Editor's Introduction: Every other Sunday, we're publishing "Neverdie", a serialized fantasy novel. This is an original work of fantasy fiction and is not set in an MMORPG world. Today, we bring you chapter five, after a brief hiatus. If you're just getting started, you can go back and catch up:
"Neverdie" (Chapter 5), an original fantasy story by Jon Wood
The image of the pair, safely away from the crowd, shimmered and then flickered away from the surface of the pool of water on which it was being viewed. Joharras, Fallen of the Angels stood away, his arms crossed and an unusually deep frown creasing his face. He had had his doubts about the creature's plan to destroy the female elf, and now, while feeling justified, he was angry. Each failed attempt at this stage meant that Terria's champions might learn of their destinies, robbing his companions of their crucial advantage.
Joharras felt a pressure change in the small chamber, and the smell of ozone crept into his nostrils, straightening in preparation for meeting his coming guest, the Fallen Angel collapsed his wings and stood to the side. No telling where the creature might appear. A moment later, on the opposite side of the scrying waters, it appeared, floating there in some kind of grotesque mockery of Terria's animal kingdom. The creature, known as a Gee'ar, was one of thousands of its race. A feline head, brown and fur-covered, supported by a single, thick, purple tentacle, spotted like that of a squid, with thick, powerful suction cups. Each cup was ringed with jagged spikes, making them extremely painful, if not deadly, weapons. Cup-spikes and cat-fangs were not the Gee'ar's only weapons, however. Far more powerful, and far more deadly were their powers of the mind. The Gee'ar had a natural ability to manipulate objects, or even people, with the power of their minds. Every now and again, it was told, one could be found that could not only manipulate the minds of Terria's races, but could enter their bodies, speak with their mouths and act in their stead. Such a creature had taken Joharras centuries to locate.
"Stopped the knight you should have," the creature said as it took form. Its voice was high-pitched like the whine of a cat in heat. Its unconventional sentence structure grated on Joharras's nerves, and was better suited to human puppeteers and writers who try too hard to make their creations sound as though they possess the wisdom of the ages.
"I could not have foreseen that wretch's coming any more than you could." Was the Dark Prince's retort. It was truth enough. He had been diligent about keeping his magical eyes on those would be Terria's champions, but he had been somehow stopped, blocked out of Mylund Castle by an unknown force. The power that would be needed to keep out the prying eyes of a creature such as Joharras was almost impossible to fathom. He knew that neither the burly king, nor his powerful wizard companion could have mounted the power to stop him, even if they could have known of his presence. Which they could not. The source of the block remained... a mystery. "You were there, you could have stopped him yourself."
"The body of the bartender, too fat and slow it was." The Gee'ar replied, floating closer to Joharras. So close, in fact, that the Fallen One could smell the thing's wretched breath. As it stood there, silently floating in the air, it suddenly opened its mouth impossibly wide in a yawn, as though it were already bored of this petty diversion. "To be done for this, there was nothing."
Joharras grew tired of the game of back and forth with the creature. Once a Gee'ar had come to a conclusion, it was impossible to change that. This one had decided that it could have done nothing more in the given situation. Whether or not that was true, it was the most that it would ever discuss. "Very well, have you no other ideas?"
"Many ideas we have, He Who Was Cast Out." It replied, licking its cat-lips. "Much power have we. Power that can be used for purposes our own over man and beast." Yes, Joharras decided the creature's speech patterns were certainly tiresome. He preferred directness. None of the other champions presented him the kind of challenge that this particular creature posed. He could rationalize and understand the motivations of those beings. Jealousy, fear, anger, hatred. These are motivations that the Dark One could understand. Whatever the reasons that this creature had joined his force remained a mystery. Joharras waited a moment for the creature to continue, but when nothing was forthcoming, he became frustrated.
"What ideas!" He fairly screamed, reaching the limits of his admittedly scant patience. "You float there, doing nothing, saying nothing. What plan do you have to destroy the elf-woman? Or do you plan to bore her to death."
"Your tone, threatening becomes," It replied, the tone of its voice unchanged. "away from here we could go. Prince of ours, you are not."
"My... apologies," Joharras replied, clenching his teeth against the rising surge of his anger.
