Okay, here is it, but first let me explain something. This experiment was supposed to be a short story. Unfortunately I have trouble getting my imagination stay confined to a short story. To illustrate this I will point to NaNoWriMo 2013. I outlined a short story that turned into a 98k word manuscript as book one of a trilogy.
With that said. I’m going to present my monthly short stories as segments of a full length novel. I hope you enjoy. Please leave me any feedback you want. Praise is nice, but constructive critiques would be awesome. I’m no Robert Jordan, but maybe someday I can get close through fixing issues you help point out. Well, here you go.
The Stone of Tyfen
The man’s breathing was slowing down, the tears had stopped, and the look of defeat covered his face. She closed her eyes and listened for his heart beat. It was still strong, quick; this one would need a little more time before it was ready to give up.
Pheywyn disliked having to cause more pain than was necessary as it left the soul with scars. She had spent years of study to find the best methods to destroy the will to live from her subjects to prevent that from happening. Pushing them ever closer to that moment when they knew their life was over and they welcomed the peace of death.
Walking behind her current subject, she picked up the thin metal poker that had been sitting in the fire. The tip glowed white hot, the color fading to orange, and then red as it moved down the length of the spike. With her left hand she pushed the man’s head down to expose the vertebrae of his neck. Trial and error had taught her the perfect place to insert the spike.
The skin sizzled as the spike made contact. She felt his head push back to try and stop her, but his strength was all but gone, and she had no trouble holding him in place. With just the right amount of force she pushed the spike in between the upper two bumps. The glow of the spike faded as it was buried in the man’s neck he let out a feeble horse scream of pain. At this point it was purely involuntary for him to yell. He had stopped begging for his life hours earlier, now it was just the frustration of not knowing when his capture would end the pain and put him out of his misery.
There it was. The rhythm of his heart barely rose with the onset of pain. His soul had separated from his physical body. She removed the spike and placed it back in the fire. The man’s head never rose when she let go. The time was right.
Pheywyn knelt in front of the man and placed her hands on his bowed head. She closed her eyes and opened herself to receive. She felt her heart beat slowing to match the pace of the man’s. She had done it so many times that it took very little time or effort now. Once her own heart beat matched the vibration from his she could feel his life energy flow into her.
The joyous feeling of new energy filling her body was as great as ever. It was the most wonderful feeling she had ever experienced. The sensation never lost its potency over the years since she first learned to open up to it. The vibrations of every living thing for miles flowed through her and her soul drank it up.
Suddenly, her head felt like it would explode. It caused her to let go of the man and to grasp her own head. She squeezed in an attempt to keep her skull from separating. Her entire body froze in place, she was unable to move any of her limbs, and she felt herself float upwards. She was looking down at her body.
“The warrior has awoken.” A deep, gravelly voice, which was not her own, came out of her mouth. “He will gather to himself his scattered armor. The shining helmet of protection will keep him safe from all outside dangers. The breastplate of strength will make him an army on to himself. The sword of justice will eliminate all who stand against him. The sabatons of life will carry him across the land tirelessly. Once he is complete he will end the reign of darkness.”
Her conscientiousness rushed back into her body. The aches of her body filled her. Every muscle hurt like she had been using them for days non-stop. She had to get up so she tested her limbs and found she was able to move again. She opened her eyes and saw that her subject was staring directly into her eyes with a smile.
“The warrior is returning. Your time is over.”
“Even if he did, you won’t live to see it happen.”
She felt his heart beat pick up, the will to live was returning. With a force of will, Pheywyn silenced it.
“But I assure you, just like I did to you; I’ll end him before he’s a danger to the king.” She said to the lifeless body.
The king will want to know about her prophesy, but Pheywyn had to gather more information before letting him know. The sun was high in the midday sky as she looked out her tower window. She would have to do anything she could to make sure this prophesy never came true.
The noon day sun burned hot on Tomas Woodman’s shoulders as he tilled the soil of his new field. His darkened leathery skin did its best to resist the rays of light that attempted to cook the farmer from the outside. His arms bulged with muscles built from moving dirt with tools all his life, and still they ached with the hours of work he had put into making the new patch of land ready for planting.
Vibrations ran the length of the wooden handle of his hoe as the blade made contact with yet another rock. After nearly six months of clearing the field it was surprising to still be finding large rocks beneath the top layer of soil. Every villager had lent a hand the first month to clear the old manner house that used to site on this plot, but once the exciting part of removing a house had vanished, Tomas was left to do the dirty mundane job of clearing every pebble that could hinder the growing of crops.
