Well hello again! Guess who is back online!
It has been a long and thrilling ride to get The Forgotten Age: Resolution up to par! Along with the preparation for our upcoming Indiegogo Promotion, I have decided to enter some Author Contests to get those creative juices flowing!
And so, for my April 28th Author Competition on reddit HERE, I present to you, my story, based on the image above. Don’t forget to vote!:
Beneath the Purple Sky
“Let’s see… ‘The Sorcerer’s Cauldron’, this seems like the place!”
Out on the dark, lantern-lit streets, a young man had finally arrived on the streets of the small town of Hettinger. The man who broke the silence of the late night scene, along the rows of wooden homes and pubs, was a poet; a timid young man named Ken.
Ken had a slender figure, an outfit of old, worn, brown fabrics, and a brown knapsack with his most precious possessions. The only items he had brought from home were his writing materials, and a book filled with page after page of empty parchment.
Having had an appreciation for the twists and turns of eloquent prose since childhood, he had long hoped to fill the pages of this next dummy-book with intricate descriptions about his observations and experiences, but the words faded neither in or out of his thoughts. The curious poet had not been inspired for some time. Many hours he had spent, staring at a blank page, hoping for the words to come.
A few days ago, he had left the confines of his home and set out on his quest. According to an old friend of his, Hettinger was a place that Ken could find some inspiration for his poems, and improve his stagnant state. Ken would need only travel for three days, and meet up with a man named Walter.
Each step taken along paths through eerie forests, each meal eaten in strange towns, every moment up until that moment had revealed his uncanny dedication to explaining the extraordinary. That great muse, that all artists strive for and know so well, was his only goal.
However he endeavored to reach the most illustrious state of lyrical fabrication, the poet was not so fit, and would need rest after a three days traveling. Too tired to ask anything else, everyone he had come across was met with a tired man’s search for a place to lay down.
With all the joy of coming home, the long walk was about to come to a close.
He opened the wooden door to The Sorcerer’s Cauldron, the only inn that he had been referred to. The inside of the building was what he would call a “typical nocturnal scene”; a candle lit tavern with a rustic, wooden finish over everything. The tables were of assorted sizes, none of them matching another, which told Ken that this was no high class establishment.
While standing in the doorway, he looked around to try and find anyone who could help, the bartender being his first guess. After two steps in the direction of a man washing glasses, he was politely stopped.
“Excuse me, mister!” came a gentle female voice from behind him.
The poet turned around and looked left, then right, then down, straight in the eyes of a young woman with sleek black hair. Her uniform, consisting of an apron covering a brown dress revealed her occupation: waitress.
Ken was relieved, “I’m here to meet up with a man called… Walter! That’s right, he was supposed to be here. Have you heard of him?”
Recognizing bits and pieces of the story right away, she backed up a step, waved for him to follow her, and walked on to quickly lead her customer to the reserved table. With almost twenty people in the bar, this was their busiest day of the year.
Along the way, pushing aside chairs here and there, she made small talk about what she knew of the situation, “Man comes in, never seen him before. Paid us more for one beer than we charge for fifty. Says he’s going to have a drink and wait for someone. My guess: that’s you.”
“Wow, fifty,” Ken whispered to himself, thinking he was to meet royalty.
On approach, through the small crowd of people in the candle-lit tavern, Ken eventually discovered that their path lead straight towards a table with a bearded old beggar, shivering with arms crossed. Not quite the proud nobility he had assumed.
“Well, thank you for your kindness,” Ken said with genuine, unabashed gratitude to the waitress, then turned to the old man and said, trying to break the ice, “And I’m glad to be meeting such a generous person.”
As he said this, he leaned over and extended his hand to the stranger, who still had his hood pulled down, a shadow concealing his face, and arms still crossed. Unable to make any apparent contact with his rendezvous through words or eye contact, he was faced with the awkward silence of the one-sided greeting. Luckily, the rookie waitress was no stranger to social etiquette.
“Well, can I get you anything?” she asked eagerly before leaving, relieved at having the first polite customer in some time.
“Just water will be fine.”
“Pfft, water,” the stranger scoffed, in a deeper, more profound voice than the shivering image would have portrayed.
Ken was intrigued, and nodded to the waitress, who quickly disappeared into the crowd. He then sat down, ready to meet up with this contact that his old friend had spoken so highly of.
“I see you follow instructions quite well,” bellowed the man from beneath the black hood, “My name is Sir Walter Steiner.”
“Nice to meet you, Sir?” Ken replied in earnest, suddenly awake, refreshed and correct in his assumption of nobility.
Sir Walter completely ignored the poet’s question and said plainly, “I hear you are a writer.”
“Oh yes, I am!”
“Good, because I need you to write something down for me.”
