A Note About Editing...
This project is quickly becoming larger than life for me. Being able to share my story with so many people brings a specific joy for which I have been searching for a long time. My peers over at the Fiction Workshop have been an amazing help. That being said, it has come to my attention that it is very difficult for an editor to truly edit a work in progress. If they do not have the entire story story in front of them, the edits they so laboriously made in the beginning may become irrelevant when they read later chapters. I liken it to a racing horse with blinders on, unable to see the big picture.
This is not the fault of the editors, it is mine for expecting them able to read what is in my mind. So, from here on out, my chapters will be edited for basics but may not have the polish I really yearn for. Thus, there are likely to be errors. Once I have a completed product, then the true editing can begin. Therefore, I really rely on the wonderful comments that everyone leaves below. Thank you!
If anyone is interested in getting some quality editing done by the awesome Discord community, click here for more info. Its a great place for writers to network!
A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 4 PART 1
He wasn’t quite sure what to expect as he waited for the forest to begin again. It turned out to be less dramatic than anticipated. The only part that had somewhat surprised him was how one moment the breeze was nonexistent and the next it was flowing around him. It made him blink and his skin prickle. The wind seemingly sprang up out of nowhere, one moment—nothing, then next it just was. Blossoms continued their excursion downward, and the evening light twinkled through slowly swaying branches.
While, once again, admiring the detail of this unreality, he heard the scream. Shrill and constant, it came from the figure still in the branches of the R’leigh Bo. Looking up, Riggs could still see his sister reaching down towards his younger self. A bitter thought came to his mind, At least, you were unconscious boy, having to remember a scream like that changes a person. Of course, now I’ll remember it…
Kendra’s body shifted suddenly and her instinct caused her to wrap her arms around the nearest branch. Being more agile amongst the branches than Auryn, she’d realized sooner than her brother that the aura had disappeared.
Maybe if you’d had her reflexes you wouldn’t be in this situation.
It was several seconds before the shock abated enough for her act. After gaining her balance, she quickly if not too carefully, began to work her way down from the branches. Riggs doubted that he could have descended as quickly without the aura to support him. The years of climbing, bolstered by the rush of adrenaline guided her hands and feet down branch after branch. At one point, she even clutched a branch behind her knees, swung upside down to grasp another lower branch, her body twisting over her hands only to drop a pace and a half below. Nearing the bottom, she jumped the last few paces to the ground, rolled and was up running to her brother’s side.
Stopping just short of the boy’s body, her hands became caught in a moment of indecision in front of her. She hadn’t made a sound during her decent but now Riggs could hear a small high-pitched sound beginning to form in the back of her throat as she took the body of her brother in her arms. Riggs half expected her to see him looming over the pair a pace away from the body. However, she took no more notice to his figure any more than she noticed the bloody leaves dangling from the back of the boy’s head. Her squealing had now become full blown sobbing. She shook him several times while calling his name. Between fits of sobbing she choked, “Get up! Auryn, come on get up!” Her continued efforts to wake him, fruitless. His bulky limp form kept slipping from her grasp.
Riggs could see that panic was starting to set in to the girl. A knot had begun to form within his own stomach as well. Something was wrong. The boy wasn’t responding at all. His dark open-eyed gaze remained set upon the leaves above as if pondering some final treachery. Kendra did not quite yet understand the gravity of the situation, but Riggs had seen that stare before. His sister stood abruptly nearly crashing into Riggs who had stepped closer for a better view. He could tell she was trying to stifle her tears and having little success. Without a word Kendra took a final look at her brother, turned and dashed towards the farm. As he watched her reach the tree line he thought, Gods, it’s too late. After she disappeared, he knelt down and placed his hand on the boy’s chest. Before, he had taken the boys vacant stare as a product of the time-stopped forest. But now, there was no mistaking it.
Auryn Riggs was dead.
“What the hell is going on! Do you expect me to believe this?
No answer. Beginning to panic, a morbid thought entered his mind. Maybe they didn’t want him altering his memories because they were doing it themselves. Trying to get him to believe he had died! How could this be true? Surely he would have remembered something like this, something like dying. But why? Why would they want him to believe he was dead?
