FanStory.com
"The Chronicals Of Bethica: The Rise"


Chapter 1
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter One
The Call of Lord Abram:


In the quiet dark of night, Lord Gangus Abram was awakened by a mysterious voice; his eyes flashed opened and darted back and forth across the bedroom ceiling. His hand tightened into a fist, and his heart raced. Gangus glanced over at his wife, Brehira, who had not stirred. He eased out of bed, tiptoed to the far side of the room, and stood looking around nervously. The room had suddenly grown icy cold, and Gangus shivered in his thin bedclothes. "Who is there?" he whispered, with water vapor fogging out of his mouth after each word.

"Go quickly to the north end of the forest," a strange voice said. "There, you will find a single cottage. Speak to a man called Naman."

The voice was like no other Gangus had ever heard. It spoke like a gust of wind, yet the words were clear. It came from everywhere in the room, yet nowhere could he pinpoint its direction. He glanced once more over at Brehira who was still sleeping. Why couldn't she hear it? Had it done something to my sweet? He walked briskly over to the bed and touched her shoulder lightly. When she stirred, he blew out a grateful breath of air and gently pulled the covers over her shoulders. Brehira was the love of his life. He had married her when she was seventeen and brought her to this land called Volaria. With his great wealth, he built a manor house where Brehira bore him two sons, Khimah and Dinary.

Gangus had lived in this land all of his life. Volaria was a single landmass surrounded by the Endless Ocean. The Endless Ocean lived up to its name, for it stretched for thousands of miles. Over the years, numerous captains who had grown weary of its length and hostile waters, would often turn back.

Volaria also proved a genuine paradise because of the rich soil that yielded vegetables and fruit all year round; the waters overflowed with every kind of edible creature; plus, the weather was suitable for cattle and sheep farming.

Gangus was a magnificent man with olive skin and dark mixed gray hair. At six feet and still muscular for an ex-soldier of forty-eight, he was well respected and known as a man of great courage who remained obedient to the will of the gods. However, tonight, Gangus wasn't so sure if he could live up to that name; the voice had heaped chills upon his skin, yet he felt a strange sensation to obey. So, he dressed, grabbed a lantern, and walked quietly past each of his son's room--down the long hall past the servant's quarters, down the spiraling staircase and out the door.

Under the dark, starry sky, the moon was full and unusually bright. When night birds flew in front of it in a 'Z' formation, Gangus felt something was about to happen; or had the incident just given him the creeps? Nonetheless, he picked up his pace as he walked along the grassy path, past the large, tall trees with its hooting owls and other creature songs of the night. The forest was thick and eerie. The top of the trees swayed back and forth with the rhythm of a gentle breeze.

After what seemed like thirty minutes of walking, Gangus arrived at the north end of the forest and spotted the lone cottage with a light shining through a thin curtain at the window. No one was usually awake at that hour, so he assumed the man, Naman was expecting him. Before he knocked, a voice called him by name from beyond the door. But this was the deep voice of a man. His hand hurtled to his side where he gripped the handle of his sword and stood staring at the door, hesitating to advance.
"Lord Abram," the voice called again.
"I am here," he answered forcefully to mask the fear in his voice.

Gangus strolled to the door and found it cracked. He laid his lantern aside, and with one hand still gripping his sword, he pushed the door open with the other. He entered the one room and found it dark, where a single candle sat in the middle of a small table near the window. From a dark corner, a shadowy figure spoke.
"Come into the light."
"Who are you?" Gangus asked with authority.
"I am the Oracle, Naman. I knew of your coming."
"How? Who told you?"
"He goes by many names, but you know him as Raziel, God of Leadership and Honor among other titles," he said, his voice trailing off.
"Why should I believe you?"

The Oracle mentioned an incident that had taken place in Gangus' early life--something Gangus had never revealed to a living soul. Gangus stumbled backward but didn't speak. When he had gained his composure, he blurted, "What manner of sorcery is this?" Then he moved closer to the light.
"Not sorcery," Naman said, "I assure you." The Oracle motioned for him to sit. Gangus stepped forward and sat in front of the light. Then the Oracle came out of the shadow holding two tin cups. He placed the cups on the table and sat before Gangus.

Gangus saw that the Oracle was short and fair--more hair on his face than his head. He found him to be quite peaceful-looking for a man with such an overwhelming presence. And, he was blind.
"What did the Lord Raziel say to you concerning me?"

The Oracle reached from beneath his chair and brought up a jug. "Have some wine. You have come a long way. I am sure you could use a drink?" The Oracle didn't wait for an answer. He held the jug, placed his index finger in the tin cup and poured--his finger measuring how far the wine came up to the rim without going over it. He handed the cup of wine to Gangus.
"Thank you," Gangus said.

Then the Oracle poured one for himself.
Both men took a hefty swallow. The Oracle felt around for Gangus' cup and half-filled it again before doing the same for himself. After both had their fill, the Oracle spoke.
"You have been given a great gift. The gods do not treat everyone so."
"What is this gift?" Gangus asked taking another gulp.
"You will leave Volaria and go to a far off land which Raziel has already shown you, and from the loins of your sons will spring great kingdoms."
"That's the gift? If it is, Raziel can keep it," Gangus blurted, wine dribbling down his chin.
"Careful what you say." The Oracle's milky white eyes moved around in its useless sockets as if he feared someone else was listening.

Gangus' heart sank. "I am to leave my home? That does not make sense. Leave paradise and go where, to...to some distant land? And what about my family? What if I can't persuade them? What if they refuse to go? I'm not leaving them behind. No!" he said shaking his head. As he looked to the ceiling, he muttered, "Raziel, you asked too much." Gangus flopped back in the chair. He threw his head back and drained his cup of wine then slammed the empty cup down on the table.

"It is a hard, hard thing to ask any man. I know," the Oracle said. "But you, Lord Abram, are not just any man. I think you have known you were special since you were a boy." The Oracle slid a map across the table to him. Gangus unfolded the map and examined it. It was the most unusual map he'd ever seen.

Gangus' heart was hurting for what he was about to do to his family. But he knew it was the will of the gods. It was confirmation of all of the dreams he'd been having for the past three years, like dreams of a long journey across rough oceans, dreams of entering a distant and hostile land, and dreams of battling monsters. Dreams he had prayed were just the result of too much wine before bedtime. But now, he knew. Gangus took the map, folded it and stood to leave. He stopped and looked over his shoulder at the Oracle. "Thank you. I apologize for my reactions; for now, I know that only a god could have revealed this to you."

When he returned home and entered his bedroom, Brehira was sitting up in bed and had a look of fear and puzzlement on her face. He placed the lantern on the table and began taking off his clothes.

After a few minutes, she said, "Really? You have nothing to say?" She stared at him.
Gangus slid into bed beside her. "Not tonight," he said. He attempted to kiss her, but she leaned away. Brehira was still beautiful for a woman with two adult sons. She had long, dark hair and flashing dark brown eyes.
"Where were you? I...I thought something had happened."
"My dear, I'll explain in the morning," he said pulling up the covers.
"In the morning? What was so important that you had to leave this time of night and say nothing to me? Do you know I was about to wake the others? Sound the alarm?"

He leaned in, she didn't move this time, and he kissed her lips tenderly. "Honey, please--in the morning. I've had a trying night." He rolled over on his side, facing her, and closed his eyes.

Brehira looked up to the ceiling in disgust. She blew out the light then looked over at her husband. She twice pounded her pillow seeming to get it just right for sleeping, but acting as if she wished it were his head. She lay back and went to sleep.

Just before dawn, Brehira woke and, again, found that her husband wasn't beside her. She grabbed a cloak as it was always a little chilly in the mornings and went into the family room where she found Gangus fully dressed--unusual for him that early, and standing peering out the window. He had a faraway look, and deep frowns lined his forehead.

He didn't hear her when she walked up beside him. She gently placed her soft, tan hand upon his shoulder. He turned and acknowledged her with a smile and a kiss on the cheek.
"What is it, my husband? What has troubled you so?"
"The gods have asked the unthinkable."
"Where did you go last night? Was that the god's doing?"
"I'm afraid so."
"But...but why?"

He placed his finger upon her plump lips and shushed her. "I'm going to call a meeting as soon as it's light. I'm going to tell everyone at the same time."
"But...why can't you tell me now. Can't you see I...?"
"Please, honey. Don't make me say this twice."
With that, he dragged off away from her and towards the bedroom.
"Then I'll make us tea," she told him.
He nodded and continued into the bedroom.

Later on in the day, in the large room set aside for celebrations, Brehira, Khimah, Dinary, the house servants, and many of their neighbors were helping themselves to lamb chops, salads, green vegetables, fruits, and brew. Then Abram stood and begged everyone's attention.

Khimah and Dinary were tall and well built like their father. Khimah was the oldest and was in his late twenties. He had fair skin with dark eyes. Dinary who was in his mid-twenties, had olive skin, dark hair, and eyes. Both were skilled in combat (trained by their father) and were considered by noblemen as ideal husbands for their daughters.

"My dear wife," Gangus began, "My sons, neighbors, and friends. I know this will come as a huge shock to you, but last night, the gods spoke to me through the Oracle Naman. Until last night, I thought my dreams of a journey were only foolish dreams. But now I know they weren't just dreams. The gods demand that I take my family and others who wish to travel with me to a new land across the Endless Ocean. The gods promised that we would find an even greater paradise."

Brehira gasped. Dinary was speechless. Eyes flashed up at him, and mumbling grew loud among the small crowd.
"Father! The gods?" Khimah said. "That makes no sense. Naman is no Oracle--just a crazy old blind man who hears voices. He should be put away, going around ruining people's lives with this nonsense."
"Gangus, you...you can't be serious, love."

Dinary swallowed hard and found his voice. "Father, you are going to leave all this? Have you forgotten what we had to do to keep this land, all the battles we fought against those land-murderous Trolls, and thieving Goblins and Orcs?"
"No, son, I've not forgotten."
"Mother, talk to him," Dinary pleaded.

Brehira, regretting her duties as a wife, stared at Gangus, her eyes glassy and spoke half-heartedly. "Where my husband goes, I go," she said, her voice cracking; then she stormed out of the room.
"There, you see. Now, look what you're doing to Mother." Khimah said angrily. "How could you do this...make her leave her home, and for what, to travel to some godforsaken land across the Endless Ocean? It is called endless for a reason! All who have tried to sail it either returned years later with ocean madness or did not return at all."
"Khimah, listen...," Gangus said.
"No! I won't listen. I think you're foolish, Father." He turned to Dinary. "And you're an idiot if you follow him." Khimah stormed out of the room to console his mother.
"I believe you should think this over, Father," Dinary said before climbing the stairs to his bedroom.

Celio-- medium height, dark-haired man in his late thirties spoke up. "If you're set on going," he said, "I would love to join you on this journey, My Lord. Those of us who fought beside you would surely welcome the adventure."

"You mean, you'd leave all this?"
"All what?" he said, looking around him. "A lot of us ex-soldiers are restless. We miss the excitement. Why I never felt more alive than when we were fighting those smelly Trolls," Celio said, turning up his nose.

"Are you serious? You mean you'd go with me?"
"Sure. I know quite a few men who are as restless for excitement as I am. You'll need some extra swords if you insist on traveling to this strange land. Never know what trouble you might find."

"Well, what about your women?"
"Some, like me, have none and those that do, well, they are pretty much like your misses--if you pardon me for saying so, My Lord. They'll follow their men anywhere."
Gangus chuckled. "I would be proud to have you with me, Celio, and all the men you can muster up."

"Just let me know when you're ready to leave, My Lord."
"I will." Gangus turned to exit the room. "Stay as long as you like," he said to his guests. "There is plenty of food." He walked into the family dining area where Khimah was trying to console his mother. Brehira looked up at Gangus with puffy eyes. Gangus sighed and looked down at the floor.

Image:  by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master



 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 2
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter Two
The Necklace
     
     

"So, you "are" an idiot," Khimah said to Dinary.

"Come on, Khimah, give it a rest. We've been through this." Dinary folded a shirt and placed it in the trunk.

"I'll give it a rest when you and mother come to your senses."

"Look! I don't like this any more than you do. If you want to stay, Khimah, then stay. I'm not letting mother leave here without one of us going with her; and that's that," Dinary said slamming down the top of the trunk.

Khimah's face softened. He walked up to his brother and placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Then...please, take care of her," he said quietly.

Dinary looked into his big brother's eyes. "You know I will...and we'll see each other again. I promise."

Khimah pulled his necklace over his head and placed it around Dinary's neck. It was made of fine metal--a silver eagle in profile with an emerald eye and a sword for a tail.

Dinary looked up at his brother. "But I've never seen you without this. You once scolded me when we were children just for reaching out and touching it."

"It may someday bring you luck, my brother." Khimah grabbed and tightly hugged Dinary then quickly left the room.

The hour had arrived. There had been a big feast and fireworks the night before. All of the villagers had come out for the big send-off of the Abrams, their loyal servants, twenty ex-soldiers, and their wives.

There were tears and waves and children running beside the horses and carriages. Brehira couldn't stop waving at Khimah. She held a square piece of white linen to her runny nose the whole time, waving and throwing kisses his way--her cheeks wet. Dinary had to turn her around so she wouldn't strain her neck.

The ride was quiet. There was nothing left to do now but focus on the long journey that was ahead of them. When they reached the ship, the luggage was carried on by the servants, and everyone stood on the deck and waved to a few neighbors who had traveled to see them off. Khimah had refused to come because he said he couldn't bear it.

Gangus and Brehira settled into a luxurious cabin for the two-day trip to the next port. From there, they would make the Paradise journey.

Dinary was next door. Gangus had made certain that all in his company, his servants as well as the soldiers who chose to travel with him, were in luxury cabins. Brehira insisted on treating them no differently.

But not long after the ship had gotten into deep water, there came a terrible wind storm. The captain told everyone to stay in their cabins. The wind tore through the waves as they crashed against the ship that rocked from side to side, throwing passengers from one end of their cabins to another.

The hours wore on. Gangus, now shut up within his cabin, began to worry. Next door, Dinary looked out of the window. In the dark, the tall waves looked like giant bluefish foaming at the mouth and jumping in and out of the ocean. The wind continued to whip as the temperature dipped suddenly. The dark clouds had covered the moon, and there seemed to be no stars in the night sky. As the ship tilted to one side, Dinary hung on to the furniture for dear life and quietly cursed his father for making them trade paradise for death at sea.

Then, as quickly as the storm had begun, it became quiet and calm. Gangus noticed it and opened the cabin to find people moving about in the halls. He and Brehira decided to join them after being shut up for hours. Brehira knocked on Dinary's door. He opened and peeked around before coming into the hallway.

"I thought we were going to die," he said joining them on the walk. But to Gangus' surprise, people weren't going on deck but assembling in the dining area to listen to the captain. As they stood among the crowd, they heard the captain say, "Ladies and gentlemen." But before he could say anything further, the people broke out into a loud cheer for how well the crew had handled the ship during the storm.

The grateful captain smiled and motioned for everyone to be quiet. "I'm afraid that, although we managed the storm well enough, we've emerged off course and the fog seems to be thickening by the hour."

"What exactly are you trying to tell us?" someone in the crowd yelled.

"Quite frankly, we have no idea where we are."

There was loud muffled conversation among the people. There were only a hundred aboard ship, not counting the crew.

"I promise you we are doing the best we can," the captain continued. "You can travel outside your cabins but please not on deck. And dinner will be served at the ringing of the dinner bell. Thank you for your patience."

There was lots of mumbling as people filed out of the dining area. Gangus, Brehira, and Dinary strolled back to their cabins. Dinary decided to wait for the dinner signal with his parents.

A few hours later, while Gangus was reassuring Dinary that everything would be all right, Brehira who stood combing her hair and primping, gasped when a loud thud rocked the ship, throwing her into the wall with Gangus and Dinary tumbling after her.

"What was that?" she shouted, lying flat on her back.

"It feels like we hit something," Dinary said, helping his father, who had fallen next to him.

"Help your mother. I'm going out to see what's going on." He opened the door, and it was pandemonium. People were yelling and running about hysterically. There was flooding in the halls and water pouring in from the ceilings. Gangus turned back to them. "Grab your mother; we've got to get off this ship."

"What's happening?" Dinary asked.

"We're sinking, that's what's happening. Come on; we have to go," Gangus said motioning to them to leave with him.

Brehira broke away from Dinary. "But my things--I'm not leaving my things," She grabbed several bags.

"No! Leave them," Gangus demanded. "They won't let them on the rescue boat anyway."

"But..."

"Honey, come on, we're wasting time." She reluctantly dropped all the bags, but one--a carrying case with her jewels.

Gangus grabbed Brehira under her arm, and Dinary had her other. People were running into each other, falling; more water gushed out of the ceiling and from the right side of the ship. Gangus turned his head about looking for his servants and clansman. He spotted a few running towards him, headed by Celio. Gangus asked him where the others were.

"I don't know," Celio said. "Stay here; I'll see if I can find them."

Gangus and the others waited as long as they could but decided to leave when the water rose to their knees. Then Gangus told them they had to go.

Brehira looked at him. "What about the others?"

"They'll just have to find us."

As soon as they started up the staircase, Gangus heard Celio call. He looked back, and the rest of his clan was moving as fast as they could as the water was steadily rising. They joined Gangus, and all started up the stairs.

When they reached the deck, they were just in time to board the last remaining boat. The fog was so thick, they could barely see one another.

"Hold each other's hands," Dinary yelled. "And don't let go until we're all in the boat."

They held hands, and one by one climbed into the small boat. As the boat was being lowered down from the side of the ship, there was a loud cracking sound; the ship was going under while the boat was still attached to it.

Celio yelled. "Hold on!" The ship tilted forward. Celio stood on the edge of the boat, pulled out a small knife, and feverishly sawed the thick ropes that held the small boat to the ship.

"Hurry! Celio! Hurry!"

"I'm trying!"

The small boat tilted more, and everyone was holding on as tightly as possible. Brehira broke several fingernails as she gripped the side of the boat. And poor Celio continued to saw away as the boat continued to swing forward.

"What are you using, your teeth?" Dinary yelled.

Another loud crack and the boat hauled everyone forward.

"Jump!" Gangus shouted.

But Celio kept sawing away at the last thick piece as the ship began to sink.

"Let go, Celio, for god's sake, man jump!"

Dinary held on to Brehira, and he leaped from the boat. Gangus leaped, as did the others, and swam away from the boat as fast as they could before the ship created a whirlpool that would surely have them spiraling down with it. Blindly, they swam through the fog--staying close to each other by calling out. The water was cold. Something bumped Gangus' leg. A creature, coming to take a bite of him, he thought. Over and under, his arms smashed and lifted from the water as he swam through the fog. He thought he saw a massive creature jet pass him. He shot his head left and right, but saw nothing except the thick gray. He called out to his wife and son but got no answer.

Kicking as hard as he could, Gangus thought he saw a bright light breaking through the fog. He glared. He "had" seen it. He could barely make out shipmates in a rescue boat, and one had a lantern waving it from side to side. Gangus yelled. "Brehira! Dinary! If you can hear me, swim to the light! Everyone swim to the light!"

Another thirty or forty strokes later, he reached the boat. The shipmates pulled the women into the boat. Then Dinary got in and helped Gangus who turned to help the rest of the men and women. As Gangus lay back shivering and blowing a great sigh, he looked around the boat then suddenly shot up into a sitting position. "Where's Celio?" he snapped. Everyone squinted, peering through the fog yelling his name and listening. But sadly, Celio did not answer.

*****

Weeks passed. The nights were cold and days--scorching. The three boats of survivors had drifted miles from where the ship sank. Many, including the captain, drowned. But Gangus' clan, minus Celio miraculously remained intact.

As the quiet waves gently rocked the boats, everyone lay weak and sleeping. It was daybreak again, and the sky blazed orange with the dawn rays of the sun. Great black gulls flew overhead; each diving into the ocean and flapping their wings as if bathing, while the usual menaces dove into the boats and pecked at the slumbering crew. Dinary woke and smacked at one. He sat straight up, yawned, and scratched his chest. His eyes were a bit blurry, and he tried to make out a dark object that was moving fast towards them. He blinked several times until his eyes were clear and gasped at what he saw.

He shook his father.

"Umm...what?" Gangus groaned.

Gangus rubbed his eyes and sat up then called to the others. Coming towards them was a ship full of men waving frantically at them. The survivors were wide awake now, sitting up and waving back at the men like crazy. When the ship got closer, they let out a loud cheer.
One of the men from the ship yelled, "Ahoy there!"
Gangus blinked, widened his eyes, and said to himself, "Celio?"

Image:  by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters

Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife

Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master





 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 3
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter Three
Pirate Ship
     
 


Traveling in the company of a ship's captain who had a huge bounty on his head was not something Gangus had anticipated. However, Captain Orroh, or as he was affectionately called by his mates, Captain Orr, was sailing west towards Skatts Island. There, Gangus could use Brehira's jewels to finance a large ship with an experienced captain and crew, who would take them to their destination. But first, he would need clothes, food, and lodging for the nearly sixty people who came with him.

"Sir," one of Orroh's shipmates called. "Lady Abram asked that I fetch you. We put her in the cabin next to the captain's. I'll take you there, sir."

Gangus nodded and set his mug of hot tea aside. He stood, tightening the blanket around his shoulders, and followed the man whose name was Khomo.

Down a loose-board staircase, then a narrow, dim hallway--Gangus lagged behind, his eyes taking in the appalling view. If the smell wasn't bad enough, three very large rats met them in the hall and didn't look too intimidated when the men's feet clunked towards them. Khomo had to kick at one before they all scurried into a half-oval hole. The man stopped. "Here, sir," he said to Gangus while pointing to the cabin door.

Gangus thanked him and opened the door to a pouting Brehira who was facing a portrait of an exotic princess, with chocolate bare breasts and charcoal nipples. "Disgusting," she said turning away from it and facing Gangus.

"Well, honey it is a ship full of men."

"Do you know one of those sleazy maggots made advances to me? The one with the eye patch?" she said with her arms folded across her chest.

"He touched you?" Gangus asked, glaring at her.

"No. He became quite the gentlemen once I told him I was your wife. But I still don't like the way he gazes at me--like some drooling cyclops."

"Honey, you're still attractive. The years have not yet caught up with you." He smiled.

"I tell you a man undressed me with his eyes, and you stand there smiling?"

"Dear, I didn't mean to make light of your situation. I'll speak to the captain." He turned to leave.

"That is not really why I called for you."

He turned back. "Then why?"

She tiptoed past him and peeked out the door, making sure no one overheard her. Satisfied, she closed the door and turned to him. "When some men drink too much wine, they reveal much of what they should not."

"What have you heard, my sweet?"

"Celio got one drunk and had him talk about their real mission. He bragged that, after dropping us off, they would attack a king's ship full of treasure. Honey, these people are thieves...cutthroats. We could all be murdered in our sleep."

"Where are your jewels?"

"There," she said, pointing to where she hid them.

He pulled her to him. "There is honor among many Volarian men. I looked into captain Orroh's eyes, and he has assured me safe passage to Skatts Island. He gave me a note of introduction to give to a tavern owner who owes him a favor." He put his finger under her chin and lifted her head. Her beautiful brown eyes flashed up at him. "I will let nothing harm you," he assured her.

"You trust him, then?"

"I trust no one with the people I love. If he has lied, Celio and the others know what to do. Captain Orroh does not know I have fighting men on board."

"But, our weapons are still packed away."

"Celio and Dinary have been quite busy bees. They discovered a locked cabin full of them. It's never guarded."

A grin stretched across her beautiful face. "The gods bless you, my husband."

"I promise you, no matter what happens, we are all getting off this ship in one piece. Now, lock the door and open to no one but Dinary and me."

She nodded. Gangus kissed her gently on the lips. When he left the cabin, he heard the latch click as he walked off to find Dinary.

That evening after dinner, the women gathered in Brehira's cabin to brush each other's hair and complain about the food and dingy bed sheets. The men had gone to the large cabin at the end of the ship. It was the largest cabin and where the captain had meetings with his crew. Tonight, it was used for drinking and singing and, of course, strange adventure tales from each of the men.

Hours later, the women went back to their cabins as did the captain and some of the men--minus the ones running the ship and those at the top of the sails keeping watch. The night was quiet.

*****

Days went by, and everyone began to feel more comfortable and trusting of one another. The women cleaned the cabins, washed the bedding, making the cabins quite livable, and to everyone's delight, they took over the cooking. The nude portrait of the dark princess disappeared from the wall. Gangus was not surprised.

The women complained to their husbands about the long journey. They were tired of washing and wearing the same clothes. Brehira assured them, just one more week and they would reach Skatts Island where fresh clothes, clean water, and good food awaited them.

In Dinary's cabin, Celio sat swilling wine. He brought the jug down and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "I heard one mate speak of a treasure map hidden on board," he told Dinary.

Dinary chuckled. "Every captain or shipmate has a tale about a treasure map. It's as old as the gods. There hasn't been a real treasure map for centuries."

"Hm...I'd like to think there is," Celio said, guzzling the rest of the wine.

*****

In one of the servant's cabins, Rhia stood braiding her sister Lucia's hair. "A few more days and nights and Skatts Island will be ours," she said excitedly "I can't wait for my feet to touch land," Lucia said. The sisters talked about hot baths and washing the dust from their hair--and finding husbands.

As everyone settled back and reflected on what they wanted to do once they landed, something hit the ship with such force, the lanterns turned over, and a small fire flashed up from the floor. Nearly everyone was thrown against something. Pieces of the ceiling fell, injuring some men. Women were screaming and calling for their husbands. The captain's men practically mowed Gangus' men over, running in the same direction.

"Oh, no. This can't be happening again," Celio shouted.

"What did we hit this time?" Dinary asked.

"The ship is under attack, you fools!" said one of Orroh's men. "Either get out of the way or help us," he said running up the stairs with a sword in his hand.

The ship had been rammed, the mates from the enemy ship had jumped onto Orroh's ship, and a battle had begun.

"Great gods!" Dinary said. He yelled to Methius to gather the women--put them in one cabin and for him not to leave them alone. He told Celio to hand him the weapon he was holding and for him to get more to pass out to his men.

"I'll go and find my father!" he yelled over the loud shouts and thundering noises from above.

As Dinary hurried down the hall, a mate from the enemy ship jumped from the staircase and landed in front of him. He appeared young, about twenty, with his head wrapped in cloth like a gypsy. He advanced on Dinary with his sword raised. Dinary's sword clanked against his several times;  then Dinary, a master swordsman, did a circling maneuver with his sword and lifted the man's sword from his hand. It went flying up in the air. Dinary lunged forward' running the man through.

"Um, that was short work," he mumbled to himself.

He heard footsteps behind him. He suddenly turned and stood in a fighting stance. He relaxed when he saw it was Gangus running up on him.

"Father, we're under attack! Why have you left Mother?"

"She's safe in the cabin."

"You stay with her! I'll join our men on deck."

"But this is not our fight, son!"

"We can't take the captain's generosity and not help him in his hour of need!"

"All right, then! Let me go see to your mother! And I'll join you!"

"Then you'll need this." Dinary handed Gangus his sword then brushed by him, scooped up the dead man's sword, and ran up the staircase to join the battle.

Gangus ran back to his cabin; shielding himself from the falling debris, he braced himself for a sure argument with Brehira once he told her he and Dinary would help the captain whom she loathed. He opened the door and found her on the floor in a daze due to the ramming of the ship. He helped her to her feet. Neither spoke but searched each other's eyes.  After seeing she wasn't seriously injured, Gangus turned from her and rushed from the cabin. She locked the door behind him as he ran down the hall towards the staircase.

But halfway up, an enemy's foot landed on his chest and sent him hurtling down the stairs. Gangus fell backward. When his head connected to the floor, everything went black. The enemy stood over him with his sword and raised it. An entire blade of a sword came out of the man's abdomen as Celio ran him through from behind.

When Gangus came around, Brehira was putting another cool cloth on his forehead, and one of the other women pressed a cup with a nasty-tasting liquid to his lips. He parted his lips and swallowed, then tightened the muscles in his face.

"That is awful," he said, still grimacing.

"Stay quiet. You've been out for hours," Brehira said.

"But the fight....what..."

"We won the fight, Father," Dinary said from across the room. "That is, the captain and his men did. We helped a little," he said, turning to Celio.

"And the enemy ship that attacked us?"

"We set it on fire. It's probably still burning in Erebus," Celio chuckled.

"I'm proud of you, my son...you too, Celio. Wish I could have stayed on my feet."

"Yes, you missed the whole thing. You sure you didn't fake being out? I mean, Father all you had to say was that you didn't want to fight. But to throw yourself down the stairs..." he teased.

"Ha ha," Gangus uttered rolling his eyes at Dinary.

"You leave your father alone. Here," Brehira pushed a basin to him, "go fetch me more water for your father's wounds." Dinary grabbed the basin, still grinning, and left the room.

"I have good news, my husband," Brehira smile. "We'll be in Skatts Island in two days. The shipwreck and ship attack--all behind us. If I never see another ship or ocean for a while, it will be fine with me. Promise me we can stay at least a month or so before boarding another?" she said, her eyes pleading.

"All right. I've had enough seawater for a while as well."

The days flew by, and not too soon for Brehira and the women. They pulled into Port Raven at Skatts Island days behind schedule, due to the damages to the ship. The little town was called Orange Tree. Captain Orroh would have to layover to get the ship back into shape. Gangus thanked the captain for his hospitality; the captain thanked him for the use of his men.

"Your men fight quite well to be just farmers. You never mentioned they had other skills,"  Orroh said with a slight smirk.

"There were many things I failed to mention, and for good reasons, I thought at the time."

Orroh laughed loudly, and then his smile became genuine. "I like you, Lord Abram. You're like me. Trust no one." He extended his hand and Gangus pretended to shake it, but instead, placed a small emerald in the captain's palm.

"This will aid you beyond the repairs to your ship," Gangus told him.

The captain gasped and smiled then the men parted. Though both swore they would someday cross paths, Gangus secretly hoped he'd never see Orroh again. He liked the captain, but Orroh had far too many enemies for Gangus to be a friend.

Being in a strange town, Gangus didn't want to reveal Brehira's entire jewelry collection. With the note Captain Orroh had given him, he went to the tavern to see the owner. Sure enough, the man knew Orroh and was very helpful to Gangus in directing him to the right people. "Just tell them Tedor sent you," the tavern owner said. "They will give you good price."

The first place Gangus went was to a jeweler who specialized in rare pieces. Gangus handed him a gold ring with two emeralds on either side.

"Exquisite," Pennypod said, examining the piece carefully. He didn't hesitate to place two three-inch stacks of silver coins on the counter.

Gangus frowned. "But I paid nearly two dylories if not more."

"I'm sorry, but that's all I can spare right now. But if you can wait a few days, I'm certain I can fetch you a buyer."

"With an enormous finder's fee, no doubt," Gangus mumbled to Brehira.

"I believe he is an honest man. Just take the coins," she whispered. "We are all dying for a hot bath, some food, and a decent place to lay our heads."

He turned back to Pennypod. "All right, we accept your price." Gangus took the silver and placed them in his coin pouch. Next on Tedor's list was the name of the landlord. Gangus needed to rent several cottages--all furnished. Brehira and the women went shopping for food and clothes for themselves and the men. After a few hours, everyone settled in for the evening.

Brehira hummed a little tune as she bathed and washed her hair in scented water. Gangus had bathed earlier and was sitting at a small table with pad and feather pen in hand. The servants sang as they prepared lamb chops with boiled potatoes, carrots, and green beans. A fruit pie sat cooling on the window ledge, and a jug of wine and freshly baked bread sat on the table.
Gangus penned a notice he planned to have placed in every village in a couple of days. It read:

ADVENTURE: all expenses paid, one-way trip to a new land. Own the house you live in. Eat the foods you grow. Only men and women with skills are wanted. Sign-up sheet outside Trading Marketplace. Be ready to travel in ninety days. Only leaving with the first seven hundred.

"Good," Gangus whispered to himself, examining what he wrote.

"Now, all you need is a ship," Brehira chuckled, peeking over his shoulder. She placed a kiss on the top of his head and turned to set the dinner table.


Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters
Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master



 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 4
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter Four
The Cristofur 
     
     




Bang! Bang! The Chief Justice's wooden mallet struck the sound block; it echoed throughout the long meeting room but was ignored by the nearly two hundred people pushing and fighting to sign up for Lord Abram's' Paradise Adventure. 

"Get out of my way, you pompous fool!" a man shouted, shoving a short bearded man to the floor then taking his place in line. Another scuffle broke out near the end of the line and then another in the middle of the floor. Cooler heads pulled them apart and continued to referee until they calmed.

"Citizens! Citizens!" the Justice pleaded. "If this unruliness continues, I will have all guilty parties removed and fined. Is that clear!" he shouted.

Loud voices of compliance rose from the lips of those impatiently standing in the stuffy, packed room. Outside, hundreds more waited. Each had a different story roaming in their heads. Many were simply poor; some were drifters and needed to belong; a few were bandits, looking to steal what they could--making the next port their 'getaway' route. But most had real dreams and hopes for a better life, willing to risk everything, even their lives, to make the journey.

Many worked long hours trying to pay off debts to crooked landowners. Some were tired of farming other folk's land. Because of limited wells, women spent most of their days toting water over long distances. And many more were tired of the stench they had to endure from animal traffic which left the streets swarming with rodents and flies. There seemed little or no work for men; no real future for children, and a limited supply of husbands for young maidens. The Paradise trip just had to be everything it boasted, many exclaimed.

Unfortunately, being poor and having hopes and dreams weren't the criteria for a seat. Settling in a new land required people of skill. There were Guilds needed. Guilds of Masons, and millers--of Black Smiths, and carpenters, weapon makers, as well as other artisans. Needed also were midwives, physicians, scholars, priests, entertainers, expert swordsmen, farmers, fishermen, and the like.

As the sign-up sheet filled, the line from the outside moved quickly inside. There was less shoving and more polite chatter. It had taken some people days to travel from little-known villages to Orange Tree. By the end of the day, twenty-five hundred names were on the sheet. Only the best seven hundred and fifty would be chosen. Later that night, villagers and city dwellers who had signed up hoped that, in three weeks, their names would be among those who had made the list. Hopefuls who had never prayed, prayed that night.

*****

Captain Dulcy P. Dordrecht, a red-bearded man with green eyes in his mid-fifties, was Gangus' fifth interviewee. Dinary had been sent out to spy on each captain's claims of having the ideal ship. Dordrecht captained The Cristofur, a former warship that had endured many battles. Brehira worried that the ship had seen its better days. But workers rebuilt it into a three-story passenger ship with small individual chambers for the captain, upper staff members, and Nobles.

It contained a lower chamber for storing ropes and sails; also, it slept the officer in charge of the prow who had a staff of his own that stayed only in that chamber and carried out whatever was needed. Another chamber held the compass reader who also watched the stars and winds and pointed out the routes across the sea. On the same level, the weapons were kept, and next to them, housed the ones who would use them.

Then there was the great spacious middle chamber for the passengers. It received no light except for what came through the four hatchways. In the hold, everyone would have their own berth or space. Because of its width, between the berths was where the passengers would keep their chest, trunks, and other private property.

The lowest chamber, at the far end of the ship, housed the space for cooking; down from the cooking area, a stable for small animals to be slaughtered.

Gangus and Brehira walked with the captain out of the dining area and into the sitting room.

"That was a scrumptious meal, Lady Abram. At sea, I don't get many well-cooked dishes."

"I hope this is only one of many, Captain," Brehira said. She left the men to talk and went into the next room. Gangus and the captain sat facing one another.

"So, Captain," Gangus asked, "What makes you so eager to join my suicide journey?" Both Gangus and the captain chuckled because that was exactly what the critics called it.

"The notion started when I was a young man. I had planned to have my own ship and explore the ends of the world. But, like most men in love, I let a pretty little thing change my mind. Her name was Lititia. I bought a little farm, we married, and she gave birth to our son, but he soon died. A year later, she gave me a beautiful daughter, but the Black Fever took them both. I was devastated. I sold the farm, bought a little ship, and kept working my way up to bigger ones." The captain sat back in the chair.

"A lot for a man's shoulders to bear.  At least you were able to fulfill your dream of traveling."

"Traveling...ha. That's what I called it until I read your post."

"Ah...you're looking for danger," Gangus said smiling.

The captain leaned forward with a little boy gleam in his eyes. "Lord Abram, what you're proposing is exactly what I want. A trip to uncharted territory. A land gazed upon only by the eyes of the gods. I don't know if it's truth or fiction about this Endless Ocean. Men returned shaken up, vowing never to go again. Some never returned. Tales boast they found paradise and stayed; others claimed they were eaten by monsters."

"And you are willing to risk your men and your ship?"

"The men I hire are special; most are unmarried, no children, no responsibilities, nothing but seawater in their veins, and perhaps some with seaweed for brains," the captain chuckled. But they're like me, Lord Abram...adventurous, battle-hardened with a quest for the unknown. It's what I've always wanted." The captain grinned sheepishly and sat back. "Well, that's my tale. What made you decide to risk such a journey?"

"My reasons are rather complicated. I don't really know how to explain it. Perhaps one day when we're out at sea."

"Out at sea?" The captain's back straightened. "Did you say...out at sea?" His face brightened. "My good Lord Abram, does this mean you've chosen me?"

"You have what I need," Gangus said with a serious glare. "A sixty-ton, three-story former warship, seventy-four feet by two hundred and eighty feet, able to support over seven hundred passengers and carry a year's supply of food and other goods, proved itself in many battles of war, and still appears to be going strong." Gangus leaned forward with his hand extended and said, "Welcome to suicide journey."

Captain Dordrecht grinned and almost shook Gangus' hand off. Gangus and the captain celebrated their new partnership with silver goblets of the Abrams' finest wine. Afterward, The captain rose to leave.

