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The World of Issea

Discussion in 'Arts' started by gwarhammer, May 18, 2009.

  1. gwarhammer

    gwarhammer Cpt on the Ship of Fools

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    Okay, I finally caved and decided to make a thread for my fiction here. And, since my dA won;t let you see it without membership, here is my first post (and I apologise for the number of posts; this went a little longer than my usual story segments, and I couldn't quite break it into two posts):

    Chapter 1: The Dragon-Lady

    A cool mountain breeze eddied around the robes and hooded figure as he climbed slowly higher up the rocky face, his staff seeking out the flatter places in the floor. He paused and wiped one hand across his brow, looking up at the last stretch of his journey towards the cavern opening that was his destination for the night. The sun cast its multitude of oranges and pinks across the sky as it set on the other side of the peak, giving it a nimbus of pure golden light as the traveller journeyed upwards towards it. After a few moments, the figure reached out with his staff to continue his trek up the mountain.

    The last vestiges of the sunset were fading by the time the traveller reached his night's destination and began to inspect it to ensure it was a suitable place to camp. There were several signs that the cavern had been used before - large footprints, not shaped to be human, could be seen dotted around in the layers of dust towards the back of the cave, and several markings had been made on the walls. Primitive settlers and bears, no doubt, the man thought, shrugging slightly and pulling a large bag from a pocket on his belt. Still, it seems empty enough. He bent forwards to open the bag and removed a few things from it – a bedroll and lamp, a small tin cup and a parcel of meat and fruits – before placing it back in the pouch on his pocket.
    “And I suppose I’d better see if I can find some water, and some wood for a fire, then,” he muttered, with an obvious tone of resignation – that of a man too long alone in the wilderness.
    Kindling proved to be an easy task – dead branches from a stand of trees higher up the mountain had been blown back down the rocky trail by the increasingly strong wind. Water, on the other hand, would prove to be more troublesome – there was a small pool of fresh water nearby, but it seemed to be no more than rainwater gathered into a crevice in the rock. Nevertheless, he scooped it up in his tin cup and walked slowly back to the cave, hunched forwards and leaning heavily on his staff, the cup in his other hand and the firewood tied in a bundle over his shoulder.
    “If this storm gets any heavier, I’ll have to see if this cave has a spring in it,” he murmured, stirring up a fire to cook his meagre rations, and glancing outside, where the first flakes of snow had begun to fall. “Now that is strange...there was no sign of a blizzard on the way up here.” He shrugged. “Well, no help for it, I guess. I’ll have to stay here until it blows over.”
    After his slight meal, he began to move around the cave, collecting all the loose rocks and boulders he could find, heaving on them to roll them into position at the cave mouth, leaving a small opening through which he could fit when it came time to leave. Finally, he laid his staff aside and removed his robe, revealing the face and body of a man at least 40 years younger than any who saw him on his journeys would be able to guess. He sighed and hung his robe over the opening, pinning it in place with some smaller rocks, and returned to his bedroll.

    The traveller’s sleep was troubled that night. Strange visions and images flitted across his unconscious mind – scenes depicting legions of demons and undead ravaging the land, destroying cities and laying waste to the countryside. In the middle of them all was one figure – a beautiful young maiden, her face full of love and speaking of unutterable peace and happiness – seemed to beckon to him to come to her, but he found himself unable to move, paralyzed by her radiant demeanour. Even as he watched, she seemed to recede back, fading once more into the shadows of his sleeping mind.

    He was awakened suddenly by something cold and wet slapping into his face. During the night, something had shaken the rocks holding his robe in place loose and an errant breeze blew the snow-sodden garment through the cave and into his bed. Grimacing, he rose and hung the robe on his cooking frame over the remains of his fire from the previous night, before pulling on his boots and resolving to explore the rest of the cave behind his camp. He reached into his belt pouch for his bag, and pulled out his small tinderbox to relight his lamp, which had blown out during the night, and a medium-sized but fairly hefty-seeming warhammer. He put the bag back into its pouch and, lamp in one hand, hammer grasped loosely in the other, moved back around the rock pile at the back of the cave and into the small tunnel behind it.

