By Christian Laforet
The fire swirled and crackled. A knot in the pine log popped, sending a small army of embers floating into the night. Aen, laying in his sheep-skin sack, watched as his mother stoked the flames. Tartara had only been in his life for a few months, but that time had been a whirlwind of instruction. She had taught him how to use his gift—to shift between the form of man and tiger—along with other useful traits. During all of those lessons, however, she had managed to carefully avoid his only real question: what happened the day the humans found him? Whenever Aen would broach the subject, his mother would give a vague, unsatisfying answer. His favourite being, It was so long ago, I cannot clearly recall.
Her refusal to shed light on that day, the day he went to live with the human tribe, had become so expected, that he stopped asking about it. That is why, while camped on the north road to Nythland, with freshly killed rabbit cooking over the fire with fat, lazy snowflakes danced to the frozen earth around them, Aen was shocked when his mother began to speak of the past without prompting.
“We had been travelling for many days before we encountered the group of humans. Your father, his name was Morga, felt that our safety lie in hiding amongst their kind.” As she spoke, Tartara, kept her gaze on the browning meat of the rabbit.
Aen pushed himself to sitting. “Why are you telling this to me now?”
Slowly, the woman, clad in a layered cloak, turned her attention to her son. “The event still hurts like a fresh wound. I would prefer not tell you at, but if we are going to continue on our quest, you need to know what happened.” Continue reading
By Christian Laforet
The Lorrza skittered across the blackened landscape. The heat, which escaped through the cracked earth, warmed the scales on its stomach, thermal energy powering the reptile’s meter long body. It would need the boost. In the distance, a leather winged Krillette, no bigger than a fist, had landed on a cooling lump of rock to pick the Sla gnats which had become lodged in the coarse hair covering its squat legs. The Lorrza flicked its tongue, the taste of the Krillette hanging heavy in the oppressively hot air. With a burst of power, the lizard sprang towards its prey. The Krillette had been too distracted by the parasites hiding on its body to notice the Lorrza, and now it would be too late.
An arc of blue energy pulsed and rippled across the torn earth, swirling and undulating like a living thing. Its sudden appearance caused the Lorrza to dance sideways frantically, its wide, black eyes like mirrors reflecting the disturbance. It twisted to look towards the Krillette, the delay enough time for the creature to stretch its wings and take flight. The reptile would not be eating tonight. With a savage hiss and a flick of its tongue, the Lorrza decided that the Krillette was right to flee, for whatever this new arrival was, it was beyond them. With a slash of its tri-coloured tail, it slid into a crack in the ground and was gone.
The energy dissipated into a flurry of dazzling blue sparks, at the middle of which stood three women. Continue reading
By Michael Drakich
Sleinad walked from stall to stall doling out the morning portions of oats and grains. “A useless bunch of nags you are! Eating and eating and bringing me what, nothing! I have half a mind to sell the lot of ya to the tanner.”
“Is anyone here?”
Sleinad turned to look out the stable door. A group of men were congregated in his yard. “Ah, customers, and early ones at that! I smell a profit to be made, and perhaps a mouth or two less to feed.”
Exiting the barn, Sleinad walked to join the group. “Good morning, gentlemen. So nice to see you, and so early! What might I help you with today? A horse? A wagon? Or a combination? You’ll find no better deal than here at Sleinad’s Wheel.”
A burly man sporting a whip tied to his belt stopped scanning the yard to face him. “I’m looking for a horse.”
“Horses I have, some of the finest animals around, and at a price you’ll find quite reasonable.”
The man brushed by Sleinad to enter the barn. “Just show me what you got.”
The man looked into each stall and moved on, commenting as he went. “No…nope…not him…no…no…nope…wait! This is the one!” Continue reading
She remembered the stories that her father used to tell her about the construction of the moon bases throughout the solar system. Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, was their first attempt to build something more than just a base, it became a city, a ‘metropolis’. It spanned a huge part of the moon’s surface and housed well over fifty-thousand sentient life forms. Continue reading