Gladiators in SPACE! – Part 6 (Conclusion)

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

I ran with the crowd of gladiators towards the weapons cache in the middle of the arena. A quick flash of the future hit me and I started running faster.

When I was almost at the weapons I yelled out, “Bomb!” as loud as I could. My voice echoed as all the combatants stopped and looked at me. “There’s a bomb in the centre of the weapons.” I could see the damage the liquid fire contained in the bomb would do to the combatants. It was a perfect surprise for them. Thankfully I ruined it.

“How do we know he’s telling the truth?” a large man asked.

I answered by running towards the bomb. The gladiators had known me for a month or more now and those who knew something was going to happen ran the other way.

Tripping the bomb released a wave of fire that went far enough to burn eyebrows but no one was seriously hurt. It once again left me naked but fire didn’t hurt me, thank Sol.

Standing on the pile of melted weapons, surrounded by flames and completely naked, I launched into my prepared speech, “Friends, Romans, Spectators;” it’s a classic for a reason, “I am not a false prophet and I’ve had enough of these games. It’s time for them to end.”

The crowd laughed uncomfortably but I continued, “In the name of Sol, I declare this ship an independent colony.” I was using my angry voice and the crowd didn’t make a sound, “Those who wish to remain on my ship place your hands on the back of your heads. The rest of you will be leaving.”

“This is preposterous!” yelled my owner. Turning to him I gave him an angry look and he took a step back before gesturing and yelling, “KILL HIM!” Two snipers were supposed to shoot at me but only one got off a shot, he was part of my army and shot the other sniper.

I gestured at Aly and the two Samanthas, the cybernetic one and the human one. When they were close, I said, “Samantha um…” I pointed at the cybernetic one, “Would you like to become a ship?” She smiled and nodded eagerly. I took the sticky I’d used to talk with Hey Sunny and placed it on her forehead. “When I tell you, reboot the anti-teleportation devices.”

My owner was getting redder and redder as he tried to fight his way down to the arena despite his guards’ protests. He kept yelling that he’d kill me.

“Last chance,” I projected, knowing the whole ship was listening. “Hands behind head if you wish to stay.”

I put my hands behind my head as an example and counted down from ten. At one I winked towards cybernetic Samantha, I lied about never winking again I look too good doing it, she reset the anti-teleportation devices. The reset triggered the new software and it scanned for all life that did not have its arms behind its head and teleported it.

“Where they’d go?” asked Aly from beside me.

“They were teleported to the nearest Jupiter Protectorate ship.” I paused before adding, “Along with the wolves and other animals.”

“Samantha can you take over the ship?” I asked.

There was no answer from the metal body. I thought maybe it had been too much for her but the ship replied in her voice, “Yes Hal, we have complete control of the ship.”

“Put me ship wide please,” there was a beep and I knew I was speaking to the entire ship, “This is Hal. I may no longer be the Sun-Speaker but I still serve Sol and he believes that life should be preserved when possible. We have taken the ship. If you wish to leave you can take an escape pod or one of the private ships in the doc. We will be heading to Venus to pick up refugees with a stop at Mars and Earth to drop off those of you who wish to go home.”

A cheer rose up all around me. I turned to the human Samantha and said, “Both of you need to be better than you were or I’ll come back.” She nodded.

We brought Aly back to Mars and they will start talks with her people to try and unite Mars.

At Earth we dropped off Henrick. He would meet up with the future emperor of Mars who was freshly out of diapers.

The ship was well armed enough and large enough to defend and house the refugees. They’d have to  elect a government and sign a treaty with the big governments to be accepted as an independent colony but I knew the Samantha’s were up to the task.

There was something scary coming and my dreams were getting worse. My last day on the Mederei, I woke to the horrifying realization that whatever was coming didn’t just scare me, it scared Sol himself.


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Gladiators in SPACE! – Part 5

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

The meeting didn’t go unnoticed by my owner. He visited me in my cell that night. He looked around and said, “You know your problem Hal? You’re not appreciative. I’ve given you a place in this galaxy, one where you could be great, remembered for more than just being a false prophet. You give away your sponsors presents and arrange for secret meetings with other fighters. Just ungrateful.” He made a tisking noise and continued, “You could be on some distant Trans-Neptunian mining asteroid, but I took pity and bought your crime from the Venusians. You weren’t cheap you know.”

“Sorry?” I asked.

“You’re damn right you should be sorry.”

I let him ramble about my ungratefulness and tried not to laugh. He might think he was doing me a great favour but I was here on a mission. I was caught on purpose but he would never believe me.

