RSS Feed

Category Archives: Random Projects

Magic Fun, Part 4

(Frequent, smequent. I’m not doing so well in this category, but it is constantly on my mind, so that is something, I suppose. This section is shorter than the others, but it moves the story along enough that I was happy with the results. Only a few quick edits were done, and there are likely errors here and there, but I think I’ve found most of the big ones. My editing skills were never awesome.  As always, hope you enjoy, and feedback is always appreciated. 🙂 )

 

Elaina closed the door behind her and immediately moved to the nearest bookshelf. She paid no mind to the others in the room as she read titles from dusty books, touching items stuffed in every crack and crevice. She reached behind a stack of books and pulled out a small box. Jonathan watched from his seat as she turned in over in her hands, blowing on it gently to clear an especially thick layer of dust away. She inspected it closely for a minute before placing it back behind the books and moving on to the next shelf.

Everyone else sat awkwardly around a small round table. Sam held out the box of food to Jonathan who managed to grab it just as Sam let go. The contents shifted to one side, causing Jonathan to lean sharply as he tried to rebalance the box, almost falling out of his chair. Across the table Dexter watched with an amused smirk. Sam had cleared the table of a large crystal ball and the purple tablecloth. He carefully placed the ball on an empty shelf, then wadded the cloth into a ball and tossed it into a corner of the room. He snatched the food from Jonathan and had the contents spread out on the table in seconds, sampling as he worked. Finally he gestured to the food and stuffed another bite into his already full mouth. Both Dexter and Jonathan watched as Sam fought to keep the food in his mouth as he chewed. Only Spencer leaned forward to examine the spread.

“Chinese.” Sam had finally managed to swallow and was pointing to the various things in front of them. “Chicken. Pork. Fried rice. Ribs. Plain rice. And my favorite,” he grabbed a small dumpling and held it up, “crab Rangoon.” He popped it into his mouth and it crunched. “Not technically Chinese, but still good.” Spencer picked up a Rangoons and examined it slowly before stuffing it in his mouth. He chewed slowly, his eyes widening, until his hand shot out and grabbed two more and began stuffing them into his mouth. Lilly was sampling the chicken and fried rice while Alexia watched.

The Rangoons didn’t stand a chance between Sam and Spencer and were gone in minutes. Sam brushed the crumbs off his hands and reached for the chicken. “Master Damian’s message only told of your arrival,” he said as he piled the chicken onto a small paper plate. “What exactly does he need from me?”

The Risers glanced at each other, confused. Dexter pulled a letter from his jacket and handed it across the table to Sam. He put a forkful of rice into his mouth before unfolding the paper. He leaned back against the chair as he began to read, but his chewing slowed as he read.

 

The sky darkens as the sun fades away from our worlds forever. Use these children wisely, because they, and you, are our only hope for survival.

Your faithful servant always,

Damian

 

Sam glanced at Dexter across the table, then to Elaina who had momentarily stopped her exploring in order to study Sam’s face as he read. Damian had told Dexter that no one but Sam was to read its contents. Sam looked at the others and sighed. This is impossible. He folded the paper and, with a quick wave, it disappeared into thin air. Spencer’s mouth dropped open in awe, giving the others a view of half chewed chicken. Sam rubbed his eyes, half in weariness, half in desperation. He needed to talk to the High Council. He needed help. And he needed it years ago.

His appetite suddenly gone, Sam stood and told the others to finish while he prepared rooms for them upstairs. After the door closed behind him, the room fell into a tense silence; the only sounds were that of Spencer chewing and Elaina occasionally moving things around on the shelves.

 

When the bedroom door clicked shut, Elaina spun on the two sprawled out on their beds. “What did the letter say?” she demanded, her eyes trying to pierce holes straight through Dexter. Spence lifted his head and looked at his sister and then to Dexter, but the two seemed caught in an epic staring contest, and he once again resumed his place as the third wheel in their relationship.

Dexter rolled his eyes and draped an arm over his face. He wasn’t interested in talking.

“I know you read it, Dexter, if not to satisfy your curiosity, then to spite Damian. You’ve always hated my uncle.”

“What’s wrong with Uncle Damian?” Spencer’s question was ignored by the others, and he finally sighed and shook his head in annoyance. He hated feeling invisible.

Dexter lifted his arm a fraction and glared at Elaina. “And you’ve always given that lunatic every ounce of trust you could muster. Without question.” Spencer opened his mouth, but immediately snapped it shut after a quick glare from Elaina.

“Damian has never done something he didn’t believe was in Sunset’s best interests. He has spent his life trying to keep us alive.”

“And you? Are you doing what is in Sunset’s best interest? Or do you consider yourself to be the town’s best interest?”

“I am one of Sunset’s best chances, as are you,” she glanced at her brother, “and him.” Spencer grinned as Elaina restrained a groan.

“Chance for what?” Dexter snapped. “For continuing that pitiful town’s worthless existence?”

Elaina’s jaw dropped as he continued. “We aren’t chances; we three were given chances,” Dexter sat up and spread his arms wide. “This is our chance to get out of that decrepit ruin we call home and live a little. I’m not going back! Sunset is better off dead anyway.” He leaned back onto the pillow and flung his arm back over his face.

Across the room, Spence stared at Dexter in shock. Elaina’s mouth worked but she could not put a coherent sentence together from the anger rising within. She balled her fists and took a step toward Dexter, but froze when the door opened, barely missing her as it swung into the room. Jonathan stood in the open doorway and immediately began to apologize, but was stopped short when Elaina spun around and ran from the room, leaving him alone with the other Setters and a thick tension neither one volunteered to explain.

