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LMS V: Earth Descended



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Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:01 am
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Ventomology says...



Whaddup whaddup it's time to plan for LMS V even though I literally just started another project. It's fine; my upperclassmen at uni say this year won't be as busy as last year.

@TheSilverFox please jump on this wagon with me.


Earth Descended

a post-apocalypse fantasy that will actually kill me if I don't plan it out.


Goodbye, lovely days of world-building by coming up with random bull details on the fly. Here's the skinny.

The World:

As mentioned, I'm thinking a post-apocalypse fantasy. But I honestly don't want to tell a very dark story! (Okay actually the story is kind of dark, but that doesn't mean the scenery has to be.) I'm really into the idea of a landscape that is totally infused with magic, and I want to explore how that energy could pass through like, food webs and natural cycles of water and air and earth, as well as what forms it would take in different creatures and environments.

Honestly, that's where this whole idea started. Magic landscapes. I am a sucker for floating rock formations and skyscraper-sized cacti, and magic is the answer.

And no, it was not always like that.

...I'm going to need a map.

The Characters:

I've got two main characters that are definitely on the table: Petro and Ming, who will go on separate adventures through the world. Ming will be mostly traipsing through nature with a kind of Indiana-Jones-meets-Hatchet thing, and Petro will follow after the antagonist organization of the story, with a little more fighting and adrenaline and interpersonal action. I haven't completely developed their personalities, since I find that better to do once I start writing, but right now it feels like Petro will be duty-driven, and Ming will be curiosity-driven.

I'm not actually sure how many other named characters this piece would need. There is an "evil organization," which I currently have named the Zealots, though they must have a different name for themselves. They are trying to return the world to its pre-apocalypse state, which could be a good thing, if they weren't such terrible people.

I am still in limbo as to whether or not to create a pantheon of gods. It feels right but also totally unnecessary. I may make one, reference their names in expletives, and just not give much explanation. Or they might play a large role in the apocalypse. Like I said, super not sure yet.


I'll probably post drawings later, so stay tuned?
Last edited by Ventomology on Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:32 am
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Ventomology says...



The Pantheon:

It's decided. A pantheon is necessary for this novel's lore. Here are the big guys. I'll do sketches and come up with some legends at some point.
Hopefully.

Elemental:
  • Hydron | Water, medicine, patience
  • Geora | Earth, construction, stability
  • Pyra | Fire, war, power
  • Aeron | Air, travel, flexibility

Life:
  • Antho | Flora, agriculture, persistence
  • Therin | Fauna, athletics, valor
  • Dema | Humanity, art, ingenuity

Celestial:
  • Phosphor | Light, law, righteousness
  • Melana | Dark, business, ambition
  • Kosmos | Heavens, academia, wisdom

Lore:
  • Genis | Creator
  • Cyclene | Destroyer


Personally, I think there would be more gods than this. There's a god for everything. But all other gods would report to one or more of these here deities, and maybe they're not as powerful, or may even be particular to a specific region.

Each member of the pantheon has a home where their essence is stored, with one exception. These homes are both a product of and an influence on their surroundings, and I will be building the map accordingly, by setting out some basic geography and landmarks, then placing the gods' homes in appropriate locations. Once the homes are placed, I will have a better idea about what kind of magic is in that particular landscape.

Sketches coming soon!!!
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:07 am
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Ventomology says...



No sketches yet. I don't have a scanner, and all my computer sketches are making me sad. But I've got some better ideas about the characters.

Petro:

As I mentioned before, I'm thinking of Petro as a very duty-driven character. But I also don't want him to fall into the stoic-man trap. I was rereading some Tamora Pierce and realized though, that Keladry is some hella good inspiration.

I had kind of pinned Petro as perhaps being a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, but I also think that would be a very difficult thing to portray in a story where the main characters spend a great deal of time away from each other, and where the society and rules have been lost. Reading about Keladry again reminded me that I can have very emotional duty-driven characters! I think Petro is the kind of person who cares deeply and feels deeply, but isn't bound by stoicism, and so lets it show. He's serious, but in an intense and caring way.

...That's a really intimidating character to write, now that I think about it. Also, he would be a total heartthrob yikes. I'm so glad I'm planning on no romance.


Ming:

As foil to Petro, I initially thought Ming would be very bright and curious and ready to bend rules. And I think, to some extent, she will be those things, but I'm not sure I want her to really be a happy-go-lucky character, as I'd first planned. It feels a bit flippant, and maybe inappropriate for the way I'd like to develop them both.

