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    submitted 23 December 2004 @ 05:13
    edited 20 August 2014 @ 13:33


Written by JAD
Rating: Enjoyable (3.5) (3.5 rating, 3 ratings)

[ composition listing | post comment | view/offer feedback (2) | rate this compositions ]

Chapter One - The Satilla

My name is Marlin… my mother was a whore. She couldn't afford to live her lifestyle and keep me fed, so on the second of Trite I was orphaned to the Order of Turin. I missed my mother even then feeling betrayed by her actions. I remember very little of my time as a youth. What I do remember had never been pleasant to dwell upon. Being the child of a whore is like being not only the black sheep yet more like the sheep the butcher paints a bullseye on for his entire life and taunts with exploratory jabs every so often. I was not only belittled by the children in the village, but also by their parents and my mothers customers. Still even now I feel betrayed by her, cast into the hands of strangers… far away from the only home I knew. I was the whores child and the beatings could be rough. My mother however was apparrently not as beautiful as she once was . Her line of friends became shorter at our door. I also must admit I did not like these men. Without the income that she had once been able to commmand our large home was falling to disrepair. The expensive foods and delicacies my mother had grown accustomed to became too high in price. While the supplies of oils, elixirs and perfumes dwindled. My mother who likely had very little mind left blamed it all on me. Even to her I was the whore’s son. It was my fault she no longer was beautiful, my consumption of food that brought us up short.

She was my mother and there had been times in which she had spent with me. In my mind there could be no concept of her being nothing else then my beautiful mommy. Together we had planted flowers in the garden our hands covered in the black moist soil. Gunk under our fingernails like clay. Looking back I can see her decaying and rotting from the insides. She began speaking of woman and men and trying to explain to me why she was a whore… how it was not bad. How we had a nice home and I did not need a father. I could be free of a man telling me what to do. It didn’t make much sense then nor now. I always wanted a father...

The priests landed on the roof in their gray robes. I had just begun returning from the market when I saw them. I had made a good deal on a bottle of flece oil for the fire and could not wait to get home and tell my mother. There on the roof I saw my mother join the preists in discussion before they all turned and looked at me down on the muddy street. I’ve ran this momment over and over in my head trying to see thru the distance, whether or not my mother was smiling in that distance. I always fear that she had been there upon the roof. Smiling down at me while she bargained with the priests. At the door I could not remember the lock. I could hear the thud of stones on the opposite side of the door. I knew what those priests on the roof meant. I knew I would be leaving with them. In my dire thoughts I dropped the bottle of oil and it fell to my feet. The sound of it’s breaking filled me with greater horror. There was no more money to purchase more. Even though I knew that the priests were going to take me away. I feared my mothers quiet rage at the clumsiness. That line of anger that appeared at the corners of her lips. The way she would stalk back and forth pacing while she thought up a punishment. There would be no punishment today. I remembered the lock and lifted the stones baring the door from being lifted aside. Beyond the door stood one of the priests. His eyes came upon me with righteous compassion. Yet all I saw was a stranger barring entrance to my home. The room within was dark. I do not know if my mother stood within that room. The preist had thick dark eyebrows and his neck was loose as if the skin there had lost all it’s rigidity. He placed a open palm towards me saying, “Come child”. I guess that was an attempt to placate me, yet I did not feel calm nor peacefull or placated. I was now angry, why would my mother do this to me. I was angry at her for being so selfish to her own wants and needs. Of which it did not seem I was one. I turned to run thinking of raising from the ground. My bare feet stepped into the broken glass and oil. Another priest was behind me. Together they made short work of binding me with lengths of cord. Out of the windows of nearby homes villagers watched. They talked amongst themselves, some laughing as I struggled. No matter how much I writhed in jerks and seizures the cords held me tightly. Such was my introduction to the Order of Turin.

Over the next decade of my life I became a preist of the order with all the lack of comforts the rank applies. At the full and ripe “novice” age of twenty I was chosen as a messenger. I spent several years traveling the southern continents keeps and villages carrying various communique’s from place to place. Until I won the lottery. At the time it was standard practice to send a number of individuals on journeys to more distant lands. This was done mostly to keep up communication and to spread the orders influences. The northern and southern continents of fabler could only be reached by the act of walking over the water. To do this one had to be of the young and elite few with the stamina and raw powers to sustain a two week journey across the twilight blue waters of the Satilla. It would be my first escape from the monotony of chores and training for simpletons. In all, eight of us were chosen to make two separate attempts. My comrades were: Radis of the village NoSalt, a ruggish imp looking man with a pointed chin and a dark complexion. The toads hands were covered in boil scars from working tirelessly in the marsh fields; Lysiss of Uinyet, who'd be fetching if not for the lamps catching her figure and lastly Petrol of Marshall who had the ability to change it's form. I say "it" as I was never informed of the creature's sex or even if it was in any way of human stock. Petrol’s current form was that of a infamous trollslayer known as Lewis of the sphere and the walls whispered all sorts of rumors of him. The sect of Turin had at one point adopted us all by one means or another. I myself hail from the Huts of Longbottom and am I suppose a tall lank, ugly man of sorts. In my village before I was adopted I was rumored to be half troll or various other species fitting the mood of my bullies. To the extent of what truth therein lies I am unsure, yet I am certain that I am not of pure human stock as my countenance and complexion suggests. My skin is leathery and holds a slight and barely perceptible greenish hue. The arms attached to my torso are long on the upper arms and somewhat shorter on the forearms, while my hands have small flecks of orange and purple scales that gleam in the first lamps dawn. Heavy arched eyebrows would seem natural and even inherent yet they are lacking, instead the only blemish one would find are to my great annoyance an array of freckles and a roundish soft looking face with a strong jaw. Yet my appearance on the onset of this journey is superfluous.