 

Sam paced in front of the fireplace, thinking of his options even though it was too soon to fully determine what they might be. There were too many factors still to be decided on, and premature brainstorming always got him into trouble. He shook his head, trying to rid himself of his thoughts. Despite the warmth outside, a fire burned in a blackened hearth beside him. He eyed it impatiently. He knew the council would holding their morning meeting, so he sent his message straight to the high councilor’s secretary. Sam silently prayed she deemed the matter urgent enough to bring it to her employer’s attention immediately, or else he might be waiting a while.

He paused and rubbed his tired eyes, wishing he could shut his eyes for an hour or two, but he knew he wouldn’t be napping any time soon. Recent developments have seen to the utter destruction of his napping plans. He sighed and began to curse the passing time but stopped as he saw a folded piece of paper fly out of the flames and land on the floor at his feet. He snatched it up and quickly unfolded it. He hadn’t even finished reading it before he turned and made his way into his closet to make preparations.

Advertisements

Magic Fun, Part 3

Posted on

(One day I’ll come up with a title, I promise. I was hoping to get a bit further with part three, but I hit a good stopping point and I stuck with it. Hopefully I can focus on this a bit more in the future and the posts will be more frequent. Enjoy!)

Lilly toyed with the small stone pyramid in her hand. A new cord had been threaded through it, letting off a faint scent of fresh leather. A small wooden pendant shaped like the sun shared the same cord. The stone was once her great grandfather’s, and the pendant carved by her father on her last night in Sunrise. She ran a finger across the delicately carved sunrays as she remembered the events only hours ago.

The small group sat together near the massive hearth in Sunrise’s Great Hall. The old man sat amongst them as he retold stories of his past and recounted lessons learned the hard way. Three young Risers listened intently to his every word. They were the new Eagles, chosen for a task unequalled in all of the town’s history, and they were grossly unprepared.

The old man’s sixteen-year-old great granddaughter sat among the three, her long blond hair hung straight down as she sat on the bench. Her hands gripped the edge of the wood as she listened intently. She was the only person in the room with a smile on her face, but it disappeared after catching sight of the frown her father wore. He sat apart from the group, alone in his anger and fears. As he listened, he carved a small, wooden sun out of a chunk of wood he found just before entering the Hall. He focused his attentions on his project in an effort to keep from making a scene and forcibly dragging his daughter away. He glanced at her and immediately wished he hadn’t. Her smile tore open another hole in his chest, and he had to breathe deeply and release slowly before he could once again focus on the carving.

Beside Lilly sat Jonathan. Though their mothers were sisters, they looked like they could be siblings. Jonathan’s blonde hair was cut short, but their blue eyes were identical. Next to Lilly’s smile, Jonathan sat motionless, brows creased in thought. His eyes were fixed on the elder, glancing down every few minutes to look at the token resting on his leg. He had heard the stories of the Eagles, but he never believed them to be true. Even now he felt a nagging doubt creep up as he listened to the old man.

Alexia completed the trio. She was the youngest at fourteen. Her hair, light brown and naturally wavy, was fastened away from her face with girlish bows. Her lips trembled and her eyes were closed while the elder spoke. Her token sat ignored on a nearby chair since halfway through the old man’s instructions on its use. She didn’t want to travel; flying was for birds, not humans. The thought of leaving her home and everything she knew and understood terrified her. Behind the fear was anger- anger at having no choice, anger at Sunset, anger at her strength with White Magic. She wanted to run, but in a town where the sun is always just above the horizon, there was nowhere to hide.

The group sat for hours, no one speaking but the elder. No questions were asked, for he told the three everything he knew. When he stopped speaking a foreboding silence filled the room. Lilly sat with her elbows on her knees and her chin resting on her hands. Her eyes drooped wearily, but she had absorbed every word. Jonathan had hardly moved, his eyes struggling to stay open. Alexia still mumbled, her body shaking slightly from the chilly breeze moving down through the now cold chimney. Once the silence set in, she opened her eyes to see the elder leaning back in his chair, his eyes closed as if he were already asleep. Next to the hearth, Lilly’s father sighed. He stood and, after a good stretch, ushered the three to their homes where they would sleep one last time.

 

Lilly didn’t sleep a wink, her excitement so great that it kept the weariness at bay, if only for a time. Even as she sat toying with the token, she knew if she sat still for much longer she would be fast asleep. She sighed. “Do you think they’re on their way?” Her voice hinted at her lack of sleep, holding little of the excitement she tried to instill upon her fellow Eagles. Alexia lay huddled in a corner of the small room, made even smaller by the shelves that lined every wall. Various odds and ends filled every inch of space, but, to Lilly’s surprise, not a speck of dust could be seen on anything. Alexia turned towards the wall and scooted even further under the bottom shelf. Lilly sighed again. Alexia hadn’t said a word all day, why would she answer a question that no one could possibly know the answer to? Lilly scanned their surroundings again and rolled the token across her fingertips idly.

The door to the storage room creaked open and Jonathan poked his head through. “Vincent says you don’t have to stay in here…” His words trailed off as he noticed Alexia on the floor. Lilly opened her mouth to rouse Alexia, but snapped it shut again after seeing the younger girl attempt to scoot even further under the shelf. Lilly rolled her eyes and followed Jonathan out, closing the door behind her.