    The tunnel was dark and narrow, twisting this way and that in a fashion reminiscent of a river meandering sluggishly through plains. The traveller pulled the hood of his lantern back slightly to allow a little more light to escape and continued, heading towards the moister-seeming air further through the tunnel.
    After about a half an hour, the tunnel suddenly widened out into a small chamber, a spring bubbling out of a crack in one wall and trickling across the floor to cascade in an almost musical shower down into the depths of the mountain. Forgetting stealth, the traveller rushed across the intervening space to the brook, discarding his weapon to pull a water flask from his belt, stooping and filling it, grateful for the fresh water. He then replaced the flask and filled his tin travelling cup, drinking deeply from the water and letting it refresh him.
    It was when he stopped that he heard it: a heavy, rhythmic breathing, some monstrous creature asleep in a cavern he could now see stretching from the back of this one. He silently cursed his inattentiveness and returned to pick up his hammer, slipping through to the adjoining chamber. A sharp gust of wind blew in through an almost invisible crack in the roof and snuffed out his lantern, leaving him in the dark, the pounding of his heart and the breathing of the creature the only sounds. He paused, adjusting to the conditions, and moved forwards, rounding a small out-jutting of the wall. As he did so, the still-functioning subconscious part of his rational mind noted, with some suspicion, the sudden lack of the heavy breathing, and noting also that it had been replaced by his own.
    Before him, her lustrous hair framing her perfect face, was the lady from his dreams the previous night. She rose from her seat on a rock with a fluid grace and smiled.
    “I have been waiting for you, Gravis Warhammer. I knew you would come to me.”
    Gravis’ mind reeled as she spoke his name – a name he thought the world no longer knew. “You – you know me?” he stammered.
    The lady smiled again, the sight of it erasing the cares and burdens from Gravis’ mind. “I know you, and in your heart you know me. We were made for each other.” She reached out to him, beckoning him to join her.
    Gravis paused, stunned, then sighed and shook his head. “Nothing would make me happier than to come with you, but I have many tasks still to do in the world. And I fear that my tasks may not be completed in your lifetime.”
    The lady nodded. “Yes...the time is not yet right. But we shall meet again, Gravis Warhammer, and when the time of our next meeting shall come to pass, this world shall tire thee and you shall fade into its memory and come with me.” She stepped back, seeming to fade once more, even as she had in Gravis’ dreams, and left him alone – alone in the dark.

    When he awoke, he was in his camp at the entrance to the caverns. He sat, groggily, and shook his head, trying to shake the dreams that had plagued his sleep for the last night. Finally, he gave up and rose to collect his equipment. His rational subconscious – ever alert to his surroundings – noted the oddities he could see around; the equipment he had dropped at the brook, still moist with the clear spring water, was laid neatly beside the rest of his equipment in the corner, and the weight of his flask told him it was now full. It also noted the face of his hammer – a dragon on flight had been embossed onto it – and that rhythmic breathing of a friendly and watchful creature eased his fears for the journey ahead.

    Gravis left the mountains some few days later, cresting a final peak to gaze down across the plains of Kar Eite towards the capital, sitting astride the Mondol ta Eite – the River of the World – at the head of a sparkling bay. All his dreams of the radiant lady of the mountains would be lost as his duties took him once more into the drab and mundane world he was life-bound to protect from the spirit of Roth and all his forces of evil.
     
