A very brief introduction

Hello Internet,

So I don’t really know why I made this place. I just figured that I got kind of bored of never putting my writing anywhere of note and since any old idiot can have a blog these days I figured why not. Whether or not people actually stumble along here I don’t really care, but it is a good way of keeping myself motivated to keep working on a lot of different projects. As it says in the sidebar, expect to see writings, ramblings, essays and more here. It’ll probably mostly consist of short stories and chapters of longer works, but other things that strike my fancy will likely end up here as well.

Oh and before I ramble off for too long, I should probably introduce myself. The name’s Omar, I’m your typical kid fresh out of highschool, you can also call me Onarax as that’s my username pretty much everywhere else. And now you know who I am, just another moron on the internet.

On to the more practical stuff. As you can see by the categories, I’ve currently got a couple different sections in the  Stories Category. So I’ll explain briefly what each of those are about, with Misc. obviously incorporating any stand alone stories that don’t fit into the other categories.

First up is Ruins: This is a larger setting I’ve been working on for many years now, a bit of a fantasy realm that’s more historically inspired than your typical elves and dwarves medieval fantasy settings. While you won’t find such fantastical races here, it is a world where a select few have low powered magical abilities. Not to mention the world as a whole is filled with legends and the artifacts from era bygone. That’s where the name Ruins comes from actually, since the vast ruins containing such powerful artifacts tends to drive many of the stories in this realm. As you can see the category is divided into two sections, one is Short Stories for all my miscellaneous needs and the other is called Thief.

Thief is a story about a boy who grows into that world’s greatest thief and the journey along the way. It’s still very much a work in progress and I’ve only got about 12k words in for about 8 chapters if I’m remembering right. Those might go up unproofed sometime soon. I’ve also kind of split focus on the story right now to have it also follow one of the boy’s friends and reveal his story too.

Fittingly, next up is the hankering of an idea with the work in progress title Stolen. This story is meant to be my approach on a superhero universe, but following one of this universe’s villains who goes around stealing powers and making them his own. Not a whole lot of the universe or the story has been plotted out yet as it’s mostly just an idea that’s been gnawing away at me for years and will be rather free form. As of writing I’ve only got a brief prelude piece written up that just kind of teases into the world.

Now, the long title that many of you won’t get, and those that do regret. Demon King is a bit of a wacky idea I’ve had to partly emulate and partly parody the current Japanese Light Novel/Web Novel craze, hence the overly long title. As the name gives away, the story will follow the adventures of the new Demon King who doesn’t really want his job because he thinks heroes are way cooler. Along the way he’s going to meet other wacky beings and have one hell of a time. Setting is pretty typical fantasy world, the kind you see in the WNs this story is inspired by.

Finally we’ve got The Disappeared Body, which may or may not be set in the same universe as Demon King, that’s undecided as of writing. Nevertheless, the story is very different even if the settings are similar. It follows a character of mine named Deuce Marlowe, who, as the name implies, is a detective. Hailing from a more cyberpunk world, Deuce finds himself thrown into a fantasy setting and forced to make his way along as he tries to figure out a way back home. Drawing plenty of inspiration from hard-boiled roots, which you might’ve guessed from Deuce’s surname, the story is meant to almost mash up the two genres. I’ll hopefully have the first few chapters up soon.

So that’s all for now. If I get more serious about this I’ll probably buy a domain and do some CSS editing. In addition to getting some more dedicated pages up and going. Until then hope you enjoy your stay and I hope I can stick things out.

-Omar

Episode 1: Trial on Jōmō Pass

I’ll write a proper pre-word in the morning. Wrote this thing for a contest thingy on another site earlier today. Mad dash to get it all up before midnight. Posting here after proofing. Episode 2 will come eventually, only intend for two parts however. Oh yeah, this is the start of Wednesday: Free Writes

 

Fabio Fiordilatte was always chasing.

“One more chance, that’s all I’m asking for.”

There was no moon nor stars out tonight to illuminate the long road.

“That’s what you said last time Park.”

Still the crowd was deafening. These late night events always attracted a rowdy sort. An underbelly filled with adrenaline junkies, loan sharks and half-naked women.

“I know, I know. But I’ve got a good feeling about this one.”

Yet it was the smell of dust that overpowered everything else.

“You always have a good feeling Park. That’s your problem.”

The engines were roaring, drowning out even the crowd’s cheers; the drivers behind the wheels wouldn’t have it any other way.

“You’ve never won Park. Not once. There’s not even money to be had in you throwing the race.”

Through the roaring engines, screaming crowds and heart pounding music, a trained ear could pick up the static of CB radios. Over their two way systems the organizers were hard at work making sure the roads were clear for tonight’s events.

“Sell that worthless car of yours and then I’ll get you some real work Park. You’re never going to pay me back racing.”

It was almost time to begin as the first car pulled up to starting line. It was a heavily customized first gen, blood red mid-size sporting the kind of spoiler most only saw at the cinema. From the sound of his engine alone it was obvious the driver had put quite a bit of time and effort into his ride. The overall wedge shape culminating in a sloped bumper with the gentle framing of a low roof crafted a fearsome yet beautiful beast.

“I can’t do that.”

If the stickers of the defeated teams on the red monster’s spoiler scared the other driver, it did not show. Pulling up in his green sports coupe was comparatively underwhelming. The long flat body struck a remarkable contrast to his opponent, and the driver had barely been able to afford a few engine upgrades. There was no massive spoiler to be found here. By and large, his car kept the look of its stock model.

“Fine. Then you’ll race for pinks next time. You lose and you’re out. We’ll talk about how much you owe me after the race. Who knows, if you put on a good show you might even cover some of your debt.”

“Hey Park, is that you?”

The voice from the red car took Fabio by surprise, he didn’t expect the other driver to speak let alone recognize him.

“I take it by the look on your face I hit the jackpot.” The grinning black haired man continued. The rest of the details were rather hard for Fabio to make out in the darkness.

“Uh yeah. It’s me.”

“You’re Eve’s little bro right? I’d recognize that bright blonde hair anywhere.”

Before Fabio could respond another voice boomed over a megaphone.

“GOOD EVENING RACERS! We’ve got a great show for tonight. The legend of this pass, driving his brilliant red comet: Ryoma ‘Aka’ KOBAYASHI!”

“I miss the old days y’know?” As the crowd cheered with the announcer, the driver in question took advantage of the announcer’s pause to speak more with young Fabio. “Back then it was just a couple of us kids driving down these passes to kill time after classes. None of this noisy nonsense.”

“After years at the Atlesian Pro-circuit Aka’s comet has returned home! His FR has only ever lost to one driver on Jōmō Pass. The question on everyone’s minds: can the golden boy maintain his near perfect record tonight!”

“It ain’t anything close to perfect if you ask me.”

“The answer lies with his challenger, an underdog still trying to make his mark on the scene despite loss after loss. Will this be the day for young Fabio Park? Can his unconventional ride’s Four Wheel Drive overcome Jōmō’s champ? LET’S FIND OUT!”

“Here we go kid, see you at the bottom.”

As the announcer continued to hype the crowd, a new face walked up to the two vehicles standing by. The transceiver at his belt signified his role as one of the organizers of tonight’s festivities.

“Alright listen up. We’re going over the rules one last time. Standard downhill pass race and since neither of you are lacking in power, you’re gonna take off at the same time. Whoever gets in front is the leader. If he pulls away by the time you’re down at the bridge it’s his win. Other guy catches up and passes then he wins. Standard stuff. Go when the flag drops.”

“LET THIS BATTLE OF ANCIENTS BEGIN! Racers to your marks, get set, GO!”

The flag dropped and the race was on.

Both cars came alive instantly, the sounds of turbo and the fumes of their exhausts filling the air. Their RPM gauges lurched up as both drivers began to shift into gear. Squealing tires and burning rubber were mere side effects of the intensity of these two men. The opening stretch was one of only a few places wide enough to accommodate both cars; whoever seized the line here would be the leader.

Rear wheels propelling it forward, Aka’s red comet displayed it’s superior acceleration to snatch the lead in the first straight. Leaving Fabio’s 4WD to chase its bumper, but the younger driver refused to lose hope because of a shaky start. He already expected to lose the initial straight; his ride just didn’t quite have the same power in it.

Taking the moment to flip his fog lights up, the Mistralian boy prepared himself for the race ahead. He had studied the course intently for tonight: he knew the pass liked to trick new racers with the three easy turns up ahead that were immediately followed by two tight hair pins. Then there was the straight away, followed by six more harrowing hair pins and then the final sprint to the end. If he was to stand any chance at all he’d have to make to move before that final sprint; there was no way he was beating Aka’s acceleration.

Deep down Fabio was well aware that no amount of studying was going to catch up to sheer experience his opponent had on this mountain. He knew his odds were slim: he didn’t possess a faster ride, he didn’t possess more skill, hell he probably wasn’t even smarter than Jōmō’s comet. A clutch victory seemed impossible; he was at a breaking point.

Even so, he refused to lose his car.

Shifting gears once more, foot nailed down to the accelerator and only moving when the clutch called his attention, Fabio Fiordilatte chased. His green coupe remained tight on the red FR’s bumpers as they approached the first turn. Both drivers shifted down around the same time, with the FR going into a controlled oversteer cutting off Fabio’s attempt to use his superior traction to steal the inside line.

The spectators at the bend couldn’t help but cheer as the rear bumpers came dangerously close to the guardrail between them. Yet to the drivers the outside world had long since faded away, all that remained were the cars, the road, and the beatings of their hearts.

Screeching tires could once more be heard as the red comet snapped back in front maintaining its lead out of the first bend. Still, Fabio’s old ride was not going to be outdone this early and it continued its pursuit into the second bend of the race to similar results. So close was the 4WD that Aka could barely recognize anything in his rear view as the 4WD’s fog lights cast a bright glare.

