Monday, December 17, 2012

Deadsponcelling Chapter 2


By Carly Robb and James Clair Lewis

Deadsponcelling Chapter 2

Tara fell asleep immediately. There was the mirror, and although she was frightened, she knew she had to go through it. On the other side, her dragon came to her immediately, urging her to mount. There was someplace he needed to take her, as if he knew something that was going on. She mounted, and off they flew, bypassing the other Deadsponcellors, taking a route directly towards a lenticular cloud in the sky.

"What the hell are you doing, Shadowdeath? We're supposed to be down there, not up here." He just turned his head and looked at her like she was an idiot. "Don't look at me like that you overgrown lizard." She could almost hear him laugh at her. Shadowdeath flew directly into the lenticular cloud, then he slowed down, and landed on a white marble surface suspended in the midst of it. Tara dismounted, and walked toward a large table spread with a sumptuous meal.

"Come. Sit down. You are in time for dinner. Please enjoy the brains of your would-be murderer," invited Daath.

She recognized the man sitting at the table as her rescuer from the garage. "What is this place? Who are you? What the hell's going on?" she demanded, "I nearly get killed..." she cut off mid-sentence noticing the mirror in the corner... just like hers at home. A chill ran down her spine.

"I am Sepheroth Daath, and this is my.... home away from home, so to speak. Now please sit down, and calm yourself." He fed himself a spoonful of a gray, white, and red soup. "And do please, have something to eat. It is not like you've never eaten brains before."

She glared at him, "Not of somebody who's tried to kill me. Yeah, I know what you're going to say...'maybe I'll learn why she was trying to kill me'." She shook her head somewhat in disgust, but decided to accept this Sepheroth person's hospitality, if that's what it could be called.

"Cooked brains..." she thought "Why cook them? I would think that it would leech the knowledge out." But she tried some of the soup anyway.

Sepheroth Daath watched in silence as she ate. When he was satisfied, he said, "This one was taken in the other world, and must needs be cooked. It has properties that you cannot imagine. You are now ready for the next level."

"Next level of what?". Tara asked, seeing everything through a haze, but more clearly and sharply than ever before; she could feel the blood pulsing through her veins. It was all beyond description. It was like back in her teenage years doing acid, but more intense than any trip she had ever had before.

Daath instructed, "Since you began Deadsponcelling, to gain specific knowledge, you had to realize that this was no mere dream. Soon you will begin to wonder which world really is the dream, and which is real. As a child you were, but no more. Come now. My dragon awaits on the other side of this mirror. And bring your sword. You may need it."

Confounded, Tara said, "Well, I knew it wasn't a normal dream, but do you mean to tell me that those are real people we kill down there? That I've been murdering people for what? Ten years, now? And now you want me to go out there and kill people in my world? Do I have any choice in this at all?" She was just about furious, but her curiosity kept her in check, she grabbed her sword and joined him.

Daath continued, "Those are just dreams of people or dream that they are people. You knew what you were doing. AND you liked it. I've been watching you and the other young Deadsponcellors for a long time.

There are those who seek out the young, to take their brains. You've seen that yourself, if you think about it. Now come with me through the mirror. My dragon is getting impatient."

"Well, I'm not saying I didn't, but to hunt and kill my own kind? Why?", she inquired as she followed him.

Daath continued to instruct, "You won't need to hunt them. The Rogues are already looking for you. And when you slay them, you will eat their brains for the Power." With that he took her hand, and together they walked through the mirror.

"Great, a war among the higher echelon of Deadsponcellors, that's just what we need. I'll follow you Sepheroth, but I must know more." They stepped through the mirror into a middle realm with mirrors everywhere, showing different locations, different people. Confused she looked at him. "What now?", Tara asked.

Daath waved his hand, indicating, "Pick any one that appeals to you, my child, except for the one we just came through. There's nothing more for you to learn there."

"Which mirror... which mirror...", Tara pondered this for a few minutes, closed her eyes and pointed. She had chosen one that looked out upon mountains, waterfalls, and densely forested valleys, "But how could there be a mirror there Sepheroth? It's the middle of nowhere? I don't understand." As they emerged through the mirror, they got wet. They stood in a pond, and water was coursing into it down the side of a mountain which was composed on this side of exposed obsidian. Nearby an alligator eyed them with more than casual curiosity, pondering the manner of their entrance to his world.

