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The Rules by Mr. Pants, And Minor Changes:

1. If you’re interested in writing the next section, please come to the forum named, “Writing Challenges: The Thread” and leave a note. This is to avoid having two or more writers working on the same section. You could say something like, “I’m gonna do the part after Beckett Grey.”

2. Keep you sections to around 500 words. I’d like many people to be able to participate, and this should enable it.

3. End your section with the characters on the verge of an “event.” This will make it easier for the next writer to pick up where you left off.

4. Follow the characteristics that have been established for characters. If in one section “Johnny” has blonde hair, then he should still have blonde hair in your part too.

5. Do not post comments in the comments box. That space is for the continuation of the story. If you wish to leave comments, please do so at the forum.

6. You are allowed to declare a definitive end to the story. I have noticed that some of the stories end over a year ago on a cliffhanger, which is disappointing to interested readers.

7. Above all else, have fun, be creative, and get involved!

The Thread:

He giggled insanely, the blood dripping down arrhytmically from the vermilion knife. His arms were shaking uncontrollably, and his smile was stuck to his face. His cloak flapped in the wind, tattered but of good quality, it almost seemed to be trying to get away from where it was. “First is the worst first-is-the-worst,” he mumbled incoherently. All in all, Alenx presented a nauseating tableau.

Crunch crunch. The sounds of Gormen’s footsteps through the gravelly sand were strong. He was a strong man, almost incapable of weakness. He had few vices, and many women. In his tribe, he was admired, because strength was admired. He was not particularly stupid, but neither was he very smart. He was clever in the manner of people who have survived too many encounters not to be wily. And now as one of his further honors, he was being asked to be the Guardian, an important responsibility for a man of only thirty-one. To take a child along the path to manhood was usually reserved for the elders, and so Gormen viewed his task as an enormous honor. He was going to issue Alenx into the time of manhood.

It was important to be a strong man in this world. Not the oldest tales remained of how they had arrived upon the desolate sphere, it had faded past the point of legend. And no one could decipher the Artifacts. Pieces of burnt metal, screens that glowed eerily, devices with no discernable function. The tattered corpse of an anonymous past.

Alenx heard the steps coming towards him, but only distantly, like he was wearing coverings on his ears. He reacted too slowly, couldn’t even stand up. Moreover, he didn’t want to. His tight pants were soaking through with blood, and he couldn’t feel a thing.

“Boy, did you finally do it?” Gormen asked laughingly. “Did you kill your first inf . . .” he trailed off as he took in the scene. Alenx was kneeling in a pool of blood, which had happened before when a boy prayed for the safe journey of his victim. But there were tears running down his eyes. And everything was somehow wrong.

Alenx had to say something. It was his move in the game.


The following comments are for "The Thread: Windswept"
by Washer

Part 2...
Alenx's mouth twitched as he tried to speak. He looked pleadingly at Gormen.

Gormen too was in a state of shock, but finally he was able to ask a halting question: "What happened here?"

Alenx drew a breath to compose himself. "It... it spoke to me," he said finally.

Gormen grunted in surprise. Even with the scene in front of him, he hadn't expected him to say that. Infars didn't talk. How could they? They weren't human.

For the first time in many years, Gorman found himself unsure what to do. This needed to be thought about, and that was something he wasn't used to doing – certainly not to the degree that this situation demanded. "Come," he said after a few minutes, "we should return to the village. Narron will know what to do."

Although there was no designated leader of the tribe, Narron was generally acknowledged as the most well endowed of the elders intellectually, and was thus the obvious choice. Gorman knew that this was well out of his own arena.

The two of them walked in silence back to the village. It was a considerable distance, but neither felt able to begin a conversation. Alenx was still twitching involuntarily, but the wild look in his eyes had faded somewhat, though it had not entirely disappeared. Gormen looked thoughtful, and uncomfortable; the discomfort being partly due to what he was thinking about, and partly simply with the act of serious thinking.

By not carrying the infar’s body back to the village, they were breaking the tradition. Somehow that didn’t seem important to them. Under normal circumstances, it would be enough to see Alenx driven from the village, or worse, but the blood that still covered Alenx should be proof enough of the kill, and Gormen was confident that Narron would hear them.