"I better be heading back," Dordrecht said, "so I can tell my men the good news and get things started, prepare the ship and give her a good once over."

"Just a once-over...no minor repairs?" Gangus asked rising from his chair.

"None. It just needs to be shined up a bit."

"Excellent," Gangus replied.  He walked the captain to the door and opened it. "Safe travel, captain...until we meet again."

"Thank you, Lord Abram."  After getting into his awaiting carriage, Dordrecht waved as the driver pulled off.

That night, Brehira sat up in bed laboring over a list of things to pack, while Gangus lay next to her pretending to be asleep but worried about the responsibility for so many people. I must trust the gods, he thought.  Down the hall, the servants talked of enjoying as much time as possible on land since they would be spending many, months at sea. In the next cottage, Dinary fingered the eagle necklace on his chest, fearing he might never see his brother again.

*****

The trees were already filled with red birds on the expected day for the list. It was daybreak and the orange sun still faintly gleamed over the stone buildings, animal pens, and fields. The stray dogs and cats stretched and took their separate walks behind the butcher shop. A pig had been gutted and the innards put in a slop bucket ready to be discarded out the back door. It seemed the strays' breakfast was but a butcher's throw away.

For weeks, Brehira and servants had meticulously checked the backgrounds of every candidate. Because of the size of the ship, Gangus decided to increase the passenger list to seven hundred and fifty. The skill levels of those who had won a seat were extremely high. There were many people with the same skills, so if one or two were ill or got sick and died, there would be others to take their places. The list was expected to be posted throughout Skatts Island around noon. Because expectations and tempers were high, the Chief Justice had asked the king to send soldiers to discourage any rioting that might occur.

At Port Benet, The Cristofur glittered under the morning sunlight. The ship was tan and dark green trimmed in gold. Its square-rigged masts sat high above the deck like a crown. Hundreds of workers had been hired to sweep, scrub, and polish cabins, halls, and decks of the ship. It was one of the better-built ships of its day. 

A little past dawn, soldiers landed on Skatts Island. They made their presence known by riding up and down the streets and into the various villages. They walked in and out of shops, helping themselves to fruits, pastries,  legs of lamb, baked chickens. No one dared to speak against them. As minor soldiers, they were not paid as well as those who defended the king's interests in faraway lands. Even their uniforms were not as fine; they bore the same colors, but many were second-hand, worn, and faded with sloppy patchwork. But they still possessed the authority of the king. So, opposing them was not wise.

Before noon, the streets grew crowded. It proved good for business as the owners continued to replace food and drink in their now standing-room-only shops. A few minor fights broke out, but soldiers showed little patience for such behavior and quickly crushed them.

Well past the noonday sun, people grew intolerant when the list bearer failed to show up at the appointed time as promised. They discovered later that the bearer was detained in a nearby town when a group of men pulled him off his horse and took the scrolls from him. When they didn't see their names on the list, they beat him. The bearer jumped on his horse and fled for his life.

As time ticked on, people got restless, and tempers flared. In Crows Tavern, someone slapped a woman, and two men who injured each other in a knife fight were arrested. Greatly past the middle of the day, the list bearer's horse trotted into Orange Tree. Word of his coming spread like a grass fire. People stumbled drunk out of taverns and poured out of shops. The street and sidewalks packed as the crowd buzzed loudly with conversation. The bearer slowly got off his horse. Fighting his way through the crowd was useless until the soldiers muscled him in with ease. As the list went up, the crowd grew silent. The list was huge, and the writing small. The man was escorted back to his horse; he mounted and trotted to the next town.

One by one, cheers, laughter, tears, and anger marked the mood at each viewing. There were no riots just anger, cursing, and disappointment on the faces of many who didn't make the list. Those who did rejoice with tears and uncontrollable laughter. Many celebrated in the streets with singing and dancing for hours. Then the shops finally closed and people went home; only soldiers and street cleaners remained. Gangus' post had caused quite a stir. There hadn't been that much excitement in Orange Tree since farmer Rodsaff's temperamental bull got loose and terrorized townsfolk and villagers for two hours before an arrow pierced his heart. To this day, Lord Abram's Paradise Journey remains one of the most talked-about events in Skatts Island.

*****

The day had arrived. The Cristofur had docked and was being loaded; seven hundred and fifty people had assembled to board. The Abram clan was finally leaving Skatts Island. Orange Tree had been their home for nearly five months--longer than anticipated. Dinary sat silently looking out the coach window. The servants, Celio, and the others occupied the other carriages that were behind. Everyone seemed excited but still weary of the long journey.    

"I'm going to kind of miss this place with its slow pace and quietness," Gangus said.

Brehira frowned. "Of course you would, you're a man."

"And what does that have to do with anything?" he asked.

"Do you know how many trips the servants and I had to make to the well? Who do you think provided you with fresh water every day, the gods?"

Gangus turned his head and mumbled under his breath.

From his coach window, Dinary observed many lines of people waving at those who were heading to the port. Some too poor to afford a horse or a mule had set out walking at dawn. In the carriage, however, the ride took twenty minutes.

The carriage pulled in front of the port. Gangus saw loved ones who hadn't made the list kissing and wishing family members as well as neighbors a grateful farewell. Many townspeople and villagers just showed up to signify and get a glimpse of the famous Cristofur. The crewmembers greeted Gangus and Brehira and unloaded their trunks from the horse-drawn carts; then escorted her and company to their cabins.

Though the ship appeared well mended and a bit scarred on the outside, nothing prepared them for the comfort and splendor of the cabins. The inside of the ship was very spacious. Everything that one could need or want was among the supplies of the ship. The crew was well-groomed and polite.
 
Brehira, after examing the interior of the ship, walked swiftly back on deck.

"Honey," she said excitedly to Gangus. "You made a fine choice of the captain and this ship. The cabins are lovely. It's better equipped than the village we just came from." Brehira kissed him on the cheek and hurried back to her unpacking.

"Lord Abram!" Captain Dordrecht called.

"If we're going to be spending several months together, I think it's time you call me Gangus." He then turned and said, "And this is my son, Dinary."

"Happy to make your acquaintance, Dinary. Welcome aboard."

"Thank you, sir," Dinary said with a nod. He then turned his focus to Gangus.

"Father, I think I'll go down and start unpacking."

"All right, son."

"Well, Gangus, why don't you go on down and get settled as well. We'll be pulling out at first light."

"Good idea," he said. He left the captain and headed for his cabin. It was the second-largest--the captains' being the first. Everyone seemed pleased with their accommodations.

In the early morning sun, the Cristofur pulled out of Port Benet, never to darken its port again, and headed for the journey that had been ordained by the gods through the Oracle Naman.

Image : by Dantegrafice from Pixabay


Main Characters

Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master




 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 5
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter Five
Stowaway Princess 
     

     


"How does it look, Kofius?" Captain Dordrecht asked his Sail Master.

"The wind is not blowing abaft the beam, sir. We have to tack our sails on an eighty-degree angle to the wind."

"Won't that slow us down?"

"Aye captain, about two knots, sir. But we'll make up that time once the wind is more favorable."

"Good. I'll be on lower deck two if you need me," Dordrecht said.

"Aye, Captain."

As the captain left Kofius to his duties and descended the stairs, he noticed Judian, the Quarter Master, patting his foot to the sounds of the Cornamuse, crumhorns, and lute that rose from lower deck one. Judian was second in command of the ship. He was a bright young man in his thirties who had left home at fourteen to find adventure upon the seas. When he returned to his little village five years later, he found that most of his childhood friends, their relatives, and his entire family were dead from the plague. Judian listened to the steady beat of the tabor drum that nearly matched the rhythm of his heart. The melodic vibrations lifted his spirit.

The festive music was a delightful resonance to the captain's ears. As he entered the gathering, he looked over the crowd and spotted Gangus in the middle of the floor with Dinary, Celio, and several other men dancing to a hundred-year-old tribal dance of their Volarian ancestors. Brehira led the women in circling the men and clapping in time. The men had wide smiles as they high stepped and kicked to the rhythm of the lute.

While Dordrecht stood mesmerized by the music and dancing, a magician in a multi-colored costume stepped up to him. He playfully removed the captain's hat--tapped it three times with a wand, and a dozen birds flew up into the ceiling then disappeared. The captain laughed as the magician returned his hat and skipped away. When Dordrecht placed his hat back upon his head, he made a face as if his hat didn't quite fit. When he pulled it off again, the entertainers pointed and laughed as Dordrecht reached up and discovered a bird's egg on his head.

Another magician danced up and took the egg out of the captain's hand, placed the egg in his own mouth, then pulled his own earlobe and the egg appeared to fall out of his ear. The magician laughed and danced away. Every entertainer wore bright multi-colored costumes with funny hats to match. There were also jugglers, singers, dancers, and strong men; the women blushed as they squeezed the iron muscles in the strongmen's arms.

Dordrecht remained standing a ways off from most of the activities until one of the men grabbed him, pulled him into the circle of dancing men, where the Captain lost his inhibitions and commenced to high step and kicked with the best of them.

As Dinary kicked and turned, a young maiden caught his eye. He was staring so hard that he accidentally kicked Celio in the seat of his pants.

Celio turned. "Hey, what was that for!" he snapped loudly.

Dinary apologized but couldn't take his eyes off the beauty. She had dark brown hair, smooth pink and white skin--plus the bluest eyes he'd ever seen. She was dressed the way most maidens dressed for special engagements, a white, long sleeve tunic with an emerald-colored and gold overdress. He watched her body appear to float out on deck like an angel.

"You're going to stand there with your thumb up your nose? Go talk to her," Celio shouted over the music.

Dinary was embarrassed that his actions were so obvious. He looked around to see if anyone else had noticed. Then he slowly squeezed past the dancers and musicians--careful not to bring too much attention to himself as he followed the maiden. When he reached the deck, he found her looking up at the stars. Dinary stood a distance from her pretending to enjoy the night air but admiring her from the corner of his eye. She turned to him suddenly with a smile that made his chest swell.

"Your father steps well for a man of his age," she said.

"Every male of my tribe is taught that dance at the age of four."

"Then that accounts for the perfection."

"What about your father? I bet he dances well," Dinary said. He hoped this small talk would lead to getting to know her better.

But she looked away from him as if he'd insulted her.

"I'm, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry," he said appearing awkward. "My name is Dinary."

"I know. I am Myrah."

"That's a beautiful name."

"Thank you."

"Well. I'll leave you alone." He turned to leave.

"No! Please, you did not offend me. My parents are dead."

"Oh, I'm sorry. Was it recent? Or perhaps you don't want to talk about it."

"It wasn't recent and I'm fine. My mother died when I was born and my father from the plague a few years ago." Then Myrah perked up. "But let's not speak of unpleasant things," she said with a smile that warmed Dinary's heart.

"All right," Dinary said.

They stood talking, laughing, and watching the stars until bedtime. After that night, they became great friends and met frequently for a bite to eat or an evening stroll on deck.

Many weeks passed and Celio noticed something more brewing between them. One morning, looking for Dinary, Celio walked up on them passionately kissing in a far corner of the hallway; they broke apart when Celio deliberately cleared his throat. Dinary had forgotten he was to help Celio with the inventory.

"Oh, thank you, Celio, for introducing me to the woman of my dreams," Celio teased.

"Thank you for what? I introduced myself. You had nothing to do with it."

"Like the gods I didn't. If it weren't for me, you'd be still standing in the middle of the dance floor staring at her with your mouth gaped open and your thumb up your nose."

Myrah blushed and cleared her throat to muffle a chuckle.

"Why do you keep saying thumb up my nose?"

"Because you were looking like a mindless little boy."

"I was not. Don't pay any attention to him, Myrah. I'll see you a little later," Dinary said softly. He held her hands and kissed them.

Myrah pressed her lips together to hide a smile.

"Yeah, thumb up your nose," Celio teased, grinning.

"Oh, shut up and come on," Dinary snapped.

The two continued to bicker at one another all the way down the long hall and into the supply room.

It was obvious to everyone how Dinary felt about Myrah. Gangus adored her, and Brehira was already planning the perfect wedding in her head, though Dinary had not voiced his desire to ask Myrah for her hand.

And after all of his teasing and meddling into Dinary's love life, Celio found his own lady among the musicians. Her name was Detria, and she was a young widow of twenty-two with no children. She told Celio her father was a drunkard who beat her mother then abandoned the family. Her mother fell on hard times and had to send Detria away with distant relatives when she was only ten, just so her mother could feed her younger siblings.

After being mistreated, Detria ran away and joined a traveling entertainment group. There, she had met her husband who taught her to sing and play the lute. They married, but a year later, he was killed by robbers.

Celio felt sad for Detria and saw her as a delicate bird needing protection. He continued to see her and she welcomed his advances with sheer glee.

*****

After many peaceful weeks at sea, Captain Dordrecht was alerted by the stress signal that came directly to his cabin. This was done so no one would hear news before the captain heard it. It kept the rest of the crew from panicking. "Great Zeus, let it be a false alarm," he said to himself as he raced to the upper deck. The crew members frowned and mumbled among themselves when they saw the captain running. "How does it look, Kofius?" Dordrecht asked.

"It may not be anything, Captain. But I've been watching that ship," Kofius said, nodding at a ship that trailed behind, "and it's been tailing us for quite a while."

Dordrecht put the optic to his eye. "Did you do the test?"

"Aye, Captain. Every time I sped up, it sped up. When I pretended to get off course, it went off course."

"Good, Kofius," the captain said, still watching the ship through the optic. "Sound the alarm," he said, taking the optic down from his eye.

"Aye, Captain."

Gangus, who was dressing and readying himself for the morning, heard the alarm then feet thundering overhead like a herd of horses. "Merciful gods," he said out loud. The captain sent word informing Gangus so he could prepare his men. After hearing what the messenger had said, Brehira rushed to Gangus' side. He hurried her out to join the other women in an appointed place and ordered soldiers to guard them. Then he joined with Dinary, Celio, and the rest of the men on the deck to get instructions from the captain. But, in the midst of the instructions, a crew member came with a message that the ship in question was a royal vessel sent by King Zular. And that no one was in danger; they just needed to speak to the captain.

"Who is this King Zular?" Dinary asked the captain.

"I've heard of him. But what could he possibly want with me?" He brushed past the men and sprinted for the stairs.

"What do you want us to do, Captain?" Celio called.

"Do nothing until you hear the alarm. Then come running with everything you've got."

Captain Dordrecht reached the upper deck where Judian introduced him to General Brutus.
"General Brutus, you need to speak to me?"

"Yes. I am here in the name of King Zular. His Majesty's daughter, Princess Netrekka, has been kidnapped. She's been missing for over a year. We thought her dead. Then Shanghai of the king's daughter reached him by a messenger. And we have orders from the king to stop any vessel in these waters and search it." The general handed Dordrecht a scroll of his authority to search.

"There is no one on this ship by that name. And your king has no jurisdiction in these waters.

"If you would open the scroll," the general said nodding towards it, "you'll see the names of every king in this area lending their command in helping to find King Zular's daughter."

Captain Dordrecht unfolded the scroll and, sure enough, there were the royal seals of the twelve kings. He sighed. "He's right."

"This is absurd," Judian scolded. "We are not pirates. For you to think we would be involved in doing such a thing is not just absurd but an insult."

"It's all right, Judian. I'm sure the general means nothing personal. He's just following orders. Besides, the quicker they search, the quicker we can be on our way."

"Thank you for your understanding and cooperation, Captain."

The General signaled with a hand gesture for his men to come aboard and search the ship. He led several dozen well-armed soldiers to every part of the ship, starting at the top. Judian and Dordrecht accompanied the general on every detail. When General Brutus reached the main birth, Gangus, Dinary, Celio, and Gangus' soldiers stood with hands inches above their loaded sheaths and a stern look on their faces.

When the general saw their body language, he gestured to his men to halt. "Your captain can vouch for us. We mean you no harm. We have orders to search this entire ship! We are looking for Princess Netrekka."

"The king's daughter was kidnapped and dragged onto a ship," Dordrecht said. "They have the authority and my permission to search."

After listening to the captain, General Brutus again signaled his men to advance but was startled to hear metal slide against metal; Abram and his men had half drawn their swords when Brutus and his men took a step forward.

General Brutus frowned. "But didn't you hear what your captain said?" Dordrecht stood frozen.

"No disrespect to our captain," Dinary said, with his hand on the handle of his sword, "but our women are back there, and no one is going near them."

"There's no woman by that name on this ship, anyway," Celio said.

Brutus raised his voice. "We have our orders!" He took a step, and Dinary drew his sword as did his men, and General Brutus drew his sword as did his men.

Suddenly, Captain Dordrecht jumped forward. "No, No. Wait! Please." He looked pleadingly at Gangus. "Just bring the women out and let them see she's not among them and they will go. Please, Gangus, Dinary, please. Think of the safety of all on the ship."

Gangus gazed, sweeping his eyes from Dordrecht to Brutus; he thought momentarily and then ordered Celio to bring the women out.

"But, Father!" Dinary snapped.

"Let them see she's not here, son so they can leave."

Celio walked down to the end of the hall into a large room they used for celebrations. He came out ahead of the women and kept them several feet away from Brutus and his men.

Brutus strained his eyes. "I can't see from here. And some of their heads are too covered."

Celio spoke loudly, "This is as close as you're going to get."

Brutus called out to the princess, but none of the women answered him.

"This is ridiculous," said one of Brutus' captains. And he made a motion, but Brutus threw his arm in front of him.

"I'm tired of this game," Brutus said. "I'm going to count to three, and if your men don't stand down, blood will flow. One...two..."

"Don't!" a woman yelled. She kept her head and face covered, then moved towards Brutus and his men. "I am Princess Netrekka," and she removed the covering from her head and face.

When Brutus and the king's soldiers saw the princess, they immediately bowed before her.

Dinary's eyes grew wide. "Myrah?"

"I hope you realize this means death to everyone on this godforsaken ship,"' Brutus said extending his sword.

"But, we didn't know who she was. She lied to us!" Judian shouted.

"How could you deceive my son and put this whole ship in danger?" Gangus scolded.

"Take her!" Judian bellowed.

"Wait!" Dordrecht shouted. "Let's hear what she has to say for herself."

The princess took a short breath. "Lord and Lady Abram, Dinary. Please, I can explain."

"I think you'd better," Dinary said, glaring at her.

Princes Netrekka walked forward and stood directly in front of General Brutus and his soldiers.
"No one kidnapped me. I, with the help of some very kind people, put that story out so my father would think me dead and stop looking for me."

"But why, Your Highness?" Brutus asked.

"You know why. My father is not a good king. He sends his soldiers to conquer, pillage, and enslave poor innocent people, raping and stealing their lands. He's overtaxed our people until they are nearly starving to death."

"But, Your Highness, once you're queen, you can make right the things you think are wrong."

"No. It's too late. The people hate my father and my family. And I don't blame them. By the time I'm queen, there will be no country worth governing. I'm not going back with you."

"Then, blood will flow, Princess. I know how you feel. But my loyalty is to His Majesty the king."

"Then let the blood flow," Dinary said with his sword in a striking position. "You heard her explanation. She doesn't want to go with you, and you're not taking her."

Princess Netrekka's face brightened, and she looked over at Dinary and smiled.

The men on both sides stood in a fighting stance with swords drawn. Suddenly, Brehira very calmly asked General Brutus to talk with her privately. He told her there was nothing to talk about--and that nothing she could say would make any difference--and if she wanted to help, she should try to talk some sense into her husband and his men. But Brehira was insistent--so insistent that General Brutus gave in and walked with her into her cabin. Gangus and Dinary were opposed. But Brehira waved them away and gave her husband that look of certainty that calmed him.

When they walked into her cabin, Brehira offered him wine, which he refused. He voiced his annoyance when she kept insisting that he lie to the King about the whereabouts of the Princess. General Brutus became very irritated at her insistence and turned to leave.

"General." He turned back and stared coldly at her. "It's considered rude among my people not to accept the hospitality of wine even in disagreements."

Considering the strict code of hospitality, that when broken had a few times resulted in war, the general sighed then picked up the cup. He drank until one of three large gems Brehira had placed in the goblet slipped into his mouth. He gasped and spit out a ruby. "What is this?" he insisted, plopping the ruby back in the wine goblet.

"There's more," she said. Brehira pulled the red covering from a small decorated box. She eased open the lid and exposed three necklaces and two bracelets. The general's eyes beamed as he looked upon the brilliant red fire emulating from the rubies embedded in the sun blaze of the gold.

"You can build yourself a castle, have hundreds of servants to attend you, and have the pick of women from the finest families, no more killing--no more taking orders from kings or anyone else, ever," she said.

"You really believe I'd betray my king for jewels? You don't know me. I'd never do that."

"Don't be a fool, man. I'm offering you wealth, status...something other than a king's henchman... and a horrid king at that."

General Brutus stood stone-faced--his loyalty appearing unshakeable.

Brehira sighed as she closed the box. "I was afraid you weren't the type to accept this kind of an offer. So, here's another--less expensive, actually. I'm simply going to tear my clothes and scream. Now I know most of your men will leave here alive and some of ours may die. But once that door opens, fifty men are going to rush in and cut you to pieces before your soldiers can get to you. What I'm saying, General, is, whatever happens, you're not leaving this room alive. Now, is that worth attempting to take a woman back to where she doesn't want to be...only to have her run away again? If she did it once, she'll do it again."

"You don't understand; I have my orders."

"You don't understand. Unless you leave without the princess, parts of you are going to be scattered all over this floor. Who do you think my husband is going to believe?"

Brutus stared at her without blinking. He looked at the door then back at her. He stood there motionless contemplating several moves that if Lady Abrams was right he would surely lose his life and many of his men. Not only that but the truth about the princess was sure to reach the king's ear. If and when it did, the General knew his life wouldn't be worth a spit in the wind. He would probably need these jewels to make a sudden exit. He knew the king too well. He had been in His Majesty's service for ten years. The king, if betrayed was like the very devil himself. Still, the General considered himself an honorable man and put the safety of his men above all else.

He scooped out the gems from the cup. "There's nothing I despise more than a conniving woman," he snapped. The General snatched the box placing both it and the gems under the bulk of his garment and left the room. He walked briskly past the Abram clan and told his men they were leaving.

"But, what about the princess?" one of Brutus' soldiers asked.

"She's an imposter! Let's go," Brutus commanded.

"But...general..."

"Go, I said!" The General and his men marched up the stairs followed by Judian and the captain.

When it was certain that the royal ship had gone, all focused their attention on Brehira who stood in the doorway of her cabin.

"Honey, how by the gods did you convince him she was an imposter?"

Brehira thought for a moment and then said. "Perhaps it was something in the wine. After all, the blend has been in your family for generations. She turned and closed the door behind her.

Gangus looked at Dinary and Celio dumbfounded. "Did she say the wine?"



Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay


Main Characters
Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master




 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 6
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter Six (Part 1)
The Endless Ocean
    



The Cristofur glided across the blue waters; the moon's light sparkled upon the waves as they splashed against the ship.

With the Brutus debacle behind them, the passengers settled in for the night. In the cabin next to Captain Dordrecht, Gangus and Brehira readied for bed. Gangus yawned widely and fluffed his pillow. He watched as she sat in front of her mirror brushing her long, raven hair that flowed to the middle of her back.

"All right," he said. "We're alone now. Just how did you get the general to change his mind?"

She looked over her shoulder at him momentarily, but didn't answer and continued brushing.

He sat patiently waiting for her to respond; finally, she placed the brush aside--walked over, and slid into bed beside him, but said nothing.

"Well?" he prompted.

She gathered the covers around her and pulled them up to her waist. "I offered him gems."

"Gems...you offered him your jewels?"

"Yes," she said her eyes downcast.

"How many?"

"Not many."

"How many are not many?"

"Necklaces, bracelets," she spat out, as if unconcerned.

"Necklaces? bracelets?"

"Yes."

"How many necklaces and bracelets?"

"Ah.....two, three...ah..."

"Well, which is it two or three?"

"Oh, great stars, does it really matter!"

"Brehira, your jewels are all we've got. If we should run into some financial problems..."

"All right! It was three rubies, three ruby necklaces, and two ruby bracelets."

"Holy Mother of earth, Brehira...that's a small fortune." Gangus raised his eyebrows and his eyes darted until they took in the whole area of the cabin. "And he took them? Brutus took a bribe...this so-called noble General of a royal fleet?"

"The man is noble," Brehira said solemnly.

"What?"

"The man is noble," she repeated more slowly.

"How can you say that when..."

"He refused the jewels."

"But, I don't understand. He didn't take the jewels, but you got him to leave without the princess?"

Brehira closed her eyes for a moment--inhaled then exhaled heavily. "I told him I would tear my clothes and..."

"You'd what?"

"Tear my clothes...scream and our soldiers would come...pieces of him all over the floor." She gave a long sigh. "So he took the jewels."

"Whoa! Say that again...slower."

"I...told the General if he didn't take the jewels and go without the princess I would scream and tear my clothes off and you and your men would ...you know."

"Bree hi ra."

"Well, what were we to do...with only twenty fighting men and Brutus with more reinforcement aboard the royal ship? And...and Myrah, I mean Netrekka refusing to go and you and Dinary could have been killed...and..." Her eyes filled.

"But, Bree hira...we would have butchered an innocent man."

Brehira pulled the covers up to her chin as if she wished to disappear in the mix of her shame. She laid her head against the headboard and closed her eyes.

There was a long silence as Gangus tried to take it all in. His thoughts grew crowded with the faces of those who could have died, including his son. Brehira was right--there had to be a less drastic course of action. He saw the moisture on her cheek and wiped it with his hand. She opened her eyes, grabbed his hand, and pressed it to her lips with a lingering kiss.

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

Gangus' eyes softened as he gazed into hers. "Oh, honey," he blew out hard, "I supposed before this godforsaken trip is at its end, we all will have done something out of character."

"You're not angry, then?" she asked.

"No. Now that I think of it, you were the only one who had a bloodless solution...an expensive one, but bloodless."

Brehira wiped the tears from her cheek. Both lay back against the pillows. Neither spoke; their eyes staring up at the ceiling as if their thoughts were in sync. Their labored breathing and blinking of eyelids seemed their only activities for moments at a time. The room was quiet, allowing Gangus' mind to wander into mischievous territory--the fallen angel's playground, as his ancestors had called it. He tilted his head to one side and a smirk spread across his face. Brehira--her eyes closed and nearness to sleep, felt Gangus' shoulder quiver against her. She tried to ignore it but the quivering became more intense. Finally, opening her eyes, she observed him shaking with silent laughter.

Confused, she asked, "Why are you laughing?"

"I didn't mean to disturb you. It's just I was lying here and the image of you stripped naked in front of me and twenty men with drawn swords popped into my head. And I thought, great Zeus, they would have been so captivated looking at you, I doubt if they would have given Brutus a thought." His shoulders shook again.

"And that's what you were lying here thinking?"

"I'm sorry, angel," Gangus said grinning.

"You think it's funny?"

"Forgive me, Love."

"Forgive you. You have any idea how dirty I felt having to tell the General such a thing?"

"I didn't mean to make light of your ordeal, Brehira. You have to admit it would have made quite a sight."

Brehira's mouth drooped and she fell back against the pillow. Gangus, seeing the frowns on his beautiful wife's face, became more serious in his tone. "I'm so sorry you had to stoop to that, my love." He pulled her to him. She resisted at first, but then let him pull her until her head lay upon his chest. "I will never allow you or any of our women to be put in a position like that again." He kissed her forehead. "You have my word."

"Well," she said, appearing to forgive his warped sense of humor, "thank the gods it worked."

"And thank you."

"Um," she uttered, "for keeping our men from bloodshed? You're welcome."

"No. For not stripping naked and traumatizing our son." His shoulders shook, heavily.

Brehira shot from his chest to a sitting position. "You despicable varmint!" she snapped and punched his shoulder.

He playfully grabbed her and pulled her to him. She tussled with him, but he wouldn't let go until he had teased her into laughter. Finally, after sharing moments of his contorted humor, she settled beside him. They held each other until the laughter ceased and sleep claimed them both.


End of part one

Image:  by Dantegrafice from Pixabay



Main Characters

Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master




 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 7
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter 6 (Part 2)
The Endless Ocean


Heavy rain and fog plagued the following days; the crew worked diligently as the ship conquered each opposing wave.

Having made its final supply stop before entering the realm of the Endless Sea, the ship's lower deck was now loaded with new tools, fresh drinking water, medicinal herbs, wine, ale, spices, dry foods, and small livestock.

By late evening, the rain had stopped and the dense blanket of mist thinned enough to view the faint twinkling of the stars. Remaining on the lower level of the ship for days due to bad weather, Dinary decided to take a walk with Princess Netrekka on the upper deck. The limited space during large gatherings had practically placed them in each other's lap. From the moment he'd met her, she was never far from his thoughts, nor his heart. His welcomed advances by the Princess made a perpetual romance imminent--so imminent that after only two months of courting, he asked her to be his wife which she accepted.

As the fog continued to thin, moonbeams crept through the haze. The couple stood together looking over the edge of the ship at the sparkling waves. "I love the way the moon lights up your hair," he said, fingering one of her dark curls. She turned to him, he gathered her in his arms and passionately kissed her. She rested her head on his chest, and he kept his arms around her.

"Are you excited about our wedding day?" she asked.

"Very."

"Whenever I bring it up, you don't seem to be."

"I'm sorry," he said. "I have a lot on my mind."

She lifted her head and smiled up at him. "More important than me?" she teased.

He gently outlined her high cheekbone with his finger. "Nothing is more important than you. I'm just a little worried about my father."

"Is he not well?"

"Physically, he's as fit as a young warrior." 

"What, then?"

"He is troubled. He pretends he's not. But I know him."

"It's all those tales about the Endless Ocean isn't it?"

"Oh, he's not afraid for himself...it's me, mother, and all of you he convinced to accompany him on this journey. It's wearing him down. I can see it on his face when he thinks no one's watching."

"But these tales have been around for ages. Surely they did not escape the ears of your father."

"They did not."

"Then, I don't understand," she said frowning. "If he's troubled, why pursue the journey?"

"Some...Oracle," Dinary said like a bad taste in his mouth, "called Naman convinced him that the gods want him to make this voyage."

Her facial expression more relaxed, Netrekka spoke calmly. "And you don't believe this Naman person?" Dinary didn't answer, but the princess didn't need one. She could see him struggling not to respond--not to seem in conflict with his father.

Dinary stared at the waves as if they had the answer he needed. He turned to her--parted his lips to speak, when suddenly, he shot his hand inside his shirt, grabbed his chest, and bent from the waist; his face contorted into tightly closed eyelids, a wrinkled nose and lips drawn back so far, his cheeks nearly touched his eyelashes.

"What is it! What is wrong!" she called out, reaching for him.

Dinary gasped and held his breath; his face flushed red and he groaned through his clenched teeth.

"Dinary! What is it...speak to me!" Netrekka grabbed him by the shoulders as he went down on one knee. "Please, what is wrong!"

"Aah!" Dinary yelled and pulled his hand from under his shirt.

Her eyes widened at the sight of a blistering burn mark on his chest. His fist was clasped tightly onto the silver eagle that hung from the chain around his neck. He couldn't let go of it and it was frying his hand.

"For god's sake, take it!" he shrieked.

Netrekka pried open his hand--forcefully peeling back every finger, one-by-one, and then not wanting to risk getting burnt, she carefully reached in the back of his neck and snatched the chain from over his head--tearing eagle and flesh from his palm. She slung the necklace over the side of the ship.

"No!" Dinary yelled. "Why did you do that!"

She stood frozen at his startling reaction.

"Why did you do that!"

"I...I..." she stammered.

"Why did you do that!"

"It was killing you!" she cried.

He turned from her. "That's all I had of my brother," he said, frantically searching the waves.

He turned to Netrekka who was crying loudly with her hands covering her face. Holding his injured hand like a dog with a wounded paw, Dinary slowly walked towards her. Angrier than frightened now, she pulled away from his good hand.

"I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry, Netrekka. I didn't mean to yell at you."

"What was that thing? Why would your brother give you such a thing?"

"It's never done that before. He wore it when we were children. I've seen it on him a thousand times, and it's never done that."

Netrekka, still reeling from Dinary's reaction to her tossing the necklace overboard, asked him harshly, "Where...did he get it?"

"He never said."

"Well, were you not curious?"

"Why? It was just a necklace."

The princess took a deep breath to calm her. She reached out and with a sympathetic look, gently held the arm with the burnt hand. "Just a necklace?" she said referring to his injury.

He gazed at his palm but said nothing.

"Perhaps your father may know som..."

"No." he interrupted. "I'm certain he knows nothing; he would have mentioned something when he saw me with it." Dinary cringed when he straightened his burnt hand. His palm, like blood-oozing raw meat, felt like scalding hot water being poured into it.

"Shall I call the Medicus?" she asked with great concern.

"Do me a favor."

"Anything, my love," she replied.

"Don't mention this to anyone. I want to find the answer myself."

"Of course, love. I..." Her next word caught in her throat as she gasped and her eyes widened. The burn mark on his chest appeared to sink as if in quicksand, and then new skin blossomed like a budding plant--that opened then laid flat.

"What?" Dinary asked her, looking down at his chest. "Whe...where did it go?" he asked looking and feeling around for the scar.

"It...just...disappeared," she said, her gaze still fixed on his chest.

Simultaneously, their eyes darted to his hand, and just as before, but with a slightly longer process, the injured part of his palm and fingers bubbled into flesh-colored foam. Dinary felt tingling but no pain. When the foaming stopped, burnt bits of flesh covered the palm and fingers like loose charred crust. He brushed off the pieces with his good hand and the dark flakes fell to the floorboards. The hand appeared healthy. They marveled at the mysterious incident and struggled to find words.

"What...in the name of the gods was that?" He finally blurted.

Netrekka looked out at sea. "We have entered strange territory, my love," she said in an icy tone.

Dinary's eyes flashed up at the sky that also took in the ocean. He grabbed Netrekka by her waist and slowly backed away from the wall of the ship.

"Let's not speak of this to anyone."

"I agree, my love."

They made the long walk back to her cabin where he kissed her goodnight.
After leaving her, Dinary walked up the hallway where he spotted Gangus with that same troublesome look on his face.

"Is everything well, Father?"

"Yes, I'm just taking this map up to Rhicer."

"I'll check on Mother before turning in."

"Fine. Good night," Gangus said hurrying up the stairs.

"Good night."

Dinary wondered what was so important for his father to see Rhicer at that time of night. But the need for sleep and the strain of that night's ordeal convinced him to let it ride until morning.

Rhicer was an old Sea Artist--the best of his kind. He was not only an expert compass reader, but he could read the stars and winds and could point out any route at sea. He could guess the coming weather just by how the waves struck against a piece of wood or other floating objects in the water. When Gangus entered his chamber, Rhicer was busy reading a chart and turned to greet him. "Well, Lord Abram, you're up pretty late. Couldn't sleep either, hey?"

"No. I could. I just wanted to see what you thought of this. It's rather strange. The Oracle gave it to me." Gangus handed him the map.

Rhicer glared at Gangus and smirked. He took the map, unfolded it, and turned it sideways up. After taking a few moments to examine it, his mouth fell open.

"Merciful gods, man. Did you say an Oracle gave you this?"

"Yes."

"The lands are filled with false Oracles, which is why most people laugh when someone says they spoke with one. I almost laughed at you. But I believe you did get this from an Oracle of the gods. You must be someone very special. Do you understand it?"

"Hardly, that's why I brought it to you."

"It's a star map...not just any star map. Some believe the gods created it themselves. Only a few of these exist in the world. It can take you through any waters, no matter how far, dangerous, or mystical. You can't get lost if you know how to read the formation of the stars. I know of only seven persons in all the world who can read these--I'm proud to say I am one of them."

For the first time, Gangus could breathe freely. "Rhicer, I can't tell you what a weight you've just lifted from my chest having said that. Because now I know for sure that the gods indeed blessed this journey."

The men became fast friends. Gangus sat up most of the night--fascinated, listening to Rhicer explaining the different formations of the stars and what they meant.

Down below, Dinary slept. In the dark silence of the room, a spot lit to a bright yellow upon his chest and the necklace suddenly reappeared around his neck. It lay against his skin, still and cold; the glow from the sapphire eye broke through the darkness of the room. The eye blinked--the wings moved as the eagle slowly turned its profile head and looked up at him. The other side of its profile was smooth, blank metal.  Dinary, still asleep, shifted over on his side. The tinkling sound of the chain and weight when it fell against his hand woke him. He jumped at the sight of the silver eagle. He was frightened at first, but then calmness covered him, like a liquid shadow. He lay in the dark clutching it and wondering about its mystery. Strangely, he smiled. It was all he had that belonged to his brother.

Meanwhile--on the top deck, Kofius signaled the captain. The Sail Master narrowed his eyes as if he couldn't believe what he saw. Under the bright beam of the moon sat a battered ship with dark, torn sails--each torn piece flapping in the night wind. Shadows appeared to dance across the deck of the abandoned ship as it slowly rocked to and fro against the toss of the waves. The prow was ten feet above the bow and was carved into a huge winged creature that looked as if it had come straight from the bowels of Hades. And in each of its carved skeletal hands were real swords that were three times the length and width of any crafted blade Kofius had ever seen.

Captain Dordrecht rushed in. "How does it look, Kofius?"

"Captain, I think you need to see this."




The End Of Chapter Six
Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay


Main Characters
Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master




 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 8
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter Seven
Ghost Ship


Kofius steadied the Cristofur as it drew near to the abandoned ship. It was a Veddenn war vessel used by sailors hundreds of years ago.

How had a ship that old happened to be in these waters and who left it here? Dordrecht wondered.

