|# ¿ Apr 5, 2022 05:27|
|# ¿ Nov 28, 2023 09:42|
The ceremony was in three days. Dhankanir Qarbil somehow remembered that, even as fewer and fewer thoughts and events made their way through the swamp his mind had become to form memories. He couldn’t remember if he had picked the date himself, or it had been his wife, or even his eldest, Bulan.
Bulan, the boy was growing up handsomely. Boy? Man. He could recall sending him off to the war, but he could swear that Bulan’s 12th birthday had only been a few months ago. Or was that his grandson? Did Bulan have a son? Bulan had nothing but daughters for so long… Yes, that was right, there was worry that the clan would pass to another line. If Bulan had agreed to the ceremony, Qarbil had to have a grandson from his eldest.
The thoughts were overwhelming him. With six days left before joining his father and grandfather and ancestors, trying to sort these things out was a taxing waste of energy. He inhaled deeply, the fresh scents of the garden around him filling his lungs. Even as the flowers had blurred into a smeared watercolor and the bubbling of the fountain faded into a whisper, this one sense remained his companion, pulling tantalizing bits of memory from the fog. He had been here when he learned his own father had been killed, ambushed by a rival during a routine tour of his bondsman families’ villages. He had died like a real man, in the field, gun in hand, not slowly losing his grip on reality and his own body while his son and wife picked a time to send him to the ancestors. Back when honor meant something, before the federals had freed the bonded families and destroyed the order of things…
The garden had been smaller then, mostly tile, only a few hardy rose bushes in an open courtyard. It had been his personal project, tearing out the stones and filling the ground with fertilizer. The servants helped, of course, but Qarbil liked to get his hands dirty. Even as his connections with his offspring and wives frayed, the garden still spoke to him, no, sang in a bouquet of aromas. Even with his near total lack of vision, he knew where everything was. The roses, the creeping vines, the pungent olives, and the bubbling fountain, draining into a pond full of carp. The murals along the walls, depicting the Dhankanir countryside as it had been in his childhood, before the bellowing trains, the hideous tarred poles carrying electricity, before the thieving merchants bought up the land from the former bondsmen and tore up the land in search of riches, before foreign priests set up schools to tear the young men away from the ways of their fathers.
Maybe it was better that he was going. He feared the ceremony more than he would ever admit, but maybe it was better to close his eyes and feel the bite of the blade in his jugular before the world he knew was gone entirely.
“Grandfather Dhankanir!” The voice was nearly shouting in his ear. Husky, female. Young, but most voices were young to him now. He could smell tobacco on her breath, disguised with mint leaves. A disgusting habit that even his most dutiful children and servants had picked up. He felt the hands on the back of his chair. “It’s time for supper!”
“Makta? Is that you?”
“No, Grandfather Dhankanir, Makta is my mother. It’s Uqta, remember?”
He did not. Makta had always been his maid. Uqta was a little girl, barely old enough to flirt with the stableboys. He shook his head. He did not have the energy to argue with the woman about her identity. The maid, Makta or Uqta, pushed his chair along the cobblestones. The odor of lamb in mint sauce filled his nose, and the chair bumped at it crossed the threshold back into the manor proper. The table slid into his limited field of vision, where a porridge of lentils, a glass of brandy, and a lamb chop awaited him.
Uqta, or Makta, slid up from behind his chair, and began carefully cutting the lamb chop into tiny portions that the patriarch could chew. As the clinking of the knife and fork on the plate reached his ears, so faint that it nearly seemed from across the hall, Qarbil wanted to protest, but the sweet smell was enough to calm him.
“Where is Bulan? Where is my wife?” even he could tell the table was empty.
“Grandmother Dhankaniris is taking her afternoon nap, your son left to fetch the Speaker a few hours ago, as you requested. He should be back soon.”
The maid covered his lap with a napkin, shuffling another into his collar to serve as a bib. Qarbil gingerly picked up his fork, scooping the lamb into the lentils, and taking a bite. His hands shook, but they had been shaking for years now. He only made it about halfway through the meal before he could eat no more, and sat nursing his brandy, as the maid plucked an old melody he could only half hear on a dulcimer, his rattling bits of memory filling in the gaps.
