Sorry about sporadic posts. Exams, projects, papers, and my own lack of self-discipline (or perhaps simply normal discipline that fails to compare to the Roman standards I hold myself to) have all gotten in the way of keeping this regularly updated, as well as writing and generally enjoying life’s other pleasures besides stuffing my face with low quality confectionery.
I was bored, or more accurately, in a frenzied trance induced by Wardruna and my daily ADHD medications (and around 400 grams of sugar), and wrote this piece from start to finish, a short story from the perspective of one of the Syntar, depicted in that other post about them.
With less flapping gums and more content, here it is:
Oh, and if you’re so inclined, I appreciate feedback. It’s by no means required (not that I’d have any way to enforce it; I’m not the CCP), but giving me your thoughts 1) helps me write better stories, 2) inflates my ego that people actually care, and 3) lets me evaluate where this blog is going in terms of audience and content. And 4) makes me very, very happy. And don’t feel afraid to drop links or ask me to visit your blog, being directly impelled to read others’ content is excellent motivation to get out there and see what all everyone else has to offer.
When she was a new child, still tender in the tooth, Father told her and Mother, run.
When she was older and taller, but short horned and thin-scaled, Mother told her, hide.
Now nearly a woman, trudging down the scrub-lined road to the capital, there were none to tell her anything. It was only the hiss of the abrading desert wind which ground her horns, shouted curses in her ears and dragged on her hood. No one now to soothe the knotted muscles of her calloused, dull scaled feet, for when they held her lover by his horns and held a pulse gun to her head, he bid her, submit.
A year had passed. heavy with his child and hers, she made her way, killing what she could for food, and when there was no prey to be had in scrub or woods, stuffing her belly with spiky grass and dry dirt. She had not seen another living face in four seasons’ turning, not a pair of horns nor moonlit eyes— only the savage furred dogs that called themselves people. Katalar, wretches and barbarians, urchins and gangsters in their most civil garb. Once, they would not have been worthy to throttle and eat. But in her motherly desperation, on a cruel deadlands night, she stumbled over a tiny grave, and finding one freshly dead inside, ate it; meat, bones, brains and fur, and slaked her thirst on its blood.
The sun was falling now. The once god Soveiluz was too ashamed to shoulder his beacon longer than duty required. For what, she knew not. Kyriesnin the Silvered, student bard and daughter of Kyres, a herder of cattle and lamed soldier of Her Majesty’s Navy, could scarcely remember the names of the old heroes nor the stars her people had once doused with the blood of the conquered. Perhaps that was why the sun set so early— too many times had their pride eclipsed his celestial glory.
She knew she was being followed, and had known since midday. There was no scent more repulsively fragrant than the bloody fur and fermenting saliva of the katalar, and their keening voices whispered from afar in her hunter’s ears. It was a certitude to encounter bandits on the road— she knew well how cant prey was in the scrublands. And despite her promise to herself and her unborn that civilization was not far off and the long, strong arm of the law would stretch forth to protect them, she had not chosen the road for safety.
She didn’t need to hear their voices to know the plan. Course her until she dropped, then encircle the road and close the net— then pin her down, break her limbs, and take what they wanted. Money. Food. Pleasure. And revenge, the slave’s gloating triumph in seeing her bend, seeing her break, the rush of blood both hers and theirs. It was a feeling she knew intimately, an emotion which had taken over her father when he made his stand at the door, her mother when she coursed herself until her heart shattered, and her lover when he succumbed to rage and thirteen bullets in his chest.
They came up behind, five of them, armed with hatchets and knives, the leader with the pulse gun clutched in its paw, barrel pointed at the back of her head. “Turn around. Down on your knees. Hands on the ground.”
She turned around, her claws in the air, hood low over her eyes, luminescing in the twilight. She looked it in the eyes as it continued to bark threats, jabbing the gun at her, pointing at the dust. It was every manner of depraved she’d dreamt in her fevered nights: ragged, matted fur, spittle flecked jaw, ingrown teeth, hooded black eyes, dull with hate, casual malice, brute stupidity…
She smiled, allowing her taut jaw to spread to its full width. Her pursed lips uncurled and stretched over twin rows of gleaming, metal-streaked incisors filling a maw half a foot across, caging a thick forked tongue.
She saw a light in his eyes; a shiver in his facial muscle; his shifting fingers as he re-gripped his gun; she smelled the sudden drying of his mouth and heard the involuntary whimper at the bottom of his throat. She felt his fear as intimately as she had known her abyssal grief and impotent rage; his momentary terror filled her with a gluttonous, ravenous pleasure that she had only dreamed of in the agonied pit of her existence. The legacy of three thousand years of conquest and slavery swelled in her heart just like the child squirming not more than six inches below it.
She lurched forward, ducking the first shot as she dove on all fours. She dug in her heels as her child kicked, then bound left as he fired again, driving all her weight into the leftmost bandit and smashing her claws through the top of his skull. His friend brought his hatchet down and caught it on her horns- as he tried to yank it free, she raked the back of his knee with her claws and smashed him face first into the ground. Facing the gun again, she barreled forward, rising up and wrenching his arm sharply back with a crisp pop, tearing out his throat and tossing him down as the gun dropped to the ground. The closest one ran at her, cursing every hell and demon he could name. The other dropped his weapons and ran.
She dropped her attacker with a kick to the chest, gouging three divots into his rib cage and knocking him on his back. As he gasped for air, she strolled over and stomped on his face until it was no more than a bloody footprint. Turning to the katalar fleeing into the desert, she gave chase, breaking on all fours, and overtook him in less than thirty seconds, tackling him to the ground and slamming his face against a rock.
“Please! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” he screamed, holding his hands up in front of his face. “We’re just trying to survive! Just like you!”
She crouched over him, head cocked to one side. She could see her reflection clearly in his eyes, and smirked at the glowing-eyed, blood-soaked terror she saw. “Just like me?” she murmured, her voice a deadly purr, dripping with gore.
“I-I remember you! A year ago! Please, it wasn’t my idea! I’m sorry!”
“Oh, I’m glad. I’m glad you’re sorry. The smell of piss and shit is pleasant only when it comes from the terrified beasts cowering before the master.”
“Yes! Yes! I’m sorry!”
“Only, you’re wrong. You’re not sorry. You’re afraid. You’re looking death right in her two eyes, and you forgot to dig two graves for you and your revenge.”
She could feel the bloodlust fading. And that was all it was about, really. Not the gloating, standing over your enemy’s beaten body and proclaiming your victory. It was the savagery of battle, rushing blood, the triumph in the heart, not in the mind— because she was not a slave, and she never would be. She was above the boasting and the strutting, the posturing and crowing. The joy was not the foe’s defeat, but in her victory.
She wiped her claws off on his shirt and stood up. “Go. Live in fear, slave. Live forever chained to your revenge and your grudges.”