Their reception at the village was, predictably perhaps, mixed. There were jeers from many, of course, but mostly they were eyed with curiosity; very few boys dared to return from their initiation without the body, fewer still with their Guardian still supporting them.

But they ignored both the jeers and the stares, and walked directly to the elders’ circle.

Narron was not there, but was quickly summoned, as were all the village’s elders, when Gormen explained the situation. Alenx was still not in a coherent state and was able to say little, but he did not need to say much to convince the elders of the seriousness of the situation: the look in his eyes – and that of Gormen, who was not easily shaken – was enough.

( Posted by: Spudley [Member] On: February 24, 2003 )

The elders began debating in rustly whispers and loud bugle rings. Their voices echoed in the hall, and created an eerie effect when multiple people would talk at once, the tones breaking against each other like waves on a shore. The arguing was intense, and eventually it reached a volume that could be heard even through Alenx’s stupor. He looked up vaguely, and shook his head quickly.

“I tell you, it’s impossible! The infars are inferior, in the harshest sense of the word! They are vulgar, base, stupid and malicious. The only reason we keep them around is the Artifact that mentions them, and the ritual. I can’t see why those damn Historians insist that we keep around all these useless things. Our planet, bad is it is, is being littered with inferior races and clutter. Damn them!”

“Koraji, your viewpoints have been well-known for years, and they have hardly been the reason we gathered here today. Let us deliberate. Why would an infar talk? How could it - ?”

“It – it told me to spare it, that its,” Alenx stumbled “– I don’t know what it was trying to say. Something about Sky Parents. They’re coming. It said it was a scout, that the planet was being resurveyed. See?” Alenx held up a cylindrical blinking device, and when he depressed a black button, his form shimmered and adopted the shape of an infar. “See? Do you see it?”

Koraji screamed, his face a rictus of horror. “He’s one of them!!!”

Alenx pressed the button again, and backed into the wall; no corner was available in the ellipsoid hall. “No, no I’m not! I found this. I swear!”

“How could you have found it? You searched an infar, you foul boy?!”

“No – n–no, it was blinking, how could I have missed it?” It was indeed blinking. Alenx was doing little to promote his case for innocence, as a blue light would continually illuminate the dried blood that covered him. “I am innocent. I am a man. A man, for I killed him all the same.”

“What did the infar look like once you removed this, device?”

Alenx paused, attempting to collect himself.

All of a sudden, there was a deep rumbling, in the subsonic level, that filled the tent, the air, the world. It was tearing it apart. Everyone rushed outside. The sky was filled with a glowing shiny shape, something between a sword blade and a ball, odd as it may sound. It flew right over their heads, and continued onward. Koraji chased after it briefly, but his spindly legs gave out quickly, and he was carried back by two of the more hale Elders. “What do you want with us?! The gods have returned to exact their wrath upon us all! Oh gods!” Gorman slapped him to bring him to his senses, a sound that made barely a ripple against the diminishing noise of the sky-boat.

( Posted by: Washer [Member] On: March 2, 2003 )

Pt. IV
Noticing the situation might be rowdy, Norran retired to his quarters.
"You must be banished!" cried one elder.
"Sacrificed so the gods will forgive us," yelled out another.
"Quiet! Fools!" vied Su Sha Klah, the eldest and wisest elder. "You must not forget The Testament of Lord Tao Lin: 'Let there be kindness, prosperity, wisdom, and power to the one that brings a foreign object to it's people.' Do you not rememeber?"
"But do also remember passage 772, paragraph 28, lines 32-36, 'He who uses it improperly shall cause great famine upon the Planet," remarked Loursar, a second to Narron.
"But if he is tought with the right guidence, there will be no more problems," argued Su Sha Klah, with a hiss in his voice.
Su Sha Klah was a respected creature; he was a centaur with a guerrilla's upper body, a snake's head, but the intelligence of twenty of his counterparts. Most did not challenge his word, but this cylindrical object yielded to much controversy among the citizens of Fu Wah.
"What is it he holds?!" came a scream from the crowd.
"It's evil!" shouted someone else. "Destroy it!"
"What is it exactly?" asked Gormen.
"This," said Su Sha Klah, taking the object from Alenx's trembling hands, "is called Asnatrol. According to myth, the king of the gods Lord Sapros created it for Sankser, a warrior created out of the most perfect perception for a fighter, was sent to our planet to rid it of evil. After seven years of battling demons, the object was considered lost. It's special purpose, when the button is held, releases a tremendous light, and then a mysterious weapon of enbelievable mite-" retold Su Sha Klah-as it was written in the "Recollection of Important Recollections," written in an ancient language only understood by four people in the entire world-but was interrupted by Narron's servant.
"Council men! council men! Norran was assasinated!"

