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So, I got bored and decided to write this last night. It takes place between everyone leaving the world of Ashes and the "release" of Ashes of Creation. The world has partly succumb to the corruption of magic and this short follows one man who has managed to survive. It's not finished and I'm not sure if I'll keep going; let me know if you liked it or if I should keep going. Thanks!!
Dense air slowly blew through the underbrush as the light of the night star crept through the treetops. Muted vibrations could be felt through the false serenity of the forest. Diminutive ponds added their high-pitched echoes to the night as the last drops of rain disturbed their surfaces. Various distorted noises could be heard from the animals who managed to survive in such an unforgiving place. Vibrato croaks and coordinated chirping created a bizarre backdrop to the seemingly lifeless surroundings. Groans from the twisted trees reverberated throughout the forest as their highest branches and leaves began to intertwine with each other in the canopy. The chorus of the forest melded together as light from the night star began to be blocked out from the world below. Within minutes, the canopy shielded the ground completely from the outside world and the environment below began to change drastically.
Slithering tendrils underneath the ground began to illuminate with a bright blue that shined like a star made of pure sapphire. Throughout the forest they ran, like a network of veins. The forest had a new urgency about it. Colorless insects unraveled themselves from the branches as they formed their bodies into waiting traps for any animal that might be so unfortunate as to fall prey to it. Beings seemingly made up of illuminated jelly lifted themselves off the ground where they had been disguised as puddles. Where this ecosystem thrived, was at night. However, tonight’s ritual was far more important for one individual. While the forest had started its procedures, Gidron had finished recording his observations in his journal. He tucked it away comfortably in his shirt pocket and tapped his chest three times. Gidron used to be a man of low stature. When the gateways had been used to save the races, he had not been fortunate enough to be spared from the corruption of this world. His right arm was utterly mangled by forces far beyond that of any creature. His flesh on his arm appeared to have been turned into a tight mucus against his muscles; muscles that had been decaying over the passing years. His face had been contorted by the corruption. The bones of his jaw had long been dissolved and replaced with small vents that resembled the gills of a fish. The right half of his face had been turned a strange mint green and his right eye was bright yellow with a vertical pupil that spanned its entirety. Both of his feet had been mutated into toe pads that resembled that of a treefrog. While he may have been a perversion of his former self, he had survived and become better from it.
He gathered up his small pack made of a strange leaf-like material as he grasped a nearby tree with his right arm. The mucus on his arm reached out to the tree at his touch. Gidron appeared deep in thought as his mind connected to the magic of the forest. His vision shot through the forest as he searched for his prey. A twisted smile stretched across his lips as he had found his reason for being here. Finally, after two years in this forest he had found some luck. He quickly withdrew his arm from the tree and began breathing heavily. He had never been good with magic before his corruption but he knew that prolonged exposure to such strong vessels of power could quickly overtake him. He calmed himself and breathed out through the slits in his neck. A few puffs of light blue air exhausted themselves from his neck. After gathering himself, he headed towards the direction of his prey with new found vigor that he had not had since entering the forest.
As he neared the traveling party, he climbed up into twisted canopy right below the shield it had created from the sky. His toes stuck to the branches, allowing him free movement of his upper body. He retrieved a small wooden instrument from his pocket and turned it over in his left hand. It was a relic from a long past time that had been given to him from his mother. She had always played soothing melodies on their farm. The memory was comforting to Gidron but he knew this was not the time for distraction. He had meticulously planned for this moment since his assignment here. He focused his attention back towards the clearing below. While he hung from the branch, his right arm aimlessly reached towards one of the colorless insects and scooped it up into Gidron’s mouth. He swallowed down the meal and patiently waited.
Two hunched figures labored into the clearing below. Both were sheathed in a zoetic mass of bubbling membrane. Their outlines shook against the bright light underneath them. Through the opening of their membranes protruded long necks that moved with the fluidity of a snake about to strike. Their faces had long vertical slits for their piercing, neon blue eyes. At the middle of their face were long snouts with small ridges that lead down to their noses. Gidron had studied some of the tunnels created by these creatures but had never seen one alive or above ground. The two figures gargled an amalgamation of hisses and breathless snaps. Gidron quickly wrote in his journal of the strange observation. He knew this had to be their means of communication but he had no way of understanding them. His interest was short-lived as a third figure appeared from the opposite side of the clearing. A tall, slender Elf walked out of the underbrush towards the two creatures. Gidron’s mouth was agape. The elf seemed clear of corruption; his pale skin and flowing appearance was in stark contrast to the mutation around him. He strode up to the creatures with a purpose that imposed his importance. With a flick of wrist, he retrieved a book from underneath his robes. After a short incantation, he began to speak to the creatures. His voice carried as he appeared to have no fear of being overheard. Confidence exuberated from this pure being. While Gidron had never learned the language of the Empyrean Elves when he was younger, time had forced him to become acquainted with such tongues.
“The forest emanates with a power I have not felt since its inception. I take it Sakir has been able to utilize my gift?” The elf inquired.
The creatures spoke in unison with a voice that was obviously altered, “He has performed as you had instructed.” Their voices were projected from the book in the Elf’s hand. With each syllable, the book shined for an instant. “He thinks that soon we will have control over the currents.”
The elf smiled brightly at the creatures. The tension between the creatures seemed to fade rapidly as the elf beamed at them. “Magnificent news indeed! I should expect Sakir to be finishing within the coming weeks. You will see me again shortly.” As he finished his veiled threat, he snapped the book closed and stuffed it back under his garments. In one motion, he turned leave the clearing.
Gidron hastily tried to connect to the magic veins to watch where the Elf had gone. To his dismay, he had disappeared. No trace could be found of his presence anywhere in the surrounding area. Gidron relinquished his connection to the network and blew out more blue air. Through the shock of seeing the elf, he realized that his mission was now clear. He had been sent here to collect the “gift” that had been used to harness the forest’s power and he was going to succeed.