These are my contributions for "Mists of Magic" by Rebeka & "group".
| These are the pieces I wrote for "Invalid Item" :
Skills: Can spin a tale; can throw a boomerang-like device with pin-point accuracy(has often used it to hunt for trabegoids, the moles who
live in Pryantra)
Description: Belliza wears a dark brown robe that reaches to his calves, about a few inches below the knee. His hair is black, curly, and mostly covered by a peak-hat, which is torn near the edges. Very penetrating eyes, dark brown, revealing his racial background -a descendant of Brugerians, from Cathenipolia(see background).He has a stump for one of his two legs; the leg got broken when he was being run down by a dragon- it never healed, and was finally amputated. He can, however, move fast on his one remaining extremity, as he got a wooden leg fixed to the stump.
Background: Brugerians came on a visit thousands of years ago to the area, from their homeland Cathenipolia, and many stayed back as the climate was suitable for growing and harvesting kelabs,a type of grain-bearing plant with almost magical qualities. Belliza lived with his mother Shiratee and father Moricazi. Took to thieving as a profession, as his lifestyle came to a standstill after his amputation; he lost the job he had been at, and more to the point, he became the subject of ridicule as he limped his short stocky self on a wooden leg. Hence he retired to the forest where he lives in a cave in the mountainside. Apart from that, he loves to fantasize about his homeland, and is looking for a soulmate who will marry him. In his free time ( and he has a lot of that), he sits and makes up stories of his own dreams, his homeland, and his as yet unbegun love life. When he can, he inscribes these stories onto palmyra leaves, using the quills of weekafi birds, whose talons he dreads, but whose feathers are long, dainty, and make excellent writing instruments.
The rikoshic spun out of Belliza's pudgy hands and found its true mark. The trabegoid let off a high- pitched shriek before it crumpled to the ground. Belliza grunted with satisfaction, and reached out his arm to collect the rikoshic as it spun back towards him.
He went over to where the trabegoid lay. It was barely alive, but even in its death throes, the creature seemed to want to communicate with him. It looked at Belliza and made guttural noises.
Belliza could not understand the animal, but he thought it said "drook!", a word that meant "beware" in most Pryantran dialects. The animal let out a final sigh before it gave up the struggle and lay motionless at Belliza's feet.
"Strange," thought Belliza as he picked up the dead mole and put it in his carry-bag.
Belliza walked further down the road connecting Ghend to Tveris, until he came up to a copse of trees to his right. Beyond the trees flowed the Callahorn River, the longest river on the planet. It had a reputation for supporting the most varied plant and animal life amidst its waters.
The rumour went that owing to the pollutants being added to it over the last few hundred years or so, the soil underneath it had accumulated a lot of waste, which in turn was causing mutated living things to be created in the river bed.
New varieties of insects, fish and rodent-like furawis were the most commonly seen creatures in the populated river, but wildlife enthusiasts had also noticed new plants in the last five years or
Belliza thought about all this as he walked up to the copse of trees. A gnat flew over his head, and buzzed in his ear. He shook his head to remove the offending insect. He looked around and muttered a grunt of satisfaction. From here, he could espy a large stretch of road up to Tveris, and at the same time, stay hidden from alert eyes. He brushed aside the low branches, and
stepped within the shade of the trees, till he saw a nice niche within a rappelard tree. He squeezed into the niche and curled up, laying there till his eyes closed for a siesta.
The last thought in his mind was the queer utterance by the dying trabegoid: ‘Drook’ it had said. I wonder what it means by that, thought Belliza to himself.
The pickings had been good since the past three days, and the copse of trees provided the perfect hiding place for Belliza. So far, he had almost 200 gold caronjis, six knives, three coats of different fabric, and some delectable eating items, which he had already polished off! He had also had the occasion to meet some interesting females, but most of them weren’t dwarfs, and not at all attractive to look at.
He ambled away from the hiding place that had been his refuge now for over 4 days, and wandered away to a roadside eatery for a drink of the kamis... a ferment of the kelab plant that had been the staple food of all the Brugerians, now, and in the past.
