Orphans of a Dead Nation | Chapter 21 |

edited April 2017 in Original Stories
Author: JFantasyBooks
host: Fantas-Books

Novel Cover:

Orphans of a Dead Nation

Synopsis:

Years ago the empire collapsed, and the world changed. The last remnant cities, found at the border of the dead empire, began to self rule. 

In a society where people are hardened by violence and cruelty- a society where demons, beasts, and creatures of all kinds prowl beyond the city walls- a sleeping power became to reside within its borders. A power now scrambled to be harnessed, and only a single child from that dead empire holds the key.

As a political shift within the cities begins, a few orphans navigate a city fraught with factions and individuals that have an interest in their extinction.

Genre:
Action, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller, Martial-arts, Adventure, Romance, Mystery.

Schedule:
*Updated 11/17/2016* 2 Chapter per week. 1-2 extra for sponsored chapters. $10/ sponored chapter.




You can also get the latest updates at: Fantasy-Books
If you like it, please vote every week at: TopWebFiction Than You.

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List of Chapters:

Chapter 0: Prologue

Chapter 1: Enemy Behind the Lines

Chapter 2: The Hand.

Chapter 3: At Death's Door, A Stinky Embrace

Chapter 4: Cities Across the Sea

Chapter 5: The Man with the Silver Blue hair

Chapter 6: Dealings with The Keeper

Chapter 7: Change of Plans

Chapter 8: Our Future

Chapter 9: Crawlers in the Night

Chapter 10: Knight of Winters

Chapter 11: Flesh Eaters

Chapter 12: Every Choice Has a Price

Chapter 13: Questions

Chapter 14: Rules are Broken, Lights Out

Chapter 15: Fighting for Now

Chapter 16: The Green Light

Chapter 17: The Open Gates

Chapter 18: And the Land Shuddered

Chapter 19: He Who Has No Name

Chapter 20: Steam

Chapter 21: Hunger

Comments

  • Prologue: See TOC or see below

    When I was a child I used to hear stories. Tucked in a nice warm bed, a fire crackling below the chimney, the heat would beat against my cheeks. The lights would dance within my eyes. But the true warmth was not within the flickering flames nor the thick cotton sheets. No. The true warmth was within a single kiss, one right upon my forehead. It was my mother’s. She would hum sometimes as I tried to fall asleep, to sway into an untold dream of heroes and wonderlands, but the humming was never enough. I never did fall. She could tell from my breathing; know that I was awake; know that I felt her gaze upon me. And so, she would tell me a story instead. It was a ritual of sorts. A tradition.
    At the time, we lived in a small home with only one floor; with only one room. The kitchen, the dining room, the bedroom. It was all the same to me. Sitting on the bed in some small corner, she would speak of the dangers crawling in the night. The horrors that existed outside our small home, beyond our short, shabby wooden door. She would point to it, speaking of the monsters lurking just behind. And I would look upon it with my eyes wide, flown open, and no longer in a feeble attempt to pretend, to provide a façade- a false pretense of sleep. But never had they been filled with fear. Never did I tremble at night when the flames were low and my mother was asleep. Never did my skin crawl as the night remained so quiet, so silent, that the dead could rise and take me under and leave me none the any wiser. Never… And that was because I always knew that she was right by my side.
    When I was a child I used to hear stories. It was because of them that I remember her so well. The name of the country she wanted to live in; the name of the castle and her future husband, and my future father would be. I even remember the names she wanted for my baby sibling. If it was a boy, it would be… If it was a girl it would be… I had already planned on what we’ll do if a future like that had ever come. The fun we’d have. The stories I’d tell them. My mother’s stories.
    But that was long ago. The warmth now forgotten. As a new day comes, a night is right behind.
    The horrors outside that door were real. A searing cold that could never be bridged by fire; never be bridged by a single kiss.
    That is my world now.
    And a dead woman cannot do a single thing to stop it. 

  • edited April 2016
    Chapter 1: See TOC or See below

    Shots echoed amongst the evergreens. Barking resounded in the distance. The forest- the twisting branches- looked eerie in the dark. A girl, no older than fourteen, held a rifle in her arms, the press of the wooden stock cold against her cheek as she aimed into the endless night. Her hot breath puffed out clouds as she exhaled. Her mind was calm. Her stance was firm. She peered out, the light from the truck bright behind her back; it showed the bark of the trees, and highlighted the shifting shadows behind them. But there was a limit to its reach. A limit to where the darkness could not be touched. Could not be held back.

    “Stupid girl. Doesn’t even know how to fire a gun!” A man cursed. His boots crunched in the snow as he paced.

    I haven’t even made a shot yet. The girl thought. When I do, I wonder if it would be with the muzzle of my barrel pointed right in between your eyes.

    “Everyone, stay focused!” Said another. “Dekaros, stop bothering the girl.”

    “But-”

    “What did I say?!”