In the third turn the FR made its move as it went into this turn far faster than it had approached the rest. Pulling away from the 4WD for the moment, the spectators watched in awe as the FR squealed into a high speed drift once more to widen the distance between the two. The race had only just begun but already Aka was pulling out all the stops to keep his lead. In a blur he disappeared behind the turn rapidly entering the two hairpins.

“Aka’s at it again,” one of the spectators on the third turn remarked, “the newbie is dead meat.”

“Shame too. I thought we might seem something special when he showed up in a 4 Wheel Drive. That’s what the beat the FR last time too.”

“Really? Well, I guess this brat was too cocky if he took on this race.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure,” came a new voice into the conversation between the two spectators. It belonged to a young woman whose features were obscured by the large shades she wore. The fact that the sun had descended long ago did not seem to bother the blonde.

“How do you figure?”

“Aka always tests his opponents here. Now we’ll see if he can pass.”

“Was that supposed to be a pun?”

Despite his initial fear, or the fact that he had lost sight of the FR at the third bend, Fabio did his past to remain calm. His body had screamed at him to go even faster but he remembered the danger of Jōmō Pass; the two hairpins ahead would not forgive a fast entrance. He just had to have faith that his 4WD could take the corners faster than the FR.

With the first hairpin on him mere seconds out of the bend, Fabio took advantage of his newfound room to seize the optimal line on the inside. It was amazing what the traction of all four of his wheels could do when he didn’t have to worry about hitting the bumper of his opponent. In a flash he was out of the second hairpin and once more had eyes on his target as he chased him down the straight away.

“Hey is it just me, or did the coupe come out of that turn way faster than the FR.”

“No way. Aka’s FR is untouchable. Hell I amazed the other kid didn’t smash into a guardrail.”

“That happen often?”

“Have you see the state of the guardrail on that turn?”

“Still, doesn’t it look he’s cut down the distance between them?”

“Well I’ll be damned.”

Despite the advantage the FR normally had in acceleration, the high speed of the 4WD out of the turn produced a noticeable difference in speed between the two vehicles. By the time Aka was entering the Jōmō’s deadly six the foglights were nearly upon him once more. All Aka could do was downshift and go into yet another one of his practiced drifts. Both drivers were well aware that these hairpins would decide the outcome of this race.

No slouch in the corners, the 4WD displayed it’s superior grip as it tried to hold the inside line. By the end of the first hairpin the two cars were bumper to bumper again. It was going into the second hairpin that Fabio remembered the danger from before. As predicted, Aka went into another drift but this time, like he did in the earlier turns, his FR cut off Fabio’s line.

“Holy crap, they’re gonna hit each other.”

“Babe if you keep freaking out, I’m not bringing you to another race.”

“But they’re right next to the guardrail and the front of the red one is nearly touching that green car. How can they not hit each other?”

“No, no, you don’t get it. That’s Aka’s game, he’s blocking off the other driver’s line-”

“What’s a line? Do you mean the white stripes on the road?”

“No a line is like the optimal route a driver can take through corners.”

“Isn’t racing just about whose car is faster anyway?”

“Of course not. Look at these two. Compared to the FR-”

“Eff Arr?”

“Front Engine, Rear Wheel Drive. Anyway, like I was saying. The FR is slower in the corners, but it doesn’t matter if Four Wheel Drive can’t maintain his line.”

“You’re such a nerd, this is a horrible spot for a date.”

“Whatever. Now we can please go back to the race.”

“What race? Those guys went out of sight ages ago.”

“GOD DAMN IT.”

“Anger management honey.”

Entering the fourth hairpin, Fabio was starting to get worried. The previous three hairpins had all been the same; it didn’t matter how much he had cut down on the distance if he couldn’t pass the FR. Aka’s knowledge of the course was incredible. He knew all the optimal lines for Fabio’s 4WD and thus every single one them had been blocked off.

As much as he couldn’t afford to lose, Fabio’s hopes for a victory were being dashed away.

Going into the fifth hairpin he knew he had to do something. He had been hoping the grip of his car would carry him through but that was no longer an option. He had to do something crazy to take the lead and only had one shot coming up. The narrow road opened up just enough after the sixth hairpin for the two cars to race side by side. That meant he couldn’t just afford to take the lead in the hairpins; he needed a substantial distance. As the FR’s tires squealed once more, and his opponent’s front cut off the 4WD’s line, Fabio realized his way out.

The next hairpin would decide the race.

Meanwhile the spectators continued to be amazed at the state of the race. No one had expected this race to be so close. Most pursuers of Aka down these hairpins got sent flying off the mountain. That this loser had made it so far baffled many of the onlookers with money on this race. Some were even beginning to sweat nervously as the blurs made their way down the mountain. Yet the veterans, who had been coming to Jōmō Pass long before the adrenaline junkies, loan sharks, and half-naked women, were all smiling. It had been many years since they had last seen a race this close on the pass.

That was an era that was long since past. When the Lady still ruled.

Inside his car Aka was smiling. The kid had done extremely well to make it this far, even now, speeding out of the fifth hairpin, he could make out the fog lights of the 4WD in his mirror. The boy was sticking on his bumper but unfortunately it was too late. They were about to enter the final hairpin and after that it would all be over.

“You put on one hell of a show kid.” Aka remarked inside his relatively silent car as they entered the last of Jōmō’s deadly six. Just like before he shifted down, began to oversteer once more, and checked his rear view for one last sighting of the kid that had put on a spectacular fight.

The fog lights were gone.

The 4WD, which had been trailing the FR for the entire race, was suddenly nowhere to be seen. Rather it had given up the optimal line being blocked by Aka’s red comet. Ripping his head to the right side, Aka was finally able to make out the front bumper of the green coupe steadily creeping forward. The maniac was taking advantage of Aka’s driving to grab the outside.

Fabio Fiordilatte had realized something important during the last hairpin. He had been so focused on trying to seize his line that he failed to notice his opponent’s crucial error. In cutting him off on every turn Aka also wasn’t following his line. And just like that, the lines both of them needed to take had changed.

The FR always lacked the speed in the corners compared to Fabio’s 4WD. However while his opponent was in such an extreme drift his speed was going to be cut down tremendously. He was no longer just a bit slower in the corners; he was a bonafide snail compared to the grip of his 4WD. While racing along the outside, Fabio was gaining speed while his opponent was losing.

Now it was time for Aka to do the chasing.

Out of the last hairpin the 4WD zoomed past the cheering spectators to finally take the lead. In contrast the FR lost even more speed as it straightened itself out. The red comet’s tires were crying out as Aka kept himself from fishtailing. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem as his temporary slowdown would also affect his opponent. But normally his opponent wasn’t in the lead.

In an outcome none of the spectators, save perhaps one, could have expected, the 4WD was widening the distance between the two cars as it approached the final bridge.

However Jōmō’s famed red comet was not out of the race just quite yet. Its famous acceleration kicking into gear, it chased down the 4WD. With only this last straight away left, the red comet pulled itself alongside the 4WD. The FR’s front bumper was so close that Fabio wouldn’t have been able to open his right hand door if he so desired.

At this point, as both car’s jostled for the front, the only thing the drivers could do was hold down the accelerator.

The bridge was rapidly closing in for the two neck and neck competitors.

1000 meters.

800 meters.

500 meters.

100 meters.

In that last second, Aka did something that only the two racers could notice. For a brief instant he let his foot off the accelerator just as he would’ve taken the lead.

“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! OUR CHAMPION! THE GREEN DEVIL! FABIO PARK!”

As his heart settled Fabio wasn’t sure what was stranger: the cheering of the crowds, his impromptu nom de guerre, or hearing his father’s surname again. He may have entered with the name but it still felt odd to hear.

Well, he knew what felt stranger.

This victory, while it may have been his first, did not feel earned. Grateful as he may have been to keep his car, he hardly felt accomplished right now.

“Well I gotta say I’m amazed Park. Looks like you were actually right for a change,” Fabio nearly recoiled away as the rotund loan shark leaned his greasy arm on Fabio’s window. The smell of cigarettes and booze was unmistakeable. “Don’t worry, I’ve already made sure that your winnings will find their way to me. That should cover about fifty percent of your debt. Most everyone was expecting you to lose. I always love an underdog story.”

As the other man walked away Fabio did his best to keep the disgust off his face. There were more important things to worry about right now. He needed to speak with Aka immediately; he still had so many questions. Luckily for him, the crowd of spectators were beginning to dissipate, already distracted by the night’s next event. As they began to move away from his car he caught sight of the brilliant red FR parked in the nearby lot.

At the quietest his engine had been all night, Fabio wheeled his way in alongside the FR. Aka, still with a large grin on his face, was leaning against his pride and joy smoking a fresh cigarette. Now that Fabio got a closer look at him he was a bit surprised by his appearance. The hair he had mistaken for black was actually a dark shade of red and explained the man’s nickname. He was also shorter than Fabio expected, barely taller than Fabio himself. Yet most surprising was how much older he seemed. The man had to be in his late forties but he seemed so worn out; especially around those hazel eyes.

Getting out of his car, Fabio turned to face the man he had defeated tonight.

“There’s the champ. Just like your big sis. Here for the slips?”

“Why’d you slow down?”

“Would you believe me if I told you my foot slipped?”

Fabio’s silence was all the answer the other man needed.

“Alright fine. Take a walk with me kid. Don’t worry, I don’t bite.”

Nodding his head, and possibly against his better judgement, Fabio followed the other man as he took them down the trail.

“That lot was made back when the trail got a lot of visitors but nowadays no one cares about the backwoods in Mistral. Watch your head.”

Ducking beneath the forewarned branch, the young teen paid closer attention to the trail they were now walking along. Nothing about it stood out to him; it was your standard dirt path through the woods. The most important part was trying not to lose his footing on the rather steep downhill. He failed to imagine how this trail might have ever garnered traffic.

“Well, here we are.”