“You’re so smug. I can’t wait to watch you get destroyed in the arena. Actually let’s make it easier on your next opponent.” He snapped his fingers, walked away, and two burly guards stepped into my tiny room. As he left he said, “Make sure he knows what we think of false prophets here on the Mederei!”

The two large guards walked into my cell. One had a large scar across his face and the other was scowling in order to look as tough as the first one.

Scowl-face grabbed me by my shirt and lifted me off my feet. “Don’t struggle,” he grumbled, his voice like two rocks grinding together. He held me up for the scar-face, who poked me with his index finger.

They both chuckled as scowl-face put me down. “We don’t like false prophets.”

Scar-face tried to smile. It was terrifying. He said, “If you see any let us know.” The two just turned around and walked away. I was still trying to process what had happened as they turned the corner and Scowl-face winked at me.

“Ok. I’m never winking again.” It seemed Aly was right and I had friends in both the gladiators and the guards.

A full out revolt would mean a lot of dead people. I didn’t want people dying for me. I had to find another way. I was thinking of different ideas when a messenger brought me a package. It was a bar of Earth Chocolate.

I opened the package and was dismayed to find a piece of plastic and small sticky patch. I put the patch behind my ear and the micro-vibrations permeated into my skull as sound.

“Hal. Can you hear me?” I recognized the voice of my engineer and friend Adric.

“Hey Sunny! How’s the black?”

He chuckled, “You never get tired of that joke do you?” I had named my ship “Hey Sunny” for cheap laughs.

“Nope. Great timing by the way. I need to learn how to hack the anti-teleport devices on here.”

“You see the second sticky? Place that on a computer terminal and I’ll do the rest.”

“I thought you said you couldn’t hack the computers on the Mederei?”

“You wound me Hal. I said I couldn’t hack them remotely.”

“Sorry for doubting you Adric. I need you to hack them and install some new software. It’s in our main memory banks under, ‘I have no idea what this is but I’m sure it’ll be useful someday’.”

“You have a gift with names Hal,” he replied sarcastically before asking, “You ok?”

“Aren’t I always ok?”

“No.”

“I’m fine. I’m dealing with it. What’s the news on the Venusians?” I had tried to save the royal family during the revolution but they had disappeared.

“No word on the royals but the church has taken control of the military and the parliament. The new Sun-Speaker is now as good as a King.”

“What aren’t you telling me?”

“They’re shooting down anyone who’s trying to leave Venus or the Empire.”

“We need to help them. Run the hack and go do what you can. I’ll join you in a few days. Good luck my friend.”

“Don’t die!” was the last thing he said before cutting the com.

With my new found business contacts and mini-army it was easy to get someone to slap the sticky on a computer terminal. I had a plan and it would take everything falling exactly into place. Thank Sol I could see the future.

I decided to make my move at the grand melee. It was just me and ninety-nine other combatants. The idea was that a hundred fighters went in and only one came out. Everyone rushed into the arena at the sound of the bell. I sauntered in, trying to project confidence and mischief. I suppose it was a normal entrance for me.

The floor rumbled as the hundred combatants ran towards the large weapons cache in the middle of the arena.

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Gladiators in SPACE! – Part 4

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

I was sleeping off my fight with the wolves when a woman who had more cybernetic implants than I had thought possible came to see me.

She looked vaguely familiar but I couldn’t place her. She looked at me with a combination of anger and embarrassment. “I’m dying,” she said and she was right. As I probed her mind I could see that it was failing, as were all her cybernetics.

“I’ll do what I can.”

“Despite what I’ve done?” That’s when I recognised her. She was Samantha, the assassin trainer from the Maidens of the Antichthon. I thought she’d been killed by Suzie when they’d escaped the Maiden’s mother ship.

“I’ll do what I can.” She lay on the ground and I placed my hands on her. I could feel her body dying and rejecting the cybernetics that kept her alive at the same time. I have pretty powerful healing powers but what happened next was a shock to me.

I concentrated on healing and felt the warmth of Sol wash over me. That’s the part where I burst into flames and need new clothes. This was different than normal, more intense, like I was healing more than one person.

As I healed her I felt everything that had happened to her. They’d brought her back to life and punished her for failing to stop us. They’d taken her apart piece by piece, including parts of her mind. The made sure to dig out the pieces of her mind that had any information on the Maidens. She’d been a horrible person but no one deserved what they did to her.

When the healing was over I was shocked to see two bodies. One was Samantha, put back together and the other was her cybernetics. They had become self-conscious and were accidentaly killing her by trying to become indipendant. There was an allegory in there that I’d have to remember for later.

