Archives

Welcome everyone to this collection of stories, all based around the Hollow Eterna-verse.

Stories are uploaded as blog posts, each with categories tagged to them so you can search by world, release year, and universe. 

Near the end of 2022 I decided to reset my writing world. I had been writing stories for over six years, and it had gotten a little complicated for me to follow. So I have decided to start again, with a better understanding of what I want, this time around will be much better.

Below are the filters for my writing that will make searching through my writing easier, alternatively if you are just looking for anything to read you will find the main feed of stories just below, with the latest story at the top.

Universes
This is where I have separated my old writing, and my new writing.

Worlds
This is how I separate my genres, each world is a different genre or setting.

Year
This is the year each story was released.

Initiation

An individual ran through the cold of the night, their breath laboured as they could taste iron in the back of their throat, and their breaths had turned into laboured heaving. With each exhale they let loose a torrent of phlegm and white vapour. Where once their arms had been driven through the air like cutting blades, they were now limply shaking by their side as their feet started to stray, and their knees began to faulter. Those of Hollow can push their bodies to the absolute extremes, but even they reach a point where their bodies give out, the woman collapsed to the ground, bile from her stomach was pushed out from the shock of hitting the ground, all the actual contents of her stomach had been expelled many kilometres back, eaten by the thing chasing her. Despite her erratic breathing that forced her whole body to rise and fall filling her ears with the sound of faltering lungs, she was still able to hear the horrid hissing of the thing that was slowly lurking behind her. She knew could tell by the feel of the vibrations in the ground that its feet where right behind her, the intense heat of its many breaths was heating her back, even though her back was already warmed from the intense muscle strain of her journey. Each head of the nightmare that stood behind her had a different stench to its breath, a different monstrous cry as it inched ever closer to its pray. The woman didn’t even have enough energy to cry out as one of the many heads started to swallow her right leg, or even when a second head started to snake its way up her left leg, not gnawing and gnashing the flesh, but crushing it with immense throat muscles. Her vision started to blot out with shimmer patches from the pain, quickly consuming her whole vision, but she didn’t need her vision to hear the crackling of teleportation from a Hunter, their was no sound at all, until the deafening strike from a hammer came crashing down into the nightmares spine, it was both the sound of too many bones crushed under the weight of the blow, and the sound of several nightmarish cries, from mouths with too many throats, then there was relief as the woman fell unconscious. There were many moments of near life as she was transported, they were filled with blinding white light, and an all-consuming pain that started in her legs, radiated through her muscles, and tore up her lungs as every breath in felt like needles stabbing her lungs from the inside, and every breath out was only slightly better. Her ears rung, but they were still working, they could hear the chatter, and how her environment changed. At first sounded like the crisp crunch of nearly frozen leaves cracking, then there was the cacophony of a vehicle, it was loud, and sounded as if every part of the machine was taking turns at colliding with every other part. Then there was a moment muttering, her vision had not returned at this point, but she was able to make out shadows, and it appeared as if there were people, many of them moving around. Her next point of consciousness had her passing under an equidistant set of even brighter white, and the steady hum of electronics filled the air. Finally the next few instances of consciousness were remarkably the same, the same hum of a small machine next to the right side of her head, her vision was still blurred, but now could see the faint touches of colour, and many bright lights around the room filled the rest of her vision with white, the kind of white that caused a migraine, and felt as if it was pushing a thick piece of metal into the back of your eye. Soon she was able to smell again, faint at first, but without a doubt the smell of blood and chemicals filled her nose, with the distinct smell of grease lingering as an after scent. Then there was a strange darkness, it was not unconsciousness, but she was unable to move, and she could feel her limbs being pulled at, she could feel her flesh tearing, and bones not only snapping, but being ground down. She could feel all of it, but there was no pain. There was the whirring of high speed blades, and the sound of many power tools that she recognised, but she was confused as to why she was hearing them. Then, there were mutterings, and eventually words, but by the time she could actually make out words they were of a farewell. “We have done all we can do.” “Will it be enough?” “That is up to her, I have others to see to.” “I guess I just wait then.” There were many more instances of varied sensations, until finally her eyes forced their way open through swelling, and a crusting of yellow mucus that lined the middle of her eyelid. When she struggled to breath a full breath she engage manual breathing, and forced air through her broken nose, creating a dull hiss as she did. She flexed her jaw the little it would move, and her eyes slowly absorbed the environment she was in. There were grey walls that dripped water periodically from various points in the cracked concrete ceiling, a simple tube light lit up her room, and she could see through a grime covered window that there was another light just outside her cramped room. “Where am I?” She muttered out, her mouth barely moving. “You.” A deep voice came from beside her, “are in one of the many medical facilities hidden by the Hunters, you have done well Constance, if you survive your recovery, you will make an excellent addition to the ranks.” Constance turned her neck slightly, the muscles in her neck rigid like rock, creaking as they moved. Looking at the gargantuan man in the corner of the room she could not help but notice the plague mask that sat on the seat next to him, and the hammer weapon leaning up against the wall with the head sitting on the ground in a small indent where it was set down too hard. “But I didn’t finish.” Constance slurred, “I was going to die, why did you save me?” The mans eyes were black, with the faintest cracks of red veins cutting through the darkness. He was covered with scars, his lip was missing a small wedge, revealing a sharpened tooth tipped with metal. He groaned an exhale before taking a deep breath. “The challenge isn’t exactly doing the tasks at hand, it is about doing your best to accomplish the task. Most of the tasks aren’t achievable with skill, luck perhaps, and while luck is beneficial in this role, so is the ability to push yourself until your body fails. If you had fallen even one step sooner, I would have left you in the field, to be devoured. You live, because you have the strength to live.” “But I am weak, nothing but ash to the flame of the world.” “When ash gets wet it turns to paste, when the wind blows it floats, when it hits ground it rests, when stood on it moulds to the boot, and when pushed it disintegrates. You were not only pushed, you were shoved, stepped on, beaten, and nearly eaten, and yet here you are, you are a nothing like ash, you yourself are a tiny flame, so much potential, rest now, we can talk when you wake.” Constance nodded ever so slightly, letting her head to return to its resting position she slipped from consciousness. There was weeks of flitting in and out of consciousness, each time her body healed a little more, and everything hurt a little less. By the time she was able to sit up she finally noticed that her hands were wrong, looking at them there were ten fingers again. Three of them were fully mechanical, while another had the end joint made of metal. Constance looked at them closely flexing her hands they moved as she would expect any other finger to move. “My, my. It has been a while since I had ten digits, it feels so much better than seven and a half.” “I am glad to hear.” A woman said walking into the room. “That was my work, that along with the legs.” Constance looked down at where her legs were, the blankets above them made them look like her legs, but she still ripped the stained sheet off of her to reveal her new legs, the left was fixed from the knee down, and the right from the middle of her thigh. They were remarkable thin for a metal prosthetic, barely thicker than her original legs, not that they were around to compare to. “You will have a couple of weeks of getting used to them before the Hunters can use you, but don’t take too long, they don’t wait forever.” “I, ughh, who are you?” “I am your mechanic, my name is Siktel. I am just checking to make sure that there is no rot, these prosthetic have a tendency to be rejected by the host. Hold still.” Constance was too dizzy to protest, so she just watched as Siktel prodded the skin around the prosthetic, poking at her with the end of her pen. “How long?” Constance asked. “Hmm?” Siktel responded. “How long do they wait? The Hunters.” “Ah right, I think the longest I have seen them wait for an initiate was two weeks after full consciousness, they give time for recovery, but they are not patient, hey wait…” Siktel said as the skin she was investigating moved. Constance turned her legs to the edge of the bed and pressed her feet onto the ground, getting a feel for the toes. “That works for me, because I am very restless.” Constance could feel the world turning around her, her head felt as if it moved even after she had stopped. Siktel moved around the side of the bed, kneeling on the floor. “Don’t move again, or you won’t make it to the hunters, because I will rip my prosthetics from your body. Those who have my mark do not disrespect me and live.” Constance froze, it was a mild relief to be still, although she could feel the itch of wanting to be healthy, to be ready for commitment. Her stillness was broken as Siktel grabbed her hands and investigated the connections. “Well, flawless as always.” Siktel said as she stood up. “To be honest I have never had a rejection, and I was not going to let you be the first.” “How would you stop me from being the first, isn’t it up to my body to decide whether it takes to the metal?” “Well it is, but it is also up to me how much you bleed out from your neck when I stab it with a screwdriver. Can’t reject my prosthetics if you are dead.” “Well that is one way to false a statistic. Can I move now?” “You can move all you like now, providing you can. This is my last check up, so I don’t care what you do.” Siktel took of her gloves and let them slap onto the ground, setting up a puff of dirt. She then walked through the door and disappeared down the corridor. “Alright Constance, we have it. We do not lay where we fall, we are not ash, we are the flame, we dictate what burns.” Over the next week Constance forced herself to move, vomiting from a strange sense of motion sickness over and over again, but eventually she was walking around the room as if nothing had ever gone wrong. She marched herself out of the room and down the halls until eventually she found …

