A story about a young man and his journey to an ancient city.
| The tale of the 7 Verses of the King.
Even though the king saved Endina from the abyss, it was in ruins. Life nearly became extinct, and those that remained were tainted with the abyss’s lingering influence. Soon these beings would rise up against the king and rage war anew as The Nisk. Endina was threatened yet again. Therefore, the Great King created 7 Powerful Verses and with them, he fought.
“That’s it?” Drake asks while riding on the carriage led by a donkey.
A torch lit road leading to Belle City is the only thing shining under the velvet sky. Crackling sounds of tall wooden torch stands mix with the rumblings of the shaking carriage. Repeating putts of the cloven hooves beat against the dirt road as flies buzz around its furry tail.
“Yeah,” Kevin says closing a small brown leather book. He places it inside his blue tunic and picks up the reins connecting his carriage to the donkey.
“It’s just a myth that’s taught in verse mage school,” Kevin says. “No one really knows if it's true.”
“Well, what if it is?” Drake asks sitting up on the flat bench.
"Look.” Kevin says. “People have searched high and wide for just one of those Seven verses, and no one hasn’t even found one. Plus, the story is ancient.”
Drake sighs as reclines into the hard bench rocking side to side from the ditches on the paved path. A silence settles between the two as they stare ahead of the seemingly endless rows of torches. Then a deep growl of Drake’s belly interrupts the silence that rival the donkey’s beating hoofs.
“Man!” Drake says sitting up with his hand on his stomach. “Is there anything back there to eat? What happened to the food you brought with you?”
“Most of the food I had I gave to the villagers,” Kevin says. “The rest is spoiled. Most of the food I get from Belle City is quite dated, and by the time I arrive most of it turn to poison.”
“Where is it?” Drake asks looking hungrily at Kevin.
Kevin looks back at Drake as he bounces on the wooden carriage and points to the wooden box behind him.
“If you want to risk it, there’s some half-molded bread in a small bag right beside the window,” Kevin says as he slides open a wooden opening in the carriage.
Drake reaches inside and grabs a medium-sized leather bag and opens it. The off-putting smell assaults Drake’s nose, but his hunger causes him to take it out. He observes the white spore ridden meal, picks off a few pieces of bread and eats it. Kevin looks at Drake in disbelief as the toffee skin youth finishes of his food.
“And you’re okay with eating that?” Kevin says.
“Yeah,” Drake says chewing his morsel. “Tastes like dirt but its food. Had it all the time in the quarry.”
“They didn’t give you regular bread?” Kevin asks.
“Well yeah, they did, but there was hardly enough of it to go around,” Drake says. “Most of us were fighting each other over what little they had. Much to the amusement of the soldiers.”
“Where were your parents?” Kevin asks.
“I don’t have any parents,” Drake says in a sullener tone staring off into the distance. “It was just me, and my grandmother…she died at the quarry. “
“Sorry to hear that. Kevin says. “But don’t let it get you down. I lost my parents in the war a long time ago.”
“War?” Drake asks.
“Yeah,” Kevin says holding the leather straps tied to the donkey. “Believe it or not, it wasn’t just humans and Dragons. Salatia was once called a cook’s heaven with different races gathered here for its diversity in food and spices. When the famine occurred, everything changed. Races became more hostile with each other and started fighting each other over what was left.”
Drake laughs when he hears this.
“Sounds similar to what happened in the quarry,” Drake says.
“Yeah but ten times worse,” Kevin replies. “Random skirmishes would break out without warning; sometimes they would ambush helpless villages and wipe them out for their food.”
“What caused the famine?” Drake asks looking at Kevin leaning back on the bench.
“No one knows.’ Kevin replies. “No one ever took the time to find out. Everything just…happened.”
“Hmm,” Drake says.
“What’s your deal?” Kevin asks. “How did you get that sword?”
“It found me,” Drake says. “Shortly after a Dragon attacked the quarry.”
“Dragon?” Kevin asks. “That’s pretty rare. Dragons usually don’t venture into Dalmecian territory. They let their brood work for them.”
“Well, it told me that I have to reach Estoria.” Drake says, “It was also my grandma’s dying wish.”
“Did she know about the place?” Kevin asks.
“She said it was her birthplace,” Drake replies.
