Fantasy where heroes don't follow the rules
Image by Idella Cutler
Livespan: 80-100 years
Appearance: born in the common-form. Average height - 5 1/2 to 6 feet. Hair color varies: black, brown, blond. Skin changes colors pending the time of day and season:
summer day: burnt-gold (dawnskin)
summer /autumn night: ivory (duskskin)
winter day: burnt-gold (dawnskin)
winter night: faded sable (duskskin)
Contribution: wood, flax, jute
Cities: Malandore (capital), Farettsi, Solnast
Namesake: often named after their ancestors
Torc: Thoraus Brekstone
- “A Youngling’s Guide to Eloshian Races, year 2,862”
Thaen’s mind racked with imaginations as he lay there.
Torture, at the forefront.
A breeder as third.
But he couldn’t figure out why Dark Elves would subjugate him to any of them
Two figures appeared inside his peripherals; a Dark Elf with white shock-top hair wearing all-black, the other man dressed with more color. When they stood over Thaen, staring down, Thaen forgot about torture, prisoner, and breeder.
This man was human. The one, he recognized, who ambushed him at their camp. Unshaven and curly-haired. “When will the drug wear off?”
“Yia wo hiafa,” said the female Dark Elf, probably the same one who bore Neleci away. Dark Elves looked the same to him, male and female.
The man grumbled. “I can’t decide what to do with him if I can’t talk to him. I want to know why he came here.”
“Me oum meomo our mem yie o i ebae.”
As before, during the ambush, this man spoke Eloshian to the Dark Elf who responded in Darken, as if they both understood the language neither of them spoke, yet Thaen did not understand how.
“Yes, I guess he does. Do you think he came down here to rescue the torc’s daughter?”
“Ofa hi bi pou.”
“Huh. Unless, of course, he’s a missionary preaching Kingdom religion.” The man folded his arms, Thaen’s heart all the while hammer hammer hammering loud enough to deafen the Dark Elf.
A long moment lapsed, broken by a long dissertation from the Dark Elf Thaen could not follow.
“True. You have that right to kill him. But, if you’re permitting, I have thought of a use for him.” An incredible cuff gripped the man’s left wrist, looking like it was made entirely of compressed R’th light but that, of course, was not possible. Must be something else the Dark Elves had invented. He spun it with the fingers on his right. “I’ll initiate him as well as the torc’s daughter. It will spread the Dreamer’s message faster.”
Though immobile, cold sweat slicked the inside of Thaen’s clothes, initiate somehow sounding far worse than torture, prisoner, and breeder combined. Initiated into what? Now his fevered imagination spun images of him strapped naked to an altar while Dark Elves danced around him while flinging flecks of blood all over his skin and chanting to the Undergod.
The Dark Elf, hunching over Thaen, stood straight and rolled her shoulders. “Mei. Hiv emiou bor meour ormas whou reif owm meofi bip vus ibormisifier. Fiam, Roue?”
“If they are human, I want them alive. I need more members to supplement my ethics group.”
She growled. “Bi sih me s oma f meofi y moresia.” She spun, white hair swishing along her back as she walked away.
The man knelt beside Thaen. Still in control of his breathing, harsh hiss hiss hiss inhaled and exhaled out his nose.
The man removed the glowing cuff off his wrist, lifting Thaen’s limp arm, and slid it over his own.
Thaen braced, expecting to be burned, or needle-pricked, but nothing happened, not even a change in temperature when the cuff touched his skin. He barely noted its smooth texture. The man rested Thaen’s arm back on the limestone earth.
Next, the man removed what looked like a spindly gold net or cage off his ear and brought it to the side of Thaen’s head. Unable to do anything, even tense up, Thaen endured nothing more than the man manipulating his ear to affix the netted cage thing over it.
The man stood. “Try to get some sleep now, eh?” And walked off.
Thaen’s ear became hyper-aware to the cold metal affixed to it, his guesses as to why the man put it there keeping his brain alert for a while. But that mystery eventually burned out, and without anything more to keep his anxiety and imaginations active, Thaen’s heart slowed down to normal.
The longer he laid there in the silence of the glowing glass forest, alone, apparently safe, and deep into the hours when he would have normally been asleep top-side, his eyelids dropped in heavy measures.
And though he fought it, unable to move any of his limbs yet, his mind alone was not enough to keep up a vigilant watch, and he fell asleep.
“Thaen Alta,” strained a male voice coming from all directions. Thaen spun, seeing nothing but more darkness.
Sensation pressed against his mind. Anxiety rushed through Thaen as the violation convinced him someone was prying open his brain and cataloging his thoughts. The black landscape remained unchanged, though it undulated often as if Thaen stood above the curtain to dreams and something on the other side pushed against the ethereal fabric.
“Who are you?” Thaen demanded.
