My mother, throughout most of my childhood, told me I was destined to do great things. And for a long while, I believed it. I would always imagine myself as a great warrior, slayer of monsters and bringer of justice. When in reality it was me with a stick, swinging at nothing in my backyard. Even when I was far past the age that I would believe her, Mom reminded me everyday that I will be person that will remembered by history. We lived in a backwater village in the northern parts of the Empire. Even if I wanted to be a hero or whatever, I never had enough money to leave. All I was destined to be was a goat herder or a janitor at the local monastery. All the time, whenever she told me how I would help people, I would always ask, “How?” To which she would always respond, "One day, your father will tell you."
I don't know how she thought that would happen. According to my mother, my father left home when I was barely a year old. She would always tear up when I asked her why all the other boys and girls at school had daddies, and why I didn’t. Even as I got older, I never stopped asking. It would be a common topic at dinner. But Mom was always vague with her answer, or downright wouldn’t tell me at all.“You wouldn’t understand”, and “The answer will show itself one day”, were common answers to my questions. I love my mother with all my heart, but I don’t think she knows what she is saying. “Your father was a great man.” He probably didn’t even care about us. He was probably just some wandering drunk, who somehow managed to seduce my mother. If he was such a great man, then why did he leave? Where did he go? Who was he?
I never got my answer. My mother was taken from me in 1908 when our house was burned down. I won’t give a sappy story on my life after the loss. Mom would never forgive me for it. She'd probably haunt me for the rest of my life if I mourned her in any way. "Sadness is a choice, Alexander. Always stay positive." She always said.
A year after my Mom passed, Imperial Marine recruiters passed through town. The world had been at war with a gargantuan force opf religious extremists, seeking to resurrect some spirit whose name I forget. My homeland, the Xetronuvian Empire, was the last country on the continent of Eullaria that had not yet been conquered, and the upper-hand seemed to switch every other week. With no other career choice to look forward to, and with the desire to serve my country, I enlisted. My girlfriend, Sarayu, was none too pleased at first.
"Alex, if you die, I will never forgive you!" You know you're in for it when your girlfriend scolds you like she's your mother (and I’m pretty sure my mother taught her how to be a pro at it, whenever I wasn't around). But eventually, she came around. But not after bruising my arm. The tomboy knows how to punch, and God can she punch hard.
After several months of intense training, my division and I were sent to the beaches of Kharlypoli, a tropical island that my division had to retake in the name of the Empire. I'll spare you the many month's worth of gory details. After another 9 months in a Godforsaken trench, my tour ended. My platoon and I were shipped back to the mainland, with another platoon taking our place. Such is the life of a soldier. However, being a far cry away from home, I decided against re-enlisting. Home may be boring, but it was home. I hadn’t seen my girlfriend, or any of my friends in an unbearably long amount of time.
And that brings me here, the city of Palestogne. One of the Seven Walled Cities in the Xetronuvian Empire, and the city where most divisions were dropped off, including mine. All around me were soldiers and civilians boarding trains to whatever location they had in mind. In my case, a train to the Ulfheim; the northern most province in the Empire.
The shouting of the conductor prompted me to toss my cigarette to the ground, and crush it with my boot. My companion and I got up from the bench, and we made our way to the train. The woman behind me was Sasha von Hirsch, an Elvish woman who served in the same squad as I; Our designated markswoman. She had pale white skin, light blue eyes, and apple-red hair. Sasha was pretty tall, at 6'2", 2 inches taller than me. But she was more slender and scrawny, save for her nicely formed breasts. Oh, don't give me that look. Anyway, she joined the military because she was also down on her luck at home because her parents disowned her. She had no home to go to, so I invited her to my village. The people are friendly, the housing is cheap, and food isn't hard to come by. Especially if you're a crack shot sniper like Sasha, who can hit a deer (or a cultist soldier) from 1500 meters away with her scoped crossbow.
Sasha and I boarded the train, along with several other people trying to make their way through the doors. Once inside, I saw that the train was packed to the brim. There were very few seats, but I did spot in the far back of the cart. I gestured to Sasha to follow me to the lone seat. She placed her crossbow and bags by the her respective window, and I placed my bags, as well as my sheathed long sword by my window. It was impossible to sit down with that thing on my hip.
"Ugh, we made it." I grunted, adjusting my back to the seat. I pulled out my train ticket from my pocket. "You've got your ticket, right?"
Sasha nodded, and slipped her ticket out from her uniform. "So... How far is your hometown?" She asked in her bored and quiet tone.