On cue Fabio emerged from the last hedge to have his query answered. Across him stood a beautiful lake. The still waters felt so tranquil compared to all the heart pumping action that had occurred earlier today. The trees on the opposite side were so obscured by darkness that, had he not known better, Fabio would’ve sworn that the lake continued on forever.

“It’s lot more beautiful when the moon and stars are out at full force.”

Seeing Fabio so wide eyed and in awe the older man couldn’t help but grin. He remembered the days when his face had born that stupid look. Still, even after all these years, the beauty of the place always amazed him.

“So, you wanted to know why I let up. Eh kid?”

“Huh,” for a moment Fabio remained too entranced to register any words, “Oh right. Yeah, why’d you give up Aka.”

“Just call me Ryoma kid, leave Aka for the fanboys and stupid announcers. Still can’t believe those sleeze bags snuck into our turf.”

“Right uh, then Ryoma. Why’d you do it?”

“Cause I’m old.”

“Come again?”

“I’m olllddd.” Ryoma reiterated, taking special care to stress the second word. “I thought it was elders that are supposed to be losing our hearing.”

“I still don’t get it.”

“Look, I was old when your sister burst on the scene and I’m even older now. Why do you think I was racing for pinks.”

“I’m not sure.” Fabio confessed, “I hadn’t really thought about your reasons.”

“Course you didn’t, kids never do. Look, a teenaged brat like you has plenty of years of racing left in him. Hell, you might even hit the circuit one day. Me? My days are at an end, I was hoping some gutsy bastard would beat me and earn my car. That was the plan at least.”

“So what happened?”

“Obviously this race did. Seeing you race I realized that anyone who did beat shouldn’t drive my car. They needed to make a name for themselves with their own four wheels.”

“Still, that doesn’t explain why you gave up.”

“I didn’t really give up, truth be told if we raced again you’d beat me. You saw through my trick kid, had you caught it one turn earlier I wouldn’t have stood a chance. You upgrade your ride a bit and I also would’ve been completely smoked. Far as I’m concerned you won fair and square.”

“But what about all the other races I lost? I just got lucky today.”

“Luck is just a part of racing kids, and you won today fair and square. Those other races? Bad match ups, nerves, lack of experience, hell any number of things could’ve been responsible. It doesn’t matter and I don’t care, you won. End of story.”

There was a brief pause as Fabio reflected on the older man’s words.

“You don’t have to give me your car y’know.”

“Ah, the youth and their misguided charity,” Ryoma’s laugh took Fabio by surprise and younger boy could only eye the elder with confusion. “Look, I knew I made the right choice when I saw that damn shark leaning on your window. If I talk to him, sell him my car, I’m sure it’ll cover your debts.”

“But-”

“Shh,” silenced Ryoma as he put on a head on Fabio’s head, “I want you to keep racing debt free. And not in this damn, infested environment filled with shit. Look head up north to Nagano, that’s where you’ll find the real racers. Away from all this riff raff that just tunes in to see a crash and make some money. No annoying announcers or troublesome sharks either. Just a bunch of guys and girls who want to drive. Think you can do that?”

Fabio found himself nodding again.

“Great, then I guess I’ll head back and see who I need to hand my car off too. Impressive stuff out there kid. You Fiordilattes are something else, the puns could use work though.”

“Wait! How’d you know-” but even as Fabio turned his head, Ryoma had long disappeared back into the shrubbery signaling the trail. Thus Fabio was left alone alongside the spacious lake. In the morning, he’d head back to his car, fuel up and head for Nagano. He intended to take up Ryoma’s proposition; a new environment would be nice. But for now?

For now he’d enjoy the peaceful night by the lake. He had finally won his first race.

Time to take it slow.

The Story of a Thief: Prelude

So I finally got the first chapter of Thief up. Well the prelude at least. With this I’m trying to get a relatively consistent schedule up. I’ll see about making a proper calendar somewhere but here’s the basic idea:

Monday: Remastered Collection – Like most writers I’ve built a library of works scattered across many drives over the years. I’m hoping that for a while at least, I can proof, revise, and probably rewrite those pieces and then upload them here on Mondays. 

Wednesday: Free Write – Anything goes on these days as long as I got something up. Most commonly short stories probably, but possibly poetry or new chapters. 

Friday: New Chapter – As the obvious name implies, these days are for uploading new chapters for one of the three main works I’ve detailed previously. Once Thief has caught up via the Monday revampings, I’ll add it to the list. 

As for this prelude, this is my third version of the opening and I think it’s the strongest. It’s essentially rewritten from the ground up compared to the previous versions. If people are curious I can upload those at some point, but like I said they’re quite old. Anyhow, enjoy.

Prelude:

A single candle illuminated the building. It stood alone. No fresh sunlight came to its aid, nor the light of the moon or even the pinpricks of the stars. There were no windows to carry the light of the rest of world into this building. Thus the candle was left as the sole steward to light the rows and rows of bookshelves that carried on as far as the eye could see. Yet even at the end of the line it was not dark. That waxing candle was not bright; it had no more intensity than its common brethren. Even still the building remained encompassed by its glow.

Through the lines of dusty, musty, and sometimes rusty books, through the smells of parsley, oranges, and peaches sat an old man hunched over a desk. Dirt had long since settled into every crack and crevice and the once rich mahogany no longer possessed a sheen. The leg’s gold inlays, once depicting birds and flowers, could now pass for bronze. The smoothness of the top panel was now guaranteed to leave splinters. As the old man shifted his weight, the creaking of the desk forewarned that its time would soon come.

Yet the nature of time was not the reason for the man’s furrowed brow. Nor was it the reason he clicked his tongue with a taste of mint still fresh. As he scanned the parchment atop his desk, he couldn’t help but squint. Like the desk, he too had felt the passing of time; his gray eyes now matched the color of his hair. Wrinkles seemed more common than smooth skin and his trembling right hand could barely grasp the quill. At the night the man found himself beset by coughs that seemed to last an eternity.

Ink again touched down on paper as he scratched out words now lost to time. The old paper vanished as the man reached for its successor. Why? Wrote the man, pondering if he should begin with a question this time. The story the man was chronicling did bring to mind many questions; questions better served by asking for the ‘how’ rather than the ‘why.’

Even still the man was forced to shake his head and begin anew. For what good story doesn’t revolve around questions? The reader will always ponder the things he reads; stating such an obvious fact was the work of a lesser writer. The old man didn’t allow himself to be a lesser writer. He wrote down (and sometimes embellished) tales from all over. Stories of courage and treachery, stories of heroes and villains, love and hate, if there existed a word for it he had chronicled that tale.

It was what he did, for he was the weaver.

At its heart, I suppose it was a kid’s story. Once again putting words to page the man leaned back allowing his eyes to drift to the ceiling. His left hand opened and closed as the man continued to lie deep in thought. Every now and again the wind would whoosh by as the man twirled his quill, continuing to ponder this new beginning. No, beginning as a reflection hardly suited the legend he wished to convey.

Once more the page disappeared- lost in the void of muses.

Legends aren’t always good people.

Too judgemental.

All legends have a beginning, a basic concept from which a masterpiece is born.

Too preachy.

Like everyone else he began as a footnote. This is the tale of a boy.

No. This beginning, like the others, also reeked of self importance.

A sigh escaped the old man’s lips. Age meant little, time meant little, for a writer always feels inexperienced. In all things there exists someone better, yet still the man looked back at his page. The story had to be told even if no one would ever lay eyes upon it. Even if it lacked the elegance of his peers and their works; he had a duty to tell this story.

That was who the weaver was. Sometimes the stories were his own and sometimes they were the histories of others. He always struggled, but especially with the later. He needed to provide justice to those tales most of all: put into writing what he had experience with all of his senses.

Setting aside his quill for now the old man rose from the desk causing a wave of dust to blow over. Every joint creaked as he hobbled down the library of shelves. His right hand smoothed his beard as his eyes darted across the covers that filled the room. Behind each one lay a universe ripe for enjoyment. Often had the man found himself lost in the endless rows, drifting from one world to the next.

Some existed many leagues beneath the seas. While others drifted off into galaxies untouched. Some worlds were unrecognizable and others felt a bit too close to home. Many of these tales he had authored himself, while the rest came from his predecessors. When his own time came the weaver would move on and the mantle would pass to the next. Yet the library would never grow too old; it could only grow larger with each passing.

Still making his way through the old room, the man suddenly raised an eyebrow as he noticed a peculiar sight on one of the shelves. Papers, barely strung together, existed alone bereft of the covers that surrounded them. A bit curious, the old man reached out with his right hand. Slowly, for fear that even the slightest pull might tear the pages, the man began to flit through its contents.

In that moment a sound that had not existed in the room for many years burst forth.

The old man laughed. A joyous, hearty laugh that filled every corner of the boundless library. Tears were streaming down his face as the laughter changed to a chortle and then to his old coughs.Yet between coughs his lips continued to curl upwards in a wide grin.

The frustrations from earlier poured away, as he flipped past page after page. Intently devouring every piece of the old work as he found himself lost in a youth he had forgotten.The story was old, far older than even the man, written by a weaver long since past. Still it rang through, telling of a tale that felt right at home to the old man. It was the story of a hero embarking on a quest to save a princess. Along the way the hero fought a monster, learned from a wizened mentor, and even made a life long friend. From beginning to end, it was a story all have heard.

And it was beautiful.

Mankind’s longest tradition has been storytelling. The old man had long believed this truth. To him every story held an immeasurable value and nothing treaded on old ground. Smile still wide, even after the coughs had resided, the man walked back to his desk. Once more the chair squeaked as he repositioned himself and picked up his quill.

Drops of ink spilled on the parchment as the quill was readied. Steadily, long strokes put down the words to begin the old man’s latest tale. Up and down ran the brushstrokes producing the soothing swishing melody that all weavers love. With each stroke the ink felt richer, fuller and so too the words it bore. For the four words the man had settled on only one dipping of ink was necessary. This too was a time honored tradition. Thus the story began as all grand tales do:

Once upon a time.