At the third lamps dawn the three of us were unceremoniously escorted to the beach. We were the second out from the Turin Order's (big whoopady doo) floating citadel to the northern continent's (big woopady doo) Timbucktwo. I remember the day to be characteristically moist and filled with insects and daybats. The froth and surf of the Satilla were swarming with the usual predators that had made travel by boat a non-reality of the world. However at the time I was not aware that there were worlds beyond Fabler or that they even could exist for that matter. Our escortee a misshapen old scribe of a man was anxious to return to his games of palla, thusly he assured us we were all serving the order with a little speech then floated south. The four of us levitated off the ground 200ft and began our journey towards the northern continent. On each of us we carried a sealed diplomatic satchel and a few grains of food.

Floating over the Satilla had been at first a joy. Below our feet the rolling waves beat an unending musical rhythm. Gullibles dived thru the crests squawking in unision and were only silent when one of them managed to catch a serpent. Such Gullibles with their great powerful wings would carry the fitfully twisting worm in their beaks back to land. High above some rock their squawking would be reborn. The thick exo-skelton of the worm would crack open violently in thousands of tiny pieces, slipping into crevices and niches. The gulls like predatory packs of land beasts would glide down in mated pairs to feast upon the juicy sweet meat. Many of the rocks nearest the beach the gulls had chosen for this purpose and over decades had created great mounds of worm. Creating threads of flat land far out into the ocean. Several of the known monster’s of the Satilla were seen upon these shale like threads oringinally built upon a stray rock jutting from the water’s surface. The threads were home to scavenging insects that sought the excess of the Gullibles meals. The insects were the primary diet of the daybats that consumed as well the sand lice upon the beaches. The daybats were devoured by the young hungry worms birthed on the beaches in the lapping surf. The three tentacled Pims with their tiny plate armored heads roosted solitarily on the longest of threads chosing to birth it’s marsupial young there. The young when born feasted for years upon the insects then as their tentacles grew to great lengths that would seek the daybats for sustenance double their size in months. Pims in their adolescene were the favored treats for traveling Skullcrushers that on rare occasions massacered the entire population. Skullcrushers were probably the primary reason no boat was ever placed in the ocean in distant memory. It’s diet was composed of all armored oceanic life near the surface. Pims, mubstors, and Denculls scampered away helplessly in it’s presence. Yet it seemed to dissapear for great periods and then reappear on it’s own time. It had no tentacles instead it had evolved coarse four fingered appendages that jutted from 6ft long stalky arms that bended in four directions. It’s body ended in a massive short tail capable of quick hard back and forth movements. Four smaller fins set into the larger one allowed it to control it’s direction and could lay flat reducing drag. Beyond it’s arms it had one large central eye with a wide focus lens allowing it a greater peripehry vision. Behind it’s eye about 3ft was a massive compartment like space. A circular flap that could slide forward and back locking into place with a thick bone covered the compartment. A skullcrusher appearing on a thread was savage like a sudden invasion. Suddenly like a quick lift it would lurch into the sky and land in crashing thud upon a wide enough thread on it’s appendages. Moving quickly like a centipede it would rush up and down the thread like a holiday shopper. The armored monsters plucked like kissing stones belligerently from the cart and stuffed into it’s large compartment. All the while it’s tail would rattle back and forth in the air flashing red luminescent colors in the night. The skullcrusher would come in massive numbers cleaning off hundreds of threads across the southern continents side of the Satilla. If the Skullcrusher appeared and the threads were clean they were known to venture up the threads seeking anything they could stuff into their mouths. Knowing such creatures that lived upon the mere shores of the waters and their appetites gave one pause. There were larger creatures very seldomly seen yet the accounts of them were veiwed as likely but not proven. The common sight of a monster’s tentacle or four fingered appendage swarming in in and out of the surf, kept us from changing our altitude out of curiosity. Likely it was the savage vultures below that bored of us before we of them. Occasionly a hopefull creature of a different sort would leap from the water and snatch at us with their teeth. Such attention made the four of us quietly rise in altitude though as the day drug on I and Radis determined to have some fun. Lowering near the water we danced games of death with the odd oily skinned monsters. As one would leap we dashed away quickly narrowly escaping a long stay in a belly. The odds didn’t seem to be in our favor each play seemed to lose ground to the opposing team. Not wishing to press our luck we re-joined the others before we lost sight of them.