As they watched, the ship did a mysterious thing; it disappeared and reappeared constantly as it rocked to the rhythm of the waves: When the waves bowed the vessel to the right, it vanished; when the waves bowed it to the left, it appeared.

The captain slowly lowered the optic and frowned. "That's Strange," he said to Kofius.

Kofius lowered his optic and swallowed hard. "Strange, indeed, Sir."

"Take her to six."

"Aye, Captain," Kofius fired off. Skittishly taking hold of the equipment, he increased the speed which pushed the multi-ton vessel past five knots and left the abandoned ship behind.

Cruising smoothly under a bed of stars, Dordrecht joked and sang silly songs--whatever he could which steadied Kofius's nerves. The captain departed, leaving the Sail Master singing one of the funny tunes.

Later, down in his cabin, Dordrecht took a few gulps from a jug of wine to settle him. He kicked off his footwear and lay back on his cot fully clothed. He tried to put the abandoned ship incident at the back of his mind with other unexplainable events he'd witnessed at sea over the years. Though he had to admit that tonight's was high up on that list.

Captain Dordrecht eased into a much-needed slumber as the Cristofur mastered the dark water well into midnight. However, the efforts to file away that night's strange incident soon shattered with a direct signal to his cabin. Dordrecht rose quickly--nearly tumbling to the floor. He gathered himself, slipped his feet into his footwear, and hurried from the cabin. As he ran by, the crew--all too familiar with that routine, saw more than concern on their captain's face. They stared with opened mouths as he scurried up the stairs.

"How does it look, Kofius?"

"That same ship, Captain--it's...it's up ahead," Kofius said in a high-pitched voice.

"What do you mean up ahead?" Dordrecht snapped, raising the optic to his eye. "Can't be the same ship." He snatched the optic down. "Great Zeus!"

The Veddenn sat upon the dark water as it had previously--its ragged sails flapping in the wind, and constantly fading then blinking back into view. The strange ship's menacing appearances proved relentless: The Cristofur would pass the Veddenn--leaving it at least a league behind, only to have it spotted up ahead minutes later again and again. Many crew members also noticed that bizarre occurrence and fearfully complained among themselves.

Dordrecht, however, continued peering through the optic. With no sign of the mysterious ship for over an hour, Dordrecht laughed nervously and said perhaps he and Kofius suffered the same mirage. But that nonsensical notion came abruptly to a halt when the Veddenn rammed the Cristofur from behind, hurling the captain and Kofius across the deck.

The massive jolt threw people out of bed, and crew members against the walls of the ship.

"Man overboard!" a shipmate blasted; the man battled to keep his head above the waves. Before his shipmates could reach him, a second ramming pitched them into the ocean. Chaos generated by the attack prevented further rescue efforts, and the men were struck and killed by the mysterious ship.

Kofius was hurt badly, and Captain Dordrecht lay unconscious.

As second in command, Judian managed to reach the first deck and took over the helm.

"Lead the women to the safe chamber!" Judian yelled to a group of soldiers.

The alarm filled the air; soldiers grabbed swords and scrambled to the first deck but soon fell over like injured ducks in a pond when the Cristofur was rammed, yet again.

Gangus and Celio hurried to the first deck. The alarm screamed. There were yelling and thundering sounds of running. Archers scrambled to their war stations with arrows fixed within their bows.

The Veddenn moved alongside the Cristofur, and the men gasped. The ship which earlier had appeared to have no one aboard now carried decayed sailors clad in tattered, early century uniforms. Some had half skeletal and half flesh-rotted faces. Their hair hung long, wild, and wiry--entangled with ocean debris; a few had an arrow sticking out of their heads; some had swords embedded in their torsos up to the hilt and protruding out of their backs. In every fleshless hand were swords that glittered under the moonlit sky.

At Judian's command, the archers shot their arrows; each shaft met its mark, but there were no living organs to be hit. The archers and commander stood in awe as the arrows flew into empty eye sockets and nasal cavities--nicking the bones of their cheeks and piercing their heads and necks with no effect. The dead sailors jumped from their ship to the Cristofur and mercilessly attacked.

The women in the lower decks prayed to the gods. The thundering footsteps, shouts, and battle cries they heard from above were nerve-racking.

As swords were striking and sparking, lightning cracked the sky and thunder roared. Several dead warriors descended the stairs; not one foot touched wood. They floated down the hallway then turned when they heard the women praying. Soldiers in charge of guarding the women gasped; their faces flushed white with fright--still, they bravely confronted the creatures, but the ghost warriors made little work of mortal flesh.

The women tearfully begged the gods for intervention when the door flew off its hinges and sailed across the room. The women's screams pierced the ceiling and rose steadily as the undead warriors floated towards them and lifted their swords.

Brehira, fearing the last breath for them all, grieved for her husband and son who fought on the upper deck and hated the thought of never seeing them again.
If I can take just one with me, she thought. She picked up a lantern and threw it at one of the creatures; it hit the warrior--setting it ablaze, but the ball of fire undeterred, turned its attention fully on her now and the other creatures followed.

Brehira, feeling the heat of the flames as they floated toward her, threw up one hand to block the blows. She covered her face with the other as the undead raised their swords above her head. Suddenly, her hand felt warm and glowed. She snatched her hand back and stared at it. When she saw that the warriors were terrified of it, she lifted her hand again, not knowing what to expect--but hoping the gods had done something, anything. The glow from her hand intensified and shot out a ray as bright as the sun. The demons fell into a heap of gray ashes and their swords vanished in a flash of light. The women crawled over to Brehira--whimpering and lay at her feet for protection. Brehira just stared off, speechless.

On the top deck, Celio was being fought hard by the warriors. Just as one was about to strike a deadly blow, Celio ducked then came up and cut off the dead warrior's sword hand, then its head, sending it over the side of the ship.

Celio turned to see who to fight next when he spotted Gangus in trouble with two warriors on him. He ran to Gangus's side and, together, they took down several of them, cutting off their heads and arms which sent them thudding to the floorboards in rotted pieces.

Both turned and saw that Judian was down. He had been stabbed in the shoulder and lay on his back still fighting with his sword--blood gushing, and a warrior standing over him, battling him relentlessly. It stabbed Judian again but Gangus whacked off its head, and Celio severed its torso.

Gangus and Celio looked around to see who to help next--both bleeding from deep cuts. They saw numerous bones and decayed flesh scattered on the floorboards; standing over them, their heroic shipmates dripping in their own blood and dry swords held loosely at their sides.

Gangus and Celio helped Judian off the floor. It was over. The men ignored their wounds and greeted one another with wide smiles and bearhugs of victory.

But that victory was shortened when slowly, every head turned toward the Veddenn: A loud cracking sound like wood breaking rose in the night air. The men stood motionless with parted lips and gazing eyes. The carved creature opened its demonic mouth and sucked air into its wooden body. The loud cracking of the wood when it turned its head towards the men sent chills up their spines. Its eyes were the only things not made of wood; they were flesh, black and bulging.

The loud cracking continued as the carved creature wrested itself from the bow. It stood over twelve feet tall and broad as an Ogre, dressed in a red garment from its hooded head, long tight sleeves down to its wooden feet. Its facial expression shone placid as its demonic eyes bore a gaze that chilled the human soul. The creature held huge giant-size swords in both its ligneous hands. Its wings that spread six feet on either side, shot out with a sound of a mighty rushing wind. As the wings flapped, they made both ships rock from side to side.

The creature flew to the Cristofur and hovered for a moment flapping its wings until it rested its feet on the floor of the deck with a loud thud that unsteadied the ship's balance; the giant's weight touching deck caused the men to tumble over and roll about the floor. The creature stood looking down upon the men with both swords out to its sides--its giant wings tucked and folded inward as it took a battle stance.

Another roar of thunder cracked the sky. The men scrambled to their feet, stood together, and braced themselves. Practically blinded by the heavy rainfall, they stood bravely and prepared for a battle to the death. The archers shot their arrows--aiming for the eyes, but the wooden giant batted each away like they were bothersome flying insects. Several men ran up and stabbed it, and saw no blood, just splinters. Then swordsmen took turns cutting it, trying to find its vulnerability, while behind them, archers shot arrows one after another.

The creature swung its giant weapons, slicing swordsmen in two, and sending several heads into the sea. The soldiers fought hard but never made a dent hurting it.

The fallen men's blood ran along the floorboards like scattered scarlet ribbons. The ones who were still standing stood back panting and sweating; each silently prayed to the gods as they readied themselves to launch another attack.

"Wait!" a seaman yelled. "Maybe we can set it on fire!"

"No, we'll burn the ship down, you fool!" Judian said, still heavily bleeding.

"But we're no match for it, Sir," another yelled. "I'd rather burn and go down with the ship!"

Judian laid into the seaman, calling him an idiot when suddenly, the creature bellowed a growl that shook the heavens then leaped forward.

Straightaway, Dinary, as if he'd been kept unaware until this crucial moment, stepped through the crowd. His expression appeared vague. He stared the wooden giant in its lifeless, twin balls of flesh. The creature stumbled back when it spotted Dinary's necklace; but apart from everyone there, only
its demonic eyes saw the powerful entity emanating from it. The creature's entire attention switched to Dinary who gripped two swords, something he'd never done before. He stood in a fighting stance and waited for the creature to make its move. Celio and several men bravely walked up and stood next to him, but Dinary ordered them back.

"Are you mad?" Celio blurted.

Dinary never answered, but remained focused on the creature as if in a trance. Suddenly, the creature raised its massive sword and brought it down upon Dinary. But Dinary brought both swords up, blocked, and held it up with the robustness of a god. The men gasped at Dinary's sudden strength.

Then Dinary leaped to the side of the creature and severed one of its hands. The huge sword and hand thundered to the deck floor. Dinary dropped his swords, pulled the weapon from the severed hand and held it like he would an ordinary sword.

"How the stars did he do that?" Judian asked. "That sword looks to be the weight of a man."

The men stood amazed as Dinary sliced and cut away at the creature, but never received one returned blow. The creature became frustrated fighting with only one hand; it gnashed its wooden fangs with every failed attempt to sever Dinary's head and separate him from the necklace. But Dinary moved like a mongoose dodging the lightning strike of a Cobra.

The massive swords clanked and sparked as the rain beat upon them. The creature swung and missed at every turn; Dinary connected his blade with ease, cutting off wooden chunks of it--whittling its legs until they split and broke which brought the giant crashing to the floor. Dinary swooped in and rammed the massive blade into a black eyeball--severing the source of its demonic power. Blood gushed out like a crimsoned waterfall.

Suddenly, a huge fiery hand, skeletal, and seeping black smoke, shot from the ghost ship, yanked the creature, and pulled it into its bowels. The ship burst into flames. The men stood frozen as the ship took on the form of a monstrous red demon. It thundered a roar that sent the men dropping to their knees with hands clasped over their ears.

As if a spell had been broken, the demon started to sink but clawed viciously to stay afloat. Tongues of fire danced upon the waves. The demon bellowed a final roar then the ocean opened its mouth into a rising whirlpool and devoured it.

A great cheer went up from the men.

Victory, however, proved bittersweet as hours later they would prepare the ocean burials for the brave men who perished.



Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay


Main Characters


Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree hear rah) His wife
Dinary (Di nah ry) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters

Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master


 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 9
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Chapter Eight
The Island of Gorr (Part 1)

The Cristofur sailed Coup de Main for many weeks. However, the unfathomable air had aged the food supply, turned freshwater green, and livestock sickened and died.

Fellow passengers, once kind and considerate grew into vicious rivals over the smallest morsel: The viciousness reached its peak when a dozen women fought over a goose egg; the egg, a nose, a finger, and a front tooth--all broke as the women tore into each other before finally separated.

Since the ghost ship incident, Brehira periodically stayed in her cabin praying to the gods and speaking with them in dreams. She knew her power could destroy but learned that with rigid discipline, it could also heal. Brehira preferred healing. Her hands were as a potable medicinal garden and she shared that knowledge with Gangus and Dinary. Brehira's discovery came too late for the animals, but passengers and crewmembers quickly recovered from all ailments due to her awesome capability--a gift from the gods.

Dinary, who had discovered a link between the necklace and how he'd defeated the wooden giant, shared his secret as well.

Gangus was not pleased. He smelled a supernatural rat. Had these gifts been given to aid them safely over the deadly waters to their promised paradise, or did the gods have other uses for Brehira and Dinary's powers? Gangus grew angry. The gods were holding back. And he had harsh words for Raziel--the god who'd orchestrated the journey.

*****

Morality was down; unfortunately, Brehira had no cure for that. Gangus, the awesome leader he'd proven to be and greatly respected, managed to bring the people back to their senses, but not before breaking up a few more fights. Alone in his cabin, he prayed. "Oh, Raziel...what have you done? What have you gotten me into? You promised me kingdoms in a paradise land, but all I have is a ship full of mad, starving people. Answer me!"

As Gangus sat pondering, a bell urgently rang out signaling land. Gangus rose to his feet. He lifted his eyes to the ceiling and mumbled praise.

Through his optic, Captain Dordrecht saw in the far distance, a long dark strip--mostly flat, wavy, and several giant masses stretched high upon the surface: As hours passed, the Cristofur, moving ever closer, revealed a dark soil-covered land with grassy hills and the tallest mountains Volarians had ever seen: They appeared smoky-gray with peaks as rows of arrow tips.

Two fifty-foot beige stone pillars on either side gated the entrance to the shoreline. The pillars were carved into creatures with no genitals and one large eye in the middle of each face just above the mouth. They had no noses, but on each forehead--a horn-shaped like a dagger.

A deathly silence fell over the crew as the ship passed through the gate, mindful of just months before a wooden behemoth had come to life. The swordsmen and archers were ready--never taking their eyes off the graven images. Only after cruising a distance from it, did all breathe a sigh of relief, but quite unaware that an animagus--following their every move, soared to land and revealed the imposing ship to its master.

A small party of swordsmen left the ship including, Celio, archers, and the dark-skinned Volarian, Olatunji, who served as their Striker--an expert hunter, big fish fisherman, with knowledge of medicinal plants and herbs. Because of his great strength, he too served as a warrior. With his six-foot spear, he could knock a bird out of the air with a 30-to-50-foot throw.

Gangus brushed past Dinary. "No, Father, you should stay. The people are still unstable, and they will only listen to you."

Gangus raised his hand--a gesture to silence him. "If this is the land," he said, "then I should be the one to investigate it. The people respect you as my son. They will listen to you as well."

Dinary, though not pleased, nodded in agreement.

Although thirsty and weak from a lack of food, Gangus, and the men left the ship and traveled along a narrow yellow strip.

At first, they passed through what seemed common with any land: beach and sand, though darker than Volarian sand; stones, and rocks, plants, and trees--though odd-looking and some leafless. A small flock of fowls flew overhead or looked small because of their flying distance. The men continued walking the winding path with different colored pebbles crunching underfoot.

Then the unfamiliar came to sight--as if a time shift had occurred. Everything seemed huge like the pre-human age. Trees were as tall as towers; bushes, twelve-feet-tall, dirt black as coal--blades of grass shoulder-high, bowing in a foul breeze. The surroundings appeared deliberately normal until it was not--as though its creator wanted unwelcomed visitors to feel comfortable before the land's reality came crashing in on them.

"What in Hades is this?" Bebo asked, then silence.

"What in Hades is what?" Celio answered, eyeballing his surroundings. He looked back.
"Bebo." Celio looked around. "Bebo!" He walked a ways back still calling.

"What's happen--where's Bebo?" Rufus asked bewildered.

Celio turned to Rufus with hands-on-hips. "If I knew that, you think I'd...Great Zeus!" Celio yelled, spotting Bebo. Everyone's eyes shifted to Bebo who stood facing a tree covered with large pink and blue flowers and a pink flower wrapped around his entire head. His muffled cries and flailing arms freaked Rufus to no end.

All but Rufus dropped their gear; they ran and took hold of the six petals, which felt silky to the touch, but strong as leather. The men strained and pulled, but the petals held tightly like a kiss of death.

After appearing helpless to free Bebo, Gangus muscled his way in between the men, pushing them aside. He gripped and pulled Bebo's head, creating a short distance between Bebo's covered head and the tree until the distance resembled stretched dough. But Bebo's head slipped from Gangus's fingers and Bebo's face smacked into the tree nearly knocking him unconscious.

Bebo cursed in a torrent of muffles, but clearly, though faintly screamed, "What in god's name are you doing?"

"We're trying the best we can," Gangus urged. "Hang on." He pulled out a blade and sawed, but the leathery petals resisted every cut as if the blade were his finger.

If Bebo couldn't be more stressed--he was and shouted, "Is this thing male or female!"
Looking puzzled, Gangus snapped, "What?" He turned the blade, held it in his fist, and poked the petals with the point of the blade. "What kind of fool question is that?"

"It's sucking on my lip," Bebo muffled loudly.

"You idiot! It's probably trying to eat you!" Rufus yelled.

"Auh!" Bebo cried out. He wiggled and jerked, trying to pull free.

"Quiet, Rufus!" Gangus scolded. "Bebo stay calm; let me try something from its own soil." Gangus placed the blade back in his belt. He bent and picked up a shiny transparent stone. He raked the sharp edge across the petals; the stone immediately smoked and a spark of fire burned a hole in a petal. The tree trembled and the petals shot from Bebo's head. He fell back onto the ground panting and gulping air into his lungs.

Bebo, sprawled upon the ground, attempted to show his gratitude but appeared quickly forgotten as Celio, Rufus, and the others had become fascinated with the transparent stone Gangus examined and twirled in his fingers.

Moving on down another path, Gangus kept his eye out for a suitable spot to set up camp while still light. As they puffed along the trail, the ground became rugged and the air--chilly. Celio scurried up beside each man handing out kaggo nuts which they kept in storage just for foot traveling. Its outer shell was chewy and nutritious--inside, a thick jelly to stay hydrated. There were only a few and Celio wisely took charge of them.

Exhausted, the men dragged on--chewing nuts and observing the strange environment. Suddenly, an odd flock of red creatures flew overhead.

"Whoa! Look at that," Celio said, looking up wide-eyed.

The creatures were red-feathered with green dagger-like beaks; they appeared twice as large as an eagle and had long, clawed feet.

"Food!" one of the men blurted.

Everyone stood dumbfounded looking up at the creatures.

"Olatunji," Rufus called, sounding agitated. "What the Hades are you waiting for? Surely you can hit one from here."

"I don't know." Olatunji hesitated. "They look mighty disagreeable--even from here."

"Nonsense," Rufus added. "How can dinner look disagreeable?"

"Olatunji is right," Gangus weighed in. "Let's wait for..." Before Gangus could finish his sentence, one of the archers loaded a bow and shot an arrow into the sky. It bulls-eyed a creature in the neck and brought it nosediving to the ground.

Some men cheered, but all were soon taken aback when the creatures flew into an arrow formation and dove toward them.

"Holy Jupiter!" Gangus yelled. "Stand your ground!"

The swordsmen drew their weapons and archers loaded their bows. Gangus and Celio stood side-by-side with their swords drawn. Archers let loose a hail of arrows, but the creatures, which seemed like lightning speed, disbursed--allowing the arrows to swoop past them, then went quickly back into formation.

Before the archers could reload, the creatures crashed upon them--beaks stabbing torsos, heads, hands and arms thrown up for protection; the archers grabbed arrows, and birds and men were soon covered in each other's blood. The swordsmen, however, fared better: Protecting themselves as well as the archers, they severed beaks, heads, wings, and feet until the attacking fowls were no more than a garbage heap.

"Merciful gods," Celio puffed, trying to catch a breath. "First time I almost got my butt kicked by a bird."

The men flopped upon the ground panting heavily and spitting pieces of feathers.

"We've been here hours and nothing to show for it. What if we go back empty-handed...What do we tell the mates?" Bebo blurted.

"We'll tell them the truth," Celio smirked. "We fought monsters while you were making out with a tree."

The men chuckled.

"Hey, that thing tried to eat my face."

"I thought you said it was sucking your lips," Rufus teased.

The men laughed as a few puckered and made kissing sounds to Bebo.

Bebo ignored them and pulled a couple of Kaggo nuts from his pouch and tossed one into his mouth.

"Does it ever get dark in this place?" Rufus asked. "Feels like we've been here all day."

"Perhaps that's not something we should want right now," Gangus replied.

Minutes passed as the men sat and tried to gather themselves. Sprawled upon the ground, Celio covered head to toe in blood and feathers, snapped at Gangus. "If this is paradise, please shake me when we get to Hades."

Gangus, once again unsure of the god's intentions, and not wanting to discourage his men, hid his disappointment with his downcast eyes. Rhicer, along with the map had fallen overboard during the attack. Gangus was doing the best he could with the knowledge Rhicer had shared. Slow in answering, he wiped his bloody sword across the leg of his garment. "The gods have some serious explaining...I suppose," he said.

"You suppose?" Rufus snapped, looking around nervously. "I say we go back to the ship."

"Yeah," Bebo said angrily. "And tell the gods where to stick this journey."

"No. So far we've managed what this place has thrown at us," Gangus said.

"What if you've made a mistake?" Celio asked. "This may not even be the place the gods spoke of."

"True, but we won't know that by sitting here, will we?" Gangus replied, getting up from the ground. He shoved his sword into its sheath and grabbed his gear; seeing his expression, the men knew to do the same--begrudgingly of course.

Celio stood, stretched then reached down and grabbed his gear when suddenly a whooshing sound whizzed a few inches from him, and then a faint-sounding thud. Celio's eyes followed a scream and saw a long, wooden handle attached to a wide, carved stone sticking out of Bebo's back. He was dead--face down.

"We're under attack!" Celio bellowed. He dropped his gear and pulled his sword.

"Stand your ground!" Gangus yelled.

Gangus and Celio's eyes flashed toward a group of tall bushes. Swordsmen stood in formation as archers loaded their bows. The ground shook. The top of the bushes waved left and right as they parted from the rear--opening wider and wider until the first Ogrekinkin, ten-foot-tall, blubber in the belly, twice as burly as a wine barrel, stood wide-legged. Draped in animal skins, with one shoulder and arm exposed, it carried a huge stone cleaver. Others followed until twelve Ogrekinkins stood huffing before them. The silence was deafening--the odor from them sickening as the men stood facing the monstrosities.

"Fire!" Gangus bellowed.

The archers struck their marks, but the points of their arrows were as needles sticking in the leathery skins of the giants. Though the arrows had not harmed the Ogrekinkins, the metal was something they had never felt before, and they were taken aback but not deterred.

"Dakrudah!" the head Ogrekinkin yelled and giant feet thundered towards Gangus and his men. Many archers were cut to pieces and the swordsmen's weapons, helpless against the heavy sharp stone of the cleavers, fell headless in seconds.

"Retreat!" Gangus screamed. "Back to the ship!"

"Stand your ground! Celio yelled. "Protect Lord Gangus!"

"No, you fools!" Gangus told them.

Celio shoved Gangus behind him. Heavily bleeding, the surviving twelve, including Olatunji, surrounded Gangus like a human wall.

"This is madness. Save yourselves!" Gangus ordered.

"You said the gods sent you here!" Celio yelled. "Then the gods will help us--they must!"

But the gods did not lend a helping hand that moment. The sounds of the Ogrekinkins' cleavers hacking bone, wailing cries of dying men, and Celio's screaming run for your lives, all faded like echoes in a dark valley.




Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay


Main Characters
Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew dee in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
Olatunji (O lah tune gee) Cushite Striker and warrior

 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 10
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Chapter Eight
The Island of Gorr (Part 2)

Gangus woke in what seemed an abyss of darkness; the atmosphere, desolate and cold, seemed far more sinister than the mere absence of light.

Blood bubbled from the corners of his swollen lips with every breath he exhaled; one eye puffed shut, resembling a little purple ball--throbbed.
Pain, good, he thought. I am not in the afterlife.

Gangus strained to remember the last scene before blacking out. Oh, yes--his good eye blinked in recollection: The stones--its blades hacking, the screams, his men falling--Celio, knocking him to the ground, protecting him, slicing the belly of an Ogrekin--its guts spilling to the earth.

However, surviving made Gangus feel like a coward--as if he'd been a captain who'd jumped ship and left his mates to rot at the bottom of the sea. He lay quietly, shivering and soaked in his grief.

"Lord Gangus!" A weak, but clear whisper shattered the dark silence.

"I am here. Who is there?"

"Celio, My Lord."

Gangus, too thrilled to answer right away, closed his good eye and wanted to thank the gods but was too angry at them.

"My Lord, are you still there? Are you not well?"

Gangus could hear the fear in his voice. "I believe I will live, my friend. What of you?"

Celio, who had lost an ear and barely escaped the full force of the sharp stones, had several deep slashes across his chest, arms, thighs, and back. From the pain, he knew the wounds were badly infected.

"Celio?"

"I will live as well, My Lord."

"Are there others with you...or perhaps they escaped?" Gangus held his breath momentarily. Celio's long silence needed no answer. Gangus felt as if his heart had sunk into his stomach.

"None are here, sir. I...I doubt if any escaped," he stammered. "Besides I..."

A hacking cough cut through the dark.

"Mercy, that cough sounds really bad, Celio. We must find a way out of here and get you back to the ship."

"But...I didn't cough, sir."

"What?"

"I'm afraid that was me," a strange voice said. "I did not mean to introduce myself in such a crude manner. I am Lord El' Tedar. Though, I no longer look to be the Lord of anything anymore."

"Glad to make your acquaintance, Lord Tedar," Gangus greeted. "Are there others with you?"

"No. It's been just me until the two of you came. Thank the gods I don't have to talk to myself anymore. And in case you're wondering why you two are alive--those beasts like to keep a few for sport."

"Sport?" Gangus asked.

"And dinner," Tedar concluded.

"Whoa!" Celio blurted. His voice sounded stronger.

"Which are we?" Gangus asked. "Do you know?"

"Depends," Tedar answered.

"Depends on what?" Celio snapped. "If you know something...tell us."

"I intend to..." Lord Tedar coughed deeply. "Just give me a moment," he said with a bit of choking in his voice.

"You sound every bit of a man well-aged. Or are you just ill?" Gangus reasoned.

"Both." He coughed again, more deeply.

"How long have you been here?"

"I was not young when captured and have been here twelve years. I no longer count the years, though. It's useless to count; especially when you know you're never leaving. I'm from the Qu'Venar race and fear those who loved me have forgotten me by now."

"You said something about the three of us being dinner," Celio blurted.

"Oh, no not me. I'm too useful to these beasts. You see, they like to be entertained. I'm forced to perform my arcane arts for the chieftain. First I refused, but they'd tortured other captives in front of me...giving me a taste of what I'd get. So I took the coward way out. I'm--so ashamed."

"Nonsense," Gangus said. "We all do what we must to stay alive."

"Arcane arts?" Celio asked.

Lord El' Tedar chuckled softly then coughed. "I gather there's no magic where you're from?"

"No," Gangus told him. "We're from Volaria, but since we've entered this realm, magic doesn't seem all that strange to us anymore."

"Why didn't you use your magic to escape?" Celio asked him.

"This sickness has kept me much too weak to perform such a powerful spell as that."

"I see," Gangus answered. He felt bad for the old Lord and hoped, somehow, the three of them might escape.

*****

Hours passed--the darkness lifted, leaving the three captives quite visible to one another.

Outside, hundreds of feet away, the sun lingered over the blood-stained soil where Gangus's men were slain. A few feet from there, a deep groan came from a thick bush. The leaves rustled and a bush cane bent when Olatunji sat up and leaned on it. He crawled out from the bush still dazed. He had several long deep cuts across his chest, back--a short one across his forehead, and a small chunk of his scalp was gone.

He had become conscious just in time to stop his bleeding using torn pieces of his garment; he had sprinkled medicinal herbs into his wounds from a pouch on a string that hung around his neck.

Olatunji looked around where he had seen his comrades fall and saw nothing but long smears of blood upon the dark soil as if bodies had been dragged off. He wasn't among them because when Celio screamed run for your lives--he did, but collapsed in the thickness of a bush.

As vicious as the attack was, Olatunji hoped that like him, Lord Gangus and some of his comrades had escaped or been captured and were still alive. He stood--took a few steps but grabbed onto a tree when he wobbled. After Olatunji's body steadied and his head cleared, he set out tracking the bloody drag marks and huge footprints.

After covering a lot of ground and being down to his last Kaggo nut, Olatunji grew tired and weak, but continued to search for hours; suddenly, several Ogrekins appeared from a distance. Olatunji ducked behind a giant tree; he observed the Ogrekins taking what he perceived to be prisoners to a gray stone building; none appeared to be his comrades. Once they were out of sight, he stealthily made his way to the same entrance. Inside, he discovered a staircase leading downward.

Olatunji quietly walked down the spiraling stone steps into a dark place that reeked of stench. As he stood at the bottom of the stairs, he quietly called out to Gangus. He called out several more times--raising his voice a little each time and was startled when he finally got a distant response.

However, the cries he heard were in tongues he didn't understand. He continued following the cries, hoping it wasn't a trap. The stench thickened in his nostrils and he began to gag. As Olatunji moved closer to the cries, he stopped and vomited after spotting numerous human body parts in countless barrels. Some barrels were for heads only and some for eyes, feet, tongues, and hands.

He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and continued creeping along, watching and listening for the presence of Ogrekins. He carefully rounded a corner; the cries grew louder, closer, but still none in Volarian. He encountered a locked door with a ring of keys hanging above it. He looked around him quickly then grabbed the keys and inserted several before the right one turned completely, but the second the door opened, the cries stopped; when the captives saw he wasn't an Ogrekin, they started yelling again.

As Olatunji passed the cages, their hands reached beyond the bars--their eyes pleading as they yelled to him in their native languages. He assumed they were begging to be let free. He stared at every face, hoping to see his Lord and other comrades. Their scrawny, worn and bloody fingers desperately tried to touch him. One with longer arms grabbed his garment and yanked him to the bars of their confinement; then many hands were pulling--tearing pieces of his clothing and grabbing hold of his hair.

Olatunji gritted his teeth and struggled against their iron grips. He managed to pull a blade from his waist and slashed the hands that held him. He broke away and fell to the floor; a few sucked their hands and fingers where he'd wounded them as blood streamed down the wooden bars of their cage. He hurried past them--his blade extended, watching for long arms.

As he passed another pair of cages, he neither saw hands extended, nor heard cries for help. His eyes scanned the faces of the captives--beats of his heart pounding within his chest; he saw people without hands, feet, and eyes. Some made inaudible noises with painful expressions and stared off.

"Holy gods. What have I stumbled into?" Olatunji said to himself. He rounded another corner and saw another door with a ring of keys right above it. He inserted the right key, pushed the heavy door open, and light rushed in. There were seven cages but only three were occupied with spaces far in between them.

Gangus, eyes closed, lay in a fetal position--still racked with pain. The old Lord coughed deeply, looked up then cleared his throat.

"Who are you?" Tedar asked.

Celio sat up and turned his face towards the opened door. His eyes widened and quickly filled at the sight of his dark comrade. "Olatunji, how did you...did you just walk in?"
Gangus, hearing this, shot up to a sitting position. "Merciful gods, man, you're alive! Are there others?"

Olatunji's eyes brightened when he saw his Lord and comrade. "I don't know. It's just me and there's no time to talk."

He rushed towards Gangus's cage. The cage was made of thick wood, and Olatunji hacked away at the bars with his sword. Then, with all of his strength, he pulled the whittled wood apart with his bare hands until they splintered and broke. After Gangus's release, Olatunji released Celio.

"Let's get the hades out of here," Olatunji said, turning and leading the way back out.

"Wait! I want you to release my new friend. He's back there," Gangus said, pointing to Lord El' Tedar's cage.

Olatunji didn't hesitate but went back and hacked away at the cage and broke in. They were surprised when the old Lord didn't rise. Gangus told him, "You're free, come with us." But he gestured with his finger for Gangus to come closer. He told Gangus about a magic staff that was taken from him when he was captured. He said the Chieftain kept it near him always. "The wretched beast doesn't know its power and thinks it's a walking stick," Tedar said with a choked voice.

It became clear to Gangus that the old Lord was dying. He pointed out to Gangus a flat stone tablet that he had hidden under his straw bed; it contained instructions and the command words for the staff which were written in his dried blood. Gangus pulled the stone from under the straw and begged the old one to come with them. He revealed Brehira's healing gifts.

"There is no way her powers can reach me here, and I'm too old and weak to travel. If you should ever meet my people, don't tell them of my miserable existence. Tell them I died in luxury due to my arcane gifts." And then he said in a weaker voice, "Promise me."

"I promise," Gangus told him.

With that, Gangus rose and Olatunji led them past the cages of reaching hands and unknown tongues when suddenly they heard a female voice say, "You idiots are not going to leave us here, are you?"

The three men looked down upon their feet and below; looking up through an iron grate in the floor was a pair of blue eyes sparkling up at them. She had a commanding voice, like someone of note. She instructed them on how to get her and her sister out. Gangus looked around and spotted a short iron bar that had a sharp end. He and Olatunji pried up the grate, pulling the young females free. They were beautiful and tall, like amazons, and were partially nude. The men gave up some of their clothing. The older sister threw her golden hair out of her eyes as she covered her nakedness.

"It's a good thing we heard you," Olatunji said smiling.

"What do you want--a trophy? Let's get out of here," the older sister said. Then, she looked around for where the Ogrekins kept their weapons and spotted a locked door. With her great strength, she kicked it in.

Olatunji was taken aback. "Great stars, she's strong," he said.

"And ungrateful," Gangus replied.

There, she saw hundreds of weapons leaning against the wall, on tables, and lined side by side on the floor. She and her sister tossed aside weapons until they gazed upon their own: a sword, a six-foot spear, and matching decorated shields. She handed the sword and a shield to her younger sister. Gangus and the men found their weapons also.

"Nice to make your acquaintance. I'm Gangus, this is Celio and Olatunji."

"I'm Ndornah and this is my younger sister, Melitah."

Ndornah and the men started toward the door. Melitah hung back.

"Wait," Melitah said.

Ndornah stopped and turned to her. "Wait for what?"

"The others--shouldn't we free them as well?"

"Why--what are they to us? We haven't time; now come on while we still can," Ndornah ordered.

"But sister, they can help us fight."

"Those weak starving creatures? I doubt if they can lift a weapon, let alone fight with one," she smirked.

"That may be so, but they deserve to die like men," Melitah said.

Gangus stared at Melitah. He saw Brehira in her--full of wisdom and kindness. He liked her. Olatunji and Celio liked how she thought and both grabbed their swords, ran back, and hacked the wooden cages. Gangus and Ndornah kept watch as Melitah joined in freeing the captives. The ones in cages who were blind and badly mutilated were left behind.

The half-starved men stumbled out of their cages and were led to the weapons room. They were in rags and filthy; they smelled of urine and feces. Their entire rib cage shone through their skin and they could barely hold up the weapons. Gangus understood men and their desperation. He knew a talk was needed but didn't speak their languages. However, there's something universal about a leader raising his sword--pounding his chest, yelling something, and waving men on.

The men grinned, raised their weapons, and each, in their native tongue, yelled back to Gangus; adrenalin appeared to kick in as the men bucked up and gripped their weapons.

Impatient, Ndornah grabbed hold of her sister and hurried toward the door. Then she turned and snapped, "You want us to leave you behind, or are you coming?" She didn't wait for a response. She and Melitah peeked out then ran off.

"Leave
us behind?" Gangus said. "That is one arrogant woman." He and Olatunji exchanged puzzling glances then all three took off behind the women with the released men stumbling behind.

When they finally caught up to the sisters, Gangus took over the lead. He put the stone tablet into a medium-size pouch and handed it to Celio. "No matter what happens, don't lose this," Gangus said sternly. Celio took the pouch and nodded.

As Gangus, the men, and the sisters inched closer to where the Ogrekins were gathered, he heard deep laughter from the Ogrekins and cries from their victims. Ogrekins love to play games with their prey. They would order them to run around then set out to catch and batter them. Once the games were over, the victims were skinned, gutted, and chopped for stew.

Gangus also observed that the warriors that had defeated them were not there, but just a remnant left to protect and entertain the Chieftain.

Hiding back in the thick of a group of bushes, Gangus couldn't take the games any longer. These weren't his men; he had never seen such humanoid creatures, but his heart went out to them. With large cleavers, a few Ogrekins had cornered a creature and were slashing it to pieces as it begged and screamed. Then Gangus noticed the Chieftain, and next to him, Lord El' Tedar's magic staff.

"Well, what are you waiting for?" Ndornah muttered. "Are you going to stand there killing them with your eyes? Aaaahhh!" was her battle cry as she ran into the mix with her spear held high, her sister close on her heels. Melitah hit an Ogrekin right between the eyes with her blade; Ndornah sliced open the belly of another, spilling his guts. Gangus and Olatunji, shocked by the women's courage, looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders then ran out and teamed up on an Ogrekin, slicing into him and severing his head.

Some of the creatures that had been used for sport grabbed dead Ogrekins' weapons and slashed the legs and knees of the giants. But the Ogrekins decapitated them one by one then turned and thundered toward Gangus.

Gangus yelled to his newly freed warriors and caught sight of them fleeing in the opposite direction--weapons scattered on the ground, arms flailing, and disappearing into a nearby forest.

The five were on their own. Olatunji impaled one of the giants on his six-foot spear; Celio and Gangus slashed the legs from under another--bringing the giant crashing to the ground. With swords, the three men cut the Ogrekin to pieces.

The chieftain rose from his throne, grabbed a cleaver, and joined the fight. He was huge--over ten feet tall and nearly half as wide. He swung a giant size cleaver that decapitated several of the fighting humanoid creatures before the Domarian sisters finally took him down in a hail of cuts, stabs, and a blade through the eye. Gangus made his way, slipping on Ogrekins' guts, and grabbed the staff. With the staff in one hand and his sword in the other, Gangus aided Celio, Olatunji, and the sisters as all slashed their way through a herd of smelly giants who were big but slow-moving--leaving Ogrekins groaning and fatally wounded.

