Sunday, July 24, 2005

Away Camp, Goodbye

I'm leaving for baway camp soon. In 1 and a half hours to be precise. I'll be gone for 2 weeks, at which point I will return and find the world much happier with me gone. Oh well, I'll have alot of IMing to do to get it back to the way it was. The drive up to Maine is around 6 hours long. I looked at the map of the camp, and every house (cabin actaully, becuase they want to give us an old time experience) is named after a bird. Also, we have a cabin labled "Aviary." So we either have an aviary, or thats where the councilors sleep. Anywho, this is a Quaker camp. And no, its not sitting around in silence praying all day (Why? To whom?). This is one of those generic, outside camps. Can't bring my BRAND NEW IPOD. *sob* And anyone can come, not just Quakers. Unlike JEWISH camp, *mumble mumble mumble*. So, I guess this is goodbye for now. . . Yup. . . What can I say to make this moment more fulfilling? What will permanently sear it into your memory, like a white-hot brand being slowly pushed into the side of your head? The answer: I don't know. That wasn't very brand-like. I'll try again. The answer: Even though I'll be gone, pertend that I'm here, send regular letters, call the house so many times that you force my mother to check herself into a mental institution, and most important of all, simulate you talking to me twice a day by smashing your head continually against a brick wall for 1 minute. Bye following these steps closely, you will not misout on a second of my absence, and I can rest easy, knowing the world is not becoming a better place. Thank you, and goodbye.

iPOD!!!! HOORAY!!!! (part 2)

The IPODS HERE! IT'S AWESOME! I'M SO PSYCHED! I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM! GOODBYE!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Second Week

Well, it's over now. DayJam's first week came to a good end on friday. The concert was awesome, I really enjoyed drumming. But, as expected, my beautiful lyrics were impaled repeatedly with the sword of awfulness by the voice of Daniel. The microphone of projection could not help his mouth of garbleing. I doubt anyone felt lifted as they exited the gym. But, overall the experience has been a fun one.
Now I begin my second week at the camp. I enter this time not as a drummer, but as a vocalist. This is good, becuase I already have a shitload of lyrics for this week, and I think that they are ten times better than the chicken with the gas mask ones.
You wanna hear em? Well, I don't care what you want, I'll put them here regardless.

“The Path of Time” Song Lyrics
By Chris Annas-Lee

[Intro]

The o-ld dusty road,
wound quietly, down the mountain side.
Elm trees cast their shadows over it,
as the days began to w-ane.
At dusk a few bright stars shown ou-t
and danced with the sun-set.
And the sun ca-me out
on a brand new day.

[Muted guitar riff (repeat 4 times with variations)]

And the sun ca-me out
On A Brand, New, DAY. [hold note, guitar riff, drums come in with sixteenth note beat]

[Chorus]

The Path of Time moves on and on,
Away from here.
Try to break from it if you want
But you’ll just disappear.

[1st verse]


The darkness, was absolute
Upon that crystal morn.
And the sun ca-me out once more,
Finally, reborn

Gleaming drops of sunny dew,
clinging to the grass.
That golden green, sunny hue
Spring time, at last

Footsteps vanished,
When it rained.
Lakes of light upon the plains

The road was there,
As it is now.
Trampled by the hooves of cows.
Though much different than today.
The sun, still shone out, On A Brand New DAY.

[Chorus]

[2nd verse]

Then people came,
made their towns.
Dumped their waste upon the grounds.
The road became a concrete street.
Traversed by those on doesn’t want to meet.

The mountain side is lo-ng gone
The birds no longer sing their songs
Dark clouds, clog the air
The animals are quiet scared

Rain is acid.
Stars aren’t there
People driving everywhere
There are no footprints in concrete
Lakes are made, they are not seen

The sun arrives,
it is quite brave.
Shining bright through all that haze.
It lights the world, every dawn
The torch it carries is almost gone

But still,
the suns OK
Shining bright,
each Brand, New DAY

[Chorus]

[Bridge]

The old, dusty road
Is winding slowly to an end
Its time, is running out
Not much left to spend

The Path of time,
On the other hand
Works as quickly as it can
The world, is what it has made
And the sun still shines out
each Brand. . . New. . . DAY [Hold for end of song]


By Chris Annas-Lee


Aren't they great. The lyrics are loosely based on a poem I wrote a little while ago, but 70% of the lyrics I just came up with on friday night at 10 o'clock at night. I was so excited i just couldn't sleep. There's also a tune, but this is text.

That's got some serious quailitude, and there's no way in hell the camp director can say (he did this for the chicken in the gas mask lyrics) that they are not PG. This stuff is GREAT. And plus, I'LL BE SINGING IT. THIS IS SOOOOOOO QUAIL!

The Foreshadowing Arrival

Yesterday, on friday, the case for my iPod arrived in the mail. That's awseome, but, the iPod is still not here. I find that odd. But the case rocks, it is black, with a cool belt clip. I am sure by this point I am the envy of the entire world, but I must wait for the iPod before I start shouting for joy. Rabbits breed very fast.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Third Verse (before reading this, check out the first and second verses)

Here's the third verse to duh song I wrote for my DayJams band (first read the frst and second verses):

Rule number 1. . . if you wanna bunny mess
Watch out. . . if the Bunny's Possessed

Bunny. . . From the dead
Bit off. . . The chickens head

Went from chicken to dead. . . very fast
GOODBYE CHICKEN IN THE. . . GAS MASK

That's totally Quail.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Song Lyrics for DayJams tune

So I, apparently being the only person in my band capable of writing good (good) song lyrics, got stuck with writing (pause to up the suspense) the song lyrics. . .

And let me say this was inspired (kinda) by a convo I overheard between a few of my band members (but I still get ALL of the credit).

Billowing. . . Clouds of Green
Wafting in. . . from beyond the sea

People falling. . . To their knees
Choking on. . . This Toxic Breeze

Afterwards. . . "Who's left?" u ask?
The chicken with. . . The gas mask

(Chorus: Haven't come up with this yet. origanally it was just singing "Dot Dot Dot" four times, but I was overruled by the band)

Bunny. . . Consumed in flames
No longer playing. . . Care free games

Fire spirals. . . round his fur
Scweals in pain. . . As he burns

Here's your query. . . "Who lit the match?"
The chicken in. . . The GAS MASK

(Chorus)

There will be a third verse, just haven't thought of it yet. The band suggested having the chicken eaten alive by rabid beavers (I added the words "Alive" and "Rabid" in hopes of making the idea sound better. . . He he he), I don't know if I'm going with that or not. Mom said I should make the song an enviormental symbolism dealy, and have the chicken represent Bush or something to that affect, and have the bunny be the people. All I have to say on the matter is Meh.





Toot.