“Oh, Young Lord!” he could feel the table tremble as the maid rose to curtsy. His son, his eldest, smelled of motor oil and sweat, but there was another, more pungent scent in the air that nearly drove it out.
“That will do, Utqa, you can go home, and here’s something for the children.”
Bulan had always been firm and assertive. A real man, like his grandfather. Almost worth the two boys who never came back from the war. Almost…
Qarbil felt his son’s firm hands grip the handles of the chair.
“Father, I brought the Speaker. He is lucid enough now, if you would like to speak with our fathers.”
That was what the smell was. Years of unwashed flesh and clothes, matted hair and beard. The Speaker had been a cousin once… No, a nephew, until the fits started and the spirits took hold of him. Qarbil could not recall what his name had been, which was just as well, no one who could would utter it. He nodded.
“Yes… bring me, boy.”
Dutifully, his son pushed the chair back across the courtyard path, through the other side of the manor, and into the mausoleum. The air here was dry, dusty, and the only light came from dim torches on the walls.
He heard some sort of mumbled speech, but could not make out a word.
“Speak up!” Bulan’s voice boomed out, betraying a lack of patience with the Speaker.
“W-who do you wish to v-visit Grandfather?” The medium’s voice was as erratic as the air wafting off him was foul.
“Bulan… calm yourself” the old man croaked, before addressing the Speaker “My father. Dhankaniris Turman.”
The smell of the speaker’s herb burning filled the air. It took Qarbil back to when Bulan came home from the war, wounded, defeated and less two brothers. Qarbil had summoned the speaker as the federal troops closed in on the manor, scattering the bondsman militia. His father and grandfather had not failed him then, and with their guidance he had managed to negotiate to keep most of the clan holdings.
Even without the aid of sight he knew what happened next. The speaker took one of Turman’s bones, touching it first to his forehead, then to his tongue, and shook.
“Qarbil, boy, I’ve been waiting for you.” the speaker’s voice was drowned out but Qarbil’s father, as the empty vessel was filled.
Tears welled up in the old man’s eyes. As hard as he had tried, he had never lived up to the great man’s stature as patriarch.
“Da- Father… Have I done… It’s all changed… I…”
He felt a heavy hand on his shoulder.
“You did well with what you could. I left you too soon.” the voice cracked with emotion “I wish I could have met Bulan. You’ve raised him well, a man after my own heart.”
“I’ve left him with near nothing… the bondsmen are gone, the federals…”
“Son, their blasphemous experiment will fall to chaos soon. The old ways will return. Bulan will return glory to Dhanakir. You will be remembered as the father of a great man, as will I.”
Qarbil reached out embracing the speaker. He simultaneously felt the skeletal frame of the spirit-mad shaman, and the robust, meaty arms that had taught him to shoot a bow. The stench and the sweet scent of the herb mingled, carrying him off to sleep.
Outside, Dhanakir Bulan sharpened the ceremonial knife. It had to be perfect, fast, and as painless as possible. He had been preparing for years now with mixed dread and anticipation for the hardest thing he would ever have to do. The ceremony was in three days.
|# ¿ Apr 11, 2022 04:03|
Could I get a link to the discord?
|# ¿ Apr 12, 2022 22:37|
Hell yeah. In and I'll take dealer's choice of song
|# ¿ Apr 19, 2022 02:27|
|# ¿ Sep 13, 2022 22:58|
In. Give me a monster and also since I've failed way to many times.
|# ¿ Oct 4, 2022 21:40|
|# ¿ Nov 28, 2023 09:42|
Beasts of the Beanstalk
Angus looked up from his paper. His son’s wide brimmed hat, still a couple sizes too big, flopped in the wind, barely holding on by its drawstring.
“You best be finished with the weeding boy.”
“It’s the beans Paw! Somethin’s wrong with the beans!”
Angus rose from his chair, cursing under his breath. If the drat weevils were back they could lose the whole farm. Between them and the rats and gophers, he was sure he was under some sort of curse. He pulled his own hat over his head to block out the searing summer sun, and followed the boy back to the patch.
“...Dagda have mercy.”
Several yards of the corn stalks and bean vines clinging to them had been laid flat. Usually, this would mean nothing more strange than the hogs staging a break in, perhaps egged on by their feral cousins. What greeted Angus’s eyes was a single bean vine, grown nearly to the size of a tree, crushing its neighbors and snapping its host stalk in two. The pods were massive, swollen and distended even in relation to the size of their vine. Fearfully, Angus stretched his hand out to touch one.
