Author Topic: The Storm of Lakenheim  (Read 10019 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Miss Nile

  • レゲシブレイドが大好きです。
  • *
  • Tier 7
  • **
  • Posts: 3109
  • Gender: Female
  • Miss of The Grand Nile; Founder of Snow Rose
    • Snow Rose Games
  • Current Mood: playful playful
Re: The Storm of Lakenheim
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2013, 02:25:36 PM »
D'aww.  :blush:

I seriously loved that last part. D: No, honestly, that was pretty romantic and sweet. Didn't know that after all this darkness and seriousness, I could see a part so lovely! The sense of love was strong between Eimon and Grunnel, especially in how he suddenly turned from the angry, tough mood to a soft, young one upon witnessing Eimon's tears. Grunnel...is...cute. D:

And the chapter overall was a great work. ^^ I like how you pictured Eimon's disgust from the whole atmosphere but how she still took comfort in Grun's presence. It was really well done. :)

Now I am definitely excited to see how this unlucky couple will manage their way out. Now that's a cliffhanger. Write more soon, I am waiting! :)

Dry Ice

  • Tier 3
  • *
  • Posts: 93
  • Gender: Female
  • I'm a kid and the world is my candy shop.
  • Current Mood: happy happy
Re: The Storm of Lakenheim
« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2013, 03:52:59 PM »
I find the people of Sulkron very interesting. They're so intense and warlike, yet it's apparent that they were driven to this lifestyle by harsh conditions and desperation.

And your vocabulary continues to astonish me. This story reminds me of words that I forgot existed. ;)

Wyndfal

  • *
  • Tier 6
  • **
  • Posts: 471
  • Gender: Male
  • I don't believe in the internet.
  • Current Mood: happy happy
Re: The Storm of Lakenheim
« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2013, 01:42:59 PM »
Chapter 5
A Pouch of Marlyn-blooms

Baryon

When the first tree was struck by a lightning and smashed to powders, we knew better than to wander about the town under the raging fury of a thousand thunderbolts. The dark clouds brought by the unyielding shadow wind were now taking tolls: roots and earth and bole. The whole foundations of the Hills of Olayine were shaken as the sky rumbled and the heart of heavens was slashed asunder to unleash a flurry of deadly forked tongues flashing: an endless song of a furious god.

Weeks before, when dawn broke not by the sword of the sun, but by the lonely crowing of an old rooster, no one seemed to mind. When the next day followed suit, they simply called it ‘bad weather’ and shrugged it off. The third day followed the same pattern and managed at its best to buy a few frowns and naggings. It was not until the seventh day that every man and woman in Shalefin was convinced that something was terribly wrong with the world.

In the entire ignorant population of Shalefin, there were two exceptions: Shareen, an old woman of untold years, the eldest of us, famed for her prophetic powers; and me, her favored grandson, partly inheriting her insight and fully her lost daughter’s eyes. When the Winds of Uben began to blow, we both knew it was nothing normal. We both smelt the evil breath blowing. We were assured of an early end to Shalefin. But there was one big difference between us: I predicted a decade; she saw it within the year.

Ever since the dark clouds hovered above Shalefin, we lost sight of the sun. Morning, midday, afternoon, evening, it was all the same. It had simply… vanished. It was like a second Fog of Gortmile, this time stealing the sun. And more than anywhere else, it was devastating to our town. We were farmer folks. We lived by the sun. And would soon die without it.

But it was not all. The ranching town of Pleck was dependant on our crops. Their cattle wouldn’t grow any bigger or fatter by themselves. They needed us. Hayomon, the night is come. Will the light of the moon you saved stroke our pale faces when the sun is lost?

I was in the granary with my friend Fonden when I saw the tree explode into a thousand shards.

“Fonden! The tree!”

His face was as pale as mine when he stared confused at the crater on the ground on which stood a tree only a moment ago. “B-but that was just a yard away! What if it strikes us?”

Personally, I preferred it to a few miserable months of painful darkness. “We can’t go out now. It’s too dangerous out there.”

“And if it hits the granary? We’ll roast alive within these walls. Better a quick death!’

Something told me to stay inside, unlike the danger of burning in the granary should a lightning struck. threat of the lightning. “No! We have to stay inside, Fonden! Please!” It’s too early to die. Don’t be in a rush.

He must have seen it in my eyes, for he stopped where he was and looked at me all puzzled. “As you say, Baryon.” That uncertain look was something I got everyday from every man and woman in Shalefin. They vaguely resembled those twin gates Shareen had for eyes, and nobody liked to look through them opened.

We huddled close on a heap of grains, at a dark corner where only rats cared to dwell. After a silent eternity, it was Fonden who finally broke through the gloom.

“Baryon? Do you think… do you think she’ll like them?” Around his belt was fastened a small pouch, holding a handful of marlyn-blooms, freshly picked from Olayine, minutes before the storm began. They were always my sister’s favorite, as Fonden knew all too well. “Of course, Fonden. Of course she will. You’ve seen her wearing a garland of them at times.”

I didn’t need to look straight in his face to see him blush. He did that every time at my sister’s mention. “Say, Baryon, what if she thinks I’m not… good enough?”

“What is that even supposed to mean?”

“She, uh, might think me plain, even dull,” As for plain, that went for half the villagers of Shalefin. And as far as dull was concerned, I couldn’t imagine anything duller than having me for an elder brother. At the age of fifteen, I was said to act like an old man of seventy years.

“This is just absurd. Why would she think like that?”

“Well, I…” Another thunder roared. Another tree was taken.

“Listen to me, Fonden. If you keep acting like this, I can’t promise you anything. Another day or two, and she might end up with some other guy. Don’t give it up simply because you’re scared.”

That took him painfully surprised, like a stab in the back in the dead of night. Yet if it worked, I would readily stab him again and again until he finally found the courage he’d lost the night his mother died of fever.

He managed to speak broken words at last. “But… you said... she never… not other guys…”

“Fonden, Liara is thirteen. You can’t expect her to stay like that forever. Someday, some boy will come, and she will eventually give him her hand. I can think of no one better than you to take her. Still, I can’t do it for you either. There are things even a brother can’t do for his sister, or a friend for a friend, however close they might be. All I can do is give you support and courage. The rest is up to you, Fonden. Better to be plain than timid.”

Farther off, another lightning struck Shalefin, this time near the town center. Will it take lives now? Then the rain started to pour, tender drops against the dark soil of the sunless town. It made me think of Liara, how she always loved rains, dancing lost in the music of the water, her long brown hair showering as she spun and swirled and laughed and sang, while my friend Fonden watched her unseen from some window or roof far away, yearning for her, sinking more and more into despair when he found he couldn’t follow his heart. It made me pity him now, trapped inside the old granary, unable to get out for the thunders. Perhaps he was thinking of Liara now, wondering if she was dancing somewhere in the rain.

“I’ll do it now.” Had I not known it was only the two of us there, I would have sworn it was someone else. But it indeed was Fonden who spoke.

“Fonden?”

“I’ll go tell her now. I won’t wait another hour. This storm can go to hell. It won’t stop me.” His look was determined like any other boy’s. Still, his timing couldn’t have been worse. The storm would smash him to smithereens before can even knock the door.

He rose to his feet, touched the small pouch fastened to his belt for a moment, and strode outside. I heard another thunder far away, and for the first time since our friendship, I was scared more than him.

The rain was beating madly on the ground, sending splashes of splintered drops to our faces. The air was thick with threat, and I felt danger everywhere. One single bolt and we would shatter into oblivion. Yet Fonden cared not. For him, this was the very moment to prove he was still brave of heart. Lightning struck and the whole town blinked brighter than a sunlit day.

The alleys were vacant like haunted hallways, heavy with gloom and terror and danger. We passed them like two fearless knights marching to the heart of peril. A thunder caught my eyes as it slammed the ground, only inches away from a shack. I dared not stand and look back to see whose house it was. The rain raged to a shower.

I felt a strong need to say something and break through the storm’s silence, but no word occurred to my mind, and Fonden was striding too fast to hear me. As we passed my grandmother’s shack, I stood there and stared at the dismal dwelling of Shalefin’s eldest, wondering what she was doing inside right now, or whether she was as terrified as I was.

The town center was a confusion of wind and rain and storm. A tree had been smashed to pieces by thunder, splinters of wood scattered everywhere. It could have been us, for all I knew. Any moment might be our last. Hayomon, just a little longer, and we will be safe inside.

