The Era of the Iron Blade: Prologue(Fiction)

The world pretends to know nothing of war, but the conflict between man and creaturekin dates back to before the first sword.

Beasts occasionally drifted too far from their nests, and would terrorize settled lands with their mangled manes and magnificent maws. They came feathered and furred, small and sneaky, large and luminous. Some were peaceful, allowing peasant eyes to ingest the allure of their midnight wings, their flaming eyes. Others saw them as small, feeble snacks, and would scoop them up to feast upon.

Humans, weak as they were, used their minds to survive. They noticed that, of all the land surrounding their settlements, those filled with iron were quiet. No beasts took up residence in or around parts of the land ripe with the simple metal. The feeble ones, with their developing minds, sought to take the iron from its bed and surround their villages with it as best they could. It was not an easy task, as tools for this sort of work were yet to be perfected. Collecting iron was back breaking work, albeit profitable. Those that carried out the deed were rewarded with extra food, land, comfort from the cold–leading to competition, leading to growth.

This angered some of the beasts, for their hatred of iron burned like fire. Having the smell of iron closer to their hunting grounds caused them to associate that hatred with humans, who were then attacked when journeying out for supplies or contact with other settlements. Since lining strict pathways with the powerful metal proved too difficult, the feeble ones tried to wear it upon themselves. Charms, rings, belts–anything they could craft that held a bit of iron became essential. While it did not always keep the beasts at bay, it helped in some small way. Still, the blood of the feeble yet spilled because of claw and talon.

Eventually, the heat of anger flooded into the minds of mankind. No longer would they live in fear, lives dictated by the fright instilled by screeches and howls in the night. They took the heat of their hearts and created the hottest fire the heavens would allow, fusing their rage with the iron to create tools of protection. At first, only long rods were created. Thwacking large beasts with these surprised their furred countenance, sending some running in fear. Others took it as a challenge, fighting back. It was the first time man had truly fought back. The beasts now thought twice before challenging their once-feeble-game. Most, anyway.

One fiend, known as the Beast of Blackened Blood, tore life away from the wife of a once happy man. Her death lit within him the angriest fire of all, which he released into the world with dark intent. With it, he bent iron into the very shape of his soul, the simple pole becoming flattened, but carrying an edge as sharp as the cut of true loss. Holding it was impossible, as latching onto his pain made him all the more unable to continue living. He had loved his wife, and thought often of wrapping her up in her favorite blanket on nights with chill breezes and unrelenting darkness. Thus, he cut a length of the cloth from that blanket, wrapped it round a small rod, and meant to attach it to his blade, connecting his love to his pain, using the memory of her to help him cope with the stinging edge of the sharpest loss. To affix the handle, he needed a middle piece. While the beast had killed her, she was not felled without dealing out damage of her own–his wife had been strong. Stronger than he. With the iron she had at hand, a bone talon had she wrent from the beast’s lashing claw. The man took it and saw it behaved somewhat like iron when heated. Melting one side to the blade, and the other to the small, blanketed pole, he forged the hilt of the bone talon, to ever remind him what had caused his sweet swaddled flower to leave him with a wretched red scar in her place.

Such was the first blade to grace man’s hand.

The feeble man had used his mind and anger to grow the claw he had not been given as birthright. Many feared for him, as the Beast of Blackened Blood was known to be one of the fiercest of all beasts. The man did not fear. He merely wished to cut the beast from this world as it had cut his flower.

The man found the beast, and readied for battle. The fiend slashed madly, yet the man slashed madder yet. It’s claw tore at his cheek, but he then separated the claw from the creature’s arm entirely. Shrieking with pain and despair, the beast attempted to use its large, sharp beak to take the sword. However, it could not do as it had intended–the man drew back, then ducked forward to slice open the chest of the beast, it’s terribly dark blood oozing slowly from the gash, hissing from upon the blade’s edge.

The beast retreated some steps, gathering it’s bearings. Curiously, it did not retreat entirely. Behind it lay a smaller, scared version of the creature. A love.

The man, his eyes red with lust for vengeance, cut through the black blooded beast’s leg, leaving it on the ground, slow and nearly helpless. He ran beyond, closing in on the smaller beast, which appeared too scared to run.

