Old Dog, New Tricks!
I have never written high fantasy, despite the fact that I went through a pretty long period of time in my teens and early 20’s when I read a great deal of it. Well, today I was...inspired. So here’s my very first attempt at high fantasy!
Daijera had frequently asked herself why she was still tagging along with this luck-forsaken party of adventurers, and that sense of doubt was now quickly turning to an urge toward self-preservation.
At first, the child had looked harmless, with her golden curls and ribbons bouncing as she skipped into Solaris’s shop and hopped up on a stool behind the counter. Never had a first impression been so wrong. Instead of a harmless child, the party found themselves looking into the wide aqua eyes of Epi, Goddess of Purity.
Purity was never a virtue that had had much sway with Daijera. She sang in taverns, she hustled money from patrons, and she bartered information for the Black Sun when the opportunity arose. Thankfully, Epi’s attention wasn’t on her, so she inched her way to the back of the group and shut her mouth.
“You guys have been awfully busy,” Epi said in her tinkly voice, “collecting books and things. I thought it was time we met.” She fixed her gaze solidly on Xezia. “And I believe you wanted to speak with me?”
Xezia cleared his throat. “Yes, my lady. I was wondering if you could help with this?” He pulled off his gloves, and the veins of both forearms pulsed with what looked like black ichor in the place of blood.
Pumbo gasped in horror, his skin growing a far paler shade of pink than normal and his enormous ears flattening against the side of his head. “Whaaa...what is THAT?”
Daijera’s eyes grew wide. She knew Xezia had been tricked and used by Ipthel, God of Corruption, but she hadn’t realized what was happening to him. She had thought the gloves were just a fashion choice. But even beyond the shock of seeing what had been happening to her one guaranteed ally in the group, she began to worry even more about her own situation. What was Xezia doing?
Epi looked disappointed as she studied Xezia’s arms. “I might have expected this. I can help you, Xezia, but I’m not sure you’ll like the consequences.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“I can help you, but you’ll lose the use of any powers granted to you by Ipthel. If you use them, the corruption will return.”
He nodded gravely, as though he’d expected this. “What if I were to serve you instead of Ipthel?”
Pumbo laid his hand on Dalgis’s shoulder to steady himself. His breath came in short pants at the repeated mention of Ipthel’s name. Daijera looked back and forth from Xezia to the tiny goddess. If Xezia were to serve Epi...if he turned on the Black Sun...what were the implications?
“I suppose that might help,” Epi considered, “but I suspect Ipthel won’t be too happy with you. He’s not likely to take your defection well.”
“Do it.” Xezia muttered.
The goddess nodded and took Xezia’s hands in hers. A radiant light flowed out of her and crept up his arms, devouring the ichor as it went. He grimaced in pain, but made no sound.
While the party was focused on what was happening, Daijera began inching toward the door. If Xezia denounced Black Sun, could she trust his loyalty? She had grown to think of him as almost a friend in the past few weeks, the one person who she could trust to support her without question, if only because the Code of the Black Sun dictated it. If he had no Code, or worse, if he followed Epi’s code of purity, Daijera would be alone. Again.
As she neared the door, she caught Solaris watching her not-so-stealthy retreat. She smiled innocently and he raised a heavy eyebrow. She withered under his detached and somewhat disapproving glare, and she rebuked herself for being fool enough to desire his affection.
What was happening to her? Traveling with this motley band over the past few weeks had made her soft and desirous of personal connections, a weakness she’d never succumbed to in all her years. Even with her semi-human appearance, the child of a lamia and an elf was still an oddity, an outcast. Had her childhood taught her nothing?