Occassionally, I dabble in writing
Sometimes it’s fanfic. Sometimes it’s original. Most of the time, I do not post them online, except for a few that I personally find interesting and want to share.
This is a fragment of what seems to be growing into a very long novel, but I haven’t had the time to examine the idea properly yet. My art is always my first priority, and even this little bit took several days of boring lunch breaks to finish.
It’s fantasy. It has elves, or elf-like creatures, although I didn’t go into an in-depth examination of what this particular incarnation of an elven race is like. There is magic, and a bit of gore. Oh, and a hint of gay attraction, but I’m saving the juicy bits for when I start hammering this story out in earnest.
Scouts had described the beach as “a swathe of death”.
It was, in his opinion, an accurate description.
Blood stained the sands red, darkened the waters lapping at it. Broken bodies were scattered over the jagged rocks, their limbs and necks — when they were somewhat intact and not already ripped to shreds of flesh and bone— twisted at unnatural angles, and some of the bodies were even impaled with wood. Shattered planks and poles littered the ground and bobbed on the waves. One large mast managed to survive; by chance, it had managed to lodge itself deep into the sand, and the half-detached sail fluttered from it, looking very much like a forgotten war standard.
Just beyond the beach, suspended in the air above the sea, was the gaping, maw-like rip in the Veil, and in it, Ciaran could see another place, where the skies were black with stormclouds, broken by flashes of white lighting, and the sea was inky black, boiling and churning with angry waves.
Fionn made a low, awed whistle. “Poor bastards.” he said, not without sympathy. “Do you think the storm out there from… wherever they came from… had created the rip?”
“Possibly.” Ciaran was already casting his senses along the threads of their reality, checking for more rips, places where the Veil had worn thin. “Not much we can do about them now, except to bury their vessels and sing their spirits, if they have any, back to the land.”
“Unfortunate, but true. And lucky me, that’s my duty.” Sighing, Fionn waved a hand at the silent, waiting row of wooden figures nearby. “I’ll take the sylvan and get the beach cleaned up as best as I can. You do whatever that you need to do to mend the Veil.” He clapped a hand on Ciaran’s shoulder, squeezed lightly. “Watch your step out there, brother. The rocks are still slick.”
With more than just seawater. Ciaran nodded. “I’ll be careful,” he murmured.
Satisfied with the reply, Fionn turned towards the sylvan, already calling out orders to dig a large, shallow grave. Ciaran only vaguely noticed that; he was already sinking deep into his trance, and with eyes that saw everything and nothing, he strode across the beach.
Towards the rip.
It was generally easier to be as close as possible to where the wild magic surged when trying to dispel it; with that in mind, he had chosen a small outcropping of rock that extended out towards the sea as the best place to start the dispelling. The stone was indeed slick, but the surface was pitted and rough from the elements, providing plenty of places for his feet to stand on and hands to grasp at; it was easy enough carefully climb onto the outcrop and navigate his way to the very edge of the formation.
This close, he could feel the raw, unchecked power lashing around the rip, and with his trance-enhanced vision, he could see the wild magic as brilliant flashes of multi-coloured lights that pulsed at the edges of the rip. Left unattended, the rip would weaken the Veil even further, and this unstable section of the Veil would eventually collapse upon itself in a terrible implosion of power that would unleash a wave of raw destruction in the land around the rip, destroying all forms of life in the area of impact and severing all threads of magic. It was told that the Desert of Blackened Sands was where a particularly large rip had collapsed, thousands of years ago; even now, the land remained barren, infertile, and no one could work magic there.
This particular occurrence of wild magic was new, at least, and the Veil had not weakened much; breathing a sigh of relief, he carefully let some of his mental barriers down, and with a delicate thought, pulled the magic towards him.
Directed towards an available outlet, the wild magic surged into him, eager to fill an open vessel. He felt it course through his body like liquid flame, even if his body was protected from any real damage; he hissed with the discomfiting heat of magic flowing through him, before his peculiar gift smothered it, snuffing the magic out even as it tried to fill his body. It wasn’t long before the surge turned into a trickle, and then there was no wild magic left to absorb.