Monday, July 11, 2005

DayJams - Rock Camp

BOOYA. I just got from the first day of DayJams, a rock camp for people who play rock instruments, and want the experience of playing in a band, while getting good lessons. It's a GREAT camp.
It started with orientation about the camp (boring). Then we went to our first lesson. My instrument is the drums, and since I have never compared myself with other drummers, I decided to just go with the intermediate class, and see how things turned out. It was boring, I already knew all the stuff that Clay (the drum teacher) was telling us. I decided to wait it out until the end of the day, and then maybe skip up to the advanced class.
Then our band met for the first time. It is compiled of 2 drummers, 4 guitarists, 1 base player, and 1 vocalist/pianist. That's big, but the camp was overbooked. Our original song is coming along well, we have the intro all worked out.
After that there was Art, where we (I) designed the logo of the band. Now I don't mean to toot my own horn (yes I do), but I am telling the truth when I say I was like the only person there who could draw. Toot.
Then Lunch. My lunch was the best. Toot. During this time, the basist and the other drummer were developing an elaborate conspiracy against me. No, I don't have any proof. . . But I got a hunch. I could see it in their eyes, smell it in their breath, feel it in their arms, taste it in their feet, and sense it moving around the room. Their out for me, man.
By the end of the day, Clay had said I was too good for the intermediate, and said that tommorow I should go up to the Advanced Class. Toot.
Shaun, one of the drum teachers, and also my personal drum teacher during the school year, had to drive me home, or atleast within a mile or so of home, becuase my dad suddenly decided overnight that he had to go to New York. Cheapskate.
Oh, and the name of my band is . . . Really, its ". . ." (dot dot dot) At first we were the Stoned Beavers, but the councelors said we couldn't keep it. So we're . . .




Toot.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

iPOD!!!! HOORAY!!!!

After a year of quietly ticking off the pages, doing the best I possibly can in school, and wishing each day that this day would be here now, it has finally come. I am getting an iPod. It's the new, fourth generation 20GB color screen iPod direct from the Apple Store. What a great day it is in America! Thank u Apple Store! Thank u sweatshop labor that made this iPod possible (I'll rant about ur horribleness in a little while, but for now I'm just to happy)! Thank u Mom for getting me this beautiful example of what the wonders technology can produce if u just give it 299 dollars! I feel like singing! But this is text! Oh well! I feel pretty! Oh so pretty! I feel Pretty! And Witty! And. . . Thank U for Listening, U wonderful world U!

Peace OUT!

The Rubber Band Theory of Life

Here's the Theory I use for life when I am depressed:

The Rubber Band Theory of Life

Everytime something good happens to you (u find a 20 dollar bill in ur Jean pocket, someone u hate dies, etc.) the rubber band is stretched a little farther. Ur new shoes being on sale, it goes farther back. The girl u meet at the shoe store while shopping and end up going out on a date with, the rubber get's more taught. Each time u exept something good happening to u, the end finally gets a little bigger. Finally, SNAP! It all comes crashing down on u. The girl mugs u, and ur twenty dollar bill is stolen along with ur new shoes. The person is found with a half written draft of their new will giving u evrything they own, but it wasn't finished, so u get nada.

Doesn't life just suck?

Growing Out of Nightmares

Here's the thing, I haven't had a nightmare in such an encredible amount of time, I'm starting to think I've outgrown them. I've seen two horror films in the past week, and not a single bad dream has come of it. Perhaps this happens to everyone, perhaps the brain eventually just says "there's nothing to be afraid of." Similar to the way it gives up imaginary friends, and instead focuses all of its resources on Sex (again, maybe that's just me). Anyway, I'm happy to be over this.

CONTEST #1: Random Quotes - comments please

OK, here's the contest: I give all u readers out there (u figmants of my imagination) a theme. Then u comment with some quotes (made up or not) that fit with the theme. I'll give a prize to the person with the funniest quote, don't know what it is yet.

(I know this is similar to Seth's contest, I got the idea from his blog. Also, let me assure u that I don't give a shit, the theme is different, and his contest was a taken from the joint callaborations of him and I, though mostly him. And while I'm rambling, Things To Say During An Awkward Silence is either a direct plagurising if my work, or we both spontaniously had the original idea.)

Theme: Things U overhear in bathroom stalls.

Come on people, get typing!

Just for the Hell of It

Just for the Hell of It, I will be composing a list of pros and cons to Commiting Suicide

Pros
  • My life sucks
  • In Etherism, there is nothing wrong with commiting suicide
  • Almost nobody really cares about me
  • I'm not taken seriously
  • I'm in NO WAY popular
  • Nothing ever works out well for me
  • My family is just wealthy enough so that theres no way in hell I'll ever get financial aid, but just poor enough so that I can't do anything cool without it

Cons

Can't think of any
Thats scary

Movie Review: Howls Moving Castle

A little while ago, I saw Hayao Miyakazi's new animated movie Howls Moving Castle. In case u are a mentally deranged monkey that spends all of its time in a cave somewhere and do not know who Hayao Miyakazi is, I'll just refresh ur memory. Hayao Miyakazi is the same brilliant director that brought us Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky, My Friend Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and many other beautiful animated films, some that were never distributed in the United States.
His new movie, Howls Moving Castle, is yet another edition to the revolution of movie making that he began. It starts out with this woman, a simple person living in a simple town in a simple land, which borders The Waste (ominous music). At first it looks like (by the way the people she's living with treat her) she's a servant or something, but they turn out to be her mother and sisters. It's not that they don't love her, their just horrible meterialistic people, and Sophie (thats her name, Sophie, I finally remembered it) is not.
Anyway, its peaceful in town, until. . . (ominous music) Has everyone seen Spirited Away? Good. Than I can tell u that what ahe sees next are just like mini NoFaces, like blobs of blackness, except without the mask and the obvious exception that, unlike NoFace, they are Pure Evil and their dressed up in 3 peice suits (remind u of anyone? *coughcoughbushcoughcough*). But Sophie is saved by this mysterious man who turns out to be Howl (ominous music), the apparently evil wizard who eats pretty girls hearts and travels around in his Moving Castle.
Later, when Howl has long gone (and Sophie is unharmed), there's a knock on her door (ominous music). When she opens it, proclaiming in a patient voice that the hat shop where she works is closed, she finds an old, American-style obese woman, dressed all in black. In what makes for a scary moment, the Witch of the Waste (for that is her name) rushes straight through Sophie, thereby casting an evil spell on her, turning her into an old woman. Then the Witch says "Give my regards to Howl." and vanishes in the night. Now Sophie decides to venture into the Waste to find Howl, and see if he can help her.
This movie is based on the book "Howls Moving Castle" which is an American childrens book. Like the book, the movie has one of the "what the hell just happened there?" crappyest endings, but its still ten times better then anything else on the animation circuit right now. I give it 3 out of 4 stars.
My favorite visual and idealistic aspect of the movie by far was the spin wheel attached to the door of Howls Castle. On it were painted several different colors, and when turned to one of those colorsoo, the dr opened onto a different place. It is a warp hole in space, becomeing one with another door that Howl has also enchanted, and letting the occupants of the Castle move freely about the world with just a few steps. I just love the idea of it.
Well that's it for now, I strongly advise u to see this movie (even if the ending could be better). To my knowledge it is currently playing at the Embassy and Coolidge Corner.

The Name of the Site

Ur probably wondering about the name of this site. No, it is not Dan Quayle (stupidest man alive and for what seemed like years (and was years) vice president of the United States) that this site is named after. It is the Quail. It all started at a party over at Megan's (my gf's) house. This girl Anna Clair (Megan's friend) was there, and on her pants was written "Are U Quail?" (don't make that into a sick joke). Anyway, I went to school and started asking people if they were Quail. I got a wide berth, but that's cool. After a while, it became a whole thing, Quail was like a sign of coolness. So, hence the name. And to rap up, Are U Quail? That's what I thought.

