Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Short Story - Journey to Fara

This short story was entered into a competition last year but sadly got no where, it was my first competition I had ever entered and an early piece of writing from myself.  Now it has had the time to not be classed in the comp (as per some odd regulations) I decided to share this story.  It is a short based around a much bigger world that is a project of mine that will take a while to complete.  Hope you like it.

Journey to Fara

From birth Thompson had been different, he was hated by his parents for being different and the children at school picked on him and called him names because he was different. Thompson had no idea why he was this way when everyone else was thought of as normal. Thompsons difference was not that he looked different, nor was it that he had extra appendages or his hair was a obscure colour. Thompsons difference was his ability to read peoples minds and this was thought of as a sign of evil. Why he could do this he didn’t know nor did the monks, and even after many attempts of banishing the evil by the local monks, it still made no difference, it did not fix him, his parents would call it. Word spread quickly around his hometown of Galleri at the north of the Realm, that he was dangerous and could not be trusted and that he was marked as a demon.
As the years moved on the hatred got worse for Thompson he was regularly beaten by groups of other boys, and some grown men and women. He could sometimes pick up on their thoughts before they got near him, but only sometimes. But at the age of fifteen Thompson had a chance to get away he just had to make a decision one that would rescue him but change him forever.
Stories of magic and demons had been part of folklore in the realm for all time, they all told of demons that looked like everyone else but with powers that controlled the human race. This had fuelled the fear of Thompson and his ability. There were also stories of people disappearing who had anything the town monks couldn’t explain, this is what frightened Thompson the most.
He woke on the morning of the eve of his fifteenth birthday to find his father standing over him, praying to the gods for his boy and the rest of the family. His father had not noticed he was awake, so Thompson took the opportunity to read his father's mind, one thing he had never done on purpose but his father standing there in his travelling clothes seemed odd to him. He sent his mind out into his fathers, the cloud of conscience was covering the thoughts of his father, but it didn’t take long to navigate out of this fog and see his fathers plan. It will be safer for everyone if he is taken to the castle, it will be safer for him too, his father thought, take him there now, that is what the man said or they would take him by force, if he resists use the tonic. His father kept repeating it all over and over why he prayed for forgiveness. Thompson was unsure what to do now, his own father was being manipulated by others.
   “Good morning to you father? What are you doing?” Thompson asked, making his father jump.
   “We need to make a small trip my boy, we have someone to see” His father replied, a look of sorrow and fear on his face.
    “Is it another visit to the monks?” He asked even though he knew the answer.
   “No, not this time, it is some people who can really help us” The lie just rolled of his fathers tongue. Thompson was still in his father mind and pictures of cells and chains flashed into his mind, so he now knew why his father looked as he did. He wasn’t an evil man but he was weak, one thing Thompson decided never to be.
    “When do we leave?” Thompson asked.
    “Now my boy, your mother has put some things in a pack for you already, you just need to get dressed”. He replied.
    “Can I say bye to mother and Jeridale”, Thompson was happy to go if he had to, but must say good bye to Jeridale, his younger sister. She was the only person not frightened of his abilities, but she was only six spans old.
    “You can’t my boy, we must go now, please just get dressed” His father said, all emotion gone.
    “You know you can’t stop me father” he said getting out of bed, he was half a foot taller than his father and knew he was stronger even without his ability. He had to get strong because of all the fights he had had since being a child, after the tenth beating he had decided to never be beaten again.
    “Stop there, just get dressed and you will see them soon after getting to our destination” His father demanded taking a step back from the bulk of Thompson.
    “You Liar!” Thompson shouted and moved to go out the door, then he remembered the tonic. He turned to his father just to see he had taken a small bottle out of his pocket. Thompson went to grab his father's arm that had the tonic, but his father was fast. Thompson sidestepped to his right and just missed the liquid hitting his skin. He grabbed his fathers other arm and bent it back behind the mans back, twisting him round.
    “I will not be forced father!” He yelled, “I’m no coward, unlike you. You intend to banish me to dungeons!” he continued.
His father grunted in pain, “you read my mind, DEMON! You are nothing but a curse on our family” his father shouted back.
    “I am no curse” Thompson whispered in his father’s ear, “but you are!” he shouted as he yanked on his father's arm, hearing a snap as he broke the bone just up from the wrist. This move he had learnt from a merchants head from the market.
    “You abomination!” His father yelled as he fell to the ground in pain, Thompson went to turn towards the door to leave but felt something sharp hit him in the shoulder, he raised his arm to find a needle in his back. He staggered, grabbing the edge of his cot bed, he looked behind him to see his mother standing there, a look of shock on her face. Her simple white dress covered in stains from working in the kitchen, her arms now hugging herself for comfort from the guilt.
    “Why?” He said, feeling his strength disappearing, his mind going blank.