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An Exciting End

Two  people in ill kept white tie stood on a hill top smoking, their eyes glazed over with boredom, their fingernails housed dirt, and their shoes through to their shins were covered in mud. The deep depressions into the hill a clear indicator of where they came from. Down the hill the mud was slightly drier as the fires from the marque’s were spreading to anything that would take their heat, and cooking anything that was too wet to catch light. They passed the one cigarette between them, taking turns with what little stimulation they could share. The roar of the fire was nearly as loud as the screams of the people that  were panicking down below, with the distant sounds of emergency vehicles beginning to compete with the orchestra of noise that was happening. As the smoke rose into the air the light of the fire travelled through it, creating a pillar of light into the sky that was illuminating the nearby clouds, and the surrounding forest where it once lay in the darkness of night, only to be interrupted by the golden glow of small decorative lights, and now the harsh red flicker of the fire. One of the people bit their lip, pulling the stick from it they brought it back into their mouth before spitting it to the ground as they passed the stub of a cigarette back to their companion. “Well, that is one way to end a night. Job well done I would say, ae Imogen?” “To be honest it was the only way we were going to get any level of excitement out of this wedding.” The two stood in a long pause, their breath visible as the night became colder. “Yup, riveting.” “Shut it Riley.” Imogen said, taking their long black hair out of the bun it was in. “It just keeps on going, when do you think it will end?” “I mean, it is hard to say. But I assume the small tent town will go, at a minimum. The fire department may be here before the forest catches on…” Imogen was interrupted as there was a large explosion from one of the tents, cascading fire and shrapnel through the air, raining down on the other tents, cars, and in turn the edges of the forest. “Well, I guess that was the kitchens tent. I had forgotten about all their gas-powered stove tops.” “They had a whole restaurant in there. It was ridiculous how much equipment they brought out here. They might as well have had it somewhere in the city.” “But then they couldn’t get all these views, or experience nature.” “Nature? They put up so many tents, and walkways that they were barely outside. Not to mention all the air conditioning units, and the million bug zappers. Rich people don’t know how to experience the outside world anymore.” They two people watched as one of the guests was running in heels across the soft soil outside the tent, struggling to pull her feet up from them sinking into the ground. Her hands holding her elegant dress up, and away from the ground. “What one earth, is she seriously concerned about her dress?” “To be fair on that one, running in those tight dresses is probably impossible unless it is pulled up. However, the decision to keep the shoes on is confusing me.” There was a second explosion as the fire spread, and further equipment started to feel the heat of the fire. “And there goes the generators.” There was a second explosion in the same spot, mush larger than the first. “And that is the fuel bowser. Jesus you can feel the hear from here.” “It is kind of beautiful though, in its own way.” Imogen said as they tilted their head to the side. Riley saw Imogen adjust their view and decided to try the same. “Does the head tilt help reveal the beauty?” “No, but I was curious if it would look any different if I tried.” “You have an interesting brain, I appreciate it. I think I would suffocated myself in the chocolate fountain if it wasn’t for your constant stream of jokes about the guests.” “Mmm, what a delicious way to go. I mean with how thick that stuff is, and how warm I assume it would be horrific, but tasty none the less.” “Can we ask for anything more in life than a tasty death?” “I mean we can’t ask for a tasty meal.” “I know right?” Riley shouted, disturbing the low mumble that the two had going all this time. “It was like the chefs forgot how to cook when they got to us, I guess we weren’t important enough to get any real food.” “Oh didn’t you hear?” Riley raised an eyebrow, looking across to Imogen. “Apparently, clive heard the wedding planner talking to the chefs about how much effort to put into the meal for the… help.” “Gross, I hate that term. Did Clive happen to describe what was said?” “Yeah, essentially they felt that if the food that was served to us was seen by guests to be too close to what they were getting, they would feel like they were being cheated out of good food, and were just being fed sub-par food. So they artificially created bigger divide in quality so that they did not feel like they were being encroached on.” “Well that is actually disgusting. I can’t believe that people actually think like that.” “They are not people though, rich people lose people statis once they hit a certain point, they just become avatars of money, which is why they hoard wealth, they are trying to get their kind back together.” Imogen let out a small life with the hints of a grin breaking the bleak look on their face. “That is actually genius, it makes so much sense now. They are not greedy assholes addicted to endless streams of money, they are merely an inanimate object occupying a meat suit to collect their family back.” “Oh woah, I think I prefer your description much better. I might have to integrate that into my life going forward.” The two stopped talking as the screams of others started to change, and upon focusing on the instance below them they could see people burning to death, rolling on the ground in desperation, or even just aimlessly walking until their bodies fully collapsed. Imogen and Riley both recoiled from the sight, their stomachs turning. “I don’t think I was prepared for this much death.” “Even at a distance, this is not great, or good, or anything positive. I know we talk shit about these people a lot, but I obviously don’t want them to go through this.” Imogen half turned, checking the ground behind them they fell backwards, staring up at the sky they let their stomach settle. Riley smiled shyly, following suit they felt the ick in their throat start to recede down their throat, uncomfortable in of itself, but a good sign of getting better. “Do you think that maybe we were a bit rough on them? I am feeling weird about everything we said now.” Riley said as they passed their hair through their hands repetitively. Imogen let out a long exhale in exasperation. “You have to be kidding me, I know what is happening isn’t great, but to be honest I have no sympathy. They don’t even speak like humans, they don’t deserve the same kind of empathy that we give to our own.” “Our own?” Riley said awkwardly. “Come on kid, this really isn’t hard, we are in a class system, and that system is ranked by finances, we are not the bottom, but we are fucking close. Those pricks down there are not even the richest, and they hold wealth that we could never dream of seeing. Why? I’ll tell you why, so they can throw these massive weddings where they spend more on one day than we will earn combined in five years.” “Come on, it can’t be that much.” “Really? Because I heard the wedding planner talking about it over the phone to someone, and I know for a fact that the number mentioned was ten times our wage. So if the both of us wanted to throw this party, we would have to not spend any money, while working for five years each. Don’t defend them, I am sick and tired of people not being comfortable insulting people when they need to be. They talk big, then they feel bad because they said mean things, and then they make excuses for the hoarding fucks, and they continue to get away with what they are doing because we are too busy being stuck in a cycle of hating, empathising, and arguing.” Imogen sat up, screaming out for an instant before they started to clutch their knees close. “Look at me go, I am helping perpetuate the bullshit system by getting mad at you. Go team.” Riley slowly sat up, looking back down into the carnage they made their eyes lose focus so they didn’t have to see anything. “Did you know you call people kid when you think they are stupid?” “No, I call people kid when I know they are doing something stupid. Don’t give them a second thought, they couldn’t give a fuck about you.” “Look I don’t like them, but can they all really be that bad?” “Okay, let’s go through the list. There was the old man you groped everyone working on the wait team, and if anyone kicked up a fuss they were removed in case they caused offence to our guest. Or how about the endless stream of people who ignore the parking wardens to try and get a closer park so they don’t have to walk as far, just to get angry with the wardens for having a shit system, that was only shit because everyone acted like an entitled cunt and feel justified calling us stupid. Or the collection of people that hit on us, then call us sluts and smack shit off our serving trays when we turn them down, and even talk loud enough for us to hear them talk about how they had to turn down the helps incessant advances to their friends. Or this, this one is good.” “I get it.” “No you don’t.” Imogen yelled. “So listen. What about the times when we were talked about like a charity case by them, talking about how it is nice for us to find purpose, and be put in a positive environment by these generous benefactors that pay us as close to minimum wage, call us fucking idiots, slow, and trying, while half of them came from old money and have never even known what it is like having to actually budget for anything. They are not humans, not anymore, they forgot how to be.” “Are you telling me, that you can look me in the eye and say that those people down there deserve what is happening to them?” Imogen turned to face Riley, their eyes red with rage, casting a heat from their intensity they spoke clearly. “They deserve this, and more.” “Well if they deserve this, then what do we deserve, there are those poorer than us, to them we are the same monsters.” “We deserve a fucking break, we are not what THEY are. We do have more money than others, but the difference is if can’t work we die, if we donate any kind of money there is a good chance that our quality of life will be negatively affected, while them, they could give away millions without anything in their life changing so don’t pull that bullshit with me, I am sick of this conversation, I’ve had it too many times before.” “Maybe, if you keep having this conversation with people it means that you are a minority with what you think, and maybe …