I could see the outline of our house from the distance. Smoke curled its way up in a snaking track. Dim lights flickered from the windows, dancing in peace and shelter. The sight of it brought me smile on the lips. Fonden stopped for a moment, and when I turned to look at him, I saw a glimpse of smile on his face too. He clinched his fist.

Our house looked like a dreadful shadow in the dark storm, yet it was the sweetest sight of all Shalefin in that chaos. As we approached my home, I prayed for Fonden’s heart. Even I wasn’t sure what Liara might make of this at such a time. Hayomon, the time is upon us. Help my friend.

They say when you pray with all your heart, your prayer joins a thousand other prayers in a journey to the heavens, where the Lunar Dame will listen and grant you your wish. When a true heart yearns, the sky will flash with a lightning, as if in response to the prayer. Thousand pure hearts must be praying tonight, for their safety, for the sun, for the storm’s end, for their crops, for their lives… and their loved ones.

We were almost at the door when Fonden stopped again to gather all his courage. Even in that chaotic storm, I could hear his heartbeats as he stood there like a stone, with marlyn-blooms in his hand. Hayomon, it’s time…

Then everything seemed to happen so slowly. I saw a blaze in the sky, a forked bolt of fury thrust down, falling, falling, falling, a trail of golden rain on its back. As it neared its aim, my heart beat so fiercely I was sure half the town could hear it. All I could do was watch and watch and pray as the forked wrath of the dark storm impaled the place I called home.

Then everything happened fast as a lightning. The ceiling shattered with a terrifying roar. Every window was smashed to a thousand pieces by the sheer force of the thunder. Something caught fire inside, and before I could so much as blink, the entire house exploded right before my eyes.

I had enough time to protect my face with both my arms. When I lowered them again, I saw Fonden fallen down on his knees, eyes wide with terror and disbelief. His hands hung trembling at his sides, those flowers still in his hands. He was crying, I knew, even in that mad, endless rain. My legs finally gave up, and I fell down on my knees too. My eyes stung, and I knew it wasn’t the rain.

It’s all a dream, I know it is. It must be. Only a moment ago, my home was there, just there, soaking wet in the flooding rain, standing there damp and dark, the most terrifying and welcoming shadow of my life. How can it burn so fiercely under this rain?

It’s all a dream, I know it is. I’m going to wake up any moment now. Yet why does it seem so real, so alive, so close? Father, Liara, why don’t you come out? Why don’t you say something? You’re alive, aren’t you? This is all a bad dream, right? When I open my eyes, it will all vanish, right? Tell me this is all a bad joke. Tell me none of this ever happened. Tell me… tell me… TELL MEEEEEE…!

Why? Why should it happen tonight, of all nights? Why should my sister die at her thirteenth name-day, just before her lover asks for her hand, with the flowers she so loved? Liara, look! It’s Fonden, my best friend, your secret lover, the boy you always said was so shy he was almost cute. He’s come to say how he loves you, under this storm. Can you see him now? Can you see how he weeps and shakes for you? Can you see…?

Father, forgive me. I never grew up to be the son you always wished me to be. Not when you lived. I failed you, father. I failed you, and outlived you to bear the shame till the day I die…

The place I once called home was in flames, remnants of fifteen years of memory and love and life, all reduced to a dancing blaze which even the violent rain could not quench. I don’t know what blurred my eyes more: the unending rain which lashed at my face, the blinding light of the unquenchable fire, or the unstoppable tears I had been holding back since the first day I smelt those cursed Winds of Uben?

Just a foot away, drowned in shock and grief and despair, Fonden was still kneeling in the uncaring rain, lamenting the girl he always loved, but never kissed.

Fonden, it’s alright. My sister will never give her hand to another boy. She is watching you now. I know she is. And she will love you forever, now that you’re finally brave.

The marlyn-blooms fell from his hands, drenching in a dark pool of cruel rain. Hayomon hadn’t heard my prayer.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 07:22:30 AM by Wyndfal »

Miss Nile

  • レゲシブレイドが大好きです。
  • *
  • Tier 7
  • **
  • Posts: 3109
  • Gender: Female
  • Miss of The Grand Nile; Founder of Snow Rose
    • Snow Rose Games
  • Current Mood: playful playful
Re: The Storm of Lakenheim
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2013, 04:33:42 PM »
Oh wow. Now that's definitely another cliffhanger, and finally an exciting touch to Baryon's part! I deeply enjoyed this chapter, how it described the terrible weather and the gradual change of the villagers' feelings towards it, and how it slowly destroyed its trees, putting fear inside the hearts of many. I admired Fonden's courage as he left the house to tell Baryon's sister of his love and I definitely felt sorry for him at the end.

I have a few picks here and there however. First off, how old are the characters? XD Baryon is fifteen and his sister is thirteen. Usually, I'd say that Baryon's level of talking and thinking is too old for his age but you did point it out so it's fine. But are Eimon and Jugal around that, too?

Secondly, I am not sure but can thunder really cause a whole house to explode? I understood that the ceiling cracked, the windows exploded, and something caught fire inside then it exploded. It sounded a little unrealistic to me unless that 'something' that caught fire was truly dangerous, or unless the thunder was unnaturally strong.

One last thing is a little picky point on the way of writing of the end, after the house exploded. I don't know, but how you described Baryon's reaction was a little...cold? I mean, Fonden explained much silent emotion, but Baryon thought of it-notice that I empathize on 'thought'-rather coldly, as though his sister didn't just die, nor did his house explode right in front of his eyes.

But anyhow, I loved the chapter. Write more soon. :)

Dry Ice

  • Tier 3
  • *
  • Posts: 93
  • Gender: Female
  • I'm a kid and the world is my candy shop.
  • Current Mood: happy happy
Re: The Storm of Lakenheim
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2013, 02:50:21 AM »
I see that you changed the end of this chapter... now it's absolutely heartbreaking. :'( The way Baryon goes from denying that it happened, to realizing what the loss of his family means... it's very powerful. Good work!

I'm curious to see if and how this storm and the battle at Sulkron are related, and what it all means. :D

Wyndfal

  • *
  • Tier 6
  • **
  • Posts: 471
  • Gender: Male
  • I don't believe in the internet.
  • Current Mood: happy happy
Re: The Storm of Lakenheim
« Reply #20 on: January 29, 2013, 03:24:10 PM »
Chapter 6
The Hour of Wolves

I
Jugal

“When the moon starts to bleed, Beroshee alone knows what emerges from the dark depths of the caverns of the world.”

Halgor’s words echoed in my ears and heart like the dismal clangors of a death knell. Am I really to blame, though? A few more hours and I’m likely to end up in the bellies of a dozen beasts or more. If I’m lucky, my death will be avenged by a brother hunter; if not, my wandering spirit will haunt these barren lands until the day the Eternal Flame dies. And the world with it.

Nineteen years have I lived. Nineteen barren falls of bleak nights. It should only be fitting to die at the end my second decade, at the turn of a third that never comes.

And here we stand, lined as one, men and women, brothers and sisters, hunters and huntresses, sharing the same fate, the same foe, the same rage, with the maws of the whole world opened before us, sprouting every bile creature that has ever been born since the beginning of time, here for a final clash of claws and blades. The victors will claim all the wastelands of the west, and rule under the shadow of Hawlern Mountains, a huge pile of broken bones and rusted steel glittering under the blood rays of the scarlet moon. A deathly throne of skulls and blood. Sometimes I wonder if a human should ever seat on such an unholy crown. Sometimes I hope we all would lose.

I hear the drums at play all the while, thumping like a wild, single heart beating for three hundred hunters about to stare at death right in the eye, and kill it if anyone ever could. Flames swayed all around the walls, shadows dancing graceful as death as the braziers burned and crackled and smoked. We are ready, monsters. Are you?

Beside me stood Boster, who always had something to smile at, even at this doomed hour. He had gathered all his black hair atop his head, like a short sharp blade thrust from his crown. He would look fierce, even cruel, if not for his constant smiles. He held a deep-brown ebony bow he claimed he had gotten from his uncle Morbay, who had one day fallen from the walls on patrol and broken his skull, dying before anyone could find him. He would do well to avoid such a fall tonight, as every arrow counts. I had half a mind to tell him that, but I guess he was just thinking the same thing, smiling that way.

