Saturday, August 2, 2014

I am Nobody

The large man walked across the floor of the dungeon inspecting the new arrival of slaves.  Calling this brute a 'man' is a loose definition of the word.  The closest resemblance to a man would have been a silhouette in a dark alley, but of course no one who met this creature in a dark alley has survived to tell.
He stood close to seven feet, hulking frame, with arms as thick as tree trunks.  this is where his resemblance to a man ends.  His head was almost completely covered in fur, with a thick coarse mane in braids hanging down his back and shoulders.  a pig snout where his nose should me and a large mouth full of wicked fangs.
The prisoners stood in a row in manacles linked to one another with chains.  There was a mix of seventeen men, women, and children.  New acquisitions from purchases, and recent captured and conscripted into the enslavement of Lord Maulderon, the self-proclaimed ruler of the Soviet lands.
Upon inspection the brute can tell the purchased slaves from the ones recently captured.  Most of the humans appeared beaten, the light in their eyes and defeat in their shoulders worn like a uniform of profession.  Then there was the handful that had fight in them, defiance in their face, though deep down they knew, once a slave of Maulderon they only true escape is death.
Making its way down the row, occasionally sniffing the air around one child, with a grunt from its snout, as if ready to pick a meal for dinner, the creature paused at the end of the line in front of a middle-aged man.  The man was an obvious recent purchase from a slaver named Jaundus.  Jaundus was known to break in his stock before putting them up for auction.  Even still Maulderon had his own ideas of breaking in his property.
The brute stood for a few seconds inspecting the cowering figure.  Although the man was used to ‘monsters’ this was his first time in the presence of a literal one.  He kept his gaze to the ground, not daring to look the slave master in the eyes, in fear of something worse than death.  So many rumors fly around about these beasts, these ‘trolls’ are feared to possess powers besides their inhuman strength, that can cause absolute pain with one look, another that they can snatch away the soul and drink it up like fine ale.
The brute arm unexpectedly shot up and grabbed the man by the back of the head forcing him to stare at his large eyes.  A bit of drool dripped down a slivered across the man's cheek, he made no indication of wiping it away.
The man’s eyes were wide open the fear was palpable.  A smile played across the creatures face, so large it was all the man can see.  With a deep guttural sound, the creature spoke.
“Who are you.” it said very low and very deliberate, but can still be heard clearly by the last man at the end of this absurd chain gain.
The little man did not speak up at first, paralyzed by the terror the creature wrought.
When the creature did not get its response in time, he yanked harder on the man’s hair causing him to squeak in pain as a chuck near the base of his neck was torn from the scalp.
Before the creature could yank again the man spoke up.
“H-h-Henry…” the word was out before the man realized the mistake he made.
The creature, with its other hand. slapped the man across the face.  Hard enough to crack some bone, but not enough to kill.
The man now slipping in and out of conscience dangled by the creature's grip on his hair.  He was aware enough to respond to the beast, though.
“I….am...nobody.” he said in an inaudible whisper.
The beast released him causing the man to quickly slipped to the ground, almost taking his neighbor with him.  But the boy stood his ground and did not allow the semi-unconscious man to drag him down.
Now standing in front of the kid, the creature looked into the kid’s eyes.  The child did not look away in fear of being grabbed slapped by the creature.
The beast proceeded to ask the bot the same question.
“Who are you.”
The boy responded without hesitation, “I am nobody.” then looked away.
The creature moved to the next person.  A pretty young woman with auburn hair.  Although very afraid it was apparent that she was a recent capture rather than a broke in slave.  She stood at five feet and two inches, rosy cheeks, and were a powder blue tunic.  She was dressed for travel, but one can tell that during her capture the dress was torn and sullied by being knocked to the ground before clamped in chains.
The creature raised its hand as if to strike her, but instead it caressed the woman’s cheek, causing fresh tears to stream across her face.  He paused seemingly to delight in that, then firmly grasped her face engulfing it with one hand and forced her to make eye contact.  For the subtlest of seconds the creature gave pause when he gazed into the woman’s piercing green eyes.  But quickly overcame the hypnotic hold and asked her the foreboding question.
“Who are you?”
The woman reflexively tried to lower her head from fear, from distaste, but the creature’s grip was too strong, she can only break eye contact by quickly looking away, but being so close to the beasts face her eyes once again locked with his.