Gangus and the others stood panting with blood dripping from their weapons and a spread of dead Ogrekins sprawled upon the ground. "Eeeu," Melitah squealed watching one gag on dark bile as he fell to the ground--his dead eyes staring up at her.

Gangus led his party, including the Domarian sisters, back to the ship--careful not to be spotted by Ogrekin warriors.  Brehira and Dinary grabbed Gangus and held him tight. Captain Dordrecht and Judian greeted him with wide smiles which soon faded when thirteen men had not returned with them. Gangus, however, was quick to introduced Ndornah and Melitah and bragged of their skills against the Ogrekins.

"Lord Abrams," Melitah said, "on the Island, my sister and I had no chance to thank you for rescuing us--the urgency being what it was. I say now how grateful we both are." Melitah shot her eyes at Ndornah who never thanked men for anything. However, she obeyed that piercing glare.

"Yes, very grateful, indeed," she lied.

"Oh no," Gangus said. "It is I who's most grateful to you and your sister for aiding us."

"Wonderful," Ndornah schemed. "Then you won't mind taking us to our homeland."

"Ndornah," Melitah widened her eyes at her sister. "Domari is west, they're traveling north. We have no right to..."

"No, no, Melitah" Gangus said. He looked at Dinary and Brehira and knew how much they would hate adding an extra two weeks by going out of their way to take the sisters home. But he owed them his life.
Plus, what would we do for food? he thought.

"Will that be a problem?" Ndornah asked sternly.

"Ah...I'm sure we could...ah..." Gangus stammered.

Brehira interjected. "Having Lord Abrams and Celio back with us is everything, my dear. You and your sister are partly responsible for that. We'd be delighted to take you back to your homeland." Dinary nodded in agreement.

"Melitah and I accept your gratitude and your gracious hospitality." Ndornah cut her eyes at Melitah and smirked.

"Speaking of hospitality," Melitah said with a strained smile. "We'd like to clean ourselves, though I'm afraid we have no fresh clothes."

"Oh, of course, my dear," Brehira said. "Follow me--I'm sure we'll find something to your liking among the women." Brehira, slightly frowning, walked beside the sisters--stealing glances at their tall, curvy stature with legs that went on forever.




Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters

Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
Ndornah (N-door-nah) Domari Warrior and older sister to Melitah
Melitah (Meh-lee-tah) Domari Warrior and younger sister to Ndornah
Diana High Priestess and mother to Ndornah and Melitah 


 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 11
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter Nine (Part 1)
Consequences

The Cristofur made a stop at the midpoint to Domari for food and other supplies.

It had been several days into the journey to return Ndornah and Melitah to their homeland.

One evening after dinner, Melitah sat with her sister and several passengers in the Abrams' cabin and recited the history of her and Ndornah's ancestors.

"During the Pitholionis Age," she began, "the gods could not agree whether to interfere in the affairs of mortals or leave them to their uncertain fate.

It was during this time our ancestors migrated from Kalobus--a land torn by war and starvation and settled in Shinee.

Shinee rulers were harsh; females, young and old, bore the brunt of their cruelty: They were beaten, raped, married off, impregnated to the point of death by childbirth, and infant girls were often sacrificed to nature or crafted gods made of wood and stone.

When the gods got wind that they had been replaced with animals and stationary objects, they closed up the first heaven over Shinee so that it ceased to rain. For many months, crops, animals, and Shinees perished. After enough female infants had been sacrificed to please the gods, the heavens opened and the land was restored. Still fearing the gods, the rulers doubled their efforts to appease them--resulting in more cruelty against the fairer sex.

Desperate, the senior women prayed non-stop to the goddess, Dahlia for several years. When their pleas became too numerous and heart-wrenching to ignore, Dahlia appeared to their High Priestess, Kiddia, in a fog-like vision and spoke with her.

Impressed by Kiddia's loyalty, Dahlia sent a death angel to destroy the evil Shinee kingdom; she sent a messenger angel to lead the women and children, (girls and boys) to a land they named Domari--after the woman who was buried alive for leading a rebellion against the Shinee king. There, Kiddia erected an altar to the goddess. Worshipping only Dahlia became the first known practice of monotheism of its time.

The goddess blessed the land and the people flourished. Every girl-child grew to five-foot-eleven--strong, highly intelligent, and voluptuous; they were gifted with abilities that made them as capable as the average man, though not the exceptional men who grew to great heights and possessed super masculine strength," Melitah ended.

"That was so fascinating, Melitah," Brehira said, "now tell us how on mother earth did you and Ndornah happen to be on that dreadful island?"

"Well," Ndornah interjected. "I'm afraid that was my doing. Big game hunting is my passion. And there's a small island separated from Gorr by just a thread of a river but is well guarded by the Stone giants called Golems. The Ogrekins fear these giants who are over seventeen feet tall, weigh 1,050 pounds and are impervious to magic and ordinary weapons such as the Ogrekin's deadly ax blade.

The Golems' greatest pests are the Tambar wolves that attack their herds. The Tambars breed like rabbits and can outrun the slow-moving stone giants. So they hired hunters to kill them.

Melitah and I were a part of several hunting parties that day when I, like a fool, became so absorbed with the hunt, that I chased a Tambar wolf across the river into Ogrekin land where I was eventually spotted and captured. When Melitah discovered what had happened, she tried to rescue me. Well, you know how that turned out.  But thanks be to our blessed goddess, or we would not be sitting here with you this day."

"And thanks to Lord Abrams, Celio, and Olatunji," Melitah quickly said, cutting an eye at Ndornah.

"Yes, Yes, of course," Ndornah followed with a fake smile.

As everyone sipped their drink, Ndornah frowned after she picked up an empty wine goblet and sniffed it. "I notice that everyone's drink is dark and has a peculiar scent," she said setting the goblet aside.  "Oh, not that I'm offended. I simply wondered why Melitah and I were served a different drink."

"Sister, I am sure Lord and Lady Abrams have a perfect right to serve their guests whatever they wish," Melitah said, embarrassed for her sister.

"I'm sorry, I was just curious," Ndornah said sincerely.

Brehira chose her words carefully. "Ndornah--Melitah," she said looking from one to the other. "Please don't think me inhospitable and served you a lesser drink. It's just this drink we call, wine is new to this realm and since you and your sister have never tasted wine, we weren't sure if you could handle the after-effects."

"What my wife means is that it makes you dizzy if you're not used to it."

"It will also," said one of the guests, "make you real dizzy if you are used to it and drink too much."

"Well, that's interesting," Melitah said. "It will make you dizzy if you're not used to it and do the same if you are and drink too much?"

Ndornah looked around wide-eyed. "I want to try it--you too, sister."

"Ndornah, maybe Lord and Lady Abrams are right; if we've nev..."

"Oh, poppycock," Ndornah interrupted. "We have taken strong herbs that dulled the pain and helped us sleep. Surely this...why-en can't be so much."

"But...sister..."

"No, I want some. Now, you're not going to let your sister taste it alone?"

Brehira and Gangus glanced at each other, and then Brehira thought quickly. "I have
it. Why don't I pour you both a small measure and you can take it back to the privacy of your quarters."

"That sounds fine. Right, Ndornah?" Melitah asked.

"Yes. And besides, it's getting rather late and if this why-en does what you say, we'll have a good night's sleep," she said grinning.

Brehira poured two wine goblets half full and placed them on a tray; Ndornah and Melitah rose. A woman took the tray and walked ahead of the sisters.

"Have a good night," Brehira said as the sisters slowly followed the woman out of the cabin.

"Good night," the sisters said almost in unison.

After the door closed behind them, Brehira breathed a sigh of relief. "Whew! The last thing we need is a couple of drunken voluptuous beauties on board with a bunch of horny seamen trying to get at them."

"And after watching the sisters make dog meat out of those huge Ogrekins," Gangus chuckled, "I'm not so sure who we'd have to protect...them or the men."


*****


Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters

Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Keema) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
Olatunji (O lah tune gee) Cushite, Striker, and Warrior
Ndornah (N-door-nah) Domari Warrior and older sister to Melitah
Melitah (Meh-lee-tah) Domari Warrior and younger sister to Ndornah
Diana High Priestess and mother to Ndornah and Melitah

 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 12
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter 9 (Part 2)
Consequences


Exhausted, Gangus gently squeezed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger.

He spent most of the day transferring notes Lord Tedar scribbled in blood into legible handwriting.

Momentarily squinting to shut out the candle's light, he widened his eyes to prepare them for further studying.

He added,
the staff proves to be a wind weapon, and not magical as first thought, but divine. Created by the god of war and so powerful, no entity of the Black Arts dares to challenge it.

Unlike a wizard's staff, which lacks power, but is simply used to amplify the wizard's spells and focus his magic towards a particular entity, the divine staff is a weapon on a mission with an anointed substance embedded into its core. This substance, only known to the gods, is the soul of the staff.  

Gangus stopped writing and examined the weapon's long, thick frame--letting his fingers stroke the shiny brown coating. Cut from a century-old Willow tree, the top of the staff consisted of a yellow crystal ball, held upright in a black metal hand with fingers spread, and its wrist attached to the wood.

Setting the staff aside, he noted meanings of symbols and further wrote,
when executed properly, the staff fires a sharp gust of tremendous pressure in a flash of light. Strong enough to lift weight in the thousands, uproot trees and flatten large stone buildings, the deadly stream can reach a speed of 97.3 knots. Two commands pronounced as one word: Tyrfinji -- which means, the finger of god, and Notun -- which means, to release, will kindle the weapon to perform, he concluded.

*****
A few cabins down, candles flickered causing shadows to dance around Dinary's bed; he couldn't stop thinking about the staff. His father who had included him in all his affairs now seemed to exclude him about the knowledge of the staff. Dinary itched to get his hands on it and convinced a reluctant Celio to be the lookout while Brehira visited the Domarian sisters, and Gangus attended a meeting.

A nervous Celio paced back and forth outside the Abram's cabin. He put his mouth close to the door. "Come on. What's taking you so long? I'm dying out here."

Dinary didn't answer; he was frantically searching--throwing clothes about, tossing bedding to the floor, looking under things--under the desk, under the bed, under the mattress, and Voila!

Dinary picked it up and turned it over and over in his hand; this precious gift from the gods, he thought. Also on the wood slats were tubes of scrolls. He tucked the staff under his arm and opened a tube, pulled the scroll out, and unrolled it. His eyes scanned his father's writing.

"Dinary!"

"Coming!"

Dinary put the cabin back in order, took a bed covering, wrapped the staff in it, and grabbed the tubes. He opened the door, and he and Celio ran up the back stairway to the far end of a deck that was seldom used. He unwrapped the staff, examined it again, and was mesmerized.

"Can I hold it? Let me hold it." Celio blurted, like a five-year-old.

He handed the staff to Celio who slid his hands over it and gazed at it from top to bottom. "You think it can make wind for the sails?"

"My stars, I never thought of that," Dinary said, taking the staff back.

"Think how fast we could go places. Even if there is no wind," Celio reasoned.

"Yes. My father wrote what to say." He read his father's notations.

Celio looked also. "There it is," he said, underlining the words with his finger. "You point it and say, Trrrr fing No ton." Celio frowned. "That doesn't make any sense." He tried again. "Turrr fing gee Not un..."

Dinary belly-laughed.

"Well, you try it," Celio said, with hands-on-hips.

Dinary playfully exaggerated his nose in the air and stood erect holding the staff out from him. "I'm not the son of a Lord for nothing," he said, posing.

Celio stared at Dinary and shook his head.

Dinary held the staff out firmly and said, "Tire fing Note oun."

Celio chuckled.

"All right, all right, that was my first try. "Terfing Noot un."

Celio bent from the waist and laughed.

"Turfijinewtun."

Celio chuckled so deeply, he snorted like a pig.

Dinary, ignoring him, decided to give the word a more focused attempt. He took a minute to study the word carefully and aimed the staff towards the sea. "Tierphenjinochun!" A gush of wind, like lightning, hit the water with such force, it blew a Leviathan out of the ocean--sending it skipping across the water like a humongous rock: Pointed rows of silver shields on its back glittered under the moonlight--its red eyes blazing, black smoke pouring from its nostrils, and its long spiked tale struggling for balance but finding none. The enormous creature continued to skid across the ocean--a flow of white foam trailing behind. Dinary and Celio watched as the beast appeared small and smaller the farther it got until it disappeared from their sight.

Dinary dropped the staff, stumbled back against the ship's wall, and slid down. "Holy whoa!" he shrieked.

Celio stood frozen--his eyes fixed on the trail of foam. "I hope that thing doesn't go limping and squealing to the sea god about this. How were we to know it was there?"

"What are you talking about? Quick, grab the scrolls," Dinary said, scrambling off the floor. "Let's get this staff back before my father finds out."

"Aren't you going to hit the sails first?"

"No! You saw what just happened."

"But we need to test it on the sails. Your father is probably still at the meeting."

"I don't know, Celio. That was a mighty strong blast."

"Well, let's look at the staff; are there words on it? Maybe it can be controlled. You know, maybe roll the power back a little."

"No, no words, but some funny symbols." Dinary pointed to the notes. "See if it says anything about these symbols."

Celio scanned the notes. "Yes, right here. It says. Ah...I'm not sure...I've never seen symbols like these before."

"Then see if my father wrote something next to them."

Celio's eyes darted. "Ah...here. He wrote mild, pronounced, kiji next to..." Celio reached and pulled the staff toward him. "Here," he pointed to the same symbol on the staff."

"And you're sure this is mild?"

"Yes, see." Celio showed the same symbol on the scroll and the word mild, kiji next to it.

Dinary shifted nervously from one foot to the other. "But what if it tears the sail?"

"They'll put up another sail. There's plenty of extra sails. Just don't aim it at the bow."

Dinary aimed the staff at one of the sails and took a deep breath. "All right, here it goes."

Celio's half-smiled and his eyes darted in excited anticipation.

"Tierphenjinochun kiji!"

The mild gust of wind shot from the staff and hit the sail: It tore the sail from the mast, severed ropes, and crippled other riggings. Sleeping passengers were thrown out of their beds. Crew members picked themselves up, wide-eyed--rubbing where they hurt. Gangus, Captain Dordrecht, and five senior crewmembers, including Judian, lay in the corner of the captain's cabin with raised eyebrows. They were covered with long unrolled scrolls and maps--wet with spilled wine; shattered pieces of goblets sparkled on the floor.

Suddenly, the bell sounded.

"I better go up and see what's happened," Dordrecht said.

"I'll go with you," Gangus said. Judian and the others followed.

The crew, as always, stood watching their captain run by and held their breath waiting for secondhand news.

"How does it look, Kofius?" Dordrecht asked, running towards him.

"I don't know, Captain. It just suddenly jerked forward. If it had not been for these hands of stone," Kofius said, showing off his scarred hands. "I would have been thrown overboard."

"But that's impossible. A ship can't jerk forward like that on its own. You must have done something."

At the back of the deck, Dinary and Celio got up off the floor.

"What in the god's name did you do?" Celio asked, rubbing his bottom.

"I did what you told me to do."

"Who's that yelling?" Celio asked.

"The captain might be scolding the crew," Dinary said, busy rolling the scrolls. "We better come clean, Celio. It's not right for anyone else to get blamed. I know you agree. Celio. I said we..." He turned and Celio was sprinting down the hall. "Oh, really? I won't forget this!" he yelled as Celio dashed around the corner. Dinary took a couple of quick breaths and slowly made his way to Dordrecht's loud voice.

"Captain, I swear to you, on my poor, dead little mother..."

Dinary stepped into the doorway with the staff in his hand. "Don't yell at Kofius, Captain," he interrupted. "It was me. I did it." Heads turned, and Dinary stood with his head slightly bowed, looking puppy-eyed up at his father.

"Dinary, what have you done? Give me that." Gangus snapped, taking the staff from him.

"I'm sorry, Father, Captain Dordrecht. I just thought we could use it to make our own wind. To get places faster even when there's no natural wind stirring."

Gangus' face darkened when he looked at his son. "You can't use this to guide a ship, you fool. This is a weapon. This is the finger of god, not the breath of god."

"I said I was sorry. You don't need to scold me like I'm a child."

"I am your father, and I'll speak to you as I please--especially when you behave with the mind of a child."

Dinary forcefully turned to leave.

"Don't you turn your back to me!" Gangus said sternly. "I apologize for my son, Captain. He's never disobeyed my orders before. I don't know what got into him. Tell me what punishment to give him--to make up for his foolish act."

Dordrecht turned to a senior crew member. "Was anyone seriously injured?" he asked.

"Only reports of minor cuts and bruises so far, Captain."

"And the ship?"

"Nothing that can't be mended, sir. We can be back on our way before light."

Dordrecht looked at Dinary and scratched his beard. "I... don't know."

Judian stood smiling. "I do."

*****
The next day, while several members of the crew pointed and laughed, Dinary tried to ignore them as he busied himself scrubbing the deck on his hands and knees.

"You missed a spot!" one of the crew members teased.

Next to him knelt Celio steaming with anger. "You just had to mention my name."

Dinary grinned and turned his back to scrub a spot.

"Oh, you think it's funny?" Celio said. He lifted the scrub bucket and poured the dirty water over Dinary's head. The on-looking crew howled with laughter.




Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay


Main Characters
Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Keema) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
Olatunji (O lah tune gee) Cushite, Striker, and Warrior
Ndornah (N-door-nah) Domari Warrior and older sister to Melitah
Melitah (Meh-lee-tah) Domari Warrior and younger sister to Ndornah
Diana High Priestess and mother to Ndornah and Melitah

Wind Speed
97.3253 knots = 112 mph

Staff Weapon
Tierphenjinochun  (Tier-fen-gee-no-cean)



 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 13
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra


Chapter Ten (part 1)
Gifts of the Gods


By the time the Cristofur reached Domari, Celio and Dinary had mended their relationship.

A few nights earlier, Celio had had an odd dream: He hovered over his bed and watched an image of him dressed in a white vest-like garment, down to the knee; on his breastplate was the symbol of a god or perhaps, goddess--the figure appeared blurred.

His arms and legs were covered in gray, woven wool; he wore greaves from his knees to his ankles and a bronze mask with slits for his eyes, and openings for nose, and mouth. He knelt on one knee peering up at the figure which sat upon a white throne and handed him a shield of light, and a sword; the glitter of the metal shone brightly as a dawn's sun. 

Celio shot up to a sitting position--panting and sweating profusely. That had been the third time he'd had that dream. He never told a soul, but the dream taunted him throughout the remaining voyage.

Meanwhile, Gangus, concerned for the well-being of his staff, ordered a guard to be posted outside his cabin at all times.

*****
Pulling into Domari was a glorious day for everyone, especially Ndornah and Melitah. Grateful for Brehira's awesome hospitality, the sisters insisted that she accompany them onshore. Others were instructed by Ndornah to stay aboard.

When passengers and crew members saw in the distance all of the statues of female warriors, they finally understood the kingdom the sisters inhabited. All that guarded the kingdom were females, while servants were male and female.

The High Priestess Dianah called the Grand Matron, and who served their Goddess Dahlia, ruled the land. The Matron's husband served as Grand Master General of the all-male army which fought and conquered lands abroad that accounted for the great wealth of Domari.

However, while some found Domari interesting, a small group of men, after swilling much wine, decided to swim ashore; being excellent swimmers, the men swam underwater, unnoticed by the guards. They crouched in waist-high water and hid in the thick sea plants that sprouted a few feet above their heads. As the guards turned their attention towards children playing, the men, keeping low to the ground, scurried, again unnoticed, into a thickly wooded area.

Meanwhile, Brehira was taken aback by the beauty of the kingdom. These women come from a very wealthy, civilized, and cultured environment, she thought. She saw mansions, and libraries, places of learning, great ships, buildings for religious teachings, and farmlands as far as one could see. Their lakes and waterfalls appeared so clear she could see straight through to the rocks. The beautiful round flower gardens planted in rows stretched for hundreds of feet separating the foot-traveling paths. There stood multiple trees, vines, and vast gardens of colorful plants--none of which Brehira had ever seen, but thought looked quite appetizing.

Brehira gazed around wide-eyed taking in all of Domari's beauty as she was escorted into a tall white-stone building where women greeted her with polite nods and warm smiles. She saw no men, though there had to be, given all of the children she saw in military training. The girls and boys looked to be no older than five or six.

The sisters gave Brehira a summary of each statue of an ancestor. When Brehira saw they were all draped in priestly garments with jeweled headdresses, she knew the sisters weren't just ordinary women. At the end of the very long hallway and finally, the last ancestor, they stood before a tall red and gold door. The two guards, nearly as tall as the door, stood in gold plated helmets and breastplates--both holding a six-foot spear which formed an X across the door.

When the sisters walked up, the guards immediately bowed their heads and pulled the spears apart. Both grabbed a knob and pushed the heavy twin doors inward; one guard announced them as they entered. Their mother, the Grand Matron Dianah, sat upon her throne with her hands in her lap. She wore a pleated powder blue linen robe with an overlay netted with pearls. Her train measured thirteen to fourteen feet long--a Lunar Crest at her feet. Upon her head sat a horned diadem with a globe in the middle. Her shoes and belt were dyed leather.

When their mother saw them her eyes filled. "Thank the goddess, my daughters," she said embracing each when they walked into her waiting arms. She examined them. "Are you well? Were you hurt?" Before either answered, her gaze flashed to Brehira who stood a short distance away. "And who is this?" she asked.

"Mother, we are fine," Ndornah assured her. "This is someone we want you to meet."

The Grand Matron looked Brehira up and down. "Come forward."

Brehira walked forward, and a guard placed her hand on Brehira's shoulder and gently pressed for her to bow. When she bowed, the Grand Matron told her to rise and come closer. Brehira stood humbly before her.

"This is Lady Abram, Mother," Ndornah said. "Her shipmates rescued us and she has been hospitable and kind to us. We want to reward her and her shipmates for their kindness."

"Of course. You will stay the night." Dianah clapped her hands once, and a female servant ran forward and bowed. "Take her to our finest chamber and provide her with whatever she wants."

"Shama shi," the servant said--which meant as you command.

Brehira thanked the Matron, bowed then escorted away and accommodated.

"There's another matter, Mother," Melitah said. "Her gesgea, the leader of the men who rescued us went out of their way to bring us home. They can cut weeks off their journey by being allowed safe passage through our waters. I told them I would bring it before the council. They don't know all that is needed is your approval."

"Then I take it you did not tell them who you were?"

"We weren't certain until well into the journey that they could be trusted with knowing royal blood was aboard," Ndornah said.

"And even then, we said nothing," added Melitah.

"You did wisely, my daughters. You may tell Lady Abram that her gesgea's request has been granted."

"Bless you, Mother," they said in unison and bowed--backstepping before turning and leaving her sight.

*****
Childish giggles rang out from beyond the bushes where the trespassing seamen hid. The giggles rose over the white waterfall as the young beauties sat in their bright, colorful garments and braided each other's hair.

"Bless the gods, if my eyes have ever seen anything more lovely," said the patched-eye leader of the group.

"Oh, look at that one," another whispered.

"That one's for me," said the third.

"I don't know. I don't like this. No men around--only female guards, and these young maidens don't seem to have any fear," said the fourth man.

"Oh, stop being such a woman," the leader snapped.

"Those guards are kind da' tall," said another, "just like those sisters."

"And look at the muscles on that one. Lord Abram said they fought like men."

"Ah--stories to tell little girls like you at bedtime." The leader snickered. "I want a better look." He moved closer to where the maidens had gathered and glared through the one good eye.

"No. This is a mistake." the fourth one whispered. "I want no part in this." He turned swiftly and scurried off. The others started after him.

"Ah, let him go," the leader said. The two stopped, turned their attention back to the women, and followed the leader closer to them. The men ducked down and waited like snakes eager to strike.

Suddenly, one young beauty thought she saw a large animal in the bush and screamed. Her screams alerted the other maidens as well as several armed guards who scrambled to where the young maiden pointed.

The men took off running. After several minutes of scrambling through the forest, the men sat panting under the shadow of a large tree.

"I think we lost them," one of the men exclaimed; he stood to undo the front of his garment and relieve himself. As he stood basking in the glory of an empty bladder, he suddenly lit up the dark forest with high-pitched cursing. His fellow mates were horrified to see a severed phallus and blood squirting from his opened garment.

Three guards appeared--one with an empty crossbow and two carried swords.

"Look what you did to him!" the leader shouted. The two men jumped to their feet with their swords raised. "We're going to cut you blasted wenches to pieces."

But only one guard stepped forward with her sword raised while the others stood back grinning.

"You must be mad," the leader said looking at just one woman facing them.

The men were not paid swordsmen but knew how to handle themselves in an ordinary fight. Both smiled while taking turns sparring with her. She toyed with them. While the men struggled and panted, she barely broke a sweat. Her movements were swift as she practically danced around each man, making small cuts on their arms and torsos--all the while smiling.

"What the blackheart are you?" the leader asked.

"Your executioner," one of the posing guards laughed.

The two men advanced on her all at once. They managed to cut away pieces of her armor; lines of blood oozed from the openings. Her fellow guards became alarmed and shouted for her to end it. She danced and slashed an arm and a cheek then a thigh and abdomen. In just a few minutes, the men were bleeding profusely.

The one who was bleeding from his stumped-phallus shouted, "She's a blasted demon, I tell you!" He tried to crawl away as blood poured beneath him.

"Oh, no you don't," said one of the idle guards. She stepped to him, reached down, and lifted him with both hands. She stood his weak body up, slit his throat, and tossed him aside like a sack of garbage.

"And then there were two," said the other guard who stood smirking.

"You're not human. You're...you're fallen angels, that's what you are," the leader said. "No woman can do what you do."

The two men fought hard--but this time, they weren't aiming at her body, but her inferior sword. The Volarian metal was not known in that realm and they cut her inferior sword to pieces. "Ha!" he said, wiping the sweat from his eyepatch. But his celebration was short-lived when she kicked her long leg up, caught him under the chin and he tumbled to the ground. The fall jolted the sword from his hand and she scooped it up. She briefly examined the weapon wide-eyed then took a stance. Tired of toying with them, she cut and slashed the other seaman to death, and then turned to the one-eyed one still lying on the ground.

"Just get it over with you blackhearted witch," he growled.

She stood over him and drove the blade through his heart. He gasped and went limp.
Though their victory was sweet, the guards knew the penalty for neglecting their duties and allowing unauthorized persons on the island. Knowing how closely the men had come to the young beauties meant reduced rank, permanent loss of a prestige promotion, and years of maximum confinement.

They reported to their captain, they had tracked wayward Seawolves and killed them.
It was a believable lie since seawolves had often been spotted in that area. They were called Seawolves because of their ability to swim great distances underwater. Those wolves possessed an extra lung which allowed them to hold their breaths for several minutes.

They were the only wolves that were feared on land and sea. Seawolves were known to wander away from the pack and stalk farm animals. Even some sea creatures were not safe. Those unique wolves were a constant nuisance to farmers and fishers alike. When some parents learned seawolves had been caught and killed, they were greatly relieved since their families lived near the river.

"Good work," the captain said with stern pride. "Go. Take the rest of the day off. You've earned it."

The three guards thanked the captain. They hurried off--smirking and eying one another under their lashes.

However, an ambitious low-ranking guard noticed only one of the three had sustained injuries and she grew suspicious. One sea wolf--yes, but several? A year suspension was punishment for failing to prove any allegations against a high-ranking guard. She remained silent.




Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters

Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master


 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 14
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter 10 (part 2)
Gift of the gods


Brehira stood on the white stone balcony of her room and gazed up at the Domarian sky; her smiling eyes twinkled and a thousand stars appeared to wink back.

Her serenity was interrupted when a male servant entered the room with a gold tray of assorted meats and fruits. In the middle of the tray sat a multi-colored bowl with a green sauce and a vessel with sweet water from the Matron's personal well.

She thanked the servant who nodded politely and left. The meal had an odd but pleasant aroma. The sliced meats were dark pink and tender; the fruits were plump and juicy. Brehira later learned the main ingredients for the sauce was one of Domari's rare plants; it tasted like the nectar from the wildflowers that only grew in her beloved land, Volaria.

After the servant returned for the empty food tray, Brehira settled down for the night.

Hours crept by and well into her slumber, she woke but seemed to be dreaming. Goddess Dahlia appeared before her in a blue haze--dressed in white; upon her head sat a crown of sapphire gems. When she called Brehira, her voice sounded like a whistling wind in a rainstorm. Brehira did not answer; the goddess called again.

"Breehearaahh."

Brehira, groggy from sleep, moaned and a bright light hit the slits of her squinting eyes.

"Breehearaahh,"

"Yes," she heard herself answer.

"Open your eyes."

She opened her eyes, sat up, and gasped. There, in mid-air sat Goddess Dahlia on a white throne.

"Who are you? No. Wait. You are the goddess Dahlia, aren't you?"

"Yes," she repied in a normal clear voice.

"Ndornah and Melitah speak of you with great fondness. But what do you want of me?"

"We have observed you for many years, and I have chosen you to be my high priestess in your new land. Within days upon that soil, you are to erect an altar in my image; incase it with the finest building stones and worship me there every seven days. You will choose the best among your people--those of fine character, to teach and train how to serve me."

"I am honored, but what if the people refuse me. Many profess their own faiths."

"You are their healer. They will make the connection."

Brehira frowned and seemed confused at first. Her eyebrows rose as if a bright light lit up her brain. "It was you who gifted me with healing. And when the people see me worshipping you, they will want to worship you also?"

The goddess appearing pleased with Brehira's reasoning nodded.

"But you gave it to me as a deadly weapon. It was I who discovered it as a life-saver."

"It was a test, Brehira. When you took what was deadly and made it an instrument of good for your people, I saw your heart and knew you were to be my new priestess."

Brehira's eyes filled and she bowed her head humbly before the goddess and said, "Bless you. You are truly the wisest and kindest of the gods."

"I see you are overcome, but there is more, my dear."

Immediately, a holy book, white with the gold seal of the faith, materialized. Then a sword and shield as bright as a morning's dawn also appeared.

"Give these gifts to Celio and tell him Raziel, the god of leadership, law, and order wishes him to become his Holy Templar."

"Yes, Goddess Dahlia, and my son, Dinary?" she asked wide-eyed.

"We have plans for Dinary, but not yet," she assured.

Brehira scrambled out of bed--bowed low before the throne and thanked Dahlia. When she looked up, the goddess had disappeared in the same blue haze. Brehira returned to bed but overwhelmed by the divine visit, she merely catnapped throughout the night.

*****

The next morning, very early, Brehira packed the divine gifts. She thanked Ndornah, Melitah, and Matron Dianah for their favors and gracious hospitality, but made no mentioning of her encounter with the goddess; she knew what gods spoke in private was sacred.

Three guards volunteered to escort Brehira back to the ship. However, before she left, she gave a gift of a very expensive gem to the high priestess.

Priestess Dianah was very pleased. She marveled over the gem and said the gift would serve as a life-long bond between them.

On Brehira's way to the ship, the guards had remained silent, but within minutes of reaching the dock, they stopped abruptly.

"Is something wrong?" Brehira asked. "Why have we stopped?"

The women appeared nervous and kept looking behind them. "We want to come with you," the lead guard said.

"Come with me?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

The women just stood silently looking one to the other.

"I don't understand," Brehira frowned.

"We simply wish to leave. But we know we need permission to board your ship. That's why we're asking," the same guard replied.

"You want to leave your land--this, this paradise?" Brehira asked, waving her arm. "But that doesn't make any sense."

"We can pay our way and we're excellent fighters, so your men won't have the burden of protecting us. We'd be a tremendous asset," the guard pleaded.

"You're really serious, aren't you?"

"As I said, we can pay."

Brehira raised an eyebrow. "Are you in trouble?"

The women stood looking dumbfounded and shifting their weight.

"If you are, you're not bringing it on our ship," she said sternly.

"We've done nothing wrong," the guard lied. "We're just tired of the strict rules."

"Yes, and...and the arranged marriages," another fabricated.

"And beatings...oh the beatings," the third guard blurted.

"Beatings?" Brehira asked, frowning. "Oh dear, but everyone seemed so nice."

"Well, of course, you were a guest," the lead guard said.

"Well, I'm certain under the circumstances..." Brehira placed a finger to her lips. "I'm sure Lord Abrams might consider. I..."

"Oh, thank you, Lady Abram," the lead guard interrupted. "You won't regret this. I can assure you."

"Well, we better get moving," Brehira said. "The ship won't leave me, but we are on a tight schedule."

The women started walking fast and Brehira struggled to keep up. "And just who are my three new friends?" she asked, looking over at them.

"Oh, I'm Letty," the first guard said. "This is Pryah, and that's Alema.

"Well, Letty, Pryah, and Alema, so glad to make your acquaintance."

The women smiled.

Brehira stopped. "My stars," she blurted, looking towards the ship in the short distance. "Lord Abram is waving for us to hurry aboard." She turned to them." Now you let me do all the talking."

"The women nodded eagerly.

"Coming!" Brehira shouted as they rushed to board.

*****
Meanwhile, in a meeting room back at the White Building, Ndornah paced back and forth waiting on news from the captain of her guards.

The door opened with a guard announcing the captain who rushed in out of breath, followed by a low-ranking guard. Both bowed before Ndornah then rose.

"Well!" Ndornah asked impatiently.

"We found three men in shallow graves, and their fatal wounds are consistent with Letty's unique killing style," the captain said.

"Who are the others?"

"Pryah and Alema, Ushiah," the minor guard replied. Ushiah is the title given to the oldest daughter of a Matron.

"And who are you?" Ndornah asked the minor guard.

"Mu...Mulari, Ushiah," the guard stammered.

"It was Mulari's suspicion that alerted us to investigate, Ushiah," The captain said. "She saw Letty and the others with these strange metal swords. And she talked with farmers who swear no Seawolves have entered our territory for weeks."

Ndornah sighed when she recognized the metal; she knew only Gangus's men had such weapons. She felt betrayed, but not by Gangus or Brehira. She felt betrayed by her kinswomen whose negligence had led to the senseless murders of trespassers whose Lord and Lady had saved and preserved her and Melitah's lives.

"I've already assigned a detail to search for the three guards," the captain said.

"No."

"Ushiah?"

"No. Let them be. They've probably left the island by now anyway," Ndornah said. "Mulari."

"Yes, Ushiah." The low-ranking guard stepped forward.

"Because of your sharp wit and dedication to keeping with the laws, I promote you to middle-guard. You will move your belongings to Hamond Hill."

"Oh, bless you, Ushiah," she said bowing foolishly. "Blessings, blessings." She tried to kiss Ndornah's foot but was pulled away by the captain and escorted out of Ndornah's presence still bowing.

*****
Aboard the Cristofur, as the day wound down and everything seemed to come to a close: Kori, the fourth seamen who had sneaked back onto the ship worried about leaving his three mates behind. But he couldn't be the one to have reported them missing without implicating himself. God, I hope they're alright.

In the meantime, Brehira left Celio in his cabin dazzled with his mouth gaped open examining his divine gifts. "So, it wasn't a dream," he whispered. The glare of the sword and shield lit up the entire bed-chamber just as the visions predicted.

As for Letty, Pryah, and Alema, Brehira never believed a word they said from the Island to the ship. Somehow, Brehira knew there was a connection between the three missing seamen and the three lying women. But whatever she discovered, Brehira thought, she'd keep their blasted secret to herself--for a while.





Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters

Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master


 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 15
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra



Chapter Eleven (part 1)
Land of the Dragon

Gangus was the first to rise that morning. The Cristofur reached the dark waters of a city that would later be known as Jinelle.

Straight away, something appeared strange in the sky: Black smoke hovered and slowly formed into an eerie being, but it was just a trick of the imagination, Dinary thought as he stood gazing up at it.

As the ship drew nearer to the city, ear-piercing screams rang out. Up high to the right of him, giant wings, nearly as broad as the Cristofur, flapped like ship sails beating against a strong wind. Between the wings were a long, dark tube-like body, four clawed appendages and, a head vomiting fire upon the land.

The fire-breathing creature seemed on a rampage, and it was killing and destroying everything in its path. Even from that distance, Dinary could see the outline of its rough, scaly exterior with ridges along its back. Its long tail tipped with arrow-shaped spikes, and upon its head were two horns.

As the terrorized humanoids screamed and trampled one another, the creature continued to spit fire. The blaze burst forth like a stream of burning water as it consumed buildings, farmlands, cattle, and frightened souls running for their lives. The sadly afflicted animals looked like balls of fire with legs as they stampeded towards a nearby lake.

"Great god of mercy, do you see that!" Celio exclaimed, joining Dinary on the first upper deck. The two stood in amazement--appearing shocked and not knowing what to do.

Dinary exhaled hard. "We have to help those poor creatures."

"With what?" Celio snapped.

"We'll gather our archers."

"Against that thing?"

"We've got to try."

"Are you mad, Dinary? That thing is not like the flying demon you fought months ago. That thing spits fire."

The Cristofur moved closer to shore and the screaming became deafening.

"Well, I can't stand it," Dinary said. He ran towards the stairs; skipping every other step, he dashed down the hall. Celio ran after him, hoping to talk some sense into him. As Dinary turned a corner at the end of the hall, he smacked into Gangus, nearly knocking him to the floor.

"Whoa!" Gangus bellowed with a chuckle. "Where's the fire?"

Dinary never stopped running but yelled over his shoulder, "In the sky, Father...in the sky!"

"What's in the sky?"

"There's a flying creature blowing fire, my Lord," Celio said gasping for breath.

"Holy Zeus." Gangus's eyes grew wide. "Well, why are you just standing there, you fool? Gather the men."

