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About Literature / Hobbyist Ian Chisholm27/Male/United States Group :icongrammarnazicritiques: GrammarNaziCritiques
Truth can be harsher in a Crit
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In the gray stone section of the library, Teal waits. One black foot hangs down below the base of the chair to wave listless in the air. The bookshelves have all moved beyond her reach, and she stares at them from her seat.

She glances over at Rolf. The glowing, paper-white man is still sitting on the shelf, surrounded by leather-bound tomes larger than him. The trench coat hangs open again. With one hairy foot crossed over the other, he picks at the hairs, combing out the tangles with his fingers.

Teal frowns and looks away from him. She stares around again at the silent library, then down to herself. Lifting up a black hand, she stares at it. For a second her hand is normal, calloused skin with callouses and veins and lines. She blinks, and the inky blackness returns.

She grunts. “Normally when I come here, my limbs are shaped like they are outside. Perhaps they are human shaped now because I have seen my hands again.”

Rolf looks up from his foot, his glow flickering like flame. Teal turns to meet his gaze, then looks back to her hand.

“Without your help I might never have realized I had any control over my limbs.” Teal sighs, and her hands settle in her lap. “I was resigned to the fact - to the belief that I would never have my hands again.” She stares down. “Thank you for giving me back my hands.”

The shapeshifter goes back to his feet. “Ye are welcome.”

Teal takes a deep breath and nods. “And I have yet to thank you for saving my life several times now. When the Drunk was out of control. When that large rope creature attacked. And yes, when I tried to fly away on the lake. Thank you for everything.”

Rolf looks up at her, his face impassive. “Miss Teal, unless ye will end this speech by professing yer long-held feelings for me, I don't really care anymore.” He sits up, yawns, and uncrosses his legs. “I respect what ye are doing with yer life, and I am glad to have helped ye accomplish what ye have.”

He pulls his coat tight around himself and growls, “But there is a limit to what I will take. This is it. We have reached it. I don't have to deal with yer irrational moods if I don't want to. I owe ye and yer cause nothing.”

“That is true.” Teal shrugs, her gaze far away from him. “You've never believed in my justice. You've only been following me around, hoping to sleep with me. I've done my best not to encourage you. So why?”

She turns her full attention to him. “Why, Rolf? Most men leave after the first refusal, surely the second, but I have turned you down many times. You have even put yourself in danger following this ignoble quest. What do you really want from me? What makes you so determined?”

Rolf stares at her. His uncertain frown pulls up into a shallow smirk. “I must love ye, Miss Teal. That is the only answer. My love for ye has tamed my wandering heart.” He throws his hands out to her. “Love me, Miss Teal! Make love to me! I know now I can never leave ye.”

She laughs, her gaze steady on him. “Do you take anything seriously, Rolf? Are you ever honest with yourself or others?”

“I am honest that I love ye, Miss Teal!” He beams, his eyes warm and bright.

She shakes her head. “You're a child. Do you even know what adult love is?”

His glow quivers, though he holds his smile. “I am not a child. This form is not real.” Rolf gestures back at himself. “Ye have seen me, ye know I am an adult. My carapace no longer stretches thin for a grown man's body.”

Teal shakes her head. “That does not matter. Love is a bond between two minds.” She points at his child body. “Rolf, your mind is stunted. Can you love as adults do?”

He turns away and hugs his knees. “Ye go too far, Miss Teal.” In a low grumble he adds, “I have done nothing wrong. Ye are rude to call me names.”

“You think I would?” She snorts. “Rolf, there are no insults. There are only lies and truths.” She leans closer to him, her eyes grim. “I am being honest. I believe you need honesty. You don't believe my words? That is my failing.”

“Indeed ye are a woman of brutal honesty.” He sighs and glances over his shoulder at her. “But the words come from yer beliefs. Ye are not infallible.”

“If I am lying, my words should not hurt you. But still do they hurt?” She waits, but he says nothing. Teal nods. “Only the truth can hurt you, and the pain is necessary. You know the truth in your heart.”

“I don't know this truth ye speak of,” Rolf grumbles.

“It is plain upon your face. Do you not believe me?”

He turns to cry out, “What truth? We only made love!” The ruby letter on his forehead burns brighter, or the light within him dims. “Why feel shame at love? I feel no shame!”

Teal stares at him, her hands clenched to the armrest. A long moment passes, his words ringing in the air, before she speaks. “I wish I could help you.” She frowns, shakes her head, and leans back against her chair to look up. “I would protect you with all my might. But that is not what you need.”

Rolf grins and crawls along the shelf, moving closer to her. “It is simple, Miss Teal. We can help each other.” When he can go no further, he reaches out a hand. But her chair is still far away. “We need each other, Miss Teal. Why deny it?”

He searches the area around, but nothing catches his eye. Below him is a long fall scattered with bookshelves, above him is the same. He tries to stand in the shelf, but ends up only hunched over. Pressing his hands to the gray stone ceiling, he focuses on Teal.

“If I were to fall, would ye catch me, Miss Teal?”

She grunts, “Hmmm?” Looking over at him, her eyes widen. “Don't.”

He smiles. “Catch me!” With a wobble, he leaps from the shelf.

Teal scrambles to her feet and turns around, standing in the seat, reaching out for the child. He is almost to the chair at the apex of his jump, but starts falling fast. Her black fingers just reach his outstretched arms and wrap around his wrists. She catches her knees against the back of the chair, pulls him to her and over the chair back, and holds him close. He smiles against her chest.

His body grows to a tall man, but thin and gaunt. Now the long traveling coat fits, and it remains flung open, showing a patch of curly black chest hair. He has olive skin and a frizzy mop of black hair, which shivers with occasional lightning flashes. His smile is toothy, his eyes bright.

“Ye saved me, Miss Teal.”

She looks up at him, her cheeks flushed. Then her face goes pale. Armor appears on her, with jagged edged plates like her bark, but the silver hue of steel. The jagged points converge to form spikes as she pushes him away.

He tumbles backward and falls. “Miss Teal!” One long arm flails up to point at the chair, and a crossbow springs out of the sleeve. A line of red energy fires from the crossbow and plants into the chair. He grasps the line and stops his fall. His body shrinks down to the child again, and he grips the red line of energy with both hands.

Teal leans out over the chair and stares down at him. The armor is gone, and she is back in her gray skirt and green corset.

He grins up at her. “A little help, please?”

She snorts. “We both know you're not in any danger. Go on, call her.”

Rolf sighs. He releases the red line of energy and falls. “Marta!”

Teal turns around, sits in her chair, and folds her hands together in her lap. Across from her, Rolf drops down into a chair. Marta appears back in her chair, the rainbow earrings swaying. She arches an eyebrow and tilts her head to the side.