The poet was not used to doing writing for anyone besides himself, as he was very protective of his words and how he used them. Even so, as respectful as he was to strangers, he promptly reached into his bag and retrieved the writing utensils from his knapsack. This was it.
He gently set the book out on the table, which seemed to be too large for him to have carried it so far. It was a thick book with an engraved, grey, stone front and back cover. Ken had saved for years to buy the book, and it had always been meant to hold the unwritten masterpiece of the aspiring youngster he once was.
“No, don’t open it,” Sir Walter commanded, almost forgetting to keep his voice down.
Ken’s right hand stopped the familiar action, still clasping the hard cover of the book, and asked, “Why?”
Walter looked left and right, leaning forward with his elbows on the table, to whisper to his new acquaintance, “Before you do, look at this.”
His right hand open on the table, the nobleman held in his hand a silver jewel with a dark purple stone. Ken was amazed, but remained in his seat. After amazement came fascination, as he began to see moving shapes unraveling in evanescent forms within the crystal.
“I’ve never seen that bef-” the poet tried to say, then began to feel lightheaded and dizzy.
From one moment to the next, after only a blink of his eyes; the tavern, the waitress, Sir Walter and all the other customers had vanished.
The poet had to blink once or twice more before he came to terms with the scene before him. He was no longer sitting, but standing in a field with no tree line in sight. The dark purple sky above him reminded him of the stone he had seen in the jewel that Walter had shown him, connecting to the ground beyond the eternal horizon all around him.
“How can this be?”
“What is it you require of the one who rules all things?”
Ken turned around, disoriented by the blank landscape, and looked in the direction that the voice came from.
Seemingly stepping into existence, the ground shuddered with the steps of a tremendous, translucent spirit. Ken thought about the ethereal motions he had seen in the gem before, and suddenly, it made sense to him. As he had anticipated, he was trapped within the gem, commuting with some kind of spiritual entity within.
“What is all this? What are you?” he asked the giant, who only swayed back and forth.
The speech it produced was as ethereal as its form, echoing beneath the gigantic dome. Three distinct voices came from the entity, each revealing a portion of its identity.
“We are those who know all.”
“We are those who govern all”
“We are those who are all stories in one.”
“Oh really,” Ken muttered, listening intently.
A forth voice explained the matter more clearly, “Your mind has given us a place to exist for a time, and so we are inclined to do you one service.”
His whole life, the poet had been fascinated by the world around him, inquisitive to what lay beyond each new horizon. His heart was set on new discoveries and experiences, and this was one chance that he would not pass up.
“I believe that you are all-knowing, great spirit,” he answered, standing with a more regal stance than before, “I have four questions to ask you, and then I will continue with my request.”
He began his interrogation, “First, if you have not experienced all things, from all perspectives, how can you know all things?”
The spirit would not answer and remained silent.
“If you cannot lend a hand, how can you govern all things, trapped in here?”
The poet thought about each impoverished soul he had seen on the streets, in each of the towns he had visited the past few days. Those in power had never taken action, and saw it fit to steal from the people, with little gratitude for those who slaved for their food and drink.
He could not contain himself, speaking to another authority figure who had claimed to be righteous. These frustrations were released in that moment, as he shouted the next question.
“Lastly, if you are not part of a story, then how can you yourself be a story? To be all stories in one is only to know them, not to have lived them!”
Ken felt his power over this world of the mind to be more than liberating. Instead of feeling constrained by his corporeal form, he was able to feel every particle in a gust of wind, and every grain of soil beneath him. Using part imagination and part force of sheer will, he raised the ground around him, lifting himself up to look face to face with the spirit.
“As for my request…”
Upon a mountain of stone and soil, the angered Ken was uncharacteristically stern when he yelled the command, “Get out of my head!”
The spirit began to slowly dissipate, like the smoke of a campfire caught in a gentle breeze. As soon as he commanded, the spirit had taken its leave, and Ken was once again left alone in that world of his mind.
He looked around again, seeing that the landscape had not changed much, even though he had created a hill in the middle where he stood.
“An entrapped mind is incapable of discovery. I remember writing that down somewhere.”
According to his own plan, Ken reached out with both hands, forming fists, grabbing hold of the purple sky from afar. The entirety of the dome quaked, eventually shattering and raining down billions of pieces, as he pulled his arms in, towards his chest. An overpowering light shone through, from behind the dome, and Ken felt free for the first time… in a long time.
“What happened?” Ken asked quickly, shaking his head, eyes open, realizing that he suddenly sat back in the candle-lit tavern, with the mysterious Sir Walter.
“Look down, and see.”
The book in front of him was no longer empty, every page filled from top to bottom, but the book was not filled with the lyrical prose he was used to writing. In the center of the final page, in his handwriting, read:
“This is how we lend a hand.”