Sunday, July 10, 2016

Rude Awakening

“Not quite what you were expecting.”

The man shrouded in black clothes and boots shifted slightly in response. The squeaky voice piped once more over the counter of parchment and musty tomes. Tomes was the appropriate word for such exotic and scholarly books covered inside and out with strange script.

“Have you forgotten we were a step lower than our masters?”

An oily whisper slipped through the shadow’s pale lips. “Of course not. Neither you or your masters ever rose above our boots, vermin.”

“I prefer Quill, but that was always lost on your lot,” a clawed hand patted down stray quills on either side of the speaker’s pointed face. “Besides, if I remember correctly, you are called the Fallen, which makes boot-height now head and shoulders above the best of you.”

The fallen hissed. Darkness seeped like tar to choke the candlelight on the desk. Quill’s hackles rose in response, the spikes on its head and back shooting upright. Its brown eyes gleamed with a feral light before it blinked and took on a serene air. It reached behind it and pulled out a single spar, wincing at the pain.

“Your kind brings out the worst in others. A pity, shadow-once-made-of-light. It is proper that the chosen people called you Bohu.”

“It has been a long time since someone called me by that crude name,” Bohu retorted. “But that brings fond memories of snuffing out their lands. Delicious memories.”

Quill dipped the severed shaft into a ink pot and began to scrawl on a loose piece of paper. “Strange that. You forfeited your light but you hunger for the light others possess.”

“How did you know to call me that, much less learn to write?” The fallen’s condescending tone wasn’t lost on the massive porcupine dressed in medieval attire. Its nose perked up as it watched embers illuminate in the darkness. The fallen had lit something and puffed at it. Quill’s snout drew at the scent for a moment before answering.

“Shouldn’t you be more surprised I was prepared for you?” The critter retorted.

A gloved hand dismissed the question. “Your kind seemed to have our scent. I’m not surprised you were waiting in your hole for me.”

“I said prepared, not waiting. I read up on you long before this day.” Quill adjusted his glasses on his snout. “Your presence in this land disturbed my sleep, and so I had to find out what sort of plague had infiltrated my home.”

“I’ve only been in this spit of land for a few hours, you senile fossil,” the fallen spat.

“Oh Bohu...your kind forget what effect your efforts to manifest create,” Quill chided.

The elder porcupine set down quill and shook the stale parchment to dry the ink. It squinted to inspect its work and then lowered the page to stare at the darkness thicker than night that blocked all exits. He sighed in his high pitch way.

“Memories are important, as your ravenous stomach knows. By your presence I can tell you were particularly attracted to mine and know that while ancient, they are far from the dementia you claimed.”

Quill continued, his voice growing resonate despite its native timbre. “You are yet young in this manifestation and growing back into your strength. You should have waited to claim this feast. Because, while many memories grow dim in this darkening age, my kind never forgot the day our master’s failed the Test.”

A cruel laugh answered. Bohu relished that memory. It had been the sweetest taste of life stripped away from his kind’s victims since they were Exiled. “I remember it well.”

“So do I,” Quill lamented. His tone turned stern once more. “I remember what the Lord of our masters said to your kind for your contribution to their failure.”

The shadows flickered for a moment. An acquired fear whispered from the recesses of its midnight heart.

“You are right to fear. Because I remember every single word,” the scribe intoned.

“But you’re just claws, fangs, and sharp fur! There is none of the power in the First Beasts to fly, crawl, and swim!” Darkness pressed out again, though the figure seemed to be tugging hard on its burning stick.

“We were made by the same Word of Power,” Quill bared its large front teeth in its best impression of a smile.

“And by that power I consign you to the fate of the fallen of our kind...Return once more Bohu to your partner Tohu to await Judgment!”

The shadow leapt over the desk, a smoking dagger in its grip. “No!”

Fiery chains gripped its wrists and dragged it back to a circle of ghostly flames. It gasped as the golden light that collared and burned its oily skin. “What have you done?!”

“I told you, but you didn’t listen. I prepared.” Quill then barked, its eyes a mix of feral and otherworldly light.

“As our highest and wisest became our basest and lowest, so you will slither into the Deep. As the noblest became the slave of all, you will be humbled into the Pit. As the Light cast all Shadow from His Garden, you are cast from this tainted World. Bohu-ashne-vo’Tohu, Vrad-zhi-ulmi-nohu!”

The shadow shrieked. Its arms and legs shriveled and sunk into its sides. Its head snapped back, the bones crushing inward. Shoulders and hips shattered and fused into the vertebrae. Spasms wracked the slender, supple band of darkness amid the transparent gold flames. The fallen thrashed inside its fiery cage, stricken by its serpentine form. It hissed a curse, “A thousand deathssss haunt you, Ichnuemon! A thousand deaths of a thousand lovesssss….!”

Quill turned the paper over to let the now burning sigil face the withered fallen. Light flashed from it and kindled the circle into a column of holy fire. Then gloom settled, but of the grey predawn sort. Bohu was no more. Quill slumped his shoulders and shambled around the desk. Nothing remained of the shadowy fallen except a glossy, soft box and thick folded paper. Quill pawed them open to find round sticks like the one Bohu had puffed on. The aged creature surmised the other were tools to light the rolls that smelled of tobacco and fillers. He pocketed them and made for the roof.

Sitting on his favorite spire, Quill hung his feet over the side and pulled out the box. He struck a stick and a small flame lit its tip. He put it to one end of a roll and puffed as one would a pipe. Flavored smoke slipped over his tongue and tingled his senses. He puffed a ring toward the rising sun and looked over his woodland. A pale star hung above the thick firs.

“Good morning, dawnstar! Too bad I won’t be seeing you for awhile. Pesky fallen take too much work...Perhaps you will be kind to watch my tiny spot of dirt?” He dragged on the tobacco and listened.

“I gathered not. Very well. I will make a tea and go about the Gardener’s business.” With that, Quill flicked the burnt stump of tobacco away and clambered down. He squeaked softly to himself, “I wonder what century I’ve woken up in this time.”

Art Source: "Elder Porcupine" (c)/by ursulav
Story and Characters: (c)/by Corey Blankenship

#MMWW, #Makes, #Me, #Wanna, #Write, #CoreyBlankenship, #Quill, #Bohu, #TenetsTales


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