Another fiction piece that entered my head last night (or very early this morning, as I got to bed a bit past midnight. Why I slept late? Now’s not the time. 🙂 ) Enjoy!
There was something to be said about the peace that can be found in the woods. One could always enjoy the relative quiet of the woods while basking in the fresh, mountainous air. And it would be relative as the woods has its own sounds: the animals going about in finding food, sleep or shelter; the flutter of leaves as these detach from the mother tree to glide and float to the ground, the soft breeze that winds its away around the tree trunks, boulders, and rocks. It was as though your spirit is slowly being cleansed.
But then again, no one could say much about the peace here when you waited for the enemy to come.
Sakush stood on top of one of the taller trees in the area, his head and shoulders above the canopy, and gazed into the distance. He saw his falcon, Lyr, gliding in the air, a black speck in the sky. Lyr was scouting from the air as he listened intently for any sound that did not belong in the woods. The breeze merely whispered its secrets to him, but he continued to look ahead, unheeding of what the breeze may have said. He raised his fist in the air, a signal that he will return to the ground. In response, the falcon paused in her gliding and hover for a moment before continuing her flight.
Sakush dropped down to the ground, dusted his tunic off and walked to where Mran, the Onran and the saber-panther Kira rested. He saw them in a small clearing in the woods. Mran was sitting on the ground while she wrapped linen bandages around her left forearm to secure her wrist before she put on her iron gauntlet. Kira was sitting in front of the Onran, who was weaving a little flower chain in her small hands. There was already a smaller one placed on the great cat’s head – Kira’s expression was one of quiet resignation, and Sakush couldn’t help but smile. Meanwhile, Lilon was nowhere to be found yet; he was doing his own surveillance in another part of the woods.
He looked again at the small child who was looping flower stems into each other. Her eyes had that intensity endearing to any child who was concentrating on something. And yet, it was a contrast to what the child really was. She was the Onran – the Universe’s child, the Daughter of the Stars. And they were in the woods hiding, keeping the child safe and protected from those who would try to take her and use her powers for their own nefarious purposes. They needed to reach the Ruby Castle, a place that will protect the Onran more efficiently, as the Blood Orb was there. In the meantime, though, she was too vulnerable in the outside.
They had been travelling for days without much rest, though, and this respite was greatly appreciated. But then, they needed to be always on alert. There was no telling just how far the enemy was behind. Or in front of them, for that matter.
“Mran,” he said to his companion. Dark brown eyes raised up to meet his green ones. “Have you heard from Lilon yet?”
The woman silently shook her head. Then, she pointed behind her in the direction where Sakush surmised Lilon did his surveillance. The woman returned to her bandaging without any more comment. Sakush sighed. “You can talk, you know,” he chided her, “your voice is fine with me.” Mran looked up again and gave a brief smile, and then she shook her head.
The Onran giggled as she placed her new flower chain on Kira’s neck. The large, black cat had lowered his head to accept the flower chain. And though he had seven-inch fangs that was dangerously close to the child as she draped the flower chain over, no one in the group, especially the Onran, was perturbed. The cat’s eyes closed as he accepted the latest gift. “Your Eminence,” Sakush said with a faint smile. He walked over to her and knelt down. “It’s not nice to tease Kira.”
“But Kira pretty, look!” the child exclaimed. She leaned over to kiss the cat’s forehead. Sakush shook his head, but he still wore the smile. The child had a big heart, perhaps even bigger than her own powers.
Suddenly, there was a wail in the air, an almost inhuman one. Mran clambered up to stand, her hands balled up into fists and her heels digging into the ground. Even Kira suddenly pushed himself up and growled in response. The flower chains slid off his head and fell to the ground. “Lilon!” Sakush yelled as he carried the Onran in his arms.
The source of the wail appeared in a blur from the direction Mran pointed just a few minutes ago. The blur stopped and showed a man panting heavily. “Drukkars!” he exclaimed. There was another cry from the air, and this time it was from Lyr, swooping down to the group. “A platoon of them!”
The reaction was immediate. Mran donned the rest of her armour as Sakush rushed closer to Lilon. He put the child in Lilon’s arms even as he instructed, “Stay here, Your Eminence.” The child smiled at him, her face filled with absolute trust. “Here we go,” Lilon said. His body grew bigger and became transparent. It was as though he was turning to glass. Even as he changed, the Onran was slowly pushed into the man’s body. Lilon looked like a human-shaped bottle, now four times his former size. The Onran even giggled as she floated within the man’s body. Safely ensconced inside him, Lilon began to run in the opposite direction, away from the Drukkars.
Meanwhile, Sakush threw two darts from both sides. One hit a tree trunk; the other landed on the ground. The darts trembled where they fell and the area around it bulged and grew. It turned into humanoid shapes with empty eyes and gaping maws. “Play!” the one made from tree bark moaned. Sakush grinned. “You’ll have your fill soon, children,” he said. With a quick gesture, Sakush made the two creatures him and Lilon as they ran.
Last was Mran, who stood quietly facing the direction of where the enemy will come from. Her armour was in plated silver and iron, the shoulder blades looking like great dragon claws. She lifted her arms and banged her gauntlet-covered fists together. A sudden boom erupted from it, and sparks flew from her fists. The sparks grew and lengthened. With another loud boom, a huge silver hammer appeared in her hands. The stem was as long as her body, and its head was nearly similar to an ale barrel. Despite its size, she lifted it as though it weighed nothing and started to spin it above her head. A deep whooshing sound filled the air as she spun her hammer. The leaves on the trees and the grass on the ground swayed and bent from the wind generated from her action. Yet, she continued to stand still.
From the shadows in one part of the woods, several inky black shapes emerged. They were the mindless minions of those who wanted the Onran. As huge as the average man, the creatures had long, sinewy necks that ended in a snake-like head with a mouth filled with razor teeth. Four massive legs enabled the creatures to move swiftly yet quietly, like the salamanders from which they were patterned. A long, muscular tail completed the look – a tail able to lash out like a whip to either stun its enemies or knock them to the ground before leaping on them to devour.
The first handful burst out, their maws open in a strange hiss-roar as they charged towards Mran. Without changing expression, Mran swung her hammer down and to the direction of the Drukkars.
There was several snaps and thuds from the creatures’ bodies as the wind generated from Mran’s hammer slammed into them. A couple were even thrown off and smashed into the trees. The first wave dealt with, Mran began to run as well.