The Ruby Ring of the Chimaera

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - The Beginning

Submitted: March 31, 2016

Reads: 301

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Submitted: March 31, 2016

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Today, I am going to be conscripted into King Yue’s army. All 18 year old male children have to serve in the army for 10 years at least, unless they are physically incapable of combat. Since my 18th birthday was 4 days ago, and I was a trained martial artist, I was fit to serve. In order to do so, I had to travel to the Royal Castle in the east from my hometown. There was a village outside the main castle complex, where a friend of mine lived. He agreed to let me live in his house until the army came to receive me.

Today, I woke up early, while my friend was still asleep. My friend’s grandmother, who we both referred to as Grandma, made breakfast for the three of us. As I was waiting for the meal to be prepared, I explored the modest house on my own. I came across a small shrine in the main living room. It was a small obelisk with obscure writing all over it. I touched the rock, and to my surprise, it rotated in place. I rolled the rock carefully, until the back of the rock was now the front. There was a cut-out on the back, with a red, oddly shaped horn placed in the cut-out. Grandma walked slowly over to me.

“This is one of the great Callers. When blown, it is supposed to call a nightmarish creature of immense wisdom and knowledge. Come, child, and eat your breakfast. You don’t want to enter the first training session on an empty stomach.” She said, slowly. I followed her into the dining room, where the smell of freshly made dumplings made my mouth water. I ate my breakfast happily and thanked the old lady for the food.

Just as I had packed up my stuff, dressed appropriately, and put on my best running shoes, soldiers marched into the house. Grandma began to protest, but the captain of the troop held her back and began talking to her.

“King Yue requires the scarlet horn, you will get it back when he is done with it.” He said in a calm, rehearsed voice.

“King Yue never returns anything he takes from the people, and you know it!” Grandma shouted back.

“You should not say things against the king, ma’am, or he might send us to arrest you,” the captain responded. “Ah, and you are the new recruit! Follow us, and we will conscript you into the army,” The captain said, turning to me. He then looked at the patch on my jacket, which represented the Ha-Seong school where I learned martial arts. “As a special bonus, I will ask to add you to my troop, where you can flourish near the high command,” He said, holding his finger to the patch. The soldiers took the horn from the obelisk, and began to escort my out of the house. I took a moment to bow respectfully and thank Grandma and my friend as I set off towards the Royal Castle.

 

***

 

I followed the captain, who introduced himself as Major Hong, who served the King's Guard, which was an elite unit that served King Yue’s personal needs, and protected him at all costs. The pay and prestige of this position was great. I was lucky to have been found by Major Hong. Who knows how terrible my life would have been as a front-line grunt.

We climbed 26 sets of stairs, which means that we were on the 13th floor of the castle. The main castle had 15 floors, with the keep being an extra 5 floors, extending the height of the castle to 200 feet into the sky. The castle complex sprawled roughly in a circle with a radius of 1 mile, with the main castle on the north end of the walls. I stood with the troop, which was waiting for the king to arrive. The red horn they took from my friend’s house was placed in a special case as the last missing piece of the collection. I walked over to the case to examine it.

The case was almost entirely encased in gold leaf. Inside, there were 8 cavities with 8 objects within them. On the top left corner, there was a sky-blue horn, with an opal and gold circlet towards the center. On the top right, there was the red horn that belonged to Grandma, and a large ruby ring towards the center. On the bottom right, there was a green horn with an emerald necklace towards the center. And on the bottom left, there was a large golden horn with a citrine-gold bangle towards the center. The soldiers were getting restless, so Major Hong went upstairs in order to find the king and see what was taking him so long. That’s when the soldiers gathered around the box to marvel at its contents.

“It’s just a bunch of horns and jewels, they can’t be that special,” one of the soldiers replied.

“Hey look at this one! It has some kind of creature engraved on it” another, bolder soldier pointed at the golden horn and said.

“Hey, who here can play the horn?” a third, even bolder soldier asked, after grabbing the horn and pulling it out of its case.

“Oy, put it back, it belongs to the king!” A fourth soldier exclaimed. He looked visibly miffed about the other soldiers conduct.

“I can play the horn!” the trumpeter for the troop replied.

“Yo, try this!” the third soldier handed the horn over to the trumpeter for him to play. I began feeling like something was going to go wrong. I remembered Grandma’s words about the red horn summoning a nightmarish creature when played. I wanted to tell the soldiers, but I knew it wasn’t my place. Anyways, the soldiers were clamoring loudly, with the majority of them egging the trumpeter to play the horn.

The trumpeter, giving into peer pressure and curiosity, blew on the horn. The sound of a large brass trombone exploded out of the horn with deafening intensity, forcing everyone to cover their ears. It played 1 note for about 6 seconds. The trumpeter looked puzzled at the horn.

“Not so loud dumbass! The entire city probably heard that one!” the third soldier snapped after uncovering his ears.

