This is a short story I wrote on an MMO forum two years ago and dropped due to Summer's End and a lack of ideas. Now I have some ideas on how to continue the plot, but no idea when I'll have time to type the next chapters. SO anyone and everyone is welcome to post their own continuations of the story, acknowledging that the chapters I eventually post are canon. I have a copy of the original on google docs so no worries on screwing with this one.
The original had a lot more formatting with bbc (color coded dialogue, resized font), but not all of it is available here so I put in the minimum needed to understand the flow (hopefully). The public doc (linked below, with all its formatting goodness) will be separate from my working one, and will be updated chapter by chapter, just like the thread (thanks to copy&paste!)
The night was calm, the wind still; 'twas a peaceful time. The grass plains stretched onward, patches of wild flowers of every color and size dotting the expansive pasture. The moon shone full upon all of it. Its light making the scenery surreal; an Eden on Earth. A town stood in the middle of it all, not even a town, but a well-off village. The care-free people of this village slept soundly, some still up enjoying the beauty of the pasture.
A boy sat on a porch, ruffled blonde hair illuminated by the moon. His green eyes stared off into the pasture in wonder. A simple outfit of shirt, shorts, and sandals kept the boy from feeling chilled. Standing next to him was a girl, younger than him, her shoulder-length hair the same blonde and eyes the same green. She wore a plain dress that stopped at her knees and sandals, too.
"I wonder if anything is out there," The boy thought aloud. "I mean, beyond the fields."
The girl swiveled on her heel to face the boy. "If there is, I'd like to go there with you, brother!" She ended her sentence with a smile. One that the boy returned with his own.
"Come on, time for bed, Erica. If we stay up too late we can't help out tomorrow." The boy rose from where he sat on porch and turned to go inside.
"Okay!" The girl gave an enthusiastic nod before she raced off ahead into the house ahead of the boy. The boy turned his head to look at the surreal pasture one last time before walking into the house.
~So Herad is to the North, huh? I hope the pastures are as beautiful as they're rumored to be.~ A sole man walked on a trail, worn into the ground by many feet having trampled the dirt myriad times. Arms extended from a tattered leather cloak, holding a map that he was staring at as he walked. Long brown hair fell onto his shoulders and back, some onto his face, which he swept aside with his hand, showing dark brown eyes that did not reflect any light in them. A bulge on the right side of the cloak in the mid-section suggested a shoulder bag was hidden there. Where the cloak parted revealed a dirtied green tunic and legs so muddied that what he was wearing could be barely distinguished. Around him was the wilderness. The howls of beasts, the rustling of leaves, the rushing of water, the calls of hunters. The trees obscured the sun, making the ground dimly lit.
The man rolled up the map and retracted his arms back inside his cloak, once again concealing his clothing. Some movements underneath the hide suggested he was stowing away his map. He showed little emotion in his dead stare as he continued North.
The sun rose, the pasture just as surreal in the dawn as it was at night. The village was bustling with activity. Townsfolk were watering crops, herding animals, socializing amongst themselves, and conducting business with one another.
The boy and the girl lived in a small house of four rooms, two on each floor, with their parents. The rooms upstairs were bedrooms, downstairs, the room with the front door, was a sort of recreational room where the family would play or welcome guests, the back room was used as a kitchen, dining room, and pantry.
A woman was in the latter room preparing food. She wore an apron over her ankle-length, plain dress and had her long brown hair tied behind her head. Her blue eyes double-checked the food she was preparing for missing ingredients or mistakes in the cooking while here hands skillfully chopped produce on the counter with a kitchen knife. Neither the apron or any part of her was dirty as she was a very neat chef. The woman shuffled over to the staircase by the door linking the front room to the back barefooted and called up it.
"Henry, Erica! I need you to go pick up some ingredients for me!"
Briefly afterwards a call returned from the boy. "Okay, Mom! We'll be right down!" Both Henry and Erica, dressed as they were last night, rushed down the stairs and stopped in front of their mother.
