Chapter One - Introduction to Despair

Chapter One - Introduction to Despair

A Chapter by sawreese

Chapter One -- Introduction to Despair


"A world without time, host to a war with no end... Men bear witness and frolic in the blood of the fallen. The age of prophecies foretelling a future of peace and prosperity has long since been divested. But in this world, our present, the roads are wide and the paths are many. Destinies can be forged; fates can be broken."



Váli's world was one of vibrant colors and wonderful aromas, though their source seemed so far away to the child. The village of Tevan had always been an exciting place to visit on the first day of Autumn, and today was no exception. A festival of breathtaking proportions had just gotten underway, and people had gathered from all across the kingdom of Autrin to take part. To the small boy burning with anticipation, it seemed as though everyone was there, everyone except him.

“Mother, the whole kingdom is already there by now! If I don't hurry, I'll miss everything!” Váli crowed, running his hands along the smooth oak surrounding the kitchen window. “We're on the outskirts of the village, and it will take last of the sunlight just to get there. Why must I wait?”

“You think I would let your sister walk to the festival by herself at night? Shame on you, Váli,” the woman replied, ruffling her son's head. “I have agreed to watch Mr. Hade until his wife returns from the market, and you know Eisha wants to have fun just as much as you do.”

Váli shuffled his feet impatiently, peering out of the kitchen. The small hallway was empty, as it was the last time he had checked, and the time before that.

“Why must she put on such foolish clothes? Women should just wear rinewool tunics like everyone else!” he said, making sure he was loud enough for a certain someone to hear.

“Child, stop this nonsense and leave your sister alone. This event only happens on the first day of every Autumn, so let the girl wear whatever she wishes. While you wait, take this to Mr. Hade. It will serve to pass the time,” Váli's mother sighed, handing him a basket of fresh apples and grapes.

Váli, though young, already had the makings of a strong man and had no trouble toting the large, finely woven basket. His shoulders were broad, and many of the villagers had told him that he would grow to have strong carpenter's hands. Sometimes, he would even be asked to help the fishermen with casting the nets, receiving ten copper coins for his labors each time. Váli did not care about things like that though. He was more interested in games and festivals, especially the Autumn ones.

In a flash, the boy charged out of the front door of the small house, basket in tow. Normally, Váli would have taken a bit of the delicious fruit for himself, but the smell of roasting meat and fresh bread wafting from the center of the village seemed so much more appealing. He would have liked to be traveling in the opposite direction so much, but unfortunately the Hade house was one of the few homes farther out than his own. Váli's feet unwillingly slowed to a brisk walk as the soft sanded road beneath him became a mess of rocky gravel and twisted grass roots. He was almost there; the house was just past the worship shrines.

Walking past the large, flat, one-story buildings, Váli wondered why the old man would choose to put his home in such a place. Only the intensely devoted would travel to the outskirts of the village to worship the many Gods that ruled this world. Everyone else would just pray to small figurines or ornaments ordained by the priests, everyone except Mr. Hade. In the short while Váli had known the man, not once had he spoken of God or faith. Even when he fell ill just two days ago, the Hade household had not been heard praying for good health. The other villagers thus estranged themselves from them. No one besides Váli's own family, the Rosses, ever even considered visiting the old man and his wife.

A gentle breeze swept through the rolling, grassy hills surrounding the city. Váli's jet black hair fluttered, uncurling for a brief moment, only to fall limp once more over his dark green eyes. He didn't mind, however; in fact, he saw trying to avoid the pointed stones beneath him without looking as a challenge. The native and visiting priests who were not at the festival smiled at the carefree child, falling over an assortment of rocks and tree stumps as he passed.

By the time Váli had arrived at his destination, the basket hardly had a third of what he had been sent to deliver.

“Hello, Mr. Hade,” the boy said nearing the one-room hut which housed the elderly couple. “I have some fruit from my mother I was sent to give to you.”

There was a faint shuffling, followed by a series of coughs and groans.

“That's very kind of Rinda. Give her my deepest thanks, child,” a voice replied. “Please, leave it at the door if you wish. I would expect you to be at the festival by now.”

“I will, sir. Goodbye!” Váli yelled, setting the fruit down where instructed and taking off once more.

Looking back at the old hut, the boy felt a tinge of regret. The straw thatching on the roof had thinned, and the wood lining of the walls was dry and splintered. He could have done more to help; the whole village could. Váli would have turned back to take the fruits to Mr. Hade himself had he not seen the soft golden light suddenly come to life in the old man's window. The damage had been done.

