Tag Archives: Child of Starlight

Child of Starlight: I.3 – P.4: Walking Death P.2

Jacobus turned around to the empty clearing now only littered with possessions and the few corpses. “Grim though it may seem, it would be a shame to leave it all. They may come back and re-arm themselves.”

Aliene handed him his pack and nodded as the two began collecting up the supplies. Jacobus dressed, adding the Schillian armor and sword, as well as a pair of heavy boots from a pile. Aliene found a purple tunic without sleeves as well. She took a recurve bow, testing the draw; satisfied, she smiled. The two picked up as much as they could and began walking, never catching sight of the other bandits.

Within an hour, the two reached a large road made from smooth stone. It stretched far into the distance in either direction. The Fuschian Road, as it was called, became a bridge of equal splendor reaching over the river they had been following. Aliene knelt down, rubbing her hand over the stone. “So this is the great pathway carved by an old Divine Mage.”

“It is the safest way to travel; some think that the magic the Divine used lingers. This keeps the beasts at bay to a degree,” Jacobus said, looking around along the tree line.

“You think magic could last that long? It was hundreds of years ago.” Aliene rose as she asked the question. Continue reading Child of Starlight: I.3 – P.4: Walking Death P.2

Child of Starlight: I.3 – P.4: Walking Death P.1

“I, Abijah Crimson, am a priest Cruor, the master of bloodshed.” Abijah let his arms fall slowly, then drew the claymore from his back. “You can make your deaths easier by” – he paused, fixing his gaze on Aliene – “removing anything of value.” He traced over her outline in the air with the tip of his blade, the glaring eyes shining with a dull red beneath strands of bright hair. Snickering from the group behind him made a toothy grin split Abijah’s face as his reach encompassed the two travelers.

Continue reading Child of Starlight: I.3 – P.4: Walking Death P.1

Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 4: Necessities – Part 2

The mundane noises of the morning grated on Aliene as she caved in, asking, “Do you have a large family?”

Jacobus flinched slightly. “Yes,” he paused, gathering the words, “as far as I know, my parents still live and I have a few brothers and sisters as well.”

“A few?” Aliene took a moment; most parents only had two or three children within the tribes. “That normal for most families in Schillia?”

“Generally, though mine is still bigger than most. I was the ninth child of ten.” Jacobus was staring at his fish as if it would disappear. “Most of us had joined the armies, I don’t know where they all are now.”

Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 4: Necessities – Part 2

Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 4: Necessities – Part 1

Dreams of gnashing teeth and yellow eyes plagued Aliene as she slept; the vague sense of danger scratched at her mind until it broke through, snapping her awake. Under the pale light of a waxing moon and shimmering stars, numerous eyes peered at her from the edge of the campsite. Aliene grabbed hold of the instinctual fear within her and strangled it angrily, sharing the feelings through her reach as she let it expand. The watching eyes blinked, dissolving back into the forest, leaving only the slight rustle of grasses and leaves.

Aliene woke up again to the more pleasant greetings of the sun reaching over her and Jacobus. Blinking away sleep, Aliene sat up looking around the camp listening intently. Beneath the calls of birds and other small animals the steady slushing sounds of the river beckoned to her. Aliene rummaged through her pack, retrieving the replacement shirt in a similar style to Jacobus’, and the pair of loose pants both were dark blue. As she took her clothes out and stood to leave Jacobus sat up yawning, “Be back in a few.” She ventured away from their camp as he signed a thumbs up.

The small river Jacobus found a few days ago had been working well as a guide for the past couple of days. They had shared each other’s skills to determine what work would be best, she had come to accept the monk was going to be better in direct combat, the man was tough above all else. He had been interested to learn of her stealthy approach but wasn’t surprised given her hunter label. Aliene let her mind wander to the many questions still lingering within her mind as she became accustomed to the rivers chilled waters. She scrubbed herself as best she could finding a few scratches and bruises that had yet to heal fully. After rinsing her old clothes she stepped from the water, placing her palms together. Aliene focused her reach to the surface of her skin gently raising the temperature and drying away the water. Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 4: Necessities – Part 1

Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 2: Creeping Rot – Part 2

The bolt from her bow struck much harder than the monk had, causing the still airborne mass of monster to nearly land on top of Jacobus. The monk reacted by pulling back his fist, letting his magic fill him; as he punched the monster a loud crack preceded the leshii being planted into the ground. The monk leaped towards Aliene, making it halfway back until he spun around to see the leshii rising from the ground. The monster shifted on its legs, repeatedly snapping its body back and forth, resetting its limbs and head after the assault it endured.