    “Sorry my boy, for your safety and ours” she said as she put her arm around him to steady him onto the bed. “ I had no choice, please forgive me”, she continued. The last thing he saw was a picture of him as a child, the feeling of happiness from a memory from his mother.
    He woke to the sound of wood on stone and his body being banged about, his head hitting something above him. He focused his eyes to see his Father sitting opposite him, calmly looking forward. He was laying down so he tried to push himself up but realised his hands and feet were tied, he rocked slightly and managed to bring his body into a sitting position. His father looked at him and just frowned a cold expression on his face, he didn’t say a word and looked away, staring now out of one of the side windows.
    “Too ashamed of yourself to look at me Falin?” Thompson said to his once father.
    “I am your Father boy, and you should address me appropriately!” Falin warned.
    “You are no father of mine Falin” He replied, still looking at his once father, “Where are you taking me now? Or are you just going to kill me at the side of the road so you don’t have to explain way you took me away?” Thompson asked, but Falin ignored him, not saying a word.
    “Just let me go, and I will never return” he said, Falin just turned back to face him.
    “Keep you mouth shut Demon, your kind must be taken to the palace, you have no choice” Falin finally said, this time the sadness in his eyes was visible.
    Thompson began to pull his hands out of the ties around his wrists, Falin didn’t notice what he was doing, so he continued slowly pulling his hands, trying to stretch the rope binds. The carriage was rocking back and forth, the roads to the palace were not well made and were covered it loose rock and cracks, they would improve closer to the city but it was a two day journey from the town. Thompson didn’t know how long he had been unconscious so looked out the window. He didn’t recognize the view, but the sun was past it’s midday position, so he must have been travelling half the day at least. If he was correct, they were around the Jafyah province, which was the quickest route to the capital but not always the safest.
    “We have taken a dangerous route Falin, you must be in a hurry to get rid of me” Thompson said, as he released one of his hands from the bindings which loosened the other so the rope could fall, he caught in time so it looked as if he was still tied up. Falin said nothing, he just sat there, the frown and cold expression back on his face.
Thompson sighed, he knew it was time to make the choice, be a prisoner or a test subject, or whatever the palace did to people found with gifts, “Very well, if you are not going to talk to me”, he lunged at Falin with his free hands and grabbed his fathers head and smacking it in the wooden panel, Falin was surprised but tried to fight back with not much luck Thompson was much larger than his father. Thompson kept banging Falin’s head into the wooden backboard blood hitting Thompsons face with every blow, but Falin wasn’t beat, he lashed out and grabbed Thompsons hair, dragging him back to the ground. Pain shot through his head as his father pulled, then the coach came to a sudden stop, Thompson was flown backwards hitting the seating with his lower back, Falin collapsing on him with a thud. He could hear shouting outside, then the sound of metal, like swords being pulled from the sheath. “Now we both die” Thompson said to Falin, with a smile.
    The cries of the coach drivers deaths could be heard as Falin lay still on top of Thompson, then silence came for what felt like hours. Finally the sound of shuffling heavy boots came from outside the coach doors. The door was yanked open and all Thompson saw was Falin dragged out by his feet by a heavily built man, a black scarf wrapped around his head, only his eyes showing. A smaller man dressed the same then got in the coach and looked down at Thompson laying on the floor his feet tied together his hands free but with marks around his wrist.
    “We got a hog in here!” He shouted out the door, the larger man came back and looked into the coach and down at Thompson.
    “Worth something are you boy?” The large man said, his deep voice muffled through the scarf.
    “Not worth a penny sir, just in the wrong place at the wrong time, if would now kindly untie me” Thompson said, sounding confident, even though he could feel his body shaking and fear mounting up inside of him. He then concentrated on the larger mans thoughts, it was hazy but he could make out something.
    “I am of the Roolec” He said and just looked at the eyes of the man, which suddenly showed recognition. He nodded to the smaller man sitting on the coach bench opposite Thompson, the smaller man then lent over with a large hunting knife and cut the robes on his legs.
    “Come on then Roolec, time to get revenge”, the smaller man said, “Oh and I’m Jut, and my large freind is Cal”.
    “People just call me Thompson” Thompson said, picking himself up off the floor.
    “That is a stupid name Roolec, we shall call you Fara, named after the lucky little critter” Jut said, then got up and jumped out the coach.
    Thompson wasn’t greatly impressed by being named after a rodent that did have a habit of being able to escape traps, but it was better than the alternative. He jumped out of the coach door onto the dusty road at his feet. Straightening his shirt and trousers, he turned to the scene before him, both of the coach drivers laying on the floor, pools of blood surrounding them both, then his father on his knees. He was mumbling to himself, probably praying for help Thompson thought. Thompson walked over to the two bandits Jut and Cal.
   “Thanks for that gentlemen, bloody inconvenient being hog tied” he said trying to sound less common as the Roolec were a well educated tribe of thieves and bandits.