Sipping his drink, he thought about the latest dream-story that had pervaded his conscious mind yesterday night as he lay sleeping. In this, the latest dream-story, he saw a loving couple, blissfully entwined with each other, unmindful of a rather angry-looking man with a regal bearing, who was shaking his fists at their indecorous behaviour.It seemed to Belliza that the
king-like man was not just angry at the couple before him, but also at the fact that he had been recently ignored by the woman of his dreams, who he loved so much. He heard them calling out to each other as they mated, while the king-like man looked on horrified. He saw too, that that man muttered an oath under his breath, and then out of his mouth there issued a small, black object, which initially glowed like a polished stone, but immediately converted into a fist-like object holding something burning within it. He saw the man cast an eye at the mating couple, and then, looking upwards, say, “ Let this fist of mine be my legacy to Pryantra! It shall become more and more powerful as Time passes and my anger grows! Those who use it will feel the power it emits, and see true greatness!!" Belliza could not comprehend the rest of it, and presently, he had wakened from his sleep.
I have heard the old wise men of Brugeria speak of this legend... perhaps the fist the man talks about is the Fist of Atekina?, he thought as he continued drinking the kamis.
His thought now turned to his old friend Hiram, the blacksmith. He had not seen him for a long time indeed! It would be fun to see him, he said to himself, as he paid off the shop-owner, and left the shop.
Arriving the next day at his cave, he found a rather strangely worded parchment at his doorstep. It said: There is little time left. Stop your musings, and come soon to my place. It was signed, “H”.
Hiram was studying himself in the mirror when Belliza made his entry in the former’s house. Somehow, thought Belliza, he looks different... more powerful, more composed...
“ Hey there,” he said in his sing-song voice to Hiram, “ what is the matter, why did you call me?”
“It’s vital that we sit together on this one,” said Hiram, “ and therefore I sent a summons to you.”
Belliza looked at Hiram’s house and saw a very tidy place, with the pride of dens given everywhere to tools and weapons.
“ You have a very cozy place,” he commented, as he settled down on one of the armchairs.
“Yes,” said Hiram, and blushing, added,” I got married last year, don’t you know?”
“Helena,” he called out, and a pretty, demure woman came out of what was supposedly the kitchen.
“ My wife, Helena,” said he by way of an introduction.
Belliza bowed gracefully, or what he imagined was grace, at the beautiful woman who stood opposite her.
Hiram turned to his wife and introduced Belliza as “my childhood pal who has taken to creative means of earning his livelihood.”
Belliza proffered his hand, and Helena shook it coyly. She excused herself for a while, and then returned with some food plates and left them near Hiram’s table. Hiram explained about the sword that he had made just yesterday.
“ I made it for a client,” he rued, “ but it seems to be telling ME to use it!”
He paused, then added,” I have even christened it Zephyros.”
Belliza then recounted his strange experiences.
Hiram seemed less troubled after hearing his friend. He gasped at the mention of Belliza’s dream.
“ What you dreamt, Belly, is indeed the Legend of the Fist of Atekina!” he said, by now alarmed.
He went to a side table to make a strong drink for himself. Turning to Belliza, he added, “It looks as if the time has come to search for this artifact.”
“ Yes,” muttered Belliza, and added,” but it will be dangerous, and we may even lose our lives!”
“ I agree,” said Hiram pensively.
Belliza retreated to the outer room and went to sleep on a rug in the corner.
Before going to sleep, Hiram took Helena to his workshop and showed her a sword that was almost an exact replica of Zephyros.
“ You must give this sword to Thanator when he comes to-morrow.” he explained to her, as he cleaned the replica, sheathed it in a new cover, and put it for safekeeping in the almirah.
Helena nodded; they then returned to their own room and retired for the night.
Belliza could see that Hiram was profoundly sad to leave Helena.
"Come, my friend, we must leave now," he said soothingly in Hiram's ear.
Hiram kissed Helena once again on her elbow; this was a natural way of showing the most endearing affection among dwarves, and yet Belliza couldn't but feel strange about it since most other creatures of Pryantra kissed on each others' mouths when in love.
I wonder why dwarves do that, he thought to himself.
Hiram finally took leave of his wife and beckoned Belly to follow him outside the house.
"Belly," he enquired of his friend," have you taken enough provisions for our long journey?"
"What I have is more precious than food, clothes or such other things," answered Belliza.
