Chapter 3

Chapter 3

A Chapter by Taylor0401

The cloud cover around the tower had grown noticeably darker since the morning.  Probably just the sun going down.  It’s about that time, right?  We stopped running when we reached the line of destruction.  I hadn’t really noticed earlier the extent of the damage.  There were trees thrown everywhere, boulders had rolled over groups of saplings, and more than a few pieces of ancient shrapnel littered the landscape.

Lyv looked shocked.  For a split second I wondered if she had doubted me until she saw it for herself, but I dismissed the notion as a subconscious echo of the Musicas’ distrust.  Her mouth hung slightly open as she took in the devastation, and felt the depth of what had happened here.

Tort stopped only briefly to take a quick look, grunted, then started off for the crater at a crisp pace.  The man never ceased to amaze me.  As unshakable as the immortal monolith standing before us, he was.  I jogged to catch up, and nobody was more shocked than I when we peered over the edge.

The Giant hadn’t moved.  Maybe if he had he could have stopped whatever killed him.  His head was severed, none to cleanly, from his body, and it looked as if something had ripped a hole in his chest.  The entire crater floor was a shallow pool of dark red blood.  I felt my stomach lurch, and turned away so as not to embarrass myself in front of Lyv.  I didn’t need to bother apparently, because I heard her vomiting into a bush nearby.  I saw Tort’s eyes narrow as he searched the gruesome scene below for details.

I felt like I should say something; that I should be doing something.  But... what?  What could have done this?  Even a bear or a pack of wolves couldn’t do anything like this.  I had a sick feeling that I knew exactly what had done this, but I was too scared of being right to voice it out loud.  So I settled for walking around the crater to give myself time to think.

Not a lot about the carnage below changed as I walked.  Nothing I did now could change it.  If he had just gotten here sooner... I sighed.  I knew that we couldn’t have done anything differently, but a part of me blamed the other Musicas for their foolish dithering.  We should have never even tried talking to those self-absorbed, pompous--

“David?”

I tensed so quickly that my leg cramped up, “Lyv!  Are you trying to scare me to death?”

She smiled, only a shadow of the delighted grin I was used to, “Just keeping you on your toes.  Are you okay?  You look so... angry.”

“Yeah, I’m fine, it’s just... We could have saved him, you know?  If we’d been here.  I know we could’ve.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean.  If only we hadn’t been held up back at the Academy.”  Her pretty face scrunched up into a less pretty frown.  “At least we know who we can rely on next time.  So we don’t have to bother with useless people.”

“I-”

“I hate ta barge into a private conversation, but you’re both wrong.”  We both turned to look at Tort.  “First, wishin’ ya could change the past is as useless as hopin’ someone else will change your future.  No, we didn’t get here in time, and yes, it was probably because of the nonsense at the Academy.  There’s no use sittin’ around and whinin’ about it now.  Second, I think we were very lucky that we didn’t get back in time.  I’ve a feelin’ we wouldn’t have fared much better than our friend down there.”

“That’s crazy!” Lyv looked offended.

“You know what did it?”

“I believe I do,” he looked right into my eyes, “And I think you do too.”

An icicle of fear dripped straight down my spine.  Yes, I knew what did it.  What else could it have been?  “There are more of them?”

“Et would seem so, wouldn’t et?  Until ya came to me today, I had only heard o’ them in stories.  Never heard o’ more than one, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t.”  He paused, looking at the massive corpse.  “A mighty unsettling thought.”

“What are they?  I’ve never seen anything like them.”

“Pray that you don’t again, lad.  They’re the stuff of nightmares, they are.  They don’t have a name as far as I know.  Not a real one anyway.  What ya saw this mornin’ was an abomination.  A creature created for the sole purpose of mindless slaughter.”

The color had drained from Lyv’s face as he spoke.  I can’t imagine that mine fared much better.  Anything that could garner such a description from someone as stalwart as Tort deserved our fear.  “Y- you said they don’t have a real name.  People must call them something though.  Right?”

“People don’t call them anythin’ because they don’t know about them. Until this mornin’, nobody had seen one in hundreds of years.”

“Then where did you hear about them, Musica?”

