It Came from the Living – Darkness series

“This scrawny man hopped the train of the dead?”

A large man stood from a circular bench.  He was larger than Angel.  His wings had gone partially gray.  You could see the older age on his face and posture.

The other harpies tried to help him stand but he brushed them off.

“Tell me young man.  How did you climb aboard the Spirit of the Dead?”

Dontarious stepped forward, with a forced smile, he introduced himself.  “I was chasing my wife.  She stepped aboard the train.”

“Is she living too.”

“No,” Dontarius began with hesitation.  “She was murdered.”

“…and you saw this murder?…”

“It’s likely he participated in the murder,” shouted a younger Harpie with bright colors displayed beneath the bones of his wings.

“Hold on, Aristotle.  We must listen first before we conclude that.”

Dontarius swallowed hard as a bottle crashed against a wall to his right.  A burst of laughter then another crash.

“I did not kill my wife.”

“So you’re telling us that you just happened to see your wife’s spirit walking to the Spirit of Death and followed it?”  The younger harpie replied in disbelief.

Dontarious dug his heels into the dirt floor.  “Yes, that’s what happened.  I followed the shimmer, that was my wife.  I saw the train.  I followed her… Rebecca… to the train car but I could not enter.  I found another car that was partially open and I slipped in.”

The older harpie studied him as the younger ones talked amongst themselves, Angel along with them.

Another bottle came close enough to Dontarius’s head to make him duck.

“Hey!”  He shouted.  Can you watch where you’re throwing those things?”

A pair of men, faces distorted and frog-like, laughed.

“Five gold pieces if you can hit the human,” one of them croaked.

“Ten gold piece if you can shut the hell up,” Dontarius replied loudly.  The noise from the bar disappeared as he finished.  The two frog-faced men stood up and approached.

The harpies stopped discussing the arrival or the stranger and watched.  Dontarius prepared for a fight and it came within moments as the first frog-faced man swung and missed.  The second grabbed the first one and pushed him out of the way.  He swung and missed.  Dontarius returned with a kidney punch.  The frog-faced man sucked in and held his side.  Stepped back, took a breath and charged.

Yanfis – Darkness series

The small brick and mortar building in Yanfis withstood a downpour as the rain fell hard.  Dontarious covered his face as Angel disappeared into a small building.  He followed.

The rain was a dim fraction of the noise within this room.  It was full of creatures Dontarious could name from fantasy and mythology.  He saw a couple elves.  The ears extending over their bald, round heads, as they stood at a counter.  A long counter sat on the end of a spacious room.  On top of the counter were stacked glasses.  Behind the counter were several shelves containing glass bottles.  Behind the bar was a strange, snake-like creature that hissed when it spoke.  This creature, green and full of scales, had a pair of human arms and hands and a human-isk face.

“Are you going to move,” someone shouted.  Dontarious turned to see the pale face and extended canines of a vampire.  The quintessential bad guy in any action fantasy he had seen once when he was still on Earth proper.

“You can’t stand in front of the door.  Human, you’re lucky I like this place and have to be invited or you would be a crumpled mass of skin and bone by now.

Dontarious stepped back and looked for Angel.  He found him, with his wings behind his back and pushing through the crowd of noise.  Near the left side of the room several other harpies stood talking.

“He is the only guide I have to this world,” Dontarious told himself and pushed through the crowd of colorful creatures.

“Ah, here he is!”  Angel shouted as Dontarious approached.

“You are hanging with a human, Angel… disgusting,” this harpy wore a Cincinnati Reds baseball can over platinum blond hair.  He looked to be nineteen years old or younger.  His wings were smaller than the rest.

“Angel, we don’t want him around here.”

“Wait,” Angel said addressing the largest of the harpies.  An older looking birdman with greying hair and skin folded under his eyes.  “Christoff, the human can help us with the operation.  If you hear what I’m saying.”

The older harpie stood.  He flexed his wings and shook his head violently.  “How can this small human help us?”

Angel had an answer prepared, “he hopped the Spirit of the Dead from the world above.”

The harpies all gasp at the same time.

