Saturday, 15 March 2014

When men walked with Mountains - A. Mcandrew

“As it is written, in the stone and blood of the Quart; The Goddess was made from the absence of love, the Goddess formed the mountains above, her people stood true through the Nightlands bleak hour, but in the end it will be darkness, which holds the true Power.” –Unknown


This is what transpired,
The goddess’s formed the dry land, a baron stretch of gas and dust, though she soon made the land green and lush, and the rivers flow. She forged the deserts and hillsides into sights of magnificence. She sculpted men and women, children and creatures of all - from her very golden blood, from her own. Every morning the goddess would Cast her arrow of fire across the land, and light the world from darkness – bringing new life with every shot, giving her the title of the Skyhunter.
But no achievement could ever stand preeminent, could never bring such peace, than the four mountains of power she raised from the dirt, with her very hands. They stood taller than the skies and brighter than the stars, They stood as a beacon of hope and safety, for the people of the land. For each shinning mountain she gave a king, and for each king she gave a kingdom. The first was the great Mountain lands of Karrus kúm, named after its humble king. The second was the ample Mountain fires of Redshanks, named after its giving king. The third was the lavish Mountain winds of Besek, named after its loving King. The forth and tallest of the grand mountain ranges was Fourlord, named after its wise king. Each colossal mountain city prospered and bloomed fluently, forming into the one stronghold continent of Quart, the greatest land the new man had come to see. Worship flourished for the goddess and spread throughout, happiness was common. Flowers and wild fauna sprang and the skies a crystal blue, illuminating off its sapphire seas. Soon new beings came from the eastern shores, men and women of the sea, Crooked sea Giants, and thick hooded strangers, seeking refuge and a new beginning in the Walls of the new oasis – bringing with them new trade and luxuries from across the oceans. Peace was to be shared this age.

In her honour, the peoples of the land built a monastery within the heart of Quart, naming it The Eye of the land – its castle walls were crafted with such beauty, that every architect from the surrounded lands needed to see it for themselves, needed to put there palms against the white stone and feel the warmth. Worshippers and thanksgivers would swarm the monastery for the small chance of a single prayer each day and night.

Although not all people believed in her lore, or followed her teaching, some even spat upon her shrines and worships, crying out that the only true gods in the kingdom were the four mountain kings, that sheltered the from the dark.

One black hearted man especially.

His name was Gorgonial of the Eye, a Sorcerer of dark magic that dwelled within the monastery’s walls, under the title of a high worshipper. He despised the unrealistic love of a hunter in the Sky, spitting upon her worship and shrine – He would sit within his tenth floor tower in solitude, praying to the four mountains for an answer, working upon a bench of black stone for months without end, determined to put his dream of the dead sky lord into play. And so the sorcerer began to unstitch the knots of Quart, and unravel its deepest creations,
He left the white stone walls of the Eye in secret, and fled for a place where no living spirit could disturb his train of plots, within the Forest of Marrow – a deep, rotting stretch of leafless trees and shrubs, swarming with beast and forgotten spirits, for it was a place for people to be forgotten, and condemned. With The power in his palms, the old art of sorcery, he forged  a palace for himself, the grandest palace that would never be seen, a palace made of pure crystal glass, where he would reside till the end of his days.

A night in the wind

On a winter’s night his prayers finally answered him, the prayers he had sung and cried from endless night to eclipsed day:
he would banish her. Banish the Skyhunter, to the bleakest, and darkest of places, The Night lands.
The night lands were a place of vile and malice desolation, an under earth sanctum of darkness, and endless agony - where the goddess would send only the cruellest and wickedest of peoples – for heinous crimes carried out in blood.
But to destroy a god was not an easy task, it was not as simple as the magic Gorgonial was known for – it would come at a price, a grave, risky price.
An equal exchange, it would take a trade of gargantuan proportions. Ideas flew in the sorcerers head for several gruelling months, pacing the halls of his glass home, cursing and slowly abandoning hope.
Until once more his black prayers were answered to him, to who was answering them we’ll never know.
The four hearts and roots of the great mountains he worshipped ever so strongly were his only answer, their very souls, their essence – the four entities that had protected him from the wicked his whole life. But if this was to be carried out, his efforts would be in vain, for the grand structures would be lifeless and nothing but rock and snow, ending his ideals. Though the heart of the sorcerer could not be swayed, not even for his own ambition, so on the darkest night of the coldest day, he carried out what he had crafted.