“Are you ready to continue?”

Teal nods. “And I have a question, one only you can help me with.” She takes a deep breath. “This Rusty person. I wish to know everything you can tell me about him. His past, his abilities, anything that can help me take him down. To start, I would like to know where he is now.”

Marta snaps her fingers, and three books open in the air before her. “He is in Foe Hall. His past is a long story, but I believe it will help you, and we have the time. I shall begin.”
High War - Chapter 22.3
It's the finale of chapter 22! Gosh dang this chapter didn't come easily. Is the cliffhanger too corny? Too bad. We don't need to know Rusty's backstory, but Teal does. The important bits will come out at the end anyway. In the meantime, we should get back to Zarah!

This is a part of my High War project, a story set in a fantasy-ish world. I think my preview image comes from a free image site? If you know otherwise then please tell me so I can take it down, although I would be happier to use it with the permission of its creator. This will be a story for somewhat mature audiences; there will be occasional violence, language, and adult themes. Thanks for reading, and I'm always happy to discuss the chapter if you have a comment for it.


Next: soon ...
They sit in silence for a time. Marta taps a finger on the armrest of her chair. The endless floating library orbits around them in a slow turn. The nearby aisles constrict, the shelves enclosing them in a private sphere.

Rolf frowns, smacking his feet against the bookshelf he sits on. Sorrow closes his eyes and leans back, as if going to sleep. Joyous bounces and wiggles in his chair, sitting up and turning around and leaning over, his gray eyes distant as his head tilts from side to side.

Teal asks, “Did you say we are stuck here? Why? How long will this take?”

The older woman gestures to Rolf. “As I have told him before, when a body is dense with magic, it takes longer for me to move. I cannot tell you why you are denser, but that is the essence of your predicament. You take long enough to move that you see my library.”

Rolf leans down to point at Teal's black hands. “She means yer curse, Miss Teal. If ye did not have it, ye would never have met Miss Marta.” He turns to the librarian. “What new problem has our curses caused today?”

Marta nods. “Unfortunately, there is a compounding effect I can do nothing about. I do not know the exact span of time, but this transit will take longer than it should.” She shrugs. “No more than a day, I hope.”

Teal scowls and pounds her fist against the chair. Rolf frowns, then edges closer to Teal with a smile.

Sorrow sits up and opens his eyes. “Miss Marta, I can not think of anything to ask you. Instead, I will use this opportunity to spar with my brother. Allow us to have blunt training weapons here, please and thank you.”

She grimaces. “Yes. If you stay away from the books with them.”

“But, but - ” Joyous stammers at Sorrow. “But I have so many questions for her. Miss Marta seems to know a lot, and there's so much I want to know about everything!” He turns to Marta. “Why does stone come in so many colors? Is water happy eating dirt? How does a grass-whistle work, and why doesn't grass whistle on its own?”

His chair vanishes under him. Joyous falls out of sight with another short scream. Marta nods at Sorrow before his chair vanishes as well. He falls without a sound.

Marta's chair turns to face Teal. The older woman sighs and waves a hand. “Go ahead.”

Teal scowls. “Would it have been too much to answer his questions?”

“Oh, indeed. For a truly inquisitive mind, there is no end to the questions.” Marta shares a thin smile. “Among the few benefits of getting old is choosing what questions you answer. I would like to answer your questions, not his.”

“I really only have one question for you.” Teal leans forward and stares at the older woman. “Are my children safe? Where are they?”

Marta sighs. “That is two questions. The first is a question about the future, but I can answer the second.” She snaps her fingers, and a book opens in her lap. “Three are with a woman named Bell. One is with a man named Sanders, who has relocated his gang of street children to his coastal hometown. One I cannot say. And the rest are in stasis orbs.” The book shuts, and she looks up. “None have died.”

Rolf adds, “See, Miss Teal? It is like I said. No one has hurt those things except ye three.”

Teal nods, and takes a small breath. She clenches her fist. “Who took them?

“Tch. Such imprecise language.” Marta opens another book before her, and the image of a man in a green cloak appears floating in the air. “This man, Rusty Rocktree, was sent to capture your children. He is currently the Chief of the Phoenix Army's Green branch. He had three companions with him, one of whom you later met. They are Sah, Rams, and Ozim.”

The other three appear as well, standing behind Rusty. Ozim's image is drab and grainy. Teal leans forward and stares at the other three, her brow furrowed.

“And where can I find them?”

Marta rubs her forehead with her middle finger and thumb. “Teal, you are speaking in vague, unhelpful sentences, and your questions are quickly losing rationality.” She snaps her book shut and points at Teal. “Do I need to send you somewhere private to collect yourself? Should I read you some statistics on how often revenge plots turn sour? When will you calmly accept that this has happened?”

Teal glares back at her. “I will not accept that my children are gone. I promised Tress I would bring them all home. Otherwise,” she stops to close her eyes. “It is too tragic. Too cruel.”

“The gods are cruel, but they could be crueler.” Marta leans back in her chair, eyes cold. “These are the facts, Teal. Your home was attacked. Your children were taken. You can save them. It will not be easy.” She sighs and waves her hand. “Anyone who complains about their personal difficulties may as well be an ant complaining to the person stepping on it.”

Rolf nods and leans forward. “Ye must keep moving, Miss Teal. The past is the past, ye cannot change it.” He looks down at himself with a weak smile. “Ye once said that I was harmed in the past. Perhaps I was? I cannot change what happened. I will try to accept it though.”

Teal turns and glares at him. “You had something terrible happen to you. A terrible thing happened to everyone in my town, leaving me responsible for enacting equal justice on the perpetrators.” She clenches a fist and growls, “Do not compare your problems with mine! We are different!”

The shapeshifter winces, scoots away down the shelf, and pulls up the collar of his coat. Teal frowns, the anger draining from her face. She almost lifts her hand to reach out to him, but stops herself.

Marta smirks. “Ah, youth. Well, I'll give you two kids time to think of more questions.” With a flick of her fingers she vanishes.

Teal sighs and leans back in her chair. Occasionally she glances over at Rolf. His head hangs so low in the over-sized coat that almost none of him can be seen. The silence continues between them.

Joyous and Sorrow fall from above and crash onto a wooden circle of empty floor. The space is enclosed by hanging vines, with bookshelves beyond formed from tree roots. The books are all thick tomes with leaf-wrap covers.

The lighter gray man cries out, “Owww!” He rolls around on the floor, clutching at his legs and arms. “I'm going to die! All my bones are broken! There's so much pain I can't feel it yet! Owww!”

