from the labouring man, but not unkindly, he quickly walked up the staircase so as to be dismissed for the rest of the day.
Cysagh’s boss grinned when he saw Cysagh, and immediately read his mind.
“Go on,” said the man. “Go out and do what it is that you did on a free afternoon.”
Cysagh smiled, and inclined his head, before scampering down the stairs exuberantly. He pushed open the wooden door at the front to find that the shadow of the mill had shortened slightly; it was early afternoon. He decided then and there that he would venture into Ab-Foretya, and see what he could find around the Old Oak. He should be back in time for a long rest.
Attempting to walk down the now bustling High Street, he got stuck between a crowd leaving at the crossroads. With no choice but to go with the crowd, he carried on and walked down the cobbled path.
He had never really been down this alleyway before, and it was strange. There were houses scattered down the street, often with big gaps in between, and there was the odd shop. But one place in particular drew Cysagh’s eye. It was a house, and it was painted bright purple. Drapes were hanging off of the balcony, and the doorframe, with sequins and beads lining the cloth.
Using a gap in the crowd to get away, Cysagh trotted into the shop, pulling back the drapes as he entered. Panting from the effort of breaking away, he bent over, hands on his knees, and stared at the floor. The pungent smell of burning incense caught his senses, and looking up, he could see that the air was palpable with some heavy, purple mist.
Glass balls of varying shapes and sizes were hanging from the ceiling, and dusty cobwebs seemed to be in every corner of the room. Shelves upon shelves of dusty old books seemed to line the walls and take away the majority of the space in this particular room.
Cysagh shut the door behind him, and looked cautiously into a different room.
A silhouette of a woman could be made out amongst the perfumed mist, and she appeared to be dancing to an inaudible song. She suddenly stopped, and seemed to notice that somebody had entered the door.
The woman skipped over into the room where Cysagh stood, and let a broad grin stretch across her face as she saw him.
The woman who stood before Cysagh was a short, slim woman, with mousey brown hair. Most of it was tied up in braids, and she wore seemingly hundreds of shawls and neck scarves, making her seem like somebody dressed up for winter. Her eyes were dark brown, and her face was pale, but full.
She gazed up at him with odd, protuberant eyes, before waiting a second and bursting into laughter. She giggled and she giggled, tears in her eyes, before looking once more at Cysagh, and stopping abruptly. Clearing her throat, she began to speak.
“Good day,” she said in a high-pitched, sing-song voice. “My name is Sarah.”
She hovered around him for a few seconds, measuring him in her head. She was an inch shorter than Cysagh, and had to look up at him. Yet while moving around him speedily, she tripped over his foot, and lost part of her mania.
“Ow, ow…” she muttered, checking that her knee was not bleeding. Cysagh bent down, and took a look at what had happened.
“Only a graze,” he returned, smiling.
Sarah grimaced, and stood up again, her face restored to its previous look, as if she was about to burst into laughter at any time whatsoever. Yet her face seemed to falter, the wide grin turning into discontent frown.
“Gah, drat this,” she said, dropping the height and strangeness of her voice. “Anyway. My name is Sarah, that’s real. I’m a fortune-teller, but not the type that you hear about in fairy-stories. To tell a fortune correctly, you have to drink a precise amount of hemlock mixed with rose petals. It shows you your own future, without it being pried in by me or anybody else.”
She frowned at the thought, and bit her lip, staring at one of the dusty crystal balls stacked on a shelf. When she looked up, she saw Cysagh alarmed. “Don’t be worried! It’s not dangerous, and I’m not forcing it on you!”
He faltered for a moment, and then started making up an excuse. “I… I would, but I don’t have any money on me at the moment…”
“Oh, don’t worry about that!” exclaimed Sarah. “You helped me when I fell I guess. Have a gaze into your future for free!”
She smiled, seeming to think that Cysagh had agreed. She shoved past him over to a shelf where bottles in different glass containers were stacked. She took off a dark purple one as well as a bright green one. Picking out three rose petals from the green vase, she poured a few drops of liquid from the purple container into the remainder of the contents of the green. Swilling it around for a few seconds, she grinned again, looking at the swirling mixture.
Sarah proffered the bottle to Cysagh, who tentatively grasped it and brought it closer to his mouth.
“Oh, no, no! Don’t drink it yet! Sit down, so if the potion is slightly too strong you won’t faint to the ground,” chimed the fortune-teller.
She pulled out a dusty, wooden chair, which Cysagh slumped down into. Then, glaring at the bottle as if it was some enemy which had just beaten him, he took the draught from it, the rose petals sticking to his front teeth as he swallowed.
Everything seemed very still and silent for a second, and then it started. A searing pain in his stomach, and the room was reeling around him in nauseating motion. Everything seemed to dissolve in the thick purple cloud that was hanging in the room, and pink lanterns popped up from nowhere. He was hallucinating; there was no doubt about that. But was he looking into his own future? Somehow, Cysagh believed every word of what Sarah had said, and began to be very afraid. Cold racked his limbs and he watched the lights fold out and become pictures, moving pictures of different events. He suddenly realised that this was his future; he was watching his own life unfold.
August 12th, 2009, 7:23 AM
I've finished the second chapter. So here it is.
II – The Future
The trance was the most surreal thing that Cysagh had ever been part of in his life. The events playing out were tinted a misty purple in the peripheral vision, not dissimilar to the heavy perfume in Sarah’s fortune telling shop. He rubbed his eyes, trying to get rid of it, when suddenly everything went black, momentarily. A flash of bright white light, and something was happening, more vivid than anything he had seen in this trance before.
Two massive oaken doors were towering in front of him, engraved with images of what appeared to be seraphim and assorted other angelic beings. He was flanked by two massive ionic pillars, the marble shining brilliantly white in the sunlight. There were angels engraved into the front of these as well, making the place look majestic and important.
Cysagh stepped forwards, onto the very front porch of this massive building, and stretched out his hand to try and open the doors. They were as thick as he first thought, proving them impossible to open with a mere push. Even after putting his back against the doors and putting all his effort and body weight into a shove, the doors refused to budge.
Cysagh was tired now, and as he slouched down against the immovable wooden doors, he began to wonder why he was here anyway. Was this his stupid future? Constantly trying to open the doors to something?
It was then that he heard it; a deep voice that was booming above all other noises in the vicinity. It seemed to lack any quality that would have made its speaker’s emotions recognisable, but was far from monotonous.
“Our prophets were correct. You have come to us, and now we must begin.”
Cysagh was lifted to his feet by the air around him, or so it felt like, and began to walk without thinking towards where the voice was coming from. The building where he had been just a few minutes ago had all but disappeared in the distance behind him, and a huge cluster of constructions in a similar style were drawing closer with every step he took.
The voice suddenly cut in, and Cysagh stopped walking, only then perceiving that his feet were incredibly tired.
“You are now standing in the glory of the Angelic capital,” it said. “Welcome to the city of Ab-Clodhr.”
Cysagh looked around. He was standing in a seemingly deserted street, with two huge white structures flanking him on both sides. In each direction he looked, ionic pillars engraved with similar artwork to that of where he had first been seemed to look back at him, a stranger in their midst. To the north, however, it was different. A citadel, constructed out of the same white stone, but coated with gold at the tip of its spire, towered over the entire area, as if keeping the city under its authority. Cysagh gazed up at it, marvelling at how anybody could create such a huge structure.
