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Legend of Elenmitis Part 6

“I think so, Elenmitis.  Humans don’t want to agree.  Perhaps, you gave them too much power,” The World said, definitely sounding concerned.

Elenmitis couldn’t take the power back.  He frowned.  “It is done. There isn’t much I can do now.”

“Hopefully, it wasn’t a mistake.”

Elenmitis settled down and watched things change.

The humans became very different from one another.  They had different governments, different laws, and belief systems.  They started to develop a way to travel to each other, their anger was different.  No longer did they feel the need to change their neighbors.

The World and Elenmitis agreed this had managed to work itself out.  But, now Elenmitis grew antsy once again.  Everything had settled into the same boring patterns.

“Why don’t you make some more realms?  They have good and evil, but nothing else.  This world is of magic as well.” The World had tired of Elenmitis fussing.

Elenmitis made a realm of fire called Ixcoz.  He made a creature of flame and temper to live there.  Next came Honin the realm of Earth, creatures of life and steadiness for that one.  Water was called Dael with beings that were fluid and mutable.  And last he made Vayu a land of air.  The beings there were flighty and light.  Again, he observed.

The humans summoned those creatures. And used them the same they did the angels and their demons.  However, the elemental creatures were a bit more powerful, for they had been made by Elenmitis, and not a mortal mind.  Something strange happened, more powerful beings in these realms rose up to rule over the rest.

They became minor gods to the glory that was Elenmitis.  At first, he was a bit annoyed about it.  He wanted their worship for himself.

The World laughed at him.  “You wanted things to be interesting, but you fuss when they change.”

He admitted The World was right, and let them be.  And, because he hadn’t changed anything else, something completely unexpected happened.

The angels, demons, and elementals began to breed with human kind.  They made more powerful humans, who the humans called planeborn.  Every society had different opinions on them, and he found them fascinating.  Some were more like their plane parent, others were more human.  And they bred among each other, making a dizzying array of ancestry.

Elenmitis considered using his power to make sure the planeborn were accepted into society.  However, The World stopped him.  “Have you not noticed a trend, Elenmitis?”

“A trend, what trend?” Truly baffled he didn’t know what the World was referring to.

“Whenever you don’t allow things to take their normal course, you grow bored.  It is only when you don’t try to fix things that everything stays interesting.  You are getting too involved in their day to day affairs.”

Author’s Note: This was supposed to go last week, but some kind of user error occurred.  Sorry about that. 

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Flash Fiction: Twisted Love

This week’s challenge is pretty open ended.  Twisted love, probably in honor of V-day.  This story actually relates to the back story of a novel I’m currently working on.  Its how the parents of one of main character’s meet.  I had a lot of fun working on it.

Beautiful Mistake

 

“I wonder where I can find something to eat,” a handsome man with white skin and flaming mane muttered.  He leaned up against a pine tree rubbing his belly.  He braced his arms back to push off the tree, when he froze.

 

A young woman with dark hair and eyes walked down a dirt pathway going down the hillside.  Her robe was undyed linen and her only adornment was a carved, open book on a plain string around her slender neck.  She grasped a book in her hand, as she sang softly to herself.

 

“A Priest of the Unbidden,” he said.  He shifted in his chainmail and stepped forward.  “Excuse me. Do you know where there is somewhere to eat?”  His voice was smooth, and seductive.

 

The woman stopped and stared.  A blush came to her cheeks.  “Yes,” She said, averting her eyes.

 

The man winced.  He hadn’t meant to use his powers, but he hadn’t learned how to turn them off.  “Where do I need to go?”

 

The woman tipped her head. “Down by the Heart of Thought,” She looked away chewing on her lip.

 

The man mulled this over. He knew that meant the place where Priests of the Unbidden lived, but he didn’t have any interest in the bland food they ate.  “Is there a tavern or café there?”

 

“Yes, nearby in the village,” She said her face turning more crimson by the second.

 

He knew it was because his power was going more and more each second they spoke.  “I’m Voracan, by the way, what is your name?” He asked, hoping it might help offset his powers.

 

She bowed with a stiff movement.  “I’m Lillian High Priest of the Unbidden.”  A bit of the blush faded from her cheeks.

 

“Could you show me to the tavern, then?” Voracan thought he might be able to find it, but there seemed to be an awful lot of winding pathways here.