 

 

The Story of a Thief

Stolen: Chapter 1

`Meant to post this last night, ended up spending the whole night writing it up. So much for a proper sleep cycle or bothering to proof read before things go up. I’ll take a nap and proof read it later. But for now enjoy the first chapter of Stolen.

UPDATE: And proofed, again I probably missed a lot of stuff so holler at me magical person if you notice anything.

 

We all spend our lives checking off boxes.

The salaryman ticks off his sales numbers. He tries to fill a weekly quota of family time. Then he’ll make sure he achieved all the monthly requirements to keep his job. All of this he does as he checks the boxes that deceive his clients into thinking he cares.

At a younger age, the high schooler blocks out his time. He has school obviously, but also his extra curriculars and that girlfriend he thinks is the one. She’s not of course, but he needs to check off the box of experiencing young love. He’s also working on making sure he breaks every rule set out by his parents. That’s what he’s been told youth is, the old timers don’t know anything, so why listen? Later he’ll check off the box of becoming just like them.

And how I could forget the politician? The many boxes he faces, from voting for the right issues, to visiting the right locations, to kissing the right babies. Right being a relative term which generally means the most polarizing option. But hey, how else does he make sure his base will check off his box when it shows up on election day?

As a final example, let’s take the shining stars everyone claims to aspire towards: The good samaritans, the heroes, America’s greatest boy scouts. They make sure to hit the criteria of looking good enough at the least. The sniveling coworker seated behind you who always coughs two decibels too loud and never realizes that yesterday’s dinner is still in his beard will never be any one’s hero. Those stars also need to make sure others only get their good side. That means no angry kicks towards electronics or stray glances towards beautiful women. And how could I forget always saving the day? Bill isn’t a good IT guy unless he actually fixes your computer. When the problem is beyond him, I’m sure he’ll just check off a box that’ll let him not show up.

We all check our boxes.

Me? I check off names.

I am not the salaryman, you won’t remember my long messy black hair even after spending an hour listening to my pitch. You won’t recall how it fell lazily around my face, sometimes hid my brown eyes, or struck an odd contrast to my rather pale white skin. It’ll be like this sentence, forgotten within a moment as the story trucks along and leaves you behind.

I am not the high schooler on his way into quite literally growing into his parents. My height, unassumingly just under six feet, was determined ten years ago when I got my license at sixteen. I needed to drive back then for I was already having to provide for myself. The muscles on my body did not come from sitting around idly while listening to my girlfriend prattle on and on about topics neither of us cared for. Bricks on a house do not set themselves after all, there’d be no reason to have paid me if they did.

I am not the politician. I couldn’t care less if you choose George over me. In fact, I’d prefer if you didn’t notice my name at all. I don’t have the kind of attractive face you can stick all over posters, my face remains painfully average. My voice is not fit for live debates, people like to hear emotions when others talk. My clothes are whatever fits the situation, which in most cases means wrinkles. Suits are a rarity for me, not a necessity.

I am not the hero.

As of last Tuesday, I’ve filled out four boxes. Today I plan on checking off one more: Robert Tailor. A middle aged white man in a bit of mid life crisis. He seen fit to use whatever gifts he has to take full advantage of this crisis. I’m sure you’re well aware of his kind, a little on the short side, not fat but his stomach definitely isn’t flat and of course he’s got those terrible wire frame glasses. The man lost his job, his wife and his dog last week and as a result it appears he snapped. Seems like a waste to me, but what are humans if not temperamental.

Last night his face hit the late night news after his very ill advised robbery of a gas station. Man decided to commit a crime and couldn’t even commit to a place of value, such a waste. Nevertheless, he managed to get away before any form of peacekeeping could catch him. Nor did the shotgun under the table help the store clerk. Still the man yet lives, angry and baffled, but alive. So Robert Tailor isn’t a killer, which makes my life easier.

As does the internet, watching the viral video of the robbery provides me with a great deal of insight into this man. The chubby stomach obviously wasn’t helped by the soda he gulped down while the cashier threw money in a bag for him. The fact that he managed to finish the whole thing just as he walked out the door is both impressive and a bit disgusting. Although mostly I’m still amazed the other man didn’t even bother to wear a mask.

Still it made my job easier, all I needed was a face and a name.

***

It wasn’t long before I had tracked him down. Of course that was remarkably easy thanks to my abilities, the city’s finest with all their fancy tools could only dream they had my talents. Once again though, Robert Tailor disappointed me. He had run off with all this cash and here he was hiding under a bridge like a troll. I wonder if he was simply guilt stricken or maybe he had planned on jumping and given up.

The reason didn’t matter much to me, as revolting as the sewer stench was, finding him was the important part. I had to give Robert Tailor some credit, this bridge, shut down in the early thirties, was a decent hideaway. A small town like this didn’t get much traffic in the first place, and this place was on the outskirts without any current roads linking it back up. The planned spaces for houses had been retaken by green trees, and the old road had been dug up when some conservation group argued the place was now an important part of mother nature.

Only signs of civilization left were the concrete bridge covered in vines, Robert Tailor hunched over below, and the pieces of plastic floating in the polluted river at his feet. Amazing how quickly dreams of protecting nature fall apart. I wonder how those old activists would have felt about the run off that had leaked into this river.

Then again they were from the sixties.

“Robert Tailor?” I asked the man, whose snoring had frankly gotten a little old at this point. Thankfully my voice was all it took to wake him up, as he gave a kind of snort in response, it seemed he was still a bit out of things. It wasn’t until he noticed the bag of money still in his lap that he recalled the events that had led to this moment. So he did what they all do.

He ran.

Surprise, surprise.

He had made it just out from the shade of the bridge before the rock I hurled after him made contact with his back. Since I didn’t put much force into the toss, he only stumbled in the water for a moment, but that gave me plenty of time to put some extra force into the next one. I didn’t intend for this throw to just be a gentle tap.

Yet this time the rock bore no effect save harmlessly splashing down next to him. Just as it would have made contact with the man the blue shimmer I saw from the video appeared once more; the rock’s momentum was instantly and completely neutralized. That ineffective shotgun I mentioned earlier? Well, it appeared this man had the power to shield himself from attacks.

So far things were playing out as I expected. This first test confirmed the nature of activation; it wasn’t a passive protection but something he had to consciously will. The second confirmed the range being rather limited and the nature of the power. It wasn’t like kevlar or a massive cushion. Whatever shielding existed just above his skin appeared to kill the energy of the attack. As such, there was no pushback left.

Test three required me to get in front of the target.

So my feet finally hit the ground in pursuit, catching up to him rather quickly. A man in his late forties wasn’t about to out run me, let alone when he was ankle deep in this frigid water on uneven stoney footing. “You can’t beat me in a foot race,” I remarked dryly.

Slowly, Robert Tailor turned around, his glasses emphasizing his rather reddened eyes. Nor did the beads of sweat trailing down his forehead improve his normally below average appearance. The man’s lower lip was quivering as he clenched an old glock between his hands.  His finger was trembling on that trigger; my earlier intuition of him not being a killer still rang true.

“Don’t come any closer or I’ll–”

“Shoot? I doubt that.” I stated as a I took another step in his direction, causing old Robert to take a step back himself. Old habits I suppose. Unfortunately for him he must’ve stepped on the wrong rock. A such he stumbled for just a second and the gun once aimed straight at my head now pointed towards the sky.

It was an opportunity I instantly seized.

The coke bottle I had clenched behind my back for test three was now hurtling directly in front of his gun. Reflex grabbed hold of Robert Tailor, and he fired his first shot clean through the surprise bottle. “What the hell was that?” The old stoge asked as he spat out some of the drops of soda he had inadvertently inhaled.

Test three was another success. There was not a drop on Robert Tailor, nor any scratches from the bottle fragments now joining the other plastic bits bobbing in the river. Obviously he had activated his shield. Yet he still needed to spit out the soda, it appeared his protection didn’t cover everything.

“Who are you anyway?”

The man was still talking to me; I could make use of that.

“Take a guess.”

“A gu–” before the second word could even come out, I took advantage of the short distance between us and his lowered gun to stick my hand into his still open mouth.

BANG

The gun had only been lowered not put away. Robert Tailor still possessed enough sense to pull the trigger right then. But it was too late for the damage had been done. His face seemed to contort in some primal emotion as he saw the bullet splash down into the water and the blue shimmer around my gut.

Robert Tailor wasn’t special. So many of us have power, although, unlike me, I guess the others don’t have powers. How else do you think I tracked him down so quickly? I told you I had abilities, that was one, this is another. This is the reason I find names to check off; now that shield Robert Tailor had been banking on belonged to me.

But it still wasn’t complete.

I didn’t hesitate to pull my hand out of his mouth and shove him to the ground. The slight blood however when he hit the ground? That kicked me into overdrive. It was the first wound; my time was grossly limited now.

Cognizant of the blood himself, I could see Robert Tailor mouth the word how, deprived of the wherewithal to actually voice such queries. Yet another disappointment from the man that had been full of them. The answer was rather simple of course: I didn’t copy powers.

I stole them.

And then I refined them.

Robert Tailor’s hand was still clutching the Glock as I moved it into position and fired.

The Demon King Wants to be a Hero – “Wait that’s my job!” : Chapter 1

Well late night first chapter I just wrote. I’ll make sure to properly proof in the morning as it’s nearly 4 AM here. This is the third story I mentioned in my first post. Not sure when I’ll get Thief up as while have the chapters written I might want to proof them a bit first. I’ll guess we’ll see based on my mood. Expect to see something this Friday, even if it’s not Thief. For now enjoy my crappy homage to Japanese WNs/LNs, I still can’t believe I’m doing this. 

UPDATE: Should be proofed, let me know if/when you find any other egregious errors. Or just leave a comment with your thoughts. Not that anyone is reading this anyway. 

