|By The Snowbold||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from The Snowbold||Romance, Adventure||MA||Here|
|The Great Forest|
May 26, 2013
Not every show of force is meant for violence...
Chapter 3: The Great Forest
How easy it would have been to kill him in his sleep. He rested too easily, slept with no notice of his world. And for all the opportunity, she couldn't touch him, and she hated him and herself for that. She should have been prepared for a spell, she learned how to counteract them, but she had ignored the possibility of a human's capability in them.
Now she couldn't have any ill intent to this man, no matter how much she wanted to act on it. Instead, she was compelled to protect him and watch over him. She hated them all for the ultimate insult to her honor, mercy.
"Master," a faint whisper in the dark filled the void like an echo.
Faces appeared, faces he had never seen before. A hawk-nosed man mumbling about his luck and a group of marauders terrorizing a village. Standing ahead of them was a man, a daunting figure as he drew a sword and decapitated the village leader for speaking against him.
Like mist blown away by wind, the faces changed. A soft voice yelled in the distance, "No!"
Pain and blood flew as Tiros looked on helplessly. He picked her up, begging her to stay awake to stay with him. He begged her not to leave him, only to see it was Melasa.
A hard shake woke him and the blue eyes of the half-witch looked down on him. Melasa stood by him, as he grouchily responded "What?"
"Master, you said we would leave at sunrise, we must pack and prepare if that is the case."
Rubbing his eyes, "You woke me up in the dark so we could leave on time?" He grunted as his mind and body woke up and he tried to forget the dream, "Okay, new rule. If I say first light, assume I mean after that."
"Very well, then, master. When do you wish to head out?" She had a look of annoyance and contempt as she spoke. She clearly was not anymore happy with the situation than he was.
"Ugh, might as well go now. There's no way I'm going back to sleep now."
She crooked her head slightly as if curious. Melasa seemed to treat anything he said as alien, like they were new words. She didn't joke or make metaphors, she spoke literally and with intent.
He followed her out of the room and into the main room of the cottage, he saw that she had her pack, what little it was, ready. She must have eaten, as she prepared only a meal for him.
"When did you get up?"
"Two hours ago."
Tiros balked at that, "You must have slept only four hours!"
She was unfazed by his comment and continued on as she tugged at the sleeve of her tight red and white outfit.
Feeling the immense discomfort, he decided anything would be better than awkward silence, "Where did you come from, Melasa?"
"I was born in a small village far south of here. I have been moving on since then."
"How come you never settled down?"
"I'm not welcome," the answer was curt as if the context was clear.
Tiros was wrong, the awkward silence was better than talking. Melasa must have not been very good at hiding who she was, given her cold attitude. Anyone could feel that she was different. He wondered if she ever felt at home anywhere.
Tiros hadn't had a true home for a while, but he knew that he had family across the ocean that would always be there for him. He had the distinct impression that Melasa had nothing but the clothes on her back and a sword that seemed to be missing. That made him think about the event from last night.
"Hey, where did your sword go?"Melasa held her left palm out wide and put her fist to it, pulling her arm away and drawing out the lightning shaped sword. Tiros eyes shook with awe, "How did you do that?"
"With the right knowledge of magic, one can do anything," as quickly as she had drawn the weapon, she thrust it back into her palm. Tiros gave a start as he thought she was about to stab her own hand but saw the sword disappear.
As Tiros finished his small breakfast, he got ready for the journey south. He left money for the innkeeper nice enough to lend them the cottage and took his staff, "Okay, time to go."
Tiros and Melasa walked to the market, steeds would be preferred since they were traveling far. Tiros observed the temperament of several stocks of Ostrich Horses, they all seemed to be well rounded and reliable.
While haggling with a breeder for two, he noticed Melasa wandering through the market stands, looking on things with her cold blue eyes. It seemed as if she hadn't been to a market in years. And despite that cold exterior, the cool wind catching her fiery hair made a much better picture than most girls who did everything to smile. There was depth in those eyes. A nice necklace caught her eye at one of the stands where it had a red crystal embedded.