I'm starting to see her as an actually neutral force, more along the lines of the morally grey scientist. Without companions, she mostly has to test things on herself, and probably would anyway just because it's easier than convincing someone (Petro) to play guinea pig. I think, when she and Petro are separated at the beginning of the novel, that of course she's going to look for him, but she's also very interested in digging up dirt on their world.


The Zealots

This is the only vaguely antagonistic group I think is necessary for this story. They're a raiding contingent of a religious organization, who believe that the magic of the land belongs to the people, and that it always did, until it was stolen. They think that if they kill and force everyone to convert casually remind everyone that people used to have magic, then some higher power will give magic back to them.


The Wanderer

An enigmatic figure who encounters both Petro and Ming several times on their journeys. Why tell parallel tales if they're not going to involve intersecting characters?

I think people fleeing the Zealots might also pop up in both journeys as well, but not with the regularity or mystery that the wanderer gets.



That's it for today. It's late.
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:51 am
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Ventomology says...



Image

Ming
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:12 am
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Ventomology says...



Image

Petro

Amazing how much a little shading can make me feel less sad about my computer drawings.
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:43 am
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Dossereana says...



I think it looks really good @Ventomology
  





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Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:47 am
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Ventomology says...



I've had a revelation:

Originally, I had played with the idea of starting the novel while Ming and Petro are away from their village on separate errands. BUT.

For the sake of a good, circular plot and also because Petro's character motivations will be far more emotionally compelling this way, I've decided to start the story while Petro and Ming are still together.

Now I gotta decide though, why they're leaving at the same time. Is it for a coming-of-age ritual? Scavenging? Hunting/Gathering? I don't know yet!

Also I still don't have a map. I didn't bring any big sketchbooks with me to my current apartment. Just little pads of paper. D :
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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Thu Aug 29, 2019 7:46 pm
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Ventomology says...



Pony up, cowboys. I'm gonna talk about maps and only maps for the next several days.

I've finally started it. I doodled a little sketch on a napkin last night and got the land lines inked in on a 24 x 18 inch photoshop document. It's wreaking havoc on my processor. I love it. My land lines are 10 pixels wide on this enormous canvas, and it feels like raw and uncontrollable power.

Today, I'm dropping in mountains and rivers and marking out regions and villages. Plus, it's time for light color washes over the blue and brown that I filled in yesterday.

Expect a preview tonight!
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:41 am
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Ventomology says...



Image

The little island in the middle with two peaks on it is about the size of New Hampshire. If you know how big New Hampshire is.

Also this preview is... less than a sixteenth of the full map. It's a very big map.
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:14 am
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Ventomology says...



The map is killing me. Have some more pantheon info.

The Elemental Gods: Hydron, Geora, Pyra, & Aeros

Of the greater gods, the Elemental Gods were once the most prolific champions of human magic. Their power resides in practically every part of the world in some way, shape, or form, and of all the pantheon, they have the most wide-reaching effects.

Their power inhabits every particle of their domain, and though they have temple homes, their magic does not pool in place as others' might. Instead, the Elemental Gods' magic waxes and wanes over time. Pyra grows strong in summer and weak in winter. Hydron's power grows with the volumes of his bodies. Geora is steady and slow to move or change. And Aeros follows the folly of air, moving and changing as he is allows others to move and change him.

The Life Gods: Antho, Therin, & Dema

Like the Elemental Gods, the Life Gods' power is far-reaching. They, however, do not shape the world as the Elemental Gods do. Antho, Therin, and Dema reflect the nature of the world in its place; they are shaped by the same elemental forces as life itself. In places where life must be hardy, they provide hardiness, and in places where life competes viciously, they provide the tools for battle. In places where life flourishes, they cushion their domains with extravagance.

The Life Gods' magic pools in places where something fantastic has happened: in the harshest parts of the deserts, the deepest cave ecosystems, the tallest trees in the forests, the riverbanks of farming people, and the grazing grounds of wanderers.

The Celestial Gods: Phosphor, Melana, & Kosmos

The Celestial Gods have homes. They may wax and wane with the night and day; dwell in lanterns, caves, and clear skies; and breathe magic and feeling into the hearts of their devotees, but these three have homes.

