I landed softly on my feet, thankful my light armor didn’t make a racket. Another victim lay shredded. Another victim without a soul. I lowered my head in respect. And in shame. For too long had this demon escaped me. An expert, it was, at changing shape and moving from one poor human to the next. It took literal form of their darkest fears. And I could only imagine how it appeared now. I closed my eyes to clear my mind. I was in charge of slaying this demon. And it had claimed another. Opening my eyes, I searched for the soul trail. The demon was getting better at hiding the remnants left behind. I locked onto the faint trail. My eyes burning with righteous fury. It feared me. Feared me as I hunted it. This was good. I was haunting the haunter. My white feathered wings carried me along the trail. I flew faster as the trail grew stronger. I drew my double-edged sword when I came to a black cave system. It wreaked of evil. Landing again, I tucked my wings behind me. Every step into darkness left a footprint of white light that permeated this vile darkness. My grip on my sword tightened ever more, sending a stream of purifying fire up the blade The screams of evil echoed to me. My wings locked into place. There were other screams. Not evil. It wrenched my heart. The lost souls cried for rescue. Today would be their salvation. I continued deeper through the cave’s throat. Darkness pressing harder against me. Then the shadows moved, and the demonic monster leaped from its cowering corner. For a moment, I could only stand in shock of it. This was what I hunted. This was what I haunted. The light on my sword flickered, sending shadows dancing on the gross mixture of bones, metal, and rotting flesh. It was the unholiest thing I ever laid eyes on. And I had seen my fair of monsters and demons. It pounced. I rolled off to the side, recovering in time to slide under the spiked tail. It screeched, whipping around and attacking with more speed and agility than I expected. Pinned me to the wall by my wing. My jaw clenched as I tried not to make an exclamation. Golden blood spattered to the ground. It sunk its serrated talons deeper. I finally gave a battle cry, sending a blast of light into its chest. It roared and released me, rancid flesh sizzling. Running at it, I dodged its head and front paws. Sliced the right paw off. I expected a regeneration, but it didn’t. The beast from Hell came after me still, shrieking and chittering. I went for the chest. Its tail knocked me sideways. Then swept again. This time, I severed half the appendage. It screamed at its stub. Came at me full speed. A solid hack cut off its other front leg. As it fell, I thrust my sword in its neck. Yelling for determination, I sent a stream of light up my blade once more as I held fast and sliced the demon monster in half. Also using a thin light barrier to keep the horrendous fluids from spilling on me. Then I went to its head; its eyes still illuminated. A clean stroke disconnected head and body. I suddenly dropped my wings and plunged the sword over my shoulder. Heard the sickening crunch of the humanoid minion’s skull behind me. Heaving it over my shoulder, I smacked the body against the ground. Ripped the head off. With the skull still on my sword, I sunk the blade into the twitching body. I studied the main creature. I expected a better fight from something so hellish. But something beautiful happened. All the captured souls floated out the body’s insides. They were weak. The thing had fed on them. Opening my wings, I gathered them into my aura. I gladly gave them my strength. I would recover later. Taking them outside was also a joy. They were free now. They could finally go home. Raising my sword, a beacon of light traveled to the heavens. The souls ascended. But the last one twinkled at me, pleading its thanks. It was the last victim of the monster, and it wanted to know what happened. Although weary from the energy I gave away, I managed a smile with my reply, “I sent that demon straight back to Hell.”
In the depths of the arcane caves flutters a creature on silent wings. Many presume its existence to be a myth. It rarely shows itself to any type of being. Some speculate it’s a specter. Others, a legend. I am here to prove its existence. I have seen it. Normally, I pursue the different species of dragons, but when I stumbled across the stories, I knew I had to seek its presence. The discoverer in me cannot resist such temptation.
The cavernous system was untouched by humans. Even by me. I had no previous knowledge of it. The damp tunnels wound like an unending labyrinth. I was caught in a maze I knew nothing of. But my journey had been a prepared one. I managed with only a few spills.
I assumed I was towards the end of my journey when strange light guided me. It was sporadic. Shining brightly, disappearing altogether, emerging with a soft glow. There was no pattern. Finally, the light extinguished, and I was once again forced to rely on my fading torch.
Water echoed through the underground. Great gushes foretold of a waterfall awaiting my presence. Indeed, my hearing proved me correct. A moving curtain of water descended…no! Ascended! Never in my life had a seen such a natural defiance of gravity. It was astonishing. Being the curious soul I am, I stuck my calloused fingers into the backwards stream. Bright blue particles emerged from my hand and permeated the waters, slowly dissipating further upwards.
