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Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Death of a Star is still only in its baby stages, but this is what opened.

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The death of a star is what brought us to this place. We were chasing a cosmic reaction across a white, glittering desert when the storm overtook us. It was if the Sky Lord himself had doomed our adventure from the beginning, trapping me and my team so that we would never find his secrets.

The snow had engulfed us, my team and I had to give way to the elements and we sought shelter for the night in a cave that we somehow managed to stumble in to. At first there was nothing to commend our shelter, nothing spectacular about it. We were just so thankful to be out of the cutting wind that we did not take notice of our surroundings at first. But when we did. But when we did! Oh my, what a sight we did behold.

It was like stepping inside the most spectacular of gemstones. An array of colours dazzled our starved eyes, greens of variations I didn’t know even existed. Blues and yellows. Pinks danced into purple. Turquoise flickered white. How the crystals managed to transform such minuscule light was a complete mystery to me. But it did. And it was breathtaking to behold. It made us curious; it made us bold. We dropped out cumbersome gear and ventured further into the cave, hoping to see – what? I still to this day cannot remember. I believe that we were under a spell.

But what did we see? You probably will not believe me. And if you do you will think that we were the most lucky. We found treasure. Not glittering gold. Not an old tomb. Not even cave paintings. We found a hoard of treasure most extraordinary. Who was hoarding it or for what purpose we could not tell. It was piled high through the domes of the cave like a secret pirate hoard, and I half expected to hear the deep rumble of a dragon snoring.

All we could hear was our halted breaths.

Instead of piles of gold it was gemstones. In the rough, but so beautiful and rich in colours. I am ashamed to say that they made me drool. They made me excited.

We found what must have been weapons. Swords and shields, clear and brilliant. They could have been forged from the finest and most pure of ice, so sharp the blade cut my thumb. I was mesmerised by the contrast of the perfect ice and my dark blood running down, refusing to relent. I felt like the blade was caressing my blood, embracing it and absorbing me into itself. I had to shake myself out of my trance. There was something fantastical about this place.

“Sir! Gabriel, sir! Who will believe that we have found this?” Dav’id whispered. He too was afraid that if he looked too closely the vision in front of us would vanish like the most splendid of daydreams.

“We set out to catch the essence of a fallen star, and along the way we have found a bounty the gods would envy,” I answered back.

“Aye, but whose bounty have we found?” Symon asked, his voice bounced off the crystal walls of the cave.

We had no answer for him. What could we possibly say?

“Perhaps we have stumbled upon a thieving fae?” Dav’id pondered out lout, still looking at the ice sword I held greedily.

Symon and I exchanged a sceptical glance.

“I think it would be better to set up camp and then we can speculate over our new found treasure, eh?” I suggested.

My team were good men, practical and followed leadership. We had our heater up and running and in no time a brew of tea was warming up for us. The warmth from our heater was kept contained in our shelter and we were thawed through. Symon, the stocky lad that he was soon had something cooking on a skillet. He was very good with making dehydrated food taste edible, not to mention he always seemed to have some sort of liquor on him and plenty to share around.

Dav’id was torn between food and glittering things. Both equally his greatest weaknesses. I smiled to myself as I watched him struggle between hovering over whatever Symon was cooking and looking over to the treasure hoard. I could hear the gears in his head spin out of control as he desperately wanted to catalogue what we found.

“Dav, I swear if you don’t fuck off soon I swear I’m gonna smack you senseless!” Symon barked.

Dav’id sat down in a heap. He pouted like a petulant child, but we knew his mood would improve once he got some food in his stomach. To pass the time he pulled out a black-paper cigarette and lit it on the heater. Each exhale he puffed in Symon’s direction. His own silent retort. Symon though, just smiled with his usual good nature and took a swig from one of his many flasks and then passed it to me with a wink.

“How long before we have to send up the flares?” Symon asked me.

I took a deep swig from the flask and swirled the liquor around in my mouth, it was so lovely and strong I wanted to relish it a bit before I swallowed it down.

“We will have to wait until the storm clears,” I finally said.

Symon threw something small at Dav’id, “Get out your geometrique so we know when this storm will pass, eh!”

“We will have to let the ship know what we found here,” I added.

“Do you think we will still carry on to find our star?”

I took a final drink from the flask before handing it back to Symon, “That is our mission.”

“Aye, but this is a bit of a show stopper, eh?” Symon said looking over to the hoard.

“Nothing stops finding the essence of a dead star,” I reminded him. Though I too had to look over my shoulder at the glowing treasure trove.