“Birthplace!?” Kevin asks with a look of surprise on his face. “Estoria is, even more, a myth than the seven verses are. How can she possibly…”
“I don’t know.” Drake interrupts. “It's been bugging me this whole time. She never told me about the place, and Fane isn’t going to tell me how to reach the area. Belle City is the only lead I’ve gotten.”
“Well, I doubt you’ll find anything helpful there,” Kevin says. “Belle City is where they keep most of the food. It was initially built as a defensive territory in the war, but now it’s a place for aristocrats and generals.”
“I have to go there,” Drake says.
Silence resettle between the two as the donkey walks over a wooden arching bridge over the rushing rapids of Norm river.
As they draw near, Drake sits up noticing something that disturbs him.
“Hey,” Drake asks. “Do you hear that?”
“Hear what?” Kevin asks looking at Drake. “I don’t hear anything.”
“Shh.” Drake motion with his finger.
As Kevin listened quietly, he could hear a faint sound of pounding stone in the distance.
“Yeah, I can hear it,” Kevin replies.
“What do you think it could be?” Drake asks.
“Don’t know, it’s the first time I’ve ever heard it,” Kevin replies.
Then, a look of horror appears on Drake’s face as his eyes widen in shock.
“Kevin,” Drake says. “The villagers, where did they go?”
“The same place we’re going,” Kevin replies with the cool breeze rustling his dark brown hair.
“That Golem that attacked earlier,” Drake says. “Do you think there could be more of them?”
Then Kevin’s eyes widen in shock as he and Drake look at each other.
Then, Drake leaps out of the carriage and starts sprinting down the torch lit road towards the noise. Drake trips as he runs uphill trying to shake all of the horrifying thoughts running through his mind as the banging sound grow louder and louder. He reaches the top of the hill, and his fears are confirmed.
Under the moonlit fields, bodies of unconscious and dead people litter across the grass with a golem banging on the tall stone walls. It's ruby jewel glows brightly as it slams its massive fists against the wall.
Drake’s horrified face turn to that of anger and determination as he summons Fane to his hand. He breaks out in a full sprint towards the titan, clenches his sword and slashes the golem on its legs. The golem ceases its assault and turns his oval-shaped head down at Drake. Stomping its heavy feet on the ground, it turns to face Drake and swings his arms in an aggressive gesture. Drake tries to write HEATSWELL with his finger, but nothing happened.
“Oh, that’s right!” Drake says with his eyes widen in panic. “I already used it earlier.”
The golem throws a straight punch at Drake, and he leaps away from the fist smashing into the ground. Clenching his sword in hand, Drake lands on his feet trying to think of other ways to defeat the golem.
“I could use INCINERATE, but I doubt it's going to have any effect on the stone golem.” Drake contemplates.
Then Drake notices the stone golems red jewel in its oval-shaped head.
“I don’t need to out power it,” Drake says. “I just need to destroy that ruby.”
The golem bends its knees and leaps into the air straight towards Drake. Drake runs in panic as the golems slam into the ground as he falls from the earth shaking drop.
The golem throws its fists at Drake. Drake swiftly roles away. Its fist creates a small crater in the ground and sends dirt and grass in all directions.
Thinking, Drake comes up with an idea and bends his knees for a forward assault. He launches towards the golem but, the titan swings his stone palm at the young man. Drake leaps over the sweeping attack and grabs onto its stony fingers and holds on tight as the golem finishes its swing.
Once the golem finishes its swing, Drake leaps on to its rocky arm and starts running. Now level with the golem's face, Drake clenches his sword and jumps forward. His sword pierces the ruby face with several cracking lines appearing on the glowing stone.
The stone giant starts thrashing around in a panic trying to shake the young man off its face. Drake’s muscles tighten along with his ivory clenching teeth as he pushes his sword deep into the red jewel and shatters it to pieces. The golem stops in place and turns into a pile of sand.
Falling onto the pile of sand, Drake rolls down the mound and onto his feet dusting himself off with his free hand. His chest expands and contracts in exhaustion as he sees numerous bodies lying on the ground. Bewildered, Drake takes a few steps to a woman covered in blood lying on her back. Drake dismisses his sword and kneels down and picks the woman up in his arms. He can still feel the woman’s breaths, but it was faint. He looks into the woman’s fading eyes which reminds him of the look his grandmother had on her face before she died. Looking around, Drake searches for someone who can help. Then Kevin rushes up from behind him and plops down with a few bags in his arms.