“Getting up one more time won't kill him,” Váli mumbled, continuing on his way.

The return trip was a quick one, down the sloping hills, past the worship shrines, and off into the wild bushes just outside his house. It was there that Váli peeled off the bits of grape and apple that had plastered themselves onto his scraped legs. By the time he had returned home, the sun was only flickering on the horizon.

“Hurry up Váli!” Eisha called out to her brother as he appeared over the last hill. “The festival will be over by the time we get there!”

“Me hurry up? I was the one waiting for you for half the day!” Váli retorted, jogging up to her. “Well, if mother and father aren't coming, let's go.”

“Mother said to take this and have fun at the festival. She went to fetch some candles and water for Mr. Hade,” Eisha said, handing her brother a small leather pouch.

“Odd, Mr. Hade had a light going when I came by, so I don't know why he would need candles. Maybe he was almost out,” Váli mumbled, shaking the pouch beside his ear. The coins inside gave a low, grinding jingle as they were tossed about. “Only copper,” Váli muttered, fastening one of the pouch strings around his waist sash, which was of course, loosely woven rinewool.

“Why do you always do that? Why don't you just look inside like normal people would?” Eisha asked, a quizzical expression on her face.

“What would be the fun in that?” Váli replied, walking past his sister and towards the festivities awaiting him.

The walk towards the center of Tevan was almost more agonizing for Váli than the wait before. He would constantly urge his sister to keep up with him, but in the bright blue dress she was wearing, it was next to impossible. Slowing down, Váli was plagued by the piercing rattle of the sea shells that had been sewn on with little care. It had gotten to the point where he could tell what shell made what noise quite easily. The high pitched snap was the blue as it collided with the brown, the deafening scraping was the brown with another brown, and so on. He had gotten so good at it, in fact, that he had almost forgotten how much the sounds had irritated him.

The scenery changed from farmland to houses soon enough, and shortly after nightfall the two found themselves in the midst of the gargantuan celebrations. The village of Tevan had originally been a religious pilgrimage point, and because of this, most of the houses were simple one-story buildings made of wood and stone, with straw covering the roof tiles. The decorations adorned upon them tonight, however, made them look fit for royalty. Golden chains hung from rooftops, roses and dandelions filled the streets, and the whole village smelled of roasted meats and buttered breads.

The inns were most spectacular, as they were some of the only two- and three-story buildings around and served as platforms for the fire dancers. The jolly men laughed and sang, twirling massive flaming clubs to and fro. Only light silken trousers covered their well-built frames, causing the show to be a hit with most of the young women, as well as the children.

The straw had been removed from each of the inn's rooftops, letting light from the flaming sticks illuminate the dark clay below. The barren clay let off a heart-warming aura in return, that lifted the spirits of all who viewed the spectacle. Once a man had taken part in a Tevan Autumn festival, he would surely not forget it for the rest of his days.

Both Váli and Eisha had been brought to the event every autumn since they had been born, eight including this one for the boy and two less for his sister. Each time brought a new excitement and joy for the village children, though. Be it disc throwing or height jumping, whatever was the new thrill most taken up by the youth of the village was amplified tenfold at the festival. This year, it was gambling. Anything that could be bet on was a source of great interest for the children of Tevan. From street wrestling to whose family would buy the fattest pig from the markets, nothing was off limits.

Váli peered into the pouch along his waist for the first time while nearing the butcher's corner and meat vendors of Tevan. He was neither surprised nor relieved to find twenty copper coins nestled inside. He had guessed they were copper and had approximated their number earlier; it was just as expected. After buying himself and his sister some of the spitted roast chicken from one of the many vendors, Váli began to look for a gathering of boys, a sign that something interesting was about to take place.

“Come on, this way!” Váli said to his sister, taking her hand as he made his way through the thick crowd of spectators and the pickpockets they incurred.

He knew just where he would find what he was looking for, if memory served him correctly. It took Váli only a few moments to make his way to the western side of the city. There, the inns were filled with foreign customers, cheering upwards from their windows and the ground below, towards the fire dancers. One of the dancers smiled, tossing his stick as high as he could manage and catching it on the heel of his foot flawlessly. The crowds went wild, all except Váli, for this was not what he was searching for.