The storage room was the first doorway off of a small hallway situated in the back of a cluttered shop. Two more doors opened off of the small space before it ended in a narrow flight of stairs leading up. Though the floor in the storage room was wood, the hallway was covered in a worn, dark green carpet. The two made their way into the main shop where a young man sat atop a stool in the back corner. Jonathan had already explored the shop and made his way over to speak to Vincent, but Lilly wandered around the small tables and shelves, fingering the stones and flipping through the books as she went. Sam ran an occult shop, and he pulled double duty as a fortune teller, it seemed. As she explored, Sam sat in the viewing room with a client, no doubt telling the customer exactly what they wanted to hear. Lilly slowly made her way to the counter and leaned over the glass, listening to Vincent and Jonathan’s conversation.

“I always see people going in an out here,” Vincent was saying, “but I haven’t noticed anyone new.”

Jonathan nodded his head in reply. “And Samuel? When do you think he’ll be done?”

Just as Vincent opened his mouth to answer, the door next to the storage room jerked open and two men emerged into the hall, still deep in conversation. Jonathan watched them silently, not knowing that Vincent watched him. And Vincent didn’t notice Lilly’s curious stare directed at him.

Vincent looked to be about sixteen. The frames on his face held thick lenses, making his dark brown eyes appear almost inhumanly large. He wore black jeans under an oversized white t-shirt with a picture of a cartoon character on it. His hat was pulled down enough in the front that it looked to be resting on his glasses. Vincent’s eyes followed the two men as they made their way through the store. They paused at the store’s entrance and spoke another minute before shaking hands. With a quick wave, the customer turned and exited the shop. A quick burst of air moved through the small space as the door opened and then closed behind the man, ruffling Samuel’s floor length robes as he pulled the garment off. Turning, he made his way to the back of the shop, stopping to hang the robe on a hook in the hallway. He breathed deep and began rolling up his shirt sleeves as he made his way to the counter. He didn’t seem at all surprised to see Jonathan and Lilly. “You must be the Risers,” he said, pausing his efforts to roll up his sleeves in order to gesture in their direction. Jonathan nodded while Lilly replied with an affirmative.

“I’m Sam.” He shook Jonathan and Lilly’s hand then turned a glare on his employee. “And you are late with my lunch.”

“I, uh,” Vincent stammered and looked frantically at the clock hanging on the wall behind him. “You were with a customer-“

“Well, I’m not now.” The two stared at each other over the counter before Vincent jumped up from his chair and ran out the door.

“I hope you ordered enough for everybody!” Sam yelled after Vincent. The door closed slowly as a breeze caught it, sending fresh air into the stuffy shop. Sam closed his eyes and breathed deep. The breeze disappeared and the door slammed shut, snapping Sam out of his thoughts. He sighed and stared out the front windows.

Shaking his head, he turned back to the two teens across the counter. “Alexia is, uh,” Jonathan searched for words, but Lilly finished his sentence. “She’s hiding,” she said, gesturing toward the back hallway. Sam nodded. “The message said the new Eagles were young, but it didn’t say they were still kids.” Sam spoke quietly as if to himself, but Jonathan shuffled uneasily under the man’s inquisitive stare. Lilly had heard, but she ignored Sam, instead she turned and began to meander through the store again.

“My uncle didn’t say why we were chosen,” Jonathan said, “but perhaps you know?”

A low voom reverberated through the shop, bringing with it a slight change in pressure, causing their ears to pop. Lilly’s head jerked away from the book she was flipping through and looked around the small space. Jonathan forced a yawn and shook his head, tying to unpop his ears. Only Sam seemed unphased as he placed his elbows on the counter and leaned over. “I don’t have the answer to that question,” Sam nodded toward the back hallway, “but I imagine it has something to do with them.”

Jonathan narrowed his eyes in confusion. “Them?” Sam blinked. “Oh!” Jonathan jumped as he understood. “The Setters are here?” Sam nodded as Lilly made her way back to the glass counter to stand beside her cousin. A moment passed before the door across from the storage room creaked open and three figures emerged.

Their footsteps were quiet as they moved to the entrance of the hallway, but there they stopped. In the front stood a young man with icy gray eyes under a mop of disheveled blonde hair. His glare scanned the room, finally settling unblinking on the three standing only a few feet away. Movement behind him materialized into a young woman who pushed her way past the one standing before her. She ignored the Risers and Sam as she slowly walked through the store and stood before the front windows. She squinted as she looked out. “It’s so bright,” her words were barely loud enough to be heard. The third Setter was a young boy, his head could be seen peering around the glaring teen. “Which one of you is Samuel?” The young man’s stare did not relent as he watched the three strangers.

“That would be me,” Sam didn’t cower under the boy’s glare. “And you are?”

“Dexter, from the town of Sunset. Behind me is Spencer,” the young boy bound around Dexter, a huge smile on his face. “And that,” Dexter glanced at the young woman who still stood at the shop’s windows, “is Elaina.”

Jonathan watched Elaina as she pressed her face against the glass and looked toward the sky, her eyes squeezed almost shut against the sunlight. “What is she doing?” Jonathan whispered to himself.

“Seeing the sun for the first time,” Sam answered. “You will understand better tonight.” Sam watched as the other two Setters joined Elaina at the windows and looked at the sky.

“Tonight?”

“They come from a world of darkness, Jonathan, you from a world of light. This world, the Common World, is a world of both. Tonight, you will experience your first sunless sky, and you will feel just as they are feeling right now.” Sam stood and raised his arms into the sky in a deep stretch. “Might as well get started,” he said quietly to himself.

