Brian drinks his beer slowly, savouring it. He can only afford the one. He lost his job this morning, yet another “causality of the recession”. But the truth is, he didn’t fit in, he wasn’t like them, no matter how hard he tried. Nobody was sorry to see him go.
Sandra is moderately successful. She owns a popular nightclub. She still dances to the midnight beat, even though all her friends have since “grown up” and have families or work in offices. She knows she’ll be dancing for as long as she can.
The young emo-goth Meave sits by herself in the school cafeteria. She numbly rubs at the healed scars on her wrists. The other kids just ignore her today. This is a good day for her.
The work is hard, but that’s good for his soul, thinks Michael as he carries the heavy equipment up to the site. He wants to sing, to celebrate, but knows he should never do that now, not so far from his real home. Those around him wouldn’t comprehend. Instead he treats himself to a simple smile.
But something is happening today. They all feel it. An itch that can’t be scratched. A draft that can’t be blocked. Something is whispering to them, calling to them. They are going to hear it and they are going to learn they do not walk alone.
Brian will pay for his beer, desert his car and walk though the city for ten days. His powerful stone arms will not feel so heavy. Others will recognise him and know they too are no longer alone.
Sandra will hear the music playing on the wind. She’ll clip her hooves and trim back her fur before she searches it out, the great dance. For that is how it calls to her.
Meave will see her father, the god Dagda, in the distance watching her. She will run from him, run as hard as a princess of worlds that don’t exist can run. And the crows will screech through the sky after her.
Michael will feel the joy of the Divine Plan for a moment and he will sing and soar as high as he can, for it’s divine music will summon him to the same place.
They are being called. It is time.
This short narrative is taken from the introduction to the “Aesir: The Warrior Gods of Asgard” chapter setting from v0.18. As I prepare to start working on this chapter for v0.19, I found this fiction striking enough to share.
The first shell had killed the other men. Tommy had disappeared in the flash but the others fell back, their skin burned black in an instant, limbs partially amputated. After that every sound was muffled as if I was underwater.
I grabbed my rifle and started to shoot back, roaring in angry and rage but my screams were a distant whisper. As I shot, someone came out of the smoke and fell instantly to my bullet. Ha ha! I tried to roar aloud.
The second shell hit right beside me. I was flung over the upturned the jeep. I couldn’t hear anything then. I must have been missing my right leg for I felt only numbness from it while my left leg was in shearing pain. I know pain. Pain is a reminder of life.
I found it hard to hold the rifle, my hands didn’t feel like they were mine anymore but I managed to point it in the general direction. Another of the fuckers appeared from the smoke with his rifle already raised but so was mine. Somehow I hit him too and he went down.
“It is okay noble warrior, your time is over.” It was a woman’s voice. I heard it clearly through the silence. She was an apparition but as she came towards me she became more solid. She wore bright armour and carried a sword by her waist. Her hair fell in two blond plaits from her cow-horned helmet. She was a vision of an angel in this bloodshed. Her voice filled me with release, “I offer you this choice…”
“Lo, the days of Ragnarok are among us. Loki is breaking his fetters and soon all the worlds will lie in the gapping mouth of the dreaded serpent Jormungand or the terrible wolf Fenrir, foul offspring of Loki!”
This is a brief extract from the forthcoming public release v0.19. I’ve been endeavouring to keep the imaginative writing out of this version (and this is an example of that effort). I’ve found that doing so has help me be clear in my definitions and refine my vision. However the idea of the Godless City evokes some great images and concepts in my mind, that it is nearly bursting out of me. It is one of the multitude of realms described in Lost Heroes:
“Just outside Hell, in the Lands of the Dead, is a great ancient city. It has never earned itself a real name to its citizens but it is generally referred to as the City of the Dead (though Angels refer to it as the Godless City). Many souls rejected from Heaven but who refuse to go to Hell come to reside in this city. It holds many of the great thinkers, artists and scientists of ancient times that wouldn’t have gotten into Heaven at the time of their death. The city is cold and grey, full of towering buildings and thin bridges. There is an abiding sense of loneliness and emptiness in the colourless giant arches yet the city is plainly active and trades with many other Islands in the Dreamlands. There are no churches or places of worship in this city. No religion is permitted within its domain. The city is considered outside of Hell and the influence of Demons, though many Demons use it as a neutral ground. Many Angels also use the city in the same vein but also as a place to discuss things away from the Heavens and other Angels. Many Fallen Angels, who have not become Demons, make a place for themselves in this city.”
Following on from last week, here is the second piece of fiction that was at the end of version 0.18 (never released). It was inspired by some of the Poetic Edda.
A lost traveller in the Otherworld
The man stood on one leg. His right foot was tucked in behind his left knee. He had a large brimmed grey hat and a black patch over his left eye. His face was full of ancient knowing that scarred his old skin. A crow perched on his right shoulder and another perched on the long staff in his left hand.
I was lost so I said to him “I have travelled for three days on this road. I’m tired, lost and weary. Where does it lead?”
He smiled, as he looked me up and down. My blue-stripped pyjamas were dirty and torn from my walking. “Where do you want to go? The road is long and never-ending. It is made from the stuff of dreams and leads nowhere and everywhere.”
