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Future_Defense
09-30-2007, 07:30 PM
This is sort of a continuation of my story Shay'Gul, and this story will be easier to understand if you read that first. I believe it's locked on page 3 of this forum. As always, I suggest using the attachment, since it's much easier to read than all this white font. Also, this is a first draft, so tell me what I did wrong! Also, I hate that I cannot indent! Use the attachment, I beg of you! (It's on the bottom.)



The world is dark, and has been for hundreds of years. Empires rose and fell, wars were fought, and men died. Only one thing remained constant: the black sky.
Our story begins in a small town called Charis, where men farm, women cook, and life goes on. There is nothing special about Charis, nothing out of the ordinary. Until now, when a young girl and her companion enter an inn, looking for rooms.
The old man sitting directly across from the door looked up, and saw what he thought was a mountain. A very human mountain. Startled, he almost jumped from his chair, but regained his composure when he saw the man’s sigil. It made sense now. The man was a Hodge.
The innkeeper watched the man slowly walk toward him, and glimpsed a young girl walking behind him. She stayed close, very close, as if she was afraid to show herself. She kept glancing nervously left and right, which caused her long, dark hair to get tossed side to side. When she looked up, her bangs covered her eyes.
“Need a room good sir?” He asked when the man finally reached him. “They cost two copper pieces a night. Two Zin coppers, we don’t take Armenian here.” The man looked down to the girl, and nodded. She rummaged through a bag she had strapped to her shoulder, and pulled out two copper pieces. Now that he got a closer look, the innkeeper did not think that she was as young as he had originally thought. He placed her at sixteen years of age, close to marrying age.
“We’ll only need one for a night.” The man said, his voice deep, deeper than anything the innkeeper had heard before. It was like listening to two stones grinding together.
“Just passing through?” asked the innkeeper, trying to make conversation. But this man did not look like he wanted to talk.
“Indeed.” The man said calmly. Again he looked at the girl, who stared at the floor.
“Can you find your room by yourselves? Just go on upstairs; it’s the first door on your right.” The man nodded, and they made their way to the staircase, but as the girl walked passed, she paused for a second.
“Thank you.” She said nervously, and before he could reply, caught up with the large man at the staircase.
Once into the room, Erin looked around with an experienced eye, making sure the room was safe. Once satisfied, he looked back and nodded to Alexandra. She entered the room quickly, and sat on the bed.
“There’s only one bed.” Alex said, visibly still nervous about their encounter with the keep. She could not sit still, and was biting her nails. Erin sat on the floor, ignoring the chair, which would probably shatter under his weight.
“I’ll sleep on the floor.” Erin said with certainty. He had obviously done it before, and had probably slept on worse. It was obvious that he was a soldier, from the scars running up his arms and probably onto his back, to the way he held himself. He looked like he would be ready to fight at any moment, whether he had just woken up, or if he had been marching for a day.
Alex nodded, and continued biting her nails. They were stubs already, almost chewed to the finger. She looked thoughtful, and put her hands down to rest at her side.
“Erin, can you tell me the story of the eight companions again?” Alex asked, and you could hear the child like glee in her voice. Erin sighed, and nodded. It was the one story she couldn’t get enough of.
“A long time ago, in a place far, far way…” He began, just as he always did, “There were eight companions. They journeyed far and wide, and fought their enemies with great courage. A few of them had met on the battlefield, and swore oaths to one another, and others had trained together as children.”
“Can you tell their last adventure? Please?” Alex interrupted, which happened often. Erin had expected her to ask, and paused for dramatic effect.
“The eight companions had to fight their way to Zin, and they learned of the eminent attack that was planned. They quickly headed back to Alsgoth, but they were intercepted. A group of soldiers, dozens, caught the companions in a valley, where they thought they could trap and kill them with ease. However, a small opening at the end allowed the companions through. They knew they could not outrun their enemies, and one decided to stay and hold them off.” Erin paused again, and his face lit up with awe.