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Big Beginnings

A planet rolled and moved through the emptiness of space, it basked in the golden glow of the nearby sun as it turned gently. Above the world a deity stared down at the planet with excitement in their eyes, in their hands they held a large rock that a soft green powder was floating out of. With a malicious grin they waved their hand, and all the powder flowed back into the rock. With everything contained they threw the rock down at the planet. The humans of the planet were unaware of what was to come, they looked up at the sky as this enormous asteroid broke through the atmosphere, the green powder poured out, catching in the wind tunnels that surrounded the planet it covered the world in a fine green mist. As it descended upon the planet the air was filled with green, and small shiny flakes from the metals in the asteroid, it was beautiful. People stood outside with their phones, calling to one another to look at the spectacle, some people saw this as a sign of the end times, and retreated down into doomsday bunkers, sheltering themselves from the green powder, while half of the planet slept, and was unaware that they were breathing their last breaths. The green powder invaded the lungs of everything with lungs, taking root it spread a fungal bloom of mycelium through the intricate aspects of the lungs, their expansive root systems bound the lungs until they were unable to move, suffocating the host. In less than twenty-four hours, almost all mammalian life forms were suffocated, and left to rot where they lay. Then what happened next removed the humans as the top civilisation, overtaken but what the powder did to the fungal, and insect population of the planet Excress. Down on the surface of the planet, down by where the feet of the humans would have tread, down where their rubbish laid, there is more trash than ever before as the buildings holding everything owned collapsed, letting their goods loose upon the world. Where once they would have been seen as a burden, now they are seen as safety, shelter, even a home. As one civilisation fell, another has grown from their trash, and their bones. After leaving to find others, the deity returns with a collection of others, they all floated down to the surface of the planet, invisible to any prying eyes from mortal creatures they observed the new civilisations that had started since their departure. The original deity grinned ear to ear, while the others sighed, rolling their eyes at their comrades’ excitement. But despite their desire to bring others to see their creations, as soon as they found what they were looking for, it was almost impossible for anyone to get their attention. Beneath the deities eyes was a small, humanoid mushroom creature, running through the tall grass, where their very life was held in the combat of their own will, versus the will of the things chasing them. The mushroom leapt and slid its way through the difficult terrain, the heavy pounding of many legs behind them. They could hear the plant life behind them being crushed, and pushed aside where they had just had to volt through it all. It was not long until the mushroom tripped, sliding into the dirt the foot falls surrounded them as two comparatively enormous tarantulas stood either side of him. Under the mushroom man was its pouch, where inside was a small book with strange runes carved into the cover. “Oh my, look what I just found,” the mushroom said in a bad acting voice. “This looks like one of the books from the great tarantula library, why isn’t it fortunate you two happened to be here at this moment.” The mushroom humanoid raised the book above their head, keeping his face pressed down into the dirt. The spiders chittered at one another before one of them reached out, taking the book from the mushrooms hand. The Tarantula who took the book wandered off as the other moved around the head of the mushroom, letting it look at the side of his face where once his cap obscured it. Its voice was low, and spoke with a rumble that shook the mushroom to the core. “You live, not by anything less than the fact that you were able to acknowledge when you should have been eaten.” The spiders many eyes lit up with a green energy, telekinetically lifting the mushroom man to his feet the tarantula forced the mushroom to stare into the tarantula’s eyes. “If your ilk come through our domain again, we will bind you, you will be dragged through your city walls as we march upon your kind, and you shall watch as we destroy everything you call home, and after mangling you, we shall leave you to those that value your flesh.” The green glow in the spiders’ eyes faded, leaving nothing but black voids for the mushroom to stare into, they swallowed heavily, grasping their bag they nodded slowly, whispering under their breath they replied in the voice of a scorned child. “Understood.” The tarantula stepped away from the mushroom man, flicking dirt back on every foot fall, covering the mushroom man in a thin veil of loose dirt. The mushroom man stood very still, their body was tense, and shaking. They dared not move until the destructive sounds of the tarantulas disappeared into the distance. They took a deep breath as they realised, they had not been breathing since the tarantula stood them, the breath breaking their tense stance the loose dirt fell from them as they collapsed to their knees crying. Weeping loudly, they made no effort to be aware of their surroundings, their body still shaking as struggled to manage their breathing, their head spun, as their breaths became shallower, and the ability to hold their eyes open became even harder. But just as they could feel their consciousness slipping, they managed to bring their breathing under control, and slowly the black patches in their vision shrunk, and slowly over many minutes they became stable. They wiped the drool and snot from their face as they let out a long sigh, breathing in heavily through the breathing holes on their face, and out of their mouth. “I can’t believe I am not dead. I can’t believe they didn’t notice.” They said looking back at the groove that the spiders made through the undergrowth. “I need to keep moving, they will be back at their library soon.” The mushroom man stood back on weakened legs as they began to march away from the spider’s library. The further they moved, the sturdier their knees became, their breath became more strategic, and their purpose drove them. They ran till their body ached, and the sun began to set, painting the sky red. As they passed through the tall grasses, they passed over branch, stone, and bottle caps, and an increasing pile of human refuse until eventually the tall grasses rapidly fell away and they were looking upon a city made of human garbage. The walls were made from a collection of natural woods, and refined ice-block sticks, and chopsticks. The buildings were painted plastic takeaway plastic containers, and the city was lit with a collection of solar powered fairy lights. The inhabitants were a wide variety of fungus that walked around like people, there were some insects that walked among them as equals, and other insects and fungus that had not developed as much that had the mind of animals, and were kept as pets, or pack animals. There were even some bio-luminescent fungi that were still inert like the fungus on Earth, they were dotted around the streets to bring light on the ground level, while all the fairy lights hung far above, illuminating the high-rise buildings. The mushroom man moved through the entrance of the city with their head lowered, using the large crowds to hide their visage. Their tattered clothes were unassuming, and contributed to him blending into the mix of fungal and insectoid hubbub. “What are you doing back here Morr?” A voice called out from behind Morr. He paused for a moment, grasping at his satchel he slowly turned around. “Hey Amon, I didn’t expect to see you here.” Morr replied, keeping his eyes aimed at the ground. Morr is a plain brown looking fungal humanoid, while Morr peacocked his vibrant red, and white colours as he approached Morr. “You didn’t expect to see me in my city? Don’t make me laugh Morr, there are a lot of critters here that want you dead, or bleeding. Why have you come back?” Morr did not respond, forcing Amon to look over them, spying the tight grasp on the satchel he snapped his fingers, from behind Amon a large locust stomped over, ripping the satchel from Morr’s hands. Morr’s arms outstretched with it until the bag was lifted beyond his grasp. “Now why do you want to hold onto this so bad ae friend?” Amon was passed the bag, and he delved his fist inside, pulling out a single piece of paper with a myriad of runes, and minor incantations. Amon’s face scrunched up as he tried to understand what he had, his eyes opened wide as he realised what he was holding. He pushed the paper back onto Morr, but Morr did not take it. “Take it back, take it back and get out of here.” The Locust behind Morr squatted down, leaping into the air their wings started vibrating, allowing the Locust to fly off at speed, the sound of their wings fading as the sounds of stomping came from the other direction. Amon let go of the paper and it fell to the ground. “I am sorry, but whose city is this Amon?” Morr asked as he grinned. Amon’s eyes filled with fear as he started to run to the far side of the city, pushing through the crowds that have heard the commotion beyond the walls, but have not yet acted as they try to figure out what is happening. Morr picked up the piece of paper out of the dirt as the front gate guards called out. “SPIDERS!” The front gate was struck by an unstoppable force, pushing it flat in an instance as a tarantula stood upon it. The guards on the top of the wall moved to get to position, but were struck down by jumping spiders that leapt from the far side. “Where is what belongs to us?” The tarantula screamed through psychic powers. The city dwellers screamed, turning tail and running to the back of the city, only to find that the spiders had already surrounded the city, pouring over the walls like a wave of limbs and fangs. The tarantula eyes started to glow, and the city started to fall. The same-coloured glow from their eyes illuminated the city structures, causing them to crumble. The screams of the civilians were competing with the psychic enraged screams that emanated from the minds of the powerful spider psychers. “Where is the script, where is the page?” One of the spiders screamed as its eyes darted around the city, trying its best to find Morr. The guards of the city did their best to hold back the torrent of spiders, but despite their best efforts, the most they could do was slow it down. Morr was in a dark alley, hiding from the cacophony that he brought down upon the city, and while in the muck and grime of the city he started to recite the words that were written, their voice resonating as the magic bound to it. The runes on the page lifted from it, surrounding Morr with light, and strange coloured particles. One of the tarantula’s spotted the familiar glow and charged with everything they had at the faint light leaking from the alley way. They stomped their way …

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Far Beyond

A lone planet circled around its star, silent in space it followed its course. The calm of its rotation was only a front though, down on the surface chaos reigned. The surface of the planet is unstable, large deposits of charged crystals defy the gravity of the planet, lifting large chunks of it into the sky, while some rose to safe heights before stabilizing, others sailed far beyond, falling apart the dirt and stones came raining back down to the surface, destroying anything it landed upon. It did not matter if it was a hundred-foot tree, or a boulder, they were crushed under the immense weight of that which fell. Beneath the chunks of land were great craters which over the years filled with water and became lakes. The creator of the planet, Anodyne the mad god of chaos, spent their time in the pursuit of creating life, they started by making plants and single celled creations, they found themselves moving up the evolutionary ladder at a rapid pace, but when it came to creating a creature with sentience similar to a human, they achieved nothing. The already scarred surface of the planet was struck repeatedly as the deity let out their frustration. They created deep crevices, and reduced most of the mountains on the planet to a sliver of their original height. Their screams could be heard across every planet in his universe, vibrating through space and resonating on every planet. Anodyne continued to feel the crushing pressures of loneliness, they thought that by now they would be able to create life they could interact with, something that they could talk to as to stave off some of their crippling isolation. They cried and laughed at the same time, their hands shook with rage, as they giggled to themself. “All alone, finally, everything we wanted as a mortal. To explore a universe, and here we lay in the dirt, weeping, laughing, incapable of dying.” Anodyne slammed their head into the ground, over and over again, screaming louder with each collision, then they stopped just shy of the ground. “I don’t need to create life, I just need to find developed life, I am an idiot. This universe must be covered in developed planets.” Anodyne seemingly vanished as they started to fly around their universe in search of sentient life. They darted between planets like a wayward pinball in the largest machine ever built. It reached a point when they started to give up on everything, they slowed down, and soon they were nothing more than adrift, staring blankly with their mouth slightly ajar. Their eye twitched as a small portion of drool fell from them, freezing in the cold of space as it drifted away, eventually finding itself falling to a nearby planet, evaporating upon entry it released a new biome of bacteria, and a new branch of life to develop. Meanwhile Anodyne was approached by another, there was a flash of light and a soft click that appeared behind them, they turned to see a shining individual, their ambient light fading slowly they stood before Anodyne upon a small chunk of earth with lush grass and flowers they sprouted instantly. Anodyne squinted, turning their head to one side, then slowly back to the other. “Are you real, or just one of my usual hallucinations?” Anodyne asked, as he covered each of his own eyes one at a time. The other deities mouth opened, but instead of words, came the sounds of crashing waves, cracking rocks, and morning bird calls. Anodyne stared blankly, but before he could say anything the other deity spoke again. “Strange, do you use language?” “What else would I use?” The other deity looked around them, squinting periodically before turning back to Anodyne. “With a universe this old, I assumed you would know other forms of communication.” “What, is the sound of nature supposed to be faster than just talking?” The other deity pinched dust that was floating past, look intently. “This is rare,” the deity brought their finger closer to their eye. “Oh, this is very rare, this place might be a good spot for mining.” “What are you on about?” Anodyne looked at the small pile of dust “It is dust how is that rare? It is everywhere.” The other seemed to stop momentarily before grinning. They then started to walk forward, and the small island beneath their feet grew to accommodate the new deities’ movements. They walked straight past Anodyne, Anodyne turned to watch him, but another light caught their attention, they turned back to see two other deities wander in. They both looked to one another and the sounds of nature came out, the first deity to intrude replied in kind. “Who the hell are you, and what are you doing in my universe?” Anodyne yelled. The other three looked to one another with furrowed brows. “Listen kid,” the first deity said, laying a hand on Anodyne. “This place has some rare materials, we are going to take it, then we will leave. We will only be here like a million factorial years, then we will leave.” Anodyne raised his hands and proceeded to count on his fingers for a moment before looking back to the newcomers with the same hatred in his eyes that he used to stare at the frozen being. “You will leave now, or I will kill you.” The three newcomers laughed at Anodyne before turning away and continuing their plan. Anodyne felt the rage boiling inside of him, he turned and struck the closest one, just to have his fist stopped by some kind of invisible force. “Okay, listen here child. We find you amusing, but if you try and get in our way, we will kill you, and we will continue what we were going to do anyway. So, know when you have no chance of fighting, and back off.” Anodyne waited for them to finish before he slammed his fist at the other deity a second time. “This is my domain, you will leave.” Anodyne proclaimed as he continued to stare. “Stupid, fucking child gods.” The invading deity said as he turned to Anodyne. He let a sigh out just before he struck Anodyne, sending him flying back to a nearby planet, like a stray asteroid landing upon a planet. Anodyne coughed blood, and struggled to breath through his injuries, his vision started to wobble, and then he fell still. The other deities did as they pleased, bringing strange machines into the universe they begun bagging the dust that was circling around the universe. Anodyne’s blood flowed out onto the planet, around his unconscious body was a small any colony that tasted his blood, returning it to their nest they began improving themselves in ways they were not prepared for. The followed the stream of blood, and moved their colony into Anodynes body, crawling in every orifice they could find they built their colony in his body. The more blood they drank, the stronger they became, until they were able to finally chew through Anodyne’s internals, carving their own caverns, not having to rely on his natural cavities. They dug deeper, ate more, grew in strength, and number, but it did not matter how far they dug, his body never seemed to end, even when they had burrowed further than Anodyne’s slim frame should have been able to hold. Anodyne awoke suddenly after only a few months with an intense ringing in his ears. His body had healed, and he stood to his feet, nearly falling as he went. “Odd, why is my body off balance?” He asked himself. Rolling his eyes backwards he looked inside, to see the sprawling nest of ants that now lived in him. “Pests. If it wasn’t my body you were in I would crush your home suffocating you, until, you, died…” Anodyne began to trail off, then looked to the sky. “I know what I have to do.” Anodyne started to amass every piece of matter he could lay his hands on, pushing it all together they soon collapsed under the immense pressure, creating a black hole in their place. He could feel the pull of his creation, but could still move freely around it, he knew he would have to do better. So he made another one, and another, until they started to chain react, sucking each other in, until there was one that ate everything that came near. Meanwhile the invaders were working on collecting all the dust from space still, but they stopped when they noticed that everything around them seemed to be drifting in one direction, then stop again. “That, was, weird. It was almost like there was an intense pull then it balanced.” They looked to one another before getting back to work, they made no attempt to look for the disturbance, and soon had forgotten that it had even happened. But after a while it happened again, pulling in another direction for a short moment before stopping. Then again in another direction. “Okay what is happening?” One said frustrated. “That is simple, I am going to kill you all.” Anodyne said, appearing in-between the three other deities. “What are you on about?” “I am bringing death to your door, this is your last warning, leave or suffer.” “Kid, you don’t know what you are talking about, you have never even left this universe, how do you expect to stop us? We have visited hundreds of other deities’ universes; you can’t hope to defeat us.” “I won’t defeat you; I even intend on dying with you.” The other three looked to one another, before noticing what was happening. Around them the universe was being consumed by a collection of black holes that were slowly encroaching on them. “Damn, take what we got and move out.” With that, all the strange machines disappeared, and two of the three deities reached out, grabbing door handles that were not there but a moment before, and walking through the appearing doors, for them to just vanish once they closed. “Smart move, but you can’t jump universes, good luck getting out of this. Out there in the Eterna-verse, they call getting caught in a black hole that is stronger than you as god hell.” The last deity went to leave, reaching for a door handle that started to appear, but then faded, and Anodyne began to laugh. “Oh thank the stars, I thought I was going to die alone, at least you can join me.” The intruding deity began to panic as he started grasping for the handle, trying again and again. “What have you done?” He screamed as he looked at Anodyne. “I made black holes to destroy all your precious dust, turns out that somehow disrupts your little door thing which is a nice bonus. I actually had forgot you could jump universes, so I nearly completely fucked up. But hey, one out of three aint too bad for a kid.” The surrounding black holes all spiralled around another, encroaching on the two remaining deities, they could feel their bodies being dragged by the immense force of a nearly universe sized black hole. While the intruding deity screamed in horror, and tried to summon his door he could not help but see Anodyne allowing the pull of the black holes drag him around as he laughed. “You have no idea what fresh hell awaits us, you won’t be laughing then!” “I spent my first several billion, trillion, whatever years of existence suffocating in space, being burnt to dust, and dissolving in acids, I then had part of another being’s mind forced into mine. I don’t see things getting worse. I have done hard yards; this is just the next hurdle. Welcome to the life of the suffering friend. Let’s visit hell together.” Anodyne reached out, grabbing hold of the other deity, laughs and screams twisted, and wound around one another, spiralling into the immense mass of …