His back ached as he took a knee in the soil and he dug where he had hit the rock with a smaller hand spade. After moving some of the soft dirt out the way he could see the stone that had caused the interruption in his work. With a practiced motion Tomas tossed the rock over his shoulder into a cart twenty paces behind him. It landed with a clank as it hit the hundreds of other rocks he had discovered this day alone. The river bed would be gaining another layer this day when he dumped his cart load of rocks at the end of the day.
“Nice shot there, Tomas.”
The complement came from his neighbor Joseph Clavier. The burly blacksmith was leading his favorite mule. Looked like it was delivery day.
“Good day, Joseph. How are you doing?”
“Ah, enjoying the fresh cool air.”
“Cool? Are you mad, man, it’s scorching out here.”
Joseph laughed. “Compared to the furnaces of my forge, this is a cool winter day to me.”
The two men laughed at the joke they had told each other a hundred times before, but never got less funny. Joseph went to his mule and pulled out a leather wrapped set of tools.
“Well, as requested, here are your repaired tools, Tomas.”
Tomas unwrapped the packaged and saw the tools he had left with Joseph. The heads of the spade, hoe, and rake all looked shiny and new. Even the wooden handles looked new.
“They don’t even look like the tools I left with you.”
“They’re not, really. I had to add some new iron to the heads of them all in order to have enough material to reshape. Old man Wickham made a new shaft for each of them; the old ones were cracked in too many spots to make them worth saving.”
“You really didn’t need to go through all that trouble. I don’t know if I can afford it.”
“Pshaw, Tomas. You’re doing the village a favor by removing that cursed manner rubble and replacing it with a field of vegetables we can all benefit from. This round of repairs is paid for.”
“I can’t accept that. You need to be paid for your work.”
“Then dinner is on you when your first crops come in.”
“I need to be on my way, several more stops before I can get home.”
“Be well my friend.” The two said as they shook hands and parted ways.
Tomas stood for a moment admiring the newly repaired tools. The spade had cracked in half during the removal of the foundation stones. The rake lost several teeth over the weeks of field clearing. It seemed like a blessing when the King approved of his purchase of the old manner site for the purpose of expanding his farm. Others had been denied requests to rebuild the house over the years since it was abandoned, some called him crazy for suggesting turning it in to farm land, but all were happy to see the land being used for something and having the eye soar removed.
Not many remembered the family that had lived there before, and none of them talked about what caused them to leave, but everyone hated being known as the village with the burned down cursed manner as their only land mark.
Now, every trace of the manner was erased from the field and a dark rich soil was all that was left in its place. Tomas had been bringing cart load after cart load of compost from his original farm to enrich the soil. It was going to take months to get the land ready for planting, and he was getting close.
With his repaired rake in hand, Tomas went back to tilling the soil. He didn’t get ten paces before he hit another rock. With spade in hand he knelt once more in the soil and prepared to toss another stone into his cart. This time though, the spade made a more metallic sound when it hit the hard rock. Tomas pushed soil aside with his hand and drew back as pain shot up his arm. He had cut his hand on the edge of the rock.
A flash of light reflected from the hole in the ground he was clearing to find the rock. Tomas looked closer and could see the edge of a blade, a few drops of his blood streaking along its surface. That was no rock.
He quickly wrapped his wounded hand with a strip of linen he had in his back pocket and got back to work on extracting the blade from the ground. At first he thought it to be a hunting knife or a small dagger, but the more he cleared the longer it looked to stretch. Finally, as he cleared a bit and saw the cross guard extended to the sides, he knew it had to be a sword.
He reached with hand behind the cross guard and found the handle. Tomas got a secure grip and pulled the sword free from the earth. As the full length of the sword shone bright in the sun a sudden rush of warmth filled Tomas’ body.
Every ache and pain from a full day’s work vanished from him. Even the sting of the fresh wound in his hand disappeared. Years of working farm land seemed like a distant memory as his muscles felt like they had the energy and youth to run for leagues without tiring.
Tomas had never felt so alive in his life. He lowered the sword and looked at the blade. It shone with all the brilliance of a newly polished blade. No sign that it had spend any time underground, let alone the decades it must have been there. Then Tomas noticed a set of eyes staring back at him from the blade, but they were not his eyes. The freight caused him to drop the sword, instantly the years of hard work rushed back into his body and he felt old and worn out again.
All Tomas could think of while he looked down at the sword was, whose eyes were those?
A soft rolling snore was the only sound that could be heard in the dusty library as the equally dusty wizard slept with his head planted firmly in whatever tome he had been reading the night before. His unkempt silver hair went every possible direction but the one he would want it to. His similarly wild silver facial hair made it look like an old gray cat has been trapped below his face when he fell asleep.
The steady snore was then joined by an unusual high pitch humming sound. The old wizard lifted his head and wiped his whiskers from his face.
“Uh, what’s that? Hello? Who’s there?” His gruff voice echoed from the book covered walls.
