Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gatekeepers

Hello people, to those who know me, I have not posted in ages and I'm sure most of you have drifted off to other blogs and the like, but hopefully not all of you have done so.
(If you are sick and tired of fanfiction, this is the place for you!)
I say this because I would like to introduce to you all a new novel that I am co-writing with a gal Faith Liu, she posts frequently on DeviantArt and as far as I know, does not have a blogspot like I do.

To those who've never heard of me in their lives, my name is Markian Bek and I'm a book writer who's posting his stories (or bits of them) on this here blog. So enjoy all I've got here on offer.

This is an excerpt to the prologue of it.
One more thing, this is the rough draft of the first half of it, so please baer in mind that while you read. Thanks all.


"Gatekeepers"

PROLOGUE

The sound of a door being kicked open sounded through the empty lower levels of the Cirne, the echoes bouncing endlessly off the walls and walkways of the nearly empty city. It was followed by a shout and the rapid pounding of first one set of footsteps, and then many more.
A man sprinted along the high concrete walkway, more than anxious to get away from the place from which he had just come. Exhausted and in pain, he stumbled, only to pick himself up again and keep going. He would soon run out of energy, he knew; his eyes darted back and forth, searching desperately for an escape route, someplace where his pursuers could not follow.

He knew the city's structures were unsound - as one level fell into disrepair and disrepute, another was built on top of it. As a result, it was growing increasingly unstable, decaying from the bottom up. The level that the man was running on was far too far down for his comfort - the crisscrossing walkways of the level below him had been abandoned long ago, and for good reason, he knew. Even the slightest pressure could cause them to crumble. High above him were the levels in which he used to live and work, obscured by grey haze, and too high to jump up to. The only way was to hold out until he reached the cluster of abandoned buildings at the end of the long, solitary walkway, and hide there - assuming he still had enough energy left in him to do so. Imagining the trail of blood he must be leaving for his pursuers to follow, he thought with a grim smile: And torture is anything but energizing.

He dared not look back at his pursuers; instead, he forced himself to tune out the pounding footsteps of the soldiers behind him. His mind needed no further encouragement to tell him that resistance was stupid. His broken, bleeding corpse of a body was screaming for him to stop. Only his will power - and the tantalizingly close taste of freedom and later on, revenge - kept him running.

A harsh scream broke through his thoughts. Not breaking his stride, he looked up to see one of the native miiris, enormous vultures twice the size of a man, circling high above his head, waiting for him to fall. It was only a matter of time before that happened, he knew, and apparently, the vulture knew as well, and was willing to wait oh-so-patiently until he succumbed. But enemies, Seirnak had learned, if used properly, could turn into assets.

He stopped running, and turned around to face his pursuers, as the vulture swooped behind another skyscraper. Just a little closer... He closed his eyes, all his thoughts focused on the vulture.

His attention nearly broke when he heard a familiar and hated voice, only a few arm-lengths away from him. “Whatever you think you are doing, Seirnak, make things easier for yourself and stop it.

He chose not to answer, instead opening his eyes and glaring at the slim, white-clothed figure before him, and the eight black-suited guards that surrounded the figure. They were afraid of him; he could tell by their faces. Even Mordas, for all his brave words, stood out of arm's reach. Wise man.

“I understand that you value your...” Mordas seemed to falter for the word for a few moments. "...your skills very much, but the risk of abusing them is simply too great. We must be allowed to remove them, for your protection as much as ours. There is too much at stake, and although I originally agreed to your decision, I now see that you have taken this to a level that I simply cannot allow." The more Mordas spoke, the more frustrated he sounded. But Seirnak did not seem to be paying attention; his eyes stared right through Mordas and into the unknown.

The vulture had flown back into view again, but its movements were now jerky and less natural. Seirnak watched it in his mind's eye as it flew up to a point high above and behind him, and then closed its wings and plummeted down in a controlled free-fall straight towards the group of men.

The uniformed men saw the miiri’s large frame, torpedo-like in its descent, and cried out in surprise, knowing that a miiri as large as that could kill five of them in one fell swoop. Mordas took a few steps back, and a few of his men turned around to run, but Seirnak didn’t move until the last possible second.

As if their motions had been orchestrated, Seirnak ducked smoothly under the miiri's outstretched claws and began running again, stumbling slightly as the walkway shuddered upon its impact with the vulture. He grinned at the shouts of confusion behind him, and his run became a sprint as he spotted a junction ahead.

It would be easy to lose them in the confusing maze of the city’s lower levels; he quickly chose one of the diverging paths, one leading to a mass of buildings in the distance. As the buildings grew larger in his field of vision, the fierce joy he associated with assurance deepened, but the sudden pain in his neck and side nagged at him about the torture cell from which he had just escaped - his body would not tolerate leaping up and down the precariously unstable walkways that criss-crossed each other over empty space. Not to worry - just a few more minutes of straight running, and we'll have a break. After that...we'll see, won't we?

