31 Fantasy Characters, #31: Zimiriad

31_fantasy_badgeZimiriad stood on the edge of the rickety wooden bridge that spanned the chasm. As he looked down into the blackness, wondering what was down there, he wondered a great many more things. Would the others discover it was missing? Would they then discover he was missing? Would they put the two together, and come after him?

Of course they would. All of them. But they would be too late.

Three kingdoms battling each other for years, trying to wrench from a fourth kingdom a weapon of great death. And here it was in Zimiriad’s hands.

He held the great gem up to the light of the sun, and the red beams that came forth from the dozens of facets shone all around him and down into the chasm – but even that light was swallowed by the depths. This gem was Zimiriad’s crowning achievement, the largest gem ever cut, and it was his gift for his king. Zimiriad had been made a noble for it, with land and herds and more. But he never cut another gem after this. He would not pass on his knowledge of how he had done it. He wanted it to be the only gem of its kind, for he knew the danger it posed. There could be no other, as long as he lived.

To his dismay, the the truth became known one day, how it killed and destroyed when put with water, and his king used it against the surrounding kingdoms to expand. The war for the Flamestone had claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

“No more,” Zimiriad said, looking at the gem in his hands. “I wish I never found this cursed thing!”

He dropped it into the chasm, watched its red light disappear into darkness. He waited a moment, then looked around. No one was around. He had done it. There was nothing left to fight for anymore. They would kill him for it, yes, but it would be the last death of the war.

Zimiriad started to walk the bridge back home when the rumbling started. The bridge rattled, then wobbled. He saw the trees on the other side of the bridge begin to sway. The very ground itself was shaking.

He looked down and saw a great fire emerging from the depths of the chasm. Almost a mile away from him, he could already feel the flames burning his feet.

“What have I done?” was the last thing Zimiriad ever said.

(The word prompt today was “Only.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

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31 Fantasy Characters, #30: Kenhaund

31_fantasy_badge“Begin!”

Kenhaund lunged at his opponent at once. The Feline was nimble, and dodged Kenhaund’s rapier thrust effortlessly. Kenhaund expected it though, and turned at once to parry the counter with his dagger. The fighters pushed each other away with their blades and paced in a circle, judging each other’s next move.

Kenhaund lived for Rapier and Dagger matches, but this one was different. This fight was not for his honor, but for his country’s. The Canines and the Felines were in a cold war, each poised to destroy each other, but neither willing to risk the great loss of life. The tension in the room was palpable, despite both sides cheering on their champion. It was if this match was to determine the victor between two great world powers. Had Kenhaund known this, he may not have ever volunteered to fight.

Canxiama, Kenhaund’s opponent, hissed as he came about with a barrage of thrusts and swings, leaving Kenhaund no choice but to parry only. Kenhaund could find no window for a counter, so he let the cat exert all his energy, saving his own for later.

A swish across Kenhaund’s chest tore his shirt, but his mail protected him. He cursed silently as the official called a point for the Feline, and Felines’ side cheered loud while the Canines howled their displeasure.

Kenhaund made a quick maneuver to attack the Feline’s leg, but the cat batted it away with his rapier. Canxiama’s smug whisker twitch combined with that smirk was already driving Kenhaund mad, and they had only met this morning. Kenhaund began to pant, which always embarrassed him.

Tongue lolling out, Kenhaund tried a barrage of his own, quick slices of the rapier and fast jabs with the dagger. Canxiama’s eyes grew wide and he floundered, his parrying sloppy and uncontrolled.

That got his attention, Kenhaund thought.

But just as Kenhaund was about to lunge, Canxiama spun around and cut Kenhaund across the face with his own claws.

Again came the howls of displeasure, this time from both sides. Such a move was illegal, so Canxiama was penalized one point, which infuriated the Felines.

Kenhaund waived away medical attention as it came near. He brought his hand up to his face and then looked at his hand. The blood was minimal, but the smell and sight of it awoke in him the primal Howl of the Hunt, and his fellow Canines joined him. Then he snarled and bared his teeth. For the first time since the match began, Kenhaund saw fear in his opponent.

Now the fight really begins.

(The word prompt today was “Cut.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

31 Fantasy Characters, #29: Cassianus

31_fantasy_badgeTwo thousand years as a worm, imprisoned in an alabaster jar, has a way of making you appreciate the little things in life, like having hands, or the ability to taste food. Cassianus was experiencing eating again — as a human — and he was savoring every moment of it. Some of the foods’ smells brought back memories of the life he had on the shores of the great Mediterranean sea. The tastes were exquisite and he closed his eyes as he ate.

The little girl in front of him laughed. “You’re a silly boy,” she said.

Of course, Cassianus had no idea what she was saying. The girl spoke a strange language that sounded faintly familiar, but also similar to the northmen, the barbarians. He just shrugged and continued eating.

It was strange to be a little boy again, let alone a human. He had not expected this turn of events. He looked around the room they sat in, a oddly bare room with no frescoes on the walls, just a plain pale red. The torches on the walls were intriguing, the flames somehow bright white and kept enclosed without being extinguished.

Where was he? This magic surpassed his own.

“Are you and your friend still hungry?” a voice called from afar. The little girl’s mother, he assumed. Cassianus liked her, for she kept bringing them food; when she arrived with a plate, he smiled.

