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#StoriesOnGooglePlus | #ScienceFiction / #Fantasy | #TEMark

So, you'd like to read a +T.E. Mark book, but you're not sure? Take a look at this review, to help you make up your mind.

(Trust me, he's a good writer; you won't be disappointed).

#BookReview
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#StoriesOnGooglePlus | #Fantasy | +Charles Moore

#CharlesMoore brings us a #ShortStory about a young barbarian on his First Hunt. What does he find as he prepares to move from childhood to adulthood?

#Horror
First Hunt

A story of a barbarian, alone on the steppes as he passes through First Hunt, his rite of passage into manhood. But along the way, he stumbles into something far more than he expected...

[First Hunt](https://medium.com/@CaMoore/first-hunt-494b129f5032)

#fantasy #fiction #writing #horror #amWriting
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#StoriesOnGooglePlus | #Fantasy | +Louis Doggett

#LouisDoggett brings us a #ShortStory based on an image. (You can see the picture that inspired this story by clicking the link and scrolling past a few other pictures--which are also great, look at them, too).


Here is what might almost be the last one posted here on G+ I will post more picture inspired stories on my blog and may start a group on MeWe and/or another site made for stories. I just need to decide which one.

I am writing another one to go along with the tale before this one: about the explorer and the water hazard. I will probably get that one up before the end and one more about him that I have written already. If I can find it. Beyond that I don't think I will have time to do anymore. I have another one about the girl and the mini star I may be able to lengthen in time. We shall see. But if G+ cuts the Collections early or some such all bets are off.


This story is different for it was originally part of writing challenge on a closed writing group here on G+ The story had to be under 600 words. I have expanded it and made it 2449 words. There is a link to the artist who did the picture but you will have to scroll sideways to find it. But this artist did the picture.

A poor young woman finds something amazing in the ruins of an old castle that will change her future.

Without further comment here is the tale.