“I wasn’t trying to play it loud at all! It played that loud by itself! Also, why can it only play one note?” the trumpeter retorted.

“YOU BASTARDS! YOU INBRED MOTHERFUCKERS! WHO’S IDEA WAS IT TO PLAY THE GOLDEN HORN OF THE SERPENT!” Major Hong screamed at the top of his lungs as he quickly descended the staircase, infuriated. All of the soldiers, including the trumpeter, pointed to the third soldier. I followed suit, and pointed at him too. Major Hong drew his sword, grabbed the third soldier and threw him to the floor, while holding the sword to his throat.

“Calm down, major, it was just a prank! Just a prank!” the third soldier pleaded.

“Just a prank? You singlehandedly doomed everyone in this …”

Out in the distance, the sound of explosions echoed. Everyone ran to the southern windows. I stayed by the golden case for some reason, but looked towards the southern horizon, from where the series of explosions was getting closer. Soon, they were in view. The bridges along the channel were getting demolished in quick succession. Something huge was approaching the bay behind the castle complex. Then everything got eerily quiet for a moment. Then, from the water erupted an enormous serpentine creature, towering about 60 feet in the air from the water’s surface. Its face was menacing and scary, with a lot of large aquatic fins extending from the base of the neck. It let out a horrifying screech that echoed across the entire kingdom. The Jörmungandr had arrived.

It let out a blast of fire from its gaping maw that covered the entire castle complex, thoroughly burning everything in its path. The soldiers panicked and started running around aimlessly or biting their nails or pissing their pants. I took the opportunity to snag the red horn and the red ring. Deftly, I put on the ring, abandoned my luggage, and ran towards the staircase. I knew the main entrance would be choked by the amount of people trying to exit. I had to find another way out. But I didn’t know the castle at all. I felt the walls shake as the blast of fire from the Jörmungandr hit the main castle. Time was running out. I tried to head to one of the corners that was under construction.

Remembering that the red horn summoned a creature of great wisdom and intelligence, I decided to blow on the red horn. It let out a low bellow that resonated with my bones. The ruby crystal in the ring began to glow. Just as I reached the edge, I saw a mass of black floating in the wind, approaching the scaffolding. The mass then transformed into a massive bat that flew towards me. As it crossed the scaffolding, it transformed once again into a pale woman. Her clothing was made of bat-wings, and resembled a flowing dress. Her hair was a mass of tentacles that writhed independently. Her feet, barely visible, were large tentacles that wrapped around the scaffolding. Her right hand held the vertical beam, with large tentacles extending from her arm to wrap around the beam. Her eyes were closed. The workers around me scrambled and ran away from her. She then opened her eyes, whose pupils were crescent moon slits like that of an octopus. She stared upon me, the one who summoned her.

“Help me!” I asked confidently, staring into her eyes. I wasn’t afraid of her, and I had this feeling that she could help me get out of here. She continued to staring competition with her tentacle hair now behaving like normal hair would in the wind, and then she closed her eyes once more. She then transformed back into a bat and flew away. I was going to shout again to her, but decided against it. I carefully pocketed the horn and started running towards the northeastern edge of the castle.

As I got further, I saw the ground had collapsed in front of me. I looked down the hole to see how far the drop was. Instead, I saw part of a staircase a couple of feed beneath me, with what seemed to be a glowing arrow pointing down the stairs. I jumped down the stairs, and followed the arrows. Maybe she really is helping me!

I followed the arrows further down. The final turn led me to what seemed to be a garbage chute. I looked down and saw water. At first, I didn’t think that entering water when a large sea serpent is attacking was a good idea, but then I remembered that this water would be the lagoon that I saw as I entered through the front gate. The serpent would not be able to enter here as the water is too shallow for something that big. I began to descend the chute while pressing against the walls in order to control my movement.

I heard splashing in the water underneath me. The sound of jaws snapping echoed up from below. I looked down to stare at a saltwater crocodile, probably 20 feet long, waiting for me to drop into its jaws. There were some chains with rings bolted to the end walls of the chute, and I decided to hold on to the chain near the bolt, while the croc submerged itself. I considered my options. I felt heat from above me, and looked up to see a wall of fire suspended there.

“Fuck,” I said to myself. Looking down, the croc leapt out of the water, I instinctively pulled my legs up. The croc almost bit my butt as it fell back into the water. “Fuck.”. The croc submerged itself again, no doubt to try to jump again. But this time I had a plan. I patiently baited the croc with my legs until it jumped at me again. I threw the ring into its mouth. Instinctively, it snapped its mouth shut, and was stuck in the air with its jaws clamped around the metal ring. I dropped down past it into the water. I swam as far as I could on the breath I was able to take, then surfaced and looked back. A blast of fire shot out of the chute, causing the water to boil. Once the fire had subsided, the charred corpse of the croc fell back into the water. I found an abandoned boat and boarded it. I saw the castle collapse from the boat.

I survived.


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