( Posted by: Lord Alexandre [Member] On: March 3, 2003 )

Part V.
The assembly broke up almost instantaneously into a melee of voices. Shock
and suprise rippled through the council-hall in waves. And then, almost as
one, they raced out of the hall, each trying to ask the overwhelmed servant
for details.

The first to arrive at the door to Narron's quarters was Koraji. But the
scene that greeted him was one of utter normality. Bursting in through the
door, expecting to find Narron's corpse, he instead found his fellow Elder
sat at his desk studying.

"What is the meaning of this intrusion?" asked Narron.
I'm sorry, Elder Narron," stammered Koraji, "but we heard..." He was
interrupted by the arrival of the rest of the group. The Elders council
consisted of twenty men and three or four mutants, and along with a dozen or
more servants, attendants, and of course Alenx and Gormen, they did not fit
comfortably into Narron's chamber.

Narron and Koraji moved to calm the situation, and it was not long before
everyone was reassembled in the main hall. But now there were two mysteries
to solve.

So Sha Klah openend the debate by addressing the servant whose news had
prompted the stampede: "Please explain what you saw that persuaded you that
Narron had been murdered."

The servant struggled to explain what he had seen, but after many questions
from the Elders, his story was that he had been fetching some books for
Narron, and as he was returning he heard strange noises from the chamber.
Peering through the open door, he had seen an ugly creature similar to a
bear attack and kill his master with some kind of hand-weapon. That was when
he had run to the hall to warn everyone.

Norran, of course, was perplexed. As far as he was concerned, he had been
sitting at his desk the whole time, studying the ancient texts on Infars. He
had neither seen nor heard anything unusual until Koraji and the others had
burst through his door.

Nothing about the two stories could be reconciled, but the facts were plain:
Norran was there at the meeting, so he clearly had not been killed. The
servant, however, was well respected and trusted, and had no reason to
fabricate such a story. The council deliberated the point, but could not
make a clear decision, so after some time it was agreed to let the matter
rest, unless something further were to happen to shed light on it.

With that, the discussion returned to the Infars. And it was at that point
that it was discovered that somehow, in the course of the preceding
excitement, the device that Alenx had taken from the body had vanished. All
of a sudden, there was another mystery to solve.

The Elders were used to having to make decisions. They were used to running
the village, organizing festivals, overseeing rituals, and all the other
things that Elders do. They were not used to mysteries. Events of this sort
were altogether rare events in the village. The first mystery may have been
unexpected, but the Elders had not been taken aback by it. But to have three
mysterious events occur within such a small space of time? That was enough
for the hall to break into a chorus of omens and prophecies, as the various
Elders competed to recite the most doom-laden passages they could remember.

But as the volume reached a crescendo, it was Alenx who silenced everyone:
"He has it! He has it!" He was pointing at Narron, whose face was filled
with a sudden and unaccustomed look of fright.

Alenx dived at Narron, pushing Elder to the ground, and pulled from his
clothing the missing device. As he did so, the shocked onlookers watched as
Narron's entire form dissolved into a blinding array of colour, and then
just as quickly reformed into a shape resembling a bear.

The creature shrugged off Alenx, retrieving the device as it did so. Then it
stood up and surveyed the wide eyes and gaping mouths that surrounded it,
and finally it spoke:

"You people are in a lot of trouble now," it said. Then it pushed the button
on the device, and with another blinding flash of colour, it vanished.