It was breathtaking. Beyond any word could describe. I considered myself lucky to experience such a spectacular phenomenon. My curiosity took reign. I boldly shoved my torch into the water-rise.
You can imagine my surprise when I pulled back my torch. It was not doused but reinvigorated with new life! An ethereal flame of turquoise tinted white moved more fluidly than any fire should. It produced no smoke.
I knew I had one thing to do. Without any sense of hesitation, I jumped through the water-rise. My nerves became a million tingles as the waters brushed me by.
My feet landed on solid ground. I let go of my held breath and opened my eyes to see more magnificence. I was in a cavern maybe 300 yards (my number could be off. Some parts I couldn’t see.) in diameter. There seemed to be no ceiling. A small pool rested in the exact center. These waters were translucent and possessed varying hues of aqua and turquoise. My torch gracefully flickered out, but there was still plenty of light. Enchanted crystals of every color imaginable protruded from the rock walls.
I peered into the pool. A whole world thrived beneath the seemingly glass surface. There were no boundaries, no limits to the water’s domain under the surface. Ancient fish of various sizes milled about their business. Swimming in and out of view. But I could only delight for a few moments. For then, I saw it.
At first, it appeared in shots. As if stuck in a frame by frame play. As if stuck between realities or dimensions. Seconds felt like minutes, but it flickered into plain view.
A moth. A moth the size of an Arab horse silently hovered. Its feathery antennae curled out to me as softly rounded black eyes studied me. Its dainty legs were held close to its fuzzy body. Wings illuminating with every beat. The veins in its wings glowed with a soft golden light. It seemed like the light itself was just so delicate. A pattern ensued. I think it wanted to communicate with me.
But I was entranced. My torch clattered to the ground. I slowly shook my head. My brain could not properly function. I did not know what it wanted. Had this illusive creature deemed me worthy to look upon it? I continued staring. What else could I do? Not my finest moment, no.
The glowing veins grew more intense. Finally, a bright flash of light blinded me. Everything in me went numb. I came to understand I was paralyzed. For a few moments, yes. When my eyes regained normal vision, I realized I had been transported. I was above ground. A tingling sensation overcame my body as my nerves came back to me.
I must admit, I was in a stupor for quite some time. My senses remained in overkill for awhile as well. Obviously, I have recovered. But I had immediately set up camp for the night and came straight to my journal. I’m sure I have missed some details. And once I fully regain myself, I will attempt to provide a map of the cave system. For now, I bid the world good night as I try to rid myself of this splitting headache.
Sir Ransom Mire, Itinerant
Kliiera stretched her wings to their full span and greatly yawned, fangs showing and tongue curling out. She shook her head and neck. Sending her back fins into a rocking frenzy. Then she rose to stretch her front legs followed by her rear haunches. Today’s sun had made a nice, warm nap. And with her rest, came new energy. She walked a few paces in each direction. Surveying for other dragons. She was, after all, royal blood and could not be seen playing amuck like a youngling. She determined the coast clear. Then dropped to her side and rolled throughout the plush grass. A shrill roar of happiness escaped her. It felt so wonderful against her leathery skin and wings. It tickled her underbelly scales. Her mouth opened, bright pink tongue hanging out one side. She froze. The sound of flapping wings made her curl up under one of her wings. With her wings being jade green on the topside, they made for perfect cover when she was viewed from above against a lush landscape. Not even the tracking dragons could find her most of the time. She was the last of her kind. It was survival instinct not to be found. She waited until she could no longer hear beating wings. Then her bright blue head poked out. The coast was once again clear. She eyed the surroundings one last time before springing to her feet. Bounded a few steps, tumbling back to the grass. She rolled onto her back and wiggled. Her wings stretched, mowing down the grass. All four limbs reached for the sky. The sky always seemed so funny from the ground. Her tail swished happily. Tail fin also smothering the grass.
A high pitched whistle carried on the breeze. Everything fell limp as she let off an aggravated huff. She rolled to a sitting position. Really? The Pet wanted her now? She huffed again and launched off the ground. Strong strokes carrying her higher. She soared to the palace. When she got close enough, she flattened her back fins so the Pet could land on her without slicing herself in half. She understood the Pet was their queen, but was she the only one who noticed how different the queen was from them? Yet, the Elders had raised her like a normal youngling. The queen guided her with simple pressure from her knees. Like a good dragon, she obeyed. Then she realized the Pet wanted to go swimming in the crystal pool. Nuh-uh. She was not about to go swimming. Once she was over the natural pool, she rolled, dropping the Pet into the water. A simple glide landed her on a fallen tree perfect for her size. She perched upon it and waited.
