Author Topic: [Story] Homecoming  (Read 25725 times)

Offline Krozam

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[Story] Homecoming
« on: July 19, 2012, 07:54:47 pm »
I felt like writing a bit of my newest story idea, and even though I ended up describing much more than I intended (I was planning to write in a light novel -style), the text flowed unexpectedly well and I finished the 3½ pages prologue in one day. Right now I feel quite happy with the result - though after letting it rest for a few days, my opinion might be totally different. I'll post more as soon as I finish the next scene, maybe tomorrow. BTW, the title is totally a working title, definitely not the final one.

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Homecoming

Prologue

It was a shame that the night sky was covered in clouds that night, for it was a special night, a night of homecoming and a night of special guests, and on a clear night the stars over this particular location would have been breathtakingly beautiful. The location was on a low hill in the middle of a  small woods area about thirty kilometres south-east from the city of Talmut. On this secluded, insignificant hill, an event was about to take place. An event that would give start to a great change in this world.
   
It began with with an odd buzzing sound and almost unnoticeable distortions in the air above a small opening. Slowly, very slowly, the sound got louder and the distortions more distinct. Nothing else happened for almost fifteen minutes, just those two effects getting stronger and stronger. Then it happened: with a sound that was almost like a cross of a cracking and a ripping sound, the distorted air... fractured, and the fragments got pulled into a... hole, as if sucked by a vacuum. It wasn't really the air that was broken, of course, it was reality itself giving way to something that defied its rules. A portal to another reality.
   
There was no light in the hole, it was a pitch black place. There was no warmth either, it was a place as cold as the outer space, maybe even colder. And yet, someone now stepped out of that inhospitable place.
   
The first one to come out of the hole was a man. His appearance was entirely human: a lean, about 180 cm tall man with short dark hair and barely above average looks. He appeared to be on his twenties, his chin was clean shaven, and his expression was sharp and serious. So far completely normal. However, his attire was what the people of this world would think as something straight out of a fantasy book. The dominant colour was black: he wore black trousers and a black robe-like garment that left a deep V-neck, which revealed a good part of his chest and some stomach as well. There seemed to be a white under-cloth, and the whole thing was kept together by a wide sash. The sash was a piece of art by itself, with red and green cloth and a dull golden decorated metal belt over it. He also had decorated bracers made from the same metal. The fabric was lustrous and soft like silk, but woven thicker than any silk clothing in this world.
   
The last detail worthy of note about his appearance was a one-handed longsword on his back. Its red sheath was decorated with the same dull golden metal as his attire, but the sword handle was oddly simple. It was a practical weapon, not for show, and anyone with decently sharp senses could feel its power.
   
Behind the man, two other people came out of the portal. Two women, both of whom were holding one of the man's hands. The woman to his right was a striking beauty, on the level where no one could pass her without looking twice. Her features were technically human, but unearthly perfect – depending on your taste, of course. Her bright green eyes almost seemed to glow a light of their own in the darkness of the night, and her wavy golden hair that flowed down to her waist seemed much softer than the fabric of their clothes. Her features were symmetrical to the point that they almost seemed to lack personality, but her bashful expression and downward gaze were clear hints on her character. A head shorter than the man beside her, and of a slender build, she seemed petite and fragile enough to ignite any man's protective instincts. However, while slender, she certainly had feminine curves in all the right places.
   
And her dress did little to hide that divine figure. It was made of the same silk-like material as the man's clothing, but in stark contrast to his black, it was pure white. On her upper body, it followed her figure in a way that was possible only for a dress tailored specifically for her – and with considerable skill, too. The neckline was tight, but the sleeves opened wide, and both were decorated with patterns of silver and gold. These was no sash on her waist, but instead, more silver and gold decorations. The most curious aspect of the dress, however, was the hem: the dress flowed down her legs like a skirt, but getting steadily thinner, becoming slightly transparent on her beautiful legs, and like a veil on her ankles. The dress seemed much simpler than that of her male companion, but in truth it was an even greater show of skilled tailoring. As for jewellery, there was a pendant forged into an insanely complicated, multi-layered form, and on her left hand there was a signet ring, both made of the dull golden metal.
   
The woman on his left-hand side was striking in her own way, part of it beauty, but there was more. She didn't seem entirely human. Most of the differences weren't easy to point out, but her dark eyes were just a bit too large to seem natural, and there was something about her body structure that seemed a little off. And she had wings. Like an angel, but instead of just one pair, she had two, and instead of pure white, they were light grey. Both pairs were neatly folded, but she still only barely avoided touching the edge of the portal while stepping through.
   