A Hidden Library


Sushion looked through the now empty doorway. The hidden door had disappeared on her. She looked in the space now revealed. A heartbeat later she moved three steps further in. Her mouth open, she froze, and her eyes widened. For four more heartbeats she couldn’t move. Then another step along the pathway took her deeper into the incredible room; the wind no longer tugged at her simple, long black dress nor did the cold seep through her faded, worn black dress shoes anymore.
Bird songs and snake rustling noises grew faint even though she could still hear the louder sounds. She brushed her hair off of her forehead, only a pageboy cut but individual hairs still flipped out of place. Sushion rolled up her sleeves, more out of the need to do something than because she wanted to.
She wanted to stare then to touch them all, for the walls had shelves, shelves and shelves of books. The hidden door, that she found had opened into what looked like halfway up a tower. The rounded walls fell downward further than she could see by the light from the open door. They also went up. She couldn’t see where it ended that way either. Just the part she could see directly in front of her and to either side, had more books than she had ever seen.
The tower must have been curved from the mountain the castle ruins sat next to. Maybe it had been a cistern at one time, but it hadn’t been used for that for a long time.
Sushion licked her lips. The taste of caked blood mixed with dust from when she tripped headlong over a floor stone in a raised corner when a noise had distracted her for a heartbeat. The journey through the ruins of the very small castle had been hard. The ceiling no longer existed, so rain and the hot summer sun had invaded the D’Oents house, along with dust and decayed leaves. The dust and leaves made mud over the floors, rocks lay about in uneven piles, and wild plants grew here and there. One section still had a roof so she had spent the night there huddled against a corner to wait for daylight. She had found that bones lay about, all she could see clearly were animal, mostly small ones. However some of the oldest and most decayed she found in after her search could have been human. The whole castle smelled like mud, plant decay, old rock, and urine. Stains on the rock floor could be very old blood.
It appeared that over the years searchers had ransacked, thus the uneven floor, the house looking for its secrets. Possibly for this room, but maybe for gold items they could sell. Obviously the room’s contents were all still here, still protected from the weather plus from vandals and thieves. Amazing what she could see and what she could not made this so wonderful. Some of what she saw would be ancient and therefore worth a lot of money. Probably not all but still she could tell that many tomes here looked very old.
She stood there and thought on that morning soon after she woke from the hard night. When she had woken earlier she had seen what she thought were even lines in the early light and after hours of scraping dirt, water spots and lichen off the this one wall she could see it had been a door. Sushion had managed to move a few rocks in front of her and make a sort of bed behind them. She hoped her body heat would build up with the wall on one side of her and those rocks in front. Plus make her harder to see if anyone came in. Animals would probably smell her, so hiding wouldn’t do any good with them. The light of the first bit of the sun had woken her. After stretching, three times, she had turned to look at the ruins of the castle.
When the sun first came up, she had gotten up to see about leaving, after she searched a little longer, those lines looked intriguing. Her sisters and brother probably wondered why she was not home, which meant she needed to get home. So she decided to check out those lines. When she neared the area of the wall still in one piece she found no lock, not even a handle. The lines though appeared to go straight up and down the other side. They appeared the same distance apart as the doorways in these ruins. At least the base of the doorways which still survived. One wall still stood partially up enough to show one almost complete door.
Sushion had spent another hour pushing on and tapping rocks but nothing. Then she either stepped on a very small hidden lock, or it just decided to open. Maybe the age of the castle and the dirt that had blown in and around through the cracks had slowed its opening.
After she had recovered from the backward stumble caused from the sight Sushion moved back to the now clear doorway. She stopped, stared, her head jerked, it took her breath away. The doorway had a ledge but that was all. The next step appeared to be straight down, at least three levels. She had blinked and moved back from the edge a couple of inches. The air smelled fresh with hints of paper and books as well as old stone.
Light shown into the room through the doorway. She could see hundreds of books, all set up with their spines up and down. The shelves had boards every so often and some had scrollwork at the top, plus the bottom of every level had what looked like a very short railing. Like a library?
“I hope so.”
That would fit in with who they were and living in a castle. If so many of these would be old. She studied those she could see. Some looked older than the people who had lived here.
If she tried she might be able to reach the few near the door way on both sides but that was it. Sushion moved in and to one side with very short steps. Once her front crushed against the door jab, her breasts and belly were pressed hard against the wood. Another glance at the door jam. It looked in good shape. She studied it. After She touched it she still thought the wood looked still whole and strong. Not weather beaten like the timbers she had to move the night before. When she moved her head inside the decay and other odors, she had contributed, ceased-mostly. The air smelled fresher somehow. It even tasted better when she breathed in and it rolled over her tongue. Amazing. How could that be though?
She leaned over through the doorway as much as possible. Yes, as she thought the shelves full of books went all the way around the tower. If she reached far enough she could reach some of the closest books. That one seemed older than some of the others within her sight.