"Oh... that's the mirror", she said wringing her shirt out, "and how come you and whoever that rogue was, get cool clothes and here I am in my t-shirt and cutoffs? What's up with that? And what about that alligator? What are you trying to do? Get me killed?" She went and sat down on a rock to try to finish drying off.

The alligator looked at her and said, "Why would I make a move against one of your kind? Do you not think that I am smart enough to stay on your good side?"

Surprised, Tara said, "No, I did not hear that alligator talk, I know I didn't. Can I just go home and forget all about ever deadsponcelling?"

Sitting beside her on the rock, Sepheroth Daath said, "Alligators are very clear thinkers. Why shouldn't they talk? Now as far as going home and forgetting all about deadsponcelling, yes, you could do that. But I'd hate to see you die, when you hold such promise. And your dragon would miss you, too. He has invested much in your education."

The alligator slid easily into the water, swam across the pond, and poked his nose at the obsidian wall. Realizing that it would give way, he walked through it to the other side.

"I expect that we were being followed. This could prove an interesting surprise." Daath grinned wickedly.

"Alligators walk the other world? Since when, and why haven't I seen them over there? What the hell? As Alice said 'Curiouser and curiouser', and how can you tell we're being followed? And why are you so concerned that I stay alive? Yeah, so the rogues are after me, so what? What's that gotta do with you, and what's it gotta do with me? What do we do now? You're the one who wanted me to follow you and so far I've made all the decisions, and from what I know about following it means letting someone else make decisions, so who's following who here Sepheroth?" She took her boots off to try to let them dry out and dangled her feet in the water.

"Well, that alligator just saw us arrive, so he decided to try it out. Now as to us being followed, I know that when a Deadsponcellor reaches your age, that they become interesting as prey to the Rogues. Have no doubt that they want you for your brains. To survive, you must grow rapidly in skill, and experience. If you become too difficult to get, then they will seek weaker prey. And as to you making the decisions and leading, just whose context do you think you are operating in? Now would you like to explore this place or would you prefer to keep company with that alligator inside the mirrored hallway?", said Daath.

Tara replied, "Ok, I'm assuming the rogues have gone through the whole deadsponcelling thing, am I right? If so, why would they need or want the knowledge of a younger, less experienced sponcellor? Are my boots dry yet? no, oh, well." She tied her laces together and put her boots over her shoulder, "Are we going to explore or not Sepheroth? I can walk and ask questions at the same time, sometimes. Gain skill and experience in what? I thought we were operating in a sensible context, but I guess I was wrong."

"Things could be explained, but you would not understand. Best, always to figure what's what by yourself." Daath stretched out his arm, and a dragonet landed on it. They peered into each other's eyes for a long moment. "The path to the East looks most promising." Without another word, he began walking.

"um... ok. HEY! WAIT UP!" Tara scrambled down the slick glass/rock slope trying her best not to fall flat on her face, 'How can he be so surefooted on this stuff anyways?', she thought to herself, 'and what does he mean by 'promising?' I guess this is what I get for wanting to meet other sponcellors. Me and my big mouth. At least he's not trying to kill me, I don't think... at least he doesn't SEEM to be trying to kill me, unless of course that's what this damn hill is for." Finally she caught up to him. "What's the big idea running ahead like that? I coulda broken my neck!"

"You didn't break your neck. BUT, if you had, I most certainly would have taken your head. And you're making enough racket walking this trail, as if you were a mere city dweller in a dream. Now pay more attention. We have a destination, and I do not want to be late."

"Oh... soorryy, it's my fault that I've never walked down an obsidian hill before. Destination? Oh never mind, this is getting to be a bit too much, and I know you won't answer my question straightforwardly, so I'll just walk." She made a face at him as he turned away.

The dragonet took out the first of the harpies. Sepheroth Daath shot the next with a crossbow which had been concealed beneath his cloak, and then fatally mangled a third with his sword as the dragonet grappled with a fourth. "Draw your sword girl!"