“I see you admire the artwork of our people,” said the voice, making Cysagh jump. But the voice was no longer a voice, but a person, standing next to him. A person with wings, and a golden sash around his white robes had materialised in the space adjacent to him, his handsome, pale face staring at the citadel in front of them, a wisp of a smile painted on it. “This was the final fruit of our revolution. When the monarchy was overthrown, the Archangels built this to symbolise all that was good about the Great Cloud and its people. The oppression and the segregation of the people was over the day that we finished the citadel, the day that angels claimed freedom.”
Cysagh turned slowly, a look of inquisition on his face.
“You... you’re angels?” he asked, almost amazed to be standing in the presence of one.
“Certainly,” the stranger replied, turning to face him and motioning to the wings that hung folded behind his back. “A rare and elusive sight nowadays to you, I daresay, after the fall from grace with the elves and rulers of your race. But that is a story for another day. I am here to warn you. Warn you that if ever there was a danger to any race of this world, then it would be now.” The angel returned his vision to the citadel, in thought. “We... well, as much as we know; the angels do not know how this will manifest itself. This threat is completely new; we are completely in the dark about everything that will happen in your or my future. But one thing is for certain. The threat is real and it is coming.”
“But then, why do you need me?” responded Cysagh, puzzled at the angel’s speech.
“That is a more difficult question to answer. To begin, however, you must realise something. We are currently in the future, so when you return to the present, I will have no recollection of this conversation, and likely will never have it again because we have already had it now. It is therefore imperative that you remember this. You are the most important person that has ever existed and will ever exist. It was foretold by our greatest prophet of all time, Mordrenr, before he disappeared fifteen years ago. He was visited in the night and your image was scarred into his mind. He proceeded to paint it in the Hall of Prediction, and ordered never to remove it until you were found and told.”
“He saw my face?” Cysagh interjected.
“Patience!” muttered the angel irately. “You obviously don’t understand our culture. We do not see faces in our prophecies, we see personalities, people, dates, times, and most importantly qualities. But we sum it up with one symbol, one word in Ancient Clodhrian. That is what was described in Clodhrian in the Hall of Prediction, and that’s how we know that it is you, you who were created as our salvation, that he foresaw. And now must come me telling you what he saw.”
The angel motioned to the citadel in front of them, and Cysagh instinctively knew that they were going inside. Now allowed to use his free will, he walked with the angel through the giant arches that marked the entrance, and into the atrium.
The atrium was as ornate as anything else Cysagh had seen upon the Great Cloud, and cast in the same white marble. The room was buzzing with noise; the angelic government workers were discussing things animatedly, while people paying their taxes and claiming their pay at counters at the far end of the room were negotiating better deals. A massive fountain stood central in the room; with its centrepiece being a huge marble angel, spouting water from its outstretched hands and halo hanging above its head. There was a golden plaque below it, which presumably described who it was, but this was written in Clodhrian, of which Cysagh understood nothing.
The pair continued through the hall, not uttering a word to each other as they spiralled around the fountain that had so fascinated Cysagh. Weaving their way through crowds of people, they finally reached a staircase, where they began their ascent. There seemed to be thousands of white steps, all presumably leading up to the very top of the building.
As they rose, the amount of people being inside the citadel seemed to thin continuously, until when at last they reached their destination, the hallway was completely empty. The architects had obviously neglected this side of the building, as instead of the shining white marble adorning the walls; it was a grey, crumbly stone that formed the walls, floors and ceilings. Cobwebs had tangled their way across the ceiling, giving the place a very old look. The angel suddenly stepped forwards, and touched one part of the wall, which seemed completely bare.
He muttered something rapidly in Clodhrian, and a door, thick and wooden appeared directly in front of him.
“Is this another one of your magical closed doors that you angels love?” asked Cysagh mockingly. The angel snapped round his head, and raised an eyebrow at him.
“What are you talking about? All doors open, that’s the way that it goes,” he responded, a look of puzzlement on his face.
“Not always,” said Cysagh. “Where you took me from; the building with the pillars, those doors didn’t open.”
“Ah,” replied the angel, comprehension dawning on him. “That was the Unknown Room. It is one of the most important buildings on top of the Great Cloud. Legend says that people’s lives are created and destroyed in that place, and that only particular people can go in there. Nobody knows for certain though. But now, this is the Hall of Prediction, where I promised I would show you your destiny.”
The angel opened the door, showing the way into what appeared to be a dusty, old library. The bookcases were made of deeply coloured mahogany, the books all seeming to be bound with a dappled red covering. All over the walls were symbols, painted in differing colours to each other, some looking ancient, and some looking reasonably recent.
“So this is the Hall of Prediction?” asked Cysagh.
“That is correct,” replied the angel. “This is where the prophets eternalise their predictions.”
“It’s not the most... impressive room I’d have imagined,” said Cysagh. “I thought it would be a bit more grand and pompous than... a medium sized library.” The angel looked outraged at Cysagh’s musings.
“This is exactly the attitude that caused the schism between your and my peoples. Surely you realise that it’s not how grand it looks, it’s how important? This room was one of the first built in the citadel, built solely for the purpose of the prophet Anoragh to get information on things happening in the future of our society. The room is vitally important, however doddery it seems. Now, the prophecy was on this wall over here...”
The angel walked over to a wall at the far side of the room, where there was a splattering of green paint vaguely formed into a shape. It stood out completely from the grey wall, and it was obviously put there for a reason.
“Now,” said the angel. “Listen to me as I translate this prophecy from its symbolic form. You must, must pay attention to me: this is your future, and it cannot be changed.”
He stepped forwards, and started studying the symbol. For five minutes there was complete silence, and then he finished, satisfied with his translation. He cleared his throat, and began.
“For all those who are born and who will die
A message clear as crystal; I don’t lie.
Underneath the lunar light at fullest glare;
This month will come a child of power rare.
In him the power to watch and see in truth,
In him the light to judge the dutiful and couth;
In him the strength to wait and help the poor,
In him the drive to dissipate furore.
When war breaks out his task is to assess
Then judge each living being coming to confess”
The angel paused for a minute, letting Cysagh take the information in. Then, he began to explain what the text meant.
“That was the prophecy exactly as Mordrenr had seen it. It clearly refers to you, as described by the text. You were born under the only visible full moon fifteen years ago, all others were obscured by the very cloud we are standing on. Now, as far as the records say, there were only three children born that evening. One died shortly afterwards, and one was elven.”
“But,” said Cysagh, struggling to understand, “Surely that means that it’s not me for certain?”
“That’s where you’re incorrect. The prophecy was written in your own language, not Elfish or Clodhrian. Therefore it is specifically referring to a human child, born fifteen years ago under a full moon. Now, the rest we can only say is going to happen in the future. But these qualities will arise, and it will become apparent to yourself and the angelic philosophers that you will be the one to save us.” He stopped for a moment, and looked out from one of the windows. It appeared as if something was troubling him. “The last two lines escape my grasp, however. It refers to the war which will break out. But does this mean that it will be greater and harder than previous wars because somebody must judge every soldier? There is one thing I can definitely glean from it though. When you leave this Cloud, it will not be for the final time. You will return sometime during the war, and you will listen to the confessions of every living, thinking being above or below it. Then you will judge. And that is all.”
Cysagh stood for a moment, reflecting on the gravity of his situation. Why was it him, a fifteen year old boy, who would have to take up this important role? And if it was the future, surely things could happen to prevent it?
“How do you know the war will happen at all? There’s no prophecy about that, is there?” he asked. The angel rubbed his eyes, and then looked down at Cysagh with a weary smile on his face.
