Showing: 1 - 3 of 3 RESULTS

A Shift in Perspective (18+)

Timeline:

This story takes place some time shortly after the story; “Somewhere Bitter in the Darkness” where the conversation between the little gnome and her strange and curiously dauntless friend reveal more about certain unexpected and controversial realities about the ‘competent counterpart of the pair’..

 

 

There was a strained, sentient silence in the large, ancient, bitter cold cave as one small figure banged and clanked with her numerous tools as she worked on her mechanical monstrosity, while another, a very tall, very dark figure watched her with mute curiosity and somewhat a determined, ‘will pay off’ expression.

The two unlikely pairs continued like this for quite some time until the small figure blew out an exasperated and infuriated hiss, stopped what she was doing, and irritably asked.

“So how did you do it?”

 

The tall figure smiled.

It seemed her mother had been right; determination, along with a good dose of mute patience, always won in the end..

It’d worked just fine on her father hadn’t it? And he’d been one deuce of a man..

 

“How did you learn about my classes? Hells bells, girl, how did you learn about my grades? And don’t tell me you charmed the academy staff. Those guys all have anti-student-charm wards.”, the little gnome asked.

“Yea.. Sadly, that’s true. Would have made my job so much easier if they didn’t..”, the tall figure signed.

“How did you do it? You couldn’t have found more than two people who’d want to talk about me or about my classes. And certainly not about my grades. Many of the kids detested me more for my high grades than they did for being a demon summoners’ kin! Seeing as how I was a social leper, I must also be mentally defective.”

“Actually, I beat you in survival class.”, the tall girl said smugly.

“The hell you did! No one beats an artificer in survival class”, in total disbelief.

“I sure did.. Though I didn’t brag about it. Not after seeing you sulk when you saw the grades posted on the students’ notice wall.”

“That was you?”

“Yup, that was me..”

“It was the one time, damit..”

“True.. I didn’t bother to do better after that. You seemed so upset.. sulking like a kitten caught in the rain.. Shattered my heart, it did..”

“I did not sulk!”

“The hunched shoulders, the crossed arms, the scowling red face, and the blistering curses.. Yep, you were sulking. And doing it so cute, I might add. I mean, even then, way before we were paired, I was like, ‘Awww, isn’t she so darn cute, sulking like that. Oww, I just must have her. I could put her into my coin purse and carry her around all day!'”, the tall figure said with a happy smile.

The little gnome scowled but bit back a savage retort..

 

Barely.

 

The smile on the tall figure stayed, but the happiness faded.

“So.. How did you do it?”, she asked again, after a while.

“You don’t want to know..”, said the tall figure with a long, sensual yawn. “I am going back to sleep.. Can’t keep my eyes open any longer.”

“How did you do it?”, persisted the gnome, but the tall figure had left the scene.

The sound of soft, naked feet grew quieter and finally dissipated all together.

TELL ME, DAMIT!“, hissed the gnome with burning frustration.

From the other side of the cave, a very faint rustling sound was heard.

Only after a long, infuriating pause, did a sleepy, voluptuous voice say, “I burglarized the academy staff offices!”

The little gnome just stared at the darkness and at the girl lost in it.

Unknowingly, she dropped her hammer.

“You.. You broke into the academy staff offices? Just to get to my grades?”

“Well..”, the sleepy voice said, “I wanted to get to know you, and your interests, and how competent you were at them. We had, after all, just been paired, so yes, I broke into the academy staff offices. And what I found wasn’t limited to your grades. I read every single remark, note, warning, possible disciplinary action, and everything anyone had to say about you. You wouldn’t believe how many complaints were filed against you out of petty spite! I also found all your research papers and read them as well.. I must say, your studies on steam-propelled engines was quite inspiring and I strongly suspect your professor plans on stealing it. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’s published a paper on your steam thing with his own name on it by now..

Altogether, it was a very long read. Much, much longer than mine. What they had to say about me was quite colorful, but they were all basically the repetition of the first. They only got wilder and wilder towards the end. I honestly felt flattered at how talented my mentor thought I was in my persuasion classes. That old stick had left a rather long explanatory note for the dean, trying to explain himself, why he had me repeat my finals seven times —alone with him— just to make sure I wasn’t cheating..

As if..!

I did admire the old fool’s passion for pink, though. It rivaled my own! I am sure he wanted to see more, but his heart finally gave in..”

A sensual, throaty and somewhat cruel laughter echoed in the darkness..

“I ended up giving him CPR and he ended up trying to explain himself to the dean..

Your file, on the other hand, was thicker than my thigh, which isn’t saying much, I know, but it was all written in this small, clandestine-like print. It took me the better part of the night to get to the end.

Some of the notes and cautionary warnings I read came from some very high people and very far places like Arashkan, Bari Na-ammen, and Durkhahan! Did you know they had a permanent ‘Watchful Eye’ spell cast on you during your whole tenancy at the academy? That sort of pissed me off because I knew for a fact that it is a highly dangerous and very much an illegal spell, not to mention, extremely expensive to maintain, totally pointless and cruel to place on a young student.

What truly struck me came at the very end, though; that none of it had changed anything I felt or thought about you. I got out feeling exactly the same as I got in. Just more excited and determined..