“When I was an Apprentice, I spent most o’ my time in the Academy’s library.  As ya both know, there are more books in there than a village could read in a lifetime.  Readin’ about tactics, and past battles was a guilty pleasure o’ mine back then, ya see.  One night, I found an old book that talked about an evil Sonomancer who fought us for control.  This wasn’t out o’ the ordinary really, there are many accounts o’ some upstart with visions o’ glory who thinks ‘e can take rule from the Auditorium.  This one though, this Rathgar, unleashed a monster like the one ya described ta me, on our force who tried ta stop him.  Blades did almost nothing to it, and et ignored sound waves like you or I would ignore a breeze.  The report said the creature was destroyed, but at the cost of nearly every warrior we sent.”

I could hardly believe what I was hearing.  “Why isn’t this common knowledge?  Hearing how we defeated this... what’s his name?  Rathgar?  Wouldn’t that help in the case of future uprisings?”

Tort sighed, “Yes and no.  Learning battle strategies from past events can be helpful indeed.  However, I did not say that we stopped Rathgar.  He escaped durin’ the chaos o’ the fight, and I found no further records of him.  The only purpose that passin’ on this knowledge would serve is to frighten people with the fact that their protectors are not invincible.  Nobody in living memory has seen war, David.  As far as the common folk are concerned, nothin’ attacks the Sonomancers because nothin’ can.  The truth is though, we have been lucky.  There has been no war simply because nobody has started one.  Telling the people we have a weakness would help no one.  They need to know they’re safe, and we give them that.”

We stood in silence for a while.  I could see Lyv’s thoughts flying as she stared up at the dark clouds.  Her brow furrowed just before she spoke, “That all makes sense, but... What about the Giant?  And the tower.  It can’t be a coincidence that this happened here.”

Tort didn’t say anything for several moments.  I was especially eager to hear what he had to say.  There were so many mysteries here, and Tort could surely clear them up for us.

“I don’t know, Lyv,” he looked up, “I never read anythin’ about Giants in the Library.  Nothin’ memorable anyway.  As far as I knew, they were extinct long before we got here.  And this thing,” he gestured to the colossal spire in front of us, “I’ve never found the slightest writ that wasn’t speculation.  I don’t know any more about et than you.”

Well, that’s a first.  I had always thought Tort knew at least something about everything.  Apparently today was a day for revelations.  

“We should bury him,” I felt awful for not being able to save the poor Giant.  “It’s all we can do now.”

“Aye, you’re right, boy.  But first, we have ta go down there.”

The thought make my stomach churn.  “What?!”

“Might be that we can learn something from what we find, and right now we need all the knowledge we can get.”

Lyv had her hands on her knees, staring at the ground, “You two go right ahead.  I’ll be here when you get back.”

Taking a deep breath to steel myself for what was coming, I stepped carefully into the crater.  We stopped at the edge of the blood pool, and I started looking around for anything that might be useful.  The scent of copper was thick in the air, to the point where it was hard to breath without gagging.

“Breathe through your mouth, lad.  That’s the only way et’s bearable.”

I coughed a few times and nodded.  He was right, but it wasn’t a whole lot better.  From down here, the Giant looked much as he had when I spoke to him.  Except that his head had been attached and talking then.  A part of me mourned the life that had been lost today.  He had seemed like a kind soul, not one who deserved such a ghastly fate.  I had to push that thought to the back of my mind.  Dwelling on it wasn’t going to help anyone.

Tort’s voice called to me from the Giant’s other side; the side I had clambered down from earlier.  “David!  Come an’ ‘ave a look at this!”

I ran around the body, and found Tort intently inspecting the ground.  There were footprints.  Big ones.

“Ugh.  Yeah.  That looks about right.”  Why did we have to be right?

Tort grunted unhappily, and walked off to look at some more.  It looked like a pair of the creatures had come down here just to finish what the first had started.  What about this Giant made these things want it dead so badly?

I climbed part way back up the hill and looked back at the corpse.  From here it was easier to see what had happened.  They had carved open his chest, but there wasn’t anything inside.  They... ate it?  They ate his heart?!  That was the last I could handle.  Next thing I knew, I was sicking up into the dirt.  

“Ah, I was hopin’ ya wouldn’t notice that part,”  Tort called, sounding remorseful.  “Et would seem they’re every bit as brutal as the report said.”

My stomach empty, I climbed back to the top.  Lyv looked concerned, “Are you okay?”

“Not yet.  What happened down there was evil.  Nobody should have to see anything like that.  As soon as Tort gets back, I’m burying it.”

