Familiar Eyes III

I cannot remember a time when bringing darkness and despair to the land were harder. Sure, necromancers work day and night to make nightmares come true, or well, more solid than they already are. However, unlike times past, we are drowning in a multitude of guardians and protectors eager to put a price on our heads. They show potential for corruption and moral decay, becoming champions of a twisted cause under the guise of justice, but we are still working on how to get to that. For the time being, we are still mercilessly hunted and our dens raided until there is no sign of life or its usual corrupted forms anywhere in the vicinity. A lethal problem for the initiates, a routine game for more experienced evildoers.

In case you wonder why I talk about causing chaos as if it were any other full-time job, it is because that is exactly what it is. You see, many creatures, spirits, and living beings were created a very long time ago; ever since some of them went astray from the intended path and turned their ways to less constructive ideas. Where some of us work keeping witchcraft from destroying our world, some others keep it from destroying the wizard so he can continue trying to wreck havoc on these lands. Regarding the purpose, obviously there is one, but not what most people expect. After everything is destroyed and blood flows over the earth like a river, many of these deranged people will be left without anything to set their minds to. That would be boring, so we aim at less pretentious goals and merely strive for control over small kingdoms or maybe even localized destruction.

Why do evil men and spirits have so many concerns about a world they want to see burn down to ashes? As I said, complete annihilation would be just a thorn on the side of the gods and maybe even some powerful spirits would not feel like having to rebuild everything from scratch. In a nutshell: it is futile. Achieves little and leaves nothing to be ruled, tortured, tormented or corrupted. We do not need an empty land or a world littered with the walking bones of hundreds of thousands of creatures. Despite what some of the novices say, even grizzled warlocks do not aim at defying gods and bringing destruction to the spirit worlds; not even immortal creatures like the Warrior King of the Pits of Disease, have ever tried such a thing.

So, instead of massive obliteration, we work on smaller, yet very productive projects. Chaos, despite what laymen think, can be a subtle force. It takes time, patience and some careful schemes to bring down kingdoms, make kings and emperors fall prey to forbidden passions, or cause brothers to kill each other in the name of lust. Most of the time that is our doing. We are the whispers at night that cause nightmares and set in motion the gears of revenge; ours are the thoughts of justice by the gallows and peace by the way of the sword. What is our prize? Turmoil, helpless cries in the distance, the downfall of fair rulers and the rise of tyrants, rebellious unrest and the absence of peace.

Of course many others set their minds to greater things, but those are obviously pursued and killed like helpless deer during the hunting season. Still, small sores cause a greater ail in the long run because more often than not, they are left unattended. Knights with twisted ideals are often left to run amok until they cause enough harm to be considered a menace; by then they have contributed to our cause more than an entire army could ever had. This way chaos always lurks around, mutates, grows, crawls into the minds and hearts of mortals until it ends up feeding unto itself, completing the cycle and sowing the seeds for the next harvest.

Renewal needs to find its way, and even good old monarchs need to be replaced. We just give the whole process a nudge in the way we see fit. Sometimes our harsh methods do not get us the sympathies of the masses, but we just do what our ancestors have been doing since the dawn of time. Perhaps there was an ultimate goal we forgot or there was something our number tried to get and we were never told about. At some point we will remember if there is such thing; we are not hurried, the more time we get to wreak havoc, the better. The old wizard is calling, it seems I have unwanted visitors to greet and dispose of; besides there is work to do and I no longer have time to chat, what a pity.

My duties may not be to the liking of every other of our kind, but tell me Fazber, raven of the Spiral Glade, if we do not do this, who would?

***

Oh, it seems things aren’t as nice and easy as we thought, right? Our chatty raven has some interesting friends around, let’s hope they don’t make things too difficult for him!

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to share and comment!

