Carried Away

The shop had all kinds of things. Toys, tools, jugs and mugs. Masks from far away, colourful clothes, gadgets of all sorts.

There, behind a basket full of cones and torches, something caught Ild’s attention. Two strange sticks with a little ball on the end of each one. The little balls emitted a green light.

The shop keeper looked at him with interest him as he walked closer.

-I see they have chosen you,

He had only one eye and a big scar across his face. He lacked several teeth as well, probably for other reasons. He grinned, but it was no friendly grin.

-Excuse me?

-They’ve found you.

-Wouldn’t that be rather I’ve found them?

-Whatever you say, the shop keeper said. -They’re yours, no charge.

He didn’t look like the kind of man who would give away things for free.

-What are they for? Ild sent him a sceptical glare.

-They summon things, finds things. Leads the way.

There was a long silence. Ild was about to speak to break the tension, when the man continued in a sudden, fierce tone.

-Take them! Get out of here!

Ild grabbed the sticks, looking confused at the man behind the desk. This was all very strange, but he was intrigued by the two sticks, the strange words, even the way the shop keeper acted.

-Er… Thank you.

The shop keeper laughed when he walked out of the alley. He could hear his laughter stronger and stronger as he walked down the road, as if it was following him.

He got home, looking at his new, glowing sticks. He liked them a lot. He waved them around a bit in the semi darkness, making lines and circles.

A greenish cloud appeared, shining, like northern lights, like stars. There was a face, first diffuse, unclear. Then solid, still floating.

-Come with me.

-W…Where to?

-To the lost city of balloons and wonders.To the city of Tor’ar.

They walked. They walked for a long time, up in the mountains, between high walls. They walked on paths no one had walked in a long time, paths long forgotten.

Balloons could be seen in the skies. A valley appeared, deep like an abyss, rocky, infertile.

-Here we are.

The other side was far away, the abyss was deep and wide. Ild sat down to rest. The hologram kept staring at the other side, waiting. Ild fell asleep.

He woke up by the sound of metal hitting rock. An anchor had touched the ground in front of him.

-Hop on! We don’t have all day!

A balloon was waiting for them. The driver had a vest on, and short pants. His one eye was sparkling a glow Ild knew from before. A scar across his face.

Stranger at Home

-They are coming! Squeak! Coming! The bird looked towards the castle far away on the other side of the fields.

-They are coming, they are coming! The other birds echoed through the woods. A war was about to begin.

The squirrel ran through the woods, wanting to get a good spot.

The soldiers marched. They were many, and heavily armed. The trees shivered as they passed by.

On the other side of the forest there was another land, vast, beautiful and fertile. A king ruled, better than most. According to the plan, he was not to rule much longer.

-Some battle, wasn’t it? The squirrel jumped back and forth between the branches. Blood was flowing, people were screaming. It was over.

-Some battle! Some battle! The bird flew off, over the battle field.

Perkel was lying under a pile of bodies. Some friends, other foes, all dead or dying. He was unhurt, but he didn’t move. Mercy would not be granted for anyone who was caught, and the army he had fought for was destroyed. The attack had been demolished.

Men started carrying the bodies away, putting them in piles further down. Perkel crawled down a ditch, reached the river. He let himself in, drifted away from the horrors he had been a part of.

A bird circled above him, watching him with interest. Further down he reached the forest. He pulled himself up, crawled in between the bushes. Lay on the ground, rested. Tried to get his mind back in place. It felt splintered, destroyed. Images of violence rushed through his inner eye, fear tormented his soul.

-Hi!

Perkel jumped around.  There was no one there. He grabbed a rock from the ground.

-Up here, silly! Squeak!

He looked up in the trees. The bird was looking down at him. A squirrel was watching from another tree.

-You escaped, didn’t you? The battle! You deserted! Deserted!

-I did. Perkel looked down, moving the grass with his foot. -I didn’t want to die.

-Well, you didn’t, did you? The squirrel jumped down a few branches, to get a better look. It seemed uprightly happy for him. -Now what you going to do?

-I have no idea… I can’t go home, that’s for sure. I’d be killed for deserting. And I can’t go back to the land we were attacking, My kind won’t be welcome there now.

The squirrel looked at him with its head on the chess. -There’s not many choices left, then, is there?.

-No choices! No choices! Squeak!

Perkel looked around. The forest was dense and wild, and he had no idea how to survive there. -How would I even find food? he said out loud, expecting no answer.