“Everything has to eat something, David.  We eat animals, and nobody gives it a second thought.  Preying on your food doesn’t make you evil.”

I stared at her in disbelief, “They hacked his head off, Lyv!  Maybe you’re right about feeding, but... you didn’t see it this morning.  This thing wasn’t just a predator looking for food.  It was a demon with a vendetta.  Trust me when I say it was fueled by hatred and not hunger.  You can’t imagine-”

“Okay.  Okay, I get it.  You’re right, it’s evil.  I’m sorry.”  She put her arm around my shoulders.  It didn’t do much to calm my nerves, but I couldn’t deny that it felt very nice having her so close.  I turned and hugged her tight.  We held each other for a few seconds, trying to comfort away all that we’d seen.

Tort returned with the end of our embrace.  “They left ta the east.  Two of ‘em.  Et’s goin’ ta be dark soon, and we shouldn’t be out in et.”

“Burying him won’t take long, Musica.  That is, if I’m not still forbidden to use my Voice?”

“Do it, lad.  You’ve learned your lesson, I’m sure.”

I took one last look down at the Giant as I stepped to the precipice.  It was a sad thing that had happened here today, and I would not forget a bit of it.  I didn’t care how invulnerable Tort said these monsters were, I was going to find a way to stop them.  Nothing this cruel should be allowed to exist.  Not while I’m here.

I took a deep breath to calm myself and-

“Wait.  His pouches!”

Heedless of the gore, Lyv ran up beside me, “What about his pouches?”

“The green one I tried to open... all of them.  They’re gone.”

“Ya didn’t see what was in ‘em?” Tort asked.

“No, I didn’t have the chance.  Do you think that’s what this was about?  The Giant had something they wanted?”

“Your guess is as good as mine, David.  Do what ya need ta do.  I don’t see much point in keeping ya from usin’ yer voice any longer.  We can’t stay out here after dark.”

I felt a rush of excitement.  I turned back to the crater and started singing.  It wasn’t really a song, but saying that I ‘got noisy’ doesn’t sound very dignified.  As I felt the Sound rise through me, it felt like an old friend coming home.  Tort and Lyv watched as the waves flowed across and loosened the far side of the bowl, causing the dirt to start cascading down onto the Giant’s remains.  It happened in trickles at first, but as my singing got louder and more intense, so did the landslide.  Within seconds, where a monstrous crater had been, was only a small depression of freshly turned earth.

I leaned heavily against a tree to catch my breath.  Sonomancy takes a lot out of a person.  I may not have used my arms to do it, but I had still just moved all that dirt, and my body was taxed accordingly.  The sound of Lyv’s harp strings began to rejuvenate my tired muscles.  I gave her a quick smile, nodded at Tort, stood up and started walking.

At my side, Lyv whispered conspiratorially, “We shouldn’t be going back.  We should hunt those things down, and you know it.”

I sighed, “Lyv, you heard what Tort said.  Those things would tear us apart.  Following them, especially in the dark, would be downright stupid.”

“You’re stronger than you know, David.  I see the power in you, and so does Tort.  Why else would he have told you all that?  He wants you to know what you’re up against when you go after them.”

“You... you think so?  I don’t know...”

“I know so.  We’ll go after them together.  You and me.  You can protect me; I trust you.”

My heart skipped a beat as she spoke.  She really believed in me.  It had been a long while since I’d dared to believe that I could do anything really special.  If I could hunt the monsters down and stop them though... That would be something.  If only I wasn’t so damn tired.

“I need sleep, Lyv.  We’ll talk about it in the morning.”  I smiled at her, hoping to reassure her.

She smiled back, “Yes, we will.  You need someone to push you sometimes, and I’m all you’ve got.”

“Are ya two gonna jus’ creep along all night, or can we ga home now?”

Lyv laughed and her fingers danced across the harp strings.  We jogged off into the descending twilight, the day weighing heavily on our minds.



© 2013 Taylor0401


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Added on July 5, 2013
Last Updated on July 31, 2013


Author

Taylor0401
Taylor0401

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About
I've loved writing ever since I was a kid. I haven't had time for it in years, but now I'm making it a regular part of my life and hopefully it will eventually go somewhere. I'd love to publish a no.. more..

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A Chapter by Taylor0401


Chapter 1 Chapter 1

A Chapter by Taylor0401


Chapter 2 Chapter 2

A Chapter by Taylor0401