Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 17

Anthea wanted to convene in the temple in a nearby city to commune with her gods.

So you two marched in. The deadciv had rusting iron gate that drooped in places as if it was melting. The city beyond stank of sawdust and vomit. And all around were giant statues of once-great men, quartered and crumbled to bits. What few denizens still remained scabbed the shadows and alleyways, watching with eyes too big for their skulls and holding their tatters close to their sallow, gray flesh. You heard that foreign word. The one that the boy had used, so long ago.

“Food,” they were muttering. “Food. Food.”

You spent most of the day alone. Wandering the city. Dispensing what corn you had left on your person to the few who dared to approach you. There was a woman with cotton for hair who had no teeth, and made a suckling noise on the corn you gave her. You weren’t sure if you needed to correct her on how to eat it. For all you knew, mayhaps she was doing it right.

There were masses of children, all bone and gristle and tatters hanging off them. It looked like their clothes had been discarded onto them. Like a rich man had dropped a dirty cloth and it happened to settle over their shoulders.

They pressed at you, and you tossed them bits of corn. Did you even know you have corn, Carth? I suspect not. You might find one or two still left in your tunic. Or mayhaps in your satchel, where you keep these journals.

At length, Anthea found you in an alleyway between two scorched homes. Tattered children watched you from a hole on the left wall.

Anthea hadn’t cleaned up since the battle with the sentry. Blood had dried onto her clothes (and other things that looked like dry, red leaves You didn’t want to think about what else they might be).

I’m warning you: don’t try to imagine.

“I missed you in the temple,” she said.

“I know no gods,” you told her. “I can’t remember them.”

Anthea’s linens were pristine as ever. Not a fold out of place. She watched you intently—like something you side reminded her of the your life she knew—that you can never know (do you find that as frustrating as I do, I wonder?) “Do you have any idea how important that temple is?” she asked.

“Should I?” you laughed.

“That’s the temple of Lord Grumlow.”

“Who’s Grumlow?” you asked. You snickered. It was a funny name.

“A servant of the Nailed God,” Anthea said. “A heavenly child, made a lord of heaven after his untimely death at three days old.”

You furrowed your brow at that. “What can one man do in three days that gets them crowned a lord in heaven?”

Anthea grinned like a curved dagger behind her linens. There was a goading edge to her voice, barely sheathed. “Well you see—” she began. “He was a miracles,” Anthea finished first. “They say Grumlow sang praises to the Nailed God whenever he was set to suckling. He was more pious in his short life than most are well into manhood.”

You laughed. The lines of Anthea’s brow hardened. The wrinkles of her linens shifted. “What’s so funny?” she asked.

“I’m much the same whenever I touch a tit. When do I get to be lord of heaven?”

Anthea’s mouth twitched. “That’s not funny,” she said through a clenched jaw.

You kept laughing. Anthea turned red.

“It’s not!” she insisted.

“Crown me a lord of heaven next please!” You wheezed.

And then Anthea was laughing, too.

Regards of Great Forgotten Things MASTERPOST

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 1

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 2

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 3

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 4

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 5

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 6

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 7

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 8

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 9

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 10

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 11

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 12

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 13

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 14

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 15

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 16

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 17

Announcing: Patreon

Between Death and Dreams (2)
Find my Patreon here!

Hello, dear readers! Thank you for taking the time to look over this Patreon account. I’ve got some great stories in store for you and I hope you’ll be able to help me on my journey! My name is Connor Perry. I used the middle initial since it looks pretentious prestigious.

I am a quadruplet who started writing so that I could have something I didn’t have to share with three other children the same age as me. Right now, I am the only writer for The Mythlings. I tend to gravitate toward writing historical fiction and fantasy, but I’ll write basically anything as long as I get to include swords. To quote the site:​​

“The Mythlings are a compendium of fantastical stories. Here, we aim to steep our stories in history, legend and myth—or create our own, if necessary. The Mythlings are focused on telling small myths with a big impact. We update every Friday with a new story or opinion piece.”