"The red ruby would go perfectly with your hair," a kind woman approached when she noticed Melasa stayed there a moment longer than elsewhere. The woman smiled warmly and welcoming, but it seemed to have the opposite effect on the redhead.
"My apologies, I didn't mean to stare." Melasa walked away as if the woman had tried to ward her off. The kind old lady looked on in confusion and so did Tiros. The woman had complimented Melasa, and she took it as an insult, a shove to get away.
Tiros looked back at the breeder, "Fine." he dropped several gold coins into the man's grubby hands as he took the reins to the two riding beasts. Before calling the strolling half-witch, he walked to the vendor and picked up the necklace, "How much?"
"One gold piece. Its a real ruby."
He took a coin out of his cloak and flipped it to her, the woman caught it and nodded as he placed the ruby in his cloak.
The two strolled through the road at a casual pace. They had ridden for three days and were now just moments away. They were along the edge of the Great Forest, a massive area covered in green with trees that stood taller than any animal in this world.
Following the path, they turned a corner to see a walled village. The gate opened as a watcher noticed their arrival.
Cheering ensued as they entered. Their red signified they were foreigners and so the villagers must have assumed he was the Avatar.
"Welcome to our humble home," an elderly man lifted his hands in greeting, "we are honored with your presence here, Avatar." The man bowed low and soon the crowd joined him.
After they rose, Tiros stepped off his ostrich horse, as did Melasa. Formally introducing himself, "I am Avatar Tiros, this is Melasa. We are honored to meet you. What is the situation here?"
The people took a much more serious look. "We are being plagued by a spirit. He has been attacking us when we enter the forest. Most of our people have been able to escape, but six have not. We need the help of a bridge between our worlds, we need the Avatar."
"What is happening specifically?"
Tiros and Melasa listened closely to the details of the horror that had befallen the people. One thing was clear to them, "So if you take the northwest pass, you are attacked? Can't you go around?"
"We have tried, but our village lives off of the work we do in the forest, and it is that way."
Melasa spoke, "Master, if we were to head that way, we are likely to encounter the same trouble as the others, it would give us an edge if the Spirit is unaware of our status."
The village leaders who sat in the building looked on skeptically, "No offense, little lady, but I think that only the Avatar alone can handle this."
She gave them a dark look as her blue eyes narrowed. Her response was chilling, "I am not completely human, oaf. So don't make judgements about what you don't understand. My kind can travel to and interact with the Spirit World if we choose."
The villagers looked on shocked. Her statements had taken them aback. Some correctly assumed her race, but it still seemed unbelievable. Tiros knew this would be trouble if he let Melasa keep talking, "I will go and try to settle this peacefully. If that fails, I will do what is necessary."
The villagers accepted the confident Avatar's answer. After exiting the room, he looked back at his companion, "Are you insane?"
"You can't tell people that they are simpletons."
"It is the truth, master. I can't change it, there is no point in lying," Obviously, she didn't agree and didn't feel the need to justify herself.
"Argh, my goodness, you're going to piss off someone powerful and with a bad attitude at this rate."
"I am only looking out for you, master." Tiros felt that the words were sarcastic but wasn't sure.
"Well, stop worrying so damn much, I can take care of myself! And will you stop it with the 'master' crap!?"
Melasa looked away coldly, as if trying to ignore him, but something told him that she had been hurt by the comment. For all the life she may have lived, it was as if she had little to no human interaction since she was a child. She said things a parent would have taught her not to say and bottled everything up behind a cold face.
"I'm sorry, Melasa, you just got on my nerves. Everything is not so black and white as you make it out to be. Just try and be a little more considerate to people and to what you say."
Tiros thought he saw a tiny smile, but when he blinked, her face had resumed its normal statuesque feature. She answered coldly, "Yes, master."
