Monday, May 6, 2013
Starsoul: the Artificer Enigma (Excerpt #2)
I still am not sold on the form the creature takes at the end. Thoughts?
Hate seethed. Power boiled. Rage spewed forth, and something rose in the depths of the stone beneath the fortress. Dust fell. Mortar crumbled. The island shook, and one shard of black glass toppled from the highest tower. The Tan Shen soldiers emerged one by one from their tents and watched as the fortress slowly toppled, one crackling bit of obsidian at a time. The trembling ground caused the tents to collapse from broken poles and loosened ties. The commanders bellowed but no one listened; every man was filled with a sense of dread that grew into horror, yet they were rooted to the spot by some power they could only dimly sense. Their Artificers wailed and fled, touched by the power but not imprisoned by it because of their own strange ability.
It took hours of this for the final splinter of glass to shatter. By that time the artificers were long gone, to carry the tale of the fortress’s collapse to distant villages, and eventually to the Tan Shen Emperor. Through them, the entire land would hear of this day’s events within a matter of days, and panic would ensue, causing horrors of its own making without the creature having to lift a figurative finger.
The earth rumbled. The island swelled and burst open like a boil, and that terrible something emerged from the rubble, a thing that would have caused the soldiers to run, to faint, and perhaps to kill themselves in an attempt to escape, had the creature’s power not held them all, rooted to the spot. It had been millennia since the creature had walked free, and it was hungry.
The men and women in the camps were forced to watch the thing cross the river and bear down upon them, to hear their fellows’ screams and be splattered with their blood and worse. The creature fed from their terror and pain as much as from their flesh. More than that, it reveled in being free, in the delicious sensation of their fear and pain filling its spirit even as their bodies filled its belly.
When its frenzy was over and it lay replete upon the blood-soaked dirt, it lifted an appendage and pointed a sensory organ in the direction that its old enemy had gone. It could sense that man. It could sense the woman who had freed him, the one it must feed from to remain free. And it could sense the power in the land, the power that had joined with the ancient man, that ancient irritant, to imprison it. It knew the woman somehow, knew the touch of her being; it was a memory long in its past and well faded, but somehow, it knew, in the same way it knew the man. Only it had never actually touched her being or tasted of her essence. Of him, it had. And would again.
But the three of them were tied together and always would be, and it must taste her, it must eat her…
The currents of power ran strangely in this land, differently from what it had once known, and it would not be easy to find its quarry in this world. It did not see as those native to this world did, in lines and shapes and colors; it saw the flow of power in everything – the rocks and plants, the animals and insects, and even the people. The presence of so many different powers in this land – the man, the woman, the magics of the Shaal-enii, the Enclave, and the invaders – would make the hunt an interesting one, at least.
The rage and hate bubbled up again, and the creature changed.
A woman stood there in place of the creature, smiling to herself.
The creature’s smile widened into a vile grin, and the hunt began.