Such aforementioned sword-stories include: “What if Robin Hood secretly fought vampires?”, “Lord of the Rings from extra #3’s point of view”, and “How long can an old man tolerate a twelve-year-old girl who can shoot fire from her hands?”.

If you’re interested in such topics, I encourage you to read on. If not…I…I really don’t know what to tell you, man. Not sure how you even found this corner of the internet if Robin Hood hunting vampires isn’t your thing.

Moving on.

Between Death and Dreams (3)

I’ve got a pretty solid success streak for reliably publishing a new short story or article every Friday since July of 2016 and let me tell you—these stories have fantastic reviews. Tremendous reviews. Reviews such as:

“It’s entertaining, brilliant […] and highly engrossing”

–My Mother

“[He] puts out consistently great work every week, constantly pushing the boundaries.”

–My Mother

“These stories are a steaming pile of […] great!”

–My Father

As I’m sure is obvious, my legions of adoring fans are always saying, “Hey, Connor—you write the greatest stuff. Just the best material on the web. The Vile Assembly was a work of pure genius. You’ve got such great opinions! But the past two years of material that you can read for free online right now is hardly enough for me! Why can’t you write more?”

To which my response is, “How are you vocally linking your words to my website?” and, “I have to buy, like, sandwiches and stuff.”

Much like the Vikings I write about, I need to be able to eat heartily! Such is the price of day jobs. Less time to write. To that end, every single cent that one of you puts forward will bring me one step closer to doing this “writing stories for a living” thing full time as well as a truly disturbing amount of caffeine but let’s be real that’s part of the whole writing thing anyways amiright? Every cent pledged is a step forward to spending more time creating more content—better content—for all of you.

Between Death and Dreams (4)

So what do you get out of this? Well, depending on how much your heart wants to give, you will receive a reward in accordance. Time is money, so by contributing, you’ve given me more time to put into my work, and I’ll be giving that back to you.

For starters, everyone gets a PDF of the final product, as well as acknowledgements at the end of every story/article. You’ll also receive an extra thing(s) depending on how much you’d like to contribute.

These things vary from a read-only Google Doc that keeps you up to date with how the story is going to a once a month commission of some small thing you’d like to see in whatever story I’m writing. However you choose to interpret “commission some small thing you’d like to see” is up to you: Do you want to put yourself in the story? Viking shieldmaidens? Weapons-grade plutonium? All viable options! I’ve even got a handy contact form available on my website!

Everyone out there, regardless of how much you contribute, will receive acknowledgements and a free copy of the final product outside of the WordPress model.

Between Death and Dreams (5)

If you’re reading this: thank you. The fact that you’ve made it this far means I was either entertaining or you’ve at least considered doing the right thing making a pledge. Even your entertainment—your consideration—means the world to me. And for what it’s worth, I hope you’ll stick around and watch where things go from here.

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 16

READ ME:

The Great Conflict, and the world, has ended. Magic is forbidden so that the world can heal. I believe it’s stolen your memories, too. Which is why you and I are keeping this journal. You, reading this tomorrow, and me, writing this today.

Remember this if you can:

Your name is Carth. You are a warrior, aged boy. You are in the service to the Warlord’s clan in his mission to restore order to the Realm. Ask daily for your payments. You travel with a woman named Anthea. For an index of items, places, people and locations, refer to the scrolls next to this one.

* * *

I don’t have much time to write this.

You and Anthea laid down in a basin to sleep last night. Your memories left you not long before you were awoken by the sound of marching in the distance. I had the page open to the latest entry in your index, which gave you some measure of relief as it pertains to your current situation.

But I had said nothing about marching. It was a faint rumble. You could feel Anthea’s eyes on you as you fidgeted in your bedroll, looking at the glow of torches that glittered like fireflies in the gaps where this city’s walls had come down.

„Don’t worry, Carth,“ Anthea told you. „It’s only a Warlord. There are many who roam about, these days.“

„What’s a Warlord?“ you asked.

„Kings without Kingdoms,“ she said. I cannot say why this made more sense to you.