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Mortality And Infinity

The Eterna-verse is a concept that mortals struggle to comprehend, but with such a large concept it is no surprise. Ask a mortal to imagine a meter and not only can they most likely imagine it, but they could even demonstrate it. If you ask for them to show you ten, their variance becomes a little wider, and this is true for every meter above the first. If you mention it in kilometres, people may be able to have a concept for how far is needed, especially those who travel often, but if you ask them to imagine the distance between their planet, and the nearest moon, the ability to comprehend falls away. The distance between their planet, and the sun, their solar system and the next, their galaxy and the next, their universe and the next. None of the numbers that could be tied to distances matters, they may as well be infinity, because if a mortal was to attempt to understand, or to travel the distance to experience it, they would die before they accomplished it. The Eterna-verse is the representation of infinity for location, it represents the ever-expanding matter, and anti-matter that makes up the Eterna-verse. For the mortals I ask them to imagine that their universe is the centre of the Eterna-verse, then around their universe is their personal multi-verse, the multi-verse that is every iteration of their own universe, outside of that there are the other multi-verses, that of the other universes that have no tie to their own, around that all is an endless storm that surrounds everything, and blocks the light from either side, beyond that are more rings, of things that become harder to understand concepts that make up the Eterna-verse. Then I ask, as you imagine these perfect rings, or layers to a shell, I want you to drop it, let it smash, and scatter across the ground, pick up the pieces and do it again, until what you hold is an unsortable pile of matter that could not be pieced together, even if you gave the mortal their one hundred years of life. This is the Eterna-verse, it is an endless pool of chaos that grows, shapes, and changes as life develops within it, universes are born faster than they die, and thus the chaos of the Eterna-verse grows each second it is alive. The seed of each new born universe is a deity, as a new deity is born, a new universe develops around it. Deities are born from mortal souls dying once they have lived for a hundred years, the soul wanders the Eterna-verse until it finds a place to rest, where it can grow into its next stage of life, where it turns into a deity, and during this birth there is an explosion of energy that creates a universe for them to reside within, to keep them safe as they develop. The deities will find themselves upon a planet where they can come into their powers, learning how to develop them, until eventually they are able to leave to begin exploring the universe they are in, and in time further into the Eterna-verse. However, the Eterna-verse is ruled by chaos, anything can happen, and it does not matter how routine a system may seem there is always exceptions to the rule, mishaps, and each one helps topple any sign of order within the Eterna-verse. There was one deity, born on a planet like others tend to, but before they were able to take their first breath, and open their eyes their planet was eviscerated by the local star going supernova. By the time the deity did awake it was in the cold void of space, their eyes opened, and quickly they began to freeze over, along with their mouth and nose as the water in their body boiled, then cooled upon touching the void of space. Their muscles expanded and contracted, ballooning them before tensing them tighter than they could imagine. Their body started to twist as the muscles pulled them in random directions, until after a few minutes, they died, or so they thought. When deities are born they have to learn how powerful they are, their mortal lives ideas on how things work will guide how their body reacts to things until they are able to prove it wrong. Spoken simply, if a rock were to fall onto their hand, they would feel pain, because they believe they should, they would not try leap higher than a human, or perform acts beyond a human, such as walking on water, eating lava, or even surviving in space. These feats take time, thousands of years of development and growth before a deity is capable of understanding even the most basic elements of their abilities. They need the time to think on what is happening, and how it has, or hasn’t affected them. If experiences happen too fast, and there is no space to reflect, no learning can happen. When this deity assumed space had killed them, they did the only thing they could do that was close to death, they fell unconscious, their body started to regulate itself again and they returned to normal, just so they could awake and do it all over again. Each time they lived, they did so for a minute or two, and each time they had the memory of the last time it happened. After the first hour went by the first thought formed in their mind, something that usually happens within the first few seconds of existence. They thought to themselves. “This is going to happen forever.” That thought played on a loop, every life had them clawing at their own throat in search of air, hoping to remove whatever was blocking their lungs from working, fighting against the twisting of their limbs as their muscles pushed them to bend in unnatural ways. Beyond the vision of most, and certainly beyond the vision of this deity, on a separate plane of existence a set of wary eyes watched, taking notes. They rested their note taking tools, and they sighed deeply as they watched this deity die, over and over again. They looked away for a brief moment and their plane of existence started to shake, they turned back to the deity, and the shaking slowed to a stop, and so the being watched. With time it was not only the void of space that killed this deity, they were pelted with asteroids, ripping chunks from his body, the blood freezing as it left their gaping wounds. This impact was the first of many, but it was the one that set them on their course, where once they floated stationary dying, now they were swimming through the void, travelling it. The being behind the veil had hoped that they would land on a planet but to their dismay they did. They came crashing down like a stone from the sky, their body burned up as they collided with the atmosphere, they felt their flesh rend from the bone, their eyes exploded, and their eardrums burst all before they died. When they came to, they were in free fall. This time instead of their body freezing and asphyxiating in the void of space, they found their lungs dissolving as fast as their skin as they breathed in the caustic air of the sulphuric planet. Millions of years passed as the being watched, each time they turned their head, or closed their eyes they could feel the fabric of their dimension starting to shake, and pull against itself, so they kept their eyes open, and they watched the deity die, and they took their notes, every last detail. It took an eon before the nearby sun went supernova and shot them off into space once again. The being shook with rage as they continued their role, their fist tensed until they could feel their nails dig into their skin, and just as they could squeeze no harder they suddenly released the tension. They took one deep breath before stretching out their hand, breaking the barrier between dimensions their hand disappeared from their own, and started to appear in the deities. The deity watched as fingers started to appear out of no-where, soon a whole hand had formed and was reaching towards their head. The being pushed with all their might, it felt as if they were pushing their hand through a torrent if broken glass that was oscillating around it, then their universe shook like it never had before, they felt as if they were a drawing on a piece of paper, and the paper was being crumpled, torn, their very being was warping in ways that they could not comprehend, they felt two dimensional against the force that was crushing their very existence, but still they pushed through all the pain, all so that they could touch the deity. The deity watched terrified as this disembodied hand reach towards them, it vibrated, and blood dripped from where their nails had dug in moments before, it shook so violently that it looked as if there were dozens of hands all reaching towards them. They stared unblinking as the violent approach of the hands instilled a new kind of dread within them. Their body stopped reacting to the effects of space, their mouth dried, and they felt the dread that not even the sight of an impending super nova could cause, not even the thought of an endless suffering could compare to how they felt when they stared at the hands approaching. Their heart beat increased as their body froze, not with ice, but muscular tension, their body wanted to move, to run, but in that fear the body engaged every muscle, all at once, the result of which was that they started to coil into a ball. Their eyes never left the hands though, and now, despite being in a vacuum the hands resonated a strange sound, an increasing pitch that sounded like the sound of a singular nail running along a black board. Right as the sound reached the crescendo of its pitch a single finger made contact with the deities forehead. Suddenly the dimension that held the other being collapsed, crumpled like paper in a fist, bending the being along with it. They manifested into the same plane of existence that the deity was in, but their form was distorted, mangled, and horrific. They froze over into a rugged sphere of ice. Meanwhile the deities mind was burning, they were given knowledge, it surged into their mind as the finger touched them. Their brain was burning with a fury that made the deity scream, their spit flung from their mouth and froze into little shards that escaped them. In return for the information that flowed into the deity, a single piece was given back, a single word, Anodyne, the deities name. Anodyne was finally able to breath in space, the void no longer bothered them, neither did the cold, or the radiation. The information had freed them from what they were suffering, and once the searing pain in their skull slowed, they looked over the ice formation that rested in-front of them. Anodyne rested their hand upon it and they knew that this was the thing that had set them free, they had part of the being’s mind in their own, a mess of images, words, memories, emotions, and sensations that should not be experience for such a young deity. Their mind was broken by the years spent in solitude, but the information given to them has shattered their sense of sanity. They stared into the ice, making contact with one of the eyes of the being, Anodyne looked at the horror the eye had frozen into, and Anodyne stared back at it with hatred. “You saved me, I will find the one you fear, I will find the one who did this to you, and by the time I …

