First draft of first chapter of a short-story/novella.
| Marlowe strode into the small cottage that he shared with Fankis, and went searching for the scholar. Through the front room where the piles of books had begun their inevitable trek back to the ground. The ancient book “Priestess and an Executioner” lay open on a pile of books as if the reader just got up and walked away. When Marlowe thought about it, that is probably exactly what the reader did. Marlowe continued through the cottage past the ancient hieroglyphs that sat collecting dust as well as the books that surrounded it. The old glyphs were ones that the scholar could not figure out and figuring things out was Fankis the scholar's business.
The next room held more books and Marlowe's own personally favorite piece of the scholar's collection. Daos' Muse, an old temple its doorways made to resemble a wide mouth as if to drink in its worshipers, or maybe to swallow them whole. Marlowe allowed himself a small smile and continued on. Marlowe found Fankis sitting beneath the bow of the Weeping Tree, watching the sky.
“We must leave now Fankis.” Marlowes words weren't rushed, his cadence even and sure. Fankis fought to turn his head from what had captured his complete attention.
“Leave, my friend? why ever would I leave?” Fankis curious stare caught something beneath Marlowe's hood and almost jerked the scholar out of his lethargy. Realizing that this might be more serious than he had at first thought, he swung his legs over the hammock and gave his attention to Marlowe. Scholar he may be, and given to various wanderings of the mind, but he was no fool.
“The last two, you know who, their....benefactor, has found them out and sets his dogs upon your trail.” Marlowe did not get excited, it was an emotion that had died a long time ago, maybe before his servitude began, he was no longer sure.
“So the High Chancellor has sent his dogs to bring me to heel, well kill them Marlowe and let us be done with the whole affair.” Believing that to be the answer and that Marlowe would comply with an act of finality to the conversation he resumed his studying of the sky.
“I don't kill when I need not to scholar, you know this, and besides I do not remember taking orders from you. I am here to watch you, have you forgotten?” Marlowe stayed beneath his hood and the musical quality to his voice betrayed the dead soul within.
“No Marlowe, I have not forgotten, would you be so kind as to tell me then, what would you have me do?” No sitting up this time, just a turn of the head toward Fankis intended audience. Marlowe placed his hands in front of him, almost as if in prayer.
“We will leave within the hour, the city still makes preparation for the mass exodus, they say the firewhirls are nearing closer and closer. We cannot head straight into the city, the chancellor's dogs are headed in that direction. We will go around, through the Forest of Night and sneak into the city, causing as little trouble as we can. I have hidden a Chrono-Shifter in a safe place and we can use that to leave.” Marlowe, done speaking, ended abruptly and awaited the posturings and prattle of the scholar.
“Leave? We can not leave my friend, my work is here, I am not done yet with my work. I still have many books to correct. I cannot believe the discrepancies in those volumes. For instance just the other day while reading the Forgotten Twists of Vision, it stated that the twenty-seventh solstice was a full two hours, when scientific research that I have conducted and the knowledge that I possess tells me it was only a half-hour. That cannot be allowed to continue. They must be right, no Marlowe, I have work to do and you will help me with it.” As he trailed off a low rumble began to sound in the distance, and the baying of a hound was heard.
“Like I said scholar, we must go, and we must go now.”
“I see your point Marlowe, please let us make haste.” Fankis out of his hammock started for the door. Marlowe's hand shot out and rested on the scholar's chest, stopping his momentum.
“Preparations are done, the bags are here, we must go now.” Shouldering one of the bags he handed the other to Fankis.
“What is done is done,” Fankis looked longingly at his cottage, the overgrown shrubs and weeds that littered what he called his yard. His memory reliving the knowledge found in this cottage and the carnal pleasures he took when exploring his other love, women.
The two men set off beneath the Weeping Tree and cut a straight line to the forest that lay a relatively short distance away. Marlowe's long strides left the scholar scrabbling to keep up. All of the studying that Fankis did usually did not involve physical activity, usually. The physical work he was used to involved laying on ones back or more creative measures but usually only in one spot. The walk soon began to have his muscles aching and his back started to pulse with tightness. Swallowing his craving for a rest he trudged on after Marlowe.
