Those who have heard the mystical tales...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Wrath of Kawan

Badger was dead. The Bards were broken.

Kawan was King of Bamah. He imposed law that made the Bards fugitives, and had them locked up in the dungeons that Schaff had never seen. Paddy, Holden, Schaff, Scheaun, and Freddy were in a single cell: they were alone but together. Gizmo had not been seen or heard from since That Day. Badger was dead. The Bards were broken.

Gizmo and the Lady sought refuge with Jacob Corona, as they had heard of the Bards' plight. The Day After That Day, the two had found the Queen of the Trees.
"Mother! We need your help!" cried the Lady.
"You were looking for it, my dear. How can I be of service?"
"A friend of mine is dead, and the other friends of mine are being torn apart because of it," said Gizmo.
The Queen smiled. "Your friend is dead, but I can bring her back. Because of your friend's heroism, I doubt Abram and Sarai will have a problem with it."
A river flowed from nowhere, just beside them. Two dolphins swam up to the three, and stood. As they stood, they took their true form. They became Abram and Sarai.
"My son," boomed Abram, "Your selflessness and bravery will be rewarded--as will your friends'. As you have requested, Badger will be returned to you at the time you need it most--soon."
Sarai nodded. "She will find you, so keep on the lookout. Do not go searching for her. She will be a spirit-clone, but she will be Badger." The two disappeared.
"Good luck, sweetie," said the Queen, as she returned to the trees. "Defeat the Dark One."
Gizmo and the Lady then saw Jacob Corona, not far from them. Normally odd, he was resolute.
"You guys need somewhere to stay? Besides the dungeon, of course. Your friends are there, but it's kinda cold."

Gizmo sat by the fire in Jacob's fireplace. He strummed on an old lyre, and the Lady listened intently. He sang a mournful song, but transitioned into an uplifting one at the bridge. It was the most beautiful piece Gizmo ever sang. Just then, two dark figures approached. Jacob Corona, stepping into the light, said, "We have company." It was Badger. Gizmo smiled.
"Let us destroy the Dark One... tomorrow."

The three--Gizmo, the Lady, and Badger--wandered into town. The Lady and Badger, cloaked, led Gizmo to the castle in chains. Badger stopped at the gate.
"I have the one called Gizmo! Where is my reward?" screamed the Lady.
"Lead him this way," called Qarsinn, as he opened the gates. The four traveled to the dungeon, where Badger disrobed the cloak and ran Qarsinn through with her sword.
"Did you miss me? I didn't miss you."
"Okay, enough," said Gizmo as he was unchained. "I'll go find Kawan. You two free the others."
Gizmo made his way to King Carl's old room. He threw open the door to find Kawan already dressed for combat.
"You have returned," he growled. "Gizmo the Bard. I've heard of you. You're not that great. Brave, for sure, strong, courageous, the whole nine yards. But you are not very smart. You shouldn't have come back."
"Well, so goes for Badger, but I hate that for you too. Wait... no, I don't."
"She's... alive...? HOW???" Kawan screamed.
"My girlfriend's a goddess. Literally."

The Lady grabbed Qarsinn's keys. Badger, running in front of the Lady, killed the evil guards Kawan installed. They vanished as she struck them, turning into a red mist. The two finally found the Bards, whose cell was the only one inhabited in the entire complex. Badger slung the jail door wide.
"Lift up your faces, you broken heroes. Today comes vengeance. Now is the time for your bravery! I'm back!" The Bards looked up in astonishment. Badger's speech and presence lifted their hopes.
Releasing her friends from their chains, Badger led the six to the castle armory. There, she found her old sword, stolen by Qarsinn on That Day. She handed it to Schaff.
"You're gonna need this."

Gizmo and Kawan stood in the middle of the room. Kawan was still stunned, but his anger presided over his surprise.
"No! You lie! I killed her. This cannot be happening! The prophecy!" he fumed.
"How did the end of that prophecy read, exactly?" remarked Gizmo.
"I will kill you!"
The two fought. Gizmo grabbed a shield from the wall, and dodged every blow confidently. Gizmo, who had collected his wits, easily beat the desperate villain. Gizmo had Kawan by the throat, but refused to kill him.
"This is not my fight," he said.