With an effort she stretched out her left arm. The other hand gripped the doorway from. That was awkward but still she could do it. With a surprise squeak Sushion touched the spine of that book. With a slight push of her arm she got her fingers around it. A moment to make sure she had it then she pulled in her arm and then wiped her body back away from the doorway.
With a victory smile she studied the tan-red book. Indeed old, but not decayed or even dusty. There should have been enough dust to make her sneeze when her hand disturbed it, but she didn’t see any of feel it. Her fingers only felt the leather on the cover.
The book’s cover said that it was a study of how mechanics worked in the year of Our Lord 1837. Inside had diagrams of simple clocks and devices. Some collector or modern mechanic would love this book. She placed it in a pocket. Then she reached out again. This time she had to stretched her arm further to get her fingers around the spine of the next book. Hard, soft leather, still whole and smooth.
When she pulled her arm back, she jerked in surprise. The cover said it was a book by Jules Verne. Ohh wow this one would be worth money-after she read it.
One more time she reached around the doorframe. This time though she must have slid her foot over some. When she reached as far as she could, one eye peeked around the door jam her nose and other cheek pressed hard against the wood. She could smell the tough wood and caught a whiff of paint.
While there Sushion noticed something. There a very old book. With a deep breath she reached out again. This time her shoes slipped. Their soles had started out smooth but much wearing had made them even less able to grip the floor. Her leg went forward. She reached for the door jam. She managed to seize it, and gripped it harder while she took a chance on a palm load of splinters, but her foot didn’t stay where she had placed it. Her cheek slid across the wood. For some reason she stuck her tongue out-like she had as a child when she had to do something hard. She the door jam coated her her tongue when she licked the wood at the same time she slid. Sushion pulled her head back and tongue back in even as she fought the gravity as pulled at her.
With a small, short scream she grabbed hold of the jam. Her fingers slipped over the rough wood; hoped her tongue didn’t get splinters. A harder grip, with her fingernails, and she stopped. One foot danced in midair. The other stuck on a rough spot. She gasped, took a deep breath, pulled her foot back.
Her second foot still on the floor eased forward. Damn, she wanted to slip those shoes off. One fingernail felt like it ripped. Another, she let out a loud yip, pained her. She had to ignore that though. She could smell her own sweat when it dripped down her armpits and face. A lick on her upper lip caught some. She wanted to spit it out, more for what it meant then the strength of the flavor. Another look down.
Sushion had no idea how far down the floor was but she would break at least an arm, or leg or both-if not every bone in her body-if she fell. And there might not be a way back up or out of the tower.
She looked out at her foot while it dangled there. With a sudden lurch she twisted her body away from the edge. Her leg moved in the same direction, her other foot slipped but she found herself in a half spin away from the edge. A moment later her body hit the floor and she rolled. Over broken and dirty debris. Her dress would need a good washing and possibly a repair job after this.
After a few deep breaths she stood looked at the doorway. She was surprised it still looked empty. After what she had gone through, and stealing she half expected it to close. But then again it could be a library so it could expect people to take books.
Which meant she might try again. This time do it better. She moved again to the edge but this time when started to reach for one on the other side which seemed closer to the door. When the toes of one foot reached over the step. But she had a better stance so she reached out. Just as she started to pull a book out she realized something. Her toes now lay on rock or some other hard substance. She straightened, looked down, blinked again. The step that led into the tower, looked twice as long. She slid her foot toward the new edge. A flat floor stone appeared along the whole edge. A gasp escaped her closed mouth. Another step and her foot again landed on a hard surface.
What?
Why hadn’t that happened when she hung by her fingernails? Maybe the room knew her intention, or she had placed her foot wrong, so the floor didn’t activate?
Three more steps and more of the floor appeared with every movement of her foot. Five steps and she could see sections of the floor become real. Some hung there while the first part of the stones caught up with it. She squealed and wanted to jump up and down. It looked magical and scary at the same time. This way she could get to more books. But why do this? She shrugged, a way to discourage thieves? Just because they could? No way to know, unless one of this books had a history of the house, or a section to explain how things worked in it.
She stood there and breathed. The air in here was warm but not too hot, and it felt dry and tasted fresh when she breathed in. Air drafts brought the odor of the books. She read some the titles. All kinds of books: history, adventure, fairy tales, how the human body worked, and more. Sushion took two more books. She wanted to read these and she would bring them back when done.
Sushion looked down, shook her head. She didn’t want to but her family needed money to survive so she would sell one book. Not more, people might follow her and steal everything if she sold a bunch of books. But one she could just say she found in her exploring, in another old fallen in cabins. She knew of others. The other two books she would read.
With a last look at the wall and door, along with one last sneeze from the disturbed dust still in the oar, she left then to head home.
She would come here again, maybe work at somehow taking the castle over and living here. No one wanted it. It was a ruin, so maybe she could if she sold one or two more books in the next couple of years. That would be fantastic. Living here, even in a hut-while she fixed up what she could maybe with advice from books here-would be so wonderful. Something for her to do in life to make her way better.