With the wild magic removed, the natural flow of power through the Veil restored itself; he watched as, with each heartbeat that passed, the rip slowly closed, mending like a flesh wound would with healing magic, until all he could see was the clear sky and calm sea of his realm, while the last of the wild magic spluttered out and died within him. Then, and only then, did he dare to close his mental barriers and rise out of his trance.
He was abruptly aware of how his skin tingled, where it had broken out in goosebumps in reaction to the sensation of that much power coursing through him. He shivered, rubbing at his own arms through the thick sleeves of his clothing. Uncomfortable, but his body would settle down eventually.
Without the urgency of dispelling any wild magic nagging at him, he straightened and looked around, curious once again. He’d hoped to study the carnage properly before it was buried and washed away; with that in mind, he made his way down the rock until his feet was once again on sand, and then he started to inspect the bodies and wreckage closest to him.
He had suspected that the ship had been caught in the storm for a while, until the rip opened and the ship was literally flung through the rip by the force of the waves, straight into the realm of the Fae, where it then shattered upon the beach. After a moment of surveying the beach, he decided that his suspicion was mostly correct. Poor bastards indeed; there was little time for the ship’s occupants to save themselves, if they could even save themselves at all.
However… he frowned as he counted the number of tools strewn across the beach. He knew that most of them were made of iron — another reason to clean up this beach as quickly as possible, before any idiots stumbled straight into the beach and ended up harming themselves — but the scouts had neglected to mention that the debris were mostly weapons. These weren’t ceremonial ornaments; the array of blades, spikes and cudgels he saw were utilitarian in design, and obviously mean in purpose. Most of the bodies were arrayed in armour of some sort, too, although most of their armour seemed to consist of practical lightweight leather.
A warship of some sort, then. But what was a warship doing alone out in a storm? He didn’t recall seeing any other ships beyond the Veil; had this particular ship been separated from its fleet, somehow? Or had it simply survived for longer than the other ships had?
So many questions. Pity that there were no survivors left to answer them.
Shrugging, he headed back to where Fionn was overseeing a group of sylvan arranging the bodies in neat rows on the ground. Fionn’s talent at manipulating automatons was very strong, but one man can only concentrate on a handful of tasks at a time; it would be easier if Ciaran directed a group of his own to assist in other things—
He blinked. Stilled.
Was that a… voice?
No, he realised, feeling a light, weak tugging at his mind. Not a voice. More like a call, a plea, a pull of something trying to reach him through the threads of reality. Wary, he brushed his senses against the presence. Felt it latch onto him like a frightened child.
“What are you?” he asked aloud.
The tug grew stronger. More insistent.
Ciaran hesitated. The presence, whatever it was, felt… odd. Alien. Not of this realm. But strangely comforting, as if it were an old friend that he had not seen in a long time and had only just met again. Fionn would likely yell at him for following odd pulls of magic, but he felt no malice, only a need that seemed to be growing in desperation.
hereherehere thisway helphelphelp
Decided that, if there were any dangerous magical threats in the area, Fionn would had felt something, even if Ciaran had failed to pick up any danger.
Sighing, he glanced back at Fionn, saw that his brother was still busy, and followed the light tugging that continued to pull at him.
“Pushy,” he muttered, carefully picking his steps past mangled flesh and twisted metal and broken wood, not sure where he was going, but the tug was leading him down the coast, towards a particularly large pile of broken planking.
The tugging grew stronger as he approached the planks. Planks that looked oddly whole, and sticking out beneath them were a pair of legs.
He stared at the exposed limbs. The exposed, intact limbs. Surely not…
hereherehere under here
“Spirits,” he breathed. “All right, all right, just…” He stepped up to the planking, began carefully shoving and pulling them out of the way.
There was, indeed, a body beneath the pile, lying facedown on its stomach in a small pool of pink-tinged water, its head and upper body resting on a large piece of planking. He knelt down beside the corpse, the better to examine it. There was very little sign of damage to the body; nothing appeared to had been torn apart, although there was some bruising and abrasions, and one of its feet was twisted at an odd angle. A look was more than enough to tell Ciaran that this was no Fae. It appeared male, judging from its broad shoulders and slim hips, and it had the usual number of limbs, fingers, ears and legs that the Fae had, and it had a head of normal-looking, dark-brown hair, cropped short and clinging to a rounded skull. Its build, however, was not Fae-like; the shoulders were too broad for the norm, and the limbs, while long, were thick with muscle that the sodden, robe-like top and heavy trousers the corpse was wearing did little to hide. It cut a powerful, intimidating figure, even in death.
