Ciamon of Chymar – Conclusion

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3| Part 4| Part 5

It was obvious to him when he reached the thing that had frightened everyone. It felt like someone had hit him in the head and ripped his body apart. Flashes of colour assaulted his eyes. It felt like it lasted forever.

When it ended he was under a different sky. It was simple to assume it was another world since his planet had only one moon and this one had three. He heard the hunter gasp from under the wagon. At least he wasn’t alone in this strange place. In front of Ciamon was a large semitransparent stone. The stone flashed different colours. He gasped, realizing it was the Bilfrost of legend.

It had been daytime before, but now the moons were high in the sky. The caravan only paused briefly before continuing its journey. Whatever ramp they were on now was curving right and down. He tore his eyes away from the Bilfrost long enough to see that they were on a high mountain. The road below was pure silver. The silver moved like it was slithering. Again he gasped, thinking it was the great serpent Mulciber.

Looking closer, he saw that it wasn’t a serpent but a great army, hundreds of thousands of men in silver armour. Ciamon’s mouth went dry and he said as loudly as possible, “If someone in my land touched a tower and said, ‘Haski Fra Utan’ they would summon our most powerful wizards.”

Slipping out of his bonds, he howled. Grabbing one of the unsuspecting guards with one hand he lifted him and tossed him down the mountain. His other hand took the bent piece of metal that the guards had pointed at him.

There was a small trigger on the bent piece of metal that reminded Ciamon of a crossbow. He hoped it was a weapon and pointed it at the army. A bolt of lightning shot out and took down a half dozen of the crowded soldiers.

If it had happened to a Panos hunting group, they would have scrambled away, but this army only moved forward, stepping over or on the dead to fill the gap. Ciamon started firing wildly while he avoided capture again.

The hunter was halfway to the Bilfrost before the caravan and soldiers realized what was happening. The hunter avoided several guards and dove through the Bilfrost and hopefully to home.

Once the hunter was gone, Ciamon used the weapon to destroy the door on his wagon and free the people. He then shot at anything that tried to stop them from getting to the Bilfrost.

Distantly he heard a voice yell, “Shut the bridge down. NOW!”

A voice, equally as loud but terrified, replied over the distance, “We can’t turn it off without destroying it.”

“Then send them somewhere else!” the voices were coming from black metal boxes that each of the soldiers had on their shoulders.

The Bilfrost changed from colours to solid stone and then to a watery blue colour. Ciamon didn’t know what to do, but he knew he couldn’t stay here. He ran towards the Bilfrost and jumped through, the other captives close on his heels.

As he passed through the Bilfrost, he felt the same pain as before, but this time instead of colours, he just saw blue. As he came out the other side realized he was falling. Looking down he could see the water of a lake far below him coming up much faster than he’d like.

Doing his best to get into a diving position he took a deep breath and hit the water. It hurt terribly, but he was able to get to the surface and swim to shore.

Exhausted, he collapsed onto his back and looked up. The Bilfrost was suspended into the clouds so high he could barely see it. He couldn’t go back home. Hopefully the hunter had made it in time to warn the Battlemages that an army was going to invade.

As for himself, Ciamon had no idea what to do next. Exhausted, hurt, and sad, he started to drift to sleep. As he drifted he could have sworn he heard Aleenia’s voice saying, “My turn! I’ll find you.”

“As I know you will,” he mumbled.

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Ciamon of Chymar – Part 5

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3| Part 4

All he could hear was a loud hum. Whatever had pushed him back had also hurt his ears. Like when someone shouted in them but worse. It also unbalanced him. Enough so that he wasn’t prepared to defend himself against the two men who grabbed him.

The wagon was a fair distance away, but he needed to keep up the distraction. He started yelling and thrashing against the men holding him. It was enough to keep everyone’s attention just long enough for the wagon to turn behind the hill. There was no way they could catch up now. He sighed with relief and let them put metal handcuffs on him.

When he tested the metal cuffs he almost laughed. They were designed for humans. A Panos’s paws could contort and shrink until it was the same size it his wrist. Typically when someone tied a Panos they did it just above the shoulders to ensure they couldn’t slip out. Ciamon was happy to see that these strange humans didn’t know how to tie him properly.

It wasn’t until much later that the humans noticed that the wagon was gone. Not until the fire was out and Ciamon’s cuffs had been tied to the back of another wagon. The humans were angry but didn’t try to threaten him or torture him. Instead they just swore at him in several different languages.

“The General is going to be pissed,” said one of the men that had captured him.

“No really? I thought he loved failure,” sarcastically replied the other. They had been charged with guarding him.