That first night we were submerged in absolute darkness. On Fabler there were no stars to keep the inhabitants company. Truly most nights thick low clouds filled the approaching night as if by rote. The four of us had been messengers before the journey and were not afraid of the night. Often it had been deemed neccesary by our superiors to travel under the pitch black cloak of darkness to various destinations. The priests of Turin were thought great gossipers of one another by most messengers. We the backs upon which fueds, debates and jealousies carried knew very little of the words we carried back and forth. The occasion when a night travel was called for arose about once a week at the least. Yet overland the multitude of strongholds, keeps, huts and citadels those calling for messages kept light boxes lit at night. The light boxes differed in their manner and construction and light source yet one thing was common among them all. Each box would cast it’s light out of the box onto another larger surface creating a symbol designating the location. Thusly a messenger could navigate from one location to another using a trail of keeps as a guide and their daily knowledge of the area. Great detailed maps were available at the great floating citadel for messengers to study. The most skilled artisans supposedly painted the maps constantly while floating inside the roaming citadel. Messengers constantly flowed in and out of the citadel whenever it was near relying on keeps to track it down. Often those messengers of which I had never been one would move at night with urgent messages. During bad weather they made uneasy landings having to trust their memories to a sharp point. Messengers having roamed the skys for years were often entrusted as escorts or sent in pairs if a message and it’s confidentiality were of great importance. Night moves of this caliber required special gear in order to keep the party together. About our waists we wore belts to keep our gray robes closed and to these a braided reed ring called a Tonka would be placed. In the vertical lining that ran from our necks to several inches below our feet a silken cord folded into two was stored. When night came near the length of cord would be retrieved and fashioned to another’s ring. Then tied in a slip knot to one’s own Tonka then tied around the forearm on the side favoring the Tonka ring. If it were a strong Tonka then it would catch the weight of the other if they fell and if that other was too heavy they could be released by raising the arm. Similarly if two messengers reached a keep they could merely raise an arm to release the tonka cords holding them together. If neccesary the slip knot could be pulled before a eventual fall before it transpired given adequate warning of a fall. The taboo of lifting another person was not addressed as the person carried was by the strength of the Tonka and the cord to the person lifting himself. It was seen however as a gray line and messengers have been executed for saving their comrades. Ideally one messenger would be sent for this reason if travel by night were required.

The four of us had bound ourselves in a line at the approach of night by our light Tonka’s. Indeed the very issue of the Tonka’s at our departure spoke of the need for at least one person to survive. These Tonka were good for only one thing and that was keeping us together. If anyone fell the Tonka would break. The crashing boisterous waves became our only clue to how high we were traveling above the water. We all were frightened yet determined to keep quiet. That first night seemed to last forever and I began to doubt the lamps would ever rise to end it. Finally the western lamp began opening it’s large eye creating great rolling shadows. The lamp rise lifted our spirits like no one could. The southern and eastern lamps soon joined it and we whispered morning prayers. The Satilla below seemed as if it were a roll of unending cloth in miraculous textures. The wind had picked up considerably and we fought against it. We were beginning to tire from the long journey yet we each knew from past experiences that we should be able to handle this 10 day journey. Doubt would only drown us.

A day later Radis began to loose his mind. It was simple enough, he was thirsty and wanted to know whether the water of this sea was drinkable. His eyes were wild with self righteous fear and his lips parched beginning to crack open. The others and I did not know and were not eager to communicate as that might break our concentrations and plunge us to our deaths in the sea. On the third day without sleep all of our resolves were being tested. Radis's question about the water trickled thru my mind like water lilies in the rain. Thirst over the endless water was driving us crazy. Lysis began wavering up and down in the air as if she was some sort of vertical swinging arm on a clock. Radis was worse off mumbling to himself and drifting further and further off.

Thankfully our luck with the weather held us aloft for another two days, the eight day we were not so lucky. It could not have come at a better time however for me as I shall illustrate. At mid day when the first and third lamps had the second lamp evenly spaced between them my hallucinations began getting out of hand. It is possible that I had dozed off yet I'll never know for certain as those last remaining days became somewhat of a LSD trip. I remember something of walking down a long flight of feathery pillow like stairs and a old crone. The old crone had nothing to do with the stairs and she was in some sort of other location. She was luxurious, wealthy and attractive for an old broad. We spoke together for years in seconds of time while her servants moved around her wearing only green bootied pajama's. On one of the servants green booties I saw a hole and milky white flesh underneath. The crone gave me a reproachful glance.

The wind and rain of the electrical zapping storms of the region must have shocked me to more of a conscious outlook. The gray thin silken robes of the Turin I wore were drenched and Lysis was shouting at Radis to keep close. Below my feet Radis had fallen about 200ft and battled the wind and pelting rain to rise up towards us. The air itself seemed filled with a great tension and burst suddenly with great forces of wind. Below Radis the winds had dredged up predator sea creatures and flocks of migratory birds. The tension of the air seemed to be building up and the winds increased bringing with it the creatures being tossed around below. Several of these stuck me and gouged chunks of flesh out of my arms, legs and torso. In the wind I was helpless, my body was tossed around recklessly with great fury. I lost track of the others and concentrated in staying out of the way of dangerous obstacles and jaws. Blue lightning flashed up out of the water in spidery webs filling the air with the smell of ozone. A serpentine creature no more then two feet from me was struck with a glowing blue bolt, it crisped and flew out of my sight in the blink of an eye. The tension of the air had ruptured and in great distances around me I saw thousands of such ruptures. The very surface of the Satilla seemed lit up to full lamp with the web like strands of lightning. Suddenly I slammed into Radis following a updraft, hitting him squarely in the shoulder with my thick skull. I remember him grunting in pain then finding myself falling backwards facing the sky. I saw Petrol grab a hold of Radis out of the corner of my eye. That kept him from plummeting to the sea. I on the other hand made a direct nosedive having lost my concentration entirely. In a way I was glad when my delusional brain came across the notion that I was underwater and drowning in the stormy Satilla. This was going to be the end of me and there would be no more errands, task, assignments or chores left for me ever to do. I would be dead and no longer a burden to the monks and priests of Turin. No longer a pun in jokes about my questionable heritage. Yet when the predators of the deep started biting into my arms and legs I made a life long career choice.