Phosphor's power pools in the east. It filters into the ground where his greatest lighthouses once stood, and shines on in smaller towers still. Melana's power pools in the west. Her magic breathes in the cavernous cave temples her followers carved and seeps into the air in foggy places. And Kosmos's magic dwells in the sacred places of the earth: atop mountains, in the middle of plains, in sparkling caves, and in calm water. His followers built observatories and still, secret places in far-removed locales.

The Lore Gods: Genis & Cyclese

Genis built his home atop the tallest mountain in the world, gave his magic to his god children, and holed himself away to take visitors only every hundred years. There is magic in his mountain, but no one knows if it is still his, or what it does. Creation is volatile without context, after all.

If Cyclese has a home, no one has found it. No one is really sure what the destroyer's magic has ever done, or if it will ever be worked upon the earth in the future. Some believe it has been done already, and some believe the day is yet to come. Their magic is not yet documented.
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:32 am
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Ventomology says...



Novel Organization:

NO CHAPTERS WE DIE LIKE MEN

Also I cannot possibly come up with enough funny, sarcastic, and vague titles for the things that happen in this book.

Instead, we're going back to the disaster that I had in LMS II, where there are no chapters, just parts. Only this time it will work better because I'm slightly less of a fool and also because I need it to organize when and where Ming and Petro are at any given time.

And... well. The map is really big. I've always been a bit fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, and trying to plan out every ruin, village, magical site, and ecosystem at the very beginning is destroying me. Splitting the novel into parts lets me contain things, properly devote energy to the precise places that the characters actually hit, and makes it so I don't have to plan so far in advance.

There will be five parts. I have them mostly named, but because the titles could be ah... revealing, some are left out for the time being.

1. A Tale of Two Travelers
2. Diverged and Diverted
3. Vertex
4. The Great Cycle
5. Ouroboros Starved
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  





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Mon Nov 25, 2019 6:50 am
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Ventomology says...



This is my place for unfinished chapters I guess. I was hoping I wouldn't have to do this, but classes are destroying me and I can't always get through as much as I'd like.

24 Nov. 2019
Spoiler! :
Ming barely makes it through the village. She can’t look at anything; the bodies and burnt buildings and empty fields make her want to lose her dinner. She can’t even look at the dog, because it keeps running around and sniffing awful, disgusting things.

She doesn’t know what to do. Everyone is dead. Well, they might not all be, but Ming isn’t exactly ready to look at all the bodies and figure it out. Even Petro is probably dead.

Her body moves on its own while Ming’s head imagines a plethora of terrible things. She thinks for a moment that there is water over her head, closing in and dampening her hair to its roots. It puts pressure on the air in her nostrils and pushes against her lips until they open. She suffocates in the dirt a second later.

Ming’s feet carry her up a tiny, narrow trail that clings to the cliff walls, and her brain thinks that it might currently be dashed against the ground below. Her cheeks sting with air rushing past, or possibly rain, or just tears, and her breath supplies her with the energy to crest the top of the cliffs.

It’s a spot she and Petro once hung out at. From the top of the cliffs, they watched the ocean batter against solid, grey rocks. Its white foam ate into the stone, and the stone grew back wet and shiny and glittering like uncut diamonds.

Ming stares at the rocks, still not thinking. Far away, the sun hovers above the horizon, and it sends pink light skittering across the waves. The rocks glow in that light, refracting the pink into glorious bands of red and purple and yellow. With an unthinking scoff, Ming considers the idea that they might actually be valuable.

She blinks. She's seen a cut gemstone before. Once, after a storm, the smith had picked up a rock up here on the wall, and she'd cut it into a strange, pointy shape that reflected rainbows in all directions. Bits of the cliff could be just like that: enormous, cut stones.

A light panting grows in Ming’s ears, and she turns to find the anglerdog grinning at her. Its little bauble bobs up and down, and Ming thinks back to the moments before she’d seen the fire. That bauble had activated her souvenir. It must be able to do other things, too.

Ming glances around, searching for something that might be a conduit. There’s a strange rock formation to her right that might look like a podium. To her left, the top of the wall starts to crack into hexagonal tiles, like the stone had simply grown that way and was now unravelling.

She goes to the podium first. Her footsteps are faster now, and she can hear them slap against the earth. A little part of her thinks she ought to mourn longer, but she can’t. There’s something afoot that she can solve, so she has to solve it. If she doesn’t, she has nothing.

With the anglerdog at her side casually sticking its nose and bauble under her armpits, Ming bends down to examine the podium. She pokes it and prods it and bats the dog’s light bauble so that it hits as much of the podium as possible, but nothing happens. It might just be a weird rock formation.

