07 December 2011

Tulaq (part of chapter 1)*

Myra rode her chestnut thoroughbred, Rain Shadow north through the hot Baron Lands where the sun was considerably low, still kissing the horizon. Caliber, Rain Shadow’s colt followed staying close to his mother while a fel and a masked man drove the horse drawn cage bearing wagon further back. Sweat began to pour down Myra’s face and soon it soaked her clothes. Myra stripped down to her under layer of fine silk, she looked back at the carriage. Her robe draped over the rear end of Rain Shadow soon weighed heavy with the horse's sweat soaking into it.
Her weathered whitewood staff bounced on and off the side of Rain Shadow with every step the slender mare took. Caliber constantly wandered to the river that they traveled next to for water to drink and to splash around in to cool down. The night had been full of moonlit traveling and Myra had planned to reach the holy fel city by sunrise, but they were still nearly thirteen miles from their destination; although she didn’t want to show her master the settling fatigue the horse was growing increasingly tired with every step.
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Again Myra looked back at the fel and the masked man. She put her arm out to her side with a closed her fist. She pointed her horse towards the water. Rain Shadow knew her master’s intent and so began a light trot towards the calling water. Caliber ran as fast as he could through the shallow water at the river’s edge to his mother and then back into the water splashing playfully.
Myra dismounted the horse and jumped into the river to cool off leaving the fel and the masked man to tend to the Clydesdales and bring the huge horses to the water and secure the wagon and the cage. The masked man walked to the back of the cage and slipped a canteen of water to an elf slave that had one ankle chained to a bar on the inside of the cage.
Myra exited the water and went to her horse. The masked man starred at her as she let the water fall down her body stumbling and crisscrossing through the weaving of the silk. The silk, as barely visible as it was, pressed to her body as the shadows painted the ground.
“Turn your gaze Suru or I’ll rip that mask from your face,” Myra threatened as she reached into a bag full of clothes. She stripped from the silk garment and dressed herself with clean clothes filling the bag with her sweat soaked robe.
“Of course m’lady,” The easily cowered Suru complied as he looked from the gorgeous elf towards his mangled left hand. The phantom pain where his ring finger used to be hadn’t returned in over a decade and his pinky finger was still as unusable as his magic without the consent of the dark elf that he’d served loyally for the past seven years.
“You,” Myra called to the fel, “How do your people live in such a land?”
“Master,” replied the fel, “it is said that our creators made our fur so as to cool us in the heat and warm us in the cold.”
“I do love your fairytales of gods and creators that are your ultimate judges and jury. It so reminds me of my childhood home and that damned high king and queen that locked away my kin many centuries ago.”
Suru patted the enslaved fel. “After tonight Gru you get to put that whip to the test on the kipsne slaves we’re in route to buy.” Suru sneezed in his mask wiping the snot and spit away as it dripped from the bottom of his metal face.
Gru held the complicatedly weaved handle of his scourge whip tightly. Even rolled and bound to his belt the whip’s thirteen ten feet long frayed strands of baron bull hide leather intimidated even the burliest of men and fel. The fourteenth strand was only half the length but was littered with glass and medal shards and small hooks that grabbed the skin as it snapped away from its victim’s body. Nobody ever wanted the misfortune of being held down within five feet of that whip and for good reason.  
Myra took hold of her whitewood staff; pointing it towards the water a small whirlpool formed in the water and soon the water began forming hundreds of tiny streams of water that flowed uphill. After a while that water rose from the ground, floating skyward. 
Within the hour a small cloud formed above the unlikely trio and their guest giving them shade. Exhausted from travel and her feat of vesiment, a newly learned water-magic she quickly fell to sleep under the shade of the sun-blocking cloud.
When the sun was low in the sky and the day neared its lowest temperature the cloud grew weaker until finally rain began to fall on the sleeping travelers. Annoyed at the water Myra soon woke to her sky-bound creation spilling its contents onto her. She woke Suru and Gru ordering them to ready the horses.
As they moved northward the sun was falling closer and closer to the horizon and Myra knew traveling at night this far north in the Baron Lands was risky. Many tribal fel wandered this land at night as well as other creatures that would be waking towards the end of dawn.
Myra rode Rain Shadow into a fast trot, sensing danger close at hand. The sun was gone now and the moon was bright but low making the ground hard predict.
The carriage bounced as it carried the metal cage across the uneven floor. The slave held tightly to the bars of the cage as she tried to hold still. She looked behind the cart and saw glimpses of something chasing them. Soon yipping noises came from their pursuers. Feral wild dogs, she’d once seen them kill a rhinoceros.