Shadows – Darkness series

The shadows began within a mile after stepping out of Narcissus Forest.  They would appear then disappear.  Angel seemed to be unfazed but Dontarious’s eyes darted back and forth.

The tracks lead to the left and rose at a fifteen degrees.  Within a half mile the two were looking over the Shadowlands.

“You said, humans built this land?”  Dontarious asked.

Angel stopped, immediately, and turned.  “Built, no… we built this land.  You humans influenced the land with your technology magic.”

“Technology is not magic…” Dontarious began to argue but stopped.  Angel’s face twisted.  “Legendary creatures are a bit naive,” he continued to say under his breath.

After moments of awkward silence Dontarious stepped forward and continued to follow the tracks toward a long, wooden railroad bridge.  Below the bridge he could see a city.  The buildings were mud and brick but in the darkness of the morning he could see electric lights.

“Electricity?”

“Can we ask some questions in the city below?”

Dontarious looked around but Angel had left him.  Moments later, he found him making his way down a set of stairs toward the small city.

The rain fell hard causing the wooden steps to be a bit slick.  Angel walked expertly with his three-toed claws as Dontarious struggled.  The soles had been worn-down over time.  His earthly job involved long hours on his feet.  It didn’t help that rain had forced his feet to swim.

For the first time he got to take a good look at this monster.  Angel’s wings spread several feet out when at rest.  Dontarious had not seen him fly yet.  Angel had long red hair draping over the thin bones that made up the wings.  He wore a dirty, white linen tied around the waist with a rope.  He was slightly taller than Dontarious at six-feet.  He looked human, as much as possible with the wings.

“What are we walking into?”  Dontarious shouted as the rain clobbered the ground.

“You want to find your wife,” Angel said, “then we need to figure out where that train went.  I have some friends down in Yanfis.”

Legendary – Darkness series

I thought I would take a break from my art world and head back to writing for a moment.  I got sick yesterday.  I have no idea what happened.

“Slap!”

The world is dark.  The clouds above sliding across the charcoal scene like giant erasers.

“Does is always rain here?”  Dontarious asked as he and Angel  stepped from the forest.

“Only when your awake does it rain,” Angel says with a smile.  He unfurls dirty, white wings and shakes the rain from them.

“No one wears any rain gear.”

Angel laughs.  “Rain gear, typical human reaction.  I can make you an umbrella if you would like.”  He then covered Dontarious’s head with his wing.

Dontarious shook off the attempt to cover his head, which made Angel laugh harder.

“Where are we heading now?”

“Well, the train heads west toward the White Desert then circles around Alexander and finally Aries Penitentiary.”

“Penitentiary?  There is a prison in the Shadowlands called a penitentiary?  It seems awfully human-isk to call it that.”

“Right, this world is populated by humans that pass from the World Above.  You would expect some influence but we try to keep it to a minimum.”

“…and this We is?”

“Legendary creatures… Too many questions, young Buckaroo.”

Angel began forward, brushing his left wing over Dontarious’s head.

“You are an ass, man.  A pretentious ass.”

Laughter filled the raised railroad bed as the human and the legendary Harpy began toward the desert.

 

Hestia, the fire elemental

The Hestia elemental walked slowly through the trees. Dontarius stared at the creature. It’s blackened, wood-laden form smoldering underneath a ferocious flame. For a moment he was happy to be tied to a tree six feet from the ground.

The struggles of walking into a world of fantasy struck him as he watched and pondered.  The logic of a walking fire elemental below him.  He still struggled with the realities, the physics, and science of this brand new world but his heart yearned to find his wife.

Herocislies told him earlier in the day that his wife was likely struggling in the Living Prison.  Not a happy place, he imagined.

The Hestia disappeared into the forest ahead of him and he again was left alone.  Unlike the forests of Earth the trees were quiet and the only noises he heard were when things approached.  Dontarius struggled with the restrains but the thick rope held tight.  Unable to free himself he fell asleep as night fell over the sky above.

A noise snapped Dontarius awake and he opened his eyes.  It was morning and the sun above shone through the canopy of trees.  The noise repeated and he recognized it as a loud clap.  It was closer and followed by shouting.  It sounded, as if, someone was herding animals.