end


#books #shortstories #amwriting #freestuff #library #castle #exploring #femalelead #funstuff
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#StoriesOnGooglePlus | +Louis Doggett

#LouisDoggett brings us a tense little short story about adventuring in underground catacombs, and faced with magical enemies.

#Fantasy #ShortStory
This is an old story, possibly the first one I lengthen. Or it started off long-I forget. I wrote the original tale way over a year ago and just now revised it a bit. Added over a hundred words. The link takes you to where the name of the artist is.

This is one of the very first stories I did inspired by a Charlie Hoover Geekscape. There will be a couple more that I have found the pictures for. Though I can not find the picture that inspired one certain story. I spent time looking. I remember it for I know I saw a while back but now nothing.

Fantasy with a female soldier of fortune 2,207 words.

The artist titled it "Dead End". I can see why. But for my story there is another path so I call it "Mirror"

Enjoy:

Mirror


The torch showed little. At least its smoke drifted back toward the entrance that led to this section of the catacombs. Not toward the direction she headed nor collected here. The special wrappings and plants burned very slow but still let out a light stink of burnt vegetation. She held the torch in her right hand but here left stayed on her sword. Strange beings and wild people could live down here.
Tenda had studied the very old, large bricks that this catacomb had been made of. They had greyed with age. They had been built even before the ancient building that stood above the doorway that had led down here. The whole place smelled of dust, mold and age-and old blood. A tiny light shone down further but most of this place was darker than a dragon’s gut.
As a warrior Tenda wore her half armor: breastplate, leather arm and leg coverings, but the coldness here still made her glad she had brought the cape and placed the cowl over her head. She secured it in a way that didn’t block her sight or hearing. The ends of her shoulder length black hair still escaped though, but it wasn’t a concern even when the strands caught in her mouth and she tasted the sweat and grim on it. She was used to that.
Her arms were bare except for waist guards-most people were surprised by how muscular her arms looked. They were very strong as many men, a few women and a couple of monsters had found out.
She looked around. Silence lay everywhere except for her slight footfalls. The passageway was narrow, but she thought she could still fight even with her longer sword held in her left hand. And she also had enough room to run if she needed to. But, she thought, nothing should be here to run from. The brick walls had greyed with age, except for where lichen and mold grew.
What did the mold feed on though?
Her pack carried some food and smaller water skins, but it had room for any gems, artifacts or if she found what she searched for. So far she had found only some scrolls in one tiny room, they now rested in a pouch on her side. One looked newer than the others. She had no idea what they said. She had taken them for one never knew when something was important. Her impulses usually turned out right as if she had a gift to know things.
Two more turns and she found herself at a side niche. The light she had noticed came from a reflection of her torch in a mirror. Just like the ones used in a Lady’s bedroom or some of the better Inns. Bones of a strange beast made up its frame.
A mirror? Down here? And five candles added to the light. A soot scent drifted around, and a very faint burnt wax smell. One candle had burned down to a stub, that would burn out very soon, two were thick. And one that was out lay on its side. The wick showed that it had burned but not for long. This might be the place marked by that strange symbol on the scroll-map she carried half stuffed into a pocket on her right side. She figured the symbol may mean “stay away” but it could mean X marks the spot too.
The fact that her skin crawled and she felt like she could jump at any noise made her think her first idea was the correct one.
It took her two-seconds to see that the mirror was cracked: three v shaped cracks along the center of the left side and a longer one that ran across the glass all the way to the other side. A disk shaped shelf stood in front of it. The candles and four other unlighted ones stood to the left A tapestry hung to the right. It had a circle with what looked like two decorative circles on it. Rips and faded colors showed that it was very old. The mirror and frame looked almost new. Except for that crack. Was the frame holding the mirror together? That made her wonder what creature’s bones they were. They didn’t look human. And was that a real skull at the very top? A small creature if it was. A shape under the bowl looked the same as the shapes on the tapestry. Skulls decorated the bowl. They may have been the same skull that sat on top of the mirror.
Her image stared back at her as she gave the mirror a quick study.
Something about that mirror isn’t right.
Wait, burning candles. That meant someone came here on a regular bases. She watched wax drip down one to join a pool of wax at the bottom. So that meant there was no spell here that kept them burning for years. Tenda half turned to look behind her. Nothing moved; no new shadows, no sounds, no air currents, or new odors.
Someone-something.
However, as she already thought, no sound and no movements. There had to be another way down here because the dust on the floor was undisturbed until she walked through it. She studied the darkness behind her with her ears as well as eyes. Her exposed skin, what little of it there was, might warn her too; of heat, or extra cold or air suddenly moving. Tenda sniffed, no extra dust or sweat or perfume smells either. Once a taste on the wind saved her from something bad in the air.
With an aborted shake of her head she turned back to the mirror. Turned her head back to the rear came back slowly. Before she realized she stood three steps back. Her body had recognized the oddness before her mind had. The thing that made her skin crawl lay before her not behind her. What had alerted her was the fact that her image’s head hadn’t moved when hers did. She thought it may not have when she turned back, when she tested it, she found it true. That had promoted her mind to see what she hadn’t noticed before. Her image was perfect; same sword held at the same position in the same hand, the same with the torch. The scrolls showed. Her armor looked the same as did her cape, and her belt looked right.