“My dear boy,” he said. “Surely you realise? The fact that you were born confirms the prophecy I just read to you, which clearly mentions war? You won’t just be the judge of the battle, you will be the cause!”
Cysagh stepped backwards, shocked to the core. His face illustrated this emotion completely. But as he was about to respond, the world in front of him shuddered slightly, and began to blur. He blinked once or twice, to try and get rid of the contortion. Just as he began to wonder what had happened, however, he blacked out, and the next thing he knew was the thick, scented air of a particular fortune teller’s shop, and the sight of a short, bespectacled woman peering down on him.
“You were out rather longer than I had expected, dear,” she muttered, almost questioningly.
“Uh, yeah, I guess I was...” replied Cysagh, still recovering from his experience of the future. “Listen, thanks. I will pay you back someday, I promise, but I need to go and get back. My, uh, family will be wondering where I am...”
And with that, he dizzily got to his feet, and tottered out of the door, back into the streets of Épyren.
Please, please comment on this D:
August 12th, 2009, 7:25 AM
III – Awakening
Darkness. Oh, the darkness! The darkness engulfed him, whatever he was, like blackened water drowning its victim. And then there was light. Bright white light that punctured the iron grip of the darkness like a spear piercing flesh. And oh, how bright it was. He revelled momentarily in the light before the darkness, the black, endless darkness swallowed the white up. Forever. And ever.
* * *
Vision. It came as a shock to him, the creature that dwelled in the darkness. He could see through the black. But what good was that? He could only see more darkness, more of the abyss that had suddenly spat him out. The darkness refused to end. But he could see. That much he knew.
* * *
Feeling. He was surrounded, by something definite and formed. But when he looked around with his purple eyes, he saw nothing that was solid. Only the black that had haunted him and so terrified him. The eternal black that so refused to go away. But he could feel. That much he knew.
* * *
Sound. He could hear the darkness, he could hear its pitiful moan and haunting tune that sang to his newly formed ears. He looked around and outstretched his fingers, or were they fingers? But he couldn’t see the source, he couldn’t touch it. The darkness was playing games with him now. But he could hear. That much he knew.
* * *
Taste. He opened his newly formed mouth, and tentatively put forward his slightly forked tongue. He could taste the tang of the darkness, the overwhelming metallic insipidity of pure black, the force which was imprisoning him so torturously. He could see his dark imprisonment; he could feel its boundaries and could hear its lament. And he could taste its evil. What it was, he couldn’t ponder. But he could taste. That much he knew.
* * *
Scent. He drew inwards with his nostrils, and could smell the darkness. It was like nothing he had ever felt before. It smelt of nothing. It smelt simply of evil, the evil that had kept him bound inside his eternal prison of darkness. He couldn’t think as to why. But he could smell. That much he knew.
* * *
Emotion. Thought. Intelligence. His head was filled with emotion, he could hear himself speak, he was like a child, a child who was so afraid of the darkness, but he couldn’t help that; it was primal inside him, every thought he had was crossed with one of fear and petrifying wonder. And then came the calm. His mind stopped fearing and worrying. He rationalised, and all that he felt was anger. Pure, red anger that filled him completely, and made his insides ache with it. Why he was angry, he did not realise. But he was. That much he knew.
* * *
And then he remembered. He remembered the face, that face so wise and knowing, that face so old that hid so much behind the sparkling blue eyes and the perfect features, that face that lauded so much over his people. Then he remembered the fury, the utter fury that that face had shown towards him, the fury that had inspired it and its body to use those wings and destroy his soul. And then his own anger returned. His own incomprehensible fury at that face, oh that face!
* * *
Words. Words that turned into actions. The actions that ultimately channelled his hate into something, something useful. His arms punched through the darkness, the dark chains that bound him. His wings, now blackened by the darkness, expanded suddenly, breaking the walls of his living cell. He broke through everything , shattering every remaining bit of the impenetrable blackness that had once held him. He had been exiled, and now they would pay. That much he knew.
* * *
Freedom. He stood up to full height and stretched his wings. The anger had been stopped momentarily while breaking to liberty, but it had returned in floods. He leapt into the sky and flew, flew in a great, swooping circle, rejoicing at his new ability to do what he liked. Finally he remembered the final piece of information. And then he spoke.
“I,” he said hoarsely, speaking for the first time since he could remember. “I am Seldrenr, and I am the downfall of the angels. That I promise myself.”
He touched down, the anger inside him rejoicing at his promise. The citadel would fall. It must.
C&C very much appreciated, so please comment D:
Really. Please comment
August 15th, 2009, 11:11 AM
:DDD Finished Chapter Four
Once again, comments and crits are integral to making my work better.
IV – The Voice of Reason
What frightened Cysagh the most wasn’t the vision he’d just seen, it was the content of the vision. How could he be important? He was just a fifteen year old miller who’d never been further than the perimeter of the village; a fifteen year old miller that had done nothing to anger anybody as majorly as had been described by the angel ever! So how could he possibly cause this conflict, this bloodbath that had been promised to happen?
His head was still swimming in thought when he reached the front door of his own house. He strode in, the effect of the potion now having worn off. On the kitchen table that greeted him was a candle burning zealously, and a note written in his father’s untidy scrawl.
You were late home, so your mother and I went on ahead.
We’ll see you in the Ram’s Rump later.
With a pang of guilt, he remembered that he had promised to meet his parents for dinner in the tavern after finishing up. Trying and failing to push all thoughts of the day out of his head, he rushed to his room and changed into something more suitable for a dinner down at the Ram’s Rump. Ten minutes later, and he was wearing a different blue shirt and a brown jumper that his mother had made him, and was walking quickly out the door, back down the path he had only walked a short while ago.
In floods, the memory of the prophecy came back to him. It scared Cysagh to think that they had predicted four qualities that he hadn’t even discovered himself; it made him wonder whether any of his thoughts or emotions were private to the angels and their prophets. And then there was the war. The war that would rip apart life as he knew it, pit each man against each other. The war that scared everybody, even if nobody knew what was going to happen. He realised that this was what they sometimes called the fear of the unknown. And in this unknown, it would supposedly be him, Cysagh the fifteen year old miller who would be the calm in the storm.
He was lost in his own imagination and thought all the way back to the centre of Épyren, and only stopped worrying when he saw the familiar, time tarnished sign of the Ram’s Rump. Drunken singing and joyous music could be heard coming from inside; it was the pinnacle of the village’s community inside this place. It made Cysagh feel at home to be standing outside the battered green door, with its round pane of glass giving a sight into the main bar. It was this that he was looking through, trying to locate his parents when the barmaid saw him gawping. She rushed over from behind a couple of huge men and opened the door. A look of mock annoyance was etched onto her face.
“What are you doing, gawping from outside like this? People will begin to wonder whether you need to go down to the funny farm soon!” she said in an agitated tone. The hard expression soon broke, and she was grinning, trying to hold back a giggling fit. The sight made Cysagh grin.
“You alright, Angela?” he asked, the girl in front of him having given up the fight against the giggles.
She stopped laughing to engage in conversation.
“Oh, we can talk inside; it’s freezing out here!” she said, and skipped inside, Cysagh closely trailing her.
The first thing that Cysagh felt when walking into the tavern was the heavy smell of beer mixed with pipe smoke hitting his nose. It made him splutter to start with, but getting used to it, just made him feel relaxed and at ease; he was amongst friends. Angela grabbed his arm and pulled him around into an alcove, where nobody had seemed to settle.
She grinned at him, and then started to gabble.