The trees stood in the forest dressed in a thick fog, and the underbrush stood completely hidden.
A track lay open and inviting, willing the fugitive and his companion onward. Marlowe strode past the track and made his way into the forest disappearing completely after a few steps. The fog rolled out of the forest wrapping its smoky tentacles lovingly around Fankis. The fog reached out and stroked his face and a soft buzz of voices began to chant in his ear. “Love me, see me, feel me, touch me, love me, feel me, see me, feel me, touch me, feel me, feel me feel me. “ At once the chanting stopped and Fankis senses came crashing back. Marlowe stood beside him, the cowl of his hood pointed in the direction of the retreating fog, a blackness emanating yet not seen.
“Why did you do this? Why, I wanted to make the voices happy, why would you do this?” The pain of loss laced Fankis voice, and in reply Marlowe simply pointed.
A hole lay before Fankis toes and inside the hole gnarled roots and vines writhed like snakes struggling to reach for the food that had been denied them. Fankis took a shuddering breath and slowly stepped back.
“Well go ahead scholar, “ scholar sounded more like fool from Marlowe's lips, “make your voices happy.” With no answer from Fankis, Marlowe set out once again, Fankis on his heels.
They continued on deeper and deeper into the forest the fog beginning to thicken and almost hardening. Fankis felt the fog as if it were a weight resting on his chest and getting heavier with each step. The steps slowed and before they could stop the fog was gone. The two men stood in a patched clearing, the sweet smell of flowers permeated the air, yet no flowers were seen. The grass smelled as if a spring rain had just ended and the land was rejoicing in the shower. “What is this place Marlowe?” Fankis looked about him in wonder. He could smell the change, and feel the change, but there was no change other than the forest being held off from this small clearing.
“It is a memory of a memory, scholar,” this time scholar sounded more like its namesake,” but those memories still remember that it was a place of gathering.”
“Gathering? What would you want to gather here?” As Fankis spoke, his question was answered. At the other end of the clearing small suwarks began to prance and prattle into the clearing, yammering back and forth at each other.
“Why are we here? Who called us here? Quit stepping on my toes. Quit stepping on my heels. Stop pushing, who is pushing?” They fought and argued all the way across the clearing until the first one hit Marlowe's unseen shadow, and quiet whipcracked through the clearing and the sound of footsteps through the brush behind the suwarks was the only sound. The little suwarks with their man like faces and their hooves of silver stood in fascination and awe as they looked toward Marlowe.
Next came the Blulmun and what a contrast he was to the suwarks. Massive, and ugly he made no bones about being summoned. “Who dare summon me, do you not know what you summon, I am Krargos last of Blulmun and I am hungry. You dare...” his eyes too found Marlowe and the silence whipcracked again.
The next participants came together a crowd of eleven, four of them spirits, ghosts or men, Fankis could not tell. These four rode on the back of four of the evilest looking horses Fankis had ever seen. There seven horse in all, each one a different color. There was a red, orange, yellow, white, black, blue and green, and what seemed to be wings folded back on there body. The red horse, riderless, led the procession, and was the biggest. Hollow eyes and nostrils that seemed to shoot fire as he breathed, he stepped across the clearing as if he owned it. Marlowe matched the red stare for stare, hollow eyes staring into Marlowe's blackened cowl. After indeterminable seconds ticked away into forever the red lowered his eyes and bowed his forelocks in salute to Marlowe. Marlowe's hood never moved, his hands still clasped before him inside of his robes, standing as if expecting this. The four riders dismounted from their mounts and strode to the head of the group.
“What are these?” Fankis stood in awe a mystery to be solved, knowledge to gain. “Why did I not know about these before Marlowe?” Fankis started to walk out among the strange gathering to get a more studious gathering of the creatures arrayed before him.
Marlowe finally moved, moved to stop Fankis before his curiosity got the better of him. “They obey me Fankis, but I have given them no orders. You walk among them, and they will tear you limb from limb.” Fankis guffawed at this, but never knew rlowe to outright lie to him. Omitting details was a common theme with Marlowe and Fankis had learned to look for what was not said. In this though, no interpretation was necessary. “Then Marlowe would you be so kind as to tell me who and what they are?”
