For a quite a long time, I had a world developing in my head, and recently, I finally decided to put parts of it down to paper. These are the first chapters of the trilogy (?) that I have planned, detailing the story of a fallen race and their quest for redemption. Please, give me candid feedback and rip me to shreds! I can take it, I promise!!
Intro: Somewhere high in the mountains
The wind blew lightly through the valley, barely shaking the now bare limbs of the trees. Snow fell delicately from the clouds high above, covering the soil in a crisp and glorious white, making everything appear exactly the same and pure at the same time. All was silent, and all was still. All she could see were sleeping trees and snow.
“Shh,” came a hushed voice next to her. “There they are,” he whispered. In the distance was a small pack of animals who were grazing on what little grass still grew during these months. Covered in thick white fur and with a short, stubby heads, they excelled at living in the cold and mountainous environment they lived in. “The Stashi. Our dinner.” He quickly reached into the quiver at his back and handed arrow to her.
“Father,” she whispered silently, “I don’t think I can do this.”
Her father gently and quietly placed one his hands onto her shoulder. “Stick to what I taught you, and you will do well,” he said, looking at her reassuringly. His face was chapped from years of his living in the mountains and his white beard was covered in snow.
She nodded and began to slowly but surely make her way towards the pack of Stashi. Her steps were light as to avoid making noise in the newly fallen snow, and she slowed her breathing down to make herself even quieter than before. Soon, she was within range. Scanning the small herd, she found her target; one of the smaller ones. She nocked the arrow and slowly drew the bow-string backwards, before quickly letting the arrow loose. The Stashi made a brief cry before falling sideways onto the ground next to it. It was a clean hit. The herd quickly dispersed.
“Well done!” Her father roared in approval, clapping as he ran towards he, a knife in his hands. He was beaming with joy. “I knew that you could do it! Come, let me show you how to prepare to skin and dress a Stashi,” he said, straight to the point, taking her by his hand.
The Stashi was laying a short distance away. The arrow had hit the perfect location right at the major organs, killing it instantly. “How did I do?” She asked rhetorically, knowing the answer already.
“It was a fine shot dear,” he said, standing over the dead animal. “They say that a person is not truly Lalenian until they make their first hunt. Our village will celebrate this accomplishment with a grand feast. You are truly on your way to becoming a young adult and a fine young woman.”
“I’m sure that dressing it won’t be as glamorous,” she replied, shuddering.
“No it’s not,” he answered back. “Nature is a cruel mistress,” he said, taking the four legs of the animal and binding them together to make it easier to drag back to their home. “Nature can give, and it can take away just as easily. When our ancestors first came to these lands centuries ago, they found nothing but desolation and wilderness. We built our home here, and these our fine places. You come from a line of survivors. Never forget that.”
“Father, why do we live up here in the cold?” She asked, watching her father continue to prepare the Stashi. “I heard traders talk about distant lands where people don’t have to wear coats to survive.”
“All you need to know is that we are safe here. There is never a need to leave our mountains. There are many dangers outside of Lalenia.”
“When I am older,” she smiled, “I will travel the world!”
“One day dear, you will see that I am right,” he replied back, finally tying the legs together. “Now, let’s drag this….”
A loud bang echoed through the valley, from quite a distance away. Moments later, a small projectile landed mere inches away from the father, ricocheting off of several rocks. He froze, trembling, before quickly grabbing his daughter by the hand and running at full speed away from where they were.
“Father?!” She yelled in confusion. More bangs echoed throughout the valley, and more small projectiles hit trees and plants near to them as they ran.
“We need to get out here!” He yelled frantically, huffing from the speed that he was running at. Above them, the girl heard a loud and constant sound, unlike anything that she had ever before, almost like a flock of loud and angry birds. A large object, that looked like it was made of black stone, descended from the heavens and began to make chase to the pair, quickly catching up to them. Something from the side of the object began to spin, causing thousands of tiny projectiles to fire upon the pair, easily destroying everything in its path.
“Agh!!!” The father grunted in pain, falling over and tumbling into the snow. “They got me!”
“Papa!!” The girl yelled, running to her father. Something had hit him in leg. Blood was pouring from the wound, causing the pure white snow to be stained with red all around him.
“Look at me!” He yelled, his eyes large, frantic, and full of fear. “You need to hide, and now. Don’t emerge until they leave! Take this! It’s important beyond all measure!”
“Father!!!” She cried, unable to figure out what to do. She tightly clenched what her father gave her. It was a small black rock. “What is this?!”
“Go!!!” He screamed frantically.