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The Wall

Anodyne was floating through one of the universes that had created, he muttered to himself under his breath until his forehead collided with a stone wall. He stopped moving, his brow creasing. “I don’t remember putting a rock here.” He said out loud. Anodyne floated back slightly, then looked at the wall. He looked it up and down, and left to right. But it did not matter which way he looked, it extended to the end of his universe. He tried punching it, but it failed to chip, let alone crack. “A wall.” He said frustrated. “Why is there a wall in my universe?” There was a long pause then he cried out again. “Who put this shit in my universe?” “Oh, that was me.” He turned to see a dishevelled looking individual, he was eating an ice block and licking his lips as he stared at Anodyne without cause. “Why did you build a wall through the middle of my universe?” Anodyne asked, “Hey, that aint no way to greet.” The man said, closing the distance between Anodyne and the stranger. “I am Rune.” He said with his hand outstretched. “I own this fine wall.” Anodyne ignored the hand as he looked at the man. “I am confused.” “It is simple, you say your name, then shake my hand. It is a simple greeting in most universes.” “Not that, I am confused to not only how, but why you built this wall. I can’t get past it, and it happens to be running through my universe, and I need something on the other side, so get rid of it.” “Well I am confused as to how someone can claim to not be confused by my customs, then not acknowledge them.” Rune said as he puffed out his upper lip and looked down to his hand, then back to Anodyne. Anodyne rolled his eyes and groaned. “I am Anodyne, now will…” Anodyne tried to continue but his hand was grabbed with vigour, the man smiled, and interrupted. “It is a great pleasure to meet your acquaintance Mr. Anodyne, what can I do for you sir?” Anodyne’s arm jolted still as he stalled the vigour’s shaking. “I want to know how and why you built this wall.” “That is simple mister, I really wanted a wall there, so I put it up because I thought it might be fun.” “This is my universe, get it out.” The man laughed to himself. “No can do sorry. But I built it out of some special material that gets stronger the more of it, that, is, attached, to, it. Damn that was a weird sentence”. “Are you saying you made something that you can’t un-make?” Rune pressed his lips together as he looked about the wall. “Looks like that do be the case kind sir.” Anodyne’s eye twitched as he looked at the wall, then turned back to Rune. Anodyne tried to slam his fist into Rune, but his fist was stopped by a barrier of light. There was the sound of cracking glass as layers of the light seemed to shed. But despite the layers removed, Rune stood smiling. “Oh ho, ho. That is not going to work sir. You are no where near strong enough to touch me.” “Why am I surrounded by other deities that are far beyond my level of strength?” “Well to be fair, there is at least twenty gods in the Eternaverse, what is the likely hood you can beat all of them up?” “I have literally met thousands of other deities.” Anodyne said as he felt something in his brain twinge. “Yeah, that is at least twenty.” “I need this wall moved, move the wall. I need to be on the other side.” Rune walked up to the wall and slammed his fist into it. Small pieces of powder came back with his fist, but no visible damage was done to the wall. “Well, I think it may just be permanent. Better luck next time friend.” Rune looked at his watch and shrugged. “Well I gotta go, I have a date with a very pretty star that has been flirting with me every time I go past her.” Anodyne turned around to look at Rune, but he was already gone. “I can’t believe that this is my life, how is this always my life?” Anodyne closed his eyes and breathed deeply, and calmly. “I swear, Ompti must be testing, or punishing me for something.” Anodyne rested his hand against the wall and he slowly sunk into it, His eyes opened, and when his vision returned his hand was buried up to his wrist in the stone. But trying to push it in further did nothing, Anodyne’s panicked crept in when he failed to remove his hand from the stone. “Why? How?” Anodyne said as all expression fell from his face. He remained floating in space and looked around. There was sadly nothing on this side of the wall that Anodyne had made, there was no life, or any significant astronomical events that caught his attention. “I guess I am just here now.” He said defeated. His whole body slumped as he kept his body as far from the wall as he could. Decades went by as he remained stuck to the wall, he tried everything he could think of to remove his hand from it, then eventually to push it further in. Despite his best efforts, his situation did not change. Anodyne looked to the stars as time went on without him. Eons went by as his mind started to slip once again, the agony of being held in place sent his mind racing to the edges of what is possible. His body went through every emotion he was capable of expressing, and still none of them gave him insight on how to fix his situation. He screamed to the Eternaverse for answers to his situation, but everything was still, and no one answered him. Then one day Rune returned. “Well looks like this is quite the pickle, isn’t it?” He said with his hands on his hips. Anodyne looked at Rune, barely noticing his existence, before looking back at the wall. “Oh come on, don’t be so glum.” Rune floated to the wall and pressed his hands against it as he hummed to himself. “Ha, I know how to fix this.” He yelled. Snapping his fingers found himself surrounded with Darkness. “Oh, oh that was wrong.” Rune said as he floated around the now cube of strange material. “it seems I have taken the wall, and made it into a box. This literally makes your situation worse, because now the mass of the material is concentrated, so it will be even stronger. I hope you have space in there. I’ll come back if I think of anything.” With that Rune left again, this time Anodyne was cramped into a small cube where he was incapable of standing. His body was pushed against itself as it struggled to fit into the space. He sighed and shrunk himself to fit in the space better, but as he did the material expanded, filling the space he made. No matter how small he made himself the box would shrink with him. Anodyne sat in the box terrified that this would be the fourth, and last time that he would be forced into isolation. He could not see a way out, and no matter how much energy he expended he was incapable of doing anything to the walls around him. He remained in the cube for so long that his thoughts started to repeat, he ran out of content in his mind to explore, everything in his head became as dark as the cube that he was trapped in. Nothing but silence as Anodyne gave up on moving, screaming, and crying. His body was cramped, and he could feel his bones starting to fuse together. He kept his biological body from faltering out of self-preservation, but once his mind turned black, he let it slip away. Outside the cube Rune was pushing it through the Eternaverse, crossing universes, multiverses, stretching beyond the created content, to the naturally spawning creations of the Eternaverse, until eventually he arrived at throne where another deity sat. Their visage was so powerful that those who dared to look upon them had their eyes burnt from their skulls, and despite deities abilities to create, and even alter selves, they were incapable of seeing, or even remembering what sight was, as if they were born into darkness. Rune kept their head bowed to avoid the image of the deity before them and spoke through the cube, his voice just loud enough for Anodyne to hear. “Hey buddy, so I wasn’t just a wandering dude who built a wall, but I am sure you figured that out by now. But I have delivered you to your new owner, so have fun buddy. They like to collect crazy gods, so I just make them and get paid well for it, nothing personal.” Rune slapped the top of the cube twice before standing back from it. The sound of Rune’s voice was enough to scare Anodyne. The first sounds he had heard in millions of eons. His ears tingled as the vibrations bounced around his ears. The deity that sat on the throne stood, grabbing the cube in both their hands they pried it apart as if it were warm bread, straight from the oven. From it, Anodyne’s mangled body floated in space. Rune nudged Anodyne and spoke to him. “Come on guy, Your new master is waiting for you to introduce yourself, I don’t know if you remember, but I showed you how to do that. Although I would not recommend looking them in the eye, or the foot, or anything. Not pleasant.” Rune continued to nudge Anodyne, as he talked to the deity by the throne. “Sorry friend, this one seems to be a dud. I can’t imagine this one would be fun to rule. I do know how you like to play with your toys.” “I am not a slave.” Anodyne muttered through petrified vocal cords. “What was that?” Rune asked as he leant in closer. “No one is my master.” “Well, that is where you are wrong buddy. This one is, they own you now, just as they own this whole sector of the Eternaverse. Hell, they even own me. It aint a bad life really. Can’t complain, well I could, it is horrible, but could be worse, probably.” Anodyne spent their energy unfurling their body, slowly correcting their form until they were nearly standing normally, still hunched, with a whisper quiet voice. “I am no slave, to no master. No one owns me.” Rune laughed. “You can’t even stop me from doing things to you. How are you going to stop them?” Anodyne turned to the entity, his head was cocked low as his body was still to regenerate fully. “I am no slave.” He said as he looked up to the deity. Anodyne’s vision of the ground was the base of a marble throne, as he looked upwards it started to warble, and everything became blurry. He could see shapes of what appeared to be an individual sitting upon a throne, but no details. It felt as if there was an immense pressure against his eyes, not pushing them in, but pulling from the inside, like the other deity was already in his mind. Rune watched as Anodyne looked up in horror, shocked that anyone would willingly peer upon his master. He knew from experience that even catching his master in the edge of his peripheral vision was enough to feel like he had a fire in his skull. But the thing that caught Rune’s eye with Anodyne, was despite the fact he was staring at his master, his eyes had not erupted into flames and cooked from his skull yet. Anodyne couldn’t see clearly, …

