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end of the world: Typhoeus

In Pilgrimmage on December 12, 2010 at 7:52 pm

The giant with two hundred arms, and a hundred heads all over his scalp: snakes, maned lions, boars, bears, leapords, bulls.  The Gigante whom the coastal waters reach mid-thigh, his navel dry and his arms reaching high amongst clouds and low amongst cities.

The thing about giants and giant killers

In Pilgrimmage on September 21, 2010 at 4:22 am

The thing you had to know about giants is that they were big.  Very big, so big in fact that a fight with a giant almost always came down to a stomp on the head.  It was something that used to happen many times in the old days, a large footprint would be found along with the deceased remains of a warrior, archer, wizard, or fool.  A true giant was big enough to ignore almost any danger, and the business of man and his machinations were the same as the vast networks of ants to us.

Giants used to roam the earth more or less freely, and by chance would destroy settlements in forests and hillsides.  This caused strife and chaos in some of the more populated human areas, but giants could have cared less.

The lessers came up out of the marsh and moved silently through the trees towards the hamlet.  The air was cold and dry, still hours away from the morning dew.  There were five of them, each about the size of a short but very strong man.  One of them wore a dark colored shirt and tattered trousers.  Their fur was short and thick, brown except for around their necks and heads which was darker (almost black) and their hands and feet were long and tipped with the claws of an animal (dangerous, but a swipe would not open your blood).  If you were close to a lesser monster’s face, you would see the dark red eyes that like old coals.  They did not burn with fierce intelligence, or even lethal anger.  They were the eyes of a tired animal, one that was not long for this world.  The five moved assuredly to the edge of the forest, and they were not unnoticed by the people of the hamlet.

A hot breeze leads to a tree leads to…items!

In Pilgrimmage on September 21, 2010 at 4:20 am

It was a hot breeze.

“Lord, Lord Lord! “

“Can you give me the question?”

Is it North, South, West?

Where do we go?

“I don’t know.”

“Isn’t this just our lucky day.”

You just have to breath

In the hot breeze.

He walked quickly into the tree, Belinda following too close for his taste.  It was dark and the musty smell of old wood assailed his nose and mouth and he could taste it a little.

“It’s so old here,” she said and immediately he decided that the smell was richly good.

Not quite pitch black, they scanned the lines of twisting tree limbs along the walls and furniture like royal purple lightning streaking shapes upon the walls and he thought for a brief moment standing on the floor that they were floating in space but underground.   A light went on.

The ground became brown packed earth.  The lines of the inner limbs became branches that stood out like brown scars.  The dark sky became the ceiling where the great limbs met.  The tree was hollowed out and massive, but it was a dwelling with carpet and chairs and a small sofa and bookcase.  There were too rooms with doors.  There was a second level with a bumpy railing going halfway around the house.

“Almost fell a few times before, up there, keeping my balance in the night.  Lean on something too much and it’ll let you down,” Dolamer stepped out of a room, his eyes on a book in his hands thumbing through pages.  He mumbled: “Here it is.”

Tyr and Belinda stayed silent as Dolamer stood there and read silently.  He seemed to have forgotten they were there.

“Must be important,” Belinda whispered.

“Yes.”

“Or he just never noticed we were here because he’s old and daft!”

“What?”

“He meant to say, ‘fell a few times from up there…never was the same again.”

“That’s not it.” Tyr couldn’t believe her and he wanted to tell her to shut up.

“What’s one of the first things that goes when you start to get old?” She was looking at him and nearly grinning.  “Your personal hygiene and cleanliness, that’s what.  So now we know what accounts for the smell in here.”

Shutup!” Tyr bristled right at her.  Belinda pursed her lips in a guilty smile and shrugged her shoulders at him as if she was a guilty child who knew she would not be punished but for her cuteness.  Tyr stared at her from the corner of his eyes, mouth open in disgust.  His anger suddenly drained away into embarrassment and she must have felt the same for their eyes turned in unison towards their host.  He was looking at them.