 

Lillian nodded, and started down the path.  For the first few moments the only sound was soft cooing of a bird.  “Why did your parents give you a name in demonic?”

 

His face scrunched up.  He knew he should have come up with a name that didn’t reveal what he was.  “I’m a demon.”

 

She whipped around to stare at him, all color draining from her face.  “Are you serious?”  Her hand went to clasp around the book symbol.  “Stay back.”

 

He shook his head.  “I was thrown out of Silt.  I’m no threat to you.”

 

“Do not lie to me, demon.”  Lillian’s voice turned hard.  Her eyes blazed with passion.  “We of the Unbidden have no power other than our knowledge.  I know all about the lies, and tricks demons play to gain humans to torment.”

 

Voracan was fascinated by the change.  When she wasn’t being cowed by his presence she was a strong woman.  “You are right. I have power to harm you. “He gave her his best disarming smile. “It would be more accurate to say I would not.  I was thrown up for sparing a human, not for harming one.”

 

“How do I know you were tossed out?” Her nostrils flared as her face tensed.  “Anyone could call themselves forsaken, it means nothing.”

 

He acknowledged that was true.  Then, he let go of his appearance that made him look human.  His skin turned deep ash gray, large horns curled from the side of his head, eyes the color of rubies and hair of living flame flowed down his back.   He knew in his form his features grew finer and whatever was more attractive to the viewer.  “I wouldn’t bother with words.”

 

“Seducer,” She swallowed hard.  “Why are you bothering with words?”

 

“I don’t like what I am. I never have. I want to live a normal, human, life.”  That’s all he really wanted.

 

The woman eyes narrowed and her grip tightened on the symbol of the Unbidden.  “And, how do I know that this isn’t some scheme to lower my guard so you can seduce me?  I’d be a prize wouldn’t I? The High Priest of the Unbidden.”

 

Voracan figured it was true.  High Priest was an eternal virgin untouched, and always raised with in the order.  “Why are they letting you wander around on your own?”

 

She huffed.  “I’m hardly wandering around on my own.  This is a short walk from the Heart.  You are the interloper here.”

 

Voracan couldn’t help it, he grinned.  She was adorably irritated. “Why are you walking by yourself, then?”

 

“As if it is any of your business, silt spawn,” she said.  A bit of the acid had faded from her voice and her features softened.

 

“I suppose it isn’t.”  Voracan was definitely surprised by the fire in her nature.  Who’d think for a scholarly little virgin would be so bold.  “But, it does seem your people would travel with you.”

 

“It is a short walk to the village. It is my duty and privilege to talk to the villagers and train them in words and numbers.”  She took a step back up the path watching him.  “And, to spread the word of knowledge.”

 

He ran his gray hand through his hair and changed his appearance back to the handsome man with flame colored hair.  “Well, if you’ll tell me the direction to the village I’ll head there now, and leave you to your preaching.”

 

She went still, and then her eyes went huge.  “I can’t let you in the village alone.  Those people are mine to protect.”

 

“Either I eat food or feed in more traditional way for my species.”  Voracan preferred to avoid that.  After youth of feeding at the order of the older demons, he didn’t want to indulge in anything carnal.

Lillian’s fingers went white, she chewed on her lip.  “Walk in front, I’ll keep my eyes on you.”

 

As he shifted to in front of her he took the path.  He could hear her talking in a softest of whispers.   The thick trees opened up to reveal a small village.  The houses were freshly painted and the roads paved with gravel.

 

A warm hand rested on his arm.  “The tavern is the first building on the right.”

 

He flicked around to look at his companion.  The tavern didn’t really stand out it look much like the other buildings.  The only difference was a sign of a bed and tankard on it.  “It’s more of an inn?”  He asked keeping his voice low.  Since, his powers weren’t under his control he figured he shouldn’t push his luck.

 

Lillian ignored the question as they stepped inside.  The walls were a bright blue, the tables and furniture white.   There is even lace curtains, Voracan thought with a shake of his head.  “Can you order for me, I’ll give you money? I don’t dare talk more than I need to.”

 

Those dark eyes seemed to pierce his mind.  “Why?”  There was an edge to her voice that he found compelling instead of terrifying.