Both looked up at me and smiled. The cybernetic one cocked her head to the side and said, “I’m a robot. Fascinating.”

***

It took another month for the fighters to open up to me. Each owner owned a couple hundred fighters and there were hundreds of owners. Some of the owners were based on the Mederei, others went from ship to ship. Owners never let their fighters fight each other, which meant I had a hard time getting in contact with my Barsoonian friend.

The more I fought the more people seemed to like me and I started getting gifts. They were indulgences from silk sheets to alcohol and everything in between. I gave it all away except for any chocolate or coffee; I have my vices. The more I fought, the more I had things to trade or give away.

The alcohol was particularly useful for trading. As a mild telepath and strong precognitive, it’s a terrible idea to drink. Alcohol breaks down walls as well as inhibitions. When I studied at the Psionic Clan Academy, I’d gotten drunk and spent the next two days in the hospital seeing one person’s possible lifetimes over and over again. They had to put me into a medically induced coma to save my life. The Psionic Clans may be no better than common thugs with super powers, but they take care of their own. Thankfully they didn’t know I wasn’t one of them.

The alcohol got me a special training session with my friend.

“You again. What do you want?”

“Do you know who I am? I’m here to save you and bring you back to your people.”

They looked around at the guards and locked doors, cocked an eyebrow and said, “Right, what’s your plan? Going to just teleport me out?”

“So you do know who I am. Teleport is out of the question. They have blockers all over the ship.”

“Of course I know who you are, Hal Sun-Speaker. I’m Aly. Why do you want to save me?”

“I’m not the Sun-Speaker. I’m just Hal. I’m here to save you because it’s what Sol wants and it’s what Mars needs.”

“Why in the nine hells would Mars need me?”

“Something is coming and Mars needs to be united. The future Emperor will need you to advise him.” I waved away any questions and asked one of my own, “How many Martians are on this ship?”

“Maybe a couple of thousand…” They looked confused.

“It’s not enough. We need more people.” I started wondering if the other people would help Martians or if humanities natural, and idiotic, racism would get in the way.

Aly laughed a deep rumbling laugh as if I’d said something hilarious, “It’s true what they say about you. The seer who doesn’t see himself.”

“What?” I hate being confused or surprised, it’s just not right and hurt my fragile ego.

“Just because the church disowned you doesn’t mean those who believe in Sol have.” Seeing my puzzled face they added, “Many believe you’re the true word of Sol and would follow you. On this ship, those who’ve seen both your power and your humanity would follow you out an airlock. You say you don’t have enough people but you have an army.”

“An army of gladiators might be useful…” The idea that I had an army made my skin crawl. I don’t like blind obedience, which is why I filled my crew with people way smarter than me, and almost as stubborn. I didn’t want an army but I could use one.

“It’s not just the gladiators.”

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Gladiators in SPACE! – Part 3

Part 1 | Part 2

I knew the wolves were bioengineered since wolves don’t normally have horns on either side of their heads and these ere two metres tall.

They didn’t look happy; on the contrary they looked hungry. I did the only sane thing and ran towards them. It worked and the wolves scattered. It must have been a funny scene because the crowd started laughing.

Sol gives me a lot of guidance and a lot of information but he’s pretty skimpy when it comes to solutions. I knew I needed to survive and save my new Martian friends. They would be important to Sol’s plan, I think.

Lifting my hands above my head I projected my voice, “Friends, Romans, Spectators; tell me what you want! Should I kill these mindless and innocent beasts?” The crowd roared, my heart palpitated at the sound of that many people cheering. When they quieted down I asked, “Or would you rather watch me be devoured?” There was a pause. The crowd wasn’t sure how to react. The wolves, however, howled.

Turning to the wolves, I shook my head dramatically and shushed them saying, “We know what you want.” Again the crowd laughed. I had them right where I wanted them. “My friends. I am not a fighter. I am a prophet abandoned by his church. But the church isn’t the God and I don’t like killing.” I put special emphasis on the “I”. These games were being recorded and could be watched as vids across the system. If I could piss off the church a little I’d be more than happy.

Wolves are not patient animals and the leader of their pack, or the least patient one, what do I know, charged at me. As his great bulk and sharp teeth came towards me, I could only admire the quality of its teeth. Its friends started moving cautiously towards me.

“Stop!” I commanded mentally. When Sol choses a Sun-Speaker, he always chooses someone with telepathic talent, it’s the only way that he can communicate with them. Humanity has limited telepathic abilities and they’ve only been appearing for a few thousand years. I’m convinced that’s why the first Sun-Speaker was chosen two thousand years ago and not earlier.