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  2. gwarhammer

    gwarhammer Cpt on the Ship of Fools

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    Part 2 (Just fit; sorry for the Double-Post)
    Chapter 2: The Death of Gravis Warhammer
    Years, decades, had passed since Gravis Warhammer had journeyed westwards through the mountains of Kar Eite and encountered the mysterious, yet beautiful lady in that remote mountain cave. Almost an eon had passed – Emperors had risen and fallen, and now it seemed Roth was making his final move in the world-spanning conflict that was a mere precursor to an event that history would come to call The Second Apocalypse. Fifteen thousand years had passed since that first, fateful, time in which the world had come within an inch of eternal darkness at the hands of Roth. Civilisations had been destroyed, countries and continents submerged and the gods had had their battle in the wastes of Aezaq. Gravis had been there, then, with his three brothers. Gallian Foehammer, paramount warrior in talent and honour; Girral Banehammer, the thief so gifted at stealth that legends in the criminal underworld maintain that not even the gods themselves could find him; and Gilnon Doomhammer, later known as the Archmage, the one who had betrayed the world and joined with Roth during the First Apocalypse. One of the Hammer Brothers died that day, and in his place a twisted and warped effigy had been placed, a puppet of the epitome of evil. That thought still saddened Gravis as he and his two brothers journeyed towards Aezaq and the immense stone gateway that was the marker of the last tear between the planes, the last doorway through which Marmoroth – spawn of Roth – could return to continue his father’s work. The Guardians were the surety of the gods that the world would remain; whether for good or for ill. Gravis looked at his brothers, Gallian with a reddish glow marking him as a disciple of Ronon, and Guardian of his deity, and Girral marked with the deep purple, almost black, of Kii’Viranos, the Lady of Night. He raised an arm and looked at it, absently noting the green of Diamoth, the Gladewarden, and his own patron deity.
    The ship slowed suddenly as the crew dropped the anchor and prepared the longboat that would take the brothers to their final fight for the forces of good in the world, before their burdens were passed on to others. Girral was checking over his light armour and daggers, designed for perfect balance and deadly when thrown. Gallian was, with some reluctance, donning his formal dress armour, bearing the signia of the Sa’Kilae – the Honour-Knights of the Empire. Gravis flicked back one corner of his robe, checking for his hammer before resuming his study of his spellbook. The Archmage was more than his equal in magic, he knew, but he had lived through the tragedies of fifteen eons for this moment.
    After some time travelling across the wasteland, the brothers arrived at the gate. The air inside the massive stone arch seemed to almost reverberate as it shifted through inky blacks and sickly greens. Finally, a lone figure stepped through the portal and stood, arms raised, before them.
    The ground between the two parties erupted as all the legions of hell burst forth to engage the Guardians of Light.
    Gravis looked to his sides; on the one side, Girral had been surrounded by one flank of the demonic army, ducking through them and affecting vicious slices on his foes, although receiving many in return. To the other side, Gallian had discarded his broadsword and shield, resorting to his own hammer, swinging it with mighty two-handed strokes that crushed even the hardest of the fiends’ skulls, strewing what was inside across the red-stained wasteland. Before him, Gilnon had stepped forward, preparing to engage in the mage’s duel both had known was to come since the day Gilnon had become dead to his brothers.
    The first barrage caught Gravis off-guard, a sizzling bolt of electricity that hit him in the side, numbing half of his torso. He retaliated quickly, launching a series of weak but fast projectiles of pure force, pushing his erstwhile brother back step by step. After about 20 paces, Gilnon smirked suddenly and waved a hand, deflecting the projectiles back towards their caster. Gravis stopped firing, catching the projectiles and forcing them to the floor. His adversary took the opportunity to lash out with an inky jet of dark magic, burrowing it into Gravis’ abdomen, slowly draining the life force from his body. With blurred vision, Gravis glanced at his brothers; while certainly the worse for wear, they were overcoming the demons supporting Gilnon. If Gravis could keep the sorcerer occupied for just a little longer...he racked his brain, trying desperately to think of a way to stop Gilnon from realising how rapidly his force was diminishing. He grit his teeth and threw a ball of fire and ice into Gilnon’s face, interrupting his spell long enough for Gravis to roll to one side and try to regain his breath.
    His brother was not so easily defeated, however. The energy ball took him by surprise, searing one half of his face into a hideous, malformed mask, but this only served to further enrage the sorcerer, who began to rain down burning chunks of rock onto Gravis as he lay, gasping on the floor. The onslaught was too sudden for Gravis to react, leaving him to be battered and crushed by the falling rocks, even as his brothers defeated the last of Gilnon’s minions and closed on the sorcerer from each side.