My eyes do not glow like that.
Neither did her cowl cover her face with shadows like that image. Plus her bosom wasn’t that large.
So what lived in her image? Could it take her over? Was it responsible for the blood on the walls that the mold fed on? Could it be her from a different dimension? Some wise and learned men thought there were such dimensions where copies of us lived different lives. Not this time, she thought. Someone worshipped whatever was in there, that had taken her image: mostly taken her image.
The liquid in the bowl bubbled, the flames flared. How cliche, she thought. But the image came her way even as she took another step backwards. It raised its sword-just like she would. If she fought herself she might win or her and the almost double could kill each other, or it could be even. But that larger bosom could mean larger shoulder and arm muscles.
The candles
With the barest of thoughts, Tenda took three steps closer and using the sword carefully brushed the candles until they rested against the glass. If that was what this object was made from. The heat seemed to fog the base of the image. It burned inside the mirror but not the glass.
Damn, that will take too long.
She moved the torch toward the image. A breeze warned her but she reacted too slow. A force reached out from the mirror. It grabbed her around the middle. The image smiled even though she didn’t know how she knew that. The strong grip pulled at her, she stepped back. Her strength wasn’t enough though. The tentacle-or whatever it was-felt slimy on bare skin. It hurt where it touched and pulled, like that rope the Kinssie used to capture her two years ago.
It partially blocked her sword arm, so she couldn’t get a good swing at it. Maybe she could drop and go for her stiletto in the sheath strapped to her side.
The sword fell and bounced with a clear clank-it always sounded musical because of the quality of the metal. The loudness confirmed that it had hit the shelf and stayed there. Her arms snaked into the slit but, part of what wrapped around her covered it. There had to be a way to defeat it before it pulled her inch by inch to the glass.
A light flickered, she glanced up at it. The image of the torch was nearer to her. A look down at the candles. They still burned but not fast enough. She bet the mirror image of the flames didn’t burn hot. How she knew that she couldn’t guess but that meant her first plan…
Nothing else to do so she shoved the torch in her free arm at the glass, but even though the image stopped, she couldn’t get close enough to touch it. Flames caught on the inside but it moved closer again. Faster this time. It acted determined to stop her. She needed to break the glass, but someone had done that already and it hadn’t worked.
Her feet slid on the brick floor; toward the mirror. The image lifted its sword higher and readied it to skewer her. Or slice her throat. She had to fight it, that meant she needed her sword again. A step forward-a stink of something awful that burned reached her nose. Sweat dripped onto her forehead, down her underarms before her padding absorbed it.
Despite the pull of what gripped her Tenda managed to reach down-the top of her stomach bunched around it. More skin felt clammy but she ignored it, so she could grab the hilt of her sword. The smooth metal now lay in her hand and she pulled it up in a sudden, strong swing. It hit metal, too close to her belly. The image backed up and stepped again toward her. She swung again and swords squealed as one ran against the other.
Someone had broken the mirror before so it could be done. But there was one thing that person hadn’t done, or so she thought.
She gathered her strength and determination: with a yell she lounged forward in a fast, hard sudden movement with all of her strength and swung. Not at the other blade though. A loud click, followed by a crack but not of glass. The mirror rippled, the whole image twisted, one side titled. Then in slow motion it started to fall. At the same moment she used the blade to flick two candles inside the image then stabbed it again with the torch. The head of the touch went into the mirror, broke off. The being opened its mouth in a silent scream and reared back. The glass continued to fall. Flames started to fill the image it produced. The glass, or whatever, shattered as it hit the shelf then the floor.
Her body jerked backward as the pressure halted. Tenda took a long breath. Ashes came in along with air. Only one candle remained lit and what light the burning image produced.
She turned back to the broken pieces of the mirror. What was left of the glass showed dark. Wait something flickered inside like a flame. She looked at the shattered pieces and the cut bone of the frame. So her idea to cut the frame had worked. It had held the glass together even after it was cracked badly. This time she thought it would not be put back together.
As quick as she could move she got out her flint and managed to start a fire on what was left of her torch. It caught and the light grew. She held it up, spun around. Nothing was around her. With a shake of her head, Tenda broke the bones in two more places and scattered some pieces, then she continued down the passageway. The three scrolls still poked out of her pouch and everything else seemed okay. But her hands shook.
On the way out she found one more room and maybe what she had searched for. There was another door that led from a mostly dust free passage. She hurried out that way and found an old abandoned temple. Footsteps in heavy dust showed it still had a couple of worshippers. She sneezed from the dust. The air tasted dry and old, but she still hurried through it and out another door she thought would be there. Up five flights of stairs cut into rock.
Once outside, she breathed clean, new air. Smelled herself, she needed a bath. After a quick check to make sure she still had everything Tenda went back to her Inn to seek out that bath.