Behind those eyes the creature can see the defiance, it can tell the girl was not used to being treated this way, that may be at one point no one would dare to talk down to her let alone handle her in such a manner.  He took delight in this, and took delight in the knowledge that he will be breaking her in personally that evening in private, to satisfied that animalistic need.
The young woman seemed to have sensed this as she let loose her bladder, further exciting this monster from the smell of fresh urine.  His grip tightened, threatened to mar the beauty this face beheld.
“I am nobody.” she quickly whispered, following the queue of the other two slaves already accosted by the same query.
The beast, satisfied, leaned in to get a closer scent of this woman, so pure and fresh, and just when it seemed that he was going to further humiliate by licking her face, he released her face where she collapsed to her knees sobbing.
The man at the very end watched as the woman cried, feeling helpless.  He watched as the creature moved to one prisoner after another, repeating the same question.  The air of fear grew thicker, slowly becoming terror as the beast moved closer.  
Finally standing within proximity of this terrifying beast, listened as the creature asked the man beside him that same question, his mind raced about what he needed to do.  All seemed to be lost, across the hall he can see his weapons,  a sword, to fighting hatches, and a belt of throwing knives haphazardly piled with the belongings of the other captures.  Looking down at his manacles, tightly screwed in place, it would take a blacksmiths wrench to remove these.  On top of that his movement was limited being so closely chained to the man to his right.
He was quickly broken out of his trance as the beast towered over him, the heat of its breath almost stung the man’s cheek.  He did not dare to look up.  The creature move down a bit to ask his question.
“Who are you?”
After a slight pause the creature moved to grab at the man’s head but paused when the man mumbled something, too low to hear.
The creature moved in closer.  The man before him was a little over six feet, well built, with a head of thick black hair.  The creature was going to enjoy breaking this one in as well.
He asked one more time.
“Who are you?”
The man slowly looked up, his eyes caught a yellow jewel the size of a baby's fist dangling from a string around the creature's neck. The man then locked eyes with the creature and responded
“My name is Varlain Ellox, but my friends call me ‘Vox’” he said with a defiant smile.
Outrage immediately spread across the creature's face, but before it can respond, the man quickly leapt up and slammed his head into the creature's left eye full force.
Caught off guard the creature arched back howling in pain.  The sound so great it filled the chamber with a roar that rattled chains and doors.  
The man did not get that lick in without consequence, his head throbbed and consciences threaten to allude him.  But for his life and the woman with the auburn hair, he held on.
During the scuffle unbeknownst to the creature, Vox had grabbed the jewel from the brute's neck.  As shock quickly wore off the surrounding guards, Vox dropped to his knees and called out to the woman.
“Pixie catch.” he said as he gambled and slid the jewel down the line of chained slaves.
While the jewel slid across the towers floor, the guards, now composed, moved in, and the beast recovering from the unexpected blow crouched to leap at Vox.
Pixie watched in horror, still on her knees she almost missed the gem flying at her.  at the last possible second she slammed down on the frayed end of the string it was tied to causing the jewel to stop suddenly.  She then yanked it toward her and grasped it in her hands.
Vox looking from Pixie to the approaching men almost lost it when the gem just about past his companion by.  As she grasped it at the last second, them guards converged on him and the creature took flight.
Pixie bowed her head to her hands, still clasping the jewel, said a quick prayer.
Just then the manacles dropped away from the prisoners.
Without out missing a beat, and before his first magical hit the ground, Vox rolled to his left, leaving the guards to attack empty space, followed by an angry troll plowing into the well armed men.
The creature quickly regained his composure as he spun around in time to see Vox dive into the prisoner's belongings.  Although he was clear across the room the creature made it with is in two simple strides.
Vox was already at his feet sword in his right hand, a hatchet in the left.
The creature leaped the remaining six feet as Vox rolled away with ease, but not before he buried the hatchet into the troll’s left shoulder.
Now behind the troll, Vox stood with his back to the guards regaining their own wits, facing the creature as it turned ignoring the small axe dangling from its flesh.
It stood there breathing heavy and crouched to leap at Vox a third time.
Meanwhile two of the guards managed to get within striking distance from Vox, as they raised their weapons, Vox spun around so swiftly that all they observe was a blur of a man.  Shocked they turned to look at each other, swords still raise, guts painting the floor beneath them.  