    Chapter 3: The Aftermath
    A shadow passed overhead, temporarily nullifying the burning sun that Gravis was sure would be the last thing it would take to finally kill him. He shaded his eyes with his working hand and looked up; a dragon, its scales a magnificent red, was circling him, seeming to get lower with each pass. He closed his eyes for a few seconds’ rest from the sun, and when he opened them the dragon was gone; instead, a phoenix was perched on his shoulder, it’s plumage the most eye-catching he had ever seen. The magnificent bird cocked its head to the side, and a single tear rolled down from its eye to fall on the barely living mage. A gust of cool air blew across the desert surface, lulling the mage into an untroubled sleep.
    When he awoke again, he was looking into the face of the lady he had met in the mountains all those years earlier. Even as she had appeared before, her countenance was one of utmost perfection and serene beauty, her hands cool and soft as she helped him to stand, her smile as heart-stopping as he remembered.
    “Do you know me, Gravis Warhammer?” she asked, in that voice capable of washing away fears and concerns.
    “I could never forget thee, lady, for it is thee who I have been placed here to be with. I have loved thee since I met thee all those years ago, and my only regret as I lay on this field was that I would never more gaze upon thy face.”
    The lady stepped back and extended her hand to him. “And wilt thou come with me?”
    Tears of joy welled up in Gravis’ eyes. “Verily, my lady, for this world grows drab and dreary, and it has forgotten me. Even now, I feel myself fading into a memory in this world, and would be with thee and care for thee forever more.” He reached out and took the lady’s hand. “Truly have I died today, and been reborn a new man in a perfect world, one in which we were made to be together.”
    The two stepped apart and shimmered for a moment, and when the light made them visible once again, a pair of dragons were seen flying up out of the desert, one that same brilliant and perfect red, the other an azure blue, leaving behind them a legend that would fade to a memory in but a few in the world, and they lived apart from all others, each completing the other, their hearts filled with love.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2009
  3. Tehman

    Tehman [Heart o' Gold]

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    I have to say...Job well done, mate. I enjoyed it.
     
  4. gwarhammer

    gwarhammer Cpt on the Ship of Fools

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    Thanks. I intend to try and post probably one story section a week until I run out. If only to give me time to update what I have on my dA as well.

    Still, feedback is much appreciated, and with a bit of luck, more may be written.
     
  5. Angel of Game

    Angel of Game You want ban?

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    ...Wow, it's a great story. I really like to read it. Keep up the great work! :thumb:
     
  6. gwarhammer

    gwarhammer Cpt on the Ship of Fools

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    Okay, one week later and the next post (hopefully somewhat shorter this time, and not necessarily a part of the final work as yet):