Apart from those things, she seemed human enough. She had a flaming red hair, most of it tied on a ponytail, but some stray bangs remained to frame her beautiful face. She seemed about a decade older than her companions, a woman in her prime. Her height was about halfway between those of her companions and her body had much more lush and feminine proportions than that of the other woman, but she still managed to give off a strange feeling of lightness. Her shoulders were wide and she seemed to be in top shape, like an athlete, and her skin was charmingly tanned.
   
Her clothing seemed to be of a slightly lower quality fabric than those of her companions, but not by much. She wore pants instead of a skirt, and a short-sleeved shirt, both of purple colour that seemed to compliment her striking hair colour. The only decoration on them was a crest on her chest that seemed to depict some kind of a feline animal, sewn with golden thread. She had a sash as well, of a grey that was very close to the colour of her wings, and a silvery metal belt with some simple decorations. On her waist there was a one-handed longsword that could've been a twin to the one the man carried, although it didn't have the same aura of power. She was clearly used to the weight of the weapon on her hip.
   
The man let go of their hands, one delicate and small, the other strong and hardened, as soon as they were out of the portal. Immediately he turned around, gripped the hilt of his sword with one hand and raised the other hand near the surface of the constantly widening portal that kept sucking in the precious air of this place. He started chanting, his lips moving furiously, his expression one of deep concentration. His words could not be heard over the noise that resembled the blowing of a powerful storm-wind.
   
The golden-haired woman stepped beside him and raised her right hand over his outstretched left arm. Her lips were moving as well, her chant weaving power around his spell, strengthening it but following its lead. The portal stopped spreading, then started to close, its edges drawing closer and closer, the noise slowly changing from a raging wind into an ear-torturing whistle. It only took them around twenty seconds to close the portal fully, but for those two straining their power to repair the breach in the very fabric of reality, it must've felt like an eternity.
   
Then, it was done. Natural silence of the night was finally restored to this wood. The lost air was slowly being replaced, but for a while longer, it would be difficult to breathe in this place. For most people, anyway. These three seemed to be fine. But then again, they'd just been in a place with a temperature close to absolute zero and no oxygen, this was paradise compared those conditions.
   
The red-haired woman stretched her arms and spread her wings in a similar gesture. The wings were surprisingly large, especially the slightly larger upper wings, their span was more than twice her height. It was amazing she could fold them into such a small space. Each wing had an extra joint compared to normal bird wings, which probably helped.
   
“It's a dark world, your home-world,” she said in a language never before heard in this world, while staring at the sky.
   
“That's because it's the night, silly,” the man replied in the same language. He was in a bent-down posture, taking support from his knees. There was a thin layer of sweat on his brow, and his breathing was heavy. It seemed the spell just now had taken a heavy toll on him.
   
Beside him, the blonde woman remained standing, and quiet. She did seem a bit weary, but clearly not as exhausted as the man. Curiosity showing on her face, she looked around, like a child on a new playground.
   
“The flow of mana here is... weird,” she suddenly said in a quiet, melodic voice. “It's all going there,” she continued, pointing east. The others turned to look in that direction. Above the trees, they could see a red-and-white metal structure, a hollow tower with a ball at its tip. It didn't reach very much above the trees, but being on a hill with somewhat sparse growing stock, they could see it.
   
“Ah, that... It's a mana accumulator,” the man explained, straightening up. “Those are built in areas thick on mana. It sucks mana and delivers it to a refinery, where it's converted into a form usable as an energy source for machines. In this world-” Suddenly he stopped in the middle of a sentence and cocked his head as if listening to something.
   
“Someone's coming. Deidra, mask your wings and weapon.” Responding to his order, the winged woman immediately folded her wings, closed her eyes and began chanting a spell. Soon, the sword on her hip and the wings on her back faded from view, masked by an illusion. She now looked a little more human, though there were still a few things off about her.
   
Meanwhile, the man took a few steps towards west, staring at the trees there. The other woman came behind him, as if to hide in his shadow, just peeking past his left arm, and timidly took a hold of his sleeve. The man smiled at her reassuringly, but quickly resumed his staring. He looked just a bit tense, but not really worried or anything.
   
Deidra finished her spell not a moment too soon. With flashes of bright blue light, five people appeared before them. Four of them were clothed in military battledress and brandishing scary machine guns with flash-lights on them, while one was dressed in an officer's grey uniform and only had a pistol on his belt.
   