When they first paired us, I thought I had gotten me a cute, somewhat dorky but smart, and a highly organized little overachiever. Would you like to know the only thing that changed after I read all those ill things about you?”

“What?”, the little gnome’s voice fizzled, feeling totally crushed by now.

“Nothing..”, came the sultry voice softly from the darkness, stifling another yawn.

“It did, however, change my perspective of those paranoid fools at the academy though because I had, in fact, gotten me a girl, still very cute, still dorky, but with a very sharp, singularly unique and sensitive mind and no one was going to hurt her ever again!

With you, I thought of all the impossible things we could accomplish together. And all the crazy fun trouble we could get in and out of.

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

I could almost imagine myself..”, the voice said with a tingling, yearning, happy little chuckle, “..with you tucked under one arm, running in terror with my pinks on fire while you screamed, ‘RUN, GIRL.. FASTER! FASTER!..‘ as some massive explosion bloomed behind us.. Ahhh, it was such a beautiful, exhilarating, and vivid dream. All the more so, because we would have just witnessed the total and catastrophic failure of yet another plan we had concocted together.. But every once in awhile, we’d succeed too. We’d have this silly, smug expression on our faces as we sat in some out of the way inn with large, filthy mugs in our hands because we’d just found out that we’d been banned from yet, another town! All because I thought you would be my sturdy, unwavering, and unbending pair.. That you would be the light in my shed..

I knew, of course, that this would never happen. You were just too sensible, too smart for total, catastrophic failures. It’d be a lot more boring in real life but that didn’t really matter either because, at the end of the day, I’d still get to have my pair to joke about it..”, the voice sighed.

“As for my burglarizing, it never came up, so I never mentioned it. But I was also the best in my stealth class as well. At least in camo and night stalking and I could squeeze through any given crack as long as my head would fit in it. I could also stand still and go unnoticed for hours, if you can believe that, because I’ve always had a very good inner metronome, I’ve always been very patient, inhumanly so —which is to be expected— and I never fidgeted. Probably the end result of a combination of listening to too much beat music, my mother and never feeling ashamed of who or what I am, nor the things I did, no matter how silly or foolish they were, because once I did it, I’d own it.. I couldn’t say the same when it came to the actual creeping and sneaking, though. On that score, I am afraid, I was a bit of a clutz. I mean, I am so tall and somethings just can’t be helped..

I still had to do quite a bit of crawling and slithering to get in through the ventilation shafts leading in and out of the academy staff offices and nearly got stuck and suffocated. I spent two days in those shafts, stranded and unable to move, waiting to lose just enough weight untangle myself, and get through. I probably couldn’t do it at all now, even if I fasted for a week. I was so skinny when we were at the academy. I am a lot taller and have much more flesh on me now, then I did back then.”

THE TWO DAYS YOU WENT MISSING AT THE ACADEMY! A WEEK TO GRADUATION!“, gasped the little gnome in sudden awakening.

“I.. I thought you’d run off to avoid pairing with me..”

 

My dear girl, if I hadn’t wanted you, I would have used my ‘right to refuse’ at the pairing and gone solo.. Besides, we’d already been paired. Once paired, always paired. It’s not a matter of mere honor and integrity. Pairing is also a magical binding. That is why pairs function so much better than solo graduates.

No, girl, quite the contrary. Nothing ever excited me more than having been paired to you..

 

By the time I came down the shafts, I looked more like a ghoul than myself.. Then came the issue of the wards.. Turns out most of them rely on light sensories. I just breezed right past them and none was the wiser. They barely gave me a suspicious buzz, then totally shrugged me off. Though, all things considered, that shouldn’t really be a surprise for you. I mean, just look at me!”

“I did not know..”, said the little gnome, drowned in the things she had just learned.

“Well, you never took that class so you couldn’t have known that I did.”

“I didn’t take that class because I had a ban on stealth, practical magic and sorcery, deception, and medicine.. They really didn’t want me taking arcana either, but you can’t be an artificer without arcana, so they gave in, provided I take history as a mandatory prerequisite for it, just in case I missed the reasons why I’d been banned from all the other classes!

After what my uncle did, all Arcantons were..”, the gnome said bitterly. “..but that’s not what I meant.”

“I know..”, came the voluptuous voice softly.

“Then, why? Why do it at all? Why take such a risk? You would have been banned and excommunicated from the academy if you’d been caught. Your name would have been black-marked and black-listed! Hells bells, girl, you could have died and no one would have even found your body until the start of the new scholar year!..”

There was a moment of silence as if the voice in the darkness was considering whether to tell or not.

When she finally spoke, there was a wretched and desolate pain in her voice.

“Because I detest small talk. I have always found it to be demeaning, prosaic, and artificial. I wanted to skip all the silly ‘weather’ talk and get to the real, honest part of our conversations. Not like we’d just met, but like two people carrying out a heated discussion they’d started days before.. I wanted an honest relationship where neither you nor I had to tiptoe around each other because we were strangers. I wanted us to start without the delays and the setbacks of the shallow, superficial stuff..

 

..and because no one is ever honest around me. People just look at me and suddenly start lying about the most immaterial things about themselves, just to get to impress me and by doing so, they unwittingly cast me as the pretty, stupid girl and miss the ironic significance in that; when you lie about the insignificant, you are unable, to be honest about the significant! They fail to grasp one of the most basic and fundamental truths in life; that which is insignificant for you might be dearly significant for me..