More tellingly than the build, however, the ear that he could see was rounded and fleshy, very unlike the delicate, blade-like ears of the Fae.
One of the corpse’s hands clung to the edge of the planking.
The other hand was locked in a white-knuckled fist around a dagger.
As Ciaran stared at the dagger, he felt the tug again.
He frowned, and leaned over the body to grasp at the fist, and pried the cold, frozen fingers off the dagger’s hilt.
It was surprisingly difficult; the man (if it was a man) was strong, and death and cold only made its grip vise-like. It took more effort than Ciaran would readily admit to before he managed to loosen the fingers enough that he could slide the weapon out of the copse’s hand.
He hefted the dagger. The blade was iron, like all the other weapons he’d found. There was no crosspiece; the base of the blade was oddly wide, however, and he guessed that the width functioned as a built-in handguard.
The blade itself was twisted in an odd serpentine shape, the edges curving in waves to a sharp point. The surface was lavishly decorated with an embossed pattern that reminded him of the tiny ripples that raindrops would make in a shallow puddle. He ran a testing thumb along the edge, saw the blade easily slice a line over the surface of his glove’s hardened leather.
Ornately decorated the blade might be, but the weapon itself was no decoration.
He curved his hand around the short wooden handle, mimicking the way that the corpse had been holding it. Found that the thick, curved shape fit easily into his palm, so that when he held it, the blade was parallel to his forearm; perfect for thrusting strikes. A fine weapon; not something the Fae would use, but he could easily imagine how someone quick and agile in combat would put this weapon to good use.
Abruptly, he felt the tug again. It was sharper, stronger, and he winced at the force of it.
He gaped at the dagger in his hand. He can’t be imagining the feminine voice that rang in his head, clear and true with just a hint of an echo.
He’d heard… there were stories of ancient artefacts, powerful things imbued with magic that made them alive, gave them the power to influence and to even speak.
He’s alive, the voice — the dagger — snapped at him. He’s alive, but he needs your help.
“What?” He stared at the too-still body in front of him, looked at the dagger, and then set the dagger down — carefully — before he grasped at the opposite shoulder and side of the body, and pulled.
The body was heavy, and Ciaran swore beneath his breath as he yanked the body around so it flopped onto its back instead.
And then he stopped. Stared again.
He’d expected… well, he’d expected the man — and he could definitely tell that this was a man, given that the fabric of the man’s trousers clung to the soft bulge of his genitals between his legs — to look, if not unpleasant, then somewhat alien and strange.
Which the man was, but not in a way that disgusted him. His face was like any Fae, with the usual placement of facial features, but the structure was strong and tough, with none of the delicate, slanted shapes typical of the Fae. His face was all clean angular lines and sculpted planes, with chiseled lips and squared-off jaw and a bladelike nose.
Ciaran was reminded of granite cliffs; all jagged strength and raw, unpolished, dangerous beauty.
Stop staring and help him!
He mentally winced at the sharp tones of the voice, shook his head. Right. Help. He should be helping.
He dragged in a deep breath, and placed his fingers lightly on the man’s chest. He couldn’t feel any discernible rise and full of the ribcage, and he saw no pulse in the man’s bared throat, but the cold could freeze a body into near inactivity, and he didn’t dare press his skin against the man’s; he wouldn’t know how his gift could react to a foreign body, and he didn’t want to accidentally kill a man that he was, apparently, supposed to save.
No help for it. Shuffling nearer, he bent down, leaning close to the man, angling his face as he did so, until his cheek was just a whisker away from the man’s slightly parted lips.
And then felt it; the lightest brush of air. A breath. An exhalation.
Ciaran eased back, straightening on his knees, staring at the man. There was a deep gash on the man’s forehead, and — now that he knew to look for it — it was slowly oozing. Blood, not just blood-tinged seawater.
“You lucky bastard,” he said to the man, and then he closed his eyes, feeling for the blood bond, and cast his thoughts towards his twin.
*Fionn, Fionn, Look for me. I’ve found a survivor.*