Kahasai

United States

I'm 17
I like to dream

Homeschooled
Maybe a fool

Trampolinist
and classical guitarist

Archer
Let us barter

Mountain girl
I like burl

River otter
Viking daughter

Wolfdog owner
Forest roamer

I'm no fighter
But I am a writer

Of Wildren, Spirit, and Human #booksandbeacheswritingcontest

November 3, 2018

FREE WRITING

4
Chapter 1

    Catt had said little since they started the trip north, but it was only because she had long ago learned how to hold her tongue. The hard part was choosing the right time to speak. She was often accused of speaking at the wrong times. But now, now she'd had a full week of near-silence, she thought it was about time to ask the questions. Or, at least, try again. She'd already asked once.
    For years, ever since she had turned twelve, the young wildren had traveled the hundred plus-some miles between the Gallitic Wood and Lorgia by herself. In the spring and summer, when trouble would brew at a higher frequency, her uncle, Kiore, would make sure there were escorts waiting at a few way points along the route. It had been a long time since she had gone the entire distance with an escort, and it had been even longer since that escort was Kiore himself.
    As the early autumn breeze pushed at her dark hair, Catt wondered what Kiore had to do in Lorgia that had been urgent enough he had  to leave his quiet hole in the ground. It wasn't to escort her, that was for sure.
    Beneath her, her horse stiffened and pricked his ears. She watched his ears as they twitched, then settled back down again. She glanced around, searching the forest of tall live-oaks. The yellowed leaves rustled in the soft wind and sent patterns of light dancing over her eyes. She returned her focus back to Kiore, as if examining his stout back would reveal his secrets. It wouldn't do any such thing--she knew that from experience--but that didn't stop her from trying.
    Her horse, Cozmo, lifted his again. Ahead of them, Kiore's horse did the same. Catt searched the trees again. Her gaze froze on a greenish light, partially hidden behind a tree. She narrowed her eyes and gripped Cozmo tighter with her knees.
    "There." She pointed at the light. Kiore twisted around to see where she was pointing, his dark face an unreadable mask. Ahead of them, the light wavered. Catt clenched her fists around Cozmo's reins. She didn't stop and neither did Kiore. As they passed the light, she looked back to look behind the tree.
    A ghost crouched behind the rough bark. It stared in Catt's directions, but its gaze was vacant, as if its thoughts were in another place and time. Blood streaked its pale, faded body. Long cuts, like seams, ran down its face, neck, and arms, and Catt knew there'd be more cuts down the torso and legs, too. Its eyes bled and the seams bled as well.
    She turned away, stomach curdling.
    "Is there usually a ghost in this area?" Kiore asked. He hadn't looked back. Even if his head had tilted in an expression, it was invisible beneath his hood. The only sign the ghost had effected him at all was in his straightened spine.
    She stilled her thoughts. Forced herself to keep her voice as calm, as blank as Kiore's expression. "No."
    Kiore didn't respond and Catt didn't say a word. Both were silent as the day wore on into evening. As the sky fleshed out into pinks and purples, they made camp at the top of a hill.
    "Have you solved the puzzle?" Kiore asked.
    Catt gave a faint scowl until she realized what she was doing and pulled her expression into neutrality. At least, she hoped it was more neutral. "No," she muttered, biting into her hunk of dried meat. She tore a piece away and chewed, staring into the flames of the campfire.
    There was a pause. "May I see it?" he asked.
    Silently, Catt dug into the satchel that hung at her side and pulled out a tangled mess of interlocked metal pieces. She tossed puzzle to Kiore. It glinted in the firelight as Kiore lifted it and regarded it for a moment. Then he lowered it and tossed it back. She caught the puzzle and returned it to the bag.
    The goal was to separate the locked pieces of metal. Every piece. So far, she hadn't even been able to move them.
    "Have you been doing well in your music?" Kiore asked.
    "I've made some money playing at inn and restaurants." She glanced at her violin case, set a safe distance away from the fire's heat.
    "May I hear a song?"
    Catt fought the grin tugging at her face. She finished the last of her food, and reached for the violin case.
    The case opened with a creak. She pushed away the cushions surrounding the violin and lifted it up. The wood was a mahogany red, with well defined curves, a smooth finish, and a swirling scroll. She plucked the strings with a thumb, listening to the notes. She tuned it, trying to pick a song from her wide repertoire of music. She was reaching for her bow when there was a whisper of a noise. It tickled her neck, raising the hairs. She froze, hand still outstretched.
    A voice. Maybe two. Their voices were so faint they may as well have been nonexistent.
    "Catt?" Kiore was staring at her, eyebrows raised slightly. "What is it?"
    Catt withdrew her hand and put away her violin. She tilted her head and scrunched her face in an effort to make out the voices. The voices were fast approaching from down the hill. "We aren't alone," she said, her voice soft enough she wasn't sure if Kiore heard her.
    A long silence.
    "I don't hear anything."
    Catt gave him a slight, puzzled frown, then returned to listening. She tried to stifle the anxiety stumbling in her chest, but the memory of the ghost's pale, sad face kept invading her vision.
    Her ears caught on a few words and she finally could make out what was being said.
    "--is easy!" exclaimed a feminine voice.
    "It's wrong," said a more masculine voice.
    "Stop being such a downer. There's only two of them."
    Catt stiffened and stared into the darkness.
    "That isn't the problem. This is wrong. Why couldn't we run, go into hiding?"
    The female's voice hardened. "We can't hide from him. You know that."
    Catt stood, fingers dancing over the places where she carried her weapons. Dagger in her boot, one strapped to her thigh, and two on her hip. She took the largest dagger from her hip. Kiore stood as well, but from his expression, it was clear he still didn't hear them.
    "Maybe robbers," Catt whispered, voice so soft she wasn't sure if Kiore heard her. "Two of them. On orders from someone else." When she saw Kiore's narrowed expression, she added, "I think they chose us because we're convenient." At those words, the calm she'd held onto wavered.
    Kiore unsheathed his daggers, dark-skinned hand nearly invisible the night. "Anything else?"
    "They're having a debate on morals." She clamped her mouth shut and listened. She couldn't hear any movement, which was strange. Mentally, she searched herself for the wild energy that made her a part of the wildren. It sparked and rose, came alive in her veins, burned in her blood. The world sharpened into crisp detail. Her senses captured details that were undetectable before. The lingering scent of meat on her fingers. The tiny twigs crunching below her boots, the leaves on the bushes and trees. Across the campfire, Kiore's own wild energy fizzed and sparked, contained only by his skin.
    She could feel two other energies as well. A pair of twisting energies that pushed and pulled on their surroundings. Energies that weren't human, or of the wildren, or nethalvian. They were of something she'd never sensed before. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Kiore's eyes widen, his back stiffen.
    She tightened her grip on the dagger. Kiore knew what these creatures were?
    She waited. The voices had fallen silent. The energies came closer ... closer ...
    They should've been in sight now. She should've heard their footsteps now. But all was silent. The only sign of them were their foreign energies and their voices.
    "We can't do this," said the male. "It's wrong."
    "You keep saying that and--why are they standing?" The energies stopped in place. "They're standing, armed, and--shit, we've been broadcasting--" the voice went silent.
    Catt shifted, waiting. "They see us," she said. Kiore nodded.
    The creatures didn't move for a long moment. Then they came closer, and closer ...
    Her patience wore out. "Show yourselves!" she said, thumb anxiously rubbing the handle of her dagger.
    The creatures stopped moving again.
    "We are sorry, wildren," said the female. "By orders of the esteemed Commander, we have come to capture you."
    "Sorry," said the male.
    Catt clenched the dagger. "Show yourselves," she repeated. Why on Ashgan they would tell her their intentions?
    At the edge of the firelight, she sensed the energies waver. Then two humanoid shapes appeared, a man and a woman, but their features were distorted in their perfection. They stood an uncomfortable dozen feet away.
    Catt stepped back. "What are you?" she demanded.
    Kiore lunged forward. Catt flinched away from his energy, a writhing whirlwind of sparking, flickering flames. His fist swung through the air and into--
    His fist passed straight through the first creature and straight through the second. The creatures screamed, their energies in a sudden, roiling mess. Kiore backed away and the creatures disappeared, though their energies remained, moving around as if they were burning.
    Then the energies disappeared as well, as if they had never been there. Catt stepped back again, gaze darting around. Where had they gone?
    After a long few minutes, she still hadn't found them. Kiore had sat again, dagger sheathed.
    Catt turned to Kiore. "What were those things?"
    Kiore didn't respond. He seemed lost in his thoughts.
    "Kiore!"
    Kiore looked up. He scowled. "Please don't take that tone with me."
    Catt waited, dagger hanging from her fingers.
    He looked back into the flames. "Spirits," he said. He refused to meet her gaze.
    A mess of emotions bolted through her before she clamped down on them and focused on merely being curious. She sat, sliding her dagger back into place. "What are they--"
    "I don't know, Catt. I don't know any more than you."
    "How did you make them disappear?"
    "The same way you fight nethalvians." He fell silent. Catt gave him a long stare. He didn't look at her.
    At long last, Catt sighed and leaned against the horse bags. She stared up at the stars, senses roiling. "Will they come back?" she asked.
    "I doubt it."
    She grimaced at his short response. She would have to pester him tomorrow. She snuck a glance at him. He was staring into the fire, brows drawn together into a frown.
    As she tried to settle down for the night, she couldn't stop her mind from spinning in circles as the questions she had to wait to ask nagged at her.