“Yes, I’m fine, thanks. But where were you? Your parents started to worry after, what, thirty minutes of you being late? To tell the truth, I was worried, I mean, you promised them that you’d meet them here! But no, you take two hours and we were just thinking of—“
“Stop talking,” whispered Cysagh, amused at Angela’s monologue. “I... I had to do something on the way back, and it took longer than it should have done. No, don’t look at me like that! I had to do it! But anyway, where are my parents. I’d better relieve them of their anxiety.”
Angela gave him one last puzzled stare, then led him over to where his parents were sat, talking to each other agitatedly. She coughed loudly, and when their faces looked up at her, she pointed to Cysagh.
“I found this one on the street,” she said jokingly, then darted off before the turbulence began.
Cysagh’s mother breathed a sigh of relief, before standing up to her not very substantial height. This seemed to be the signal for his father to bury his face in his hands and look up at Cysagh with an apologetic look. His mother’s hazel eyes stared at him for a minute, then started berating him in a deliberately poisonous undertone.
“If you ever do your disappearing act again, you’ll be for the high jump, young man. Your father and I were extremely worried about you, weren’t we?”
Although she had asked the question, she still was looking icily at Cysagh, which allowed his father to do a comical shake of the head. He had to try and stop himself laughing and seriously reply.
“I promise I won’t wander off again, really,” he said, not really making eye contact as he went to sit down. “So, what did you two do today?” he asked, changing the subject very quickly.
“Don’t get me started,” replied his mother, which was the sign of a very long speech, often a monologue, on how somebody down at the shop had managed to break four needles in two hours, which, apparently, was a feat that no woman could achieve. Cysagh’s mother was a seamstress, one of the best sewers in Épyren, and took pleasure in creating fine garments and selling them for high prices. She couldn’t do this often, though, because at her shop, it was only the poorer people who came in, as the higher aristocracy never came through the area, it was so off the beaten track. She swept the mousy brown hair out of her blue eyes and began to recount the gripping story of that day’s work.
Half an hour later, and his mother had finished the same mundane tale that was told around the dinner table every day. His father had one eyebrow raised, and then finally sensing the story was over, lifted his bald head from the table and drained his glass.
“Be a dear, Greta,” he said in his deep, gruff voice, “and fetch me another beer? I’m dying for something to drink.”
Cysagh’s mother stood up, took the glass from the table and walked across to the bar, where she requested a drink from the bartender. While she was gone, Cysagh’s father breathed a feigned sigh of relief.
“I love your mother, son, but she doesn’t half go on sometimes, does she?” he joked, causing him and his son to laugh simultaneously. “I’d tell you about my day, but it wouldn’t match up to the exciting adventures of your mother, would it?”
Cysagh grinned at the joke, and shook his head in agreement. He had just opened his mouth to start speaking when his father started talking again.
“Cysagh,” he said, lowering his voice. “I know you weren’t ‘just doing something’. You’ve never been a great liar. If you promise me that you weren’t doing anything... stupid, then this goes no further, OK?”
“Stupid?” asked Cysagh, curious as to his father’s change of subject.
“You know what I mean; rash, idiotic. Like, I don’t know, spending all of your money on one thing, getting into a fight or something.”
“But, I wasn’t—“
“No. None of it. Like I said, just promise me that you weren’t being stupid.”
“OK,” said Cysagh, defeated. “I wasn’t being stupid, whatever you mean by that.”
“I think you do,” replied his father mysteriously, and got up to go and help his wife.
It was then that it started. From the far side of the tavern, there was a great roar, a drunken roar that had obviously just arisen from a disagreement between two locals. The normal din that flowed through the pub quieted down to listen to the argument take place. It was the two farmers from the southern outskirts of Épyren that had been the source of the noise. Anybody in the village would have recognised their completely bald heads and slightly heavier accent than the normal Western dialect.
“If I’d have wanted your advice, I’d have asked for it, you imbecile!” said one of them, the shorter and slightly fatter man.
“I just thought you could have done with a bit of help!” replied the other, slightly defensively.
“Me, need help from a scumbag like you? Why don’t you just run off and tend the pile of cow dung that your place lies on!”
“That ‘pile of cow dung’ was inherited from my grandfather, and he inherited it from his grandfather! Don’t you dare bring me into this mess; I’m not the one who’s struggling to keep his land fertile!”
“Well at least I’ve got a decent family and wife. Yours looks like the runt of the litter, if you know what I mean,” said the short man. It was then he noticed the eyes of the entire tavern gazing at him in horror and repulsion. “Yeah, get a good look at the argument, that’s all you really want, isn’t it?”
But what he didn’t notice was the taller and stronger farmer whose wife he had just insulted bearing down on him, with his teeth bared and a look of sheer anger upon his face.
“What did you just call my wife?” he hissed with utter contempt in his eyes.
“I just called her the runt of the litter,” replied the other farmer, enjoying winding up his rival. But barely after he had said the last word, he was ducking for cover as a frenzy of wild punches was aimed at his face.
The accent of the two made their yelling completely untranslatable as they continued to brawl each other, some of the rowdier villagers egging them on as they tumbled through the tavern. The noise was deafening now that the fight had almost elevated to its peak. Cysagh watched, bemused at the fact that the evening had now pretty much been ruined by his lateness and the semi-drunken brawling taking place. He stood up, and walked over to where a growing crowd was now gathering.
He saw the two men aiming punches at each other on the floor, and felt absolutely no pity for them. But just as he was about to walk away, something clicked inside his head. Why shouldn’t he try to stop the fight? The voice of reason didn’t have to come from an adult did it?
“Stop this nonsense,” he said, firmly, but not loudly. He was staring at the men on the floor, who appeared not to have listened. Raising his voice slightly, he tried again. “Stop it, now. You’re really going to hurt each other.”
It was as if it happened by magic. Everything went gradually silent once more, and the gaze was now fixed on Cysagh. It made him falter a bit, but nevertheless, he continued.
“That fight there, that was pointless. Would any of you have gotten hurt if you had just walked away?” he said, looking at the taller farmer whose name he didn’t know. “If you’d have left, the situation would have cooled down, and your ‘rival’ would have been left to look like an idiot. Now it’s you who’s looking stupid. Just think about that.”
And with that final quip, he walked back to where his mother and father were sitting; who were looking shocked at their son’s sudden display of diplomacy.
“When did you learn to do that?” asked his mother, wonder painted onto her face.
“Wh-what your mother said,” concurred his father.
“To be honest, I don’t know. It just seemed to... flow out,” replied Cysagh, amazed at himself.
“Come on, let’s leave, before anything else happens,” said his father, getting up and putting on his jacket. Cysagh and his mother nodded in agreement, and trying to avoid any other occurrence that evening, they slipped out of the tavern, talking to each other on the moonlit path back to their house.
* * *
The angel was tired, and the darkness outside was combated only by a candle alight in the Hall of Prediction. The dim glow was illuminating a book that the same angel was poring over, studying every occurrence in the life of the particular person he was watching.
Then suddenly, new words formed on the page he was reading. It seemed to be a line from a poem that he had heard before, but could not put his finger on it. He read the line over and over again, until he remembered. And the realisation made him slightly taken aback. It was part of a prophecy, but not just any prophecy.
He read the line again, his mind exalting the fact that the angels were one step closer to their saviour, and despairing at the fact that the world was one more step closer to war.
In him the drive to dissipate furore.
Please, please comment D:
August 18th, 2009, 9:09 AM
I've completed the fifth chapter. Tell me what you think about it.