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Familiar Eyes II

One of the best perks of creatures like me is a deep harmony with the surrounding world, granting us enhanced perception of what happens around us. I did not usually need to search with my eyes to know that somewhere something had changed. It was a sense that worked perfectly even when the events were several miles away from my location. So, it helped me to discover and take care of most threats before they could even reach the outer wall of the Spiral Glade; which incidentally, was the source of most hazards to everything else around. Such problems were not my fault; I had no control whatsoever over what the coven did or rather, messed up. The last time they decided to perform a ritual, they ended up creating a plague wind that almost turned the forest into a noxious swampland. The history books in the cathedrals would tell a very different story if I had not been there.

To be honest, those like me are very different from guardians and other kind of constructs built with the sole purpose of protecting a place. Our loyalty is not enforced, no one told me to stand ready to keep danger away from the Spiral Glade, just to name an example. It was my own decision, but one heavily influenced by the fact that even my kind knows how bad things would be if sorcerers were left to their own devices. Not every old hag with a broom and a cauldron is skilled at her craft; not all wizards put a lot of thought into the consequences of the powers they summon. We just make sure the consequences are not that… noticeable. Whatever would be of this world without us, I sincerely do not want to know, and still we receive little to no gratitude for our hard work. After all, it is not easily seen by anyone other than the makers and higher spirits.

In order to ensure our proximity to the root of all troubles, we have to blend in as a creature that would not be hunted or killed on sight. Domestic animals tend to be the best choice, but sometimes an unnaturally beautiful creature can convince local small groups of easily impressed people to let it stay around. My closest neighbor at the Gilded Towers, Karaus, chose to be a cat and even adopted the arrogance of his furry brethren. Granted, he usually is the one to deal with the worse trouble of us all, and I have no problem whatsoever with him enjoying a life of fish threats and comfortable bedding. Whenever he is not busy keeping his place clean or ensuring no hazards will blast the towers apart, he comes around to visit the coven and get us a couple free fish.

Zibur took the other road and now roams around as a large black Jacob. Most people ignore that his form is a natural breed rather than the towering avatar of vengeful gods they think it is, but, in all honestly, he deals with a lot less issues this way. The local shaman has a penchant for doing things that do not involve the words “logical” or “sane” anywhere in a possible description so, more often than not, Zibur has to go horn to horn against the ensuing chaos. He has four of those, so he usually has some to spare after dealing with the problems by way of impalement. Although he does not come to the forest that often, he makes sure to pass by every now and then to tell us a bit about his most hilarious misadventures.

For me the choice was more a matter of practical use, since I am not accustomed to the company of humans and their kind sometimes really makes me uncomfortable. Since I had to convince the coven that I was not just another thing that was to be thrown in the cauldron, I decided to assume the shape of a large raven. Fitting, some would say, while others would roll their eyes and sigh in mild disappointment. Anyway, I have a tremendous freedom over my whereabouts and the inherent ability to soar over the landscape is really handy at all times. Obvious, as it might seem to mention it, I cannot be careless when roaming around the place I guard; we have a sizable number of enemies and it is in their best interest that the places with constant flows of magic remain without a watcher. The natural nocturnal habits of the creature I seem to be help a bit, since most unwanted visitors come around the hours of darkness.

Speaking of which, the time of the red sun is here and I have to prepare myself. I feel long hours will come and whatever decided to visit us tonight, it comes with a lust for fear and despair. “I can feel it in my bones”, the hags would say. It feels odd to quote them, I have heard people quote ravens a lot, but maybe that is just a feeling I get from a time past or yet to come. I will worry about such things later on, for the time being, I have unfinished business to take care of. Even the eyes of nightmarish beasts do not pluck themselves, you know.

***

Second installment of this new series, I hope you like it! You can read the first installment here!