Movie Review Rosemary's Baby

HOLY CRAP. Today what is concidered scary is to jack the violence level beyond that of human capacity, in other words cheap gore is today's idea of a good horror film. But in 1968, when the horror film Rosemary's Baby was made, the ideals of being scared by a creepy, but still well made plot were still being used. I just finished watching Rosemary's Baby and it was just so good I had to post a reveiw. It's about this woman named Rosmary (duh). She is happily married to this dude named Guy, who seems nice. They move into an appartment building in New York. This building has a history of witches. Not the warty, animated witches that Disney so often dipicted, these are hardcore, totally insane, satanist witches that will do anything to produce the son of the Devil (an evil Jesus Christ). Guy is a sucker and is soon drawn in. Lets just say that Rosemary's nightmares are about become a reality. I sure as hell know that I'm gonna have some serious nightmares about this. Not the gore filled nightmares that most horror films today produce, but the even more frightening image of a mother standing over the crib of a deformed Devil child with red eyes and an evil glare, rocking it gently to sleep. I recomend this to everyone who is tired of meaningless gore, and is searching for a horror movie more fulfilling. I give this movie 31/2 stars out of 4. I need to tell Megan about this. . .

Saturday, July 09, 2005

"Evolution"

This is Evolution, an unfinished scifi book that I am working on. I'll update every few new new chapters. . . It's copyrighted, so don't try anything.


Prologue

Humanity’s search for knowledge will ultimately be its undoing, for there are some things that were never meant to be discovered. In nothingness, there is a place that cannot be seen, nor touched. None venture there, for none know it exists. This is where They gather.

You have never heard of Them, for in this story you were never born. Or at least if you were, it was a very long time ago.

They converged, the millions became one, data flowed. Information on trillions of eco-systems, uncountable lives drifted through Their one consciousness. The index of Their combined information grew until its very idea overflowed the boundaries of Their mind. So the feed stopped, and They began the process of evaluation. Nothing escaped Their gaze, not even the smallest pinch of fact. All the worlds of all the folds of all the dimensions were studied. Until only two stood out.

The first was a planet whose twin populations were on the verge of Beinghood. The two species were in a constant state of war, yet it was this conflict, this competition for superiority, that had set them on the Path in the first place. One had already learned to separate mind from body, the other’s thoughts were on a telekinetic level. Calculations were made, and in an instant the fate of the races was apparent to Them. They would grow, and fight, and continue to do so until the spiral went full circle and both species collapsed and reverted to barbarianism. No intervention was needed. They would simply be harvested before all of their intelligence was lost.

But what of the other? The second seed species was much more problematic. They were unpredictable. The civilization did not coexist with its environment, instead it destroyed it. In past scenarios such races had always died out before they could do any real damage to the host planet. But in this case, the race had survived, refused to give up. And worse yet, it was preparing to expand and consume other worlds. This could not be allowed. Early civilizations on other worlds must not become corrupt as this one had. The anomaly would have to be wiped out before it spread. These Humans, as they called themselves, must be eliminated.

1_________________________________

The Ancient Gods had powers.

What they created will never be surpassed.

Legend tells of colossal buildings with thatch of stone,

And walls that cannot be seen.

But even they were not immortal,

For they were massacred.

Few survived. Those that did found refuge in the White lands,

And there they were trapped.

Years and years and years went by, until finally they escaped.

Yet when they emerged they were changed,

No longer did they bear the powerful knowledge of their fore-fathers.

The Ancient Gods emerged as Men,

And we are their descendents.

-Extract from The Creation Myth

The old dusty road wound quietly down the mountainside. Loel could see it clearly from his perch on the old thorn tree. The path coursed through Gilda, the forest, and the mountains, eventually coming to rest at the Ruins. There it ended; no one had ever gone farther than the Ruins.

It was said they used to be a city for the Ancient Gods. And beyond them lay a golden shore, then water. Endless water, said to stretch to the far reaches of the world. But those were just stories. Told by drunkards and beggars for a few coins; and yet, thought Loel, he fit into that last category nicely.

The sun was rising. A yellow-red orb of fire casting its gaze upon him. Before his mother died, she had told him of the giants that woke up very early every morning, and flung the sun into the heavens. But now she was gone, and her words were beginning to fade.

The shadows were leaving, the mist evaporating in the heat of the new born day. But the time for dawdling and dreaming was over. The light spilling over the mountain and flooding the valley carried with it the people, rising from their beds in the waking town of Gilda. Trees stretched their leafy branches towards the morning sunlight; birds awoke and began drowsily to sing their liquid song. From here it looked quite peaceful; that would not last for long. Time to get to work. Loel rose from the branch he was lying on, and in a few moments was up the rest of the tree, peering through a hole into its hollow center.

He had to be careful; it simply was not safe to just go reaching into crevasses. You had to look first and make sure nothing was hiding there. Beryl had once been careless like that and didn’t look. He couldn’t move his fingers for a week afterwards. He never went near that rock pile again.

Seeing the hole clear of any unwanted creatures, Loel proceeded to extract from it a small parcel. It was a bag, and what it lacked in mass it made up for in beauty. It had a shaggy look, embroidered with some 20 pebbles that seemed to shine all different colors. The bag itself was of a material Loel thought was called “wahvut,” but what was actually velvet (the man who sold it to his father had had a bit of a lisp). But what it held inside the soft exterior was far more important to Loel. He greedily ripped the strings from the mouth and poured onto a nearby branch its contents. His satisfied eyes looked upon all of his worldly belongings: a seashell his father had given him, his hunting knife, the necklace his mother had woven before his birth, one or two shell coins, and lastly, most precious of all, a bowl.

At a single glance it appeared as just what it was - rich, Sap tree wood, deep in color and almost soft in texture. The kind of instrument used by a few well off beggars, to gather their daily pay. Loel himself was not ‘well off’, but his mentor Keira had been. Keira used to be the master of the trade; her works had become legend by her 13th birthday. Her methods and teachings are remembered in the hearts of all those who need them to survive. Keira had been dead for 3 years. The bowl was Keira’s; she had given it to Loel a few months before her death.

Life was beginning to stir in the valley. Soon Gilda Square will be brimming with people, Loel thought as he speedily scooped the bowl from the wanting pile, and deposited his other scanty possessions back into the bag. Acting upon a second thought, a flight of fancy, he picked up the rough hunting knife as well, and deposited it into his pocket. After placing the bag back into the hole, he climbed down the tree and, leaping from the trunk onto the springy earth, began walking, by way of the road, to the town.

2_________________________________

As I entered the land of the Ancient Gods

My breath was taken from me,

And were my life at stake I could not look away.

For as far as birds can see the city was thus before me.

Great pillars of stone reached towards the sky,

Seeming to scrape its very essence.

Think it blasphemous, or ungrateful if you will

But had my companions not dragged me away

I would have abandoned my family, and even the Gods themselves

And stayed in that immortal city, that imperishable realm

‘Till the stars turned cold, and all else faded to darkness around me

Extract from The Tales of the Wanderer

The dust was another kind of mist. Except where the genuine article was cold and soaking to the touch, this was coarse and dry, and made the sweat run free across Loel’s back as he plodded down the trail leading to Gilda. He was very grateful for the forest shading him from the full wrath of the sun, but even so annoyed at the heat still wafting from the mossy ground.

Hot season was in full swing. Loel wished longingly for the Cold season, when the land was draped in white. Perhaps like the white lands the Ancient Gods themselves had stumbled into. The thing is, Loel thought, as soon as the Cold season does start I will begin wishing for the warmth of the Hot season. It was rather ironic, this continual shift in one’s wants and desires. But some things can bring reality, as well as one’s wants and desires into sharp focus, as Loel was about to learn.