“Hands up where I can see them!” were the first words that came out of the officer's mouth, as soon as he'd materialised. The soldiers quickly took cover behind trees, but kept pointing the weapons at them. The man didn't hesitate to do as he was told, looking behind him and signalling that the other two should follow his example. They did, and fortunately the blonde woman also had enough sense to step into clear view from behind him.
   
The officer stepped closer. “You are trespassing in the grounds of a military facility. I'm going to have to take you in for questioning.” The officer was a large man with an imposing presence, probably well suited for his job. The bearing of his muscular body was straight as an arrow, his expression unreadable, his voice made of steel. He was young, however, probably about the same age as the man in blacks in front of him. He had no headpiece at the moment, probably because of the rushed takeoff, and his short, sand-brown hair was in plain view.
   
“That voice... Sandell? Coth Sandell? Is that you?” The other man took a step forward to get a closer look at the officer. He was now using a different language from before, the same one that the officer had used. Reggish, one of this world's languages, the language of the country they were in.
 
“Huh?” The officer squinted. “I know you. You're that bullied kid who disappeared... Timodal Botte, right?”
   
“That's correct. Um... Can we... put our hands down now? We're unarmed, as you can see, and we came her unknowing that this is military grounds.” The officer took a quick look at the women and nodded, also signalling his men to lower their weapons. It was probably thanks to the darkness and most of the light focusing on Timodal that Sandell was able to make it a quick look. Three pairs of hands came down, two of them somewhat hesitantly. He didn't seem to take any notice of the sword hilt clearly visible over Timodal's shoulder.
   
“What do you mean you didn't know? There are huge ass fences all around the area! And what's with that getup?” Sandell asked, in a voice that implied  he was used to getting immediate and clear answers.
   
“That's... a long story. And kind of difficult to believe, probably. Maybe you should... take us to wherever you intended to question us, and I'll try to explain. Also, my companions don't speak Reggish, so don't bother trying to talk to them.”
   
The large man had probably never been this full of questions, but apart from a frown, none of it showed on his face. He nodded, immediately seeing the sense in the suggestion, and waved to his men.
   
“Everybody gather around me for teleportation. Make sure your entire body is within a 2-metre-radius from me.” Timodal translated the instructions to his companions. It wasn't such a small area for eight people to fit into, but failure to do so would have dire consequences, so they all got as close as possible. Timodal stood back towards the others and casually wrapped his left arm around the shoulders of the blonde woman, as if to stand between her and the other men. She thanked the darkness for hiding her furious blush.

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This piece of art acted as a model for Timodal's dress, the other two are pretty much from my imagination (which is quite poor when it comes to these things).

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Offline Krozam

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Re: [Story] Homecoming
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2012, 10:12:30 pm »
Here's the next part. This concludes the prologue (which ended up being much longer than I originally thought).

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Coth Sandell's office reflected his practical personality. There were no apparent personal touches, save a couple of certificates on the wall and a bear paperweight made of blackstone on his desk. The desk was tidy, though there were certainly enough papers to justify the use of a paperweight. There was also a closed laptop on the other side. There were only two chairs beside the wall, so one of the soldiers brought in an extra.
   
“Sit down, please. I apologise for the chairs, I'm not high enough up on the command chain to have a fancy office room.” The chairs weren't particularly comfortable, but they were lightly padded. Considering the fancy clothing of his guests, he probably thought they were used to all kinds of comforts – and he wasn't totally wrong about it. His own chair behind the desk was barely better.
   
“Nevermind that,” the black-clad man said, sitting in the middle chair. “Assuming we won't have to sit here all night, we're fine.” The two ladies sat on the chairs on both of his sides. The blonde one looked a bit drowsy, but she did her best to stay alert. The flame-haired one eyed her surroundings with a mix of curiosity and appraisal. Well, not really so much the surroundings, but the man behind the desk.
   
Sandell eyed his guests as well, now seeing them for the first time in good light. His stone face cracked a little at the sight of these two exceptional beauties, and it took a moment before he managed to break the trance and focus his attention back to the man in the middle.
   
“So, uh... You had a story to tell me?”
   
“Yes...” Timodal's voice faded and he lowered his gaze in thought for a moment, before raising it again to meet Sandell's. “As I said, it's a long and unbelievable story. Telling everything would take me days – after all, the last five years of my life have been full of danger and adventure. Tonight, a very concise version will have to do.”
   
“But before I start, would you allow my companions to cast a certain completely harmless spell?”
   
Sandell squinted, his expression revealing that he didn't like the idea. “What kind of a spell?”
   