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Just Another Adventure (Special Chapter II)

The first moment was filled with chaos, flickering lights and a distant cacophony that pierced my mind sending me into an almost unstoppable fit of rage. I could do nothing but bow and give in to my hunger, blindly following my instincts until I had satiated my need for the life that runs in the veins of most living beings. Not that thick and slightly unpalatable fluid, mind you; my kin developed a more refined taste for properties unknown to mortals, yet quite familiar to other creatures that have populated realms beyond well before everything came to be as humans know it. We could feed on essential properties given to each creature back when it was stirred into life in the boundless molten ocean. In the time when all worlds were unfinished pieces, still hot from the furnace and waiting to be tempered by the gods, all life was given an inner flame that reproduced, changed and grew to be the untamed essence of all things born free.

Closer to the makers were humans and the wild denizens of their land; then the shackled spirits that would hold the power to bring destruction and renewal to all things made. Further down were the wanderers, born from the spirits and caged into flesh, they were creatures of great power that watched over their own kind, never to know the gift of mortality brought by time. Below them were their unruly siblings, much like the wanderers, but driven insane by a wish to protect deprived of benevolence. Instincts corrupted by power, ultimately leading to them being cast aside by their own, turning them into solitary beasts driven by anguish and fury. Under them were the creatures brought into being by wisps of living essence twisted under the influence of the waves of belief. A mockery of their former selves, these dreadful things roam, haunt or sometimes harm those who unknowingly cursed them to such destiny. And then us; crafted into the very fires of the forge and left to grow unchecked in the darkest pits. Whatever our destiny was, we were not told, so we left in droves to find for ourselves.

Soon enough we discovered the hunger, our need for the essence that was so abundant in the land of the living. Alas, in their eyes we were different, too strange, unsettling to behold, abominations that could only bring pestilence and death. Many of our number were hunted and unmade while others escaped with deep scars from the ensuing battles; a few of us fled unharmed yet marked forever by those first days. The marred in their anger saw fitting to truly become the scourge of their prey, however, before they could unleash their vengeance our own makers threw them back into the forge so they could be created anew.

In an unexpected twist that not even the mightiest of the creators had foreseen, while engulfed by the flames, the pain and hate that bound the tormented brought them together into a single being, powerful and demented enough to challenge the gods that had unwittingly spawned such horror. His power allowed him to leave his confinement, but failed at granting him victory over the makers, who could just send their newborn nemesis into exile beyond the worlds. There he crafted his own realm where he raised his own, still brothers to us, but cruel and depraved right into the embrace of madness. We all still felt the hunger, but while we decided to satiate it by trickery and deceit without causing lasting harm, the savage offspring of the nameless one wanted to obtain the essence through unnecessary carnage and violence.

The seeds of an eternal war had been sown and we were branded with the same name that our destructive kin had to bear, effectively dooming us to be hunted without pause or mercy. The gods saw no other option but to close the gates that joined all worlds together, isolating the realms and causing us an even greater grief that would be heard for thousands of years. Our cries lured the warlocks and witches of the lands where mortals dwell. They found how to open pathways that, unfortunately, would sometimes fail to fulfill their original purpose and would give our brethren a chance to return and unleash their savagery upon the living. Not willing to surrender and follow the path of blood, the first of our number created the rituals and spells to free more of us and send back a fraction of sustenance so the ones still imprisoned could keep their dark lust at bay. Such is our strife.

Even while trapped in the black pits and still lacking a clear purpose to live up to, our kind increased both in power and number, while unable to break the chains that tied us to our hunger. The makers remained silent and distant, leaving us in the middle of a battlefield where we hold no allegiance but our own and where everything else is out to unmake us. Much to the dismay of all those would be hunters, we are no longer afraid and we will not let anyone threaten our existence anymore, not even our warlike kin. We grew estranged from all other things made and found no solace in their prosperity or destruction; being just a thorn in their side, our kin now endeavors to find our place and mission before the seething need reduces us to unbridled chaos.