The western wall was given to Egven to defend, our best warrior beyond doubt. His huge stature gave him the appearance of a big brown bear. His weapon of choice was a giant axe he wielded with two bulky hands. His grandfather’s grandfather’s mother had been the chief of her clan more than five hundred years ago, and it was she who had slain a giant in single combat and taken as her prize that massive axe. She had named it Ugrog, which supposedly meant Giant’s Kiss in the ogre tongue. How she had learned that queer language we never knew.

While on the walls, he was equipped with a skullbow too unyielding for us to draw, but he notched it so deftly you thought he was a boy pulling a single strand of fabric. In accordance with his bow, a quiver half filled with bone arrows were given to him, along with another full of broadheads. If only half of us were armed like Egven, and a quarter as strong…

Yermen was positioned on the northern wing of the walls, guarding the town’s left flank. The last time I saw him, he was shining that elk helm he so cherished. The helm closely resembled the head of an elk, though smaller in comparison. Its antlers were two twisted, pronged iron shanks attached to the top, each a foot tall. He always kept the antlers deadly sharp, in the unlikely events that they might serve him in a way. If anything, it made him look especially funny when he wore it. He was so obsessed with his helm, many called him the Shining Elk, a name obviously meant as a slight, though either he never took it that way, or that he never cared. How ironic that he should wear it tonight, an elk in the midst of wolves and crows. It seems we are the prey after all.

The northern wall of Sulkron, the right flank and the more critical of the two, was mostly equipped with contraptions designed for the town’s siege. While a ballista or two would have been be quite desirable, in its place we had several old catapults mounted on the walls suited for siege control. Crates of stones were piled between them, with three men at each device. There was much talk about how they had been placed on the wrong wall. Almost everyone believed the catapults were to be installed on the western walls, which faced the mountain and the first wave of attack. Yet there they stood, old and squeaky, casting the shadows threateningly on the town.

The wall facing the east was a scant less guarded compared. Mostly green boys and girls of ten or less crowded there, some of them holding bows for the first time in their short lives. It would be an utter waste of arrows, it was plain to see. Yet while every arrow counted, so did every archer. And in this storm of fiends, even the least experienced hunter could drop down a dozen wolves without ever needing to aim.

Welsa commanded the huntresses, a pleasantly rough woman scarce over twenty, yet as strong as any man could be, and twice as brave. She and her huntresses alone defended all the southern walls. It was her idea to separate the huntresses from the hunters, pointing out how they obeyed her better than any other chieftain. Even Meregor had nothing to say to that. Her squadron consisted of a hundred and twenty archers, along with a dozen blade-sisters who could stand toe-to-toe with any seasoned hunter. Last time I heard of them, my sister Alyen was said to have joined them as well, only sixteen and a maid. Now I understand what Welsa meant by splitting us. She inspires courage in women’s hearts in the same way Egven did in ours.

Emerk, the fool who had suggested that we should leave Sulkron to the wolves and flee to other towns, was still complaining about his position. Ever since Chieftain Meregor put him on the western wall, he never stopped whining. I could hear him even now, only a few feet away, fidgeting uneasily like one who’s about to let loose his bladders. I expect he will a couple of times before this night is over. When the time comes, many of us will.

Chieftain Meregor was everywhere, shouting hoarse commands and arranging his hunters in order, bellowing like a bear at anyone who failed to stand where he had to. Once he threatened to throw Murbel off the walls when he nearly dropped a crate of stones over his head. I think I understand a part of his wrath. At Rhaya’s suggestion, every hunter and huntress had to give up their cloaks, capes, skins or whatever they hung over their jerkins. Meregor was no less angry at that than any of us, though perhaps a great deal more than many. As was mostly the case, the reason behind this japery was hidden from us.

No one had seen Rhaya these past two days. The talk was that he had gone out scouting one last time before the attack. Boster said it wasn’t possible since the gates had never been opened again since those two strangers from Pleck arrived with their meager flock. Maybe, but I bet Rhaya knows other ways to get in and out of town. Some said he had fled Sulkron for his life, leaving us to the wolves. If only we weren’t so short of arrows and archers, some would hurt badly for this.

It had taken Chieftain Meregor and a couple of others half a day to convince that arrogant Grunnel to take part in the defense, and even then, he wasn’t any more tolerable than that fool Emerk, or any less nagging. The only notable thing about him was that bastard sword he carried around his hip, with its scabbard of black and gold. He was given a bow too, though I doubt he knew how to draw it without dislocating a shoulder or two. I’ll take extra care not to stand near him, lest he accidentally shoots me instead of the wolves. Had it not been the battle of our lifetime, it would even have been amusing to see how he’ll fight, our royal prince of Pleck.

Yet more absurd than him is that whiney girl who keeps following him everywhere. Eimon, he calls her. Soft name from a soft land. And she has dressed as though she were headed to a royal dance. I like her hair, though, gold like fire and long halfway to her waist. In a word, the rarest sight a hunter could hope to lay his eyes upon even if he lived to be eighty: A golden princess in yellow and blue. Last I heard of her, she was sent to guard those sheep inside a roofed pen, protected better than any of us. Who knows? Perhaps she will even live to see the end of this. And what a sight that would be…

If the entire odds were against us, there was one thing that was not: the weather. One light spray of rain and our fires will be as useful against them as a needle is to a stone. I swear, if I ever see it rain for just one minute, I’ll take Egven’s bow and pierce that bloody moon itself with those bone arrows of his.

The town’s base was largely deserted. Those too young or old to fight had been crammed into one of the bigger shacks near the eastern corner of Sulkron, where they could enjoy a fleeting hour of peace. That is, if old Halgor stops lamenting our early deaths. Mother was taken there as well, at my insisting. She might be a veteran healer, but this battle is different. It will not last long. There will be no victory in the end. It is like a long, pointless struggle for survival. This battle we’ll not win.

 “Rhaya has returned!” The sentry called out so loud and sudden I was close to loose an arrow on him. The drummers stopped.

Boster shrugged. “Guess you were right after all. That man is like a ghost! How did he sneak in unnoticed? Do we have blind old men for sentries?” That. Or he’s too fast and silent for the likes of us. Or both.

Chieftain Meregor was the only one who greeted him, not because Rhaya was disliked or such, but more like we were too scared to budge an inch in our posts. From up where I stood, Meregor looked rather small, more so because he’d given up his cloak to Rhaya, along with all of us. He gave Rhaya a bear hug, shrouding him completely under his massive arms. When he released him, they walked to Meregor’s lodging alone, leaving us to stand vigil for foes yet to come.

“That’s cheap, Jugal, leaving us like that while they go inside and enjoy a cup of milk. I’d sooner go see Jeyde one last time than stand here like a scarecrow, especially that it’s the crows scaring me!”

“Jeyde’s not on this wing, Boster. She’s on the southern wall, under the command of Welsa.”

“Huh! Whoever put that stupid notion into that woman’s head to split us like that? I want ma woman right beside me when we hold against them demons.”

“I think Welsa did that especially to keep you focused on the war, and the girls safe from you.”

“That’s one way to put it. I’d say Welsa’s starting to like me, keeping the girls away from me so she could have me all for herself!” He gave a silly smile and batted his eyelashes like a girl. We laughed like it was the last laugh in the world.

“So,” he managed to control his laugh “what’s all this about skinning those sheep? Does Rhaya think they’re prettier that way?”

“I saw Welsa and her girls tinkering with those crates of stone, wools in their hands.”

That confused him even more. “Sorcery, is that it? Poor Welsa must be really missing my company. She’s lost whatever sense was left in her head.”

“It’s Rhaya’s plans we’re talking about, Boster. You know him.”

“Aye, I know him for a stunted fool who’s too dumb to-”

“-throw you down the wall for the wolves, eh?” It was Egven who finished his sentence, standing behind us with his massive arms folded, casting a long shadow on us like a mountain. His shaggy beard was a red-brown bush, matching well with his fire-red hair, which he always kept braided and tied at several points. Even without his brown bear cloak, he was twice our size. His thick brown eyebrows were deeply frowning, eyes burning bright in those braziers’ flames.

He went on. “Well, perhaps you’re right. But I’m not that dense to keep you up here, not under my command. One more word about Rhaya and I’ll launch you with a catapult to see how far it can throw.” He didn’t wait to hear an answer, nor would he even if he stood there for a year.

When he was well gone out of earshot, Boster dared to gulp down his throat, and I just remembered I hadn’t breathed for a whole minute. Rhaya and his plans suddenly lost our interest.