How I managed to get back to the surface is beyond my understanding given what I saw down there. What I do know is that I woke over Lysis's flimsy and bony shoulders. When she realized I was awake and not altogether happy about it she dropped the set of her shoulder so that I would slip off. In a disproportional slur of speech I was informed that I was now on my own and would have to make do by myself. I did not thank her nor even think about the possibility of doing so. The storm had ended and the Satilla seemed to mock us with it’s calm seas below. We were now quite the ragged group. Petrol was missing a huge chunk of his left side exposing bones and organs. His breathing was ragged and mostly he wheezed in dreadfull coughs so that we thought he would instantly drop to the sea. Besides the missing chunk and heavy bleeding he managed to stay afloat. Radis had lost an entire foot and his neck was racked with slash marks. His face was a drama of pain and suffering, emotionally he had been a mess for days and now it seemed he had stepped over that edge of sanity. Lysis was merely covered in dark bruises making her even uglier then she had been at the start of the journey. I struggled to maintain a poistion near the three of them, while having lost a lot of blood in the Satilla and on my rise out of it. Lysis must have put her concentration in addition to floating to holding the blood in my wounds. When I woke I added that to my roster as well. They were beginning to clot and scab over yet the pressure was insistent and if I didn’t apply just enough force the scabs would rip free with a gush. I was franticly hungry and thirsty and only the training of the Order of Turin instinctively kept me on some level of sanity. Yet I fear that level was very deeply buried in my conciousness.

Several hours from the time I woke Petrol was realized missing and the three of us kept in sight of one another mostly for psychological comfort. Radis began again mumbling to himself and began making deadly passes at the water out of thirst. I saw more of the price the Satilla had extracted then. Portions of his gray robes had been sliced and chunks of the flesh of his right arm and neck were missing. Lysis was surely in the best shape looking mostly unscathed but miserably exhausted, whatever drive she had was somehow keeping her afloat. We had several days to go to reach the northern continent and doubt had surged in the three of us.

From the get go this had been a sort of competition and whomever made it to Timbucktwo and delivered the diplomatic satchel was awarded the prize. In a strange and disorderly way it was a race. The sect of Turin never said it was a contest nor suggested it to anyone that there would be a prize, mostly there were merely the rumors weaseling around the undercurrents of those eligible to make the journey. It had been considered a honor to be selected as even a candidate and the jealousies and feelings of superiority most likely arose there. When one arrived at the Citadel one found they would not be making the travel alone and then were told the perils. That only a handfull of messengers ever returned. What was once thought a simple walk across a sea became a 200 hour trek across the Satilla, the shortest straight line corridor across the sea. Never the less on the ninth day by my figuring in the blur of delirium I discovered my diplomatic satchel missing. Whether Lysiss removed the satchel as payment for saving my life or the encounters of the previous day had found it necessary to pinch the straps holding it in place is anyone's guess. I did not inquire.

That night we heard voices in the distance and saw a speck of light. Hope rushed into our fatigued bodies and we raced slugglishly towards the noises with somewhat of a vigor. Radis called out in loud shouts from his toadish chest. The noises seemed to be moving as well and they didn’t answer back. Lysis and I fearfull that Radis was scaring off possible help urgently pressed forward towards the sound of Radis’s voice to silence him. Lysis reached him first and I heard what sounded like an impact and a cry of pain. We three all began crying out to the voices for help to no avail.

When morning came a vast collum appeared in the distance rising out of the water below some thousand feet tall. Curious we turned off course to reach it. As we came closer it became apparent that it’s top was too highly set in the clouds above us to offer rest. Our hopes for at least rest were dashed, insanely we pressed on only to discover that it was ridged with 4” deep grooves vertically on it’s surface set apart about a foot horizontally. The grooves continued all the around the 80ft wide collum. On the far side to our astonishment hung three of our brothers of the order. Radis thinking them still living rushed to them grabbing them about the shoulders and calling for them to wake. This must have been the first expedition that had left sometime before us. The three did not wake to Radis’s proddings. They were dead. According to what we could see they had fashioned cords of cloth from their cloaks to decorative slots on the collum’s surface and hence secured the cords to tonkas on their right and left side. Their tonka’s were not like our flimsy braided reed ones, they were of iron and could hold the strain without breaking. I and Lysis bickered over what had happened to these three and why they were equipped for this marvel and not we.

For the first time since before my breaking to the ways of the Order of Turin at eleven I had a reason to question them. Why were we floating aimlessly above the Satilla on our own strengths while these three dead had a sort of lodgings. At least the three seemed to have suffered in the same storm as we had their special priveliege did not deny them that natural hell. Like prarrie wolves we devoured each’s store of food which had been greater than ours. I acquirred one of their diplomatic satchels and slung it over my shoulder. Exhausted we disengaged the three novices from their harness and donned them ourselves and slept. We woke some time with great thirst. Stupidly we had slept all day in the sun and it had robbed us of our water. The rest had not been at all satisfactory and our strengths had not in the slightest returned. I knew if we stayed here we would likely die as the others had, Radis and Lysiss agreed hesitantly almost wishing such a peaceful death.

The following days and nights blur into one another like a mix of herbs to treat various ailments. Petrol returned at some point looking completely wasted with sunken black eye sockets. Radis was now regularly drinking from the sea and acting more and more insane. Lysiss and I took to drinking from the briny salt water as well having to be very careful to avoid predators. Not wanting to be too heavily loaded with water I took small distasteful sips as essentially kept my cracked parched lips from splitting me in half. Radis began talking madly about how he was abducted by Turin priests who had decapitated his mother and father. In a strange eerie sort of way he seemed more coherent then ever yet we all distrusted what we felt to be merely mumblings. That is until Petrol with his shoulders and arms hanging limply from his body began talking in broken fragments about Turin priests that had come to the village in which he lived as a young boy. They bought him like a slave from his wealthy family and carted him off in chains to the citadel. Lysis and I were shocked to hear of these atrocities but said little.