Until then, we shall bear with our brothers the name given to us by mortals. A word reeking fear that means for them something nowhere near what we are, but merely what they believe us to be. Whether the living will ever understand our long story remains to be seen; we will not let their dread of things beyond one too many self-imposed limits to their understanding be an obstacle to our search. Only time will tell if they will forever whisper our name in hushed tones, expecting an impending doom from our hand.

Such memories surely have shed a much needed light over the vast chasm that separates the likes of me from humans and all other things made. We may not be the greatest in number, knowledge or might, but still hopefully now you understand why they call us Demons.

***

If you have read the past chapters there is a very high chance you know who’s talking in today’s story. Oh you haven’t? Please, feel free to check out chapters I, II, III, IV, special chapter I, V and VI.

I hope you enjoyed this short story and, as always, share and stay tuned for more!

Just Another Adventure (Part VI)

It felt good to be right for once, at least enough to grant a second chance to fight back and show those reddish balls of coarse fur the stuff legends are made of. There had been many stories about rings and their power so I just had to try what they described until I found something that worked. Hitting them with the ring proved to be the right answer and both the horned spider and the armor were violently ejected from the dark trap we all had been caught into. I tried doing the same to myself, to no avail. Yet, after hearing some distant cries, blasts and other sounds I would rather never find out their source, I decided that staying beneath the soil was a nice, pleasant and very safe choice.

It did not last. The ring seemed to fail, leaving me to feel an increasing pressure from the packed earth around me, but well before I could even decide if I was afraid or terrified of what would happen to me when the magic waned, I found myself traversing the night air right into the branches of one of the large trees. The crows cawed triumphantly, while I just tried to smile and wondered how could I recognize what they meant every time they opened their sharp beaks. Not a coincidence, after everything I have seen so far I would not just think I am a lunatic. Perhaps I really understand the tone of their otherwise incomprehensible cries, or maybe I just hit my head really hard on the way here.

A few unwanted acrobatic feats later I returned to the ground and was very glad to find it solid as it should always be. The armor was there, glaring at me for no particular reason, and while I could feel the intensity of its flaming eyes it did not do anything beyond a sort of polite bowing movement. It took me a couple moments to decide whether the spider demon was fine or not. It was leaning against a tree, moving spastically from time to time, lacking any visible wound or bruise that would make me fear for its life. Well, existence. I highly doubt their kind is alive in the same way we are, yet that makes my concerns just a bit more complicated.

I was sure the creature had fed on the furry critters; a quick look around me revealed signs of a savage battle, but the bodies of the creatures were nowhere to be found. Maybe it was a natural reaction to overindulging or perhaps it was about to change again into another sort of beast extracted from the most horrid nightmares mankind could ever have. Either way, it started what could only be defined as “molting”, leaving the large husk of its past form while taking a completely new appearance, exactly one I expected the least and at the same time, one I should have seen coming all along. From a razor-sharp toothed mouth with legs, to a spider-like thing, to a horned spider to a little gray-skinned girl.

At a distance it would seem human to anyone,  the length of its shiny black hair was a little off for its height, but not completely outside the realm of the plausible. It seemed unnaturally pale under the faint light of the nighttime and its eyes were too bright, almost flaring with their own golden flame, yet it was human-like and just fair enough to have its obviously inhuman features ignored by a casual observer. A crow blew my thoughts away cawing right into my ear, which brought home the fact that the little demon girl had nothing to preserve its modesty. Yet, before I could cover her with my worn-out jacket she raised herself and with a single gesture she turned her old shell into a sort of shiny black robe. Quite fitting, I thought.

I would have spent another good part of the night looking at her -I suppose I can say now ‘it’ is a ‘she’-, if she had not opened her mouth and let out a terribly sweet voice that made me sit down and listen to her, completely enthralled. It was not the call of sirens or lush demons, more like the sound of a maiden in distress pleading for her prince to show atop his steed wielding justice and love in search to free her from the talons of evil. Except this little girl was said talons of evil and the prince would make an excellent full course meal. Cruel fate for such valiant knight, mocking irony for a lucky coward like me.