“Hey,” he shouted as he tried to turn.

Small footsteps returned his call and soon a dozen small sheep appeared beneath him.  He sighed at the sight of something he knew.  The sheep were followed by a tall man, with wings.  The wings stood three feet above his short, brunette head of hair.

“Hey, you!”  He shouted but the man ignored him.  The man jumped and fought the urge to turn around.  “Hey, can you help me out here.  Come on man.”

The bird man turned around immediately, as if pulled by a rope.  His thin, sculpted face would of turned any woman into jelly on Earth.  Dontarius returned a smile sitting on the bird man’s face but it disappeared.

“I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else,” said the bird man.  He spoke English but it seemed old and had a vocal punch at the end of the words.

“Hey, dude.  You cannot leave me here” Dontarius spat, imitating the accent.

The bird man stopped and turned.  He looked up and thought.

“You will make a valuable negotiation tool to the Mur.  They often broker the train riders to the Conductor for souls.”

Dontarius grumbled.  “I’m not interested in a negotiation.”

“Not much of a choice.”

“Right,” Dontarius replied.  “Can you help me or not?”

“You remind me of another train rider I knew a hundred years ago.  I think I can help you out.”

The bird man began to work on the knots as Dontarius waited and balanced upon the small wooden wedge that he stood on.  As soon as the tension fell Dontarius fell forward.  His knees unable to hold his weight.  He fell into a bath of thick brown leaves and lay motionless for moments.

“I’m so sorry about this, friend.” The bird man tried to help him up but Dontarius’s legs were too weak.  “Sit here.”

Dontarius sat against the tree as the bird man lead several of the sheep back near him.  He then watched as a travois was framed in using large branches and layered with leaves.
“Alexander, will help you escape the forest.  It can be quite daunting.  Oh.. Alexander is me.”

Dontarius returned a smile and was happy to be on his way again to find Rebecca.

Coward

“Mary Stop!”  Dontarius screams as his wife steps from the small hut that serves as home.

“I forbid you from seeing Herocies.  NO… you can’t do this too me!”

Mary looks back.  Seconds seem to stretch into hours as Dontarius watches the flame within his wife’s eyes flicker.  It was then that he realized that his wife was lost to him.

Dontarius fell to the floor of the hut and stared upward at the thatch roof.  He picked out small areas in the roof that showed daylight and waited for his wife to disappear.  The silence was unbearable and Dontarius looked toward the door.  The reeds swung from the top of the door.  His wife was gone.  Dontarius screwed up his nose in frustration and screamed.

He stood and walked to the door and stepped out.  Mary stood, just outside the hut.  She was crying.

“No, this is over like you said,” Dontarius shouted.  The village of Rosemary was located along the Heracleus River.  Dontarius and Mary lived on an outcropping above the village.  Dontarius realized that large men, dressed in dull gray armor stood over what was left of the village.  He was at a loss and stood quietly staring at the scene below.

“Are you going to do anything?”  Mary shouted.

Dontarius examined the scene ahead of him.  He counted ten heavily armored men with large swords.  They walked through the village methodically pulling residents from the small huts and then piercing them with the sword.  Dontarius realized that this raid was sanctioned.  The soldiers did what they were told but they resisted.  They could easily finish the job with far more violence.  He could would have to do something to frighten the soldiers from the village.

“We would have to frighten them off,” he said as he continued to think.

“Frighten them off.  These are soldiers.  How are you supposed to frighten off damn soldiers.” Mary shouted.  She was hysterical and they were noticed.  A soldier spotted them and pointed upward toward them.  Mary screamed and turned.  She screamed a second time and fell to her knees.  Dontarius turned to find a large spectre staring down from above him.  The beast stood seven-feet tall and hovered an additional two feet off the ground.  Dontarius knew who and what this was and he knew his running was over.

“Dontarius,” began the spectre.  “You dare to run from me.  Your flight has brought shame and destruction upon your family.  Your wife is now dead because you failed to keep your word to me.”

“NO…No!  Do not take my wife,” Dontarius pleaded.

“It’s too late.  She is already mine.  Your debt is now paid.  You will now live the rest of your life cursed with Cowardice.”