“I’m guessing you might know some of that Warlord’s army,“ Anthea said. „Folk hop from Warlord to Warlord. Mayhaps some of the men who serve with that one served the same Warlord as you. They are going south.“

“South? They’re going north!” you protested.

“It’s too dark to tell,” Anthea whispered. “Just stay still and say nothing.”

“But you’re saying something now.”

“Hush, Carth! Write in your journal if you’re so desperate for something to do.“

You watched the trail of fire and steel dwindle down to nothing, and it grew fainter and fainter as they marched away.

But soon while you two waited for sleep to take you, you could swear your heard the wind whispering your name. You sat up, searching about. But saw nothing. Anthea told you to go to sleep.

But you saw something out of the corner of your eye. Over the stone basin in which you slept you thought you saw a shadow.

“Anthea—Anthea! Wake up!” you hissed. “There’s something out there.”

“The army is far away by now, Carth. Nobody saw us.”

The shadow seemed to sway, as if it’d had too much to drink. It pitched from one foot to the other, yet it moved with surprising speed. The moonlight silhouetted it as it made a circuit of your camp.

“I’m telling you, there’s something out there.”

“Stop acting simple,” Anthea muttered. “We’re far and away from anyone who could’ve seen us.”

“Just look, dammit.”

Anthea, with some groaning and many words I will not repeat for you here, sat up and looked about. “I’m taking watch. I’m sure I’d know if someone was…”

“Look out!” you shrieked. The shadow was upon Anthea in a heartbeat, sending her slamming back into the rocks sand. You reached for your sword but the shadow kicked it out of your reach, and then made the same motion to strike your jaw, sending you sprawling back.

Anthea rebounded, a dagger held in her hand, pointed down the length of her forearm, knife-flat flesh with its underside. You heard a brief scuffle. Hissing and whispered shouts soft as wind. But the shadow’s knee drove into Anthea’s stomach and she doubled over. The other knee smacked her head and she crumpled to the ground.

The shadow had the dagger now, and you managed, in your dazed state, to retrieve your sword and came charging for the shadow. But it sidestepped your slash and seized your sword. It threw their legs in front of your charge, and used the momentum of your swing to send you tumbling to the ground.

An explosion of weight drove the breath from your body as it fell on you. You felt cold steel at your throat. “Fear not. I you to see the sunlight” they said.

Moonlight lit up your attacker’s face, smiling like a crescent moon. „You were supposed to come with us through Sanctum. This should be over by now. It’s good to see you again, Carth,” said the figure. „I’m here for the crystal you stole from me.“

You saw his hand reach for his belt, and then a shadow moved in the dark. Something round and heavy swung like a morningstar through the darkness, down and atop your assailant’s head. There was a sickening crunch.

Anthea dropped her rucksack, and a perfectly circular dark-purple crystal rolled out. Your assailant slumped off of you and did not move again.

You rolled onto your knees and spilled your jerky onto the cobblestones. Anthea rushed to the gigantic crystal sphere, rolling it over in her hands. „I had to save you,“ she muttered. „I had to…“

You realized at length that she was crying, and saw that the crystal had been smashed. Purple fumes wafted away from where it had been dented to reveal the quartz inside. Shattered shards of memory played across what remained of the sphere. The memories felt familiar, but you’re foolish if you think I’ll tell you what they were.

You don’t deserve to know that.

You don’t deserve to know that.

Anthea collapsed, huddling over the crystal. „I can’t fix anything without this,“ she choked out. „I was just trying to save you. I was just trying to save you.“ She hugged the broken relic close to her chest and wept softly as the sun rose of the anniversary of the deadciv’s destruction.

Previously

Next

Table of Contents

 

Special thanks to my patron on Patreon, Alicia Cameron

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 15

READ ME:

The Great Conflict, and the world, has ended. Magic is forbidden so that the world can heal. I believe it’s stolen your memories, too. Which is why you and I are keeping this journal. You, reading this tomorrow, and me, writing this today.

Remember this if you can:

Your name is Carth. You are a warrior, aged boy. You are in the service to the Warlord’s clan in his mission to restore order to the Realm. Ask daily for your payments. You travel with a woman named Anthea. For an index of items, places, people and locations, refer to the scrolls next to this one.