“Psst, what do you think of our new princess? It’s rare to see such a piece of beauty in our town.”

Girls again. “She was sent to the pen, along with her naked sheep. I don’t suppose she will ever want to leave there, least of all when the battle starts.” Already I saw traces of disappointment on Boster’s face.

“She will, though, if her sweet Grun sings to her ears. Speaking of whom, I haven’t seen his royal sight for quite a while. You think he’s on the walls?”

You think I care? “Meregor gave him a bow.” I shrugged “You might as well take a glimpse of him soon.” And the wolves a big bite or two.

Deep dusk was upon us when a sentry called out. “HERE THEY COME!”

Suddenly I saw the whole Sulkron stir in new terror. The drums started thumping, the big heart of three hundred hunters beating again. Meregor and Rhaya stormed out of the chieftain's shack. And the countdown began…
« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 03:01:26 AM by Wyndfal »

Dry Ice

  • Tier 3
  • *
  • Posts: 93
  • Gender: Female
  • I'm a kid and the world is my candy shop.
  • Current Mood: happy happy
Re: The Storm of Lakenheim
« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2013, 11:35:02 AM »
The action approaches!  :caketime:

This chapter was an interesting prelude to the upcoming battle... it had the general feeling of the "calm before the storm." I liked hearing more about the different types of people who live in Sulkron. I think Sulkron is my favorite village of the three so far, and it was nice to see the diversity in what outsiders see as a uniformly vicious people. I especially find Rhaya interesting, since he seems to be an intellectual in a society of warriors, yet people respect him. That's not what I would except, which is great! I also appreciate Welsa and her troop of women... I love it when the girls aren't useless. ;)

Anyway, the next chapter should be very interesting. I'm looking forward to it! :)

Miss Nile

  • レゲシブレイドが大好きです。
  • *
  • Tier 7
  • **
  • Posts: 3109
  • Gender: Female
  • Miss of The Grand Nile; Founder of Snow Rose
    • Snow Rose Games
  • Current Mood: playful playful
Re: The Storm of Lakenheim
« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2013, 02:51:15 PM »
Wooh, interesting cliffhanger. Indeed, the next chapter will be a heap of action and fire, which I am looking forward to now. :)

I also liked this prelude to the battle and how it described the town thoroughly before the action starts, explaining the positions of the soldiers, their different personalities and how they all felt about the upcoming danger. Loved the part about Welsa and her women too-huntresses remind me of Amazons and yeah, that's how I thought of it-it was very interesting. :vikonsmile:

One thing I noticed though-Jugal said that they were scared to fight by Grunnel's side because they were afraid he might shoot them instead of the wolves, but in the same time, they were the ones who insisted that he takes part in the defense. I find that a little contradicting? Unless Jugal didn't approve of him fighting in the first place?

Anyhow, wonderful job and looking forward to the next chapter. ^^ Oh, and I read the new ending of the previous chapter and I must say, it's a lot more emotional and much better. Well done. :)

Wyndfal

  • *
  • Tier 6
  • **
  • Posts: 471
  • Gender: Male
  • I don't believe in the internet.
  • Current Mood: happy happy
Re: The Storm of Lakenheim
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2013, 01:16:11 PM »
Chapter 6
The Hour of Wolves

II
Jugal

“ARCHERS! NOTCH YOUR ARROWS!”

Hundreds of arrows cleaved the air with a sharp noise as we notched and flamed them. From the southern wall, I heard Welsa screaming the same command to her huntresses. Excitement thrilled in my bones.

“DRAW!” Creaks of strings filled the air as we pulled with all our might. We might still win this war. We might…

Screeches and screams of hundreds of crows rang in our heads as they whizzed at us like a giant black arrow.

“FIREEEEE!” Meregor roared.

“FIREEEEE!” Welsa screamed.

“FIREEEEEEEE!” Sulkron boomed.

Suddenly, the whole town was lit anew as countless comets of fire arrows pierced the sky. Crimson flames met dark wings with a raucous screech. Flocks of crows were coated with raging blazes. A second signal, and a second shower of fire. Another flock burned to the bone as they bumped to the ground.

The giant arrow shattered and spread above Sulkron like a dark cloud. Then it rained terror. Four walls we had, and four arrows they formed, plunging deep into our lines of defense.

“DRAW YOUR SWORDS! HAVE AT THEM!”

Swords unsheathed with a single squealing song. No sooner had I drawn my sword that five crows dived right at my face. I spun half a circle and slashed at them. Three I cut, while the other two clawed at my sword hand, tearing at leather and flesh. Pain bit all through my arm, and I nearly dropped my blade. Boster grabbed one crow in his hand and slammed it in a brazier. The burning beast shrieked in pain, struggling to wrench itself free, while Boster hurled it in the air, a single meteor amidst a dark cloud.

I saw Egven hacking his battleaxe in the air, a giant unleashed. Around him floated a haze of black wings, whose owners he’d chopped to pieces beyond counting. His roars boomed across Sulkron, drowning the occasional horns.

Welsa yelled like a demon witch, spinning with her silver blade in a deadly dance of blades. She shoved her sword through a crow in flight with brutal precision, thrusting the blade so hard her prey went all the way through the blade, reaching the pummel. Her sisters joined the dance, enraged and bloody, fighting like the legendary Ornelia.

The first to fall was Daynal, shrouded by a dozen crows at once, which kept pecking at his face so many times he tripped over the wall and fell down to the darkness beyond. The first fallen brother. I was half envious, half enraged.

Three crows flew past me with blinding speed and gripped the brazier beside me. I slashed at them with my sword but cut only air. They lifted the brazier to the air, spun around in a circle, and flung it back at us from a hundred feet above. Fires and coals rained down in a frenzy of pain and death. A dozen other crows followed suit, and suddenly our own weapons were turned against us.

Boster was sweeping blood from his forehead. One of the crows had scratched his face rather deeply, missing his eye only an inch. “Damn those ugly little black beasts. Nearly took my eyes, they did.” His smile had given way to a bloody grin, thrilled with the heat of battle. He still preferred to fight with his bow, favoring ranged weapons even in close quarters. He caught a crow with the end of his bow, sending him staggering in mid-air, finishing the work with one quick shot through the heart. A crow snapped at his bow, nearly snatching it away, before Boster plunged an arrow full in its face, kicking the corpse off the bloody end.

I could see Yermen on the northern wall, easily distinguished by his shining helm. For all the jests and insults he ever received, his elk helmet made him an impossible prey, leaving him vulnerable only at lesser places. Crows lunged at him and crows bounced off with an echoing ring, breaking their beaks or skulls at the impact. Some even went through his horns, impaling themselves. Yermen was not stupid after all.

I’d never seen Rhaya fight before, either beast or human. It made me pity. I’d never seen anyone fight so… beautifully. He wasn’t really fighting. He was dancing. With his sword. His movements were so swift and graceful I found myself staring at him, forgetting all the peril around me. His sword and body were one, swinging lightly, cutting through the flocks one by one. Once he caught a crow with his blade, hacking at the beast with a flurry of unseen cuts, trails of vicious blood spraying in thick strands as his prey was torn to so many pieces I couldn’t even guess how many.

Another flock fell on him, seven wings strong. He whirled his sword like a wheel, hacking the first crow savagely. The tip of his blade touching the ground, he swayed the blade in an upward arc, letting go of the grip midway as the sword rotated in the air. Four crows dived at him. He caught one with the sides of his hands only inches away from his face, chopping its head off. The one attacking from his left met his elbow with its beak, the one from his right a kiss of Rhaya’s boot. The blade was still spinning in the air when he grabbed its hilt, going for a sweeping cut, slicing another three. The last crow was smart enough to withdraw, though perhaps too late. By the time his prey had so much as turned around to fly away, an arrow pierced it on the back, launching the crow a hundred yards to the sky. I didn’t even see him draw his bow.

Things weren’t half so well on the other wings. I saw a man lose one ear as a black shadow plucked it out with dark claws, sending him screaming in a red agony. I doubt he can fight again anytime soon. Another unfortunate soul was lost when the crows dropped a brazier right down his head, his face melting under the hungry flames. But the worst was happening on the eastern wing. Those green boys and girls offered no real challenge to the relentless flocks. Many just ducked and covered their faces and heads from the bloody beaks, wishing for a fellow hunter to come to their aid, until their heads were inflicted with so many scars and scratches that made their skulls visible. I was lucky to be on the opposite side, or else I would retch at the close sight no doubt.