Tiros walked through the forest wondering just how big it was. The Great Forest was well known in the north and was seen as a beautiful place by the Air Nomads. The monks traded with the villagers for materials and food they could not get in their mountains.
Melasa was close behind, intent on observing her environment. Tiros appreciated the beauty around him, but he had the feeling that Melasa could care less. Where he saw a tree, she saw a hiding place. A broken branch was a trap. She viewed things in such dire ways that he wondered how she could live like that, but then again, she was a half-witch. A child of a species slated for extinction by force, could she afford to enjoy herself?
"Melasa, what do you like to do?"
"What do you mean, master?"
"What hobbies do you have? Do you do anything with your free time?"
"No," she answered bluntly, "I practice my skills and powers in order to ensure the limit of my skill is high."
"Come on, you have to do something for fun?"
The half-witch never answered as she looked north with a closed hand reaching for her palm. He soon felt the cause for her reaction as the ground shook, how did she feel that so quickly?
A great falling of trees and intimidating cacophony sounded as it neared. If they ran now, they could avoid the beast, but they were here to resolve this. Tiros held his ground, as did Melasa. His muscles tensed while his red-haired companion stood like a war ready statue.
A great gnashing of trees took their vision temporarily and the target of their mission revealed itself. A great beast with skin both black and white in changing shades stood before them. It was immense, having massive arms and legs that were as thick as tree trunks. There were also a pair of smaller arms that were still as large as they were.
An ugly head roared at them as the beast sped forward. It seemed as if light bent around it and sped forward as if appearing somewhere only seconds after it was somewhere else. It gave another fiery roar and a blue light exploded from its maw, making a great wreck of the trees before it as it reached them.
Melasa began drawing her mythic weapon. A sheen of light reflected from the shaded area and note of steel escaped, making the beast stop in its tracks and look at the woman in what Tiros assumed was shock.
A growl of teeth and a musky smell emerged as the monster looked on Melasa warily, preparing to strike.
"No!" Melasa looked at him with a sharp turn, even the beast turned its attention to him. "We're here to find a peaceful solution, not go monster slaying."
The creature snarled at the last remark while Melasa grunted. She reluctantly place the blade back into the void she hid it. The creature eased upon seeing the weapon gone.
"I am Avatar Tiros, the bridge between the Spirits and mankind, please help me understand what is wrong."
The creature just stood there for a moment before it relaxed and with a small hand, pointed ahead to the path.
"Yeah, we know. Anytime someone heads that way they disappear, why are you taking them?"
A growl of insult escaped its fierce maw. It turned around and walked off, slowly. Tiros looked to Melasa, "Are we supposed to follow it?"
She shrugged, "How would I know, I never talked to a Spirit before."
The creature stopped, grunted and kept walking. Melasa looked at Tiros, he shrugged and started following the black and white spirit. Melasa groaned, "hmph", she then followed after them.
The forest got darker as the daylight faded and the canopy above thickened above. Tiros muttered at the spirit, "How much longer are we going to be walking?"
A light growl came from the beast as they kept walking. Finally it stopped before a shrine, Tiros now saw what the creature had been heading for, its home. It was a single totem statue made from a great tree. On top of it sat the likeness of a- bear?
Tiros had seen many kinds of bears; platypus-bears, skunk-bears, but had rarely seen a pure bear. Melasa stood beside her as she looked at the totem, "Its a physical manifestation of this Spirit's existence."
"I thought you didn't know anything about Spirits?"
She gave him a look, "I said I never met one, that doesn't mean I am ignorant!"
"Okay, okay!" He raised his hands admitting defeat. He returned his attention back to the totem, "It says Bei Bai, is that your name?"
An affirmative grunt came and the beast was no longer a monster but rather a cute, albeit oversized, panda bear. The creature walked to the totem and disappeared before their eyes. Stalks of bamboo appeared behind it and a mist emerged.
"Hey! Where are you going?"