    The man called Dekaros cursed again. He held a short sword in his hands, his grip tight on the black handle. “Damned girl.” He mumbled. “I should have the gun. Not this. This. This knife. How am I supposed to protect myself with this thing?! Damn it!”

    “Dekaros!” The other yelled again, silencing the man. That other was the group leader. He held his rifle up, searching the surrounding forest. They had waited in a small clearing that barely went in deep, coming off a road that veered from the main one that laid on a nearby hill.

    Alaina paid no heed to the drivel and curses at her ear. There was much to consider at the moment. There were ten of them. Seven men. Three women, if you could include her as one. She had yet to shed her first blood, but the leader chose her to come along anyway. She had to prove her worth. Be an essential gear in the machine.

    Alaina aimed her barrel out to the forest. Her sights were in the trees. If it comes, it would be from the top. They like to attack from above. Her thoughts came quick as she aimed. Waiting. The night was not a quiet one. The branches creaked in the wind, the tops of the fallen snow flaking off like dust, bustling in the air like the embers of a rising white flame. I need to kill this one. I can’t go back empty-handed. Not this time!

    It was then that something tapped Alaina’s shoulder. A shock ran through. She twisted in a flurry, her gun whirling about, but her barrel shuddered to a stop. Her hands shook from the stun. She looked upon the leering shadows, her eyes wide… But she did not scream.

    “It’s you.” She breathed.

    “It’s me.” The woman was tall. A woolen cap, stuffed with cotton, covered her head, but her red hair still managed to poke out. The silky mane was rosy and fine, and it glimmered against the light. “You’re too tense. You could end up killing one of us by accident.”

    “I was not tense. I was calm. You just surprised me is all.” Alaina immediately denounced. She believed in her words. She felt it true, but the woman just shook her head.

    “If you truly were calm, my approach wouldn’t have frightened you so. You would have gone back to your training with instinct, dashing forward at an angle, and turning to aim the gun once you’ve gained some distance. The fact that your training did not kick in shows you either lack it, or you were too tense or too out of it for anything to register. Of any of those, I sure hope it’s the second. The first means you won’t survive the night. The third means it will happen again and soon. And that never does you any good. But tension. Tension can be good. Once it is broken, morphed, and used to its fullest, can it be something that is turned from a detriment to a block in your foundation to a higher level of mastery.”

    Alaina’s mouth twitched, but she said nothing. The woman was much older, much keener on the throngs of battle. The scars on her face, and the ones that occasionally popped out from beneath her sleeve and above her gloves from an outstretched arm were a display of experience; and the life still beating through her chest was the display of her survival.

    Alaina knew the woman. She had seen her around; spoken a few words. It was this woman who introduced her to the group. Alaina was not the only new one this night. There were three other additions. All new to the hunt. All meeting each other for the first time.  I do this out of need.

    More shots were fired. “It’s here! It’s coming. Prepare. Prepare!” The barking of the dog grew harried. And then a squeal. A whimper. Silence.

    “That’s from the east. Azure Formation!” The group leader called. “Azure formation!” The nine or so group members changed their stance. Dekaros in the middle area- just in front of the truck, four behind, and the rest some ways ahead, paces past Dekaros. Alaina rushed out towards her position. She had no time to look back, only hearing the rushing footsteps of the redheaded woman going the other way.

    Azure formation. It was something they told them of along with two more as they were leaving to go on the hunt. They never put it into practice. The leader said they did not have the time. But Alaina had learned it well. She did her best; she needed a group to stay in. She needed them to take her on more hunts.

    “I loved that dog.” She heard someone sigh, but she did not know who.

    She looked around, the short statures of the girl at her side, and the other two, clearly boys of an age no older than she. They are all children. They’re all like me. I didn’t notice when I climbed in the truck… And all of us are in front?

    “Damn it! Why am I here?” Dekaros yelled out. “This. This is not how it’s supposed to be. How am I holding this toothpick? Girl, give me back my gun! That’s mine! I can’t die like this!” He roared.

    Alaina did not look back. She heard the boots crunch in the snow, over the whistling winds, closing in on her. But she did not pay it head. She could not. The danger was just ahead. She had to focus her mind, keep it clear. It was not the first time that Dekaros had done his rant this very night, feigning his displeasure and roving his presence behind her. He never acted on it. So she listened not to what laid behind, but to what came before her. The sounds of running, the panting of a ragged breath.

    “Get ready guys. It’s coming!” A man broke from the forest and into the small clearing the group was in. A metal crossbow was slung over his shoulders as he swished past the first four, a single gun in hand. Alaina took her eyes off of him. She shifted her gaze back towards the outside. The prey lies out there. It lies in wait. Laying for me to come and devour it.

    The wind went silent, even though it still rushed past on occasion, the snow dancing within the currents. Alaina waited. She waited and waited and then... Dekaraos grabbed her from behind.

    This is the second time. Alaina had ignored Dekaros. She had his gun, but she believed he would not take it back, not at this time, at least. Not when the danger was so close. But maybe she should have been even more wary since it was that close. He had many chances to have taken it before after she won it off of him in a betting card game two nights ago. It was then that she was first introduced to him and the leader. They were the only two of the group she met that night.