 

“Take up my legacy and kill the damn hero.”

Those were my mother’s first and last words to me. Well at least that I can remember. But man, don’t you think that heroes are just the coolest. I want to be the next hero.

Being the Demon King is boring.

***

Chapter 1:

Day in and day out I see fire. The flickering flames serve as the only source of illumination within a crumbling old castle. Worn gray rock is buried beneath layers of wood as the rafters crack and splinter, where there isn’t fog there’s sawdust. I can hear three distinct coughs from the darkness, two are strong but one is weak. Yet I can not say I’m surprised, even a demon would find it difficult to breathe in these horrid conditions.

Then the edge of my right eye catches sight of a burning rafter being shifted from the floor. Embers are thrown straight into the air as a black haired man arises from the flame. In his hand I can see a glint of silver reflecting the still flickering flames. The blood from his forehead does little to vanquish the large grin across his face. Despite the danger of his situation, despite his coughs mixed with blood, he looks ready to laugh.

I always find myself grinning alongside him.

However his eyes remain fixed ahead, focused intently on the source of the other two coughs. The first belonged to a powerful horned women, just a glance at the air around her revealed her role as the Demon King. Her brilliant red horns curved and glistened under the fire, coiling next to her long luminescent hair. I knew behind her a young child stirred, an infant unable to understand his current whereabouts and surroundings. Perhaps he was the reason the woman wore such a scowl, or perhaps she just hated the black haired man.

In the end, I suppose the reason never mattered.

For at this point the man’s grin always fades, his mouth moves as his speaks some words I can not hear and the woman responds in kind. Then the man’s sword is raised and in a flash he’s in front of the woman. That’s when things cut to black.

This vision is hardcoded in my memory, an ancient spell that no one quite knows how to replicate or even enhance. Gareth, wise as is he is and my trusted tutor, told me the memory must be from the moment the Hero dealt my mother her mortal blow. She did not die that night however, we demons are made of hearty stuff. Apparently she survived for a few more months in a cave just east of the castle, connected by an ancient tunnel. It was just long enough to nurture me and hand me her ultimatum. A few days after my mother’s final moments, Lunete stumbled upon that sleeping child still ignorant of all that had transpired to ensure his life.

It’s been almost 80 years since that day, although I’ve been asleep for much of that time. Demons have never matured and populated nearly as fast as the human race, it is one of their greatest advantages over my kind, who can spend over half a century sleeping before finally being ready to enter the world as a child. It is said that the longer a demon sleeps, the more powerful they will be when the finally awaken.

My awakening was 19 years ago, after 57 years of sleep, which is to be expected from the offspring of the last Demon King. Still, I’ve got many more years ahead of me before I truly master my powers. I’m still far from the strength of my mother.

Which brings me back to the words of my mother. I am her descendant after all, clashing with the Hero and ensuring Demonkind’s triumph over humanity is in my blood. Yet for whatever reason, each time I see that vision play back in my mind, my eyes dart right over to the gallant image of the Hero. Valiant, courageous, and daring he just seems so well….

Cool.

In fact, he might just be the coolest being I’ve ever seen, and I’ve only had a glimpse of him.

I mean how can one not smile alongside his infectious grin? How can one not give into that literal devil-may-care attitude?

I know he killed my mother and all that, but man ever since I could walk I’ve imagined swinging that sword of his while yelling my finishing move. I still wonder what he might have said, probably something brave and heroic like “This is for the fate of mankind.”

Or maybe he was more of the snarky one liner guy.

“Get ready to feel the heat.”

Ooh, maybe both.

“This is humanity’s flame of vengence.”

He’s just so damn cool.

Even his role compared to that of the Demon King’s. While we sit by, conquering territories, rallying the other demons and encroaching upon the human realm, he’s already hard at work. Whether he started as a simple farm boy, or a wandering traveler, a prince or a knight errant, he’s begun saving villages from monster attacks. With each encounter his power increases, his allies increase and more and more humans hear his name. Whether it’s rescuing princesses from dragons or clearing out the rats in the barkeeper’s inn, everyone receives his aid as his legend grows.

And eventually he ends up here, in the castle of the Demon King. The two clash and the victor determines the fate of the realms for the many years to come. Of course most years he comes out on top, but every now and then we Demons pull out a win. It’s no fun if the outcome is already determined from the beginning.

I can’t quite tell you why this cycle has persisted for so many centuries, even as human kingdoms rise and fall, it seems we Demons remain a consistent threat each time the next Demon King surfaces. I guess our two races are just like oil and water, one fuels the flames and the other must douse it but we can never mix.

But still why is it the humans get the cool role while we get stuck with the proactive nonsense no one cares about? Being the Demon King seems so boring by comparison.

Which is why I wanna be the cool one this time around. I mean what’s stopping me from just pretending to be a human and jumping in to save a few villages, slay a few monsters and rescue a few damsels as the new Hero?

Well sure Gareth and the others probably won’t approve if they heard the exact plan, but I can just tell them I’m going out training and learning more about my enemy. I’m sure they’ll eat all that stuff up. Elaine would probably love to take over my duties for a bit, keep the facade going while I’m away. Although Lunete might be a bit of a nuisance to convince, but I’m sure I can slip past her and any other dissenters.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention.

My name is Percival and I’m the new Demon King.

But I really want to be the Hero.

The Holy Mountain

Writing Prompts time again, we’re getting older though so quality might be going down. 

In the holy lands there exists a forest. This forest, known as Kappiviðr or the Hero’s Woods, lay nestled in the bosom of the Central Kingdom. To those that ventured within it appeared both barren and empty and yet so vividly alive. At times all that could be heard was the crunch of snow and twigs beneath one’s feet, but then the purr of a mountain lion and the scattering of birds would bring life back into the desolate woods. It was a region every denizen of the holy lands acknowledged the purity of, and to this day it has remained unsoiled by the expansion of man. A powerful force dwells within, a force that seems to carry the blessings of god with it. Some claim that the Hero King’s spirit lives on within these woods from a home high atop the mountain in the heart of the forest. As is often the case, legends abound from this simple forest.

Some claim the black rider was born in these woods and it was here that he crafted his mighty spear. Others say that the final battle between the Great Hero King and the Lord of all Evils took place utop that holy mountain. For 12 days and 12 nights the two powerful warriors clashed upon their final battle ground. Their armies had fallen, their brothers had perished, now only the two remained. In the end the banner of humanity won the day, but at a great cost. Their mighty hero had been dealt a mortal blow, but God had one last purpose for the man. With his dying breath his spirit was released to revitalize the once barren wasteland into the majestic forest that now took its place.

It was the first step in healing the scars of the Great Catastrophe.

Yet even amongst these plethora of legends, one stands out for its absurdity and its veracity. Every year pilgrims venture out to prove its existence and every year the pilgrims return changed men. The legend states that at the top of the Holy Mountain sits a statue of the Great Hero King. Within this statue remains what little energy is left of the Hero King’s spirit, and with that energy he continues to assist mankind. Only those with true faith are able to reach the pinnacle atop where he sits, but if they mention such a feat they shall be blessed with an answer to whatever questions burns at their heart.

On this eve, another of winter’s brutal trials, a young man stumbled his way to the top of the mountain. His travel, like that of the many pilgrims who hiked through this treacherous land, was not an easy one. However unlike those that came before him, this young man was less a man and more a boy. The short brown hair and not yet worn grey eyes indicated a boy who had not yet approached a score. Yet his clothes, the gray robes of a lesser priest, had tears that can only have resulted from years of use. Their size as well seemed just a bit too large for the young boy, it was not clothing suitable for a youngster by any stretch of the imagination.

Briefly the wind blew up a sleeve to reveal a large bandage around the boy’s wrist. While not approaching the age of the robes, it too appeared rather old for what it was. Yet despite this age, no signs of blood appeared present upon the bandage. It was another mystery about the young pilgrim that could not yet be accounted for. However the more pressing myster had to be tears that were streaming from the boy’s face. Many a travelers had wept before the statue, some out of joy and others from delirium, but tears of sadness rarely sprung up right away.

In between his tears, the boy’s story finally came to light. “Oh heavenly father, and his mighty messenger Osweard.” It was a chant many pilgrims had made, invoking one of the many names ascribed to mighty Hero King. There were a thousand words of praise that one might invoke, but this simple beseechment was perhaps the most common throughout the lands of the Trinity. “I ask for you fair judgement and aid in my time of need. I know not if I’m worthy of a such a bold cry, but I ask as your child and follower. Please hear my prayer.”

It was then that the statue began to move, but it was not the mighty statue of the Great Hero King in his flowing coat that moved. Rather an unremarkable stone sculpting of an old man half buried in snow. His presence next to the Hero King appeared an afterthought, a way of illustrating who that mighty warrior had saved on that fateful battle many eons ago. An old man dressed in the garbs of a peasant, thanking the hero on behalf of all mankind, was not that shrine most pilgrims ever envisioned.

Yet it was him that moved, not that Hero King, and that movement had taken the young boy by surprise. For the briefest of seconds the young boy even appeared to have vanished, but if nothing else the tears were now drying up as he watched an old man hobble towards him. “Rise child,” the words were hoarse, as though the old man had not spoken in many years, “I shall do my best to hear your prayers, however you may not find solace in my answers.”

The boy nodded his head in silence as coped with the reality of his new situation. “I have but a single query,” the tears were once more on the verge of flowing, “why has God marked me as one of the damned?” To illustrate his point the boy unveiled his bandage to reveal the mark on his arm. “Was it’s God’s purpose to make me suffer, was I supposed to find strength only if others transgressed to help me? Why was this burden laid upon me?”

The old man sighed, it had been a long time since the statue had conversed with one of the Damned. The words he had to speak were never easy, but they were a necessity. “It is because you are cursed.”