 

For all that’s good and not, I’d even prepared a like dossier for you, with all the classes I’d taken, my grades, my favorite professors, to whom I had a secret crush, a covering selection of my likes and dislikes, and things that I felt to be particularly dear to me..

I put anything and everything that I could possibly think of into that dossier.. Everything you would have found out about me in the course of a long and honest friendship; my past, which I thought to be rather boring compared to my sojourn at the academy, the things I admired about you, including the first time I saw you and my preferred shades of pink, all color-coded. I’d even added a FAQ section and indexed the whole thing for easy access.. Just so we’d start on an equal footing. Still got the silly thing here somewhere, though I could see no point for it now..

A shame really. After two years of trying, I have nothing to show for it.. I guess no matter how hard you try, apparently somethings you never get to have.”, said the voice with a sigh.

“You know what truly depresses me? This insignificant seeming little banter that we just had, has been the only honest and significant conversation that we ever shared. Many pairs get to babysit each others’ kids after two years from graduation and here I am, actually happy for a mild banter.. Isn’t that just sad, Arcantonic?

 

In the end, I did have you. Just never got you.. I suppose I am never going to be putting you in my coin purse and carrying you around to my heart’s content..”

 

..the voice slurred in the darkness and finally drifted into sleep.

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

No, I guess not..”, the little gnome silently agreed.

“I.. I don’t know what to say.. I really don’t. The things you have done.. and for what? To get to know some social reject? A nobody, if not for my degenerate uncle! I am.. funked!”, she said in quite bewilderment, but should she ever be asked, the word she would honestly have preferred would have been; Awe!

It was all just too much to compute, let alone, digest.

 

Arcantonic felt disoriented.

Concussed, even..

 

From a point-blank perspective, all her pair had done was to break into some offices to take a peek at her grades out of sheer, stupid curiosity. But then, whenever she’d looked at her pair from that same point-blank perspective, all she’d seen was.. pink!

No..

This time she knew, she just knew, she could not explain away the actions, nor the reasons of her pair with her usual, unmuted sarcasm..

Hells bells, the girl had spent two days, stuck in some draft pipes, unable to move and gasping for breaths, in hopes of losing enough weight to get through.. Just to get to know, to understand, and to relate to an ‘undesirable’ girl she’d barely known!

 

“I am not sure about the total, catastrophic failures,” said the little gnome finally, with the same subdued voice, “..but I think I can help with the big, blooming explosions. Provided, you run faster!”

“And..”, she said, “..that’ll be ‘Tonic’ for you, girl.”

The little gnome felt something shift inside her.

A point in perspective, perhaps?

 

Or something..

 

Whatever it was, it would come to her in due time. But she had this pinching feeling that it seemed like it was high time she got off her high horses and stepped up to her end of the pair.

To that end, she turned and hastily gathered all her tools; her hammer, her wrench, her drivers, pliers, nippers and cutters, the numerous gadgets, spare bolts, and coiled wires and put them to their proper places inside her large, portable toolbox. She sat down and took off her clobbering boots, ignoring the freezing cold biting at the soles of her naked feet as she opened the little hood of the lantern and pinched the life out of the candle in it. Cast in darkness, she skimmed the elegantly made lantern with her slim fingers until she found what she was looking for; a well-concealed runic button hidden at its base. She lightly tapped the button, setting it to MODE B…

There..

..on the other side of the ancient, bitter cold cave, where the curvy form of a very tall, pitch-black figure —her pair— slumbered..

..was something.

Something hidden..

 

Arcantonic smiled.

 

She might not be much of a sneak, nor have many of the quirky talents her pair did, but she was an artificer and that meant compensating what they lacked by way of substituting them with pure ingenuity and dedicated craftsmanship..

There was still time, and she was going to make things right with the only person who had bothered to get to know her, damit!

 

She reached up and twirled a small knob on her goggles, turning the black darkness into shades of blue and gray as everything became oddly distinct for her..

Arcantonic Palecog quietly faded in the darkness to do some burglarizing of her own; it was going to be a long night and hopefully, an even longer, FAQed and color-coded, read..

 

 


 

 

 
 

Somewhere Bitter
In the Darkness (18+)

Timeline:

This story takes place sometime between the birth of Bremorel Songsteel and the birth of Inshala ‘la Fey’ Frostmane, in a bitterly cold cave, somewhere up very north of any known civilization.

 

 

I hate this shit..!”

A somewhat raspy and tenoric voice echoed in the darkness of a very large, bitter cold cave. It was, however, a bit unclear whether the bitterness was in the voice or the arctic cave. A number of glacial stalactites did shatter and crumble down though.

A single candle danced and fluttered inside an elegant, copper framed lantern in one corner of the cave where a small figure wearing goggles with thick, darkened lenses banged and fiddled with a very large, rusty, mechanical..

..monstrosity?

It was hard to say what this thing really was. It vaguely resembled a bear.. perhaps.

 

Or something..

 

Many cogs, gears, clockwork springs, moving arms, and levers shifted and shuffled inside it with a great amount of vertical noise as sharp columns of steam hissed out of areas where they probably shouldn’t.

