FreshOutOfTheCave: Kirin

Working on a tale for the Bellerverse…

Walking Man

The Wasted World was born of chaos. Chaos rode the infinite cycle and toppled the kings which sat atop it. So much potential, so much life. Wasted. The world fractured, but it was not killed. Those niches which had been torn asunder were ready to bear anew. Men, just as they did having fell from Eden, learned close to nothing, but they learned.

Exoduses take many steps.

In all his ineptitude, the mere presence of this capacity is that which is the savior of men. Teach a man to fish, and he will fish. Teach a man to mutilate, and he will mutilate, as we have seen. Teach a man to teach. Teach a man to love. Teach a man to raise his fellows.

Then help him to his feet, and you will have your exodus.


"I believe you mistaken, my friend."

The sky's most prominent star glared harshly down upon the congregation. The eyes of a dozen survivors squinted at the lone Figure whom stood opposite to them. Over the course of their discussion, the sun had settled just behind the Figure's head, appearing to them as if he wore a blinding crown of light.

"And why is that, brother?" The survivors shuttered as they felt the ground tremble at his words.

Only one of the survivors, his headdress of wonderful skins, dared to speak to the crowned figure. "Your men have stumbled. We cannot wait for them to lick their wounds again. We must step forward."

"We must step forward; indeed, but we must step together. To condemn them is to feign ignorance, and you know as well as I the damage ignorance can inflict."

"You need not accuse me of ignorance; I know you cannot follow our path. Leave us."

"May you learn from your foolishness."

Bowing his head, the crowned Figure strode away from them, toward the setting sun.


On the edge of a humble port city there sat a wide barrel, and on either side sat a man talking and drinking. It was a life of perpetual noise within; the allure of the river which coursed through its center being all but overtaken by the sounds of rocking ships, sharp footsteps, and gregarious shouts.

"What do you know about the traveler who dropped by your shop?" Said Saudi, filling in the smooth silence.

Saudi, a muscular, young man, had recently found a security position on the west-shore market. Whatever wealth he acquired would be but a step closer to leaving the city, as he knew heroes did not sit still. Although, that very morning, he accomplished the feat of saving a traveler's satchel from the wicked York, earning himself a black eye and the pleasure of paying off a broken cart.

"Only that he doesn't know how to haggle," his old friend belted.

Having sold wares in the Wastes for years, Reis had the experience to make such claims. "Fool gave me half a keel of gold for some leather sandals when Vinni was right next to me, selling Eucalyptus boots for coins!" His cackling quickly descended into coughing.

"Oh, but I think you're missing something, my friend" Saudi grinned, the glint in his eyes reflecting the ornate metallic surface which had flashed out from the traveler's sleeves.

"Come on, Saudi, I'm too full of drink to be on the edge of my seat, out with it!"

"He was one of Gyre's men! And I don't think he was our only visitor!" Leaning across the table, Saudi's chair, too, threatened to slip out from beneath him. "I've been seeing more and more new faces around here,"

Sitting back, "Vestighal has always gotten visitors; we're traders for Abirt's sake. If there was a Disciple in my town, I'd know about it. But I wouldn't mind if they never did. Nothing to break out in the Wastes, it's perfect for them!" With the exclamation, he took a swig of fermented beet juice.

Saudi's beard was never thick enough to hide his expression. "I don't know, Reis. Maybe they could make things better. Remember what happened in Elbane? The place was overrun by slave traders and New Men until it was liberated by a group of Disciples!"

The old man sighed and looked to the horizon. He had sympathy for the boy, having held the same sentiments as a young man. "Saudi,"

"I love you, Reis, I really do. You have been by my side ever since I moved out of Mideia," he started, standing up.

"Saudi, I know, but," Reis got up as quickly as his twice-broken back would permit.

"But could you just believe in something for once in your life?"

"Saudi!" As Reis pointed to the horizon, Saudi's brow stiffened.

Saudi had to scan the distance several times before sighting the curious speck. Grunting the way one does when looking at something so ambiguous, he pondered, "What do you think of it?". Crawlers and Dingoes occasionally tried to scavenge from the city's alleys, but this moved too fast. Was it a trader? Maybe, but they normally came from the main road, and neither of the men could name a steed with six legs.

A faint call echoed. Nothing they could understand from a distance, but it was saying something. "Saudi, lets head back." Reis said unsteadily. Saudi looked on, considering it. With strength not usual for a man of his tenure, Reis pulled his shoulder. "This isn't the time to try anything, son."

"Yowie!" The guttural call struck them like an arrow.

Turning, Saudi jumped back and fell to the dirt at the sight of the figure. Swiftly dismounting his steed just as it screeched to a halt, it was unlike any man he had seen. Even on his back, it hurt Saudi's neck to look up high enough to see the figure's face. Atop three meters of black armor and bright, embroidered scarves, a pair of pearl-like eyes bore down on him.