* * *

Do you remember what happened last night?

I suppose I’ll discover tomorrow if our mind was fixed. But in case it’s not, I should probably explain:

Anthea told you that today was the only day for at least another ten years when she could fix your mind. She explained this to you as you sat in the scattered remnants of the deadciv, chewing dried up, stringy jerky. Anthea would not tell you where she got it from. I’ll spare reminding you what it tasted like.

She had a spell in her bag that she sprinkled on top of a few loose stones she’d gathered into a circle, and sparks splayed across the silvery-white pool that glowed within. You reached for it.

„Don’t touch it,“ she snapped. „It would just as soon melt your hand off. But we’ll need you good and healthy if we’re to fix ourselves up tomorrow.“

„Why tomorrow?“ you asked her.

She paused, folding her concentration into the task of tearing off a strip of jerky, chewing it. She swallowed audibly, the silverglow bathing her face in light, like a second moon. „It’s the anniversary of this city’s destruction.“ She told you. „I wish you could remember. I’ve told you this at least three times already.“

„But how does this relate to me? To us?“ you asked.

She was silent for a moment. She knuckled something out of her eye. „You did this,“ she told you. „You were chosen for a purpose. The fate of this city was only a part of that purpose…I suppose it doesn’t matter. You failed in the end, anyway.“

„But–„

„Don’t ask me to tell you any more,“ she said. „Please. I have already seen the breadth of your life. I know what you have done, and I will not recount it. Not until you are healed. I have already done this twice now.“ She spat a globule of saliva into the white glow. It bubbled, simmered, and then was still.

You reached for it again, but Anthea caught your wrist and held it there, outstretched over the fire.

Her gaze met yours. „I told you not to touch it,“ she said.

Your skin prickled against the heat of the spell. Your flexed your hand, as if you could move the pain out of it. „Anthea,“ you said.

„I need you to trust me, Carth!“

Your hand felt red-hot, like metal fresh from a forge fire. „Anthea!“ She was looking at you, but did not seem to see you. Not truly.

„I have seen you lain low, Carth. I have seen you from the moment you were born to the moment I stumbled into you. I know what this world has done to you and I know how to fix it. We can make things as they should be. We can fix it–„

Anthea!“

„–But in order to do that I need you to listen to me so that we can get you back to the way you were before this. I can fix you, and I can fix myself, but first you need to listen to me–„

You pulled your hand free, falling back onto the uneven cobblestones behind you. The deadciv was spinning around you. You could hear the spell bubbling, distantly. It was dimmer now, and you felt a little colder. Anthea hadn’t moved. Her hand was stretched to a finger’s point over the silver-white pool.

„I’m sorry,“ she said.

You propped yourself up on one elbow. „Don’t worry about it.“

„I don’t ever want you to get hurt. You know that, yes?“

„Of course,“ you lied said.

„I’m your Mother,“ she said. „Sort of,“ she added. „In a sense.“ She shrugged.

You tilted your head at her. „Are you my friend?“

Anthea pinched her eyes between two fingers. She looked at you for a while, squinting. She was silent, for a while then. „What am I doing?“ she asked, and lowered her gaze to the ground. „To…to have friendship, Carth…you’d need to love someone. You’d have to be invested in making them happy. And these things. These emotions..friendship and love and happiness. It’s all so small. It lasts less than a second. A momentary pause. An momentary ideation in the mind of a chess player. Friendship? No…that’s not the right word for it. That doesn’t quite get across our…“ she steeped her fingers, stared off into the distance for a moment. „…connection,“ she finished.

„Connection,“ you said. „Right.“ And then: „I’m sorry?“

She blinked her surprise. „Let me try this: what brings you joy, Carth?“

You reeled a moment from that. Vertigo overtook you from the breadth of that question. You couldn’t even remember who you were. You couldn’t remember even yesterday.

And then something happened.

You remembered.