He had no idea, but it didn’t matter, he rarely understood anything the bugs had done anyway. This had to stop, he couldn’t let these things violate his memories this way, or any way for that matter.
But what could he do? He doubted there was a way out of this mind prison. It was his mind after all. Escape may not be an option, but he didn’t have to sit back and let the tiny bastards have their way. Maybe it didn’t really matter what he did, perhaps just acting would frustrate them enough. Riggs stooped down and began to gather the boy up into his arms. He would take the boy to their mother. Perhaps something could still be done.
Just as he was getting ready to hoist himself into his own arms, he heard a thunderous crack from above. Looking up, a branch twice the diameter of his leg came crashing down upon him. Instinctually, it was all he could do to toss the boy aside while he rolled away. The branch fell between them. The roll brought him to a crouch. He turned to see that the boy’s body had sprawled in much the same position it had been in. The voice returned.
“Although your enthusiasm is appreciated Riggs, now is not the time to entertain foolish notions. Once again, we have not the time. Do not fight us in this matter. We have given you limited freedom to interact within this representation so as to facilitate a better learning experience. Such freedom is easily removed.”
As the last word was spoken, Riggs felt a sudden and violent tightening around each of his feet. Looking back, he saw that a series of interlaced roots were holding him firmly in place. After a few stubborn tugs, he found he may as well have been shackled to a wall. That was quick. He sighed. Did you really expect to have much success against these things? He didn’t have time to answer himself before the voice returned.
“Riggs, it is imperative that you pay attention. This is a pivotal moment within your lifespan. All roads began here!”
The intensity of the words reverberating through his mind was dizzying. But even more disturbing was the emotion that had leaked out of the monotone background. It was like two versions of the voice superimposed upon each other, and very different from anything he had heard from them before, at least as far as he could remember. He reminded himself that wasn’t very much. Through blurred vision he yelled.
“What the hell are you talking about!”
There was no answer. After regaining his senses, he stood carefully hindered by the root bindings. Blinking to clear his vision, he started in confusion. The fallen branch had disappeared. Looking up again he found it still above him, as if it had never fallen. Not even the ground showed evidence of the fall. Furthermore, the body of the boy had moved from where he had thrown it. It lay again in its original position, undisturbed from where it had fatally fallen. His shoulders drooped seeing how his actions had once again proven fruitless. A calm resignation flooded through him. What now then eh Riggs?
He was no longer allowed to interfere. He told himself that, although he was forced to watch this facade, his captors couldn’t force him to believe it. At least, he didn’t think they could. This thought was somewhat reassuring, as it gave him a sense that he still had some small control over the situation. Perhaps playing along was the best course of action for now. He didn’t have much choice in the matter.
A few minutes crawled by since his sister had left. He supposed he would have to wait till she returned to see the next part of this fallacy. Just how they thought they could make him believe that he had died, he didn’t know. It was true that his memories felt a little like scrambled eggs right now, but he knew that he could remember bits and pieces far after this time in his life. He was curious at how they thought they were going to rectify this discontinuity.
Kendra would bring their mother, who certainly had a gift with medicines, but it was ridiculous to think that she could raise the dead. Even in the old stories, the healers of the Old World had had little control over those who traveled beyond death’s door. No, there was no one that could help the boy now.
As if in response to his last thought, the wind had picked up causing the leaves to stir and dance above him. It would be a few minutes until Kendra returned. Riggs lowered himself to his knees, attempting to find a comfortable position despite the bindings. He would wait.
Perhaps sensing that Riggs had calmed down, the bindings first loosened around his ankles and released. He watched the roots slip back into the ground like some giant earthworm, leaving no evidence that they had been there besides the newfound tingling in his feet as the blood returned to them. Slowly, so as to not alarm his captors, he crawled over to the body of his youthful self. There he sat upon his knees and waited.
It was slow at first, the wind. But now the leaves and branches above were responding to a stronger breeze, one cascading down from the Myrr mountains to the north and west. Listening to the rustling of the leaves, he watched his younger counterpart’s vacant gaze at the trees above.
“Just what do you see now boy?”