end

#fantasy #action #femalelead #catacombs #amwriting #horror #freestories #freestuff #goodreads
Dead End
Dead End
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#StoriesOnGooglePlus | #MilitaryScienceFiction

A real winner of a book. See the #BookReview and buy the book. You won't be disappointed. (I got it in a promo on Smashwords; you'll have to pay full price, but it's worth it).
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#StoriesOnGooglePlus | Inspired by #GeekscapeOfTheDay

Another imaginative story by +Louis Doggett, this one has a traveller returning home, facing one more obstacle on the way. This one, just a sheet of water...

#Fantasy #GSOTD
I wrote this months ago based on a pic posted by Charlie Hoover and thought about sending it out to magazines but I discovered it today and after some revising and a spell check I decided to post it for my #saturdayscenes post the week of Jan 26 Yes, you can go there and read a whole bunch of tales: various types, various lengths, various writers.

The artist is listed on the pic.

Here is this story, "Haven".

The story is about a man coming home after years of war, and exploring but finding an obsitcal in his way. I am working on a second story about this man and his explorations of this planet hard to live on. Thus its name Dystropem. Come to think of it the story I am working on is number three. I did number two already. And I have a fourth pic I will be doing a story based on. A published set of stories about Biulr someday?


Enjoy:

Biulr Stormleaker walked to the edge of the water. He looked up. A huge image filled the sky, some say it was way too close. Other said that planet with the rings and gas currents that you could see with a naked eye better not get any closer, or it could easily destroy Dystropem and all the people that lived on it. But it had been like that since before he was born, for thousands of years before too.

The chill of evening grew on him. He had worn his gray travel robe over his light armor and padding-one never knew what a person might run into and it helped warm him to a degree. Besides it was easier to wear the armor than carry it in pieces.

One of them waited for him across the large pool in front of him. The problem though was that the water features looked simple enough to cross-they weren’t.

Lights shone on the other side. His city. There were three of them made the same way. Curved into a huge rock part of which had poked out of the soil eons ago. One of them waited for him across the large pool in front of him. The problem though was that the water features looked simple enough to cross-they weren’t.

He glanced around but didn’t spot any wood, or anything else, for a fire around here. Not that he had expected to. Sometimes pits of old dried dung would be found, however. They burned that, old cloth, imported wood, and oil from other countries for warmth and cooking. The city had farmers, usually at the bottom levels who grew olives, grain and apricots. They burned trimmings and dead trees too. They usually combined cooking and fire for warmth. The inner homes, without windows, needed less warming. Out here the scent of water was strong but he still caught whiffs of the combined materials they burned.

He stood and stared; at that planet, then at the ponds and small lakes that covered this part of Dystropem, and at the city on the other side of the water. Lights shone in the windows, and if he listened he could hear city noises since the land was almost always quiet. The land here was flat yet with some holes and volcanic vents that had closed up at the bottom, and worn spots collected rain water plus any water that flowed down the very slight incline here. You couldn’t see it, but if you placed a ball on the ground it rolled. Each of the pools, ponds and small lakes were connected and seemed to surround the three cities-triplets-even though each one was over a mile apart.

Biulr glared at the odd wedged shaped city, Uno-Ein, that awaited him. It had been curved into a uprise of solid rock that extended upward hundreds of feet, from a wide base through a curve to a mush smaller top. Thousands of people lived in it, in rooms of various sizes. Lighted windows abounded for it the time wasn’t late yet. More lights shown at the very top and bottom since he left. So the city had grown. Now that he had gone to war, it looked like some ax heads he had seen, but without the sharp edge. He had been taught that ancestors of his people had found soft areas in the base of the wedges. They had dug in to make caves they could warm and have some protection from wild animals. They found larger caves inside. After many generations they had dug upward, making rooms and places for storage and stores. Now there were even halls and rooms were the leaders could do city business. The next one had been named Dos-Zwie. You get the idea for the third one. Not very imaginative, but it had kept arguing down to a minimum.