With a hissing exhale of mist the leshii reached out its hand, splaying its long twiglike claws as a ragged moan filled the air. The sour scent of the leshii’s magic filled the air as the monster’s reach expanded over the ground and narrowed on the pools of black sludge. Foul air bubbled from the dark pools as the water boiled violently. Jacobus and Aliene stared as the waters calmed down; from the stillness bulged forms of flowing oily sludge, and they rose out of the different pools as a pack of grotesque wolves. Gurgling at the pair of stunned mages, the pack spread into a semi-circle and marched towards them as the leshii lumbered behind them.

Jacobus backed further towards Aliene then said, “Any changes to the plan?”

Aliene flexed her jaw, eyeing the wolven forms approaching. “Just one; don’t let the water get on your skin.”

Jacobus nodded, raising the point of the short sword he held towards the leshii. “Taking him out should dispel this, right?”

Aliene shrugged, aiming her bow again, and drawing another arrow of magic, the air close to her shimmered, then glittered as the arrow grew. Jacobus rushed away from her suddenly while flinging the sword at the wolves, getting their attention. Four of the oily beasts pursued the monk as two charged Aliene, but those stopped short at the crunching sound of Jacobus ripping up the remains of a tree half submerged in water and earth. The whole pack and leshii turned towards the monk; Aliene then figured out Jacobus’ plan and jumped up. Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 2: Creeping Rot – Part 2

Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 2: Creeping Rot – Part 1

Under the falling rays of sunlight, the Morbid Row took on a surreal appearance. Such subtle tones of pastel reds and yellows in the sky were contrasted by the bleak ground of dying trees and smoking oily waters. Stepping lightly over the stray branches, Jacobus and Aliene moved as smoothly as they could over pools and brush.

When they were close enough to whisper, Jacobus waited for a moment before saying, “We are being watched.”

“Quiet,” Aliene whispered as she crouched beneath a large tree mostly fallen over. “I know, and we should avoid disturbing them.”

The pair had to resist activating their reach as invisible eyes cast chilling glances from every direction. Their pace was labored and tedious, and it took hours for the edge came into view, a wall of twisting gnarled branches from shortened trees. As the two travelers reached the wall, Jacobus breathed a sigh of relief as the hidden glares fell away. Aliene looked down one way and then the other, unable to see a clean path through the branches.

Jacobus turned to Aliene asking with a look, What now? She shrugged, eyeing the obstacle top to bottom. She stepped closer to the tangled branches before waving over Jacobus. The monk stepped silently towards her, his eyes still shifting to the sides. “Think you could leap over it?” Aliene asked, keeping her voice low. Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 2: Creeping Rot – Part 1

Child of Starlight: Issue 3 – Part 1: Admitted Denial

“So, that was an actual God?” Jacobus asked, sitting on a stump, still breathing hard.

“Short answer, yes,” Aliene said between gulps of air. They were back in the forest, but every nerve was still panicking. “The Celestial chiefs can manifest Avatars for speaking to or defending the tribes.”

Jacobus slapped his cheek, calming himself a bit. “That happen very often?”

Aliene just looked at him, shaking her head; she stood to examine the bow Centauri had given her. The blue metal fins retracted, suddenly folding in a couple times, becoming no longer than her forearm. Aliene took a strip of cloth from her wrist and secured the magic bow to the back of her belt, hiding it beneath her shirt. Aliene put her pack on as Jacobus stood and did the same. “I should find another bow soon.”