“A child of the Paragons.” The undulating black landscape lifted and stretched, forming the shape of a man. “Same as you.”
“What are you doing in my head?” Thaen changed his questions, unable to understand this odd dream he remained half-aware of.
“I’ve been made aware the humans are living with lies. I strive to bring back the truth. You’re not the first, but our collective efforts will diminish the disillusions the other races have cast over you. Do you know the race of the Paragons?”
“They are not part of any race. They were born from two stars. But you knew I’d say that because you can read my mind.”
“You need to hear it from yourself how deep your ignorance goes. And you are wrong. The Paragons are part of a race. A single race.”
Be it reality or dream, Thaen wasn’t going to let his thoughts interrogate him. He shut his eyes, willing himself to wake up. A picture flashed behind his closed eyes instead. His eyes shot open but the picture remained. He stood next to a falkon, but the falkon wore a crown and Thaen held a goblet to her yellow beak.
“What is this?”
“Doesn’t it bother you that a talking bird has a higher status than you?”
“The falkons are not birds. They are part of the Kingdom so that makes them kindred, like me, like everyone.”
Another image flashed in front of Thaen. He sat at a long table eating dinner with Torc Thoraus. He heard a snort next to him and looked and saw a pig digging his fat snout into a bowl of mashed potatoes. Disgusted, Thaen stood, marching toward Torc Thoraus to voice his offense when every member at the table turned into a pig, snorting and crawling over the table.
The scene flashed and the pigs all transfigured into common, standing on two legs with two arms but still retaining several piggish features.
Torc Thoraus addressed all of them as equals. Thaen left the table, refusing to be treated equally with pigs. He looked over his shoulder and, instead of pigs, found pegasi in their place.
“Do you see it yet?” said the disembodied voice.
“No!” Thaen slammed his eyes shut. Wake up!
Another dream blossomed in front of him. Thaen watched from the sky. He saw the race of humans struggle and survive through hundreds of years. He watched their war, and in this war the lower portion of a man severed in half in the same blade strike taking off his horse’s head. An eternal entity — god, Paragon, Thaen couldn’t tell — fused the man with the horse — a centaur coming to life. Centaurs lived before the Kingdom formed, but died off around Mortal Earth year 566, archaeologist claim.
“They are animal experiments given social coherency,” the shadow-man tempted. “Meant to serve the humans.”
Now rain fell upon the forest below. A human stumbled and landed in the hollow of a dying tree. The tree, sensing new life, absorbed the blood of the human. Time passed and the tree changed. Harsh bark smoothed into pale skin, leaves stretched and became hair, branches formed arms, and roots formed legs. When the elf woke, a new race of kindred began.
“What are you showing me?” Thaen asked, bothered and curious at the same time.
Next, a human stumbled down a mountain, falling into a cave. Dying, the human’s blood spilled upon a mossy rock. As time passed the rock drank the blood and shifted, molding itself like clay, reaching out two arms and two legs. Moss became a beard on its face, the cold gray stone softened into flesh. The dwarf woke and stood.
The dream opened further and Thaen looked into the sky, watching two eternal Entities in the act of procreation. Time lapsed, and the one Entity showed pregnancy, and then gave birth to a male and female. Because they wanted their children to learn and grow — unable to do so in the safety and peace of the Entities’ place of habitation — the Entities put their children on Mortal Earth where they would live.
The children were human.
“The Paragons are human?”
Fire pounded in Thaen’s chest. “How do you know this?”
“A feeling? What kind of knuckling nonsense is this? You can’t base facts off feelings.”
“The Paragons formed the other races by human blood and happenstance. The other animal races are experiments. You’re born directly of Paragons who created all life and you’re okay with a talking bird claiming kingship and you cannot?”
Kingship was an old word used before the Kingdom formed, the word king and all its derivatives meaning “the absolute sum of everything.” The Kingdom changed the title to “torcs” to display their equality.
“These animals have blinded you, Thaen. You are descended directly from the Paragons, yet the other racial experiments and animals have convinced your ancestors to deny your paragonial birthright. I devote my existence to giving your paragonial birthright back to the humans. To make you all kings.”
Thaen ran, ran across the black landscape, expecting to hit an obstacle or fall off an edge, but until that happened he would keep running. Looking behind him he couldn’t see the man anymore. Thaen stopped, not even panting, not even tired inside this dream-limbo. He spun, surrounded by dark above, beneath, and to all sides.
“Wake up.” He slapped his head with both hands. “Wake up.”
He sat, burying his face between his knees. “Wake up wake up wake up wake up.”
He didn’t know how much later when the surface where he sat melted and he sunk through as if falling through sky. His body jerked in response and he opened his eyes, staring into sunlight at the edge of Malandore. The ear-cage no longer engulfed his ear. A red smatch of sore skin where the metal rubbed remained the only testament betraying where he’d been.