“It was James Hodge who decided to stay. The companions did not need much convincing, and they left for Alsgoth. He pulled out his stave, Shourai-Boyou, and faced his enemies. He held the pass against many enemies, and would have fallen, if the companions had not decided to go back. A great battle ensued, and when all of the enemy lay dead, the companions carried an unconscious Hodge back to their kingdom. They warned the king, and the defenses were prepared. When the enemy approached, the Hodge forces fell upon them, and it was a slaughter. But it was not enough, the enemy were too many, and the king was forced to act. He darkened the sky, and his tower fell. The king Damarkand, may his soul find peace.” Erin finished the story, and saw the pain in Alex’s eyes. She always felt sad knowing that her ancestor had caused this blight on humanity.
“Erin, why don’t you have a stave?” Alex asked suddenly, as if it had been bothering her. Erin sat thoughtfully, and then answered truthfully.
“I failed my test.” He said, and that ended the conversation. They blew out the torches, and slept. Even the night was unnaturally dark, for there were no stars.
When Erin woke, he was not surprised to see that Alex was still sleeping. She was tired constantly from all the moving they had to do. But it was for a good reason. Alex couldn’t stay in one place too long, or too many people would learn what she was.
Erin lit the torches, and picked up the bucket by the door. He quickly washed his face and hands, but he must have been too loud, because Alex began to stir from under her blanket. She rolled over and yawned. Her hair was out of her eyes, and Erin glanced at them. Her eyes were normal, except for the color: blood red. Many a man, upon seeing them, had run away screaming. She was not the only one of her breed; there were others who had the blood of Damarkand running through their veins. But that blood allowed them to do things others cannot. And so, over time, to have the blood means to be feared.
Alex however, has not shown any talents or powers her red eyes might suggest she has. While Erin took it in stride, it also meant that she needed to be protected, because she had no powers to defend herself with.
She blinked slowly and sat up. Yawning again, she asked where they would move to today.
“I’m not sure,” Erin said, shaking his head, “We should head west, towards the coast. We’re less likely to be seen if we stay off the main roads.”
Alex nodded, and got out of bed. She washed her hands and face, and then looked out the window. She saw a group of young men working on a carriage, a fairly large one. She looked back at the bed, and grimaced. The mattress had been hard, but at least it did not appear to have fleas.
A cry had her looking out the window, and she saw that a young man seemed to be stuck under the carriage. Before she could tell Erin, she felt him sprint passed her, and saw him leap from the window. He landed perfectly with a roll, and he quickly made his way towards the group of young men. Alex turned and ran downstairs, and headed the same way.
Erin saw that the young man had gotten under the wheel of the carriage, and if his cries were anything to go by, he could quickly be crushed to death.
“Move! Out of the way!” He yelled to the young men, and they quickly obeyed. Erin set himself under the carriage, and rested it onto his shoulders. With a great bellow, he lifted with his legs, and the carriage slowly lifted from the ground.
“Grab him!” He managed to yell, and the men quickly moved their friend from under the carriage. Erin let out a breath, and slowly set the carriage back down. The men stood in amazement, their friend almost forgotten. They began to cheer at the feat they had just seen.
“Attend to your friend.” Erin ordered, and they obeyed. Erin looked back toward the inn, and saw Alex running towards him. Damn it, she should have stayed in their room. Erin quickly began to walk toward her, but a young man stopped him.
“By the gods, that was the greatest feat of strength I’ve ever seen!” He said in awe, his young face filled with wonder.
“Uh, thanks?” Erin stammered, and tried to get around him. But the man remained firmly in his path.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before. What’s your name?” The man asked, and some of the other men looked up and began to walk over.
“My name’s not important.” Erin said hastily, and he began to regret helping that young man. There were too many people, and Alex kept getting closer.
“You just saved my friend’s life! How can I offer you a drink if I don’t know your name?” The man said, and his companions muttered their agreement.
“I don’t drink.” Erin said firmly, and hoped the man would take the hint. He didn’t, and Alex was getting closer.
“Come on, one on the house!” The man said heartily, and Alex was there, standing next to Erin, hugging his side. Surprised, the man laughed.
“Little lady, could you tell this mountain to have a drink with us?” He asked politely. Alex looked up at Erin, and her bangs fell away from her eyes. The man saw them, and gasped.
“M-monster!” He stammered, and his friends backed away from them. They began to whisper, and Erin heard them say things like evil, and witch. He began to walk toward the inn, still holding Alex, but the young man refused to budge. Again.