Vox was already facing the creature in flight, oblivious to the men behind him falling to the ground.  As the creature flew close, Vox waited until the stink of its breath filled his nostrils, and sidestepped.
As he did so he nudged the large creature enough to slightly change its trajectory, into the remaining three guards, causing the guards and creature alike to careen into the wall scattering the slaves that were standing in front of it.
During the scuffle a guard at the end of the hall witnessed Vox in action, instead of risking getting skewed by the man, he turned toward a large wooden door that he was ‘guarding’.
The door consisted of a thick oak wood reinforced with iron.  Not unlike the door that protected the out gates of a castle, but this one kept in something even worse than the troll slave master.  
As the men and beast tried to contain the loosed prisoner, the guard yanked on a lever that caused a series of weights and pulley to raise the large oak and iron door.  Once he set that in motion he darted down the hall in the opposite direction of the battle at hand, not wanting to witness what came next.
Vox spun in time to see the troll once again regain his momentum and crouched to strike again.  Each blow was taking a lot out of him, and this creature was not stupid, he will get a strike in sooner than later, and its attack would be fatal.
Suddenly a howl from the end of the tower; shall cause not only Vox to pause, but the troll as well.  Vox watched as fear moved across the troll’s face when recognition filled its eyes at the source of the piercing howl.
Vox knew that anything that would scare that troll would be something not to be trifled with.  Before he can wonder what it was a quite large four-legged beast came barreling around the corner at the end of the hall.
Vox immediately recognized it, not from personally witnessing it, but from stories of the great Lornok hunt.  hundreds of men would go out into the wilderness to hunt this mythical creature, only a handful would return, so the story goes.
There it stood, best can be described as resembling a rhino, of sorts.  It was four times larger though, instead of two horns, it had several across its head.  Along with its impenetrable hide it contained razor sharp spikes across its back and sides.  
The creature was completely untrainable, it did not respond to anyone and attacks indiscriminately.  It was long rumored that Lord Maurdoon had captured one to let loose in the instance of losing his castle to an opposing army, but against this creature there were no winners.
Then it charged.  Slowly at first, but quickly picked up speed, it will overtake them in milliseconds, the remaining guards and troll were already running.  
“Pixie NOW!!!!” Vox called out.
Pixie, still on her knees, trembling said another prayer.
The creature barreled down on them and just before it could crush the first slave, all seventeen of the prisoners lifted off the ground, hovering harmlessly above the beast as it barreled by crushing anyone that got in its way, and eviscerating those that managed to stand aside with its side spikes.
Vox shot upwards turning from the scene below to witness the stone ceiling rush at him.  However before he was crushed by the hard place, he stopped suddenly.  When he opened his eyes he saw that his nose was a half of an inch from getting crushed.
An echo of shouts caught his attention.  They were not out of the woods yet, from where the Lornock beast came from a good two dozen men armed with swords and arrows moved in.
Vox looked to Pixie, but her eyes were closed, lips quickly moving.  
Pixie said a prayer to tether the floating prisoners to the lornock, before she can open her eyes to see if it worked, all seventeen of them were violently yanked into the direction the four-legged beast was heading.
It must have been quite a spectacle, for the newcomers below stopped suddenly to witness this comical scene of seventeen men women and children flying away.
Vox, floating helplessly above the Lornock, did the only thing he can do; enjoy the ride.  Grinning like a boy riding his first horse, he watched as the beast trampled through guards and laughed at the troll running for his life just before the lornock overtook it, leaving nothing but a trail of red goo in its wake.
The smile quickly disappeared as he spotted the castle’s outer wall as the beast headed straight for it free of hesitation.  It was well known that once enraged, a lornock would run itself to exhaustion, even over a cliff to its death.  The beast was strong, but even it was no match for a twelve foot thick stone wall.  Which meant that if it crashed head first into it, they will be carried into the structure by share momentum quickly ending this great escape by painting the stones red.
It was all Vox can do but watch in horror as the rock met the hard place and the lornock was knocked out by the force of impact.  Despite the thickness of the wall though, it did not come out of it unscathed, for what Vox thought was the last thing he would witness was the humongous dent the beast left in the great wall.
However before the gang of flying prisoners met the same fate, instead of flying straight into the wall the angled upwards and floated harmlessly over.
Vox smiled envisioning a praying Pixie as the prisoners drifted into the safety of the surrounding forest.