“My, what an appetite!” the woman said.

“Mommy, is Billy going to have to leave?” the little girl said.

“Is that what you’re calling him? Honey, yes, someone will come to take him. He’s obviously lost, he doesn’t speak our language. His mommy and daddy must be worried.”
Cassianus kept watching them as he ate, still not understanding. The little girl was pouting.

The mother pointed at Cassianus with a smile. “You like those?” Cassianus Frowned, not understanding. She pointed at the fruit, mimicked eating something, then rubbed her belly and said, “Mmmm.”

Cassianus understood this. He held up the fruit and smiled.

“Date,” the mother said. She pointed to the fruit, speaking louder. “Date.”

Was this the word for this food? Cassianus shrugged, then obliged. “Date,” he said.

The two in front of him lit up with excitement and clapped their hands.

Strange, Cassianus thought. I have so much to learn if I am to successfully rule over this world.

(The word prompt today was “Date.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

31 Fantasy Characters, #27: Waithar

31_fantasy_badgeWaithar stopped his Quodil at the end of the path that led to the house. In one hand were the reins, in the other a large bouquet of wildflowers. His beast snuffled through its beak-like mouth and turned its scaly and feathered head to look at its rider. It blinked at him as if to say, “Are we doing this or not?”

“Of course we are, my friend,” Waithar said to the beast, even though it didn’t actually speak. “That’s Jonna’s home right up that path. She’s waiting for me. I just… I just need a moment.”

The Quodil snuffled again and extended its neck to a great height to grab a cluster of fruit hanging from a high branch. It chomped loudly as Waithar sat astride it, his eyes on the distant house.

“She waits for me,” Waithar said. “She waits for me.” He smiled, brought the flowers to his nose and inhaled deeply with closed eyes. Then he turned and sneezed, startling the Quodil, who nearly threw its rider off. To maintain his seat Waithar had to grab the saddle with both hands. The bouquet fell to the ground, and several flowers lost their petals.

Waithar grunted as he got off the Quodil, picked up the flowers and examined them. He glanced around for a moment to see if there were any other flowers to compliment the damaged bouquet, but found none. He sighed in frustration, returned to his saddle, then bid his Quodil forward down the path.

Upon reaching the house, Waithar saw that the door was ajar. Something did not feel right. He immediately dismounted and drew his sword, which he realized looked ridiculous paired with his “flower shield.” He crept to the door and heard laughter: Jonna’s and another’s.

He opened the door and there stood Jonna in an embrace with a hideous troll-like creature with long thick arms and grey, leathery skin that was barely covered with rags.

“Unhand her you foul creature!” Waithar shouted, pointing his sword and startling the troll and Jonna.

Jonna saw the sword and her eyes grew wide. She stepped in front of the troll with her arms spread wide in protection. “No, Waithar! Stop! This is Mogot, my betrothed.”

Suddenly Waithar’s arm couldn’t hold his sword up and the blade slowly lowered. “Your… your… betrothed?” He felt dizzy.

“Yes!” Jonna said, smiling. “Mogot and I are to be married this very day!”

The bouquet dropped to the floor. Waithar soon followed.

(The word prompt today was “Bouquet.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

31 Fantasy Characters, #26: Maive

31_fantasy_badgeMaive sat on a stool across from the prisoner. He was not the same man he was just days ago when he attacked her. When he…

She closed her eyes and tried not to think about it again. It was still too hard to face it.

The prisoner lay on the dirty floor behind thick steel bars. He wouldn’t make eye contact with Maive. She continued staring at him, wondering how a seemingly normal-looking man could do such a thing to another person. Lust was a petty excuse. Was it just a show of strength? To feel more powerful than someone else? Was he angry at someone else, and took it out on her?

Maive still didn’t know his name, and she didn’t want to know, but she agreed to exercise her right to confront her attacker. She didn’t know what would happen. She didn’t know what she would say.

She still didn’t know.

Finally the man looked back at her. His brown eyes, like hers, were not cold or full of malice. He was afraid.

“What have you decided?” he asked Maive.

“I haven’t,” Maive said after a moment.

The man sighed. “Just have them execute me and be done with it.” Maive thought she heard him whimper.

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Maive’s voice started to rise. “To just die and not have to live with what… what you did to me.” She fought back any tears. She would not let him see any sort of weakness in her.

The man looked away again. Neither said anything for a few moments.

Finally, “Why?” Maive asked.

The man turned his eyes back. “Why what?”

“WHY?” she asked, firmer.

He shook his head and a tear fell to the ground. “Because you were there. I don’t even know why.”

Maive stood and kicked the stool away. She raised her hands and in each was was a colored scrap of cloth, one dyed red, the other yellow.

The man knew what it meant, and he sat up, watching.  The watchmen came closer to witness her decision.

Her hands trembled. Then she dropped the yellow cloth to the ground. The prisoner buried his face in his hands.

“Are you sure?” a watchman asked Maive.

“He lives,” she said, brushing back her long brown hair, “and will remember forever.” She spit on the ground and stormed out from the jail.

(The word prompt today was “Confront.” Maive is a character from my book, By the Light of the Moons)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]