“At least we have these,” the first man pointed at the wagon Ciamon was tied to. He was tied facing away from the wagon but he could smell people behind him. He had assumed it was the humans but now that he concentrated on it he could smell, Humans, Panos, and several other races.

“Didn’t the General say he only wanted two of each? Shouldn’t we kill a few of the extra dog things?”

Growling, Ciamon had to hold himself back from slipping out of his bonds and ripping the men’s throats out. They spoke of killing his people like they meant nothing.

“Naw, I think we should let the general decide what to do.” The first man agreed and they started moving towards the ruins again. Ciamon, still tied to a wagon, had to walk backwards.

Passing one of the warning towers, he considered slipping out and activating it. If he did, it would alert the Tamoran Battlemages that something was wrong. He didn’t want to summon the mages for something that wasn’t a grand emergency. His mother had told him stories about Battlemages. They were ruthless, dangerous, and heartless. They were necessary boogeymen, able to wipe out an entire village with a flick of their wrist.

The ruins, as much as he could see, were fascinating. From afar they had looked like piles of stones but from close up, he could tell that they were buildings once. The road that they travelled was perfectly paved and lined with glowing pillars. Each pillar had a different race’s writing on it. He recognized most of them but there were quite a few that he didn’t. As he was looking around, he saw the shadow of the hunter that was supposed to free him.

The hunter didn’t try anything until the caravan had stopped. They seem to have reached the center of the ancient city. Ciamon was convinced it was a city. There was something strange in the air here. It smelled of thunderstorms and rot, but there hadn’t been a storm in weeks.

“Ciamon, why haven’t you tried to escape?” whispered the hunter from under the wagon.

“They keep talking about a general. That means there’s a military around here somewhere. We need to get as much information as possible and alert the Battlemages if we have to.”

Nodding, the hunter crawled back under the wagon. He disappeared just in time; the guards came back.

The first guard sneered, “Try not to be too slow, puppy. If you are, you’ll regret it.”

Walking backwards had some advantages, the biggest of which was seeing the look of complete terror on everyone’s faces as his wagon started to go up some sort of ramp. Whatever they were seeing scared them, and that made Ciamon happy he wasn’t looking forward.

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Ciamon of Chymar – Part 4

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

When night fell, people returned to their huts for sleep. Ciamon found a place on the hill behind the fairgrounds where he could watch the humans. He learned nothing other than one of them must be a mage. In their tents they had light that didn’t flicker like fire but was constant. Only a mage could create that sort of light.

Wandering over the countryside his eyes fell on the ruins, as they always did. He blinked and could have sworn he saw light coming from it but when he tried to focus he couldn’t see it.

Sitting on the hill in the dark he must have fallen asleep. When he opened his eyes the tents were gone, as were the wagons, and the people. A quick look told him that the guards were gone too. Turning around to wake the guards and the village he came face to face with Aleenia. “They’ve taken the ancestors and they’re going to come back with the great serpent. We have to run.” She kissed him then for the first and last time before collapsing.

Carrying her back to her hut gave him time to think. The only way the guards would leave their post was if they were dead or dying. Since he hadn’t heard any alarms going off that meant four of the best guards in the village were dead. Worse, the humans had desecrated their dead and stolen their ancestors.

“Shaman, wake up. We need to evacuate the town.” He yelled entering the hut.

“What? Why is she out of her bed?” Being woken in the middle of the night made the shaman look older and she was.

“She came to me as I was sleeping. The Humans are gone, they’ve killed the guards, and taken the ancestors.”

“We must hunt them down.” She replied indignantly. It was the same emotion he had felt until Aleenia had told him that there were more coming.

“I agree they must pay but she said there were more of them and they were coming for the village. We must escape. I’ll take two hunters and try to reclaim the ancestors. You must get the village to safety.”

“I’ll take them…” He cut her off before she could tell him.

“No,” he said panicked, “It’s better if I don’t know. If I’m captured…” He trailed off.

For an instant it looked like she was going to argue with him. When she didn’t, he kissed Aleenia on the forehead and whispered, “I’ll find you.”

Choosing two hunters for what he had assumed was a suicide mission turned out to be more difficult than he had thought. He finally settled on two older men with no families. When he spoke to them, he could tell that they knew the reason they were chosen.

Once they were dressed in reinforced leathers and equipped with weapons, they headed out. The caravan of traders should have been easily tracked. They weren’t, and both of his companions asked Ciamon several times if he was sure of where he was going.

If it hadn’t been for his gift, Ciamon would have given up, but he could feel a pull towards the old ruins. They didn’t take the slower route that would lead them up a slow slope. Instead he took them straight up the small mountain that lead to the ruins. He hoped by taking a direct route they could catch up to the caravan.