Vox and Pixie retrieved the rest of their belongings where they managed to stow them before getting outnumbered by the slavers.  Together they continued on their original journey south, now in the company of the fifteen men, women, and children recently freed from slavery.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Chance Encounter

He held the sword halfway out of its sheath a moment longer.  When the young woman stepped out from behind the trees, he let out a breath and secured his weapon back into it's resting spot.

"Don't you know it's dangerous to travel outside the manor's wall  this time of night?" Vox told the young woman with a half grin.

The lady turned away from him, hiding a smile of her own, "isn't it your job to protect careless girls as myself?" She responded with a question, making eye contact at the last word.

Vox smile deepened and he looked past her as if searching for possible danger in the dark woods.

"Isn't there someone at the grand ball that will miss a pretty young woman as yourself?" He asked returning her gaze.

"I'm sure no one noticed my absence, my father is regaling his tale of the  great hunt for the lornok beast, each year on Severance Day I swear the beast gets bigger and bigger.  I'm sure he's telling them, right now, that the creature is bigger than a house, with fangs the size of a man's arms.  I heard it enough times, but it sure captures the attention of the room" she told him, as she slowly circled around Vox.

"well, my fair maiden, the woods are no place for a princess as yourself, as much as I am tasked to keep the riff raff out, I'm to also see that the guests are safely returned back to the manor."  Vox said as he moved forward gently placing a hand on the woman's back, guiding her into the direction of the festivities.

"riff raff?" She asked dodging Vox's touch, "I do believe I have encountered such." She finished with a nod in his direction, implying he was the subject she spoke of.

"Well my lady," Vox countered, returning his hand to her lower back, "be that as it may, this ruffian  is getting coin to make sure wandering sheep as yourself do not stray too far."

The lady batted his hand away this time, taking a quick step back, "sheep?" She squeaked with an expression of shock, "I am a lady and will be referred to as such, not to be compared with a common beast!"

"I apologize my lady, you are but a graceful swan who needs to be with like company, so her beauty can be admired by those who are worthy, and not caught with a swine such as myself"

With this, the lady smiled, allowing Vox to lead her back to the manor.  Vox took great care with his ability to diffuse a situation with his words, in this case winning the respect of an incredible beauty.

They took the path in silence, as they approached the main gate, two of Lord Ginich's personal guard stood on duty.  They quickly recognized Vox and the woman so took no action toward thier approach.

About thirty feet away Vox stood, allowing the lady to move a few feet ahead before she realized he was no longer with her and spun around.

"You don't seem to be from around here, and you don't wear the colors of house Ginich." She said in the form of as statement, meaning for Vox to answer her unspoken question.

"No princess," Vox responded, continuing to use that moniker without knowing the lady's status, "Lord Ginich hires on extra guards during his parties, to discourage the thieves and pickpockets that are attracted to such large affairs."

"Your a sell sword!?" She retorted, almost as if it was meant to be an insult.