Next he glared at the pond. The water’s surface looked smooth and maybe waist high, but he knew it fell off suddenly and went down over a hundred feet. There were undertows, swift currents and the bottom sometimes shifted, where it would be shallow one day two days later it had become deep. Plus to make things worse the vents still were warmed by the deep lava. So every so often a very hot bubble would show up and rise to the top. Twice he had heard someone scream while a bubble cooked him to death. He shook his head for he stood on the wrong side of this water feature.

He still needed to get home hopefully before it got too cold. Which meant getting over the water traps. He walked down to an area he had noticed that looked wide and even shallower than usual. Maybe he could try it there. He sighed, he had been away for exploring, war, and a rest for way too long. He had learned how to fight quickly, he had the basics down from fights with other children while growing, but there had been so much more to learn. He also learned to like jerky and the hard bread you ate on campaigns. Now he just wanted to rest.

The armor he now wore had been made functional and strong, but even with its padding it did little to keep him warm. He knew that from experience. His first armor, bought by what little money he had taken with him when he left his city, had been too big and not very reliable. But he had bunched it up in places to make it harder for a blade, or thrown rock, to kill him. It had worked, which had surprised him. After a fashion that is. He had gotten wounded in one battle. The king he had worked for though, had a habit of giving those who were wounded in his battles extra money as a reward. So he had lived well enough to recover. Two battles later had tasted his first human blood when a cut artery had sent blood over his face. Never again, but it had happened more than once more. He also earned enough money to buy a better outfit. He also Still far from the best but it covered him better and looked only half as bad. Four suits later he had the good fortune to find the bodies of two princes from the one of the other sides he had been fighting for. Why anyone wanted the dry, flat lands where not even weeds grew that went on for more than a day of walking, he did not understand. It had to do with national pride and who had the biggest kingdom he finally decided on. He had riffled through their pockets and found gold. He only kept some of the coins to help him buy this armor. The next battle took days and he had done some extra brave and foolish acts. They got him more money and a better rep though and he somehow survived unharmed. Maybe it was the series of volcanos, at least ten, in the distance that had somehow effected his thinking. Their smoke and ash sometimes blew in. You had to eat fast or the ash got on what you were eating. And you learned to live with the rumble and even the ground moving under your feet at times. He found this armor in a city full of blacksmiths and wagon makers, near that battleground. The store owner knew his business and had helped Biulr fit the armor just right.

Soon after he decided to leave the men he had traveled and fought with-which included an occasional warrior woman. After a short rest he hired on as a guard for an explorer. Went with him for four journeys into new territory. One area had tall-three times his height-spires. They were half his width to more than twice that wide. As far as he could tell they had fallen from space. They even found the remains of a city under them. It was almost all the way buried, so the Explorer thought the spires went down for another ten to twenty feet. Biulr had fought animals: a bear he had never seen before, a whiplash—a sort of dog that had a long tail it would whip attackers with, and some men who might have been cavemen. They were tall, strong, wore skins and had clubs and as it turned out used a sharp stone that they threw. On that fourth trip though his benefactor had been killed. They were walking up a hill with green grass, a few bushes and rocks strewn about. Some type of large cat like animal had jumped out of some hiding place, neither Biulr nor the other guards had seen. It killed the explorer within three-seconds even though the guards had killed it, they had been too late. He had been the first one in. The beast had stunk of old blood and fresh. After the creature’s death Biulr had gathered the man’s journals, still whole, some jewels the man had and gone back to the explorer’s family. He wrote down his own memories of the event and gave them all, with most of the jewels to the man’s widow. She could sell the journals to a museum, library or sell them as fiction to one of the new book makers for more money. Biulr didn’t care for either way would get the information out to anyone interested in learning of new lands and of the bravery of the Explorer.

In the middle of these thoughts he stopped by the wider water that looked like shallows, the waters sometimes formed. It was late and those that had small flat boats they called ferries, would have the inside to protect them.

More memories popped up. After another short rest he had decided to head for home. But had had forgotten which side of the water he was on when he got mixed up five days ago.

Another look at the planet and the city. The gravity from that ringed planet may have slowly pulled the rises up, or deep down lava rivers pushed had them up, or they had been created this way. He had heard arguments for all three and more, even in a city two hundred miles away. There were more lights at the bottom and at the very top of this one. They must have hollowed out more of it while he was gone. He had walked, alone, for miles, now tired and worn of soul he wanted back home. This made good, fresh water for the cities, but he was on the wrong side of it. He would make it, he had survived war, bandits and badlands he could do this. He needed to.

