Sunday, September 18, 2011

Unnatural Mechanations - Pt. 1

The warmth of the late afternoon was exactly what Lios had wanted to start his evening. The wind whispered very gently through the leaves and grass, causing the meadow to dance and shift in time to the natural rhythm. The shadows danced to a different song, causing highlights to sink comfortably amongst the blades of grass in preparation for the evening.

There was a certain poetry to it that Lios himself felt should have voice, but lacked the artistry to give the meadow justice. He sighed to himself, a little out of disappointment, but mostly out of comfort. There was a certain tranquility that felt too precious, and Lios himself feared breathing too loudly in case it were to come apart with just a breath of air.

Footsteps crept up behind him, but he saw no need to pay them any heed. They were just another part of nature's perfect machinations. The alliance of smell, soft rhythm, and quiet ambiance were impeccable, and Lios felt his eyes drift closed by a being more complete than his own.

Which made the voice sound like the crashing of a tree by comparison. "Lios!"

The armor clanked as Lios jolted from his stillness, causing the leather to tug and abraid in a most unpleasant fashion. Lios scowled at his blond sister, and adjust his armor in quick, jerky motions. The tranquility of the forest had been disrupted, as usual. "Good evening, Lea. What catastrophe has lead you to my unfortunate presence this evening?"

She smiled down at him, offering a work-hardened hand to help him up. "Are you kidding? When isn't Aunt Liza a catastrophe?"

"Oh Gods," Lios began, "please tell me she isn't visiting."

Her smile turned a shade brittle. "If it makes you feel any better, I could. Wouldn't be the truth, though."

Lios sighed, and took the young blond's hand. She hauled him up, and he immediately missed the tranquil silence of the meadow. But, if his aunt was in town, then he would be needed at the homestead for damage control. He spared a final look to the meadow, with all of its tranquility, and followed his sister into the forest.

Lios' father spared no effort in training his children in the ways of the world. Being an outdoorsman was a basic principle in his family, and he certainly encouraged his children to accomplish and learn all that they could. Given that Lios had such a fondness for quiet meadows and hidden groves, he had spent a lot of time learning the tricks, tools, and techniques of an outdoorsman. The thicket was unusually dense, as it can be coming out of spring, and Lios had to lead in order to cut a new path. I would've been less effort to use the path he had cut to get there, but it was a meandering stroll seeking new places of tranquility, and would've taken the better part of the evening to retrace. That left cutting a new, more direct path.

That said, Lios never liked to do so. Nature had its own symmetry that was as beautiful in its chaos as the beautiful serenity of his favorite meadows. That besides, the sounds of nature were far more perfect than the metallic rasp of his blade. The design was curved at the blade, forming a backwards joint at the middle of the blade. It made the weapon odd to hold or carry, but it cut quite effectively. Still, every single hack, slash, and whip of the blade made an entirely unholy amount of noise compared to his quiet meadow. He winced with every chop, but continued unabated.

Every rasp of the blade, however, did a better job of hiding the soft cracks of nature around them. Lios continued this pace for the better part of ten minutes, purely moving and displacing. His muscles were aching, his breath coming out heavy, and he signaled Lea for a break. As he did so, he heard the sounds of nature he had missed.

The sounds of the wolf behind him in particular.

"Lea, run!" Lios barked, and stood on his feet. The creature snarled, thick fur and muscle vibrating as it did, and leapt. Lios had never fought with a wolf, and certainly not in quarters as tight as this. He pirouetted gracefully to one side, snapping the blade in a horizontal slash along the creatures paws. The heavy wolf let out a graceless whine, but that much mass couldn't really be halted. It came down on a bad paw, and it came down on Lios. Likely more in reflex than anything else, he threw his arms up to cover his face.

