TBAM – Chapter Two: D

See the rest of the novel here.

Two streets down from Levi’s house was the kind of takeaway that did everything. Fried chicken, pizza, burgers, chips, kebab, anything you could possibly be craving when you were alone and lacking the motivation to cook. Despite its proximity, Levi ordered online rather than face the cold November air. He settled down onto his sofa downstairs, determined to forget about work.

The only thing he forgot was what happened after that.

Levi was acutely aware of the hours he had lost when he opened his eyes and found himself lying on an unfamiliar four poster bed. Bright light escaped from a gap between some intricately embroidered and expansive curtains to his left. Pain bit through his temples as he pulled himself up. When he blinked and the memories of how he got here weren’t flooding back, his gut started churning. He was still fully dressed, and his stale clothes felt very constraining as he moved towards the curtains and viciously pulled them back. The light stabbed his pupils, and he squinted at the view from the large window.

The building he was in seemed to be situated on a hill, and looked down on a city that he didn’t recognize. He stood and stared, disbelieving. How could he have gotten here? His only thought was that he’d started drinking for some reason last night, got smashed, and broke into someone’s house. This place looked far too swanky for him to be here legitimately.

There was a gothic style desk opposite the bed, carved out of wood that was almost black. On top of it was a photo frame which faced away from him. Levi walked towards it, hoping he’d see a picture of someone he knew, and that it would help him remember how he’d ended up here. His hands were numb with panic when he turned the frame around.

The room around him disappeared. It was just him and the photo, his brain short-circuiting as he tried to comprehend what he was seeing. There were four unfamiliar people in the photograph, but two others that he did recognize. The bride and groom. His parents.

The fact there was a photograph of them here at all was confusing, but of their wedding day? In the house, Levi hadn’t found any photographs of a time before he was born. His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door.

“Levi? Are you awake?”

It was a woman’s voice, not one that he recognized. The accent was odd, but he couldn’t place it. Levi’s throat constricted and he wasn’t sure he wanted to answer the door. He squeezed the photograph in his sweaty hands. He didn’t know if he was ready for this, the possibility had always seemed remote and now the circumstances were so strange…

Did this person know his parents? Could she even be family?

Sunday Photo Fiction – Base

42 01 January 12th 2014

Copyright – Al Forbes

Sorry that this is so long. I’ll be stricter with my editing once exam season is over. To submit your own piece based on the prompt, click here.

The shed was the safe place, always had been. They played all kinds of games in the yard around it, but the shed was base. You couldn’t be “got” in the shed.

Alice curled up in a little ball in the half furthest from the door. The dust irritated her lungs, but she was too exhausted to cough. She scratched the scabs on her legs until they were sore pools of red. The stinging accompanied her into her dreams, where it turned into nettles that whipped against her shins as she forced her aching legs to run and duck through the undergrowth, the pain nothing in comparison to the vice of fear around her heart and throat.

She could hear the men thundering through the bushes behind her, their gleeful taunts becoming frustrated insults as they tired of the chase.  Eventually Alice was out of the forest and on the abandoned streets, littered with empty cars and silent houses. There was no time to be nostalgic when she recognised the house of a childhood friend, only enough to climb over the locked gate into the neglected yard.

Alice let go of her dream at the same time as she gave up the absurd hope that her pursuers would recognise the sacred status of the shed; when the door was kicked open.

Taking Back The Crown – Part Fifteen

Sorry about the missed day. Been a little distracted of late. I can only hope this mood improves by the time I start NaNoWriMo.

 Eighteen months later, their small army marched into Helena with Sonya and Linden at their head, but they didn’t see a soul. They pressed on, Sonya feeling uneasy, until they reached the central square.

 “This is a mistake.” Sonya breathed.

No sooner than she had finished whispering those words, a screaming mob of Rutilus and dark magicians had surrounded them. Sonya found herself taken back to the night of the raid on the Palace, watching as people were slaughtered. Not again. It wouldn’t happen again. She surged forward, throwing attacks at her enemies and watching them fall. Her recruits followed her into the chaos. She suffered blows on her back, front and legs but kept going until she found herself against the tall Palace gates. Sonya turned to see hundreds of Rutilus pressing towards her, and she couldn’t keep them at bay.

  What can I do? What can I do? Sonya thought. A Rutilus threw an attack, and she was blown into unconsciousness.

