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To The Gauntlet World

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The Gauntlet World is a planet between many others, where lost people often find themselves. Once in an era a contest is held between its populace, and the contestants are forced to survive and evolve. Bodies and minds are broken, rules and morals are disregarded, and shapes are twisted into bizarre, horrid forms for a chance at the ultimate prize.

Fantasy / Adventure
Age Rating:


The Lord of Curtains lounged in her realm, kicking her feet and pouting. She had been designated as the greeter, and she hated the form of this new species she had to greet. She was posthuman, in the way that a human was post-cellular. She was a thing so old, so powerful, so well-embedded into the fundamental nature of the universe, that her mind tore at its fabric and wove her desires into being, and the very idea of her death was silly.

Yet there she was, upset with the clothes she had to wear.

Her realm was a theater, all in all, and she sat now in what would have been a private box. Beneath her were columns of seats, somehow both only a handful of front row chairs, and somehow enough to seat billions. At the front was a red satin curtain, weighted at its bottom, and stretching up, down, and side to side, for miles. Black walls surrounded the room, a round, multi-tiered amphitheater with subtly concealed speakers to repeat the sound from the stage. A strange mix of practical engineering and impossible physics. Kaleptine was prone on a cushion, down below the wall of her box, making an effort to be a person.

“She” was just the word a human would use for her. They were a species of a gender gradient with two poles, and had to fit everything they thought of as a being somewhere on that, because they were obsessed with sex and had to know where this new entry to their perception fit, whether they were, or should be, interested in fucking it, or not.

Kaleptine found it all silly, in a tiring way. She presented as female, and took on a form that fit her liking, but that was all. She hoped none of them would try to stick their pingos in her, or get her to touch their vagiblines - or whatever their bits and pieces were. She didn’t forget what Ellisokh had told her - for a Lord memory and identity were inseparable - but she hated the ideas, so deliberately squeezed them out of shape to keep them out of herself.

Kaleptine was the Lord of Curtains. This was because humans had an inefficient language, without a way to bundle together the ideas of the playwright, and the storyteller, and the actor, the harlequin, the crafters of scenery, and the watchers in the audience as the show began. All of these were hers, down to narration itself, and a thousand other smaller ideas, but there was no way to say all that at once.

She now took the form of a short, lithe woman, with long limbs but a small, petite frame, and a smooth, round face that would make a good canvas. She had the nose of a pixie, and big, innocent eyes with brown irises flecked by emerald spots. Her dark hair was bob cut, short enough to just pass her ears, and she wore a white body glove without zippers or seams. Had she been upright, her halo would have floated above her head, a wreath of gold-colored rope. As it was, she tossed it and caught it, pretending she was amused while she crushed her mind down into being just a human, for now. In her realm it was impossible for her to fail, as here she was the author. Her power was absolute, and her body as much the thing that looked like one as any other part of the room. She hurled her halo at the far wall of her little room, and a hand bloomed from the air itself, twisting the empty spaces so she was holding it again. With a spark of thought she reversed the action, and the halo flew away, released by a hand that withered away and returned to her. She sighed and, with a feeling that was somehow both taking off a shoe, and tearing out an eye, she locked that part of herself away, then locked away the lock. It would be some time before she could return to her full power.

“Ellieeeee,” she whined, “Why do I have to do this part?”

The hollow, thundering echo of the Lord of Expanse rumbled into her, or at least her mind pretended it did. They “Spoke” with their minds linked together most times, their haloes merging the two without the need for filtering through a language, but now they were withdrawing from such things in preparation for a new member.

“Because you are the youngest, and have the least to seal. It will be good for the both of you.”

“But Fryhek-”

“Is a demi-lord,” finished Ellisokh. “Yes, it is already present, as are many others, but they are demi-lords, and not to be given free reign. You have ripened, and can be trusted.”

“You’re already ready though!” countered Kaleptine. “You can enter now if you wanted, but I have so much left to lock up!”

Ellisokh entered Kaleptine’s realm then, instead of just speaking through the pores. The Lord of the Expanse also chose to be female, but this was because she had been a mother before her maturation. When she entered the realm Ellisokh was a pair of forms, as entry was nothing physical, but a presentation of ideas. She was her preferred form, and the one she would use, in the same space, separated by distinction. Her preference was from her birth form, an eel. She was reminiscent of the Drakon from Greek myth in size, with a diameter that would let her mouth swallow most automobiles.

Kaleptine’s mouth twitched into a frown as she tasted the human metaphor, then deepened as she realized she was frowning.

Ellisokh’s form was a wrinkled, slimy leather with ridges of spines, and lines of subdermal muscles clumped together into nodes. Her head was flat and round, with pharyngeal jaws that could snap out like a trap, and brittle barbed needles emerged from her gums, the type of teeth filled with venom and designed by evolution to lodge in the flesh of her prey. Electricity crackled around her as the muscle nodes worked, and Kaleptine might have had to worry about stray lightning if they were in the neutral realm - “reality” as some called it. The eel was a native of a world of dense atmosphere and strong electromagnetic currents, where great beasts could fly through the sky on electrical updrafts.

The other form of the Lord of the Expanse was a humanoid woman, about thirty by her looks, with skin the same nautical blue as the great eel. Her eyes were honey yellow and cast iron black, though the dark spots were like slivers that swam and bunched as her pupils moved. Her hair was wild and voluminous, the white-grey of age or stress. She stood tall and strong, with a large bust, arms that were made of knotted muscle, and the wide hips a mother was happy to have. She wore a stained apron over a ripped leather vest, with a softer under-shirt that spread into a short, practical dress. Her face was wrinkled, but only at the eyes and corners of her wide mouth. She was beautiful in the way one was after you started as pretty, but then life sanded you down for a while; the durability of a strong soul.

“This is many things for you,” said the mother. “This is practice, and a test. This is a game, and your time to shine. I have proven myself, you still need to - the newborn will understand. You won’t go wrong, so long as you play yourself accurately.”

“Fine,” answered Kaleptine, after what was made to be a mortal moment of consideration. “I understand. Are they ready for me?”

“They are,” answered Ellisokh. “You’re late, in fact.”

“Then I’ll be off.”

And the world crumbled as Kaleptine cut it off. The speakers distended and rotted away, the rows collapsed together and chairs melted into pews, then shrank to dust. Kaleptine flew at first, then arced down and set foot on the stage as her realm fell apart behind her. The curtains shrank down to the size of a doorway, and she seized one edge. She took a deep breath, the first to ever fill her lungs, and stepped through.

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