At was only two words, but across the empty canvas of memories, those two words sank into your mind, nestled there. Some long-forgotten woman’s voice. Not Anthea’s. Aos’s, mayhaps? She had whispered it to you, softly. Conspiratorially. Help me.

„Help…“ you began. But that wasn’t quite the right word, in the same sense that quiet isn’t quite the same thing as silence. „Changing things. People.“ You paused. „Finding joy,“ you answered. „No matter how many days I live my life for the first time ever, I need to find joy. I need to find joy in life. It’s always a choice.“

You opened your journal and began leafing through the pages. „No matter how many deadcivs you camp out in…how many friends perish, in the end…how many times you visit a town full of cannibals…you need to find joy. The warm featherbed before the cannibal strolls through. Eating ashen corn with your friends, sharing it with a one legged boy.“ You laughed. „Taunting yourself over your own stupid, stupid memory. Joy’s all I have. It’s all I have.“

She didn’t speak for some time. She simply stared at you, eyes wet and glistening glistening, but not quite crying. „You’re beautiful,“ she managed to choke out. „I’ve missed you,“ she said. „I spent so long looking for you and I just…I feel as though you’re remembering.“ The contours of her headscarf hardened and she straightened her back. „What am I saying? The anniversary’s tomorrow. We ought to get some sleep. You must, leastways.“

„What about you?“ you asked her.

„Do you remember what I said about us being followed?“ she asked you. And when you told her that you didn’t, she explained it all to you. „I need to keep watch,“ she explained. „The captain of the regiment sent out to hunt us has survived my avalanche. He searches for you, dogged as a hound.“

„How do you know?“

„Because I’ve met him before,“ she said. „Same as you.“

Previously

Next

Table of Contents

 

Special thanks to my patron on Patreon, Alicia Cameron

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 14

READ ME:

The Great Conflict, and the world, has ended. Magic is forbidden so that the world can heal. I believe it’s stolen your memories, too. Which is why you and I are keeping this journal. You, reading this tomorrow, and me, writing this today.

Remember this if you can:

Your name is Carth. You are a warrior, aged boy. You are in the service to the Warlord’s clan in his mission to restore order to the Realm. Ask daily for your payments. You travel with a woman named Anthea. For an index of items, places, people and locations, refer to the scrolls next to this one.

* * *

Your Mother led to some lost civilization whose broken remnants litter the ground in the wake of the Great Conflict. You tried to keep your gaze on her robes during the march over there. They were always flowing. Shimmering, almost. Like she was underwater.

You did not want to look at what lay between the rocks on your way down. You thought you saw the glint of metal against the morning sun, and more often than not you saw glimmering out of the corner of your eye, but it was only dewdrops. Nothing more.

Try not to think about it.

The gate to the ruins was cracked in such a way that you wondered if your Mother had dug up the spell she used last night from this place. Had it seeped into the dirt here, long ago? Was this why she brought you here?

Your Mother wrapped her hands, white knuckled, around the gates to the city. Leaves of red rust peeled away at her touch.

„Mother,“ you began.

She massaged her temples. „Carth,“ she spoke slowly as if she did not expect you would understand, „I told you, call me Anthea.“

„Anthea.“

„Yes,“ she sighed. „Write it down.“

„Where are we going?“ you asked.

„We have no time. We have lingered too long already. I’ve explained too many times. I need you to trust me,“ she told you (I must say I sympathize. After all, I need you to trust me. I can understand what she’s going through. She exhaled. „We’re going inside,“ she explained. „Just follow.“

She pulled a glittering band of dribbling green light out of her satchel and smeared it along the rust. Motes of the light filtered up into the sky, the band shined brighter as it ate through the layers of rust, scattering to the wind like so many leaves.

You stopped to marvel at her magic as she stepped through what remained of the gate. „Where did you get these spells?“

„I’ve seen my share of Conflict-grounds in my time,“ she explained.