“He did say not to use it a lot,” Jacobus said before his face twitched slightly. “I am assuming here, but you don’t have a large inner-magic reserve do you?”

“No,” Aliene replied as she began walking after looking up at the suns position. “If I remember right, Schillia is the closest country, so maybe we should head there for good supplies.” Aliene had taken a few steps before realizing Jacobus had stopped walking; she turned to him and the air left her lungs.

His face wasn’t angry but the air around him shivered from his gaze. Jacobus inhaled deeply, saying, “I wouldn’t suggest it.”

“Why?”

“Going there would cause more problems than it could ever solve.” Jacobus calmed himself but still looked drained from the thought.

“There a longer version?” Aliene let her hands fall to her sides.

Jacobus sighed. “We should walk and talk.”

Aliene nodded and waited for him to reach her side before they continued.

“During the fighting of Schillia’s civil war, I was ordered to do many things I am not proud of. The comfort of knowing it was in service to my country faded quickly after I was released.” Jacobus’ pace quickened as he spoke. “Without the direction I had while in the army, those memories I ignored began hounding every moment of my existence. Whether awake or dreaming I couldn’t outrun them. That is why I began traveling to monasteries.” The rhythmic pace began creeping up towards a jog. “You know the rest from there.”

Aliene was quiet a moment. “Do you ever regret being in that army?”

“I couldn’t say one way or the other.” Jacobus began slowing as he asked, “Have you ever done something you regret?”

Aliene wrinkled the area between her eyebrows. “Yeah, it was a long time ago, but it was when Hafwen first began teaching me magic.” Her pause held until Jacobus went to speak, but Aliene cut him off first. “I had been warned that using magic the first few times can mess with your emotions, the lesson awakened an anger I didn’t realize I had. I attacked her.”

Jacobus waited a moment. “But it was an accident, right?” Aliene just looked at him, face muted of expression, but her brown eyes trembled. “You just gave in,” Jacobus said quietly, half looking through her as if seeing something else further away.

“It was the first and only time. I had ignored the feeling so long it got replaced with something worse.” Aliene’s breathing turned rapid as she slowed down.

Jacobus stayed beside her saying, “That is probably true for many parts of life.” The two walked in soft silence for a while before Jacobus froze mid-step. “Well, that is not very inviting.” He and Aliene stepped out of the tree line onto blackened earth.

Aliene nodded her agreement. “This is the Morbid Row, the border of Misten’s land.”

They looked around at the dead and dying plant life dotting the plagued soil that hissed steam where it wasn’t covered in pools of dark, oily water.

Child of Starlight: Issue 2 – Part 4: Celestial Chief

Aliene looked up past the branches into darkness. “Yes it was.” Aliene stood pulling her sword and bow out of her pack.

As Jacobus loosed his reach and contracted it, the muscles in his arms visible grew. With a blast of wind from the brush a voice called to them, saying something just out of hearing. The pair exchanged glances until Aliene froze, visibly disturbed. “Did you hear that?”

“Just now?” Jacobus questioned, Aliene nodded. “No.”

“There it is again,” Aliene stood from her crouched position. “It’s calling me to it.”

“What is?”

“I don’t really know,” Aliene started walking sword still raised. “Come on, grab the brick from my bag.”

Jacobus didn’t answer, just obeyed and followed behind her, leaving his own pack and the rest of hers. He looked past Aliene into the inky blackness that enveloped her, then it filled his own vision. Until the faint glow of something in the distance appeared, and a voice came from all around saying, ‘Go towards it and fire an arrow.’

“Now that I—” Jacobus was cut off by Aliene shushing him.

After the sounds of a bow creaking followed by the whoosh of its release, an explosion of light rushed past them. What had been a black abyss was now filled with countless flecks of light. Swirling like firefly’s in a dome, that then became still appearing to be stars in a clear sky. Jacobus felt a hand on his shoulder force him into kneeling, he fought it in vain till he saw what it was. A man taller and broader than any Jacobus had ever seen, and as the being passed by him he saw the legs of an equian. It was in fact a full body of an equian as the beings lower half, the feet of which were large thick talons, the digits linked by webbing. His whole body had a rough skin that glistened like scales, and a pair of long folded fins sprouted from the sides of his left forearm.