Celio ran off and in what seemed like minutes, the entire ship flew into action. Gangus grabbed his staff. Celio pulled his sword and shield from under his bed. Dinary reached for his sword--his necklace growing warm on his chest; Letty, Pryah, and Alema, grabbed their weapons.

"Celio," Gangus called, "you stay back and take charge guarding the ship."

"Aye, Aye, Captain," he said mockingly with a disappointing frown.

The bowmen and swordsmen met Gangus and the others on deck, and all climbed into rowboats to make their way to shore. By the time they reached land, the fire-breathing creature had gone. Yet, it left burning buildings, smoking fields, dead bodies, and suffering animals.

The victims of the creature's rage who survived knelt weeping over their dead as smoke seeped from their charred bodies. Gangus soon realized they were on Timbakni land. The Timbaknis were resourceful, honorable, and very religious. They despised magic--refusing to allow it among them because they perceived it as evil.

When Gangus and his warriors came upon the grieving humanoids, they were immediately taken aback by their appearance. They appeared human from the neck down, but from the neck up they resembled a golden-face wolf with a dark wet nose and raised ears on either side of their heads. Gangus looked over at Pryah and gestured for her to come close. "Do they understand human speech?" he whispered.

"Many tribal spokesmen, especially priests, speak in many tongues," she said quietly. "They have to in order to conduct trading and peace talks with other tribes."

With that, Gangus turned and said, "We apologize for the intrusion, but we saw from our ship that you were in trouble and came as quickly as we could to help. Sorry we did not make it in time."

A tall Timbakni male stepped forward dressed in a long, loose-fitting white tunic with green headgear to shield his head from the sun. As was the custom in his tribe, he wore a veil pulled under his chin to have handy due to the region's sudden and frequent sandstorms.

"Thank you," the male said. I am Hayman, the high priest in this region. I am glad that you were too late, or I would be burying you and your fellow tribesmen as well."

Delighted that they understood each other, Gangus introduced himself and all who were with him. Hayman, though he showed no fear, felt threatened by the odd-looking staff Gangus leaned upon, and Hayman asked him about it. Gangus wisely didn't reveal its power but said it was only good for keeping his balance due to an old war wound.

Quickly taking the focus off his staff, Gangus spoke his concerns for the numerous injuries and sent Lygone back to the ship to bring Brehira and some of the women to help. Celio was ordered to come as well. In the meantime, Gangus and his men assisted the Timbaknis in the ceremonial placing of their dead.

As they waited for Lygone to return, Hayman invited his guest underground where his people lived. "We only come up to attend to our cattle and farmlands, and fetch water," Hayman told them. He also explained to Gangus how every month for years, many of them died fighting to protect their water and food supply from that evil flying beast they called a Drake. 

As Gangus and Hayman walked the spiraling stone steps, they discussed many things. Gangus fakely leaned on his staff and Hayman strolled with one furry hand behind his back--a symbol of his authority.

He said Drakes had existed in the land for centuries; his ancestors had rid the land of them, they thought. However, twenty years ago, they emerged again. Some said the adult Drakes knew they were dying out and had hidden their eggs; the hatchlings had eaten one another making the last one strong enough to survive on its own. "No one knows if the story's true," Hayman said, "probably a children's tale."

Hayman led Gangus and his soldiers down a long, dim hallway.

"So, you think there's just one Drake left?" Gangus asked.

"We believe so, and it's the biggest and toughest anyone's ever seen. They can live a hundred and fifty years, you know. We've done everything, including poisoning a few of our herd as bait. But not even the deadliest poison seems to phase it."

"But, this is a realm full of supernatural powers. We've seen it with our own eyes on the island of Gorr."

"Oh, no," Hayman said, raising the palms of his hands. "We are servants of our god. We do not engage in sorcery."

"But not all supernatural power is sorcery."

"No good thing can come of such powers in the hands of the god's creations. Only the gods themselves are to use those powers." Hayman said. Then Hayman raised a furry brow and asked, "Are you a wizard?"

"No, certainly not."

"Good," Hayman replied. "I believe you."

Gangus swallowed hard, and thought of Brehira's gift; he wasn't sure if it were wise for the Timbaknis to observe her using it. He feared Hayman would mistake it for magic and order them from his land. Still, he didn't want to accept the priest's hospitality on a lie.

When they entered the main chambers, Dinary marveled at the beauty of the underground. Colorful rugs covered the floors. Furniture was made of dark painted wood. Rooms were loaded with the fine art of sculptures: Short ones were on tables--tall ones in every corner of each room, and engraved images of their ancestors lined the stone walls.

The children were orderly and obedient. The females were dressed stylishly in colorful tunics and wore wonderfully carved wooden jewelry around their necks and wrists.

Seeing that Hayman was a priest of peace, Gangus signaled to his soldiers to leave their weapons outside the main chamber. Gangus, of course, was allowed to keep his staff since, as Hayman believed, it was only a walking stick.

Gangus and his men were fed well: There were tables spread with sweet fruits and vegetables from their trees and gardens; the water that was so clear tasted sweet. They ate roasted meats and drank thick yellowish milk that came from a strange animal they'd never seen before. Gangus didn't offer the priest wine. He didn't think it appropriate--knowing the effects of it was unknown to humanoids of their realm.

After stuffing themselves, at the insistence of the priest, Gangus and the others settled back and listened to the priest give a summary of the Timbaknis' history.

"My ancestors arrived," Hayman began, "in Bethica several centuries ago. It was the first of three great exoduses fleeing a terrible disaster in the west known as The Gloaming. They fought, fled, and traveled across the whole of the southern realms before finally settling here in the Amersis Desert. They tamed the wild jungles along the coast, eventually forging a healthy and stable region of small villages. Much like this one before we were forced to go underground," he said, appearing sad as he looked about.

"We get along fine with other tribes," Hayman continued, "although, recently, there have been a few border disputes with the Nekanians and the Sucari. We Timbaknis love to travel but not so much anymore," he ended.

"Because of the Drake?" Gangus asked.

"Yes. That blasted evil."

"Why don't you just leave?" Dinary blurted.

Hayman frowned. "Leave our land? Never. No black-hearted beast is going to force us from our homes. Why...our ancestor's bones would cry out from the dirt. Our generation would be a disgrace to them all."

Just then, a Timbakni boy came running into the room and whispered to Hayman. Hayman nodded and told the boy to bring them in. He turned to Gangus. "It seems more of your tribe are here."

"Ah! It is the healers that have arrived to help your injured," Gangus said. He gazed at Hayman under his lashes, dreading his reaction.

"Healers! But our gardens flourish with the best medicinal herbs in the land. Many travel from far regions for our healing herbs. Timbaknis receive much wealth for our trade. What could you possibly add but magic?" Hayman snapped.

"And they shall use your gardens," Gangus said, trying to appease him.

Gangus stood nervously shifting his weight when the Timbakni boy entered. Behind him walked Celio carrying his shield with a lightning bolt in the middle of a sky-blue disc--the symbol of the god, Raziel.

First, Hayman frowned at the boy for not insisting Celio put aside his weapons, but when Hayman saw the symbol of the god of his ancestors, he better understood the boy's misgivings. Hayman nearly bowed to the shield but managed to stand straight. The corners of his mouth curled up. Behind Celio, came Brehira and her ladies. Then, Hayman spoke to Celio.

"Your shield carries the symbol of Raziel, the god I serve."

"I am his Holy Templar," Celio said.

Hayman's eyes widened, and he turned to Gangus. "Why didn't you tell me?" Before Gangus could answer him, Hayman turned to Celio, Brehira, and the women, "Please, you are certainly welcome."

Delighted with what seemed as Hayman's change of heart, Gangus stood. "Priest Hayman, this is my wife, Brehira. She is Priestess of Goddess Dahlia."

"Ah...Priestess," Hayman said bowing his head. "You add grace to our home."

"Thank you, Priest Hayman, how kind of you to say that," Brehira said. Her eyes darted around the room. "I understand there are many injured? May we attend them?"

"Oh yes, of course. Pohpi," he said to the Timbakni boy, "take the priestess to the Sick hall, and provide her with all the herbs she'll need."

Brehira and the women followed the young boy out of the room and down a short hall; they walked down the stairs to a long hallway that smelled of burnt fur and flesh. Moaning and groaning bodies lay in a row upon bundles of bloody bedding. Many lay with colorful pieces of cloth placed as death masks over their faces.

The women worked feverishly throughout the night. They cleaned wounds, applied medicinal herbs, and bandaged arms, legs, faces, and sometimes whole bodies.

Brehira's gift allowed her to feel the power oozing out of her hands, under the bandages, and into the skin and bodies of her patients. She sensed the pulse of the pain that thumped throughout their bodies; after locating it, she felt the pain when it suddenly stopped at her touch.

Meanwhile, the Timbaknis marveled at the clothes the Volarian women wore. When Gangus saw how much they delighted in them, he sent Lygone back for silk cloth and Cashmere goat skin--pearls for the females and gold for the males. The Timbaknis, though their garments were simple, were very style-conscious. They longed to be noted for their way of dressing. And these new Volarian clothes and jewelry would quickly bring that longing to reality.

While Brehira led in treating the wounded, Gangus and his men worked from morning and well into the night helping to restore buildings; they searched and rounded up scared off cattle, and salvaged fruit and vegetables from badly scorched trees and fields. As Priest Hayman nailed a plank of wood into the barn roof, Gangus questioned him about the Drake and where he could find it. Hayman's hammer stopped midway a bang.

"You're not thinking about going after the Drake?" Hayman muttered.

"We're not doing all of this repairing and healing just to leave and have that blasted thing come back and attack you again."

"But it's usually months before it comes back."

"And you're fine with that?"

"Of course I'm not fine with it. As you can see, our mates and little ones are safe. We try to fight it off the best we can, hoping it will take one or two animals from the herd and then leave."

"And Timbaknis have lived like this for how long?"

"Over twenty years," Hayman replied.

Gangus shook his head and resumed hammering.

When darkness came, the men stopped working and settled in for the night. Gangus continued to badger Hayman about the Drake--its habits, its escape routes, if it attacked more at night, noon, morning, how early--how late? Where he thought it resided when it wasn't attacking. However, Hayman continued to resist giving Gangus the information he wanted. He liked his new friend and couldn't stomach seeing him killed.

The Drake had already taken enough from him--his brother and sister, his boyhood friends, and many of his fellow priests. No. No more, he thought.

Yet, Gangus was determined not to leave that beast alive. He believed the Timbaknis were an exceptional tribe and deserved to live Drake free. Thoughts of the Drake cluttered his mind and he couldn't sleep.

Around daybreak, Gangus heard loud talking outside his bed-chamber. He covered himself and hurried out to see about the commotion. He rushed down the hall to the room where Hayman, Dinary, Brehira, and others were gathered. They stood half-circling Nahzi, one of the soldiers who was left guarding the ship.

The soldier sat panting, his clothes scorched and face smeared with dark smudges. Brehira handed the soldier a cup of water. Gangus stepped quickly up to him. "Nahzi, are the people all right?" he asked frantically.

With labored breathing, Nahzi squeaked out a yes.

"The ship?"

"What's left of it, sir." Nahzi took a final gulp of his water. "Lord Abram...there was nothing we could do. We shot arrows at it...but the arrows appeared no more than flying insects to that thing." Nahzi took in a deep breath. "And it attacked the ship. The fire roared above our heads. There was nothing we could do, sir." Nahzi dropped his head, and Brehira patted his shoulder.

"Merciful gods," Hayman said looking at Gangus.

"And you're sure no one was hurt?" Gangus asked.

"That's just it, my Lord. It only attacked the sails. I know this sounds mad, but like it was trying to keep us from leaving. We finally got the fire out. But that thing acted like it could think. We kept shooting arrows at it, trying to hit an eye. But no matter what we did, it wouldn't attack us, just the sails."

"Drakes are brilliant, even humorous at times," Hayman said. "They like toying with their food."

A response to that last word caught in Gangus's throat, and every head slowly turned to Hayman and stared.







Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters

Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master


 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 16
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter 11 (part2)
Land of the Dragon

After getting over the shock of being the Drake's preferred meat, Gangus and his soldiers spent late nights piecing together notes on battle strategies against the beast.

During the day, they worked with the Timbaknis restoring buildings the Drake had torched.

Though the farmlands had been badly burned, the men were able to salvage many fruits and vegetables; they loaded them into deep push-barrels and stored them in underground chamber bends. Then Hayman watched as Gangus's swordsmen mercifully killed his suffering animals.

However, Hayman's saddest day was yet to come: Gangus and his tribesmen would leave Hayman's village, and attempt to kill the Drake. Gangus had simply worn Hayman down, drilling him over and over about the beast. Hayman gave in and issued every bit of information he could muster. Still, he feared for his friend.

*****
It had been a long workday for all. That evening, Priest Hayman sat across from Gangus, Dinary, Celio, and the Domarian women. "I sure hope you know what you're doing, Lord Abram,"  Hayman said, scratching several places on his body. This scratching proved an ongoing grooming ritual the Timbaknis had to perform periodically to keep the insects from nesting in their fur. It annoyed Gangus to no end, though he tried not to show it.

"I'm not underestimating your ability, mind you," Hayman continued, "but many have tried to kill the Drake and have died or lived to regret it." He bent and scratched his ankle, then sat up. "Let's suppose, by some good fortune, you and your warriors do kill the beast, which I doubt, where are you going to go from here?"

Now with the scratching over, Gangus made eye contact. "The Domarians," he said nodding towards the women, "are taking my people to an unoccupied land just north of here, near a great lake. There are hundreds of us, and we intend to settle there. Of course, now we'll have to travel on foot. Do you know of this land?"

"I believe I do. There is only one good piece of unoccupied land left in Bethica, and it is beautiful..."

"Really?" Celio interrupted.

"Yes. Full of rolling hills, grassy fields, excellent dirt for farming, a thick forest with plenty of game, and a lake for fishing. It has two seasons like we have. Dry, which is very hot, and Wet, which is very cool. But minus our sandstorms."

"Then why isn't it occupied?" Gangus inquired.

"Sounds like something's wrong," Dinary weighed in.

"You're right, young Dinary. The Drake destroyed it over a hundred years ago. It took the land just that long to restore itself. Nobody will live there. Some say the gods summoned the Drake to destroy the land because the inhabitants were wicked and served demons instead of the gods. But that's probably just another folk tale."

"Fine," Dinary said. "Then all we have to do is kill the blasted thing and the land is ours."

Hayman's dark eyes dotted back and forth as if he pondered what to say next. "Have any of you ever fought a Drake?" There was complete silence. "That's what I thought," Hayman said leaning forward in his chair. "Even if you could kill it, there's still the Badlands. It is called Badlands for a reason. Living underground protects us, but your people will be out in the open, where everything and anything can get at them. And there are many mysterious things in the Badlands."

"What sort of things?" Gangus asked.

Hayman pulled on his chin. "Let me give you a couple of options first before telling you about the Badlands." He blew out a small gust of breath and placed both hands on his knees. "There are three ways to get to the land you want to settle. The safest," he said, "is to start from Vaslof, southwest of here. It's safe because it's an open trail with no forest, therefore nothing to hide behind or jump out from to harm you, just a straight journey. Nothing but land and sky."

"All right, sounds good," Gangus said.

Hayman looked at Gangus from under his lashes. "It's the longest. While there's practically nothing that can harm you, there's also no water for hundreds of miles."

"Well, that's out!" Dinary smirked. "On to number two."

"That would be Lothian," Hayman continued. "It is shorter, but you'd have to cut through a thick forest. The trail won't be easy on foot. And it is more dangerous. The forest is dark even in the daytime. You won't see them, but the Seawolves will see you, and they'll kill you and eat your animals."

"Will they eat us?" Dinary asked.

"They're not known for it. But, you know wild creatures. They are unpredictable, especially if they're desperate."

Everyone looked at each other and braced themselves for number three.

"So, now the Badlands," Hayman said. "The Badlands is the quickest way, but it's the most dangerous. Right here from our village, you're just a hundred and thirty miles from where you wish to settle. It should take you just three and a half weeks of travel. I can provide you enough grain and spices for your journey, and there are plenty of water holes along the way... but you'll have to fight hostile inhabitants over them." Hayman paused.

"And?" Gangus blurted, sensing there was more.

"And... it is where the menacing Goblins live, underground, like us. They are not killers, but they're notorious thieves. It is said they can steal a ring right off your finger while you're sleeping and wouldn't break your snore. Not only that, the land itself is quite a pitfall-- quicksand, wild tangle weeds, snaring vines, and spider webs so thin, they're nearly invisible. There are insects that will nibble on you during the day, and much bigger ones that will practically devour you at night. Plus, it's full of the deadliest serpents in the whole region. My medicinal garden, the finest in the land, has no herb for their poison." Hayman hesitated.

"And," Gangus asked, believing Hayman was still holding back.

"And..." he appeared to deflate. "It's where you'll find the Drake deep within its cave. And I do mean deep. Lord Abram, I've never heard of anyone coming out of that cave alive. So, my dear friend, make your choice, and may Raziel protect you all."

There was a short silence--as if they were trying to digest all Priest Hayman had fed them. They buzzed among themselves for minutes at a time. Then Celio spoke up with, "I say, we kill this blasted thing and take our chances in the Badlands." Then more buzzing and nodding in agreement with Celio.

Suddenly, Pryah spoke up. "Lord Abram, I'm so sorry my people suggested this passage to your land. We didn't know about the Drake, honest. I'm sure we can find other ways around it. Perhaps..."

"No," Gangus interrupted. "This is the passage we will travel...and kill the Drake. No matter what it takes."

"That's right!" Celio spat.

"Absolutely!" said Dinary.

"That fire-breather is good as dead!" Letty snapped.

"All right. All right. Calm yourselves," Gangus said with a slight smile. "As you can see, Priest Hayman, my commanders are quite high-strung."

Hayman sat back and shook his head. "I sure hope you know what you're doing."

Gangus reached and placed his hand on Hayman's knee. "I know you're worried, my friend. And no, we've never fought a Drake before. But you and your tribesmen are honorable and good. You should not have to live in fear of this thing. We are warriors with great skills and divine weapons. The gods will be with us."

Priest Hayman smiled and placed his hand upon Gangus's hand. "I think I'm starting to believe you, Lord Abram. Something tells me you're just the one to do it. I wish I could go with you. But, I'm afraid I wouldn't be much use." He chuckled softly.

"Your prayers are all we desire."

Hayman grabbed Gangus's shoulders and shook them slightly. "And you shall have them, Lord Abram. My priests and I shall fast and pray until you and your soldiers leave for the Badlands. Not one grain of food or water will touch our lips. We will shake the gods from their thrones."

"That is most impressive, Priest Hayman," Gangus said grinning. "Impressive, indeed."

Later that night, as all slept, Gangus, Dinary, Celio, and the Domarian women created a war room. They planned until dawn.






Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters
Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master


 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 17
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter Twelve (part1)
The mouth of the Dragon

Gangus's decision to battle the Drake was about to change the lives of the Timbaknis for better or for worse.

It had taken only a few long days into nights for him and his commanders to perfect a battle strategy against the beast.

The menacing evil that caused the smoke-filled sky, charred trees, and scorched fields in Hayman's village, had also smothered the happy sounds--the laughter of Timbakni little ones playing in the underground. Gangus vowed to bring that laughter to the surface where bright sun and blue sky could kiss their little furry faces once more.

Rather than risk bringing hundreds of settlers through the hostile Badlands, Gangus reasoned, he, and his soldiers would tame the pitfalls, kill the Drake--then return for the settlers.

Meanwhile, the remaining soldiers would guard the ship. Brehira was encouraged to use the full might of her power in case the Drake survived and returned to the ship for revenge.

Gangus and his soldiers knew no battles they had ever fought prepared them for a fight against the near-invincible fire-breather.

Nevertheless, their strategy was simple: Wear no armor containing metal; one blast from the Drake would fuse metal with flesh. The weapons would be aimed at the softest spots, which were the eyes, nose, opened mouth, and belly.

Outside the cave, archers and spear-throwers would stand on hills in case the Drake managed to escape. Inside, they would stand high on the cave ledges to shoot low. Gangus would be out in front with his staff. Celio would stand behind Gangus. Dinary and swordsmen would position themselves behind Celio.

Of course, swords were helpless against fire, but Drakes needed twenty seconds between blows for the two gases to mix in their gullets and produce their fiery weapon; then swordsmen could advance quickly--do as much damage as possible and pull back. However, moving in meant they'd be in danger of its claws and spiked tail.

Swords could not penetrate the iron-like scales, but there was just enough opening between scales for the swords to slip in, hit a vital organ, or cause massive blood loss. Celio would use his shield--the only defensive weapon dragon-fire could not penetrate or melt. His shield would protect the swordsmen each time they pulled back after stabbing the Drake.

With everyone's position clear, Gangus and soldiers marched out of the village just before dawn under a blanket of darkness. Quietly, as the moon lit the ground, they inched slowly across the beige sand. Up ahead, the men saw prints, not from feet, but long body prints of serpents. Celio shuddered at the thought of being bitten by one.

The soldiers walked for hours, stepping over animals and other creature carcasses. They saw fragments of past abandoned caravans. As they marched deeper inside the Badlands, the stench of death and strange, eerie sounds surrounded them. Stranger still, small creatures they'd never seen before scurried past them. Others hid behind thick bushes and stared out with eyes like tiny blinking lights.

As the sun rose and beamed over them, swordsmen walked ahead of the troop, slicing through tall tangled weeds, and then cutting to pieces serpents they found bedded within the grass. Yet, many soldiers tripped after getting their feet tangled in the weeds--yelling, kicking, and cutting away serpents that had wrapped around their ankles. Fortunately, none was bitten--that time.

The soldiers entered a dark forest; the longer they walked, the darker and thicker the forest became. There were tall, black trees standing only six to eight feet apart with huge red fowls screeching noisily down at them. A soldier was nearly strangled as hanging vines mysteriously wrapped around his neck.

"Ah, get 'em off!" he yelled. Letty ran to him, and with several swoops of her sword, shredded the vines. "Thank you," he said, gasping for air. Letty nodded, and walked back to her rank.

For hours, swordsmen killed serpents as they cut through weeds, and hanging vines. Gangus saw how it exhausted the swordsmen and slowed the journey almost to a crawl. But he decided to continue until they found dirt ground in which to set up camp.

Suddenly, among the soldiers rose a scream. Pryah, who had left the traveled path to investigate some movement she thought she'd seen in a bush, had gotten tangled in a spider's web, and hundreds of spiders, the size of flies, had descended upon her.

Letty, Alema, and several other soldiers rushed to her and cut the web from the facing two trees which stood a few feet apart, but couldn't free Pryah from the piece wrapped around her, and stuck to her clothes.

The spiders covered her like a dark blanket--consuming her flesh as she rolled about the ground flailing and screaming. Letty tried to knock them off with her hand but was severely bitten. Alema and the others pulled off their footwear and beat the spiders off her. Then each soldier cut away pieces of the web until Pryah was free.

After hearing the commotion, Gangus and Celio made their way to where everyone gathered. A distraught Pryah knelt, vomiting. She trembled and bore tiny red blisters on her face, neck, arms, and legs; others who helped had swollen hands and fingers. The spiders proved toxic; fortunately, Hayman sent several pouches of herbal leaves, but it would take days for them to fully recover.

"What's going on?" Gangus asked. The soldiers quickly parted to let him and Celio through.

"Pryah walked into a spider's web and was seriously bitten," Letty told him.

"Great Zeus, she looks like raw meat," Celio said.

"Idiot," Alema snapped. "She'll hear you."

"Will she be well?" Gangus asked Letty.

"Yes, we're preparing the herbs now."

"You think she can travel?"

"We'll carry her if we have to, sir," Alema said. "Just give us a few minutes after she drinks it
for the herbs to take hold."

"Fine," Gangus said. Then he turned and spoke loudly to the crowd. "Rest your gear! We'll resume traveling shortly!"

Soft thuds of bundles hitting the ground filled the air. Everyone stretched and made grunting sounds like an off-key choir.

*****
The moist grass made it difficult to start a fire, and time was of the essence. A torch had to be held under a metal cup to heat the water for the medicinal herbs. Many minutes after drinking the tea, Pryah, though still feverish, no longer felt nauseated or had tremors. Others who weren't bitten as badly drank the herb as well.

While Letty and Alema attended to Pryah, a loud shriek rose from the back of the line. Letty turned and saw a soldier kicking, screaming, and tearing at his clothes.

After he practically stripped naked, a multi-colored blue, green, and purple serpent slithered from beneath the discarded garments. The onlooking soldiers drew their swords and slashed it to pieces. The bitten soldier instantly grew pale from the venom. He dropped to the ground and curled into a fetal position.

"What is it now?" Gangus snapped. He and Celio made their way through the circled crowd. Gangus released a big breath when he saw the soldier doubled up on the ground and a decapitated serpent lying a foot away.

He walked to him, knelt, slipped his hand under his shoulders, and cradled him in his arm. He looked down as a father would gaze upon his son. "I'm so sorry, Keneen." The young soldier's eyes filled and he nodded as if he understood.

Then Keneen cried out as the venom cooked him from the inside. He gagged, coughing up saliva as his eyes bore into Gangus's eyes. The pain struck like tiny bolts of lightning throughout his body; he grabbed Gangus's arm and held it so tightly the pain made Gangus suck in his breath, but he didn't pull away. Keneen trembled violently. His face grew paler and foam bubbled from his lips.

"You fought gallantly in every battle, son," Gangus whispered, his eyes glassy. "We shall meet you in the Afterlife." Keneen tried to smile, but the venom, like volcanic lava, burned-- consuming every nerve in his body. Keneen dug his fingernails into Gangus's arm until it bled, but Gangus never attempted to withdraw.

The young soldier's shrieks caused the red fowls to scatter from the trees; his comrades looked on sadly and helplessly. Gangus's watery eyes flashed at Celio over his shoulder. Celio knew their meaning and lowered his head momentarily. He slowly lifted his hand and pulled his sword--hesitated, swallowed hard then bent and plunged the blade upward into Keneen's side. The soldier gasped--eyes rolled then fixated; he released a gush of air as his body deflated and settled into the dirt. Gangus placed two fingers over his eyelids and pulled them down; he gently withdrew his arm, letting Keneen's head and shoulders rest upon the ground.

Under the noonday sun, the men built a pyre and ceremoniously burned Keneen's body.

After nearly two hours had passed, Dinary made a loud call to pick up gear and resume traveling. Pryah, though weak, and with the help of Letty and Alema, was able to keep step.

The soldiers marched until the late evening sun scorched their faces and their gear felt even heavier as they continued fighting the land's deadly elements. At long last, shouts of halt parted the air. Every right foot hit the ground hard on cue.

They had finally reached a large piece of ground that was nothing but dirt. It was in the open air and had no trees. Bundles of straw were spread out over the soil and covered with thick bedding and wool covers. After the soldiers had settled, a white paste was slapped in each of their hands to spread over their skin to protect them from the deadly insects.

"Ugh! This stinks," a soldier complained.

"Ha! imagine how it must smell to the insects," another joked.

"Do they expect us to actually sleep in this place?" Olatunji asked, looking about.

"Would you like to face the Drake with no sleep?" Celio smirked.

Olatunji sighed. "No, I guess not."

"Look, not all of us will be asleep. There'll be some keeping watch."

"All right you men!" Dinary interrupted loudly. "Before we pass out rations, I need some of you to go with me to find a water hole and bring back water. We have plenty but don't want to wait until we run out. Any volunteers?" Nothing but silence followed. "Come on--volunteers!" Dinary said loudly, looking around.

"All right, over here," Celio said, waving his hand. Olatunji lay on his side and pretended to snore; a few more hands slowly rose. Celio stood and gently tapped Olatunji's butt with his foot and Olatunji hopped to his feet grinning. A few more hopped to their feet including Letty. Each grabbed their weapons and empty waterskins then followed Dinary out of the camp.

They hadn't traveled long before a water hole was spotted up ahead about a hundred feet from a wooded area.

The quietness made them step lightly--they didn't trust it: They had been in the Badlands for hours and no hour had been without a loud incident. Looking around, each soldier clutched their weapon as they neared their destination.

At the water hole, they pulled the plugs from the waterskins and took turns lowering them into the depth of the hole by long cords until they filled with water then slowly pulled them up. Letty lowered her skins but thought she saw movement from the dark wooded area. She froze.

"What are you doing? Hurry up," Dinary ordered her.

"I thought I saw something," she said.

"Well, if you did, standing here like ducks in a row isn't good," Dinary snapped. "Get a move-on!"

Letty quickly pulled the water-filled skins from the hole and moved aside. Another soldier stepped forward and lowered his waterskins when an arrow penetrated his temple straight through to the other side of his head.

"LET'S MOVE!" Dinary barked.

Everyone grabbed their skins and ran as fast as their legs could move. Several arrows whisked over their heads and some nicked their ears and cheeks. Olatunji looked over his shoulder as he ran, but saw no one following--just arrows flying out from among the trees. Several arrows pierced the skins and water leaked out leaving a trail in the soil as the fleeing soldiers covered much ground.

Huffing, they fell into camp bleeding and were greeted with gasps and troubled faces. Gangus was the first to reach them.

"Tread didn't make it," Dinary said breathing hard. "Even though they killed one of us, I still think it was just a warning. They were too good with those arrows to miss us that many times."

"Did you get a look at them?" Gangus asked.

"No. They never showed. But their message was clear," Dinary replied, still gasping for breath.

"Don't worry yourselves," Gangus said. "You did fine. We'll find another in a more secluded area next time. Go and have those cuts attended to."

"Yes, sir," Dinary answered.

*****
For the next fourteen days, Gangus and his soldiers endured deadly confrontations--one after another, and sadly, more lives were lost. On the fifteenth day, they had made it through to the outskirts of that godforsaken land. The only disadvantage of surviving the Badlands was what lay nestled deep within a cave they stood facing. The mouth of it appeared darker than anything Gangus had ever seen.

He looked around at his soldiers: One hundred had followed him into the Badlands--now only seventy-nine stood with him against the Drake. Gangus gave a hand signal and all slowly moved forward.

The entrance to the cave engulfed them with impenetrable darkness. Gangus watched their shadows dissolve into the blackness as they slowly moved inside. Torches were lit and mounted along the trail. The men readied their weapons.

The brown rock path led them deeper into the throat of the cavern. The rock walls were jagged with sharp edges like blades. From the ceiling, hung stalactites, and blood-sucking birds' roosts. As they entered the long oval tunnel, thick musky air filled their lungs and clogged their throats as the soldiers continued to inch forward.

Gangus signaled to halt.

The soldiers stopped and braced themselves. At the far end of the dark cave, emerged two great yellow beams of light set several feet apart. In the middle of each light were tall black ovals. Gangus held up his hand to the men to stay as he stepped closer to get a better look at the glowing lights.

"I BEEN WAITING FOR YOU!" a voice thundered from behind the yellow beams.

The Drake reared its gigantic head--its yellow eyes narrowing--its black oval pupils thin as needles and spewed a blazing sea that heated the cave, like the pits of Hades.






Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters

Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree he ra) His wife
Dinary (Di nary) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife


Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master


 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 18
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Chapter 12 (Part 2)
The Mouth of the Dragon

The Last Chapter: (part1)
Gangus held up his hand signaling the soldiers to stay while he stepped closer to get a better look.

"I BEEN WAITING FOR YOU!" a voice thundered. The Drake reared its gigantic head--its eyes, glowing and narrowing--its black pupils thin as needles and blew a sea of fire that heated the cave, like the pits of Hades.


(Today part2)

Gangus shouted, "Tierphenjinochun!"

In seconds, the staff--its globe bright and radiating, shot out a thunderous wind-block that held the fiery sea so strongly the blaze curled and flooded backward over the Drake's head. As Gangus held the blaze, archers and lance-throwers stood high on rock ledges, with weapons pointing--waiting for the smoke to clear.

The blaze lasted less than a half-minute, but the soldiers braced themselves when they heard another intake of the Drake's breath that sounded like a whirlwind. The hissing roar of its blow shook the walls of the cavern. Twenty steel-tipped arrows cut loose striking the Drake in the tongue, gums and shattering several teeth. The lances flew down but each missed the eyes by inches as their view was marred by blinding smoke.

Pain from Volarian metal was something the Drake had never felt before that moment, nor had it ever faced a weapon like Gangus's staff. That drove the beast to rethink its battle strategy: Perhaps, take the battle outside--strike from a mighty distance in the sky, rendering their puny weapons useless. Nevertheless, the steady rain of arrows and lances kept the Drake cornered in the deep throat of the cave.

As the beast paused for its refueling process, several swordsmen rushed from behind Celio to stab the beast between its scales. The Drake, surprised by their boldness, nonetheless--swept them up in its claws and hurled them through the air. Blood splattered as the soldiers hit the side of the cavern--sliding down dead--leaving smears of blood on the jagged wall.

The Drake tried to back them out of the cave with more fire, but Gangus commanded his staff, thrust it forward, and the wind blew back the flames. Immediately Dinary, with his necklace glowing, ran forward to slash the beast's face, but a lightning-slap from its spiked tail impaled Dinary's thigh and flung him across the surface.

Dinary landed hard on his side--ripping his clothing, and tearing his flesh as he slid across the spiky edges of the rock floor. With hundreds of arrows sticking out of its body, the Drake resembled an enormous porcupine. The beast cursed at them as the blood trickled from the bulging veins in its wings.

Meanwhile, Gangus suffered a dislocated shoulder from repeatedly holding the staff against the force of the Drake's breath. Celio took over the lead and stood out front with his shield. The creature tried once more to roast them where they stood. All steadied themselves for the whirlwind intake, and then the familiar hissing roar of the blow.  The cave heated as if the inside of a volcano: The flames hit the shield that turned red but held the blazing sea at bay--sending orange and yellow sparks splashing about like massive fireflies. 

A hail of arrows and a few well-aimed lances continued to pour upon the Drake, but the beast shot its fire over the shield consuming all that stood along the ledges. Screams and the stench of burning flesh choked the cavern as bodies fell one by one, and ashes floated over the dead.

As a slight twinkle rose in the Drake's lifeless eyes, and two upward curls appeared at each corner of its armored mouth, Olatunji became enraged at the demise of his comrades. Though greatly injured, and with the Drake needing a few more seconds to refuel its gullet, Olatunji made a drastic move. His legs badly burned, he hobbled swiftly towards the beast then stopped--drew his long, ebony shoulder back, and threw his lance with all his strength.

As the lance sailed high above the smoke, the whooshing sound of the Drake's massive intake frightened the warriors to no end. Olatunji froze as he stared into the opened mouth of the Drake; he watched the fire emerging in the distance of its throat--raging forward like a shapeless fiery demon--and he in direct striking range of its wrath. Suddenly, the huge yellow globe burst and a massive leak of dark red spilled out onto the beast's distorted face. The lance had hit its mark, causing the beast to nearly choke on its fire. The Drake's agonizing roar shook the cavern to its depth; the walls cracked and the ceiling poured rocks that rained upon a group of soldiers--killing them instantly.

The rumbling in the cave jarred the staff from Gangus's hand as he fell; it landed several feet from him. Seeing that, the Drake bolted, mowing down soldiers, leaving several squashed in its path. Gangus yelled, "Trebeckon!" and extended his good arm towards the staff that flew into his hand. He gripped it tightly, scrambled to his feet, and commanded the staff, but it was too late--the Drake had left the cave.

Gangus, in pain--his right arm dangling at his side, ordered the badly injured to stay back while he, Dinary, Celio, and others scurried to catch up to the Drake. After exiting the cave, they stood momentarily squinting from the glare of the sun; when their eyes had adjusted, Gangus and the others gasped at the sight of his outside forces that lay dead--fried, and smoldering upon the ground. They searched around--looking every which way, but the Drake was nowhere to be found.

"No!" Celio exclaimed bitterly. "No! No! No! We couldn't have lost it."

Gangus whispered. "Holy Mother of gods," as he frantically searched the sky.

"We were so close," Dinary said loudly.

"CLOSER THAN THAT!"

Each thunderous word vibrated against their eardrums. Trembling, they turned and stood face-to-face to the colossal parted jaws of the beast. Their eyes bulged at the long, wide rope of its deep purple tongue and a half row of broken fangs. The sickening stench of its hundred-year-old breath parted their hair as its chest rose and fell.

The one-eyed Drake--its horns sitting like a thorny crown, half its brown scaly face covered with sticky blood--rose from a hidden pocket in the ground--one of many traps it had set for intruders. While the men proved too frozen to move, Celio who stood closer to the beast was scooped up into its huge foul mouth and carted off into the first heaven.

Celio cried out as his comrades looked up in terror. He managed to scramble away from its teeth as the massive pumping of the beast's wings dislodged a great number of arrows. The archers, horrified, tried desperately to shoot more into it, but the flap of its powerful wings knocked them over. They watched as the beast soared at full tilt out of range.

Celio, struggling to keep his balance, quickly forced his shield between the Drake's upper and lower jaw to prevent it from biting down. He jabbed his sword at its tongue that tried to push the shield away.

The Drake flew sideways forcing Celio to drop his sword. With both hands, he held on to his shield that was now wedged between its teeth. His lower body dangled from the side of its mouth like a piece of wet cloth. Celio felt his hands slipping from the shield as he scrambled and got a foothold; the Drake's saliva made its teeth slip further down the shield, and the tip of a fang cut into Celio's head; blood streamed down his face and onto his shoulder.

Then what he feared most--a pulling sensation that made him use every muscle in his body to keep from being sucked into that giant purple tunnel, and then the rumbling noise heard deep from the Drake's throat signaled it was going to blow. Celio knew he had to jump, though he wouldn't survive the drop. Still, he was determined not to be eaten or burned alive.

