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Henry
Essence 5
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Title: Lookshyan brat
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The Thoroughly Authenticated Reminisces of Fennec

16 Sep 2011, 13:52

The last embers of daylight had long since faded and the desert rested quietly under the night sky. There was no moonlight to trace a course over rocky hills and spilling sands, and the barren expanse was cloaked in darkness. Only the stars were there in the velvet sprawl of the heavens, giving a faint light that was more a reminder of their presence than an aid to those down below. In the emptiness of the great Southern desert their twinkle was answered by a lone campfire nestled in the base of a jagged rise, its faint flicker a…

Oh man, sorry about that! Can you imagine having to slog through another paragraph of that stuff, let alone a couple thousand words? What is this, the ‘Tale of Sethra’s Daughters’? I mean, don’t get me wrong, that kind of purple prose can be fun to read at times, like those times when you’re forced at sword point to do something. If given the choice between death and reading ‘Tale of Sethra’s Daughters’ I would totally choose to read ‘Tale of Sethra’s Daughters’ and be happy about it. Maybe.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the South, capital ‘S’. That’s how you know it’s a direction of Creation, and not something like the south side of Chiaroscuro, or the southern reaches of the East or, gods help you, the southern reaches of the North. Can you imagine living in the North? Even the southern North? I imagine it’s a lovely country, what with all of the snow and bad weather and what have you, but gah! So gloomy. No sun, no blue sky, just rain and snow. It would get to you quick. I mean, have you ever talked to a Northerner? It’s nothing but gloom and depression all of the time until you just want to go out back and hang yourself. Heck, you want to go out front and hang yourself so everyone else gets the hint and knows to stay away from this guy and…

Whoops! I digress; back on track now, I promise. The South. The Great Desert, the one in between the Fire Mountains and the Southern Mountains. A bunch of sand a rocky hills. A campfire. Me.

I’m alone, for the moment. In addition to my ability to effectively use foreshadowing, I have many other talents. Unfortunately, metalworking is not one of them and the reason’s that’s unfortunate is because that’s what I’m trying to do. Metalworking, that is, not be unfortunate or something else or…gah! This is harder than I thought. Being a narrator is a real pain.

But there I was, working metal with my bare hands. It was a hard thing to do but…wait. I should probably tell you why I can work metal with my bare hands. You see, not only am I a really great guy, I’ve also had that fact Officially Recognized by Cosmic Forces. To wit, I am a Lunar Exalt, a No Moon caste, a Chosen of the Argent Madonna. For you Realm types out there that means that I’ve been possessed by a demon and granted superpowers and you should now address me a Mr. Anathema, sir. For the rest of you, I’ve earned the eternal blessings of the gods and powers far beyond the ability of your puny mortal minds to comprehend.

Or maybe not. Most people can comprehend metalworking, right? You take the metal, you smash into the shape you like and – hey presto! – you’ve got something. In this case, the thing I had was a series of twenty-eight metal scales, each one crafted during a different phase of the Moon. The one being crafted tonight was the no moon scale, which explains the dark and reason why I needed a campfire. Sure, I can infuse any object with my infinitely protean essence and shape it according to my whim, but seeing in the dark is hard! Besides, I’m in the desert on a dark night with nothing else visible for miles; what could go wrong?

“Hello?”

Nuts! Someone’s there, a woman by the sound of her, interrupting my solitary narrative. I put down the scale and pull my hood up over my head. See, I have this hood that’s attached to the back of my coat that I can pull up and not have to bother with wrapping my head with a turban or wearing a hat or that kind of thing. It’s great for shading the sun or blocking the grit from a sandstorm, especially in combination with my blue scarf.

Hmm.

That last paragraph was a total waste, wasn’t it? Who cares about my clothing? Well, I guess I do. See, I made the hood myself and the scarf is, like, one of the three nice things that I own, so I’m going to talk about them if I feel like it, and you’re just going to be at my mercy. Besides, that was more foreshadowing. Yeah, that’s right, foreshadowing.