"Well, 'town' is a bit generous. The place has less than 300 people living in it. Everyone knows everyone. Anyway, from here, its only a day's worth or so of a ride." I told the Elf.
"Only 300?" Sasha said with mild concern. "Must be a quiet place."
"Pfft, not with me and my friends around. The whole town is filled with the noise of us sparring. We all own weapons. With how far north we live, it'd be stupid not to own one. What with the ever-impending threat of bandits and goblins and stuff. In which case we use them as practice. Not much else to do for fun, anyway. There isn't really easy access to electricity where we live." Sasha's groaning interrupted me, but I continued. "But the sparring is always fun. And knowing your skills with a crossbow, you'll fit right in."
"I'll take your word for it." A few seconds passed by when a look came across Sasha's face, as though she had realized something.
I took notice of this and asked her, "Something the matter?"
"Yes, er... are there any houses in your hometown that I can live in? Preferably something on the cheap side?"
"Ah, crap, I forgot to talk to you bout that, didn't I? No worries, I guess. My buddy Isaac can build you a good house in less than a month. Plumbing included. Until then, you can crash with me and my girlfriend." I reassured her.
A mildly amused look of disbelief formed across Sasha's face. "You have a girlfriend?"
"Wow, is that so hard to believe?" I placed my palm to my chest and feigned offense. "Yes, I am in a romantic relationship with a being of the opposite sex. How have I not told you this?"
"Guess you were too busy clanking swords with cultists for it to cross your mind? It's just surprising, since you are..." Sasha struggled for the right word.
"A smart ass?" I suggested off-handedly.
I chuckled. If I was anything, I was sardonic and sarcastic, and proud of it. Since my mom always talked straight, I assume my sarcasm skill came from my deadbeat father. Probably the only good thing he left us.
"Her name is Sarayu. You're both tomboys, so I figure you'll both get along fine. Such a grease monkey, too. Whenever someone comes to town in an automobile, she goes nuts. Not a lot of automobiles up north. But, uh, one thing I should let you know about her..." I cleared my throat awkwardly. Most people didn't take too kindly the news I would give. "She's a Vam-".
I was cut off by some commotion happening in another part of the train. People were walking past our booth towards what sounded like fighting. I looked to Sasha, who had the same look of concern in her eyes as I. We nodded to each other, and both got up from the booth. We proceeded down the narrow corridor, where many other people were leaving their booths. They all likely had the same idea as Sasha and I.
Sasha and I turned the corner and I bumped into the back of a rather well-dressed Orc. He turned around to face me, and looked like he wanted to tear my arms off (something I was sure he could do with ease). Luckily, he restrained himself and just grunted in annoyance. I made my way past him, and I saw where the commotion was coming from. There were a couple of Imperial Guards, one Human and one Dwarf. They were turned away from everyone, facing whoever was in the booth. While Sasha and all the passengers stood neutral, I walked over to see what was up.
Before I could ask either of them anything, my eyes caught who was on the other side of the scuffle. It was a young, Vampire woman (specifically one of the Dhampir ethnicity). She wore a simple dress, with a white top and a dull green skirt that went down to her ankles. The woman couldn't have been older than 20. She was short, but had really long, raven hair. The woman had the pale gray skin that was typical for Dhampir Vampires, as well as the yellow eyes with the red irises. And, of course, the fangs. In the woman's arms was a little girl, sobbing into her shoulder.
Right when I saw the woman and who I assumed to be her daughter, I knew right away that this was no fight. This was harassment. Bigotry. With around twenty sapient races on Alysium, racism was inevitable. But I would have none of it.
"Hey! What the hell do you think you two are doing?" I grasped the Human's shoulder and spun him around to face me.
He was at least a decade older than me for sure, as evident by his thick, handlebar mustache. The guy was about my height, he was clearly startled by me manhandling him, but the man's face went from surprise to beet red with anger in a manner of two seconds. His look reminded me of the Orc I bumped into a minute before, multiplied ten fold. I thought the Guard was going to throw a punch, but then he eyeballed my uniform, noticing I was also military. Maybe he would listen to me, since we were on the same side.
“Don't put your hands on me, squid! I'm just doing my job!" Okay, never mind. With difficulty, I resisted the urge to hook him in the side of the head. And what kind of insult is "Squid"? I guess that was because I was in Marine attire?
Before the guard could continue his temper tantrum, his Dwarven colleague stepped between us. He gestured for his Human partner to calm down. As fast as he went red, the human guard cooled down immediately.