“Váli, I'm tired. Let's watch the dancers for a while,” Eisha suggested, though it was of no use.

Váli was only focused on one thing - the crowd of young boys that had just gathered near a busy inn. He knew there would be something happening here if nowhere else. Everyone had been talking about it for days now. As he strolled up to the other boys confidently, one of the group held out his hand, grinning ecstatically.

“Today or not today, and how much will ya put on it?” the boy said.

“I'll say...” Váli started, looking at two cloaked men on the side of the road in particular. “Today, and I'll put seven copper pieces.”

“What is this?” Eisha asked her brother, while he gave half of their remaining money to the boy before them.

“It's a bet of course!” another child chimed in. “See those two men on the road over there? Well, they haven't moved none since they got there, and it's been two days! We checked an' they're still breathing, but they haven't eaten or drunk anything. Thomas over there thinks they won't last till the morning, but I think they'll make it at least until the next full moon tomorrow!”

A light breeze made its presence known, whisking through the city and stirring the dark clouds forming above.

It was then that the two men both rose, letting the collected dirt and dust fall from their worn cloaks.



“Weapons! They carry weapons! Call the guard!” a man yelled, sending the masses into chaos.

One of the men, a head or two taller than the other, raised a pointed object and began to speak. Váli could not tell what he was saying due to the screaming crowd brushing by him, but soon enough, the streets were clear, all except for the small group of frightened children, and the armed men. Now able to see clearly, Váli could tell that the object the larger man held was a trident. It was an incredible weapon, with a bronze coating and tips of what seemed to be real gold. The other man held a simple iron sword, but looked no less threatening.

“Let's go! I don't want to be here anymore!” Eisha said panicked, trying to pull her brother away from the chaos that was sure to begin.

Váli was motionless. He felt the pull of his sister, but he was captivated by the sight before him.

The man with the trident was the first to move, raising his weapon and beginning to breathe heavily. The sky, darkened further than the deepest of nights could conjure, let out a hellish cry. A massive column of water followed, smashing into the opposing sword wielder. The crowds jumped back in awe as the street started to flood uncontrollably. Váli continued to watch in amazement while worried mothers ushered him, and the rest of the children, into the nearby inn.

The boy was not even aware of the water splashing at his feet, for his eyes were locked upon the massive torrent that continued to fall from the sky. He had heard of different magics, and had even seen some of them preformed in town once, but this seemed completely different. Lighting a torch or breaking a piece of wood using one's mind wasn't even comparable to what he was witnessing.

The other man, not even able to stand against the tons of water rushing upon him, raised his sword as best he could, and pointed it at his adversary. All around the larger warrior, the sky began to rain small pebbles. The pebbles soon turned to rocks and from rocks to boulders as they fell. The first man's trident waved from left to right, forwards and back, moving his torrent of water at the same time, a look of fear and agitation on his tanned face. The streets rumbled with a vengeance under the crushing power of the sword wielder's fearsome attack. One of the boulders landed in a neighboring inn, bringing the whole structure crashing down in a matter of seconds. There were no screams or moans; not even a whisper echoed from the building's residents. Váli could only tremble in panic, while pools of blood began to mix with the surrounding water.

The rocks kept coming, and so did the water. Not just one torrent, but three, then five; eight, then ten. Water flooded into surrounding homes and buildings, while others were simply torn apart by the plummeting masses of solid earth. A salty gust of wind swept through the land, drowning out the countless screams in the town below. Váli held his sister as tightly as he could, though he knew it would do little good. The waters kept rising, the roof and left wall of the inn were crushed by falling rocks, Váli could do nothing to stop these things happening all around him. He could hear more than he had ever thought possible. Every agonizing scream, every grinding bone. It was more than the child could bear, but he had to in order to protect his sister. In a matter of moments the water had surpassed his head, forcing Váli to hold his breath and hope for a miracle.



© 2012 sawreese


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I have to say, beautiful imagery, though at some points it became a little much. A lot of the excess detail should be trimmed off.
Some of the objects that people wouldnt be able to identify with should be given a little more description though.
Good story so far, Its progressing very well.

Posted 13 Years Ago



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Added on April 19, 2010
Last Updated on June 2, 2012
Tags: unending, fall, chapter 1


Author

sawreese
sawreese

Alpharetta, GA



About
I like writing... I generally sleep, eat, and sleep when I get tired of the other two. more..

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