TAB Chapter 4

Quest For a Dying Ember 

By the Hicklebee's Teen Advisory Board

 

Chapter One  Chapter Two  Chapter Three  Chapter Four

Chapter Five  Chapter Six  Chapter Seven  Chapter Eight

 

The merchants had no idea what they had just seen. A second ago, they had been on the verge of death, but now, an even greater threat had appeared. Everyone knew that the Kannon Pass was a treacherous voyage, but their families were starving. The rising taxes, corrupt officials, and obscene bribes of everyday life had left them no choice. A choice that led them to death. 

Halfway through the cliffs of the Guanyin Mountains, the caravan of oxen began to slow, then to stop. Worried, one of the merchants peeked his head out

“It looks like a storm’s coming,” he said. Lightning struck the hill a kilometer to the east. The bright crash was accompanied by a rolling fog, which flooded the pass, enveloping the merchants in  a grey shroud. The merchant shivered. This unnatural cold seeped into his bones, as if a warning-Don’t come any closer. But they had to. They either made this journey, or died with their families.

“Let’s keep moving”, said his partner. “There are dangerous creatures in these mountains, and some of them cursed as well. I’ve even heard rumors of demons living here!”

Suddenly, the caravan began moving again, as if the beasts had regained their composure. Deeper into the fog they went, as if unaware of the cliffs beside them. The farther they went, the more they heard. Strange noises, crackles of electricity, the humm of metal against metal, and the unmistakable sching of a blade. Every couple of minutes, rocks tumbled toward them, always narrowly missing the caravan. All of a sudden, the lead oxen brayed, and the caravan stopped. 

The merchants emerged from their carts, and froze as a figure emerged from the fog. A ghastly figure of inhuman proportions. A bulky humanoid, with a tiger’s head, wreathed in a crown of flame. They had heard of such a creature, but only as whispers of myth and legend. Rakshasa. A demigod-tier beast, a calamity that is nigh unstoppable. The elders said that a single rakshasa had burned entire nations to the ground in a single night. It was over. 

“Ah yes, some fresh meat, ripe with fear!” the rakshasa growled, “And if there are two of you, that means there must be more humans nearby!”

The creature began to walk towards the caravan. As it passed the oxen, they burst into flames, nearly liquifying on the spot. The merchants, justifiably, ran. It was a massacre. All the farmhands-killed on the spot. The caravan was reduced to a smoldering ruin in a matter of seconds. The beast, amidst all this carnage, looked like it was strolling down a city street, as relaxed as it could be. Suddenly, the storm rumbled, and the clouds began to circle and warp.

The rakshasa glanced up at the maelstrom, only to see a bolt of lightning strike the path opposite to it. But on that cliff...was a person. The merchant and his partner couldn’t believe their eyes, as a lean, dark skinned man stood there, dressed in unfamiliar garbs. He wore a leather coat, with dark, form-fitting pants, and a satchel tied across his back. His body was crackling with electricity, with a white blade, pure as snow, sheathed at his hip. The rakshasa’s eyes grew wide. 

“YOU!”, It bellowed, “How can you be here?! You’re supposed to be in Fatima, a desert away from Amorith! Why are you here, human typhoon?!” Suddenly, the flames around the beast erupted into a violent fervor. The ground around the rakshasa began to bubble and melt. The merchants were immediately suffocated by the intense heat, as even their clothes began to crackle and smolder.

For the first time, the dark skinned man spoke. His foot slid back into a lunge, and as he reached towards his blade he said,

“I…”, his hand touched the hilt of the sword, and the man vanished. Moments later, he reappeared behind the blazing tiger. “Got lost”

An intense boom accompanied his reappearance, the sword disappearing just as quickly as it came, in a crash of lightning. The rakshasa only had time to turn its head before it toppled off of its neck. As the fog lifted, the merchant had the opportunity to truly observe this man. Except, he wasn’t even a man. A teenager at most.

The dark skinned adolescent pulled a paper out of his jacket. It was an image of a young woman, wearing a bonnet and a long flowing dress. The name “Falmer Galway” was written in scrawled writing on the bottom.

“I’m looking for this woman” he said, a thick accent hanging to every word. “She hired me to help her with a “quest”, but I don’t know where she lives. You know the Galway family?”

The merchant could barely speak. “Ye-yeah, G-g-galways live j-j-j-just a couple towns over.” he said, “Over in r-r-road to the west”.

“Thanks you,” said the man, as he began to walk westward. He had obviously taken no damage, but his leg adopted a strange limp mid-stride. 

“WAIT!” said the merchant, holding his partner. “Who are you? What is your name?”

“My name is Baraq Malik-Albarq” he said, “And I, am nobody special”

As the Baraq continued to walk, the merchants began to cry and hug. They had survived the impossible. The human tempest indeed. That man was a wandering storm, and Amorith stood no chance against him