The darker gray man stands and stretches. “I did not feel any pain. Tell me if you are in fact hurt, brother.”

Joyous stops thrashing and stares. “Oh. I guess not.” He lets out a breath and cranes his neck to look up. “I've decided I hate falling, brother. It's my least favorite way of moving.”

“At least it is very fast.” Sorrow blinks and stares around, but the space is empty. “Tell me if you see any weapons we can use to spar, brother.”

“Hmm. I wish I had a pillow.” Joyous rolls over on his back and closes his eyes. “Why do you want to spar?”

“I cannot make sense of you, brother.” Sorrow walks over and stares down at Joyous. “We are very different, and yet we share a body. Father says that two people will understand each other if they spar.”

Joyous opens his eyes. “Huh? Well I understand you. You're my brother. What else would you like to know?”

Sorrow blinks. “Tell me who taught you to fight.”

“No one.” Joyous smiles. “You know a lot, and I can do what you can do. And the Reaper Scythe knows things too. And sometimes I just do what pops into my head.”

Sorrow nods, and steps back. “Your skills are rough, but effective. And I can do what you can do.” He closes his eyes, then opens them after a moment. “But not now. We should spar to see who is better.”

Joyous's eyes go wide. “Wow, yeah! I don't know everything I usually do.” He stands, and backs away from Sorrow. “I guess you're right. But I'm a little scared to fight without you.”

“Then you will learn faster than I did.” Sorrow continues searching the floor and vine curtains as he speaks. “Father says it is good to feel scared before a fight, because you will learn more from your failures.”

Joyous takes a deep breath and pats his cheeks. “Okay! Let's do this sparring thing!” He holds out his hand. A black staff appears and his fingers wrap around the middle. He crouches down, creeps back behind Sorrow, and lifts one end over his head. “Yeeaagh!”

Sorrow drops down to his hands and rolls away from Joyous's wild swing. Joyous follows him, taking several more swings as he goes, holding the staff like a long sword. The wooden floor resounds with each smack.

The darker gray man flips up to his feet and backs away, his gaze on the staff. “Tell me how you got that, brother, please and thank you.”

The lighter gray man grins. “Cool, huh. It comes to my hand when I want it, brother.” He glances at the staff and frowns. “Though I wanted a different weapon.”

Sorrow blinks. “This may be difficult for me. I am not capable of wanting. But I will try.” He holds out his hand. “Appear in my hand, Scythe, please and thank you.”

The staff wiggles a little in Joyous's grip. The lighter gray man stares at it, nods at Sorrow, and releases the staff. The black weapon falls to the floor. Sorrow holds out his hand to it.

“Travel to my hand, please and thank you.” The weapon shivers on the floor, but does not move. “Come to me, please.” The staff rolls a turn in his direction. Sorrow stares at it with a slight frown. “Staff, come.”

The staff shakes, tips up into the air, and floats to rest against Sorrow's hand. His eyes widen, and he nods.

Joyous shouts and waves his arms in the air. “Yay! You did it! Now I need it back.” He reaches out, and the black staff flings out of Sorrow's grip and into the lighter gray man's hand. “Okay! Let's do this sparring thing!”

Sorrow stares at him. Then he crouches down and holds his arms like a grappler. “We will begin like this. Hit me, brother.”

The lighter gray man nods, pulls back for a big swing, and throws himself into the blow. Sorrow catches the staff and swings him around; Joyous flies off into the hanging vine barrier. The vines catch him, and he sags to the ground. Sorrow now stands in the center of the wooden circle, the staff in his hands.

“This is an important lesson, brother. You must have a good grip on your weapon, so that your opponent does not take it from you.”

Joyous grins. “Okay, I see, brother.” He holds out his hand. “Now I want it back.”

Sorrow holds the staff tight as it shakes and tries to pull away from him. “We must share the Scythe, brother.” His fingers strain to keep the staff with both hands. “Next I will hit you, and you will defend.” One end of the weapon escapes him, but he catches the other end with both hands. “Do not take the weapon, please and thank you.”

“But I want it!” Joyous holds out his other hand and calls out, “Scythe, come!”

The staff rumbles in Sorrow's hands. Then it starts to grow, stretching out toward Joyous. He smiles and grabs the end, and they begin a tug'o'war for the staff. With a loud snap the weapon breaks in the middle, and the two men fall backward. The two halves shrink down to become truncheons in their hands.

Sorrow is up first. He blinks and stares at his piece of the Scythe. Joyous sits up with a groan, stares at his club, and smiles.

“Wow!” He glances up at Sorrow. “Did you know it could do that, brother?”

The darker gray man shakes his head. “No, brother.” He pulls his truncheon in two directions, and the black weapon splits into two smaller clubs. “But now we can spar.”

The lighter gray man sighs. “If you insist, brother.” His weapon morphs into a pair of black metal knuckles, then a small pile of round black bullets, a segmented black half-staff, a bundle of black arrows with blunt tips, and a black heavy mace. He stands, hefts the mace, and takes a quick breath. “I'm ready, I hope.”

Sorrow raises his clubs. “I will go slow at first.” He steps into Joyous's reach, catches a swing of the mace with his club, and jabs Joyous in the gut with his other. The darker gray man steps back, and the lighter gray man holds his stomach.

“I felt that, brother.” He smiles and gripe his mace with both hands. “But it wasn't like pain. It was only pressure.”

Sorrow blinks. “That is not good. Pain teaches you what to avoid. I will ask Miss Marta to let us feel pain.” He looks up and calls out, “Miss Marta, if it is possible, allow us - ”

“No!” Joyous pulls back his heavy mace, which doubles in size with a thin pop, and then doubles again. “I don't like pain!” He swings the giant mace. His dark gray brother crosses his clubs and catches the blow, but is still battered away to hit the vine barrier. The light gray man takes several breathes as his weapon shrinks back to normal. “Oh. Are you okay, brother?”

“That was a good hit, brother.” Sorrow moves away from the vines and twirls the clubs in his hands. “You have your way of fighting, and I have mine. I do not think I can teach you to fight like me.”

Joyous grins. “Oh, good! So we don't need to spar?”

“Instead, I will push you to improve your way of fighting.” Sorrow raises his clubs and stares at Joyous. “I will not go slow this time, brother. Defend yourself as best you can.”

The lighter gray man whimpers. He lifts his shaking mace up, as the darker gray man darts into his reach. Sorrow whacks his clubs against Joyous's arm, chest, and face. Joyous winces at each hit and steps back, swinging his mace in front of him. The darker gray man ducks under the first swing, catches another blow against his club, and sends the mace flying with a heave.