You had consulted with your index earlier that day, and told her, „Magic is forbidden. There are only so many spells you can pry from a Conflict-site. How do you know where to find the spells that do what? I thought that took months.“

She shifted the weight of her pack, spells humming softly in her sack. „I was there,“ she explained. „I saw the battles. I know what spells were used, and where.“

„How?“

„What did I tell you?“ She snapped. And then her countenance softened, and she offered you her hand. „Come,“ she told you. „We’re going to make you well.“

Anthea led you through the ruins, all basalt. Do not mistake me. This is not an exaggeration. The whole city looks to be carved from a single slab of rock, grafted with gates and the chewed-up remains of gemstones and amethysts in the richer parts of town. Every stone had a different number. The richer parts of town had one or two numbers. But the poorer ruins were all three numbers or above.

The poorer districts were plainer, with fewer leaves of dried paint to mark what remained of murals depicting great, forgotten things. You found no sign of life, however. No scattered beds or markets of houses. No bones or clothes or food. You wondered how long this place had been standing that nobody had squirreled themselves away in its husk. This place was run down to be sure, but it could be fortified quicker than most deadcivs. After all, it takes more work to make a city from the ground up than it does to plaster over some ruins. But if it hadn’t yet been overtaken, what happened to its citizens?

You wanted to ask Anthea, but decided against it. She spent the better part of a day dragging you around the city, sharply turning back the way she had come, sometimes kneeling to inspect an expected disturbance in the sand. Sifting it through her fingers. More than once her hands whispered against something round and smooth and heavy tugging at the constraints of her satchel. It looked heavy.

She took odd angles, and sometimes walked you around the same block up to three times. Mayhaps four. One time you lost count.

As the air grew colder, and the sky was colored in pinks and purples, you heard her whisper, „Carth?“ And you saw the linen over her mouth ripple as her mouth tightened. She was rigid all over.

You approached hesitantly. „Anthea?“ you asked.

„We’re being followed.“

Your hand went to your sword, but Anthea’s linens snapped against your wrist and stayed it.

„Don’t,“ she said. There was an urgency to her voice, barely sheathed.

„Who follows us?“ you whispered.

„The red haired guard captain. He’s been following us for three days.“

You wondered how long it had been since the rockslide.

„I don’t have time to explain,“ she told you, „But I will stand guard to make time for you to write.“

You asked her why.

„I need to you to remember to find me here, in the marketplace, by the stone marked twenty-two. In case the guard-captain separates us. We need to reconvene here.“

„Why here?“

„The deadciv has buried something under the ground here. I’ve spent the better part of today making sure we have the right place.“

„How do you know this?“ you asked her.

„I have seen it, my son. The same way I saw all those battles. And you.“ Her hand went to the thing in her satchel, knuckles white as bleached bone.

„I need you to remember.  Carth, my son–“ she said, „I’m going to fix your mind. And mine.“

Previously

Next

Table of Contents

 

Special thanks to my patron on Patreon, Alicia Cameron

Regards of Great Forgotten Things – Day 13

READ ME:

The Great Conflict, and the world, has ended. Magic is forbidden so that the world can heal. I believe it’s stolen your memories, too. Which is why you and I are keeping this journal. You, reading this tomorrow, and me, writing this today.

Remember this if you can:

Your name is Carth. You are a warrior, aged boy. You are in the service to the Warlord’s clan in his mission to restore order to the Realm. Ask daily for your payments. You travel with a woman named Anthea. For an index of items, places, people and locations, refer to the scrolls next to this one.

* * *

I’m ashamed of you, Carth. You’re supposed to read this every day. Do you know how long it’s been since Sanctum? Can you even imagine the breadth of what you’ve done these past few days?

I suppose you’ll find out soon enough.

Be careful as you wake. First, because the roots and rocks you lie upon are as comfortable as a bed of knuckles, and second, because the roots and rock you lie upon are a valley.

There was trouble, you see. I don’t have time to explain it. I write this by the moonlight as I watch soldiers from the north splash through the shallows in the gorge below, torchlight casting flickering orange islands about them. They wear bronze breastplates and hold iron spears. But you must be careful if you wish to confront them. They’ve got a short sword and their shields are twice as wide as a man’s chest.

There will be a woman with you when you wake. She is smothered in linen laced with cloth-of-gold, and she has amber-colored eyes. Do not be afraid of her. She is a friend.