Gently he passed his hand over the boy’s dark eyes, closing them. Watching them was unnerving. He didn’t think the bugs would react to such a minor interference. The wind died down again, but not before a few blossoms were coerced from their perch above. They floated downwards landing near the boy, with one settling upon his lips. The leaves above continued to rustle.
Odd thoughts drifted to Riggs as he continued to wait. It wasn’t every day that someone had the opportunity to see your own corpse, let alone your own moment of death. It made one think. Maybe this was his judgment, some sort of punishment for actions ages ago he could no longer remember; doomed to repeat his worst memories and moments of failure. Maybe this wasn’t the first time this had occurred? What if the bugs just wiped his mind every time so they could have the pleasure of watching him experience it, first hand, over and over?
Although, he didn’t put it past the bugs to be part of some sort of twisted mental prison, he dismissed the thought, he doubted that any version of hell would bring him back to his favorite childhood location. Even if it was to show him his gruesome demise.
He had loved this place, he remembered that now. Almost to the extent that it pained him to see it. Looking up to the swaying leaves again he became nearly lost in thought. It was strange how some things that were once loved and cherished often became hurtful when they were reintroduced later in life. He understood why this was of course. Looking around he thought to himself,
It’s because it all ends. As a child, everything feels like it will last forever, but later when we see it again, we know that it ended, and it hurts like hell.
He wondered what it would be like to live like a child forever, in that feeling of blessed agelessness. Looking at the boy again, he spoke aloud,
“There comes a day when that feeling leaves you. For the both of us, boy, that day was today.”
He leaned back on his hands taking in the white-gold and green of the tree again. Despite the situation, it was good to feel sunlight again, even if only in memory. He closed his eyes while listening to the leaves above and enjoying the fresh breeze on his face. Startled, he opened his eyes. It came to him while listening to the leaves. The breeze was gone. He focused on the branches above. Sure enough, the leaves and branches were still rustling. How could that be? There was no wind. He looked at the distant forest surrounding the R’leigh Bo—they were still. A higher wind could account for the Bo’s movement while remaining calm below, but the surrounding trees would also have been affected.
Sensing something out of the ordinary, he stood, all the while keeping his eyes on the tree. A dull green light from the leaves above caught his vision. Not all the leaves, only a few here and there, nor was the light very bright. It was difficult to differentiate the glow from the evening sun-infused leaves surrounding them. This changed quickly though, for a handful of the leaves burst into fiery emeralds.
Shielding his eyes, Riggs saw another light surfacing from the base of the tree. Thin, golden lines were forming upon the white bark of the nearest trunk. They appeared to wrap around the entire expanse of the base. The golden light emanated from the lines with an ominous pulse. With every pulse, the golden lines spread further up the base into the branches as if responding to some giant heartbeat. The lines traveled in straight lines only to digress at right angles at seemingly random intervals.
The lines around the base grew brighter with every energetic pulse. Higher up, though still bright, were so to a lesser degree until they came in contact with the emerald leaves above. At which point they outshone the light below. He was forced keep his eyes shielded. He also noticed that the lines had now spread through the upper branches to the other many bases of the R’leigh Bo, but none so bright as the one nearest Riggs. It was as if a maze of liquid gold had been engraved over the surface of the entire tree. The R’leigh Bo shown as if on fire. By the gods it’s beautiful!
The tree’s pulsing grew steadily faster, culminating in a pulse that shook the ground. A flash erupted from the nearest trunk momentarily blinding him. Then the wind came. A storm of current erupted buffeting him with leaves and grass. It was such that he had to brace himself against it lest be thrown to the ground. He dared not to open his eyes for fear of being blinded.
After several seconds, as soon as it had come, the wind disappeared. Off balanced without the winds support, he stumbled forward to his knees and opened his eyes. Adjusting from the flash, he saw the liquid gold lines were now a dull red.
The lines were an afterthought, for from where the flash had emanated, now stood a figure.
Copyright © 2017 by David Kottas. All rights reserved
- A World Long Sundered -- A Description of My Novel In Progress
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 1 PART 1
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 1 PART 2
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 2
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 3
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 4 PART 1
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 4 PART 2
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 4 PART 3
- My Other Works
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 1 Original Version -- Note: This version was edited and broken into the 2 parts of chapter 1 above. Some might like to compare.