Celio closed his eyes tightly and took a deep breath. The wind whipped through his hair as he leaned far out of the Drake's opened mouth; stench-saliva drenched his face and blurred his vision as he let go of his shield and dove out falling at tremendous speed.

With only a few hundred feet before he smacked the ground, Celio made his peace with every god in the heavens. He thought about his beautiful wife and all the children they would not have together.

As his body soared downward, he saw a small spot on the ground getting larger and larger; he closed his eyes again and prayed to the gods as his ears flooded with wind that ripped through his clothing. Suddenly, something strange--he felt his body no longer falling; he seemed to have settled on something not solid, or liquid, not soft or hard, but a nothingness that vibrated.

Celio kept his eyes closed--thinking death came so instantly, he never felt the pain and perhaps was now floating in the afterworld--floating slowly and descending on the gentle hand of a god. His eyes still closed, he felt around but only grabbed air. He felt above him and ran his hand under his bottom, but again--just air. Finally, he opened his eyes and spotted a long, blue stream. He was actually gliding on a long, rod-like blue stream. His eyes darted across the blue, and they fell on Gangus's staff pointing directly at him.

The blue placed him on the ground as gently as a mother would place a child in its cradle. Celio sat panting and half-smiling when two bright lights flashed from the ground, and his sword and shield suddenly appeared.

Loud cheering startled him: His comrades, by that time, had poured out of the cave and were gazing at the sky. The once-mighty Drake, wings heavy with arrows and lances, streams of blood gushing from its veins, and a broken lance protruding from its eye, fluttered away into the distance like a gigantic drunken bird.

*****
Back at Hayman's village, Brehira had left the ship temporarily to heal the sick; Popi came running into her, hopping up and down and blurting something, but because of his excitement, she couldn't make out what the youngster was saying.

Frustrated she said, "Popi, just show me."

She followed Popi outside, and up to the surface. After both walked a few feet from the underground entrance, Brehira stopped midway and her eyes beheld a fraction of a battered army led by her injured husband--with Dinary, Celio, and Olatunji limping at his side.

Behind them--dragging along, were Letty, Pryah, and Alema. Glad tears rolled down Brehira's cheeks as Hayman and a crowd of his kinsmen gathered around her in shared amazement. A broad smile on Gangus's face told a glassy-eyed Hayman that the deed was done.

Miles away, deep in the bowels of Bethica, stood an even darker unknown cave. Inside, giant skeletal frames spread as far as enormous eyes could see. The Drake, barely crawling--pools of blood trailing managed to drag itself to one particular skeletal head, perhaps its mother, perhaps not. It laid its battle-ravaged face upon the skull and took its last breath. Its dragon soul soared into the abyss.





Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters
Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree here rah) His wife
Dinary (Deh nah ry) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife
Olatunji  (O Lah Tune Gee) Nigerian Soldier
Gangus's Staff Command Tierphenjinochun (Teer fen gin o tion)

Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
The Drake (like it's spelled) The menacing dragon


 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 19
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra


Chapter 13
The Promised Land

Many days after the Drake's demise at the hands of Gangus and his brave soldiers, the victory celebrations continued throughout the land.

Storytellers worked diligently producing plays for puppetry using marionettes, hand and rod puppets.

The puppet performances contained little to no truth, but consisted of catchy storylines nonetheless: Gangus jumped on the Drake's back and gouged out an eye while hanging from its horn. Brave soldiers, while on fire, still fought the Drake until they fell into a heap of ashes. The Drake pleaded on its knees for mercy, just before three amazon women cut off its head.

Gangus grew furious at the silliness of it all. "Knees!" he was heard shouting.  "Drakes don't have knees!" 

The fake stories that had stolen their victory, quickly spread, and became entertainment for children and those starved for fable adventure. However, before Gangus and the settlers left the village heading to Bethica, Hayman had told him not to worry; the Timbakni historians would write the battle word-for-word just as Gangus had narrated, and they would share that account with other historians from every tribe.

Gangus reflected on the day he left the Timbaknis, another day Hayman had said he dreaded among all others. He had bid Gangus a heartfelt goodbye.

"You have done a great service for my people, my dear friend," Hayman had said. "We will never forget. If there is ever anything I or my people can do for you, it will not go undone, I assure you--as the gods are my witnesses, it will not go undone." With that, he kissed Gangus on both cheeks and slapped his back lightly. Gangus had smiled and humbly nodded.

Hundreds of miles from Hayman's village, after many weeks of traveling on foot, Gangus and his people stood on Bethican soil--the land the god, Raziel had promised. With Brehira by his side, he thought of all they and his tribesmen had encountered since boarding the Cristofur at Skatts Island nearly a year ago: Five hundred and nineteen settlers, seventy-three of one hundred and eighty soldiers, one captain, and thirty-eight of a sixty-member crew had survived the journey.

While the people held on to their belongings, they watched Gangus and Brehira walk glassy-eyed--holding on to each other and looking around at their new homeland. It was breathtaking--everything Hayman had described and more.

A large portion of the land was flat, wild, and opened; flat land and hills were covered with thick grass like a vast green carpet. The rivers coiled like snakes throughout the region. They could see the ocean from where they stood--the motor of its current pushing the waves against the huge gray rocks. The trees with their green and bright orange leaves were twice as tall as giants. The mountains thrust their dark peaks so high they appeared to have pierced the next heaven.

Colorful wildflowers were spread throughout the region like the imagined gardens of the gods. Beautiful, yet, odd creatures, bright yellow and white lizard-like ones flew over the land--some resting on tree branches, and little fuzzy purple creatures with big yellow eyes scurried about the ground.

As the people stood mesmerized, they could hardly believe such a paradise was their new homeland. Though wide-eyed, and tearful, they remained quiet, looking around and gulping in all the land's beauty.

However, after a few moments, the silent shock wore off, and excitement took hold: First, there was one yell, then a few, and a few more, then like a sudden clap of thunder, the entire crowd of men and women burst into celebration: There came loud yelling and whooping, laughing, yipping, and jumping up and down.

Captain Dordrecht and his crew members howled, and danced while others giggled and rolled about on the grass. Spotting a nearby river, Dinary, Celio, and Olatunji quickly discarded their weapons, ran, and dove into the clear, sparkling, green water. The other soldiers glanced at one another with raised eyebrows and shrugged--then grinned and followed suit. All were swimming, laughing, and splashing; others were clowning, and playfully pushing one another's heads underwater. Hundreds of adults behaving like children, as Gangus and Brehira looked on like proud parents--chuckling and shaking their heads at their antics.

It took nearly two hours to round up all the scattered people, calm them down and set up camp before dark. The once vacated land, buzzed with sounds of striking axes, banging tools, singing, casual talking, laughter, and a few loud squabbles over plots of land. Nevertheless, most remained neighborly and aided one another.

After food was served and wine well guzzled, everyone settled into their tents.

*****
A few hours later, Gangus entered Captain Dordrecht's abode. "So, is everything all right?" Gangus asked.

Dordrecht turned from his mirror--his lips and cheeks surrounded by a white cloud. He held the blade an inch from his face. "Couldn't be better," he said. He turned back to the mirror and pulled the blade down from his sideburn.

Gangus stood watching as Dordrecht ballooned his cheek.

Dordrecht hesitated. "Ah, do you mind?" he asked, looking at Gangus through the mirror.

Gangus frowned.

"I need the light," Dordrecht said.

"Oh, sorry," Gangus said, quickly sidestepping away from the opening of the tent.

Dordrecht finished shaving, splashed water on his face then grabbed a towel. He walked towards Gangus--wiped his face then tossed the towel on a bench. "You always carry that thing?" Dordrecht asked, nodding towards Gangus's staff.

"Remember what happened the last time I left it about?"

"Oh, yes," Dordrecht said chuckling. "Have a seat."

"Actually, I only stopped by for a minute," Gangus said, still standing. "Just wanted to see if you had any regrets."

"About coming, you mean? None whatsoever. Is that the only reason you stopped by? I can assure you, I'm not about to turn back. One sail through that demonic ocean was quite enough for me and my crew," Dordrecht said with a wave of his hand.

"Then I'd like for you to take charge as merchant and trader of our goods," Gangus said. "We're bringing a lot of goods that can be used for the betterment of Bethica. We'll need right away to set up trading and to find out what's out there for us. We're not trading our goods, especially our knowledge of steelmaking, for trinkets. We need to know what is out there in Bethica among the other inhabitants that can benefit our people."

"You think it wise to give away steelmaking until we know who might be our enemies?" Dordrecht asked. "Right now our army is superior. We can cut any enemy and their weapons to pieces. And how do we know who becomes our friends now won't become our enemies later?"

"That goes without saying, my friend," Gangus replied. "But I'm glad you understand that as well."

"Why did you come to me... for trading, I mean?"

"Who else would I go to?"

"But, how did you know I'd be good at trading? I never mentioned it...not that it was a secret."

"You forget, Dinary did a background check on every captain who responded to my offer. That's how I knew to hire you," Gangus said confidently.

"Well, good Dinary. I see why you keep him by your side. Then I accept." He grabbed Gangus's hand and shook it. "I'll do my best."

"Good. I'm glad you're remaining with us. I'll talk with you soon." Gangus left the tent.

*****
The sun had set, and Brehira stood with her back to the tents looking at the ocean, its sapphire waters bubbling with foam. A gentle breeze had blown some leaves over the ground, hiding some of the green where shadows formed under the giant trees. It gave frangible memories of her beloved Volaria and the loved ones she'd left behind. She kicked off a sandal and sampled the soft grass with the sole of her foot. She gazed over her shoulder and spotted her husband looking like a lost sheep.

Gangus stood on a plot of land shaded with dark green leaf trees. "Perfect," he said of the plot. He held a list of fallen comrades; later, he would present them to the stonecutter. There, on the plot, a stela would be built to commemorate them. On each tall and elaborately decorated stone, their names would be listed under the title of the battles they had fought. Many would be listed under more than one battle: The Ghost Ship, Island of Gorr, and Dragon Slayers. He folded the list and tucked it into the wide sash tied around his waist.

Brehira eased behind him with a heavy garment she'd brought from their tent, for it had turned cool. She draped it over his shoulders but kept one hand on his injured one. Her favorite fragrance gave her away and without looking at her, he placed his hand over hers. Brehira moved to his side and stared up at him--their eyes met.

"You did it, love," she whispered--her eyes sparkling with tears. "You brought hundreds of settlers through a monstrous ocean, over treacherous lands. I never doubted you for a moment. I've always believed in you." She paused then said in a tearful whisper, "I love you."

Gangus, his eyes glassy, pulled her close and planted a gentle kiss upon her lips. "As I love you," he said, looking into her beautiful brown eyes. They stood smiling--casting a lingering gaze over the astounding land of Bethica.




Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters
Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree here rah) His wife
Dinary (Deh nah ry) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife
Olatunji (O Lah Tune Gee) Nigerian Soldier
Gangus's Staff Command Tierphenjinochun (Teer fen gin o tion)

Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
The Drake (like it's spelled) The menacing dragon

 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 20
The Chronicles Of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter 14
Visions of the Gods

Gangus, asleep in his tent--heard a voice that sounded like a whistling breeze. Straight away, he was swept into a blurry vision where he stood before a strange male figure.

The radiance of that figure's glory filled the surroundings like an endless sea--clear and bright as crystals. Rivers of colorful light appeared as inverted topaz.

The figure sat upon an ebony throne decorated with ruby stones. Circling the throne were dark hues of yellow and orange as resplendent as gold. On a lower tier, shone four thrones decorated with sapphires: Upon each throne sat--Dahlia, the goddess of Domaria--a kingdom ruled by women, Gailzur, the god of war, Nelchael, the god of the underworld, and Zakzakiel, the god of peace and tranquility.

Gangus stood in an enclosed place that had no roof; high above it, the moonless sky bore no heavenly light. Only the halo above their crowns was needed; it lit up the firmament, and the bright gems at the bottom of their thrones were the lamps of its misty floor.

As Gangus stood, his blurred vision suddenly became clear. When he swept his eyes to gaze upon the figure--the head deity, his glory caused Gangus to drop at the foot of his throne like a puppet cut from its strings.

*****
Earlier in the third heaven, a meeting of the gods had taken place. In robes that glittered like stars, Raziel, the god of gods, and Gailzur, the god of war sat at a round, marble table waiting on Dahlia, Nelchael, and Zakzakiel.

"Well, Raziel, Lord Abram, and his tribe finally made it. It seems you made a good choice this time."

"I am quite pleased," Raziel replied.

"Then what are we waiting for?" Gailzur asked.

Raziel spoke matter of factly. "They need to rest, Gailzur. We can't rush it. Look what they've already accomplished."

"Rush it? The Nordoxz are moving east where they will surely come in contact with Lord Abram and his people."

"The man doesn't even know the real reason I summoned him here," Raziel snapped. "We need time to prepare him. Besides, unlike the other mortals I had summoned to destroy the Nordoxz, Lord Abram won't turn and run."

Gailzur laid a finger upon his chin. "Yes, I do recall sometime back when he trained an army of farmers and defeated the trolls--the same trolls that wiped out a large village and the king's army that was sent to protect them."

As they waited on the others to arrive, Raziel's pet birds entertained them with sweetly tweeted tunes. Gailzur sat quietly then fidgeting in his chair, he muttered, "Where in heavens are they and especially Dahlia?"

After thanking and dismissing his birds, Raziel said, "You know Dahlia. She loves to make her grand entrance. And by stars don't start anything."

"Start what? I'm just asking where she could be."

At that moment, as expected, Dahlia made her grand entrance draped in a floor-length, ice-blue, shimmering garment. She strolled towards them, her train trailing like a thin blue stream.

"Well, it's about time, don't you think?" Gailzur snarled. "And where are the others?"

She didn't answer, but scooped up her train and walked around to each--lowering her cheek for a kiss which Gailzur bestowed begrudgingly.

"This better be good," she said. "I was just in the midst of elevating six new priestesses when you summoned me." She took her seat across from them.

Gailzur cocked his head and made a pity sound with his teeth. "Oh...did we take you away from your giant dolls?" He hated the way she doted on, what he called, her six-foot doll babies--and the way she'd encouraged them not to trust men.

"Stop calling them that," she snapped.

"Dolls, dolls, silly big dolls," Gailzur repeated childishly.

"You call them dolls again and so help me ..."

"All right you two," Raziel warned. "We're here to discuss a mortal war, not to start one among the gods." He turned from them momentarily. "I swear you two can't be on the same planet without arguing with each other."

Still reeling from Gailzur's comments, she pointed her finger at him but glared at Raziel. "You tell him to stop insulting my dolls... I mean..."

"HA!" Gailzur howled with laughter.

"You see, he's gotten me so upset!"

After Raziel cut an eye at him, Gailzur muffled his laughter, but Dahlia saw that his shoulders still shook. The lines in her forehead slowly smoothed and a curl appeared at each corner of her mouth.

"Uh-oh," Raziel mumbled, knowing her temperament.

She slowly turned to Gailzur and smirked. "I think I'll send a lightning bolt in the midst of those little toy soldiers you're always playing with," referring to the vast armies that worshiped him.

Gailzur cut off his laugh, his gaze burned as his eyes fell upon her. "You lay one finger on my armies, and I'll turn those man-hating rag dolls of yours into eighty-year-old hags. Let's see who'll mate with them then."

"Stop it, both of you," Raziel warned. "I am tired of refereeing you two every time we come together. The Nordoxz are going to destroy Bethica if we don't do something. Now, try to get along!"

"What's the matter," Nelchael, the god of the underworld spoke as he entered, "forget how to rain down fire from the sky? Sounds like you're getting soft," Nelchael said of Raziel with a sinister laugh.

Dahlia turned quickly and watched Nelchael as he strolled towards them--his long robe as black as volcanic rock and sparkling as if sprinkled with crushed diamonds.

"You'd like that wouldn't you, Nelchael?" she scoffed. "You'd like raining burning stones from the sky or raising more foul creatures from the dead as you did in Horromog and Modes."

"That's right, blame me," he said taking his seat. "Mortals couldn't possibly be evil all by themselves."

"You deny it?"

"Of course not. I've done nothing mortals haven't requested me to do."

"I just bet you tried talking them out of it," she scoffed.

"Three times, those are the rules--right Raziel? And if I can't, their souls are mine. You know that Dahlia," Nelchael said with a sinister grin.

She gritted her teeth and stared at Nelchael. "I don't understand how you can even stand yourself."

"What now?" Nelchael blurted.

She sighed and shook her head. "While the rest of us try to bring sunshine into our creation's lives, you're helping them destroy themselves with black magic. You're supposed to keep the underworld in check, not use them to please revengeful mortals."

"It's not my fault mortals enjoy delving into forbidden things they can't handle."

"Yes, but you..."

Dahlia, Nelchael," Raziel interrupted. "I hate to break up this little rendezvous, but if we could get back to the matter at hand...and to answer your question, Nelchael. Raining down fire would destroy Bethica. We don't want to make the same mistake with this world as we had with others. Our powers are simply too strong to settle matters among mortals. "

"I have a question."

Raziel was more than happy to answer Gailzur's question and turn them from bickering. "Yes, Gailzur. "

"What else do we have for Dinary?"

"I can answer that," Dahlia said fingering with her sparkling bracelets. "Zakzakiel has a plan of his own for Young Dinary--though he hasn't revealed much. The necklace he arranged for Dinary is very powerful and, I believe, could be instrumental in defeating the Nordoxz. I do recall him saying something about ramping up the power of the necklace."

"Oh, yes," Gailzur said. "I forget how mysterious Zakzakiel can be. He's always done things his own way. And where is he, anyway?"

Dahlia pulled out a mirror and started primping her hair. "Zakzakiel prefers being among the mortals. He likes it. I've never understood why. He either walks invisibly among them or in some fleshy incognito." She twisted a curl then put away her mirror. Besides, I'll fill him in on our meeting."

"Well," Raziel said, speaking smugly, "at least Zakzakiel is on our side and not making the Nordoxz in the west a growing threat by using black magic to create beasts to do their bidding."

Nelchael knew Raziel was referring to him. "Hm, sounds like something I would do," Nelchael said. "But sorry...wrong again." He waved his hand at them. "You know, it's amazing how you three can play chess moves with the lives of your subjects--bringing them across dangerous paths under a false pretenses. And with a straight face no doubt. At least my worshippers know what they're getting into and the consequences of their actions." Nelchael laughed deeply and loudly, with the sound of his laughter trailing off as he slowly disappeared.

"Good, he's gone," Raziel said. "Now do you see why it's important for Lord Abram to succeed? That's why we are here--to work together to save the land of Bethica from the Nordoxz. Now, dear Dahlia, have you considered what we spoke of in our last three meetings?"

"Yes, and the answer is still no. I am not forming a male priesthood. My Domarian priestesses would be furious...they want me all to themselves. Besides, they'd feel betrayed."

"Why are you being so stubborn about this?" Gailzur snapped. "We've been over this time and time. Why can't you..."

"Gailzur," Raziel interrupted, "let me handle this."

Raziel leaned forward and spoke quietly to her. "My dear Dahlia, it will only be temporary. It will take team worship to bring down the Nordoxz; your women won't worship anyone but you. They shunned orders from men. And most importantly, my dear Dahlia, you have gifts our male priests and warriors could use to build a powerful fighting force."

"But my Domarian women are well-trained warriors. Why can't you just let them fight with the men?"

"Dahlia," Razil pleaded, "don't you see, unless we can bestow all of our gifts on one army and have full worship and loyalty from all of our subjects...including priest and priestess, we cannot hope to destroy the might of the Nordoxz that has powerful dark forces behind them. We need to pool our strength behind a man like Gangus, who has the gift to train ordinary men to be fearless warriors.

But before he can do that," Raziel continued, "he must raise a mighty army from among the Timbaknis, Engamars, Aenwyns, and Qu'Venars. It won't be easy since they always resist getting involved in anything that doesn't directly threaten them. Plus, they don't particularly trust or like each other."

"And you truly believe Lord Abram is the man who can pull them together?"

Raziel could see a spark in Dahlia's eyes and he hoped he hadn't misread them. "I do," Raziel answered quickly.

She pondered a few moments, placing a finger against her rosy cheek. "He is an extraordinary man," she said. "No mortal has ever killed a Drake or fought against the undead the way he and his men fought. And this is only temporary you say?"

"You have my word," Raziel assured.

She thought a while longer, and then said, "All right, I'll instruct Brehira to choose seven priests from among her male people. But they must be single and men of honor," she said with her chin slightly raised. "I'll just have to make my priestesses understand."

"Be firm with them, my dear," Raziel instructed. "You've spoiled them to no end. I know this decision wasn't easy for you." Raziel blew out a breath of relief, "But finally, my dear Dahlia, you have come to understand the importance of this."

Surprised at her sudden change of heart, Gailzur looked upon her kindly. "My dear, Dahlia allow me to apologize for speaking harshly about your priestess. It started a tease that got quite out of hand. My fault, of course." He smiled and held out his hand. "Shall we call a truce...for the sake of Bethica?"

She searched his eyes and spotted sincerity--took his hand and cupped it within hers. "All I ever wanted was your respect, Gailzur, and you have shown it."

*****
Gangus trembled in a cold sweat as he lay face-down at the foot of the figure. For no mortal had ever been summoned to the throne of Raziel.

Raziel adjusted his appearance so mortal eyes could look upon him. "Rise, Lord Abram. You are not dreaming, and this is not my natural form; that is forbidden to mortals. You've received a great gift. For to other mortals, I am but a voice, but to you, my loyal servant, I have granted you my presence."

Gangus stood shaking in his nightclothes. "B...but, w...where am I?"

"When you are in my presence, you are everywhere, for I am everywhere. I am Raziel, the god of gods. I have brought you here to say how pleased I am with you--that you made the journey. And...some other things," he mumbled lowering his eyes.

"I am glad you are pleased, my dear savior. And the land is indeed beautiful. At last, I and my people will live a quiet and peaceful life and...and we owe it all to you, Great Lord of the universe. You...you have no idea how much the people worship you. Oh...oh of course you do. After all, you know, see, and hear everything. How very silly of me... Great Lord, we..."

"Stop!"

"Oh Great Lord, I...I'm so sorry. I'm not letting you get a word in..."

"No Lord Abram. It's not that. There is something more I must tell you."

Gangus stood looking like a little boy. "Yes, Great Lord?"

"I'm afraid it isn't peace and tranquility...just yet." Raziel watched Gangus's forehead wrinkle. "You see, bringing you here and giving you the land was really putting the cart before the horse."

"Thee cart before the horse, Great Lord?" Gangus repeated, slowly.

"I rewarded you for a task you have not yet performed because I have full confidence that you will perform it."

"The land was a reward for a task I haven't performed?"

"Yes, you know...the cart before the horse."

"Ah, Great Lord, I'm...not sure I..."

Impatient, Raziel blurted, "Lord Abrams I brought you here to raise an army to destroy the great and deadly Nordoxz who, with the help of demonic forces, has never been defeated and is positioned to destroy Bethica and I can't let that happen. I rewarded you the land because I've watched you over the years and have found you to be an extraordinary man of great courage, an impeccable warrior--an excellent trainer of fighting men and know you won't fail. So... there it is," he said, letting his voice drop at the end.

Gangus stumbled back--his mouth swung open and he stared. "Raziel--god of gods? Lord of lords? You lied to me? My people have suffered greatly coming here. Many lives were lost. They trusted me and followed me here."

"Lord Abram..."

"I told them I was bringing them to a land of peace and tranquility. I knew it was possible that we might have some problems with the inhabitants, but we were prepared for that. But...but this? Telling me these Nordoxz creatures will wipe them all out if I don't raise an army?"

"I did not mean to deceive you, Lord Abram, but you would not have come otherwise. The gods cannot destroy the Nordoxz without wiping out the universe. We can only help through the might of our creations. You must save Bethica."

"I...me...must save Bethica?" Gangus chuckled nervously. "Do you have any idea what you've done?"

"Lord Abram, listen."

"Do you have any idea what this means? My wife's heart will shatter into little pieces."

"Gangus."

The people will hate me, turn from me, and they should.

"Gangus, will..."

"My...my soldiers who watched their fellow warriors die in ways too horrible to imagine. They might just string me up from...from the nearest tree, and I won't blame them."

"Gangus, will you listen?"

"In fact, I'll help them. I'll put the rope around my own neck then..."

"For heavens' sake man, are you through?"

Gangus stood, looking bewildered.

"Gangus, I will speak on your behalf in five hundred dreams if I have to. I'll break my own law...appear before them on a cloud, a great wave, or on the wings of a giant bird."

"I won't do it."

Raziel suddenly grew several feet high and looked down upon Gangus. "This is not a request!" his voice boomed. "It is a command! Yes, I deceived you. But I am your god--the god of gods...and you must do this."

Gangus looked up--his neck bent back as far as it could. "How? I only have seventy-nine soldiers and hundreds of peaceful settlers, mostly women," Gangus said, his voice cracking.

"You will raise an army among the inhabitants. The Timbaknis, Engamars, Aenwyns, and Qu'Venars, to name a few."

"And what if I can't? What if they won't be persuaded?"

Raziel spoke sternly. "Then you have not earned your reward. It will be taken from you." Then he spoke gently. "But, Gangus, you will not fail. All the odds will be in your favor. I have confidence in you. You must have it in yourself."

Gangus pondered--shaking his head. He blew out a hard breath and paced a few moments. Then turning to Raziel he said with a frown, "All right, Great Lord, as you wish."

"Fine. Fine. You need not look worried, my unconquerable warrior. I and all the gods will be with you.

"Yes, Great Lord."

"Oh, and Gangus, I have set you far above my other subjects, and will not tolerate even a thimble of disobedience from you. Is that clear?"

"It is clear, Great Lord."

Gangus snapped awake, and he was back in his bed with Brehira sleeping soundly beside him. He jumped up and went to where he hid his staff. It was still there--but, there were now two, two-edged steel swords sparkling beside it. There was no shield, but a breastplate made of shiny, blue metal. On the front was the symbol of Raziel.






Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters

Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree here rah) His wife
Dinary (Deh nah ry) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife
Olatunji (O Lah Tune Gee) Nigerian Soldier
Gangus's Staff Command Tierphenjinochun (Teer fen gin o tion)

Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
The Drake (like it's spelled) The menacing dragon

The gods
Raziel (Ray-zeal) God of gods
Dahlia (Doll-lee'ah) Goddess of Domaria--a kingdom ruled by women
Gailzur (Gale-zore) God of War
Nelchael (Nell-key-ol) God of the Underworld
Zakzakiel (Zack-za-key-ahl) God of Peace and Tranquility


 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 21
The Chronicles of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter 15 (part 1)
Neighboring Tribes


With all they had been through, the determination of the settlers was amazing.

For weeks, Gangus and his soldiers remained on high alert until the Nordoxz were spotted moving farther west; this move created thousands of miles between them and Bethica.

Some swore it was the hands of the gods; others said it was the discovery of gold. Whatever their reason, that blessing granted Gangus precious time to settle the new land and form friendships with neighboring tribes. However, Gangus found his humanoid neighbors quite maliciously territorial which generated several regional disputes.

The hills on the northern side of Bethica were long and gray. A mountain towered in a short distance. Gangus had sent five scouts out to scan the area. Based solely on the head scout's intuition, they stopped at the foot of a hill and spent hours stripping away surface dirt and tossing aside stones. Their tedious labor uncovered numerous shiny rocks with coloring similar to those with iron ore deposits.

"My stars!" the head scout exclaimed. "Lord Abram is going to dance for joy when we tell him about this."

"Now we can take up steel-making again," another scout said.

"And don't have to worry about losing our swords...we just make new ones," said still another.

"Don't be an idiot," the head scout snapped. "Guard your weapons at all cost. We don't want some humanoid getting their hands on one--examining it and figuring things out. We don't know how intelligent these creatures are."

"I'm going to take some samples back with us."

"Just one." The head scout said, nervously looking around.

"You're right," the scout reasoned. "We have a long walk back. Don't want to be weighed down with too many rocks." He chose one and placed it in his waist-pouch.

Down on their knees fixated on their exquisite find, one of the scouts pulled a blade from its holder. "Think I'll mark this spot so..."

"STAY WHERE YOU ARE!" boomed a voice from above.

The startled men looked up. Thirty Engamar males with weapons drawn glared down at them from the top of the hill. They were short and stout with red hair and beards. The females' beards were much shorter, and they wore fitted attire that came down to their ankles and long leather boots up to their knees.

The males carried the typical iron swords and shields, with metal greaves to protect their shins and metal headgear with an iron spike in the middle. The females stood behind the males quietly and wide-eyed. It was they who had spotted the scouts and reported them.

"THIEVES!" one of the Engamars shouted.

"No, we're not!" the head scout shot back.

"DROP YOUR WEAPONS!"

The scouts were hopelessly outnumbered but all were prepared to have their weapons pried from their cold dead hands. "We're not doing that," the head scout bellowed. He tightened his face trying not to show the fear that was surging through his gut.

The Engamar males buzzed among themselves momentarily, then the one who had been so vocal, yelled, "WHAT ELSE YOU GOT THERE?"

"Just our waterskins." The head scout held his up.

"WHY ARE YOU ON OUR LAND?"

"We didn't know this was anyone's land."

"WHO DID YOU THINK IT BELONGED TO...IS IT YOURS?"

"No."

"WELL!"

"We are Volarians...new to this land," the head scout said. "My scouts and I meant no harm. We were just exploring."

"AH, SO YOU'RE THE NEW BREED EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT."

Feeling a bit at ease, the head scout took a step forward. "Yes...the new breed, that's us," he said with a wide grin.

"And...you're only exploring, you say?" the Engamar asked pleasantly.

"Yes, that's right."

"THEN GO EXPLORE SOMEPLACE ELSE!" he growled extending his sword. The rest of the Engamar males angrily followed suit and took several giant steps down the hill.

The head scout jumped back and led his men in retreat. Holding tightly to their swords and skins, the scouts scurried across the rocky surface like frightened rabbits--vanishing into the dark of a nearby forest.

When Gangus learned the region proved rich with iron ore, he praised the gods for the find and the safety of his scouts. Now, to safely gain access to that area before the humanoids know of its true value to us, he deviously thought.

A few days later, Gangus sent several women escorted by the Domarian soldiers; they bore gifts of fine woven cloths, food, a message from Gangus, and a decorated container of their finest wine to the Engamar leader's wives.

The Domarian soldiers dressed like the other women and hid their swords under their fashionable garments. The Volarian men, never having seen them looking so feminine before, licked their lips as they watched their hips sway out of camp.

Just as Gangus expected, the women were much more well-received than the scouts, and the Engamar young males appeared very much impressed. The wives marveled over the delicate fabrics and raved about the Volarian sweet fruit dishes.

After the wives tasted the wine, they gave some to their husband who after a short while became very apologetic for mistaking the scouts for thieves, but as far as allowing them to mine near the Engamar Mountain, he said gruffly, "I'll have to give the matter more thought."

Week after week, the Engamar leader insisted on giving the matter more thought--usually after a few sips of that new drink. And still every week dutifully, Gangus approved more wine and gifts; a few times he brought them himself--along with his persuasive charm.

Finally, after many weeks, more thought, and--more wine, Gangus was sent the leader's approval to mine in their region. The settlers were ecstatic, and thus began a positive relationship between the Volarians and the Engamar tribe.

Of course, Gangus didn't know the Engamars and its leader had readily agreed among themselves weeks ago to allow the settlers to mine. The leader had noticed every time he delayed his decision, Gangus would send more wine to entice him. So, he decided to drag things out until they were able to store as many goatskins of it as they could.

This little deceit was quite unusual for the mountain dwellers that were known as creatures of honor and high reputation. But thanks to the Volarians, the Engamars had secured a bit of history for themselves by being the first of the humanoid tribes in Bethica to add wine to women and song.

*****
It had been well over a year since the settlers stepped foot upon Bethican soil. Tents gave way to a raw township with unpainted houses, temples, and stores, a half-finished roof on a town hall building, dirt streets, and muddy pathways. Beasts native to the land had been tamed and used for heavy pulling and lifting. Farm animals that were brought from Volari had increased greatly in numbers.

Vegetables and fruit gardens were plentiful and numerous wells had been dug. Many marriages had taken place and vast numbers of babies blessed the land with each arrival. The Volarian occupied portion of Bethica that had yet to be named, was rapidly becoming a safe and productive environment. But not all were happy.

Though living near the Volarian army offered great protection, many settlers weren't content with living in a town. They'd had enough of town life and wanted to build their homes and farms in rural areas with no close-by neighbors; so, they left Gangus and ventured out into the wilderness. Doing that, however, was risky. Gangus, nonetheless, permitted it, and for months, life seemed quite pleasant--for a while.

Early one morning, a group of men headed out into the forest as they usually did to cut trees for lumber. Unfortunately, they did not return for their evening meals, and their wives worried.

Nightfall came, and the husbands still had not returned; two of their wives waited until morning then climbed into a beast-pulled cart--rode into town and pleaded with Celio to find them.

A small troupe of swordsmen was immediately sent to escort the women back to their homes and to search the forest for their husbands. But after three days, the swordsmen also did not return.

Furious, Gangus sent his best tracker, Olatunji, to search for them. As Olatunji waded through the thickness of the forest, he spotted evidence of a scuffle, drops of blood, and freshly cut tree stumps.

Suddenly, a light gush of wind whizzed past his ear, and he heard a thump. He turned and gasped when he saw an arrow sticking into a tree trunk just inches from his head. Olatunji stumble back and his mouth swung open when he turned and saw several females from the Aenwyn tribe with bows drawn.

They were thin, wiry, with a slightly small frame. Their long dark hair showcased a dark olive-skin face and long pointed ears that stuck out slightly from their heads. The Aenwyns had keen eyesight--were natural marksmen with the bow and could calculate wind and distance more rapidly than any other creature. They were the best in Bethica and the world from which they migrated. Stealth came naturally. For Aenwyns were notorious for silent ambushes.

Olatunji threw up his hands, dropping his spear. "I come in peace," he said.

They stood like statues with eyes partially hidden behind their drawn bows.

"See, I have no other weapons."

He pointed to his food sack and thought to impress them with fruit that was not native to Bethica. He slowly lowered his hands, gradually pulling the strap over his head. He dumped the contents onto the ground. He held up a fruit. "To ma toes," he said slowly pronouncing each syllable.

They muttered among themselves in their language.

He held up another fruit, "straw ber ries." He popped the sweet fruit into his mouth and held out several in his hands, moving slowly towards them. He exaggerated chewing and made a yummy sound.

The Aenwyns ignored his delight. With their arrows just inches from his skull, they spoke harshly to him in their tribal tongue. Though he did not understand, the warning glare in their pale blue eyes spoke a universal language, and Olatunji went peacefully with them.






Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters

Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree here rah) His wife
Dinary (Deh nah ry) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife
Olatunji (O Lah Tune Gee) Nigerian Soldier
Gangus's Staff Command Tierphenjinochun (Teer fen gin o tion)

Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
The Drake (like it's spelled) The menacing dragon

The gods
Raziel (Ray-zeal) God of gods
Dahlia (Doll-lee'ah) Goddess of Domaria--a kingdom ruled by women
Gailzur (Gale-zore) God of War
Nelchael (Nell-key-ol) God of the Underworld

The Races
Volarians (Humans) 'Gangus's tribe'
Engamars (Humanoids) 'Hate Aenwyns and Qu'Venars' (Qu'Venars in later chapters)
Aenwyns (Humanoids) 'Adore Qu'Venars, hate Engamars'
Qu'Venars (Humanoids) 'Adore Aenwyns can't tolerate the stubborn Engamars'

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 23
The Chronicles of Bethica

By amahra


Chapter 15 (part 2)
The Neighboring Tribes

Held in a cage for several days and given scraps of food and water, Olatunji still possessed little knowledge of what had happened to the woodsmen, or his fellow soldiers.

Some good fortune existed, however. The Aenwyns who had caged Olatunji told him they held strong suspicion against him and his comrades but not enough to prove theft which carried the death penalty. Relieved after hearing that, he still lingered in dire need of knowing his fate.

Gangus worked feverously with the Aenwyn leaders to release his men but always faced the same angry resistance. It seemed the Aenwyns had gotten wind that Gangus and his tribe were friendly with the Engamars who were mortal enemies of the Aenwyns. So, when they spotted the woodsmen cutting their trees, naturally they thought the Engamars were behind it.

Their history with the Engamars went like so: The Aenwyns had come to Bethica from the other world of Faerie. Unlike Faerie, Bethica's solar system was quite different in terms of suns, moons, and stars. They lived a primitive life in Bethica until they met the Qu'Venars who immediately felt parental towards them; the Qu'Venars taught the new arrivals everything they needed to know to enhance their survival skills in Bethica.

The Aenwyns were shapeshifters and not particularly attractive by Bethican standards. They admired the Qu'Venars so much, they chose their likeness which was the reason they and the Qu'Venars appeared similar with some exceptions. The Aenwyns lacked the Qu'Venars alabaster white skin and almond-shaped eyes.

The Qu'Venars were a scholarly race with a keen interest in learning about everything around them. They were known for their knowledge of the strange, and mysterious--even things that were forbidden to know. That strange fascination for the bizarre made other races view them as sinister. The Qu'Venars cared fervently about how actions impacted their future. They were longwinded--a bit meticulous about doing things and were skeptical of instant gain. Because of their patience, they were able to wait an enemy out and make their move only when they were certain of winning. They also shared that technique with the Aenwyns of whom they had a genuine fondness--a fondness which led to the Qu'Venars being overly protective.

It was one day, long ago--the Engamars, out of desperate need, came down from their mountain and ventured into the Aenwyns's forest. They had begun cutting and transporting lumber back to their territory. The Aenwyns, at that time, were a peaceful tribe and had only used their skills of archery for hunting. Frightened, they sent word to the Qu'Venars that an armed red-bearded tribe had invaded their land and was cutting and stealing their trees.