“I have travelled for three days on this road. I’m tired, lost and weary. I do not know where I should go or even how to return home. Where shall I go?”
The man unbent his right leg and stood. The crow on his right shoulder flew off into the blue sky, making a loud caw sound as it went.
“If you go north, you’ll find the cities of Flias, Gorias, Finias and Murias. They are the most beautiful cities in existence. There elves dance with men and the Gods feast on the passion of life.
“If you travel to the mountain that glows bright even in daytime, you’ll find the Halls of the Olympians. It is a long journey.
“Between them is the land of Asgard, where the greatest warriors fight by day and feast by night in the hall of the Gods.” The crow returned to its perch on the man’s right shoulder and the man fed it some crumbs from his hand.
“I have travelled for three days on this road. I’m tired, lost and weary. I know nothing of Gods for I am just a mere mortal who has lost his way. Where shall I go?”
“Below us is the land of Nightmares. It is filled with goblins, dwarfs and monsters. Beside it there is the Lands of the Dead. Hell and the Land of Shadows exist there. Angels of Death and Demonic monsters search the desolate plains for lost souls. Charon’s ferrymen work the deadly river Styx to ferry ghosts to their afterlives.
“Beyond the Lands of the Dead, there is the Land of Eternal Youth where no one grows old and they feast on the apples made of wonder. Beyond the Underworld of Hades is the Elysium Fields where every wish is granted and hope is fulfilled in memory of a Golden Age. And beyond the tortures of the limbo realms and the ever-screaming hells there is the nine Heavens where the Angels sing eternally.”
“I have travelled for three days on this road. I’m tired, lost and weary. My heart beats, my throat thirsts and my mouth hungers. I am not dead. Where shall I go?”
He laughed a little. “I am glad to hear you are not dead. If you turn back you can find the many worlds, the Shards Worlds. It is the middle earth. Midgard, you seek, where your mortal family wait for you. There is also the world of ladies and gentlemen and there is the world of the great metropolis ruled by a great emperor to describe but two drops in an ocean. But be careful for the poison of the dying lands ever spreads.”
“I have travelled for three days on this road. I’m tired, lost and weary. Every time I turn, I see a flicker of a dark and terrible shadow. What is it and why does it frighten me?”
“Ah, it is the great serpent that surrounds everything. From it the world was created and eventually, at Ragnarok, the world will return to it. It is the darkness. It is the void. It is everything and it is nothing.”
“I have travelled for three days on this road. I’m tired, lost and weary. You have told me much but you have not answered my questions at all.”
“That is because you did not ask the right questions.”
Zonk.PJ in the comments said:
I like to read fiction – on-line or off-line – related to a setting/game I’m pondering to play, at least to get the “right” (meaning with “right” as envisioned by the authors) feeling.
I think it’s a good idea, a small offering of whats in store so to speak. I wrote this short piece of fiction for version 0.18 of Lost Heroes (never released). It appeared at the start of the work, before the introduction and nearly everything else. It fits in one page and it was intended to delimit the actual beginning of the book. There is also a second piece that went at the end that I’ll post later.
And so I present:
A Lost Heroes Creation Myth
The Moerae are more ancient than the Gods and older than Time. The three sisters, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, sit deep in a cave, spinning the fates of man and woman. Atropos cutting one thread here, Clotho making more there and Lachesis weaving them all into patterns.
Though I’ve stripped out any fiction for the next version to concentrate on getting the system and setting together, I did take a break from writing the setting to write this little piece of flash fiction. I originally posted this on my own personal blog, but I thought it’d be nice to post it here too.
He put down the staff beside him and scratched his head. “I don’t know if it’ll work. I’ve passed the message up the ranks, but Hermes doesn’t really have any pull with Hades you know? Do you happen to have a fag? I’m dying for a cig.”
I pulled a pack out of my pocket and offered him my last one. He accepted it and used his herald’s staff to light it. It sort of glowed and a flame squirted out of the top, lighting his cigarette. “You don’t happen to be a great singer or artist or something that I didn’t know about?” I shook my head. He weighed his hand heavily on his shoulder, “its not looking good.”
“I need to save her, bring her back.” I pleaded with him.
“The best I can do is allow you to see her one last time from the opposite shore of the Styx. You can say you’re goodbyes and all that. I hope she made it to the Blessed Isle otherwise…” he buried his head in his hands. He was suppressing a sob. “Why do you want to bring her back? The dead is better dead, Hades let nothing leave his domain.”
Controlling my own grief I said, “Because it was my fault. I killed her. I made a mistake…” But at my words, his entire body shook and his face drained of colour as he stared at me.
“Oh my. What have you done my friend!” The sky started to darken. “I’ve given them a connection, a connection to you and you damned fool admitted your stupidity!” His staff started to glow, the wings on his shoes started to flutter. “I can hear Erebus demanding justice!” He added meekly, “you’ve given her to the Furies by telling me this…”
“I don’t understand…” but I could barely speak, the roaring sound of a car drowned out my words and its lights stinging me and holding me in place. He was gone, already flying into the black stormy sky. Before the truck hit me, I saw her face, in the driver seat, an awful black aura burning of her deathly beauty, rage and revenge.