“Daughter do you know me?” the voice from earlier said as the being approached Aliene.

She had fallen to her knees staring at it, “Yes,” her voice was meek.

“Say it, child of starlight.”

“Aquar Equias, Chief of hunters, Centauri,” Aliene flinched as the being flexed, extending his left arm and watched him pull his right hand along his left arm like you would a bow. She looked on in amazement as a sliver of pale blue light manifested, Centauri aimed upward and fired the sliver. It claimed into the air and burst becoming almost like a sun that began filling the area with soft blue light.

“Dear child how long I have watched you grow,” Centauri spoke with a voice that made the air shiver. “Your strength is something beyond mortal limits. You bring me honor,” the being turned to Jacobus, “So you will quiet your mind boy, I am one of the avatars for her pantheon of gods.”

Aliene coughed out a breath tearing up as she looked to the being who would be her god. “Why Me?” Aliene says finally letting tears flow down her cheeks. “Why would you do this to me,” Aliene screamed it clutching her chest.

Centauri was silent for a moment, “If I knew child I would tell you, truly. It is your mark, it was made by your magic, I have watched over my tribe for a thousand generations. I have seen heroes be foretold come to pass and be welcomed amongst the starlight households.” The being of hunters bent to place his hand under Aliene’s chin lifting her face. He looked into her hazel eyes that begged for relief, to have this burden lifted. “You are different, you have something more than what I know, how you live, how you deal with this, will be up to you. All I can do is arm you with what I do know, give me your bow.”

Aliene lifts her weapon with both hands bowing her head, as she does the weapon changes flashes of light force her eyes closed. When the light subsided, she looks at what her bow had become. Heavier than before and almost pulsing with magic. It was thinner, but as she gripped it the ends fanned out like the gods own arm. “Give it a try.”

Aliene stood her mind asking why there was no bowstring, but her body just moving. Her arm went through the motions and as she drew her magic was pulled from her hand. She aimed at a tree that appeared some ways off, half rotten and released. With a hiss and whistle her target more splattered than splintered but was missing a huge section in an instant.

“Raw power has its uses, merely think sharper to pierce a target, though try not to use this more than ten times a day child. Don’t lose it I have blessed it but Hafwen did spend weeks making it for you in the first place,” Centauri smiled at her beneath his star filled eyes and nodded at Jacobus, “He is more than he seems, don’t discard such faith.”

Jacobus had stayed a good distance form the girl and the god, kneeling and as the being of hunters nodded at him he stood only to drop the meteor stone. “What the,” Jacobus picked it up as Centauri appear beside him, no sound, no warning. The being took it, examining the stone for the moment.

“Interesting, this is the star that fell to you?” Jacobus nodded to answer him. “This is from the House of Crafting.” Centauri looked up towards the sky, seemingly past the darkness. “I give you this advice young one, in the heart of a mountain north of here lives a being much like myself, should you find him give him this stone.”

Aliene opened her mouth to reply but was suddenly blinded by white hot light, when she blinked rapidly to adjust her eyes she heard the buzz of insects calling and the song of birds fill the air.

Child of Starlight: Issue 2 – Part 3: Pasts That Define Us

The day continued and the two travelers began sticking to the shade of trees, avoiding the searing sunlight of midday. Aliene was beginning to feel the rebound of her exertion. She looked back to Jacobus who had stayed quiet over the past few hours. The man still looked as if he was on a leisurely walk. Does he outclass me by so much? The thought had wormed its way into her skull, exacerbated by the silence between them. Aliene had only been able to compare herself to Hafwen growing up; her mentor had always been better at everything. Speed, power, endurance, and stealth, the four tenants of a hunter. Hafwen told Aliene she was better than some but how could the young girl really know?

