Written By: Ford Coplen
July 16, 2015
Form my perch in the bushes, I could see the beast in front of me. It had four horns and the snout of an old world cow. At one point in time there was no vegetation here. There were immense cities that covered the entirety of the earth. The beast raised it's shaggy head and sniffed the air. It huffed and moved opposite my direction. I could tell it had not seen me. The sign above my head said, in barely discernable letters, "FOREST HILLS". I focused on the beast, I slowed my breathing. I channeled the magical energy to my hands. The started to grow cold and at the same time seething hot. I coiled, set my sights on the beast. It slowly lumbered along. I yelled and sprinted out of the bushes. The beast bleeted and ran. For a hairy lumbering creature, you wouldn't expect it to run like it did. I chased the thing out of the crumbling tunnel. I leaped on to the thing's back. It tried desparately to shake me off. My hand burned off some fur And I hung desparately onto the it's back by it's skin. I pulled my self and raised my hand above the nape of it's neck. I shot my glowing hand forward and it buried itself in the creature. It screeched an agonized screech. It threw it's posterior in hopes of throwing me off. It's hopeless at this point. I grabbed a piece of the creature's spine and ripped it out of his body. It immedeately stopped moving and fell forward. I stood slumped with my hands on my knees, panting and sweating.
"Good job, Krell. Come here now."
I looked up and saw Ghiral. His kob was assessing my magic technique. He was looking at the steaming carcass of the Wildebeest.
"You still have much work in your technique. Observe..."
He raised his hand and it started to glow a light blue and the bluish purple.
"You need to have the charge ready before you plunge it into your prey. Otherwise you could really harm yourself."
"I didn't get hurt though." I responded.
"Look at your hand."
I looked at it and yelped. The flesh had turned a grayish white and was caked with blood, there was also some long black hair on the back of my hand.
"With that attack you risk binding with the animal."
What Ghiral is reffering to is a condition where the wielder fuses to the animal. The neighboring clan uses this between two people who seek to marry. For twenty four hours, the man binds with the woman. If he can withstand the pain, he is allowed to marry the woman. If he screams or, god forbid, dies, he is seen as unworthy of the woman.
"You didn't intend to marry the Wildebeest, did you?"
"Ewww, no." I said.
Ghiral laughed and ruffled my hair.
"Other than this, you seem to be well on your way to mastering basic magic. After some practice, you should be fit to join a hunting party."
"But I want to join a war party."
His smile evaporated instantly.
"Child, why would you want that?" Ghiral asked.
I gulped, surprised by his reaction.
"I want to help wage war against the barbarians that surround our village."
He looked stunned. He knelt down sighed and looked into my eyes.
"Listen here, I know what the attitude in the village is, but take it from me. If you can avoid conflict, try to avoid it."
"Why would you say that? Aren't you a warrior?"
Ghiral was shaking. "Former warrior."
There was a long pause. I looked into his face, I was confused.
"You would lay down your life for the village wouldn't you?"
"Of course I would!"
"To protect my family and friends."
"Your family and friends, eh?", Ghiral said. "Tell me, do the 'barbarians' you speak of not have family or friends they want to protect? Do they not deserve to have a place to call home?"
I didn't have a response for this.
"People kill people, we kill to survive. They kill to survive too. But we must not forget that killing other men is sin. We only call them barbarians so we forget that they too are human and are easier to kill."
I was confused. They are barbarians. They are a plague. This is what we all taught.
He stood up.
"That's enough for today. Let's go back."
"Ghiral, are you saying that... they're good people?"
"Not really, but... they're people. Maybe if we gave them a chance, they wouldn't be bad people."
The wind blew through the ruins of the tall skyscrapers. Vines crept down the frames where windows used to be. Sometimes you could hear a biulding fall in the distance, useually followed by a dust storm. The people used to call this land Boston.
"I heard Elder Oculus was going to tell one of his stories later on, you should..."
All of a sudden there was a loud boom. The ground shook violently. Ghiral fell and clung onto a tree. I fell backward onto the pavement.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
"Yes, I'm fine. What's happening?"
"I don't know. That was too strong to be a structure falling."
There was a second explosion followed by a loud snap that echoed through the land. A tall building fell down a block away from us and dust flew in the air. I coughed and held my hand up to cover my eyes. I yelled his name and got a mouthful of dust. I gagged, there was no response from him. There was another explosion. It sounded a lot closer than the last two. The ground shook and fell from underneath me. All I saw was darkness surroinding me as the sky grew more distant. Finally I hit solid ground. I felt the air get knocked out of my lungs. The sky was about the size of my outstrectched palm. My breath came ragged and my ears were ringing.