 

“I can’t control my powers yet.  When I’m hungry I tend to…” He paused wondering if there might be a better way to phrase it.  Then, he gave up, “seduce them.”

 

Lillian didn’t look as if she believed him.  She let out a long, drawn out breath and held out her hand.  Voracan hurried to put a gold weight in it.  She lifted a brow at the amount.  When he didn’t respond she headed to the counter.

 

He picked a chair in the far corner away from all the windows, and the door.  He settled in so his back was to the wall and he could see everything.  Lillian sat a mug before him and glass before the seat beside him.

 

A sniff told him his was some kind of ale, and hers was water.  “You don’t drink?”

 

“Of course not,” She said.  “The only vice is the power of the word, the truth of knowledge. I indulge in no other.”

 

He’d forgotten.  She didn’t fit the picture he had in his mind for a Priest of the Unbidden.   He sipped at his ale, and gave her a grin.  “You are missing out, this is fine ale.”

 

Lillian ignored him and set her book on the table and began to read.   Her fingers were long, fine and had callous exactly where one would from holding a pen for long periods of time.  She kept the tip of her index finger under each word as she read.

 

A thunk caused Voracan to jerk his head up.   A metal plate landed next to his ale, it had a thick stew with a biscuit next on a napkin to the side.  He waited until the server walked off, before turning to Lillian.  “Aren’t you going to eat?”

 

She lifted her head looking puzzled. “It is forbidden to eat anything outside The Heart.  It is to flavorful, and carries with the risk of temptation.”

 

Voracan felt himself smile again.  “You are going to sit there and read while I eat?  Why don’t you go deal with your students?”

 

“I won’t leave you alone, who knows what you’ll do.”  She didn’t even look at him as she continued to read.

 

“Come on, eat a biscuit.  How flavorful can a biscuit really be?”  He held out the flaky thing toward her, the napkin still folded beneath it.

 

She lifted her head.  “Eat your meal, and leave me be.”

 

“No, I don’t think so.  I can’t enjoy my meal with you sitting there not having anything to eat.”   He waved the biscuit out in front of her.  “It wouldn’t be right.”

 

Lillian shut the book and grabbed the biscuit settling in front of her.  “No one talks to me this way, Forsaken.”

 

“I’m not a villager, and I’m certainly not a member of the Unbidden.  I never tried denying myself anything.”  Voracan enjoyed good food, good drink, and good clothes.  He’d never give them up voluntarily.

 

She sniffed.  “You should try it.”

 

“I’d never work.  I’m a demon. It is a part of my nature.  It the same reason I was banished from Silt.  I couldn’t be different than what I was.”  He shrugged.  “That’s life, you can only change so much.”

 

Lillian picked at the biscuit.  She started to break it up in tiny pieces.  “You are awfully philosophical for demon.”

 

He let out a bark of laughter.  “You know a lot of demons, do you?”

 

For the first time, she smiled.  It made her regular face into something of great beauty.  Her eyes sparkled and her face came alive.  “I suppose you are right.”  She nibbled on a bit of biscuit absently.  Then, her eyes widened.  “Gorinth’s Balls, I shouldn’t have done that.”

 

“Gorinth’s Balls?” Voracan felt his chest rumble.  “What language for a Priest.”

 

Her cheeks blushed deep red.  “Sometimes, I work in the stables.  The stable master isn’t a part of the Unbidden.”

 

“How was your biscuit?” Voracan asked before digging into the stew.  It wasn’t the finest thing he ever ate, but it was good.

 

She toyed with it bit longer before taking another bite.  “Wonderful and you eat the rest. I can’t take the risk of eating more.” She pushed it back over to him.

 

He swallowed.  “If you are the High Priest you have never got the opportunity to rebel.  I think eating a biscuit is safe enough.”

 

“One vice leads to another.  Each vice is a weight on the scale of balance.”  Lillian spoke each word with a sharp dictation.

 

“Quoting the tenants of the Unbidden,” He shook his head.  “You are interesting to talk to Lillian of the Unbidden.”

 

She tipped her head.  “How would I be interesting? All I do is read books.”

 

“You don’t act like it.  You are fiery, and quick with your wits.”  He watched the blush creep up her neck. “Then, you throw in the random odd saying of the Unbidden.”  After taking the last bite of stew he shoved it away. “I’m going to explore the village.”  He jumped up and rushed out the door.