Erin wasted no time and lifted the man by his shirt with one hand. He brought the man up to eye level and gazed into his eyes.
“If you say anything to anybody, I will kill you.” Erin said flatly, and the man was clearly intimidated. He nodded quickly, and closed his eyes until Erin put him down. He fell backwards and tripped over his own feet trying to run away. He landed on his ***, but was back onto his feet quickly, and sprinted after his friends, who had already run away. Two of the young men had their injured friend in between them, and they were far behind.
“I shouldn’t have come out here.” Alex said, and she pushed her head against him. Tears rolled down her cheeks, and she struggled back a sob. But Erin held her head up, and shook his head.
“We were going to leave anyway.” He said gently, but it sounded forced. Her arrival meant they had to move quickly, before the Order of Zin heard about their whereabouts. They headed to the inn.
When they entered, Erin noticed that the innkeeper was gone. They headed to their room, where they packed their few possessions. Erin paused thoughtfully, and looked at Alex.
“Do you still have it?” He asked. Alex looked bewildered, but remembered what he was talking about.
“Do you think you’ll need it?” She asked, and opened her pack. Erin nodded, and gestured for her to give it to him. Alex reached into the pack, and pulled out what Erin had asked for: his mace. The handle was about a foot long, and was made of a dark piece of wood. It was obviously made to be wielded with two hands, but to Erin, it was easily wielded in one. The head was made of metal, with short spikes jutting out of it at uneven intervals. It was an ugly thing, and it pained Erin to see it. It was another reminder of his failure to attain a stave. But it was the only weapon he was allowed to wield.
Alex handed it carefully to him, and wasn’t surprised by how light it was. Erin needed to use it much more often than they would have liked. Erin held it with obvious familiarity, and gazed at it. He forced himself to read the inscription cut into the handle. Les minar es finit glorom. A man is his weapon, Erin translated. It hurt him deeply.
“Let’s go.” Erin said firmly, and moved to the door. Alex placed her bags strap onto her shoulder, and followed. They headed downstairs, but before they reached the bottom, they heard a large group of people talking and yelling outside the inn.
“There’s a witch here!” One man yelled, and others cheered in agreement. Many held improvised weapons, from pitchforks to clubs, and others held torches.
“Damn.” Erin muttered, and locked the door. But it wouldn’t hold long if they attacked. He began to feel the old fear, the reason he had failed…
“She has the eyes! She must be killed, before she goes insane and destroys us!” The same man yelled, and he lifted his pitchfork in fury. The mob cheered, and lifted their weapons in answer. Erin thought back to his test, and to the reason he was here.
It was three years ago, on a cold night. He stood before the maze, and only his father stood with him. The fear in his heart began to grip him, but he ignored it.
“A Hodge never breaks his oaths.” His father said firmly, and he pointed at the maze.
“Even unto death, a Hodge holds his oath. This maze will test you, it will break you. It will show you everything you fear, and take away all you hold dear. It will show you the future, the past, and what will never be. It is here you will find your strength, or you will flee. If you flee, you will never achieve a stave, or become a true warrior. You will be a coward for the remainder of your life. Remember son, a warrior dies only once, while a coward dies a thousand times before his true death.”
And with that, Erin headed into the maze. He walked slowly, keeping alert, making sure he wouldn’t be caught flat footed. But he saw nothing. He kept moving along the maze, but he still didn’t see anything. Then he came to a clearing. He saw preparations for a pyre, and it looked like a young girl, not yet a woman, was tied to it. Before his eyes, the pyre began to burn, yet the girl did not scream. She looked up, and he saw her red eyes and they were filled with sorrow.
“Leave me.” She said, but Erin began to run toward her. Fear gripped his heart like never before, and he did not know why. He did not know who she was, or why she was being burned. But the fear was there, the fear of loss and damnation.
“No!” Erin screamed, and as he ran toward her, the pyre began to move away from him. Each step he took left him farther away from her. Deep down, he knew it wasn’t real, but it didn’t stop him from running. The flames began to engulf her, and the last thing he saw was her eyes.
Alex touched Erin’s back, waking him from his memories. He looked into her eyes, and the fear was gone. He would not fail. Not now. Erin began to sing an ancient hymn.



