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Fantasy Fiction Sad

To live on is not only my destiny, it is incumbent.

I must not let the magnanimity of my village be in vain. Imagining their suffering, while I languished in my freedom, my liberation, was agonizing. But I strode forward. They would not wish my return. They would not even entertain the notion of implementing such a fate on a soul unknown to them. Not even someone willing to serve in their stead. That was the selfless nature of my people, which I hoped to embody. To earn their unspoken approbation.

Besides, what could I do?

But, perhaps it was simply my own exercrable cowardice that halted my return home. I would be lying if I said I was not afraid. There was not much I remembered. Most of the memories were black and stifling. However, it was impossible to forget the strong odor of soot eating away at the lungs, smothering feeble attempts at breath. And the feeling. The lashes cut open on backs hunched over, stinging as sweat and blood mixed.

I had to be the lucky one, right?

My escape was unplanned and fast. I tried not to harbour the ships of guilt on my heart. I could not. To be alone is to be out of one’s mind, secluded from the hive brain that humanity shares when it is a community, and I had to stay sane. Obsessing over what could have or would have occurred had I made even the smallest alteration to the past, would have driven me off the deep end...it almost did.

Returning weak would be doing them a disservice, so for now, but only for now, I was a coward.

Travelling from in descending circles from the edges of the continent, I oscillated from master to master. From head to toe, I was determined to be a deadly weapon. I trained from physical arts gurus to monks teaching the methods to equipity.

So when a woman charged me from behind, I was prepared.

As she flipped over my head, about to come crashing to the ground, her lightness shocked me. I was strong, but I had at the very least expected a warrior woman, like to a goddess of old. Rumours had passed through Reath’s towns like wildfires, whispers of femme fatales praciticing the physical arts- something forbidden to women.

She slammed down, the breath leaving her lungs in one dejected puff. She had a naturally slim frame, but it was accutanted by her visible ribs, poking through her near translucent skin. She was no assassin. She was one of mine, her skin marking her kin.

Taking the knife from her hand, I noticed she was missing a finger.

There’s no way.

“Who are you?” I asked in Common.

Her eyes opened wide and terrified. I held her hands pinned over her head lest she try again, but I was careful not to break her fragile bones. She began to weep, choking from the drought of air in her chest, a result of my reaction to her attempted assault.

“I-,” she gasped, “I… Sorry.”

Her Common was dreadful. It was thick and heavy with her accent. An accent painfully familiar.

“Please, calm down. I am not here to hurt you, ati.”

Upon hearing her native tongue, her body shuddered even harder, suddenly wracked with sobs.

“I am so sorry. I-, I- I stole some bread and he- he he punished me and took my finger but- but he didn’t kill me for years and and and then he told me to find you and kill you or or he would kill me and-”

“Shh, it’s ok, I understand.”

Her tear left streaks on her face. How many days, weeks had she spent tracking me? Why was he coming after me now? She would not be the only one if she didn’t return. Eventually, he would send someone worthy enough to fight, to kill. Rage filled me with a slow burn. This had to be some sick joke to him. Eventually forcing me to end the very ones I devoted my life to saving.

Ati, will you take me to him?”

Her face blanched. 

“B-but, he’ll kill you! I was supposed to kill you and and I didn’t and-”

“Relax. I will end his reign.” 

This was not supposed to be this way. My plans to return entailed another 10 years, 15 perhaps. Success needed to be a guarantee. There was no room for failure.

  Disbelief still colored her face, as I released her hands, and helped her to her feet. Her skin was ragged with slits from wayward branches. I insisted she permit me to clean them, infections were nasty, and I couldn't have my guide falling ill.

She seemed wary of me, but she had no alternatives.

. . .

The smell alerted me to our proximity before the burnt branches came into view.

There was no need for a gate, or a wall. Pure trepidation kept the inhabitants of the village trapped. He warned that he had spies. Should they endeavor an escape, they would report to him. He would then hunt them down, and bring them back where they would face torture worse than death.

After all, death isn’t that all that effective of a deterrent if someone thinks they have faced worse.

I carried Camila on my back most of the journey. She was sleeping as we walked under the entrance arch. It was dead silent. Communication was forbidden excepting conversations required to work. It was midday, so everyone was at work, from babes to the elderly. Once you couldn’t work, you “died”.

As I passed houses made of stone and straw in various stages of deterioration, memories flitted by the front of my brain. Not one of them was colored by the light of happiness.