 

He could hear Lillian scrambling behind him as he made it out the door.   For some reason, he didn’t want to leave her yet.  She was a mystery and he hadn’t met many of those in his life.  All around the paved square up a head there were merchants.  One was selling cups, tankards, and mugs.  He’d needed a metal travel cup for the road.   He took off toward him.

 

As he got closer the merchant had a huge selection of items.   The man smiled at Voracan.  “Greetings, good sir.  What can I help with on this fine day?”

 

“I need a set for travel.”  He motioned at the small travel bag attached to his side.  “A small set, I like to travel light.”

 

The man shook himself off.  Though, his eyes didn’t want to leave Voracan’s body.  He knew his powers were affecting him.  “I’ll gather up a simple set for you, sir.”  The man turned missing around in the back of his cart.

 

Lillian moved beside him a frown on her face. “Can’t you control yourself?”

 

He felt his cheeks heat up.   “I haven’t been out of my home very long, less than a month.”

 

Lillian’s brows disappeared into her hairline as her eyes widened.  “That’s not long at all.”  She pulled at a strand of hair.

 

Her eyes rested on a bright yellow mug, the color nearly glowed.   Her fingers ran down the side of it.  “That’s a happy color.”

 

Voracan stepped toward it.  “Do you like it?”

 

“I said it was a happy color.”  Lillian said her word’s sharp.  Voracan suspected she didn’t want to admit more than that.

 

The man returned with a small sack.  “Here you go, sir.  A plate, a mug, and cutlery.  Anything else you need?”  The man’s voice had grown husky.

Voracan made the effort to try to tone down his seductive power before speaking.  “May I also have that yellow mug over there?”

 

The man shook himself off, looking a bit more natural.  “Sure, sir,” he grabbed the mug wrapping it up with paper.  He placed in a paper sack.  “That will be half a weight.”

 

Voracan thought it seemed steep, but this area was very out of the way, and he had no trouble getting money.   Before he could hand it over, Lillian stepped in front of him, giving it to the man.  “Your change from your meal, Voracan.” She said before stepping away.

 

Voracan took his two sacks moved with her.  “The rest of my change?”  He grinned, thinking that she was keeping his money.

 

She held out her hand with the rest of the money.  “Take it.”

 

His fingers ran down her palm as picked up the coins.  He lingered touching her longer than necessary.

 

Her hand snapped back.  “Are you quite done?”

 

“Sorry, your skin is quite soft.”  He pulled up the sack and handed it over to her.  “Here, I bought the mug for you.”

 

Lillian glared at the bag. “It is forbidden to have such things.”

 

“Keep in your room, no one will know it’s there.”  He winked at her.  “I’ll keep your secret.”

 

She stiffened her hand still not taking the sack.  “Why would I keep it?”

 

“To remind you have the handsome, philosophical demon you met who trailed about town one morning.”  Voracan wasn’t sure if she’d want to remember.  He did.

 

Her lips twitched and she took the sack.  “You are interesting, Voracan.  I still do not trust you.  This could be a game, demons are fond of them.”

 

“That’s true, we are.”  He knew he should go, but he couldn’t make himself.  “I’ll earn your trust.”

 

“Earn my trust?” Her voice went a pitch higher as she clutched at the sack.  “What does that mean?”

 

“I think I shall stay around town a bit.  Perhaps, I’ll take you up on your advice and join the Unbidden.  It might be good for me to learn the wisdom of the ages.”  He had to grin at that. “At least use the library at any rate.  I could learn more about the Northern Kingdoms, perhaps pick a name that’s more common.”

 

“Right,” She spun around.  “I’ll keep tabs on you. If I have to I’ll call my friend, who is a priest of Gorinth to banish you.”

 

He watched her rush off.  “Don’t worry, I’ll behave, Lillian.”  He whispered as his heart clenched.

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Review: Dead Weight: The Tombs

Dead Weight: The Tombs by M. Todd Gallowglas

Before I really dig in, let me say I really loved this novel.   It does things that most of the time would have made me put it down.   Yet, I didn’t care.  Gallowglas pulled off doing things that shouldn’t have worked.  Which is freakin’ cool. 