The boys tears flowed out once more as he found himself only choking out a few more words. “So there is no hope for salvation.”

Yet the old man paid little heed to the boy’s tears, instead his eyes merely looked outwards at the majesty of the forest below them. “I do not know if God exists or not, but I can tell you that the burden upon your shoulders is a curse not a damnation.”

“What?”

“If God had any say it was in creating the beauty you see before you, not in cursing mankind. Your curse is that one that man placed upon you, not god. Those ancient and foolish men that tampered with powers better left untouched.”

“Are you not God’s messenger Osweard?”

“No, I am but an old man with a curse of his own. However like my curse, your curse does come with blessings.” The old man then let go of the old cane that he had leaned upon, and the boy marveled as the stone began to crack away. The old man underneath appeared far more ragged than before, but upon his shoulder the boy noted a mark much like his own.

“You’re one of the damned,” the boy found himself whispering, “Have you come to deceive on behalf of your master?”

“This curse is my only master,” came the groan from the old man as he struggled to wrap his hands around his cane and allow the stone to guard him once more. “I know much thanks to this curse, more than you ever will. I am the guardian of the secrets of the past, the time before the Church and the Hold Lands, but all that matters little.”

The old man hobbled over to the larger statue that dwarfed them both, looking up to the Great Hero as though he were an old friend. “I know this man in front of you better than my own son, and yet I never met him. It is but another aspect of this curse, the records bestowed by the cane.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Think of it as one of God’s gifts if you must, but that is neither here nor there. You asked me a simple question, why you were one of the Damned, are you sure you possess the courage needed for the answer?”

With a gulp, the boy nodded his head.

“The truth is the world is not fair. There is little reason why you were chosen and not your neighbour. I do not know if it was God’s will, all I know is that folly of the men that lived long before us. Men that lived in a golden age before the Great Catastrophe laid the foundation for this curse. We are the descendents forced to bear with it, but never forget the powers and blessings it provides for those are our father’s gifts.”

“I’m still not sure I understand.”

“Then allow me to state simply. You are not Damned like the Church may have you believe. You are simply the result of experiments long in the past. What you do with the power is what will determine your future, even if the great man you see before you had a curse like your own. Others simply fear the power your curse grants you, and what others fear they will damn.”

“So God will still save my soul?”

Another sigh from the old man, “If he exists perhaps, but that depends on your actions not a simple mark on your wrist. That is all I can say on the matter, for any deeper answer you must find on your own.”

Having finally recovered, the boy found himself bowing his head in gratitude to the old man. He still wasn’t certain if the old man was truly a holy spirit or an agent of evil, but something in his heart remained ever grateful for the man’s courtesy. “Thank you,” it was the first two words the boy uttered that did not contain the trace of tears, “I shall do my best.”

As the young boy pulled the hood of his robes back up and turned to depart, the old man had one more request before he took his place next to Hero King. “Young child, I have but a single favor I ask of all virtuous pilgrims who visit me. I told you before that I am beset by a curse, and so I ask that one day, when you are old and feeble, you consider visiting and taking my place. I have had this burden for many years, and I wish to finally meet me son up above.”

With a smile and a vow the young boy finally departed with spirits lifted.

Alta Gelum

Another old story from Writing Prompts. Inspired by this image:glacier_by_eytanzana-d9fai87

And here’s a link to the original source. 

They say the northern most isles of the Empire lay covered in mist three quarters of the year. According to the common folk, this fog lists for only a few months a year and it is during that time that all commerce with the rest of the Empire occurs. For the rest of the year the poor souls live in perpetual isolation from the rest of the Empire’s wealth.

This view is nothing more than a wives’ tale borne out of the misunderstandings than mainlanders are so adept at. It is true that for nearly half of year our contact with the rest of the Empire is limited, but this has little to do with the presence of fog and everything to do with the way our waters freeze over.

Yet our isolation is hardly a reason for despair, for Alta Gelum’s beauty far outstrips any material comforts the Empire could ever provide and we stay far apart from the petty squabbling of the Kingdoms. At the dawn of each spring the ice begins to part and our boats set sail. The glistening snow and glimmering ice reflect vestiges of light upon the mighty glaciers. The ice disappears into the fog, as though they were the boats of the ancients. The gentle ambers illuminate the cold blue like the blushing of a spring maiden.

Our boats nip in the small passages left behind, little more than wakes in the whale’s trail with us as the minnows. All around only the gentle cascades of our oars and the cracking of ice reach our ears. Sometimes the kids seeking out adventure can be heard from the top of the glaciers, while other time the oarsmen will be left to supply their own melody to the ice’s harmony. Every oar creates its own beats and rhythms throughout these precious six months.

I have spent many of my days sitting upon the gentle banks of snow allowing the crisp air to tousle my hair. The mainlanders may prefer the harsh biting of their own foul tongues, but I enjoy the bite of cool breeze above all else. Every gust of wind carries fresh salt to my nose as I find myself immersed in all the beauties our little isles. Echoing laughs and voice cracks sometimes precede the presence of little angels in the snow around me. Their is a beauty and a magic in the ability of the snow to bring out our inner children as I often find myself tossing balls of snow at the little scoundrels running around the snowbank. Every now and again a little splash followed by the chiding of elders signifies my small victories.

Yet the laughter never ceases in the mornings and at a night gentle cooing replaces it as the owls return from the mainland. To me the birds seem a fickle race, creatures unwilling to take the harder months with the pleasant ones, but elders seem to hold the birds in high regard. Once when I was younger I asked my grandmother about this odd arrangement, I spent the next night laying in the snow watching those creatures fly back and forth. My annoyance with those creatures only grew that day.

However while I may not know the beauty of the birds, the seas are another matter entirely. On a few beautiful evenings I have watched the boats part as a blowhole rose to the surface. Sometimes these magnificent creatures would leap as though they sought to steal the domain of the owls, while other evenings they would simply assert their dominance over the seas and shrink beneath the surface. I remember a few years back when a foolish mainlander approached the elders with a business proposition, his claim was that the meat of the whales could make as one of the richest islands in all of the Empire.

He spent the night lying upon a raft praying the whales did not hear his silly idea.

In the morning of course the elders asked him if he had learned anything, and us kids merely snickered as he hastily bowed and packed his things. I suppose in hindsight it was lucky that I hated the birds and not the whales. A runny nose was after all not the most attractive of features, and that sneeze seemed so disconcerting amongst the rest of nature’s symphony.

Yet for all its beauty, I suppose the elders did illustrate that the oceans were not always gentle. Every spring shards of wood mar the mighty glaciers as the carcasses of foolish expeditions are revealed. Sometimes it is the ocean’s way of exacting its status quo, while other days the responsibility falls solely on the shoulders of fools that failed to pay heed to the elders’ warnings. Whatever the case, some nights it looks like the ships of the ancients decided to stomp out the foolish minnows nipping at their heels. The morning after is often a quiet affair, the few times when the laughter ceases and only somber oars remain.

Those days memories of my father unwillingly reappear.

Yet our little island, no matter how quaint it may appear to the mainlanders, will always be my home. The annoying birds will always mix with the magnificent whales, just as the ambers mix with cool blue, the pale mist with mighty glaciers and crushing melancholy with everlasting joy.

Alta Gelum is my home.

The Rusty Crown

An old story I wrote on Writing Prompts. Expect typoes as always, one day I’ll proof read I promise. 

 

It was always dusty. The one eternal truth to the ruins was a constant prevalence of dust. It didn’t matter if one was up in the Empire, or traversing the holy lands, or here, in the center of the Barren Kingdom, dust went hand in with the ruins. The other pieces would always change, the structures varied from location to location, the writing would vary from script to script, although the letters appeared similar, and perhaps most obvious all the treasure was always different once one entered the center of the ruins. Yet despite all these complexities and variations, or perhaps because of them, danger too remained prevalent. That’s why every expeditionary group brought along someone like him.

The man’s name, his full name at any rate, was Ikram ibn Junaid ibn Murad il-Sakhr. Yet the others, as was customary simply referred to him as ibn Junaid, or Jun for short. Even now he remained hunched over a small slab by what he assumed was the entrance to the crypt. Ever so often he brushed those wavy strands of black hair that obscured his green eyes, but for the most part his position was unwavering as he tried to decipher the text upon the stone. The others of the party had long since retired for the night, leaving the man with a small torch and a gentle urging that he too should lie down and rest.

It was not however in the man’s nature to simply rest when confronted with a puzzle. As his eyes scanned over the writing once more, the clothe, that once covered his hand and now rested idly around his neck began to blow in the wind. The very wind that drowned out the man’s gentle murmuring as he recognized the symbols for king, tomb, and danger. Yet deciphering unknown script, was far more difficult than simply knowing the words. Sure this sequence of runes could mean that there was danger in the king’s tomb. But what of the other possibilities, perhaps the word for king in the old tongue also served as an adjective meaning great. There was a weight of possibilities in just those three words, and the man still lacked an understanding of their neighbor’s.

“You seem to be having some difficulties.”

At the unfamiliar voice, the man’s hunched posture finally changed as he jumped back and reached for the blade he had left in the sand.

“Oh come now son, there’s no need for such vulgar tools. It’s just been far too long since I last spoke to another living soul. Tell me boy, what do they call you?”

“Ib-ibn Junaid,” the young man managed to stutter out as he now took in the figure before him. Not that there was much to take in, not with the cloak that adorned the other man’s body. At least Jun assumed it was another man, from the elderly baritone that had first roused him from his work.

“Iben eh? Can’t say I knew many Iben’s back in my day. Hope you don’t mind if I simply call you Ben, that’s more of a name I know. You can call me George.” Underneath the cloak, Jun could almost swear the other man was grinning. Such joviality Jun could not find in his own character, to the point that rather than correct the other man on his misunderstanding Jun simply nodded hoping this encounter would soon come to an end.