"I need some more rice and meat, oh, and some spices too; about a pound of each."
"Yes, Mom." Henry and Erica responded at the same time, Erica was still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. Henry grabbed Erica by the hand and led her out of the house with him.
"'Morning!" Villagers that passed the two greeted them. "Good Morning!" They would return each time, Erica fully awake now."The town sure is livelier today."
"That's because the Festival is coming up soon?" Erica asked him, unsure herself.
"Yeah, it's been about a year since the last one." He responded, his eyes looking at all the bustling people and recalling last year's Festival. "I hope we get to see that man's performance again this year!" A grin spread across his face as Henry remembered the display the traveling entertainer had put on.
"And we'll get to see more of those things..." Erica searched her memory for the name. "Fireworks! I hope we get to see more fireworks this year!"
"I do too, Erica." Henry brought himself back to the present. "Now come on, we have to get those ingredients for Mom."
"Um, what were they again?"
"You were half-asleep..." Henry said more to himself than to Erica. "We need to get a pound each of meat, rice, and spices. Got it?" Erica nodded her head. "I'll go get the meat and spices; you can go get the rice." Erica nodded her head again and walked off to get the rice. ~I hope she doesn't get lost...~ Henry thought with a sigh.
Henry traveled to the local deli and spoke to Brian, a plump butcher with a bit of a beard starting to grow in. He wears a chef's uniform which often has small traces of dried blood on it. He keeps his black hair short and he's often very polite. "Ah, Henry, what do you need today?"
"I need to a pound of meat, please."
"Any kind in particular that you want?"
Henry recalled what his Mom said; she didn't say what kind. "Any kind is fine, thank you."
Brian picked out a hunk of meat and handed it to Henry. The villagers didn't bother to use money since so little trade comes from the outside. "Here you are, young man."
"Thank you again!" Henry took the meat and held it under his left arm. He went to the spice shop next, though it couldn't be called a shop since no money is ever used. The shop was run by a young woman named Stella who always smelled fragrant and wore rather fancy dresses. Her red hair was always tied up into a bun with a tail falling out onto to her back from where it was tied, she often had a smile on her face.
"Oh, hello there! Out doing errands again?" Stella waved at Henry with her usual friendly smile.
"Yes. I need a pound of spices, any kind will do." Henry waited for Stella to return with a sack, which she handed to him.
"Give my regards to your mother, she's an excellent cook!"
"I will, and thank you!"
"No problem, come back whenever you need more." With that Henry left with a quick bow, holding the meat with his left arm and the spices with his right.
He hurried over to the rice farmer next, reaching there just as Erica was leaving, holding the sack of rice in front of her with both hands. Henry walked up to her after she shut the door. "Come on, Erica, let's go home."
"I wonder why Mom needs so much food? We don't eat this much." Erica asked on the walk home. The sun was at about the center of the clear sky.
"She's probably cooking for the Festival." Henry answered. "Remember how she cooked a feast for the village the other year?"
"I remember. It was delicious!!" Erica got a bit excited thinking about the food they're mother is making. Henry smiled.
The sun was high in the sky, along with the villagers' spirits. Today was their annual Festival. A Festival to celebrate all things in life, good or bad. Whimsically designed lanterns hung about on posts and kids ran through the streets laughing and giggling as they played tag. It was a day where all the villagers had to do was have fun.
Henry was running through the streets, chasing another boy in this giant game of tag. The boy took a turn into an alley and Henry chased after him, finally reaching him before they left out into the adjoining street.
"Tag! You're it!" Henry yelled before turning tail and running as fast as his legs would carry him as the other kid chased him back through the streets, laughing the whole time.
Henry eventually outran his pursuer and hid behind a nearby house, his chest heaving as laughs escaped from his throat in between pants. ~I'm sure Erica is having as much fun as I am.~ A smile formed on his face once he caught his breath. ~Now it's time to find a hiding spot!~ Henry rushed off into the streets once again.