“Now that you’re all here-“ Sam’s words cut off as Vincent burst through the door, his arms holding a box stuffed with various boxes and bags. A strange scent filled the shop as he hurried through and placed the box on the counter. He plopped himself back down on his stool and panted, clearly relieved to be done with his errand.

“Took you long enough!” Sam glared at his employee, but turned away just as a smile appeared on his face. Vincent didn’t see, instead he slumped over the counter and continued panting, unable to utter a defense. Grabbing the box, Sam nodded to Jonathan and made his way through the hallway and into the viewing room. Lilly and Jonathan followed, stopping in the storage room to collect Alexia. The Setters followed only a few moments later, leaving the small shop empty except for a gasping Vincent.

Untitled Magic Fun, Cont.

Posted on

(The first part is here.)

He waited.

The fire crackled madly, devouring the logs as a starving pig would devour last night’s table scraps. Damian sat motionless, watching as the fire spit glowing embers into the air as it began to die down. Getting up, he tossed another log onto the fire. He didn’t know if Sunrise would get his note, and he doubted they would reply, especially so quickly, but he hoped he was wrong. He stood up. Giving one last long look at the flames, Damian turned his back and began to walk out of the kitchen.

A quiet rustling sound caught his attention just as his foot crossed into the next room. He glanced over his shoulder and froze. Sitting in the cleared area on the cluttered table was a triangular piece of paper that hadn’t been there a second ago. Slowly he turned and walked back to the table. He picked it up; it was warm from the flames, but the paper appeared completely unsinged. He breathed in a shaky breath and began to unfold the note, holding the paper before him as if it were made of thin glass. He took another shaky breath and read.

We will come.

Without pausing to put the note down, Damian turned and left the house. He walked quickly through the remains of the once great town and toward the graveyard. There would be fresh piles of stones marking the most recently passed. It was Damian’s routine to visit the fresh graves every evening, but now he walked right by the stones, saying a silent prayer and promising a later visit as he passed them by.

In the rear of the cemetery sat a stone of a different sort. It was a thin ring carved out of a single slab of granite, the bottom planted into the ground, the top almost ten feet into the air. Runes were carved into the front, saying what Damian could only guess. It looked delicate, but the stone had been strengthened by Magic, both White and Black, and Damian knew there was very little that could harm it. The Portal Stone was Sunset’s access point, allowing travel both in and out. It was here that Damian waited patiently for his guests.

They came in a quiet instant, the only clues of their arrival being a mild breath of air and a low voom, as if someone just blew out a candle. Two Risers stood under the stone ring, their expressions were calm, but their eyes took in the new surroundings with something akin to panic. A third man sat in a wheelchair between the two. His eyes were closed and a smile split his face in two. Damian could not guess his age, but he was very old. What was left of his gray hair fluttered in the breeze. Even though his wrinkles were deep, Damian could easily see the similarities between the old man and the one who stood closest to his chair. The old man opened his eyes and gestured. His son stepped behind the chair and rolled his father forward, the third Riser falling in behind. Damian stepped forward to meet the men he hoped would save the only world he knew.

 

The Town Hall was the oldest building in Sunset, and the largest. Damian’s kitchen would have never held more than two comfortably, so he brought them to the large building on the other side of town. He lit one of the huge fireplaces and hung a pot of water above it for tea. The newcomers were quiet, only answering politely when asked a direct question. The man in the wheelchair communicated with nods or shakes of his head, or whispers between he and his son.

As he poured the tea, Damian began to tell the three of the recent troubles Sunset experienced: the lack of food, the lack of water, the lack of surviving babies.

The old man whispered to his son, who then turned to Damian. “My father asks when the troubles began.”

Damian stared into his tea as he recalled the day the first baby died. He spoke softly. “The day after the last Eagle, my father, passed. That was about fifty years ago. That was the day our Luck ran out.”

The son glanced at his father, but the old man kept thoughtful eyes on Damian. His son whispered into his ear, and the old man nodded. The old man cleared his throat as a large ball of light appeared before him. Damian gasped at the show of White Magic. He had never seen it used before, and the light was bright enough that his eyes stung before he looked away. The old man began to whisper into the glow, the Magic giving enough strength to his voice that Damian could hear him clearly as he began his tale.

“Fifty years ago, Sunrise experienced one of the most tumultuous times in its history. Crops in one field died, while the fields next to them produced yields that were so large we were required to build two extra granaries to hold them. Some of our food stores were decimated by rats, some by insects, and some turned to ash overnight. We had just enough food to survive. Our families also were affected. Some women gave birth to multiples, some had still births. Children became ill, women became barren, healthy men died after being sick in bed for only an hour. Our livestock suffered as well.

It was August, fifty years ago, when everything changed. The town shook under a horrible storm that hovered above us for weeks. Our homes were breaking under the relentless wrath unleashed upon us. We huddled inside, soaked and cold. My son’s wife was in labor, a labor so difficult we were sure the child would not survive, and we were doubting she would survive as well. My son would not leave her side, even as the roof above was torn away and the wind came into our home, bringing the storm with it. I held my wife against me as I waited for my death. The roar from the storm was deafening, the rain blinding, the wind tore at our clothes in its frenzy. We closed our eyes and cried our last goodbyes as we waited for an end that did not come. What did come was silence.

We opened our eyes to see the blue sky, the sun shining through our broken roof. My wife cried, and I cried beside her. My son was not as fortunate. As the storm fled, it took one last soul with it, leaving my son to raise a newborn alone. My daughter in law was the last human death Sunrise has seen.”