Meregor was fuming with rage, bellowing at anyone he saw. He organized his hunters in groups of two, one wielding a bow while the other defended him with a sword. Welsa was playing another game now. Her sisters were armed with nets, spinning them around their heads swiftly. At her call, half a hundred nets were flung into the sky, spinning in the air by the weight of the stones tied to each angle. The whole sky was suddenly a giant spider web, black insects trapped like bugs, falling hard to the ground, left to the mercy of a band of furious huntresses. Even in the heart of all that confusion, I swear I could hear their heads crunch under many relentless heels.

Another wave of fury advanced. I was encircled by ten crows, creaking and squealing all around me. I crouched just in time to dodge a furious thrust of beak, another coming right at my face. I swung my blade as if to parry his bill, chopping its head clean. Two landed on my head, and I knew my head would end up like those poor children if I don’t act quickly. Instantly, I lowered my head to a brazier, inches away from its edge. My head missed it, but the crows did not. They caught fire madly, dancing and burning and wheeling in midair. Grasping the brazier with both hands, I swayed it left and right at the other seven. Three took fire, and the rest retreated.

Egven was a nasty sight. He was fighting bare handedly now, clutching the beasts with both hands and twisting their necks with a sickening crunch. A dozen wounds covered his bare arms, but he seemed not to feel them at all. Whenever they went for the thrust, he raised his arms crossed and let them lunge at his impenetrable muscles, gripping the edge of their wings with his hands and smashing them to the cold stone walls, or squashing them in his monstrous fists.

“Bloody hell!” Boster had just loosed his arrow at his prey when he pointed to the east.

Thirty braziers were flying up from the eastern gate, spreading wider and wider above Sulkron. The crows were ready to pour fire on our heads from the sky, and burn us like our ancestors in Geldmorn eons past.

“LOAD THE CATAPULTS!”

It was not Meregor who gave the command. It was Rhaya, standing on the northern walls. He moved so fast I didn’t even notice him leave. One moment he was fighting two feet away from me, another he was defending the northern wing. It was then that I noticed the catapults had been idle until just then. And then I realized something else too. They were facing not outside the walls, but Sulkron itself!

“LAUNCH!”

What is he doing? Is he mad? Those catapults will rain stones on our own heads!

Seven massive boulders were hurled to the sky. From where I stood, I could see the flicker of white ropes hanging from the rocks. They were burning at their ends.

“Jugal?! What is that?” For the first time in many years, I saw Boster frowning confused, not smiling.

Before I could even think of an answer, each boulder burst into a thousand shards with a horrifying thunder, lashing flames like infernal fiends. Half a hundred crows exploded in the air, meat and bone and blood raining down. I understood then. Those weren’t boulders. In truth, they only looked like rocks but were made of black leather. Inside, they were packed with jars of oil and countless shards of rusted iron, ignited by those white ropes which served as fuses. And those fuses had been probably made of sheep wools. Rhaya, you play this game better than the devil himself.

Sulkron burst into a unified roar, men and women shouting in joy as the last remaining crows creaked and flew away, a volley of flaming arrows at their tails. Boster resumed his smiles, wider than ever, howling and dancing while his shadow followed his every step. I could see the glitter of Yermen’s elk helmet as he threw his arms in the air and rejoiced. On the southern wall, Welsa and her girls were cheering and hooting. My heart suddenly longed to be there among them.

Boster clapped my shoulder so hard I was about to fall over the walls. “We did it, Jugal! We did ‘em good! Those bastards will think twice before they-”

BOOOOM!

Sulkron’s walls quaked like a frenzied fiend. I heard a loud crack at the gate.

“What is that? What’s happening-”

BOOOOOOM!

The second impact was strong enough to shatter the gates of hell itself. I looked over the wall, and wished I’d been born blind.

BOOOOOOOOOM!

Three gargantuan armored demons on four legs were ramming at the western gate, hammering at the old iron with their massive horns with unholy might. Silence crept over Sulkron as we realized what a terrible mistake we’d just made. Those crows were only for distraction, meant to spread an initial terror and drain the better part of our arrows, while giving time for the armored demons to approach our gates unhindered. That explained why the wolves had been holding their ground all the while. I wonder… who’s smarter now: Rhaya, or the beasts?

“Gurrluks! They’re ramming at our gates! Stop them before they-”

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!

CRASH!

BUMP!

All the booms and blasts in the world couldn’t drown the sound of my beating heart as I watched in terror how the western gate was smashed to the last ram and flung fifty feet away. The wolves let out a chill, piercing howl as one deadly pack, and dashed to their belated dinner.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2013, 06:33:27 PM by Wyndfal »

Miss Nile

  • レゲシブレイドが大好きです。
  • *
  • Tier 7
  • **
  • Posts: 3109
  • Gender: Female
  • Miss of The Grand Nile; Founder of Snow Rose
    • Snow Rose Games
  • Current Mood: playful playful
Re: The Storm of Lakenheim
« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2013, 01:42:07 PM »
Aww Wynd! You have to put these deadly cliffhangers always, don't you? :((

Wonderful chapter and a very heated battle. I really enjoyed reading it and I could imagine it clearly and live its actions very well, which was refreshing. I especially liked how you pictured the fallen; I could feel sympathy for them as I read. Rhaya was very cool as well but I loved the twist at the end and how the victory was all a lie after all.

Though I am a little disappointed that there wasn't anything about Grunnel and Eimon (:P), I loved the chapter. Write the next one quiiiiiiiiiiiiiickly!

Dry Ice

  • Tier 3
  • *
  • Posts: 93
  • Gender: Female
  • I'm a kid and the world is my candy shop.
  • Current Mood: happy happy
Re: The Storm of Lakenheim
« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2013, 01:51:32 AM »
Ah Wynd, since you have begun commenting on my work, I've learned a lot about how to better comment on the works of others. So I hope you're prepared. ;)

This chapter reminded me very strongly of this song. At the opening, there's a powerful sense of impending doom, and then it's pierced by the thrill of the battle. I felt like I could sense Jugal going into attack mode -- I liked that immediately before the battle started, he had a rush of optimism and felt like they could still win. It was as though the adrenaline suddenly kicked in, and he transformed from a frightened and hopeless villager into a warrior.

There was something very simple and animalistic about the battle. It comes across like a struggle between predator and prey. There's none of the rules or honor of human warfare, just a simple fight for the survival and the knowledge that one side will eventually be dead. It really highlights Sulkron's connection to the natural world. The way that the village is constantly preyed upon by the wilderness around it explains why it's a relatively uncivilized place compared to the other villages. It's a very interesting concept.

I like that passages describing how Jugal himself is fighting are interspersed with passages describing what's happening to other characters. It gives the action a distracted feeling, like Jugal is catching glimpses of his fellow warriors between his own battles. I would say though that Jugal could have benefitted from a few more passages describing his own action, because at times it felt like he was just standing around watching others fight.

That said, the descriptions of the other character's fighting styles were very compelling. I especially liked the description of Rhaya's battle style, and the image of Egven fighting crows with his bare hands. And how nice to finally figure out what the sheep were for! What a clever plan!


Now for a few quotes I particularly liked:

Quote
“FIREEEEE!” Meregor roared.

“FIREEEEE!” Welsa screamed.

“FIREEEEEEEE!” Sulkron boomed.

I love the sense of unity conveyed by making the town itself speak that line.

Quote
But the worst was happening on the eastern wing. Those green boys and girls offered no real challenge to the relentless flocks. Many just duck and covered their faces and heads from the bloody beaks, wishing for a fellow hunter to come to their aid, until their heads were inflicted with so many scars and scratches that made their skulls visible.

 O_O This is such a terrifying image. Same goes for the guy who got his ear torn off. Yikes.

Quote
All the booms and blasts in the world couldn’t drown the sound of my beating heart...

I *love* that bit! It's so... cleverly constructed. :D


Eagerly awaiting the next part! :)

Wyndfal

  • *
  • Tier 6
  • **
  • Posts: 471
  • Gender: Male
  • I don't believe in the internet.
  • Current Mood: happy happy
Re: The Storm of Lakenheim
« Reply #26 on: February 05, 2013, 06:13:03 PM »
Chapter 6
The Hour of Wolves

III
Eimon

Screams. Screams everywhere. And fire. Lots and lots of fire. Even in the dark corner of the pen, I could hear them all, and see. Oh, I could see it all. Blood coated every inch of Sulkron, a scorching field of broken bones and arrows. From afar, I could hear their hoarse battle cries, obscured by the distance, chaos, and the terrifying growling of wolves and demons. The gate is breached. We have lost.