Sometime after that Radis went down for a slurp of water and did not come back. We looked at one another after hearing a splash behind us and kept on trucking. We should have seen land by this time yet still there was nothing but endless sea. Lysis began faltering once again and I nerved myself to speak asking her in a one word sentence to talk. I figured that the few times we had bothered to speak to one another had kept my mind off what would happen if I lost my concentration if even for an instance. We were all beyond any measure of composure. It was if the orderly tick tock of time had fragmented into millions of tiny shards. The shards reflected the consciousness we all had been trained at the citadel to direct in one activity, that of levitating. Lysis came higher to stand somewhat in-between myself and Petrol who groaned acknowledgement. She did not speak only maintained her altitude and position between the two of us. Strangely a short time later when I began faltering in and out of consciousness, my eyes closing and blinking awake she called for me to talk. Somewhat hurt by her refusal earlier I steeled myself to responding in the same manner she had. Thusly the three of us began a quiet deadly symphony that worked for sometime calling each other to talk when we faltered.

That was to last of course only a limited period of time. Lysis fell like a rock and both I and Petrol pulled her from the water but not before a creature with large serrated teeth sawed of a leg with a devastating bite. Each moment had already been an agonizing hell of the droning pish posh of the rolling waves beneath us. Now we both were burdened with the weight of Lysis whose arms were hunkered over each of our shoulders. Blood draining from her leg caused her to loose consciousness soon after. Then Petrol slumped and I bore the burden completely and dropped several hundred feet before I managed to place Lysis over my shoulder. I lost track of Petrol then and remember only hearing him shout land and a following splash.

Chapter Two - Odd Wakings

The length of time whether it had been in weeks or months is out of the spectrum to imagine. I remember only two things after the splash: a) a frumpish woman with straw like hair fondling thru my clothing for something of value; b) the feel of surf tickling my toes in a offensive, nagging way. When I next awoke my mouth was open and some tubular object had been thrust into it and down my throat. I caught a glimpse of four round black stones with white markings to my left side. A young boy of naught much more then six or eight was cramming some orange fibrous gunk into the tube. I raised a hand to remove the foreign object and the voice of the young child shrieked in horror. This I heard accompanied by some sort of animal’s noise. In the utter agony and dizzy with pain I removed the tube. Naturally I spit up the fibourous gunk and attempted to rise only to feel several aching ribs protest sharply. I eased my upper torso carefully back down and raised a similarly protesting length of arm to place a hand toward the boy. My hand did not make contact as the boy had already moved out of my reach.

Shouting something obscene he ran off quickly leaving me there. I lost conciousness again.

Whatever the boy had been attempting to cram into my mouth dried and caked itself on my face before much of anything else happened. I was in some sort of fishing village and had been placed in a healing circle which really amounts to nothing more then being left out to die. At my feet the outline of the village could be seen with about fifteen huts made of blocks of coral and hatched roofs. The ground was bare of stone and there seemed to be no walls about the small village nor stones of protection. The boy had apparently been stuffing a domestic animals waste product in my mouth for days and then pouring heated liquid after it to ensure the orange mass would pass down the pipes. This all had been to his amusement and not of his parents knowledge. A woman missing several teeth and with a stumpy arm saw me rise and a crowd began to circle around me. The boy’s parents explained that they had thought certainly that I would not survive and thus so no trouble in their boy having a little fun Yet for the literally the life of me, I guess that gunk had sustained me to a degree. I also noted thereafter never to have children.

I must have taken a good deal of rest after the long journey across the Satilla as I was able to rise weakly and stumble around the village with the help of the boy’s father. Unfortunately my robes were in tatters and the diplomatic satchel I had taken from the dead novice at the collum was gone. My ribs panged me with each step but the bleeding from where the sea creatures had gouged my flesh had been packed with a bluish mud. No one offered me even the slightest bit of hospitality, besides being willing to insult or throw rotten fish and other worthless trash. This was all rather unexpected as the four of us had thought we would be welcomed with open arms. Notable dignitaries from the south or other such nonsense. At the time I fashioned a belief that we had been direly off course and had missed the festivities. I tried to explain to the villagers of my mission and that I was of the southern continent. Which is when they starting throwing fish and the help of the boy’s father in moving around became lacking. Perhaps my complexion and appearance placed me with the look more of a ragged beggar.

There was little choice to things and I soon found myself ordered to leave town immediately under threat of permanent death. I was bent over in pain and my strength was so low that I could not float off the ground an inch. Without other alternatives I set myself to the road and collapsed soon after.