“A spell of learning. As I mentioned, they don't know our language. That is because they come from another world, the world where I spent the last five years. There is a spell known in that world, which allows you to learn a language just by listening. I learned to speak their language adequately in less than a week. If they're allowed to listen to our conversation, they'll not only understand what we say, but also learn every word we use.”
   
“A different... world, you say? Well, you certainly look like you're not from this world.” Sandell sighed. “I'm sorry, I'd like to grant your request, but that'd be a severe breach of the ordinance. It's a matter of security, guests aren't allowed to bring weapons or cast spells within the premises. I'm sure you understand. Your request is denied.”
   
“...I understand.” He turned to speak to his companions: “I'm sorry, but it looks like this is going to take a while. Please try to bear it. I asked if you could use the Spell of Learning, but this is a military base, so it's not allowed. Don't worry, captain Sandell is a good man, I knew him before I came to your world.” The blonde girl on his right gave a little start when he spoke to her, having already fallen half-asleep. Deidra simply nodded.
   
“Right, let's start with introductions. The girl on my right is named Lila, daughter of Samuorin. Samuorin is someone with whom I swore an oath of blood-brotherhood, which makes Lila my niece, sort of. On my left, Deidra of Culus, her friend and bodyguard.” Sandell was a well-mannered man, it seemed, for he rose on his feet and bowed to both of them. Not very deep, but it was much more than a simple nod of greeting. Somewhat flustered, Lila also stood and curtsied, as if greeting a high lord at the court of her father. Deidra, on the other hand, stood up calmly and bowed exactly as deep as the man had done to her. A warrior showing respect to another. It was not the way they did it in her world, but the meaning of the gesture was clear enough for her.
   
“As for me, well, you know me. We studied together in the Darthwin Academy of Magic, although I was two years your junior. As you said, I was a bullied kid, weak and miserable. My magical power was below average, and what made me seem even weaker was the fact that I learned slowly. I had little motivation to learn. On top of it all, I was socially awkward. I was not the man I'm now, not even close.” Sandell merely nodded. He knew this already, he'd saved Timodal Botte from bad situations with the bullies twice. As an influential senior student he might have been able to do more, but at the time he hadn't been fully aware of just how bad Botte's situation was. Besides, he wasn't enough of a saint to go out of his way to support a person he actually thought was quite pathetic. Timodal Botte had been a person with very little backbone, five years ago.
   
“Around the time when I disappeared, do you remember if there was any kind of an incident in the Quondur-district?”
   
“You were involved in the Rift-incident? The Verba shopping centre was destroyed entirely, hundreds of lives were lost. Lord Hanwar himself had to step in and close the rift... Of course! That's how you ended up in the other world, isn't it?” Understanding illuminated Sandell's rough face.
   
Timodal nodded. “The rift was caused by a powerful magical weapon called Zensha piercing the fabric of reality and entering our world. Out of those hundreds, I was the lucky one to survive. When the rift widened and started to devour everything, I instinctively grabbed the first thing that seemed relatively rooted to the ground: the sword sticking from the floor right in front of me. I got sucked into the space between worlds, but the weapon protected me. I spent horrifying, sanity-degrading hours in the middle of nothingness, a sentient sword my only companion. Eventually it guided me to cut open a way out, another rift, but on the other side of it I found a foreign world.”
   
“It was a world of many wonders, powerful magic, danger and adventure.” Timodal smiled in nostalgia. “In the world of Methra, humanity is far from the kind of total control of their environment that we have in this world. There are beasts that still pose danger to civilisation, there are six different sentient species – some less civilised than others, but all with their own cultures – and mana is much thicker there, which means that natural catastrophes are possible virtually everywhere, there are no safe places. Regardless, it's bright world – in many ways. It is in this world that I finally learned... to live.”
   
“I met many interesting people, both admirable and despicable, strong and weak. Deidra here taught me much, especially swordsmanship and magic. Samuorin taught me self-respect, Lila taught me empathy. An old man named Otto taught me to never give up on the things I value. A dead woman named Tillia taught me – somewhat ironically – how to enjoy my life to the fullest. They all changed me.” Something Timodal said, no doubt one of the names, made Deidra give him a sharp look and then lower her eyes. She seemed to be remembering something unpleasant, even sad.
   
“It wasn't just the people I met that changed me. Facing dragons and gods, enduring wars and starvation, achieving fame and power, these things tend to change people. As you can probably guess, I... became a somewhat notorious person in Methra. But don't take me for a braggart: it wasn't my own power that achieved this. It was the power of Zensha that carried me through all my trials. I owe him my life a hundred times over.” Sandell noticed him looking over his shoulder for some reason, but paid no mind to it.
   