A protagonist I didn’t like, yet I cared about, hoped he’d succeed.   The story started off in a very weird way, (which to avoid spoilers, I won’t go into), and wasn’t part of the meat of the plot, but it worked beautifully. There were a lot of references thrown in, but none of it is overdone. And, frankly, I loved the concept of the arts being a way to look into another world. The tale is very dark, gritty, depressing, yet still manages to have a thread of hope running through it.   It truly feels like a mirror into another reality.

The novel manages to bring some very interesting concepts without beating you over the head with them.  What defines goodness, is one that I felt came up a lot.   Is it a person’s actions?  Is it what a person does? Is it their intentions?  Perhaps, it is a combination of all these things.  I don’t know.  The book doesn’t know either, but that’s what makes it interesting.

As I read another question occurred to me.  What does society lose when cultures change, are absorbed, and destroyed?  Is there really a loss? Should such things be preserved in some way?  I’m not sure the author intended me to think of that.  However, this book made lots of odd questions like that show up to plague me, in only the very best way.

An excellent start to what I hope will be a continuing book series.

 

 

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Legend of Elenmitis Part 5

Elenmitis actually thought The World was making sense.  “I won’t give too much away, a touch to every person.”

He flew over the world, giving an equal amount to each human.  Even as he did so he realized some had better access to the power.  And others, even simply could absorb and use more.   Excitement built up in him.  He then told his priests to spread the world that everyone now had power.  And he stood back and waited to see what happened.

At first they were thrilled that they could do magic.  It started simple.  They used it to light fires, attack each other, hunt, and make shelters.  Slowly, they grew more sophisticated, they healed each other, and they made protective spells.  Eventually, they began to disagree with how magic should be used.  And then something happened Elenmitis would have never predicted.

They made a realm of Evil and Chaos, and a realm of Good and Peace.  They called the realm of Good was Vita.  And the realm of Evil was Silt.  And, the humans had made it with their own god touched power.   As the years moved forward, each realm was inhabited by creatures of the human’s creations.  Creatures who were the embodiment of human beauty, power, and grace.  Elenmitis was thrilled.

As the world was one continent the people began to war more heavily.  They would summon and be used by these creatures they made.  The wars grew bloodier, and darker.  And Elenmitis realized if he left well enough alone, they would kill themselves off.  In response, he spilt the world into four parts.

Northern parts he put the people who believed in freedom and independence.  This was a cold place with mountains and rolling hills.  In the Southern kingdoms, people who give anything to the family, and power.  A dry land filled with rich rivers, and harsh winds that blew sand everlasting.  In the Eastern kingdom, he put people who believed in the importance of nature, and living one with the world.  Lush forests, deep jungles had dangerous creatures living beside them.  And the last kingdom for those who believed in keeping their word over any other concern.  This land had a variety of landscapes, cold and hot in turns.

He waited to see the results.  The fighting continued, but to a lesser degree.  A bit of relief swept through him, he hadn’t wanted his marvelous creation to ruin itself.  “Do you think that was well done, World?”

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Review: Angel’s Blood

Angel’s Blood by Nalini Singh

I’ve been trying to read books that normally I’d never touch. As I’m attempting to become a writer, I figure I need to stretch my usual reading.  One of the biggest growing genres is Paranormal Romance.  And, being the least romantic person I know I was like OMG icky.  Romance has never been a huge draw for me.  Not even when I was a teenager.  However….

This is a damn good book. The story is at its heart an emotional journey. Ellie is a deep character, haunted, strong, brave, and vulnerable. Her personality is completely compelling with her strange and interesting descriptions of the most mundane everyday things. I’m pretty sure I could read a hundred books about her.

The book is set in a unique universe where Angels exist, and like kings, or gods. They aren’t sweet, or kind. And, they make vampires who are forced to serve them for a hundred years for the privilege. And, Ellie is a hunter born – a type of human with the ability to track, and scent vampires. She works for the Guild who brings back vampires who dare to break their contracts.

At the beginning of the book she’s considered one of the best. And, she’s hired by an Archangel called Raphael to hunter an angel. She doesn’t understand, because she can’t hunt them. And this mystery plunges her into not only Raphael’s deadly, attractive company, but the danger of lies, secrets, and misdirection.