Hiram raised his eyebrow in question.
Belliza unslung the bag on his back and opening its string, withdrew from it a rather large pouch made from accipio fur. As Hiram watched curiously, Belliza opened the mouth of the pouch and inverted the latter. A slowly growing pile of caronji stared back at the astonished Hiram.
"Aagh! So much money?" he said with half fear and half awe.
"Yes, my friend!" returned Belliza. He swept his hand over the pile of caronjis and took some into his pudgy hands and pulling Hiram's hand toward him, he opened the hand and poured the coins in Hiram's palm.
"They're stolen!" exclaimed Hiram.
" Of course not," lied Belliza.
"If you lie the curse of our ancestors will be on you!" screamed Hiram.
" Oh...okay, they are stolen, but so what, they'll be handy where we are going. Searching for that artifact may take days, weels or yelidos, only Horalla in the heavens knows! And besides, we need provisions, shelter, change of clothes... why, we may even have to bribe creatures all over the planet to reach our goal!"
" Right," sighed Hiram as he accepted the fact of the stolen coins, and plodded ahead.
They walked past Trevis on their third day.
When Hiram was hungry, he simply took out some of the preserved food his wife had packed for him. Sometimes, Belliza ate with him, but mostly, Belliza drank Kamis, or hunted trabegoids and roasted them and ate them for dinner.
On their fourth morning, they arrived near the Regwus wastelands. The swamp lay ahead of these wastelands. Hiram stopped under a tree and sat down on some rocks.
" We should be going around these wastelands instead of through them," he said uneasily. He raised his arm and moved it over the shrubs and
small plants lying scattered over the dry soil. Turning to Belliza, who, he saw, was walking unconcernedly, he added," There is real danger out there. I have heard of lizards three, or even four times fatter than you are... they would eat up a dwarf whole!"
Belliza looked at Hiram. " What? What did you just say?" he asked.
"Oh... dreaming again, I see!" admonished Hiram.
" No, just thinking," said Belliza.
" Thinking? Of what?"
" Should we try going around these wastelands?" said Belliza.
Hiram groaned aloud and came up to Belliza and whacked the latter on his rump.
" You...stupid fellow! You haven't been listening to me at all!" he said with as much mock anger that he could muster. He explained what he had been thinking and saying the past five minutes as Belliza listened attentively.
Belliza finally replied," My friend, I do not dispute what you say, and yet, I feel that the wasteland route will be by far the better one to take. Don't you think that if the Fist of Atekina existed, it would be hidden in some or the other desolate, unfrequented place on the planet? And besides, here we at least know the enemy. But near about the swamps, where no dwarf on this planet has ever travelled, we know not what life forms prevail, and which ones are friendly and which ones are not. Also, I do not know what dangers lurk by the Chelestran. So I think , at least, that these wastelands are the safer alternative!"
Hiram finally relented. He helped Belliza climb upon a larger, higher rocky outcrop. Belliza almost slipped, what with his fat, unbalanced body and his wooden leg. However, he did climb up slowly and finally, both looked out on the territory ahead.
They could see the shimmering waters of the swamp in the far distance, but nearer, the land was featureless, and covered here and there with small shrubs, thorny bushes and a few small and scraggly trees. There were small hills and a few streams too, but by far the majority of the land was covered with cracked soil. No sign of animal life was patently visible. The lizards, they were taught by their elders, hid in caves inside the hills, or lay in the branches of the few trees that grew in the wastelands.
" We must be ready for those lizards," said Hiram.
He checked the sword in its scabbard.
" From now on," we travel as one," he said to Belliza. Belliza grunted in agreement, and brought out his rikoshic.
" Do you know," he told Hiram," with this small gadget, I can stun even a large lizard for at least a few secos!"
Hiram laughed, nay, guffawed!
"That?" he said, as he tried to show respect for the utterly helpless looking tool in Belliza's hand.
"You don't believe in my rikoshic?" said Belliza angrily.
Espying a large weekafi sitting on a rock in the distance, he straightened up stealthily and swung the rikoshic out at the unaware bird. The rikoshic hit the bird on its legs with such force that the bird literally slipped off its perch and fell to the ground before it righted itself and uttering a tinny scream, flew off. The rikoshic was back in Belliza's outstretched palm, with a gentle swish and a thunk.
