|02-24-2004, 12:03 PM||#1|
"My mossst brright Lorrrd, Generral Perrrssickintol wisshes an audience. He ssoaksss light outsside the chamberrrsss," spoke a mysrra of enormous size, prostrating himself upon the ground reverently. It was a throwback to the first attempts at his race's creation and accordingly had deficiencies both mental and of its palate.
A willowy being nearly a stride tall twisted its central tendril and glanced upwards at the crystaline roof, carefully keeping the guard from his vision. "It is allowed," he trilled from loose membranes beneath his large aquamarine orbs.
As the mysrra stood, he shielded his face so that the lights reflecting off the High god would not be profaned by entering his lowly eyes, and hurried out of sight.
The rowan made a simple gesture and the layers of interlocking, starfish-like creatures that composed the transluscent dome above shifted and swarmed, focusing the illumination directly over the Emporer. At the touch of increased lumenosity its thin green skin darkened majestically.
As the General was shown within, another guard apologetically stepped within its path and murmered, a bright stone within its clawed hand. Satisfied that no harmful spell was being held in check, it bowed its already lowered head and stepped back to its position. The General ignored the act, many attempts had been made on the Emporer's life and it was a wise precaution.
"Emporer," the General said respectfully, twining its tentacles together in front of it and touching them to the patch of skin between the eyes.
The Emporer reguarded the rowan before it. "Why have you left the Arcane Circle? Have we secured the Charslope Range?"
The General dipped a thirsty toe into one of the water-filled ditches that speckled the chamber. "It is not triumphant tidings I bring. The bringers of chaos have released a new threat upon our troops. One that can take to the air."
The Emporer vibrated wordlessly in disdain, "Then simply have the furred ones use their crossbows. Why trouble me with this?"
"They have skin seemingly made from the materials of the mountains within which they dwell." The General lifted out its foot from the liquid and straightened seriously. "It turns away the bolts with ease."
The Emporer's mood of exasperated boredom gave way to anger with a jerk of its tentacles. "They dare challenge our superiority with such! We will check their advance easily... those shunners of light will know our true superiority soon enough." the Emporer strolled down the ramp to stand before the General.
"I sense a plan, Emporer."
"You do. Summon that group of mercenary creatures from the swamp, they must procur for us some components..."
Two weeks later...
The Emporer and three of his aides stood within a forest clearing, looking straight up into the sky, the direct glare of the sun causing no discomfort to their eyes. As the sun approached the apex of its climb the Emporer made a gesture. A goblin rapidly scuttled over to a raised dais and set down the wriggling form of a day-old human infant. Across the clearing another goblin set down a large egg into a form-fitting indention within the exact center of another dais. A third goblin handed a large feather to the Emporer and ran back within the woods. The four rowans approached the infant and entwined their right and left tentacles with one another, forming a circle about it. The middle appendages lifted and pointed towards the sun. They all gripped the feather and slowly lowered it down onto the infant's back and touched each of the shoulder blades lightly. The Emporer took a dagger and reaching down cut a hank of the babe's sparse hair and knotted it about the quill of the feather. They quickly moved off to the other dais and wrapped the hair and feather about the egg. Walking in long, rythmic strides, each rowan in unison, they approached the empty, unadorned dais in the middle of the clearing. They surrounded it at an even distance, taking great care not to be between the three dais, and dug their root-like toes into the grassy soil. One of the rowans simply pointed to the egg dais, the next to the babe, the other to the ground, each rowan blurring with the swiftness of their vibration in turn. The Emporer then slowly and langorously, as if pushing through a viscous yet unseen substance, pointed directly at the sun as it reached its peak of the day and the lines of force were established. The rowan's shaking stopped like a hand gripping a tuning fork. The air within the clearing went dead. What appeared as a visible stream of dustmotes flowed from the two far dais', meeting one another directly over the center. A shape gradually started to form upon it as the egg and babe faded from site. The streams petered off with the last ghostly image on each side disapearing. What now lie within the middle dais was a soft-looking, slightly transparent ovaloid. A large egg without shell or form. Abruptly a stream of focused sunlight burst downward from above, bathing the dais in intolerable brightness. Seen only by the rowans a small red dot appeared within the yoke of the egg. Large red blood vessels quickly branched out from it and surrounded the outer membrane, beating slow at first, but quickly picking up its pace. A cloud of thin flesh soon obscured the forming heart. Within moments a large darkening completely filled the ovaloid and the sunlight faded. The membrane surrounding the creature shriveled and dried. The rowans leaned forward as the tip of a beak punctured the lining. An audible, gasping intake of breath was followed by a thinly scaled toe rupturing from another position. As the being within gained strength with each breath it began to rock and jar, eagerly attempting to escape its fragile prison. One of the rowans reached forward to keep it from rolling off the dais when an angled head finally shoved through. It opened bleary eyes and seeing the wriggling of the approaching tendril snapped at it with its knob-tipped beak, nipping off a finger of its length. The rowan let out a buzz of keening pain and staggered several steps backwards, murmering a healing spell reflexively. The Emporer ignored his subordinate and watched in fascination as the chick eventually freed itself and lie panting atop the dais, its wet down fluffing in the sunlight. He examined it carefully, scrutinizing its design with satisfaction. Its long, angular body was marred only by its bulging stomach that was rapidly digesting the last of its nourishment. Two chubby arms with strong, talon tipped fingers were as a human's from its sides, while a couple of thin, bony wings sprouted from its shoulders, hanging down the length of its back. 'Only time would tell if they would develop into usefulness,' the Emporer thought to itself.