The Pet surfaced. “Hey!” she called in the ancient draconic tongue. Splashed the dragon.
Kliiera hissed and arched her wings. Sat proudly with a lifted head turned away. She preferred grass. Not water. She remained sentinel for quite some time as the Pet swam about like a sea serpent. Carefully avoided splashes. She grew rather bored until two one-year-old males landed on the shore. Her attention went to them. They wrestled with each other a bit. Snapping and clawing. They stopped only when they butted heads. Then they noticed something. She settled on her front haunches, ready to pounce. The mischievous pair took flight and circled like vulture vermin. Began dive-bombing, one after the other, at the queen. Pet yelled at them, furious to have immature brats ruin her swim. Outraged by the show of disrespect, Kliiera jumped into action. She grabbed one with her talons and the other in her jaws. Diving to the shore, she slammed both into the sand. They quickly recovered and faced her. She stretched out her wings. Roaring with all her might. They scrambled. Fell over each other as they fled. Her wings folded back with a proud nod of her head.
Pet emerged from the water. Stood next to her. “Thank you. Those insolents were annoying.” She tilted her head. “Do you want me to pet you now?”
Her head rose higher. She didn’t need to be petted. So she began walking away. The Pet caught up to her. Stroked the favorite place on the dragon’s neck. She finally gave in and allowed it, rumbling low. Yes, that did feel quite nice. She leaned her neck into the queen’s hand. Not wanting her to stop.
The Pet laughed a bit then sighed. “The Council wants to have a meeting. Will you escort me?” She fidgeted. “The Elders will be there, and they do make me a tad nervous. I feel like I don’t meet their standards.”
Kliiera gave a nod. Flattened her back fins and nudged her up with her head. No, she didn’t like the Elders, either. Or the Council for that matter. But she would go. Taking flight, she headed to the marvelous stone palace carved into the mountainside. It was big enough to house the largest of dragons. She landed in the vast throne room. Taking notice of how edgy the other dragons became. They were never sure of her. They knew she was the Pet’s favorite. Yet, she held her head high. Didn’t make eye contact. Occasionally twitched her tail in annoyance. She posed on the platform behind the throne. Regally kept tabs on the ensuing meeting.
It lasted several hours. She remained on the stone slab, but now she lay down, lapping her tail fin through the air. The Council dragons whispered among themselves when they weren’t engaged in conversation. They didn’t discuss the queen, who was handling herself quite well. They gossiped about the exotic dragon. Kliiera eventually glared at a pair. Just because she didn’t speak the old language, didn’t mean she didn’t understand it. None of them dared even look at her afterwards. She had been in a fight before. She had healed just fine. But her adversary still couldn’t fly right.
The boredom finally ended. The Council and Elders finally left. Pet retired with her two guard dragons for the night. She stretched and jumped off the platform. Walked across the throne room to the large opening, gold talons clicking against the stone. She lifted her head to view the night sky filled with stars. Yes, she was Pet’s favorite. Yes, she couldn’t speak. Yes, she didn’t look like any of the other dragons. Yes, she was the only one without any kind of family. She took flight. That’s what happened when your species was ruthlessly hunted. Her eyes closed as she rode an air current. Perhaps she had been saved, but she missed her home. Missed the Aura Woods and the freedom she once had. Here, she had to answer to a queen that she didn’t think was even dragon. Maybe this was her freedom? But it felt like captivity. She landed in her field of plush grass. Paced several circles then plopped down with a sigh. Now she could fall asleep and wake up in another day of paradise. Her eyes rolled. She would do what was expected of her. For now. But eventually, she would return to the Aura Woods. Just as she promised herself every night. Covering herself with her wings, she fell into slumber.