"Are you soldiers?"

Pulling his eyes away from the oppressive stare, he looked again to the distance. This wasn't just a band of scavengers. Underneath a rolling plume of smoke, a group of Yowie soldiers, easily numbering one hundred, rode toward them. On the backs of camels, they carried shields, axes, and spears. Even held by the Yowie's ungainly claws, they were deadly. The peoples known as Yowie were just like men; trading, farming, and warring. Among the Waste's many peculiar peoples, they still bore the faces of their ape-like ancestors. They were infamous for announcing the Wastes belonged to them, and having enslaved several tribes to the West, they had began to take it. The wall surrounding the town was built for floods, not sieges.

"Y-yes," Saudi stammered, "I am a soldier."

"Good." The Man, looking to Reis and finding no such affirmation, lifted Saudi to his feet with a hand twice as large and dark as his own. "Today, you become a knight."

Reis watched as the Man touched his palm to Saudi's forehead, and froze as he witnessed Saudi cease to exist.

Bones cracked and shattered. Breathless as his skin flake off into the wind and it was replaced by something darker and thicker. His chest split open and an armor black like charred bone grew out to cover him. In Saudi's place stood a Knight.

Looking over those alien limbs and down his chest, the Knight's horror turned to excitement. "…Drakgin?"

The Man laughed, "I am no god." The Knight, looking straight into the Man's vivid white eyes, felt as though he was searched through the kind of murky water which sight could not penetrate. "Come."

The Man turned and began to run. Reis brought his hands to his mouth and whistled. One long breath and two short. The state-guard would be on its way. Almost unintentionally, the Knight's feet lifted him into a sprint. Buildings shrank and sand blurred, his focus reserved to the strange Man and the approaching lines of bestial soldiers.

As the Man approached them, his long feet pushed him into the air, vaulting into the far right phalanx. In passing, the Knight saw something analogous to fear on their faces as the Man spread his arms and pulled several of them to the ground, driving their camels into the other riders.

Dozens already scrambling on the ground, the rest dismounted, rushing to the unexpected fault. Forming lines around the Man and his Knight, they ducked behind their shields and pointed their spears inward. Attempting the same maneuver as the Man, the Knight jumped toward them. Managing to get above their spears, he landed flat on his belly, crushing a man beneath his own shield. Others jabbed at him, only to lose their weapons inches into his bone plates.

Even surrounding the Man, the Yowies' course fur stood on end. "You don't have to do this!" the Man screamed, "You are not your fathers!" A soldier dashed toward his back, holding his axe high in the air. Swinging down, he found his arm stuck in the Man's grasp. "Know that this does not condemn you." the Man said with genuine regret. The Yowies' screams soon died down.

A sliver of the Knight's arm peeled off and took the form of a curved sword. Frantically getting to his feet and drawing his ivory scimitar, he swung at the closest Yowie, splitting his chest-piece and tossing him back, screaming. Forming a wall of shields, they approached again. He gritted his teeth as several tines dug into his calf and he felt himself bleed onto the ground. Feeling his left leg fail to move, he swung his arm aimlessly, breaking several spears and cutting several soldiers. Their shields and armors were no match for his strength, and they noticed as broke them one by one like the shells of maca nuts.

The Knight rose, surrounded only by the dead and dying. His exhaustion almost made him ignore the sight of his black leg muscles tying themselves back together. He looked over to the Man, standing over a larger collection of bodies, and similarly unscathed. Crouching down to one of the more elaborately painted bodies he said, "You will awake in Karakorum within ten days. Tell Genjí that the Library did not die in vain." The fallen Yowie whispered back between spits of blood before falling limp.

Turning in circles, the Knight stumbled, counting the corpses. He watched as the Man took a camel and placed a corpse on its back. "What are you doing?" he asked, still addled by the slaughter. The Man did not answer, only setting a hand on a corpse, its wounds filled with black liquid before healing themselves. He picked up an arm from the ground and set it into an empty socket.

"We took no lives today. We saved a city and sent a massage." He turned a camel and sent it off. "We're sending a message," he corrected himself. The Knight's eyes followed the lines of camels off into the setting sun.

"Describe this city of yours," the Man prodded inquisitively.

A little caught off guard, the Knight had to think. "Well… Her name is Vestighal," he began, trying to describe it positively to the formidable Man. "It's a port city… plenty of ships and traders come in from Erits river, she splits the city right down the middle. The market has all the goods you'd ever need, and won't sell you false treasures like in Kalefheit-"

"Would you say it has potential?" the Man idled, cutting him off.

"Why yes, I believe so," the Knight replied, not sure how to answer.

The Man packed and mended the rest of the bodies in silence, somewhat disconcertingly. By the time he was finished, the Knight had noticed a great number of soldiers and residents gathered on the city's edge. Silent. Staring on in awe.