“No scholar,” scholar once again sounding like fool,”the time for learning is on hold, now is the time for living, and continuing to live.” With those words a loud crack was heard from the way that they had come, and smoke could be seen rising over the top of the forest, dissipating in the breeze.
“My work, my life, those, those animals have burned knowledge. Marlowe we could have stayed and fought and saved the books. Saved my work, Mephi...” a sharp crack sounded in the glade, and blood ran from Fankis mouth.
“You have been warned mortal, do no test me again. I was given to watch you, and help you, I am doing both. I have no care for you, or your books. I am completing my task, now you will do as I tell you or you will answer to HIM.” The creatures and spirits gathered visibly flinched as Fankis crawled further in to himself.
“You are right Marlowe, tell me what to do.” Voice shaking and quivering, Fankis rose to his knees and placed his head at Marlowe's feet.
As this scene finished its final act the sound of crashing trees and carnage came from behind and the ugliest creature Fankis had ever seen came crashing into the glade, on a pestle. Fankis watched in disbelief as the creature directed the pestle with one hand and drug a broom behind. The pestle bounced off of two of the horses, and ricocheted off of the blulmun coming to a stop just before reaching Marlowe.
“Sorry I'm late boy-os, but had forgotten and then remembered and then forgotten and just now remembered again what the sound and the sign were for this little tea party. Why-ya so quiet Krargee, you ain't gonna tell Mr. Man here how bad youra ya great big oafen idiot. “ Turning to look around at the four who rode in on the Kabakas, or the horses, she singled the one out. “Hallo there Dochi, you find your missing babs yet? I think I may have seen the boy-bab,”
the one called Dochi looked up expectation creeping into her vacant stare, “Ya, I thought I saw him in my kettle last night,” the thing cackled with laughter and Dochi started toward the evil creature. “I kid Dochi, save your pain and anger for yourself, you lost your babs, if you did not want them eaten, don't lose them.” Dochi upon hearing this, fled out of the clearing, and Marlowe scowled at the witch.
“I wanted a gathering, not a running away witch.” Marlowe's voice grated over a thousand gravel pits, heat of his anger flowing in floods to and through the bothersome witch.
Krargos answered for the witch, “Do not bother with her Prince, she is just trouble for the sake of trouble, Dochi is weak and cannot take her insults. I...” Marlowe made a fast gesture with his right hand, and the giant Blulmun instantly shut his mouth.
“ I have no time to bother with you troublesome fools, I have a task for you, for all of you. This is Fankis, he is in my keeping, I need you to watch him, and keep him from the Chancellor's Dogs. I must go into Triopolis and secure secret passage into the city. Keep him safe.” Before the words left Marlowe's mouth, Marlowe jumped into the air becoming a swirling mist that took the form of a large bird, and set out toward the city.
“Well, well what do we have here,” the voice transformed into a beautiful woman that strode leisurely through the glade. Fankis' heart hammered and a familiar stirring started a warm buzz at the tip of his cock. The beautiful woman smiled and as she smiled he saw the sharp jagged teeth, and the warm buzz quit just as quickly as it had begun.
“Marlowe's.” The young, red-headed boy that had ridden in on the horses spoke quietly yet with the hint of power.
The beautiful fanged woman-creature smiled again, “Is that so, I wonder if he will share.” She sashayed her hips and strode with an elegance never seen from Fankis' eyes. His mouth slid open wider and wider and the familiar buzzing began anew. He recanted to himself over and over, “The fangs, the fangs, fangs, sharp teeth, bite, fangs, sharp.” Her approach never slowed, but the boy watched from hooded eyes, and waited. The creature swayed within a step of Fankis, and the boy finally moved, shooting his arm in her direction and yelling, “Be Gone you hungry Bitch.” Jerking his arm back the way she had entered. As if a line were attached to his hand and her back, she was sent flying back the way she had come, spinning faster and faster until she rose higher than the trees and out of sight.
“Now anymore ruptions?” The boy looked over the others, satisfied he nodded, “then let us move our odd procession to where Marlowe will meet us.”