Still, she did not use her powerful charm to feed, but merely to prevent me from being an annoyingly curious pest. Her kind was supposed to look and act human to infiltrate and cause havoc from within our own ranks, but with the advent of more powerful knights and zealots, they had to grow as beasts strong enough to survive before they could use their power in a more human-like form. Unfortunately for their own and fortunately for mine, they usually fell prey to demon hunters, well before they could even leave their first form. I feel I am spelling doom for entire kingdoms, as I guaranteed the creature to grow strong enough to fool the masses and it would be just a matter of time before she could make kings and emperors bow before her, plummeting their lands into bloodshed and darkness.

My concern must have taken a visible form since she reassured she would not take any destructive action without thoughtful consideration, which I had this idea had more to do with a towering metal guardian wielding magic-infused steel than with a fearful and vulnerable mortal that had been easy prey for the power of her voice. She must have noticed my obvious failures at understanding, however, as she explained a second time how this “havoc” her kin were expected to cause amounted to creating the adequate conditions for more of them to come and thrive in this world. Of course many other beings wanted them dead and that would lead to inevitable warring and carnage, but for a creature usually considered a demon, they were a rather peaceful kind.

The rest of the night simply faded away in quiet contemplation, wondering what was I supposed to do and where should I go, now that both the demon lady and the guardian armor would follow me along in my journey -the girl said so, the armor just followed me around, cannot help it-. I was not eager to return to my land as a throng of very displeased soldiers would receive me with an invitation to try out the gallows and anyway I had no idea whatsoever where I was. Well, I would just walk, whatever could go wrong with it I will find it right away just like I always do. However, I hope my very unusual company provides a helping hand through this all, for I know the kind of trouble I will get with them by my side will be big enough to write legends about it.

Well, this kind of story does not tell itself, so I will be more than glad to fix that if I survive long enough to do so. There is no better time than now for just another adventure.

***

Time to give our coward hero a break and let him prepare for new challenges and things to run away from. I hope your liked this short series, stay tuned for more!

In case you are new and would like to read how it all came to this, here are parts I, II, III, IV, the special chapter I and part V. Enjoy!

Familiar Eyes

The old warlock was at it again. He was impervious to his own glaring failures and that caused him more than simple headaches. One time he caused a whole realm headaches, but that was not the point. The circle was ready, “new and improved” he said, as if he wanted to sell me some kind of summoning paraphernalia at discount prices; perhaps he should be selling scented candles and protection scrolls instead of doing all this ritualistic stuff that really gives me the creeps. And you know something is really bad when I get the creeps. I am supposed to be the one causing that, not the unfortunate one on the receiving end of the deal.

He used this time apple scent, because “everyone knows that old demons love apples” -go figure how he came to that conclusion, I will not ask-, plus a rather good looking apple as the “bait”. I merely watched him with halfhearted interest as he searched for his old staff and repeated to himself the spell he had to cast when the creature appeared in the tower. Last time we tried this he failed to take into account inter-realm transportation speed and he had such a huge success bringing something “fast” that I wonder why he complained about the huge black blotch that redecorated the north tower. Oh well, he is stubborn, beyond measure, reason, and sanity.

I covered my head to mitigate any possible damage from the sudden arrival of our latest guest. I have to admit he actually brought something that managed to stay in one piece after the ritual; much to my dismay, this time he brought a large brimstone fiend, a chunk of smoldering rocks with a pungent smell and an even worse mood. The circle took well the first strike, but announced with a loud crack that it would not take more than three, so before we found out how many hits did it take to break it, we found ourselves hiding in the basement, hoping the creature returned to its home realm, whatever hellish place that might be.

