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DreamSteel_FirstChapter

DreamSteel_FirstChapter

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Published by kaeraz
"Tonight we feast as free men."
"Tonight we feast as free men."

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Published by: kaeraz on Aug 10, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/13/2013

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Upon the breeze one could almost smell the salt wafting in on the winds from thewestern shores of the Lucien Sea. The wind travelled east over the Tantrocontinent. It traversed province after province and town after town. It sweptthrough lopsided mountain villages, each thatched roof peaked with snow. Itcoursed across massive plains, providing relief to Parvanian field workers wipingsweat from their rust-red brows. It raced across the miles of the fetid BaltakSwamp, bringing the fae with their magic dust motes and foreign spells to helpthe coterie of witchen who traversed the murky fields on stilts and moss-covered,moving caravans. Next it gusted along the great Tantro Trail for hundreds of miles.It gathered the scents of cardamom, mule dung, moth-eaten silk, lovers sweat,floral aromatics, clay from the Amniac River, roasted dark meats, and bittercaffica beans from the north western tropics of the Eccerow Mountains. It thenmoved south for a hundred miles more, following a jagged line of trees leadinginto Roanoke forest.If the wind could hasten a thought, it would marvel at the sheer size of theforest. The gigantic, wooded world filled to bursting with hearty green and yellowmutlu trees. The mutlu trunks and leaves boasted a myriad of splotchy hues, andeach changed colors subtly over the days according to their own personal season.Roanoke was the biggest forest in Eurastad, appearing to any passing draccus orair ship as a lush and detailed palette of oil paints. The leaves drooped and wiltedlike limp and cobwebbed hair until a wind such as this blew through them, theirbodies ballooning like a hundred-million tiny sails on a sea of ochre and gold.When a mutlu died, its body and leaves turned a calcified white and over theyears its hollow and holey framework would crumble into chalky bits that linedmuch of forest floor. This sand of the forest soon sprouted into thousands of seedlings that could only hope to become like their crooked predecessors. Moreoften than not the sprouts were overshadowed by the woolly and barbed burkabarplant, the creeping harisse grass which grew in orange, wild clumps towardcracks in the canopy, or any of the hundreds of flora that competed for a chanceto spread far and wide as long as Eiema, the nature spirit, would allow.If the wind could perceive the vastness – the dark, musty hollows, the devilbogs, the dense maze of strong, interweaving branches and creeper vines, or the
 
twilight meadows where the toad congress sang their eerie dirges – it may havegiven pause. But Roanoke, like the rest of Eurastad, needed a good airing outevery once in awhile and so the wind flitted and whispered, spreading through theforest and bringing with it the stories of the outside.As a gust drifted through the mutlus at the forest's edge, it flowed under thenose of a dark and dangerous creature. He stood taller than most men, shadowedin several flowing brown silks and braided leather from a bunyip's tough hide. Asilver vest glinted against the sinking sun, its material made of interwoven, steelrings no bigger than a mouse's thumbnail, but stronger than an binding rune. Athick leather band roped around his waist holding a pouch containing severalempty viles. His left hip flaunted a flat, elongated stiletto sheathed in a matchingred scabbard. The dark man's shoulder's were angular and broad, matching a muscularchest that heaved just faster than normal. His limbs and hands were long andgraceful, almost spindling when he traipsed through the mutlu branches like asimian in the Eccerow rain forests. His skin looked ashen in the fading lightstreaming through the trees, like a copper quionne hiding unpolished in a just-opened treasure box. His chin and nose were pinched, his cheeks high yet hollowand framing his sunken eyes. The eyes had no apparent iris, just one massivepupil in each socket, both staring with deadening certainty at what lie just behindhis footsteps. Wavy, auburn hair fell to his neck, its sheen most lustrous in theway oil sits heavy atop the sea's surface. His thin, pale mouth was wide with mirthlike a Bogabi desert jester, fixed under a curled mustache. His purplish lips barelyconcealed rows of smallish, winking teeth.Night fell upon Eurastad and the smells on the wind trailed up the darkman's nostrils. His half-lidded eyes fluttered while the man breathed deeply like achef wafting the contents of a new entree to test its fragrance. He picked andprodded through each and every smell, discarding the food, human and animalwaste, fowl, and far-off spices. The dark man searched for one scent in particular,and nothing else would do. The smell could not easily be described. It was ethereal and fragile, like lacyfairy wings or webbed feather seeds. Overall the smell was uniform, but subtle
 
differences lingered in as a face would gain recognition by swimming into motionfrom one's memory. In this case the smell was bubble-light laughter, a warmhearth, braided blonde hair, hot sweet rolls and roughly bound books filled withcrayon drawings. The aroma lingered as one, but upon careful inspection the darkman knew it came from two sources. It was lighter than air with tiny pockets of heady fragrances that suggested something more than just an unusual wrinkle of the nose. Few creatures could detect such a fragrance, but the dark man let it fillhim up while its complex richness enlarged his black eyes. A low growl escapedhis throat.What the dark man smelled were dreams and his mind thrummed withroaring hunger.Behind him two shadowed figures stood watch. They too growled, theirbody's twitching while awaiting further command. Just as the wind flowed freely through the invisible forest border, the darkman could sense this distinct smell seeping through a magical barrier. The barriercould not be seen by the naked eye, but it shimmered and pulsed like a blinkingmirage on a sandy horizon – only disappearing when the gaze looked directlyupon it. The dark man's knot-braid boots stood right at the border, covered in thewhite chalk of dead mutlus. The border spell – though weak – repelled him andmade him want to turn around and head back into the forest. Several months ago,the dark man could not stand this close to the border without severe convulsionsand full-body pain, but now the twinge of magical energy could be scratched andforgotten like the itchy bite of a teasley beetle. The final rays of sun dipped beneath the tree line, casting Roanoke in a coldbath of ambient light and criss-crossing shadows. The dark man felt the spellbreaking down as though the light had been its final source of power. It crackedlike translucent lightning, surging out of existence all around the Roanoke border.In seconds it was gone. For most creatures it was like the spell had never been.Any normal passer-by or forest animal would never notice a difference.But the dark man did. He motioned his followers to his side while his mouthcontorted into an icy smile that pulled at the sinewy muscles of his long face.“No longer a prison,” the dark man said. A fortress. The furcula is broken.”

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