I mentioned a while ago that I had some fantasy writing that I was thinking about posting. While it doesn’t have any marmots (yet), I figured I’d throw it up on here.
I have five parts written, each of which being mostly done. They’re intentionally out of order, since I was envisioning them revealing the storyline by jumping back and forth in time (a la Pulp Fiction). This is part one of five (in my order, not by story-chronology).
“This is an exceptionally bad idea, Fenja.”
I couldn’t help but voice my opinion as we walked up the shattered stone steps toward the ruined castle. Rain was falling from the grey sky; it wasn’t especially heavy, just enough to be a nuisance. I wiped my bangs out of my face and looked up the steps toward Fenja, who was charging like a madwoman up the slope. She’s crazy, I thought, glancing around nervously. Everyone knows this place is cursed.
Down to my left, the hill-or rather, I should say, cliff-dropped sharply away for hundreds of feet. Fortunately, you wouldn’t fall all the way down; your fall would be broken by the dense stands of pines that clung to the rocky face, so that instead of being dashed on the rocks in the ravine far below, you’re only have your spine broken as you fell onto one of the big trees.
However, that really seemed like a better way to go at the time, given our choice of destination. The Schwarzadlerberg-Black Eagle Mountain-could only be described as a really bad place. It had been destroyed in some long-ago war, and was now rumored to be home to all manner of vile things, including spirits of the dead, which had been caught in limbo between this world and the next.
I explained those facts to Fenja (rather, I yelled them at her, since she had gained quite a bit of ground on me), and she stopped. She turned around, a scowl on her pale face, her dark eyes like daggers.
“What do I have to be afraid of, Siegfried?” She placed a hand on the hilt of her sword, as if to illustrate her point. “Nothing. And neither should you.”
I wiped my hair out of my eyes again, smirking. She was right, of course. There was nothing to be afraid of. Both Fenja and I were more than capable of defending ourselves. I patted the sword strapped to my back for reassurance. Nothing to be afraid of. Right.
After what seemed an eternity, we reached the top of the steps and entered the courtyard, striding over the mossy ruins of what used to be the castle’s rear gate. The wind howled across the exposed mountaintop, driving the light rain into the side of my face like dull needles. Fenja stopped, scanning the ruins, which left the pit-pat-pat of the rain the only sound. I stopped a few feet behind her, looking around uneasily. The castle was almost totally destroyed; all that was left was a cluttered warren of beige stones and partial walls. But the grounds were huge-the ruins covered most of the mountaintop. Plenty of space for ambushers to hide.
After a moment with her head cocked, as if listening, she nodded sagely to herself. She muttered something I couldn’t hear, then: “Come on.” I followed her through the husk of a doorway and nearly fell to my death as I realized we were crossing a small chasm on two rotten planks where the cliff had eroded away. Springing to the other side, I thought the electric crawling sensation up the back of my head was a result of my death-defying leap, but Fenja’s slitted eyes told me otherwise.
“I’ll bet even a Zygote like you can feel this,” she purred, flexing her fingers one after another. “The spirits of the dead rule this castle! They swarm like ants to whiff our mortal scents, even though they are forbidden to touch us!”
I brushed the insult aside and kept scanning the ruins for physical enemies. “Enough with the voodoo crap, woman…let’s just get your thing done and get out of-”
As my mouth formed the word ‘here,’ the low wall ahead of Fenja exploded and a dark shape arrowed out. Fenja darted out of the way, letting the huge form slam into me while my jaw was still flapping from my previous attempt to speak. My back met stone but I was still upright, and I found myself staring at a seven-foot tall jet-black gorilla; there were skid marks torn in the wet ground from its feet digging in to stop its mad charge.
There was a whisper of a sword stroke and the gorilla’s arm separated from its body, sliced from behind by Fenja’s black sword. Enraged, the beast roared forward, remaining arm outstretched in a grasping/punching gesture. My own sword sang out of the sheath (luckily it wasn’t jammed by the impact) and hewed the thing’s hand off, but it was still barreling forward. I kicked off the wall and lunged just to the right of its charge, raking my sword across its gut as I did so. The mostly-limbless beast crashed through the doorway we had just crossed, tumbling with a howl into the rocky chasm.
Whinier than intended, I rebuked Fenja: “I thought you said nothing lived up here, Fenja!”
She didn’t respond, because as my jaw flapped uselessly yet again, four more giant apes clambered over low walls nearby. One of them was crouched on all fours, and on its back was a man, standing up in the saddle, as it were. His white cape whipped in the rain-streaked wind, contrasting with his black hair. What the hell?, I thought. Am I literally seeing a guy riding a giant ape? I glanced at Fenja, and for the first time saw the signs of fear: her eyes were wide, pale face even paler, swallowing hard behind gritted teeth.
A knot tingled in my agitated stomach. Was this the man…
Her expression stabilized and she whispered a name: “Chronocle…”
Grandiosely, still standing on the back of the ape in some kind of saddle, the man spread his arms, revealing a breastplate that glittered even under the dull sky. “Fenja…how I’ve missed you!”