Schaff flew up the stairs faster than anyone before him. He reached the top and saw Gizmo with Kawan in his hand.
"Finish him!" cried Schaff.
"I was about to say the same thing."
Schaff smiled. "I appreciate that. But, revenge isn't always the answer."
Gizmo dropped Kawan and began to leave the room. Kawan immediately jumped, grabbed his sword, and leaped at Gizmo. Gizmo turned, and at the same moment, both Gizmo and Schaff lunged at Kawan, running him through together. Kawan was dead.

Badger was not.

However, the Bards were still broken. Little changed from That Day, despite their enormous victory. They were unified once more, knowing that they would never be alone, but they knew that they would not always be together, either. Abram and Sarai came to the group after they all met at King Carl's room.
"Such is life, my children," said Abram. "You must take peace in that you won't always be together. That is the other side of things."
"Yes. Abram is right," concurred Sarai. "You will never be alone. However, you must learn to stand strong apart from the group."
The Bards saw the truth in this, even though they resisted it. They grew together, and as Abram and Sarai told them, they eventually separated. However, the Bards together lived on as legends. They never forgot each other, stayed in touch, and remembered everything, but fate was fate. The Bards were never broken again.

What the Bards Found at Koma

The day after King Carl's death, the Bards met at Holden's house to discuss everything. It was clear that  Schaff wanted revenge for his father's death; each Bard agreed to support him in that effort. Badger, reminded of the bounty on Kawan's head and her actions toward that end, hid her past. She felt it better to not say anything; it would neither help nor hurt. Holden brought up an important fact.
"We have absolutely no idea how to find him, though."
Everyone in the room shared looks with each other and with the table. Then, Gizmo spoke up.
"I may know someone. He and I go back a long time, but he's an excellent warrior. He taught me to track, and might just be the best there is."
"Ok. You do that, and we'll go find out more about Kawan's people," replied Schaff. "That may help us when we finally meet."
Gizmo left Holden's to find Scheaun (That is another story.)
The other Bards gathered their gear and traveled to Koma. It was not on any map that Schaff had seen, but was located in an old book--an atlas--the oldest book in the kingdom's library.

The Bards--Badger, Schaff, Holden, Dumon, Paddy, and Scott--arrived in Koma, the home of Kawan's people. It was an old set of ruins, rugged green landscapes littered with large grey stones. The shadows hid the locals from the strange outsiders. No one made themselves seen, much less any help. The large boulders were carved so that they were hospitable inside. Despite the random placement of the stones, a large structure stood proudly at the center of the ruins. The Bards approached it.
The building itself was a marvel. Like a temple, it stood thin and very tall. Several steps led up to an open doorway, which was wide, but narrowed to a point at the top. An overhang above the door was large enough for someone to stand.
The Bards climbed the steps. The ghostly silence penetrated the hearts of the heroes, and they were quiet themselves. Entering the stone temple, they found a long, dark room with a giant altar at the far end. A hooded figure rose from his kneeling position by the altar.
"You've arrived," uttered a familiar voice. "He said you'd come."
The figure turned. The man looked exactly like Qabel, but with a moustache and long goatee. The Bards, stunned, stopped.
"Are you...?" stammered Schaff.
"Qabel is my brother," the evil man smirked. "He is helping your new king move in."
Schaff started. "You don't mean..."
"Yes. Your father took his kingdom; now he is taking your fathers'. He is brilliant, isn't he? Kawan knew you'd come, so he swept behind you to take Bamah. Kawan is the ruler of Bamah."
Paddy turned, and saw Kawan atop the steps. "Guys..."
"Now then. Badger, we have unfinished business. Draw your sword and fight me. But first, Qarsinn, take them outside," he said.
A red light glowed from the little light that was in the room, and from Qarsinn, the evil priest, himself. His eyes caught fire and he floated toward the Bards. The group exited the room, but Schaff stopped.
"I won't let you fight alone," he said.
"Schaff, this is my fight. I was hired to kill him a long time ago. I didn't tell you because this is bigger than any one of us. If I die, it is your fight."
Qarsinn shoved Schaff out of the room. As soon as everyone was outside, the doors slammed shut.