Lying upon the ground,


I look up to the sky,
And against the darkness,
There is light!
I stare at the stars,
And I wonder,
How small am I?
In a ‘verse where,
Stars are but grains of sand?
They are uncountable,
These flowers in the sky,
So close I could touch them,
Yet so far away.
But so much beauty,
Brings pain,
They remind me of my mortality,
And the Dark is always waiting.
How small am I?
When Time itself is against me?
Patient and watchful,
The Dark ensures all is forgotten.
Even the stars cannot hold it back,
It is everywhere,
On the soles of your feet,
To the hearth of your home.
The Dark always wins,
For without darkness, there can be no light,
But never forget,
The brightest light casts the darkest shadow.
All will be forgotten,
In a ‘verse where,
Eventually,

Even stars burn out.

“Break down the door!” Someone yelled angrily. Two young men ran to it, and began to take turns hitting it with their axes. Erin waited on the other side of the door. When he heard the men approach, he braced himself against the door. It began to strain outwards, and the hinges began to scream as they came off the wall. Erin roared, and the door caved out, hitting the two young men. The impact caused them to fly backwards, and they hit the ground in front of the mob. Erin stood in the doorway, mace in hand, and waited.
One man recovered from the shock quickly, and ran forward waving his club. Erin sidestepped the clumsy attack, and responded with a jab. The mace flew forward, connecting with the young man’s sternum, and he fell back in pain. Another man ran forward, and Erin slowly walked out to meet him. The man jabbed with his pitchfork, but Erin grabbed the handle. Erin took one step forward, and swung his mace. It hit the man’s temple with a sickening thud, and the man dropped to the ground. He wasn’t going to get up again. The rest of the mob began to move toward him, and Erin walked back into the inn. They began to pour through, but a doorway makes a good chokepoint. They came in twos and threes, and Erin dispatched them. A few managed to wound him, a pitchfork to the thigh, and a dagger to his side. But Erin’s heritage allowed him to shrug off these wounds, and indeed, the wounds were already scabbed over.
Alex hid behind the counter, and didn’t dare to look up and see what was happening. She had already seen too much carnage in her lifetime. Surprisingly, the innkeeper ran downstairs and saw what was happening.
He ran behind the counter, and saw Alex. He asked her what was happening, and she lied, telling him she didn’t know. But in her answer, the innkeeper saw her eyes. Before she could cry out, he grabbed her, holding a hand over her mouth.
“I have the witch!” He yelled out, and the mob cheered. Erin turned, distracted, and someone clubbed him in the back. Roaring, Erin slapped the man backhanded, and sent him flying out the door. He glanced at the innkeeper, and began to weigh his mace. Before anyone could react, he threw it end over end. The innkeeper’s eyes were wide as the mace slammed into his face, just inches away from Alex’s. He dropped to the floor with blood pouring from his face, never having the chance to scream. Erin turned to the mob, and began to fight bare-handed.