“What are you doing..”, another, sleepy and voluptuous voice said, out of the reach of the stuttering candlelight.

“I am working on my project. What does it look like I am doing?”, the raspy voice replied in a grouchy tone.

“Come on, girl. It’s the dead hour of the night. Come back and sleep..”, the sultry voice said with a yawn.

 

I remember once when some dolt with nothing better to do asked me what my ideals were.

When everyone despises you for your family, you have no future and ideals become overrated..

Thanks, uncle, for buggering my life!

And thank you too, Nadine Graciousward.. for, so graciously kicking my retarded uncle’s gnomic arse six ways to hell and milking it for all you are worth..

..stupid bitch!

 

“You may have time to sleep, but some of us have actual work to do and don’t rely on the size of our breasts to get them done!”, the raspy voice cracked.

There was a surly moment of silence followed by a rustling sound and then, a pair of soft, naked feet approached the dim candlelight.

“That was a tad uncalled for, Tonic, even for you.. Besides, there is nothing wrong with the size of my breasts. Neither with yours, for that matter, proportionally speaking, of course.. Only if you could be bothered to sulk less and wiggle them some —the way I showed you. And speaking of work, nothing you have done actually did work, you know. Might as well sleep.. or wiggle, at the very least!”, said the voluptuous voice as an impossibly tall and very much dark figure entered the dimly glowing light.

“My goggles work. So does my lantern..!”, the little figure snapped indignantly. “..And don’t call me ‘Tonic’. We are not friends enough for you to get familiar with my name.”

“This is quite a big leap from a pair of goggles and a lantern.”, said the tall figure, pointing dubiously at the mechanical ‘whatsit’. “And I have been calling you ‘Tonic’ since the day we were introduced for the scholar pairing, back in the academy. And that was nearly two years ago.. What just changed?”

“I just got around to it..”

 

I have no bonds, only chains.. and this idiot with a pink fetish, shamelessly running around in a retarded mini skirt-dress that defies gravity, i am paired to..

Pink skirt.. Really? What kind of a demented and abysmally stupid girl goes to the dig site of some ancient ruin in a mini skirt!

“Hey boys, I am going to bend over here to brush the dust off these skeletal remains, don’t be shy..”

I mean, it’s not even sending mixed messages!

Hells bells, girl, you are slim as willow and tall as the Raven Queen’s hallowed spire. I can see your laced, pink panties under that piece of laced, pink swab you call a dress, just by looking at your face, and I am not even trying.. I have seen things there, I am never going to scrub out of my mind!

 

The owner of the raspy voice turned to look at the tall figure with compounded irritation and quickly averted her eyes.

“Can you at least put something on? Anything. Even that sham of a dress I wouldn’t use for a cloak will do!”

“For all that’s good and not, why? We are alone, in a cave, in the middle of nowhere.. literally.. for all three cases!”, the tall figure replied.

“Besides, it’s quite warm in here. Hot even, I dare say.”, she added..

..and shrugged her slim shoulders, causing some other things to bounce as well.

 

Some people ask me what my flaws are.

Don’t need any. I have this stupid girl to look after and the deeds of a retard uncle that follow me wherever I go..

Nobody can be this unlucky, yet here I am..

It’s like the sky’s wanted a laugh and said; here, let’s make a particularly midgety gnome.

And while at it, let’s make her as pale and skinny as a hundred-year-old ghoul.

Then let’s make her a relative to someone famous.. Famous for engineering something as abysmally stupid as a demon gate, just so she gets the special treatment of a leper.

..And then make him get owned by a little girl that just turns out to be the most beautiful minx in the king’s land. So beautiful in fact, that she destroys the legendary Arcanton with her pretty, rather than brains and gets to marry a friggin elf ri!

Really?..AN ELF Rİ!

What?, “Marry the handsome prince and live happily ever after’ routine wasn’t good ‘nuf for you? I am certain there was any number of them around, just waiting to be grabbed by you!

I mean, can you even get any brasher then that?

But that’s not all.. Let’s kick the midget some more while she’s down and pair her off with another beautiful girl. Preferably with ‘the most popular girl of the academy’ made of two long legs, a little ass..

..and pretty much nothing else.

You know, just to underline the difference in size, color, and.. everything else. I don’t even qualify to reach her waist. When I look straight at her, I just see.. pink!.

Look at her; my little gnomic arse is frozen numb and she dares says ‘it’s hot, even’!..

It makes me and ‘irony’ bleed!

 

A sharp clanking sound came from the mechanical monstrosity.

“Is it supposed to do that?”, the tall figure asked.

“Possibly..”, the raspy, small figure replied evasively.

An arm shot out from the mechanical ‘thing’ and grabbed at the tall figure!

“Umm.. is he really supposed to do that? Grab my ass the way he has, I mean..”, the tall figure said, more with surprise than any kind trepidation.

“No.. maybe..”, the raspy-voiced little figure replied, somewhat dismayed. “But it’s no wonder he would, the way you keep running around the way you do..”

“What’s wrong with the way I run? Although, now that you mentioned it, I do feel funked!”, the tall figure said, looking down at the mechanical arm. “If he squeezes, and leaves a mark, I will have to demolish him. You know that, right?”

“Funked?!”, the small figure said.