( Posted by: Spudley [Member] On: March 5, 2003 )

Pt. VI
“And so it begins,” whispered Su Sha Klah through the many whispers of the anxious republic.
“I knew-!!” stammered the servant, falling back on the floor. “But h-how?”
“Please, Sir,” applied Loursar to Su Sha, “As another high figure in the room, you must agree with me: the people must be dismissed before The Council can discuss what happened in more depth.”
“You’re right. What sense is there to worry the innocent before all facts are established.” Standing upright and facing many eager faces, the great councilman and Norran’s second in command prepared to deliberate.
“Great people of Fu Wah, please dismember yourselves in a peaceful manner, for the great minds need to settle their thoughts as well as their hearts on our troubles,” began Su Sha Klah.
A great many people began to worry. Some started asking question on what happened and what is going to happen.
“Please, settle down. If you have not dismissed yourselves shortly, force will be used,” Loursar explained, agitated.
Many began to leave for they knew the meaning of, “force will be used”; sometimes, your limbs were cut off so that you could no longer gather publicly; others, your lower jaw was pulled out so you could no longer demonstrate public speeches.
Once everyone retired, Su Sha Klah and Loursar established a meeting in the Hall of Wisdom: the main building used for investigating serious matters. Inside was an amphitheater with three-hundred and five chairs surrounding a large desk at the front in a semi-circle. This desk seated two, and today here sat Su Sha Klah and Loursar.
“Now, Councilmen Su Sha Klah, explain to us what you know,” started the latter.
“As it was written in The Testament of Lord Tao Lin, ‘A great soul will find Asnatrol, but a source of evil will relinquish it and will use it for the destruction of any opposition and the rest will be slaves.’”
“The floor is now open to any member that is interested,” said Loursar.
In the meantime, Alenx and Gormen stood aside and watched the deliberation.
One man motioned his hand, “What should be done?”
“The object must be found by the one who first retrieved it.”
A second motioned, “Does the weapon posses any immediate threat?”
Response, “To my best knowledge, no.”
A third motioned, “How long will it take?”
“At most a week.”
A fourth motioned, “Once it becomes active, does it enable the user any special power?”
“Enormous physical strength, intelligence, logic, and use of any material weapon. This does not include the fact that the person with the weapon may posses great powers of deception.”
A fifth motioned, “What do you propose should be done next, great one?”
“He who found it should be sent on a voyage to find it and destroy it.”
Alenx shifted in his spot and turned to find Gormen with a knife through his heart and a dark figure standing over him with a sword at his neck.

( Posted by: Lord Alexandre [Member] On: March 5, 2003 )

Chapter VII
He lifted his head slowly and gazed at the hooded figure towering before him. The flat of the blade pressed against his neck and Alenx pressed his eyes together tightly. He had survived his initiation and now he was going to die. A great roar bellowed round the amphitheatre, swiftly followed by the groaning of rock. The earth at his feet tore open and Alenx swayed, inches from the deep crevice. Something whipped at his legs and pulled him backwards, the sudden force causing him to stumble and graze the sword at his neck. Alenx looked up at Su Sha Klah gratefully, the elder’s snake like tongue had roped round his ankles and yanked him from the crater’s edge.

Dust and shards of wood clouded the air then cleared. Alenx gasped at the destruction, the amphitheatre wall posts had been wrenched from their supports. Broken stone cascaded from the roof like a waterfall, crushing the upper tiers and rendering its occupants helpless. The desk Loursar had been seated at splintered in two and pinned his body to the wall, a boulder slamming into his skull.

‘ Alenx, come!’ cried Su Sha Klah. The elder’s hooves picked through the debris, but Alenx’s weak limbs stumbled as they raced to the Hall opening. Something hurtled through the air and landed on the steps to the doorway. Alenx swallowed as the cloaked figure thundered towards them, its sword a glorious red, ripe with the blood of Gormen. Alenx felt a sticky substance beginning to clot on his neck and cursed, the blade had nicked him when Su Sha had pulled him free. Two red slits flashed from beneath the emerald hood and it growled ferociously,

‘Gari mem su qa!’ the beast cried. Alenx gaped in bewilderment as Su Sha Klah dropped to his forelegs and bowed in reverence.
‘Su Shah, watch out!’ he yelled, grasping the dagger from his belt. His arm grew heavy and he struggled to lift it, his whole body felt numb.
‘No!’ commanded Su Sha Klah calmly, ‘He will not harm you!’ Alenx’s eyes goggled at the old man - a rock must have smashed his brains, he thought.
‘It killed Gormen!’ cried Alenx, ‘It tried to kill me!’
‘Lanak ramir,’ growled the beast.
‘Gormen was already possessed. He had to,’ relayed Su Sha.