This time I awoke in some sort of tent with my arms and legs lashed together. Blind folded I could not see my captors nor hear them due to some other means of restraint. I am unsure how many days passed during my strict captivity. All I know is that I was hand fed and my wounds dressed till I felt strong and healthy again. I spent most of that time reflecting on what had happened during the flight across the Satilla. The order of Turin’s preference to the 1st expedition troubled me greatly. I wondered if the group I was in was ever meant to reach the other side of the Satilla, perhaps Petrol was as he seemed to have made the trip with more ease then the rest of us. The poor fellow Radis was back there somewhere in some foul beasts belly. Yet why would the Order have any qualms with him. It was unlikely the reason we had been sent was to get rid of us because of our duties as messengers. The information we might have garnered. All the stachels we as messengers carried were sealed and opening a satchel surely was not looked upon favorably. It was call for heresy. I had thought about it on occasion of course yet had never done it. There could be no reason there for our silent removal in a failed attempt to the northern continent. I thought of my bullying superiors and their secretive half meaning words, whether any of them would wish me ill, and came up with nothing. Despite my deformities I was neither well liked nor loved by my fellows. Yet their still seemed to be some conspiracy against us and we shared little in common hinting towards a reason. Our inductions to the order were commonplace. Orphanges and purchases of young children by Turin priests had been conducted for centuries. Had Lysis made it to the beach or had I dropped her into the mouth of some ever-hungry tentacled monstrosity? My guilt for her death and the shared guilt for the demise of Radis plagued me like a tooth wrought with cavities after eating meat. In my waking hours it became all I thought of those questions. Why had the priests set us on a suicide mission without adequate supplies? My dreams were filled with chaotic flashes of the electrical storm I assume I had been in. The ozone was rich and potent in those dreams like a hard meaningful slap across the face. You can’t avoid noticing it ripping at your awareness. The hands of my captor occasionally would pass over my forehead. I tried to stand at some point awkwardly. I must have looked like a fish tossed on dry ground. The bindings made movement extremely difficult. My every wiggle causing the bindings fibourous surface to flex it’s hold more tightly upon me. The attempt failed miserably and I was in even worse shape.

That was in fact how I had identified it having spent quite a bit of time studying the plants and uses of the northern continent before the expedition. You could say I had been on a plant binge since I had been a child. While my mother had been selling her body I minded the small garden of our dwelling. I wasn’t very good at keeping the plants alive yet they were a distraction to the noises not that far off. I would talk to them ask them to live so I and my mother could eat them. Each plant I gave a name of one of my mothers friends. When the plant died I’d dig it up and give it a proper burial by fire upon a large stone in one corner of the garden. The garden master at the Turin Orphanage brought me under his wing and became my closest friend in the order. He taught me more about the plants and tried to teach me how to keep them alive to no avail. Nothing I could do would keep the plants alive yet the garden master Narliss didn’t seem to mind. He had no other company amongst the orphanage and my interest in plants was a small easement.

Time wore on like a oversized glove that fitted itself slowly to it’s owner. I had much time to think and conjecture about my situation always running into the same old road blocks. I had no idea where I was or how my fate would turn if the blind folds and restraints ever came off. I was growing sick and tired of being helpless. Then one indeterminate time after sleeping I woke to find myself in another location.

All around me was a clearing in the center of a what I had only seen in the drawings of books. The blind fold and restraints were gone and I was dressed in a black shirt and pants that did not fit well or comfortably. "Trees" Their long brown boughs and spectacles of leaves amazed me to no end. There was no grass at my feet only green soft moss with specks of some red fungus. The spongy feel of it was intriguing. For what seemed like hours I inspected my surroundings with my eyes and hands, eager to get every perspective on each single surface. After I regarded one I found another similar yet entirely different and was amazed anew. From my lips came the names of fauna. Goldenhair weed, Dekesrod blossoms, Stocking and Oak trees. The black stroked lines of the pictures in the books I’d studied were no match for the grandeur of color I found before me. Between the tall oaks several smaller trees clustered with multi-hued leaves in shades of yellow, purple and red. The areas around where the bindings had been hurt a bit and the lack of them felt alien. I had spent so much time bound by the nicotauris plant I knew without a doubt that I was addicted. From what I could remember at the time which was little I would need to have direct contact with the plant within a day or face more serious withdrawal symptoms. The nicotauris plant is carnivorous if I managed to find the plant it’s thick muscular arms would surely draw me into one of it’s pods where I would be consumed. There was no sign of whomever had kept me captive and used the nicotauris plant to bind me. I stood in the clearing wondering what I should do. The ever nagging thought of finding a nicotauris plant plagued my thoughts and destroyed my concentration.

Small birds began a chirping ruckus behind me and I turned. Out from behind a tree a young armed maiden entered the clearing wearing clothes that indicated her of the low castes of society. She had straw yellow shortly cropped hair and a elfin nose and ears. She could not have been four foot five inches tall, her frame being entirely too tiny and fragile looking. Her eyes however held such strength and confidence that she reminded me of the monsters of the satilla. I could see in those eyes that she would let fly the stone she twirled at her side in a sling. Speaking slowly she informed me that if I moved I was dead. I complied. She stood there several minutes with her eyes dead set upon me then advanced to about six paces distant. I felt strangely inadequate and more aware of my deformities before her. For several moments I could not figure out why and when I did I felt a great loathing for her. I could smell her on the light breeze, a heavy musk of feminine odor that recalled memories of my mother. Was she my captor? With my renewed strength I could most likely move her backwards hard against a tree and the thought crossed my mind briefly. Yet at the time I was not a creature of violence and could not willingly do that to another living creature. The even thought brought about guilty feelings coupled with the taboo of lifting other living creatures besides myself. It was a sin and I was programmed strongly against it by my society. She told me I was going to co-operate with her or she would kill me. Then she stopped twirling the shot in the sling and tossed it aside. I watched the weapon fall to the ground completely confused. Was this my captor? Apparently she was waiting for a response and she inquired harshly so. I asked the question rumbling thru my head. We began a stressed conversation that lasted some time.