"A creature of the world, bring us here. Something small, unnoticed, but with potential deadly. Yes, help us, that will. The Elf Female, destroyed will be."
"Very well," Joharras replied smoothly, all traces of frustration and anger now gone and replaced by the smooth, clear face of a diplomat. Closing his eyes and clenching his fist, he sought the first creature that he could remember from the surface that had piqued his interest. A moment later, he opened his hand. Nestled in his palm was a small, green creature. The insect was entirely green, and thin. It seemed to support itself on its hind haunches while its front appendages were held out in front of it, like a beast ready for the fight. Marvelled at by surface-dwellers for its odd appearance, it would have never been considered, even by the eldest and wisest of the elven race, to be a threat to anything but crops. Yes, this creature would do nicely. The Gee'ar seemed to approve as well as it hovered closer to the angel and his prize. Pleased, he could tell, because of the noise that it was emitting. A low rumble, much like the purr of a cat, but not so pleasing. There was sharpness to the noise that made it grating rather than soothing.
"On the ground, place the creature." The Gee'ar demanded after thoroughly inspecting the terrified creature. When Joharras complied and stepped away, something strange began to happen. With no obvious effort, the Gee'ar was causing the creature to grow. Slowly at first, but certainly noticeable. The creature's exoskeleton began to take on a metallic green shine, almost like that of a dragon, without the scales, but rather smooth down the surface. The arms that they creature held out in front of itself no longer resembled a parody of a humanoid fighting stance, but rather a grotesque perfection of one, as the edges of the creature's limbs became razor-sharp and began to shine like metal.
Soon, the new creature stood before them, calm, placid, but an utterly deadly and vile creation. As Joharras inspected the beast, the only sound in the small chamber was the near-purring of the cat-creature.
"You should be safe here," Sir Ashley Guildarm said to his charge as the pair finally came to a stop after leaving the hatred and frustration of the little town well behind them. By now, the sun had crested the horizon in what was already promising to be a beautiful day, full of warmth and sunshine. "I don't think we'll hear from those villagers again. They can be pretty tough in numbers, on their territory, but I wouldn't expect them to follow us."
"No," Rowan Tallfelter agreed with a sign, looking at her literal knight in shining armor. "I dare say that you've managed to save the day." Rowan was never one of have what humans called a "schoolgirl crush". Her responsibilities and studies had left her with little time to think about romance, or about men, and she, for her part, could not be bothered. Still, looking at this man, who rode of out children's tales to help her in her darkest hour, her heart could not help but to skip a beat or two.
"I just did what I was supposed to do," Ash replied, feeling suddenly self-conscious in front of the beautiful woman. He was used to being thanked for his efforts while performing his duties. It happened all the time, and usually it filled him with a sense of pride. Why this time would be any different, he could not puzzle out. Hadn't he done exactly as he had been ordered to by his new king? Wasn't this woman safe from the hatred and bigotry that had almost ended her life? Still, he was left with an unsettled feeling. Something about that place, and those people, just seemed so surreal to him. 'I'm just spoiled', he thought to himself. 'I've just had one too many relaxed assignment in properly civilized lands.'. Indeed, it had been some time since he had really been in danger. It was possible, he told himself, that I've just forgotten how it feels.
There was a moment of absolute silence between them, as Ash went about setting up a makeshift camp for the two of them. It wasn't that neither of them wanted to talk, it was more that the exhaustion and the enormity of the situation began to settle upon them.
"What will you do next?" Rowan asked a few minutes later.
"What do you mean?" Ash asked, taken off guard. "I'm going with you. His Lordship, King Rahal Diamondblayde has ordered your protection.
"I see..." Rowan answered slowly. She had suspected that someone had sent this man, but to have ordered her protection? Normally, she would be angry and hurt that she wasn't trusted, but after her ordeal, she could not argue with the benefits of having a protector along with her that might be more reliable than her magic. "You should be warned then," she began. "That we head into the lands of the elves. You will not be met with any better a welcome than I was here today." She meant this lecture to scare him away. She wasn't sure why, but the thought of what might happen to this human in the Forest of Oberon, the way that he would be reacted to... Still, there was a part of her that hoped that he would brave the danger.
"I have my orders." Was his only reply.
You can commet on this chapter here.