    She had bet her life. He had bet his gun. An even trade in the eyes of the many. Ever since then, Dekaros would yell and carry on; and the leader would put him back in line. But he never tried to take the gun back. He was all talk. What a mistake I’ve made.  

    Alaina fought. She held onto the gun, but Dekaros was much stronger. With one quick pull, he snatched the gun from her gloved hands and kicked her in her chest, tossing her back.

    “Dekaros!” The group leader called. “You stupid fool! You and your games. You’re going to ruin our chance. Get into position!”

    Dekaros smiled. A crooked smile; lips thin; teeth mashed. His eyes were dark and imperceptible with the shadow formed from the light behind him. Alaina struggled to get up. Dekaros kicked her down again.

    “Jole, how much time do we have?”

    The man with the crossbow cackled. “I’ve laid a trail. I would give you another ten seconds.”

    Dekaros frowned. “Ten seconds? Damn it, Jole. I told you to give me more time. I wanted to enjoy that one.” Dekaros cursed. “Here. This will help you survive.” He tossed his short sword towards Alaina. It fell into the snow with a soft thud. “Aren’t I a genteel man, huh, Jole?” He laughed and turned his back on the four that had looks of bewilderment on their faces; and ran to the truck. He hopped inside, and pointed his long, barrel out the window.

    “What’s going on? Dekaros taking her gun is one thing, but…Why are we so far ahead? If Dekaros isn’t covering the middle, then…”

    “Ha! Did you really think there was really a good thing called the azure formation?” Dekaros called out.

    Alaina slowly managed to get up. Her chest hurt. But her mind remained calm. Calmer than it could ever be. The leader. He wasn’t holding Dekaros back for me. He was holding him back so I wouldn’t figure it out. As she rose to her full height, she uttered a single word…

    “Run.”

    The three heard her, and if struck with a realization, they dashed in different directions. There was a reason why they had not met each other until they were in the truck. A reason why they were only informed of the formation, but never put it into practice. The preyed on her. Preyed on her emotions and she licked it up nicely.

    Alaina tried to hurry. But it was too late…

    A wail broke the air. Its wail so strong, so mighty, that everyone froze. The one’s behind the truck were the first to come out of it. They had faced the spell of the wail for years. Its hold on them was exceedingly weak. But that was not so for the four in front.

    What is that? Just what are they trying to hunt? That wail. That thing. That’s not a normal one!

    “It was said that back then, when knights still wore metal armor and men roamed the land on horseback, that the azure formation was used as a stalling tactic.” The leader called out. His voice was calm and cool. “For a group of our size, four knights would fight at the forefront, risking their lives as the archers and spellmasters formed their attacks, trapping the enemy within a powerful, deadly snare. It was an ingenious plan, an ingenious formation.”

    Boom. Crack. A tree canopy in the distance exploded.

    “But there was a trifling problem. A tiny one. Apparently those four knights never survived. Many tried and tweaked the formation for years. But still, not one of the four ever lived. Not with our numbers, anyway.”

    “Thank you, you four. For choosing the side of honor. For dying with glory.”

    And the leader smiled.

    < -- Prologue   |   Chapter 2 -- >


  • Chapter 2: See TOC or below,

    Trees rustled as an approaching thump and creak sped toward them. Waves of fear spread among the ten like a silent, dreadful plague. The sounds shook their hearts, but it was worse for the small four. The children were frozen, unable to move, and unable to free themselves of the shock that pervaded them to their very core. It ensnared them. Kept them hostage. And no matter how much they racked their brains, no matter how much they told themselves to move, their bodies refused to obey.

    A cold sweat dripped down Alaina’s back. Come on legs. Move, damn you. Move! You can’t die here. You cannot die here! Not like this! She panted, her breath becoming more ragged. Her heart sped. And she swallowed.

    Boom. Crack. Bsh! The tree in front of them creaked, two branches fractured and splintered. Alaina was twisted to the side in her stillness so all she could do was watch from the corner of her eye as a shadow appeared from the forest gloom. The wind bustled. The girl besides Alaina trembled. Her cap flew off, the cold air whipping her hair out widely.

    And the shadow moved.

    The ground trembled, knocking Alaina and the others down off their feet. Alaina bit down on the tip of her tongue, hard. A coppery taste flooded her mouth. She winced.

    But the pain seeped away, washed like dirt from the gushing rainwater of a drainage ditch when she looked up. More like it was scared away.

    Looming three meters high, a black figure, its skin like leather, but the look of bark, stood in front of the girl with two legs and two arms. Its white glowing eyes, glanced around and then fixated. A deep throaty growl rumbled forth. The top of its head, rising like twisted crystal branches, shook with the reverberation. Its lips stretched back, showing its pearl white teach which gleamed against the truck’s headlights.

    The girl screamed.