 
This is for book and beaches's novel writing contest. Sorry it's so long, but I felt like including the entire chapter.

Good luck to everyone!

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6 Comments
  • books and beaches

    Please check out my last est piece... you will find some interesting information...


    over 1 year ago
  • SomeFormOfWriting

    I shall review this ASAP! Also, I do have Google Docs, so if you comment your email address I can send you some stuff?


    almost 2 years ago
  • Kahasai

    Wow, thank you! I didn't expect such a positive response. :)

    @rosemarywisdom: That is so sweet, thank you. :)

    @Silver Pen: I really, really hope the mythology is intriguing. I've been working on it for quite a few years now.

    @Catherinely Me: Ahh ... I'm busy in another rewrite with it. I'm currently on chpt. 4 of about 40 chapters, and this is the shortest chapter in the entire novel by a couple thousand words. One day, probably, but I don't think I'll start publishing it until I'm at least on chapter 10, if not chapter 20. I'll see what I can do, though. :)


    almost 2 years ago
  • Dummie

    I love this and I need chapter two ASAP!
    I posted the TDA btw


    almost 2 years ago
  • Silver Pen

    Your -- how shall I call it -- mythology? -- of the wildren and their skills and enemies is intriguing! Keep up the good work!


    almost 2 years ago
  • rosemarywisdom

    WHOA I hope you win.


    almost 2 years ago