The lighter gray man reaches out, and his mace stops in mid-air. He grins and gestures for the black weapon. It turns and arcs around toward him, striking Sorrow in the back of the head before meeting Joyous's hand. Sorrow falls flat on his face and Joyous runs to the other side of the wooden circle. He throws his mace, it hits the floor beside Sorrow, and returns to Joyous's hand. Sorrow stands and defends himself with his clubs.

Joyous throws his mace over and over at him. “Am I doing good, brother?”

“Yes, brother.” Sorrow deflects the thrown mace, then steps back as the mace floats in the air and spins at him. “I understand now. Father would call you a weapon mage. You can use a magic weapon to its fullest extent.”

“Neat!” Joyous holds up both hands and manipulates his mace from afar, forcing Sorrow to stand in one place and block the rapid strikes. “I wonder what else I can do?”

“That is what we will discover. Anything you imagine may be possible with magic.”

Sorrow tumbles forward, dodges around the flying mace, and charges toward Joyous. He flips over the next attack and barrels into the lighter gray man, knocking him over. Sorrow twists around atop Joyous, slips a club under his neck, and pulls his head up.

“You would now be dead, brother. Remember to maintain your defense.” Sorrow stands and backs off.

Joyous cheers. “I love sparring!”
High War - Chapter 22.2
Oh Teal, be nice to that boy. He may be a leg-humper, but he's your leg-humper. Maybe I should end this chapter with them making up somehow … Oh, and! Now we can see how Sorrow/Joyous works. Sorrow is the highly-trained fighter, good at acrobatics and two-weapon fighting. Joyous is the weapon mage, able to use a magic weapon in ways other people could only dream of. Now that they're together, they can use their combined skills freely (making them an equal to any of the main party) and even perform a double attack by tagging out.

This is a part of my High War project, a story set in a fantasy-ish world. I think my preview image comes from a free image site; if you know otherwise then please tell me so I can take it down, although I would be happier to use it with the permission of its creator. This will be a story for somewhat mature audiences; there will be occasional violence, language, and adult themes. Thanks for reading, and I'm always happy to discuss the chapter if you have a comment for it.


High above Riverside's streets, the tops of the gray-stone buildings are clean and wind-swept. All of the buildings around are the same height, though they appear to grow smaller near the edges of the city. The grand Arch rises above them all, and beyond it the river flows steady and calm.

Atop this gray-stone building is a Rift Circle, the five pillars linked by chains. The orc in the gray vest has a hand on one of the pillars. Teal stares at the Circle, with Rolf and Sorrow standing at her sides.

The orc rift mage turns away from the Circle and approaches Teal. “It is ready for you, sirs and ladies.” He eyes Rolf and shrugs.

Teal nods. “When you prepare the Circle for transit, do you keep a record of those traveling?” Her eyes focus on the orc, who shrugs.

“I am very sorry, but we do not. And if we did, I would be uncomfortable sharing such information.”

“I understand.” Teal's gaze hardens to a glare. “Though it seems a large number of people used your Rift Circle within the last day and a half, and with ill intentions for the nation. Would you be able to remember anything about them?”

He shakes his head. “You must mean the Goldenburg survivors. The Rift Mage Society does not question intent, nor do we serve the interests of any person over another. Our founder the Red Dragon decided this policy, and guaranteed our ability to follow it.”

Teal glances back at Rolf, who nods. The paladin sighs and walks forward. “Very well.” She enters below the hanging chains, with Rolf and Sorrow a step behind her. “Rolf.” Teal doesn't look at him, her eyes forward. “It may take me longer to get there. Do not worry.” Rolf glances at her with a slight frown.

The voice of the Circle comes bright and cheerful, “State your destination please.”

The three speak in unison, “Foe Hall.” And they wait. Nothing happens.

Teal calls out, “Rift mage.” She waves the orc back. “What is wrong?” He shrugs, and places his hand against the stones again.

The Circle speaks, “That destination is unavailable. State your destination please.”

Sorrow tilts his head to the side. “Foe Hall.”

“I am not sure what has happened, sirs and ladies.” The orc rift mage scratches his head. “I was only told the Antopia Prime Circles would be locked.” He shrugs. “I can prepare a Sending spell to my superiors, but they will take time to respond.”

Rolf nudges Teal. “I was worried this might happen, Miss Teal. They took the way-stone in Goldenburg. Someone could lock down a location of their choice with that, by reversing the ether flow to negate Rifts instead of channeling them, and placing it against another way-stone.”

The orc rift mage frowns. “That is classified information, sir. And only an Inner Circle member of the Rift Mage Society could do so.”

“Is that so?” Teal glares at the orc rift mage. “Is it possible one of those members has forgotten their vow of impartiality?” He shrugs. Teal grunts and folds her arms, looking up at the sky.

The Circle speaks. “That destination is unavailable. State your destination please.”

Sorrow blinks several times before trying again. “Foe Hall.”

“Miss Teal, I have a suggestion.” Rolf smiles, sidling closer to her. “We should go to Panoramio. From there it will only be a day's ride by horse, and I can procure ye the best riding beasts in that town.”

Teal grumbles and stares at the sky, tapping her bark armor boot. The orc rift mage folds his hands within the sleeves of his robe, waiting for them. The wind rustles across the roof, fluttering everyone's clothes and hair.

The Circle speaks. “That destination is unavailable. State your destination please.”

Sorrow tugs on the paladin's arm. “Miss Teal, this does not seem like it will work.”

She grunts. “Okay. We'll go to Panoramio.” The other two in the circle repeat the destination. Rings of light form around their feet and start to rise. Teal grumbles, “So Zarah will get there first now.”

Their bodies go rigid and their faces slack, as the golden halos stop above their heads. Their feet, and then moving upward the rest of them, dissolve into a fine crystalline powder that drops to meld with the large slab below. The orc rift mage nods and walks away.

In the floating library, Teal seats herself in a large easy chair. She wears a long gray skirt, a green corset with a creeping ivy pattern, and her muscular arms are bare. Her hands are blacker than shadow, with a smoky, oily texture. The skirt hangs half over her bare black feet. Thin crystals hang from her neck and around her waist by vine ropes.

The bookshelves around her are rough, gray stone. Many are filled with sheets of yellowing paper bound by thick clips, while books occupy the rest. Teal reaches out and runs her black fingers over the spines of a few nearby, but her eyes don't turn to read the titles. Instead she folds her arms back down to rest in her lap, hands clasped.

“Marta? If you are there, and if you have a moment, I would like to speak with you.” She leans her head back and closes her eyes. “I would also like to know when I will arrive. There are people waiting for me.”

“Miss Teal?”