The Risers sat in silence. The old man watched Damian. His son looked into the flames, lost in his memories, not even wiping away the tear that slid slowly down his cheek. As Damian’s gaze moved to the third man, he realized that he was looking at the old man’s grandson. The youngest of the three stood against the stone fireplace, chewing absently on his lower lip.

“When your father died,” the old man continued, “he shifted the balance of Luck. Our worlds are connected, your’s and mine, and we have always worked together to ensure a balance. When the Eagles from Sunset severed our alliance, the scale began to tip. Your father’s death cast the last stone on the scale, tipping it completely in Sunrise’s favor. If we are to help you, we are to restore the balance back to not only Sunset, but also to Sunrise. We will ensure your future, while also ensuring our deaths.”

Damian was speechless. The old man’s grandson stepped forward in anger, pointing a finger right under Damian’s nose.

“What has this man done for us, Grandfather? What right does he have to take so many of our own away? He has done nothing! Sunset severed the alliance, let them reap what they have sown!”

Damian’s mouth worked, trying desperately to form words, but the old man spoke first.

“Grandson, it is us who have taken from them. We have taken all of the good, while leaving all of the bad for them. Yes, Sunset broke the ties between us, but they have already paid with their own lives, and their world’s very existence hangs in the balance. It is selfish of us to keep their share of the good, and they must in turn, give Sunrise back its share of the bad.”

“But Grandfather-“

“Enough!” The old man’s son glared at his only child, but his words felt heavy as he spoke them. “Your Grandfather is right. We must right this wrong, before the imbalance is permanent. My son, you have never known the pain of loss before, and I do not wish it upon you, but we must carry our share, and you must lead our people in this time of suffering.” He stood and turned to his host. “Master Damian, you must send your Eagles to the Common World; our Eagles will meet them there.

Damian gaped. “Our Eagles, sir?” He was answered with two blank stares. The grandson glared. “You see, Father? They haven’t even continued the most mundane of traditions. To receive help from the outside, one must first help themselves on the inside.”

“Wait for us outside.” The youngest cast one last glare at the old Setter before doing as his father commanded. When he was safely outside, the old man’s son turned back to Damian. “You must find three capable of this great burden we will set upon their shoulders. Three strong in the Magic.” He watched as Damian stared at him in silence. “You do have three who have the Talent, do you not?”

Damian nodded slowly. “Yes, there are three. There are only three. They are young, but they are all Sunset has.”

The man nodded. “Give them the totems and send them to the Common World, to Samuel Gatesman-“ he paused as Damian’s expression once again turned confused.

“Totems?” asked Damian.

“You don’t have the totems?” There was desperation in the man’s voice. Damian shook his head.

“Every Eagle is given a totem when they are raised. It is passed down from the first Eagles. Without one, an Eagle cannot travel, and he is grounded.” Beside him, his father reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, runed stone pyramid with a worn leather cord strung through it. He handed it to his son who in turn handed it to Damian for inspection.  “The totems needed to get to the Common World are all the same, while totems used to travel to other Uncommon Worlds are all unique to the individual Eagle. You must find these totems, Master Damian, for without them, the Eagles of Sunset will not fly.”

Damian nodded and handed the old man’s totem back. He listened as the man instructed him on how to use the totem, stressing exact words to use when instructing the new Eagles. The old man watched the lesson through narrowed eyes. Behind them, the grandson appeared through the doorway.

“Grandfather, it is time to be going.” The old man nodded and allowed himself to be wheeled outside. They passed through the empty city in silence, the sounds of the old man’s wheels against the pebble pathways echoing off the wooden buildings nearby. Finally they stood beneath the portal stone. The old man nodded in reassurance as his grandson rolled him under the arch, the two of them disappearing in an instant. The old man’s son remained behind. “When you are ready, send a message. The Eagles of Sunrise and Sunset will fly together once again.” He grasped Damian’s hand in a firm handshake and disappeared under the arch.

Damian sighed. The weight upon his shoulders didn’t feel any lighter, but his limbs surged with the strength of purpose and hope. Walking quickly, Damian made his way back to his darkened house and returned to the graveyard, a shovel and pickax firmly in his grasp.

“Nowhere”

This story came from a dream I had years ago. I originally wrote it down as an assignment for a writing class I took a while back, but I have never been happy with the outcome. I decided to give it another go, and while I’m much happier with this version, I’m still not 100% pleased, but I think that any more editing would do more harm than good. I hope you enjoy this weird adventure!

 

“Nowhere”

The sky was overcast, sending little droplets of water falling whenever and wherever they pleased. Klaus took no notice of the light spring rain as he walked home from school on the back road. The road was narrow, flanked on both sides with light green blades of grass. To his left, a line of tall budding trees followed the curves of the asphalt. The only sounds to be heard were Klaus’s boots against the road’s surface, accented by the soft pitter-pattering of the rain.

Suddenly Klaus froze mid-stride. He stood in an intersection he was positive he had never encountered. He studied the new road, but found no signs that the road had not existed as recently as yesterday. The black asphalt of the new road blended perfectly with the older, all the way down to slight marks of wear and tear from the tractors and carriages that frequented the back roads.

Klaus followed the new road with his eyes. In the distance, he could barely make out steep-pitched roofs. He scratched his head in thought. It was one thing discovering a new road, but a town that wasn’t there the day before was surreal. Klaus looked at his watch- he still had a couple of hours before work. Turning, he began to walk down the mysterious road toward the town.