Badger drew her sword and Kawan followed suit.
"Who hired you?" asked Kawan, in an eerily calm tone.
"I don't know," she replied.
"I do."
"The man that just separated you from your friends. Qabel is actually dead. Qarsinn is a spirit-clone. Of the many things that the mighty Komaan, the god we worship... you know him as Chadde... taught me, the science of cloning is the best." He put down his sword, for Badger was piqued by his words.
"It's actually pretty simple. If you're faithful, he will do anything for you."
Kawan pulled a cord beside the altar. A ceiling-high curtain fell to reveal a tapestry of the same height. On it was the visage of Chadde.
"We killed him."
"That you did, which is why I've come. Vengeance is everything! Don't you see?" Kawan picked up his sword again.
Badger, angry, lunged at Kawan. He defended that first shot, turned, and struck her leg. She lunged again, and the two exchanged several shots. Then, Badger forced his sword down. Stepping on the flat blade, she jumped, turned, and cut his face. Kawan sliced at her, and cut her across her stomach. Another series of parries led the two up a set of stairs, and onto the platform above the door; they were in view of the whole group. Kawan spun Badger's hand so that she lost her sword, and stabbed her through her middle. She fell to her knees, and over. The doors flew open, and the Bards, led by Schaff, immediately ran to her side. Kawan left for the castle in Bamah. When the Bards reached the spot where Badger died, they only found Kawan's sword. Confused but emotionally drained, Schaff and Scott dropped to their knees and sobbed. The other Bards began to cry also.

The Bards silently returned to Dumon's Flat. Gizmo, with the Lady and Scheaun, arrived, only to see a teary Scott and Schaff being comforted by the other Bards. Fox, Kat, and Haley were there, but upon hearing the news, Fox and Kat left, never to be heard from again. They "did not want any part of this violence," and no one denied their logic. Unfortunately, Haley felt the same way, despite her love for Holden. She eventually left, as well.
Dumon was afraid. She had begun to feel for Schaff the way she felt for Paddy. They separated themselves from each other, but not from the group itself. The Bards were falling apart.

Gizmo took the Lady outside and told her, "I'm sorry I got you into this. This is dangerous work, and our world will never be the same."
"As far as I'm concerned," she replied, "I was involved from the beginning. Have you heard of spirit-clones?" She, a deity in herself, knew about the Triad of Abram, Sarah, and Chadde, the story, and the victory of the Bards. She also knew everything else there was to know about the Triad. "I will talk to my mom and dad. We'll see what they can do." Gizmo smiled and embraced her. The two snuck off to see the Queen of the Trees.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Lady of the River

Growing up in Bamah, one of Gizmo's favorite comrades was another boy named Scheaun. Together, they fought monsters, dragons, and creatures beyond that of other children's imaginations. One time, Gizmo was running through the forest. Scheaun bet Gizmo that he could find him, no matter where he went, so Gizmo traveled to the only place he knew he could hide. He found a clearing in a deep forest, on the Bamah River. A small pool formed where the river turned; a large, hollow tree root formed a bay  so that anyone who was small enough could climb in, hide, and not be seen. Gizmo waited there, watching the path he came by. Then, Scheaun climbed up behind him.
"Whatcha lookin for?"
A stunned Gizmo made Scheaun smile. The two backed out, and Scheaun began to explain how he found Gizmo. They practiced their tracking and combat every day, until once, it began raining. The two were at Gizmo's father, now known as the Knight of Bamah's, house, when Scheaun's parents entered. The two boys were "trained" in reading people's emotions, and it was obvious that the parents came with bad news. The nomadic village elders were banishing them for some reason, unknown to the two at the time; nevertheless, the family was moving to theother side of the River Bamah. It was for this reason that Gizmo's father, later Head Elder, removed the council from power.
The news was heartbreaking to the boys, but they knew somehow that they would meet again.