The elven maiden apparently was a mythian witch assigned to keep an eye on the village I had found myself to lay upon. As the name implies the mythian had been the one to heal me once I had left the village and the price was forthcoming. Typical witch according to the Turinian Texts. In order to further keep me complacent she offered information about others that may have arrived off the coast if I would complete a task for her. Again I complied without much choice. Petrol had arrived somewhat north of the village I had found myself in and the care of much kinder villagers. He had already set off for Timbucktwo. There was no mention of a woman of Lysis's description arriving which probably meant she hadn't arrived. I had no diplomatic satchel and no course of action. I told her all of this and naively enough most of my life's story. I summarized that she figured I was aware of the mythian witches reputation and would honor my end of the bargain whatever that was to be. Also in my present condition that of a novice of the Turin Order and my addiction I was not much of a threat. The price this time for the mythian witches help was to escort her to a unfortunately for me distant city and by foot. She had a small cart that she would sit upon while I lifted it behind her on the ground. It was my first lesson never to show my interest in trees and fauna nor be naive enough to blab anything to a mythian witch.

Over the following weeks there was little to no event. We the two odd companions made our way northeast away from Timbuktu. My petty life had changed completely and a dread lethargic mood descended over me like a great black cloud. During the day I would levitate the witches cart over the fields and between the trees of fabler. We had left the road early as the witch did not wish to meet anyone upon it. The cart of course had no wheels and essentially was nothing more then a elaborate porch like structure. A box underneath the cart held a long metal plate on which symbols had been fixed. One would concentrate upon these symbols which would then lift cart. Lifting it all day would tire me to collapsing by evening. Around my left wrist the witch placed a nicotauris band to ease but not rid me of my addiction. She seemed able to put me to sleep at will to place the band upon me only for hours at a time. We spoke little as my rage of being a common beast of burden grew. She was however attractive unlike Lysis and oft times I found myself staring at the set of her shoulders upon her dais on the cart. The curve of her neck reminded me of the cumulus I had seen growing in living gardens. It looked so soft with such a feminine curve that my blood boiled and all that I could do was concentrate on lifting the cart. At other times during the heat of the day I would be sweating profusely in the clothes she had placed upon me and the cloth would chafe my skin uncomfortably for hours. I hated her completely. The association between the way she had healed me, fed me, clothed me and that of my mother simply enthralled me more. She truly cared not for my welfare or for me at all. I though even a novice in the quote unquote dangerous years of a vow of celibacy lusted for this woman despite my hatred. In a sense the beauty of the gardens I had pitifully tended found itself lacking in comparison to the sparkles in merely one of her eyes. Still I imagined throttling her with my bare hands and leaving her body for the trolls she said were in the region we were approaching.

The heat of the day seemed to change day by day until it got rather cold. The black clothes became dotted with strange lighter circles and were soon no longer enough to keep me warm. Up on the cart the witch always staring off into the distance had donned a large fur blanket in which to keep warm. That night was the coldest of my living experience. As she had done since the beginning of the expedition I was bound after collapsing for the day to the cart. She slept upon the cart while my leash limited me to the ground. I could still manage to peer over the rim of the cart at her. Watching her sleep had become one of my past times. I would listen to her breathing and try to determine if she was truly asleep. I fancied if I could catch her thus perhaps I could kill her and attempt to flee. Head to Timbuckto and find Petrol.

Yet every night the days heavy work was too much. I eventually sucumbed to sleep. I was torn with loyalty to the Order of Turin in keeping true to it’s beliefs and the notion of esaping them and becoming something else. I didn’t know what that different thing would be or how to accomplish it. It frightened me to stare into the black ovoid of a future plagued with shadowy imaginings. The order of Turin was all I knew, all I comprehended yet I knew I had to live and survive here on the northern continent if I was to leave the order’s beleifs. How to get up in the morning, how to scheme for a better blanket to cover me in the night from the cold. These were what I knew and how I defined who I was. The black void was just that a black void upon which anything may find itself painted. It could be anything and that dangerous place filled me with such a horror I recoiled from it. Yet the idea was a great seductress beckoning to me with open arms and a loving smile. I heard it in my ears calling to me like a vice. The rocky ground and cold wakened me some hours distant. Around our sort of crude camp the witch had placed small white stones at 2ft intervals to ward off trolls and other undesirables. This protection supposedly worked unlike the healing circles. Shivering and rubbing my hands together I tried to keep myself warm to no avail. My entire body was going numb with the burning cold. A great wind was coming from the south causing the trees to rustle and bray. Branches lit up by our small fire cast stark swallowing shadows around the camp. Odd animal noises skirted the edges of the stones the witch had placed. To the west a small river which we had been using for water. The water there burbled and gurgled between great boulders insistently driving me off my rocker. Then came the sound of heavy footsteps to the east. A grunting sniff. The witch was sleeping upon her cart with smooth and even breaths. She was asleep. The noise got louder as perhaps it’s source came towards us to investigate. Then suddenly out of the greatest of darkness at the edge of the fire light one of the stones the witch had placed burst with white light. Up above that stone stood the first troll my eyes had ever come across that had not been a picture in a book. It was the ugliest creature I had ever laid eyes upon.

It’s eyes were sunken inches into it’s face like great caverns with beady little cruel eyes. It’s mouth hang open drooling gallons of spittle over the large barrel of it’s sparsely haired chest. The creature stood approximately 10ft tall and 4ft from shoulder to shoulder. It looked like a crudely sculptured rock with it’s gray textured skin. It’s jaw’s held great pointed molars that irregular jutted from it’s mouth. As it laboriously breathed before me with it’s twisted and malformed bones some of which had spikes perforating the skin. I realized I was no longer cold. The mere presence of the troll exuded great amounts of heat. I had seen drawings of trolls in the texts of Turin, yet the sheer presence of the one before me was like a tidal wave to an ant. Confident that the troll could not move beyond the stones I moved towards it as much as I could manage wiggling like a worm in my restricting bindings. The bindings tightened painfully around my wrists and ankles yet I paid them little heed. The great troll growled and lifted it’s hairy toe to it’s mouth in a loud series of cracks and pops. Apparently it had stubbed it’s toe on the stone. It was then the smell hit me like a hurricane of brine and feces. I found myself gasping for air as the troll having broken it’s own leg to get it’s toe to it’s mouth lost it’s balance and fell towards the position I had previously been in.