“Yea, funked. That was the popular word in the academy when we left.. Probably dropped out of use, though. Nothing lasts in the academy for long.”, the tall figure signed.

The little gnome snorted as she kept fidgeting and tuning the cogs, wheels, and gears inside the mechanical monstrosity.. but with a hint of desperation now.

“Where did you get all these parts anyway. We are in the middle of an arctic desert!”, the tall, dark figure asked.

“Magic, duh!”, said the small figure.

“Ahh, right.. I suppose all is okay if there is a ‘duh’ in it.”, sniffed the tall figure. “You know, I never really liked that word. It’s not even a real word. It’s impolite, patronizing, very unscholarly, and sounds so silly.”

The small figure ignored her.

“And why in all that’s good and not, do all your clockworks have a sad, worried expression on their faces?”

“Because I find that hilarious..”

“You find sad faces hilarious.. There is something seriously wrong with you girl. I mean, who finds sad faces, funny?”

“Me..?”

 

The tall figure reached out to touch something that looked like the single antenna of a sawyer bug, sticking out of the rusty, elongated egg-like head of the monstrosity.

“STOP!”, the little figure shouted.

“DO NOT TOUCH THAT!”

“What? Why?”, the tall one asked.

“Because it will disintegrate you!”

“No, it won’t!”

“It might.”

Multi-tasking a conversation with this tall figure and trying to tune the mechanical thing was starting to get to her. All she wanted was to be left alone, all to herself.

“You are just cranky because it just doesn’t work. Like, at all.. Now tell me, why?”, the tall figure asked softly, with an unexpected change from her voluptuous voice.

“Why, what?”

“Why are you always chewing me out? I am not the real reason for the disposition of your ire. Merely your happy excuse.”

“The disposition of my ire?”, snorted the gnome. “Using the big words now, are we?”

“Casting yourself in the third person now, are you? I am simply your G.T.B.G.”

The little gnome stared at the very tall, very dark figure through her thick goggles in blank incomprehension.

“My what?”

“Your G-T-B-G.. Your Go-To Burn Girl!.. To be used for the amusement of your cumulative anger; hey look, Tonic is feeling irritated, just dump it on the tall, pretty girl. Tonic is feeling angry, just burn the tall, pretty strumpet. And now, Tonic is feeling waspish, go right ahead and claw, bite, sting, and stab the tall, stupid girl.

It must be all right to hurt the Go-To Burn Girl since you think so little of me. In your mind, I am just a stupid, pretty idiot that I can not help but be. You have no regard whether the things you say may really hurt because some of them might actually be true, but nevertheless, things I can not change nor do anything about, save taking a knife and carving myself with it..

I can’t change what I am. My height, my color, my face.. and hey, my incomprehensible, mindlessly obsessive passion for pink! And you are accusing me, punishing me and pushing me away for them.. and your family. None of which I had nothing to do..

Other than the inevitable, I have never once looked down on you. Never have I judged you by your size, your appearance, your past, nor your family.. When I look at you, I see a lovely, smart girl who is angry and feels that anger justifies burning her pair.

Has it ever occurred to you that they might not have paired you to me to get rid of you, but paired me to you so we could help fix each other?

For everything that’s good and not, have you ever wondered why I call you ‘Tonic’ and never once by your full name? Or why I never asked you about your uncle?”

 

There was a long moment of silence as a stubborn minute snailed by..

..followed by another.

 

The little gnome tried very hard not to say anything but failed, and finally gave in.

“No.. Yes.. Why?”

 

“Because I saw the hurt in your eyes every time some idiot did.. and asking about it one more time just to have satisfied a passing show of interest at the cost of more pain to you, was not acceptable for me. You don’t do that to your pair. And to be totally honest about it, I only felt indifferent to your uncle. He meant absolutely little to nothing for me. Neither did your kinship to him.

I acknowledged that kinship, it’s unavoidable existence and how it related to you, not because of him or his deeds, but because of what those deeds cost you and did to you. I never saw him as a great researcher, nor a loser. I saw him as a reckless megalomaniac who gave no regard to the possible outcome of his actions and what those actions might entail.. It is possible, though not acceptable, for someone to be careless with the lives of some far, faceless strangers. But knowing you have a family and still doing what he did it is simple baseline lunacy! If I so desperately wanted to know about him, I still wouldn’t have tormented you, I would have just gone to the academy library, seeing as how there is a whole section dedicated to his idiocy..

Just like the things you despise me for having but I could do nothing about, you could do nothing about your connection to him either.. But you know what hurts me as much as you being kin to Arcanton do you? Your deliberate indifference to the things you say to your pair!

 

You don’t get to be snippy with me all the time. Nor to burn me because you think I supply you with an outlet of convenience. You don’t do that to a pair. I am sorry I fall short of your standards or your expectations all the time. I try very hard not to. I really do.. But your expectations are not some high standards for perfection. They are a mere excuse for your private misery. I can’t meet those standards because deep down, you and I both know, they are not there to overcome, but they are there to stay. It is your inner, impregnable castle where people around you must bash their heads to get through, but never will. You know why? Because you can’t break a wall by bashing it with heads, no matter how many of them you throw at it. And by some remarkable off chance that you did, the wall is now ‘broken’ and the castle has likely been raided.. and left behind. Abandoned without its dignity or soul.