When Loel arrived the crowds were just beginning to form. The square was just as it had been yesterday, and would most likely be the same as today tomorrow. Keira had had a reserved begging spot, which was also now in Loel’s keeping. Or at least had been of late. But recently acquired views had changed to the point where Loel was deemed unworthy of it. It made him angry. ‘If Keira was around’, he had screamed into their indifference, ‘you wouldn’t even have the guts to try’. But Keira was not ‘around’, nor ever would be again. Because she was dead. He now had to fight for a good place.

Luckily, today he was able to secure one without much trouble. That is, he had to kick another, smaller kid out of it. The kid probably wouldn’t survive long without shell coins, but then again neither would Loel. He knelt down, the rocky ground feeling quite soft against his calloused knees, and prepared for the usual morning routine.

He had to have just enough dirt on his face to get attention, but not too much as to become suspicious. He had to look natural, blend in, become a distinct part of the environment. People had to be able see him, give him the money, and forget him so that the next morning they would give him just as much as the day before.

He remembered how Keira had explained the beggar’s role to him. “You see,” she had said, gesturing to the street; “beggars are the relief of modern day life. We provide comfort in that there is still something worse to be. Everyday the masses come out of their various shacks and palaces, and as they emerge the first thing they see is us. The lowest of the low. In the beginning they feel guilty, as if they have done us some wrong by being born higher than us. But that is soon replaced with pity, ‘Why,’ they think, ‘why do they deserve a lesser fate then mine?’ Eventually they become determined to do something about it. ‘To help the less fortunate’, ‘To provide for those who cannot provide for themselves’. So they dig deep into their pockets and purses and wallets and handkerchiefs, and put into our bowls,” here she had gestured at her bowl, the one that was now Loel’s, before continuing: “a few shell coins, or perhaps if you are very, very persuasive, a silver one. This makes them at peace with the world. They have now proven that they are not a horrible greedy person, so now they can get on with their lives, and feel good about themselves for the rest of the day. The cycle soon begins anew, allowing both the guilty and the makers of the guilt to be fulfilled.”

The jostling of the gathering crowds snapped Loel out of his reverie. Concentrating very hard (rather too hard for the need), he recited to himself the rules Keira had pounded into him since she first found him:

1. When addressing a man and a woman together, always address the man.

2. When addressing a woman by herself, always begin with flattery.

3. When addressing a man by himself, avoid eye contact and get directly to the point.

4. When addressing two or more women, do not single any one of them out. Instead, make pleading eye contact with each in turn and speak to them as a group.

5. Avoid addressing two or more men together except when absolutely necessary as they will most likely be drunk; if forced to then proceed with caution, small words, not too quickly spoken but not too slow to cause annoyance.

6. When addressing groups of men and women, always address the women.

As you might have guessed, Keira had no sympathy for men, nor their monopoly over trade, daily life, nightly life, war, and even begging. It had been very hard for her to ‘break into’ the business. But she was good at it, and had soon climbed to the top of beggar status.

A couple was walking towards Loel. He let out a hacking cough before besieging the man, “Please, kind sir,” he groveled, “give a penny to an unworthy beggar. A shell coin for food and drink.” Most likely beer too, he thought. At first the man was unimpressed; Loel winced in preparation for a kick. But the woman intervened, saying, “Oh Noer, just give the poor boy some money, you have more than enough for yourself.” Then, letting out a tinkling giggle, she walked past Loel and proceeded to stroll up the street and inspect the jewelry a merchant was selling. “But my love!” Noer cried. Seeing his words were spoken to deaf ears, the man looked savagely at Loel before hurling a shell coin at him and, running towards the merchant, rejoined his so-called love.

Loel was ashamed for doubting Keira’s rules. Again and again they had saved him and he should not underestimate them.

Gilda was a center for commerce. Merchants, traders, and even mercenaries all came to have their share of the wealth. Many of them left with full, clinking pockets, some never left at all. The murder rate was high, but such was the risk when traveling. Leaving one’s home was a danger. Tales from farther inland told of pools that would melt you at a touch and craters the width and breadth of Gilda itself.

A few yards away Loel could see Zinno practicing his chosen profession. Zinno had once been a beggar, but he believed that ‘the payoffs are too low and too long in between’ (this was of course a complete exaggeration, but those were his words). He had branched off about the time Keira died, and became a pick pocket. His hands were so fast as to not even be seen, except by those who knew where to look. But then again, Loel chided himself, that is the entire point, isn’t it? Not a pocket was passed over; each and every one was ‘donated to a worthy cause’ (again Zinno’s words). Loel had wanted to join him, once upon a time, but the penalties for being caught were too great: Dar had had his hand chopped off for a first offense alone; he did not survive the second. Bern had, and he now sat crippled, with two hands and an ear gone, unable to move and dependent on other beggars to bring him food (which they only did half of the time).

A woman was walking past Zinno, and in a flash her purse was his. But then she saw Loel, and reached for it to give him a shell coin. She noticed, with great astonishment, that her purse was no longer by her side, and with a scream she yelled “Robbery, I’ve been robbed.” And ran back through the street the way she had came, running by Zinno without a second glance.

Zinno let out a bit of a sigh (though he would completely deny it when at the bar), and looked at Loel. He then took out of the bright pink purse a shell coin and saying “Sorry, here’s what she would have given you” tossed it to Loel and proceeded to walk up the street in search of better game.

Another ‘victim’ was approaching Zinno. He was tall, with a dirty yellow mane of hair. His coat was not much to speak of; all it did was keep him warm. He carried no valuable trinket, nothing worth stealing. But Zinno seemed to have spotted something Loel had missed, for he was stealthily closing in on the man. Soon Loel saw it too, a beautiful ring resting on the man’s finger. It was carved of what looked like silver, yet it glowed in a way that was not silver. Enlaced all around it were strings of ruby and emerald which spiraled around each other like twin serpents engaged in war. Both their tails and their heads ended in the same way, emerging into a flattened oval of amethyst, with a piece of gold embedded inside it. The man took it off his finger, shined it with his dirty shirt, and placed it inside his pocket. That’s strange, Loel thought, he’s just making Zinno’s job easier.

Loel could understand why Zinno’s eyes were wide with anticipation and joy as he moved closer and closer toward his goal. There was enough wealth in that one ring for Zinno to stop begging for 2 or 3 years at least. Upon reaching the man, Zinno casually stepped into his pace, and following unnoticed close behind he began slowly to reach out a shaking hand. When it was in position, he lunged, quick as lightning, his hand twisting into the man’s pocket.

But something was not right. Though Zinno had been too occupied at the time to notice it, Loel remembered the man walking towards him. He had seen it; he had seen Zinno take the woman’s purse. Loel tried to cry out but he could not, and even if he had it would not have mattered. For in a single motion the man had a knife out and Zinno in a headlock, with the blades tip at his throat. Loel began to draw his hunting knife from his pocket. He knew he could not make much difference, but he was prepared to rush the man. Zinno, seeing Loel’s knife flashing in the sunlight hastily shook his head no. He did not want his friend to be hurt. Loel could not hear what was said, but it must have been serious for in an instant Zinno had taken the purse out of its hiding place, along with the rest of the day’s plunder. Then, setting him down on the ground, the man pointed towards the entrance to Gilda, and Zinno ran for it, not once looking back.

The man slid the knife into a fold of his coat and, passing by Loel, deposited a solid gold coin into his bowl, before vanishing into the crowd.