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The Small Rock Excress

Among the stars there was a small rock, named Excres. Upon its surface was a collection of ape like creatures that ruled every facet of the terrain. But greed and war consumed them, first their hearts, then their souls. Bodies limp, their structures laid in ruins, and a strange dust falling from the sky lead to a new society to develop within the ruins of the old. The strange dust killed most of the fauna that it touched, a caustic substance that burnt flesh, and caused infection. But when it landed upon the smaller life forms on the planet, it changed them in fantastical ways. Insects’ intelligence grew, plants grew stronger, and fungus began to walk like the apes kind that fell before them. The powder had transformed them into the new life of the world, with a humanoid shape, and a desire to collaborate, they soon developed a society in the trash left behind by the apes that died not so long ago. They made cities, developed their own technologies, and sought to know what they wanted to seek. A whole new sentient species rising over night, they struggled to survive in the new world, but now that they are established, and safe, they want to know what is out there, what there is to find. One small mushroom named, Mercol was out on his own adventure, seeking crystals to master the arcane arts of the world, magic through language, and powered by the strange gem gemstones that form all across the land, they are assumed to have come down the day they all awoke, and are the source of all life on the planet. The wisest of the Myconids formed a runic system to interact with the gems, and have since harnessed their powers to create magic, as math was discovered and used to create a great many things. Mercol was frustrated as he marched from the large tower he was just in, stomping down his feet he stashed his spell book into his satchel and made his way off the towers grounds. Moving from curated paths and trimmed moss lawns he stepped out onto the hard dirt of the surrounding grass jungle. He turned back to the wizard tower, it was an old dead tree that was carved out by transfixed termites that the wizards used spells to tame, getting them to prepare huge logs into spaces for research, and the pursuit of magical power. “Kick me out of your stupid tower, I’ll show you who is the real mage. None of you can handle my spells, you are all…” He took a deep breath and shouted at the top of his lungs. “Cowards!” The sound of insects filled the air, and no one inside the tower seemed to stir, completely unphased by the screams of Mercol. He dropped his arms down, and kicked a small pebble before turning face and walking away, not only from the tower, but the small town that resided behind it. “I don’t need them, I don’t need any of them, not even that stupid town. I will go out, I will find my own crystals, and I won’t be told by no council that I am not allowed it due to concerns of magical intent.” Trudging along the tough, sun cracked dirt he pushed deeper into the yellowed blades of grass, disappearing from society and adventuring into the wilds unknown. In Mercol’s left hand he had a staff, with a very specific looking head to it, one designed to hold gemstones of power, but it was empty, just like his stomach. Up the staff was an eclectic mix of runes carved deep into the wood, then burned so they kept their form, creating great, big, black, ornate runes all over the staff. Visually it was stunning, and the craftmanship was impeccable. He strode off with confidence, and with a fire in his heart. Nearly four days later and Mercol was sprinting with a limp, his satchel was gone, he was covered in dirt, and small cuts, and his hands gripped desperately to his staff as he moved. He breathed deep, each inhalation was if it was fuelling a fire in his lungs, burning his throat as he desperately continued forward, despite his worsening state. He would occasionally look back over his shoulder at the screeching behind him, screaming and using the image of his pursuer to motivate him. The rapid footsteps it made inspired fear into him, his failing legs filled him with an impending dread he had never felt before. He knew he no longer had the protection of his order, or that the town guards were not just around the corner, ready and waiting to make a daring save. Instead, he was left with the knowledge that the next step may be his last as he could feel the hulking beast behind him coming closer, and closer. The roar of the beetle behind him was enough for him to give up, slowing his feet he was ready to stop and collapse, but before he could he found himself sinking deep into the ground, into a hole that was not there a second before. Mercol looked up to watch as the enormous beetle ran over the hole, and stormed deeper into the unknown. Meanwhile Mercol was stuck in a thin hole, after some wriggling he managed to turn his head to the side so his was no longer pushing hard against the hole’s sides, and after just a little more he managed to find a small crawl space at the bottom of the hole. He laid down for a moment, catching his breath, his legs thankful that they were finally able to rest. It was a long while before he was willing to move on, taking solace in the dark, and quiet hole that he had found himself in. Knowing that he would not be able to climb up the narrow hole he fell down, he was making sure that he had the energy to crawl through the hole at the bottom of his fall. His eyes sluggishly opened at first, then rapidly when he realised that he had fallen asleep, what had intended to be a short rest become sleep of an unknown duration. He wriggled his legs, and felt them brace against the walls of the hole with a strength he did not have when he had landed in the hole, his arms gripped dirt with the same renewed strength, but as he crawled, he felt the wide rim of his head cap scrape against the wall, and warp against the uneven surface. While his arms and legs had rested, he could now feel the discomfort that laid within his cap from being bent, and twisted as he slept. Hand landed over hand, soil was disrupted, and his wide feet carved small grooves as he pushed his way through. His head ached with every movement, only getting worse as he went, until, a sudden sensation of freedom happened from around his head as he found himself in a small chamber. His head was finally free of the confines of the narrow passage, and for the first time in the last few days he laid down free of contortion, and actually feeling as though he had, had some rest. He breath started heavy, but quickly slowed as he took the moment to calm himself, a calm that was interrupted by the intense pains that appeared in his stomach. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.” He muttered to himself. He stared up to the ceiling of the small cave and felt everything his body had to tell him, despite the restful position, and the fact he had just slept, he could feel all the aches of everything that had happened over the last couple of days, tears fell from his eyes as he remembered the life he had not so long ago, how he let his ego get in the way of safety within community, and the potential to gain much knowledge within the arcane arts, but instead he was destined to return the earth that once fed him, and now, his tomb. His eyes closed once again, and he let exhaustion take him once again. This time when his eyes opened, he found himself laying in comfort. He patted his body, and where there were wounds, now bandages. His body still ached, but it felt as if it had been numbed, now just a shadow of what it had once been. His arm drooped from his side to make no purchase with the ground, Mercol looked to his side to find himself laying in a bed that was raised off the ground. The room itself had dirt walls, ceiling, and floor, but all the furniture within the room was made wood and stone. There was a small fire located in one of the walls, all the smoke disappearing up a tube from the old world, letting it loose to the sky above, keeping the cave fresh. Mercol felt safe, like he was home in his old town. He smiled softly and let himself be comfortable enough to let himself slowly fall asleep. His sleep was deep as Mercol’s body healed itself, so deep that he was incapable of dreaming, and it wasn’t until several hours had passed before the incessant chatter coming from the nearby chamber woke him. He slowly sat up, groaning through the aches, and stabbing pains. The air was filled with the noise of the muttering of others talking. Spying his staff, he used it as a walking stick to navigate his new environment, the ground was pressed flat, while not as good as where he had come from, it was tenfold better than the wilds he had been traversing. None of the rooms he passed had doors, not even hanging moss to cover what was within. The longer he walked the louder the voices became, and the more he was able to make out, Mercol walked into the room the voices were coming from, and inside there was two mushrooms running around a kitchen, one tall and thin, and the other short and round. “Uhum,” Mercol cleared his throat purposefully. “Excuse me, but where am I?” The two other mushrooms turned to see Mercol leant up against his staff with a gentle sway. “Oh you, look at you. The weird one is up.” The short one said. “Up and about, like a regular ol walk-y-do.” The tall one added. Mercol was confused, and made no effort to hide it, while the conversation already felt alien, he could not help but comment on the strange heads that these other mushrooms had. “I am so confused, are you fungus?” “Of course, we are, have you never seen one of our kind before?” The short one asked. “Not all of us have those wide brimmed heads, some of us have these much more compact taller heads, makes digging tunnels much easier, without having to worry the width of a cap.” “I don’t understand.” Mercol said as they adjusted their stance. “Oh friend please sit down,” the tall one said as they pulled out a chair. “We can answer any questions you may have, but you need to rest.” Mercol sat down, realising in that moment how much stress his body was under just standing. “Who are you two, and where are we?” The two Morel mushrooms looked to another and giggled slightly. “Well, I am Larce,” the tall one said as she pointed to her chest. “I am Hekaras,” the short on said. “As for where we are, you are in our wee little home. The others are not home, they are out doing the outside things. But they will be back shortly right Larce?” “Oh who knows, the others are wild, always out and about, who knows when they will be back.” “But where is your home, is it apart of a …

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What Is Useful, What Is Needed