The two long legs bent backwards at the knee with five toes on its foot, four at the front, one for grasping jutting down and inwards from the heel. Its head was not as he had expected, with narrow, bulging eyes peering down the length of its flexible looking beak. A flat, wrinkled bag of flesh hung loosely from the base of the underbeak the Emporer noticed thoughtfully. Its bone structure was sound, its flesh unmarred... yes... the spell had been successful. A creature that would meet these gargoyles in their own medium. With human cunning and viciousness coupled with the ferocity of a bird of prey it would prove to be a creature of such deep blood-thirstedness that even the furs would respect it. A mighty blow to the kisiici indeed.
Within a couple hours it had dried and a two-foot tall ball of fluff was being carried off by a mysrra with a look of distaste. "Orders to guard it with our lives... another little monstrosity to look after..." he thought, never occuring to him that he fell under the same category.
The guard approached a large tent in the middle of the encampment and squeezed in through the flap. A petite female mysrra with a beautifully spotted mane was poised over a table, rubbing pigments into a map made of thin parchment. She looked up as the guard entered and tilted her head back and to the side. "What by the rays of Yuzla is THAT?"
"A new edition to our army I have been told, Shilalien." said the guard sarcastically and unceremoniously tossed his load onto the furs that carpeted the floor. The chick landed on its feet easily and looked about with a glance of piercing curiosity. It walked back to the guard and let out an unnerving cry. The guard flinched as it suddenly cocked its head backwards and looked up at him.
"Well what do you expect me to do with it? Go give the beast to Cryrsen, she lost her kit and is too weak to be back at the front." she eyed the chick critically. "But surely she's recovered enough to watch after this..."
The guard murmered and grabbed the chick by its legs and crop and whisked it up and over his shoulder as it thrashed in fright.
"Theres no more, close your beak!" Cryrsen said severely many months later. No one would spare their meat for the creature and so she was forced to feed it on the leftovers. It was ever begging for more of the mushed organs, fat and blood that could be scraped from the rubbish bin of the butcherer, though she added milk to it provided by the Rowans. "Would like to know what the Creators think you'll be used for you mishapen hawk..." she growled. Every week one of them would come by to check on its growth and make sure it was healthy. It had started to develop real feathers which seemed to delight the rowan lords.
The chick opened its mouth and shut it several times and its throat muscles tightened slightly as she stood up. "Haaa... haaa... alk?" it crooned, looking thoughtfully at Cryrsen.
The aging mysrra spun around, dropping the bowl she had been taking to clean. "WHAT?" she gasped.
"Ha..alk! Ha'alk!" it responded, seeming pleased with itself.
"What ARE you?" she said in wonder, peering into its sharp eyes.
The rowans were notified of its gradual speaking ability immediately and there was much comendation. It grew quickly and as commanded by the Creators was taught the ways of battle as soon as it could understand simple commands. It delighted in challenging its instructors as it dived and whirled about their blows.
Learning that its eyesight was many times that of the 'furs' the rowans quickly employed it for surveillance of enemy advancements.
Never fully accepted by the mysrrae, the ha'alk grew bitter and angry. Only during battle could it forgets its lonliness and ignore its sense of non-belonging. Only then could it also feast, for all the wild game was jealously guarded by the mysrra. The green masters seemed to find it amusing, watching him gut the corpses of fallen goblin and human enemies. He considered this his hard-won award. Stone skinned gargoyles he occasionally glimpsed, but had never been in combat with their like. He dreamt of battle with the creatures most nights, for perhaps then he would win honor among the furs who had raised him.
Many months later he was returning from patrolling some hours after dark when his ears picked up the sound of cries coming from the encampment. Fire had been set to many of the tents and their frames blazed brightly. By firelight he landed by the twisted remains of Cryrsen's tent and there, amongst the wreckage she lay. She was try to extricate herself from a pile of smoldering skins, though he could tell that the arm she used was her only usable limb left. "Who?" he asked simply.
Cryrsen bared her teeth and shaking her head against the pain said fiercly, "The stone skins came from the mountains and dropped oil and torches upon us... then they brought forth stones and did the same. They but recently left... to... the north."
He untangled a knotted bit of leather from about her legs and peered in fury at her gaping abdoment. "I will not live for long... will you bring it to an end swiftly?" she said slowly and with much effort.
The ha'alk studied her a moment and reached down a wing to encircle her neck and gently turned her about. With a brisk bob of its head, he reached down his beak and drove it swiftly into the base of her skull. He watched her still corpse for several moments before hurling himself into the air and after the gargoyles. He found them quite quickly for they could not glide any faster than the wind would take them. Letting out a piercing cry, and with a quick flap of his wings, he set upon the last of the pack. Ripping with talons and beak he made hole after hole through the gargoyle's wing membranes before it could so much as turn to look upon him. With all possiblity of flight destroyed, the gargoyle hurtled to the ground like a stone. The ha'alk dived with it and continued to make deep rivlets in its flesh.
"Tell me what beast of the Rowans you are so that I may curse you before I die!" the gargoyle roared as it plummeted to terrinor.
"I'mma ha'alk... but you'll never curse anything." Gripping its back with his taloned toes he reached and pulled back its head. With a quick jerk of his beak he tore out its stoney throat. He released the creature moments before it struck the ground and flapped strenously to regain altitude. He set off for the remainder of the raiding party, relishing his first taste of gargoyle blood.