3_________________________________

The Lorn are not known for their heroism, nor their outstanding

courage, nor their resistance of torture. In fact, the Lorn are not known at all. Because they move like shadows, and exist in legend.

Extract from Colliding Forces, the Lorn

Loel sat at the tavern bar, sipping at a glass of Meired Ale. He thought back to the town he was raised in, and his parents. His mother’s name was Laurie, but he just called her mom. He did not remember his father’s name.

They lived together in the peaceful town of… Well now that he thought about it, he didn’t even know the town’s name. But it was indeed peaceful. That is it was peaceful, it was until that night. His parents loved to gaze at the stars, so naturally he did too. They would sit at the stream bank and ponder ‘the meanings of life’ (that was what his father had called it). It was just like that, everything happened as usual, and then his parents were killed. The memories were fuzzy, but Loel could recall screams from the village, then dark shapes galloping across the equally dark water. His parents told him to run, and he did. He did not see it, but he heard the yells. His parents distracted the beasts so he could escape. Soon the yells became screams of terror, then of pain, and eventually stopped altogether.

Loel had walked; how far he did not know. In fact he barely remembered any walking at all, just the feeling of fear. It was as if someone was walking for him, but he still felt the fear. He had drifted in and out of consciousness for days, weeks, perhaps years on end until he awoke to find Keira watching over him.

The creaking door swung open, letting a cold breeze wash over Loel. Then he heard footsteps. And finally saw a man wearing a large coat sit down in the seat next to him. A cold fear far worse than the breeze swept through him, it was the Man. The man from the square.

He called for the bartender, who was over in the corner talking to a pretty woman. When he did not answer the man called once more, louder this time. When again his words went unheard he stood and pulled the little barkeep behind the counter, then sat in front of him. The man’s voice was soft, yet threatening. “How do you think you will stay in business,” he asked, “if you do not respond to customer’s wishes?” His words were spoken very slowly, each syllable pronounced with icy precision. “I want what the boy sitting next to me is having.” The hair at the back of my neck stood on end at the mention from this stranger. But I put on a brave face (as brave as I could manage) and took a large gulp from the ale.

Soon a glass was place in front of the man; I noticed that it was considerably larger than mine. Then the man looked directly at me and said, “What is your name?” There were no belittling tones in his voice, no smirk of superiority in his face. I realized that he was simply addressing me as one equal to another. So I answered, “Loel sir.” “Yes, I expected as much.” That really made me jump. “I’ve come on behalf of a friend who wants you to join her.” Then the realization hit me, he was talking about Keira, but Keira was dead. So to join her meant to die. I shakily stood and slowly backed to the door, thinking Oh gods, if I can just get away from this mad man I’ll be safe, I’ll run. He seems old and weak; I can easily out distance him. But something in the back of my mind shouted Zinno, Look what he almost did to Zinno.

I was about to turn and run when the man spoke: “My name is Michael, I will not hurt you; I need to speak to you.” His tone made me relax slightly, and I blinked. In that instant he was on me, his grip tightly wound around me, and the knife tip lightly touching my chin. The bartender might have tried to help me, but the mad man (or Michael) just looked at him and he stopped. There was a whole conversation in that one glance.

He brought me out a back door that probably only the barkeep could have known existed and dropped me into the dead end of an alley. Standing between me and the main street, he knelt so his eyes were at the same level as mine. “Listen,” he said, “listen as if your life depended on it, for it does.” I tried to break past him and run out into the street, but he held me. “Listen you fool, Keira is still alive.” That stopped my squirming, so he continued: “She had to leave, her life was at stake.” When I refused to make eye contact with him he held my face in his mighty grip so as to make me. “She would not have left unless she had to.” Seeing the disbelief in my face, the anger dropped from his voice and he spoke a fourth time: “‘The cycle soon begins anew, allowing both the guilty and the makers of the guilt to be fulfilled’”

I stopped then; no one had heard her say that to me. He took my silence as a cue to continue, “She told me to tell you that, if you resisted. There are people who wanted to stop what she was doing here…” That made no sense, “Begging?” I asked questioningly. “No, you dimwit, that was all a ruse to what she was really doing here.” He quickly stopped and looked around.

By this time it was nightfall. Nothing moved, the darkness was everywhere. But it seemed Micheal had heard something. He looked cautiously around before continuing, “You were never supposed to happen, but you did. When she left here we thought that was it, but then she told us about you…” He paused, listening, then resumed his speech. “Even speaking to her put you at risk, but six years of sharing a home with her made you their top priority. So we sent someone to watch you. They sent monthly transmissions…”

“What’s a transmission?” I asked haltingly.

“There’s no time” he said. “After a while the transmissions stopped, so I went to check on you. I never found the woman we sent, so I assume they killed her.” I couldn’t take it any longer. “Who are they?” I whispered. “A group of men dedicated to stopping what we are doing.” Michael replied.

A twig snapped in the street; instantly Michael was standing, a much longer dagger in his hand. “Get up.” He said to me, then louder, to someone I could not see and I believe neither could he, “Reveal yourself, YOU SCUM. Show your faces.” Then he slashed the air in front of him and from it fell a figure. It was clothed in a cloak the exact same color as the ground around it, and as it tried to get up the cloak shifted to the hue of the alley wall. Then Michael stabbed it, and it fell to the ground. Then he turned to me and said one word: “RUN.”

And so we did, out the alley, across the square and through the archway signaling the end of Gilda. I saw blurrily the forest coming towards us, dark shapes of trees, and a figure with large blue eyes staring at me. Then the voice in the back of my head repeated RUN. And all swirled into darkness.

4_________________________________

“The whiteness took the Ancient Gods by surprise. It enveloped them, and held them captive. Stripped of their powers, they lay dormant; not needing nourishment, nor warmth in that white place. They devolved, forgetting their immortal knowledge the Ancient Gods discovered their own mortality, and so ended their eternal reign.”

-Extract from The Creation Myth

A voice called to me out of the black. It spoke in a tongue I could not understand, but I knew what it was saying. So I awoke. Michael sat cross-legged next to me, humming a strange melody. Seeing me awake he stopped and asked “How do you feel?”

“Tired.” I replied, not knowing what else to say. I was numb, and confused. “I know you have questions,” said Michael, “I cannot answer them now, we are not yet safe.” That brought me out of my daze. “You mean those people are still after us?” Michael looked at me strangely, “What makes you think they’re people?”

Silenced by the man’s words, I took stock of my surroundings. I was very deep in the forest, either Michael had carried me after my black out or else I had kept running. In my younger days I had ventured into these woods, but never had I gone this far.

The trees were all about us, they grew not straight, but in a curving fashion that gave them the appearance of old men, bent with their years. Though it must be day outside, the canopy made it dark as a sunset on a cloudy day and though the birds were singing their happy tune, it seemed muffled by the forest.

Michael stood, and reaching down for my hand, helped me up, saying “Come on now Loel, we must keep a fair pace if we are going to reach Sanctuary in time.” He then took from his pocket a large round object with several figures circling one of its sides and observed a needle swinging of its own accord attached to the center.

My eyes widened with astonishment. The needle finally came to rest on a symbol not unlike this

W.

“Due west” stated my companion, and pocketing the device began striding in the direction it had pointed. Even more confused than before, I hurried to catch up with him. There being no trail, travel was difficult. But Michael walked on, avoiding the trees and plant growth without even breaking step. I was not so graceful. In a little while we came to a stream. It was small, about 14 hands in width.