You have to lower your bridge and let me in..

 

‘Wow..’, thought Tonic, grudgingly. There was no way in hell she could ever make a speech like that and on the spot. Her best would have had nothing but lots of cussing and grunting!

And here was her idiot of a pair, one-half naked, the other half in pinks, had just given her the analytic run down of all her base issues..

 

“And I am also sorry your.. whatever this thing is, doesn’t work. “

“It works..”, said the little gnome in a surly tone, trying very, very hard to ignore all the things the tall, dark figure just said.

 

To be totally honest with herself, the little gnome was expecting a speech of this sort for quite some time now and thought it was long overdue.

By one and a half years..

The silly girl standing in the dim candlelight in front of her had a remarkable resilience for her plaguing misery and patience to rival the arctic night winds howling outside; it took hundreds of years for those winds to wear down an inch of a mountain..

Yet, they did it anyway..

A bit like this very tall, very dark figure.

But what hit the little gnome harder than a six-horse cart was the deep, mind wracking content of the speech.

And how it had been served.

What she expected was lots of yelling and moaning, along with some arm-waving, possibly some tears and hopefully, an extended duel of ‘you did, I did’s..

But not this.

 

This, she did not expect..

..at all.

 

“Ow?”, the tall figure asked, her face drawn and strained.

“It grabbed your butt..!”, the gnome said grudgingly.

“Nothing new there. Everyone wants to grab it. This one just happened to be the lucky catcher.”, the tall figure said with the hint of a smile.

“What is this thing supposed to be anyway?”

“Mechaber.”

“Mecha- whot?”

“Mechaber. Short for Mechanical Bear.”

“It doesn’t look anything like a bear.”

“How would you know?”

“Animology class at the academy zoo..”

“You took animology?”, the little figure scoffed in total disbelief.

“Among many other things, yes.. Why? Is that so hard to believe?”

“What’s hard to believe is that you went to animology for the class and not for the pretty face that gave it..”

“Why do one, when you could do both? I am surprised you noticed the pretty face, though —any pretty face, really, considering you never took the class and you can’t even stand mine.. The fact, however, remains; I took animology at the academy zoo and this thing looks nothing even remotely like a bear.. Not even a Grudran bear, which technically isn’t a bear, but an acceptable sub specie of the bugbear. I also know all the classes you took.. and your grades!”

The little figure’s face darkened.

Alright, it did, in fact, look nothing ‘even remotely’ like a bear, but she was going to call him ‘Mechaber‘ anyway, damit!

And she silently conceded that perhaps she should quit blaming and chewing out her pair for everything.. or anything, for that matter.

Hells bells, the silly idiot had taken the time and effort to get to know her, going as far as asking around to find out about the classes she took along with her grades. Especially the grades.. Those were confidential information. The academy staff wouldn’t have just handed those to her.

Considering how no one wanted to talk about ‘that demon summoning fool’s niece’, it must have taken her quite some effort, and no small amount of charm on her part to get people to want to talk about her..

What kind of a demented sort of person does that?

 

The competent counterpart of the ‘pair’..

Apparently!..

 

Whatever else her very tall, very dark pair might be, one thing was clear; she was no fool, and she was no one’s fool.

And she certainly had an unexpected amount of steel in her..

The little gnome felt like she was one of those jerks who took the frustrations of work out of their wives and kids..

 

..and quite suddenly, and in spite of herself, a hint of shame appeared in her eyes, hidden behind the thick goggles.

 

Nope.

You literally can’t add any more flaws on top of what’s already there, that’s worth worrying over.

 

Perhaps you think I am bitter.

WELL, AREN’T YOU A BOSSY ONE?!

 

*Sigh*  I hate this shit..

 

(continued in the next story: “A Shift in Perspective“)

 

 


 

 

 
 

A Bard’s Tale XIV
“Wrath of Hydius Dreadmaw”

Timeline:

Bu hikaye, Serenity Home yangınından 17 yıl önce, soğuk, uçsuz bucaksız, kar ve buzlarla kaplı Büyük Kuzey Bozkırlarındaki Ironfrost adında bir tundra elf kasabasında gerçekleşir.

Güzel, çarpıcı, hayat dolu genç bir elf kızının, yaşadığı 38,900+ günden sadece bir tanesinin hayatını nasıl değiştirebildiğini göreceğiz.

 

 

Buruşuk, kırık beyaz tenli, uzun, aklaşmış, örme saç ve sakallı yaşı geçmiş barbar, sessiz adımlarla kendisine doğru koşan bir başka soluk tenli ve uzun, örme, kuzgun saçlı genç barbarı süzmektedir. Diz boyu kara rağmen, düz yolda koşuyormuş gibi yaklaşan gencin sakalları daha yoktur ama gelecek vaadeden yeteneklere sahiptir.

Genç barbar ona doğru yaklaşırken, yaşı geçmiş adam gururla gözlerini kısar ve sırıtır zira şu anda burada bulunmalarının sebebi olan fikrin kendisi de, uygulaması da ona doğru koşan oğluna aittir.

Genç barbar, diğerinin yanına yetiştiğinde yavaşlamaz.

Anormal bir beden hakimiyetiyle sadece durur!