V – Fallen Star
It was dark that evening, and as Cysagh reflected on the day’s events, he began to wonder again about what he had just done in connection with the angels’ prophecy about him. It seemed strange that he could be able to do something like that, when he had never so much as spoken in public, or indeed in front of people before. It was a thought that remained in the back of his head as he gazed out of his window into the enigma that was the night.
The moon was perfectly round in the sky, and it seemed to be lazily hanging above the village, dimly illuminating the people below. The stars were also watching, their beads of light forming patterns and obscure pictures in the sky. It was times like this that made Cysagh wonder how people read the moon and the stars, and if they ever really realised their true beauty.
He yawned, and realising exactly how tired he was, he laid himself down on his bed, and continued looking out of the window to try and lull himself to sleep. He drifted deeper and deeper into slumber as the moon and the stars watched over him, and when he finally fell asleep, it was close to midnight.
That evening, Cysagh dreamt about what he had seen, but not the bad things; he had woven it into some sort of surreal fairytale of him gallantly saving the world. He slept soundly through it, the idea appealing to the vague, dreamy part of his mind that was registering what he saw. Dwelling in the land of dreams was one of his favourite things, and he wasn’t about to ruin the moment. And so his head swam with the various thoughts and feelings encountered in the strange world that was sleep.
* * *
What woke him was the noise. It sounded as though somebody had taken a knife and torn the air open; not unlike a seamstress tearing a piece of fabric with her dressmaking scissors. Cysagh stood up wearily, and walked over to the window to see what the commotion was all about. He rubbed his eyes quickly, and then stared into the sky.
What appeared to be a shooting star was streaming through the night, its bright white tail serenely illuminating everything below. As it sailed through the air, it looked peaceful amongst the stars and the moon. It glowed as it reached ever closer to the ground, getting larger and larger as it neared. It was when it became larger than Cysagh had ever seen a shooting star that he began to realise what was happening.
The falling star enlarged to a ball of white flame, until it became close enough to the house for Cysagh to see the shadowy figure trapped inside it. With a mighty crash, the ball hit the ground just yards away from where the structure of the house was, leaving a visible indentation in the ground. He winced at the impact, fearing that the entire village would have heard, but found himself surprised that nobody had seemed to notice.
Slipping on his shirt and buttoning it quickly, he light-footedly crept outside to explore the disturbance. Cysagh found it suddenly intriguing to think about what else might be out there, as it seemed that his future was unstoppably entwined with every other person’s.
As he reached the depression where the fallen star had buried itself, he gasped in shock at what he saw. There was no rock, no more flame, nothing. Just a woman. An unconscious woman lying in the place of where a shooting star had once been. She looked just slightly older than Cysagh, and was serenely beautiful. Her pale face was illuminated by the hanging white orb that was the moon above, and long brown hair flowing in straight locks down her back. She was dressed in a pale white gown, which augmented her features.
Cysagh bent down over the woman, concerned for her safety. Without regard for whether she could hear, he started talking to her.
“Are you alright? That was a bit of a... nasty fall you had. How did you even get inside that fallen star, and then it vanish the moment it impacts?”
Realising that she was unconscious, Cysagh berated himself for his stupidity, and finally mumbled something about going to get help. Just as he was about to step away, however, an angelic voice came to his ears.
“Yes,” it said. “I am alright. And if you don’t go to get help, I’ll tell you how I got inside a fallen star.”
Turning around in amazement, Cysagh saw the woman sitting up in the depression, with a ghost of a smile touching at her lips. He walked back to where she was, and unable to find words, helped pull her out instead. She stood slightly taller than him, and looked down with deep brown eyes. She gazed intently at Cysagh for a minute, before saying quickly, “Follow me.”
Cysagh obeyed without thought for what was happening, and followed her into the forest Cysagh was going to explore only earlier that day. The woman pulled him towards her, and frowned as she looked at him.
“I had hoped I didn’t land near any civilisation, but I suppose that doesn’t matter now,” she said, speaking in her clear, perfectly formed tones. “What matters is that you will swear not to mention my very existence to anybody else. You’ll do that, won’t you?”
The question wasn’t even spoken as a question, more an assertion of something she had already decided. When Cysagh nodded, she continued.
“My name...” she stammered, obviously confused as whether to trust the fifteen year-old boy standing in front of her, “is Perioc. I didn’t come here in a fallen star, I am the fallen star. I was sent here on a mission to retrieve... a particular item. And that is all I am willing to tell you. You’ve helped me, I’ve helped you, and now we can go about doing what we need to do. Now go back to your bed and forget that I ever existed.”
“But,” objected Cysagh, finding his voice, “I can’t just... forget! You’ve fallen out of the sky, on a mission, but you won’t tell me what it is and why you are on it! It will madden me until I know!”
“Then it is necessary for you to go mad. Because I am not going to tell you why I am here. That is none of your business, and likely will never be your business. I am leaving, and do not try to stop me,” she replied sternly, and before Cysagh had a chance to retort, she was gone, merely a whisper remaining in the woods where she had stalked off to.
Realising it would be futile to pursue her in the night and without knowing exactly who she was, Cysagh returned through the thicket of trees and bushes, and laid in his bed, another strange occurrence weighing down on his thoughts as he fell once more into the land of dreams.
Please, please tell me your thoughts and opinions on the novel!
August 20th, 2009, 10:21 AM
Chapter 6 is complete. This is the longest chapter I've written, and I've separated the speech for easier reading. Please, please, please comment!
VI – A Sword
Days passed, and Cysagh was still clueless as to the mission of that strange woman whom he had encountered that fateful night. He went and worked in his place at the mill every day, not doing anything out of the ordinary, and even stayed away from the main street where he could be recognised by Sarah, the fortune teller.
The days were getting longer with each one passing, until dawn was ridiculously early, and dusk was ridiculously late. Cysagh was constantly thinking about the woman and the prophecy by the angel, which still terrified him, to such an extent that he was drifting further away from his family and friends.
Then the summer came. The sun sat up on its throne in the sky, glaring down at its subjects on the ground below. Even for a village sheltered by forest and Lake Fálinr to the south, Épyren was getting unbearably hot and dusty, until finally, Cysagh’s boss was forced to close down the mill for a day to fetch more water from the lake.
The day off provided the perfect opportunity to take Cysagh’s mind off of recent events, and as quickly as possible, gathered some food and a pack to put it all in, and set off treasure hunting in Ab-Forteyna. He briefly remembered how he was going to do this the day that he had his fortune told, and how important that day was to him, before pushing the idea out of his head, not wanting to think about it.
He walked down the worn track where the hunters stalked down the prey before cutting off to the right and deeper into the leafy expanse of the forest. Trees standing hundreds of feet tall with huge trunks flanked him wherever he went, the canopy of deep green leaves causing the ground to be tinted with a paler version of the same colour. Bushes with red and yellow flowers were seemingly randomly dotted between the trees.
Cysagh got so far before he reached the Fálinr River, the deep running river supplying the lake with ice cold water. The water seemed to be angry, buffeting the slight curves in the land with huge force. It was clear and clean, showing the small, silvery fish flitting downstream where they would get their main food source, miniscule shrimps known as kritek. He glanced around, to see if anybody was watching him, then began his search, combing over every bush and under every stone for anything of value or interest.
Before long, he had found two fragments of what appeared to be the same gemstone, a deep red ruby that glittered in the sunlight. The colour was like that of blood, and the pieces had faint silvery lines running through them.
