Breaking the world

Breaking the world
#1
Breaking the world
He wished he was home. He hated every second of being here, from the way the bugs in the grass made his legs itch to the way the mud stuck to his boots to the annoying speeches that the commanders kept insisting on giving every ten minutes ‘to raise morale’. But a promise was a promise, even if it was one made two hundred-odd years ago in a much different time to today. So here he was, scratching his legs and cursing the chilly mist and gripping his spear and listening to Riolla on her stupid elk talking about the righteousness of their cause and the evils of the enemy and how she was so proud of her southern brethren for crossing the mountains and joining them in the fight for the survival of their homeland.

Enitan missed his home – the bright sun, drinking cool water from the watering-holes alongside the herds of gazelle, sitting in the shade of the acacia trees, and playing the five-string lyre to the melodies of his beloved. But the treaty was more important than his or anyone else’s happiness, and though he cursed the gods he answered the call when it went out. He was but a stripling when it was signed, watching from afar as his tall and proud queen pledged her eternal support and joined the circle, never to be broken. It was a necessary thing, to heal the dying world. History began anew on that day, and despite his grumbling Enitan least of all wanted a return to the way things were before.

So he stood there waiting for the general, pale and red-haired like the autumn aspen of the capital they’d left a week ago, giving the same speech she’d given when they set off, just in slightly different words. He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up to see gold, cat-like eyes looking down at him from a dark, masked face. Long hair braided with bone beads flowed out in a large mane around his ears.

“She likes to hear herself talk, eh young brother? But don’t worry, she’s the finest warrior I’ve seen. Outside of my Lions, of course!”

Enitan froze up. To stand so close to Jelani of the East Lions would have been an honor in any other circumstance. But here, on the eve of battle, it just made him nervous. Before he could build up the courage to answer, the tall dark warrior had walked forward, his hair swaying behind him. The rest of the Lions strode after him to take the front, the only noise coming from the clicking of their beads. A fellow spearman looked at him jealously, but Enitan didn’t return the glance. He just held his spear tighter. The elite fighters would live through the battle, he was sure of it. But a grunt like him? His knees quaked at the thought of dying here away from his land, and in this polluted place besides.

A horn blew as the fog thinned. The shape of their enemy materialized, a long line of them approaching to the beat of a drum. It was strange, from their silhouettes in the fog they almost looked like one of the people, yet even from here Enitan could feel their curse, as everyone else did. His commander shouted an order to advance. All he needed to do was hold the line with the other spears. Then they’d protect their northern siblings and the land, and once the invaders were beaten back he could return home.

Deep breaths in the muddy forest. Enitan crouched among the bushes, watching and listening for any pursuit. But who would go after a single infantryman? He tried to remember when he had felt the grip of fear and started running. Was it when proud Jelani died, blasted into pieces? Or perhaps it was when Riolla fell from her elk, pierced in countless places under the enemy’s relentless volley? Or maybe…

He froze up as his ears picked up the panting and braying of dogs. He drew a knife from his belt—the spear lost somewhere in the muck and piled bodies when he fled the battle. Enitan counted the seconds as the sounds drew closer, as the hunters shouted and ran towards him. He peeked through the bushes, hoping at least to get the drop on these pursuers and have some chance of escaping. His eyes widened as he saw a young enemy soldier, who looked about the same age as him (but he reminded himself, their cursed blood sapped their life-force and made them age faster), bleeding from a wound in their thigh, clutching a bundle of swaddling-clothes. The youth's uniform was stained with mud and sat poorly on their skinny frame, bunched up in places and torn in others. Pursuing the soldier were hunting dogs, and the shouts of their masters not far behind. But the bundle… Enitan felt something strange. A child? One of the cursed? But no, somehow different.

It was clear that he could escape now, if he snuck away from the scene. Clearly the hunters were not there for him. But could he leave a child to that fate? Even if it was most likely one of the cursed?
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Human space is at war, and we're all caught up in it - Scattered Stars

A woman chases another through the snow, but where will their path lead them? - Footprints in the snow
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#2
RE: Breaking the world
> You are at an crossroads between escapism and saving the life of a vulnerable warrior. Remind yourself that freedom does not mean long term survival.
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#3
RE: Breaking the world
Enitan watched as the soldier tripped in the mud and tumbled to the ground, child still clutched tight. Watched as the dogs got closer. Finally, he could no longer watch, and sprang to action. With a war-whoop he leapt over the bushes and ran at the dogs, kicking them and chasing them away with a stick. A hunter broke through the trees and stopped in shock, giving the warrior just enough time to throw his knife and catch the pursuer in the neck. He quickly grabbed the hunter's axe and bashed one of the dogs. The other sunk its teeth into his leg. With a curse he fought it off and then looked up to see the second hunter raising a crossbow, and then falling over, bleeding from his gut. The soldier! Enitan turned to stare.

For a long moment the two stared into each other's eyes, both breathing heavily, both clutching their wounds. Their stare was broken by a cry: the cry of the baby swaddled so tight in the soldier's rags. Enitan stumbled to his feet and leveled his (stolen) axe at the soldier. The other just sat there, resigned, defeated. Enitan was unsure of what to do. Why did he defend these two? He watched the baby squirm and cry, and thought long and hard on his next move.
Current Projects:
Human space is at war, and we're all caught up in it - Scattered Stars

A woman chases another through the snow, but where will their path lead them? - Footprints in the snow
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#4
RE: Breaking the world
Engage them in conversation. Maybe you can offer sage advice on childcare.
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#5
RE: Breaking the world
The silence persisted a long and uncomfortable moment before Enitan reached out a hand.