One great triumphs of the book are Singh makes the angels, barely human, alien in a very real way. Yet, a thin veneer of forgotten humanity clings to them enough. A very fine line was walked. It adds an edge to the story that keeps each word as interesting as the last.

The poses a very quiet, and perhaps I’m imagining it, question.  What truly makes a person strong? Is it physical abilities? Is it age and wisdom?  It is willpower? Is it intelligence?  Does one have great strength at the cost of a deep held weakness?  This book remains me of a quote from Dollhouse (shameless fangirl) paraphrased ‘You see someone running incredibly fast – The first thing you gotta ask is ‘Are they running to something or are they running from something?’ The answer is always both.’  By Topher if anyone is going to check my craziness.

The two main characters Ellie and Raphael are both running in their own way.  And they mirror each other.  This is probably what draws me into the book more than anything else.   So, hat’s off to Nalini Singh for getting me to read an entire Paranormal Romance.

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Legend of Elenmitis Part 4

“World, what do you think I should do now?” He asked his only companion.

“Aren’t you the god?  I have only a little power.”  The World responded, sounding a bit short.

Elenmitis nodded. “Yes, but you seem to know things.  The other worlds had things.  What were they called?”

“Animals?  You have a few, but they are pretty simple ones.  Maybe you should make more interesting animals, bigger ones, smarter ones, more unique ones?” The World suggested with a great deal of censure to its voice.

Elenmitis set about to take The World’s advice.  The whole time he would ask the world questions about each animal and what would complement it.  The World warmed up to the Elenmitis, and they shared a long time creating everything there was.

The better animals acted in exciting ways.  They interacted in unexpected ways, and even changed over time.  Elenmitis would make small changes here and there as time rolled by.  Eventually, the pleasure dimmed, and Elenmitis was dissatisfied.

The World noticed and spoke up.  “Aren’t there something called humans?  They are much smarter than other animals.”

Elenmitis thought back to his travelling day.  He did remember something like that.  They worshipped gods like him, they invented things, and they made art, and generally got into all sorts of trouble.  Yes, that might just be the thing to end his boredom.

He made them much like the one’s he’d seen.  Two eyes, four limbs, hands for five fingers, hair on their heads, and clever brains in their head.  He saw in other worlds the gods made all the humans look similar. That seemed awfully uninteresting to Elenmitis.  He gave them a variety of shades, shapes, and sizes.

They did amazing things.  The humans built homes, hunted the animals, made more humans, and debated the meaning about life.   Sometimes, they’d make works of art, and sometimes they’d war with one another.  As time rolled by he would modify their behavior a bit here and there.  And, slowly he grew bored with their somewhat predictable patterns.

“Well, once again I find myself bored.  I don’t understand how my creations can’t ever stay interesting.”  Elenmitis announced to The World.

The World let out a sigh that caused the winds to blow over everything.  “If you didn’t meddle so much, maybe you wouldn’t grow bored.”

“I wanted to make my own world, so I could meddle.”  Elenmitis pointed out.  “I found it extremely frustrating that I’d go to other worlds and they wouldn’t allow me to try out things.”

The World went silent for a bit.  “I think if you meddle less you’d be happier.  I say give them some of your power.”

“My power?” Elenmitis squawked. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”

“If they all had a touch of a god, they’d surely do more interesting things.” the World pointed out.

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Flash Fiction: Bearskin Space Opera

This week’s flash fiction is to take a fairy tale and smash it up with another genre.  I went with Bearskin because it’s my favorite Grimm fairy tale of all time.  I rolled Space Opera. 

Time Isn’t a Straight Road

I stood outside the sealing chamber the scientist doing their last checks over the ring.  The one foot wide device had to be attuned to me before they broke it apart, freeing me from this reality to travel to another.

One stood apart, Melly, she watched me with downcast eyes.

“Melly, don’t worry, I’ll be back in a week, you’ll never miss me.”  I gave her a lopsided grin.  She was my heart. I couldn’t stand to see her sad.

Her lip quivered.  “Axer, don’t go.  Someone else can go.”  She jerked her eyes away.   “There is no guarantee you’ll come back.”

I took her hand and tipped her head back.   “I have to know.  A whole place, a whole existence, no human has ever seen, but I.   I can’t give it up.  Maybe, it makes me an egomaniac, but I can’t turn it down.”

The lead scientist tapped me on the shoulder.  “It’s time, if you’ll step into the chamber.”