I wonder whether these belonged to anybody important? he thought, marvelling at their beauty, however small they were. He put them in his pack along with a bronze coin he had found at the bottom of the river, and laid on his back, gazing up through a gap in the canopy at the golden sun in the sky. It was beginning to lower in the sky, making way for the moon, but it was still going to be there for hours more. White clumps of cloud lazily floated near the proud sphere, the cerulean sky empty of any disturbance.
After what seemed like an age of just lying there and watching the sun and clouds move through the sky, Cysagh got up, brushed the leaves off of himself and began the journey back home.
Weaving himself through the maze of foliage, he relished the earthy smell of the woods for one last time, before cutting back round the path, and onto the hunter’s trail.
He was just about to keep on going, when a flash of green and silver caught his eye. He spun his head around quickly, trying to descry what he had just caught a glimpse of. He veered off to the opposite side of the hunter’s trail, hoping to get a better look. Climbing over a thick tangle of bushes and roots, he came to a relatively spacious area, which had been previously obscured by vegetation. In the very centre of it was a sapling tree, with five twisted fingers of branches coiled around a sword.
The sword was not made by anybody in the surrounding area -- that much Cysagh knew for certain: the blade was far too narrow. He picked it up, and it felt oddly light, as if it wasn’t the heavy piece of metal that he had anticipated. The hilt seemed to fit his hand perfectly, the round, polished emeralds that adorned the hilt not affecting the comfort of it. Cysagh twirled it above his head for a moment, trying to imagine it used in combat.
Satisfied with the last-minute find, he wrapped the blade in the cloth he had used to store his food, and carefully put it into his bag. With that, he walked back onto the trail and exited the forest, content with how the day had gone.
Cysagh returned to his house, and after replacing his pack in his room, he took out the sword, and making sure to keep the cloth wrapped around the end, took it to his father, who was sitting in a chair in the kitchen, tending to the cooking-fire. Making sure to make his presence known, he set it down on the table audibly. His father turned around, an eyebrow raised.
“Where did you get that, son?” he asked, noticing the sword on the table.
“I found it in the forest, if you must know. Caught in a tree,” Cysagh replied.
“It’s a beauty,” responded his father, who was a blacksmith at the forge in central Épyren. “I can tell you though, I didn’t make this, and I don’t think any other human did. This was made by the master smiths of the elves. They’re the only ones who have gems like this at their disposal.”
“Elves?” asked Cysagh, amazed at his fortune. “Why would one of their swords be here? It can’t have floated; it’s too heavy!”
“That,” replied his father finally, “is the question. I doubt that two people in the surrounding thirty leagues will have ever seen a real life elf before. And to have one of their weapons in our forest seems a bit strange. Very strange. Son, do you mind if I take this to the forge tomorrow to see if it truly is elven, or if it’s some fake made by one of the apprentices to make some gossip.”
“How will you test it?” exclaimed Cysagh, alarmed. “Don’t damage it! If it’s real, we could sell it for a lot of money!”
“You think too much about money son. You’ll realise that it isn’t everything soon. And don’t worry, if it was made in the forges of Ab-Montr, it will be protected against hammer blows and superficial damage. If it isn’t, then I guess it will crumple, but that’s for the best; it’d be worthless anyway.”
“OK, you can have it,” said Cysagh, after thinking about it for a long minute. He handed the cloth over to his father, who wrapped the blade in it again.
Cysagh walked away, into his parents’ room, where there was a small shelf. He scoured it for something interesting, before coming across a scroll called ‘Elves: The Enemy?’. Taking it out carefully by its wooden end, he despaired at the length of it and the minuteness of the spindly writing used to copy it out. Nevertheless, he returned to his room with it, and quenching his thirst for information, he began to read.
Two hours passed, and Cysagh was still reading, albeit more slowly. He had read of the elves and their secretive nature, their homeland in and around Ab-Montr, their genius with making things out of natural sources, and the formidable nature in battle. Just as he began to read about a new section on the layout of an elven home, however, a great wave of tiredness began to wash over him, and his eyelids battled to stay closed. Eventually, he let his body have its way, and with one deep breath, fell deep asleep, thoughts and ideas whizzing around in his head.
* * *
Cysagh awoke the next morning to find that his mother and father had already left to go to their workplaces, and his father had taken the sword with him. Cursing himself for not waking up earlier, he quickly pulled on some clothes, and then briskly walked down to the mill, where Paleum was waiting expectantly for him.
“Somebody slept in,” he teased, although not nastily.
“Yeah... let’s not talk about it,” replied Cysagh. “So what are we doing today?”
“I’m watering the new crop. You’re not doing anything.”
“What do you mean ‘not doing anything’?”
“I mean what I say. A woman came in looking for you earlier. A bit taller than you, brown hair. She asked the boss if she could take you off of his hands for a day. The boss said yes, of course. He never turns a lady down. So you’re to meet her at the tavern.”
“Now?” asked Cysagh, knowing full well who Paleum was talking about.
“Yes, now, you blockhead! Go! Don’t keep her waiting!”
Paleum shooed him away, at which Cysagh shrugged his shoulders and walked off, navigating the street down to the Ram’s Rump. He opened the door, and then looked around hurriedly for the woman. Not able to see her, he went and sat down at a table in wait.
After about ten minutes, the woman walked in through the door, and immediately went and sat down opposite Cysagh.
“It was Perioc, wasn’t it?” he asked, out of courtesy more than anything.
“That’s right. But now to the point. I wasn’t going to tell you anything about my mission, but now you’ve become directly involved, so I guess I have to,” she replied, with an air of impatience about her.
“Directly involved?” asked Cysagh, puzzled. “What are you talking about? I’ve just been at the mill, and yesterday, I was in the forest. Unless...”
“Yes,” she said, seeing the look of comprehension on Cysagh’s face. “That sword that you found... it is one of the most important things in the land at the moment. It is elven, in case you didn’t know, and that is the elven monarchy’s sword of succession. The situation is as follows. The queen of the elves, Nagoria, is ill. This illness is possibly life threatening, and in the event of her dying, her eldest child will take over. However, she must officially name him as her heir before he can take the throne. If she dies without an official heir, then pretty much anybody could claim that it was their right to ascend.”
She broke off, her eyes suddenly filled with the look of somebody who has the knowledge of trouble in the future.
“The last time that a monarch didn’t declare an official heir, the lord of every elven hall claimed the throne as their own, and the argument wasn’t settled. A civil war broke out, and it had repercussions across the entirety of the land. Hundreds of elven halls were destroyed, leaving only the six most powerful, who resolved the conflict by holding a meeting to decide on a new monarch. They chose and the war ended, but the fear is still there in every elf’s mind about what might happen if the current queen died without naming an heir. The armies would wipe each other out, and I daresay numerous other species would be affected as well.”
“But,” interrupted Cysagh. “If the queen needs to name an heir, why did I find the sword all the way over here in Ab-Forteyna?”
“That’s a bit more difficult to answer,” replied Perioc, frowning. “But there is one theory that I have, and I think it’s likely that it’s the right one. There are six elven halls, all of them powerful in their own right. However, one of them, Hall Denarius is slightly more powerful than the others. They have not held the monarchy for over seven hundred years.”
Seeing the puzzled look on Cysagh’s face, she explained, “When an elven child comes of age, they must declare allegiance to one of the halls. It doesn’t really matter which one they choose, it’s not a real problem. Families can have all of their members in different halls sometimes. But anyway. Hall Denarius hasn’t had the monarchy for seven hundred years, for reasons of hostility and seclusion. I think that they stole the sword, and hid it somewhere that the elves would never find it, namely, in your Ab-Forteyna. They would welcome a civil war, because they would win and a member of their hall would become the monarch.”