Dav’id cleared his throat, he had configured his geometrque and showed us the screen; a weather projection showed us what outside the cave looked like, it was chaos, “The wind is going to make the storm harder to clear because it keeps going around in circles. However, we should have enough clarity to send a message, though the chance of success is forty percent. I am predicting at least five hours before flares can be used with success.”

Five hours to be alone with the glittering hoard of wonders…. our hearts soared…

Dav’id was the first to give in; the little troll in him just could not keep his hands off all the gems and artefacts. He seemed to be searching for something. Symon and I watched from our little camp as Dav’id would go through the piles, pick something up and then put it down. He had started to make piles, but it was clear that he had not found what he was looking. The more he searched the more frustrated he got; “It’s here, it’s here. I know, it’s here,” he would mutter and rage.

This is the start of another story idea….

******

He staggers into his chambers. Exhausted and defeated. He does not care that the fire is out and the inevitable chill has invaded his bedroom; his home.

In a rush of emotion he flew back the tapestries and pulled the windows open so hard the joints wrenched. The gust of wind blew him back and the old general landed in a chair, his armour creaked and groaned. There was no one around anymore, he would have to rely on his own self to take off the cumbersome lot. Slowly, he manages to kick off his boots. They thump as he flings them off. He groans as he leans back, too exhausted to contemplate taking off anymore. It did not matter which way he sat himself, the metal cadge that was his armour was not made for sitting. In the end, he gave up trying to be comfortable.

He did not feel that he deserved to be so…

The door to his chamber flung open, uninvited it banged against the wall. The little toad that opened it hardly seemed able to provide such a force. The old general felt his blood boil at the site of the dainty man; slightly ruffled yet still fresh in his velvet and lace.

“Sire! We have lost!”

To the general, in that moment, this courtier stooge was all that was wrong in his world. All the court intrigues and plots were down to this one man; the Vasier who came in crying when all his plotting went sour.

He could not stand it.

He could not stand his voice!

“You Fool!” the general roared and for good measure, tore off his bloodied gauntlet and hurled it at the court dandy.

He ducked in time, much to the general’s annoyance. At least the fool kept close to the ground. If he had dared to come within arm reach the seasoned soldier in him was ready to tear limb from limb.

Personal feelings aside, the old general pulled off the scarlet red cape he wore over his armour. Princes wore fur, he was a simple man and chose simple cloth, sturdy and durable. The colour was part of his arms. It made him stand out. It made him the target. It was worn, and rough around the edges, much like the man who had worn it. Yet it served, it endured, and it was recognised.

His armour creaked and groaned as the old general clanked over to the monumental chest of drawers that held his faithful wife’s treasures, and with a strength one did not see in a man as old as he, he shifted the wooden monument with an ease that would shame any man. The Vasier watched with greedy eyes as he saw finally where the hiding place was. But he had no chance while the general lived.

The man scooped up a small and simple box from his hiding place, and wrapped it in his warriors cloak.

“Who is left?” The old general barked.

The Vasier gulped; “Only the Princess, sire.”

Accepting this, the general nodded, “Take me to her.”

On the school run, my daughter Lilianna decided to call the side walk ‘The Red Bone Forest’, it’s red cement you see. But we got to talking about what this forest would look like. Kids do have a massive imaginative scope, and in broad daylight holding mommy’s hand spooky stories are safe to speak of.

I’m sitting in Costa coffee, waiting for my friends from English Lit to turn up before we head off to Northumbria University for a day of workshops and lectures (I even crossed the damn bridge without screaming!) and well, the words just started to flow. Here is the begging of a new story:

The Red Bone Forest is a scary place where goblins gather in their hoards and you have to cross the Troll Bridge to enter, though why would any sane person choose to do so is beyond most people. The forest bed is covered in a thick, dry moss that has the same colour as dried blood, but rather than crunch under foot it oozes something thick and pungent. The trees, black and this of trunk leer at your, with long gnarly branches that seek to grab you at ever turn. The forest could be mistaken for being alive, as the canopy will change, seeking to blot out the light so that the dark ghouls will feel more at ease to come out and snatch the wandering souls.

But why is it called the Red Bone Forest? The trees aren’t red, and there are no bones around for anything that enters is eaten whole. And don’t be mistaken to think that the forest is haunted or cursed, I assure you that the residents are very much present and accounted for. It is their own deviousness that gives the trees and wood their own malevolence.

No. I’m afraid the tale goes far back into our memories, it involves a beloved king and his special armour, his enchantress of a daughter and what befell their family. So sick back listeners, put the light on and beware of shadows. This tale is not something to be listened to lightly….