As if sensing the other man’s apprehension, the cloaked figure let out a hearty laugh in that mighty baritone of his. “My apologies boy, I probably should remove this hood so that we can talk face to face.”

No sooner had the words been spoken, did the wind pick up and appear to lift the mans’ hood to reveal the face of an elderly gentlemen. There was a short but full white beard rested on ashen skin. Brilliant azure eyes meant Jun’s own emerald, and long flows of white hair still reached down to the other man’s shoulders. Yet most of interesting of all, was the rusty structure that rested on the man’s head. While the lack of light made it difficult for Jun to make out any real details, he could’ve sworn a rusty crown rested upon the grinning old men’s head.

There was another hearty laugh as the old man caught Jun’s analytical eyes. “Curious about my head are we Ben? I promise you it’s a common reaction, people always wonder if it’s real. Do you want to see?”

Against his better judgement, Jun nodded once more. And upon granting such permissions, the elder man reached for the torch still resting near the stone slab, and raised it to his head. The dancing light revealed Jun’s earlier suspicions to be true, it was in fact a rusty crown that adorned the man’s head. Hints of intricate detailing still remained underneath all those years of rust and decay. But more startling was where the crown ended and the man’s face began. It was like someone had burned the crown to the man’s head and left deep cracks on the rest of his skin. Instinctively, Jun’s hand began to move, trying to feel what his eyes could not believe.

But the old man recoiled, for an instance that grin that had existed in perpetuity before, ran away from his face. It was only an instance, because in the next it returned. “Afraid I can’t let you touch son. For your own health of course, but on the bright side I’m sure you’re now brimming with questions. So please, ask away.”

The other man was right of course, Jun’s mind was ripe with questions that demanded answers. Every ruin was different, but this was something else, for Jun was certain now this man was not some wander or visitor or explorer like he was. No this man, this man was just as much a piece of these ruins as the runes on the walls. There was so much Jun wanted to ask him, so many intricate pieces of a puzzle he never realized existed. But for now, he figured it was best to start with the basics. “How old are you?”

“Can’t say I’ve kept track to be quite honest with you. Decades really do start to blend together when you get this old. I’d say it’s at least been 400 years, but I’m really not all too sure.”

“How?”

This time the wind really picked up, as the old man flashed his biggest grin yet. “Come, and I’ll show you.”

Stolen: Sidestory?

Another old piece thrown up here for posterity. First time I tried writing out the basic idea for Stolen as such there probably will be inconsistency with whatever the story is going to turn into. Regardless enjoy, sorry if there are tons of typoes right now. 

“Hello there.”

I always thought that when this day would come, the first words might be tinged with malice. So when I heard such a simple greeting, I was rather surprised to be completely honest. And while we’re being honest, that fact scared me more. Since the way things stood, I didn’t know anything about the man in front of me, and I couldn’t even determine if he was coming after me now or later.

My mother, before she had passed, had always warned me that there was no escaping one’s fate. Yet I could never bring myself to accept such a depressing conclusion. I always told myself that when I ran into whatever was planning on kill me, that I’d find someway to avoid it. If it were a mugger then I’d shoot first, if it were a ladder, I’d stay the hell away. Surely I had this power for some reason beyond getting a few moments to make my peace.

Yet now that enemy finally stood before me, and I had no idea where to turn. I never suspected that my enemy would be the doorman to a hotel I’d never set foot in before. What made things worse, was that I knew nothing about him, and judging from his tone of voice, he had no real care for me either. Narrowing down the cause was exponentially higher in something as unclear as this scenario. All I knew was that this man would be my death. It could be the result of a freak accident, or he could be some sort of serial killer picking his prey at random.

“Are you alright sir?”

His words startled me once more, as I realized that I had been frozen in my thought. The bustering assortment of other guests behind me, were already beginning to question the hold up. All I knew was that I had to remove myself immediately.

“Sorry,” I stumbled, “I uh, seem to have… mixed up my reservation. I’m actually staying at the Bes-Mobile 8 down the street.” I wasn’t so foolish as to wait and see if my ruse had worked, my bag in hand I made sure to immediately begin rushing towards the parking lot.

“Oh, well I’m sorry to hear that sir, please do come again.”

I was already well on my way by the time I heard those words echo towards me, yet this time I felt as if they were accompanied by some sort of sinister smile. Although perhaps that was simply paranoia at work, then again can it even be called paranoia if I knew the other man meant me harm?

Yet now was not the time for idle philosophical ramblings, I had to leave this city immediately if I wanted to have any chance at prolonging my life. I had no plans to stand by like my mother had as she succumbed to illness. My family had to have been given this power for a reason, and I intended to make the best use of it. Fate was not a doctrine I planned on letting confine me.

These were the thoughts that raced through my head, as I pulled away from flowing fountains and green lawns of the hotel. The aroma of roses still wafting into my car, as I turned onto the main road once more. For a brief moment I thought I glimpsed a red figure in my rear window, but I had to acknowledge that I wasn’t in the most stable mental state at the moment.

With a sigh, I turned on my radio, before just as quickly shutting it off. As much as I loved Kansas, Dust in the Wind was hardly a fitting song for the occasion. I’d have much prefered Carry on my Wayward Son right now.

It felt like days that I was on the road, but in truth it was only a few hours before I pulled into a distant Super 8 under the cover of nightfall. I needed the chance to rest and plan my next moves. Plus I still had my trusty glock in the event that the doorman decided to make another unwanted occasion. It was only common sense then, that when I entered my room my first action was to grab my glock and load a fresh magazine. One could never be too careful after all.

“Aw, is that for me?”

I never knew that I could whip my arm around so fast, as my glock suddenly found itself at the head of the unknown voice. The moment my eyes saw that terrifying red glow, I didn’t hesitate to unload. I wasn’t about to take any chances.

Yet the sight before defied all explanation, as I saw the bullets stopped by a shimmering blue barrier. Through the translucent barrier I could see the other man’s end, but I could only assume he was the cause of it’s existence.

“Oh come now,” the other man sounded disappointed, “Don’t look so surprised. Surely you didn’t think you were the only one with powers. Even special snowflake protagonists don’t stay special for the entirety of the story. There’s always at least one villain on their level.”

I was sure how to respond, and to make matters worse my own muscles seemed to have failed me as I couldn’t even find it in my body to sprint for the exit.

“I’m sure you’ve realized it, but you won’t be able to move any time soon. I’ve locked down the muscles in your legs and arms. I mean I guess you could try doing some situps but well, who likes doing exercise when they’re stressed.”

That oppressive red my mother had always warned me about, continued to come closer all the while the man before me rambled on about things I could not quite understand.

“Also man, I’m disappointed that you had to lie to me about going to a, what did you call it? Bes-Mobile 8, I was kind of excited to find a hotel with that wacky of a name, instead we’re just at another boring Super 8. There’s not even aliens in this place.”

I had to find someway out, away from this madman.

“You look like you’re struggling? Want a hand?”

I didn’t have much choice in the matter, as I suddenly felt my own hand compress under the other man’s heavy grip. Yet as I looked at the other man, I noticed that sickening grin fade to a blank face that failed illustrate any of the joy from before. Yet there was a singular comfort, in that the oppressive red had suddenly stopped.

“Apologies for earlier,” there was no sadistic glee behind the words this time. Instead the other man felt strangely removed from everything, like he was still reading some interesting novel and had no time to spare for me. I started wondering if perhaps the red was gone, because I had suddenly been spared.

“That other persona that chose to communicate with you is an unfortunate tag along. He comes out every now and then. Don’t pay him any mind.”

“So, am I safe?” I found myself asking, unsure of what else to say.

“No,” the answer was abrupt and harsh, “Right now this former power of yours is stuck at the level you knew, to maximize its potential I need to kill the old host.”

I didn’t have time to decipher those words, as a sharp stabbing pain suddenly sent me into oppressive red once more. I suppose, mother had been right, you can’t fight fate.

But at least I tried… right?

 

Oh yeah, in case it wasn’t obvious. Perspective is different from what the story will be, just wanted to write this first story from the victim’s perspective. 

The Disappeared Body: Prelude and Chapter 1

Case File 271: The Disappeared Body

There’s a rule most professions are taught. Never mix business with family or friends, lest things get messy. This rule held true in my line of work, if you can call it work, as well. I thought I knew better than to take on such cases, sure I’ve slipped up a few times in the past, see Case File 137: A Brother’s Bouquet, but those were special circumstances. They also just reaffirmed my beliefs, ‘cause every time a case is for those one’s close to, emotions rear their ugly heads. Things get complicated, your skills start slipping and before you know you’re in the kind of mess you didn’t even know the earth was capable of creating.

 

So, never take on those sorts of cases, always refer them to someone else, right?

 

Well, how unprofessional is it then, to take on a case granted by yours truly. Extenuating circumstances not withstanding, I feel like this is number one on the list of cases all self fashioned detectives ought to avoid. I can only imagine what my great grandfather would say, of course I don’t use the term imagine lightly since I never did meet the old geezer. No his influence only stemmed far enough for me to be labeled a perpetual failure by my so called authority figures.

 

But that’s neither here nor there. These files, while I have a tendency to wax on about inane details and musings tangentially related to the case at hand, another gift I’m told my great grandfather gave me, are supposed to convey pertinent information. So I’ll back up a little, explain how I found myself wrapped up in this case that violates so many of my professional rules. Although truth be told, I can’t quite say what led me to this situation in the first place. Not everything came neatly bundled up with an explanation and instructional manual.

 

Crimes of modern day consumerism if you ask me, but I digress.

 

The evening had started like most others, a gentle pitter patter of rain upon the window, the clicking of my typewriter providing a rhythm for that harsh infernal wind. It was a chaotic howl that seemed to accentuate the crimes of my city. Evenings like that, tended to make me question how much good Black Mask was truly accomplishing. Sure the three of us had helped quite a few people, and those smiles at the end of a job well done tended to make us feel as though it had all be worth it. There really isn’t a sight quite like seeing an old man crying tears of joy when his daughter is returned.