    As if coming to her senses, Alaina’s hand twitched. I can move. But knowing that she could move and actually doing so were two different things. She was scared, and unknown of what she should do. Would it attack me if I move?

    But as if there were an answer, the giant dark creature opened its maw, stretching as wide as a meter. Its sharp fangs aimed pointed and true. And in one quick swoop, it bit down on the girl beneath it.

    Blood splattered as it crunched. The death had been quick and decisive. There was no scream with the crunch. It raised its head, the blood dripping down its chin as it glared at the lights ahead, it’s pupils constricting. The peerless white snow now stained with a growing dark red.

    “Fire!” The leader called out.

    A rain of yellow flashes came. The black figure winced as the bullets bounced against its tough hide. It held its arms in front of itself, shielding its heart and chest from danger.

    The other two boys got up. They were obviously not affected anymore by that wail, and ran in different directions.

    Another shot rang out. One different from the path of the hail of bullets. It pierced through one of the two boys, and he fell down, dead.

    Alaina took the time to etch away. Her hand darted around, grabbing a hold of the short sword that Dekaros tossed away. She kept low to the ground, shuffling until she reached a good distance. They want to kill us off too.

    As Alaina began to reach the trees, she got up from the snow and hid behind one.

    The creature roared.

    Alaina peaked around, her eyes wide. Two bulges wormed sporadically on creature’s back. Then… Like a sword piercing through flesh, black crystal-like structures, as long and curved as a giant’s rib jutted from those bulges.

    A black curtain swished down from the structures. It flowed with a ghostly form.

    “Wings!” Dekaros Yelped. “Damn it, Jole. You got us one of them! We can’t fight an advanced form with these crappy things.”

    “Damn it!” More gun fire blazed. The sounds of bullets flying, rounds being reloaded, it all cascaded against Alaina’s ear. She knew she should leave. That she should get to safety, but a part of her, a strong part of her wanted to watch. Needed to.

    “Get the crossbow!” The leader roared.

    The creature wrapped its shadow wings around its body, and then began to trudge forward. The shadow curtain undulated and shuddered, but it was never pierced through.

    Jole ran forward, switching with the redheaded woman. While she turned back to reload, he pulled the silver and black crossbow from off his shoulders. He pressed it against the hood of the truck for stability and aimed. The bolt lit.

    Runic symbols flared to life with a timeless glow up along the bolt, eventually crossing across the entire crossbow.

    One. Two. Three seconds went by. Alaina counted. An instinct of her training. She watched as the shot had been made.

    Pew!

    The air shook. The bolt hissed through it, breaking it asunder like paper in a storm. The bolt shuddered through, piercing the tough black hide of the white-eyed creature.

    Alaina’s blood boiled. Her heart thumped harsher than it had been only a dozen seconds ago when the beast could have ripped her apart. She licked her lips. I must have it!

    The creature looked up. A dark, red-gold blood oozed from its shoulder.

    “Caw! Caw! Caw!” Throaty, short sounds resounded through the air.

    The firing stopped. The world seemed to get colder.

    “What are you doing?! Don’t stand there in a daze. Shoot! Its calling for reinforcements!” The leaders hoarse voice woke the others. The firing continued. Jole prepared a second bolt.

    And as Alaina continued to watch, ignoring the increasing feeling that she should just go, a palm slapped down on her shoulder. The third. She did not forget her training this time, but now she had a sword. Dashing forward in a low stance, she brought up her elbow, hard and fast behind her, twisting around, snapping it straight to bring the sword tip, arcing up.

    But her blade stopped. She was the one to stop it this time. The boy that escaped in one of the directions stood there with his hands up. He trembled. “We gotta get out of here! I don’t know how to get back without going through them. Can’t go around now. Don’t know what’s lurking in the area after all this noise. Best go together.”

    “Best not.” Alaina frowned. “I have something I must do.” I need to get that crossbow.

    “Something you must do? Are you serious? Those six would kill you even if they managed to successfully hunt that thing down. No. Especially if they do. They can’t have rumors going around. And they would do anything to stop it. Aly, or whatever your name is, get a hold of the situation. I need you. You need me. We need each other to survive. So let’s go!”

    But Alaina just shook her head. “Go without me. Go around and take the northern route. I will take the south. It might be dangerous at first, but after a mile it won’t be so. And if we split, at least this way, hopefully, one of us will live.

    The boy looked at Alaina with fear in his eyes. He hesitated, but hearing the sounds coming from the clearing, he turned and bolted. But his direction was clearly south.

    Alaina smile inwardly. Typical.

    It was then that suddenly the ground trembled.

    Booomm!

    Snow and dirt rose in the air. A large hulking figure, its body like that of an inverted egg, with arms and legs coming out of the sides, and big wide white eyes on its face busted out. It was hard to see it in detail. Its whole body was exuding black ghostly vapors that never seemed to rise any higher than off its skin. But though it’s body was nondescript, its eyes were not.

    Some of the six screamed. The second creature had appeared right behind them.