“So stolen whence from me, I too purloin from you.”

With the beast watching, he cleaved free the head of the smaller beast, causing the large to roar in a fit of rage and panic. It tried to rise and fight, but could not. The man, his work finished, stabbed the blade into the head of the fallen lover of blackened blood, leaving it skewered into the ground for all beastkind to witness. It could not be moved by them, for the sword held the angriest iron, and as affected they were by the raw metal, this forged variety sent their senses sailing into oblivion.

The beast of blackened blood died with a hatred so foul in its heart, it was felt by all beastkind. Those once peaceful turned harsh, and those already harsh grew more ferocious still. The child of the beast ate his father’s heart for strength and purpose, promising to carry on a dying wish of delivering death upon the man who killed his progenitors. It was not known to the beasts why the man did as was done, only that it was.

The beasts swore distrust and hostility. The man began forging swords for all of his brethren, in hopes they not go without that which freed his soul from the fire that before caged it.

There is no war. Yet, this world cannot exist without conflict. The Era of the Iron Blade is the spark to the inferno we find ourselves in today. We must either quell it, or have it blaze through to satiation.

First and before all else, it must be believed that the iron burns brightly still.

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Nora: The Aeth Meadows (Fiction)

Nora stepped along the path of the just-pink meadow, the odd sun of Aeth casting its first color through the strangely alive trees. The light swathed her leather and steel armor in a small warmth, causing her body to shiver a bit at the prospect of a change in temperature. She stretched her toned arms above her head, the leather sleeves she normally wore tucked away in her pack. She enjoyed feeling the chill breeze of morning passing over her naked skin, and sighed at the touch of its refreshing embrace.
The Aeth meadows that had come to house her were now a bit more familiar, more homelike. She had two separate camps, both outfitted with reasonably sturdy shelter and neatly hidden supplies, the first slightly moreso that the second. The nameless blade, who had become her greatest ally of late, bounced casually at her right hip, the silver hilt and guard absorbing the color of the sun. She knew that if she were to draw it, the sword’s length of uncertain metal would hold the pale pink of the sun’s equally uncertain light. The only sure thing she knew of both was their bond; when one’s color changed, the other followed suit. Even that was a stretch. She knew only that both changed. She knew not which was leader, or follower.
Nora glanced about for what she always searched for these days–any sign of sentient life. The land had challenged her survivability to the brink of death and back, never letting up and always ready to render her nothing more than fodder for the creatures of the woods, fertilizer to the trees. She knew there had to be some intelligent life, and that it had to be somewhere in the vicinity of this meadow. Her meadow. It provided all she needed to live, but that might not mean much. She had no idea of other forms of sentient life needed the same things she needed. But they had to exist. They just had to. No evidence of this claim came to light, but Nora felt it in her stomach. She simply hadn’t looked hard enough, or in the right manner.
She also didn’t know exactly why she felt this need. It hadn’t come about until she had settled in, found her sword, and gone through the motions of building herself a second camp. Maybe it was simply time to up the anty of her adventure, get to the point where she needed to communicate with another being who didn’t understand her words or ways. Perhaps she wished to conquer whatever other secrets might lie in the meadow, before she herself became conquered at an inopportune moment.
More than anything, she felt it in her blood. It drove her towards this path, the purpose in the tight muscles of her arms, legs, and stomach too stubborn and direct for her mind to fight the forward momentum with uncertainty.
At that moment, she saw it. One with an untrained eye and a lack of knowledge concerning the workings of the woods could surely miss it.
An opening to a cave, adorned on each side with moss-ridden, ancient looking poles of living wood.
The blade clinked at her hip lightly as she came to a stop, frozen.

Nora: Cloud Skipper (Fiction)

Nora skipped along the clouds with the tip of her blade, bouncing along at the speed of a bird with six wings. She didn’t need to breathe here, but her chest drew in the un-air surrounding her nevertheless, exhaling it the same. It did nothing for her but relieve the tension of one who, until this point, felt completely human.

The pink clouds drifted about her as she danced off of them, some chiming with small notes when the tip of her blade dipped into them.