It’s great toothy jaw came down sharply upon the corner of the witch’s cart. The thick beam there keeping the cart off the ground offered little resistance to the trolls large boulder like head. It merely was pounded like a post into the ground while the witch and other objects upon the cart flew into the air like so much fodder. The hammering of the corner of the post also drug me back forcefully back towards the troll itself by my leash. I collided with the trolls chest hard with my feet in an astonishing impact. My back and head having been drug across the ground slipped pulses of pain up my spinal cord filling my mind entirely. I screamed like a little girl as the troll raised it’s chin with a savage growl. Off in the distance I heard a howling moan come from the witch. The troll placed both it’s hands upon the ground and heaved itself upward onto one good leg and fell down again to where it started. This time however it caught it’s weight upon the ground with it’s huge paws. The impact caused the ground to shake violently once more dangling me by my leash like a fish on a hook. In great pain all I could do was watch. The troll turned toward me then with it’s own pain laced roar filling my nostrils with more intense reeking scents causing me to puke instantly and turn green. Of all things the puke loosened the nicotauris plant bindings on me. Yet it was too late the troll shot a hand like a bullet towards my torso, lifted me high into the air and snapped the leash like cord holding me to the cart. I found more puke and brine rising from my throat. It erupted down onto the troll’s arm as it rolled to a sitting position. The ring of stones around us were now all growing brightly in the presence of the troll in it’s center. Every texture of it’s face and malformed bone stood before me in all it’s horrors. My ribs were cracking in the trolls strong grip and the thought of my career choice loomed in my head. I knew from the texts of Turin that the troll would squeeze me to death before consuming me. That for some reason trolls didn’t like moving crawling food in their mouths and bellies.

I was weakened by the days lifting and there was the taboo of lifting other creatures. Yet the lifting was my only chance of survival. With the sound of cracking ribs in my ears accompanied by the troll’s growls and puke on my breath I concentrated on the troll’s beady little eyes. It was the only part of the troll’s great body I thought I could lift and it worked. The trolls eyeballs popped out of their deep cavernous sockets like wormy cannon balls and struck it’s own hand. Confused and now blinding the troll dropped me to the ground where I landed on my bottom. A spike of pain shot up my spine and once again I felt the cold bitterness of the night. I was not out of the pot yet however. The troll was sweeping it’s hand across the ground looking for my body. The back of it’s hand knocked me high into the air, falling in a rolling shambles on the bank of the river. The mommentum of the roll carried me into several boulders in a bone racking tumble and finally onto a thin sheet of ice covering the small river. Without much hesitation that thin sheet of frozen water cracked and I fell into the freezing burn. Despite it all I was immediately and fully awake. The current dragged me along at a feverish pace and I found myself only slowed by the thin sheet of ice at the surface of the water. Worst of all the night was in complete darkness no moon on Fabler like other worlds to creep beyond the nights thick clouds. Fumbling blindly I sought for something to grab onto. A root brushed against my hand and I fought against the current to firm my hold upon it. The root gave way and again I was at the mercy of the water. Eventually I managed to painfully extricate myself from the water by grabbing a branch of a tree on the water’s edge. I was literally a popsicle and my entire body was numb. In hindsight this probably was a good thing as several of my ribs were broken from the trolls grip. I was sure that I was going to die that night shivering in a pile of leaves a few feet from the river and it’s babbling. I managed to remove what was left of the bindings and slide out of the ripped and shredded clothes. It was pitch dark and only the sound of night animals reached my ears before I fell unconscious.

The whole thing of waking up in strange miserable places with injuries was surely getting out of hand. I wished I was back in my dirty flea ridden bed back at the order more than once. This time I awoke where I had fallen the night before. My head pounded and my chest ached in righteous pain. There was great slashes across my back and I had bled heavily before my wounds had scabbed over in the night. I yearned for the nicotauris plants touch upon my skin and felt a pang of hunger. Naked and alone in foreign territory was not high on my list of things to do. I didn’t want to try to make my way back to where last night’s incident had taken place yet the withdrawal symptoms of the nicotauris plant were now in full effect. It was almost dark and adrenaline was pumping all thru my body. After a few minutes of consciousness I was running north along with the river that had carried me south. I barely noticed the sharp pangs of intense pain in my ribs or the way the broken segments rubbed against one another as I ran. It did however feel as though there was bleeding still going on in my skull. The day was cold and my nakedness didn’t help matters but presently I came upon the corpse of the troll. Unable to get back to it’s shelter from the lamps for the day it had turned to stone. I felt no pity for the creature.

I rummaged thru what I could find of what had been upon the cart. Like a junkie looking for a fix I sought the nicotauris the with was sure to keep somewhere in her chests. I came across the body of the witch that had held me captive. She had been impaled upon a branch. The branch was some distance from the ground and her thickly calloused toes came to the height of my nose. Blood dripped from her belly from which the branch protruded. I took little thought for her only needing my fix of nicotauris. In a bashed chest I found what I was looking for and several other plants that would aid in my recovery. As the adrenaline rush was wearing off due to the nicotauris plant wrapped over my arm I ate some of the square juicy painkiller’s I’d found clearly marked.

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