Her eyes pop open, and she stares upward. Above her a paper-white blob, shapeless and faceless, hangs from the side of a bookshelf. The blob is larger than a dog, smaller than a human, and glows from within like a candle.

“What are ye doing here?” The blob doesn't so much speak as flap open its side.

Teal gapes at the blob. “Rolf?”

The blob contorts, twisting itself on the spot. A branch grows, bulges at the end, and forms an oblong sphere. Lidless eyes and a toothless maw appear on the front of the sphere, and the new head nods.

They stare at each other in silence. Teal flashes a wry smile. Rolf gives a tentative chuckle. He extends a pseudopod, latches onto the bookshelf next to Teal, and pulls himself down beside her. She snorts, reaches out, and pokes his forehead.

“I thought I was the only one who came to this place.” Teal frowns. “Oh. You have been here before, correct?”

“Yes, Miss Teal. I visit whenever I travel by Rift Circle. Sometimes I travel just to ask Miss Marta a question.” The blob's eyes spin from Teal to glance around the library. “So ye know Miss Marta?”

“Yes.” Teal scans the space too. “And normally she would have appeared by now to chat.” They  stare around at the endless bookshelves, but the girl in the rainbow dress does not appear. Teal grunts, and turns back to Rolf. “So why do you look like ... that?”

His head tilts to the side, and the toothless maw curls up in a smile. “Why do ye look like ye do?”

She scowls down at the corset and long skirt. “Marta tells me this is how my people once dressed. And it was only me and her.” She glares up at Rolf.

His eyes turn away, though they are flat and too-bright. “The reason for my appearance is much the same as yers. Here we are our true selves. Ye are a strong, mysterious, and beautiful woman. I am amorphous, adaptable, and inhuman.”

Teal shakes her head. “Or I identify with who I am, both myself and my heritage. You on the other hand identify with nothing and no one. That's why I am human and you are … whatever you are.”

Rolf turns away. “Hmmm. Where is Marta? She could answer this question.”

The girl in the rainbow dress pulls two young men, alike as twins, through the library. Even with no visible floor, she walks between the shelves as if there is, and the two men float behind her like kites.

The men are both dressed in tan leather armor. One man's face is the light gray of thick dust, while the other man is a darker gray of tempered steel. The lighter man has a wide smile, and his head turns back and forth to see each new bookcase they pass. The darker man never smiles, though his eyes are blinking and glancing every which way.

Scowling as she pulls the two rubbernecks by the hands, teen Marta grumbles to herself, “Idiots! Three at the same time? If I hadn't known they might - gah!” She growls, stomping the air.

The lighter man grins at his darker twin. “She's mad at you, brother.”

The darker man nods. “I do not want her to be angry, brother. Tell me what I can do to calm her, please and thank you.”

Marta growls, “You can start by not speaking as if 'she' can't hear you.”

“Thank you, I will try that.” The darker gray man glances at his lighter twin, and back to Marta. “Also, tell me why my brother is here, please and thank you. I think that should normally not be possible.”

“Oh, I think I know the answer to that one!” The lighter gray man grins at his darker twin. “This place feels like my home, because it's big and we're floating! So we must both be inside my home somehow, instead of switching with a tag-out. But I didn't know I had all these books! If I had known they were here, I'd be super smart from reading them!”

Marta sneers. “Do you even comprehend how moronic you sound? Just shut up so you don't hurt my brain. We'll reach the other two in a bit, and I'll explain then.” Her eyes narrow. “They'd better not be reading.”

Teal has a book open in her lap, and reads with her head supported by a black hand. She moves her head, turns a page, and frowns down at the book. Beside her, the glowing blob has an open book floating in front of his face. Rolf laughs, and the book floats closer.

Storming up with the two men in tow, Marta shouts, “Who said you could - ”

The teen in the rainbow dress pauses, and her mouth snaps shut. She vanishes. The two men drop away, the lighter one with a strangled scream. Then they fall from above into two empty chairs. A middle-aged Marta appears after them, with short hair and rainbow earrings. She seats herself in a chair that rises up out of nothing. With a flick of her finger, the two open books vanish.

“Please excuse my outburst.” She steeples her fingers together and leans back against her chair. “Though, when possible, I would appreciate if you all would travel one at a time. Three Hearts at once does strain the system.”

Teal stares at Marta, turns to glance at Rolf, eyes the two young men, and scowls. “Marta, please explain this to me. I have never seen anyone else besides you in this place, and now Rolf is here, and two adult Sorrows. What is going on?”

The lighter gray man waves his hand back and forth. “I'm Joyous, Miss Teal! It's great to meet you! Or I guess we've met, but this is kinda the first time for real maybe?” He pulls his knees up to his chin and hugs his legs, grinning.

The darker gray man nods. “And I am Sorrow, Miss Teal. I do not know why my brother and I are both present, but I will ask Miss Marta again.” He turns to the other woman. “Miss Marta, tell me why - ”

She holds up her hand. “None of you has a corporeal body right now. Your form is that of your mind. Because you have a mind, you have a form here. And yes, that answers your question.”

“Then what about me?” asks Rolf. “Are ye saying the form of my mind is this?” He extends two pseudopods and points back at himself. “Teal is herself. I want to be myself.”

Marta nods. “If that is what you wish.” She flicks a finger in Rolf's direction.

The blob on the bookshelf morphs to become a boy with glowing, paper-white skin. He looks no older than thirteen, at the cusp of pubescence. A scarlet 'A' sits in the center of his forehead. He wears a long traveling coat many sizes too large for him. The coat is open, and he is naked below. His body is smooth like a child's doll, all the way down to his ankles. His feet are adult-sized and hairy.

Rolf scowls and pulls the coat closed. “Very amusing.” He glares at Marta. She stares back at him, calm and silent. Teal is wide-eyed, a wetness at the corners. Sorrow blinks, and Joyous gapes. Rolf frowns and looks down, away from them all. “Fine. I will be the slime thing. Change me back.”

Marta shakes her head. “There is no back. I was hiding your mind's form with an illusion, that of the form of your species at its creation. The illusion is shattered, and I will not re-make it.”

“That is unfair,” the child cries, pouting. “I don't want this form, Miss Marta.” His body flexes and bulges, trying to shift, but the basic form does not change. Teal reaches up and pats his leg. He glares down at her. “I don't need yer support, Miss Teal.”

“I know, but I give it anyway.” She doesn't look away from him, and he turns his head.