“Hello?”

I scramble to my feet. The woman’s right by the campfire now, and I can see that she’s dressed in tired travelling clothes. She kind of looks like a Southerner, dusky skin and dark hair, and she’s pretty. Not that I’m judgmental or anything. Besides, I’m more concerned with why some random person would be wandering around an empty wasteland at night than I am with how attractive she is.

“Hello,” I call back.

“Oh, thank goodness,” the woman says, stepping fully into the light. “I’d hoped someone was here.”

“Someone? Anyone? Sounds like low standards.”

She looks at me closely. Thankfully, I’m a big, strapping lad, all of five feet and five inches, with well over one hundred pounds to my name, so I cut a dashing figure in the firelight. The woman steps closer. She’s about the same size as me, though the dimensions do better credit to her, and she looks like she can handle herself. No, not that way, perverts. I mean in a fight, like she’s a legionnaire or something.

“Do you mind if I share your fire?” she asks. “It’s a very dark night and I’m afraid that I’m a little bit lost.”

“Well, I don’t know…” See, strangers and I don’t get along very well. The look at me and then they tend to get the urge to kill me.

In a related story, I don’t have many friends.

In another story, related in a different way, the woman was looking at me, squinting in that suspicious way that people do before they try to kill you.

“I’m sorry,” she says, smiling a smile that would melt ice if that ice happened to melt response to pretty women giving seductive smiles, “I don’t want you to get the wrong idea; I’m just passing through, on the road to Valen. I’m Petal.”

“People call me Fennec.”

Wait, crap! I haven’t told you my name yet! Well, that’s true enough, people do call me Fennec. Actually, Fennec’s my name. Sort of. It’s complicated. I’ll explain later when I have more time.

“Well, Fennec, what do you say?”

“I say maybe, though I can say other things too.” I wiggle my eyebrows, an effect that’s probably lost on Petal because I’ve pulled up my hood, obscuring my face.

The woman ignores my joke and looks at the pile of bags at my feet. And by pile I mean one; well, two, if you count the canteen as a bag. My blanket was unrolled over to the side of fire, and my knife and my boomerang were on top it.

“Is that all you have?” she asks.

“This? Yep, that’s it. I travel light.”

“I’ll take it.”

“Oh no, it’s not for sale. See, out here in the desert life is simple and we operate on the barter system and…”

“Shut up and give your canteen. The provisions, too.”

I cock my head to the side. “I don’t respond to threats, lady.”

I probably should have seen this coming, but I’ll be generous to Petal and say that she was fast. Really fast. Her dagger was out of its sheath and at my neck quicker than you could say Princess Magnificent with Lips of Coral and Robes of Black Feathers.

“Oh,” I gurgle heroically, “by ‘don’t respond’ I meant ‘give in instantly.’”

“Are you alone?” The dagger was sharp, a fact my neck could verify.

“Well, you’re here.”

“Are…you…alone?!” It was a lovely growl, full of the right mix of malice and hostility. Whether it would make ice melt would depend on the ice in question, I suppose.

“Yes, all alone!” The relationship between the dagger and my neck had gone on long enough, and I felt that it was time to end it. It’s not you, it’s me, and all that. Okay, it was mostly you.

“And this is all you have?”

“You already asked that question.”

Petal glares at me, but as she does so her expression turns from anger to surprise to disgust. She reaches out with her none-dagger wielding hand, a hand that I was generally a fan of and preferred to the other hand, and pushes back my hood.

“You’re a Dune Person!” she exclaims.

Crap, that’s another thing I forgot to mention! I am a Dune Person, with the white hair, the white skin, the hating the sun, the cannibalism, the whole thing. I was going to get to it, I swear, but little miss knifes alot had to wreck my narrative.

“Thanks for noticing,” I say. “You’re a bandit, that thing over there is a rock, and that other thing is a campfire. What that sound is, though, I don’t know.”

