Arrival

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series The Ruin of Shorelocke

Eifan Craille stands quietly in the ruins of the old town, leaning heavily on his staff. He is tired, weary from his long journey, but he has come too far to rest now. He permits himself several deep breaths. The salty sea air refreshes him, but only a little. He pulls his cloak closer, shivering lightly in the damp, chilly air and surveys the scene before him.

Shorelocke. Hardly an original name, the town had once been a sea port, providing one of the only routes for merchants to deliver their goods in-land by way of a clever lock and dam system.

Now, though, Shorelocke is a ghost town. The stone block buildings haven fallen into disrepair, and the cloying scent of rot and decay hangs over everything.

Now that he is here, Eifan is uncertain where to begin his search. Off to his left, a low stone shelter with a dark, yawning opening seems to whisper to him. To his right, a broken tower flickers with torchlight, despite no visible source. And immediately before him, an open plaza etched in mystic runes.

[Originally posted at Ficly.]

I want to experiment with an idea for this series. Does anyone remember those old Choose Your Own Adventure series? I’d like to do something similar here. The difference is that I want you, my readers, to decide which direction the story goes by “voting” in the comments. Each section of this story, Eifan will be faced with a choice. It will be your job to comment on which choice he should make. The one that gets the most votes will determine which way the story goes. Clear enough? Good.

So, what should Eifan explore: the shelter, the tower, or the plaza?

Also, feel free to suggest anything else you’d like Eifan to explore. I can’t guarantee he’ll have time (he is, after all, likely to find his hands full), but I’m definitely open to suggestions.

The Shelter

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series The Ruin of Shorelocke

The shelter calls out to Eifan, and he is drawn toward it. A cool breeze blows in off the sea and with it a hint of a voice, as if a vapor. Almost that voice entices him away from his explorations, but he impatiently shrugs it off. There is mystery in that shelter, and he must have it for himself.

He approaches the dark opening of the stone structure and finds himself at the head of a winding stair. The steps themselves are old, crumbling. The walls are covered in moss and seep a dark, ocherous fluid. Eifan reaches out, just brushing a fingertip through the liquid — and withdraws it sharply. A shock of emotion blasts his psyche, there but for a split second and then gone again. It is a rage unlike any he has ever experienced.

A moment’s pause to collect himself, and he descends once more. The flight of stairs is short and within moments he finds himself at the bottom. A room, scented strangely of incense, opens to his right. A corridor, black and forbidding and lit distantly by fire, yawns before him.

[Originally posted on Ficly.]

The Room

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series The Ruin of Shorelocke

Eifan drags one finger lightly along the door jamb as he enters the room. The door itself has long since crumbled into dust, long since forgotten what it was — but the stone remembers. The memory whispers up to Eifan like a ripple of warm water. He knows he could tease out that memory with the right song, could in so doing restore some semblance of a barrier to the room, if he so chose. He does not.

Instead, he turns his attention to an examination of the room. That redolent scent of incense lingers in the air, but now Eifan also detects a subtle but unmistakable hint of scorched earth beneath that aroma. The smell is not entirely unpleasant, and it interests him, but he chooses for the moment not to pursue it.

Three physical objects lie strewn about the room — a bound volume, stamped with a rune he has not seen in a dog’s age; a small wooden orb, polished to a perfect finish and entirely free of dust; and the hilt of a dagger, the blade strangely missing, as though it had never existed in the first place.

The Orb

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series The Ruin of Shorelocke

He inspects the orb without picking it up. He can feel the memories radiating off the thing already, and he is not ready to delve into them just yet.

Unlike nearly everything else in the room, not one mote of dust rests on the orb’s surface. What’s more, a ring about an inch wide around the perimeter of the orb is also completely free of dust, as though the orb itself is actively keeping the space clear. Eifan notes this with interest. He is certain that the orb is a memory sink, filled with traumatic recollections, left here for someone to find.

Was it meant for a Chanter of Memory, such as himself? Or for someone else, someone without the ability to manage such a flood? Eifan shudders at the thought. Even for a Chanter, such a deluge would be savage. For anyone else, it would be total madness.

He reaches for the orb, then hesitates. He can already feel its resistance. He knows it does not want to be found, does not wish to be touched, to be unlocked. Perhaps it would be best to leave well enough alone.

Cloth

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series The Ruin of Shorelocke

Eifan withdraws his hand, shaking his head. “No,” he says. “This is neither the time nor the place to delve into such remembrances.”

He reaches instead into the satchel slung at his side, rummaging through it and producing a small piece of dark, finely woven cloth with a nearly imperceptible but reflective iridescent sheen. The cloth is but a smaller bolt that had years ago been carefully scissored away from the mothercloth — the only one of its kind.

Gently, almost tenderly, Eifan drapes the cloth over the orb, covering it completely. Only then does he wrap his fingers around the orb and pick it up. He can feel the thing’s animosity, even through the cloth, but the memories contained within cannot breach that barrier. That they even try — without a song to entice them forth — is deeply unsettling to him, suggesting that the orb is not merely a physical object, but also a living one.

He contemplates this for only a moment before placing the orb in his satchel and returning his attention to the room.

[Originally posted at Ficly.]