A flash of light passed the wagon from front to back crashing into a wild dog and erupting into a fire that made a thirty foot long wall. Four other wild dogs jumped through the flame one of them the fire had caught onto causing the animal to look like a flying ball of fire. The wild dogs quickly caught up to the wagon. One of the dogs jumped onto the back of the wagon, its hind feet dangling from off of the fast moving cart.
The slave tried to move back, but her ankle was chained only inches away from the dog’s snapping jaw. The animal clawed at the wooden space on the wagon floor between the cage and the edge trying to climb onto it as it bounced erratically as the horse’s trot turned into a gallop.
The three other dogs circled the wagon. One of the dogs jumped up biting and holding onto Gru’s leg until the fel fell from his seat. The dog dragged Gru to the floor, the hind wheel of the wagon ran over Gru’s foot causing Gru to bounce awkwardly and the dog lost his grip on the fel. Gru abruptly halted when his back slammed against the ground. The dog slid, trying to stop and run forward. It finally gripped the loose ground lunging at the Fel bearing its blood stained teeth.
Gru pulled his whip from his belt and snapped it at the dog hitting it between the eyes. The dog barely flinched continuing towards its target and biting the space between the base of Gru’s neck and shoulder on the left side. Blood squirted into the air. Gru looked back at the wagon that was quickly continuing forward.
Gru wrapped his whip around the dog’s neck. He held the whip tight in his hand, the metal and glass cut into the palm of his hand but he sawed back and forth using his whip to cut into the dog’s throat. Blood began falling into the animal and all over Gru, the animal drowned in his own blood as it pooled into its exposed trachea.
Myra circled back fearing that she would lose her servant as the two remaining dogs attacked the wagon.  She put a spell on the young colt so he would continue to run north. He would possibly one day be worth much money.
Myra turned around running towards the wagon. She tried to stop what happened next but all she could do was watch, even with all her skill in magic.
 The two remaining dogs snapped at Suru as they ran next to the fast moving wagon. One of the dogs moved forward jumping onto one of the Clydesdales, it bit ferociously into the horse’s side. The large animal fell bringing down the other galloping horses along with it and finally the wagon flipped forward throwing the cage off of it and landing on top of Suru. The slave screamed, horrified as she flew through the air, eventually it landed on top of a few horses and two of the dogs killing them, if not instantly, painfully and time-consuming. Only one horse remained standing.
The slave hung upside down from her ankle. She could not reach the floor and struggled to pull herself upwards all of her efforts proved more tiring than the previous and all in vain. Suru somehow managed to climb out from under the wreckage.
His master approached on foot leaving Rain Shadow some yards away from the crash. Her deep green eyes turned red with anger. Though the night was still her hair blew up as if the wind came from below her. She stretched her arms out wide. Lightning clashed from one palm to another. She struck the only surviving dog as it attempted to feed on a dying Clydesdale.
“Agh!” Myra shouted in anger shooting bolts of lightning towards the sky. She grabbed Suru from the bottom of the mask pulling him towards her. “I should rip this mask from your skin and show the world the atrocity that hides behind it you fool. Your blind dead half rot grandmother could drive better than that. I knew I should’ve killed you.”
Suru grew increasingly horrified as the elf witch conjured a dark magic in her hand. Her gaze set to his eyes burned hate into his heart. She loathed the creature whose life she held in the palm of her hand. Just before she had the energy consume him, an overwhelming calm came over Myra. She lowered her arm. “You saddle that horse and let’s get out of here. The bigger ones will start to smell the blood soon.”
Suru managed to find an extra saddle in the wreckage and put it onto the scared Clydesdale. “What about Gru and the Forest Elf?” Suru asked concerned for the slaves.
“If Gru’s still alive I honestly hope these foul beasts are quick to put him out of his misery. And as for the beauty in the cage, let her rot.”
Myra walked to the cage where the elf hung upside down and looked into the slave’s eyes. “You’ll be dead by the morning. These creatures will find a way in I promise you that. Your kin have delicious blood.”
“You monster,” the slave yelled at Myra, “I hope you die a terrible death. May the almighty arrange for your flesh to be torn from your body as you scream cries of release from the pain.”
“So the bitch speaks.” Myra turned leaving the elf hanging by her ankle. She and Suru rode north quickly, joining Caliber on his run to the holy fel city.