“Tamamdır Krash!”, der genç barbar, sanki dört mili yoğun, diz boyu karda koşarak gelmemiş gibi sakin, soğuk ve kart bir sesle ve sırtından omzuna, oradan da çaprazlamasına çıplak göğsüne bağladığı bohçayı çözer ve içinden uzun, som altından yapılmış gibi görünen çeliği olağanüstü bir zarafet ve incelikle işlenmiş, sapında bebek yumruğu büyüklüğünde bir yakut olan kılıcı çıkartır.

Wyrm Horde Krash’ı, uzun bir süre gencin elindeki paha biçilmez kılıca bakar. Neden sonra, “Hiç savurmadan, bununla bir kabileyi öldürdük!”, der.

Krash başını kaldırır ve oğluna bakar.

“Geride bırakman gereken şeyleri bıraktın mı?”, diye sorar.

Genç barbar Krash’a bakar.

Ama hiçbir şey söylemez.

“Güzeeel..”, diye sırıtır Wyrm Horde’un şefi. “Gitme zamanı geldi. Dinlenmen gerekiyor mu?”

Genç, Krash’a donuk ve ifadesiz bir şekilde bakmaya devam eder.

“Hah!”, diye kısa, keskin bir kahkaha atar yaşı geçmiş barbar ve ardından kısa, keskin bir ıslık çalar.

Etraflarındaki buzlu karlarda hareketlenme olur..

Bir an Krash ve oğlu yalnız duruyorken, topraktan yükselen ölüler gibi, karların içinde yirmiye yakın soluk tenli barbar peyda olur..!

Krash, eliyle başının üzerinde sessiz bir daire çizer, sonra oğlu ve adamlarıyla beraber, yamacında oldukları buzlu dağdan aşağı, takdir edilecek bir hızla inerler ve kısa bir süre sonra da karlı ve sisli Büyük Beyaz Tundra’da, kuzey, kuzey-batı istikametinde gözden kaybolurlar..

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Onu bulduk, Rive!”, der yüzünde hoş olmayan bir ifadeyle beyaz tenli elf.

Ironfrost Rive’si kısa bir an sessizliğini bozmaz ama gözlerinin ardında yanan buzul ateşini gizleyemez. “Nerede?”, diye sorar vahşi bir elf lehçesiyle.

Ironfrost Avcı Efendisi cevap vermeden önce Rive’sini gözlemler ve onun gözlerindeki ateşi görür. Kendi yüzündeki ifadeyi biraz düzeltir ve daha sakin bir ifadeyle, “Kuzey Uçlarda..”, der.

“Kuzey Uçlar..”, diye omuzları çöker Rive’nin. “Orada ne işi vardı?”, diye umutsuzca fısıldar.

“Rive’m.. Oğlunuzu orada bulduk. Ama Kuzey Uçlarına kendisi gitmedi. O, Kuzey Geçidi’nde konuşlanmıştı ve görevi de buydu. Bir şey görmüş olmalı zira yerinden ayrılmış ve gördüğü şeyi takibe alacak kadar bunun önemli olduğunu düşünmüş olmalı. Peşinden gittiği şey her ne idiyse, onu uzun bir süre takip etmiş. Ne var ki yolda pusuya düşürülmüş ve öldürülmüş. Onu öldürenler, onu Kuzey Uçlarına götürmüş ve oraya atmışlar..”, diye sessizce cevap verir Avcı Efendisi.

“Kim..?”, diye kısık, kırık bir sesle sorar Rive.

“Bunu öğrenemedik Rive’m. İzlerini örtmek için çok ciddi çaba göstermişler. Bu da bana, bunun ön hazırlıklı bir saldırı olduğunu söylüyor. Hedef özellikle oğlunuz muydu, yoksa hasbelkader mi oğlunuza rastladılar, bilmiyoruz. Ancak edindiğim izlenim, ikincisinin daha muhtemel olduğunu söylüyor bana..”, diye sıkılmış dişleri arasından, kendi hiddetini saklamaya çalışır bir şekilde fısıldar Avcı Efendisi. Sonra Rive’sine bakar ve artık bastıramadığı bir hışımla, “Onu Kuzey Uçları’ndan aşağı atmadan önce soymuşlar. Kıyafetleri, yayı, sadağı, kılıcı ve kukresi.. Hepsi alınmış olarak bulduk onu.”

“Nerede..? Oğlum nerede şimdi?”, diye kahır dolu bir sesle sorar Rive.

“Oğlunuz cesur bir elf’di, Rivem. Bir Tundra Elfi gibi yaşadı ve o şekilde de öldü; ilk nefesini savaşarak aldı, son nefesini de savaşarak verdi! Biz de onu ‘Gri Tundra’lara o şekilde uğurladık.”, der Avcı Efendisi kasılmış bir ifadeyle. Gerçekte ise genç elfin, bir uçurumun dibinde buldukları kırılmış, sonra da vahşi hayvanlarca yarı parçalanmış, yarı yenmiş bedenini babasına göstermek istemediği için, izcileriyle berabar Avcı Efendisi, Ironfrost’un gelecek Rive’sini oracıkta gömmüşlerdi..

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Bir koku alıyorum.”, der hırıltılı, derin bir ses ve içinde bulunduğu devasa mağarayı titretir.