She drew her sword., "Dammit, it doesn't have the same balance as my old one, and I'm not used to fighting on the ground... DAMN!." And then it wasn't quite her anymore, it wasn't as it used to be where she knew what her victims had known, she somehow became her would-be murderer. Tthe sword became an extension of her arm. She knew the vital spots to hit the harpies, but it wasn't her digging through those memories, it was someone who wanted her dead. She managed to off the final one and push back the intruder in her mind, "What the HELL was that?!? Why didn't you WARN me that I would be wanting to see myself dead?!?"

Daath smiled wickedly, "Well done, Tara. You learn from experiencing, and NOT from being told. I chose you well. Now realize this : by now, all of the Deadsponcellors where you used to go, have been eaten by the Rogues, although a few of the dragons escaped. Shadowdeath, of course, is safe inside my lenticular cloud where the Rogues do not know how to reach."

"All of them? Why? All I know is they wanted me dead, I don't even know why. How many of the dragons survived? Gods, why has this happened? And where are we going, anyway? Even though I know better than to ask? And where the hell did my boots go?", she searched desperately for them. "Those things weren't cheap, where the hell could they have gone?"

And saw a lace sticking out of the dragonet's mouth. "Little beast! You ate my boots didn't you? Just like my dog. Oh well, it's not the first time I've gone barefoot."

Daath ignored her pique, "It is called a Harvest. I save one I think is the best to live, and the Rogues take the rest. Sometimes one or two others escape. That is why I take the heads of Rogues. The Deadsponcellors feed upon the Dreamers. The Rogues feed upon the Deadsponcellors, and each other. I feed upon the Rogues."

"It still makes no sense to me, but I guess it's not supposed to. Oh, well, lead on, I hope I don't get too many thorns in my feet."

"There is a cabin up ahead where I have some supplies. If any of the Deadsponcellors escaped, we must find them. The ones who survive the Harvest often become Rogues."

"So, what? Do you have a cabin everywhere or something? I don't understand you one bit, and I don't know if I even want to. Is there anything that can be done besides killing them? And why are there so many rogues and only one of you? Or are there more of you somewhere?" She kicked a rock in consternation. "Ow."

"The Rogues out number the Solitaries by more than 10 to 1, but we live a lot longer. They kill each other off to get more power. They kill most of the Deadsponcellors for their power in the Harvest, but they recruit the survivors."

"And what about these survivors that they haven't recruited? Those which wouldn't join them for their life? What do we do with them?", asked Tara. "Generally, they are very hard to find. That's why I call them Solitaries. See the cabin up ahead? There should be supplies there, if it isn't a trap."

"Ok, so do all of the solitaires find someone to save or what? And if not, why do you? And who's cabin is this anyway?"

"I think that Semaj, the Sorcerer built this cabin a few hundred years ago. It's been a long time. I forget. A number of Solitaries use this place, so if you take something, you should leave something. At least split some wood. That's always appreciated. Each Solitary does things in their own way. I like to rescue a young Deadsponcellor, now and again. Call it a hobby of mine."

"OW!", Tara sat down on the ground to extract a stray piece of obsidian that had become embedded in her foot, "Sepheroth, is it a good thing that this Semaj person built that cabin? And what if someone's there already? I agree with the take something leave something thing, but one attempt on my life and the harpies are enough for me for a while."

A raven circled overhead for a while, observing, then flew back up the trail to inspect the harpies. Tara sighed as she watched the raven circling overhead and pondered memories of when her life was normal. She knew that things would never be the same, boring way that it used to be (that, she was sorry to admit, she used to complain about). As she turned the obsidian towards the sky, she noticed the way light went through it, when looked at directly, but didn't when in normal light. It did posses a magical quality to it. Tara reminded herself to try to see the good in what was happening, yet, be very, very cautious. How did she know she could trust this Sepheroth guy? Well, she should probably just go along with it for now. She put down the obsidian and they began their walk towards the cabin as the raven faded away into the deep electric-blue sky.

"You know, this stuff used to be a commodity, if you know what you're doing with it, you can make an edge on it sharper than a surgeon's scalpel. It's great stuff, just don't step on it." She put the shard of volcanic glass in her pocket, she didn't know why, it just seemed to be the right thing to do.

Chapter 1

Chapter 3

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