On the edge of a small dirt town a small boy stood staring into the back of a wandering cart that had made base just out of his little town. The man who owned the cart was bartering goods from it, selling off food, seeds, lines of cloth, and most importantly books. After the hordes of men and woman had finished their dealings, the man took a moment to crouch down by the boy, staring into his eyes he watched the glint from the arching sun in the sky. “What does your eye see boy?” The boy looked over to the back of the cart, scouring its contents from his low angle, only able to see what laid at the edge, his brow furrowed and he walked up to the cart clambering inside the seller wandered over to see what he was doing. The kid carefully stepped between things his eyes softened and his interest started to wane. “Is this really all you have?” A distinct distain in his voice. The seller laughed to himself, looking at his feet he cleared his throat and looked back up to the kid with one final sigh. “Do you not see, anything, worth your time?” Heas scrunched up their nose as they started to move things with their foot as their interest was fading. “Your stuff sucks this time.” “Your townsfolk seem to think otherwise, they bought a lot off of me this trip.” “Well that is because they bought the things that they need, not the things that are useful.” “I would say food is very useful product.” “Nope, food is needed, it is not useful.” “How do you get to that conclusion?” The seller laughed. “Because, if you don’t have what you need you die, if don’t have what is useful, you can’t live.” Heas started to search with a new vigour, moving everything around the cart he searched. The seller was stood back with his eyes open wide, he muttered under his breath. “That is, actually great. I might steal that.” “You have to pay if you want my words.” The seller looked up to see Heas staring at him with his hand out, expecting a coin. “You know what? I can do you one better.” The seller walked past his cart and walked up to the side of his pack animal. He stuck his hand in the pouch on her side and pulled out a book. By the time he turned Heas was already as his feet, looking up with anticipation. The seller knelt down and presented the book to Heas, but not handing it over. Heas ran his finger over the ornate cover of the book, tracing the intricate ridges his eyes were alight. “Now, I need you to listen up Heas.” The seller watched Heas staring at the book, so he tucked it away, bringing Heas’ eyeline to his own. “You need to listen Heas, this book is worth more than this town to the right people, but to a common idiot it is worth the sum of the components and labour it took to make it.” “What is it?” “It is a book about an ancient language. Not only will it teach you how to speak, and write in this language, but understand the culture of who they were.” “Why is it worth so much? We have lots of books like this.” The seller smiled, he kicked out his feet and sat flat on the ground. “Do you know how magic works?” Heas shook his head. “My family say that magic is a crutch for people who are too weak to actually survive in the world.” “I think your family are very stupid, and are afraid of the power of magic.” “Magic is for weak book nerds, so I am going to be a fighter, big and strong.” Heas said flexing his tiny arms. The seller laughed, pulling the book out again. “The way that magic works, is by pulling the meaning of words from a culture, and imbuing them with your very energy to cast spells. Being a spell caster requires a lot of fitness until you are able to make your own source of mana. But you don’t need to worry about that right now.” Heas scrunched up his face, pushing his lips together they puffed out a little. “So, you are saying that magic is for strong, and smart people?” “That is exactly what I am saying Heas.” “And fighters are just strong, and not smart?” “Umm, not really. They are smart and strong too, but the difference is that someone who can cast spells can change the tide of a battle. But it does not matter how good of a fighter you are, you will only ever be one man. With magic you can be so much more, you can harness the power of culture, which is like having hundreds of lives helping you fight.” Heas’ eyes lit up a little, but he was still not sold. “But if I am studying to know things from the book, I can’t work out to get strong.” “Yes you can.” The seller dropped the book on the ground and started to do push ups in front of it. “You can do this, if you find a way to hold it up higher you could practive punching, and sword swings, or even crunches. You can do so many exercises with a book. When you get good at reading you can even run while reading.” “I am good at reading.” Heas said with a huff. “I know you are my small friend. So here is what I am going to do, put your hand out.” Heas put his hand out, and the seller put a single gold coin in it. “Now, do you want this book?” Heas nodded slowly and smiled. “Okay, now my question to you, are you a common idiot?” “NO!!” Heas said, gripping his coin he slammed his fist down. “Listen carefully, if you are really as smart as you say you are you will get this.” Heas focused, but he was still mad that he was asked if he was stupid. “Are you ready?” Heas nodded. “If you don’t know how to fight, you die, if you don’t know how to cast magic you can’t live.” Heas’ eyes rested from their angry glare, his eyes looking up and to the right. “Now I ask you again, are you a common idiot?” “No?” He said, unsure. “Then in which case, if you want this book. It is a hundred, thousand gold.” “Yes!” Heas said hastily. “I did not get what you said, I am so dumb. Can I please buy your book?” “Oh, I didn’t realise that you were a common idiot, in which case, it is one gold coin.” Heas paused, then thrusted his hand out with the coin in it. The seller took the coin and with a grin, he handed over the book. “When I come back around, I expect you to be able to cast magic. Take very good care of this book, a smart boy like you will understand its true worth. I believe in you Heas. I believe you will be taking over the world someday.” Seasons came and went then came again, many times. Finally during the cold months the seller fought his way through the snow, leading his animal he pulled the reins from the front to lead his reluctant animal. But he could see the lights of Heas’ town burning in the night. His breath was thick and visible, and each time he inhaled it would cold burn his throat. He paused for a moment as he struggled to get his breath back. Before he moved on, his beast bellowed and pulled against his reins, the seller struggled to contain him as he felt the snow around his waist melt away. Turning back around he saw a shrouded young man standing in front of him with his hand raised out, steaming pouring off of his body. The seller was too tired to grasp who he was looking at, all he was thinking was that he was thankful for the help. After struggling with his beast he made his way up to the young man, removing his own hood he spoke. “Thanks friend, did not think I would see a magic user here, this small town aint one for the likes.” “That would be the case if wasn’t for you.” Heas removed his hood to reveal his aged face, and the seller grinned uncontrollably, he touched Heas’ face examining him carefully. “You have grown so much Heas, it has been far too long since I have seen you.” The seller paused for a moment and squinted. “You look tired, no exhausted, but somehow worse.” Heas sighed heavily pulling the book from his robes. “I have many things to tell you about the time that has happened in-between now and when you left. Come, let’s get you into the inn.” Heas lead the seller through the town, Heas was radiating a warmth that brought a semblance of life back to the seller, if only a little. As they walked through the town the seller watched as others seemed to turn their head from them as they moved through the town centre. “Is there a reason I am getting the dirty eye from these others?” The seller whispered over Heas’ shoulder. “It is not you, it is me.” There was a long pause, and the seller was about to break it but decided to hold his tongue, knowing that he would get his answers soon enough. With his goods stowed, and his animal looked after Heas and the seller sat in the inn, sitting by a dim candle light in the small room that was rented. “All right, let’s here it boy. What has happened?” Heas sat on a small chair in the room pinching the bridge of his nose he sighed, and scrunched up his face. “There has been so much, and honestly it is why I am leaving, I was actually walking out when you arrived.”  “Is this because of the book?” “This is because of things this book has enabled me to do.” The seller nodded and leant forward from his sitting position on the bed. “Don’t let me hold you back, let me know everything you want me to know.” “As you can tell, I look older than I am. I have aged visually much faster, probably because of the fact I have not slept in nearly two years.” The sellers eyes widened just before he looked down to the book in Heas’ possession. “I am so sorry I have given you this burden.” The seller said as they took in how haggard Heas was. Heas’ face did not change, but tears started to roll down his cheeks. “I appreciate your concern, but if I had the option to go back in time and change things, I wouldn’t. I could never give up what I have been given. While I have misused my power, I can bring the balance back, but I have learnt so much from the abuse that I will never regret it.” Heas adjusted themselves in their seat, sitting in a more relaxed position. “Once you left, I ran straight back to my home. I packed a few things, and headed out to the woods where I started practicing. I studied this book cover to cover several times before I even attempted to practice magic. It only took a week to do this, and by the time I was prepared to cast magic from it I had an in-depth understanding of this culture, so the spells flowed from me. Despite doing as you said, I would quickly run out of energy to cast spells, only being able to cast two to three spells an hour, and they were not complicated spells, very simple ones, very beginner friendly. So I spent …

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Anderstine’s Forest

All through the Eterna-verse are Deities, worlds, stars, and things the mortal minds have yet to discover to be possibilities. On one small planet, in a deep seeded wood, hidden far away in a mountain range a lone individual resided in a small cabin home. His hands were wrapped with bandages, his face and arms were covered in scars and fresh cuts, ranging from small to cavernous. His eyes a vibrant blue that contrasted against his pale skin. Despite living outside his entire life, the thick canopy of the woods would not let any light in. He lived in harmony with the nature, he was the only one who could wander the woods without fear, the other animals respected him, because he respected them. The creatures of the dark wood had an image to match their homes name. They were dark, harsh, and hostile. They were beyond animalistic, they behaved on a base primordial level, everything happened for the sake of harmony, desires and wants had nothing to do with it, and the man in the woods knew this. He knew that as the only human in the woods he would be safe from the chaos of death providing he did not upset the balance around him. He would wander the woods, scavenging the remains of the fallen creatures, using their parts to create things to sell to those who lived near the woods. The man wondered from the woods, a large sac was slung over his shoulder as he emerged from the shade of the tree canopy, and into the moonlight. His skin started to glow faintly as his pale skin reflected the moons light back into the open air. His footsteps were light, and he created almost no noise as he approached the gates of his local town. The guards looked down, they were familiar with his pale glow, and yet they stood still as the man stood, waiting to be let in. The captain of the guard stared down at him and tightened the grip on his spear. “You know there are other towns around here, we don’t need your filth in here Anderstine.” Anderstine looked up, his eyes practically glowing in comparison to the dark brown eyes of the inhabitants of the town. He spoke, softly, almost like a whisper that could be heard from the top of the wall. “I am here to sell my goods, nothing else.” “It had been a while, I was hoping that the monsters of the woods had finally come to their senses and eaten you. Like how they eat all of us who wander too close.” “Stop wandering so close then.” “Tell me.” The captain said as he leant of the edge of the wall. “How is it you are the only human that can walk those woods without dying?” “Because I don’t fear them, or death.” The captain of the guard stared down unblinking as Anderstine looked up the same. Their stare was ended as one of the other guards grabbed the captain. “Sir, you remember what happened to the last guy who denied Adnerstine entrance? The mayor was furious. He got put on woods duty.” The captain of the guard scowled as he reluctantly leant back. “Open the gate, but keep every eye on that beast. I don’t believe for a second that he is a mere trader, or human.” The gates slowly began to open and Anderstine lowered his gaze, walking calmly into the town. Eyes followed him where he went, his silence was recognised, and his appearance unmistakable. For every keen eye from the guards that laid upon Anderstine, there were ten eyes avoiding him from the locals. But by the time he reached the centre of town news of his arrival had already spread to the local tradesmen, and Anderstine was surrounded by a small group of people wandering what is in his bag. He took his position on the auctioneer stand, with one arm he lifted his bag onto the table that was set next to him, and the wood bowed under the weight. He pulled out the first item and the auction began. While the traders made their bets, others watched from afar, some looked on with horror as large insect parts, and bones of strange animals were pulled from the bag. Others marvelled at the parts of the unknown things that laid within the forest. Animal parts, plants, precious gem stones, and strange mechanical devices were pulled methodically from the bag, each one sold off to the highest bidder. The bag emptied slower than it should have, and by the end of the auction it was full once again with the coin of the townsfolk, Anderstine put down his 10% tax into the hand of the auction house runner and quietly moved back towards the gate of the town. Before he could reach the gates a small group of well-armed individuals approached him. “Please, Anderstine. Can we have a moment?” Anderstine turned around to see the face of four determined looking souls, well armoured, and with stern faces. “We want you to lead us into the woods, we desire to see what you have seen. We understand you must be under some kind of magical protection, so we have armoured ourselves as best as we can and, sir… please, no, wait.” Anderstine walked off as the man was trying to talk to him. “Trust me, no amount of armour will save you from what is in there. You can follow, but you will die.” The group started to follow, but the towns guards stepped in the way. “You follow that thing, and you will die. Nothing other than it, and the other monsters of that wood can enter, or leave. The rest of us, we are a meal.” The small combatant group lowered their weapons as the watched Anderstine disappear behind the closing gates. Anderstine walked calmly back down the winding mountain path, heading down every left turn he wound up at the edge of the forest stopping just shy of the tree line, behind him he could hear the sound of creaking wood, and strained horse hair. “Drop the bag, and keep walking freak. I won’t let you rob my town.” Anderstine turned to see the guard captain with a bow drawn. “Your mayor is going to be furious, you might find yourself on wood duty if you are not careful.” “Don’t threaten me freak, I don’t know what you are, but I know you are not human. So leave human gold behind, and go back to your woods.” “I earnt this fair and square, they paid what they wanted, this is my property, as a guard, I assumed you would be around to protect me and my property.” “I protect those who live on lord Barres land.” “I am a resident of Lord Barres.” Anderstine interjected. “My cabin is apart of his territory, that is why I have rights to trade in his town. You are sworn to protect me.” The captain of the guard lowered his bow slightly, but grinned as he did so. “No one expects you to come out of these woods, each time you come it may be expected, but if you don’t return, no one would be surprised.” The captain raised his bow again and took aim. “There won’t be a body to find, I am sure the woods will consume you.” Anderstine smiled, he dropped the bag and sat on the ground with his legs crossed. “I am a pacifist.” “What does that matter now?” The captain asked. “That is the answer to your question.” “What question?” “The one you asked at the gate, how I survive in the words where all else have failed before me.” “Are you saying you have never killed anything?” “No, just I never kill the things in the forest, we have an understanding. I am a scavenger in the woods, I take out the trash, then I sell it to you all, then I can return with your coin, and store it where it is needed.” “And where exactly is it needed?” “In the dirt, a shiny mountain of bronze, silver, and gold. Upon it rests an ancient being that consumes them for nutrients, without me it will have no food, and it will be forced to look else where to eat. Places with metal, places such as your town.” “I am not buying it, you are clearly making this up as you go, trying to find an out from meeting my arrow. But I am done with talking.” The captain let his arrow loose, setting it into the far right side of Anderstines chest. The force of the blow put him on his back, and set him in place to start sprinting. The captain nocked another arrow and set it into Anderstine’s leg, but still he ran towards the woods. “That is right, run you best. I’d like to see you survive with those injuries in the woods. Come back again and I will put you into the dirt.” Anderstine disappeared into the darkness of the woods, collapsing behind a fallen tree log, just out of the captain’s view. He prepared another arrow, and started to walk towards the woods, approaching the tree line he tried to get a better view of where Anderstine fell, in hopes of putting an arrow through his skull. But with every step beyond the first tree he could feel his heart in his throat, and the air begin to cool. “It is just a wood, only a short jot in.” The captain said to himself as he looked around. “Run in and finish it, run out.” He repeated over and over again, building up the courage to step further in. Just as his feet found steady footing, and his muscles begain to function he heard a chittering, followed by rapid, rhythmic thumping. Looking past where Anderstine fell he could see eight eyes staring back at him, red, and glowing faintly in the darkness of the wood. “I’ll let the woods consume you, my job here is done.” The captain ran from the woods, grabbing the bag in one arm he felt it drag into the dirt, dropping his bow he used both arms and hauled it onto his shoulder before running off back to town. The town carried on as normal, and with each passing month that Anderstine did not return, the captain began to feel at ease. Resting in his bed he sighed each night as his skin was wrapped in silken sheets wrapped over the softest mattress of down. Each night he would sleep like a baby, waking for nothing. Until one night he heard the creaking of wood, and the snapping of tree branches, dragging him from he blissful sleep he sluggishly woke up, then rapidly when he saw the eyes of Anderstine sighting across from him, his pale white skin and the glow of the moon on his back as he sat with his back facing the window. The captains hand was already on a knife he kept next to his bed. “Rest assured captain, I am still a pacifist, you will suffer no harm from me.” Anderstine whispered. The captain sat up, still holding onto the knife. “No offence, but I don’t believe you just came back to chat.” “Well that is true, but I have not come here to hurt you either.” “So what are you here for?” “To tell you that I am taking the time from you, that you took from me.” The captain stood from his bed, his knife in hand. “That sounds like a threat.” “No captain, you have threatened me before. I am informing you of your situation. You left me for dead, with a slim chance of survival. So I am doing the same. I have moved your home, by my estimate it should take you the same time it took me to heal for you to make …

