EarthBorn: First Days

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Rattled Seas

3rd Day 8th Quarter

10 Quarters until sky change

The wind races with whistles in ear, Maidon and Airon riding hard west atop their steeds to the Colonian keep where ancient beings of old used to dwell, their beasts with heads down low full gallop side by side across the plains with the dark forest ever present on their right flank, silent for the most until the dawning sun that creep above the horizon behind them, the Fathers of the sky paint their path with rays of protecting light keeping the last of the nocturnal danger at bay, angels high up a watch...

Ahead the landscape transitions from the grassy rock to a pebble splashed edging they stop, standing at the edge they gaze out upon a pebble sea they cannot see the other side of yet must cross, the splashes of pebbles indicate something regularly leaves and returns...

“This is where the path on the map ends, it’s across this place” says Maidon...

They do not linger and head onto the uncertain plain that waves and tumbles as water yet they do not sink, meters thick of gravel afloat on syrup water high in salt it holds their weight as long as it remains spread, the crunching carries far taking with it any element of stealth, the steeds struggle to keep the pace with all fours sliding and sinking into the gravel with their flustering it becomes a hindrance, the terrain grinds them to a walk...

“We should dismount and walk to save their legs for the return journey” ...Maidon suggests....

“That’s if there’s a return journey”...Maidon does not answer, they dismount and begin walking across the pebbled lake with beast in tail harnesses in hand Airon head down...

“There will be a return journey Airon, we will make it that is a certainty, whether we have an army behind us is another thing”...Airon doesn’t look convinced, they say no more and continue grinding across the rolling ground, the sounds constant and consecutive giving the impression of a company from only two, passing what appears to be the centre of the gravel sea after hours of walking the noise elevates with more then their own steps, more rolling stones that are a short distance off, something it appears has decided to join them...

“Maidon there’s something I wanted to say, since that moment we shared”... Maidon whips her finger up sharp silencing her admiring companion...

“Shhh...wait a moment”...says Maidon with her index now drawn over her lip, they hold steady and find all’s quiet...

“What is it?”...asks Airon confused looking in all directions ending at Maidon...

“Something follows us, just keep moving”...they continue slowly and again background crunches join in adding rhythm less echoes, Maidon turns quickly to try and catch a glimpse of their stalker, she scans left and right but all she sees is pebbles in all directions, nothing at all, not even a lone pebble moves...“Wait here with the beasts...” Maidon draws her flail and begins walking back to retrace the steps left behind as miniature craters , she walks ten yards back before noticing the craters have been levelled out, as far back as she can see from that point the traces vanish, Airon walks over to see what his fascination is looking at when , all of a sudden a loud ruckus back where their steed stand gains their attention, a wave of pebbles distorts the view but the sound of the steeds terrified pain filled howling still makes it through, within moments, before the wave of gravel settles, as fast as it happened all fell quiet, all goes calm. One of the steeds is gone, taken, and the other is in full flight back the way they came hoping to make it to safety before he to is preyed upon...

“Let’s not wait for it to come back shall we”...insists Maidon... “we cannot be far now”...

“it’s been following us all this way how do you know it’s not still here?”...Airon protests in alarmed discomfort...

“Because it will be eating or heading to store it’s capture, Now go!”...they start to jog into the endless sea of pebbles widening the gap between them and their predator...

A time passes with no more activity so they slow to save Airons legs, thee air stagnant and muggy, their ankles and legs burn even Maidons but she can easily continue, miles of the ground giving way has taken its toll but she is no ordinary woman, Airon takes advantage of the situation...

“Maidon, what I was trying to tell you earlier..”...Maidon attempts to deflect again with no way to escape...

“Airon please I”...

“Please hear me out, we could all be dead imminently, and soon after we will be but dust long forgotten so please!”...Maidon finally gives in and allows Airon to express ...”From the first moment you arrived and I saw you standing there in the market square I was complete, like a missing piece of myself was finally in reach, then you left and I felt lost again, I thought it was just a childish crush but...when you returned yesterday I got the exact same feeling I did when I first saw you, that same wholesome feeling, like we are meant to do this, when you said you was leaving here I had to come...because...well because I...” Maidon cuts his words short...

“look there’s the end, let’s go”... She tries to walk off at speed but Airon grabs her arm and spins her around...

“MAIDON I THINK I LOVE YOU!”...His words are met with a blank stare that slowly changes to urgency, a hastened repelling...

“That’s not the reaction I had in mind “... Airon says unable to absorb her expression...

“Run!”

“What is it with you and avoiding emotions and!”...She grabs his face gives him a kiss on the lips and then forces him to turn and see the impending doom, the ground slides towards them at speed as a sheet, the stones rattle and fill the void left beneath by the creatures showing their position which cut off anyway but forward...

“RUN!”...They take off as fast as possible towards the horizon ahead, their legs burn and foreheads drip with nervous sweat trying hard to keep the distance, more and more join the chase stones clashing like rain battered leafs all around, the end is just ahead, firm ground on which to turn and repel their pursuers with conflict...