“Ok,” Kevin says as he takes the woman from Drake’s arms and places her back on the grass.
The copper stench causes Drake to cover his nose with the back of his hand as he watches Kevin remove parts of the woman’s clothing.
Kevin places his head on the woman's chests and waits for a few moments.
“Good heartbeat,” Kevin says. As he takes a few bandages and a furry goat pouch of water. He wets a white towel, places it over her wound and presses down hard to stop the bleeding.
“Here hold this,” Kevin says to Drake. “Make sure to press firmly on it.”
Drake places his hand on the wet bandage and does what was asked while Kevin lifts the woman’s torso up and wraps the bandage around her crimson soaked waist.
“Why didn’t they open up to the people outside?” Drake asks looking at the metal gate barring entrance to the city.
“They don’t open up for anyone,” Kevin says wrapping the woman up in white bandages.
“But the golem was beating on the wall,” Drake says.
They don’t open up for anyone. Kevin repeats continuing his aid.
“People are injured!” Drake says.
“THEY DON’T OPEN FOR ANYONE FOR ANY REASON!” Kevin shouts. Not until morning when they need the wood.
Drake can see the painful look Kevin has on his face as he finishes patching up the woman on the ground.
“Alright,” Kevin says as he stands to his feet. “She’ll be fine. Help me with the others.”
However, Drake stares at the iron gates for a few moments. As he stares at the immovable object, his fists ball in indignation and his teeth grind angrily against each other. He then starts marching towards the gate with pupils glowing orange. Kevin notices and immediately starts running after him.
“Hey! Stop! What are you doing?!” He shouts grabbing Drake’s shoulder.
“I’m opening the gate, that’s what!” Drake shouts back.
“People are dying!” Drake says. “At least they can do is send someone out here to help with the wounded!”
“I know how you feel!’ Kevin says. “But if you try to force your way into that gate, they are going to use verse mages and kill everyone to keep them from entering.”
Kevin’s words. Causes Drake’s anger to sway.
“I know you can handle them,” Kevin says. “But the people out here can’t. Help me with the people who are alive and then you can deal with them in the morning. Ok?”
Looking up at the night sky, Drake sighs and nods his head.
“Alright,” Drake says. “But this has to stop. I hate it when people are treated like castaways.”
“I’m with you.” Kevin reassuringly replies gripping drakes shoulders. “Now let's get started.”
Drake and Kevin both works tirelessly through the night helping the injured and burying the dead. After they were through, they set up a campfire amongst the many tents spread across the fields.
Staring up into the starry sky, Kevin and Drake both rest by the warmth of the campfire. Glowing orange embers rise to the air as the scent of redwood relaxes the two travelers.
“I can’t believe this,” Drake says. “I thought we were the ones they hated the most. Why wouldn’t they want to help their own people?”
“They’ve always been like that,” Kevin replies resting the back his head on his arms. “As long as I can remember. It's how my family died.”
Drake turns his head and looks at Kevin looking at the sky.
“It was here at these very walls,” Kevin says.
I remember the screams, the burning night, and the coldness of those hiding behind the safety of the wall.
Kevin’s tiny pale fists bang against the then wooden doors repeatedly as the dying screams behind sent the boy in a panic.
“Please! Open up!” The little boy pleads. Looking up at the door, he sobs with tears running down his rosy cheeks.
A man’s dying scream nearby turns the boy around and presses his back against the door. Looking up, he sees the glowing yellow cat eyes of a were-cat covered in brown fur with blood dripping from his sharp claws. Kevin’s heart beats fast as his body shakes in fear of the towering beast. The Cugarian looks down at the shivering boy and roars aloud with its sharp teeth glowing amongst the burning tents scattered across the field.
With shiny teardrops falling from his cheeks, Kevin breaks out in a full sprint. The beast-man drops to all fours and wags his furry tail. Extending its muscular arms, the beast leaps towards the little boy as drool exits from its hungry mouth.
However, a man steps in front of a young boy with a sword in hand and thrusts it through the beasts’ gut. The cold silver steel exits from the creatures back covered with narrow streams of thick crimson as the beast roar in pain. With its sharp teeth beneath its whiskers, the were-cat bites the man hard on his shoulders with red plasma soaking his grey tunic.