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The Journey

Soft clouds drifted lazily across the blue sky, tall mountains in the background cut shapes into the horizon with its dark stone and snowy peaks. At the base of the mountains a strong river flowed from melted snow, winding its way down, and past a small country town that sat in an open plain. The river curved around the edge of the town in a way that forced those wanting to go west over a bridge that has stood longer than the town itself. It had strong stone pillars, and arches that were perfect, both in presentation, and in the ability to withstand the water swells that would happen yearly during the days that followed the winters. The open fields surrounding the town had tall, green, grasses that crooked at the ends, and during the summers as the grass started to brown, a strange summer weed would emerge with tall dark stems that grew clusters of flowers that started yellow at the base and slowly became red the higher they grew. This gave the area its iconic name, the fields of fire. This summer there was a convoy that was heading out of the town, those within the small walls of the town watched as the imperial carriages cut through the landscape, their pristine white carriage tops were being towed by large dark steeds that looked as if they were made for the gods. Everyone inside the walls were packing their things and getting ready to depart near the opening of the town. But at the back of the town was one family getting ready in a different way. Instead of laying their bags onto the hard dirt, waiting to be picked up by the imperial carriages, they put their belonging into the back of a small cart. The wood creaked as each item was placed upon it, the wooden panelling was cracked, warped, and rotting in parts, the wheels were slightly different sizes giving the cart a distinct wobble as it went, and at the head was the family steed, a tired, yet determined looking mule with a faded black coat that had started to go white at the ends. The Father and son rushed from house to cart loading everything they needed for the journey, food, clothes, bedding, and weapons were all loaded into the back. The father clapped and rubbed his hands together vigorously as he chuckled to himself. “All right, are you ready to go?” The son tucked away the last of his belongings and stood up, stretching his back as he went. “Yeah I think so, I have everything I need I am pretty sure.” He put his hands on his hips and looked down to his father, giving him a thumbs up. “But we should probably wait for everyone to load into the imperial carriages, I don’t know if there will be room to go around us on the road, and I don’t really want to be holding them up.” The father laughed as he climbed onto the riding bench of the cart. “Don’t be such a wimp, if old Gerty here can walk through the fire fields off road, I am sure those big imperial carriages will be fine.” The son winced slightly at the notion of holding up the kings carriages, but it was not on him when his father decided to leave, so he slumped down in the back and pulled out a book as his father gently tapped Gerty on the rear and she started to pull the rickety cart. The town itself was rustic, and each building had its own unique flair, but even so, everyone always laughed when they saw the father driving through town. “Give up on that old cart you fool, the king is paying us to evacuate, why bring that old beast and dying cart?” “You wouldn’t understand, I have a lot of love for Ol’ Gerty here, and her cart. They are family at this point.” “You can’t have family with a cart, or have the nights gotten that lonely since your wife left to work in the city?” “Shove off, your just jealous. Besides I’ll see the woman soon enough. You lot will never understand.” The fathers son laughed in the back as he was gently shaken around, struggling to read on the patches of road that were particularly worn. The father continued to suffer ribbings from his friends as he made his way to the western side of town, trying his best to convince people of the journey. Eventually one of his friends jumped onto the other side of drivers bench for the cart and gently patted Gerty on the back. “I can’t believe this old thing is still kicking.” “Oh she can kick still, my eldest here found that out the other day. Could have sworn that the leg broke when it happened.” The Father laughed as he son lifted up his pant leg to reveal welt. “Yeah, Gerty may be old, but her kicks don’t feel it.” The father looked over to his friend as the man was grimacing at the bruising on the sons leg. “So, you going to tell me I shouldn’t be doing this too?” “Actually no, I was going to say I look forward to hearing from you on the other end, I imagine it will be quite the journey.” The Father looked shocked for a moment before leaning in slightly. “But….” “But.” His friend added. “You know that this is going to add about two weeks to the journey right? That is a long time to keep your wife waiting.” “Oh she will be fine, she actually sent a letter with one of her birds the other day encouraging me. I swear if it wasn’t for her, I would be much more sensible.” “Well we wouldn’t want that.” The friend said with a smile. “What about your other two? Where are they these days?” “Well they are off in other towns, but they are meeting us where we are stopping this evening. I mean my eldest here is off with his wife elsewhere usually. But none of my kids could pass up the chance for this journey. So clearly some people appreciate it.” “Oh they don’t count, you have clearly brain washed them.” “Nonsense, they just trust me when I tell them things, so I told them this would be fun, and soon we shall all be back together again.” “I have a distinct memory of you enlisting the help of your youngest to herd cattle, and you nearly killed him because he refused to move even when the cattle charged, because his dad said it would be fun.” “Why does everyone keep bringing that up? I said he would be fine, and he was. Even if I did think that he was about to depart this world when the cattle got spooked. But he is still alive, and now he gets to come on this journey with me. So I see nothing wrong.” The Father laughed with a hint of guilt behind his eyes as he talked about the near miss that nearly took his youngest sons life. “What ever you say you mad man. Please find us on the other end, we would love to hear this story.” “You along with everyone else. You all mock us, but we are the ones telling the stories that people are listening to, and sharing with others.” The friend smiled, and gave the Father a handshake before hoping off the cart and leaving him to his journey. The Father was brimming with the confidence of a new day, he smiled ear to ear as he continued to be heckled and laughed at by his friends, and fellow townsfolk. As he approached the western gates the imperial convoy was scattered among the crowds of people and the guards were all helping load the townsfolks belongings, one of them stopped and nudged one next to them. “What is that?” “That is a road block on wheels, that grinning idiot is either going to stall the whole convoy, or the entire convoy is going to have to go off the path to pass him. Either way, I don’t like that man, or his stupid grin.” The father looked over and accidently locked eyes with the imperial guards that had just been insulting them, so he smiled even wider and waved. Reflectively they waved back with fake grins, and a look of confusion. The Father turned back to the front of the cart and watched as Gerty passed through the town gates. “Here we go son, the journey starts now.” The son raised a fist without looking up from his book and cheered. “Adventure.” He shouted, lowering his fist he licked his thumb and turned the page. The small cart took to the bridge slowly, Gerty’s hooves slipped on the stone from time to time, and moving became a crawl. Some of the townsfolk walked past the cart heading in the same direction. The father waved at them as they laughed to one another. “Poor lass is doing her best isn’t she?” They asked him. “Yeah she is, maybe I should kick my eldest here out to give it a little push. Save Gerty a little energy.” The people walking next to them waved, and patted Gerty on the head as they walked past, whispering to her as they went. “Almost there old girl, I hope you are not going too far.” While it was obvious that Gerty was straining, she did not shy away from the work, her eyes were focused, her form was perfect, and as they reached the crest of the bridge, she could feel the weight of the cart shifting in her favour and she was able to rest. The father patted her on the back as she chugged along the flat top. “Okay beautiful, take it easy on the way down, slow and steady.” Gerty shook her straggly mane of hair and snorted, her skin twitching as the local flies landed on her. Coming down the far side of the bridge was just as awkward as the way up, Gerty was slow, but still slipped on the occasional tile and there was a short moment where she nearly let the cart run her over, but she managed to keep her footing well enough and they safely made it to the bottom, and they were on their way. The fields of fire were in full bloom, but even a blind person could tell with the heat that was beating down over them. The father had rested a small cloth over his head to keep his neck and face guarded, while his eldest son had himself nestled under crates that were propped upon one another to create a shaded cavity for him to read in. The two of them headed down the road, leaving the hustle of the imperial carts behind. The father had a map laid next to him with hand drawn markings all along the path they were to take. He smiled as he took in a deep breath of air, exhaling he rested into the nook of the seat, content, and ready for the journey ahead.

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