The large Panda's head emerged from the bamboo and then receded. Melasa stated plainly, "It would seem he wants us to follow him."
"Unbelievable, you would think Spirits could at least speak to us in a language we understand."
"Perhaps we should learn their language, master?"
"I'm happy to learn if they are willing to teach," he sighed and walked forward into the bamboo stalks. "Here goes nothing."
Melasa followed silently, ready for anything, hands close together.
Tiros ran into a tangles of plants, pushing with all his strength to make it through. "You'd think he'd at least make it easy for people to get through this mess. I can't see even five feet ahead."
"Its clear that the Spirits like their privacy, Master. Perhaps they have something to hide."
When they made it through the mess of bamboo stalks, they were in a place they were not expecting. Tiros foot landed in a mess of a puddle as hit boot plunged into the water. He tried to step out but realized that the entire area was a swamp. Ahead, the Panda kept walking.
Tiros looked at the mist covered world, it was strange. It felt off, but yet it felt familiar. A fly smacked into his face with a sting as its buzzing was heard by his ears too late. He smacked his face in the hope that he killed it.
Obviously the Spirit World had pests too. More came after him and circled him. After several poor attempts to swipe them away, he turned his hand to send a spiral of air to keep them away. His hand made the motions, but nothing came of it. He punched forward, expecting a fire and nothing happened. He did it again, looking on in surprise.
"My bending isn't working!"
Melasa looked on with suspicion, "Are you sure?"
He punched forward to exemplify his frustration. She looked away for a moment and whispered to herself. She turned back to him, "Some of my abilities are dampened, but I can still touch my powers."
"Good to know one of us can," Tiros looked up to see that the massive Panda was leaving the clearing they had entered, "Hey! Wait up!"
The two humans ran after the Spirit as it slowly trekked across the swamp of this strange world. Tiros was shocked at what he saw. He noticed trees dissolve at the slightest touch of a fly and vines eat them with surprising ferocity. Even Melasa had a look of surprise at the world they had entered.
"Master, this is a dangerous place, it is best that we stay with Hei Bai."
"You think?" He answered sarcastically, not wanting to think about what might happened if they didn't.
The bear stopped, he could have sworn it was shivering, as if fearful of what was ahead. Almost doubling in size, it turned back into the massive beast that had nearly attacked them in the forest. It was frightening, with limbs as large as tree trunks as a maw of sharp teeth, and yet it still shivered, afraid of whatever it was facing.
That worried Tiros more than he thought it would. What could scare this beast? Before he could ask, Hei Bai ran forward. Tiros and Melasa followed a short ways, arriving to a heavily wooded area all centered and focused around one massive tree.
"Why do you waken my slumber, Hei Bai?" A voice emanated from the great tree. It was cold as the echo touched their bones, making them shiver as much as the Black and White Spirit did beside them. Soon a head, or something mimicking one appeared in the mess of vines and branches, it was hideous.
Unanswered, it turned its attention, "Why are you here?"
Melasa looked to Tiros as he answered, "I am Avatar Tiros, I have come to resolve the disappearance of the villagers in this forest."
The echo that shook him with malicious vibrancy spoke again, "Those people have encroached upon my land one too many times. The forest belongs to the Spirit who made it, and the Spirit keeps it."
"What gives you the right to unilaterally take such action?"
"This is my forest, and not even Hei Bai's interference can save this village. They will pay the price for taking from me in my slumber, death."
"There has to be another option, another resolution."
"There are none. When the water falls, it cannot turn back, nor can the choices be undone by the Spirits who spared the humans in the War. Their fate, like yours, is sealed. Not even you little Nifrin can stop it."
Like a whip, a tentacled root struck after Tiros. It was easily large enough to crush him and was too fast to get out of the way. He was saved from certain death as Hei Bai stood there and took the strike. He roared as the force of the impact shook the vary air and blew Tiros back.
Tiros drew his hands back and thrust forward, forgetting that he could not bend. "Damn it!"