    Jole twirled around fast, aiming the crossbow at the figure, but before he could get into position, the creature knocked him with a simple swoosh of its arm, tossing him across the clearing like a ragdoll. The crossbow flew across the edges where the forest began.

    “Screw this! I can’t die here! I’m gone.” The truck engine rumbled as Dekaros hopped into the driver seat, put his foot on the peddle. He slammed down hard, and the truck reversed, going back on the veered off road.

    “Get back here! Don’t just leave us.” The leader called out. The redhead took a glance around. Her eyes caught on the crossbow. She bolted for it. “Give me cover!”

    She ran and jumped, lunging for the silver metal contraption as the light in the area disappeared along with Dekaros and the truck.

    But just as her hand slammed upon the thing, a boot pressed down.

    The woman cringed.

    Alaina looked down on the older woman. “You were right. It was the second. Tension. I broke it. And now I’m molding it.”

    The woman cursed. She pulled out a handgun from behind, but Alaina kicked her in the hand and then went on on the woman’s face. A few more scars won’t hurt you.

    Taking the crossbow, she bolted to the north, using the big full moon as her guide.

    “Stop that wench! Ahh!”

    As Alaina ran on, the screams and shooting grew more heated. But also distant. She ran and ran as hard as she could.  I finally got it! I finally got it! And It didn’t have to take me that long to get it.

    But as soon just as she had run for a few meters, a hand came from behind a tree in front of her. It was so fast that she could not stop herself. It grabbed her and pulled her in. It closed around her mouth and another wrapped around her body, as the figure behind her pressed itself against the tree.

    The dirt rubbed off the course hands and onto her lips. And a smell swarmed her nostrils. It clouded her mind and she felt like she was in a daze.

    And then a voice came. No. Not a voice. Not even a whisper. But a hissing of breath.

    “Shhh.”

    < -- Chapter 1   |

  • edited April 2016
    Chapter 3 is out!! Whew made it. Still April 19th EST.

    Check TOC or see below.

    “I can smell it. With every breath you take, I can smell the human off you.”

    Alaina’s heart pounded. She tried to struggle from the grip on her mouth, and the arm wrapped around her body, but once she heard the voice, she went still.

    The voice did not come from whoever held her from behind, but from the other side of the tree. The place he just grabbed me from.

    Her captor turned to look, consequently pushing her forward, and her eyes were able to catch a glimpse.

    Out in the moonlight, standing in the snow, was a tall creature. Its body was akin to a human in that it had two arms and two legs, but its face was narrowed like a lizard. Like the pictures of the dragons she had seen in the old, folktale books in Old Marten’s Store Shack back on the block she lived on. But this was no dragon. There were no mighty wings, or shimmering scales. It was not a huge creature, and did not radiate the power of the elements. No. It was skinny, dark, and frightening; not a fright derived from knowledge of its power and its search to snuff out her little life, but a fear birthed from the cold pressure that exuded from its body. And behind that pressure, amongst that dark and grotesque outlook, it had a particular trait similar to the creatures that killed Jole and the girl.

    At its neck, right at the edge of its collarbone, pearl studded bones popped out of its skin; and a ghastly, whisky black vapor exuded from them. One followed me? That makes three. Just how many of these creatures are there? Is it a friend of the other two? Or did it come by me by coincidence.  Just what did Dekaros and the leader try to hunt?

    “Come out. Come out. Come out.” It sung. Its white eyes glowed as it jumped up silently, and moved through the trees. And they can talk. Yippy me. As Alaina saw the creature, she saw no words move, but she could hear the voice like a whisper upon her ears. It was soft, but commanding. It entranced her. It scared here.

     Quickly, the figure holding Alaina moved. It dragged Alaina to the other side of the tree, beneath a branch and halted.

    Thud.

    Leaves fell from above. The evergreens so rooted to the branch in winter, flew down, twirling till it landed lightly on the snow. Alaina held her breath. She looked up.

    Right above them, the creature was there searching left and right.

    Thud, twang!

    The branched hummed as the creature launched itself to another tree, continuing like that until it disappeared.

    The figure holding Alaina pulled at her from behind, circling more around the tree. Its breath tickled her ear and watered her eyes. This smell! I can’t take it!

    Twang!

    The sound came unexpectedly.

    The creature jumped down with a poof, snow scattering as it landed. “If you're not going to come out, then I guess I'm going to have to drag you out!”

    Suddenly the black vapors around its pearl studded collarbone grew more intense, and the head of the creature began to rise. The neck grew longer and longer, until it reached two meters high and slid off, the head and neck landing on the snow like a giant thick snake.

    The whisky black vapor trailed with the snake-like creature as it slithered out of view in the opposite direction.

    Alaina sighed with a bit of relief. But the figure turned quickly, pressing its back against the tree. It did not move. It did not speak.

    Alaina could tell from the feel that it was human. She had been wondering who this person was. And though she could not see his or her face, but the moment that creature popped out, she knew at least that this person had saved her life.

    Shifting out her free hand, from the person’s grasp, she reached up and pulled at the hand on her mouth.