"In a way my lady," he replied ignoring her possible disdain for the sort, "I'm more of a 'jack of all trades' in this instance I am tasked as a protector, but I have many other skills."

Once again Vox's choice of words brought a smile to the lady's face, she looked him over as if seeing him for the first time, then turned; making her way back to the manor.

Vox looked after her as she approached the front gate, then silently curse himself for what he was about to do.

"My lady," he called out to the young woman, now four feet from the gate.

She paused and slowly turned around for effect.

"I didn't catch your name?" There he asked, immediately regretting the break in the unspoken protocol of fraternizing with a class well above his own.

The young lady simply smiled and looked down.  Then without a word turned a stepped through the gate.

"Darkot" Vix whispered a curse to himself, then turned away heading back to his post.

"Fauna" a voice called out from his left just before he disappeared back into the woods.

Vox gripped the hilt if his sword and spun around, just to see the lady's head peeking over the manor's east wall.  It had to be at least twenty feet high, that crazy girl somehow climbed to the top, and was barely hanging on.

Releasing the hilt he took a step toward the struggling girl, "Fauna" she repeated.

"Fauna?" Vox asked,  now looking up at this ridiculous sight.

"My name" she paused taking deep breaths, now visibly trying to keep herself up "'s Fauna". She said just before disappearing from sight, followed by a muffled thump.

Concerned Vox stepped up to the wall "I'm okay" she called out before he can asked the question.

He let out a sigh of relief, then realized he never gave his name "I'm Vox!" He called out in a loud whisper.

No response.  Vox stood at the base of the wall, his sword hand resting on its surface.  Why did it bother him so that the lady did not get his name before he was able to give it.  He stood there another few seconds, expectingly.

Shaking his head, he turned away from the wall; why does it matter, I'm not going to see this woman again, he thought to himself.

"Good night, Vox!" The lady called out, followed by the sound of muffled footsteps quickly moving away from the wall.

"Good night Fauna," Vox whispered to himself with a smile, then disappeared back into the darkness of the woods.

  ©2013 Kinse, My Sweet Hero


The men waited quietly amongst the trees that flanked either side of the road.  The sun has already sunk beyond the eastern horizon, the dark swallowing up the remnants of light still lingering from the setting making way for a twilight that will usher in dusk.

Varlain, crouched closer to the tree line, was the first to sense the wagon approaching the roads northern bend.  His instincts were valued amongst the band, with the guards doubled along this route he always anticipated when the soldiers were near or when it was the best to strike.

All in all there were thirteen members in the band, the gang refers to themselves as the Renegades of Sucz, a band of thieves well known for liberating gold from the corrupt politicians and wealthy socialites who prey on the weak and poor of Sucz.

The leader of the band was Felixant, Varlain being his second.  The pair were childhood friends, practically brothers, both orphans they grew up on a farm that took in lost children.  As teens the farm was confiscated by the local magistrate for failure to pay their outrageously high taxes.  Taking in children was tough on the old couple so keeping the kids fed and running the farm they constantly fell short of the increasing tariffs.  The older children were forced into the kings army and the smaller kids were brought to do manual labor for the kingdom.

The best friends kept in line during their time in the royal guard biding their time and remembered their training. During a small squirmish with a group of citizens who were forced out of their homes, Felixant and Varlain turned on their troop by protecting the evicted citizens, then fled the kingdom as traitors to hide in the Whitewynne forest.

Now they gathered an assortment of outcasts and bandits to try what little they can to tip the balance of greed in their kingdom.

as soon as the wagon came into view Varlain sensed something was off.  However their leader was working on good authority that the magistrate was moving newly collected tax gold from Parmond to be delivered to the royal treasury.  It was purposely disguised as a poor transport to ward off possible thieves, but Felixant has a contact within the magistrate that passes along sensitive information for a small cut of the loot.

Varlain ignored his instinct and took his position as the wagon drew near.  Around him the undergrowth shifted as the rest of the team moved in on queue.  As soon as the wagon came within a few feet of Varlain, he leapt onto the side railing as two of the other men in waiting quickly overtook the driver.  They gave him a swift knock on the head, their motto being least violence as possible, a condition strongly implemented by Varlain before forming the band with Felixant.

