Tag Archives: fantasy

Rust, Blood, and Flame

This entry is part 3 of 13 in the series The Rusted Blade

Malika paced steadily deeper into the woods, sword out to the side. Pale blue flames, barely visible, licked along the blade’s length. Near the base, just above the hilt, the only space not utterly consumed by rust, was etched a single word. Truth. It was not, Malika knew, the name of the sword. Rather, it was what the sword most desired, a craving that mirrored her own insatiable hunger.

Around her the noises of the forest continued – the howls and roars of large predators and the heavy footfalls of unseen leviathans. Malika made no effort at concealment. Indeed, she wanted to be seen, to be noticed by the creatures around her.

“Come to me,” she breathed. “Attack me. I am weak. I am food for your jaws. Destroy me.”

As if in answer, a large feline face lunged out of the brush in front of her. Malika deftly stepped to one side, bringing the sword up swiftly as the cat shot past her. The smell of blood, seared flesh, and singed fur filled the air as the cat fell dead a dozen paces away, evenly cloven in two.

Paladin

This entry is part 2 of 13 in the series The Rusted Blade

The man strode rather than walked into the forest. He had the mass of his Church behind him, and so he had nothing to fear. The creatures of the night howled and cried to each other, but he was unmoved. His defenses were stalwart, and any attack would break itself on his unshakeable faith and will. The horrors outside were nothing to what lay within.

He whispered a prayer and reached for the symbol of his god that lay around his neck. There would be blood tonight, but that was not entirely a bad thing. The darknesses in man and beast both would be ready for his light.

Swordmaiden

This entry is part 1 of 13 in the series The Rusted Blade

The little girl entered the forest, armed with nothing but her courage, her grim determination, and the rusty sword strapped to her back. There were monsters in those woods – she could hear their howls, their cries to one another – but she was not afraid. She was a warrior, and these woods would soon learn to fear her. She had faced worse horrors at the hands of her own people. The creatures of the night were nothing in comparison. She calmly, deliberately drew her sword and strode forward, her steps bold and defiant. There would be blood this night, but not one drop of it would be hers.

Fiction: Dust

A spark of green faelight flitted through the nursery window as the last rays of day faded from the sky. At its a center a faerie, no bigger than a single mote of dust. It flew around the room once, twice, three times, before finally settling on the edge of the cradle.

“Took your time getting here,” sighed a voice light as the wind.

The faerie shook its head, regarding the human infant below sleeping below. “I came when I could, Woost. The child isn’t in any actual danger.”

“Yet,” Woost replied. “It’s only a matter of time.”

“Perhaps,” the faerie said. “These things are never entirely certain.” It paused a moment, contemplative. “Still, best be on with it.”

With that the spark lifted off from the cradle’s edge and flitted around the infant’s head. There was a tiny, infinitesimal sneeze, and a fine mist of dust drifted from the faelight and settled onto the infant’s face. Tiny glyphs formed along her brow, just slightly darker than her skin.

“There,” said the faerie. “That should be enough. For now.”

“What happens now?” asked Woost.

“Nothing,” said the faerie, landing on the pillow next to the infant’s head. “Now we wait. And make plans. And hope for the best. Nothing can happen until the child comes of age, anyway, not now that she is bonded and sealed. And humans age so frustratingly slowly. So we have time.”

There was a long silence, as faerie and elemental alike watched the infant sleep. It was finally Woost whose voice broke the stillness.

“Strange how something so small and fragile and… mortal can be so wound up in the threads of Fate that extraordinary measures such as these must be taken in order to protect it,” he said.

“Such has always been the case, my friend,” the faerie replied. “Fate has always been influenced most heavily by the finite and the measurable. It’s almost ironic that it’s that very mutability upon which it seems to rely.

“Take care of her, Woost,” said the faerie, lifting off from the pillow and flitting to the window. “She’s important in ways only she will be able to understand.”

“I will be the very air she breathes,” the elemental promised.

“I know you will.” And then the faerie was gone.

Fiction: Beautiful Insanity

He is a tiny man. Under four feet tiny. Balding pate. Small eyes. Round, tortoiseshell glasses. Tattered brown suit. Nothing to look at, certainly, not that anyone is looking.

He glides through the crowd, clearing a path without word or gesture. People move aside for him, unaware. A corner of his mouth is quirked up in a bemused, crooked smile. His eyes are distant, focused on an image only he can see.

“Close, close. So very close,” he titters, his voice a sing-song. His fingers creep under his coat, and from his breast pocket he pulls a key, blue and cold as the winter sky. He holds it up between thumb and forefinger, and now his eyes finally seem to focus on something tangible. He giggles.

There you are!” he moans. “So lovely.” He leaps, somersaulting in mid-air, landing lightly on a young woman’s shoulders. She doesn’t notice. He jams the key into the top of her head and twists sharply, then leaps off and bounds away, laughing madly. The visions he just unlocked in her mind will haunt her the rest of her life.

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.]

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.

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 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.]

Shadow Man

I saw a shadow man today, tracking me through the corn. It kept its distance, for which I was grateful, but it moved when I moved, stepped where I stepped, stumbled when I stumbled. It stayed with me for some time before I stopped and turned to face it.

Hey, there, shadow man, I called to it. Why do you shadow me today?

I could see its mouth open in response, but I could not hear its words. After a moment I shrugged and moved on. It shrugged and did the same.

We traveled together for a while in this way. The corn was tall, the sun high overhead, and I lost the shadow man several times. Each time, though, it reappeared and continued to shadow me.

Eventually, we reached the end of the corn, and the field opened onto a rolling hillside.

This is where I go, I said. Will you still shadow?

It thought this over for a moment, then shook its head.

Very well, I said. Perhaps I will see you again.

I waved and moved on down the hill.

The shadow man stayed, but I could feel it waving behind me.

[Originally posted at Ficly.]