Hiram was impressed that a tool hardly the size of his hand could have knocked off a bird almost seven times his size!
He clapped Belliza on the shoulder approvingly.
"I'm sorry I underestimated you," he said.
"Okay," said Belliza, as he put the rikoshic back in his bag, and holding Hiram's hand, set out for the wastelands.
Both dwarves travelled peaceably for the whole day. Neither spoke too much as the journey required concentration. In the evening, they came upon an empty cave.
"This looks like the right place for the night,"said Hiram.
"Yes," replied Belliza.
They rested for the night.
5 th Addition:
The Regwus wastelands were even more forbidding than they appeared from afar, and it was all Hiram and Belliza could do to stay on a straight path without getting lost.
Within minutes of their approaching the first outcrop of rocks, they had encountered their first lizard - a pellitosaur. It was six feet long, changed colours comfortably, and had a nearly five-foot tongue that shot out straight at the advancing dwarves. Both Hiram and Belliza saw it just in time to evade it, and shrunk backwards from it. The pellitosaur had been known to swallow dwarves in the past, and Hiram unsheathed Zephyros and slowly began to circle the lizard.
The lizard, however, wasn't really hungry, and shaking its tail once, it turned away from the dwarves, and changing colour, melted into the surroundings.
"Uh, where did it go?" asked Belliza.
"It has an excellent camouflage, my friend, so we'll probably be safer away from here," responded Hiram.
"Yes, I agree," returned Belliza, and they proceeded.
The next threat was from an unexpected eventuality: a large area of quicksand that the duo never realized was there. Belly stumbled into it, and was sinking fast. He was unable to even raise a shout before he was in up to his waist!
Hiram saw his friend's plight, and bringing pout an accipio-fur rope, he tossed it to Belly, whose outstretched arm soon caught it and held on to.
Belliza was muttering curses as he extricated himself from the quicksand.
It took them nearly four days to cross the wastelands. In any case, they did not lack for excitement, and what they did, they made up for it in ample measure with fear and horror. The nights were especially terrifying, and in spite of their special weapons, the two friends spent them doing sentry duties. The fire that they lit each night kept away the lizards, but there were other, more dreadful creatures, like the gujuar, a carnivore with poison fangs that hunted like a cat, but killed like a snake, and devoured its prey like a python. On their second night, they actually heard a couple of these ferocious creatures roaring beyond the rocky outcrop that lay about 15 meters away. It took all their courage to remain where they were and not bolt from the relative safety of the fire and the cave!
The big event took place just as they espied the fringe between the wasteland and the marsh beyond.
Just as they were trying to navigate around what seemed like a jagged rock, the rock actually moved!
“It moved, Hiram!” said Belliza, punching his friend in the side.
“What moved?” asked Hiram, whose attention was elsewhere.
“The rock… or what seems to be one,” explained Hiram as he pointed to the approximately two foot by three foot, roughly oblong-shaped dark grey object that lay in their path.
“Did that move?” uttered Hiram incredulously.
His disbelief was so strong, that for a moment, even Belliza was forced to wonder if he had had a hallucination. But sure enough, the object again moved, and this time, Hiram saw it too.
A pair of eyes looked back at the dwarves. The creature said in a hoarse voice, “You are wasting time here! The artifact that you are looking for is in the mountains. But see here,” and the creature projected a three-dimensional holographic picture in the air between it and the dwarves.
The image was of a dainty two-foot long inanimate object that shone with a golden brilliance.
“I am Dwoombra, the magician who is under a spell of a witch at present, but what I am showing you lies ahead in the swamps… or marsh, as you may like to call it. It is a magic staff, and it is called ‘Sonikkee’. It has the power to activate the Fist of Atekina. I have seen it, and even held it in my hands when I was not the thing that I have become now.
To find it, you must search the marsh at the stroke of twelve mid-night on a full-moon night under the giant palmyra trees. The full moon day is two days from today. If you see the Sonikkee, take it with you, for without it, the Fist of Atekina is useless!”
Hiram and Belliza were tongue-tied. To have a small, insignificant “thing” like this one before them telling them about something so momentous was incredible.
They bent down to thank the creature, who promptly shut off the holograph, and bade them good-bye.