The Qu'Venars attacked the Engamars mercilessly. The Engamars took months to regroup but when they had--thus began the War of Tears--a war that lasted many years, with huge casualties on all sides.

That war turned the Aenwyns into fierce warriors and an enemy to the Engamars. However, years later, the Qu'Venars regretted their rush to judgment; they had never given the Engamars a choice to leave the region peacefully before attacking them. They also regretted the heavy casualties and cost of the ongoing war; they attempted many times to make peace with the Engamars, but the red-bearded ones refused--and swore, "Never Forget."

Gangus strongly verbalized his sympathy for their historical dilemma, but still, every attempt to get his men released including a promise never to side with the Engamars against them was met with a resounding, "No."

Gangus was beside himself. He knew, unlike the red-beards, he needed more than fine fabrics, fruit dishes, and wine to get the more sophisticated, highly skilled Aenwyns to do what he wanted. After a few days and consulting with Brehira, Dinary, Celio, and others whose opinions mattered, he decided to offer, not their steel-making secret, but their services to the Aenwyns--an offer to improve their weapons. Gangus came back to the bargaining table, strong. He brought a sample of his metal--an arrow made from steel.

The Aenwyns had often complained about the tips of their arrows breaking against bronze and other metal breastplates during battles against an enemy. Gangus assured them with several demonstrations that his tips would not break and could pierce the heart behind any breastplate used throughout Bethica except those made by his tribe.

Gangus hung an Aenwyn breastplate on a wooden post. He placed a tomato inside where the heart would be then handed the steel-tip arrow to an Aenwyn archer. The archer pulled back on the bow, aimed, and released. The Aenwyn leader's eyes widened when the breastplate swallowed the arrowhead, and the pink pulp of the tomato oozed from the hole. Gangus confidently strolled to the posted armor, pulled the arrow free, and handed it to the leader to examine. The steel blade of the arrow was barely scratched.

"Exquisite!" the Aenwyn leader said, wide-eyed.

The entire table of Aenwyn Elders marveled over the arrow as each took turns holding and running a finger over the side of the sparkling blade.

Soon after his men were released, Gangus began supplying the Aenwyns with weapons and breastplates. The Qu'Venars also became a customer, while the Engamars were kept in the dark. The Aenwyns were adamant the Engamars were never to have access to steel, or know its origin--and for obvious reasons. That too was a part of the bargain including Volarian access to the Aenwyns' forest.

In just three years, Gangus had made friends with three of the largest and fiercest warriors in Bethica. However, when the Engamars heard about Gangus's alliance with their mortal enemies--minus the secret concerning the weapons, they threatened to sever ties with the Volarians and deny their access to mine near Engamar Mountain.

Gangus, in turn, threatened to cut off their supply of wine, fruit, fabrics, and other goods for which the Engamars had grown quite accustomed. Having a reputation for being a man of his word, Gangus's sworn statement that he would never side with the Aenwyns or the Qu'Venars against them, put the Engamar leader's mind at ease and their relationship soon carried on as before.

Indeed, those three enemy tribes make for strange bedfellows, Gangus thought; yet, he managed to make their strained relationships work for the good of his people.

*****
Twenty-seven years passed with peaceful living among the indigenous people of Bethica. Gangus and his people knew much prosperity. There were vast lands of animal and vegetable farms, fruit trees, and grapevines. There were mills, bakeries, clothing shops, learning centers, a town hall, and temples to their gods. Lord and Lady Abram lived in a magnificent house, surrounded by other fine homes built for Volarians leaders.

Many fine, more colorful houses were scattered throughout the town and villages. A stone wall with a round tower facing in every direction was both defense and decoration. The guards kept the vaulted gate closed at night. Though over the years, there were many skirmishes against small tribes that tried and failed to invade the land, the people never regretted following Gangus to the new world.

That was due in part to the Volarians' acquiring a reputation as a most deadly enemy, thanks to their superior weapons. But though their reputation had kept some smaller tribes at bay--there was one breed that seemed to have no fear. That breed became quite a thorn in Gangus's side.

As his Volarian army grew, several promotions took place. Dinary became general of his men--now called, the Volarian Guards with Celio second in command. Nazi, Judian, Olatunji, and Lygone each commanded their own unit.

General Dinary and his wife Princess Netrekka had two sons: Rahshi, the oldest, and Glinas. Rahshi and Glinas joined the Guards and served under Celio in a 40-man unit, called The Blue Dragon, named by a defeated enemy because of the Volarian's blue breastplates and also because of the ruthless way they fought. The unit was responsible for spotting and attacking invaders before they ventured too close to the outskirts of Volarian land.

Rahshi was an expert archer and Glinas, taught by Gangus, fought with two swords. Rahshi married first and had three daughters. Glinas married Lurah and later, Rahkia who both bore him many sons and daughters. Gangus and Brehira stood to be proud monarchs of a future kingdom. However, that kingdom would emerge through many heart-wrenching challenges.

*****
"Commander, sir," Glinas said addressing Celio. "We just wiped out another band of intruders not far from Cartone River."

Celio took his time looking up from the map he was studying. It was used to keep track of the invaders and took up nearly half the six-foot table. On the map were tiny shapes like chess figures. Each figure appeared to be placed closer and closer to the settlement.

"Is that your blood or theirs?" he asked calmly, sweeping his eyes over Glinas. These little skirmishes were ongoing and of no surprise to Celio which was the reason for his serenity.

Glinas puzzlingly looked down at the blood smear. "I believe it's theirs', sir."

"You need to go to the Medicus just the same," Celio said. "No telling what you can catch from those savages." He turned his attention back to the map but noticed Glinas didn't move. "Is there something more?"

Glinas hesitated. "There is something different about these invaders, sir."

"Different how?"

"These creatures were well trained, sir, and fought like the very demons of Hades. Their armor didn't look to be from around here. And after we killed them, we searched their belongings and found lots of gold coins."

Celio didn't like the sound of that. His mind went back to why some had said the Nordoxz moved further west all those years ago. Had it really been gold mines that pulled them there...and were these mercenaries paid by the Nordoxz? Celio wondered.

Celio's calm demeanor quickly turned to panic as he rushed from his quarters and told one of the guards to have General Dinary, the commanders, and all captains meet him at Lord and Lady Abrams immediately.

After everyone had assembled, Celio had Glinas repeat everything he'd told him. The room fell deathly silent.

*****
Several weeks passed without incident or reports of spotting mercenaries. Celio had some ideas about what could be behind the attacks but didn't want to alarm the others with his concerns since he had no facts to back them up. I simply have to wait, he thought, for them to make another move.

Days later. "Open the gate!" a guard shouted from the tower.

A middle-aged man, blood streaming down his face stumbled into the settlement's gate with a badly injured foot. He had managed to hobble the long distance with nothing but a long, thick tree branch as a piteous walking stick. The minute the guards grabbed him, he collapsed in their arms. "My wife, my boys," the man harshly whispered through his twisted face.

"Who did this?" another guard asked.

The battered man looked up at the guard--his face in a cry with no sound coming from it.
"I tried to save them. I tried," the man said.

"You tried to save them from what? Come on...stay with us," the guard pleaded as he gently shook the man by his shoulders.

"They...they were Orcs, I think," the man said, his lips puffed and bleeding.

"How many?"

"Twenty... thirty maybe," he grunted out. He coughed deeply, closed his eyes, and went limp.

"Get him over to the Medicus," the head guard said. "I'll report this to Celio."

Many settlers had continued to respectfully reject Gangus's advice about moving so far west near where attacks were taking place. After Celio had been alerted, he ordered the injured man questioned after he was fully conscious and medically treated.

A small group was sent out to scout the land and to assess the damages. When they returned, they reported directly to Dinary.

"Father, I don't think these are just mercenaries."

Dinary used two hands to lift the heavy sword and placed it on the table in front of Gangus. The blade, though inferior, was well made and had rare stones embedded in the handle.

"I warned the settlers that moving so far out would make it impossible for our troops to protect them," Gangus said. "Don't know why they're so fascinated with moving so far west."

Brehira placed a soothing hand on her husband's shoulder. "The land is so green, rich, and inviting, dear. I guess it's just too hard for them to reject it when it calls to them," she said.

"I suppose you're right, my love," he said patting her hand. He stroked his white beard, frowned, and pondered if they should wait for the enemy to make the next move or surprise them with a move of their own.






Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters

Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree here rah) His wife
Dinary (Deh nah ry) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife
Olatunji (O Lah Tune Gee) Nigerian Soldier
Gangus's Staff Command Tierphenjinochun (Teer fen gin o tion)

Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
The Drake (like it's spelled) The menacing dragon

The gods
Raziel (Ray-zeal) God of gods
Dahlia (Doll-lee'ah) Goddess of Domaria--a kingdom ruled by women
Gailzur (Gale-zore) God of War
Nelchael (Nell-key-ol) God of the Underworld
Zakzakiel (Zak zah keel) God of Peace

The Races
Volarians (Vo lar rians) (Humans) 'Gangus's tribe'
Engamars (In ga mars) (Humanoids) 'Hate Aenwyns and Qu'Venars'
Aenwyns  (An winds) (Humanoids) 'Adore Qu'Venars, hate Engamars'
Qu'Venars (Q' Vin nahs) (Humanoids) 'Adore Aenwyns can't tolerate the stubborn Engamars'
Faerie (Far ree) (Another world) Origin of the Aenwyns

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 24
The Chronicles of Bethica

By amahra

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Chapter Sixteen (part 1)
Clash of the Enemy

Gangus, though a wise man, relied heavily on his spirituality and could sense adversity forthcoming. Brehira called it a warning from the gods. Whatever it was, Gangus knew he had witnessed its manifestation in the form of numerous encounters with strange creatures of the Goblinoid races, such as Goblins, Hob Goblins, and Bugbears. Those funny named races, Brehira had said, cost her husband many sleepless nights.

To put Gangus's mind at ease, Dinary ordered a small group of Volarian Guards to scout out the far western part of the land. But days later, a report came stating the scouts had vanished and the Orcs were planning an invasion into Volarian territory. That potentially bold move by the Orcs made Gangus extremely nervous.  Did the Orcs know a secret entrance? Impossible, Gangus reasoned, they by now would have used it. Nonetheless, he ordered Dinary to double the guards in every area.

Tired of constantly being in defense mode, Gangus planned a bold move of his own: The full force of the Volarian Guards, under Celio, would invade the Orcs' stronghold and crush them.

*****
That time came, and under a moonless spread of darkness, Celio vigorously led his men. They crept through the blackness, and then crawled on their bellies like shadows gliding over rough waters. Within hours, they had inched their way toward enemy campfires.

Gangus learned that years prior, the Nordoxz and Orcs had fought a bloody battle; the Orcs were badly defeated, but under the threat of annihilation, the Orcs agreed to be their allies. More than that, they'd be a powerful flesh wall between the Nordoxz and outsiders. The Orcs would fight and deplete the enemies--win or lose, giving the Nordoxz the advantage of facing a weakened foe.

One fact Celio quickly discovered--the Nordoxz were nowhere near Orc territory, but located miles from a vast, thick and menacing forest--a forest of which Celio did not wish to tackle. Crushing the Orcs was their mission, and whatever came next, they would handle, Gangus had said.

Taking naps in shifts, the men waited patiently. They watched the barrel-shaped Orcs as they sat around the fire drinking from large jugs. What seemed most astonishing were the cages hidden in the shadows of the camp. With only flashes of firelight to distinguish what appeared as humanoids with feline-like features, Celio and his men seemed taken aback.

Unconcerned, Celio turned away when something caught his eye that made him squint to get a better look. He gasped when he saw what was in a separate cage near the feline creatures. "Good goddess, they're human," he whispered, glaring at the cage. Those were the Volarian scouts who had been sent out to scan the western territory weeks ago but never returned.

The men, enraged, pulled their swords, but Celio's raised hand stopped them. He decided one of them would sneak around to the back and unlock the scouts' cage. Celio knew the scouts would fight but wasn't too sure of the feline creatures. Perhaps, they'd just run away as those starving humanoids had done on Gorr Island, he thought.  Celio felt as long as those felines stayed out of the way, he could care less what happened to them.

The men waited patiently for the Orcs to bed down for the night. Whatever they were drinking from those jugs had the huge creatures sleeping like newborns in a cradle. Celio could swear their snoring was heard for miles.

A guard, tall and dark-complexioned like Olatunji, who could blend well with the night, crept unnoticed within the camp as the slumbering Orcs drooled and continued blowing noises out of the smelly holes in their faces.

One of the scouts spotted him, and the soldier put his finger up to his lips for him not to make a sound. He inched closer to the cage crawling on his belly. A feline woke and lifted its head from an old sack used as a pillow; its eyes widened when the soldier unlocked the scouts' cage door.

One by one, the scouts eased out of the cage, but a few that were last in the line froze when an Orc, facing them, stirred. The creature snorted loudly, scratched its enormous butt, and without opening an eye, turned away from them and fell deeper into slumber. The scouts blew out a breath their fear hadn't allowed them to know they'd held. They tip-toed out of the cage and joined the others who led the soldier to where the Orcs kept additional weapons.

Some scouts grabbed up the few bows and arrows; others were disappointed in their having to use the inferior iron blades. The ebony guard signaled Celio an "all is well" sign. A few felines made gestures for the guard to let them out. But the guard shook his head.

"We can help you," a feline loudly whispered.

The guard shook his head again and focused on the weapons.

"Please, let us out," the feline begged.

"Quiet, you fool. "You'll just be in the way. We won't leave you behind. I promise," he lied.

"But we can fight," the feline said.

"No," the guard said. "And besides, there are no more weapons."

By then, all of the feline creatures were standing upright on their paws; when the guard attempted to ease past their cage, they shot out two-inch claws and drew back their lips displaying long needle-pointed fangs.

"Will these do?" the feline asked, its fangs and claws gleaming.

The soldier's eyes flashed wide, and a slow grin etched across his face. He nodded, walked quietly to the side of the cage--peeked around, then extended his arm and unhooked the lock.

When Celio and his men met the guard at the rear of the camp, he told Celio the felines wanted to fight. Celio welcomed the humanoids with a nod and a smile. As the Orcs' snored loudly, the guards, scouts, and felines bent low as Celio whispered a plan.

With the ploy well understood, Celio replaced the iron swords with steel ones from the Volarian weapons chest. The feline creatures were to return to their cage and pretend to be locked in. Celio, the guards, and scouts who now added to the numbers of the guards, prepared to take their position. They plotted to kill as many Orcs as they could while they slept then make the remaining Orcs chase them throughout the camp. During the organized chaos, the more than twenty felines would emerge in a full surprise attack and aid the Volarian Guards.

Celio and his men crept upon the sleeping creatures and quietly slit their throats. One tough old Orc seemed to defy death and fought its attacker; blood streamed from its throat as it swung an ax at the Volarian Guard--slashing his arm and chest before falling dead at the guard's feet.

The noise woke an Orc who jumped from its bedding with an ax and shouted in its native tongue. The loud cry woke the others who scrambled to their feet--their eyes wide and peering around for their weapons. The Orcs, with axes in hand, towered over the Volarian Guards. But instead of fighting--true to plan, the guards bolted, and the chase was on. Around the camp and off through the woods, the men ran as the barrel-belly Orcs awkwardly stomped behind.

The guards laughed as they toyed with the Orcs who were huffing and sweating profusely. Well into the plan, the guards continued taunting the Orcs--making the creatures chase them around trees, tumble over rocks--forcing the Orcs to swipe at them, then watching the creatures land face down on the ground spitting dirt.

Back at the camp, Celio stood over five Orcs he had cut down with his divine blade, but a sixth one ran into a nearby cave shouting. Celio reckoned the creature was summoning more of its comrades. When the Orc ran out, Celio slashed it to death. He entered the cave ready to face the Orcs, but instead, Celio froze--his mouth agape.

Outside a wooded area, the frustrated Orcs finally cornered the men who were out of breath. The Orcs moved in to strike them dead when suddenly, the felines leaped upon the Orcs, tearing into them; the guards blocked the Orcs' escape and slashed them to pieces. The bloodbath was over in minutes.

As the guards and the felines stood rejoicing over the spread of Orc bodies upon the ground, Celio stumbled into camp--cut and bleeding, his sword faintly glowing and dripping with a dark substance.

"Commander, what happened!" a guard shouted.

"It's...it's in the cave," Celio said, gasping for breath.

A few of the men ran into the cave and stood wide-eyed. It was a huge, dark creature unknown to Volarians--a Minotaur lying eight feet in length, dark gray and muscular. It had the head of a bull and the body of a man. The severed head had rolled several feet from its body. "Great goddess, what is that thing, Commander?" a guard blurted.

Celio, too exhausted to answer, was carried back to the center of the Orc camp where his wounds were treated and bandaged.

Startled, a guard noticed movement; an Orc thought to be dead, jumped up and bolted towards the woods. "Look there!" the guard yelled pointing.

"After him!" shouted Morkus, the Second Commander.

Two guards took off in its direction, when a fellow guard yelled, "I've got him!" The men skidded to a halt as the guard aimed his bow at the Orc who had, by then, covered much ground.

"No! Raco," Celio ordered, "see where he goes. Leave markings so we can pick up your trail."

"Yes, Commander." Raco ran off into the forest where the darkness swallowed him up.

Celio felt the weight of the battle; he was still exhausted. His men encircled him breathing hard with sweat rolling off of them like beads. The felines, who fought gallantly, were hardly out of breath and complained the fight was over too soon.

Streams of blood covered the campground. Heads and other body parts of Orcs lay in the midst of it. Having no time to embrace one another before the fight, the scouts grabbed and hugged Celio and each Volarian Guard. Celio thanked the felines who introduced themselves as Nekani.

They were feline humanoids with green, yellow, and gray eyes. They were a highly civilized race that had been third in the great exodus from another world to Bethica generations ago. The Nekanis were superb warriors who did not fear death; they courted it like one would a lover. They wrote joyful songs and poems about the afterlife. They were known as creatures who strived for a good death, which meant to fall in combat.

The spokesman for the Nekani was Tantar, a tall, muscular humanoid with solid tan fur and green eyes. Tantar thanked Celio and his men for rescuing him and his clan members and told Celio he would always remember the Volarians had been kind. "If ever the Nekani can do anything for you or your clan in the future," Tantar had said, "please grant us the honor."

"I will deliver your message to my Lord," Celio assured him.

Tantar and Celio embraced then the Nekanis went on their way. Soon after, Celio gathered the spoils of the Orcs, which included, pouches of gold and other metal coins, jewelry of fine stones--taken from the dead bodies, water, meal, herbs, spices, and a strange leaf, dark blue with thick red veins spread throughout.

He would take the exotic plant back to Olatunji for him to examine and see if it was fit for food or medicinal uses. With the spoils packed, all headed for the forest to follow Raco and the fleeing Orc.

*****
Celio and his men traveled for several days, following Raco's markings which only Volarians understood. They had advanced deep inside the western territory where things were beginning to look a bit strange: There were fist-sized rocks, painted red, lining a path. A huge humanoid head draped in a ceremonial dressing was nailed to a tree. Celio stopped when he spotted a stagnant pool of water with plants like the strange one he had taken from the Orc camp; hundreds of them floated upon the yellow stench.

Stagnant water meant disease. This plant can't be of any good use, Celio thought, pulling the plant from the pouch and rolling it between his forefinger and thumb. Then he quickly tossed it aside and wiped his hand hard on the side of his garment as he thought it could be poisonous. Celio started to leave it there, but couldn't resist knowing what it was. He tore a piece of his garment, bent and covered the plant with the cloth--picked it up and placed it back in his pouch.

"COMMANDER!"

Celio didn't like the sound of that urgent cry. "Dear goddess, what is it now?" he muttered. He ran up ahead as fast as he could. When he got there, his men were surrounding something and looking down. He pushed between them and stiffened when his eyes fell upon Raco's body lying face down with an arrow in his neck.

The anger in Celio's face tightened his jaw. "Bloody hell, Raco. I shouldn't have let you go alone." Celio knelt beside Raco's body. He lowered his head and exhaled hard. Then he lifted his eyes and saw a piece of cloth hanging from the side of Raco's mouth. Celio grabbed the end of it and pulled it through the purple lips. It was folded and wet with Raco's saliva and blood. Celio unfolded the fabric, and his eyes widened. He looked at Raco and smiled.

"What is it, Commander?" Morkii asked.

"A soldier to the bitter end," Celio said still smiling. Celio stood--turning the piece of cloth upside-down, sideways, and straight-up again, trying to make out the child-like scribblings on Raco's poorly crafted map.

"Here, wash the blood off," Markii said handing him a waterskin.

"No. Raco gave his blood to get this map to us. I don't want water to touch it."

"What does it say?" Prefus asked.

Celio turned it sideways and squinted. "It shows the layout of the Orcs and two other army camps."

"Does it say how many there are?" Prefus blurted. "Their strength...their weakness, their weapons?"

Celio squinted again--trying to make out Raco's scribblings. "Thousands of Orcs..."

"Did you say thousands?"

"Unless there's an echo," Celio said still staring at the stained map. "And here's something else," Celio said. "These all look like that strange creature I beheaded back there in the Orc cave." He glared at the childish drawing of Minotaurs. "And what the hades are these big creatures with spotted skin?"

"Spotted skin, sir?" Prefus blurted. "I think they be the Nordoxz, sir. At least that's how the Red Beards described them."

"Look there...those drawings. They look to be many different kinds of weapons. Some I've never even seen before," one of the guards said, as if impressed.

"No matter," Prefus said smirking, "we'll cut them all into iron scraps."

"And what in the name of the gods are those six-legged beasts?" another guard asked.
They all gathered and peeked over Celio's shoulder to get a glimpse.

"What's that symbol there?" Lympus asked.

"I don't know," Celio said frowning. "I guess when we see it, we'll know we're in enemy territory." Celio sighed. "Poor Raco, I hate leaving him here."

"But Commander," Markii urged, "why not take him back with us?"

"We can't take him with us, you fool," Prefus blurted. "The journey back is long. He'll be a sack of worms by the time we get there."

"Yeah, he'll stink up the camp," Typhus said.

"Don't you bloody speak that way about Raco. He gave his life for this information," Lympus snapped.

"I didn't mean anything by it. I...I just..."

"All right, everyone calm yourselves," Celio ordered. "We're in a dark place right now with probably more dark days ahead. We're all restless, hungry...tired. But...we are still Volarian soldiers and must show respect to one another."

"I'm sorry, Commander," Typhus said. "I didn't mean it the way it sounded."

"I'm sure you didn't." Celio touched his shoulder. "Now, let's give Raco a proper burial."

"Yes sir."

"Celio ordered Raco buried deep so no scavengers could dig him up. He and his men knelt by the grave and prayed. With dawn quickly approaching, Celio ordered his men to gather their gear and head for home.









Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters
Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree here rah) His wife
Dinary (Deh nah ry) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife
Olatunji (O Lah Tune Gee) Nigerian Soldier
Gangus's Staff Command Tierphenjinochun (Teer fen gin o tion)

Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
The Drake (like it's spelled) The menacing dragon

The gods
Raziel (Ray-zeal) God of gods
Dahlia (Doll-lee'ah) Goddess of Domaria--a kingdom ruled by women
Gailzur (Gale-zore) God of War
Nelchael (Nell-key-ol) God of the Underworld
Zakzakiel (Zak zah keel) God of Peace

The Races
Volarians (Vo lar rians) (Humans) 'Gangus's tribe'
Engamars (In ga mars) (Humanoids) aka, Red Beards 'Hate Aenwyns and Qu'Venars'
Aenwyns (An winds) (Humanoids) 'Adore Qu'Venars, hate Engamars'
Qu'Venars (Q' Vin nahs) (Humanoids) 'Adore Aenwyns can't tolerate the stubborn Engamars'
Faerie (Far ree) (Another world) Origin of the Aenwyns

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 25
The Chronicles of Bethica

By amahra

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

NOTE: The name, Nordoxz is singular and plural

Chapter 16 (part 2)
Clash of the Enemy

When Celio and the Volarian Guards returned home, they were given a hero's welcome after the missing scouts were spotted among them.

Just hours later, Gangus, General Dinary and the commanders worked feverishly constructing a strategy for the battle based on information interpreted from Raco's map.

According to Raco's eyewitness account, the Orcs appeared a legion strong (between three and six thousand); the Minotaurs, nearly half that strength. The Nordoxz, however, only allowed several hundred at a time to train openly in an attempt to obscure their true might. Nonetheless, Raco, with the best of his limited observation, had numbered them a few thousand as well.

After several weeks of planning, Gangus and his top brass felt ready. They loaded figs, dates, nuts, grain, and unleavened bread onto several beast-drawn carts. They packed medicinal supplies--strips of bandaging cloth, filled waterskins, and extra weapons. The troops would head out just before dawn, and planned to travel and sleep in the open to avoid a possible ambush.

The loved ones kissed the soldiers tearfully and gave items of scarfs, jewelry, and tiny statues of the deities, all as symbols for the troops' safe return.

Filing out of the guarded gate, Gangus, sitting majestically on his horse, led the way holding his staff like a scepter. Dinary and Celio rode by his side. In the beginning, they journeyed in silence as if a mere whisper could void their concentration. After weeks of traveling over the rocky terrain, enduring insect bites, and strange menacing critters wherever they'd camped, the Volarian army finally reached their destination.

The Orcs who had stalked them hid in the shadows of the thick forest. They had planned to attack them as they ate and slept but were ordered not to by their ally leader. "They will die soon enough," the arrogant Minotaur general said. "I'll not deprive my warriors of a 'face-to-face' blood bath."

"Nor I, my warriors for the slaughter of our comrades," the Orc leader blared.

The Volarian army comprised of three thousand, four hundred foot soldiers, and a Calvary of three thousand. Five hundred were left behind to guard the homeland.

As Gangus and his army approached the grassy terrain, he yelled, "Halt!" The order was repeated from the front to the rear in rapid succession by each commander until heard only as a faint cry.

That halt was not to announce a routine rest stop, but the ghastly sight of thousands of Orcs and Minotaurs on a high hill peering down at them, weapons pointed.

The Volarians' horses--spirited, snorted, clopped in place then stood still.

A long silence hovered over the full length of the terrain as if a shush from the lips of the gods had muzzled all creation. No birds flew, no critters scurried; the white clouds appeared as paintings on a huge blue canvas. A slight breeze stirred, but then stopped as if to withhold its breath and knew what was coming. The spotted creatures and the six-legged beast were nowhere in sight.

Gangus slowly raised his hand, and the sound of the war horn broke through the air. A battle cry echoed from the hill. The thunder of the horses' hooves on both sides rose from the ground like a rumbling earthquake. The heads of the horses bobbing--their noses widening, pulling into their lungs the air necessary for their long legs to eat up the ground.

The steeds met in the middle of the battlefield. Clanging sounds of metal striking metal filled the air as the steel swords whittled the iron blades of the Orcs, leaving many weaponless and headless on the dirt floor. Arrows flew through the air like wingless birds on both sides, killing Volarians and Orcs alike. Although iron was no match for steel, the wielding axes of the Orcs with their highly poisonous blades kept the death toll even. For the first time, Gangus's staff was useless; the clash had been too swift; the proximity of hand-to-hand combat made it impossible to execute wind strikes without hitting his men.

Nonetheless, the Orcs lost badly and retreated up the hill. Before Gangus and his men could recover and regroup, the Minotaurs had swooped upon them.

The Minotaurs, with their dark skin and dark horses, covered the battlefield like a humongous shadow. They were large creatures that could fight five opponents at a time; their three thousand were as ten thousand. Despite the Volarian steel, the battle against the Minotaurs lasted several hours, and the stench of death choked the air. Carnivorous birds came from all directions to feast on flesh that still twitched, though the strength to live was gone. Then suddenly, like the Orcs, the Minotaurs retreated up the hill.

"What games are these creatures playing?" Gangus snapped.

He had lost over seven hundred men. Hours dragged on as dozens of Medicus attended the wounded. Night came and Gangus walked among his men encouraging them--praising them; through blood-spotted bandages, his men managed a smile through their pain-twisted faces.

The night passed and in the dark-cloud morning as if to be an Omen to the victor, Gangus's eyes slowly lifted toward the hill and gazed upon the Nordoxz (those egregious spotted ones) fifteen thousand strong, including those strange beasts Raco had drawn. The Bohaus were the Nordoxz secret weapon, six-legged, large wolf-like creatures, dark coarse fur, and long snouts. They spurted foam that acted as acid--dissolving flesh in seconds. With their powerful jaws, they could crush bone and grind them into dust.

Unlike the Orcs and the Minotaurs, the Nordoxz did not rush them. Gangus seized the opportunity but choked on the word that activated his staff when a blue bolt of lightning flew from the clawed hand of a black hooded figure. It ripped the staff from Gangus's fist, causing it to land several feet across the terrain in two pieces. A guardsman heeled his horse and took off to retrieve it.

"WHOA!" voiced several Volarian cavalrymen; the roar-like growls of the beasts had frightened their horses; they stirred vigorously--whinnying, bobbing their heads, and clopping sideways. Their riders talked in their ears and patted their long necks to steady them. Then as gallant horse-soldiers, when the battle horn blew, the steeds took off like bats soaring from a cave, meeting the Bohaus head-on.

The horses did their best not to toss their riders as they maneuvered to stay clear of the Bohaus's sharp fangs. The steeds rose on hind legs, their riders holding tightly, and then stomped down on the Bohaus with iron-clad hooves, leaving their heads squashed and eyes protruding upon their snouts. Those that lost their riders, bucked and kicked, leaving the jaws of several Bohaus swinging like a broken gate on its hinges. However, the massive beasts were shorter, and many rammed the horses' legs--snapping them, like twigs, ripping out their throats, and mauling their riders to death when they fell.

The slaughter seemed like hours instead of minutes. Gangus lost thousands of men and horses. The steel just wasn't enough to defeat the notorious spotted ones. Plus the Nordoxz were able to grab up steel swords of Gangus's fallen comrades and use them against them. Gangus had no choice but to order the horn of retreat.

"Where are your gods now!" the Nordoxz general taunted.

"Perhaps they're napping!" the Minotaur general teased.

The Nordoxz, Minotaurs, and Orcs bellowed with laughter. The Bohaus, that were chained by then, reared on their hind legs, pulling--snarling, trying to get at the Volarian troops but were forcibly held back by their masters. The Volarian army fled in humiliation.

After weeks of traveling, Gangus, with his battered and shamed military, dragged across the landscape onto Volarian territory. Some of the men practically fell into the arms of their loved ones who, at the sight of them, wept. The news of their humiliating defeat spread throughout Bethica.

"You must eat something, my love," Brehira urged. "I cannot bear to see you this way."

Gangus didn't answer or move for hours from his large chair by the cold fireplace. More days like those followed, and Brehira, dismayed, left Gangus to his solitude.

*****
The sunlight danced upon Gangus's face and woke him, making him squint against the steady stream. With Brehira nestled beside him, he silently wrestled with the devastating defeat. He felt the weight of its darkness crushing him, eyes darting back and forth under half-closed eyelids, replaying the battle over and over in his head.

Gangus could not conceive the possibility of those spotted creatures snatching the land the Volarians had traveled so far to obtain and fought so hard to keep. They had survived the Endless Sea, cannibal Ogrekins, attack of the undead, and had permanently extinguished the fiery breath of a terrible dragon. Volarians had given nearly forty years of their lives for that land.

"We will face them again," Gangus thought out loud, "but not alone this time." How then, he further thought, could he convince the other tribes to aid him? They weren't after 'their' land, or 'were' they? He shared his thoughts with his beloved. Both agonized over what to do and how to do it.

Finally, Brehira said, "I will write letters to the leaders of the five tribes informing them of our precarious situation and request a meeting."

"None is likely to attend, my love. They never get involved with anything that doesn't directly threaten them," he said. "They're a selfish lot."

"It won't hurt to try. It's all we have," she said, wide-eyed.

He studied her eyes momentarily. "As you wish, love."

Brehira sat and wrote letters to the Timbakni, Domari, Engamar, Aenwyns, and Qu'Venar tribes. She had a way with words and could be very persuasive. She ended each letter with,  

Urgent. Please send a reply immediately. They waited for months but heard nothing.





Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters

Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree here rah) His wife
Dinary (Deh nah ry) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife
Olatunji (O Lah Tune Gee) Nigerian Soldier
Gangus's Staff Command Tierphenjinochun (Teer fen gin o tion)

Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
The Drake (like it's spelled) The menacing dragon

The gods
Raziel (Ray-zeal) God of gods
Dahlia (Doll-lee'ah) Goddess of Domaria--a kingdom ruled by women
Gailzur (Gale-zore) God of War
Nelchael (Nell-key-ol) God of the Underworld
Zakzakiel (Zak zah keel) God of Peace

The Races
Volarians (Vo lar rians) (Humans) 'Gangus's tribe'
Engamars (In ga mars) (Humanoids) aka, Red Beards 'Hate Aenwyns and Qu'Venars'
Aenwyns (An winds) (Humanoids) 'Adore Qu'Venars, hate Engamars'
Qu'Venars (Q' Vin nahs) (Humanoids) 'Adore Aenwyns can't tolerate the stubborn Engamars'
Nordoxz (Nor-docks) (Humanoid) 'Have multi-colored leathery skin like that of a serpent.'
Faerie (Far ree) (Another world) Origin of the Aenwyns

 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 26
The Chronicles of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter 17 (part 1)
The Conference

Olatunji Latunde was back on Volarian soil after a year's leave. While residing in the city of Edo, he learned of the devastating defeat Lord Abram and the Volarian army suffered at the hands of the Nordoxz and its allies.

Like his father, and his father before him, Olatunji was a shapeshifter. For ten generations, Goddess Osun had awarded that ability to every first-born male of the Latunde family. He had traveled to Edo to train under the master, Shoyebi, the wizard of the north.

Although Olatunji possessed the power, Shoyebi perfected it. At the end of his training, Olatunji had earned the prestigious title, Sijuwade.

*****
Meanwhile, Gangus returned home from a short, but much-needed trip, which Brehira had insisted. Days later, he met with General Dinary and all the captains to discuss a better strategy for defending their borders. With the Minotaurs and Nordoxz now in play, the border problem was horrendous: The Volarians lacked the strength to repel the Nordoxz indefinitely. The Bohaus made a cavalry charge impossible; even steel arrows didn't sink deep enough into their tough hides to damage organs. As a further matter, the Nordoxz battle skills more than matched the best of Volarian soldiers. 

Later that day, Gangus sat engulfed with his thoughts--his head pounding in disappointment; Brehira came running into his study with five letters bearing royal seals. She entered with such a thud, Gangus nearly jumped out of his chair.

"Bre-hira, for gods' sake, you trying to frighten me to death?"

She stood panting with excitement and handed him the letters.

"Honey, sit down. You know you're not as young as you used to be," he teased.

"Oh, hush, and open them."

Gangus chuckled then looked at one of the seals. "Hm, I've never seen this seal before. I think I'll open this one last." He broke the seal of the Timbakni and was delighted to hear from his old friend, Priest Hayman. Gangus read the letter to Brehira. The priest would attend the meeting and expressed his honor at long last to assist Gangus in any way he could.
Any enemy of yours is an enemy of Timbakni, Hayman ended.

"Ah, I knew the Priest would not disappoint us," Gangus said smiling widely. He broke the Engamar seal of King Tugo. His wide grin as he read warmed Brehira's heart.

"Well, come on, come on," she urged excitedly.

"All right, I'm opening it," Gangus said fumbling to break the royal seal of the Qu'Venars. As he silently read, Brehira could sense a change in him. Their eyes met.

"What does King Pyruss say, Love?"

"No."

"NO?" She snatched the letter from his hand and read the explanation. "This has Prince Norr's signature. I know the King is old and sickly, but I didn't know he had turned decisions like this over to his son so quickly."

"Apparently, he has."

Brehira's beautiful eyes squinted at the words. "What does he mean it's not their fight. But he just can't refuse."

"It's worse than that, Love," Gangus said, sliding his thumb over the unbroken seal of the fourth letter.

"What could be worse?" she asked.

"Remember, whatever decision the Qu'Venars make, King Yawmin of the Aenwyns is sure to follow.

"Bloody Hades!" Brehira cried out, "that's over forty-five thousand soldiers we can't count on. What are we to do?"

"Now wait, Brehira, that does not mean had they agreed, they would have committed anywhere near that number. It would have been a fraction of that at the most. And the same with those who have or will agree."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, dear heart, that it could be that they would send us a few hundred..."

"A few a hundred!"

"...or a thousand at least," he said.

Brehira's chest sank as she flopped into a nearby chair.

Gangus walked to her and touched her shoulder. "Love, I didn't mean to take the joyful wind out of you. I just want you to be realistic."

Lines deepened in her already creased middle-aged forehead.

"Brehira, the news of our defeat has spread far and wide. I doubt any of these rulers want to risk the full might of their men and horses.  Besides," he continued with a slight smile, "at least the Timbaknis and Engamars have agreed. That's something. Right?"

Brehira didn't answer.

"Bre-hear-rah," he said with a sympathetic look and kissed her forehead.

She looked up--forced a smile and nodded. "There's two more, love. Open them," she said, trying to mask her gloom.

The sound of the fourth seal snapping made both their hearts race for a miracle. It was the royal seal of the Aenwyn King Yawmin and he had, indeed, followed the Qu'Venars. Brehira found the refusal of the Aenwyns most disheartening: Despite the Bohaus' impenetrable hides, the archery of the Aenwyns was so impeccable, they could pierce the eye of a fox from a great distance with little effort.

"Read the last one," Brehira said with less urgency. "It's probably the royal seal of Domari."
Gangus snapped the seal, unfolded the letter, and glanced at the words. "No. This is not the Domarians. It's from Queen Antonia of Nekani and listen to this...she asked if a troop of 3,000 be enough?"