 Linden saw this happening and used his magic to shoot a blue flare into the sky. This was the signal to retreat.

 “What about Sonya?!” Orika yelled above the din.

 “She’s gone! There’s nothing we can do!” With that, he teleported back to the base.

 Orika ignored him and dived into the mass. With the aid of some other recruits who did not want to lose their leader, she retrieved Sonya’s body and finally retreated.

Taking Back The Crown – Part Twelve

Sonya visited Linden’s camp every night while she completed her training with Seta. As time ran only slightly slower in the Sprite World, she survived on very little sleep. Seta noticed her fatigue, but she gave him no hints as to why she was tired. To keep secrets from him, to put this emotional distance between herself and her mentor, saddened her. However, she had many distractions.

 Linden had been correct in his assumption that magicians would be more willing to fight with a member of the Royal Family at their side. The numbers grew quickly, and there was barely enough room for all of the recruits. Eventually, they created a concealed camp on Litia’s outskirts, one that was much larger. This made things much easier for Sonya, as the time difference meant she could get more rest.

 After weeks of patrolling Litia’s outer districts, they had not seen anyone, Rutilus or human. They came closer and closer to Litia’s capital, Helena. Only when they reached the edges of the capital did they come across small groups of Rutilus. Most of the time, they hid. When the time came to attack, they wanted to be prepared and they wanted the element of surprise. On one patrol though, they were seen by a female Rutilus. They captured and restrained her in an abandoned home.

 “Your efforts will be in vain!” she hissed. “We are all faithful to Magdalene. If she calls us you’ll have our entire race to contend with!” She spat in Orika’s face, broke her bonds and sent an attack flying across the room. Linden yelled out as it hit him in the face, cutting deeply across his cheek. Sonya quickly reacted, using her magic to trip the Rutilus before she could escape.

 Sonya executed the Rutilus that night. It was the first time she had killed anyone, and was shocked to find it so exhilarating. Having the power to rip someone’s life away was terrifying, but Sonya had no regrets. It needed to be done.

Taking Back The Crown – Part Eleven

Collected my first year results from my university tutor today. After convincing me that getting a 2.1 instead of a 1st was not the end of the world, he asked me what I had planned for the summer. I ended up telling him about NaNoWriMo, and now I’m really looking forward to it.

 “Your highness, I can’t tell you how relieved we are to see you again.”

 Linden Hayber was red-haired, well-dressed and handsome. His dark eyes surveyed Sonya. She met them, and they looked at each other in silence for a few seconds.

 “Is there any news of my mother or grandmother?” she asked.

 “Unfortunately not. I only have bad news. The information we have gathered suggests that both Trin and Naria have been trapped in some kind of netherworld, the entrance of which lies in the Back Desert. We have been told there is very little chance of them escaping.”

 “I have faith in them. They will find a way.” Sonya replied, stubbornly.

 “We have no way of knowing.” Linden stroked his chin. “Where have you been?”

 “Somewhere safe. Trin told me not to leave until she came back for me…” Sonya found herself reluctant to talk about the Natetic training ground.

 “She probably did not envisage these events. She couldn’t have known. You are in the right place now.”

 “How many people are here? What is your plan?” Sonya asked. Starved of information about Litia for the past four years, she was now eager for details.

 “We’ve been trying to gather troops for a long time now,” He gave a short sigh. “About two years, and we have thirty recruits.”

 “Only thirty?” she replied, sharply.

“Things will undoubtedly change now. We had assumed you had been taken by our enemies, along with Trin and Naria. With you here, things are different. People will fight if you are leading them.”

Taking Back The Crown – Part Ten

So, we are half-way through. Hurrah! I’ve increased the number of overall posts to twenty, and am struggling with literally just the last line of the thing. Everything else is written and ready.

 “You seem distracted, are you alright?” Seta asked quietly. He and Sonya were eating their evening meal in the dining room, surrounded by the gentle hum of other people’s conversations. Sonya replied that she was fine, but it didn’t stop Seta from looking concerned. Sonya changed her story.

 “Actually, I have a small headache. May I meditate alone in my room tonight rather than doing our usual exercises?”

 “Of course you may.” Seta was mocking her unusually formal tone.

 Once upstairs, Sonya changed again into her black robe. She warped straight to her old holiday home.

 On the path outside, Sonya shielded her eyes from the dazzling sunrise opposite her. She could hear the sounds of people laughing. The gates to the front of the house were open. She slowly walked up to the doors.