Our two heroes crossed the line into the marsh.
The marsh was vast, but negotiating it was not so bad, as hardly any predators lived here barring the water lizards; the dwarves stayed at least 50 meters away from the water line, and proceeded cautiously.
Their food rations were down to just a few days’ food, and about one half of a bottle of water.
“Are there any sources of clean, drinkable water here?” asked Belliza.
“I have no idea. We may as well keep our water tightly rationed.” responded Hiram.
There were literally hundreds of palmyra trees all around and the pair of travelers realised that finding the right tree exactly at the stroke of mid-night would be next to impossible!
“We must look for some other clue or clues to pinpoint us in the right direction,” said Hiram after much discussion.
“Yes, indeed,” said Belliza absently. He was busy negotiating a particularly thin strip of land between two marshy areas.
The marshlands were full of reeds, palmyras, and many water birds like the suranji bird, which was coloured pink, stood 4 and a half feet tall, and had a long beak to catch fish from the waters of the marsh.
One such bird came close enough to the pair.
Belliza initially retreated, but seeing that the bird was harmless, he came near to it and began caressing its feathers. The bird cooed pleasurably. Belliza fed it with some bread crumbs which he removed from his pocket.
Presently, the bird got tired of it all and spread its wings and took off for the sky. However, soon it alighted next to the duo of dwarves, and leaving behind something that it dropped from its talons, it flapped its wings and flew away again.
Hiram and Belliza looked at each other and understood. The bird had brought something for them, and it had to have something to do with their quest for the artifact.
They approached the glimmering object that lay on a bed of rock about five meters away. It was a round, shining object, looked like a gem, and was azure coloured. The object felt warm to the touch. Hiram lifted it and held it between them.
“What do you suppose this is?” he spoke aloud.
“May be it is a guider, a… a… sort of device that will shine differently if pointed in the correct direction?”
“Hmm… let us see if you are right,” said Hiram.
He kept the gem at arm’s length and began to point it slowly in different directions.
When there was no change in the colour or shine of the gem, he turned around in a full circle, and still there was no response. Dejectedly, he even held his arms in different elevations to the horizon, and re-tried the maneuvre many times, but to no avail.
Then Belliza had a thought: maybe it works only on a full moon night?
When he articulated this idea to Hiram, the latter seemed to concur, and requested Belliza to take the gem from him and keep it in his bag of caronjis.
A night and a day passed uneventfully, and the full moon rose in the night sky. They ate a dinner of roasted weekafi bird in silence. The kamis was over a long time back. Belliza licked his fingers and finished washing his hands. He looked up at the moon, and sighed.
“Hiram,” he said to his partner, “It’s time to go to work!”
Hiram grunted, and stood up. They picked up their belongings.
“It’s now, or never,” said Belliza, as he brought out the gem from his bag.
They began their journey for the right direction, and lo! The gem began to glow radiantly! As they turned around, the gem changed its colour to a ruby red when they faced a little to the right of North direction. It also began to glimmer with a blue irradiance.
Hiram gave a whoop of joy, and his auburn moustache positively seemed to dance as he jumped up and down with glee.
“Yippee!” he shouted, and the duo began to move in the indicated direction, always taking care to avoid marsh and dark areas.
As they moved from one palmyra tree to another, and nothing seemed to happen, their spirits began to sink, but near about mid-night, the gem simply rose from Belliza’s hand, and began to race ahead of them with a sort of renewed frenzy.
The dwarves were finding it difficult to keep up with the gem’s pace, but they had no choice.
At last they approached a tight grove of palmyra trees; here the gem stalled, and sank back into Belliza’s hand as he came up to it.
Its colour returned to azure, and its shine faded to the point where it had returned to its original appearance.
“It’s here, Belly,” said Hiram, “and we have to find it!”
Belliza and Hiram began to look for the Sonikkee. There were nearly twenty trees here, and it took them almost the whole night to search for the magic staff. Finally they found it just under one of the trees.
“I have it!” shouted Belliza as he dug out the golden staff and held it up for Hiram to see.
Hiram danced with joy, and Belliza joined him.
The quest would now take them to the artifact soon!
They went to sleep under the same grove that night (or what remained of it.)