As she heads over to the cracks, Ming looks down over the village and the sea. It amazes her how close they are in elevation; without the walls, the buildings would have washed away with the first storm of each winter. Maybe they’d even sink under high tides.

When she reaches the cracks, she kneels to get a closer look, and immediately sticks her fingers into the fine black lines that spiderweb across the ground. She pulls this way and that, and watches carefully as the dog dips its head to sniff at a crack, but still nothing happens.

“Am I just doing this wrong?” she murmurs. “It’s not metal like the lighthouse, so maybe it just works differently.”

Ming stands up again to think suddenly, startling the dog. It barks. The cracks in the ground glow yellow-ish white.

“Um.” Why does the anglerdog’s bark work and not Ming’s own speaking voice? Admittedly, if the rocks responded to human voices, the village would have found whatever is in the wall ages ago.

The stones in front of Ming’s feet rise into the air, extruding from the ground like strange, orthagonal noodles. They float, a few feet above the walls, forming a wall of columns so close together they’re kind of pointless, and then shoot straight down into the holes from which they’d come. The ground beneath Ming’s feet rumbles and settles, and the dog whimpers.

Ming creeps forward and finds a staircase set into the holes. She has nothing else to do, so she descends, and the dog follows her with yet another whine.

The tops of the columns form steps made for giants. Ming has to jump from one to the next, wary of the way the stone looms overhead as she keeps going down. Her knees and ankles groan in protest, but Ming ignores it. She’d ordinarily have no trouble. These are special circumstances.

Despite the descent, the air is light and easy. Ming never has to rely on the dog’s bauble to see, because something about the stone around her emanates a dim, constant light. She spots the bottom of the staircase soon enough and picks up her pace. Her feet slap against the rocks, and her heavy breathing echoes in the cavern inside the wall. The echo is so strong that it distorts all of Ming’s noises into something that sounds like a soft, urgent conversation.

She reaches the bottom and heaves out a sigh. And then Ming realizes that the noise is not a distorted echo. There is a conversation going on.

Immediately, she perks up. Those must be the survivors. She cranes her neck and closes her eyes, focusing on the sound, to see if she can identify the voices.
They’re accented. Definitely not the villagers. Shoot. This could be bad. Ming holds her breath and glances back at the staircase, hoping that the accent doesn’t belong to the raiders. She wants a better listen, but her heart starts pounding in her ears, blocking out all the important information.

“I’m dying, Geora,” says one voice. A man with a rich, melodious bass. “It’s too late.”

“You’re not dying!” replies another. This one is a woman with a voice like honey. “You can’t die. You’re literally immortal.”

What? Ming’s jaw falls to the floor.

“I can still die,” the man says. “And I will. If we take action, we might be able to save Aeron, but I’m going to die.”

“You’re being a pessimist.”

“I’m telling you the truth. I can’t keep it all restrained anymore.”

“Go talk to Genis then!”

Ming wonders who all these people are. Is Genis some prominent person with those raiders? She creeps forward to hear more clearly. The room is big, but littered with enormous rocks and spikes sticking out of the ground. She has plenty of hiding places.

“I did,” the man sighs. “He won’t do anything.” There is a pause...


1 Dec. 2019

Spoiler! :
...and then he chokes on a sob. “Actually, he didn’t even say anything.”

“But he didn’t actually say no,” the woman reasons.

The man huffs out the most dejected laugh Ming has ever heard. Even Petro’s father never sounds… er, sounded, so tired.

“He gave me this look,” the strange man says, “like he knew it was going to happen, and he was going to let it. So it will.”

“Oh. I guess that is the kind of no Genis would give.”

“Yes,” the man says. His voice cracks, and it is the worst sound Ming has ever heard come out of a human mouth. It is like an icicle shattering against the ground, this tiny, high-pitched thing that pierces his soft bass voice. “You must do something, Geora. I cannot stop it.”

“Such as?”

“Something,” the man begs. “Anything. If you do not stop it, people will die. Many, many people.”

That settles it for Ming. These must be people from the raiders. She creeps up behind a pointy rock, and then darts to hide behind another. The voices get louder and clearer the further she goes, so hopefully the people behind them will appear soon.

“When?” the woman asks.

A long pause sits in the cavern, and Ming hears the strange, strangled sound of the man gulping. “It has already started.”