However as soon as Varlain ducked behind the canopy, one of the other band slide his sword into the gut of the driver and tossed him over the side.  The two men looked at each other briefly then to Felixant, who was slowing the horses, nodding his approval to his men.

Inside the wagon Varlain quickly lit a torch to get at their score, as the light flared on the wagon came to a halt.  Instead of seeing a man guarding the gold, there were two women dressed in white robes, their heads covered with a white shall.  They crouched in the corner of the wagon clutching each other.  One was young and very pretty, the other was a much older but handsome woman.

Quickly recovering from his shock, Varlain held the torch over his shoulder and his free hand out, palm up, to show he meant no harm.  Taking one step forward, the older woman jumped up and put herself between him and the young lady.

"No, wait, I mean you no harm." Varlain said in a soft voice as to not startle the women, "There has been a mistake..."

Before he can finish the sentence one of the men responsible for taking out the wagon's driver, forced himself through the canvas that separated the rider's bench and the front of the wagon.  Now standing behind the old woman, he towered over the younger one still crouched on the floor.  Laughing he plunged his sword into the back of the older nun, Varlain witnessed the business end of the weapon exit the woman's chest.  Words caught in his throat as he made eye contact with her, in that moment he saw forgiveness in her eyes, as she may have understood that the young man before indeed did not mean them harm.  Before she fell, she looked down to her right as if to signal Varlain to protect the other one.  Then she collapsed, dead before she hit the ground.

"NO!" the words finally escaped Varlain's, which was puncuated by a shrill scream from the younger nun.

Ignoring Varlain the other man turned around and stood over the young lady, her voice already lost from her high pitched wailing.  The man laughed as he undid his buckle.  Varlain did not hesitate, he moved to take out the vulgar band member, his hand moving to the hilt of his sword.  However just before he can make his move, two more band members entered the wagon from behind Varlain, they leaned in and grabbed the unsuspecting man by his legs, yanking back sharply.  The sudden tug forced Varlain to fall flat on his face, all too quick to give him time to break his fall.  His chin hit the floor of the wagon taking the full force of the drop.

Stunned the two men dragged him into the already dark night, causing his head to bang on the ground once again.  This time the fall practically knocked him out.  The rest of the events was a muffled blur.  He can just make out the silhouetted of the rest of the band overtaking the wagon.  He heard the loud CLACK as someone broke the lock on the chest, followed by the cheers of several men, then finally the screams of the young nun a she was violated.

He felt himself losing consciences as he was dragged by the feet far away from the wagon.  Every time he forced his eyes open he was several feet further.  The next time he came to he was being rolled into the brush off to the side of the road.  He heard someone call out, and the man handling Varlain paused to listen.

"Make....quick," he heard partly of what the distant voice yelled out, a voice he knew since he was six years old, Felixant made the call to have his long time best friend executed on the side of the road.

Varlain tried to turn over, to plead for his life.  However the other man had the advantage and kept one foot on his back, keeping him from making a move.

Felixant watched from the wagon as Dagon raised his sword and brought it down swiftly.  A tear fell across his cheek, "I’m sorry brother," the leader said to himself, "but your morals is getting in the way." he finished turning away from the sight and backed to the wagon.

Dagon looked over his shoulder as Felixant turned around and climbed into the wagon.  He then yanked his sword out of the dirt inches away from Varlain's neck.  He then crouched onto one knee and leaned in close to his fallen comrade, and whispered in his ear.

"You saved my life once young Moolie," he said in his thick Gorlanian accent, using a nick name he used for Varlain, which meant son or my child in his tongue, "Disappear, for the next time we meet I will kill you."  he finished by knocking Varlain on the head with the hilt of his sword.

Darkness overcame the fallen man as Dagon stood up and made his way back to the remainder of the band.

  ©2013 Kinse, My Sweet Hero