Feeling a hand on his shoulder, he looked back to see the Man towering over him once more. "It will do," the wide grin on his face making Saudi smile.

As the Man marched on toward the village, Saudi started after him. Trying to limit the excitement in his voice, he called "Who are you? and what in Abirt's name is going on?"

The Man turned around to face Saudi, walking backward toward the city.
"I am Kirin," he raised his beaded arms and yelled jovially, "Today we save the world!"


Within minutes, a meeting among Vestighal's leaders was called into session, and within minutes more, Kirin was standing in front of it. A council of lavishly robed, hard-faced aristocrats sat in a wide semicircle within the tall, brick meeting hall. Already dwarfing Saudi and the guards beside him, the low sun cast his shadow to the ceiling.

The first to speak was the young, broad-chested member Khatal. "This morning, I observed you dismantle an entire Yowie legion. Disciples with power like yours tend to… make names for themselves. So tell me… What are your intentions here?" The stout man, Trech, standing to his side added cautiously, "Such an act of courtesy will not go ignored, we can pay with gold… other metals… carts of cured meats and spices, rest assured, you'll be welcomed by our priestesses; we are not a poor state," he finished, out of breath, earning a glare from Khatal.

"Many thanks, but I do not require such compensation." Kirin's level tone made his imposing person all the more unsettling. "I came here to make a proposition. I wish to unite the Erits river into a powerful nation. A nation which need not fear torment by the Wastes. There are a great many Disciples trying to build refuge, but raw sand makes poor brick. I understand this river carries a great deal of clay, I believe you will find them more than capable of providing aid in our endeavor."

The hall was silent. The only to speak was the sharp-faced Siceroh. "Empires do not last long in the Wastes… You know well the Gods do not tolerate such power. Even if you could evade Geyre's three eyes and Drakgin's flies, you will find there are groups which hold nothing but resentment toward Disciples like you."

"I am well aware of the presence of such attitudes, but it does not change the fact that we must take advantage of our resources. Never forget how valuable manpower can be."

A man, cloaked by the wall of bodies, called, "If it's so powerful why do we need the help of monsters?"

"Because Old Aggie herself could not have carved these rivers had it not been for the help of Endigh. Her children take many forms. Man might have fire, but forget not the gifts bestowed upon others."

Just as another roar of opposition began to swell, Khatal spoke with power enough to quell it. "You have much to say, and it would do us good to learn from it, but what do you have to give?"

With a grin, Kirin extended a black, bony hand toward the council, and a pink bud sprouted out from his palm, soon unfurling its leaves and revealing a plump, crimson fruit. "I believe you would agree that civilization has been crippled for too long. These seeds will make woods and fruits out of little but sand. They are yours should you use them how I have asked."

"In the morning," searching among the crowd and finding no challenge, he relieved, "we begin beating back the Wastes"

-

Saudi stood outside of Vestighal, his feet cold against the moist earth. The air stuck to his skin, and the sun was rising. The city, small with distance, made him feel an overwhelming appreciation for it. As he let out a heavy breath, he noticed a blur through the buildings. A long, thin enormity, rising from the river within.

Larger than Vestighal itself but confusing to his eye, its seven arms and rune-painted skin were as much detail as his mind could conceive. It was a woman. It was Erits. His heart overtaken and cool rain speckling his shoulders, he fell to his knees. Raising his head from prostration, his eyes met hers as she knelt in front of him, her inconceivable beauty considering him.

Shielding his eyes, he found he was not the same. As he turned his hands, innumerable limbs sprouted from them and moved simultaneously. While he knelt and looked over the fractal patterns twisting across his arms, he was hit by a wave of heat. Turning, he witnessed Sikayt, a mountain-sized dragon whose flesh turned in on itself as if in perpetual auto-cannibalism. Despite his legs threatened to fall out from beneath him, Saudi stood, hearing is heart in his ears as he looked upward.

Letting out an unnatural, eldritch roar, he awoke.

-

"Saudi?"

Kirin's legs hung off the deck enough to make ripples with his toes. Saudi, having idled with him since the early morning, had no more of an idea why this strange man was sent to him.

"Yes?"

"I understand your people play these dolphins." He gestured to the large, pink skin-fish zipping around in the clear water below them. "They can tear apart bull crocodiles, you know. They're the only type that can survive the rivers. They're smart, but they love playing with humans. I think they understand that we're curious."

Pulling his feet up closer to the dock, "That's interesting…" There is a splash as the skin-fish's tails swing and they swim away. "Scare like normal fish though"

"They don't. So why are they running?" After watching the fish for a moment, Kirin pushed himself off the dock and into the water.

Having spent the night dreaming about apprenticing the mysterious Man and slaying Sikayt, he woke up to

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