‘You understand what it’s saying?’ asked Alenx incredulously. The ground shuddered as the last of the walls began to cave. He eyed his Elder nervously and looked towards the beast, they seemed to be communicating somehow. Su Sha Klah was transfixed, held by the creature’s fiery red eyes.
‘Alenx, listen to me!’ whispered Su Sha, ‘There is something you have to do!’
‘I can’t even move, what I am supposed to do?’ hissed Alenx.

‘Listen!’ bellowed Su Sha, ‘ You uncovered the Asnatrol. It is you who must retrieve it,’ he began.
‘But how,’ Alenx interrupted. A deep rumble in the beast’s throat silenced him.
‘Remember I told you about Sankser, from the Recollections?’ asked Su Sha, then carried on without waiting for an answer, ‘ This is him.’ The beast threw off its cloak and hoisted on to its hind legs. Muscle bulged from every part of its body, the thick black skin tougher than armour. Alenx stared,
awed. It resembled one of the huge cats in the ancient drawings he had seen, but it was much larger and walked on its hind paws like a man. Alenx stared at the unsheathed blade that had skewered Gormen and drew a sharp breath. It was one of five claws, evenly spaced on a paw the size of his head.
‘What does he want with me?’ whispered Alenx, his voice barely audible.
‘To guide you,’ the words sounded hoarse and raspy, the voice ancient beyond time. It had spoken.

( Posted by: Isabo [Member] On: April 23, 2003 )

Chapter VIII

He entered into a state of shock. Words and events ran past him, but he had no cognizance of their significance. Some unseen dark roiling ocean was controlling his life, and he was too confused and tired to ponder as to its origins. He had killed another sentient being, his mentor had been killed, a kindly elder had been assassinated, and now a giant black beast-man out of legend sought to help him reclaim a device of unimaginable power. It was worse than listening to his Uncle's stories on festival day, when the liquor flowed too freely. Except his Uncle had a way about him that made him the brunt of gentle familiar laughs; the entire family would recount some of his more far-fetched accounts for weeks. This was not funny. Not at all.

". . . Wish to deny your destiny, or to embark upon a quest that will endow upon us perpetual glory, and a sure place in the Histories?" The beast's question came out more as a deep rumble that tended to blend all the sounds together, but Alenx began to pay attention shortly into it, snapping out of his reverie.

"The Histories mean nothing. My entire village will be undoubtedly dead, and thereby unable to appreciate my accomplishments, when and IF I return," Alenx spat with sharp sarcasm.

"You know too little, Alenx. Gormen was a pawn as surely as the Red Sun rises in the North. I only sought to save you."

Alenx couldn't tell who was telling the truth. But Gormen was dead, and he knew that others would die too, if he didn't resign himself to this quest. Why must everyone die for me? thought Alenx, as he nodded his head and muttered he needed a night to gather his belongings, and prepare himself. One night was given for him to reconcile himself with everything he had seen and experienced. People raised in a planet of more bountiful nature would have empathized, and allowed Alenx as much time as he needed. There was no sympathy here, and none was expected.

* * *

Alenx slept soundly as soon as he reached his isolated bedroom, the occurrences of the day becoming too much for his slight shoulders to bear. When he awoke, it was far into the night, a night of burning cold and imprisoned shivers racking his frame. Alenx sprung himself out of bed to get a blanket, when he heard a distinct snick that metal makes when rasping metal. It was just too much.