    “wha-” The figure slapped its palm over her lips again, shutting her up.

    “There you are!” The creature roared.

    Alaina jumped, her heart twisting. But she quickly realized that the voice of the came from a distance away. He really can’t tell where I am.

    Alaina closed her eyes. How did he get behind us so fast? I thought he was gone. Alaina felt that she was stupid. The figure saved her life again. Does it know I am in the area? Is it following my tracks? The land was a bit elevated in the area, and the snow was light. The distance between her tracks and where she was pulled from, was not far, but somehow the creature could not use it to track her down. It could not smell her either, like it said. Or maybe it could, but could not determine an exact location.

    Suddenly, there was a ripple in the air. A slight surge that made Alaina’s stomach flutter. The figure behind her pushed forward again. Not towards the direction the head was in, which surprised Alaina, but back at the main part of the body; and Alaina was able to take another peek.

    A horizontal slit warped in the air in front of the body. Suddenly, a tiny black and green flame burst forth and a greenish glow descended. The glow subsided, leaving a shimmering paper.

    Alaina could not read it from the angle she was in, but she was sure it had words and whatever those words were they were definitely important. The method shown in front of her was an ability that the archives in the Hunters Association said was extremely rare. He’s a follower. But who can command such a thing?

    As Alaina thought back to the passage that described the tiny green and black flame, to her surprise, the arm of the creature’s body moved. It was quick, within a blink of an eye, grabbing the paper. It squeezed and the paper dissipated into a green smoke that eventually blew to nothing.

    “No. No. No!  How lucky you are.” The creature spoke. “I have orders, and I must leave you. That is unless you want to come out now and spare me the trouble of finding you? No? Oh well.” The head slithered back to its body. The snake-like tail slid itself up the legs and over the chest, coming up to the collarbone and then going down the gaping hole where the neck and head should have been, digging itself back in, and reforming itself. After the head popped back into place, the creature shifted its shoulders, testing out its mobility, and then jumped up and ran off through the trees.

    This time Alaina said nothing. The figure behind her just held onto her and they stayed like that in the quiet for what seemed to be ten minutes before he let go and pushed her away.

    Alaina gasped. The figure stunk so bad she thought she was going to choke to death. She coughed and hacked, leaning her hands on her knees, spitting on the snow.

    She turned to look, her eyes red, and found out that that figure was just… a boy.

    He was the same height as her, and probably the same age too. He wore a cotton leather cap and a shabby old jacket. His feet were wrapped in cloth that was held together by rope.

    Can someone even stay warm like that?

    “Who are you?” Alaina questioned. She was grateful and all that he saved her life, but she put her safety above all. Just because he saved her now, did not mean that she trusted him. In the world she lived in, there were many reasons someone did something.

    But the boy completely ignored the question.

    He brought up his hand, and there, right in it was her short sword. The same short sword that Dekaros tossed her out of his self-proclaimed pity.

    “I will be keeping this as payment.”

    Alaina’s mouth twitched. Payment? He did all that- put himself in danger- all for my short sword? Alaina’s grip tightened. She still held the crossbow in her hand. The symbols on it no longer glowed, bit anyone could tell it was not ordinary. And yet he took that shabby thing as payment. Even though I have this thing in my hands. I wonder if he knows its worth. Well. If that's why he did it. I'm fine with that.

    “With this, we are even.” She said. The boy stared at her for a long time and then nodded. He walked past her, heading off north in the direction the creature left.

    Alaina hesitated. That’s it? He’s leaving. Just like that. Alaina was a bit stunned. It was not unusual for someone to try and bargain more for saving someone’s life. But apparently the boy was content with the sword. But… His leaving had made Alaina hesitant for other reasons as well. She knew the only way to go back was to go by taking the northern passage. The north passage eventually curved west, heading towards the city. Same as for the southern passage. The problem was the creature that was just looking for here went north. If she turned back to take the southern passage as that boy from before did, she would risk running into the two creatures that those six were fighting or any of the six themselves. They're probably dead already.

    Alaina looked at the back of the boy as he trudged north. She thought back to the boy’s actions. How he kept her alive. Somehow he can tell when they are there, or was he just lucky? He was able evade that thing as if he knew where it would pop up next.

     Alaina sighed and steeled herself.

    “Hey wait up. Let's go together."


    < -- Chapter 2   |

  • Posted Chapter 4 a long time ago. Din't stick. Sorry. See TOC or below.

    Navari trudged in the snow. His feet were numb. Something he quickly got used over the past months. He shuddered. The wind blew by, easily sifting through his jacket and kneading him bone deep. Navari closed his eyes and thought about a warm fire. And that was just enough to keep his teeth from chattering.

    “What’s your name?” A girl asked. She wore a woolen cap, some thick black boots and a pair of pants that was stuffed into them at the hem. And though her coat was not new, it looked thick and warm. Warm. She looks so warm. I should have taken that jacket too. Navari sighed. Navari caught sight of the crossbow that was gripped tightly in her hands. Even when he grabbed her and pulled her against the tree, she never let that thing go. If he were her, Navari would have done anything to get himself free. And that would need two hands.