 “Hey! You’re too young to be around here!” A wiry, middle-aged woman walked towards Sonya from the left. Sonya turned and she stopped suddenly, her mouth going slack. Her wrinkled eyes looked Sonya up and down. “It can’t be…”

 “I’m here to see Linden Hayber.” Sonya said, calmly. She hadn’t known what to expect, whether they would even recognize her or if she’d have to convince them of her lineage. There was a pause before the woman complied.

 “Follow me.”

 She opened the doors and led Sonya through familiar hallways, up one set of stairs, and to a door that had been painted white. The laughter and voices of many men and women could be heard through the other walls, but this room seemed silent. She rapped on the door with her knuckles.

“Who is it?” an imperious voice answered.

 “It’s Orika. There’s…” She broke off and looked at Sonya before turning back to the door. “…Someone here to see you.”

Taking Back The Crown: Part Six

Sonya landed on her back, in the main room of the training ground, panting. Seta must have already been inside the room. Within seconds he was standing over her, looking at her injury. He yelled to someone outside the room to get the medic.

“Seta?” Sonya’s voice was weak.

“Yes? What happened to you?” Seta was trying to sit her up so he could look at the laceration on her back.

“I don’t think my mother’s coming back.”

“Do you have any other family? A home to go back to?” He was now attempting to stem the blood pouring from her wound. Sonya shook her head.

“It’s not safe.”

When the medic had used his magic to treat Sonya’s wound, she was taken upstairs to a small room with a slightly thicker futon than the one she’d been sleeping on.

“Whose room is this?” Sonya asked.

“It’s yours now.” Seta explained. “You can stay in this training ground and learn our ways. I’ve seen you meditating and doing your exercises, you’re capable of graduating from this school.” He paused. “I… I thought the elders would resist. They don’t like strangers. But… they trust me. And they have a feeling about you, they said.”

Sonya sat, silent, for a few moments before responding. “Thank you. For everything. But why?”

Seta frowned. “You’re just a child. You shouldn’t be on your own.” He told her to get some rest, and then left.

Sonya buried her head in her pillow. Just a child! If he knew who she was, he wouldn’t say that! She was a Litian heir. She possessed magical power that other magicians could only dream of. No injury could kill her. She felt like a fraud, pretending to be defenceless when in reality she was just a coward who didn’t know where else to go. Ashamed, she cried until she finally fell asleep.

Taking Back The Crown: Part Five

So, I’ve been recovering from my compulsory tour. It was pretty tiring, but certainly a very interesting place. It was quite inspiring and I hope to be able to do some flash fiction based on the things I saw in the near future.

Today’s post is a little longer, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.

It had been three days since Sonya had accepted her invitation to stay, but now she was growing anxious. Where was Trin? She’d walked to the path every day and sat under the same tree. She did her exercises and waited. And waited. And waited. She knew that something was wrong. Sonya knew that Trin had told her not to go back to the Palace by herself, but she couldn’t just stay here forever. If she could get into the Palace without being seen and just find out what was going on, maybe she wouldn’t be taking that much of a risk.

In the corridor near the ballroom, there was a small cubbyhole in the wall that was hidden behind a dull, greying tapestry. Sonya transported herself to inside the hole; hopefully nobody would look behind the tapestry. She could hear a buzz of activity. Harsh Rutilus voices drew near.

“Has anyone heard from Vyant?” one voice rasped.

“No. He wait to tell anyone else where Trin hid the little girl before leaving. The little bitch probably killed him.” The second voice was human. Female.

“We need to find her. She might be a kid now, but she’ll cause problems in the future.”

“She can’t defeat us on her own, and Trin and Naria are gone. They’re never coming back to bother us.” The woman was triumphant.

“How can you be sure of that?”

“There’s an abyss in the Back Desert that’s so deep, by the time you stop falling, you’re in Hell. We threw them down there. The evil aura that pervades the desert? That abyss is the source. Litian Royalty has been vanquished there before. It’s well documented.”

Without realizing it, Sonya gave out a despairing moan. The voices stopped and the tapestry was ripped back. Sonya found herself looking into the black eyes of woman she’d never seen before. She had piercings and tattoos similar to traditional Rutilus ones. If she’d had the time, Sonya would have wondered if she’d spent time in the Back Desert. The Rutilus was only a metre behind this sorceress, his eyes full of glee at their find.

