The Circle and The Stone

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 2 (v.1)

Submitted: January 24, 2012

Reads: 67

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Submitted: January 24, 2012

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The Dawn of the New Forest

Prologue.

The cold gray eyes of the creature that haunted his dreams and mocked his days for far too long sat quietly across from him, staring into his soul through the flames of the small fire, that gave him the only comfort he had. He always watched it, and it watched him, silently and slowly, invading his mind and tormenting his thoughts for to many years for him mind to comprehend. It somehow existed within his world, yet a reality outside of it and though it really did nothing to him, he knew, in some incomprehensible way, that it was his enemy. The old man breathed between two worlds, the one that gave him life in his beginning, and the other that took that very life away. He survived in limbo, an example of a previous time, now lost to all but the strange creature that was the other loose inhabitant of his place and time. It grinned at him while it stared through him; it knew of the others that were responsible for his present condition. As his mind shifted to this thought, he lunged forward at it with an unwarranted dark rage in a vain attempt to slay the creature of his dreams, and destroy the center of his delusions. However, just as before, he simply fell across the heat of his more than real fire as the creature mockingly smiled at him, and vanished into the smoke that his sudden reaction created.

He rolled off the heat that was only a moment earlier his friend, and it burned the rough skin of a large stray animal that he used for basic clothing, searing deep into his own flesh, creating a dank scent that permeated the surrounding forest. He was alone in the wild, and as far as he could recall he was always was, except for it. The creature was always there in some form or another and he hated it with every burned fiber in his body, yet he didn’t know what drove him to kill it, but kill it he was sure he eventually would. Ignoring the pain of his injuries, he rose up and returned to the rotting log that was his seat, and reached into a small pouch that was resting by his feet, producing a fine white powder that he promptly sprinkled into the damaged fire. The subdued orange flames grew into a fury of white light, and the burning embers turned bright silver, as the fire appeared to grow from the forest floor itself. There was no further heat from it now, only an odd warmth, that he always sensed came from that other world; the world it came from. It was that place that eluded him for well over one hundred years. He knew he somehow came from it and he was certain he was once a part of it, just as the creature in the fire still was.

“Come in old man” it said in his mind.

“No, No” he whispered back to the fire “It’s a trick, your playing with me”

“No tricks today and no tricks tomorrow” It answered in a singsong voice. He sat in silence for a moment as the flames continued to speak to him.

“Your prey awaits you hunter, look!” It said, “See how it sleeps so nice” the creature began to appear in the white flames and it was asleep, no mocking continence from it, and no sense of its eyes staring through him.

“That’s right” it said in a soothing tone “feed these flames and together we will find your prey, your elusive prey, your dangerous prey”

“I crave the creature, and I crave for its death,” he again whispered.

“Of course you do” it said, you are a hunter, one of the last of those who hunt the prey.”

“Yes” he said in quite self-revelation “Yes, I once hunted the prey”

“Step into my fold, walk into the flames and finish your hunt” it said.

“There dirty nasty creatures” he hissed.

“Yes, hunter, yes”

It was only recently that he discovered the source of the powder, a soft white stone that lived in the bank of small stream near his lost camp, and it was by his own misfortune, that he found the odd effect they had on the fire. He gathered several of them and returned to his fire, as he had never seen such a stone in all his long years of isolation deep in the forest, and they began to intrigue him. Their was nothing that special about them, only different, and he found himself fascinated by light weight for their size, and the chalky texture that left a powder coating on his broken and knarled old hands. The white powder wore into his skin from the countless hours of handling the stones, and he felt his mind drifting in and out of consciousness, furthering an obsession of which he was not aware. The creature in the other world appeared as always across the fire, and as his anger rose, he tightened his grip on the stones causing the chalky texture to permeate deeper into him and by a design unknown to him, the focus of his hatred grew stronger. He wasn’t aware of where he was, or even who he was or why he was alone; he was just simply there. The strange stones were trying to tell him something, but he hadn’t yet discovered what it was, until a hot ember let out tiny explosion and expelled a small piece of burning ash directly into his face.

Momentarily startled, it caused him to drop one of the stones directly into the fire and it was that not so simple stone that would forever change his change his world. The stone began to glow in the whites and silvers they were known for, until it simply burned away becoming just another hot spent fossil in the debris of the fire. Over an unknown time, that he had no concept of it, he spent his days and nights obsessively burning the stones. It filled his every waking moment with the exception of gathering food, which allowed him to live another day, and return to his new friends. Various patterns were attempted through out the fire to engulf it the beautiful light that the stones provided, but he was never completely successful, as any design still allowed for the natural flames and heat to perverse his creation. Growing more frustrated by the day at his own obsession, he placed one of the smaller stones on a large rock that was a part of his fire pit, and proceeded to violently smash it with another until it was almost dust. He sat exhausted staring at the white powder that was only a moment earlier a dear friend, and grasping a small handful of it, he threw into the fire.

That, by his vague recall, was quite a while ago and now with the secret of the stones properly harnessed, he knew he had to trust the flames. The fire was slowly returning to its normal innocuous state with the creature now gone. He reached down into pouch he created for only one purpose and with both hands, he removed the last of the powder and stood as erect as his frail old body would allow. Standing at half attention, he stared into the night sky and proceeded to throw the powder straight up over the small fire. It slowly drifted down toward the flames and the effect, he believed, was certainly the most wonderful he had yet created. It once again completely vanished and the silver blues of the cool flames at the base, and the pure whites at their tips, replaced the somber oranges. He stood transfixed at the sight as the creature re-appeared, and it remained quiet in the center of the portal, asleep and unaware.

Seek your prey!” the flames ordered, “strap on your weapon!”

He looked over the ground and saw the thing that was always with him, but never knew what it was. It began to silently vibrate and its white stock mimicked the silver reflections of the flames, as he reached down for it and it removed from the damp earth. He knew he hadn’t held it in a quite a while, and he was still not certain what it was, but he sensed it was apart of him. The vibration of it increased and the hardened metal bow at its end yearned toward the fire.

“See, your weapon speaks to you,” the flames said.

“Yes, this is my weapon” he whispered as he held the crossbow.

“Bolts to the ready!” it again ordered. Those words of the flames seared into him, releasing a flood of memories that saturated his mind. He suddenly knew everything. The spell was broken. He looked at the worn and rusted weapon and suddenly felt the familiarity of an old and dear friend, the only friend he and those like him held.

“Oh yes, to the ready!” he said with an almost giddy tone. In once swift motion, he

broke the weapon open over his knee and slammed one of the bolts that were fastened to it side into place. In another eerily fast movement the weapon was cocked, and with one hand, he released a bolt into the fire at the sleeping apparition. The silver flames exploded outward at the intrusion and he grinned wide as he was now certain of what he had to do. The apparition remained in its place, alone and unaffected by the wasted bolt as he turned to take a final look around at his hell. He began to laugh as he repeated the procedure at an even greater speed, and the crossbow was instantly reloaded and re-cocked.

“Soon” he said, pointing an old finger at it.

“Very good Marksman!” the flames said “Now you knowr what you are!”

“Very soon” he finished, as he ignored the flames. The newly awoken Marksman closed his eyes and stepped into the silver and white light of the fire, vanishing out of one world, and returning to the one he was banished from.


© Copyright 2019 chris r adam. All rights reserved.

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