When the first blow was struck against the western gate, the whole place shook so violently the sheep went into a frenzy of fear, and it was all I could do to stop them from slamming themselves to the fence. The second blow stirred them further into madness, the third arousing a piercing hell of bleating. The final strike sent the gate crashing to the ground with a rumble so thunderous I succumbed to the doom and collapsed there covering my ears. The world shrank to a haze of muffled noises.

I could see the sheep more clearly now, with my ears shut and the screams hushed. They were trembling fiercely, huddled close in a corner. It was bitter cold, and they had no wools. As if travelling all that horrible road to this cursed town weren’t enough, those savages had further tortured these poor beasts by skinning them all, leaving them pitifully naked. I don’t understand them at all. I really don’t.

In the thin silence of the pen beyond my shut ears, I stared sullenly at my herd. I knew all of them back in Pleck. Many I had grazed myself. I had even given them names. There was Beky and Cuddly on the right, resting their heads against each other as they always did back home. That one in the corner was undoubtedly Mossy. She was always a shy girl. Pan and Toky had finally learned to give up their quarrels for once, sharing a peaceful moment in the heart of chaos. Gery and Lolo and Huff had always been terrible, here even worse. And poor old Flab was snoozing as usual. He always did that, even with all the noise in the world. I envied him now. I wish I could close my eyes and sleep a long, long peaceful slumber, and when I woke up, the first thing I saw was my sweet Grun’s face looking at me, smiling as he did, telling me that everything was just a dream. Then we’re back in Pleck, breaking our fast in the warm light of the sun, sharing a kiss every now and then. Oh, my sweet Grun, where are you now?

My left cheek still burned where he’d kissed me right before we parted, him to the eastern wall, me to the pen. I remember his face very well, all worried and terrified and angry, slightly shaking from grief. It broke my heart to see him like that, to leave him like that. I would gladly comfort him then, but there was no time left. He gave me a quick hug and kiss, and left me with the sheep. I think I caught a short glimpse of tears in his eyes just before he left, but I’m not sure. Grunnel never cried in front of me.

I felt the cruel fingers of cold running through my body, and shivered like the sheep. My ears were burning, so hard I was pressing my hands against them. But that wouldn’t do for ever. They will come at last, and I need to be brave when they do. I won’t die a coward maiden while my Grun is fighting out there like a true knight. A proper knight needs a proper maiden. Yes, I need to be brave and strong, just like a maiden from the legends.

Still, it took all my courage to lift my hands from my ears and open them to the chaos again. It was a hellish moment. It seemed like all the screams and terrors in the world were waiting for me to open my ears, and rush in all at once. It pained so hard I wanted to scream, but what would the sheep do if their own keeper was afraid?

Without ever looking outside, I slowly crawled to my frightened herd and sat among them. Cuddly hurried to my arms at once, leaping on my lap and bleating like a lamb who had lost her herd. I closed my arms tightly around it, stroking her bare back tenderly. It felt oddly cold, like all the warmth had escaped her along with her fleece.

I rested my head on her neck and closed my eyes. She was trembling hard and I was trembling even harder. The gruesome swish of a hundred swords on bare flesh, the sickening chomp of deadly fangs on meat, the screams that followed, the snarls and howls that echoed everywhere, mixed with a dozen horns that blew raucously… a tenth of it would have driven the sanest folks insane, let alone a flock of lost, innocent lambs. I felt pity for them, for all of them. Poor creatures. None of you ever wanted to be a part of this. Your place is in Pleck, with your own families, your own friends, your own loved ones. I wonder if sheep ever fall in love.

Something tickled my face. My eyes opened. I thought it was one of the sheep licking my cheeks, but then I realized what it was… No. Not here. Not now. Not again. I thought it had stopped. I was supposed to be a strong maiden, ever brave and bold. I was meant to give my knight courage and hope, to be his shield as he was mine. How can I enliven my knight when I can’t even stop my own tears? How can I be brave when I’m kneeling down in a dark corner, unable to cheer up my own sheep? Is this the maiden Grunnel needs right now? A lamenting girl who can’t stop crying even at the age of sixteen?

Am I going to die so early? Is this all life had to give me? My first kiss right in the middle of a wasteland they call Sulkron, my flock all skinned and trembling, my knight gone to a war he may not return from, and our final kiss so rushed I scarcely felt it. I never wanted anything more from the world, and it deprived me even of that.

The sheep stirred uneasily at the sight of my weeping. They came closer, rubbing their nuzzles at me. Even Mossy was among them, her eyes sad as could ever be. Toky moaned sadly as I stroked his hairless head, and licked my hand. Huff and Lolo stopped bleating and Gery gave up his endless hoofing. They all gathered around me, some silent, some moaning softly, some resting their heads on my laps, the others just lying there quiet. I see. They want to comfort me now. All those years we’ve been living together, playing together, growing together, they’ve not forgotten. I always loved them deeply, and they love me back. But that only made me break into more tears. I sobbed and howled so long and loud that my ears no longer heard those painful screams outside.

After an eternal hour of tears, I managed to control myself. With my sleeves, I wiped the tears on my cheeks, salty and swollen and burning. I was surprised to see the whole flock at rest, sleeping so peacefully you’d think the whole battle was just a bad dream. In a way, seeing them like that made me smile. If they die here, they’ll die together, as one sleeping flock.

Judging from the noise outside, the battle seemed to have taken some really ugly turns. I heard a lot of hoarse commands all at once, mingling with the voice of war, speaking of blood and terror and death. I could hear buildings crumble, shattered chunks of wood ringing against cold earth. I wondered if Grun was all right. Suddenly I wanted to see him badly. But that would be stupid. I would only make more trouble for him. I might even break into tears again if I see him hurt. But I can’t just wait here all night until the battle ends. I need to know what’s happening. That is what a good maiden would do.

But what about my flock? How would they feel if they find me missing? What if Lolo and Huff start making noises again? Or that devil Huff, who stumped his hooves on the ground all the time, driving the others mad? Can I really leave them like that? Is that how lifelong friends depart, in the heart of trouble, with no words of farewell? Will they ever forgive me if I did? Will I forgive myself?

The uncertainty was killing me. I had to get outside to see what was going on, even if just for an instant. Gently, I cupped Cuddly’s head in my hands and planted a tender kiss there. She moaned softly, but didn’t wake up. I put her head softly on the ground, and stood on my feet. I would gladly kiss all of them one by one, but that was risky. Some of them would wake up. Carefully making my way through the sleeping flock, I made my way to the pen’s gate, avoiding any sound. At the gate, I turned back and looked at my brothers and sisters one last time, and blew a kiss to them all. Farewell my dearest. Forgive me. I was not a good friend to you after all. I’m only a human.

I held up my tears, and snuck outside. The instant I left the pen, I wished I hadn’t. Red. Red everywhere. A blood haze hung in the air. The ground was dipped in blood, black and red. The air was so thick with blood I could smell it. The sky was even redder than before, a scarlet moon hovering above Sulkron like a curse. I couldn’t bear to look at it for long.

And the town was a nightmare come alive. Corpses were scattered everywhere, bleeding wildly. Wolves beyond counting were storming at a hard-pressed company of brave hunters who stood their ground and fought with everything they got. I saw a big hunter wielding an enormous axe taller than me. Another was wearing a shining helm the shape of an elk, giving him a ridiculous appearance. It had two twisted horns on the top, dark with blood. But still, I couldn’t help but chuckle at his sight. There was also a man with hair as pale as milk. He was so fast with his sword I couldn’t even see it, only a blurred motion of a silver blade with trails of blood on its wake. I also recognized that blunt, rude boy who met us at the gates, grumbling about how late we were. I came to hate him from that very moment, him and that lustful oaf who follows him everywhere, and never loses my sight.

But I was most astonished to see a young fair-looking woman with long black untied hair that flowed furiously with her every motion, and she moved a lot. She was commanding a large group of young girls on a different spot. She was so brave and alive, and merciless with her enemies. I saw her plunge her silver sword deep into a wolf’s eye, kicking it away lifeless. Another wolf attacked her, and found her blade right in its jaws, reaching deep to its guts. These are fierce women here, not the least like ours in Pleck, but otherwise remarkable in their own way. Courage gave them a certain charm other girls lacked. They were so… alive, fighting among their men, all as one. This town is more unified than I thought first.