His increasingly cheerful thoughts, along with his body, froze, as Seirnak realized that the walkway was shaking under the impact of his feet. Looking down, he realized that its supports had already crumbled away to dust. He cursed himself, wondering when had he become so careless as to choose the quickest path without assuring himself of its stability. He could hear the footsteps of his pursuers coming closer, but they, too, stopped at Mordas’s call. Seirnak turned, and recognized caution in Mordas's weak grey eyes - caution, caution, always caution. The man would never learn to take a risk - consequently, he would never overtake the ones who did - people such as Seirnak. The two stared at each other,

neither one moving, thinking. Calculating.

The levels above him were too high to jump to. The levels below were already disintegrating and would provide no support. The lone sidewalk they stood on should have turned to dust long ago, but for some reason it still stood. What to do?

Slowly, one tentative step at a time, he began to back up. As he retreated, the enemy – and Mordas, that idiot who couldn’t see opportunity if it hit him in the face – advanced. Seirnak didn’t turn to look behind him, for fear that someone might throw their blade at his open back, but felt his way like a blind man backwards along the old sidewalk.

One step, another step…

CRACK.

The ground underneath his left heel crumbled. There was silence for a few seconds as Seirnak regained his footing, and then the chunks of sidewalk hit the ground floor with another loud crack.

One soldier cringed at the noise, as it echoed around the near-empty city. Even from as high up as they were, the hissing sounds of the agitated giant roaches below were heard, sending shivers down the spine. A wailing cry rose from below, hauntingly mourning the loss of another creature, whose head had no doubt been crushed by a chunk of sidewalk. Seirnak paid it no heed; he had bigger problems than decapitated hissers.

Behind him was a drop to the ground level; its bottom, he knew, was a pit of filth, the filthy creatures who lived on that filth, and the bones, picked clean, of the beings who had fallen in and become prey to the filth. It provided no way out, alive, at any rate.

Mordas seemed to have read his thoughts, because he began to smile that disgusting, compassionate, pitying smile of his that made Seirnak want to gag. He had worn it when Seirnak had first told him about mind taking; they had been friends and allies back then – that was why Seirnak had even bothered to tell him - but no longer. Now, here was the very same person, the one he had confided in, ready to order people to kill him. Ironic, really.

In front of him stood captivity and torture; they would probably bring in the finest torture specialists this side of Cirne to do the job. Behind him, a straight plummet down to his death, either on impact or on the moment he was found by one of the lowly man-eating scum down there. It wasn’t the best set of choices, but there were no other options to choose from.

Or were there?

Suddenly, he snarled, contorting his face into a gruesome mask, and made a wild rush towards the man directly in front of him. Before the victim had even registered that movement was necessary, Seirnak had touched him with an outstretched palm.

The man stood frozen, his eyes glassily reflecting Seirnak’s pale, animalistic visage, for exactly one second. Then his face contorted to mirror it.

No longer himself, he turned and drew his stun sword on the soldier next to him. The second victim opened his mouth to scream, but no sound came out.

He was already dead, his fellow soldier’s sword, turned up to fatal frequency, lodged in his heart.

Seirnak took advantage of this distraction, and shoved the controlled man into the dead one, returning their minds in the process. He ran off without waiting to see the reaction on the freed man’s face. Behind him, a voice screamed in horror, and another, one he recognized, cursed.

“I’m going to kill you!” That was Mordas, all right. Seirnak could see his face blotching purple with rage in his mind’s eye.

He began to smile as he sprinted towards freedom. “Not today, my friend. Not today,” he thought.

He had just neared an intersection in the walkways when he felt a sharp pain, and then numbness, in the middle of his back. As the numb feeling spread slowly through his body, his mind patiently reminded him – too late - that it was stupid to run from an enemy holding a stun sword. Of course, it couldn’t kill him; it would only render him immobile for a few hours. Long enough for Mordas and company to tie him up and bring him back to the torture chamber.

Seirnak had sworn never to go back there, but there wasn’t much he could do. His legs were going numb, and his arms were useless. In a few more seconds, he would be back to where he had started: in a torture cell. Unless…

He swerved, using what was left of his mobile body to propel himself off the sidewalk and into empty space. Anything was better than having to endure someone probing around your mind, mutilating your pride.

Above, Mordas shouted in frustration, music to Seirnak’s ears, although the rushing wind made it difficult to hear it. As he fell through space he saw below him a faint ripple, like the poisonous gas waves so common in his polluted world. He was headed straight for it.

Well, no matter. He was going to die, anyway. A little pollution could hardly hurt him now.

Strange. He felt an almost magnetic attraction to it, like it was pulling his body towards it, rather than his body falling down into it.

His left foot touched the ripple. Even though it was already half-numbed, he could feel an icy dagger-like chill go up his spine. As he slowly succumbed, his senses growing fuzzy and his vision fading into blackness, he heard someone yell from far off.

“Where did he go?”

“I-I don’t know, sir. He was falling, and then he…disappeared.”

Seirnak blacked out.



I hope you've enjoyed this post, and if you are new to my blog please check out all of my previous posts underneath this one, especially if you've enjoyed this one.

2 comments:

Faith said...

Hi, Markian! Haven't looked at your blog for a while. :)

CurNon said...

Btw, this is Faith. I have a blog now!