A quick glance at the book of sorcery revealed that apples were a great ingredient for rituals with permanent effects, so the loud crashing and thumping was not going anywhere unless we did something about it. Of course, those were my thoughts, the good old warlock was on the verge of collapse, but I was not sure if it was the effect of fear or just the toxic fumes that had spread through the whole construction. Good thing I could smell, but did not actually needed to breathe, so if someone were to clean this mess, that would be me. Just like every single time he managed to knock himself out of this world and left me to deal with the consequences of his careless spellcasting.

Just a couple spells, maybe a ward or two and I was ready to go toe-to-toe with big smelly. Neither of us had toes in the human sense of the idea, but I was not in the mood to explain that to the guest. I would say uninvited, but a certain knocked-out man downstairs had been idiotic enough to hand him an apple-scented “bring doom to us all” invitation card. Because nothing spells out success as a warlock better than an angry demon packed with a stench foul enough to make a skunk complain about it. Well, well, it was just chewing out our walls. I felt tempted to ask him if he wanted a side of marble, or maybe a few gemstones for dessert, however someone down here needs fresh air, so the best course of action would be pushing this thing some ten stories down and see if he likes the taste of black earth.

I never feel comfortable being almost twenty times my usual size. It feels so wrong to be so heavy, but given the circumstances I have little choice. Gargantuan size, blaze breaker and astral slicers, I have to admit that for a fool, the old warlock packed some nasty spells. Quite useful in times like these. Indeed, not being subject to the niceties of temperatures high enough to boil water on touch and having fangs and claws sharp enough to pierce solid rock, yes, that is convenient. The fiend did not even notice me as I prepared my assault and I think it was not quite sure what happened when we landed right in front of the exterior wall of the castle. Oh, right, claws. Let me introduce you to them; and them into you.

How can anyone get angry at the old man when he brings so much fun to the world? He could have kicked the bucket a hundred times already and I still wonder how the king and the wise council even allow him to own this ginormous tower. He will wake up, do a little huff and puff, and then the tower will be ready for the next round; just as planned, he will surely say. I would kill him myself, maybe showing him the fast way downstairs just like the brimstone thing I just disposed of, but maybe no one will take me home then and I really like the treats he bakes. Hey, speaking of which, maybe he left a couple in the oven. Maybe those crunchy ones laced with smoked salmon.

Ah, he can do anything he wants as long as he keeps baking these. Whatever magic he uses for them pleases me greatly and for all intents and purposes I am basically his lord and savior, and I am being modest here. I think I should wake him up, my fur needs some brushing after such intense exercise and I do not feel like coughing hairballs today. Such a hard life I have.

***

Easter week is over and finally a good update came to mind, so here it is. I hope you enjoy it!

Just Another Adventure (Part V)

I am led to believe that my tendency to distance myself from anything that could be considered dangerous has proven more and more valuable during the last few days. Of course, I am very literal when it comes to the “anything” part of that idea. I think I have elevated my typical cowardice into a perfected sense of self-preservation. Maybe a bit too perfect. But, for example, it saved me from being slashed in half by a botched sword strike or from being impaled against the tree -yes, THAT tree- by several sharp spikes, each one twice the size of a crossbow bolt. I normally would not consider necessary to mention that none of those were directed at me, but rather almost found me in their way while I was running around screaming curses like a crazed tramp.

After a failed attempt to prevent two mythical beings from settling their differences via the good old method of finding out who could turn the other into the most pieces, I resorted to run around avoiding certain death from their overwhelming displays of power. Even the crows had conveniently relocated themselves to stay away from the ensuing destruction, leaving me to find a way to stop them from turning the whole place into the aftermath of the wrath of every possible god ever. My legs recovered from the initial shock and allowed me a swift escape from a falling branch, almost taking me right into the hilt of one of the floating blades. It narrowly missed my head, just like the large flaming sphere that followed and turned an huge patch of ground into the hottest area of a makeshift hellish forge.