The wolves all stopped at my order, except for the one charging at me. I needed to stop him quickly to prove to the others that I was the one they should follow. I concentrated in the same way as I had with the Barsoonian, only this time I didn’t go easy. I fully powered my fusion blast and looked at the crowd, “You want death? Fine, have death!” I made sure it was a short blast, no use blowing a hole in the ship, and it disintegrated the wolf, leaving a pile of ash.

The crowd took a collective gasp, the wolves bent their heads and whimpered, and I fought back tears. The poor animal was just doing what it had been bred to do. Telepathically talking to the wolves I said, “Its ok. Food is coming.”

One of the wolves moved towards me; I waited and let it sniff my hand. It licked my hand and nuzzled me. Not an easy feat with its horns. The crowd went wild.

A loud siren told to crowd to be quiet and my new owner, who was apparently the governor of the ship, said, “You are a nuisance but I expected something like this. Send in the pirates.”

Three men walked out of the gladiator gates. They were the space pirate brothers Adam, Aaron, and Alvin. I’d infiltrated their crew once to save a friend. It hadn’t ended will for the brothers. I guess it still wasn’t going well.

They looked pissed and smug, “We meet again Hal. Now you’ll finally get what you deserve.” They weren’t the brightest pirates in the solar system. I’ll spare you the details of the rest of the fight, it wasn’t pretty. Let’s just say the crowd got its violence and the wolves got their meal.

The showing off had taken a lot out of me. I managed to fake being ok until I got back to my cell. Once alone I threw up and passed out, thankfully in that order.

The fights continued along the same vein with me showing off and trying to kill as little as possible. The real work was getting Henrick and the other gladiators to trust me. The ludum wasn’t like jail, you don’t fight anyone unless you have too and no one expects you to be tough outside the arena. It’s a sort of unwritten rule that we’re all going to die in there either way.

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Gladiators in SPACE! – Part 2

Part 1

Not too long ago I went to my own funeral. I didn’t die but I was supposed to. My death was supposed to instigate a solar system wide revolution. Venus would fall and come back stronger as a democratic planet. The first United-Sol council would be formed and the solar system would be united and ready for what was coming.

My friends didn’t let me die and that made the Venusian Revolution burn too hot and too fast. What was going to happen wasn’t pretty but at least I was alive to try and fix it.

Since I died, every time I fall asleep I see the horrors coming for us. It’s not very restful but it makes wakening up a lot easier. I woke up in the hospital, more like medical bay, with a confused doctor and angry owner.

“What the hells’ your game Hal? How did you survive that?” My new owner was a fat Jupiterese man, whose old fashioned suit was bright orange with a green dress shirt and bright pink tie. Even in an angry whisper he was louder than his clothes.

“One of the gifts bestowed on me by Sol was the ability to heal,” I lied. The ability was given to me by my ship’s doctor who swore she’d used the last of the miracle formula on me. In a normal person it gave the eternal appearance of being eighteen. In me it let me heal faster and counteracted the slow painful death of channeling Sol’s power.

“Bullshit. We all know the Church disowned you.”

“The Church did but Sol didn’t.” Disowned was an understatement, they’d faked a funeral to get to me Venus and put me on trial for treason before trying kill me. The Church didn’t have all the blame; the major government authorities had helped.

“What do I do with a Gladiator who can’t fight and looked like he died?” He asked himself or maybe he was trying to speak to Alpha Century, hard to tell with his volume. “I know. I’ll spin it as a curse.”  He turned to me and said, “This won’t work twice. Every gladiator will know to finish the job from now on.”

“I have one question; can I get something to eat?”

They took me back to my cell. It was an eight by eight cube with metal bars. There weren’t any pillows or beds, just the cell. They brought me food that was surprisingly good. It was better than I normally ate. As I enjoyed the dessert of fresh watermelon in cubes I felt a mild ache in my head and knew a vision was coming.

Visions aren’t fun. They hurt, they’re vague, and they always give me too much information. This one was no different and before I could pass out or meditate to process the information, a guard came to get me.

“You’re headed to the training yards, false prophet.” I didn’t want to argue with the guard but he wasn’t wrong. I had never believed that Sol was a God but his powers and ability to see the future let me help people. I have always respected Sol but I don’t think he created the universe. I think of him like a wise old man trying to help his grandkids.

The guard brought me straight to a muscled dark skinned man, most likely Mercurian or Venusian, and then left me and him in the large grassy area. The man was in his late sixties, but was well built and was obviously strong.

