The latest from my online epic, Lore of the Underlings.
Chapter 1 concludes:
“What is the wormy fruit you serve?”
“Why weave this web of deceptions?”
The young woman stepped forward. “It was the only way. We had to be certain.”
“Reek and rot! This is grubbish you talk,” grunted Bylo. “Certain of what?”
“Listen and you’ll see!” chimed in Morio from behind. “Oh, you will not believe…”
John Cap cleared his throat hard and Morio turned to see him shaking his head.
“Oops… well…” he continued in a whisper, “She’ll tell it.”
“I’m waiting!” fumed the Finder. “Spew!”
The young woman spoke again, her words measured, her voice clear and strong. “We bring news of the world and of worlds beyond. Long and far have we traveled to find you, but find you we did. Now there are tales you must hear, tales we must tell, before others find you too.”
“A great peril comes to all who yet live, the last children of the morning dew, masters of wood and field, elders of the hearth. We are few. The free, fewer still. Even here in this forbidding wilderness, lost in the heart of a floating land vast and forbidden, guarded forever by the seas of Syar and Mer’n, evil comes for us. It comes for you…”
“Says who?” bellowed Bylo.
“Tall tales!” a second sang amidst a chorus of qualms.
“We don’t want or care for worlds.”
“Or evil things and such.”
“And if the Guard hear…”
“What we’ve heard…”
“Just tuck your tales…”
Suddenly a brilliant flare erupted from the crowded grounds, shooting high into the night sky a silvery stream of dazzling sparks, lighting the faces of all who stood witness. “Wait!” called a voice, its owner obscured by a glowing cloud at the source. Quickly the flare faded, and out from the blinding haze stepped Pyr of Hurx, still clutching the broken ironwood of the elderwoman, now ablaze on one end. “In the name of my father and my uncle, I ask you please!”
All went quiet but for the cracks and pops of the irony firebrand. Pyr stuck the emberred end into a mound of soil and turned to look the angry Hamyx in the eye. “With all due respect, Finder…” He nodded ceremoniously and Bylo, baffled, wiped the tip of his clotted crimson snout and returned a halting half-nod.
Ayron and Ayr came to stand behind their brother as Pyr faced the great gathering with a quiver in his voice but purpose in his eyes. “Treasured ones, after all we have seen this day — ghosts that turn to battle birds, arms that turn to armor, saviors turned to strangers… now only blood can write the truth. Blood spilled or blood sworn, that is our choice. But it must be written and written red.”
He shifted his gaze to the tall young woman and their eyes briefly met. “The Semperors taught us to turn from the foreign face, even the most beautiful. But where did we learn to turn from the moment in fear? Or to turn blind to revelations that may save our Keep? These are not lessons known to my brothers and me.”
Bylo looked sideways at Pyr. “So what would young master Hurx have us do now?” He gestured toward the strangers with a slow sweep of his hand.
The elderwoman answered for him, elbowing her way out from behind the meater, who carried a long carcass knife, and his apprentice. “Isn’t it obvious, Finder? Ah, this boy is every bit his father’s son. Ayryx would be proud indeed.”
“Um, perhaps so,” said Bylo, “But what…”
“If I might make a suggestion,” offered a voice politely. Morio waved his hand to catch their eye. “Yes, over here. Do you think it possible to take a brief break from these proceedings? I find myself in need of… forgive me… a personal moment of relief.”
“Really?” whispered John Cap. “Right now? Really?”
The elderwoman seemed not to hear or not to understand. Bylo grinned and curled his lips to respond, when suddenly…
End of Chapter 1. To read this chapter from the start, click here.
I’m happy to have one whole chapter done. And on my birthday too (with five minutes to spare)! Chapter 2 coming soon…