I nodded and pulled Melly into my embrace giving her a deep kiss.  She let a cry and stepped inside the narrow cylinder chamber.  The science tugged the ring out of my hand.  It broke into two half circles and the door slammed down.

Light spiked up as I lost my vision.  Every cell in my body seemed to shake.  The stinging pain throbbed as my teeth rattled.  My eyes burned and I screamed.

My eyes fluttered open and I sat up.  The ring was still clenched in my hand.  The landscape was dark gray filled ebony spikes.  A crackling noise startled me to looking up at the deep blue sky cut by a green lightening.

Large, jellyfishes came into view floating in the air.  Their bodies glowed with random flashes of color.  As they drew closer I noticed a ring of spikes surrounded their heads.  Around them were semitransparent brightly colored fish that occasionally were getting caught in the jellyfish’s tentacles.

I rolled behind a spike to avoid the creatures.  As a jellyfish passed, three of the fishes floated toward me, one was vermilion, one was lime, and one was indigo.

My hand went to the baton at my side.  They were concerned that the gun may not be operated on the other side.  The three fish moved closer.  I lifted my weapon above my head warning them off.

Then an image appeared before me.  It was a man in an archaic dress from centuries ago with glowing eyes.  “Greetings, being, did you gate here?” The mouth didn’t move, but I heard an echo of three voices.

“No, we used a frequency to send me here.  What are you?”  Too shocked to really react I felt every muscle my body filled with tension.

“We are People of Many Skies.  We have travelled from one world to the next.  But, in our zeal to know we doomed.”  The image waved his hand outward.  “We allowed the Zoockie to come here.  They are mindless beasts.  They consume and consume.  They have eaten our world.”

I felt torn.  All this was so strange.  A part of me realized I had to embrace it to survive.  “If you can travel worlds why haven’t you defeated them?”

“We live in the mind, we have no physical minds.  The Zoockie have no minds.  They are only bodies.  Why are you here? What is your purpose?”

I debated how much to say.  They were creatures I’d never imagined.  What I revealed about myself was likely no threat to the human race.  And, I came to learn.  “To explore, to learn about new places.”

The figure shifted again moving closer to me.  The fish people moved closer as well.  “Can you return to your world?”

“I’m not sure.” A risk I’d more than willing to take.

“If you assist us, fellow being, we will help you return.  We will give you the metal that allows making sustainable gates.  You must stay until all the Zoockiee have been vanquished.  You are a physical creature, you can kill them.”

There wasn’t much choice.  I didn’t know if these creatures would attack me.  Nor, did I know if the retrieval would actually work.  I’d take the risk if they return trip worked correctly, it would automatically.  If it didn’t they owe me a favor.  “I’ll help you.”

I learned quickly that a swift baton to the body killed the Zoockie. They were frail creatures. However, I was one man against an invasion.  It was hard work.  The first year passed, and I wasn’t automatically recalled.

I continued to toil.  The years rolled by and I missed Melly.  By now, she’d think I was dead.  If their theory held I’d be a gone a week for every year I was here.  I wondered if I’d ever get back.  The fish people might say they’d help me, but who knows if they would.

Over time a spongy green moss plant started to grow back on the ground.  The spikes started to sprout leaves as I killed the Zoockie.  I devised ways for them to use their minds to smash the Zoockie into the spike trees.  Sparkling creatures started to appear, as brightly colored as the fish people.

One I day I rested under one of the strange spike trees.  The projected image returned.  “Fellow being, our invasion has been repelled.”

“Yeah, things are looking pretty good around here.”  As alien as the landscape was, I had grown a fondness for it.

“Your time to return home is now.”

Before I could get too excited a sharp pain pierced my skull.  A formula flashed in my mind. “This is the metal that allows for gates.  Return.”

The sensation hit me.  It was familiar to me.  The same one from when I was sent here.  The stinging pain cascaded through my body, I blacked out.  When I woke I was standing in the chamber, but my form was fuzzy.  I detached my half the ring from my back.  The door slide open.

Melly stood there.  Her eyes had bags under them, she looked pale.  “Axer, your half.”

I held up my ring.  A snick as they connected.  Again a jarring pain hit my body.  The fuzziness faded.  “Finally, I’m back in time.”

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