    The young man sighed, sheathing his dagger and hiding the remains of the last night’s campfire. It wouldn’t do to have the solders tracking him see clear evidence that he had been here. If he was ever going to escape and make it to a safe place he could wait until everyone had calmed down, he was going to have to use every trick he had to keep the distance between him and his pursuers. He hastily packed away his tent and cooking utensils, piled some dirt over the site of the fire, and scattered a few small rocks around to make the area look untouched before moving on.
    He had left his stolen ship in a secluded cove south of the capital and cut directly across the road that ringed the island the day before, hoping that no one had noticed him passing. He had been on the run for years, it seemed, and only recently realised the one place he would be safe within the Empire.
    Borz, of the clan of Grom’Shae, had been a criminal when he was younger. That was not to say he thought of himself as such, his only aim was to ensure that all the members of his community had an equal distribution of goods, and that wealth should be owned by the community and used for the whole community. The rich people of the town always seemed to disagree, and after a while, had bought off the law and sent them after Borz. Over time, as Borz proved impossible to catch, the local search expanded, the lies becoming distorted and spread until eventually the provincial government of Agoron, led by the Noble House Tai’Hir, had issued a bounty for his capture.
    This did not fit with Borz’ plan, and he fled, taking ship before they could close Port Eskatay, and sailing east, ostensibly on a tour of the backwards countries that were nominally a part of the Empire. Inevitably, someone on the ship had seen his likeness on the warrant posters, and decided to try and claim the bounty. Borz always regretted the outcome of that, but felt sure that the fellow would be able to untie himself from the anchor before anything bad happened to him. Nevertheless, he had to jump ship and swim for the nearest landmass.
    And so, Borz Grom’Shae found himself standing on the grassy knoll on what was still – for some reason – known as the Wasteland, although it had by now begun to be covered in grass and wildflowers, the decrepit stone arch in the centre looking eerily out of place amongst the beauty. He stood at the top of the hill and looked down at the blasted bare spot of earth that marked what Aezaq used to be, when it was truly the Wasteland. As he looked at that bare spot, he remembered the old legend his grandfather had told him.
    The massive battle between good and evil – the Second Apocalypse – had taken place here years ago. The three Hammer brothers had stood, shoulder to shoulder, to face the legions of Hell, and had triumphed, and so saved the world. Borz also remembered that the legend continued – the last two dragons known to be alive had been seen flying up from the site of the battle.
    But still, he couldn’t put any credence in the ravings of his grandfather. He still had to find a place to hide. Then he realised where he could hide – the legends may have more credence than he thought. Wasn’t there the legend of the Dragon-Lady? The one that kept travellers afraid to enter the mountains in the centre of Kar Eite? He smiled to himself, and began to walk down the hill. As he neared the bottom, a large shadow passed over him, and he looked up to see what it was...but there was nothing there, just a clear, blue sky. He tried to shrug the event off and continued onwards, looking for some way to get off this forsaken island and to safety.
    He was fatigued and exhausted when the ship came by. He had climbed to the top of a cliff and built a beacon out of pieces of driftwood and some dry grass, and in the gathering twilight it was beginning to stand out more prominently. He watched the ship with the gaze of one obsessed, but with no hope left.
    When the long ship touched the beach below him, he finally gave in and fell asleep, relief overcoming him.
    He came to in a narrow wooden cabin, lurching slightly and with the sound of water sloshing against the walls. He started, trying to remember what had happened. After a few moments, it came back to him, and he moved on silent feet to the door to see where the sympathies of his apparent crewmates lay.
    “So, we’re agreed? We’ll take him with us when we make port at the capital?” said a harsh voice on the other side of his door.
    “Only if the bounty is still available. If we find it isn’t, we’ll dump him in the bay,” replied another.
    Borz waited until the footsteps of the two men had retreated down the corridor and slipped from his cabin, hoping that that attitude was not held by the entire crew. He remembered what happened last time he was on a ship like this, and the pang of remorse hit him again. He wondered if the other fellow had managed to get his ropes untied or not as he slipped away towards the door that opened from this deck into the ship’s hold.
    Over the next few days, he managed to avoid having too much interaction with the rest of the crew. Since he was determined to work as a crewmember while he was on the ship that took him in, the captain sized him up and gave him the task of making sure the cargo was kept securely in place through any of the storms that sprung up, since he was head and shoulders the biggest man in the crew.
    Almost a week after they left Aezaq, the ship approached Kar Eite, and Borz decided that the time had come to ensure that no one would be able to turn him in to the authorities. And so, one night shortly before they made port, Borz slipped up to the deck and quietly lowered one of the long ships down to the water, sliding down the rope after it and making his way as silently as he could towards a cove on the shore.
     
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