The girl complied and began to sprint a good distance from her father, quickly finding a small hole to cower in. The stone flying object landed a short distance away from the father, and several figures emerged from it and slowly walked towards him. There were around six of them. They were all wearing pitch black uniforms that were unlike anything that she was used to, and their faces were covered in black helmets, each eye having two large red bulbs, making it appear as if they had four eyes. They looked alien and almost non-human, but walked on two legs like people did. They were clearly talking to one another, but something was distorting their voices, preventing her from understanding. After a few moments, one of them, clearly a leader, walked forward.
“We finally got you scum,” one of them mocked, his voice undistorted, towering over her father. He was holding a sort of stick shaped object in his hands.
“You won’t kill us all,” her father replied defiantly, covering his wound. “Our line will continue. We will win.”
“That is what every Cobur says, yet will we have hunted your kind to every end of Mariol. Your ilk has caused enough pain and suffering. For that, you will die.”
“He still lives you know,” her father laughed. “As long as he does, your cause is doomed.”
The masked figure took his stick shaped object and shoved it into the face of the girl’s father. “You will be pleased to know that we found him. He will be dead soon. Any last words?”
With that, her father was dead. She turned away, tears in her eyes, and covered her hole with whatever branches and twigs she could find, desperately clenching the rock that she was given. It did not take long for footsteps to come closer and closer…
Chapter 1: ??
The man slowly began to open his eyes, the bright light from the mid-day sun straining his eyes and hurting him. His head throbbed uncontrollably, and his entire body was extremely sore. He looked at his hands and realized that they were covered in wounds and bruises. His arms were not much better. He had clearly been in some sort of altercation.
Where am I? He thought to himself. He tried to stand, but realized that his legs were tied together at his feet. He attempted to break himself free, but he struggled in vain, as his legs were tied far too tightly to even begin to loosen them.
“It’s no use son,” came a depressed voice near to him. He didn’t pay attention to him, as he began to focus on the situation around him.
He quickly realized that he was in a cage with a few other people, all of whom were dressed in a variety of clothes. Most of them were sleeping. He managed to raise himself to his knees and get a view beyond his cage. He was being transported in some sort of wagon which was being pulled by a team of horses. Behind him and in front of him were a multitude of other wagons. To his horror, there were soldiers marching in formation in front of the wagon as far as the eye could see. He looked back, and the same scene was behind him. There had to be millions of soldiers marching on this narrow road. To his right were steep hills, light yellow grass, and scraggly trees. To his left were burnt out houses, towns, and the sea. There were ships next to the army for miles in either direction, likely carrying supplies and cargo. Beyond the ships and far in the distance was another landmass that stretched endlessly in both directions.
Most worryingly, however, the man had no idea where he was or how he got there.
“Where are we going?” He asked loudly.
The driver of the wagon turned around angrily. He looked somewhat human but something was definitely off. His skin was bright orange, his head was shaped like an elongated oval, and his eyes were an unnatural shade of red. The driver raised his finger, and the man saw that the driver’s arms were extremely long, far longer than the people caged around him. He hair was covered in a golden pointy helmet.
“Be quiet human!” The driver screamed angrily.
“Where am I?” The man asked.
“Don’t make me stop this car human! The driver hissed. “I will end you just like Xayo will end the human race! Now be quiet at once!” Beaten, the man ceased his line of questioning. The driver turned back towards the road and continued to follow the massive convoy of soldiers.
“What are you doing man?” Came a quiet and rough voice from the opposite end of the cage. It was the other man who spoke earlier. “Are you trying to get us killed?” He remarked quietly, his voice drowned out by the multitude of military orders, songs, and drumbeats.
“No.” The man replied back. “I just don’t know where I am.”
“Really? What is your name?”
The man thought so deeply that his head began to hurt, but could not recall who he was. His head stiffened and his brows furrowed as he tried to remember something…anything. “I do not remember.”
“Did you get hit in the head or something?”
“I must have,” the man replied. “I cannot remember a thing.”
The other man slowly scooted his way next to the confused one. “My name is Felix,” he said. His face was scarred and chapped from what appeared to be years of struggle. His rags were tattered, and his exposed flesh was covered in wounds, scars, and blisters. His hair was short and well kept, and he had a well kept beard. His arms and legs were both well built and toned.
“Nice to meet you Felix,” the confused man replied, shrugging his shoulders. “I wish I could tell you what my name is.”
“You know, since we will probably be here for quite a while, I need to call you something. You know what? Stone sounds good.”
“Stone?” The man asked inquisitively. “Why that?”
“Well,” Felix replied cheekily, “I took the liberty of rifling through your pockets when you were out. You had nothing on you but this.” Reaching into a small pocket on his tattered shirt, he pulled out a small black rock and handed it to the other. “It’s just a rock. I’m not sure why you even had it to begin with.