"Nekani?" Brehira said rolling the name over in her mind. "Oh, the feline humanoids Celio rescued from that Orc camp many months ago. But... I never sent the queen a letter."

"I guess Celio must-have." Gangus sighed hard. "Well, with Prince Norr and King Yawmin's refusal, plus the Domarians' silence, I suppose we'll have to make do."

"Love, no. We lost two thousand men against those horrid tribes. You've got to get the prince to help us. We need both the Qu'Venars and Aenwyns. Their skills are badly needed."

"So true," Gangus said. "What about Domari?"

"I will handle the Domarians. I have an excellent rapport with Her Holiness."

"Good. I'll report this latest news to Dinary and my captains."

There were months of planning for the conference. Weeks after receiving the letters, Brehira had traveled to Domari with her priestess. With much persuasion from Brehira, the Grand Matron, Diana agreed to send her daughters, Ndornah and Melitah to represent the kingdom. They had been promoted to generals of the Domari warrior caste called the Dedroyles. Diana pledged 3,000 soldiers.

When Brehira had returned home, she noticed a slack in the preparations and sternly got behind her servants who quickly began cleaning and polishing. Everything wood, metal, or ceramic took on a shine that seemed the envy of the stars. The cooks chose only the best fruit and vegetables; the finest of eatable beasts were set aside and fattened for the butcher.

Everything had to be perfect. In Volarian culture, it was considered an insult to allow dignitaries to travel long distances and not provide them with a reasonable time of comfort, the finest of food, drink, and entertainment.

The guest quarters were massive with enough room for each guest's entourage which included servants, food and beverage tasters, Medicus, and armed guards. Each guest would occupy his or her wing of the building. Brehira had overseen every detail of the preparations and at the end of it rewarded her servants for their well-doing.

Weeks before the conference, Prince Norr had finally agreed to attend, but for no other reason, Brehira suspected, than to show gratitude for Volarian steel that had upgraded his army's weaponry.  Of course, that meant the Aenwyns would attend as well, though neither committed to contributing troops.

Shortly after arriving, however, the Prince was overheard claiming his expert military advice on the fate of the enemy tribes would be valuable enough.

Brehira scoffed at his arrogance.




End of part 1



Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters
Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree here rah) His wife
Dinary (Deh nah ry) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife
Olatunji (O Lah Tune Gee) Nigerian Soldier
Gangus's Staff Command Tierphenjinochun (Teer fen gin o tion)

Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
The Drake (like it's spelled) The menacing dragon

The gods
Raziel (Ray-zeal) God of gods
Dahlia (Doll-lee'ah) Goddess of Domaria--a kingdom ruled by women
Gailzur (Gale-zore) God of War
Nelchael (Nell-key-ol) God of the Underworld
Zakzakiel (Zak zah keel) God of Peace
Osun (O Shun) Nigerian Goddess

The Races
Volarians (Vo lar rians) (Humans) 'Gangus's tribe'
Engamars (In ga mars) (Humanoids) aka, Red Beards 'Hate Aenwyns and Qu'Venars'
Aenwyns (An winds) (Humanoids) 'Adore Qu'Venars, hate Engamars'
Qu'Venars (Q' Vin nahs) (Humanoids) 'Adore Aenwyns can't tolerate the stubborn Engamars'
Nordoxz (Nor-docks) (Humanoid) 'Have multi-colored leathery skin like that of a serpent.'
Faerie (Far ree) (Another world) Origin of the Aenwyns'
Domarians (Doe mah rians) ( Humans) A kingdom ruled by women'
Nekani (Keh cah knee)  (Humanoids) Felion Race

 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 27
The Chronicles of Bethica

By amahra

Chapter 17 (part 2)
The Conference


Every guest had arrived within hours of each other. After a day's rest--at midday, the guests were escorted to a building, called Yellow Stone, named for the stones cut from the mountain of the same name.

The interior of the building was rich and lavish. Inside the dining area, polished silver torch holders lined the walls. The flickering light meshed with the yellow surface making the room appear warm and inviting. A large ring of silver holders with small lit torches hung low from the ceiling.

Around the square room, colorful pillows were scattered along the baseboard, and busts of the Volarian Founding Fathers sat upon tall, marble stands in each corner. In the middle of the room was a round, dark wood table surrounded by pillowed high back chairs. On the table sat several large bowls with every kind of fruit and a silver goblet positioned at each place setting.

The round table was meant to be a humbling gesture; that is, the seating arrangements made it difficult for anyone to perceive his, or herself as being more important than another.

Seated were King Tugo of Engamar, Queen Antonia of Nekani, King Yawmin of Aenwyn, and Prince Norr, son of King Pyruss of Qu'Venar. Beside the prince sat the Domari Generals, Ndornah, and her sister Melitah. Facing them were Gangus, Brehira, Priest Hayman of Timbakni, General Dinary, his sons Rahshi, and Glinas. Seated also were Gangus's captains, including, Celio, Olatunji, Nahzi, Kofius, and Lygone.

Wine was served to settle the mood; Priest Hayman, of course, preferred his spiced tea. After the five-course meal and a few gulps of, to some, that new fruit of the vine, one of the guests stood, and lifted his goblet to Lady Abram; he toasted her for her excellent hospitality, fine food, and entertainment. All raised a goblet in Brehira's direction and drank. Brehira graciously nodded. She stood and toasted them for being such decorous guests.

After a few more formalities, Gangus stood and spoke, "Your Majesties, High Priest, My Lady," he said turning to Brehira, "Generals, and Captains of the Guards. It is well known that many months ago, my army suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of the Nordoxz and their allies, the Orcs and the Minotaurs. There are those who believe the Nordoxz is simply my problem. I hope to convince otherwise. I don't know much about these creatures except, they have been moving east rapidly--killing and pillaging regions in their path.

Every place their spotted feet trod, they take and dominate. They've defeated and taken over the lives and lands of many tribes, including the Orcs and the Minotaurs. We've suffered the loss of many brave men in previous battles, but our greatest was against the Nordoxz--over a thousand men and horses. The horses were slaughtered by beasts we could have never imagined. They call them Bohaus--horrible looking creatures summoned from the depths of Hades, no doubt."

As Gangus spoke, a servant quietly walked about filling goblets with wine. Brehira got his attention and waved him away.

"I am convinced," Gangus continued, "that these creatures intend to move in on my region; and they are not going to just stop with me, but your kingdom, and your kingdom, and yours, and yours," he said nodding towards each, "will be in grave danger. Priest Hayman, King Tugo, the Matron Diana of Domari have made their commitments official by their presence; and Queen Antonia, whom I had not the pleasure of meeting before this conference, has graciously offered to send as many as three thousand of her finest soldiers to aid us." Gangus turned to the queen. "I can't thank you enough, Your Majesty."

The queen, her chin held high, nodded at Gangus for the special mentioning of her generosity, then Gangus continued, "We are particularly excited to welcome King Yawmin and Prince Norr's presence as well. We..."

"Lord Abram, forgive me," Prince Norr interrupted, "but I hope you haven't forgotten. I am only here to lend my expertise in battle strategies...nothing more."

"But Prince Norr, as I have said," Gangus repeated. "Surely the Nordoxz will not stop with me...not with the rich mineral territories, including yours' that stretch hundreds of miles beyond Volarian borders. My land is only good for farming, yet, our border guards are constantly under attack."

"Perhaps the Nordoxz don't like humans," the prince said sarcastically--looking around for agreement. "None of us have had any problems with them."

Gangus felt his temperature rise--still, he kept his calm. "My good prince, would it not be wise to, at least, take precautions in case you are mistaken?"

"Precautions? Against what? You have provided no proof that my kingdom is in any danger. However, I do commend those here who have chosen to aid you. Though, I'm afraid my expert advice will be my only contribution to your...unfortunate dilemma."

Gangus's blood colored  his face. He wanted to say more, yet, felt it was useless. With eyes cast down, he slowly took his seat. Brehira angered at the prince's response, wanted to throw her goblet at him but kept her noble posture.

"Pathetic!" Ndornah snapped.

"What was that?" Prince Norr demanded, quickly turning his head towards Ndornah.

"It's just like the spoiled son of a king to accept a nobleman's hospitality then refuse him aid when he desperately needs it. What if it were you...you would want help...would you not?"

"But it is not me. And what would you know of war?" he asked. "You're not a queen for whom men would lay down their lives. Who are you to make such an accusation?"

She pointed to Melitah. "I and my sister Melitah are daughters of Grand Matron Diana--ruler of Domari, and top generals of her Dedroyles."

"Women generals?" he asked rhetorically. "Dedroyles? What is that? Ha! A kitchen? A nursery?" He smirked and looked about for agreement.

King Tugo and King Yawmin half-smiled, but Queen Antonia kept a serious face.

Ndornah shot to her feet as her sister angrily looked on. "Kitchen! Nursery! I'll have you know I can best any two of your toy soldiers anytime, anywhere, and leave them bleeding in the dirt."

"And all before they could pull their pitiful swords from their sheaths," Melitah added.

Prince Norr was livid but stood deaf to the words of Melitah. "TOYS!" he said, his voice cracking. "Did...did she just call Qu'Venar soldiers who brought down the wicked city of Dulorah...won the battle of Goshorr and slew giants... TOYS!"

"Hahaha," bellowed his arch-nemesis the Engamar King Tugo, "I believe she did."

"And what are you laughing at?" Prince Norr snapped. "You bloated Leprechaun!"

"Who are you calling a Leprechaun! You...with the ears of a rabbit and a brain to match!"

Within seconds, the room was immersed in loud insults foaming from the mouths of the two disputing royals with the Domari women yelling and fanning the flames of discord.

"Your Majesties, Generals, Please!" Gangus pleaded. "It is the Nordoxz I need you to fight, not each other!"

"Well, I didn't start it," Prince Norr snapped.

"Calm yourselves, my good people," Gangus urged.

The shouting stopped and the room buzzed with indignation.

Still heated, King Tugo got a sudden attack of a phony cough.

"Are you not well, King Tugo?" Dinary asked.

King Tugo faked a graveled voice. "It...it must be this low-level air," he said, alluding to the fact Engamars dwell in mountains. "It dries me throat so."

Brehira, wise to the king's fraudulent antics, smiled and clapped her hands in two quick secessions. A servant bounced to her side. "More wine for our guests," she ordered. The servant bowed and left swiftly.

The queen, who wasn't used to wine, grinned widely and found the whole boisterous exchange quite amusing.

The servants kept filling the goblets with wine while pouring Priest Hayman spiced tea. After noticing how rowdy the royals were behaving, Hayman bid everyone goodnight and was escorted to his chambers. Brehira, seeing that the queen and the Domari generals were a bit overcome as well, escorted the women to their chambers.

After a few more rounds of drinks, Nahzi rested his head on the table and fell asleep. Dinary, in shock, watched mortal enemies, King Tugo and Prince Norr stagger off arm and arm singing funny pirate songs with filled goblets in hand. King Yawmin shook his head at them and left the table.

"Good goddess," Dinary said. "How do we stop the king and prince from waking up beside each other cold sober and slashing one another to pieces?"

"Well...for one," Gangus said, "I have their swords..."

"And two?" Dinary asked.

"We're not letting them out of our sight."

Gangus and Dinary chuckled while separating the two. Dinary took Prince Norr--Gangus took King Tugo and marched them off to their individual quarters. Volarian Guards were placed midway the hall between their chambers.

The following morning, only Priest Hayman joined Gangus and Brehira at breakfast. The other guests slept until midday. King Tugo and Prince Norr remembered nothing about the night before, and no one dared to tell them. Glancing over at them during dinner, however, made it hard for Brehira and Gangus to keep a straight face.

After dining, the guests were presented with an encore of entertainment. Gangus had hoped last night's friendliness was not just the result of the wine. But he was wrong. After several more days of food, wine, and entertainment, nothing had changed. The Qu'Venars still refused to commit soldiers to the cause; on the last day of the conference, they and the Aenwyns left early that morning for their homeland. Queen Antonia, King Tugo, and the Domari generals left a few hours later. Priest Hayman, urged by Brehira, stayed an extra day.

*****
Standing by the cold fireplace in the family room, Gangus shook his head in disgust. "Well, we've had a great trading relationship with the Qu'Venars, but unfortunately, no friendship. Without that," Gangus said, "I honestly don't know what to do. I thought when Prince Norr saw that the others had committed, it would encourage him to do the same."

"I sense the young Prince is different from his father," Dinary said. "Friendship means little to him. I think he's holding out for something."

"What?" Gangus asked.

"I think he wants something," Dinary said.

"You keep saying something...something what?" Gangus asked.

"He knows how desperate we are," Brehira said. "And I sense he wants to be further courted."

"Exactly, Mother. Father, I believe the prince will commit if we know what he wants."

"And how do you propose we learn that?" Gangus asked.

"By going there, naturally--spending time with him. He may feel more at ease dealing with someone his age."

"You think?" Gangus asked.

"It's worth a try."

Brehira panicked. "No, son! The Qu'Venars are extremely private and keep it so behind a deadly fortress."

"Your mother is right," Gangus said. "They loath uninvited guests. And only a limited number is ever asked."

"Father, you're talking to a warrior--one you trained yourself."

Priest Hayman looked at Dinary with great admiration. Before Gangus could answer his son, Hayman spoke, "I know of your bravery and great battle skills," young Dinary, "but not even you can stand against the weakest of their spell-casters, or survive their mystical forest. I have learned much about the Qu'Venars, even more so having spent time with them at the conference. There are things in their region a sword cannot defeat."

Brehira's insides shuddered at Hayman's words.

"That forest reeks of a powerful enchantment," Hayman continued, "Any uninvited guest will be lost, rendered mad, or worst. But if you insist on going," the priest said with a great sigh, "I've been invited by his father. He and I go back many years. Seeing me always puts the King in a good place. Perhaps you can accompany me."

"Really?"

"If you wish. You'll need the king's influence if there's hope of changing the young prince's mind. After all, sick or no, Pyruss is still king."

"No!" Brehira blurted. She turned to Gangus. "Tell him it's too dangerous. Tell him."

Dinary looked to Gangus for a favorable response. "Father?"

Brehira's eyes searched Gangus's pleadingly.

Gangus sensed her fear, but he saw only a mother's eyes staring back at him--void understandably, of what was best for their people.

He turned to Priest Hayman and thanked him; he then looked at Dinary and spoke with authority. "Take as many men as you will need. Don't make decisions on your own. And obey Priest Hayman's every instruction."

"Yes, Father. I will go and make the necessary arrangements." Dinary started for the door but saw a shade of gloom upon his mother's face. He walked to her, bent, and kissed her cheek. "Don't worry, Mother. I'll be fine. I promise." He winked and she forced a smile. Dinary turned and hurried from the room.



End of Chapter 17



Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters
Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree here rah) His wife
Dinary (Deh nah ry) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife
Olatunji (O Lah Tune Gee) Nigerian Soldier
Gangus's Staff Command Tierphenjinochun (Teer fen gin o tion)

Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
The Drake (like it's spelled) The menacing dragon

The gods
Raziel (Ray-zeal) God of gods
Dahlia (Doll-lee'ah) Goddess of Domaria--a kingdom ruled by women
Gailzur (Gale-zore) God of War
Nelchael (Nell-key-ol) God of the Underworld
Zakzakiel (Zak zah keel) God of Peace
Osun (O Shun) Nigerian Goddess

The Races
Volarians (Vo lar rians) (Humans) 'Gangus's tribe'
Engamars (In ga mars) (Humanoids) aka, Red Beards 'Hate Aenwyns and Qu'Venars'
Aenwyns (An winds) (Humanoids) 'Adore Qu'Venars, hate Engamars'
Qu'Venars (Q' Vin nahs) (Humanoids) 'Adore Aenwyns can't tolerate the stubborn Engamars'
Nordoxz (Nor-docks) (Humanoid) 'Have multi-colored leathery skin like that of a serpent.'
Faerie (Far ree) (Another world) Origin of the Aenwyns'
Domarians (Doe mah rians) ( Humans) A kingdom ruled by women'
Nekani (Keh cah knee) (Humanoids) Felion Race


 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 28
The Chronicles of Bethica

By amahra

ATTENTION READERS:
Gunji is singular and plural
Magi is the plural of Mage


Chapter 18 (Part 1)
Eye of the Dragon

Traveling hours into mid-day--heavy ground fog thickening moment by moment, Priest Hayman led the Volari soldiers through the dark forest with its strange animal-shaped trees. Or were they trees? Hayman wondered. Some things had appeared different since his last visit.

Dinary, Celio, Olatunji, and the Domari generals quickly advanced several feet ahead of the group. A magical creature, called a Gunji, traveled with them. Olatunji had stumbled upon the Gunji meditating in a deeply wooded area of Aenwyn territory. He befriended the creature after discovering they had much in common.

The Gunji were highly spiritual beings that worshiped and protected nature. The most powerful of them could shapeshift into various animals and had power over beasts and plants. The Gunji shared knowledge with Olatunji which greatly added to his shapeshifting skills.

It took twenty-one days to travel from Volari territory to the Qu'Venar kingdom. The travel unit gasped when they saw branches on a tree point and grass part to reveal the path to the city.

Dinary felt the forest's reputation truly preceded itself: It was colorful and gorgeous, attracting nature-lovers to its beauty. The most common Qu'Venars lived in small homes nestled between the strange-looking trees. Powerful Magi who studied their craft in the arcane tower of the Sharian actually lived among the Qu'Venar commoners and protected them. The beauty of the forest was said to be so enticing, to the irritation of Sharian sorcerers, travelers often lingered well beyond their welcomed visits.

As the unit traveled deeper into the forest, something caught Dinary's eye.
The ground fog went no farther and appeared to thin and evaporate.  He dismounted and walked several feet, stepping onto a crimsoned patch of ground that resembled red clay. He bent to touch the strange dirt when arrows whizzed above his head, missing him by inches. "WHAT THE?" Dinary blurted.

"Dinary!" Priest Hayman yelled. "For god's sake man, don't stand up...crawl back towards your horse on your hands and knees then stand."

Dinary did as told, then shot up from the ground. "What the Hades was that?" he spat.

"Son, you're moving too fast. You can't just walk where you please. Some parts of this forest are what the Qu'Venars consider sacred ground, and we must get permission from the regional wizards to move beyond a certain point."

"Oh, now you tell me?"

"You are familiar with these wizards?" Olatunji asked.

"That I am...and is why I'm traveling with you. You must walk where I tell you."

"Apologies," Dinary said. "I didn't mean to get ahead of you. I'm just anxious to get to the city."

"You will get there, son, but my way, you won't stand before the king full of bloody holes."

Dinary, heeding Hayman's words, turned and immediately slowed his pace. He followed Hayman to a dark patch of ground which turned a bright purple as soon as their feet touched it. Dinary didn't bother to ask what it meant.

Up ahead, a wizard stood stone-faced--dressed in colorful attire of blue-green, orange, and bright yellow. Holding his six-foot staff in an upright position, he slammed it and the ground shook beneath them--knocking them off balance.

"By what authority are you here?" the wizard growled.

Hayman held out his pinky finger. The wizard walked to him; he leaned in and read the secret word that floated within the liquid of the blue stone, and then stepped aside. That incident was repeated two more times--each with a different wizard more strangely colorful than before. Because of the priest's knowledge of the forest, there were no harmful encounters. It grew clear to Dinary that going there on his own would have been lethal.

The group continued to travel until they reached a little village with more common houses, but with shops, and many small buildings.

"Why are we stopping here?" Dinary asked.

"We've been traveling for hours," Olatunji said, irritated. "Where is this city?"

"Calm yourselves," Prince Hayman urged. "You can't see her, but she sees us."

"See us...her who?" Dinary asked, looking about.

"The sorcerer. She's looking us over before letting us in."

"In there?" Celio asked, squinting at the simple little village.

"Well, if you can't see her," Olatunji said, "how do you know she sees us?"

"I never said I couldn't see her," Hayman said.

Suddenly, a yellow ball of light appeared--so bright, it blotted out the village, and when the light dimmed and disappeared, there before them stood a great city. It was the city of Entrydal sitting by the sparkling waters of the Emerald Lake where the spire lay along its edge just as Hayman had described it.

Eighty-six thousand Qu'Venars spread out over five acres were its occupants. The city bustled with excitement and its beauty was overwhelming. Hayman was greeted warmly, and all were immediately taken to meet the Council of the Ten Magi, but to their disappointment, neither King Pyruss nor the prince attended. The King, however, kept his meeting with Hayman.

Well within the conversation, the priest learned the King wanted to join Gangus. However, he felt bad standing in the way of the alliance, but being old and sickly, had left the decision-making to his son.

"What does he want?"

"I can answer for myself," Prince Norr interrupted. He entered the room and his father leaned back in his chair.

"I sent for Dinary and the others," the prince said. "He shall have his long-awaited answer."

They waited and the tensed moments seemed like hours. Then shortly, Dinary, followed by Olatunji, Celio, Domari generals, and the Gunji entered--bowed to the king and stood before the prince.

"You sent for us, Your Highness?" Dinary asked straightening after his second bow.

"Yes. I've thought the matter over. My father seems to approve and..."

"Then that's a yes?" Dinary interrupted excitedly.

"Calm yourself," the prince said taking the seat beside his father's. "I've thought the matter over after discussing it...in great length...with my father. We believe the fears of Lord Abrams are genuine. But...there is something more pressing we need to address."

"Something more pressing? What exactly does that mean?" Dinary asked, irritated.

"We know the greed of the Nordoxz," the prince said. "And we know they won't stop with just Volarian territory. But their greed is not without wisdom or fear. You've tasted a little of our forest. The Nordoxz will not come here. However, we are not so heartless as to stand by and watch them slaughter your people. So, I'm prepared to send your father three thousand of our finest...and King Yawmin will match us with another three thousand. If we choose to increase, he will increase and so on."

Though Dinary was all smiles, Priest Hayman bore a suspicious gaze.

Excited, Dinary said, "King Pyruss, Prince Norr. I...I can't tell you how happy I am that you've changed your mind...I mean...when my father hears this...."

"And just what does young Dinary have to do for this...this sudden change of heart?" Hayman interrupted, looking at Prince Norr under his lashes.

"Do?" Dinary asked wide-eyed. "Of course...name it. I always knew there was something you wanted. That's why I convinced my father to allow me to come here."

The king and Priest Hayman looked on as Prince Norr settled back in his chair, cleared his throat, and spoke. The room went silent.

"Over a century ago, when our ancestors traveled here from the Mother World, we had in our possession a precious emerald stone, the size of my fist, called The Eye of the Dragon. It had been a fixture among my people for generations. A tribe called the Mycide attacked their ship and stole the stone. Years ago, one of my soldiers stumbled upon a descendent of a runaway slave of the Mycide who told the soldier the Mycide had carried the stone off into the Haunted Wastelands..."

"Haunted Wastelands?" Dinary interrupted.

"Yes, located just east of our forest. He told the soldier the Mycide were wiped out by the Wastelands'
hostile inhabitants who took the stone. His ancestor and a few other slaves had managed to escape. The story handed down to him...is that the Eye is guarded day and night by ghastly creatures." The prince paused.

"That's...quite a story," Dinary said. "How do you know it's true?"

"Our mage has seen the stone in dreams, where it's located and what guards it," the king said. "His dreams never lie. But Magi are very meticulous; their dreams must be backed by confirmation. They never say why."

"And so this information from the descendant of a Mycide slave is the confirmation the mage needs?" Dinary asked.

"Most assuredly," the prince replied.

Dinary let out a quiet gush of breath. "And why do I dread what you're going to say next?"

The prince hesitated then leaned forward and spoke with awe. "You and your Volarian comrades fought your way across that demonic Endless Ocean. No one has ever survived those waters. Yet, here you all stand," Norr said.

"When I learned of that, I was impressed beyond belief," the king said, wide-eyed.

"As was I," Norr replied. He paused. "I suppose you're wondering why we didn't send our soldiers."

"That had crossed my mind," Dinary said, sarcastically.

"Make no mistake," Norr said with a protruding chest. "Qu'Venar soldiers have always been second to none. However, not even we can boast of having crossed the Endless Ocean."

"Are you saying," Ndornah interrupted, "that you want us to go to this Haunted Wastelands and bring back your dragon stone?"

"Of course he does," Celio snapped. "Why couldn't you have said this at the conference instead of making us travel all this way? Not to mention the embarrassment your public refusal caused Lord Abrams."

"Because our enemies' spies may have overheard and would have attempted to harm you. Perhaps, tried to beat you to it and take it for themselves, that's why," the king blurted. "We meant no disrespect to your Lord."

"I see," Dinary said. He pondered then turned to his comrades. They whispered among themselves. King Pyruss and Prince Norr, unable to make sense of the inaudible conversation sat eagerly waiting but silent.

Dinary turned and faced the royal pair. "All right then, if that's what it'll take for you to help us, we're at your service. How soon do we leave?"

"Are you sure," the prince asked, "that you don't want to go back to your land for more soldiers? I see only a remnant here."

"That won't be necessary," Dinary replied. "I had a feeling there would be some great challenge involved if you changed your mind, so I brought my best."

"Then," said the king, "you may leave as soon as you think you are ready. My servants will provide you and your soldiers with whatever you will need for your journey. And as you go, may the gods of the heavens join and protect you."




End of chapter part 1



Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters
Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree here rah) His wife
Dinary (Deh nah ry) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife
Olatunji (O Lah Tune Gee) Cushite Soldier
Gangus's Staff Command Tierphenjinochun (Teer fen gin o tion)

Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
The Drake (like it's spelled) The menacing dragon

The gods
Raziel (Ray-zeal) God of gods
Dahlia (Doll-lee'ah) Goddess of Domaria--a kingdom ruled by women
Gailzur (Gale-zore) God of War
Nelchael (Nell-key-ol) God of the Underworld
Zakzakiel (Zak zah keel) God of Peace
Osun (O Shun) Nigerian Goddess

The Races
Volarians (Vo lar rians) (Humans) 'Gangus's tribe'
Engamars (In ga mars) (Humanoids) aka, Red Beards 'Hate Aenwyns and Qu'Venars'
Aenwyns (An winds) (Humanoids) 'Adore Qu'Venars, hate Engamars'
Qu'Venars (Q' Vin nahs) (Humanoids) 'Adore Aenwyns can't tolerate the stubborn Engamars'
Nordoxz (Nor-docks) (Humanoid) 'Have multi-colored leathery skin like that of a serpent.'
Faerie (Far ree) (Another world) Origin of the Aenwyns'
Domarians (Doe mah rians) ( Humans) A kingdom ruled by women'
Nekani (Keh cah knee) (Humanoids) Felion Race



 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


Chapter 29
The Chronicles of Bethica

By amahra

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Chapter 18 (part 2)
The Eye of the Dragon


The guest-chamber was small and full of firelight; Dinary watched the red blaze of the burning wood in the fire pit glow from the iron grate that held it a few inches above the stone floor.

All of the light and warmth of the room seemed to shield him from the task set before him. Danger was well-known to Dinary and his soldiers, but the mystery of the Haunted Wastelands plagued him to no end.

Dinary agonized while waiting for further instructions. That wait ended several days later when Prince Norr summoned Dinary to his bed chamber and handed him a map to the Haunted Wastelands. It was the markings to sudden death, but the prince believed emphatically if any soldiers could return from such a ghastly place, Dinary and his warriors would emerge victorious.

The unit of soldiers was well supplied. It took them several days to reach the desert, but when the horses became spooked with only a half mile before entering the Wastelands, seven men were ordered to remain and care for the horses, while the rest continued the three-day journey on foot to the city of Modos.

The Wastelands lived up to its name; it remained barren--a desolate and truly forsaken territory. That once rich and thriving region, occupying the northwestern corner of the Northern Mountains, and home to the twin cities Harromog and Modos, was considered for centuries the pinnacle of Bethican culture. However, the citizens of Harromog and Modos grew prideful.

They openly mocked the gods and boasted of their disobedience to the divine rule of law. Anger and jealousy drove the gods to send fire that reduced the land to rubble and cursed the ground so nothing would grow. It was the only part of Bethica that could truly be called hopeless. The region stood as a grim reminder to never place oneself above the gods.

The soldiers traveled nearly two miles inside the desert, walking through rolling ground fog that appeared to coil around the ankles of the shambling city.

Dinary noticed a slight wind blowing. Within minutes, the wind picked up speed, and minutes later, a full sand storm had engulfed them. They placed thick cloths over their mouths and noses, but a thinner one over their eyes for vision. The storm blew at their backs like giant hands pushing them--perhaps, hurrying them towards an uncertain fate.

Dinary ordered them into small groups of fours and fives. They entwined their arms tightly and held strong against the wind. Despite the cloth coverings, sand got into their eyes, ears, noses, and mouths. The sand weighed them down--contaminating food and water. Much had to be thrown away, and some, the storm carried away.

Finally, unable to fight against a stronger air current, they gathered themselves into a tight ball on the ground--putting what little food and water they had managed to salvage beneath them, and waited out the storm. After what seemed an hour, the storm ceased. Shaking the sand from their garments and packings, they continued traveling, though the storms had made their three-day journey dangerously challenging and longer.

A few hours before nightfall, they stopped and set up camp. As Dinary and soldiers sat before the fire, eating dried figs and swilling tea, Rhico, one of the captains, appeared startled and threw a fig at something he thought he saw moving a few feet from him in the sand. The fig slowly sank into the sand and was gone. Rhico grabbed his sword and scrambled to his feet.

Ndornah laughed. "There's nothing there you big rabbit."

"Stop laughing. I saw something."

"And you hoped to kill it with a fig?" she asked, grinning.

Rhico stared angrily at her but didn't answer.

"I fear for your shadow," she said with a chuckle.

"And you fed the sand our last fig," said one of the soldiers.

"Maybe you should throw it some tea to wash it down," said another. That drew loud laughter.

"That's enough, you jug-heads," Dinary said, managing to keep a straight face. "It's all right, Rhico. We all are a little spooked."

The soldiers teased and chuckled among themselves; Dinary yawned then said, "Stop the foolishness. Get some sleep. Daylight will be here before you know it."

The soldiers grabbed their bedding and soon the night air filled with sounds of heavy breathing.

*****
Beams of moonlight crept across the barren landscape. The abandoned desert sat so still beneath the brightly lit sky. The silence was eerie, though the bodies of the dead screamed without breath from the depths of the sands. Melitah wavered between sleep and awake as odd shapes slithered to and fro. Am I dreaming? She thought.

Then a stench, like rotting flesh, pierced her nostrils; she slowly raised her eyelids and gasped when her eyes fell upon a shadow of creatures; they had snatched a soldier away from the sleeping camp and had partially eaten him down to the bone. In shock, he had not screamed--and when he did try, a creature gorged on his tongue.

Melitah jolted her sister awake when she tore away from her side and shot to her feet. She frowned as the sleep in her eyes cleared and her gaze fell upon the quiet feasting. Ndornah reached for her sword and jumped up from her bedding.

She yelled and though a bit dazed, the men staggered to their feet. Each grabbed a weapon, and stood ready--for what, Dinary wasn't sure since the creatures had bodies with no organs--but purplish skin fitted tightly to their skeletal frame. Several floated out of the sand--followed by a multitude that stood facing the living with a sword in each bony purple hand.

"General, what do we do! They're already dead!" shrieked a young soldier.

However, the more senior soldiers had seen something like those ghastly things before, years ago on the ghost ship. Before Dinary could answer, Celio shouted, "Cut them to pieces! Starting with the arms that hold their weapons!"

As the dead and the living squared off, dark slime oozed from the purple skin of the creatures and the blood-red balls of their eyes blazed upon the soldiers who stood in a fighting stance.

Dinary shot forward with a battle cry, his necklace glowing--followed by his soldiers. Fearlessly, they ran straight into the multitude--swords clanking and sparkling under the moonlight. Surprisingly, when swords took off the creatures' heads, immediately the fleshless bodies turned to dust.

As the soldiers gallantly fought, and Dinary's divine sword wiped out dozens at a time, the magic of the Gunji turned hundreds into piles of incinerated bones. It was the quickest victory ever for Dinary and his warriors. 
A deafening hissing sound flew from the mouths of the lifeless creatures; defeated, they bolted beneath the surface and the sand once again grew still.

Dinary and the soldiers stayed awake the rest of the night. The Gunji treated the wounded and placed a shroud of protection around the camp, though the creatures never returned.

With one man down and days to go before reaching Modos, the unit set out early in the morning. Two days into the journey, another sand storm bedeviled them for hours. More food and tea were ruined or carried off with the wind. The Gunji's powers were limited against the cursed soil and he couldn't conjure water; plus, the dried goods were scarce and they had to ration the bread.

"Bet you could use that fig now...huh Rhico," Ndornah said with a smirk.

"Ha ha," Rhico scoffed. "Eat this," he said, kicking sand at her. He pushed past her, intentionally bumping her shoulder, and walked ahead.

"Enough! Both of you!" Dinary snapped.

The unit dragged on--getting weaker with little water and only small portions of bread left. Suddenly, one of the men shouted something from up ahead. He'd found a sack and came running back with teeth flashing.

"Look what I found," he said, opening the large sack.

The sack belonged to them. It appeared the wind had blown the sack with figs, dates, and bread miles ahead of them--so tightly packed, there was no trace of sand. Dinary and his comrades tore at the sack as if ravaged beasts; stuffing their mouths like ill-mannered children--hands grabbing everywhere--food and saliva dribbling down their chins as their hands proved bigger than their mouths.

With bellies full, all napped; the Gunji, who carried his own diet of Botley leaves, beetles, and locusts decided he'd keep watch.

However, the soldiers napped unusually long, and when the Gunji turned to wake them, he noticed foam streaming from the corners of their mouths, and they didn't appear to be breathing. The Gunji slapped Dinary's face several times and repeatedly struck a few others that lay near him, but when none responded, he sensed they'd been poisoned." He quickly held his hands over Dinary's abdomen; magic energy poured from the Gunji's palms.

With his eyes still closed, Dinary jolted to a sitting position and vomited until his ghostly face flushed red. The Gunji did the same for each soldier, and they sprang to their knees and vomited.

"What happened?" Dinary asked, his voice gravelly.

"I take full blame," the Gunji said.

"What do you mean?" Dinary slurred, his eyes still droopy.

"I should have detected this evil," the Gunji snapped. "Nothing is what it seems in this god-forsaken place. That wind isn't a wind at tall, but an entity with an evil mind. Something put us under a mirage."

Dinary held his stomach. "What?" he asked, slightly bent over.

The Gunji took a blade and sliced open the sack they had eaten from, and there were thick, green maggots squirming within its slime. And when they looked at what they had vomited, they saw small pools of them slithering upon the ground.

"I'm going to be sick again," one of the men said, making a face at what was crawling at his feet. He ran off coughing and gagging.

"What, for the love of gods, is next?" Dinary said, frowning and looking about. "Just what the Hades have we gotten ourselves into?"



Image: by Dantegrafice from Pixabay

Main Characters

Lord Gangus Abram Leader of his clan
Lady Brehira (Bree here rah) His wife
Dinary (Deh nah ry) Youngest Son
Celio (Seal le o) Soldier and close friend
Princess Netrekka (Neh trek kah) Dinary's Lover/wife
Olatunji (O Lah Tune Gee) Cushite Soldier
Gangus's Staff Command Tierphenjinochun (Teer fen gin o tion)

Minor Characters
Khimah (Kee ma) Eldest Son
Captain Dulcy P Dordrecht (Door check) Captain of the Cristofur
Judian (Jew-dee-in) Second in Command of the Christofur
Kofius (Ko fee us) The Sail Master
The Drake (like it's spelled) The menacing dragon

The gods
Raziel (Ray-zeal) God of gods
Dahlia (Doll-lee'ah) Goddess of Domaria--a kingdom ruled by women
Gailzur (Gale-zore) God of War
Nelchael (Nell-key-ol) God of the Underworld
Zakzakiel (Zak zah keel) God of Peace


The Races
Volarians (Vo lar rians) (Humans) 'Gangus's tribe'
Timbakni (Tim-bach-knee) (Humanoid) K9 race, Devoted to Gangus and his tribe
Engamars (In ga mars) (Humanoids) aka, Red Beards 'Hate Aenwyns and Qu'Venars'
Aenwyns (An winds) (Humanoids) 'Adore Qu'Venars, hate Engamars'
Qu'Venars (Q' Vin nahs) (Humanoids) 'Adore Aenwyns can't tolerate the stubborn Engamars'
Nordoxz (Nor-docks) (Humanoid) 'Skin multi-colored like a serpent, Enemy to all, including the gods, except one'
Faerie (Far ree) (Another world) Origin of the Aenwyns'
Domarians (Doe mah rians) ( Humans) A kingdom ruled by women'
Nekani (Neh cah knee) (Humanoids) Felion Race'



 

Author Notes When Lord Gangus Abram is awakened by a mysterious voice in the night and told to seek out the Oracle Naman, he must make a journey across the Endless Ocean to destroy the Nordoxz, an undefeated race of humanoids that are controlled by powerful forces of evil.

Lord Abrams plunges into a perilous trek to obey the gods and settle in Bethica, a land of dragons, cannibals, Fallen Angels, Amazonians, and Dark Lords. He is joined by his wife, Brehira, youngest son Dinary, comrade and friend, Celio, Shapeshifter and Beast Master, Olutunji, and 750 people willing to risk their lives for land and freedom.


One of thousands of stories, poems and books available online at FanStory.com

You've read it - now go back to FanStory.com to comment on each chapter and show your thanks to the author!



© Copyright 2015 amahra All rights reserved.
amahra has granted FanStory.com, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.

© 2015 FanStory.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms under which this service is provided to you. Privacy Statement