Without looking back to see, they hear vacuums sucking away the air around, sounds nor light can escape, formed minute black holes a breathless instance almost chokes them, a moment of anticipation followed by a supersonic burst that almost deafens, pebbles fly with awesome speed past Maidon and Airons heads rippling and distorting the very fabric of reality, igneous buckshot they try to fell their prey before they make the safe edge, only thirty metres left when Maidon spots two coming from either flank trying to cut off their escape ahead of them, she slows behind Airon placing both palms on the flat of his back, her thick toned legs go into overdrive lifting Airons feet off the ground with her speed and momentum, as the edge comes within the last ten metres she unleashes an almighty shove sending him through the air and tumbling onto the hard surface out of striking range, with Airon safe Maidon takes a long jump to the solid ground drawing her flail as she does and prepares to eliminate any who try to attack but, the creatures do not expose them selves whole, only for a second after firing their pebbles buckshot can you see the grim fate that awaits prey, a mouth big enough for two to stand in lined with side facing daggers perfect for opening the soul, they do not leave the safety of their environment instead nesting in wait for any else who try to cross...

“That was far too close, how the hell are we going to make it back across now?”... Maidon walks over taking Airons hand and pulls him to his feet...

“we better make the negotiations work then hadn’t we!”...

“How can you be calm Maidon, it’s possible death at every turn and we don’t even know if the Colonians even exist anymore!”...

“If you focus on the death and despair then even the most certain of things will seem hopeless and desolate...we keep moving and stay positive!...this is why they are called quests!”...

“well that’s easy for a warrior goddess who’s virtually untouchable to say, but I’m fragile and break and have feelings and things!”...Maidon looks at Airon with raised eyebrows...

“I’m fully aware of emotions , but they have no place right now do they?, our race could all be annihilated and you are worried about your feelings towards me?!”...She says aggressively pushing him back to the floor on his bum...

“so what are you saying Maidon”...

“I’m saying there’s a time and a setting to tell ones desires, if and when we make it through the next sixteen quarters then we can act on our feelings, until that time arrives we keep going so we don’t let our friends down....our people down!”... Maidon turns sharp and leaves Airon to pick himself up from the floor, which he does in a huff and follows her lead...

The short walk is halted by a wall of tall thick grass , seven to nine feet high it dwarfs Maidon and Airon blocking any view of what lies ahead and only their backlit shadows to guide them as a dial, the thick stems are rigid giving resistance when pushed aside its tiring, they push through the first layers and stumble onto a path that curves around in both directions out of sight, it is narrow enough to fit both shoulder to shoulder at a squeeze, they take the right and follow it round when they come across an opening on their left, they follow it onto another path that again splits either way...

“what kind of Forest is this?” ...asks Airon looking both ways bedazzled...

“This isn’t a forest, this is a Maze, a trick!”...the sound of moving branches behind them startles, the opening back has now been sealed with illusion, hidden among the other brush making it impossible to pin point...

“Good thing we only need to go forward then isn’t it” ...Airon says nervously...

“Well let’s just hope its not too long, we haven’t got time to be playing in a maze...come on this way”... They begin to jog the paths taking every first turn that takes them deeper into the mystical construct labyrinth, right left right each layer closes off with the trunks growing thicker and thicker the further they descend to the point they will not be able to cut their way back out, purpose grown and purpose built to be one way in no way out...

“Maidon we are going in circles.”

“we aren’t going in circles that’s exactly how a maze is suppose to make you feel...lost and hopeless”...still jogging down the narrow paths the trunks change to totems, godly figures and heroes long past still menacing the world with frightening appearances they stand to attention showing, guiding Maidon and Airon the way forward, each door passed again trunks slam behind them closing the way back, the paths shrink in length and grow wider the ground turns from clay to sand damp and dark meticulously lining level every inch of ground there are no prints ahead or signs of movement just smooth virgin ground...

They come to a final crescent with a larger opening it takes them into the centre where a large mound of sand tipped with a stone wall circling the peak sitting dormant, they edge their way in and again the trunks slams behind them cutting off the outside and trapping them within the centre...

“This must be the centre”...Maidon says

“But there’s nothing but a broken wall and sand, they cannot be here anymore, we should leave!”...replies Airon with a nervous pitch backing down the hill...

“Just wait here a second”...Maidon makes her way up the mound to the wall leaving Airon at the bottom alone, the sand grows firmer the higher she goes, the stone wall ancient it crumbles with the weather like stale bread, the other side is a bottom less cavern covered only in part by decaying timber gates rotten with mites and wood worm...

“AHHH”...a short sharp cry from Airon silenced by a door slammed shut spins Maidon around to find he is gone with no trace, the ground begins to groan and moan beneath her like the ragged drunkard mans belly, rock grinding stone echoes all around her as the totem palisades spin opposite to the mound, random holes appear in star like formations all over the face taking any who fall down to the unknown...

She dances down the mound and around weaving the black holes that have no pattern, Maidon, queen of speed looses her foot and falls prey to the abyss falling down a Shute that twists and turns drops climbs all with her own momentum, designed to disorient it deposits her unconscious body into a shadowy cage deep beneath the surface of the world above....

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