Once they had reached the plateau of the mountain, Caimon looked back and could see the long train of people leaving the village. Before he could start wondering where they were going he turned his eyes back to the ruins.

Excitement rose inside him, he’d waited a long time to go to those ruins. As the excitement grew, so did the guilt. He wasn’t here to explore, he was going into a forbidden place to save his ancestors and his pack.

When they finally had the caravan in their sights, Ciamon bent over and whispered to one of the hunters, “I can feel the ancestors in that wagon. I’ll distract them and you sneak up and steal the wagon. Get back to the village and follow the others if you can. If not, go to the neighbouring village.”

“What about me?” asked the other hunter.

“You have the most important job…” With a sly smile, Ciamon paused before saying, “You get to save me when I get captured.” The two hunters laughed uncomfortably. It was well known that Ciamon wasn’t great at getting out of traps. He could easily find them and avoid them, but couldn’t seem to get out of them when he tried. Finding a way out was just a figure of speech unfortunately.

Motioning the hunter that would steal the carriage, Ciamon ran out with his spear in hand. He had a knife and a sword sheathed at this belt but he thought he’d make a bigger impression yelling and throwing a spear at one of those large barrels on one of the wagons.

Running out he let out a death howl that would have made the thunder lizards his father occasionally hunted, run in fear. The caravan stopped and several of the men pulled out small curved metal clubs. Ciamon threw the spear as hard as he could at one of the wagons that carried the goods. There was only one driver and no-one else he could accidently hit if he missed his target.

The spear flew straighter and harder than he’d expected. He watched with pride as it hit the barrel making a satisfying clink as it penetrated the metal. He didn’t have much time to celebrate before he heard a rumbling and the wagon was engulfed in flames. Ciamon was thrown backwards and landed on his back. As he stood up he could see a large chunk of metal sticking out of the ground next to him.

The wagon was on fire and the caravan was moving with a calm efficiency to put it out. They didn’t notice as the hunter knocked out the driver and stole the wagon containing the ancestors. To make sure they didn’t see, Ciamon stood up, and howled, almost falling from dizziness.

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Ciamon of Chymar – Part 3

Part 1 | Part 2

On the third day as he left her hut, Aleenia said, “Don’t trust him.”

It was the first odd thing she had said since she had made him memorise the words. He didn’t know who she meant but it didn’t take long for him to guess. Mid way in his training the village lookout let out a howl meaning that strangers were approaching.

As was the custom, he and three warriors walked out to greet the strangers. There seemed to be five of them, all human but of fairer skin than Ciamon had ever seen. Two people approached his group, one man with greasy hair and an older woman whose skin was almost as white as Aleenia’s.

“Hail Panos, we are travellers from a far off land with wares to trade.”

“Hail Human,” Ciamon replied putting a little too much emphasis on ‘human’. It was considered an insult to great someone by their race instead of their title or name. “What sort of wares could you have for a humble village, such as ourselves?”

“A little of everything.” The strange man replied with a crooked grin. There was something strange about his accent and something even stranger about his scent. He smelled of metal and oil. Ciamon saw that all five of them wore multiple pieces of stone as jewelry, something that the Panos considered gaudy and arrogant.

“You may display your wares here in the merchants square. I will inform the pack that you are here.”

“Thank you, but the sun is bright in this area and we don’t want our silks to fade. Could we set up next to the forest and the fields?” The field were on the other side of the town, surrounded by stone markers, indicating the final resting place of the tribe’s honoured dead. Their crystalized bodies gave off positive magics that helped grow food. To help the pack, even after death, was the greatest honour.

“You can set up here or move on.” Ciamon was being impatient and rude, but there was something not quite right with these Pale Humans.

As was his responsibility, Ciamon placed several guards at the fairground and then went from hut to hut telling his people that there were traders. He kept Aleenia’s hut for last. When he came in he saw the sadness in her mother’s eyes.

“There are traders in the fairgrounds,” He told her.

“I know. Aleenia has been prophesising in her sleep. They’re trouble…” the Shaman was interrupted by Aleenia’s yelling.

“They are buzzards feeding off a dead beast that doesn’t know it’s dead. They are only the first.” Aleenia stopped yelling and fell back into her deep sleep.

Both Ciamon and the Shaman shrugged, not understanding what Aleenia was trying to say. The Shaman had told him once that Seers didn’t go mad from their visions, but from trying to understand them. Aleenia had laughed at her mother then, but hadn’t laughed once her visions became more intense.

“I’ll double the guard on the humans,” he said as he stroked Aleenia’s fur.

The fairgrounds were filled with people when he returned. The humans had set up a dozen booths with everything from exotic food to weapons. He glanced at the weapons and weighed one of the swords. They had intricate metalwork but it wasn’t balanced properly having its centre of gravity near the end of the blade. His father had a blade crafted by a master Tamoran blacksmith. Every part of the blade flowed with attention to craft. This one was created to be pretty and felt cold and unloved.