He saw a tiny flash of light as Melasa drew her sword, three vines rushed her. With incredible speed, she cut down the speeding whips of organic material as if they were still. In a twist as she held the blade at an awkward angle, one sword became two. Angled down and held widely apart, she rushed forward. A large root emerged from the water and shot up, hitting the half-witch and sending her flying through the trees beyond.
Tiros ran forward as he saw three more roots hit Hei Bai in a punishing torrent of fury. No wonder the Black and White Spirit feared it, this tree was winning, with only a fraction of its attention, it was beating down the fierce Hei Bai and had time to muse.
"Your feeble attempts to scare the humans away to save them was only delaying the inevitable. This is my forest, and I choose what lives here. That no longer includes you."
One of the roots coiled around its neck, tightening the noose on the Spirit's life.
"Kish Laur!" A strike of lighting emerged from the forest canopy hitting the trunk of the great tree. The unearthly echo screamed in agony as it let go of its prey. Leaping from the high ground, Melasa joined Tiros and Hei Bai.
"Master, you need this more than I do here!" She tossed over the sword that was gifted with unnatural properties.
The screaming of agony became fury as root swept after them. Melasa calmly raised her hand and with two fingers pointed, recited, "Dish-Ta!"
As if an axe had cleaved through, the root was cut in half, with the severed end falling in the water while the remaining root vainly swept at them. Vines charged for them as Melasa countered calmly, "Marak."
Flames charged and burned the offending plants to a crisp. The echoing voice did not appreciate it, "Little witch! You are nothing!"
Too fast for her to counter with a spell, more vines attacked. Melasa easily dodged as she ran sideways, expecting them. Tiros only saw a red blur as she moved past. The Nifrin had unnatural speed, it seemed that human conceptions didn't exist as he was now only seeing glimpses of her red hair while the vines pursued her.
He could hear her yelling, "Hei Bai, keep him busy. I'll join you in a minute. Master, wait until there's an opening, you'll know it when you see it!"
She then stood still almost out of sight in the shroud of trees, she whispered in both the human tongue and the Nifrin tongue, "Nalash Nura. Come to me, nature."
She placed her palms together as she closed her eyes, "Arauk ma sha. Shield my blood. Neyu turs eir. Defeat my foes. Nalash!"
She reached out her palms to the trees, and to his astonishment, they answered. Branches reached out, clawing for the red-haired witch. As they reached her, they grew over her red robes, covering her in vines and branches.
At first, it was a suit of armor made of nature, but more came. The legs grew additional joints, adding a foot to Melasa's height. Her arms likewise grew in length, the result was a lanky creature with oversized limbs, but more vines and roots came for her summons. Increasing the mass of its body and the thickness of its limbs.
Growing even more, it soon reached a massive size, over three times the size of a person, and inside was Melasa. The creature exuded a green mist from its eyes and maw, filled with claw-like roots for teeth. The hands clenched and loosened in a testing manner.
The eyes narrowed to slits, "Autenshou!"
Rushing forward with surprising speed for such a large beast, it rammed into the great tree as it was occupied with a snarling Hei Bai. Caught by surprise, it smacked her with a root but did not send her in a spiral as it would have before.Clawing at the tree, deep gashes appeared in the trunk, causing it to scream. Coiling vines encased the arms of the attacking beast. A blast of a bluish white light exploded as the wide open maw of the Black and White Spirit roared in defiant fury. Burning, the tree screams more in frustration than in pain, that these two thought they could kill him?
Vines and roots encased them as they struggled, trying to pull away from him, he laughed at the futility, neither of them was strong enough to hurt him and the Avatar had no powers here. Where was he anyways?
The answer was given in the form of a sharp pain in back of its 'head'. With great force and horrific pain, the intruding object forced itself further and cut through him like he was butter. Blood, or something like it spewed out from his mouth and soon a body did as well.