He examined the rock for more than a few moments. It was quite small and fit snugly in his palm. Every inch of it was smooth; unnaturally so. He rubbed it between his fingers, trying to make sense of what exactly it was. He couldn’t quite wrap his mind around it, but the small rock felt important to him for some reason, almost like it was part of central identity. He quickly shoved it into his pocket.
“Stone it is then,” Stone nodded, accepting his new name. He leaned back onto the wooden railings of the cage and buried his face in his hands. Everything was so exhausting and nothing made sense. Felix immediately scooted over and patted Stone on the back, consoling him.
“Look Stone, I don’t know what you are going through right now, or even what it is like, but I can assure you that we can find out who you were and what you are doing. I assume that you are probably from Montcairn, as that is where everyone here was captured from. We will find out who you are.”
Felix nodded. “I’m sorry about going through your items, but I was not sure that you would even wake up. Things are getting messy out here. Hell, I’m not even sure we can survive this time.”
Stone stared into the sea, examining the landmass far in the distance. “It’s fine…but what do you mean Felix? Can you explain to me what is going on here?”
“We are all going to die! That’s what!” Another caged person uttered frantically, thrashing about the cage. “We are all dead! All of us!”
“Now now,” Felix countered, “I mean, yes, probably, but you never know. Things could change.”
“They won’t!” He retorted.
“Please,” Stone pleaded, “I want to know what is going on.”
“Hey! You three!!!” The driver of the wagon hissed, turning his head around. “I have had enough of your nonsense! Be quiet or I will feed you to my hounds! Another word and you two are dead!”
Stone took a deep breath and closed his eyes. His questions would have to wait. He tried to sleep, but his mind simply could not rest.
Chapter 2: Further Along the Road
“Well,” Felix whispered quietly leaning back and closing his eyes. It was far later in the afternoon, and the sun had mostly gone down, drowning the world in a red and yellow glow. The army was travelling at a snail’s pace due its massive size and complex logistical needs, further burdened by the camps that various units were creating all along what little flat land was available on the side of the road. The driver of the wagon had been replaced, so Stone saw his chance to begin to ask questions. “Just last night, the city of Montcairn was taken after a week long siege. With Montcairn’s fall, the road to Regland is finally open. Xayo’s massive army will have no obstacles between it and the Great Bridge.”
Stone shook his head frustratingly. “None of that means anything to me. Who is Xayo? Where is Montcairn? Regland?”
Felix sighed, “Well Stone, I was not expecting to recount the entire history of the human race today,” he joked, “but we have a long way to travel so I guess I can get started to pass the time. What do you want do know?”
“What is Montcairn? You mentioned a siege.”
“Montcairn is…was…my home. I was a captain in the city guard there. It was the last human city left on the mainland, so of course they had to take it. We held out as long as we could, but of course no reinforcements from the Kingdoms were going to come for us. In the end, they breached our walls and destroyed our city.”
“They? I assume you mean this army? What are they?” Stone wondered. “They do not look like us at all.”
“God damn,” Felix said exasperatedly, “your brain must have really taken a hit! You don’t know who Kitakotids are?”
“Assume I know nothing at all.”
“All of these soldiers around you are Kitakotids. We have been feuding on and off with them for…well…forever, or at least as long as our history can recall. They come in a multitude of different colors, all of which seem to indicate their position in society. All of these orange ones are soldiers, greens are priests. Xayo is a nice shade of purple.”
“Who is Xayo?”
“The first or the second?”
“Yes,” Stone replied quickly.
“Aren’t you funny,” Felix smiled, his face betraying his exhaustion. “Xayo the 1st is a figure who lived millennia ago as far as we can tell. He united the Kitakotids, who were our slaves and freed them in a revolt, and slaughtered nintety-nine percent of humanity. He drove us from our ancestral homeland of Analakia. We are descended from the survivors, and we made our home in Regland, across the Emerald Sea. Unfortunately, for the first time since then, the Kitakotids are united. Xayo the 2nd is ready to slaughter us all and finish the revenge.”
“Where is Analakia?”
“South of here, beyond the Davian Mountains,” Felix replied, pointing at the hills to their right. “That is our home, and one day we will return, or at least that is what the prophesy says. I’m not so sure about that anymore, especially with this army coming for us.”
“What is the Great Bridge you mentioned earlier?”
“It’s…well…the most important structure in Regland. It’s ancient, and has been there for at least a thousand years at least. It was built before the 1st Xayo, and was probably built by our ancestors. It connects Regland with Analakia, and is thus, the only physical way to get from the mainland to our homeland. According to prophesy, a new Emperor will lead our return to our home, so the bridge is very important to us. I myself have crossed it several times.”
“I assume this army is heading there,” Stone frowned.
“That would be a correct assumption,” Felix answered back, sighing in disbelief.