He stood above his fortress of glass, aloft the tallest tower of the highest roof, on the coldest and darkest of nights - then with staff in hand he span a web of black magic against the beloved goddess, with the intensions of death.
The sky moaned and the world shook to its very core - rain of burning oil poured from the sky, torching everything in its unrelenting path, as Gorgonial sung his words of darkness:
“Maelstrom and burning air, Quarts four children in despair, send them in pieces to the blight, and steal their souls into the night!”
Madness fell over the Eye and surrounding lands, a once strong nation of free worshippers, now burnt to ashes as they scattered like smoking flies. The beasts and fauna of the forests cried out in pain, yelping for the lives of their young. Deep groans and rumbling shudders screamed from the four mountains themselves, as they began to erupt. Cracking and combusting in waves of heat and smog: It was not long before the land was strewn in the molten blood of the mountains.

Gorgonial had won, he had finished the task he had set out three years to the day – the land of quart lay in dismay and the Skyhunter’s presence hollow and gone.  
But at the moment of Gorgonials victory, at the moment of the lands dying end; a voice of morbid power boomed down unto the shattering kingdoms, tipping it like a boat and cracking it like thunder – the voice of the Skyhunter herself.
“Gorgonial of the eye, I gave thee warmth and prosperity, and hope of the new sun – and you throw my love to the earth and cast me to the Nightlands? Your betrayal will not go unpunished, heed my words child – my line will not be broken, not by magic nor darkness, an heir will be born, and your undoing will be swayed. Your blood will bend to my will sorcerer, witness my power!”
Her voice was gentle as a town mouse, yet vulgar as the snake. With her final inches of strength, she shot down a storm of fire and lightning, the night lit up like a wick, slewing the wicked sorcerer’s chest, shattering his being and boiling his blood. His short lived victory was at an end; all that remained of the sorcerer was his tall, Glass palace, untouched by the event.

The land sat in nothingness, for an unnumbered scale of time it waited and budded the time, in which it had abundance. The remaining peoples of the kingdoms stayed watching for any sign of existence or hope, they couldn’t abandon the only home they ever knew - Though Gorgonial was destroyed with his evil, as was the worshipped goddess the Skyhunter, her love soon died with the sorcerer, and the memory of her grace, leaving the land in poverty and emptiness – all seemed forever lost as the endless years passed, thus declaring it the Age of the Naught.

Though not all was abandoned, not all ties were consigned to oblivion, a new light showed itself through the black night smoke. The four mountains of power, the four grand sculptures that the Skyhunter moulded herself; began to flourish once more, began blooming from the embers of dismay, despite all of Gorgonials power. They arose from the earth larger and grander than ever before; with living, thinking, conspiring hearts of their own, and formed the land back into the crystal haven it once was. So the newly light hearted peoples of the land began prayers once more, prayers to the all giving mountains, worshipping them as the only true gods of Quart. Generations passed, and all memories attached to the once praised Skyhunter were left behind, along with the true origins of the four gods she created. And thus the new age of existence began – the age of Karrus k’um, Redshanks, Besek, and Fourlord. Though little did they know, the land of Quart – was slowly dying.