The metal pressed into his side, only it didn't penetrate. This was an obvious ploy to frighten Alenx into a state of submission, for what purpose he could not begin to guess after his eventful day. Rather than frighten him, it frustrated him - Alenx became enraged, that he was again being played for a weak-minded pawn, a mere tool in an incomprehensible game. He felt his eyes bulge in fury, and his arms lit up with a faint red glow, as if his blood were luminescent. The knife hissed where it contacted Alenx; he could feel it bubbling on his shirt, but couldn't feel any heat radiating outward and burning him.

Alenx looked down at his arms briefly, but he had learned much in one day. Rather than marvel at the newest in a chain of miracles and atrocities, he whipped about, only to find his assailant was . . .

( Posted by: Washer [Member] On: April 25, 2003 )

The Thread: Part XI

. . . he whipped about, only to find his assailant was Loursar, the same servant who had caused so much commotion that day when he reported Narron's death to the council.

With a speed that surprised even himself, Alenx snatched at Loursar's wrist and twisted, so that the knife fell with to the ground.

Loursar's demeanour changed immediately. "Forgive me, master Alenx. I was jealous." After that, it was not difficult for Alenx to extract his full confession.

Loursar was roughly the same age as Alenx. As a servant of Narron he had been in training for the priesthood, and just as Alenx had had to take a test of manhood, so had Loursar taken his final test just two days earlier.

The priesthood tests involved visions - this much Alenx already knew - and Loursar's visions that day had been unusually powerful. There had been much talk of this in the village, until the more recent events took over. But (as was expected) Loursar had not told anyone what he had actually seen. Now he related to Alenx that his visions had been of the Asnatrol telling him that he would soon be given a mission. When the mission had been given to Alenx instead, Loursar's interpretation was that he had to prevent Alenx from being able to take it.

By the time he had finished relating his story, Loursar was in sobbing uncontrollably, and far from anger, Alenx was struck with feelings of pity for the young man. But an element of fear remained, so instead of leading him back to his own bed, Alenx took him to Su Sha Klah's quarters.

The elder was less than pleased to be disturbed at such an odd hour, but once he had heard the story, he relented, and took Loursar in as a guest for the night. In the morning they would ask the Asnatrol for advice, but for now it was simply too late.

* * *

The rest of the night went without incident. None of those involved slept very well, but the morning was bright and fresh, and as he made his way back to the council chamber Alenx was starting to feel more confident again.

Alenx, Loursar and Su Sha Klah were the only ones present in the chamber when the Asnatrol made it’s appearance. As before, it was an awesome sight but somehow, even though this was only the second time he had seen it, Alenx felt comfortable in its presence.

"What I am going to say is for Alenx alone," it bellowed, "You must leave us." Su Sha Klah’s face registered completed surprise at this, but he turned as instructed and headed for the hall's southern exit. Loursar, by contrast, stood rooted to the spot, staring at the beast.

"Leave!" it repeated, more forcefully.

"But what about me?” he cried, “You promised..."

His voice tailed off as the creature bent toward him. "You too have a part to play," it said, in a softer voice, "but it will not be this part."

"What part will it be?"

"You will know when the time comes. Now leave us. Alenx must prepare for his coming ordeal."

( Posted by: Spudley [Member] On: April 27, 2003 )

The Thread: CH X
The iron door closed with an audible thud, leaving Alenx, Loursar, and Asnatrol alone; the latter two were glaring at each other. Finally, with pressed lips, Loursar turned and strode out of the chamber.

“Follow me,” Asnatrol commanded, and led Alenx into a small anteroom. Alenx studied the room. It was unremarkable; several candles burning in the four corners, an ancient picture on the wall, and two mats on the floor.

“Have a seat, Alenx. I know that your heart is filled with many questions. I will try to answer all of them that I can, but I fear we have not the time. You must prepare soon and swiftly and be on your way, but first, we must have a small lesson.”