Marta nods. “On to other topics.” She takes a deep breath and gives them all a thin, patient smile. “I am sure each of you has questions for me. We are stuck together until the system is done processing you, so let's hear them.”
High War - Chapter 22.1
Here we go, Chapter 22! (And yes, Chapter 21 doesn't exist, because reasons. It will exist in the finished version. And this chapter re-numbering may happen again.) So Chapter 22! Or as I like to call it, the chapter where a few things get explained! Honestly the biggest problem for this chapter is going to be not boring the reader with exposition about the main characters and their wacky destined backgrounds, sort of how I had to cut off Ozim's scene before he explained everything about the Phoenix Army. I don't know how I'll do it yet, but Marta might be giving them a lot of, “I can't tell you that.” I'm almost considering another flashback, with Marta re-telling the events of the past, but that feels lame. So who knows! Maybe I'll just have some more fun prodding Rolf.

This is a part of my High War project, a story set in a fantasy-ish world. I think my preview image comes from a free image site; if you know otherwise then please tell me so I can take it down, although I would be happier to use it with the permission of its creator. This will be a story for somewhat mature audiences; there will be occasional violence, language, and adult themes. Thanks for reading, and I'm always happy to discuss the chapter if you have a comment for it.



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The old human woman and her sign-wielding supporters walk out of the gray-stone building. They are packed together in a tight arrowhead formation, with the older members of the group in the center. The younger members carry their large signs like staves and clubs, looking more like street thugs than protesters.

They flow through the city streets, chatting among themselves. About half of them speak in short, clipped sentences, their fingers flapping along with their mouths, if they speak out loud at all. The rest speak without moving their fingers, though they always smile and tap the shoulder of those they speak to.

A middle-aged man with a scar going across his eye and down his cheek smiles at the old woman. “You did well with that warrior woman, ma'am. Her bitter lies helped more people see your words for the truth.”

Another old woman, an orc wearing a dark wool dress and a black headband, nods. “Indeed spoke well.” Her fingers dart up to tap against her heart. “My son proud. Will rest easier.”

The human woman sighs. “For now, this is all I can do for my child. I only wish I could convince more people.” She shares a look with the scarred man, who nods.

The orc woman shakes her head. “They don't believe. But they will.” Her fingers flutter like a bird. “The Phoenix rises.” Several other members of the group repeat the phrase.

“Please wait, ma'am!”

A tall, chubby-faced Small Folk man runs up from behind the group. They turn the formation around to face him, raising their signs as impromptu weapons. The Small Folk stops and leans on his knees, gasping for air. He wears a sleek black vest and long red pants over his thick frame.

The old human woman glances at the other two beside her, and then calls out. “What do you require, sir?”

He nods and looks up, his fingers fluttering at her. “Thanks for stopping. My legs short.” He stands to his full height, the top of his head level with the fists a few of the humans hold ready for him. “I heard account. Was in audience. My thinking changed.” He raises a hand in the air. “The Phoenix rises!”

The two older women smile. The rest of the crowd cheers, and the nearest reach forward to pat the Small Folk's shoulder.

The scarred man frowns. “Is that all you came to say? What do you want?”

The Small Folk waves his hand back and forth. “I would help. Some Goldenburg survivors? Need place live? I manage apartments.”

Now the old orc woman frowns. She waves her hand back and forth, and her fingers fly in a long series of signs. The Small Folk nods and signs back at her. The orc woman points at herself, and the Small Folk frowns. He signs to her, then turns to the old human woman.

“Can rent cheap. Maybe even free. I wish help.”

The old orc woman shakes her head. “Live with me. Better that way.”

The old human woman looks up at the sky for a moment. Then she takes the hands of the orc woman in her own. “You were so kind in offering me your son's room, my dear friend. But I can't go on using your kindness.” After a quick glance at the scarred man, she smiles back at the orc woman. “I think it would be best for me to move out. Please allow me.”

The old orc woman sighs and looks down at the ground, fingers tapping her hips. The old human woman steps closer and hugs her. The scarred man frowns down at the Small Folk, who stares up at the two women. They part, and the orc woman nods.

“Do not like. But I allow.”

The old human woman smiles at her, and then down at the Small Folk. “We accept your generous offer, sir. How many of us can you house?”

He nods. “Few for now. More rooms soon. Will follow me? I show rooms.”

They stop outside another gray-stone building. The last of the Phoenix supporters wave and disperse, leaving only the Small Folk, the two old women, and the scarred man. The four stare at the building's wagon-width entrance, plain like all the rest. The Small Folk pushes the door open and they pass inside.

Within the gray-stone building is one large room, with a ceiling that glows the same light as the evening sky outside. Another building, with plain wood siding and a foundation of irregular-shaped stones, squats within the larger. The four walk towards the front door.

A cluster of Small Folk women lounge in a circle on the porch, knitting a single black cloak together. A gray-skinned youth and a grizzled orc spar with sticks in front of the building, boy and man moving around each other in a slow and deliberate dance. The old human woman glances at the grizzled orc with the hint of a smile.

“This my apartments,” the Small Folk claims with a wave of his hand. “Not best location. But friendly community.” He calls out to the knitting circle. One of them chirps back and they all start signing his way. He signs a few back.

The scarred man taps the Small Folk's shoulder. “What do you actually mean by not the best location? Is there something wrong with this block?”

The Small Folk smiles back. “Far from Arch. What else mean?”

The old orc woman nudges her human companion. “My block better. More central location.”

The human nods, turning away from the grizzled orc. “I like it though. This place could feel like it could be home.” She places a hand on the scarred man's shoulder and smiles at him. “No more interrogating our friend.” He grumbles and looks away.

The Small Folk opens the front door and leads them through an entryway with numbered mailboxes on the side. A small staircase in the back goes up several floors, to where the gray-stone building serves as a bright ceiling. He walks past the staircase and toward a dim hall, brushing his hand over a solemn grandfather clock at the foot of the stairs.

Down the hall, the Small Folk stops outside a room with the carved wooden numerals for thirteen. “We are here.” He smiles back at the other three, produces a key from his pocket, and unlocks the door with a loud click from the tumblers.

The four walk inside, the Small Folk leading the way. The front room is rectangular, with a kitchen on the left and a hall to the right. Straight ahead is a sliding glass door, flanked by white curtains. Outside is a yard, the gray-stone building's wall about ten helms away.

“Do ye like?” The Small Folk walks over to the sliding door and peers out. When everyone behind him is in the room, he pulls the curtains closed.

The room's door closes, Teal behind it. She hefts her maul handle and stares at the three in front of her. “You are under arrest, on suspicion of - ”

The old orc woman snarls and turns to face Teal. Her arms and hands bulge, and she pulls a meaty fist back. A wave of mud leaps out from behind the kitchen counter and crashes against the orc, pasting her against the wall. Olivia forms up from the mud, but one arm and leg remain wrapped around the orc woman's hands and feet. The orc struggles against them, but does not escape.