I was about to jump it when Michael put out a hand to stop me. “Step into the water,” he said quietly. After I had done so he strode to the opposite bank and sprang into a tree before leaping back down into the stream. “Let’s go.” he said motioning towards the winding waterway ahead.

“What was that for?” I asked. “Now they’ll think we’re traveling in the canopy in the other direction,” he replied, “come on, we need to make it out of this forest before nightfall.”

As we walked our shadows began to lengthen, as if they wanted us to turn and go back. Slowly the stream changed to a deep amethyst as the sun began to set. The trees were thinning and Michael said we could move onto the bank. A twig snapped in the forest. Michael drew his dagger and stood, listening. After a few moments of breathless waiting he sheathed his weapon and said “It must have just been an animal.” Soon we had cleared the woods altogether, and emerged onto a long open meadow. Half a day’s walk ahead I could see the mountains. Flowers swayed lazily in the air, the grass was short and tough. “It really is amazing,” said Michael, bending down to touch a blossom, “how such a beautiful thing can exist in such a harsh environment. But isn’t that what we humans have been doing all along.” He turned, smiling, to me, “I think it’s time we made camp.”

There was no point in a tent, not there in the beauty of nature. I and my companion simply lay down on the soft earth, and watched the stars dance with the sunset.

5_________________________________

There is no escaping the darkness; there is no escaping your fate. The Grol will find you. Dark beasts of the night, shapes in the black, shadows with teeth. They exist to kill, they have no predators, and everything is their prey. There is no escaping the darkness; there is no escaping your fate.

-Extract from Creatures of the Night

When I awoke Michael was gone. There were no footprints, no way to tell where he went. He was just gone. It was still night, though in the distance I could see a glimmer of the sun. I hesitantly got to my feet and looked about me. The forest was around 40 hands away, the canopy was glowing with sunlight, but the mountains had not yet allowed the sun to pass low enough to brighten the rest of the trees.

He had abandoned me, left me to this desolate place. I was stranded. I could not remember the way we had come, and my footprints would not show in the stream water. I kicked at the grass, sending a rock flying into the sunlight. How could I have been so stupid? How could I have let that conniving fiend trap me in this forsaken place? I screamed, released all of my anger in a single blast of sound, then fell back on the hard ground and began to cry.

“That’s quiet a set of lungs you’ve got there.” Michael was standing beside me. “I have breakfast.” He said, laying a cooked fish on my lap. “Where have you been?” I asked. “Getting you that of course. Sorry I’ve been gone so long, that stream was rather resistant.” He nodded his head towards the food, “There’s nothing wrong with that you know.” I looked at the fish and slowly realized how hungry I was. The fish soon became a skeleton, and was discarded back into the stream.

After I had finished, Michael stood up and said “Best be going, we must stay ahead of them. We have to get far away, far enough so that they can’t find us.” I rose to my feet and without another word we strode towards the mountains. As we walked the ground grew sparse, grass now appeared in select patches that dotted the hills that had risen around us. Rocks appeared more frequently, and when they did they were larger in size. Dew sparkled in the clumps of foliage, but slowly vanished as the day progressed. I and Michael’s footsteps beat as one as we paced through the valley’s end, the sound rebounded from the steep walls of rock that had spread around us. Slowly the walls moved inward, until we were walking through a passage under 8 hands in width. Above us I could see the pale blue sky, and though we were in darkness, I knew life continued in all its shapes and forms out in the open air.

Ahead was a tunnel. Something sparked in the back of my mind; I remembered darkness, my parents’ screams. “I cannot go in there.” I muttered quietly. Michael turned to me and said questioningly “Do you want to be caught?” My eyes never left the cave, but I managed to repeat “I cannot go in there.” My companion paused for a moment, when he finally spoke it was with the tenderness I had seen the night before, “Loel.” He said, stepping between me and the tunnel entrance, “This is the only way through the mountains, we must enter.” I just shook my head and again repeated, though a little louder this time “I cannot go in there.” I recalled the darkness, flashes of time I had tried so hard to forget; scrambling through the black, a voice shouting “RUN.” The anguished cries, the bestial growls, they swirled in my head until I screamed and fell back from the portal.

Calmly, Michael came to me. He pulled on my arm, lifting me up, and spoke “On the other side of that cave is Keira, on the other side of that cave is freedom, on the other side of that cave is the truth.” He shook me by the shoulders before continuing: “On this side there is death, there is memory, and there are those murderers who are coming closer by the second, and who will find us if we do not move.” Michael pushed me towards the opening. I looked into it, I gazed at the black tunnel; it seemed to invite me inside, to come and be lost forever. Michael nudged me again. Hesitantly, I took one step, and then another until I stood upon the threshold between light and dark. Slowly, ever so slowly, I extended my foot across, and walked into the abyss.

Instantly the world changed, I could not see. But for Michael’s hand on my shoulder I would have turned and fled. Over time my eyes adjusted to the gloom and I could faintly see the rock walls around me. I heard a clicking sound which reverberated around the cave and a bright light sprung from a device in Micheal’s hand. The thing was cylindrical in shape with an aperture at one end from which the light streamed forth. My gasp was audible in the silence, and Micheal willingly explained the object “It’s called a flashlight.” He said, seeing my uncomprehending face he continued, “It was made by the Ancients for situations such as this.”

So with Micheal by my side, and with the aide of this holy relic, I began walking into the gloom. In no way had my fear vanished, and as I looked around the walls, glinting from the ‘flashlight’, seemed to become a million eyes. The passage through which we tread was widening, and soon we came out into a large cavern. Our footsteps echoed from wall to wall, making it seem as if three people were walking through the black.

“Michael?” I whispered. “Yes.” came the disembodied reply. Working up my courage, I spoke again into the black from whence my companion’s voice had come, “What’s a transmission?” There was a pause; then Micheal answered “Another invention of the Ancients. You see, long ago their cities were great in number and stretched for miles on end. They had no way to communicate, so, being resourceful in nature, they created a way.

“It was this: they sent their voices through the air.” At this I was puzzled “Don’t we all send our voice’s through the air.” Michael laughed, “Well yes, I suppose we do,” He ruffled my hair, “But after a while the sound dies and fades away, well the Ancients discovered a way to make it so your voice does not die but is speedily floating through the air in the direction you send it. Then it can be heard only through a special device which the Ancients also forged.”

“The Gods were great and powerful.” I mused into the semi-darkness. There was no reply. My hands shot out in all directions, and soon I lay my fingers upon Michael. “It’s all right.” He whispered into my ear. “But besides, they weren’t really God’s, there is only one true god, all other deities are false.” And then the light began to fade. Michael hit the device against his palm, but to no avail. Within seconds we were in total black. “Michael.” I again spoke into the darkness, and as before came his reply, “Yes.”

“What happened to the ‘flashlight’?”

“Everything needs energy to exist, the flashlight just ran out.” The reply did not satisfy me, and my companion could tell, so he said “Let’s at least be thankful for the time we had. It seems we must continue on now, without the aid of the various mechanical amusements I have in my pack.” He pulled on my arm and we continued to stumble blind through the cavern.

After a little while my companion spoke again, “I am sorry Loel,” he said, resting his hand on my shoulder, “that was harsh.” I did not respond. While the light was with us I had managed to ignore the darkness not 4 hands away, but now that even it had deserted us, and we were again among the black, I felt the tinges of panic rising once more within me. I clutched tightly to my companions shirt, and listened with growing fear to the third pair of footsteps echoing off the tunnel walls. I reasoned with myself, it’s just your own feet playing tricks. But in my heart I knew, the steps were getting louder.