Suddenly, and without warning, an arrow flew though the driver of the wagon, penetrating through his head and knocking him back off of the wagon. The hills to their right immediately were filled with the sounds of hundreds of loud voices, extremely high pitched whistles, and loud horns. A volley of fire arrows filled the sky and landed amongst the ranks of Kitakotid soldiers, killing many and causing fires to break out all over. Kitakotid commanders quickly ordered their troops to form lines and defensive positions, but they could not prepare in time. Their lines were soon engaged with a massive number of human assailants.
“Montcairn’s road force is coming for us!” Felix yelled excitedly. He quickly reached into his pocket and pulled out an extremely tiny blade that he had been hiding. As he began to cut into the roped that he was tied to, a flaming arrow landed in the cage, setting part of it alight.
“Felix, you better hurry!!” Stone yelled, quickly scooting away from the flames.
“I’m doing my be…” Felix said, before a dying horse slammed into the wagon, knocking it over on its side. A human soldier climbed on top of the cage and using his sword, easily cut through the wooden bars.
“Felix!” The soldier laughed, surprised, his chainmail and kettle helmet shaking around loudly as be clambered into the cage. “What are you doing here?!”
“Good of you to come!” Felix yelled in delight as the soldier cut off the ropes. “I was captured in Montcairn. We fought to the last, Almiabes!”
“I would stay and chat, but you all need to get out of here!” The soldier implored, cutting the ropes that tied Felix’s legs together and freed him. “We have a camp with horses not far from here, above the road. You can’t miss it.”
The soldier quickly cut the ropes of everyone else in the cage. Stone gasped with immense relief as the ropes were slashed, letting him stand up and walk for the first time that he could remember. He staggered to his feet, but was quickly able to find his balance. Climbing out of the toppled cage, he quickly scanned the scene around him. Fires were burning everywhere, and small skirmishes had broken out all over this section of the line. Kitakotid soldiers had managed to form lines and were beginning to drive the Montcairn soldiers back slowly, but the damage had already been done, with many wagons burnt, supplies spoiled, and prisoners freed.
“What are you waiting for Stone! We need to get out of here!” Felix yelled, beginning to run for the hills in front of them. They barely made it a few meters when a group of three Kitakotid cavalrymen managed to break through the Montcairn lines quickly cutting the group of fleeing humans off, and dismounting their horses to take them prisoner once again. The soldier who had saved them charged the group but was quickly cut down with a swift blow to his chest. His sword clattered to the ground and bounced mere inches away from Stone. Stone bent over and grabbed it.
“Put…it…down!” One of the Kitakotid soldiers hissed, his orange skin and cloth armor shining in the setting sun. “You have lost human!!”
“Come and take it!” Stone yelled, figuring he had nothing left. He thought he was going to die here.
The Kitakotid soldier yelled as he ran at full speed towards Stone. Stone instinctively dodged at the last second at a speed that surprised everyone watching. The soldier crashed into the wagon behind them and fell over due to his momentum. Stone took a second to comprehend what he just done.
I can do that?
There was no time to waste. The Kitakotid soldier, a bit bruised and shaken, once again charged at Stone. Stone charged him in return and jumped, impaling the Kitakotid soldier in the stomach and riding him straight to the ground. With great force, Stone pulled the now bloody sword from the soldier’s chest and faced the other two.
“Oh, you will pay for that!” One of the two yelled. He was holding a long spear that was bladed on both ends.
Stone screamed at the top of his lungs and attacked the two. Both of them tried to coordinate their blows, but Stone effortlessly blocked all of them. As one began to make a large strike, Stone ducked down. The momentum carried the Kitakotid’s blade forward and he impaled the other one in the chest by accident. Reeling from the shock, Stone was easily able to make a quick jabbing strike, and easily struck his sword through the other. With great effort, he kicked the now dead Kitakotid back, freeing his sword from his body. All three of the cavalrymen were now dead.
“Stone!” Felix yelled, running towards him. “You…you can fight?! I have never seen something like that before!:
“I guess I can,” Stone grinned sheepishly. “Let’s get out of her before we are overrun!”
“Can you ride?!”
“Probably not!” Stone yelled in reply. Felix embarked one of the two, and Stone followed right behind him, quickly jumping on-top of it behind Felix. Felix, with a shout of exuberance, bid the horse to gallop. The two fled up the hills and away from the front-line, followed closely by the other prisoners.
Below, the Montcairn relief force began to finally be overrun. Those who could began to make a hasty retreat back up the slopes of the Davian Hills. Those who couldn’t were quickly cut down by Kitakotid reinforcements. The attack all in all lasted less than fifteen minutes, and it ended just as quickly as it began. The Kitakotids in that part of the line were somewhat bloodied, but they would easily live to fight another day.