 

But this windy city, had a habit of driving those happy memories away, and replacing them with images of all the times our cases had gone horribly awry. I’ve never quite been able to place my finger on it, but it’s almost as though the wind drags up the spirits of the departed to force the living into action. An old wive’s tale to be sure, but it still left me with shivers running down my spine. Those sort of evenings, they really made me think even more than normal, but most of the time I found some way to distract myself.

 

Unfortunately there was no comforting tap at the door to signify a new damsel in distress. No client to distract my musings with his own problems, what I wouldn’t give for that evening to take the normal turn. My long time partners, Yoshi and Kenshin, were out on personal errands as well. Kenshin had muttered something about a niece he didn’t know about and Yoshi, well I never did understand the techno babble he loved spouting, best I can figure is something to do with the computer systems not running properly.

 

So there I was, left as guardian of my thoughts with no outlet through which I could releave my vexations. My sole companion in the room was that stupid AI in my watch: good old Delta Emerald, a mess of programming that wouldn’t even give me the time of day unless it deemed it pertinent. Then again I suppose if I asked, it would love to snark about how I have a watch for that very purpose. You can’t win with the hyper intelligent type, at least not in my experience. I pray Yoshi never sees this case file.

 

Still I needed a break from these thoughts, and I figured the best approach would be going for an evening ride, rain or no rain. I’ll skip the boring details, this file has gone on long enough without reaching the point. Just know that I grabbed my hat, threw on that saddle brown coat Kenshin kept telling me to replace, and got on my trusty motorbike to feel the fresh air. For a little while, things were good, they were nice, my thoughts evaporated like droplets on a coffee machine. A fresh steam that soothed the soul, like a warm of cup of cocoa.

 

Yes I prefer hot chocolate to coffee, we’ve already established I’m a bit of a failure.

 

Unfortunately, as I’m sure any astute reader surmise, the relief didn’t last for long. No the problems started cropping up when I took note of a lady wrapped up in some old fashioned cloak. As this city loved to do to its damsels, she appeared to have attracted the unwanted attention of some very large men. And with a sigh, I found myself sticking my neck out once more, I could almost feel the aches that would no doubt plague me in the morning, but I couldn’t quite leave someone out to pasture. It wasn’t an approach befitting of any decent man.

 

I can’t say the thugs gave me too much trouble, but I let my guard down after dispatching two of the three. From what my hazy mind can recall, the third decided to let off a shot and then something really weird happened. Normally I like to make sense of my surroundings, unexplained mysteries are just that, unexplained. I pride myself on finding those explanations, piecing together the puzzle until it finally makes sense. My own sort of art so to speak.

 

Unfortunately, I still don’t know what that lady did, but some freakish light show and the next minute I find myself waking up in some pasture out in the middle of nowhere with a bullet still lodged my shin. I was more worried about fixing up the blood stained pants than the bullet itself, wounds heal after all but clothes don’t. This pasture tho, it took by surprise with how, well, green everything was. There weren’t any highrises or sons of decay to be seen anywhere. I’d heard such places were common before the plague, but now I didn’t know such scenery existed. I’d be struck by the beauty, if it weren’t for my continuing blood loss and overall disorientation of being.

For once even Delta Emerald seemed concerned, exclaiming how it couldn’t connect to the Library and had no information on the place we currently found ourselves in. I managed to stumble through the grass somehow and find some village. Things there, they were ancient, hadn’t quite seen anything like it before, not a single piece of that newfangled technology to be seen. Hell, I couldn’t even find an old typewriter in this place. Maybe they were Amish, I wasn’t sure, but that was best guess I had for this crappy situation.

 

Still, Emerald managed to decode the local language, so I was able to get what I assume is the closest thing this city had to a doctor to take a look at my leg. I guess they believe in spiritual remedies, cause he seemed mighty confused when his mumbling had no affect on my leg. Eventually though, I got him to rip that piece of metal out of my leg and wrap it all in cloth. My healing was good enough that I trusted things to mend themselves shortly. As for the doctor, well he seemed confused by how such a tiny piece of metal exploded in my leg to begin with. He kept muttering something about witchcraft, I take it the lucky sob had never seen a gun in his life.

 

Hopefully I could keep things that way, as shocking as the revelation was to me.

 

And that about brings us up to speed, the doctor was kind enough to temporarily gave me a room upstairs, and I’m borrowing some ink and parchment to write this. Case files really are harder without a typewriter, and I gotta hand it to the Amish, I couldn’t imagine writing like this every day. Hopefully I won’t have to for long, although if the worried muttering the doctor mentioned about an Ogre persists I might be here for a while. What is it with criminals and names stemming from mythical monsters. Nevertheless, I don’t intend to get distracted by too many cases, after all this is the first case granted by this tired and sorry excuse for a detective.

 

I, Deuce Marlowe, humbly request investigation into the disappearance of Deuce Marlowe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1:

Ink still wet, the man’s gaze turned away from the parchment to take in the flickering flames of the fireplace. It was a calming sensation and one that was woefully unfamiliar to the young man. Rather than the sight of flames lapping against brick and stone, he was far more accustomed to great buildings of glass lit up by neon or the crumbling cement of the slums. The cozy stone and warm flames were the relics of a past he never knew. The fact that the Amish lived amongst such warmth almost left him feeling jealous. It must’ve been nice, existing in a world bereft of all the weird gadgets that left his head spinning in confusion. The soft wooden floors, the quaint little cupboards and the dresser, even the window with panels that swung open were all a far cry from the stark edges of the modern world he called home.

The light of the flames caused his own shadow to dance, as the detective finally rose from his seat. The resulting sharp pain in his right leg served as a reminder of the events that had led him here so far. Gritting his teeth, Deuce steeled himself as he walked towards the open window, outside the moon had recently taken its position in the night sky, but to the young man it was the sheer multitude of stars that took his breath away. He had heard that in the old days, before the plague that was, people were able to look at such a sky on a nightly basis. Yet nowadays he’d been lucky to see 4 points of light in the sky, let alone pinpricks throughout the sky. If he didn’t know any better, he would’ve sworn that they were painting a picture for the world down below.

“Hey Delta,” Deuce asked, his eyes still gazing out towards the horizon. Taking in all the the different types of grass, flowers and trees, a multitude of species he had never laid eyes on before. “Any luck on figuring out where we are?”

“Yes, I’ve obviously figured it out and just kept such information to myself.”

By now Deuce had long since gotten used to the snark his AI companion delighted in relaying information with, but for some reason this time he found himself laughing at Delta’s harsh words.

“You truly are an idiot. Aren’t you.”

“Yeah, I suppose I am.” Still laughing, Deuce took note of the burning lamps that lit up the night road. Seeing cobblestone instead of pavement was yet another difference the Amish had implemented in this quaint little town of there’s.

“It’s kind of beautiful isn’t it?”

“I don’t have any way of measuring such a thing.”

“Right, I forgot how boring you can be.”

“I don’t think you’d appreciate my assistance if I strove to make things more exciting.”

“No, no I guess I wouldn’t.”

With another grunt the young man limped over to his straw bed and let himself collapse on its scratchy service. “The bed could use a bit of work though,” he mused to himself as he gently set down his jacket. Now that the issue with his leg had been addressed, and the pain had gone down somewhat, it was about time that he started preparing himself for his new ‘case.’ First things first, he had to take stock. In terms of clothing he had the ones on his person, blue jeans, a dark green t-shirt, his trusty black jacket, and the ever present tags on his necklace. In other words: lacking.

Weaponry included his two 1911s, each with seven bullets in their clip; his rapier, still shining from a recent polish; a combat knife, it’s partner left behind; the remains of his taser that was shattered in the previous confrontation; and of course his old .38 with 6 bullets in the chamber.

Conclusion? Also lacking.

Equipment included a crippled AI and nothing else. Extremely lacking. And funds were nonexistent.

“Old habits from your school days?” Delta remarked in its usual dry tone as it noticed the detectives impromptu inventorying.

“Yeah, I guess you could call it that.” Came the reply as the detective stood back up and returned his rapier to its sheath on his right side. This return was rapidly followed by throwing his jacket back on, putting his pistols in their respective holsters by his chest, revolver on his left side and the knife right behind it. The remains of the taser could stay in his room, there was no use bringing along broken equipment, much less equipment that had no chance for repair.

As with any case, his first job required investigation. He need to scope out the area, determine what facts might be relevant to the case, and figure out just where he needed to proceed next. Legwork if one wished to prescribe a singular word to a drawn out process. In this case, that meant heading downstairs, seeing if he could figure out just where he was and finding a way to acquire the funds to get back home. The secondary objective was of course to figure out just how he had ended up here in the first place and perhaps track down the lady from before.

The moonlight lit up the old wooden stairs, as he proceeded down to where the doctor was likely wrapping up for the night. The creaking of each step serving to signal the young detectives descent downstairs and sure enough the doctor was patiently awaiting the detectives arrival. It seemed even in this strange new town, doctors began with the same question.

“How’re you feeling? Did you get some rest?”

“Yeah it was comfortable night. I appreciate your hospitality. I was hoping you could tell me if there’s any place I could get some work, I could use funds to get home.”

“Leaving so soon are we?” The older doctor chuckled, “I suppose all you youngsters are the same, always in a rush to jump to the next grand adventure. Either way, I’d recommend checking down at the local tavern, there’s usually a notice board and plenty of patrons who could use the help. Just down the road from here, rather good for business actually, plenty of rowdy customers who end up here.”

“I can imagine. Thanks for all your help.” And with a smile, the young detective saw himself out the door and headed towards the local inn. The fresh air outside was a welcome surprise to his lungs and yet another thing that confused him about his current location. The place felt completely untouched by the “progress” that had swept the rest of the world. The amish really were an odd people, but they weren’t entirely wrong.