The jaws snapped, and Lios' head slammed into the ground hard. It was enough to dizzy him, making black grope at the edges of his vision, but he didn't need eyes to feel were most of the weight was on his chest. The armor didn't break, but the lack of helmet would leave more than enough open skin for the wolf to tear into. The wolf growled as its neck jerked, yanking hard on his arm. With some luck, the wolf had yanked to the side with his joint, ripping at the skin under the armor, but not actually dislocating anything. Lios slammed the butt of his blade into the creature's nose, and leaned hard into the wounded paw.

The wolf may have been stunned, for which Lios said a quick word of thanks to the Goddess, and rolled. The wolf was heavy, and Lios gasped out a breath he didn't realized he needed. He snapped another cut across the hind legs, and bolted. Wolves, when cornered, could tear a man apart. Lios was mostly lucky he survived, and wanted to get out before the creature could regain its feet.

He cursed quietly as he tripped over branch and limb alike, sprinting through the woods. His father once told him that going at full sprint through the woods is a good way to injure oneself, and that the only thing to come of that is broken ankles. Escape seemed like a long shot to Lios in either case, so he felt validated in trying.

Lios did his best to escape the shaking growl that grew behind him. Explosive snarls punctuated the occasional growl, high and enraged with dirt and worse slamming into the ground with each stride. Lios ran harder in his panic, fearing ceaselessly for his life. His instincts warned him, hairs on his neck standing on end, and he threw himself into the tangled brush. He tumbled, disoriented, and slammed headfirst into something as solid as an old tree.

The texture on it was all wrong, though. Hard, perhaps like a blacksmith's anvil, cold and lifeless. Lios could still feel and hear the growling of a wolf. He glanced up, and a streak of lilac rage stormed past his vision, easily faster than one of his father's horses going full sprint. Even the fasts beast wouldn't have moved that fast.

The ground beneath him was dirty, but solid. Not quite the pliant feel of earth, but gray and jagged. It almost reminded him of bark, but it was too hard. Around him, men and women of ceaseless color and description bustled past him. Far more than anywhere he'd ever been, even on his father's trade runs to the capital. Loud, towering beasts of ceaseless color continued to snarl and growl past, sending flurries of completely unnatural gusts into his face.

Someone overhead clipped his arm as they strode past, and muttered something inaudible past the endless growling of the colorful beasts. He rested his hand on the metal column, and glanced up after it. Giant, grey trees stood all around him. Massive trees, by his eyes. Lios couldn't help himself, he got to his feet, and couldn't help but ask, "Where the hell am I?"

1 comment:

  1. Alright this is an interesting start to a story; you've done well in creating a couple of characters that, while not being fleshed out enough to really relate to, are still rounded enough to come off as normal, likable characters that we want to watch for to see what kind of conclusion we want. An air of mystery ended this part of it; and while I'm not usually a fan of the cliffhanger due to it normally not being well done, like in the few cases it is done well, you do enough to give us some resolved conflict before ending it.

    Of course there are always ways to improve and I have a few phrases and sentences that I personally think need to be improved.

    "I would've been less effort to use the path he had cut to get there..." this is the first one, I think you can see the incorrect "I" when it should be "It."

    "The sounds of the wolf behind him in particular." This wording feels awkward and backward for me, instead I think it would benefit the sentence to be linked with the paragraph above it with "...In particular, the sounds of the wolf behind him."

    "Lios was mostly lucky he survived, and wanted to get out before the creature could regain its feet." I feel as if the 'mostly' can be removed from this sentence; it really doesn't add much to it to begin with, and when read out loud, jars with the rest of the sentence.

    "His father once told him that going at full sprint through the woods is a good way to injure oneself..." I believe that the word 'is' should be 'was' instead due to a tense confusion I'm sensing in the current sentence.

    At the moment this is all I can come up with for mechanical critique. When it comes to the actual plot, I'd like to see the second part before I harbour judgement on this piece. I'm choosing to do that simply because the flaws that can appear plotwise in one piece, can be easily resolved by a second piece and I want to see if any flaws are intentional, though there are few enough to begin with.

    In short though, this short story looks like the beginning to something interesting, I've always liked the mechanical worlds mixed with medieval elements and I can't wait to see where this one goes.