    Navari sighed. He stopped and looked over his shoulder. “Why are you following me?” T

    he girl he had rescued only minutes before had been at his back for a mile now. Navari frowned. “Do you really insist on going together? I see no benefit in it for me.”

    “Hmph. There is an obvious benefit. You’re going to the city, right? How are you going to get in? You can’t possibly be a native dressed like that. You would have never come out here if that were the case. And they won’t let you in so easily. The city’s economy is already bad. If they see you, they will think you’re just another street beggar, and that won’t bode well with the officials. They’ve been trying to clear the streets as of late…”

    The girl looked up in thought.

    “So? Are you saying you can get me into the city?”

    As if he had interrupted her daze, the girl looked back at Navari. “Of course I can get you into the city. You get me out of this forest alive. I get you into the city. And I’ll even throw in a hot shower for you for free.”

    ‘And maybe even a breath mint’. Navari heard her mumble

    Navari closed his eyes, ignoring that last comment. A hot shower. It’s been so long. What the girl bargained was definitely not enough for him to take her along. It was too dangerous. She was unskilled, and one slip up on her part could end up with both of them dead. But as he thought long and hard on it, he was ultimately sold. “Fine. But you must follow my orders.”

    The girl nodded and smiled with a cheeky grin. “It was the shower that sold it, right?”

    Navari nearly stumbled. He took a deep breath. “Girl, what’s your name?”

    The girl’s mouth twitched. “Shouldn’t you introduce yourself first. I’ve asked you that question three times now.”

    Navari hesitated. Before he saw no reason to it. He would leave. She would leave. They would probably split ways and never see each other again. But now that they were travelling together, it was different. Except… It’s been months since I’ve spoken to another. Years even since I’ve spoken my own name. It made him uncomfortable. As if just saying his name opened himself to something strange.

    “I’m called Navari.” He finally said. But as the words came out, it was like something inside him broke free. Navari just shook it off. I can’t be muddle minded now. And started north again.

    The girl rushed up, coming to Navari’s side. “Name’s Alaina. So Navari, how did you keep us hidden? There were tracks, but it wasn’t that thing didn’t look our way, but almost like it couldn’t. Do you know what it is? Do you know how to kill it?

    But even with the onslaught of questions, Navari did not speak. He kept on walking, and the girl frowned.

    “Come now. We’re partners. At least until we get to the city. Shouldn’t we at least act with some pleasantness?

    “Stop talking. You’ll give ourselves away.” He said, finally.

    Alaina frowned, and her tongue made an audible click. “When we get to the city, you’ll have no reason not to answer my questions then.”

    Navari gave her a side glance. He sighed again, but put no more thought into it.

    The two walked on for a long time in silence, and as the night was coming to an end, and the sky was just starting to brighten, they reached the northern passage.

    *

    Just keep running. Just keep running. Braen’s body swayed, his steps staggered as he ran. Just keep running. Over and over those words ran his thoughts, his haggard breath puffing out wispy clouds in the air. It was hard to go fast for him as areas would have deep snow. And the areas that didn’t would be elevated, forcing him to put in just the same amount of effort or even more. Braen skirted trees, climbed rocks.  He pushed himself to the very limits.

    They’re right behind me. I must get out of here.

    Suddenly, a broad road came into view. It was black, and not a speck of snow was on it.

    “I made it! I finally made it!” Braen laughed. A resurgence of power ran through him. He pushed himself harder and harder than he thought possible, his tired feet now flying off the ground. I’m almost there. I’m almost there!

    But even with that power, it had taken everything that he had. He was drained. And after a few seconds Braen stopped running. He sucked in the air like it was life itself. And for him, who felt like he would collapse at any time, it probably was.

    Badum. A light, but clear sound pricked at his ears. It was not like the wind or the shifting snow; or the panting of his breath. No. It was… different.

    Braen looked behind him. Badum. The sound came again.

    No. Not now. Not while I’m so close. Don’t do this to me!

    Braen’s eyes shifted back onto the road. Forty meters. Just forty meters. I can make it. He launched himself off the ground, pushing himself far more than he had ever done. Forty meters. Thirty-five meters. I can do it. I can do it!

    Badmum. Badum. Badum. The sounds grew louder. The ground began to tremble, and Braen’s heart shook.

    “No! I will not die here. I will not!” He roared.

    Sifting out of the darkness like a looming specter, a dark figure burst out. It was broad and mean. It clamored forth on its hands and feet like an ape. But it was no ape. It had twisting horns on its head, and spikes along its arms. The fur on its body bristled and swayed.

    Thirty meters.

    Its maw opened wide. A black wispy vapor poured out of it, trailing behind as it surged towards him.

    Braen took glances back. He could see the approaching figure. It was big and the mouth was like a twisting darkness that exuded a coldness that was far more penetrating than the wind.