6_________________________________

“Pain is the bodies’ way of telling the mind it’s in danger.

Fear is the minds way of telling itself the same.

Yet in that fear and pain is a danger far more deadly,

These feelings can destroy you and leave you by the wayside.

And worst of all there is nothing to warn you of them.

-Extract from A Birds Flight

Michael slowed his steps and kept a firm hold on my shoulder. “The passage is but 50 hand lengths away,” he whispered into my ear, “if you run in the direction you are facing, within minutes you will clear this tunnel and come back out into the sunlight.”

“Where will you be?” I asked hesitantly, dreading the eminent reply. “I must leave you for a time and investigate whatever creatures have been following us.” He again ruffled my hair. Then his hand left me and I was alone. My body shook from fear and I felt frozen in my tracks. I could not move from the terror growing inside me. Nothing was visible in the darkness, only my bare feet alerted me of the presence of the ground. All noises had ceased, no longer could I hear the third pair of footsteps, nor discern Michael’s pair in the silence.

“Loel.” A voice whispered to me out of the darkness, but the voice was not Michael’s. I ran. I ran straight forwards until my hands reached a wall of rock. Screaming in fear I turned to my right and encountered another wall. I spun around and ran into another passageway that lead steeply upwards. I could see that my hands were bloody, and my knees were badly scraped. But how could I see this? Light was pouring from an opening in the rock just ahead. I scrambled through it and did not stop until I had put a fair distance between it and me. The chasm was small and at a diagonal angle in the rock face. The thought of what might come out of it filled me with horror. But what had happened to Michael? Was he dead? Was he lying mortally wounded in that ghost infested hole?

Time moved on slowly. My left hand throbbed. I dared not look away from the entrance, but seeing it was terrifying. Michael did not come forth, and nothing else emerged either. I took stock of my surroundings. The ground was hard and rocky, with little foliage to be seen. Beyond the rocks surrounding me were hills, they were a lush green, and were a welcome to my tired, fearful eyes. At the end of the hills I noticed patches of grey stone. There must be a town there I thought to myself. A ways off, I could discern a plain of flat, blue ground. It seemed to wave and shimmer in the morning sun. Looking closer I discovered that it must be water, but I had never seen water that stretched so far as to have no ending.

“Loel.” I froze, realizing with horror that I had looked away from the tunnel; that something had crept out without my knowing. “Loel?” The voice did not sound malicious, but afraid. Half paralyzed with fear I contemplated what to do. Folks in Gilda had spoken of the ghouls of the mountain. Of the creatures that existed in the dark places of the world. They dragged their victims into the shadows, and feasted upon them. They were the Grol. It must be a Grol behind me now. Though I never heard of one speaking, I had heard of what they could do to a traveler. Or worse yet, it could be one of my followers. One of those killers Michael and I had been trying to outrun. I reached with one of my bloody hands into my pocket and slowly drew from it my hunting knife. I said “Whatever you did to Michael,” I slowly closed my fingers around the hilt, “you will not do to me.” I swung the knife around and buried it deep into the flesh of the creature. A bloodcurdling scream ensued and I heard the impact of something hitting the ground. Lost in my rage, I turned to stare into the eyes of my predator. To gaze upon my defeated foe. And in that instant I stopped and dropped to the rocky ground. For it was no Grol I had struck, nor was it one of my assassin’s; it was Zinno.

7_________________________________

The loquacious ocean,

the babbling brook.

The deadly tsunami

whose waters shook

this fragile earth

to its very core.

-Extract from Forces

Held in his grasp I was helpless. The maniac bent down and tapped the flat of his knife against my neck. I knew exactly what he would do if I continued to struggle. He was informed in the ways of Maru, I could tell by how he held me: with one hand grasping the traditional fighting knife, the other poised over one of my pressure points, and the position of his feet rendering my legs useless. I knew I could not escape.

The man bent down and whispered into my ear. “I know where you were this morning, Zinno.” At the sound of my name my spine tightened and my eyes searched wildly for some rescue. People were giving me and the stranger a wide berth, but no one was trying to stop it. Except Loel, I saw the flash of his hunting knife in the sunlight, but I hastily shook my head no. I did not want my friend to be hurt.

The maniac continued his speech “You were in the Tavern. I saw you, but you did not see me.” He tightened his hold around me. “Death has a way of sneaking up on us, Zinno. You can never tell when it will strike,” The knife point wavered in the air, a few inches from my neck, “nor can you discern whether it will be a quick painless death, or whether it will be an unending agony, of burning flesh, and screams of pain.” His voice lightened slightly, but his hold on me stayed strong. “Now, place what you stole, all of it, onto the ground.” I did so, than he dropped me to the floor and pointed towards the seaward entrance to Gilda. Without looking back, I ran for it.

I ran until I was well into the forest. I stumbled through the trees and smashed through the foliage. The canopy twisted the light into weak patches that dotted the forest floor. The trunks of the trees were like the cataracts of my homeland, they fell from the canopy and spiraled to the ground, where they splashed into many roots and vines that sunk deep into the mossy earth. I was tired. My breath was heavy and I lay down in the nook of a tree’s roots to rest for a while, to ponder what had happened.

Who could that man have been? Where could he have come from? And most of all, how did he know me? He seemed like a thief, in the clothes he wore and his awareness of my own thievery. But those taught in the ways of the Maru do not dress in the fashion of that maniac, and certainly do not stalk people. The run had tired me, and the cozy nook in which I was resting was so comfortable. Soon my vision fogged and I went to sleep.

It was dark, and yet glowing. An ethereal glow surrounded me, encapsulated me. In its eternal grasp I was nothing. I was a twig, a patch of sunlight, an unnecessary obstacle. It held me its immense hand, closed its fingers around me, and squeezed.

I awoke, it was growing dark. A golden-red light filled the forest the forest and told of a passing day. I stretched my legs, as I did feeling the knots ease away. I began to stand, but I heard something. Again I crouched between the tree roots, this time flattening myself against the rough bark.

In the distance, but growing steadily louder, I could perceive the sound of footsteps. Leaves crackled and twigs snapped. These were people trained at disguise, and were it not for their number, I would not have not noticed them at all.

Soon dark shapes ran through the trees not 20 steps from my hiding place. Their cloaks flashed many colors and changed hue as their background altered, and knife blades glinted in the setting sun. I counted 13 in all, and then they were gone, running with such silence, that within seconds they had vanished, and there was no indication that they had ever been.

Slowly I rose from the tree roots, and realized with a shock the direction the party had been going. They were on a direct path to Gilda. Curiosity burned within me, and completely forgetting about the man with the ring, I began running towards my beloved town.

But I was slow, much slower than the cloaked figures, and I knew I had no hope of catching up, and soon I fell to a walk, unable to keep pace.

Darkness overtook the landscape. The trees took on a sinister, foreboding feel. A few stars shone in through the canopy, but the moon was blocked out entirely. I stumbled in the near pitch black, and fell. Once more I heard the sound of footsteps, but these were clumsy, hasty. They were crashing through the forest, with none of the grace of the cloaked figures. I lay still, and immediately two figures ran past me. The first was large, wearing a heavy coat and holding the hand of the second, who, for just a moment, stared deep into my blue eyes, then kept on running. With a jolt I realized it was Loel. And it must be that maniac that he was clinging to. But I couldn’t stop to think now, for behind them, I could hear the faint patter of feet that marked the appearance of the cloaked figures.