Obviously, my tribulations were no smaller than those of the ones that caused them. Even in its imperfect state as a sort of demonic horned spider, the creature battled fiercely using legs, fangs and spikes to slash and parry the rain of sword blows that came from the armored warrior. And even though it did not have as many weapons at hand, so to speak, it had several other ways to cause terrible harm such as the scorching blasts and detachable thorns, which I had seen closer than anyone would have ever wanted to. On the other hand, the armor did not hold many secrets, just many swords which basically went where commanded, attacking in ordered patterns trying to find a weak point or to make one by means of sheer brute force. Not the most elegant way to fight, but must have been tremendously effective at reducing lesser opponents into a neat stack of slices. Incidentally, that is what was left of the tree that received eleven straight cuts that missed their original target.

I was almost comfortable keeping death from catching me when the battle came to a sudden end. A group of red-skinned creatures appeared carrying torches and a few crude weapons chanting in a strange tongue, possibly attracted by the sound of the battle. They were small, perhaps half as tall as a grown man, but stout and covered in coarse gray hair, giving them the general likeability of a rabid badger. I normally would have seized the moment to establish a more prudent amount of space between me and the potential massacre that I thought would begin in mere moments, but quite valiantly decided to stay; running around and keeping myself from harm had placed me right between the screaming fur balls and the fierce contenders, leaving me nowhere to flee without giving them all a rather negative impression of my courage.

The arrival of the creatures did not appear to trigger the same overwhelming violence, but instead it soothed the existing animosity, creating an aura like that of a dedicated shrine where plenty of followers worshiped their gods. Both the large demon spider and the animated armor stood in a sort of awkward confusion while their furry cultists gathered around both of them and started to raise even louder cries to the nocturnal skies, possibly asking them for favors, miracles or just easier ways to visually recognize each other. I did not mind the tiniest bit the fact that they completely disregarded me, and would have dared to feel safe, but the moment I thought danger was fading, destiny decided that I was to be proven wrong.

Out of the grass below my feet came a sudden spark, revealing a very elaborate pattern that started to shine with increasing intensity. It grew in brightness and size before my eyes at an incredibly fast pace; whatever it had been originally made for, it probably was no smaller than the dragon that had placed me here. I felt the pressing need to get out of it, but by the time the order to run hit my legs they had become stuck into the ground, as if the earth had become quicksand. Much to my dismay, I was not the only one to be under such effect, both armor and demon were making futile attempts to dislodge their legs from the soil just causing it to swallow them faster. It was not long before they disappeared from sight, while the small cultists stayed afloat, as if they could stand on the runic circle that their voices summoned.

In mere moments I would join those that had found eternal rest beneath the earth. It would have been a good time to abandon all hope, but then a group of crows flew from the branches carrying something in their claws while cawing wildly. It was some sort of shiny trinket which was quickly put in my finger without as much as a word of warning. Not like they could provide any. My head went below the ground, but instead of instantly choking on the loose earth that I assumed was pulling me down, I found I was submerged in what felt like extremely thick greenish water. The ring was shining fiercely, but waning at times, just like the relics of legend that could keep anyone safe but only for a small amount of time. I thought I knew what to do next -the obvious instinctual response- but then I saw them.

The horned spider and the guardian armor, both writhing as if in pain, struggling to regain their freedom while something seemed to deprive them from their inhuman strength. I had no idea how to help, but as I swam towards them I scoured the old stories in search of an answer. It was one of those times when basically any choice can be your last and I was not really comfortable with the idea of leaving my debt to the crows unpaid. Whatever I did, I only would have one chance. But for once, I thought I know what to do, and it was not running.

***

The story continues! I hope you like it, in case you are new to my blog, please feel free to check parts I, II, III, IV and the Special Chapter, so you get up to date with the series. Thanks for reading.

Don’t forget to share and comment!