The big draw for the village was exotic fried dough that strangers called a doughnut, and the clothing. Every stitch of the clothing was perfect and in a perfect line. An Elder pack woman said she’d never seen stiches so perfect and she had studied under a stitch-witch.

Having been with his father and mother at each fair, he knew there was something strange with these humans. Their wares were perfect, yet they cost half as much as other traders would charge. They also didn’t drink and moved with almost military precision. Ciamon was especially confused by the strange metal barrels that were attached to the side of the carts. They smelled strange but he couldn’t recognize the smell.

“How do you get your corn so large?” asked the leader of the pale humans. “Ours never grow more than half the size.”

Thankfully he hadn’t asked Ciamon and hadn’t been looking at him. The man’s voice made Ciamon’s hair puff like a jumpy pup.

The head farmer answered him in the traditional way, “Our crops grow due to the love of our ancestors.” Something inside Ciamon told him that this story shouldn’t be told to the pale man but it was a tradition that all the races knew about. What harm could come of it. “We bury the crystalized bodies of our dead around our gardens. Their souls nourish the earth and keep pests away.”

“Surely you must be kidding the markers are too close together. They can’t mark graves.”

“You must come from very far away mister,” said the farmer. “Don’t your people crystalize and shrink to the size of a large watermelon when they die? Or do you die like animals and let your corpses rot?”

“No no, we crystalize. We just don’t get as small.” The man was lying. It unsettled Ciamon, but if he were going to force them to go away he needed a better reason than being unsettled or a trader lying. Traders lied all the time.

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Ciamon of Chymar – Part 2

Part 1

Outside the Shaman’s tent Ciamon had been pacing since the moon was high in the sky. Now the sun was coming over the horizon and his father, leaving the tent, found him having worn a gash into the grass.

“She’s going to live, son,” his father told him. Ciamon held back tears of joy. He didn’t like crying in front of his father. He only nodded, not trusting his voice. Despite the good news, his father still looked sad. With a heavy sigh he said, “She needs medicine. The Shaman says there’s bleeding inside her head. I’m taking the hunting pack to get the medicine from Tamoran.” The trip between the village and the great city of the Tamoran Empire was dangerous and took a week each way. The city was outside the wall that encircled Chymar.

Putting his large paw on Ciamon’s shoulder, his father said, “I will make sure that she doesn’t become crystal.” Ciamon shuddered at the thought of seeing her turn to crystal, a process that happened to all six of the great races of Seidrheim. “You’re sixteen years old now and I expect that you’ll take care of our people.”

Never before had his father left him in charge. It was only ceremonial, as the Shaman would see to any important duties, but it was a show of respect and that his father saw him as a man. “I will do my best to honour you and our pack.”

“Enough of this, go see the girl. She asks for you.”

Walking quickly into the hut, Ciamon was worried that Aleenia would have changed. He had heard of seers going mad or forgetting things. “You found me.”

“Just like you knew I would,” he said stroking her arm. Her mother smiled at him and walked to another room in the hut. Neither of them wanted to talk about her illness and they spent hours speaking of everything else.

“Stop looking so worried,” she scolded him. “I have seen my death. It’s not in a bed and it’s certainly not so young. I have things to do.”

“You never remember that much detail. And sometimes you only see a metaphor not reality. You can’t truly know when you’re going to die. But thank you for trying to reassure me.”

Smiling she replied, “I know more than you think. I need you to remember something. Do you know the words to activate the tower?” The tower was a large pillar half way between the village and the ruins. Wizards from Tamoran had placed it there saying it could contact them if something came out of the ruins. Nothing ever had, but each shaman was told how to activate it.

“No, why?”

“I don’t know why, but you need to know. The words are, Haski Fra Utan.” She made him repeat them until he mastered the words. They were in a language he didn’t understand. She was very insistent that he not forget them.

Ciamon stayed with her until his father came to say goodbye. The two hugged and his father promised to be swift. He returned to her side as quickly as he could.

“Hello again,” she said looking at him. Her white eyes didn’t disconcert him the way they did others.

“Haski Fra Utan,” he replied, showing her he hadn’t forgotten.

“What does that mean?” She asked with a confused smile.

“You only ever told me the words, not what they mean…” he drifted off not sure what else to say.

“Oh, of course, yes. Just testing you.” She laughed awkwardly and changed the subject.

The following days he fell into a routine of waking up, dealing with village business as fast as he could, and then spending time with her before he had to teach the youngest pups how to hunt. The town business was normally small disputes or confusions.

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