“Nice zamandır uyuyordum.. Uykumda güzel Raven Queen’i ve bana verdiği ‘Priceptine’in Işığını’ düşlüyordum.. Aaaah, Raven! Yanıma sadece bir kere geldin ve bir daha da uğramadın. Sanırım tundraları çok da ilgi çekici bulmadın. Bu da senin gerçekte ne kadar kör olduğunu gösteriyor..”, diye iç titreten bir kahkaha yankılanır uçsuz mağarada.

Neden sonra, kahkahanın sahibi gözünü açar. Üç ayrı göz kapağının altında, dik, daha çok buzuldan yapılmış bir kılıcı andıran, insan boyunda bir göz bebeği belirir..

..ve kısılır.

Muazzam gözün sahibi kendisini mağaranın karanlığında gizlemeyi tercih edermişcesine uzandığı yerde derin bir nefes alır..

“Eveeet.. Bir koku alıyorum..”, diye tekrarlar. Ama bu sefer devasa yaratık tamamen ayıktır ve “Çok uzun zamandır duymadığım bir koku.. ELF KOKUSU!”, diye düşünceli bir sesle söylenirken koca mağara tekrar sallanır.

“Küçük kar elfleri.. İnimde ne işiniz var? Irkınızla dile getirilmemiş bir anlaşmamız vardı. Sizler topraklarımdan uzak duracak, ben de sizlere dokunmayacaktım.. Fikrinizi mi değiştirdiniz yoksa? Hem de bana sormadan..”, diye içinde pek de gizli olmayan bir tehditle kıkırdar ses, ve mağaranın tavanından kayalar dökülür.

Dev yaratık, parıldayan buzlu mavi gözünü mağaranın karanlığında gezdirir. Parıldayan gözden silik, mavi bir ışık halesi, yığma altın sikkelerin olduğu tepecikleri aydınlatır. Hale ile altınların arasına serpilmiş gibi duran sayısız, rengarenk mücevher ve değerli taşlar da canlanır. Ve altınların içinde gömülü duran antika zırhlar, kalkanlar, miğferler, mızrak, balta ve kılıçla—

Göz, kılıçlarda durur zira bir tanesi eksiktir..

Göz, andırdığı, ancak bulamadığı kılıcın kendisi gibi incelir..

Sessiz, kati bir ölümün haberciliğini yapan bir tıslamayla, “Sadece buraya gelmediniz.. Benden çaldınız. Benden Priceptine’in Işığını mı çaldınız?!”

Muazzam yaratığın sesi, ‘ışığa’ geldiğinde artık bir tıslama değil, yer sarsan, intikamcı bir kükreyişe dönüşmüştür.

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Ironfrost meydanında yoğun bir kalabalık toplanmıştır. Kalabalık, gün batımına yakın daha da artmış, Rive’nin çok sevilen oğlunun yasını tutmaktadır.

Elf’lerin, daha çok bir şarkıyı andıran eski lehçelerinde söyledikleri ağıtlar, yakılan mumlar ve dökülen göz yaşları, geleceği temsil eden genç elf ile beraber sanki kasabanın da kaderini mühürlemektedir..

 

 

Çok uzaklardan, beyaz, uzun saçlı, genç ve güzel bir tundra elfi, görev yerinden aceleyle ayrılmış, korku içerisinde köye doğru koşmaktadır..

Barbar elf kızı tekil bir sesle,

“DREADMAW.. DREADMAW..!”

..diye bağırmaktadır.

 

 

Gün batmak üzeredir ve Ironfrost’un üzerine muazzam bir gölge düşer..

 

 


Krash: Wyrm Horde kabilesinde Reis/Şef’lere verilen isim. Bu isim, ses nüvansı ile Ice Wolf Horde arasında ‘Krush’ olarak geçerken, aynı statü Bear Claw Tribe ve Ice Crag Tribe’da ‘Mushi’ (Mushi’nin eşi ve/veya kızına ise ‘Musha’) olarak anılmaktadır.

Rive: High Elf’lerde ‘Ri’ olarak geçen ifade, barbar Tundra Elf’lerinde ‘Rive’ olarak geçmektedir. Temelde aynı şeyi ifade eder; Kral/Lider/Hükümdar.

 

Hydius Dreadmaw, gün batımına yakın, acımasızca Ironfrost’un üzerine çöker. Devasa cüssesi altında onlarca tundra elf’i anında can verir. Dreadmaw, küçük bir şehir kadar gelişmiş olan kasabayı, bir saat kadar kısa bir sürede yerle bir eder. İşi bittiğinde, kasabanın üzerinde üç sorti yapar. Her dalışında devasa ağzından fışkırttığı buzlu nefesiyle kasabanın bir kısmını dondurarak taşlaştırır.

Muazzam beyaz ejderha dönüp gecenin karanlığında karybolduğunda, iki bin küsür yıllık Ironfrost, buzullardan oluşan bir mezar haline gelmiştir.

Bu katliamdan kurtulan tek kişi, Dreadmaw’ın geldiğini gören ve kasabayı uyarmak için koşan, ejderhanın buzlu nefesinden kendi payına düşenle kalıcı yaralar alan genç elf’dir.

Bu elfin adı Cora Sleet’dir.