“I approach the end of my story. A while ago, me and Samuorin, we did something... that angered the gods of Methra. As punishment, I was banished from that world. Samuorin has... duties that could not be ignored, so his punishment had to be something else. In the end, his punishment was to never see his precious daughter again. As much as I love Methra, I think I got a much better card in that game.” Timodal glanced at the woman on his right, and his melancholic expression was brightened by an amused smile. She was fast asleep.
   
A thought occurred to the officer behind the desk, and he paled a little. “So... you came here. Through one of those rifts?” Coth Sandell was not stupid. Quite the contrary.
   
The man in blacks smiled at him. “Don't worry, we closed it properly. It'd be a lie to say that there wasn't risk involved, but we had little choice. The gods wanted me out of Mithra, one way or another. Had I been unable to exit the world this way, they would probably have sentenced me to death.”
   
Sandell leaned back in his chair, crossing his thick arms. “That's an amazing story, and as you said, very difficult to believe. However, it is true that you appeared all of a sudden in the middle of a guarded and warded area. Besides, the story is too unbelievable: it's either true, or you're a total nutjob.”
   
“Those two options don't necessarily exclude each other”, Timodal replied with a wink and a skewed smile. The big man raised an eyebrow, and maybe the corner of his mouth twitched a little.
   
“Tell you what: I'll let you go now, and if you tell me where to find you, some day soon I'll invite you to meet a few scientists who'll be very interested in hearing a more detailed version of that story. Especially the parts about rifts.”
   
Timodal shrugged his shoulders. “Sure. But I'll be requiring a monetary compensation for that. Something to keep us afloat until I find a job. As for a place to stay... you don't happen to know if my mother still lives in Maiden street 7 B 3?”
   
Sandell fished a cellphone from his breast pocket. “Let's find out. What's her name?”

* * *

Fifteen minutes later Timodal and Deidra were walking in a dull concrete corridor towards the exit from the base. The sleeping Lila was travelling comfortably on Timodal's back and they were led by a young soldier who put commendable effort into not staring at the guests. He still sometimes stole a glance at Deidra's well-formed chest, though.
   
“Where are we going now?” she asked Timodal, keeping apace with him.
   
“To my old home, where my mother still lives.” He smiled a wide, genuinely joyful smile. “I can't wait to meet her again after all these years. She's the one person I've missed enough to be glad to be here again.”
   
“Is that why you're smiling so happily? Or because of the soft sensation on your back right now?” The flame-haired woman teased him, suddenly grabbing his arm and giving him a taste of another soft sensation. She laughed softly at his half-panicked expression.
   
“H-hey, careful now! I might drop her!”
   
“Oh, be quiet, let her sleep.” She gave the younger girl, who seemed to sleep through the commotion just fine, an affectionate smile. “Aren't you a lucky man, to have two beauties follow you even in exile?”
   
Timodal gave a quiet laugh, then nodded. “Very lucky indeed...”

* * *

“Sir! Please come take a look.”
   
Coth Sandell was just exiting his office, when a seemingly agitated soldier came half-running to meet him. It was the second time this night, the first having been when Timodal's group appeared and the wards triggered. The soldier was on watch duty, keeping an eye on the wards and surveillance cameras.
   
“What is it?” Sandell asked, but followed the man already. “More intruders?”
   
“Uh... No, sir. It's better if you come see for yourself.”
   
The soldier led him to the surveillance room, a place full of screens and mirrors, radars and maps, and other stuff. Equipment used in both magical and mundane surveillance. The interesting thing this time was on one of the screens.
   
“We didn't notice this earlier because they were brought in through the teleportation room, but look here...”
   
A frozen video frame showed Timodal and his companions walking out of the building. The picture was a bit blurred on a sizeable area around Deidra's back, which was strange, but not the thing that got Sandell's attention. The woman sleeping on Timodal's back blocked a part of the view, but it was still visible:
   
The man was carrying a sword on his back.
   
“Son of a bitch. He lied to me! He was armed all along.”

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Yes, I know many of the names suck, I didn't bother spending much time thinking about them. I'm just writing, because if I stopped to think too often, I'd get bored and pretty soon quit writing this story.

Wondering why I started the story from the end? I didn't. This isn't a story about a bullied boy ending up in another world and growing up into a hero. This is a story about a succesful hero being forced to retire well before his time, a powerful man forced to become an ordinary citizen again. Among other things.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2012, 11:10:55 pm by Krozam »

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