Check, check, and check. That’s it. Ming steps forward, her footsteps light on the stone. The floor is surprisingly clean. Her boots don’t crunch on loose pebbles, and her toes don’t knock against gravel. It’s kind of strange.

The voices keep growing louder, and Ming keeps moving. The spikes in the floor thin out eventually, until she finds herself in a clearing with a crystal-smooth floor. The wall opposite her is dark and closed. The rocky face of it drips with water, and in the dark, Ming can’t tell if there are any seams in it for doors.

She touches the wall, and the voices keep going. They bleed into one another as the man and woman discuss the particulars of preventing all out tradgedy. Perhaps a wall? Or maybe by salting the land so nothing will grow and the people will move away from the shores. Ming places her ear against the wall, but if anything, the voices grow quieter. Maybe there’s a secret tunnel somewhere high up where the sound can travel.

Ming peers up into the darkness, hoping for some bit of light to catch on something, but she sees only the continuous rock climbing up into blackness. She turns around and peers into the spikes from which she came. The dog’s bauble bobs up and down between the jagged stones.

“Here!” she whispers. The dog perks. She can’t see it, but she can tell by the sudden change in the light’s movement. “Doggy! Come here!”

The dog barks, and the sound echoes through the cavern. It rattles off the stones and bubbles into the staircase opening.

The voices cut off.

Oh no. Ming freezes in place, heart pounding like a drum with a feedback loop, and then looks down at herself. She’s wearing dark clothes. She could hide. Or she could just let them take her. That’s an option.

“I’m dying, Geora,” the man says. It’s a cadence and precise set of tones that Ming has heard before. “It’s too late.”

The woman speaks next. “You’re not dying! You can’t die. You’re literally immortal.”
Ming doesn’t know exactly what’s going on, but she figures she ought to leave. The conversation continues, so alike before that she might be having deja vu, but Ming ignores it. She has to get out. The raiders are going to continue their attacks. They’re going to go inland. That’s the only explanation for what she just heard.

She has to warn the people inland. She’s never met them, though she knows they exist; Petro’s father organized trades during difficult years. They don’t deserve to face the kind of fate that Ming’s village faced.

That’s what she has to do now. There’s nothing here, but at least she has something out there to achieve.

Ming takes a deep breath and sneaks back through the rocks. Her feet are just as quiet as before, and she somehow, miraculously, makes it to the steps without being caught. As she hauls herself up the first of the huge treads, she turns back to the cavern. The dog’s bauble is still dancing among the rocks.

“Dog!” she hisses. “Come on!”

It barks again. The voices jumble.

Ming runs.

***

Petro follows the garbage. Whoever burned the village is careless; they’ve left bits of food everywhere. Bones litter the ground in tidy trash piles, which is absurd. Bones are valuable for broth and tools. The little ones can be ground up and used in paints and other things. Whoever these people are, they have so much excess that they’ve forgotten how to make use of what they have.

He can tell by the rot of their wasted food that he’s at least a day behind them, and Petro wants so badly to keep pushing himself. He wants his feet to move faster and his eyelids to stop drooping. He’s almost out of water. He hasn’t eaten anything more than berries in the past three days, and his stomach cries like a lost child.

The fish keeps a constant beat in his backpack.

Petro is almost a day away from the village when he realizes that he can eat it. Sure, it’s raw, but it’s so salted that whatever icky things might be hiding in there are probably dead. It’s dry too, so it won’t feel like he’s really eating raw fish.

He swerves into the long shadow of a small outcropping of trees and kneels in the grass. His pack slides off his back in one fluid motion, and he reaches in with his left hand to grab the fish while the other hand goes to his belt to fetch his knife.

His right hand closes around nothing. He left his knife on the path north of the village. Stupid thing to do.

The fish’s silver scales glitter with red-gold in the evening light. Its steady movement makes it sparkle. Its dead eyes shine, like the thing has been weeping.

Petro takes it in both hands and gulps.


Dec. 8

Spoiler! :
His stomach turns before he even opens his mouth, but somehow, he forces his jaw to unclench. He closes his eyes, brings the fish to his mouth, and bites into it.

It's as dry as he expected. The blob of salty fish muscle twitches in Petro's teeth, and he's suddenly glad he left most of his stomach contents back in the village. He would have vomitted again otherwise. He gulps the stuff down and wrinkles his entire face in disgust. And then he takes another bite.

By the time Petro has made his way through eight whole bites, the sun is red and low. His gut twists, somwhere between sickened and satisfied.