The Dwarf turned back to me. He definitely seemed more self-controlling and mature. He was average size for a Dwarven man, 5'0" give or take. His beard went to his belly, as typical for his people. His composure and posture made him appear like a reasonable person.
"Do pardon my friend, he's just a little stressed." The Dwarven guard pointed his index finger to the Vampiric woman and child. The woman had a fearful look in her eye, but was silent. Her daughter was sniffling and her lips were quivering.
The guard continued. "We got a call from Command to remove some monsters from the area, and we're here to do so. We're just following orders is all. There ain't no need for a scrap."
Monsters... "The only monsters I see are you two. You jokers do know that under Article 3 Section 12 of the Imperial Tribunal Code that discrimination on duty can get you court-martialed?" Don't ask how I knew that.
That didn't seem to phase them. A shit-eating grin grew across the Dwarf's face. "You could try that. Or we could just kill you right here." The dwarf put a hand on a warhammer that hung at his side, but did not draw it.
Pfft, better men have tried, I thought, even though I left my sword back in my booth, leaving me only with my combat knife. "In front of all these civies? We are surrounded by witnesses. What, you gonna kill them too?"
"Of course not. These people are on our side. It was these people who even reported the bloodsuckers in the first place." The Human guard said. "We could end you right now and we'd be in the right."
Bloodsuckers... that did it.
I didn't even retort. I instead balled my hands into fists. They gradually grew red in color. I felt my mana pools draining, until both my fists had flames dancing around them, though not burning me at all. The guards turned pale after the realization.
"Shit, he's a pyromancer..."
"Still wanna take him?"
"Hell no! I'm outta here!"
Both the guards bolted past Sasha and I, and out of the train. The fire in my hands died down, and I sighed in bitter relief. I looked around, eyeballing the passengers. All of them looked guilty, and several shifted their weights awkwardly. I wanted to cuss them all out, and lecture them about how this goes against everything that our nation was founded for. But I knew it would do no good. People don't change. People never change.
I turned back to the Vampiric woman and her child. The child still looked scared, but her mother seemed relieved. I knew that if I left the mother and child on the train, the passengers would do away with them in their own way.
I turned to Sasha. "Hey, uh, mind if we take a detour?"
She seemed reluctant for a few seconds, but nodded. I looked back to the woman and offered her my hand.
The woman regarded my hand with caution, as it was still warm from the fire. I tried putting on the most reassuring expression I could give her. The woman took my hand without another moment's hesitation. In her other arm was her daughter, who seemed to brighten up a small bit. We walked past the passengers, and I felt all of their eyes trained on me. They knew what I was capable of, and didn't dare stop me. Feared me, even. But I didn't care. What happened on this train goes against everything this country stands for. Everything it was founded for. For over 2000 years, men and women have died for the dream of a country with equality for all people. And people like this taint the very idea.
It was people like this that really make me want a cigarette.
We grabbed our things from the booth, and exited the train. The sharp whistling and chugging of the train signaled its departure. As it left, the passengers scowled at us from the windows, as well as many of the other people in the train station. How could they help those animals? They are bloodsucking, mind-controlling, undead savages! People like these are a big reason why I live in the country side (and one of the reasons I smoked). Other than the fact that I can't even afford to live out in the city, racism is less of an issue. The borderlands are too dangerous to bother with such trivial matters. And if racism is less of an issue, then I don't have to bust as many heads. It’s not just with Vampires either (who aren't undead or mind-controlling, mind you). All races face some form of bigotry, even humans like me; Though to a lesser extent than what beast races or vampires experience.
We made our way out of the station before an angry mob could form, out into the streets. Several factories surrounded the station, spewing black smoke into what was once a beautiful blue sky. It reeked of air pollution, alcohol, and other nameless things in this city. Almost enough to make one vomit. There were no cars in the streets; Everyone here is too poor to afford any. Hobos, orphans, prostitutes, drunkards, and the occasional mob enforcers seemed to be the dominant people in the city. Palestogne is just one, huge slum.
"So what now?" Sasha inquired to me.
Good question. "Now we gotta find another way to Ulfheim. They definitely won't let us onto another train, let alone give us refund for these useless tickets." I punctuated by crumpling the ticket into a ball and tossing it over my shoulder. I reached into my vest pocket for my cigarettes, and put one to my lips. I snapped my fingers to the tip, my mana responding by sparking a lighter-like fire igniting it. I inhaled and took a long drag, before releasing the smoke into the already polluted atmosphere. It did relieve my stress, but only so little. City folk really got on my nerves.
"Um, if I may..."
I turned to the Vampire woman, who hadn't spoken until now.
"I think I can help."