With no reply coming, as expected, he began to lower his head and resume his nap when his ears caught the humming sound again. Gneprix had lived in this tower library for over thirty years and had never heard that sound before.
Standing up from his cushioned bench, Gneprix brushed down his robe and stretch his frail limbs to get blood flowing though them.
“Where is that sound coming from?” He said to the empty room.
He started with the obvious sources of sound. He looked into the bright blue gem on the end of his walking staff. It was dormant as expected. The rings on his fingers and the gems of his necklaces all looked normal.
Gneprix shuffled his way over to the large crystal clear ball that floated above the thick black pool in a large golden goblet. That ball allowed him to look far and wide across the land without leaving the tower, but today it was empty. But still the high pitch humming filled the air.
“Okay, now, where are you hiding?”
Closing his eyes and listening hard, Gneprix hoped to hone in on a direction to search for the sound. There were an incalculable number of sources of that sound in his tower. As he concentrated he could feel the sound coming from the eastern side of the round room. Casually walking toward the sound, only looking to make sure he wouldn’t trip over any of the many books and objects he failed to put away, he kept his good ear turned to the sound.
As he got closer to the far eastern wall the sound grew louder. He stopped in front of a large stack of books and crates he had long ago stacked here to be sorted when he had time to do so. The top layer of books moved easily, and the first smaller boxes went just as easy. With each layer of dust covered artifacts he moved the sound got louder and louder.
It was when he grabbed the small chest that was made of marble did he feel the vibrations climb his arms. The solid white marble box had to be the source. It gave Gneprix no additional information of the sounds source as this box had been at the bottom of his to do list for a long time.
“So, you’re the one making all that noise. Mind telling me why?”
Gneprix turned the heavy stone box over in his hands. It was about the length of his forearm and looked big enough to hold an entire loaf of baked bread. A single seam ran around the box to mark where the lid would separate from the body of the box. No visible hinges or lock, this really peaked his interest.
“Looks like you’re sealed with magic, my little friend. Mind given me a hint so I can open you?”
The humming stayed constant and Gneprix resigned himself to having to learn it’s secrets without any help from the intruder of his peace.
He placed the box on a table near a large mounted magnifying glass. With a flick of his finger a nearby candle caught fire and shed some light on the box. Gneprix turned the box upside down and examined the bottom for any marking that could give him a starting point to learn more about it.
“Ah, that helps.” He exclaimed after spotting a small series of divots in the surface of the otherwise mirror smooth bottom. “Let me see if I remember how to read these.”
Genprix closed his eyes and allowed his memory to unfold any relevant information it could surface about reading mason marks in stone. Even though his eyes were closed, Gneprix could see parchments fly across the air in front of him. They described the work of masons from across the ages, the marks they used to designate who was responsible for the work, and how to identify them.
“There you are.” He said as he froze a particular parchment in place. It was a roster of masons and carpenters that did work for a wizard order in Eruda, a city of scholars in the far west. About half way down the list was a sequence of dots that resembled the ones he found on the box. Next to it was the name Brock Witt, stone mason. “Who did you work for, Mr. Witt?”
Gneprix closed his eyes again and began his search for the name Brock Witt. With the search now narrowed he opened his eyes much quicker this time. He walked to a specific shelf and grabbed a leather bond book called “Artifacts of Hinen Asbani”. “You did fancy marble, my friend.” He remarked to the book as he opened it.
After flipping a few pages, and coughing from the dust he inhaled, Gneprix stopped and scanned the words listed with his finder. Suddenly he stopped and saw his finger pointing to the name Brock Witt.
“If there is one thing wizards are good at its record keeping, thank the creator.”
He continued to read the notes made next to Mr. Witts name. “Medium white marble box in two pieces, a top and a bottom. Seamless and water tight. To be sealed with locking spell to protect the stone of Tyfen.” Grenprix dropped the book.
“The stone of Tyfen!” Grenprix quickly dashed to a large book he had sitting open on a pedestal in another corner. After pushing aside some books that had managed to settle on the rarely used book, he removed the protective leather cloth. His fingers found the specific indent on the pages that marked the chapter he needed and turned the massive pages.
Across the top of the page in fine gold lettering it said “The Stone of Tyfen.” Under it was a smaller sub title, the forging of the weapons of Merek Whyte, the gladiator of good, and the creator’s chosen warrior.”
Someone had found a piece of Merek’s armory. Gneprix needed to find the spell that unlocked the box. The history of that stone said that it acted like a lodestone to find the pieces of the armor if they had ever been separated. Gneprix needed to make sure who ever found the armor used them as intended.
If you would like a PDF version to read offline: Stone_of_Tyfen_PART01
Until next time…