Alenx watched as Asnatrol produced a small purple sphere, which began to blink. Alenx was compelled to stare at the ball. It became brighter, more intense. Alenx could feel the room begin to melt around him, and then his world went black. As he opened his eyes, he could see a solar system, which zoomed past him as he closed in on a planet. He could hear Asnatrol’s voice, which seemed a million miles away

Three millennia ago, this planet, Xeolobi, began nurturing the first of it’s three races. The races began to grow; form societies; and they lived in harmony. One of the races was my own Gysma, who lived in the deep forests. Another was the race that you know, the Yarthas, who farmed the open plains. The third were the Pirtu, who harvested the sea. Nearly fifty thousand years ago, we realized that we were not alone in this galaxy. A hostile planet of aliens came to our world and began to eradicate us and claim our resources. The Pirtu became hungry for power, and made an alliance with this race of aliens, and together, they beat our two civilizations literally into the dirt. Many of us escaped into the dense jungle to hide, where we have been fighting for our freedom ever since. Why, you ask, is this important to you? There was a prophesy made. By whom, no one remembers, but the important thing is that it said that the pure races would be saved by one who was both Gysma and Yartha alike. Numerous attempts were made to breed our two races, but there were no successes. Except for one. His name was Tao Lin, and I was assigned as his guardian. We amassed a ship capable of escaping a select few of us to cultivate a new planet, and we smuggled him out with us, to grow and save us when the time came. Alenx, Tao Lin was your ancestor. You are one of only two who have Tao Lin’s mixed blood running through them. The other is Loursar, and you will need him, but the blood is stronger in you, and so you must lead. You must save our races, before the Pirtu find us and eradicate us, at home, and here.

Alenx opened his eyes. He was still in the room. He didn’t believe what he had heard. How long had he been in here? It felt like days, yet also only minutes.

“You must leave. Now.” Asnatrol escorted him forcefully out of the door and into the courtyard, where there were two packed trulus waiting.

“Are you going with me?” Alenx questioned

“No. The one accompanying you will be….. Loursar. I will join you later, I have pressing matters to attend to.”

Alenx had another million questions to ask, but obediently got on his trulu.

“Where do I go? What do I do?”

( Posted by: yad4u [Member] On: May 20, 2003 )

Chapter 11
Chapter 11

"Where do I go? What do I do?"

As he spoke his Trulu, the biped beast of burden native to Xeolobi, sprang forward. Wind rushed past Alenx's body as the Trulu ate up the miles. The forest of Ashgeren and the mountains of Ge'ryel flashed by, a blur in his peripheral vision. They passed the city of Sha- Re-Laenth an hour after setting off and Alenx drew rein. They had entered the second quarter of the moon and Religious doctrine insisted that Alenx eat; drink and rest till third quarter some four hours away. Tying the Trulu to the branch of a Cawble tree Alenx began the ritual meditation of fast-break and was soon lost to the litanies of prayer.

Loursar had left the Council Chambers in a foul temper and had stormed to the Temple. It was there he'd found Shea'el, High Priest of Xeolobi and some would say loudest voice within the Elders.
"Come young Loursar there is much you should know."
Shea'el led the still highly strung Loursar through the maze of corridors that made up the temples living quarters to the Library of Souls.
"Unless you can open the door you cannot learn" Shea'el held his Stave of Office out for Loursar to take. "Only the stave and a right mind can clear your way. A priest first learns humility then gains knowledge."
Shea'el walked away leaving the confused Loursar to contemplate the door and stave. For a mind numbing 30 minutes Loursar stood his stare alternating between the stave and the door. Intricate patterns of interlacing symbols were carved in the wood of both.
"Not symbols, letters." Each had different parts of letters carved into them holding the stave up to the door he spent a few moments aligning the text. Laughing, his dark mood broken, Loursar turned the large golden handle and entered the Library of Souls.

"Welcome to the priesthood Loursar-ael" Shea'el stood in the centre of the library holding green robes of a lower priest and gesturing for Loursar-ael to join him. Ten minutes later they were sat within Shae'al's private rooms drinking Chakra Root, a bitter brew exclusive to the priesthood.
"You have little time left. You must join Alenx to safe us all." Shea'el rose and crossed to the small window in the north east wall. "It will soon be second quarter use the Qo and get there before it begins."