I could find Grunnel nowhere. I’m sure he said he was to defend the eastern wall, and the pen was pretty close, but still I saw no traces of him. I looked up at the wall and found a dozen young archers shooting arrows of fire at the bloody field below. He wasn’t among them. I was about to ask them about him, but I dared not. Nobody liked me here. They had made it plain the moment I entered this desolate town.

I was getting sickly worried, my heart thumping with every step I took. I called his name, screamed his name, so he could find me. I wanted to jump into his arms and hold him so tight he couldn’t leave me again. I wanted him now. Badly.

A hunter ran past me and knocked me to the ground. The edge of my right sleeve was torn, and dust covered every other inch of it. He never turned back to look. He never gave a damn. I was only a whiny girl after all. And he hated me, I could see. They all did.

The more I looked for Grun, the more anxious I got. The fighting was getting beyond hand. The wolves were pressing on, driving the hunters back step by step. To my horror, I caught a glimpse of three huge demons clad with scales as hard as iron. They rammed at everything that stood in their furious paths, smashing them to hundreds. Many were trampled under their massive weights, squashed at once. Arrows touched their scales and bounced back, shattering at the impact. Nothing seemed to harm them, and they harmed everything. Given another hour or so, the whole walls of Sulkron will crumble by their iron horns.

This wasn’t good at all. If one of them attacks Grunnel, what should he do? Even that big guy with the giant axe hasn’t killed any of them. I should find Grun soon, and take him away from the fight. This is not our war. We never wanted to be any part of this. There is no denying that.

The only occupied building apart from the pen was a rather big hall at the corner of Sulkron. Those who were too weak or old to fight had been crammed there for safety. Their chieftain once asked me to take shelter under that roof, but I refused. I preferred to stay with my own sheep in that dark pen than suffer their scornful looks. I didn’t belong here. I knew it as well as they did.

By the time I stopped wandering, I had drifted too far from the pen, and too close to danger. I couldn’t find Grunnel any more than I could find peace in a war. Suddenly my vision blurred, and then it started again. I didn’t care who saw me like that. I even doubted they saw me at all. I kept running and running, a trail of tears following, screaming his name at the top of my lungs. But the cries of battle were so loud I couldn’t hear my own sobs and screams. I didn’t even know where I was going anymore. Grunnel was probably dead somewhere, or else he would have definitely found me. He’s dead, I know. And I will die soon.

Wyndfal

  • *
  • Tier 6
  • **
  • Posts: 471
  • Gender: Male
  • I don't believe in the internet.
  • Current Mood: happy happy
Re: The Storm of Lakenheim
« Reply #27 on: February 05, 2013, 06:18:08 PM »
I was running wildly, moving behind those ugly grey houses which all seemed alike. On my left, some fifty yards away, the hunters were making their stand against those ravenous wolves, cursing and bleeding. I hurried on, avoiding their sight lest some wolves find me. I kept the wall on my right, the eastern wall on which my sweet Grunnel had stood to save. I didn’t even know where I should go. No one will protect me even if I asked. No one will care if a girl from Pleck is slaughtered by a wolf. We shouldn’t have come here.

I was running for what seemed an eternity when a door suddenly crashed open and a fat woman with a coarse voice called out:

“Hey! What are you doing there? Come inside, it’s too dangerous out there.”

It took me a few moments to remember where I was. I had run all along the eastern wall, corner to corner. And this must be the hall where the rest of the villagers have gathered. It was a welcoming sight, and I ran faster to safety, even if it was only fleeting. I might even find Grunnel inside as well. The thought gave me strength and speed.

At the door, the plump woman examined me curiously from top to bottom with her eyes, smiled and gently pushed me inside. The door closed to the death outside.

The air smelled of clay and wood and old age, mixed with a touch of unease. Nearly half a hundred villagers were crowded in that hall: babies at their mothers’ breasts, children huddling close pale with dread, aged women and bent old men chewing what seemed empty air, and a handful of wounded villagers moaning with pain. I didn’t find Grunnel among them.

A slim, stern woman of some thirty odd years was tending to the injured, nursing a broken leg, sewing a deep gash in an arm, quenching a frenzied fever, and rinsing a festered wound with some herbal potion which sent the poor man shrilling in red agony. The sight churned my stomach like an autumn storm, but the woman looked calm as a sweet summer night. Her hands moved so deftly when stitching and bandaging torn flesh as if they were frayed fabric. Her hair was a deep black rivulet flowing over small yet strong shoulders. Her garb was grey with overuse, stitched hastily here and there, a plain skirt of dark grey reaching down her knees. I was surprised to notice that, with all her skills in stitching and sewing, her own garments had enjoyed the least of attention. Her face wasn’t the kind I would normally call pretty, but it wasn’t without its charms. Her skin was faintly tanned, matching well with her black eyes. Her nose bore a hint of masculinity, slightly curved down. Yet for all that simplicity, her lips were a lovely sight to behold, ripe and red like a blood-rose, shaped so perfectly for a lover’s kiss.

As I entered, she lifted her face for a quick glance, expecting another injured warrior, but when she saw me, she resumed her job. Others were more prying, giving wary looks thick with distrust and disgust, their unfriendly eyes following my every motion. You are not welcome here, their eyes seemed to say. Or, watch where you’re going, stranger, unless you’re looking for trouble. If it was trouble I wanted, I would as well join the fight outside. It’s peace I want, and it looks like I’ve come looking in the wrong place.

Despite all the usual hostility, there were also some friendly faces, warm and amiable, decorated with smiles. Mostly they belonged to faces old and wrinkled, those who had nothing to lose with death. Or mothers, who knew what it meant to have their daughters lost. I never saw my mother, who died giving birth to me, and the only memory I have of my father is a face too hazy to be remember. But these mothers understand. I might as well have been their own blood.

A kindly looking woman of old age beckoned me to come to her. I was glad to know that someone still cared enough to talk to me. I went straight to her and sat beside her leaning against a wall softened by cushions, hugging my knees. The cushions were pleasantly warm, and my back ached from long running and cold winds and dread.

Her face was rich with wrinkles and lines, giving her a perfect look of a grandmother. She was constantly smiling, her toothless mouth shrunk back, a pitiable face that invited every sympathy. She was trembling lightly, though whether it was due to old age or fear, I could not tell.

For some time, she didn’t say anything, chewing her own lips in silence. But then she started slowly.

“I haven’t seen you around here, child. Are you from another town? It’s rare to have a visitor from other places.”

Could it be she didn’t know? “I, um… I’ve come from Pleck, grandmother. Me and my friend Gr-”

“What is that? You’ve come to perk, you say? No, I asked you were you came from, child!”

Oh. This IS indeed a perfect grandmother, with ears as sharp as a sleeping rock. I need to speak louder, otherwise we’ll have to go in circles the whole night. “NO, GRANDMOTHER! I SAID WE’VE COME FROM PLECK, ME AND MY FRIEND GR-”

“Of course you do, no need to shout, dear. These old ears are still sharp as a fox. Hehehehe.”

Poor old woman. I bet she doesn’t even know about the blood bath that’s happening outside. Though perhaps it’s a blessing. What good does it do any of us who know yet can’t change anything? I would give all my life to be blind and deaf to the world now, oblivious to fate and death and everything. What good are my eyes anyway, when my sweet Grun is missing? Will I dare to look at a world without him? Will I care to?

The kindly old woman continued despite my silence. “They say a storm has come to Sulkron, child. They moved us here for safety, and went out to die themselves. What were you thinking, coming here now of all times? Had I the strength I used to have decades past, I would have left for a more peaceful place.”

Do you think I knew our destination when I set out? But still… do you think I could refuse even if I did? I didn’t leave my home for any particular place. I came because he did. Do you expect me to leave my love just like that?

“Mind you, I remember I had some distant kin in your Pleck. You might know him too, a gaunt man by the name of Aldern, or was it Alber? Ah, my memory isn’t like it used to be, child.”