“Two of you done?” These were his first words directed at them; his voice was big and gruff but also warm.  Tyr felt a little more at ease.

“Sorry for our rudeness, sir,” Tyr said and as he said it he bowed slightly with his head and couldn’t see Belinda roll her eyes but knew she that she had.

“No need for apologies, rude of me to stand here reading while you and Belinda have come a ways to see me.  Sit down over here.”

Tyr looked at Belinda quizzically but she didn’t show she noticed.

They sat down on a red couch in front of the black iron fireplace.  Dolamer had fashioned the tree dwelling himself nearly thirty years ago, including the fireplace he only used during the coldest days of winter.  Dolamer brought cups of cool blue tea water and set them down on the small oak table roughly.  Try drank and remembered looking at that great tree, bark almost as white as the snow and standing out against the snow and still green trees with grey smoke rising up into the white sky and running into the clouds.  The giant natural furnace that as a child he didn’t dare go near or imagine he would enter, and as the three of them sat quietly he closed his eyes briefly and thought that this journey was finally becoming real.

“You are Tyr, and together with my niece you’re going on a journey is that right?”

“You’re Belinda’s uncle?” Tyr couldn’t believe it.

“Yes.”

“Uncle Dolamer…”

He led them to another room and where lay a chest of walnut that Dolamer opened and began taking things out of to lay on the table.  First, a knife with a dark blue handle whose blade

The Odd Riders

In Pilgrimmage on September 21, 2010 at 4:20 am

A farmer led his family

They were two, tall and thin, one taller than the other, the shorter one thinner than the tall one.

They rode their horses with backs straight, heads down, somewhat elegant but also strange like the two of them were thinking quietly to themselves.  The larger of the two had long black hair tied back in a ponytail, and was dressed in long robes as if to guard against the cold.  The other wore a shirt of white with dark trousers and suspenders, a peasants good clothes.

Peasant clothes  cast a glance behind them, and without passing a word the two brought their horses to a stop and turned them smoothly to address what had been following them from the side of the road for some time while using the trees and bushes as cover.

Dark Ascent

In Pilgrimmage on September 21, 2010 at 4:14 am

Dark of night climbing up stone stairs by the light of that small torch, it’s small orange orb surrounded by a flickering bright wisp that danced in the night, and each time the wind blew fiercely it cowered and threatened to go away forever.

He staunched his wounds with his left hand.  The slices in his legs were only cuts now, and he imagined the strong oaks of home bearing the nicks of man and beast and nature and standing proudly.  Mere axes could never fell a tree such as those, his father had said and so the pain in his legs became a source of pride.   But the hole at his ribs which had bled so fiercely before now oozed and dried between his fingers; it hurt to exhale and it hurt more to breath in.

Each step of that towering blackness was planned out, he no longer looked up because there was no seeing the top, no promise of rest or salvation.  Each breath was planned out with his steps so that he was always prepared for the pain.  The steps were black and cold and as he noticed as they climbed higher and higher they became broken, uneven, cracked, and he cursed them under his breath against a background of treacherous whispers.

Tyr felt her hand at his back, the slight tug on his tattered tunic and with each footfall he felt something like security like as long as his right hand grasped hers and as long as she made every step of the way with him this ascent meant something.  Not the crystal, or the wizard, or the world, but her.  And with each footfall together he also felt the weight of a terrible burden.

Sweat dripped in his eye.  His foot slid, he faltered and she pushed against him and a piece of the stair tumbled down the slope. His feet found purchase again immediately and he righted the two of them his left hand on the ground his right hand never left her.  Tyr wiped the sweat from his eye and he smiled at her to reassure her and she also managed a tired smile back at him.  They looked at each other for a few moments.  They never heard that piece of rock hit / finally they heard the stone clatter the silence and the whispers grew louder for a moment.  Silence again, fallen through clouds into some nether realm down below.