Another man jumped over his fallen comrades, and swung a butchers knife. Erin slapped the man’s hand, causing him to drop his weapon. Erin continued his motion, spun, and swung an elbow into the man’s throat. The man fell back, choking on his own Adam’s apple. He tripped on the pile of bodies in the doorway, and fell. Alex cried out his name, and Erin glanced back. She had pulled the mace out of the innkeepers face, and she threw it too him. He caught it in one hand, turned, and smashed it into the next opponent’s face.
“Set fire to the inn!” Someone yelled, and the men with torches began to throw them onto the roof. It quickly caught fire, and the mob cheered again.
“Alex, get on my back!” Erin yelled, and knelt. Alex put her hands around his neck, and he stood up. She held on tight, and did not fall. Erin jumped over the fallen bodies, and sprinted through the mob. Taken by surprise, most only watched, but a few ran after him.
Erin lowered his shoulder and slammed into the man in front of him, sending him flying. Even with Alex on his back, he could run faster than any of these villagers. He saw a gap in the crowd, and headed for it. Someone hit him in the side, but he ignored it. They were quickly free of the crowd. Erin kept running, and soon passed the town’s gate. But he didn’t stop until they were far away from Charis.
They were in a forest, near as he could tell, and there was very little light to see by. He knelt, and Alex got off his back.
“We’ll stay here for the night.” Erin said gently, and Alex began to pull out a blanket from her pack. Erin sat down, and placed his mace next to him. Even a Hodge needs rest, and he was exhausted. But he waited until Alex was asleep before sleeping himself.
The flames engulfed her, and burned her to ash in front of his eyes. He could do nothing to save her. And when she was gone, his heart felt like it was going to burst. He could hear his father’s voice.
“You cannot change what has not come to be. You must accept it, cherish it, and remember, a Hodge is only as strong as his oaths.”
“No! I will not accept it! It cannot be!” Erin screamed. He fell to his knees and wept. Out of the darkness his father walked toward him, and shook his head.
“Failure.”
Erin woke suddenly, hearing something. It could have been the wind, but he thought he could hear a faint hissing, like a snake. But he couldn’t see anything. Suddenly, he knew what it was.
“Alex, wake up!” He yelled, and she slowly sat up. He stood, and grabbed his mace. He rushed over to her, and lifted her up.
“We need to move! The Zin are coming!” He said to her, and even in the darkness, he could see her eyes open wide. He moved her next a tree, and stood in front of her. Anything that attacked her would have to get through him.
“There can be no esss-cape.” A voice hissed in the darkness. Alex shivered at the voice.
“We have come for the girl. Leave, and live.” Another voice hissed. Erin shook his head and lifted his mace. But Alex touched his back, and nodded her head.
“Erin, leave me. I don’t want you to die. Even you cannot defeat the Zin.” She said sadly, as if she accepted her fate. Erin cupped her face with his free hand.
“It will be alright.” He said, and Alex could hear the warmth in his voice. She shook, and began to weep. Tears ran down her cheeks, and she could not hold back her sobs.
“Hodge! Even if you were all that you could be, you are only human. You have no oath-sss, and you cannot compare to our perfection!” The first voice hissed. Erin turned toward the voice, and brought up his mace. His voice rang out.




