Chopkil jolted awake. Duk and Muk were still asleep on the ground next to him, but the house and yard was gone, replaced with shadows and swirling white mist that formed strange patterns in the darkness.
Chopkil spun around and instinctively lashed out, his fist passing through nothing but empty air.
No, not quite empty. The mist seemed to be sliding around something solid, the shape of a man, visible only by the emptiness in the drifting fog.
A voice spoke from the void. “You have been most entertaining.”
Chopkil tentatively poked at the emptiness, but his finger found nothing to connect with.
“I admit in the past I’ve played games, setting shipwrecked survivors to amusing tasks to help me pass my time on this island. Barbarians are endlessly entertaining, but they always seem to break rule number one. It is not wise to harass the people who keep me fed. In the past I’ve been more than willing to sacrifice a playing piece to keep the peace, but the days are slipping away. I am now called to a higher purpose and without all my remaining pieces I risk losing the game.”
Chopkil warily circled the silhouette. It was hard to tell, but he was pretty sure the shape was turning to watch him. It continued to talk.
“Please don’t think badly of me for having to punish you and I truly swear I am being quite lenient. This is simply a demonstration of my power and will serve as a reminder should you think about misbehaving in the future. You can use that stolen restoration potion on yourself, but if you want your horde back you’ll have to apologize to Vasu. Once you’re back in a more… reasonable shape, check your supplies. I’ve left you a little something as a gesture of good faith.”
The shape stepped forward through the mist and grabbed the piece of driftwood hanging from Chopkil’s neck.
“A talisman of Newt Warding. How quaint. Pity I haven’t signed it.”
“What is that?” asked Glyn, pointing up the coast to where something small and white was tumbling in the surf.
A seagull wheeled in the clear air above the crashing surf. It landed on a half-submerged chest and pecked curiously at the wood, before flapping away to avoid another wave.
Spiratus was feeling terrible. His aching body had not improved for having spent the last few hours in the frigid ocean water, though it had helped numb the throbbing pain coming from his shoulder where that fool elf had shot him. Worse yet, he’d been forced to let the bear carry him as his plate mail was too heavy to swim in. It’d been a humiliating couple of hours. What would the knights of Myth Drannor think if they could see him now?
The three figures locked in the cage could not hear the rain from down in the hull of the ship, only the groan of timber and the dull thud of the waves trying to beat their way inside. They were a mangy bunch, all cracked leather and matted hair. The smaller two, a man and a woman, were asleep, but the third, the big brute with the tattoos and bald head was awake. The man’s eyes gleamed in the inconsistent lantern light. His mind was bent on revenge.
Miles turned and ran.
It was nearly the last thing he ever did. A flash from Kappy’s gun illuminated the switchback in front of him moments before he plunged over the edge.
He barely registered the drop as he turned and raced on, his fear propelling him.
In his mind’s eye he could see the metal surging up towards him, reaching for his feet. The crashing, grating shriek was so loud that his skin crawled and ached, waiting for the touch of scything metal. Continue reading
The street ended at a cement barrier and a warning sign. Beyond was nothing but darkness. An inky, sucking darkness that seemed to draw in the warmth of the world leaving air lifeless. Miles could feel the heat of the day radiating from the asphalt he was standing on, but from the ravine was only frigid air. Wind pulled at his back, clawing at his clothes, drawing him towards the darkness.
The sound of Kappy’s engine had stopped, but Miles saw that there was a dirt path leading down around the barrier into the canyon.
Shaking slightly, Miles walked twenty feet down the path. The tub was parked at the first switchback. It was apparently unable to make the sharp turn and had been left there, out of sight from anyone on the street above.
And it was empty.
They’d found some cheap rooms in a very seedy five story hotel. It stood crammed and narrow between two other buildings as if the larger buildings on either side had slowly crushed it over the years, squeezing the poor little hotel into its current vertical orientation.
A garage where they could park the Kappy’s tub and Miles’ tractor was more important than their rooms however, and this hotel had one. They’d kept the robot under the tarp and fortunately there weren’t any other vehicles in the garage. Miles doubted the noise of the robot’s turning wheel would attract any attention once the doors were closed.
The marketplace in Moughte
Kappy was lost and angry about it. She didn’t do well in cities. The cacophony of engines, voices and livestock jumbled together into a vibrating patchwork of color in her mind. She’d been trying to keep the jagged spires of a cathedral on her right, but they’d got turned around in this market. It’d been a mess of small shops and shouting people. It didn’t help that the ground floors of the buildings didn’t seem to be able to contain their upper stories and walls stuck out crazily, pressing in so closely above the road they nearly crowded out the sky. When Kappy and Miles had emerged from the maze of streets the cathedral was on their left.
After much thought and help from my wife I’ve settled on the name Lind for the character originally named Tolomy. There’s still a few locations that need new names, but with Lind’s final christening every character in The God of Anthem officially has a name.
I’ve been experimenting with watercolor pencils this last week and I did a quick sketch last night of the square next to Canon’s apartment building in Simmering (originally the District for anyone who read the first draft). I was going to add it to the post “Canon Meets Tolomy” that I posted last year, but at the last minute I remembered that I’d polished this conversation between Canon and Tolomy and it takes place on the bench as well.
Lind and Canon in Simmering District
“What are you looking at?”
The Black Car
The robot was spending the majority of his time riding in the tub and was very upset about it. He bumped anxiously against Kappy’s leg as she drove, trying to convince her that they should really be heading diagonally away from the road. Although they were surrounded by gently rolling hills and could have followed the robot easily on his desired path Kappy knew they were coming up on Moughte ravine and despite the robot’s optimism, if he dropped into the ravine he’d never come out.