For the past couple of months, on weekdays, I've been sharing a smattering of links in a Crypto Digest based on the daily postings of my employer Blockchain Times. However, the publication has recently reduced its publication schedule to twice a week, which frees me up some for other pursuits. That's just as well because it gives me a little more time to write fiction and to enter cool contest's like the Steem Monsters free write fiction contest.
From the Steem Monsters fiction contest announcement
Even if I don't win, I'm enjoying the process of writing the stories. Instead of my usual Crypto Digest posting today, I'm posting my entry into the Steem Monsters free write fiction contest. Below is my entry. If you like it, feel free to upvote it, resteem it, and reply with an encouraging comment.
In the days before magic, things were not as they are now. Men did not know of the Splintering. It wasn't theirs to know. But it was known nonetheless. Known by the gods. Some say it was known by the Spoiler, the one or ones who caused the Splintering and divided us all. There were no dragons, no summoners, no monsters. Before men made allies and enemies in one breath, before the elements ruled all things. Yes, even before war tore this earth into shards of amusement for the gods. And long before the bloodshed of the commons.
I was not there. I vouch not for what is true. I speak not to the mysteries that bind us. I can only tell a retelling that hope will enlighten and pray that justice be done.
A boy not yet a man lived in the small and ancient village of Koiross, which some say is now the thriving city of Cyrrios. Others say Koiross was destroyed by the Great Spark, never to be seen again. And then there is the faction of which I am a part who believe this small village will rise again and someday rule the world, when it has been reunited as one.
The story I tell may not have happened this way, but this is the way that I've heard it told. And it's the way I will retell it.
Chin-trè wandered alone in the wetlands outside of Koiross, searching for a kill. He had been taught to hunt by his father who managed the family blacksmith shop. Chin-trè was not old enough to work with his father, but his father trusted him to bring home game for the family meals. As was his daily habit, Chin-trè tracked small animals in the early evening while his mother made the evening meal. Armed with a slingshot and his own fine wits, he knew someday he'd be as good a hunter as his father.
He wandered farther than usual. Getting used to the way the land lay outside the village made him bolder. Plus, his father had said, more than once, that bigger kills could be found beyond the Angle.
Chin-trè had never been beyond the Angle. His mother forbade it. His father might have allowed it had he the time to accompany the lad. At twelve, Chin-trè could only go so far on his own.
The wildest game made their homes beyond the Angle. Far outside the village, toward Scalefinde Forest, but not so far as to see it with the naked eye. Well beyond the slopes that dented horizon's view from Koiross's edge. Chin-trè crested the largest and final slope and saw the triangulated formation of yew trees his father had described more than a dozen times. The Angle.
So named because clear sight beyond it from the slope on which Chin-trè stood was not possible. The perpetual fog beyond the trees signaled forbidden territory even to the hardiest hunters like his father. Instead, hunters walked between the trees and the fog toward the thin blue patch of sky. That was where his father said the best game could be found.
Chin-trè navigated around the Angle fearing the consequences if his mother found out. Careful not to step too close to the fog, he fixed his eyes on the blue dot on the horizon, guiding his steps through the thin rail of grass between the Angle and the fog.
It was a long walk. The dot became a line, and eventually a plane. When he reached the end of the grassy trail, a wide open space of green meadow showed itself. Like a painting, it spread out far and wide under the deep blue sky. It was the most beautiful sight Chin-trè had ever seen.
A small creature lifted its head above the blades of grass in the meadow. Then ran. Chin-trè chased it.
He chased the animal a few yards, but it got away. Chin-trè brushed the knee-high grass with his hands, splitting it so he could see the ground underneath. He thought the creature might be hiding in the grass. Suddenly, he saw it again, pushing its way through the grass away from him. Chin-trè yanked his slingshot from his belt and reached for a pebble in the purse dangling from his belt and resting on his thigh. He placed the pebble in the slingshot and spun it over his head. The pebble fell out and thumped him on the shoulder. Before he could reach for another pebble, the creature got away.
Chin-trè knelt in the grass searching for the dropped pebble. Gently, he parted the grass with his fingers. Something glinted on the ground below. He picked it up. It wasn't his pebble, but a nugget of gold.
He'd never seen gold before. He'd heard stories of hunters finding gold, but had never seen his father with any. He dropped the pebble into his purse and searched for his pebble again. When he'd found it, he shoved it into his purse and decided to head home. He arrived just in time for dinner.
"Find any kills today?" His father asked.
"Almost. But it got away."
He wondered if he should tell his father about the gold nugget. He thought his father might take it from him, so he decided to wait and examine it in the evening.
"How's the meat?" His mother asked.
"Perfect," Chin-trè said with a smile. He loved the way his mother spiced up his kills.
"You picked up enough yesterday for two meals," his mother said. "Tomorrow, it will be made a different way."