Three men were gathered inside a small, decorated room with a map placed on one of the tables, from which one of the men was bent over, placing both his palms on the table to support himself. "This area is perfect!" He exclaimed. "There's plenty of space for what we need! And it's mostly unoccupied, too!"
Another man, with his hands interlocked behind his back, assuming an arrogant posture without any of the arrogance showing in his face or voice, was standing across the table from the first. "We have the supplies ready, we can go whenever you want."
"But it seems you forget that the land isn't yours to use." The third man interrupted. He wore a leather cuirass, worn and muddied. He also wore leather armor on his legs, which were in a similar condition. "No worries, we'll take care of things and make the land yours. For a fee, of course." The man added slyly. The first man glanced over at this one when he said 'fee'. "I'll collect the money after the job is done." With that the third man tossed a slip of paper on top of the map with a scribble on it and left the room.
"Are you sure we need his assistance?" The second man asked the first, careful to keep his tone neutral.
"As expensive as he is, he always gets the job done." The first answered, a bit uneasy as he checked the slip of paper with the third man's fee scrawled on it. "...70,000..." He muttered the number aloud.
The sun was beginning to set and the villagers gathered at the center of their humble town. There many long tables were placed with benches to sit down on. Laid out upon each and every table was a feast. Everyone's favorite dishes somewhere amongst the fields of food. Everyone was excited, no matter how old or how young they were.
Henry was sitting next to Erica at one of the tables, both of them stuffing their faces with food.
"Mom's food is the best!" Erica called out after swallowing.
"I still can't believe Mom made all of this..." Henry looked down the to both ends of the table. Food as far as the eye can see. ~I wonder where she kept all of the ingredients.~
"Well, I couldn't have made it all without the help of you two." Their Mother snuck up from behind and hugged both Henry and Erica, sticking her head in between theirs. "So how do you like my food?" She flashed a broad grin at both of them.
"It's delicious!" Erica and Henry responded, returning their Mother's grin.
"Glad to hear it! Now come on, you guys, the fireworks are about to start!" Erica and Henry gladly followed their Mother towards a growing crowd. At the forefront was a travelling performer, preparing the fireworks their Mother had mentioned just moments ago.
The travelling performer said something, Henry couldn't hear it over the crowd. And he didn't have to. The fireworks show had begun. High pitched whistling filled Henry's ears as a multitude of rockets shot up into the sky one after the other, exploding into all different colors and shapes. He stared in awe at the display, losing focus of those around him as he enjoyed the spectacle.
He never would have expected it to happen.
An explosion resounded near the fireworks display. All of the rockets burst into their hidden colors while still on the ground, setting fire to any buildings nearby. Panic broke out afterwards. The masses scattered about for all reasons, from containing the fire to saving their own families. Henry was separated from Erica and Mother during this stampede. One building set fire to another as Henry searched frantically for his family amongst the confusion.
Another explosion resounded. Nearby. A building collapsed and one of its flaming support beams fell towards Henry. He instinctively jumped out of the way of, throwing himself to the ground as the column of flame collapsed upon where he once stood.
By the ruins of the building stood a stranger. A man dressed in a tattered leather cloak with long brown hair and dead, black eyes. Henry spotted something spherical in his hand before the stranger tossed it over a house. It exploded into flames.
Henry was thrown into a state in between fear and rage as he saw this stranger destroy his town. Before he fully understood what was happening he had gotten up and was charging at this stranger. He swung a punch when he got close, but the stranger side-stepped his hook and twisted Henry's arm behind his back and forced him to the ground. Henry the heard the hiss of metal along with the roaring of the fire all around them. Out of the corner of his eye Henry spotted a dagger in the stranger's hand. Henry shut his eyes tight.
~Let Erica be safe!~
Hunting in the maze
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