It was Tiros, with the Storm Flower in hand, coated in the gore of the great tree. As he landed, the swaying tree tumbled over, defeated. Its root no longer held, its vines were not so tight. The two who had been near death were not in so much danger anymore.
The Great Beast that has contrasting patterns of black and white with a bad attitude returned to the form of a large Panda, calm and relieved. He looked over to the creature, made of trees and vines, it snarled, but it was a small. The vines and roots loosened, no longer necessary for a fight that was over.
Collapsing around her, Melasa stood amongst the heap of nature that she had used as a weapon. She exhaled in a tired manner, the spell to use and maintain that creature was exhausting. It made her fell weak, knowing a full Nifrin could create many of them, and she could only make one.
"That was amazing," her reflection was interrupted as Hei Bai and Tiros approached, "How did you do that?"
"Nifrin can cast spells to summon things around them and using it as a living weapon."
"Well, it worked." Hei Bai growled softly, confirming Tiros statement. Tiros looked to the great bear, "Thank you for helping us, we couldn't have done it without you. I will tell the villagers the truth, that you were trying to save them."
The Panda smiled in a way. Tiros started again, "But I do have a question. What about the villagers lost?"
The smile left, and its eyes took a mournful note. "I see," Tiros knew what he meant, they were gone forever.
Melasa then asked the obvious, "Would you get us out of here? My presence and the presence of that weapon are not welcome here and it will draw attention if we stay any longer."The great bear nodded. In a warm breath, light enveloped them and blasted them back without a moment's notice.
As they fell they hit solid ground. Tiros bruised a finger and cursed as he smacked the ground creating a small shockwave of fire. Noticing it, he leapt up in joy, "Yes! Back in the real world! Mission accomplished!"
"Not quite yet, master. You still need to go to the village and explain that those we went for are never coming back, we owe that to them."
Tiros' joy faded in an instant. Leave it to Melasa to make a good thing go bad, "Right. Let's go."
- gets his first appearance here as a vision.
- Melasa's way of drawing her weapons is another trait of Misuzu, except she doesn't call out the name of the weapon to summon it.
- Melasa is mature in the sense of death and battle but immature in human interaction, she thinks everyone is like her first home.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
Storms of the Future Cycle
|The Journey of Tala|
|Book 1 - Sand and Steel|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Book 2 - Blood and Swamps|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Book 3 - Pyres and Storms|
|- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
|Fates and Vows|
|- - - - - - Ilera - Solace Fade - Scions - Sovereign|
|The Rise of Lirin|
|- In the Morrow - The White Dragon - Faith in Blood - The Great Gates - Lord Avatar - A Red Sun - Faceless - Faction - Tempest - Rally of Crows - Rally of Eagles - Dragons and Serpents - Kings and Men - Storms of a Spirit - Princes - A Battered Land - Seas of Ichor - Arbiter - Return to a Grave - Declination - Disaffection - Epilogue|
|Myths of the Empire|
|Pacification - Assassins - Empire - Red Sun Under The Empire - White Snow - Heirs|
|The Reclamation of Arein|
|Book 1 - Chaos|
|Refugee - Rogue - Ghosts - Dark Roses - Doyen - Divulgence - The Plan - Abscond - Mists of Illusion - Madonna - Syndicate - Playing the Stakes - Purge - Brothers|
|Book 2 - War|
|Alliance - Temple - Tensions - The Fall - Hunters and Prey - Lussuria - Shades of Relevance - Broken Star - Defiler - Strikeforce - Secrets of the Lair - Eminence - Swarm - Wanderer|
|Dreams of Melasa|
|Book 1 - Servant|
| - - - - - - - - - - - - -
|Book 2 - Shadow World|
|Faint but Clear - Ghost in the Steel - Kurotama - Loyalties - Servants of Shadow - Game of Fate - Shadows and Reflections - Tomb of Blood - Broken Blades - Hill of Shadow - Souls and Swords - Home|