    Its gaining! The distance of an initial sixty meters from when the creature first came into sight cut short to fifty in an instant.

    Come on. Come on. You can get there! Get there! Braen screamed in his mind. Twenty-five meters. Twenty meters.

    He looked back. The creature was thirty meters away. He was so close.

    “Aaahh!” Braen roared as he pushed himself. His arms pumped themselves like pistons, his legs swishing fast.

    Fifteen meters. Ten meters.

    And then suddenly…

    A hollow wail echoed from behind. It pierced Braen’s heart, and his body froze. Braen stumbled, twisting to land hard on his back and into the snow. He tried to get up, to push himself back to a sprint, but it was hard. Though the effect the wail had on him was not as strong as the one in the clearing, Braen eventually got up.

    But just as he got his feet under him and looked up, the giant mouth was meters from his face, the creature coming at him with full force.

    Braen brought his arms out, crossing them front of himself. It was reflex. But how could skinny arms of a boy block the dominant force of a giant creature such as this?

    In one quick moment, the creature rammed him, the gaping maw clamping down on his left arm. The teeth were not as sharp as the first one that popped out in the clearing. It was more like molars as it clinched down on. As it bit Braen with a powerful force, It shook its head fast, flinging him back and forth until Braen’s arm tore off and he was flung far, landing onto the black gravel road.

    The creature chomped on the arm as it looked over at him.

    Braen’s vision turned fuzzy. He could see the glowing white eyes stare at him.

    “Even if I can’t finish you off. You will die.” A harsh soft voice tickled Braen’s ears.

    It can talk? But the question was fleeting. Braen felt cold, but a small wet warmth seemed to spread on him as he laid on his right side. But that feeling soon went away too. He felt numb. He was in shock.

    He was not sure what just happened. But the darkness around him grew. His vision grew more and more blurry and within moments the darkness consumed him.

    *

    Navari looked at the gate with wide eyes. They had been travelling on the road for an hour now. The bright sun finally peeked over the eastern mountains and landed on the tips of a large wall miles away. The wall ran three hundred meters high and was made of stone. But that wall did not go completely around the city.

    No. The wall was only a hundred meters wide. Enough width to block the end of an entire bridge that ran for miles deep into a sea.

    Navari was not sure how large a body of water it was. He could see no other side. No other land at the far reaches. A light mist hovered over the water, and at the end of that bridge was a city built on elevated rock, spanning for hundreds of miles.

    It was not just one elevated rock and one city. Many giant mountain-like rocks jutted out of the sea. There tens of them. Some high; some low. Each had some sort of city or structure built upon them. Besides the single bridge that connected the city behind the wall to the road Navari and Alaina were on, there were many more that connected that city to the various other cities.

    Navari heave a sigh. He could see some airships flying between the cities or towns. It’s been so long. He felt nervous. Scared even. The sight of Alaina’s city spurred the memories of his past. Navari did not like that. But there was much he did not like. He needed to enter the city. There was much he needed to do, and there was just not enough time.

    Alaina walked a bit ahead. She turned to him and smiled.

    “So? Shall we go?”

    She laughed and headed down the clear open road and towards the bridge.

    And Navari followed her.

  • Chapter 5 is out. Check TOC
  • Chapter 6 is out. Check TOC.
  • Chapter 7 and 8 are out. Check TOC!

    Also, please help support this work. That way I can release more chapters and much more quickly. You can do so at Fantasy-Books just click on Donate! Thanks.
  • Chapter 9 is out!! Check TOC! And if you like this story, please comment!!
  • Chapter 10 is out!! I hope you like it. This is a bit of a long one. ...Sigh onto posting the next chapter of the next series.
  • thanks so much or posting  I really like this fiction by the way I read most of this fiction on fantasy books live and they is a problem I can't post a comment they say Error wrong capcha but there is no capcha mabu is because od firefox but still just to let you know
  • edited July 2016
    lorenzo86 said:
    thanks so much or posting  I really like this fiction by the way I read most of this fiction on fantasy books live and they is a problem I can't post a comment they say Error wrong capcha but there is no capcha mabu is because od firefox but still just to let you know

     Thanks for letting me know. I'll look into it. And i'm glad you like the fiction. 
  • Chapter 11 is out !!
  • lorenzo86 said:
    thanks so much or posting  I really like this fiction by the way I read most of this fiction on fantasy books live and they is a problem I can't post a comment they say Error wrong capcha but there is no capcha mabu is because od firefox but still just to let you know

    lol. I looked into it. Thanks a bunch. it was not only you. I fixed it, so you should not have any problems in the future.
  • Chapter 12 is out!!
  • Chapter 13 is out!

    It was out a long while ago, but i forgot to update the forum. Lol. Don't blame me!! There are just too many!
  • Chapter 14 is out.
  • Chapters 15 and 16 are out.
  • Chapter 17 is out.
  • Chapter 18 is out.
  • Chapters 19 and 20 are out.
  • Chapter 21 is out
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