"Who are you? Why were your own people chasing you?"

The soldier looked up with narrowed eyes and a puzzled look, sounding out Enitan's words syllable by syllable with a rough and uncertain voice. Then finally the recognition, the realization and understanding. Slowly, the soldier spoke,

"My name is Luka. There is no time, we must leave for the others approach. The babe,"

the soldier's words have a strange lilt to them, pausing to remember words from a long-forgotten tongue, accented strangely, with an archaic pronunciation.


"My brother's child. And your people's. More, I will explain later."

Luka groaned and stood up, looking around. Enitan looked too, for he had no idea where to go. Deeper into the forest? Along the treeline and exit somewhere else? Or abandon this mystery and this child? But when he saw Luka and the baby, he knew he couldn't. Enitan would not let an innocent die like this.
Current Projects:
Human space is at war, and we're all caught up in it - Scattered Stars

A woman chases another through the snow, but where will their path lead them? - Footprints in the snow
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#6
RE: Breaking the world
Enitan looked around. He did not have a connection to this forest like he did his homeland, but nevertheless the land and trees spoke to him faintly. He cocked his head and listened, then pointed deeper into the forest.

"Come. More hunters are on their way. We must leave here quickly."

Luka nodded and adjusted the swaddling clothes into a sling to carry the baby. The two headed off into the forest, deeper among the trees. Enitan made sure to cross several streams in order to throw off the scent. Finally, they stopped, panting, deep in the cool darkness of the woods. Enitan listened and watched, and was satisfied that they were safe. He then turned his attention back to Luka. The youth looked pale and unsteady, and Enitan remembered the bleeding wound, still oozing through their blood-stained trousers. Enitan came close, and although surprised Luka did not have the strength to pull away.

"Let me see that," he said, gesturing to the wound. Luka stared at Enitan, trying to discern his intentions, before leaning against a tree. "Do what you will."

The proud warrior knelt and used his knife to cut away the sticky cloth. He examined Luka's thigh and grimaced. It was an ugly wound, a round and jagged hole no doubt caused by the terrifying metal sticks that the cursed ones brought to the battle. He knew he couldn't treat this by normal means. Not enough time, and no herbs here to stave off the inevitable infection. He was left with no choice. He didn't think it would work, could work, but the fact that somehow one of his own kind had produced a child with one of the cursed put the seed of hope in his mind. Enitan called on his strength, the strength of the land and forest, and the knowledge of magic that every child learned, and placed his hands over the wound. His head throbbed as he felt the curse but he willed the metal ball out, the bone to heal and the flesh to knit together, and for Luka to regain some of the blood they had lost. He closed his eyes and concentrated, straining, groaning, feeling his own energy being sapped to push aside the curse, but the land compensated. The forest's life-force surged forward and into the magical bond. Then, silence.

Enitan opened his eyes and lifted his hands. It wasn't pretty, and would certainly leave a scar, but the shot had healed. Then the tiredness overcame him and his vision swam. He collapsed backwards as the world started to go dark.

"Stranger? What is happening? Stranger! Don't leave me!"

The voice grew distant as Enitan closed his eyes. Everything disappeared...

When he awoke he was in an unfamiliar place. The forest was still all around him, but the trees looked strange, different. A glow suffused them and pulsed through the air. Little motes of light floated around, settling gently on leaves and flowers. Above him, through the leaves, the sky swirled in impossible colors. And somehow, he felt a presence, though he could not see it.
Current Projects:
Human space is at war, and we're all caught up in it - Scattered Stars

A woman chases another through the snow, but where will their path lead them? - Footprints in the snow
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#7
RE: Breaking the world
This presence was something from his past, and something he never wanted to see again.
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#8
RE: Breaking the world
Play dead, let your senses expand and be ready for danger before revealing your return to consciousness.
"Don't get me started on Henchmen."
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#9
RE: Breaking the world
Enitan lay still in the forest as he watched the scene through lidded eyes. He noticed that he no longer felt the pain of his combat scapes, and that there seemed to be no other living creatures here, not even insects. He shifted experimentally and decided that he was probably dreaming. Still, it did not hurt to be vigilant. And there was that presence, still felt, still somewhere out there. Enitan did not like that feeling. He made sure he wasn't being watched and got up, looking for a place to hide. As he turned his head, he saw it -

Far off in the distance, a silvery elk. And on it a rider with firey hair. And beside her, a tall and dark-haired warrior with golden eyes. But hadn't they died? And there was someone else with them, someone Enitan had not seen in a long time, since his first disastrous raid right before the Treaty was signed. A lean and sharp-toothed swimmer, smooth of skin and terrible to behold. The three generals, together here. Something was amiss; the Sea People's army did not arrive in time, having been delayed by a storm. Why were they together here, in this forest? Enitan saw Jalani's head turn towards him, and for a moment, he thought that the other southerner had spotted him. Then, he turned away, and the three moved farther into the forest. Enitan breathed a sigh of relief.

A hand on his shoulder startled him. As he turned, he saw a pale woman, clothed in vines and flowers, with hair the color of midnight and sharp facial features. She put her hands up and said,

"Be at peace, I mean no harm. I am concealing you from the gaze of those three, for you are someone special."

She smiled and looked up at him.

"For you saved my child, and for that I am eternally grateful. Ask anything you desire of me."
Current Projects:
Human space is at war, and we're all caught up in it - Scattered Stars

A woman chases another through the snow, but where will their path lead them? - Footprints in the snow
Quote