The scarred man throws a dagger at the Small Folk, who holds up a hand to intercept it. The dagger vanishes into a rift and exits again from another, striking the scarred man on his arm below the shoulder. His eyes go wide and he gasps, coughing up a black substance before he falls to the floor.

Teal grunts. “Rolf, do you have antitoxin?”

The Small Folk nods and reaches behind the kitchen counter, into the large travel pack leaning there. His body balloons up to its human form, and Rolf holds up a small black vial, to which Teal nods. The shapeshifter kneels down beside the convulsing scarred man, plucks the dagger from his arm by the handle, and tosses it away. He turns the man over to dribble the vial's contents down his throat.

Teal locks her maul handle back in its holster, crosses her arms, and glares at the old human woman. “As I was saying. You are under suspicion of being a member of the Phoenix Army. Do you deny these charges?”

“I do.” The old human woman nods, hands clasped in front of her. “I am not a member of the Phoenix Army.”

The old orc woman sneers at Teal. “Mad royal dogs! Fear this much? Make up lies?”

The old human woman continues. “I was not strong enough to join the Army. I am proud of my child, who was picked for the Black.” She glances at the orc woman, who now only stares at her, blinking once. The human woman faces Teal again. “I have always been and will always be a loyal camp aide of the Phoenix Army.”

Rolf speaks up from the floor. “This doesn't look good.” He glances at Teal. “I think his breathing should have stabilized.”

Teal considers the scarred man. “Is he an agent or a local?”

Rolf nods. “Likely an agent.” He points to the orc woman. “She's the only local of these three.”

They stare at the scarred man, who begins to tremble and shake. His scar has turned violet, and white spittle foams out of his clenched teeth. His eyes open; they are black, and stare at nothing.

Olivia's arm flows out toward the scarred man, and her hand clamps down in a mask over his face. His body shakes for another moment, and then goes still. The mud woman pulls back the arm, her face stony.

Teal nods, and asks the old human woman, “Any complaints?” The old woman shakes her head and stares down at the floor. Teal sighs and asks Rolf, “Can you take the body outside? Dad will know what to do with it.” Rolf gulps, nods, and slips the body into his pack. He leaves the room in silence, and Teal turns back to the old human woman. “Please explain the Phoenix Army's true intentions in sending you here.”

The old orc woman falls to her knees. She cries out, “What you mean? A camp aide? You my friend. Survivor from Goldenburg.”

The old human woman turns to her and smiles. “That was a necessary lie, though I still think of you as my dear friend.” She turns back to Teal. “I was sent to prepare your groundling nation for the end of the Dragon line. It is too late for you to stop. Your nation now knows the Phoenix rises.”

“So they really do have aspirations of taking over.” Teal pauses, tilting her head to the side. “Why destroy a major city like Goldenburg? Doing so threatens your popular support.”

The old human woman nods. “We would have passed over that city. The Phoenix Army only raids small groundling towns, taking what we lack in the sky. But the Green Chief suggested its complete destruction, so that we camp aides might spread throughout your land with the story of escaping there.” She shudders, staring down at the floor. “I do not like the Green Chief, but Kali agreed to his plan.”

Olivia leaves the old orc woman slumped down on the floor and walks over to stand beside Teal. “You are a mother?” She places her hand on Teal's shoulder and stares at the old human woman. “I am a mother as well; I did not give birth but I raised this child. I don't want to see the nation that is like a mother to us torn apart by war. Where will the Phoenix attack next? How can we stop it?”

She shakes her head. “I am sorry, but you cannot. The Phoenix will soon destroy your nation's army at their fort. Then they will take the throne. All has been assured by God Kem.”

“That Small Folk?” Teal's eyes narrow, but then she grunts. “I must go to Foe-Hall and warn them. Maybe there is something I can do.” She backs away, and turns to Olivia. “Mom, find out everything this woman knows about their God Kem. And capture the rest of the Phoenix agents in this city. May I ask you and dad to do that?”

Olivia nods. “Of course, Teal honey. And you be careful.”

Teal walks over to the dazed orc woman and places a hand on her shoulder. “The Phoenix Army is using orphan children to fight their war. Think carefully about the side you choose.” The paladin leaves the room, closing the door behind her.
High War - Chapter 20.3
It's been almost a month, but here's the finale of chapter 20! Actually it's chapter 21 now, which is why the next chapter will be number 22. Say goodbye to Riverside! I have one more scene there, and then it's off to see Marta. There's quite a surprise in store for Teal and company, but we'll get to that. And I get to write Marta again!

This is a part of my High War project, a story set in a fantasy-ish world. I think my preview image comes from a free image site; if you know otherwise then please tell me so I can take it down, although I would be happier to use it with the permission of its creator. This will be a story for somewhat mature audiences; there will be occasional violence, language, and adult themes. Thanks for reading, and I'm always happy to discuss the chapter if you have a comment for it.


The sky is clear, the air warm. A road runs alongside a hedgerow of pink rose bushes. The Knight of roads paces along the path, muttering.

“Give her a gift.” He shakes his head and turns to walk the other way. “Invite her to watch the sunset.” He sighs, turns, and walks back. “Tell her she's … ”

The Knight stops and sighs. He peers over the hedgerow.

In a grassy meadow awash with wildflowers of every color, a pack of humanoid creatures sing and talk. Their lower half looks like a trailing skirt. Their arms are thin and flat, and they all have turquoise hair, the fringe draped over large eyes.

One of the creatures wears a pink rose, the stem woven through her hair. The Knight behind the hedgerow sighs.

“Knight of roads!” The voice comes from every blade of grass, from every leaf of the hedge, and every rose. “What are you doing now?”

The Knight winces and nods. “Resting, Voice of the world.”

“No!” The voice is stern. “Come to me! I would show you my recent achievement.”

The Knight, astride his tawny horse, rides up to the Voice of the world. The creature bobs its head in greeting. Two thick rings of gold, one larger than the other, encircle the creature's midsection. The rings are connected to each other and to the creature by a delicate lattice of thinner gold struts.

“Behold! The trees of Knowledge and Life!”

Two trees stand on the hill before them. One bears apples, a vibrant yellow-green crop. The other cherries with a blood-red shine.

“I will bring back your humans soon, and this will become the dividing line between my children and your kind. Each fruit of knowledge holds within the essence of humans, your desires and flaws, all that caused your fall. The fruit of life hold the opposite, those qualities which might have saved you, and which my children have already.”

The man frowns. “Good and evil within fruit?” He shrugs. “And what happens to someone who eats one?”