Petal glances to the left and I take the opportunity to scramble away from her, falling on my backside in a completely intentional and planned maneuver. Petal, however, is not interested in me anymore. In fact, most of her attention seems to be devoted to deciphering the low, wailing noise that I had been unable to identify.

“Horns,” she says, turning pale. “The Wyld Hunt.”
You can dare to do anything and succeed in anything, provided you never forget that two and two do not make four; in clumsy hands, they often make three or even less; but they can make five or six. - Louis-Herbert Lyautey
 
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emerald viper
Essence 2
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Re: The Thoroughly Authenticated Reminisces of Fennec

27 Sep 2011, 22:47

I do like the character and I definitely see why you're writing the narrative in his rather disjointed "voice" - but this is a bit hard to follow.

Still interested to see what happens next.
 
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webkilla
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Re: The Thoroughly Authenticated Reminisces of Fennec

28 Sep 2011, 08:53

a reasonably civilized sounding dune person and a woman anathema?

sounds like fun :)
I have a webcomic: http://psitech.comicgen.com - Its kinda like exalted, except more furry, more fanservice, more fun, more sci-fi.
- may contain people being called "bob"
 
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Henry
Essence 5
Essence 5
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Posts: 719
Joined: 14 Sep 2010, 18:48
Title: Lookshyan brat
Exalt: Dragon-Blooded
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Artifact: Magitech and heirlooms
Location: Rhode Island

Re: The Thoroughly Authenticated Reminisces of Fennec

17 Oct 2011, 20:13

‘Turning pale.’ Is that right? Shouldn’t it be ‘as she turns pale’, to keep the tense consistent? Or what? This narration thing is tuning out to be a lot tougher than I thought it would be.

But I have bigger problems than grammar at hand: namely, the Wyld Hunt. Time to show those effete Dragon-bloods how their true lords fight: stalwart, unbowed, and fearless. Time to make the Argent Madonna proud and affirm her faith in me. Time to fight against a talon of trained soldiers led by experienced Exalts who refuse to show mercy and who have trained all of their lives to hate and kill people like me.

Hmm.

Or, since Petal seems to be distracted at the moment, maybe it’s time sneak away in a totally unbowed and fearless manner and lord my superiority over the Dragon-bloods at a distance, preferably a safe distance.

Actually, I’d be happy to be out of line of sight entirely.

“Have a nice time with the Wyld Hunt,” I say. “I’m going to leave now and…”

Again, Petal displays an annoying amount of skill and speed with her dagger, which in turn shows an annoying attraction for the completely disinterested skin of my throat.

“…and stay right here.”

“Damn right,” she snarls. “You’re going to help me, cannibal.”

“Technically,” I say, “a cannibal is someone who eats the members of his own species. In my people’s culture, however, humans are regarded as a distinct…”

“Shut up. You must have dug a hole around here somewhere, right? That’s how you savages hide.”

“I’m not really into the whole ‘hole digging’ thing, sad to say. See, I’m more of a surface dweller – go sun! Am I right?” I waggle my eyebrows. “Yay sun!”

“Show me your burrow, dog, or you’re going to die.”

“I’m a fox,” I mutter, “not a dog. That’s what ‘Fennec’ means.”

“I don’t care what you are.” People are so insensitive sometimes! “All I know is that you can help me hide, or you can wait for the Wyld Hunt to arrives and see how they deal with cannibals.”

I seriously consider the last option, since I’m fairly confident that I could elude the Wyld Hunt in the desert at night, or at any time, really, but Petal was too quick with that damn dagger of hers. If I tried to run away from her I’d probably find myself skewered.

“Alright,” I say magnanimously, “I’ll show you my hole. But it doesn’t mean anything – I’m not that kind of boy.”

“Just hurry, before I decide to kill you for the sake of shutting you up.”

“Sheesh, what’s the big hurry?” The horns sounded again. “Oh yeah. Gimme a sec, I need to pick a space.”

Petal brings the dagger away, but she still looks suspicious.