Chapter one
On the southbound road to Blackale, few miles from the mountain Karrus k’um

“Get back in line you filthy dogs, or I’ll skin ya hides raw.”
A thin line of shackled men hobbled down the dirt path as a whip cracked, on course to the prison camp of Blackale. The swollen faced guardsman presented his unearned power like the blinding snow. “Still three miles to Blackale and all you’ve done is shit, piss, and moan to the Mountains for repents. Heave my word fellas - they won’t save you were your goin.” Whip-whip

A mass of rain and snow soiled the men’s torn garments whilst they marched, as mud slid from the rock wall that held them away from the bottomless edge - the ground felt like an Oil field. It was the last few nights of the blinding autumn, which meant snow, hail, blood, and a poor lack of warm beds – Captain Arnlay of Terrace took lead of the small horde, guiding them through the frosted terrain she gambled on a regular, to a small moss covering of caves that was branded ‘Downward Den’ due to its drop in the earth. The day’s morning frost was still frozen over from the night’s cruel wisp, making the venture five times the risk – dampness hung in the air.
“We’ll rest here the night, we are beyond the reach of any Red boars or fauns. Mangas start a fire, or we’ll freeze even before we get there – I’ll lock the scum.” Her voice was rough and bitter, resembling her face like a broken mirror.
“Aw’right you shams, follow your superior.” Gesturing them over, she led the prisoners to the small prison like cave within the covering. The inside was wet and cramped, reeking of eroded bone and fish – though better than the frost of a long frigid road. A thud came from the entrance as a small piece of moulding bread was thrown in, echoing down the hole like foot fall as they were shovelled in.
“What a morbid bunch of terminals – think you’d at least crack a smile upon deaths row, like you got an option. By Redshanks I say they are sickening” Mangas the whip hand guardsman complained as he began to stoke a stingy fuel fire with his rusted knife.
“I wouldn’t suppose you’d like to join their ranks, Mangas? I assume not, so please for god’s sake shut up – your complaints are worse than that of a child.” Arnlay was drained and furious; a batted lioness. She turned back to the prisoners with a smile. “Nighty-night, fellas” The caverns entrance was shut, and night swallowed.                
Articulation in the dark

“Bitch, stinking rat nosed bitch. By mi mother I swear she’ll be dead”
“And by who’s hand, I wonder? If you’re considering yours, by the time you pull the knife a guard will have your hand, don’t be a fool, Yarn.” The Eight boxed prisoners sat morbidly in their cell, spitting their black tongues at the name of the guardsmen, around a makeshift stove, toasting the moulded bread.
“Pitiful fool she is, ‘givin us a free guide to Blackale, like it’s a bad thing. I tell you the moment we step foot in that campsite im goin’ta break loose and drink me a gallon‘o Ale. Life’s led us ‘ere boys, embrace it.” The man stretched his arms tightly around his neck, relaxing.
“Aye, Baarl. Them guardsmen hardly keep an eye on us little sneaks, we’ll slip outa them cages and be off.” The little men and the large cheered the grand idea while others gruelled it with sour contempt – though stayed the silent minority.
“We’ll pillage all the ores’ and silver we can get our mits on, till we got our bellies worth, and then start anew off in in-“
“Do you not understand where we are going, west-man?” A new voice in the dark, Slow & Interrupting “Do you not understand the true Viles of Blackale” The voice grew louder, and began slip out from the dark, and into the flickering light of the embers.

His face was hidden by white cotton bandages – as was his twig like torso, from the first truffle of white hair to the protruding marrow of his collarbone. His long tree like body stretched on for a good six feet.
“Before the age of the naught Blackale stood, shadowing the peace that swam throughout Quart, it stood as a reminder to the villains and thieves of the kingdom that such acts do not go unpunished.” His concealed lips conversed under the fabric of his mask, he continued. “We await not just endless solitude in the stunted oubliettes, but mindless, heartless, Torture – To which we will drown in our own blood.” Half of the modest men quivered upon the warning, the rest sighed. “Its borders are patrolled by not only armoured men, but shade – spirits of the dead, paid in promises of purpose and worth, girting by the hundred. You plan to escape, west-man? Best get thinking.” He slithered back into his shadowy cot and lay to rest upon a patch of moss, staying quite from the rabble he encouraged. “Bah, you say what you want, Cottonface, but I see us drowning in whore and tit, not blood – Best keep ‘ya mouth shut, or your lips are mine.” The foolish jailbirds turn a blind eye on the shadow man and continued their droll fantasies.