The mother, who we found was named Haruko, had taken Sasha and I outside the city walls. The stone walls were about 20 meters tall, and thick enough to stop any siege engine. But they weren't as large or as decorated as the walls around the capital, Xetronuvia City.
Haruko had her daughter, who we found was named Kiki, holding her hand. They led us to an area where wagons of people were coming and going. Many were pulled by simple beasts-of-burden, like horses or oxen. Others were pulled by stranger creatures, like bonnacons or catoblepas'. The whole area reeked of manure, and I had to restrain myself from emptying my breakfast all over the ground. Sasha didn’t seem fazed by the smell.
Haruko and Kiki lead us to one wagon in particular, with a few people already in it. It was pulled by two, massive oxen. Beside the oxen was a short Human man in a brown vest and a flat cap. To Sasha and I’s surprise, this was Haruko’s father, Jethro. Interspecies relationships were common, but Vampires often stayed with their own kind. Scholars have been baffled by this for centuries, but all sentient races are capable of producing healthy offspring with one another. Even the reptilian Draconians and the primate Yetis are capable of interbreeding. Though, the offspring aren’t born as a hybrids, rather they are born the race of the mother in question. Fuck genetics, right?
Jethro had thanked us for saving his daughter and granddaughter. The guy was short, but was strong enough to pick Sasha and I off the ground (at the same time) and gave us a powerful hug of thanks. He offered us a free ride to the north; Which Sasha and I graciously accepted. Though the ride was a bit longer. It would take two to three days to reach our destination: The village of Hatu in the province of Ulfheim.
It had been a few days since then. It was last night on the wagon. Everyone was asleep but Jethro, Sasha and I. I couldn’t sleep; Jethro’s poor driving made sure of that. Sasha was reading some novel, and I was laying back and watching the stars go by. I had attempted to name each of the constellations I saw, but with no luck; My friend Felix was a genius, but not even his lessons could get me to understand the stars.
I thought about everything that happened just two days ago. I was glad I taught those sad excuses for Imperial guards a lesson. Racist bastards. Xetronuvia wasn’t founded on the basis of religion, a tradition, or a king. No, it was founded on the basis of tolerance. To treat all people equally well, no matter their race, gender, age, sexuality, or disability.
If only people knew how to treat others, I mused.
Next to me was my Elven companion, who either found her book the most enticing or the most boring. It was hard to tell with Sasha. Showing emotion didn’t come easily to her, it seemed. She would smile, frown, or even scowl occasionally, but her face’s default was stoic.
I was about to make another attempt to get some shuteye, when I heard Sasha close her book and sigh. She turned and looked me dead in the eyes. “Alex… about Sarayu.” Her voice was quiet, and cold even.
I felt my body tense over. “Er, what about her?” I had a feeling in my gut that she knew.
Sasha continued. “Sarayu… Sarayu is a vampire… isn’t she?” It was more of a statement than a question. This was it. I never did ever find out the Sasha's opinion of vampires. Then again, she doesn’t share much about her opinions (or herself at all) in general. She was quite a mystery.
“Yeah… yeah, she is a vampire.” I admitted. And it shouldn’t matter either, I thought to myself.
Sasha’s serious expression softened into a grin, which was a good sign. She said nothing, relaxed in her seat, and was snoring in a matter of seconds. That earned a chuckle from me. Haruko, Kiki, and now Sasha are all off sleeping. Jethro hadn’t made a sound. I certainly hope he wasn’t sleeping while driving; that’d be a recipe for disaster.
I decided to follow suit of everyone, and catch some Z’s as well. I closed my eyes and drifted off into the world of dreams.
Next Chapter: Nephilim- Chapter 2
(feedback is appreciated!)
|The first chapter of my fantasy novel! This is my magnum opus, so please give it a read and give feedback!|
MegaBLYSTONE here and I just wanna say how extraordinarily beautiful you are right now.
Lies aside, I've been here on DeviantArt going on almost four years now. In my beginnings lies Pimp My Guns galore, dank memes, and really bad MLP fanart back when I was Brony trash. I have since moved on from such foolish things.
Nowadays, I draw stylized MSPaint art of characters and other stuff from my original story that I am writing: Nephilim. If you like fantasy, full of goofy antics and adventure, as well as dark themes and romance, give it a read.
Shit about me: I am a cis-gendered, white, American-born, Protestant Christian, politically moderate, elderly male. Also called "Privileged".
I enjoy Dungeons and Dragons, and roleplaying in general. Worldbuilding is also a hobby of mine. I also love swordplay. So fight me.