Fearing for my life, I turned and plunged into the dark, away from that soft crackle of leaves, deceptively calm in the otherwise tranquil night. I followed the noise of the chased until, all of a sudden, it stopped. I looked around, confused, bewildered, and found that I was alone. Alone in the dark. I jumped into a tree, and there I lay, hearing the hunters run swiftly beneath me, then just as swiftly, vanish into the night.

But I could not abandon my friend to that insane man, and I knew that if I did not do something soon they would be captured. So I leaped down from the tree, badly scraping my knee as I did, but I couldn’t stop to look at it, and yelled “Hear I am.” into the black that faced me. Then I stood in silence, waiting for something to happen. And in a few moments, something did. I looked about and saw I was surrounded by the dark shapes. They did not move for some time, and both them and I stood in silence. Then one moved in a blur of shape and changing color, and a fog slowly spread unwillingly across my vision.

I woke in another form of black. Whereas before there had been discernable shapes through a dark mist, now there was nothing. There was no light at all, and I doubted that there ever had been light in this place. For a while I sat there, feeling vulnerable in the dark. Without my sight, my other senses grew keener. A ways off, I could hear dripping water. That will help me survive I thought, before continuing the scan of my surroundings. I could feel cold rock beneath my out stretched fingers. All the evidence pointed to a cave. A nocturnal tomb in which I would draw my last breath.

For the first time in many years, I cried. The tears were uncontrollable. I emptied myself of my grief. Then I sat, for what seemed like days I remained still. Slowly, I felt my arms begin to drift, to move of their own accord, to float out of their sockets, and away from my body. I quickly rubbed my hands together, and found that my arms were there, intact. So I sat back once more, and waited.

What I was waiting for I do not know. The cold pierced within me and numbed my thoughts. Vaguely, I wondered at how I was to escape my predicament, how I would emerged unscathed. Think I told myself. Always in thievery there is a motivation. I steal because I need the money to survive, and because I enjoy it. But what would be their reason for stealing me? What is their motivation?

A sound echoed throughout the cave, a pair of footsteps, than a light. It must be my captors I thought. Quickly, I scurried into a nearby tunnel that had just been revealed by the passing light. I watched. The light grew stronger, but it was not sunlight that shone into the cave, it was a cold light. A fake, unreal light. And then a figure stumbled through the light. It was small, barely my height. It walked with a distinct fear, a fear that seemed to grow with each passing minute. Than it turned, faced the piercing light, and I saw its face. It was Loel. I would have run to my friend that second had I not noticed the hand on Loel’s shoulder, my eyes went up the hand, the arm, to the face. This figure, to which Loel clung as if to a father, was none other than the maniac from the square. Fearfully remembering his treatment of me in the square, I backed farther into the shadows until they had passed, then I crept out of the tunnel and began quietly following. After a while, Loel spoke to the maniac. I could not distinguish the words, but they were ripe with fear. My captors forgotten completely, I followed the two farther.

I kept to the sides of the passageway mostly, avoiding the wide open spaces that the center of the tunnel gave. Every once in a while, I heard the mumbling of the two figures 100 hand lengths away. After a few minutes, the light went out. The white illumination vanished and left glowing spots on my vision where it had been. Shortly afterwards there was a shocked noise, no doubt from Loel, and a harsh voice that could only be the maniacs.

I continued walking, listening for the sound of footsteps. Soon they stopped and I heard, very faintly, a whisper. Then it stopped, and I could detect footsteps coming my way. I dropped to my knees. Still at the side of the passageway, I heard the footsteps pass me, than I could discern a rumpling of leather and hard click. But nothing changed, and soon the footsteps continued. After they had vanished, I silently got up and quietly pad footed over to Loel. He was standing, stricken, unable to move from fear. Perhaps my arrival would ease his tension. I whispered to him “Loel.”

He yelled, than scrambled madly away from me. He must think I am the maniac I thought to myself, that’s why he’s so afraid. Loel never did have good nerves. Then I remembered that following him was my only hope of finding a way out of the tunnel, so I ran after him. Ahead, I saw light. Not the meaningless, fake light that the maniac had produced, but the warm comforting light of the sun. Up a steep passageway I went, but paused in front of the opening. I did not want to scare Loel again, so I waited for a little while, to let him cool. Then I slowly stepped out of the tunnel, and into the day. I could clearly see Loel in the clearing of rocky grass. Around him were hills; and he stuck out like a coin in a pocket in this environment. But then again, he had never been good at camouflage.

Loel was intently gazing off, into the distance. I came up behind him, and following his gaze, I could see that he was looking at the ruins, a cloud of smoke spiraled from them, as if someone were living there, but that was impossible, no one lived in the ruins. “Loel.” I whispered to him, when he froze in terror, I said again, a bit louder this time, “Loel?” Slowly, still facing away from me, he rose. There was a moment of silence, and then he spoke. “Whatever you did to Michael,” he said through gritted teeth, I saw the knife flash in the sunlight, but it was too late, “You will not do to me.” He swung the knife and plunged it deep into my arm, and I screamed in pain and confusion. Then he turned; a victorious gloat upon his face. But as he laid his gaze upon my face, he froze. The smile changed into a horrified expression, and he took a step back in disbelief. My eyes clouded over, and streaks of red impaired my vision, one thought lingered in my mind. Why?

8_________________________________

A shifty, cloudy curtain of blue

suspended on waters, high in the sky

Constantly changing, hardly believing

I’m gazing into your cold blue eyes.

-Extract from Release

I stood there for an eternity, gazing transfixed into Zinno’s eyes. I watched him writhe in pain on the ground, and yet I could not move; I could not help him. I tried to reach for him, to comfort him, to tie a piece of cloth around his bleeding wound; but I couldn’t. My vision faded, grew dimmer, and the voice in the back of my head said “Rest.”

I awoke, still standing next to Zinno. But a bandage had been wrapped his arm, and Michael was kneeling next to him. “I am sorry you got involved, Zinno.” He spoke with compassion. Then he turned to me. Motioning to Zinno, he said “Don’t worry, he would have lived.” Confused, I continued to stare. Michael continued, “He would have lived if he hadn’t gotten involved.”

Through the corner of my eye, I could see Zinno waking up. “I had to get you away from those people first.” Michael said. “They would have stopped me from completing my mission.” He stood, looking out onto the endless water. “Long have I pondered the sin I shall commit,”

I was afraid, confused. I took a step back. Michael didn’t seem to notice, he was caught up in his reverie. “But don’t worry about me Loel, I have been granted absolution from this act. You, on the other hand…” he took on a mournful expression, before continuing, “You, who have lived with that Keira woman, you will have to die.”

Fear trickled down my spine, I was numb with it, and it was ripe in the air. I turned to run, but Michael’s words stopped me, “Uh uh uh.” he said, “You wouldn’t leave your dear friend Zinno, would you?”

I slowly turned. Silence fell. Zinno rested on the rocky ground, paralyzed, as I was, with fear. The world faded, slowed, almost stopped. I saw it all through my own eyes. But I wasn’t in my mind anymore, I was outside it. Looking in, looking out. Michael drew a long, hideously curved dagger, and raising it to the sun, leaped forwards. Behind him, something moved in the cave. A cloaked figure, wielding a glinting needle of silver. The dagger fell, the needle flew. Michael slumped over and died.



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