"It doesn't matter then that you didn't make a kill today, huh?" his father said with a grin.
"Guess not," Chin-trè agreed. When he'd finished eating, he excused himself from the table and went outside. He took a seat on the front porch of the village hut and pulled the gold nugget from his purse. It shone brightly in the dark night. Well enough to illuminate everything in sight. "Wow."
He heard his mother's voice behind him. It startled him. He tried to push the gold nugget back into his purse, but dropped it. It fell through the thatch floor of the porch and disappeared into the dark.
"Oh, I was just looking at the sky," he said. "How beautiful it is. So clear."
"Yes," his mother agreed. "Want to play a game?"
"Sure." Chin-trè wondered how he was going to break free to find the gold nugget, but he couldn't refuse a game with his parents. That would be out of character. He decided to wait until they were in bed, then he would sneak out and look for it later.
Later didn't come soon enough. After finishing his favorite game with his favorite two people, Chin-trè kissed his mother on the cheek, hugged his father, and went to bed. He waited. Minutes turned to hours and he fell asleep only to be awakened deep in the dark hours by a heavy rain pounding the roof. The urge to find the gold nugget was so strong he could almost hear it calling his name. He crawled off his sleeping mat and snuck past his parents nuzzled on their own mat, made his way to the front porch and into the rain. Then he lowered himself to the ground in front of the porch to see if he could find the gold nugget. Complete darkness was all he could see under the thatch porch, no sign of the gold nugget.
Chin-trè crawled out from under the porch, turned his back to the village hut, and peered into the surrounding darkness. Down the way, toward the Angle, he could see a gleam floating to the rhythm of the rain. He followed it.
He couldn't be sure the beaming light of gold was the nugget, but he followed it. How could a gold nugget just vanish that way? He walked more quickly to see if he could catch up to it. After a minute, his pace turned into a gallop, but he couldn't tell that he was gaining any ground. He followed the glow as far as he could. Eventually, the rain stopped and he found himself covered head to toe in mud, bare feet sullen with the sloppiness of rain mixed with earth. He had gained enough ground on the moving dot of gold that he could see it was being carried by a stream that had formed from the falling rain. The stream carried the gold past the Angle and into the fog where Chin-trè was forbidden to go.
He trekked on, swallowing his fear. He entered the fog with trepidation expecting some great danger to engulf him. All he could see was that gold nugget flowing like a steady stream. He followed it.
When the fog lifted, he found himself in a cave. The rain water carried the gold nugget to its very end. Deep inside the cave was a smoldering pit of ashes where once had been a fire. The stream of rain water deposited the nugget of gold into the ashes as it tapered into a trickle.
Chin-trè reached for the gold and drew back his hand when he realized the ash pit was still hot. He searched the cave for something long enough to poke the ashes. If he could remove the gold nugget, it could be his once again. Before he found anything, a rumbling rose up from the heart of the cave. The ground beneath his muddy feet rattled. The rumbling grew louder, more intense, as the ground shook with a brash ferocity. A fissure opened up between his legs pushing his feet further apart, and he felt an urge to run. Then he found himself twirling, spinning, and falling so quickly that he could not tell up from down, left from right.
Out of its mouth, Mount Pylavium spit ash, lava, and rock. High into the air it flew, and some of it flowed over the volcano's lip, down its peaks and crevices. Along with the mountain's residue and the guts from its caverns, Chin-trè and the gold nugget were swept up and spewed toward the anxious sky.
High into the air they spun. The nugget of gold, having been blanketed with the soil of the earth, baptized in water, purified by the aftermath of fire, and finally discharged into the liberating wind, sprouted wings. As if emerging from some ancient cocoon, the large body of a beast fixed with gold-tipped wings the span of which could eclipse the entire village of Koiross, its massive head shaped like a diamond with scales, and large hawk-like talons dangling beneath filled Chin-trè's view such that he could not even see the sky above. Then it disappeared and Chin-trè could see only the ground below approaching with such rapid force that he could barely breathe. Just when he thought it was over, the beast that had been a nugget of gold swooped in under him and stopped his fall.
Chin-trè, mesmerized, locked his fingers on a pair of scales. As hard as the beast's bones were, the softness of its scales were a comfort. Chin-trè jumped to his feet, peered over the beast's great head, and balanced himself for the ride of his life. With the sun on his back, the blue sky in his eyes, and memories of his mother's kisses in his mind, he and the beast flew into the distance and away from Koiross never to be seen again.
It is said that Chin-trè was the first summoner. Some say he was the first wizard and that this race of magic beings died out some time during the season of starvation. Others, like me, believe the wizards have gone into hiding, having created an hermitage to wait out the days of evil until the time of reuniting has come and then, but only then, will they emerge to join the Savior who will lead the Splinterlands to unity again. Legend has it that magic was formed from gold and that all magic today derives its power from gold, but only the gods know.
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