The town grew slowly as he followed the slight curves and dips of the road. Before long, Klaus could see the buildings that sat under the high roofs. The houses were built in the same dated architecture as those in his town. Multiple stories high, they had visible beams separating sections of thick plaster. The steep roofs were hung with red tile, and unlike any town Klaus has ever seen or heard of, the houses were painted with bright colors. One was pink, another neon green, still another almost a turquoise. Klaus quickened his pace, his curiosity getting the best of him.

The road under his feet changed from the worn asphalt he traveled every day to a weird gray cobblestone he had never seen before- the pieces were perfectly uniform in color and size. Finally a sign bearing the town’s name became visible. After a few minutes, Klaus could make out the curly letters. Klaus read out loud as he walked.

“Nowhere.”

The houses grew slowly as he neared and Klaus slowed his pace to examine his surroundings. To his left was a pasture; the cows were mere dots on the horizon. A thin line of small red and yellow tulips bordered the road to the right. The grass was the same shade of green that he was familiar with, and it was tall where the cows had not grazed. Klaus turned back towards the town but froze after only a few steps. The first house, painted pink, stood only a few feet in front of him. The tallest point on the roof came no higher than his chest. The house across from the pink one was neon green. It was shorter than the first, but as Klaus spun in a frantic circle, he saw that all of the houses in the town were tiny. Klaus looked down at his feet and noticed that the cobblestone road was gone, replaced by worn, dirty gray carpet. Klaus panicked. Frantically, he spun around again, trying to get his bearings. The overcast sky was gone; in its place was a high ceiling. Worn industrial lights hanging from thin chains buzzed, bleaching the yellowed walls that seemed to close in around him.

Breathing fast, Klaus turned to face the direction he came from. On the wall was a mural of a countryside. Down the middle was a narrow road, painted with weird grayish cobblestones. Klaus knocked on the wall, causing a hollow sound to echo in the room. He began banging on the wall with clenched fists, eyes closed, praying this was all a dream, but his calls for help went unanswered.

Klaus slowly turned to examine the room. The town was still there; the colorful houses mocking him. Near his feet, on the left was a cow pasture, complete with plastic cows grazing the plastic grass. To the right was a line of colorful specks that Klaus knew were meant to be tulips. The town’s sign was standing in the field next to the wall. He bent down to read it, the letters so small he had to squint.

“Nowhere.”

Klaus slowly stood up. At the far end of the room was a normal-sized door, a single wooden step leading up to it. It appeared to be the only way out. He walked the couple steps through the miniature town and paused in front of the door, silently listening for whatever might be behind it. He heard nothing. Slowly, Klaus climbed the step and placed his hand on the tarnished brass knob. It turned easily. He opened the door and the hinges quietly complained with low squeaks. Klaus stepped through. Suddenly the door snapped back, slamming closed behind him. Startled, Klaus tried the knob again, but it was locked tight. There was no way back.

Klaus stood in what looked like a hallway of an old house undergoing a complete renovation. The studs of the walls were clearly visible and most darkened with age. Some had wires running through them, ending in new outlet boxes. In another, fuzzy pink insulation was stuffed against an outside wall, bits of it blowing as if a slow breeze were passing through. Klaus walked through the first floor of the house looking for a way out, but found none, not even a front door. All the windows were shuttered, barely letting in enough light to see by.

Klaus sighed loudly and closed his eyes, letting his head roll back on his shoulders. “Why do I always seem to get into the worst situations?” he asked aloud, waiting for an answer, but from whom he wasn’t sure- any answer was better than none. The only sound in the house was the pouring rain assaulting the roof, accompanied by the occasional peal of thunder.

He sighed again. As he opened his eyes, he noticed a huge hole in the ceiling. It appeared to continue all the way up to an attic two floors above. The edges were jagged, as if something big had fallen through each floor. He cocked his head to the side in wonder.

Hands appeared from behind, grabbing his shoulders and throwing him against a wall of studs. His right shoulder blade landed squarely on one, but the aged wood did not budge. Pain shot through his back as he landed on the subfloor. Wincing in pain, Klaus looked up to see a man and a woman standing in front if him. They were dirty; the man was skinny and unshaven for what must have been weeks. The woman was plump, her shoulder length brown hair a frizzy mess surrounding her pudgy face. In her hands she held a double barrel shotgun. She held it against her side, the muzzle pointed at Klaus, her finger shaking an inch away from the trigger. Klaus’s stomach began to turn as the stench of the dirty pair permeated his nose.

The woman said something in a language he had never heard before. He shook his head, not being able to answer whatever she had asked him. She stepped forward and repeated the question, obviously thinking she would get and answer if she yelled and put the shotgun closer to his face. Klaus backed himself against the studs as far as he could go and didn’t answer. The woman took another step forward. Screaming, she raised the shotgun to her shoulder and took aim. Her partner grabbed the gun and yelled something, and the woman stopped short of pulling the trigger. She glared at Klaus for a moment before lowering the weapon and yelled something Klaus was sure was a curse. She gestured up with her hand, and the man reached forward and pulled Klaus to his feet. He drug the injured intruder up two flights of rickety stairs and threw him to the floor. Klaus landed only inches from the huge hole in the floor. He scrambled up on all fours and backed away until his back hit a wall. He looked around, but the man had already disappeared back down the stairs.