Biulr studied the water. Now almost past dusk it was harder to make out the ground under the surface. If the water was as shallow here and on the other side, as it appeared, he could walk almost half way across and would only have to swim for fifteen to twenty minutes. He could do that even with his armor on. He could take it off to improve his chances but he would have to leave it here. Even with a ferry ride in the morning to get it, leaving it was not an option. So he moved to the edge and studied the water. Memories came up to the surface of his mind. Living in these cities you learned how to read the water. The elders always warned against going in the water but hardly any of the children listened. Some drowned-Jimel had, years later so did Chamel-many though learned how to avoid the most dangerous areas.

With a nod, he stepped into the water. Not bad. He walked in until it lapped over his knees. The bottom was sticky with mud, but that wasn’t unusual in some places. He went on and stopped. This time the water touched his breastplate, which was more of thick chain mail than full plate. He looked around. He stood almost half way across. The deep section might be three steps in front of him. If the other side picked up close to where this side ended he could swim.

Big If. But it would be worth the risk, he had some leeway with his strength.

Just as he took in a deep breath though he froze, turned and tried to run back to the shore he had left. Tried because the sticky mud bottom caught at his feet, which made running through the water even harder than normal. He had to get away though. As bad as he wanted home this had become suicide.

He knew what those bubbles meant. The memories of the two who had been caught by lava bubbles, filled his thoughts. He had been eight the first time and fifteen the second. Whielm had been a new mother, which may have filled her thoughts and not let her spot the warning signs. Three men had tried to get to her but it had been too late. Her husband had wept for days.

The man should have known better. No one knew why he had dived in after dark. This time any warning signs had been covered by dusk.

Biulr almost shouted as he ran. Or tried to. The mud sucked him down. He had only heart beats to get to a relatively safe place, but the mud seemed to act with the bubble. He could feel the heat even this far from it. All too soon and it would touch him. They may or may not find his body in the morning.

His legs overheated, the water behind him boiled with tiny bubbles. He attacked each step, with his strength and determination but too slow: rejoiced when a foot came free.

A hissing noise behind put more strength to his legs. A loud pop indicated when the lava bubble reached the surface. He let out a small scream when heat washed over his back. He lost his chance to see home again.

Then he fell forward, splashed under the water and wet dirt. The odor of hot mud filled his nose. Water made it into his mouth. Warm and muddy. But cooler than the air. He splashed and managed to get his hands down and push up to get air. By then the heat and passed. Very quickly he thought. When he looked over the pond he saw heat waves raising from water fifteen feet away. He titled his head, so the bubble had turned and gone over there. Or he had panicked even though it had been headed there all the time. Good thing no one had seen him run like he had.

No more efforts tonight. Not only had that tired him out, there would be more lava bubbles. Even though he had not been burned badly the back of his neck was sore. His armor and robe had protected his back though. But that gave him an idea. If he slept next to the water’s edge the series of bubbles that would probably come up might just keep him warm enough.

In the morning when they put out one of the ferries he could use it to cross. He had some jerky and that hard bread left so he would not go that hungry. And he could drink the water even if warm.

Biulr smiled, the water would help him instead of killing him. He liked that idea. He took off his pack to used it as a pillow and arranged the robe as a blanket. He had slept in his armor more times than he cared to remember so the movements were done fast.

Tomorrow, after the water helped him, he would see home.

The end.


#1543: Haven
#1543: Haven
geekquestioner.com
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#StoriesOnGooglePlus | #Thriller | #FreeBook | Steven Konkoly

Currently free: Inception, the prequel to the Black Flagged series.
There is a lot of technical detail in this author's books on weapons. If that's your scene, don't miss this one.

https://www.amazon.com/INCEPTION-Black-Flagged-Thriller-Prequel-ebook/dp/B07GVRW2XV/
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#StoriesOnGooglePlus | #Fantasy | #AndyBrokaw

+Andy Brokaw brings us an intriguing fantasy mystery that will just gently raise the hairs on your neck.

Looking forward to more stories of this world.
I rather like this piece, even if I did write it. I feel there could be a longer story here. But for now, here is a short with a priestess and her dragon...
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