The land of all,


The land of death,
Beauty and pain both,
You cannot stand before me!
May my weapon remain strong,
For we will dance the Shourai-Boyou!
Death’s Dance,
The only dance worth having!
May our blades meet,
With the sweet sound of battle,
Do not let me down,
For a Hodge does not back away,
If there’s a fight!

“Very well.” The voice hissed, and suddenly a figure stood before him. It moved quickly, much too quickly, and Erin barely had time to block its blade. He gazed at its eyes, and saw that they were hard and gazed at nothing, like a dead man. The Zin seemed to flow, not move, and its next blow caught Erin in the side. Blood spilled, and the Zin hissed in delight. Erin ignored the wound, and smashed his mace into the Zin’s chest. It hissed angrily, and backed away. Another ghostly figure came forward out of the darkness and swung its blade. It was too fast for Erin, and the blade bit into his shoulder. Roaring, Erin swung his mace, but the Zin dodged, and struck again. Its sword flew forward, and entered Erin’s stomach. The long blade came out his back, and time seemed to slow to a crawl. The Zin grinned a dead man’s smile, and took out its blade. With the last of his strength, Erin swung his mace and connected with the Zin’s face. Dark, clotted blood poured out, and the Zin sank to the ground. Erin fell to his knees, knowing that he had failed.
Alex wrapped her arms around him, and gently placed him onto the ground. It was getting hard to breath, and even harder to think.
“It will be alright.” She said, and Erin closed his eyes, getting closer to oblivion with every second.
Alex felt something change within her, and she didn’t see the world the same way anymore. She could feel the flows, everything that held the world together, and she could see how to change them. She stood, and the world changed around her. It was too much, too quickly. It drove her insane.
Fire flared to life all around her, and it moved to her will. Its light allowed her to see the Zin clearly. Ghostly figures in black robes, they surrounded her, and pulled out their swords.
“Burn!” Alex said with glee, and the fire flowed outwards, glowing white-hot. It reached the Zin quickly, and they screamed in pain. Alex smiled, and the fire grew even hotter. Soon, only dust and ashes were left of them. Alex laughed a mad laugh, and let the fire continue.
“Alex…” Erin managed to whisper, and she turned. Seeing his mangled body brought her back from insanity, and she rushed over to him. She let the fires die, and fell to her knees. She could see his life force slowly slipping away, and she knew what she must do. She leaned closer, and held up his head. She opened his mouth, and began a kiss that lasted for an eternity. When she let go, Erin woke.
Erin felt like his body was on fire. He screamed in pain, and felt his body slowly stitching itself back together. After what seemed like millennia, the pain stopped, and Erin could only lie on the ground, exhausted. Alex was seated next to him, and she smiled at him. He could barely speak.
“What happened?” he managed to whisper. Alex continued to smile, and shook her head.
“I cannot explain. I… awoke. I am able to do things… I couldn’t do before.” She said softly, and Erin understood what she meant. It was her heritage. Erin turned his head, and saw a small mound of ash.
“The Zin?” He asked quietly, and Alex nodded. Alex placed her hand on his head, and he felt strength run through his body. He sat up, and felt refreshed. Alex looked thoughtful, and she hesitated before opening her mouth.
“Erin, will you swear an oath to me?” She asked, and Erin was stunned. He looked into her eyes for what seemed like an eternity and nodded.
“I don’t really know how to do this.” She said. Erin got up, and knelt on one knee. His head was low, staring at the ground. He had no doubts about this. It felt like the right thing to do. Alex hesitated again, but began to speak.
“Do you, Erin Hodge, swear to become my vassal in all things? Do you swear to follow me, to protect me, and to guide me to wherever I so choose?” Alex asked, and there was tension in her voice.
“I, Erin Hodge, do so swear.” Erin said firmly, and a great weight seemed to lift from his shoulders. His mind was finally clear, and he felt stronger than ever before. Now he understood what his father meant about Hodges and their oaths. Erin stood up, and gazed down into Alex’s eyes.
“Everything’s going to change, isn’t it?” Erin asked, and Alex nodded. She reached up and cupped his face with her hands.
“It will be alright.” She said. Their lips embraced, and they kissed for an eternity.

Hypergraphian
10-01-2007, 01:34 AM
I read your earlier fiction and this one. Now here are my comments.

I like the way you have painted the characters. You definitely show potential in being able to link features and history together like your description of battle scars and fights.

Having said that, I have an issue with the mix of present and past tense in your first paragraph. It normally isn't advisable to do so as it confuses readers. I had to go back and reread it 3 times to understand it thoroughly.

Secondly, although I admire that you have an original writing style that is unique in its presentation, I can't say that it is beautiful. At some parts you manage to embody the grim tone and the fluency well and at others I find the flow disrupted. When this happens, I find it very difficult to paint a complete picture in my mind and end up filling the holes with my own imagery, which I shouldn't be doing.

Tips on improvements. Apply your ability to describe on the story's setting. Painting a picture around your character helps readers associate the situation with them and hence get a better grip of your character's overall emotions. Like was the inn dirty or well lit? What was the person's expression when Erin helped? What was he like after? Dishevelled? Tearing?

Overall, I would say it was a good effort. But just because one person has a problem with your writing style, it doesn't mean everyone would have the same opinion. Maybe my head's just clogged. Keep at it :)

CrimsonMoon
10-03-2007, 06:09 AM
I just spot some grammatical mistakes. Other than that, I don't think I have any complaints, teehee...You're my favourite author here and I must say that I like your story. Keep up! :D

Daenerys
10-04-2007, 12:54 PM
Did you want me to unlock your story? The forum has a feature that automatically locks things older than three months. I think it's three months. I usually unlock stuff if people want to comment. (I really wish it could be turned off for this forum.)