The use of magic had always been compared to how she used her muscles normally. Magic just made up the difference in what she could normally do and what she may need to do. The farther the difference, the more magic needed. Outer magic was a little different but pulled from the same source within her. Hafwen had drilled Aliene till her magic was drained, then made her keep going, fighting through the sharp tingling that ensued. A sensation Aliene was starting to feel now in her legs.

Should I just rest? A foreign concept after twenty years of scheduled life. They had food for a few days and nowhere to go. I have nowhere I need to be. The realization of that fact stung Aliene more than she expected. Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 2 – Part 3: Pasts That Define Us

Child of Starlight: Issue 2 – Part 2: What is Known

Darkness filled the area within her vision. Through Aliene’s reach, however, she felt every branch, vine, and pool. The tears had dried from the sheer speed Aliene had been running at. “Away, just get away,” was her only thought. As a ray of dawn pierced the dark of the forest, Aliene reached a small clearing and stopped, allowing herself to breathe deeply.

“About time, how long did you plan on running like that?” Jacobus’ voice made Aliene turn around and glare at him.

“I was sure I had left him behind, how then?” Aliene’s thought was cut off when she noticed Jacobus wasn’t breathing hard; his wasn’t even elevated like hers. “What are you?”

Jacobus had a slight smile as he answered, “Just a former monk; let’s leave it there.”

“No, I know most of this forest by heart. You as a stranger would not have been able to keep up so easily.” Aliene dropped her pack, drawing the sword sticking out of the bag. “Now really, what are you? Why are you following me?” Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 2 – Part 2: What is Known

Child of Starlight: Issue 2 – Part 1: Certainty

“Will you hurry up!” Hafwen seethed as Aliene fell behind. Hafwen had pulled her from their home after Aliene had been told to wait there.

“What’s going on?” Aliene begged but Hafwen didn’t turn around. “Hafwen!”

“Just shut up” – Hafwen had turned to her abruptly – “and come on.”

Aliene didn’t respond. She followed her mentor towards the healers’ hut catching the last rays of sunlight as it was swallowed by the clouds above. The building was lit from within, becoming more and more visible as the two approached. Something twisted in Aliene’s stomach, fear and emotions welling up from uncertainty. Hafwen led her through the door, catching the end of their guard captain questioning the stranger.

“Tell me again, how did you find us?” The guard captain was trying not to yell.

“I just did, I was wandering the southern countries for a few years until being lead here.” Jacobus was sitting on the bed gripping its edges as the guard captain inched closer and closer to him.

As Aliene entered the room a bright flash made everyone flinch until the light faded back into the satchel Jacobus had brought. The guard captain lunged to the pack, dumping its contents onto the floor, with items bouncing away until a set of rocks thumped hard into the wood.

The captain went to pick them up before Jacobus could stop him. The guard captain cried out as a loud hiss filled the air. The captain looked to his hands that were now blistered and pink; he tried to focus on pulling magic into his hands. The action made him scream louder than before, dropping the man to his knees.

“What are those?” Celestaon questioned as Hafwen wrenched Jacobus to the ground in an instant.

Jacobus looked up from the ground, fighting off Hafwen’s hold on him. “The pieces of the falling star, what gave me the revelation.”

Celestaon inhaled through her nose as if she had been holding her breath. “Child, show him the star.”

A moment passed as Aliene finally understood what she had been told and unlaced the top of her shirt revealing her stained outline of an eight-pointed star. The monk stared at Aline longer than anyone had before. “What?” was all she could say before Jacobus finally stopped and stood, Hafwen having to step back as he rose.

“If you would let me go, please.” The monk wasn’t asking, as he slipped from Hafwen’s hands, leaving her with a scowl on her face. “I am Jacobus, and with this gift, I pledge to serve you in your purpose.” The monk had gathered up the stones barehanded, presenting them to Aliene while kneeling.

Aliene reached out to take them unconsciously, her fingers flinching slightly as they brushed the warm rough surfaces. When she pulled them back to her the pieces trembled and pulled into one another forming a clean-cut brick in her palms. “I, how did they do that?” Aliene looked to Hafwen, then Celestaon. Both women wore wide disbelieving expressions.