“So you’re Hal?”

“That’s me and you are?”

“Henrick,” he smiled and held out his hand. He said something as we grasped hands but my brain decided it was time to give me as much information as possible on Henrick. I teetered, tottered, and almost tumbled for good measure, but he kept me from falling.

“Henrick Al-Mer of the house of Mers. Royal instructor to the kings and queens of Mars. You’re supposed to be dead.”

He laughed and shook his head as he said, “Look who’s talking. That was who I was once but there are no more kings and queens of Mars.”

“About that… Do you need a job?” He wasn’t my mission but I had helped smuggle the infant king of Mars away from the Venusian royalty and he could use an instructor on Mars and its customs.

“You’re a strange one, my friend. Here there’s nothing but the arena and death. If we survive a hundred fights or twenty years we are set free, but few fighters survive that long. I don’t expect to see anything but this ship for the rest of my life. I’m here to instruct you, not encourage your wild imagination.”

Shrugging I said, “Ok. Let’s get this part over with. What are you supposed to teach me?”

“Do you have any experience in hand to hand combat?” He asked and I spent the next week grappling, punching, and everything in between.

My next fight came much too quickly and as I waited outside the arena in my waiting area I turned to Henrick and asked, “Why are you the only person I ever see? There are tens of thousands of fighters but I never interact with them. ”

“The owners believe you’re more trouble then you’re worth and have told everyone to kill you.” He paused took a deep breath and said sadly, “and the fighters think you’re cursed. No one wants to talk with you or fight you.”

They must have raised quite the fuss cause when I walked into the arena I was faced by a jeering crowd and six bioengineered wolves.

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Gladiators in SPACE! – Part 1

Hello My Imaginary Friends!

I’m writing to you from the past. (Spooky!)

Baby Dragon was due on the 9th and Can-Con (Which I’m sure will be awesome) was the 9, 10, and 11.

That means today I’m either cuddling the little Dragon or at work compulsively checking my phone. Either way I’m in no state to write a post.

Since I’m busy, I’ve written you a story. It’s Heavily influenced by a book I just beta-read by S.M. Carrière. Thanks for the inspiration!

This is the fourth story in the Sun Speaker Universe but it’s written so that you could read it without having read the others. If you are interested in reading the rest check out my Stories Page.

Enjoy!

Read moreGladiators in SPACE! – Part 1

Can-Con (No Dragon Sightings)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Dragon is taking her time so I’m back at work this week (until I get the call, text, etc.) That means the super awesome story I have planned for you will have to wait for Thursday. It will hopefully not be postponed again.

This past weekend, despite being Dragon’s due date, we decided to get a table at Can-Con. It’s our favourite convention and is totally awesome.

Can-Con

One of the highlights of my weekend was selling coffee to authors I respect. It makes me feel all fan-boyish. The other was seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Can-Con people rock.

Not wanting to be too far away from Dragon, or the table, I only got to see one panel and give my first reading.

The panel I went to was about antagonists, it was incredibly interesting. The panelists were great (as usual).

Next year I plan on being on more panels. (I was asked but didn’t want to risk the chance of a Dragon hatching pulling me away).

THANK YOU!

To all the organizers, panelists, volunteers, vendors, and visitors to Can-Con; thank you so much for making it another great convention. I look forward to doing it again next year!

We’d both like to thank everyone who made sure Jen was ok and checked in on her throughout the weekend. You made her and I feel extremely loved and cared for!

My Reading

Taken by Madona Skaff
Taken by Madona Skaff

The reading was a lot of fun. Cait Gordon is a spectacular performer, Madona Skaff was fantastic, and Caroline Fréchette gave an impressive reading despite having bronchitis.

I learnt an important lesson about reading. Double check the passage before you read it. I just chose a random one and went for it, but didn’t account for how much extra set-up I needed. Seriously, I think I chose the part with the most characters in the entire book. I was sweaty, mumbling, and awkward, but people said I did okay. Next time I’ll prepare a little more.

Speaking of next time…

Mega-Multi-Author Launch!

This October 29th, Jen, I, and 6 other fantastic authors will be launching books and a game. It’ll be amazing. There are prizes, readings, food, and costumes!

There will probably be a baby Dragon there, in an adorable costume. (She’ll hatch by then right?)

This is the best place to get my book and some of my favourite reads from the past few years.

That’s it for now.

 

I’ll either be writing a new post on Thursday or you’ll get a story as I cuddle a Dragon.

Later Days!

Éric

 

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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