She helped you last night, as you listened intently to the northern soldiers arguing below. The gorge carried their voices as they splashed through. „Less noise, winesops!“ their leader shouted. „We’re not looking for a deaf man.“

„Why are we looking for him, ser?“ you heard another ask. „It’s late, and the soldiers miss their featherbeds.“

„Our city has their allies,“ their leader told his soldiers. „And if we do not wish to be ransacked, we will come to their aid when someone steals a holy relic.“

Even I do not profess to know what holy relic you stole, Carth. If any. I’ve checked your satchel, but the only thing in there is your index.

You heard someone say something like, „Doubtless miles from the border by now,“ when the woman tsked at you, at when she saw she had your attention, held your eyes in her amber. She put a finger to her lips, summoning silence. You hoped there were lips under all that linen. You couldn’t tell, for a scrap of it covered all but those amber eyes. You heard her muttering to herself as she paced back and forth.

„I saw the fullness of you and couldn’t conceive it,“ she said, sandaled feet whispering through the bed of grass atop the rocks. „But I will conceive it. I will remember it. I promised.“

„What did you promise?“ you asked. „Who did you promise to?“ Her hands went to something at her hip–for a moment you thought she was reaching for a sword. You saw a light at her hip, and realized she had her hands cupped around a bright spell dribbling between her fingers. She had her hands cupped around it, adjusting her grip to keep it from falling.

„Where did you get that?“ you asked her. You’ve been asking her a lot of questions. She hasn’t answered any of them. I doubt she’ll answer any for you after you read this. „Who are you?“ you tried to ask her. „How do I know you?“

„I have told you already,“ she said, her voice muffled. „I will not say again.“

„What is…?“ The light of the spell reflected in your pupils.

She followed your gaze to the spell she held. „It’s not the relic, if that’s what you’re asking. Just a spell I wrought from the earth in one of the Great Conflict’s battlefields.“

„What does it do?“

„This,“ she said, and the spell sifted between her fingers, running rivers into the rocks below, setting every crack and crevice alike.

„I don’t understand,“ you said.

She did not answer. You felt a gloved hand seized your collar as she hauled you back. You made a choking sound that the rocks themselves seemed to echo as they crackled, sparks spitting into the darkness as they ground down the length of each other, crumbling in on itself. You heard a soldier below cry out as a boulder caught him square on the chest and he crumpled beneath its weight. One by one, the orange islands winked out beneath the rock and sand and dust.

As you heard the rocks clatter to a halt their cacophony was replaced by scattered shrieks and shouts from the soldiers below as the cleft of rock crumbled, roiling in on itself and grumbling down the into the gorge, cutting a cleft into its side.

The dust settled in a gray film over your face. It choked down your lungs and your retched up your last meal (it tasted like crushed scorpions, in case you were curious)

What was that?“ you hissed, still struggling to be heard over the wails and calls for quarter, mother, and mercy below. „Why did you do that?

She regarded you seriously. „Do you have any idea the gravity of the situation you’re under? The sheer magnitude of the crimes you have committed these past few days?“ You knit your eyebrows together into a V, and her gaze seemed to soften. „You weren’t kidding yesterday,“ she marveled. „You really don’t remember, do you?“

„Should I?“ you asked.

„How could I have overlooked this?“ You were not sure if she spoke to you. „I’ve seen how this will end. I told you how this would end. I was hasty. Foolish. I thought you were exaggerating when you said you would forget.“ she opened her mouth to say more, and then her teeth came down hard on her bottom lip. „I will explain,“ she told you, „in the morning. You and I have already been through a great deal together. You must rest. And heal.“

„Heal?“

„That’s what I said, yes.“

„I can write,“ you whispered. The screams sounded distant, now. In the dark you could forget the suffering below you. You hoped they deserved this (They did, Carth. You must believe me).  „Just tell me who you are, at least.“

„Carth,“ she told you. „I’m your Mother.”

Previously

Next

Table of Contents

 

Special thanks to my patron on Patreon, Alicia Cameron