I finally passed over a familiar pattern of cobblestone, where my childhood home stood. Once stood. All that was left was a corner, covered in weeds and cobwebs. I gently placed Camila down and prayed that she wouldn’t be found. I could not fight while tethered to a target, and she had endured enough as a result of my selfishness.

So solo I walked. Trekked. Hiked. Humans were not meant to climb the mountain. It was rule number one. But I was a little past following the rules of the Ruins. 

The cave crept closer and closer. Snores rumbled the ground and my skeleton pushed against its skin cage. I gripped my bronze sword tighter, my knuckles as pale as the dragon before me.

I had never seen him this close before. He neither needed nor desired to stoop to our level. Why would he? He could wreck as much havoc as he wanted from afar.

I raised my sword high, forcing myself to release the tension in my muscles as I crept closer. Every master stressed the importance of liquid movements. I had no delusions that striking while my opponent was sleeping was weak. In fact, I knew it to be the smartest route, for he certainly had no concept of honor, or if it really came to it, mercy. 

As I came to face him, I witnessed the mounds of luxury, the fruits of our ceaseless labor, simply sitting there. Not even being used. 

The familiar fire burned my soul as I pushed down against the ground, springing into the air, poised to thrust my sword into the tuft of orange hair decorating his prized ivory scales, when he shifts.

His head turned to the side, my bronze sticks into his black eye. With a roar, I am flailed back and forth, like a horse trying to rid itself of a fly.

“WHO DARES ATTEMPT THE LIFE OF DALOND, TAMER OF BEASTS?”

I flashed by his only other working eye, blood pouring down my arms.

“LOWLY MONKEY, HOW DARE YOU LEAVE YOUR DEIGNED PLACE?”

My limbs felt like they would give up on my sockets, and fly to their own freedom, but I knew letting go meant definitive loss. My only hope was to hold on.

“YOUR ONLY PURPOSE,” he brought his paw eye and I saw my opportunity, my body angled down coming towards his talons, “IS TO BE A SLAVE TO THE SUPERIOR!”

I pushed against his claws, liberating my sole effective weapon and temporarily floating once more.

Some god, goddess, or perhaps even demon had to have blessed me with some fortune, some luck. For my sword finally flew true, the force of gravity pulling me through his hard skull and squishing into his soft brain.

He stopped, stumbled, and fell.

I had done it.

But what now? My purpose had been sole, to free my people.

Who was I?

Tears streaked my dark skin now too.


July 25, 2020 03:50

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7 comments

Mustang Patty
23:42 Nov 08, 2020

Hi, Raven, A nice concept which you executed well. I think the format of your story was interesting. I would caution you about using so many twenty-five cent words when a nickel one would do. Thank you for sharing, ~MP~ Could you please drop by and read one of my stories? THANKS in advance.

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Deborah Angevin
11:38 Aug 17, 2020

Your word choices... wow! I also love the inclusion of the quotes throughout the story! P.S: would you mind checking my recent story out, "Grey Clouds"? Thank you :D

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Velma Darnell
13:49 Aug 11, 2020

Wow, the words you use make the story even more amazing! While reading it, I couldn't stop thinking about how strong your vocabulary is, and I loved this quote "I tried not to harbour the ships of guilt on my heart." That sounds great! Good job :) p.s. I would appreciate if you could read my story when you aren't busy, thank you!

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Aqsa Malik
12:19 Jul 28, 2020

Heya! My first thought as soon as I started reading this was 'ughh, the vocab is always SO good!' and like I know I keep saying this but honestly there's always like a billion new words added to your repertoire in every submission and that's so inspiring. I like how it was so mysterious and intriguing until the very end, it made for really good build up of mystery and tension. I also really like the name Reath for a place, it sounds super cool. Like always, there's always a few quotes that stick out for me in your stories, and...

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Raven Quill
00:11 Aug 01, 2020

Hello! Thank you so much! I literally made a list of new words and worked them in because I want to make them actually a part of normal vocab and be comfortable with them :)) I honestly don't remember where I got the name Reath lol. And thank you! I love subtly introducing characters, and I figured that after their journey, it would make sense that he knew her (once she calmed down). I got the dragon idea from like the reedsy plot generator. He was supposed to be a controversial dragon, and my friend who, yes, is a DM, said I shoul...

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Amazing. Great job, Raven! Would you mind checking out my story ‘The World Is Your Playground’? Thanks! —AeRiN

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Raven Quill
00:29 Jul 27, 2020

Thank you! Sorry I actually hadn't finished writing yet haha. Will do :)

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