The Sword of the Sky. The Clouded Sting.

Saelenor.

Her destination floated in stark contrast to the surrounding area. Dark and filled to brim with an electric pulse, the fortress held the other half. Nora knew; she could feel it as sure as she could grip the hilt of her trusted blade. It had chosen her, and now she was one with its power. Nothing could stop her, as long as the sky remained lit.

She could feel the fullness of Aeth’s moon creeping up behind her. With a great swing, she blasted herself backwards toward the storm-ridden door. As her feet lightly touched the floor before it, the pulsing electric current surrounded her, recognizing what she held–what she was.

Nora aimed the point of the sword straight at the lock on the door of storm. The electricity, in defense of its home, encircled the lock, casting bolts of harsh red and violet lighting towards the middle.

She smiled, and twisted the sword, as if it were the key to the world itself.

The lock shattered, the electric bolts scattering. Where the lock once held the door there now remained nothing more than a large hole, a breach.

Eye of the storm, she thought absentmindedly.

With a glance over her shoulder, Nora, stepped forward. The pink hue of the sky had darkened, and she wasn’t sure how much time she had left.

Saelenor. Her mind at once reeled with the power of it, and with the anxiety of its close departure from her being. She should have waited for the next full sun, should have gotten here earlier, should have thought this through more carefully…

But where was the fun in that?

Nora: Discovery (Fiction)

Nora stepped along the path of the just-pink meadow, the odd sun of Aeth casting its first color through the strangely alive trees. The light swathed her leather and steel armor in a small warmth, causing her body to shiver a bit at the prospect of a change in temperature. She stretched her toned arms above her head, the leather sleeves she normally wore tucked away in her pack. She enjoyed feeling the chill breeze of morning passing over her naked skin, and sighed at the touch of its refreshing embrace.

The Aeth meadows that had come to house her were now a bit more familiar, more homelike. She had two separate camps, both outfitted with reasonably sturdy shelter and neatly hidden supplies, the first slightly moreso that the second. The nameless blade, who had become her greatest ally of late, bounced casually at her right hip, the silver hilt and guard absorbing the color of the sun. She knew that if she were to draw it, the sword’s length of uncertain metal would hold the pale pink of the sun’s equally uncertain light. The only sure thing she knew of both was their bond; when one’s color changed, the other followed suit. Even that was a stretch. She knew only that both changed. She knew not which was leader, or follower.

Nora glanced about for what she always searched for these days–any sign of sentient life. The land had challenged her survivability to the brink of death and back, never letting up and always ready to render her nothing more than fodder for the creatures of the woods, fertilizer to the trees. She knew there had to be some intelligent life, and that it had to be somewhere in the vicinity of this meadow. Her meadow. It provided all she needed to live, but that might not mean much. She had no idea of other forms of sentient life needed the same things she needed. But they had to exist. They just had to. No evidence of this claim came to light, but Nora felt it in her stomach. She simply hadn’t looked hard enough, or in the right manner.

She also didn’t know exactly why she felt this need. It hadn’t come about until she had settled in, found her sword, and gone through the motions of building herself a second camp. Maybe it was simply time to up the anty of her adventure, get to the point where she needed to communicate with another being who didn’t understand her words or ways. Perhaps she wished to conquer whatever other secrets might lie in the meadow, before she herself became conquered at an inopportune moment.

More than anything, she felt it in her blood. It drove her towards this path, the purpose in the tight muscles of her arms, legs, and stomach too stubborn and direct for her mind to fight the forward momentum with uncertainty.

At that moment, she saw it. One with an untrained eye and a lack of knowledge concerning the workings of the woods could surely miss it.

An opening to a cave, adorned on each side with moss-ridden, ancient looking poles of living wood.

The blade clinked at her hip lightly as she came to a stop, frozen.

Dawn Blade Part 3 (Fiction)

Nora’s foot smashed into the door with a blistering force. The old frame crumbled beneath the effort of her attack, dust billowing up as the full weight of it hit the floor beneath. Nora covered her eyes to shield them from the dirt filled air. This turned out to be a mistake.