Death of Antarius

In Pilgrimmage on September 21, 2010 at 4:12 am

All of the women he’d ever been with were inside of him.  Not only memories but their voices, faces, thoughts, and emotions.  Phantasms calling out for justice and love.  In between quests he’d deceived them, spent time with them.  Before and after campaigns he had broken their hearts. Antarius the White, Antarius the Silver, greatest warrior of the New Age.  Admired by every man, yearned for by every woman, and feared by scoundrels.  His heroic deeds were too numerous to count, his name as untarnished as Spring.  His body harbored the souls of all he wronged for he had used his heroism wrongly, as some heroes do.

The entrance door was the exit.  They heard each other’s panting breath and knew it as their own.  Escape this place.  Get out. Taste the sun and the wind or the moon or the night or anything but this tomb’s unnatural chill.

Donovan was the first to reach the door.  He touched it and the labyrinth immediately sounded its defeat with a groan.  From somewhere the blue flash was sent out and all six of them turned.  Close your eyes!  Maria screamed, and five of them shut their eyes as the walls giving way to a blue flash that passed through their eyes like a rush of cold blood to the face and jaws. A chilly wind gripped them and then they felt warm.  For Antarius, it was different.

A snowy landscape where there was a small cottage within its walls was a beautiful black haired girl with ivory skin and the bearing of a soldier so regal she was until he’d lain her down to surrender while the cold swirled outside and until the fire in the cottage burned down to the embers.

A desert maiden, dark and tall but with an almost childlike innocence unheard of, left her husband for him and his promise of protection and justice and of hearing her thoughts and opinions and learning who she was.

Every barmaid, servant, kitchen hand, every sapphire and diamond plucked from amongst trash was whispered to.  He would show them all a better life.

The female knight, hair blonde and short like a man, the only one who’d fiercely resisted him.  He’d pursued her as hard as treasure in the cave of a dragon.  His ultimate quest and conquest and when victory was achieved she was just like any other.

Eva…

They all swelled inside of him as that blue flash pierced his eyes.  They were ghost white with hollow black eyes like the Reaper.  Hundreds of them swirled inside his body, he could see his body was not a fertile paradise but a dead one.  They flew, some with jokined hands, thick white around a dark, leafless tree.  And this is what the blue light gave him in an instant, bloated second and as they expanded within him they threatened to explode.

They found themselves outside.

“Are you Ok?  All of you?” Donovan caught his breath and asked.

They nodded and said yes they were.  One of them said of course not you idiot.

All of them stopped breathing and stared at the Reaper standing across from them, outside of the labyrinth amongst the bright green trees of the glade where it shouldn’t have been the sun wasn’t for it just as a cow shouldn’t be in the kitchen.  Its arms were at its sides, watching them.

Antarius was calm as he walked forward.

“NO!” Maria screamed.

The Reaper spread her cloaked arms and her banshee wail caused them to fall to their knees covering their ears.  Antarius’s eyes widened and then he winched in pain.  Blood, a little, ran down from his mouth and then down his chin.

Behind him, the ghostly form of Eve appeared white with dark eyes.

Goodbye, my love, she said with a smile forever sad.

The Reaper’s face, her scowl, softened as Antarius heard these words and his tears began to fall.  She paused a little, Tyr later thought, before she and Eva flew through him and then vanished.

The Demon Buster clutched his chest as his ribcage and vitals broke from the inside.  He was spared the gruesome result simply because he was the hero of legend and a terribly gruesome demise does not befit that kind of hero.  And so on 270 in May Antarius died before their eyes clutching his heart though it bore no visible wounds.

Outward bound, he spotted a small child’s face in the foremost house window.  The eyes were big, even from far away he her eyes wide staring at him.

“Goodbye, young lady,” Tyr Beckam said softly, and left the town behind him retreating in the mist.

outward bound

In Pilgrimmage on September 21, 2010 at 4:10 am

Outward bound, he spotted a small child’s face in the foremost house window.  The eyes were big, even from far away he her eyes wide staring at him.

“Goodbye, young lady,” Tyr Beckam said softly, and left the town behind him retreating in the mist.