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The Family Debt... Part 1

Even exhausted as he was from the day's labors, the young man could not seem to pass through that tenuous boundary where conscious thoughts merged into dream. He had this feeling that he had forgotten to do something or misplaced something important but whatever it was, alluded him.

"Damn it!" He thought. It nagged at him and filled him with a strange feeling of dread along with building anxiety. He tossed and turned on his resin permeated woolen bed roll, not finding any type of comfortable position.

Finally on one of his restless and wild shifts, his extended hand thumped the ground on his right side. "whaa..?" and he knew! His axe wasn't there where he kept it, always, when he bedded down to sleep. Except that wasn't.... YES! It was where he kept his axe and it was missing, his half asleep and foggy mind told him, almost seeming to be an affirmation culled from his half dreaming state and not of his own thoughts but rather another's.

In a somewhat dazed state he rose from his bedding, his blanket slid to the ground. The chill air reminding him that it was likely late Autumn now on this new world or so the Eldest in their group had surmised when they had arrived through the portal some nine days ago. He and ten others had been tasked to come here to the edge of the massive and quite forbidding forest and cut trees for building. This was needed for the spot that the Elders had chosen some six miles down the stream for their first long house...

"The Axe!", again that urgency in his mind, focusing his thoughts. Still it seemed that he was being somewhat compelled by something other than himself. At the same time, he felt no alarm at this strange feeling. The axe was all important. Both the haft and the head were of very antique make and, in fact the axe and its materials were crafted on THIS WORLD many, many generations ago. Yes, crafted here, years before his people had been forced to flee for survival through the portals from what the oldest stories described as Hell on Earth. Very few families had escaped and none of those without loss... "The Axe!" Again the pull on his will. Driving him to retrieve it.

The young man stepped from the tent, still feeling half dazed. A sense of urgency in a lethargic state of mind which did not seem odd at all for some reason. He didn't even realize that he was without boots . Just stockinged feet, leather breaches and an under shirt. Nor did he see, on his way out the flap, his sheathed axe where he really kept it, leaning against the main pole that supported his tent...

The moon was full and bright. The sky clear and full of bright, alien to him, stars. The air cold and crisp. The two sentry fires, one at each side of the camp, were not even needed to see, so bright was this strange new moon in the star mantled sky of this strangely empty world. His breath billowed out in front of his face yet he didn't feel the cold. He must get his axe back where it belonged!

He stumbled through the camp, toward that dark forest, an ocean of black trees and secret unfathomable depths. As he approached the camp perimeter, a sentry unseen in the shadow of a tent whispered "Giving some of that weak beer back to nature, Juran?" He didn't even really hear the man. Without conscious volition, his head nodded and his hand raised in a wave as he kept on without pause.

Almost no light violated the forests gloom, despite the moon's brightness, as he traversed the game trail, become almost a lane, thanks to the Ox Bartha's trips in and out hauling felled trees, over the last few days. There was also a complete absence of sound which was unusual. This wood was full of critters and insects that had, so far, made noises day and night. Despite near pitch black conditions, he continued deeper without trouble.

At the point where the trail split left toward the rich stand of maple he and the others had been logging or it continued kind of straight and a bit right deeper than he had ever been, he tried to turn towards the maples but felt himself continue along forward.

The groggy dazed feeling fell from him just as his blanket had when he had stood abruptly back in his tent. Swiftly. "gaaallg... wha...?" He squeaked. The cold of the night's Autumn air seized him and he realized that his woolen stockings were wet and caked with the decaying loam of the forest. His feet painfully chilled.

His continued deeper into the dark wood, completely against his own will, despite his trying to stop or turn around. He tried to yell for help but his throat would not utter more than a wheezy rasp. He had no control over his body. Awake now and fully aware, the young man remembered that his group's tree finder had sworn he had heard strange and very disturbing sounds down this very trail when he had scouted it days before. Sounds that the scout claimed had raised the hair on his head and turned his blood to ice, they were so menacing. Everyone in the camp had laughed and told the scout "Cool story Bro..." before dismissing it.

Despite being jacket less and the cold, Juran was sweating as he strained against where his body was taking him. It caused his muscles to stiffen and he stumbled awkwardly because of it, but even that much control then faded from his reach.

Nothing much else happened for about ten minutes as he smoothly moved along completely against his will. Juran was in an abject state of terror wondering what might lay at the end of his unwilling journey. Suddenly the now almost completely darkened trail plunged at a steep drop into a VERY dark hollow. He slid down and into it landing fairly rough even though there was a few inches of pre winter chilled water at the bottom. His body ceased forward motion though he could not control it still and he was just still, wet and shivering but unable to stir to his feet.

As Juran lay there, trembling with both fear and cold, his next sensation was utter revulsion as his lungs reflexively tried to reject the fetid air down there. He choked and gagged as this was a stink far beyond his life's experience. He had both seen and caught the decay smell of the dead before. Neither his old world nor this new one were without danger and death was common enough. This was a terrible and ancient smell that stirred images of thousands rotting slowly at temperatures barely above freezing, the stench compounding for centuries, never able to dissipate in the chill. Gradually, he simply had no choice, as man must breathe, he adjusted enough to bare it.

Slowly, even in the deep shadowed hollow his eyes attuned as well as they could to the almost complete blackness. Even down here there were a few open spots in the canopy. Some starlight reached so deep, but tentatively as if it wanted no part of this place, reflecting weakly from the scummy water in the bottom of that pit. There were pockets and patches of dark here, so black that they may as well be just... nothing. An emptiness from which no light could penetrate or escape. He kept his eyes on those stars far above.

"Oh, Gods! Let me wake now! Let me be safe in bed on my birth world? It is a harsh place but I fear that this new world has not cleansed itself of the evil that forced our flight so long ago..." He did not wake, safe at home and his fears were confirmed. At the black jagged edges of the holes that the canopy grudgingly allowed his look at a few stars, something just as black as nothing caught his eye as it moved. It was difficult to judge, because of the distance, but briefly silhouetted there against the stars was a bulbous body with thin sharply segmented and angled arms?... no, legs and it looked BIG. Only in sight for a second and soon lost in the supremely dark background of the thicker trees, but it had seemed that it was descending from on high, into the hollow where he lay against the base of the steep trail. Juran held his breath. This was not a time to make a sound.

Within a few seconds he knew that it was coming toward him. It was making horrifying chittering sounds interspersed with a raspy, growly sort of clicking noise. He could also hear the tree's branches creak as it clambered ever downward into the hollow. Frantically, he tried to jump up and flee. He was powerless still, in the grip of what, he didn't know. His panic rose higher and higher as with a splash, the thing dropped the remaining distance and landed in front of him. There was barely enough dull starlight but Juran could see it much better now. A huge spider, body as large as a bear hound, legs moving in their relentless order it scuttled to within five feet of Juran's paralyzed form. He lay there, in horrified terror, vaguely aware that he was finally giving some of that weak beer back to nature....


  • By the gods, I do hope Juran survives to see the light of day! Nice story!
  • Thanks, freespiryt!
    You are always so positive. An inspiration. :)
    I'll try and get part 2 knocked out this weekend, but might have to wait till next week. We are finally getting a huge patch for the game I play right now. All hands on Deck! sort of thing. :)
    PS. I'll try and tone down the exaggerated descriptive text. I am not an experienced writer.
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