“But that’s crazy!” replied Cysagh. “If they wiped out the other halls, then they wouldn’t have anything to rule over!”
“I know. But they would still have the spirit of the halls, and their children could opt to join them, or even form new ones, however rare that may occur. They would also control the elves’ wealth and their land. It wouldn’t be such a frightful concept if Hall Denarius hadn’t declared themselves hostile to all other races at their formation millennia ago, though. That’s why I was sent to sort out the mess; take the sword back to the elves, and stop this nonsense. So, just hand over the sword, and I’ll leave, and you can forget about me all over again.”
Cysagh stared at her face, and marvelled at her apparent experience. His initial thoughts were pretty much confirmed, she couldn’t have been more than three years older than himself, and yet she was still sent on this mission. But he couldn’t forget about her again. Besides, the thought of the quest excited him beyond anything that he had ever experienced before.
“I don’t have it at the moment,” he said, finally. “But... I know who does, and I’ll lead you to them. On one condition, though.”
Perioc nodded, frowning slightly.
“If I lead you to this sword, you have to promise... you have to promise to let me come as well,” he finished.
“What?” exclaimed Perioc. “Let you come along? Absolutely not! You... you... you’re fifteen! You’re a human! And you don’t know how to fight! Besides, you’d just slow me down. And what would you say to your parents?”
Cysagh could tell that he had caught her off guard.
“I’m fifteen, yes. But you can’t be more than twenty,” he said calmly. “And why would I need to know how to fight? The journey shouldn’t be that perilous; there’s no war at the moment. I could tell my parents that I had secured an apprenticeship, and that I’m leaving for that. You could do with the company as well.”
Perioc looked perplexed. She sighed, and said nothing for a short while. After thinking, she nodded her head.
“I’ll consider it. But you’ve got to get me the sword first. If you do that without anything going wrong, then yes. You can come with me. But you have to promise that you won’t get in the way!”
“Me?” exclaimed Cysagh. “Get in the way? I think not. Now wait here; I’ll go and get the sword.”
“What? How can you get it so easily? Oh, damn it. Don’t answer that, just retrieve it for me.”
With a nod, Cysagh flitted out of the door, and ran as fast as he could to the forge where he knew his father would be working.
He pushed open the door, and was hit with a wave of heat that was like nothing else. It was very dark inside, the only light coming from the furnace and the molten metal being poured into moulds. He looked around quickly, before seeing his father at the anvil, hammering out a new metal arrowhead. His father looked up when Cysagh wandered over.
“What do you want, son?” he asked, sweat pouring down his face.
“That sword that I gave you... have you tested it yet?” replied Cysagh.
“Sure have. And you’ll never guess what? It’s actually elven, son! It was made in the elves’ famous forges! Imagine my excitement!”
“Where is it now?”
“Over by the furnace. I can’t wait to see the price that those merchants give for this. Or should we keep it as a keepsake? Hmm...”
“Can I take it? It’s just... I... err... think I’ve found the scabbard.”
“It has a matching scabbard! Oh my, this is... this is wonderful! Yes, take the sword, see if it fits. If it does, then we could really be in the money!”
Cysagh walked off, picking up the sword that was next to the huge furnace, and leaving his father to his mumblings, exited the shop, holding the sword by the hilt and the cloth scrap tied around the blade.
Walking back down the street, people gave him strange looks, but he ignored them. Finally getting back to the Ram’s Rump, Cysagh poked his head round the door, and once getting the attention of Perioc, mouthed ‘got it’ to her. She immediately stood up, and stalked out of the tavern.
When she was outside, she took the sword from Cysagh, and looked at it with a smile on her face.
“Thank the gods that I got this back. If I hadn’t, then who knows what would have happened. Thank you for your assistance in finding this! Pardon my rudeness, but I never asked your name?”
“Cysagh,” he replied. “And it was my pleasure. Now please, please can I join you on your journey to Ab-Montr? If not only so I can meet the elves and learn about their culture?”
Perioc’s face softened from the hard frown it had worn earlier. She gave a bright smile, and then nodded her head.
“I would be honoured, Cysagh,” she said, “if you would accompany me on my quest to the elven land. Just make sure your parents are all right about you leaving. If all goes well, then we will leave at dawn in three days. I will be waiting for you on the village’s eastern border. If you aren’t there, I will presume that you couldn’t come, and will leave without you. Now prepare your things, and I will see you then.”
Placing her left hand over her chest, she smiled once again, then walked off into one of the backstreets of Épyren, no doubt on her way out of the village to make some preparations.
Grinning with what he had just achieved, and what was about to happen to him, Cysagh turned on his heels and rushed back to the mill, determined to do some work before the day was out.
Please, please, please comment; I'd really appreciate it!
August 21st, 2009, 12:53 PM
Chapter 7 is complete. Please, please, please comment, don't let this die! I really value your opinions!
VII – Flight
Seldrenr looked around with his deep violet eyes, scanning the environment that surrounded him. He was seated on his steed, his jet black steed, which stood absolutely still, like a ghost out of a nightmare. His head stopped scanning abruptly, and he sniffed the air, the warm, dusty air. He cocked his head, letting his intense crimson hair fall over his face. A chill crept down his spine, and he dug his knees into the stallion. It bolted forwards at once, heading directly west into where the sun was setting.
He kept his wings, his dark, dark wings close to his back, to prevent the wind from sweeping him off of his horse. As he leaned forwards, Seldrenr’s black tunic fluttered in the wind that was sweeping his hair out of his eyes. Flattening it down with one hand, he flicked his vision back once more, the child-like fear of the dark compelling him to check whether it had caught him up yet.
The truth was, he was scared. Scared that the abyss would retake him and lock him in its icy chains once more. Not only scared, angry as well. But how could he help that? He was eternally angry, the rage inside of him having festered for a millennia before finally being given a chance to release, find a victim. And that victim was that angel. That angel who had locked him in his dread prison. That angel and his entire people, his entire people who had agreed. Seldrenr would have vengeance.
* * *
The demonic angel came to a camp of small tents. Red and battered they were, and inside he knew were monsters. Monsters that humans and elves and angels had nightmares about and that scared them half dead. If they weren’t dead once they had been done with.
He grimaced. He hated dealing with these putrid, stinking monsters. But he needed them. He needed them for his army of darkness and evil. So without a second thought, he leapt off of his dark steed. He raised his sword, and started gabbling in the language of truth, the language of the angels that he had once spoken and glorified.
“Invénsin noxnras dredhres! Connásin bellnr mi an dis angelners seldrenners!” he yelled, chanting more than anything. His words, his carefully picked words were drawing out the agents of evil. Come, monsters of the abyss! Join me in the fight against the wicked angels!
Two lumbering beasts, their stench almost unbearable to the demonic angel, came out and bowed down to him, as if in a trance. Their horns were twisted into sharp points, their leathery black hide shining in the sun. The angelic language was the language that everybody understood if they listened. It was the language that could persuade a man, persuade an animal, persuade an army.
“Invénsin! Essit exhobns mi mardrase angelners! Inros essaiton seldrennros hasa va, inros vavombairon! Ziomison vas demardnr!”
Come! It is my sworn duty to slay the angels! They were cruel to you, they were repulsed by you! Take revenge!
More of the foul, so foul beasts came out of their hiding places. Revenge was the sweet word to their ears, the word of control. When they were all bowing at the demonic angel’s feet, he looked down with a sneer, a cold, hard sneer.