The creature nods and canters around the trees. “If one of my children wishes to become debased, they need only eat a fruit of knowledge.” The creature stops and stares at the man. “Similarly, if a human should wish to become like my children, you may eat a fruit of life.”

“Is that all? Everyone will switch back and forth whenever they feel like it.”

“There will be trials, of course. First you must cleanse yourself of sin by meditation. Second you must find the trees. And third you must bypass the guardian.”

The man looks around. “Where?”

“Here.” The voice emerges from the cherry tree. A blue snake-like creature, coiled among the branches, slides down to the ground and stares at the man. “I am the guardian of the trees. You may call me Alpha, human.” Its mouth does not move when it speaks.

The man nods. “Hello, Guardian of the trees. I am the Knight of roads, Caleb.”

The snake-like creature whips its tail through the dirt. “Do not speak as if having titles makes us equal, human. I am the first dragon, wisest and most powerful.”

“Oh?” The man smiles below his beard. “In stories, knights kill dragons.”

Alpha twists around and slithers away without comment, climbing the apple tree and disappearing among the branches.

The Voice of the world shakes out its mane and turns away from the trees, the Knight joining it to amble away. The creature nods to the man. “Be wary of him, Knight of roads. I allowed him to taste a fruit of knowledge, so that he might be a better guardian of the trees.”

The man nods, his eyes on the brown road ahead. “Voice of the world, I have a request. Or, a question perhaps. If I were to give one of your children a fruit of knowledge, would that anger you?”

They ride in silence for some time. “No. But I am planning to bring back the humans, soon. Wait and you will have your pick of them.”

The man sighs. “Okay.” He glances at the creature. “I will wait.”

Darkness covers the land, below a pale yellow moon. The night is silent, and the Knight of roads stares up at the two fruit trees. His armor is gone, with only the padded under-tunic and leggings remaining. His horse wears thick woolen socks. The man leans forward, rubs the horse under its chin, and whispers, “Silently, Woodglue.” They plod up the slight incline.

“Who dares disturb Alpha?”

The man crouches down low on the horse and brings the animal to a stop. He says nothing, waiting.

“I am Alpha, the first dragon!” The head of the snake-like creature lolls out from the cherry tree, where it is coiled through the branches. “Is it you, human knight? Taste my claws!” The snake-like creature writhes, its head tossing about in the air. “You see? No one can defeat the first dragon!”

The man lets out a breath and presses his knees against the horse's sides. They plod up the hill in near silence.

“The fruits of knowledge and life are mine to guard.” The snake-like creature continues tossing about, its eyes closed. “No one will steal them from Alpha, the first dragon.”

The man smiles. Guiding his horse below the apple tree, he plucks a hanging fruit and turns his horse away. They steal off into the night.

Sunlight, faint on the horizon, signals the new day. In the middle of an open field, a garden of flowers has been planted, the beds arranged in a circle and separated by color. Within the garden sleeps the pack of creatures with turquoise-hair.

The Knight of roads enters the circle on foot, his road following him inside. In the dawn light, the path looks almost pink. He steps with care over the sleeping creatures, his gaze searching their faces. He stops above the creature with the rose in her hair.

“Lady?” He leans down and whispers near her. “Wake up, Lady Rose.”

The creature's large eyes open, and she smiles up at him. “Hello.” Her mouth does not move when she speaks. “Good morning. You are the one who gave me rose.” She stands, her movements slow and fluid. “Thank you. You are very kind.”

The man smiles and glances down at the ground. “Thank you.” He stares at her, and reaches out to take her hand. “Lady Rose, would you be willing to become a human for me? I wish, I ... I like you, very much, and ... would you? You can turn back if it doesn't suit you.”

She shrugs. “I do not know how, but yes, I will.”

The man pulls her out of the circle. He shows her the apple in his other hand. “Eat this.”

The creature blinks her large eyes at the green fruit. “Does it taste good?”

The man smiles. “I will try it first. I am already human after all.” He takes a large bite of the apple, and smiles at the creature. “It is more delicious than anything.”

Then he frowns. His breathing comes faster, and he drops the apple. Gasping and choking, the man falls to his knees.

His face expands, his eyes going to the sides of his face. A thick mop of turquoise hair grows from his head and down his chest. Thin blades pop out from his elbows, and his arms become thin as well.

The new creature stands, and stares at the female creature. She stares back at him, her eyes wide. The former man tilts his head to the side. “Oh. Well, this is fine. Lady Rose, may I stay by your side?”

She blinks, and nods at the former man. “That is fine. I welcome you. Please do not change like that again though.”

He nods and follows her back to the garden circle, walking on the pink road.

In its forest grove, the horse-like creature stands and shakes out its wispy mane. “It is done. The last human is no more.” The creature stomps its foot and raises its head to the sky.

“Hear me, my creation! Today marks the dawn of a new human kind. Arise, my humans!”

Across the world, the ground rumbles and shivers. The dust of the earth rises up, forming into human beings. They are naked, with gentler faces and larger eyes. They stand and look about at a world of wilderness and roads.

In the forest grove, the creature watches as two humans, one male and one female, sit up and stare at each other. The man smiles, and the woman grins back.

“Hello, my name is Adam.”

“My name is Beth. It's nice to,” the woman stops and laughs. “Oh, we've met before.”

The creature watching them nods and vanishes. “Hurry and reach space, humans.”


Ian Chisholm
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Favorite Quote: “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”

I'm here to tell my stories; I love Anime and I'm aiming at a career writing animation scripts, but for now I'm a writer-in-training creating worlds and characters and telling stories with them for my amusement. I'm also searching for a visual artist to collaborate with; if you read something here that inspires you and you can make dem perdy picture things, I would be interested in enlisting you for a creative partnership with the goal of collaborating on something awesome. And I'm here to learn; I want advice on how I can improve, I gladly work with, co-author or even take on requests to sharpen my writing skills, and if you'd like a critique or some proofreading you only have to ask.

I upload something new every week, either part of an ongoing story I am writing, or something more random like a character piece or personal opinion paper. I also try to do prose critiques every week, and I write webcomic reviews semi-regularly for my Journal section and collect them in archived compilations of ten. Occasionally I look back at something I have uploaded to DA (at minimum a year old) in the hopes that I can glean something useful from it, and when I'm bored I hang out in the Philosophy forum. Of course the busier my life gets, the less of all that I do.

My 2015 avatar is me, writing down by the lake! Of course you can't see much of me, especially not the sweet hat I'm wearing, and this image is from forever ago, like high school or something, and I'm writing data findings on the water for science, some project my Grandpa gave me to help his fishing club ... but it's me!

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