Fight and Survive
The wind continued to blow as the stream continued to flow, from everywhere and from nowhere.
“Fine,” Albey said, springing to his feet faster than his sight could keep up with. Dark clouds encroached from the edges of his field of vision, shifting the ground beneath his feet. He leaned back as if to faint but the cabin caught him and kept him standing. He breathed. Closed his eyes. Breathed. Opened them again to the sight of fuzzy trees… but that wasn’t fuzz, was it? The branches were covered in needles, thick and short like the scar of a stab wound from a dagger. He closed his eyes again and allowed to the world to stop spinning. “Just take it slow. The Commons is yours to protect, you musn’t let it tear you down.”
Stability returned to him after a few moments. Albey returned to the firepit walking slowly, every step measured. He stared into the gray pond, watched the charcoal fish poke their mouths through the surface in search of insects or whatever else fell to the surface and stayed there. The ashes stopped moving after he rubbed his eyes, but still Albey was wary.
“It sounded like it was all around me,” he told himself, more to hear a human voice than anything else. “Maybe this strange wood conceals many rivers behind its sheen of green needles. Mayhap I only need to seek to find that which I desire.”
Walking into the wood was not the problem, however. Albey had been wandering the wood ever since he was a boy; he had no fear of the shadows cast by the canopy. His family was a large one with many brothers and sisters to play with, though they were not a clan of means. Albey’s parents were once bandits, members of a tribe who kidnapped children to bolster their ranks for their woman would oft’ perish during the childbirthing process, taking the unborn children with them into the clearings at the end of their paths. Unable to go on living a Life of thievery and peril, Albey’s parents turned over a new leaf and fled the hideout, taking as many of the children with them as they could. The runaways educated their many children, teaching them all to read and write, skills deemed not only as useless but as a weakness by the captains of the bandit troupe. It was a good many strates before the bandits sent highwaymen to slaughter the two defectors, and slaughter them they did, in broad daylight and before a bawling audience; most of the orphaned children were dragged back to the bandits’ hideout that day, but Albey managed to escape. He wandered the wood for many braud strates, learning to fight and survive along the way, and never saw another bandit again, but not for lack of trying. To maneuver through the endless wood with hopes of returning home one must leave a trail behind, and leave a trail Albey did not, for any trail can be followed. But he must now leave a trail, for the days of aimless wandering are long over. His old home was burned to the ground and he woke up here in the shadow of a new place to live, a place he would leave only for a short time, a place he had every intention of returning to.
Albey removed his tunic and whipped it like a sheet, closing his eyes in a grimace as the ashes flew like gray doves. He laid it flat on the ground then and crouched down, observing the damage from the quill’s explosion. Much of the metal sheathe was lost to the blast, and were it not for Iuqon’s magicks the tunic itself would likely be pierced with a charred hole, as would the Mad Poet himself. Daintily, as to not slice his fingers, Albey pinched one curved flank of the flayed metal and wobbled it a bit. There was give, enough to graduate his wobble into a shake. The piece slipped free, as did all the others, and when Albey clothed his back once more he had no less than seven curled claws of jagged metal at his disposal, more than enough to mark his way through the wood. Taking one between his teeth, he cupped the remainder in his hands and tossed them into the firepit for safe keeping. The ash swallowed them whole without leaving a trace.
Albey then pressed his metal claw against a rock and flattened it into a rough triangle. No sparks flew from the friction as he ground one long edge, then the shorter bottom edge, then the corner between them against the rock at the cusp of the pit until the shank was dull enough to handle, but that was just as well. Even if he could spark a flame, there would be nothing to catch it, and no smoke would rise above the ashes and into the sky. That would come later, he decided.
Wielding his blade between finger and thumb, Albey set off into the unfamiliar wood.
This has been the third subchapter of the first chapter of The Face of Fear, a novel about bigfoot written by the writer in Untitled Bigfoot Project. Here is everything you need to know about it:
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
The Hillside Commons has a Facebook page. Here’s that.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~