“‘Pick a space?’” she asks as I scamper over to a stark, steep cliff face. “Do you mean you don’t have a warren?”

“Nope. But I can make one quick enough.”

“What? If you’re trying to trick me, you filthy runt, I swear…”

“Don’t swear, it’s not very ladylike. Ouch, don’t hit me! My fair skin bruises very easily. Ouch! What did I say about bruising? I’m digging, I’m digging!”

Actually, to call what I do digging is to do a disservice to the art. It’s like calling the towers of Chiaroscuro ‘buildings’ – it’s technically accurate, but wholly misleading. No, what I do is bend the material realm to my purposes. Remember that thing I was doing in the last chapter, you know, forging steel by the light of the new moon with my bare hands? Wasn’t that cool? Now imagine that I can do that to any natural substance, simply mold it and push it around like it’s wet clay.

No, seriously, you had better imagine it since that’s what I’m doing. I quickly dig into the cliff, carving out a little a gap for Petal and myself to slip into and dumping the excess rock at my feet, where it skitters down the steep hillside. I have to go back to adjust the size of the hole to make a big taller so Petal could fit since, well, maybe I lied about that whole ‘me being five feet and five inches tall’-thing. Not the five feet – that’s totally true. Well, mostly. I’ll allow that the five inches was more or less a complete fabrication.

So here we are: me, my girl and my hole in the rock. And the Wyld hunt getting closer.

“Give me just a second,” I say, scrambling to grab my blanket and my bags.

“What…what was that?” Petal says, frowning. “What are you?”

“I’m a hero!” I say, striking a pose in front of the fading fire.

“What?”

I have to admit, Petal seems to be more easily befuddled than I would have thought. Right now she’s looking a little bit queasy, and the knife is slipping a little lower by her side. The first thing I’m indifferent to, but the second is downright jammy.

Did I just write ‘jammy’. Ugh. Too cute. Must remember to go back and edit out.

“Come on, you wanted to be quick, right?” I motion for her to get into the hollow, next to me.

“But that won’t work,” she says, still a little dazed by my display of prowess. “We’ll be right out in the open.”

“Not so. All I need to do is spread my blanket over us, cover it will a little bit of sand, and we’ll be good!”

“We will?”

“Of course. Don’t forget, my life is on the line here so I’m not going to screw up. Come, right in here. No don’t step on that-!” I sigh. “That’s okay, that bag didn’t have my life’s treasure in it or anything.”

“Your hole,” Petal grunts, “is a little cramped.”

“Sorry; the job was rushed.”

The two of us and my bags barely manage to fit, but I have just enough room to unfold the blanket and tuck it into a small gap in the stone just above our heads. Then, I squint a bit a really try to feel the connection between the sands, the rocks, and…

Sorry, that’s just not working. Too stilted, right? Like that line above about the rock that ‘skitters down the steep hillside’. I’ll have to cut that, too.

What happens is: I use a combo. I put a fair amount of my personal reserves of essence into it as silver essence flares around and my every motion takes on quicksilver grace and so on. End result, I’ve disguised the blanket to look like just like the hillside, the most perfect disguise anyone’s ever imagined, all in an instant. And, if things go according to plan those lackwits in the Wyld Hunt won’t even think to look at it, due to the enchantment.

Bang. I’m that good. See, other exalts might put all of their time into boring stuff like training to kill people or using mind-controlling magic. While that’s okay for the run-of-the-mill Exalts, and innovative guy such as myself has to try really hard to explore new angles and push it powers in directions that others seldom bother to investigate. Or, as those with a more harshly critical mindset might say, there are too many people out there who don’t like me and I’m too weak to fight, trick, or otherwise evade them, so I have to resort to hiding. I mean, sure, if you wanted to hurt my feelings and denigrate the totally slick trick that I just pulled, feel free – I’ll be over there in the corner where you can’t see me because of my totally neat hiding powers!