“Ahhhhh!” The muscular man screams as he pushes the dying beast off of him and falls on his backside.
“Dad!” The young boy runs up beside the injured man.
The man grips his bleeding arm huffing and heaving due to his injuries. Multiple cuts and bruises cover the man’s body, with his weary eyes looking down at the dead beast-man.
“Dad! Dad!” The boy calls as he shakes his lacerated torso.
“Those fools!” The man speaks in a weary tone. “How dare they refuse to open the gates!”
Then several more beast-men all with glowing cat eyes walk towards the brown-haired man as they snarl and growl at him.
Panting, with sweat and blood pouring down his face, the man reaches down, picks up his bloody sword and struggles to his feet.
“No! Dad!” Kevin cries looking up at his swaying father. “You’re injured! You can’t fight anymore!”
“You’re going to have to run Kevin!’ The man says in a deep, shaky voice as he points his sword at the beast-men. “Find your mother!”
The man starts running towards the charging foes as he screams at the top of his lungs. Crying, the boy turns and runs away as he can hear his father screaming in pain. He closes his teary eyes to avoid seeing all of the dead bodies lying across the field.
“Kevin! Kevin!” A panicking female voice screams out in the distance.
Kevin opens his eyes and notices a tall woman wearing a dirty cotton dress with long disheveled brown hair frantically searching amongst the corpse lying in the grass.
“Mom!!” Kevin shouts as he starts running towards her.
A rush of relief overtakes Kevin as he runs into the kneeling woman with her arms wide open. They embrace each other for a few moments, and she kisses Kevin on the cheek. Kevin could faintly smell flowers in her dirty hair as she rose to her feet carrying him in her arms. She starts running from the chaos but is soon cut off by a thin dark blue furry beast-man roaring her to a halt.
Occasionally glancing back at the walking creature chasing her, she turns around and runs in the opposite direction. However, the beast runs and leaps over the woman and bars her escape. She drops her son on his feet and motions him to stand behind her.
The woman glares at the beast man with a frightened yet determined look on her face. She reaches behind her back, pulls out a dagger hidden between folds of her dress and waits for the Cugarian to make its move.
The creature jumps towards her. The woman raises her shining silver blade and jugs it into the neck of the large were-cat as he fell on top of her. Thick warm crimson ran down her hand as she twists the short blade in its throat. The were-cat instantly dies on the woman, and she pushes the new corpse of her. She stands taking Kevin by the hand and starts leading him back towards the gate.
“Come on Kevin.” She says in an exhausting tone. Let’s find your daddy.
However, the woman freezes in place as if her spirit left her body.
There, in front of her, lying on the ground covered in bloody lacerations, her now-deceased husband with the look of pain etched on his face.
The woman releases her son’s hand and drops her bloody dagger as she slowly steps towards her fallen love.
Kevin starts sobbing watching his father lying motionless on the ground.
“No!” The woman says in a soft tone as her watery eyes behold the deceased man.
A tear runs down her cheek as she slowly extends her hand calling out to him.
“Brennon! No!” She says aloud as she runs towards the lifeless man.
Then, a menacing roar catches Kevin’s attention. He turns his head and sees another were-cat running towards his mother on all fours.
‘MOOOM! NOOO!” He shouts. However, his words fell on deaf ears, and the beast’s claws pierce the woman’s stomach.
As blood soaks up her dress, the woman keeps her teary eyes on her husband.
Dripping with blood, the beast-man pulls his claw from the woman’s stomach, and she falls beside her husband in silence.
Seeing this, Kevin screams in a teary rage as he grabs the dagger on the ground and sprints towards the snarling beast-man. He leaps and stabs the were-cat in the eye with the short blade.
Crimson shoots out from its wound as it wails in pain. The boy’s muscles tighten as he clenches the dagger with fierce eyes. The injured beast-man swings his head about to get the lad off of him. The furry creature grabs the boy, yanks him off his face and slams hard on the ground knocking him out cold. The pain riddled were-cat runs away with the dagger still in its eye socket and disappears into the woods.
When I came to, I was in a hut at the nearby village. The villagers told me I was the only one who survived and had buried everyone in unmarked graves.