Celestaon swallowed hard, looking at the mass of rock from the sky, pulling her hand back from the piece in fear. “I don’t know, nothing like this has ever been recorded for our tribes, my child. You two must leave, now.” The Elder looked at Hafwen and nodded, signaling her to leave. She spoke to the guard captain as he stood: “Go out front and calm the people. They need but a moment.”

The large man grunted and left stomping as he went to the front. Celestaon motioned to the healer as she went to open the back. “Quietly now, come with me.” The old woman’s voice was soft and shaky. The three went out the back door and through the wall marking the edge of the village. The exit was more a small hole each had to squeeze through before pushing into a bush of thorny leaves.

“Aliene,” the old woman’s voice came out in an exhale before she grabbed Aliene’s arm. “I need to say this; you have something none of us do, the strength to leave.” Aliene looked wide-eyed, taking in the face of her elder as she continued to speak. “You, dear child, have been made to endure our rejection; few gave you the acceptance you rightly deserved. I asked Hafwen often how you were doing. She watched you grow, and you never wavered against a path you didn’t choose.” Celestaon gripped Aliene with a strength that betrayed her age, and Aliene had nothing to say. “I have held my tongue long enough; how, how do you not hate us?”

Aliene clenched her jaw for a moment until she tasted metal. “I did, for a long time; it made me better. I thought one day they will have to accept me.” Aliene had only said this once before to Hafwen, years ago. “One day I just couldn’t be angry anymore; I couldn’t.” Tears welled in her eyes, blurring the old woman till Aliene blinked them away. “Hafwen explained it over and over until I just stopped asking. If I ignored it maybe the hurt would fade.”

Hafwen had returned suddenly beside them, making the kneeling Jacobus flinch when he realized she was there. Hafwen handed him a pack and the bag he came with, then she looked at Aliene. “The world is large, and the monsters are sized to fit it.” Hafwen griped Aliene’s shoulder while pushing the pack into her chest. “Fair is something life is not, but you have the strength to carve your own path.” Aliene slipped the pack onto her back as Hafwen gripped her arms, fixing her stare on Aliene’s eyes. “Now my sister, child of starlight, run.”

Child of Starlight: Issue 1 – Part 4: Wanderer from Afar

Hues of pink and purple streaked the skies as Aliene walked to the center of the village. She stared up, lost in wondering what challenges the world would give her. Hunters hunted, builders built, and so on, but what could Aliene do? The center was prepared with lanterns and a dozen or so people, including the seven elders.

Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 1 – Part 4: Wanderer from Afar

Child of Starlight: Issue 1 – Part 3: Hunter (Reboot)

Aliene was running harder than she had ever thought possible. Sucking in the warm air and exhaling with a hiss, she bolted across the open water. The water walk technique embedded in her body over the past decade was taxing to her magic. She spun around on one of her steps and balanced as she froze more of the area. The flush of heat rising over her bare legs soothing the ache in her muscles.

Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 1 – Part 3: Hunter (Reboot)

Child of Starlight: Issue 1 – Part 2: Preparing for Storms (Reboot)

Hafwen paced on the deck in the midday sun, absently playing with the braid in her dark hair. She had been hunting in the forest when the messenger from Celestaon summoned her. She had never actually spoken to the eldest of the village—few did—but fewer still were summoned personally.

Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 1 – Part 2: Preparing for Storms (Reboot)

Child of Starlight: Issue 1 – Part 1: Wayward of Fate (Reboot)

The still night’s chill pushed a young couple into the embrace of their tribal elders. Arrayed in all corners of the large log building, the bodies of men and women were gathered. Smoke from incense and pipes spilled up and circled within the roofing. Cloaked in robes of reeds and scales, six women circled a small pedestal at the center of the group. The eldest of the village took the wrapped child from its mother and shuffled back to the circle. Then, with the silence of stars, the elder placed the bundled child on the stone marker, ready to start the Illumination.

Continue reading Child of Starlight: Issue 1 – Part 1: Wayward of Fate (Reboot)