It squirmed and he screamed, staggering backwards.
“What is it Paw?”
The boy hid behind his father, clutching the man’s overalls.
“Banshees take me if I know.” he stared at the vine a moment longer, then began to back away, pushing his son along behind him. “I’m calling the druid.”
The druid took his time arriving, leaving Angus and his son to nervously glance at the strange plant while they tried to get work done. When the plume of dust and smoke that heralded the arrival of the holy man appeared, the sun was already low in the sky.
The motorcar came to a halt with a sputter, frightening the pigs and chickens, even eliciting a startled whinny from the horse in the barn out back. The Druid’s driver hopped out of the cab, pulling off his driving gloves and goggles. Father Brennan stepped out gingerly, hiking his long, lilly white skirt to keep it out of the dirt and mud of the farm.
“What seems to be the problem Angus?” a condescending smile crept up behind the well groomed beard “Another strange stillbirth from the pigs?”
Angus led him to the patch of corn and beans, and the older man’s eyes grew wide
“Well I’ll be… It looks like the Dagda has smiled on you.”
Before Angus could stop him, Father Brennan reached out to touch one of the massive pods, just as it began to split, almost imperceptibly, along the seam.
In an instant, a blur of feathers, claws, and teeth burst from the pod, biting the druid's hand and cutting at his robes. Father Brennan shrieked in pain and recoiled.
“Sidhe! Sidhe! This place is cursed!”
He fled back to his automobile, billowing white clothes smeared with red blood. The creature, slightly smaller than an adult goose, ran along behind him, nipping at his heels, as the driver held the door open for the druid and tried to beat the monster back with a stick.
“Father Brennan!” Angus chased after the druid, only to have the door of the contraption slammed in his face “What can I do? This farm is all I have!”
“Sacrifice a pig or something! You’ve clearly pissed off someone important!” The engine roared to life, and the car took Father Brennan off Angus’s farm as quickly as it could carry him.
Realizing he had left his son behind, Angus whirled to make sure the boy was alright. Two more of the creatures had burst from the pods, a last one still clawing its way out. They were feathered, built like a large, lean rooster with impressive tail plumage, but with scaly maws filled with razor sharp teeth, and claws at the ends of their short wings. They had cornered the boy against an old oak tree, regarding him with what looked more like curiosity than hunger. Angus rushed them nevertheless, barreling in to cover his son. The creatures scattered, hissing in indignation. Catching his breath, Angus stared them down nervously. Gathering around the tree at a distance, they did the same. There was a clever light behind their eyes, and somewhere inside of himself Angus knew that he could take one or two using his sheer size, but all four might be the death of him. The boy was crying.
Just then, a large, fat ground squirrel made the fatal mistake of taking a peek out of the corn and bean patch. All four reptilian heads swiveled, and the creatures made a mad dash for the plump morsel. The squirrel dived back for the patch, but far too late, as one of the monsters latched onto it with its maw. Like lightning they tore it apart, and scurried off into the field, hunting for its family and friends.
Angus hustled the boy back to the house, relieved to have survived the encounter unscathed. He watched warily from inside, till the creatures eventually returned, leaping with a short burst of stunted wings into the boughs of the oak, where they preened their feathers and made strange, cooing noises at each other.
It wasn’t till the next morning that Angus dared leave the house. The creatures kept their distance, side eyeing him, but making no aggressive motions. He followed suit, carefully making his way over the field, to try to salvage what he could of the area the strange vine had devastated. To his amazement. The vine itself had withered, leaving little more than shriveled husks of its pods. As he cleared the fallen stalks, he disturbed a pair of rats that had been using the downed plants as shelter. As quickly as the rats could try to scurry for shelter, one of the beasts darted for them, snapping one up in its jaws and piercing another with the large claw on one of its feet. Giving the rat in its mouth a sickening crunch, the creature gingerly approached Angus, dropping the rat a foot or two from him then retreating. Angus pushed the rat back with his foot, and a rare smile crossed his face.
“Looks like Father Brennan was right the first time, maybe we are blessed.” He thought, as the lizard-bird snatched the dead rat again.
|# ¿ Oct 9, 2022 23:23|