Klaus didn’t move for a few minutes. In his mind he tried to piece together all that had just happened and how he had gotten himself into his present situation. Nothing made sense. Getting on all fours, he crawled to the edge of the hole and looked down. He could clearly see each floor, but no way of getting to them other than the stairs, which he dare not try in fear of his shotgun toting captors. Down on the first floor he could see the man and woman pacing under the hole, no doubt arguing about what they should do to him. Klaus could understand nothing, but the woman’s body language told him all he needed to know. If Klaus didn’t walk out of that house on his own feet, he would be carried out. He jumped to his feet, his shoulder painfully protesting, and began looking for an escape route, but found none. A small, unshuttered window sat high on the outer brick wall. If he stood on his toes, Klaus could see out. Outside, the rain came down in sheets, soaking large fields of corn. Far in the distance, a black mass blinked every few seconds with lightning. It inched towards them, promising a storm of epic proportions. Admitting defeat, he sat down against the wall, as far away from the huge hole as possible, and let the rain lull him to sleep.

***

 

He was awakened by a low roaring noise. The house creaked as the wind pushed it one way and pulled it another. The rain beating on the roof sounded like the gods were throwing stones from the heavens. He could hardly hear himself think over the deafening roar. Slowly, he pulled himself to his feet and peered out the little window. The black storm cloud now sat directly overhead, and Klaus could see very little due to the heaviness of the rain. The roaring steadily got louder, and he wondered what was behind it.

Suddenly his captors appeared at the top of the stairs. The man held the shotgun now, and he used it to motion to Klaus to move to the other side of the room. Klaus navigated around the hole and turned to face his captors. The woman’s face was a mask of anger, while her partner’s showed only reluctance. Behind them, the window let Klaus see that the rain had let up some, but in its place a huge, swirling vortex swung back and forth through the air, its mass changing colors as it sucked up dirt and corn. Klaus gasped, and the man raised the shotgun.

The roar intensified further, finally drawing the attention of the captors. Simultaneously they turned to look out the window, giving Klaus the chance he had hoped for. He pushed off the stud behind him and lunged for the pair. He planted his shoulder squarely on the man’s chest, throwing them both to the floor, grabbing the shotgun as he fell. Klaus wrenched the weapon from the man’s grasp, the shotgun firing as a grungy finger was pulled off the trigger. Beside them, the woman screamed and dove for the shotgun. Klaus rolled to the side, the woman landing hard on the floor, her momentum taking her further until she disappeared through the hole. Her screams lasted only a second, stopping when she hit the first floor below. Glancing over the edge, Klaus saw that she had fallen through the subfloor and her limp body lay on the concrete basement floor. Behind him, the man had pulled himself up. Yelling, he lunged for Klaus, but grabbed only air as Klaus managed to roll aside. The man stumbled and hit the floor, his thin frame rolling right over the edge of the hole just as the woman had only seconds before. Klaus jumped to his feet and peered over the edge. Suddenly, a hand shot up, grabbing his foot, threatening to pull him down. He struggled as the man managed to pull himself high enough to get his other hand around the same ankle. Klaus lost his balance and fell onto the floor, his bad shoulder taking yet another blow. He screamed in pain as he inched towards the hole, the added weight from the man pulling him down. The man let go with one hand and pulled himself up a little more, grabbing on to Klaus’s knee, his head and shoulders well above the edge of the hole. Frantically, Klaus shouldered the shotgun and took aim. The roar from the tornado outside did nothing to muffle the shotgun blast, and the man’s grip lessened as he fell through the hole, landing dead on top of his partner three floors below.

Klaus gasped for air as he once again pulled himself up to his feet. His shoulder was in agony, but he knew he had no time to assess the damage. Dropping the shotgun, he glanced out the window one last time. The house shook in the wind as the monstrous funnel moved closer to the house. Shingles were already being torn from the roof, and Klaus guessed he had less then a minute before it struck. He bolted from the window and ran down the stairs two at a time until he was on the first floor. He located the door he first came in and tried the handle, but it was still locked. The roar was deafening, and Klaus could hear the house start to disintegrate. Using his undamaged shoulder, Klaus lunged at the door, but it didn’t budge. Again he lunged just as the shutters from the windows were torn from their anchors. He lunged a third time, the door finally giving way just as the side of the house disappeared into the swirling mass, pulling everything untethered with it. Klaus jumped through the door and down the single step. The miniature town still covered the floor, the carpet muffling his heavy feet as he ran past the colorful buildings. Klaus closed his eyes and took a deep breath, pleading to the gods above as he ran full force into the far wall. Behind him the house was torn apart, the studs looking like matchsticks as they flew through the air. He couldn’t hear his own yell over the roar; he just ran until the roaring was behind him, his yells matching the ringing in his ears. He opened his eyes.

He stood in a grassy field. Turning in a full circle, he could see the town that drew him in the first place was nowhere to be found. Ahead, he could see a line of trees. Breathing heavily, he turned towards the trees, and the road that would eventually lead him home.

This one turned into something surprisingly fun…

Posted on

The last thing I need is another project, but sometimes an idea pops into my head that just won’t go away. Rarely do these ideas turn into something I like as much as this one below. It’s just a random beginning, and maybe I’ll do something with it, but for now, hopefully I can focus on something else for a while.

***

The sun never sets in Sunrise, nor does it rise in Sunset. The towns are neighbors in a hidden world, and yet they lay a land apart. In one, the sun rests peacefully atop a hilled horizon. Its light is bright and unhindered, its rays bringing the scent of dew and soil, fresh baked bread and frying meat, of new beginnings and happy endings. In Sunrise, it is as if all things were possible, and the people who call it home know only the fruits of their labor, whether hard or easy. They smile upon waking, and again when they lay their head upon feather-filled pillows before sleep takes them away. They bask in their peaceful existence in the soft rays of a sun frozen in the act of ringing in a new day.