Stepping into the blue sphere, that was the Qo, Loursar-ael shuddered as his molecules were disassembled. As he re materialised he heard the litanies of supplication to Ar-ael but could not see Alenx. He rose from his seated position and immediately found himself face down in the soil, Cawble root and, his first stomach retched as he realised what else he lay in. He had no control of his body and what was that sound within his head.
"Your head? Your head? Loursar what the hell just happened? And why am I face down in Trulu droppings? And why am I wearing lower priest green? And... Oh Gods!"

( Posted by: jukeboxhero [Member] On: May 30, 2003 )

Windswept: Chapter 12.
Alenx's prayers came to an abrupt end as Loursar's appearance signalled the outbreak of a huge commotion.

Alenx could not immediately see what was happening - he had his eyes shut, was facing away from the tree, and was on the opposite side of it from Loursar's noisy appearance.

Loursar made enough noise on his own to stir Alenx out of his trance, but he followed up by running into the back of the trulu, and the startled beast proceeded to make enough noise to wake the dead, never mind someone who was merely meditating.

Loursar was intoxicated, and it took Alenx some effort before he could be persuaded to remove himself from his prone position with his face in the trulu droppings. But once he was on his feet, Loursar did finally beging to regain his composure.

"I had no idea Chakra Root could do that," said Loursar. His head was still spinning, but at least he could now stand up without toppling forward.

"So you've had your induction, then?" asked Alenx, with a broad grin, "I thought it usually took longer than that?"

"Yes. Something about needing to get out here quickly with you. And Shea'el gave me the honoury title Priest of Ar-ael, so I am now officially named Loursar-ael. That's going to take me a while to get used to!"

Alenx was pouring some water from the supplies that had been loaded on the trulu before he left. He offered a cup, and Loursar accepted it gratefully. The fasting period was over, and both were thirsty.

"Ar-ael, did you say?" he asked with surprise. "That's a pretty major honour for a brand new priest. You're right - that's not going to be an easy name change to get used to."

The conversation continued as Alenx started building a fire for a meal. In the morning they would continue riding south, but now was the time to relax. Both sensed that the day ahead would be a tough one.

The night passed uneventfully, though neither slept well. Alenx simply lay on his back, staring at the stars. It was something he hadn't done since he was a child, but the amazing events of the day had left him with a new found wonder at the majesty and sheer enormity of the universe. Loursar's sleeplessness was more mundane; Chakra Root's longest lasting side effect was as a stimulant. It would be several more nights before his body would finally restore its rhythms.

They had made good progress for several days. They were by now well beyond the reaches of civilisation, but still the directions given were very clear. Among all the other essentials packed into the trulu's saddlebags, the Asnatrol had left a detailed map with instructions for their journey. The route was not complicated - pretty much due south for five days, followed by south-east for another three. It was a sizable distance: a trulu could move at a good speed, and eight days journey on the back of one was further than anyone had ever gone, at least within Alenx's experience. There were landmarks on the way for them to follow, but once Alenx had passed the city on the first day, there had been no other signs of recent civilisation.

The last two days journey were across what the map described as "Baked Desert", and the point was underscored by the words "no water" written in smaller letters beneath it.

At the centre of this desert was their final destination, but at this point the map's details began to get vague. "You will see the light on the horizon after day one," it said, and followed that with the cryptic message: "Reach the light, and you will learn the secrets of the fallen age."

( Posted by: Spudley [Member] On: June 11, 2003 )

Windswept chapter 13
The crypic message kept replaying in their minds " Reach the light, and you will learn the secrets of the fallen age". No matter how hard they continued to stare at the map and find some clue the phrase would not stop repeating inside their heads.

"Reach the light, and you will earn the secrets of the fallen age".

If only they knew what that message meant. The boys sat down and started to think about the message. Solving the meaning of the message would become their obsession. Without knowning exactly what the message meant, they were stranded. They knew they had to work together and quickly if they were ever going to reach their desitination, the center of the desert.

Days passed,and no such luck. "Reach the center of the light, they know understood as get to the middle of the desert ... get to the final destination.

With only half of the cryptic message solved the boys decided that it would be best to continue on with their journey. Walking, step by step, pace by pace, they thought about the rest of the message. ... "the secrets of the fallen age".

What were the secrets of the fallen age? What was the fallen age?

( Posted by: kermie04 [Member] On: May 26, 2004 )

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