There is a monster that pursues me. Both at night and during the day. I call it a monster, but I think it’s actually of the demon kind. I can no longer distinguish if it’s hunting or haunting me. It follows me with ravenous jaws, attacking with Hell’s fury. All my life, I had seen this creature, and I’m not sure how much life I have left. It comes at me in my dreams. But when I awake, it lurks in every shadow, waiting to strike. I estimate its haunches to peak at ten feet with its back gradually sloping to a mechanical tail ending with a sharp spike. Its body is a gross mixture of robotics, bones, and decaying flesh and muscles. It oozes green tinted blood and another clear liquid. Chunks of flesh fall off it, swarmed with fat maggots. Black smoke escapes its spine as it grinds into place. It drips its own blood and oil. Serrated talons end its mechanical paws. A large, mutated animal skull serves as its head, with red glowing eyes. I can’t distinguish what animal the skull belongs to, though it appears mostly feline. I have run until I can run no more. I have been exhausted until my last breath. But I have never been able to stop. I must always keep running, as it still pursues. I hide now. Hide in the small crevices it can’t reach. Yet, it does me no good. The demon detaches a humanoid creature to chase me down. It’s the same sick mesh of material, though it boasts a human skull with a full set of fangs. It crab-walks along its belly and is much faster than I anticipate. I only make it so far until the vile creature is upon me. It crawls all over me, tearing me apart, smashing my bones. I don’t die. Only sob and scream. Continuing to mutilate me, it searches. Then, when I’m entirely shredded, it dislodges my soul. Consumes it and returns to its host demon. My world slowly fades to black. After all these years, after all the times I had escaped, it rises as victor. This monster, this demon that had plagued me since childhood finally acquired my soul. And even in my soulless death, I still see it. I see its evil face and smile as it heads off to hunt and haunt another piece of prey. I die in a forgotten grave. But maybe someone will do what I could not–send that demon straight back to the Hell from which it came.
The sun began its slow descent into the horizon, where the water touched the sky. I slowly waded along the white sand still warm from the day. The ocean leisurely lapping my bare feet. Crabs unburied themselves one by one as night quickly came upon us. Grainy wind caught my hair, whipping it behind me. I closed my eyes. The sound of rushing waves filled my ears. The smells of salt and sand filled my nostrils. The warm water played with my feet. It all felt right. Everything seemed as it should be. Why I ever left the ocean, I’ll never fully understand. But now I was home. I just had to wait a few more moments. So I continued. Continued strolling along the shore. Until the ball of fire fully extinguished into the never-ending waters. I fully turned to the sea, skin prickling with anticipation. It called to me. Sung to me, as it always had done. I hummed. Slowly at first. Then I looked onward. Everything was black. Save for the tumbling white caps starting to head for shore. My humming intensified. It seemed hard to tell sky from water. Then my eyes completely adjusted. No, the ocean was darker. I smiled. I didn’t know how high the sky went, nor did I care to know. The depths of the sea held far more secrets. My toes curled up wet sand as another wave lapped me. I couldn’t resist any longer. The calling pulled me in. It yearned for me. But I had to do this right. I waded out to waist deep. Current pulling on me, wanting me to join it. I couldn’t help but grin. It wanted me as much as I wanted it. My song effortlessly slipped out my vocal chords as I walked deeper. Singing softly to the water. Brushing my fingers against the waves. One step at a time. Each deliberate step sending the passion in my voice higher. The water was chest deep now. My melody reaching its highest pitch. I lifted my eyes to the full moon. There would be many tired sailors on the sea tonight. I glanced over my shoulder at the shore many yards behind me. A zombiefied human blindly stumbled into the ocean. My eyes glistened as I continued. It was time to say goodbye to the land. Abruptly ending my luring song, I dove head first into the water. It enveloped me. Made me one. My legs fused into the tail I loved so much and never should’ve forsaken. The ocean told me the human followed suit, told me the human was being yanked to the murky bottom. I swam through the black waters, my song starting again, echoing through the endless abyss. I was finally where I belonged. With another enticed death to prove it. I was finally home. And it was time for me to find my jolly sailor bold. Bubbles escaped with my wicked laugh. Every man needed to be reminded of the luring of the watery grave. The jolly sailor bolds….
There are times when I don’t know what to write. Other times, I don’t have enough page for all my words. In both times, however, I have to use extra caution, for I have to choose what readers read. My points have to be quick, easy to find, yet somehow complicated. No one’s attention is as long as it used to be. Not even mine. I get bored quickly of my own writing. But it all makes the task of writing harder. Yet easier, depending on the day. Though my lust for words and story will never diminish. Not until my last breath of life escapes me. There are times when I want to say everything. Times when I want to say nothing at all. Even still, as long as there’s a glimmer of hope that just one person will view my words, I will not stop until I die. And for all this, I say thank you, for if there were no readers, my job and dream would be extinct.
Here is a poem I wrote when I was twelve or thirteen. I was immensely proud of myself and wrote it on special dolphin paper. I considered it my first “serious” poem, and to this day, it remains close to my heart for the nostalgia it fills me with. It has been typed exactly like its original form. Maybe you’ll get a kick out of it as much as I do.
I once felt like a mermaid,
swimming in the sea.
I once felt like a mermaid,
dolphins swimming beside me.
I once felt like a mermaid,
while I was in the pool.
I once felt like a mermaid,
and that was very cool.