“Mi connádin?” he asked. You will join me?
One by one, they pledged allegiance, still in the trance like state that the language had put them in, and the hypnotic stare that the demonic angel had put upon each and every one of them.
“Ponsin gladnex vas. Kalnison emadnex vas. Pralsin bellnr,” finally whispered he whom they feared. He turned on his heels, and mounted his horse, his jet black horse. Sharpen your swords. Ready your spears. Prepare for war.
Digging his heels into his sides, he rode away once more, in search for different camps like this one. They reacted well. So would the rest. The army would be roused; the citadel would fall.
August 21st, 2009, 1:36 PM
Just as a hint: If you want more people to review, you might want to space out the time between postings of chapters. Your chapters are kind of on the long side, and it takes time to read them and formulate a response that's better than "Good. Write more."
Since your story is about angels (one of my favorite subjects to read about) I was going to review. But between the fact that my real life is busy, and your chapters are long, and my eyes get tired being on the computer, it would take some time. Other people might have the same problems I do, like a lack of time to sit down and read eight chapters and write up a review.
So, yeah, just slow down with the posting between chapters. Your thread won't die (you can post in it at any time after a month even!) And more people might review and leave comments.
August 23rd, 2009, 6:45 AM
Thanks for the advice, Astinus. I see what you mean, but it's difficult to wait when you're writing chapters that you're pleased with and want to share...
Back to the story though: this is my absolute favourite chapter so far. The plot has officially begun to get moving. So please, comment and criticise!
VIII – Farewell
Cysagh trudged up the hill, the rocky ground crunching under his boots. It had been two days since Perioc had invited him to join her to deliver the sword back to the elven queen, and Cysagh still hadn’t announced his departure. His things were in his pack, and he was ready to leave at a moment’s notice. But the fact that his parents were still in the dark played heavily on his mind.
He had decided that day, however, that he was going to tell them. He had made up a story about going to become an apprentice blacksmith far to the south, near the capital city of Arrilam, Mernagrat. He desperately wanted to tell them the truth, but knew that they would probably keep him from leaving, or become scared if that happened.
So as he walked through the door of the house, he let out a sigh as he knew he would be seeing it for the last time in weeks; maybe months. Cysagh walked into his bedroom, making sure that his pack and the sword were both ready. He looked around his room, scanning for whatever he could find that might be useful. He found nothing, so just stood there for a moment, reminiscing about the time spent in here. It was where he had learnt to write, and read, and where he had learned to make an arrowhead out of stone. A slight smile flickered onto his face, before he turned and left, pack in one hand, sword in the other.
He placed them down next to the front door, ready to go. All he had to do now was inform his parents of the story he had created. Cysagh walked into the kitchen, where his parents were talking, and he coughed slightly, to alert them to his presence.
“Hello, dear,” said his mother with a smile on her face. “Have some bread.” She offered the basket full of cut bread to Cysagh, who proceeded to take a slice and take a mouthful. “Are you alright?” she asked.
“Yes, sort of,” replied Cysagh, “Mum, Dad, I... I’ve got something to tell you.”
His mother and father saw the downtrodden look upon his face, and immediately began to look concerned. His mother spoke first.
“What is it, darling?” she asked, a caring frown on her face.
“Nothing’s wrong,” Cysagh replied, not wanting to alarm his parents. For a split second, he regretted complying with Perioc and considered staying at home. But then he remembered the feelings of boredom and wishes for adventures he had had since he could remember. “But I have something important to say.” His mind drew a complete blank, forgetting the story he had invented. He had secretly wanted to tell his parents, and now, he had decided, he would.
Cysagh started from the beginning, telling first of how he had found the woman fallen to the ground, and going on to talk of the sword found in the forest. He spoke of how Perioc’s quest had excited him and baffled him, and then talked of the jubilant moment when he met with her and she offered to let him join her on the journey to Ab-Montr.
“This is what I have always dreamed of,” said Cysagh finally. “Meeting other people, going on an adventure to distant lands... it sounds childish and stupid, but I finally have the chance to do it – I will see the elves! I could be in one of their epics!”
Cysagh’s mother looked alarmed, and her frightened gaze fell on her husband.
“Wh... What do you think?” she asked. “Personally, I don’t think it’s a good idea, he could get himself killed! And what about the elves? They could be barbarians! Not to mention the monsters!” she gabbled.
“Shh,” replied Cysagh’s father calmly. “I think it’s definitely incredibly dangerous; the roads are worse than ever... but who are we to deny our son adventure? And he’s got that woman with him; she sounds experienced enough to look after the both of them. And who knows? He might even learn how to wield a sword properly!”
He looked down at Cysagh with a dim smile on his face.
“Son, if this is what you really, really want, then you may go with my blessing. But only go if you really want to.”
Cysagh’s mother piped in, her tears momentarily stopping.
“Like what your father was saying,” she said. “If... if it’s really what you want... then who am I to stop you? Go with our blessings...”
Cysagh was overwhelmed by how understanding they were, and a tear came to his eye as he realised that he might not see them again if something went wrong. He stepped forwards tentatively, with his arms outstretched, and embraced his mother and father each in turn. He broke off with them, and said quietly, “I’m going to be off then. Perioc said she’d meet me at dusk. Tell my boss that I’m not going to be back for a while.”
Cysagh’s parents followed him to the door, where he picked up his pack and put it onto his back, and picked up the sword. His father suddenly stopped him, and ran off to retrieve something. A minute later, and he had returned, holding a sword belt with two tiny emeralds set in the front.
“It’s modest,” he said, “but it was one of the first things that I ever helped to make when I grew up. The emeralds were the most perfect we could find in the forest. Use it to hold that sword.”
Cysagh took the belt, and buckled it around his waist. “It’s a shame I don’t have a sheath for it,” he said.
“Well, about that. I went out into the forest myself, looking for the sheath; it obviously has one. The moment I found this, I knew you were lying about the scabbard you found earlier.” Cysagh’s father pulled out a golden sheath adorned with three round emeralds identical to the one on the sword, formed into the shape of an arrow.
“But where did you find it?” asked Cysagh.
“It was at the bottom of the river. I nearly got swept away, but it was a fine price to pay for something as beautiful as that. Now go! The sun is already close to going below the horizon.”
Cysagh slipped the sword into its sheath, and clipped it to the belt his father had given him. He embraced his parents one last time, and then with finality, wished them goodbye. He opened the door, and stepped outside. He waved to them, and then with a faint smile, turned his back on them. He walked down the path which led to his house, and then back into the main street of Épyren, empty and quiet in the evening.
He continued walking until he had reached the far side of the village. He turned back one last time, looking at the place in its quiet beauty, framed by the thick wall of trees at the end that was Ab-Forteyna, and with that sight on his mind, turned and walked to the village perimeter.
Perioc was already standing there, dressed all in black, staring into the distance. The sun was retreating over the horizon, and as the last sliver of light disappeared, she turned to see Cysagh walking towards her, looking slightly sad.
Sweeping her brown hair out of her face, she offered a condoling smile.
“I know how hard it must have been for you,” she said. “But look to the future, where adventures amongst the forests, the rivers and the mountains of the elves await! Now, I trust you are ready?”
“Then time’s eternal movement shall not wait for us any longer. We must depart,” said Perioc solemnly.
Cysagh stood there for a moment, admiring her beautiful features, before breaking off and nodding once more. She motioned forwards with her hand, and then the two stepped forward, into their destinies’ inexorable paths.