As soon as her arm came down, Beron’s axe came sharply into view, aimed directly for her skull. It sliced through the air fast and firm. Nora’s eyes locked onto it, and her sword hand came up with her trusted blade in tow. The solid metals clashed with a loud ring, Nora’s arm slightly faltering to the full force attack from Beron.

“Nice to see you again, friend.” His voice came out gritty as the air surrounding them.

“Likewise,” Nora said through clenched teeth, pushing off his advance and rolling to the side. She turned, and they faced off against one another. The blade of dawn shone with a bright, metallic orange. Beron noticed.

“Looks like you’ve got an odd new sword. Guess these plains have finally begun to treat you well. I had heard things.” He laughed. “Some were saying you were the new Broken. Said your mind got all sorts of messed up by this place.” He shook his head in mock pity. “You really should have known better than to come after me. You need your rest, Nora. For your health!”

Nora laughed. It was not humorless. “You sure do play the villain smoothly. A lot occurred while I was away, it seems.”

Beron nodded. “They refused me my clear position. I had no choice.”

The tip of the dawn blade pointed directly at Beron’s beating heart. Nora’s arm muscles flexed easily with the motion. Dawn brought her blade power, the magic of it flowing through her, awakening even her most docile potentials. “You always have choice, Beron. Until today.” The tip of the blade set aflame, the fire spreading down to the hilt with a bright fury.  “Today I take that away from you. Among other things.”

It was Beron’s turn to laugh. “Do tell.”

Nora shrugged. “Arms, sight, dignity…” Her legs bent at the knee as she readied her assault. This would not be fun. Just necessary. “Whatever muses might strike me in the moment.”

Beron grinned a dark grin, one Nora was not accustomed to, one he had learned in the time they had spent apart. So much has happened, she thought absentmindedly. Now, this… “Let us see who this dawn favors!” He smashed something underneath his skin, making a sound like lighting cutting stone. The veins in his arms became a dark purple, and his already protruding muscles seemed to dance beneath his flesh with new-found might.

Nora swallowed, then looked down the length of her blade. The tip still pointed towards Beron’s heart. She felt as if the sword was nodding to her, confident and stalwart.

She nodded, back to the sword, and to Beron. “Let’s.”

The Farmer (Fiction)

This is more or less a Harvest Moon fan fiction. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I have always loved the concept of how the stories normally begin, but I have always wished they took a different direction as you progressed from day one. 

Anyway. 

I hopped out of the truck, and turned to wave to my friendly driver. His wrinkly, grizzled face seemed to recognize this in some fashion, but his mouth put no words to it. He directed a thumb to his truckbed, reminding me to grab my stuff. I laughed awkwardly, and thanked him, taking my things.

He drove off quickly. I appreciated the honesty of his actions. Nice enough to give some idiot city kid a ride, but unwilling to even pretend he obeyed the same social rules. That was nice. Refreshing. Maybe I should be more…rude? I guess that’s how people from back home would describe it.

Home…weird. This was home now.

I looked out over the land before me, my eyes scanning it as if I knew what I was looking at. My lips pressed together in what probably looked like consideration, but really I was merely trying to hide my ignorance from, well, no one. Old habits die hard; the ones that make you look like you know what you’re doing die harder.

The land looked pretty dry. There were some spots pretty clearly used for something other than grass. They looked unkempt at best. Rocks and weeds crowded the once thriving cropland. A couple trees seemed to have taken up residence there too, excited to grow in the once-forbidden area.

I saw the house I would be fixing up and sleeping in about a quarter of a mile away. Good! I’ll need the extra walking time to build up some cardio. I had heard farm work can be fairly taxing. I had been on the swim team for a couple years back in high school, but I didn’t do much in the way of staying in shape after the fact. That could be seen as a weak decision, but I had been scrambling to find any kind of job. I couldn’t exactly put in the time for spending calories when it was difficult enough to afford getting any.

I sighed heavily, looking out across the landscape.

“This is gonna be a lot more work than writing up stupid resumes, isn’t it?”

I guess I’ll be talking to myself more often from now on. That’s weird.

No one here to call me out on it at least.

I approached the house. It looked fairly intact. Some mismatched tiles adorned the roof, and one of the windows looked cracked to the point of it impressing me by even holding together at this point.