Just Another Adventure (Special Chapter I)

In hindsight, the fact that all these creatures I have met so far are unquestionably real makes much more sense than them being myths and cautionary tales from the past. You see, there is a comprehensive lore and a large collection of stories that relate creatures, places, and events that supposedly happened hundreds to thousands of years ago. Most of those have been tailored to fit a certain moral, highlight virtue and honor while vilifying the so-called demons and beasts from other realms of existence. Of course, when a being made up of every possible piece of horror that could be conceived in the human mind strolls around with a craving for the blood of men, we are a bit entitled to feel like sending it back to wherever it came in a state resembling a charred piece of coal.

But not every creature is like that, yet we generally classify them all as demons. Most of them have physical forms that are anything but harmless, be it to the eyes or to the rest of the body, but it is actually rare for them to have the need to stick to a human diet. Very much like us, they prefer things that are not prone to violent retaliation, long-lasting vows of revenge or revolting cries about how foul their taste will be. Some of the vilest fiends that did really try to devour as many people as they could were more like literally omnivorous beings: two servings of pine tree salad with four hundred pounds of goat meat and a side of human skewers. Their rampages never lasted that long, humans are not usually comfortable being the hosts of such gory banquets, so knights and warlocks did their job and banished the creature into the formless void between the eclipsed glades and the realms of thaumaturgy. Not quite a clear idea, but that was what I was told. I will explain as soon as I remember more about that.

So, the gathering of several brilliant mages -some think they were rather rickety of mind instead, as you will-, classified many of the creatures that they came in contact with, creating the Wolvengard Codex. It was a bulky work that was later split into five independent volumes, although each one is still referred to by the name I have just mentioned and the addition of a number to distinguish them. Many scholars dismissed the book as the most elaborate hoax ever written, some others were too terrified even to read its contents and a last group accused the mages of high treason, thinking they were in league with the creatures the tome described. After a couple decades of accusations even more insane than the wizards themselves, the Codex was hidden and promptly forgotten by everyone but the bards that had heard about it and, as you can guess, a hundred tales were born.

The actual contents of the tomes are not that clear, of course, not that anyone other than the scholars had the necessary steel-clad manhood required to skim through it, and even most of them required a new set of robes due to unexpected accidents while reading. It is known that the book had five well defined sections, namely Daemon, Soulless, Nightmare, Eternal and Essentials, as well as many subsections that contained the actual glyphs that told what the mages had seen, felt or reasoned with the creatures. While mostly descriptive, the anecdotes and recollections were burdened with the power of those who penned them, so it was said to be quite a lively reading experience. Also, most tales that mention the Codex include remarks about how finding and reading it gave heroes the insight needed to prevail, at the cost of their sanity after their time of strife was over.

So, according to at least one song, the contents of the book just mentioned one creature that could be said to be a true demon, yet it did not had the need to feed on the flesh, but more like the underlying spiritual energy of living things. Other creatures were less subtle and had little patience for long-term plans involving raising armies and farming humans, so while trying to devour everything on sight does not qualify as an evil thing -after all, it amounts to having a thousand-years worth of hunger to satisfy-, people did not take it well, cried “a demon is coming!”, summoned the knights and called it a day. You see, knights are a crunchy treat, but often cause terrible stomachaches if not properly chewed. So, armored men with sharp weapons could get rid of any problem, provided you had enough of them to spare.

Well, right now the Wolvengard Codex would come in handy, given the kind of things I am currently dealing with and those I am likely to find in the near future. However, I really need to make use of all my valor -hint: it is not that much- and find out why a damned crow keeps cawing and pecking my head. I kind of wonder why did I decide to take a mid-morning nap. Truth be told, I am not really sure I want to remember.

***

I had this idea about how the entire world of our little prone-to-running hero is tied together by stories, but I couldn’t find an adequate place to include it in. So, now we know what was he dreaming about during his mid-morning sleep!

I hope you like how this story is developing, I’m working on more misadventures for our hero and really would like to give him a rich world to explore and run away from.

My Twitter is here, in case you don’t want to miss when I announce a new update.

Thank you for reading, stay tuned for more; don’t forget to share and comment!