-There are nuts everywhere at this time of year, wouldn’t you know? The squirrel jumped up to a higher branch, threw him a cluster of acorns. -You’ll be fine, don’t you think?

-And bugs! Bugs all over! We’ll teach you! Squeak!

Perkel lived in the forest for years. When winter came closer, food was getting scarce, and he missed home, his family. His wife and child. He didn’t know how they were, let alone the worry he felt for them believing he was dead. Still, he stayed. There would be no pardon from the king if he returned.

His beard grew long and wild, so did his hair. The third year he made a decision.

-I’m going back home, he told the squirrel. -I need to see my family.

-You’ll have luck, don’t you think? I sure hope they will treat you right…

-I sure hope so. Thank you, my friend, for everything.

He walked through the forest, the way he had come long ago. He walked through the fields, hoping no one would see him. He reached his little farm in the country side.

There was no one there… (more)

Return of the Dragons

-Look, up there!

-You know my eyes are not what they used to. The old man twisted his neck back as far as his worn back would permit. – What is it?

-The dragon’s! They’re back!

-Oh, my…It’s been so long. Hopefully they’re back to stay this time.

The faun jumped up the walls of the castle side, ran up from stone to stone where no man could ever  walk.

She straightened her back, took a deep breath of fresh air. Underneath people were gathering, all looking up to see the dragons circling the skies. Wherever they had been, they were back now.

The song was a song of welcome, a song to let them know they had been missed. Her voice, soft and powerful floated over the castle, over the town, out beyond the fields and forests. People came out of their houses, dropped what ever they carried, stopped what they were doing. Everyone looked up at the sky and listened.

The dragons danced… (more)

The King’s Arrival

He was changed. Huge tentacles came out of his back, waving in the air. His eyes were distant, blank, like a dead man, but he breathed.

On narrow paths and long roads their journey went. People stared as they walked by, astonished, surprised. Terrified.

An omen. New times had come.

In the darkness at night Mandlos and Pendlor heard their god murmur, whisper and speak in strange tongues. He never addressed them, never gave them the honour of their attention. He just was there, existing somewhere else.

One day he finally spoke.

I need a sacrifice.

The two men, his two most loyal servants looked at each other.

-We’re not worthy! Mandlos threw himself to the ground before him.

-What ever you desire, we will get it for you, oh Lord of Dark and Light, our saviour, our destruction.

I want blood, the creature said. Its eyes were flashing, its tentacles waving. What had once been a man was now a monster, a creature of darkness. But he was still their king… (more)

Traffic Jam

Biiiiip! Beeeeeeeep!

-The traffic’s stuck… damn, as if the weekend wasn’t short enough as it is.

-And here in the middle of the tunnel… Now what?

-I guess we’re just going to have to wait. It has to loosen up sooner or later… Wait, why are people running back here?

-Do you think there’s been an accident?

-I’ll go have a look.

Jake walked on down the tunnel. People were running the opposite way.

-What’s happening? Why are you…

-Run! There’s a monster!

-Run for your life!

-A monster… Ha! That’s just silly. I guess I’ll have to go check it out myself.

The end of the tunnel was far ahead. He kept walking until he could see the bridge outside.

The traffic was jammed, all right. Several big trucks were blocking the way, but there was something else in front of them, like some kind of wall. He couldn’t really see what it was from here, but it looked like a huge rock. There was no one running any more. All the cars were abounded.

He reached the opening. His eyes followed the rock up towards the tall top. A giant face was staring down at him, watching him from high above. Jake swallowed. There was a giant monster sitting on the highway. There was no way no one would ever get past like this.

There goes my vacation. This can’t be happening.

Jake swallowed, forced his hands to stop shaking… (more)

Strike of Luck

By the bank Palit got his flute out. He blew a long, monotone sound. Then they waited.

Nothing happened.

-Maybe we’re in the wrong place? Nista glanced over at Palit staring out on the lake.

-Look!

The water moved. Something came up, emerged through the surface.

A hippo creature, big as a whale. It moved in to the shore and waited.

Palit leaped out on the big beast’s back. -Come on, jump!

Nista hesitated. It didn’t look safe. The animal sunk down, moved away from the shore.

-Jump!

She jumped, landed on its back. Slipped, fell into the water. Palit pulled her up.

The journey was long. The creature walked on the bottom where it could, swam where it had to. The water got deeper, the rocks on the sides taller.

-Where are we going? Nista said.

-I have no idea. The old man only told me I had to blow the flute. The rest would be up to fate.

They moved out into open water…. (more)