Before Sonya had time to think, the dark eyed magician tried to hit her with some plasma, but she rolled out of the cubbyhole just on time, straight between the woman’s legs and the attack missed. The woman tried to turn around but Sonya attacked the back of her head, sending a spray of blood into the tapestry. As Sonya watched the magician slump forward, a searing pain whipped across her shoulder and back. She turned to see the Rutilus raising a ball of energy in his hand. He threw it and she reflected it back at him, sending him flying back against the wall.

By the time her enemies were unconscious, more Rutilus and magicians were running towards her from all directions. She warped back to Natetern before they could grab her.

Taking Back The Crown: Part Four

“I saw him chasing you last night through my window. I was surprised when I saw you defend yourself.” Seta began. They were kneeling in front of a wooden table, in the same room she’d woken up in. The futon had been packed away. The walls were very bare and, although Sonya had a cushion, the wooden floor was hard on her knees. Seta poured her some tea, but she didn’t drink it.

 “Females here don’t have magic.” Sonya remembered this from her lessons. It was a strange idea to her, since she came from a family where only the first born female inherits power. However, there were an equal number of male and female magicians across Litia. Her family was unique in its inheritance pattern.

 “No. Where are you from? Litia? The Sprite World?” he asked.

  “Where is this place?” she asked, avoiding his question. If he knew about Litia, then he would probably know about her family, the so-called Litian Royalty.

 “I believe outside worlds call this Natetern.” Sonya had known this from doing her exercises. These people must have really taken pity on her. Natetics were not usually so welcoming of strangers. At least, that’s what she’d been taught. “This area is a training ground for Natetic magicians. Who was the man I killed?”

 “He was someone I knew. I don’t know why he attacked me. I was waiting for my mother.” she answered, truthfully.

 “When did you last see your mother?” Seta gently probed.

 “She brought me here. It’s not safe where I’m from. She told me not to go back without her.” Sonya quickly explained. Surely this information wasn’t dangerous to give him? Seta narrowed his eyes. He looked almost like an elderly man when his eyes wrinkled up, though his stature and normal face suggested he couldn’t be more than twenty five.

“I see. Our elders, the men who run this place, say you may stay here for as long as you need to.”

Taking Back The Crown: Part Three

There was a smell of sweet incense. Sonya awoke on a thin futon, under fresh sheets. Her shirt, coat and boots were next to her, and somebody had treated the wounds on her chest and back while she was unconscious. She sat up quickly and started redressing. She needed to get back to the woods in case Trin was looking for her. There was an open doorway into a courtyard only a few metres away. Sonya could see the clearing she had collapsed in last night. Rather than risk being seen, she teleported to the woods.

When she arrived on the little pathway, startled birds flew away. Sonya turned on the spot. On the ground, the marks created last night by Vyant’s magic were still there. There were no signs of anything else. If Trin had been here, she would have left a message, surely? There had been a lot of Rutilus last night. Maybe it was taking a long time to clear them all out and herd them back to the Back Desert? It didn’t matter, Trin had told her not to go back to the Palace by herself. She knew better than to disobey Trin’s orders.

She waited for hours. She sat beneath the same tree she’d enchanted last night and began to do the exercises she had been taught. She meditated and controlled her breathing. She stretched her senses and counted all the people nearby. She could tell that there were many powerful magicians in the complex she had slept in. They must have saved her from Vyant. Now it was daytime, she could see that the main entrance to the complex was only slightly down the path. The sign had been hidden by overgrown trees. Maybe Trin had meant for her to take refuge there.

 “We wondered where you had gone.” Sonya had become distracted by her thoughts of Trin, Naria, the Rutilus and Vyant. She opened her eyes to see a dark haired man with a stern expression.  He had eyes that were the same colour as the tree trunks and his skin was a deep tan. Though he was frowning, he didn’t seem cold. “I did you a favour last night by protecting you from that guy. It’s rude to run away.”

 “Where is he?” Sonya interrupted. “What did you do to him?”

 “He was vicious and determined to get at you. In the end I had to kill him. You at least owe me an explanation. Who are you?”

 “Sonya.” After speaking, she pushed her lips together. She shouldn’t tell him anything.

 “I’m Seta. I think you should come back inside. It’s obviously not safe for you to be wandering around on your own.” He bent down and offered her his hand. After a moment, she took it and allowed him to help her up. Trin must have brought her here for a reason.