The latest from my online epic, Lore of the Underlings.
Chapter 2 continues:
Syar-ull drew from his planted pikeshaft a long-honed impaling lance, hewn smooth and sharp by a cold hand to mock the mark of an oddcat’s fang. “Prey die!” he sang, then stabbed at the stranger to finish him off. But Morio jerked away just in time, jumping up to fly afoot with his coat torn in two and a nick off his neck from the tip of the point.
“Sorry!” he sang back, “Business first!” And he flew, straight as a stingle wing and fleet as his wee feet could flee, drawn to the black mass of the Liar’s Tree.
The Guard growled and leveled his lance as all eyes followed the fugitive’s flight.
“He must be mad.”
Holding the grip of the lance in both hands, an angry Syar-ull snapped off the butt to reveal the knotted end of a wrapture rope. He yanked the knot hard and it popped, spilling a spool of fine vine down Sovereign’s meaty, sinewed side. Then he put the new-made harpoon up upon his shoulder and gave it a mighty hurl.
Morio turned to see the weapon sail overhead with the vine unfurled behind. It speared the soil mere feet away and blocked his passage to the foot of the armored arbor. The tail of it lashed his back then latched on tight to rope his limbs and wrap his trunk in a knotty embrace.
“Mark! Mark!” he cried, signaling back at his small stand of friends.
Boxbo kicked Ixit. “Who is Mark?” he asked. Ixit kicked him back. “Mark of the dead?” he laughed.
Now everyone awaited the endgame of the Guard.
“Wagers in, gentlemen!”
“A basket of sand beans says he’ll split the man in half.”
“Who’ll bet on a skinning?”
“Six if it takes two peels.”
“That is a porkling one… but the Guard is good… okay Lunxy, throw in a head of pepper salts and you’re on.”
But away from the bloodsport, hidden behind the young woman and man, another game began. The og hide that hid Jixy safe inside suddenly fell slack and slipped from her back to the sweetgrass about her kneeling knees. It rolled up tight to a twisted tube, then turned and turned again before her amber eyes to be remade as a leg-long boney blade. At that it lay flat along the given ground, still, until it went all white, a deathly pure, from pommel to point.
The young woman called out softly to the child, but with urgency in her voice. “Go girl, run. Seek safe haven. Your time is to come. We shall hope upon you then.”
Jixy nodded her tangled mane. Though sleepy-eyed, she seemed to understand and her muscles mindlessly knew what to do, what had kept her alive this long. She plunged her hands into the rich, black mud that bubbled beneath her and smeared it like warpaint over every inch of innocent skin — face, arms, legs — all concealed. Then, guided by an ancient instinct, she fled for the darkest corner of the whole-held field, eastward and away from the walls of the Keep.
No one saw as the soily creature scurried toward the near ring of riders, slipping quick and low through the tallest tufts. In a stroke of luck, she caught them off Guard while the war men, by order of a bull-mad Syar-ull, lit from their mounts to converge afoot upon the alien three. The little mud maid pounced at her chance. She snuck to flank the first chevox she found, the brown cow Clarion, and ducked under the beast’s wide belly to hide amidst her hooves from the marching Guard. There the girl held, huddled and hushed as they passed. Then, suddenly, the cow sensed something below and let out a bellow low and long. But Jixy was already gone.
John Cap stood ready to meet the dismounted. He was not long alone. Something grasped his wrist and he glanced down to find a ghostly gray hand and slender fingers wrapped around it. The tall young woman had joined him to stand at his side.
“Let them come John,” she said calmly. “Do not resist.” The ever green of her beautiful eyes gazed deep into the handsome blue of his. His lips let slip the hint of a smile.
It was strange about this lady of the pale, that she somehow seemed untouched by the night’s teary fall. The few drops that caught her sun-dipped hair glistened like stars in an eveningsky aglow with day’s goodnight kiss.
More to come. To read this chapter from the start, click here.
Folks, please note that I’ll be hitting the road for a little vacation (L.A., San Diego, Las Vegas) during the last two weeks of July, so there may be a delay before the next “Lore of the day”. Although… I will have LorePad (my brave and trusty iPad) at my side, so you never know what we might conspire to do…