“I think you meant Alern, grandmother.” I knew him well. He was an elderly man of some seventy gray years of misery and pain. Not only was he gaunt and old, but his wife had also passed away quite early in their married life, succumbing to an infection caused by a festered wound in her left ankle, supposedly from a scorpion’s sting. She wasn’t granted a quick death however. For ten bleak days of black pain, she screamed and suffered and coughed blood, and only died when there was no more flesh left on her bones, a skeleton breathing in agonizing pain. Alern went half mad after her death, and refused to eat for a whole week. That left him a mere phantom of a man, the word ‘gaunt’ never even beginning to describe his sorry state anymore. The last time I heard of him, he was confined to bed, some third cousin from his dead uncle tending to him. Pleck seldom remembered such a dismal memory in its history, except for the Plague of Olmer, which took three quarters of the Pleck’s cattle, crippling the town for a whole decade. It had taken another ten years of misery to restore the town to a proper state, and only meekly at that. But that was a millennium past.

“… told him to wed a strong lass, someone who had hips wide enough to bear him a child or two. Did he ever have a boy he so loved to father?”

“No, grandmother. His wife didn’t live long enough give him sons. She died several months after their wedding.”

“Ah, poor chap. He was born in Sulkron, but his heart was always in Pleck. Those days, our towns had more dealings with each other than now. He came to love a girl from your town, who was to be his future wife. The girl refused to stay here, so it was Alern who had to leave his homeland. And now, he has lost even her.” She shook her head pitifully, gnawing at her lips in silence.

Outside, they were still fighting desperately, their voices distraught and lost. I wondered how much longer they could hold against the horde. Was I to lose Grun just like that? Without even seeing him one last time?
I felt a tug at my sleeve. It was the old woman. “Now that I think, weren’t you with a handsome young man, my child? I don’t see him here.”

And most likely, you won’t. “He, uh, went to defend the town, on the eastern wall. I don’t know where he is now. I thought he might have come here, but-”

“There is nothing men can do against a storm, child. Can a man fight the weather?”

Does she honestly believe they’re fighting winds and clouds out there? But still, there was no need to explain it to her, so I played along. “I told him as much, grandmother, but he was-”

“Oh, all men are alike. I never understood why they are all so eager to die young. I lost four sons and two grandsons to the wild, gone hunting deep in the mountains. Meregor sent them to kill some wolves and crows, and they never returned. And now this folly. Have you ever lost anyone you truly loved, child?”

Silence. Deep, deep silence. I wanted to say yes. I wanted to shout it so loud they’d hear me all across Sulkron, and Grunnel too. He always came when I called his name. But… why didn’t he come to me this time? Have I really lost the one I truly loved?

“No one knows it better than me. I thought I would forget at first, forget and bury it somewhere deep and untouchable for all times. It’s no good reminiscing your dead ones, child. Every time you do, a part of you dies with them, until you’re no more than a shadow of dark memories. Ahh, look at us now, grumbling like old women!” She waved her hand in the air. “Eren, come sing us a song. It’s no good skulking in silence here with the storm outside. It’s getting quite gloomy in here. This poor girl needs a merry song to cheer up.”

The man she called Eren stood up from the middle of the crowd, lute in hand. I was expecting someone ripe in his twenties, with long golden hair and a radiant face of unmatched beauty. At least that was how I always pictured a bard. He was nothing like that. His face was a broken garden of ancient scars, his hair a crowd of withered grass cut extremely short. He had a back crooked like half an arch, and I couldn’t even guess his age. His miserable appearance made the old woman beside me look at the peak of her youth, only toothless. In fact, teeth were the only benefit he had compared to her, though rotten and few. The lute he held was half broken, but the strings were spared.

He limped on to the center of the hall, leaning on a cane as old as he was. When his journey finally ended, he descended slowly to the ground again, a pile of cushions under his bony back. So this was their bard. I wonder what kind of a merry song he would sing. Can a man in that age and state be truly happy?

I could see him there in the heart of the hall, bent down and broken with his lute on his lap, but I couldn’t bear to look at him, so I stood up and faced away from him, staring sullenly out from the window. The sky was still red, the moon bleeding, the stars gone, the wolves butchering, and the last defenders of Sulkron struggling for life. Is this what death looks like?

Hands trembling from the cold and dread and old age, Eren played his crooked, slender fingers upon the half-broken lute and sang so softly I never knew a man his age ever could.

I dreamt of an endless golden night,
Of twinkling stars that blinked in white,
Of a silver moon that bathed in light,
Their shadows long and lingering.

Waves of wolves raced across the town, fierce and unstoppable. Half a dozen hunters fell before their fangs. The other half cursed.

A robin chirped and crooned and sang,
A tinkling rain with a soothing clang,
A blissful mist in the air did hang,
With gems and crystals glimmering.

Screams and shouts echoed all across Sulkron as hunter and prey met with unmatched fury, killing and dying and cursing with their last breaths.

An angel came from the crest of sky,
With flaxen hair and golden eye,
Her smiling mouth like a maiden shy,
In peace and silence hovering.

I could see the pale gleam of a hunter’s hair in the inferno outside, a restless river of milk against a thousand lashes of crimson.

A crystal harp she held in hand,
With strings that gleamed like golden sand,
Then softly sang of a stranger land,
On the harp of heavens fingering.

A surge of furious fire circled the hall, trapping us and half a dozen hunters inside the ring. Beyond the fire, I could see the ghastly shadow of a giant wolf, winged like a monstrous bat, looming over the hunters like death, creeping closer and closer.

She sang of knights so brave and bold,
Of heroes come from the ages old,
Who stood and fought against the cold,
On the lands of darkness wintering.

The rumble of fire outside drowned the last words of the old bard, oblivious to everything but his song, singing and playing his broken lute until all I could hear was screams and screams and screams, echoing against the walls of wood and fire. Only then did I realize that, while running in the chaos of the battle outside, I had lost my flute. But I didn’t care anymore. A world without Grunnel was a world without songs.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 06:30:38 PM by Wyndfal »

Miss Nile

  • レゲシブレイドが大好きです。
  • *
  • Tier 7
  • **
  • Posts: 3109
  • Gender: Female
  • Miss of The Grand Nile; Founder of Snow Rose
    • Snow Rose Games
  • Current Mood: playful playful
Re: The Storm of Lakenheim
« Reply #28 on: February 06, 2013, 04:28:42 PM »
Aww poor Eimon. I truly feel sorry for her, to find herself in such a deadly situation when she originally had nothing to do with it and when she was just beginning to feel happy about being with Grunnel.

I really enjoyed this chapter and I liked how it was different from Jugal's view of point. While Jugal explained the militaristic and bloody part of the battle, Eimon took it from a human point of view, seeing the battle with her heart and feelings more than her eyes, especially when searching for Grunnel.

I also enjoyed the scene between Eimon and the sheep. It was such a touching moment that in the middle of all of this, they would cuddle like this, asking for the warmth and safety of each other. It touched me that the sheep fell asleep, too, despite all the noise. It could be from the fear, which is more touching.

I loved the part about the house that had the weaker people of Sulkron; it was nice to see another kind of those people, ones that aren't as tough and harsh and aren't always talking about fighting and the wild. And I absolutely loved the poem! :) My favorite poem of yours now!

Overall, great work! Keep it up and I can't wait to know what happens. I hope you didn't kill Grun! I would end being like this --->  :'(

Wyndfal

  • *
  • Tier 6
  • **
  • Posts: 471
  • Gender: Male
  • I don't believe in the internet.
  • Current Mood: happy happy
Re: The Storm of Lakenheim
« Reply #29 on: February 06, 2013, 04:40:11 PM »
Quote
I also enjoyed the scene between Eimon and the sheep. It was such a touching moment that in the middle of all of this, they would cuddle like this, asking for the warmth and safety of each other. It touched me that the sheep fell asleep, too, despite all the noise. It could be from the fear, which is more touching.
Thanks. I myself enjoyed writing that part. I also shod a tear or two in the process! :P

Quote
I loved the part about the house that had the weaker people of Sulkron; it was nice to see another kind of those people, ones that aren't as tough and harsh and aren't always talking about fighting and the wild. And I absolutely loved the poem! :) My favorite poem of yours now!

This one served as a breather for me. I had to lower the intensity of the battle and give Eimon a break as well! XD And I always loved to portrait old women like her, hard of hearing and chewing nothing, and talking of their lost relations.
Quote
And I absolutely loved the poem! :) My favorite poem of yours now!

Honestly? Thanks. I never thought much of the poem myself :)

Quote
I hope you didn't kill Grun! I would end being like this --->  :'(
Mmm, don't tempt me, madam!  :3

Thanks for your time and review :)