Its neighbor is not so fortunate. In Sunset, the great ball of light lowered itself behind jagged peaks and stopped. Not one of the few inhabitants of the town knows when this happened, but theories abound. They live their lives by candlelight, as the sun is only high enough to cast a red glow across half of the sky. Only the brightest of stars peers down upon the tired population, twinkling tirelessly above a people who have never known anything other than a life of tiresome work and little reward. The landscape has gone barren, refusing to produce even scant fodder for the few pigs that manage to survive the harsh life. The people here are downtrodden and tired, pausing to face the dusky glow behind the mountains only to shake their fists in contempt.

The two cities have one thing in common, however, and that is Magic. The blood that runs through Sunrise is strong with White Magic, and the inhabitants use their powers to improve their lives even more. White Magic is of the light, while the talents of Sunset traverse down a darker path. Black Magic was once a talent of the majority of residents, but as their numbers have dwindled, so has the number of those able to wield it.

One of those few was an elder by the name of Damian. His beard was scraggly, and his once pristine black trousers and button-down shirt were now worn thin and gray. His shoulders slumped forward as if the weight of the world rested upon them. And in a way, it did. Damian knew the stories his forefathers had passed down, stories about the Magic that pumped through their veins, about its strengths and weaknesses, and about White Magic. He knew Sunset had once thrived in the darkness, and he believed it could again. Black Magic built Sunset, that much was clear, but Damian believed that played a part in the town’s decline. A very big part.

And what better way to combat Black Magic than with White?

His father once told him about Sunrise. He described the color of the sky above and the soft crunch of tall grass underfoot. He described the homes inside and out, and the people who lived in them. The Risers were tanned from the sun, their hair was fair, their eyes either blue or gray, but never dark like the Setters. They laughed often and spoke only of what was to come, preferring to leave the past where it belonged. Damian’s father knew these things not from his ancestors, though. His father was the last of Sunset’s Eagles, a trio of talented inhabitants who acted as ambassadors to Sunrise, and to the world beyond. There were always three, and only those strong in the Magic were selected for the honored position.

His father never told him why they failed to select more Eagles. He refused to talk of the work that the group did with the Eagles from Sunrise, only that it was always as a team, and only out of necessity. When he died, he took many secrets with him, leaving Damian alone and seemingly in charge. As a young boy, he didn’t want to lead his small herd of pigs to the stream; as a man, he became the reluctant shepherd of Sunset. The people looked to him for guidance, but he had none. They looked to him for aid as their children kept dying in infancy, but he had nothing more than sympathy to give. His town was dying, and he was powerless to stop it. So he turned to the only place that might be able to.

When he was a very young boy, Damian watched his father communicate with an Eagle from Sunrise. Using simple crumpled paper and a stick dipped in ink, he wrote a quick note and set it aside for a moment to let the ink dry. Damian couldn’t read then, and the message on the paper was never made known to him. His father folded the paper into an intricate sunburst and threw it into fireplace, the flames snatching the paper and turning in to ash in seconds. His father stood before the fire and stared silently into the flames. After a few moments passed, a small triangle shaped note flew out of the flames and straight into his father’s waiting hand. He unfolded the paper and read the note quickly. Nodding to himself, he ripped the paper in half and tossed it back into the flames. After he was certain no trace remained, he called a meeting with the other two Eagles, and after a lengthy talk held behind closed doors, the ambassadors never traveled to Sunrise again.

Damian replayed this memory often lately. The act of sending the message was simple and required very little digging through his memories. It was the shape of the note that had him stumped. He had sat at the only table in his tiny house and folded every piece of paper he could find in every possible shape he could imagine. He was surrounded by small piles of oddly shaped folded paper, the highest reaching almost as high as his waist, and yet none of them were the right shape. He spent months folding, creasing, cursing. Months watching the stream go dry, more townsfolk dying. So much time spent, time he didn’t have. But he finally figured it out.

It sat flat on the wooden table in a space cleared of his past attempts. Damian stared at it in disbelief. He had all but given up, only sitting down a moment before because he found this paper stuffed in the back of his kitchen cabinet and decided to give it one more chance. The chair groaned as he sat back and exhaled; he hadn’t realized he had held his breath as he folded the paper. Closing his eyes, he recalled the memory one last time just to be sure, but he already knew. For the first time in ages, Damian smiled.

The kitchen was small enough that all Damian had to do was scoot his chair over about a foot and he would easily stoke the small fire he had lit earlier. The chair legs were loud as they moved over the uneven floor, but its occupant paid the noise little attention. Grabbing the fire poker, he poked at the logs for a moment before finally getting up to throw two more on the fire. Wood was scarce in Sunset, but this fire was worth a whole cord of firewood. Damian sat back down and gently unfolded the sunburst. He grabbed the pencil resting atop his ear and stared at the blank paper in thought. Slowly, he lowered tip to paper and began scribbling. His message was short, and he replaced the pencil over his ear and began to fold the paper back into the required shape.

Damian watched the fire as it spread eagerly to the new logs. The flames grew, spewing heat back into the room and warming his toes through his boots. The heat was a welcome bonus to his actions, and for a moment he thought that even if he received no reply, it was well worth the effort. He took a deep breath and let it back out. Grabbing the sunburst off the table, he tossed it into the flames and watched the flames consume his very last hope.