He stashes the fish back into his bag, and some piece of him flinches at the thought of this partially-eaten fish continuing to move against his back. The rhythm was bad enough when the thing was whole.

As the sun sinks beneath the horizon, Petro continues on, following the trash to its source. When the last vestiges of light disappear into the sea, he lights his lantern and keeps going. His eyelids turn to lead, even as his feet keep him moving.

It’s harder to know where he is now. In the forest, the dark may be scary, but here, where the land is flat and unchanging, the darkness is empty. Petro thinks he may be getting into the fog too. He walks in a wide zigzag, keeping his lantern low so that he’ll spot the place where the raiders entered the path.

At some point in the daze of timeless, endless not-quite-dark, he finds the trail. The grass on the right side of the path bends and folds in a strange, haphazard weave, crushed by a multitude of feet and things being dragged over it. This new, unpaved path is wide and clear, and Petro can follow it without stooping over to keep his little circle of light bright.

He was already moving slowly, but Petro slows even more when he steps off the path. He carefully rolls his feet, heel to toe, as he walks, to prevent the grass from rustling with his steps. He steadies his tired back to keep his pack from shaking. His breaths come in slower and deeper, filling his lungs with heavy, anxious air.

The ruined grass diverts around one last outcropping of trees, and Petro dims his lantern. It's been a long time since he walked this area, and he did it with Ming and his father, so he was probably distracted enough to not remember much of the terrain. But he thinks he's close to the shore. There'll be a small drop, where the rocky, grassy ground falls away to reveal a stony beach, and if anything, that's probably where the raiders are camped out.

Petro’s steps turn to a timid, sliding shuffle as he skirts around the trees. He knows he’s in the fog now; the moisture of it clings to his skin and dampens his hair. The darkness is eternal. Even if he lit his lantern, he’s not sure he’d see anything.

He feels for the give of the ground, so careful with his weight that he probably looks stupid. His hands grasp at nothing, constantly moving, gauging his position in space. It takes a bit, but then he finds the drop. One foot slides over the edge, and he scoots his other foot closer so he can find someplace to put his weight.

Petro ends up crawling backwards down the slope. It’s not a big one, barely the height of his chest, but in the total nothing that surrounds him, it’s safer to be cautious. Once his feet hit the tiny stones of the beach, he straightens and turns around, hoping to see some indication that the raiders are there.

He sees nothing. Not even the dim glow of a campfire. He wonders how the raiders are faring.

It’s harder to stay quiet on the beach. Every footstep crunches. The pebbles skitter every time he so much as turns his head. Petro strains to hear anything else. These raiders must be making far more of a racket than he is.

He stops moving, and there it is. A constant whisper of swishing and crunching floats into his hears. Someone laughs with a big, booming voice, and a chorus of others follow with higher pitched giggles. The fire is hidden behind layers of fog, but Petro hears it crackle and pop.

Now that he is here, Petro doesn’t know what to do. He has no inkling of their numbers or supplies. He doesn’t know what they look like or what weapons they have. He has nothing to defend himself with.

This was stupid. This was really really stupid. He should have checked the area surrounding the village before chasing after these people. Maybe Ming was somewhere else entirely, totally safe. He should leave now. Get out while he still can.

Against his wishes, his breathing picks up. It rattles in his throat like crashing waves. He steps back. His foot sends a shower of pebbles sliding and buzzing over the beach. Panicked by the noise, he steps back again. He misses his footing. He falls.

The noise deafens him. The people near him fall quiet. Petro’s heart pounds like a hammer on an anvil, laborious and loud, clanging and ringing. There is no taking back a strike of the hammer, and no taking back the noise he has made.

Petro pivots, overturning on the slick rocks, and runs. He ditches his pack, tossing it into the foggy abyss, hoping the sound will lure the raiders away. It hits the ground, sending up a flare of skittering rocks, but Petro is still louder and more consistent. They’re going to get him.

He struggles up the bluff and collapses into the grass on his hands and knees. His feet hang over the edge. Something bumps his toes, and Petro gasps. He scrambles to get upright and run, but then a cold, wet hand closes around his ankle. A quiet, deafening shing reverberates through the cold, wet air.

Petro falls off the edge, and a silent blade stabs through his chest.
"I've got dreams like you--no really!--just much less, touchy-feeley.
They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny
on an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone
surrounded by enormous piles of money." -Flynn Rider, Tangled
  








Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results.
— Willie Nelson