Where was I? Oh yeah – in a hole, squeezed next to a woman who probably wanted to kill me, surrounded by more people who’d definitely like to kill me.

Speaking of the Wyld Hunt, no sooner had I finished our little warren the first of the Realm’s soldiers arrived, at least a dozen of them judging by the sounds of their horses. I press in a little closer to Petal, anxious to not be spotted, thankful that she smells nice and that she’s not trying to skewer me at the moment. She seems to be too interested in not breathing to appreciate my finer qualities such as my…uh…well… Get back to me on that one, okay?

“Where is she?” a man’s voice says in High Realm. He sounds relaxed and happy, like he’s enjoying himself, just taking a little stroll to skewer some Anathema.

“She must be here on the hill,” says a woman. “She can’t have slipped past our cordon. She’s near.” In contrast, she sounded worried, jumpy, ready for the monster to jump out at any moment and slay her.

“Or maybe she did,” a second man says. “Your soldiers looked none to sharp out there.” Now, this guy was more my type: sour and distrustful.

“Now, they’re doing the best they can,” Happy says. “Spread out, men! See what you can find! Look for tracks or any other hints!”

“You hear him!” Worry says. “One talon stays here – the rest, up the slope! Be on the lookout for the rest of the hunt – they’re on the far side!”

“Amateurs,” Sour mutters. “She must be around here; there’s no time for her to have gone over the hill. But someone else was here with her.”

“Yes, I wonder who?” Happy muses. “The fire’s been burning for a while, so they must have been waiting. I don’t see many tracks, so there were probably only a few of them, possibly just one. See, there only seems to be one set of prints: soft soled boots, rather small. Most likely someone who spends a lot of time walking, judging by the footwear.”

Ooh, he’s good. No, wait, that’s bad! Damn it, why can’t my enemies be incompetent?

“What’s this?” Sour again. “Metal shavings? Was she sharpening a knife?”

“Unlikely,” Happy replies. “Those are…huh. To be honest, I don’t know.”

“I don’t like it,” Sour proclaims. “These death cultists are trouble, through and through, so who knows what kind trouble they’re planning. I still say we should have tried to scoop Orchid Petal up back at the Lap.”

“We tried, remember? She evaded us.”

“She evaded you,” Sour says with an extra dose of bitterness. “If we don’t find her you’re going to be in a lot of trouble. A lot.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll find her and you’ll be able to whatever it is you want to do to her.”

“What? Oh…whatever.”

“Surely you mean: Whatever, sir,” Happy says with an excessive amount of cheer.

“Right, yes sir. Sorry, sir. I’m going to have a look around.”

“Do that. I’m going to see if I can pick up the trail.”

There’s the sound of boots on gravel, and I can hear Sour breathing as he looks at the cliff face, his eyes no doubt probing at the edges of my illusion. I press up against Petal as Sour get closer, trying to squeeze as far into the rock as possible. She squirms a bit, evidently not relishing the contact, but I can’t imagine why. After all, I bathe regularly, I almost never eat people, and a blind person might call me handsome. What’s not to like?

The steps recede as Sour walks away, to the right and up the hill. I breathe a little easier and push away from Petal to give her more space, but I don’t have the time to relax as I partly hear, partly fell the rocks shift above us.

“Move!” I shout. At least, I think I shout it. It’s hard to tell exactly what happened, only that I manage to heroically save Petal and, more importantly, myself, propelling us out of the hole and away from the cascade of rocks that tumble into the space that we had just vacated.

I scramble on the ground, trying to rise to my feet, when someone helpfully places a heavy boot right between my shoulder blades. There’s a foot in the boot, I can tell, because said foot knocks the air right out of me. Then a sword, presumably attached to a hand somewhere down the line, is placed against my throat.

“Don’t move,” are the totally unnecessary words that follow.
You can dare to do anything and succeed in anything, provided you never forget that two and two do not make four; in clumsy hands, they often make three or even less; but they can make five or six. - Louis-Herbert Lyautey

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