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An old project I dropped Empty An old project I dropped

Post by Gidian on Fri Nov 11, 2016 7:21 pm

This was going to eventually be moulded into a thousand word or less limit for the topic of a "Hollow Victory". Never finished it or even made it far enough to get past correcting spelling errors (didn't even get to the fight itself!). I think it's a fitting first entry before I delve deeper into this site, hopefully taking advantage of it while it's still new and turning myself into such a juggernaut presence that none will be able to oppose me once this forum finally gets traction.

The wind cried in resigned agony. The rain pounded in relentless fury. The thunder reverberated through the night, as a heartbeat growing more and more rapid. The lightning blinded the world as it assaulted the earth. The trees groaned for reprieve as they slouched, seeking sad refuge together. The mud squelched underfoot, desperately clinging to me for support as it begged I not face the coming disaster- of which I was blissfully unaware.

Perhaps I should have listened, should have sought safety in the dense forest. Perhaps I could have found a cave, or some other large rock formation to shelter me from the bitter civil war that nature was waging. Perhaps staggering through the forest, lightning as my only source of illumination, desperately trying to pierce the solid curtains of rain was not, in hindsight, the best of ideas.

But my family was scattered, all of them out here somewhere, hopefully together but probably alone, if not worse. There was a war raging behind us, and not just the natural kind. But the ugly kind. The kind that lit up the sky not from lightning, and deafened ears not from thunder, but from the fierce clash of unimaginably powerful and unnatural forces.

But try as I might, my senses could not pierce the combined resistance of darkness and storm. There was no sign of anyone, or anything, anywhere. It was all beginning to creep under my skin, every flash of lightning painting a completely different scene from the last. The only signs of making real progress were the constant squelch, squelch, squelch, of my footsteps and the occasional knock of my face against an offending tree.

But after one last knock, this time the rain running the blood from my stinging nose and the tears from my crying eyes, I heard it. A squelch that didn't belong to me… There! Just ahead. I'm close, I can feel it! I exclaimed inwardly, the hope igniting excited shivers that had nothing to do with the wind or rain.

“Gill! Amanda! Can you hear me?! I just want to help!” I shouted with all my might, hoping that my siblings could hear me. There was nothing at first but the storm. I shouted again, desperation fueling my voice to greater volume... but there still was nothing.

The shivers of relief turned into shivers of apprehension, as the hairs on my neck stood on end. There were monsters in these woods. Most of them should be bedded down, ready to ride out the worst of the storm. Should. I dropped a hand to the hilt of my sword, relying mostly on my ears to guide me as I desperately began to mutter a prayer, “Please be Gill…” But then I reminded myself that Gill hated me, and loved hunting… “Please be a monster…”

The next boom of thunder and strike of lightning made me jump, drawing my sword and slashing wildly at the branches that had become clawed hands. That sent whatever I had heard crashing through the forest, throwing up leaves and snapping twigs and sticks as it went. Far too loud to be Gill.

Far too quiet to be much of a monster. A soldier maybe? I thought, getting a hold on myself and feeling foolish. Whatever it was, it was the only living thing I'd come across other than the plants and myself in this damned forest. I considered it for a few more precious seconds, the sounds of disturbed foliage now indistinguishable in the chaos of the storm.

To (Hell) with it. I took off after whatever it was, cutting a swathe of destruction through the foliage as I barreled along. Several times I nearly tripped over roots, or slammed into a tree. But every time I grunted and rolled myself back to my feet, preserving my momentum as best I could. I felt like I was more mud than man by the time I finally broke through the dense, thrashing horde of plant life.

I stopped in the clearing, breathing deeply and holding up my face to let the rain wash away the mud. Of course, it felt like the sky was throwing a river at me, but it was better than mud in my eyes. It was about that moment that a brilliant flash of light almost blinded me, the lightning much brighter now that I didn't have the forest shielding me. The world was at once surreal in clarity, and in that moment of clarity, I thought I saw Gill. He was across the clearing from me, back turned, cloak thrashing in the wind. It was eerie, as if I was looking at a specter in the lightning’s pale gaze. I blinked, not quite sure I wasn't imaging things, but the world was dark again when I opened my eyes.

“Gill…?” I whispered, before realizing that he wouldn't be able to hear me. “Gill!” I shouted properly, fighting to be heard over the storm as I moved closer. I approached bravely at first, but my apprehension grew with every step. This could be some random deserter! It could be some intelligent monster setting an ambush! It could be a hallucination! I stopped, the hairs on my neck practically running away in the wind, unable to take another step. “Gill?!” I said again, this time with more authority, brandishing my sword for comfort. “So help me God, Gill, if that's you you'd better say something!”

The sword giving me reassurance, I kissed the crossguard and offered a short prayer before taking slow, deliberate steps forward. I could hear the cloak thrashing in the wind long before I saw it. And then I could only see it when I was barely a few steps away. I didn't know whether to be relieved that I wasn't hallucinating or even more scared. Swallowing, I tried to say something, only for the words to die in my throat. I cleared my throat and tried again. “Gill! I'm right behind you. It's me. Why didn't you call out?” that was only the first of many questions I had as I slowly reached forward to grasp him on the shoulder. “We're your family Gill, you don't have to run! We just want to help you!”

Something was wrong. Very wrong. I didn't comprehend what I was seeing as the cloak and its stiff wearer collapsed under my hand. It hadn't felt human… and then it clicked. It was a dummy! This is a- I jumped out of my skin when something hit the mud a few feet from me, burying itself- trap.

An arrow. I dove forward to avoid any follow ups, trusting my instincts. My eyes widened in surprise as I flailed out in all directions, feeling for the mud which should have been there to receive me. It was confusing at first, but I knew I'd made a huge mistake when I felt the sensation of falling. I was in too much shock to process much as I struggled not to scream. I hit the mud with an oof, sending mud and water in all directions as I went rolling. I was too dazed to move after I came to a stop, but when I could I rolled onto my back, spitting out mud and checking the damage.

Then another arrow impacted the mud between my legs, causing me to jolt nearly to my feet, only to slip and fall. Then came another near miss as I scrambled in a random direction, and another, and another, the arrows tracking my movements. Thank God for this storm. I also never thought I’d be so relieved to run into a tree, but I was as I scrambled behind it for cover. I took a few moments to catch my breath, then ran some more, finding a different tree to scramble behind. From there, I did my best to calm my breathing and ignore my aching bones and agitating bruises, so that I could listen with all of my being. I closed my eyes, trying to focus, trying to stay calm, trying to think.

“...Little bit… thinks I'm… not true… lies… liars… In the trees…” I heard someone muttering, only catching bits and pieces.

I nearly jumped out of the tree I was hiding behind and took off running, but I managed to keep it down to just inhaling sharply. It was definitely Gill’s voice, much closer than I was expecting. He'd have to be close to even see me through the storm.


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