As I thought this very thought, the glass fell away from the window in small, dangerous shards.

I smiled.

To be continued…

For my own pleasure, really. I guess that’s cool if you like it too. 

Misdirection (Fiction)

Mark strolled along the sidewalk of the quiet street. He turned, and found himself in unfamiliar territory. This caused him to smile. His soft, gray eyes scanned the road ahead. He saw no one. Sighing contentedly, he continued on.
Or at least, that had been his plan.
“Hey there, happy man. Let’s see how happy that wallet of yours is, shall we?”
A voice that sang like a bird with clipped wings reached out to Mark’s ears. He did not tremble, and he did not feel the urge to shit himself. The speaker reached into Mark’s back pocket, which was a conclusively fruitless effort. Mark always kept his wallet in his front left pocket.
Without turning, Mark spoke. “I assume you have a gun. Otherwise, this would be quite silly of you.”
Like a small burst of concentrated thunder, the gunshot caused Mark’s eyes to widen significantly, and made his ears ring.
“I wouldn’t get smart with me, if I was you. I seen you around town, y’know. ‘Guy this happy,’ I says to myself, ‘must have cash like a kingpin.’” The flightless bird pushed Mark forward. Mark took three steps, and turned around. The motion was slow, smooth. Velvet against water.
The creature spoke. “Put your wallet on the ground, and I might let you leave here mostly alive, happy man.” He aimed the gun at Mark’s face. Mark’s form refused to tremble.
He smiled, and replied. “How was your weekend?”
The wingless man blinked. “What?”
“I asked how your weekend was,” Mark rephrased in a casual tone. “Mine was fine. Sure am sad I have to go back to work though!” Mark smiled. He took a single step forward. It was friendly. Welcoming. The kind of step that made you want to step closer in turn.
The bird looked confused. He shook the feeling away as best he could. The beak parted once more. It held less confidence. Still, a crazed menace clung to the belly of each word uttered. The song was bitter and cold.
“You think I won’t kill you? I’ve killed bigger guys than you, buddy.” The bird flapped its lesser wings proudly. “Smarter guys, too. Faster, better equipped.” A singular chuckle. The gun-wielding hand fell to his side. “None as happy, though. But you don’t look too happy now, do you?” The song was split along its seams.
Mark had taken another step forward while the bird spoke. It was not welcoming this time, but it was smooth all the same. He looked into the feral soul of the beast. “So, you really would then?” His eyes were still as silence. “You would take my life? You think that this action will make you happy?” The words were tinged with a deep sadness.
The bitter song flared in a crescendo of red ferocity as the beast threw up its arm. The gun pointed straight at Mark’s chest.
At least, where it had been. Mark’s foot lunged forward and to the left. He bent down with a swiftness unbound by the air that surrounded it. Now on the creature’s right, He lashed his arm out towards the hand that held indecent steel, the foot pushing and the torso extending as if it had exploded from a barrel of its own. The entire movement seemed to occur outside of time.
He grabbed the wrist. The beast’s eyes flashed from Mark’s face to his hand, blinking wildly, deranged in appearance. The redness of them did not frighten Mark.
His grip tightened, and the creature let out a wail of pain. Mark yanked the gun from the wild bird with his other hand. He then pulled the wrist forward, tripping the being in the process. It roared inefficiently as it fell awkwardly.
The attacker tried to stand, only to realize his ankle was no longer what it had been a few seconds before. He eyed Mark angrily, then fearfully.
“Look man, I didn’t mean it, I…just, gimme back my gun and we’ll be square, okay? No hard feelings!”
Mark’s eyes changed, then. The soft clouds of them, like sky above drizzle, hardened into a sharp shade of iron and anger.
The bird tweeted weakly. “What’s…now don’t go gettin’ mad now, you know probably better than most, guy’s gotta do what he’s gotta do to survive, right buddy?”
Mark did not smile.
“Flightless you are,” he spoke the words as thunder to lightning. His arm rose. The barrel of the gun rested between the eyes of the poor, poor creature. It blubbered without meaning.
“Flightless, you shall remain.”
The broken song could not be fixed.
Mark’s arm did not tremble.