The day after King Carl's death, the Bards met at Holden's house to discuss everything. It was clear that  Schaff wanted revenge for his father's death; each Bard agreed to support him in that effort. Badger, reminded of the bounty on Kawan's head and her actions toward that end, hid her past. She felt it better to not say anything; it would neither help nor hurt. Holden brought up an important fact.
"We have absolutely no idea how to find him, though."
Everyone in the room shared looks with each other and with the table. Then, Gizmo spoke up.
"I may know someone. He and I go back a long time, but he's an excellent warrior. He taught me to track, and might just be the best there is."
"Ok. You do that, and we'll go find out more about Kawan's people," replied Schaff. "That may help us when we finally meet."
Gizmo left to find Scheaun. He only knew that Scheaun lived on the Bamah River, but he had no idea if Scheaun was even alive, much less where he lived. So, Gizmo traveled to the pool where Scheaun taught him the proper art of tracking. There, he found it just as serene as the first time he had seen it.
Looking around, he saw a flash of light from deeper in the forest. Gizmo followed it, and as he traveled deeper, it began to wobble. Suddenly, Gizmo found himself in a clearing. A stump sat in the middle of the clearing, and tied to it was a lightly-dressed maiden. Her face was covered by a skin pouch, and a single vine tied her hands and feet. Gizmo removed the bag from her head, and found the most dazzling creature he had ever seen. She was a fair-skinned being, with blonde hair that shone like the sun. Gizmo was taken back for a moment, but he cut her loose.
"Thank you," she said, and hugged Gizmo till he could not breathe.
"No problem. Now, uh, could you tell me what exactly happened?"
"I am the Princess of the River, the Lady Bamah. Well, I am basically the river. My dad is the Great Sea up North, and my mother is the Queen of the Trees. They're not together anymore, but it's an odd combination. As for the whole being tied down thing, there's an evil priest who headed this way. He's from the Koma region, and I tried to stop him, but he was really strong."
"What, uh, kinda curse?" Gizmo began to slowly look up.

"Oh. Yeah, that." A giant spider approached from behind the Lady. Gizmo thrust her behind him with one arm and drew his sword with the other. The spider reared up on its hind legs, and slammed at the Bard with its front legs. Gizmo dodged one and sliced through the other. The spider fell over, and without wasting a moment, Gizmo cut through the other front leg, and stabbed the beast through its head.
The Lady again hugged Gizmo, only this time, of fright.
"Thank you, uh..."
"Gizmo," replied Gizmo. The two kissed for a moment, but after that moment, Gizmo was no longer alone. The couple returned to the pool, hand in hand, when The Lady stopped.
"How do you know this place?" she asked.
"My friend and I would explore this place when I was younger. It was my favorite place in the world."
"This is where I was born. I remember a specific little boy running around this place when I was little, too. A second boy came looking for him, but couldn't find him. I pointed the first boy out to him." Gizmo was in shock.
"I think that was me! Err, the first boy!"
"Who was the second?"
Just then, a giant hydra sprang from the river. It swept at Gizmo, who removed one of the two heads. As two replaced the first one, a dark figure flew through the air and removed all three heads at once. The creature fell over, dead. The figure landed in the river not far from the couple, who approached it. The figure turned and smiled.
"Him." said Gizmo.
"Gizmo!" cried Scheaun. The two embraced as only separated friends could.
"I've literally been looking for you!" said Gizmo.
"Really? Well, ya literally found me!"
"Shut up."
"Who is this?"
"The Lady of the River. Basically, the personification of the Bamah River."
The Lady smiled as Gizmo introduced her to his long-lost friend.
"I want to stay with you, but I can't," said the Lady as she hugged Gizmo one last time. "Lady of the River things, you know."
"Oh, yeah. No, I understand," he replied.
"Will you come visit me?"
"Of course." As she walked to the river, it began to reced so that she could not touch it physically. Each step she took was on dry land. She broke down and began to sob. Gizmo rushed to her side and held her tight. Her tears streamed down his shoulder and mixed with the river she could not have.
"It was the priest," was all she could mutter.
Scheaun looked on, and realized one reason why Gizmo needed him.

However, Gizmo soon explained the second reason.
"So you need me to find the man who killed King Carl."
"Yes. And to catch up, of course. It's not meant to be so one-sided."
"I see."
The three began to return to Bamah, when a warm wind began to stir the tree leaves into a whirl. They took the form of a woman, and the Lady ran to her. The two embraced.
"Daughter, you know who removed you from the river, but you know not how. You are no longer one with the River; while still immortal and powerful, you cannot come into contact with the Bamah River ever again," she said. "He is an evil priest, and you two are on the search for him." This was to Gizmo and Scheaun. "He is with the Dark One, and even more darkness is to be feared. You must stop him."
Gizmo and Scheaun exchanged glances, nodded and bowed.
"With all due respect, your highness, the Bards will destroy him." The Queen nodded and the leaves flew away. The three adventurers pressed forward to Bamah.