    “So want revenge then Fara?” Cal said, his deep booming voice making the air around them shudder. Thompson looked at his father and concentrated on his thoughts, they were clearer than Cal’s had been and had only been able to pick up a small thought with a link to the Roolec. His father was easy to read, Should have killed the boy! maybe they will kill him for me! demon child! His father truly hated him, he could feel all the hate. But could he end it? Kill his own Father. If he didn’t then the the Bandits would see through his lies he thought. Then with a rush of pain and anger his Father’s thought hit him hard, Demon Die!, with all this anger Thompson then made a decision, he grabbed the sword from Jut’s belt and moved over to his kneeling, praying father. He bent down and whispered in his ear, then raised the sword above his father's head. With no hesitation he brought the sword down, slicing his father's head clean off, Falin was no more, but nor was Thompson.
     “What did you whisper to him?” Jut questioned with a smile on his face.
    “Oh nothing much, I told him not to hunt Fara” Thompson replied, of course that is not what he said “You are no father of mine” is what he actually said, a few words that he would remember forever.
    “Thank you” Thompson said handing the sword back to Jut, who looked at it and then waved him away.
    “Keep it, I’ll have one of these” he said picking up one the drivers swords, a heavy broad sword that was a ornate sheath.
    “Well I owe even more than just thanks” Thompson said, “if there is anything I can do for you fine gents, then please let me know” he continued. With this he started to walk away.
    “Hold up Fara” Cal called out behind him. Thompson stopped and turned, now what he thought, and Cal walked over to him. He held out his hand and Thompson took it, “You owe us a favour” Cal said as a searing pain shot into Thompsons hand and up his arm.
    “Take care young Fara, we will meet again” and with this Cal and Jut picked up a few money bags and a sack of food from the coach and grabbed the horse’s raynes and ran off into the bushes either side of the road, leaving Thompson standing in silence with an abandoned coach, two dead drivers and the headless corpse of a man who was a Father. He attached the sheath to his belt and slid the sword in it, it was heavy for a child to be carrying but he was big for his age. He quickly looked around the coach and searched the drivers and the headless corpse, he felt nothing of this, so he turned to face the empty road ahead and started walking, to where? He wasn’t sure.
    After what Thompson thought was an hour, but his sun reading skills were never good so could have been much longer, he stopped and sat down on the side of the road which was still just stretched out before him with no end in sight. He put down a small pack of food he had found on the front of the coach that Cal and Jut had missed plus a water sack that one of the drivers bodies had been laying on. Thompson sat back onto the bank and sighed, he had no idea where he was to go and what he could do. Eventually people would find the coach and realise he wasn’t with the bodies and then he would be wanted as a murderer.
    Get off the road a voice said, it made Thompson jump and get up, he looked around him but there was no one around, there was no noise, not even wind, the air just felt tight. He was unsure if he was reading minds, or it was is mind playing tricks. Get off the road NOW! the voice said, but this time much louder. In the distance he could hear something, it was moving closer, so he quickly ran up the bank and hid behind a thick bush. Just as he got down and stilled himself, three men on horseback wearing the robes of the king ran past, coming from the direction of the bodies and heading at speed towards the Royal Palace.
    “Thanks”, Thompson said to the new silence, hoping who ever helped him was still around.
    “No problem” it replied, but this time louder and right behind him. Thompson jumped up and spun round to find a middle aged man standing there, wearing a blue robe, long grey hair running down his back.
    “Who are you?” He asked, unintentionally loud from the shock of this man just appearing.
    “My name is Franklin and I believe you need some help”. Thompson just stared at the man before him, “Do you work for the king?” Thompson asked.
    “I certainly do not! How absurd, now follow me before we are noticed” Franklin said angrily and impatient. Thompson did as told and as he took a step he was somewhere else, the air was cooler and the bushes and dirt road were gone. He looked around, there were cobbled streets, brick and wood built buildings surrounding him.
    “Come now” Franklin demanded and walked off down the cobbled road.
    “Where are we?” Thompson asked slowly following Franklin down the street whilst looking at everything around him.
    Franklin didn’t reply and disappeared around a bend in the road, Thompson started to jog to catch up but as he turned the corner he skidded to a halt and started to topple forward over the edge of a cliff. Franklin grabbed Thompson by the back of his shirt and pulled him back.
    “Do you know what this is?” Franklin asked, he demeanor changing to one of concern. Thompson just shook his head. “That my boy is the central canyon, the end of your realm and over there, just on the horizon is my realm” Franklin continued. Thompson started to ask a question but Franklin raised a finger to shut him up. “Now even though you think nothing exists over there, you are very much mistaken. My people and many others live happy lives across the vast gap. Now you my boy are what we call a demon, part human part mage, or some kind of magical folk, don’t worry it isn’t the same as your peoples demon,” Franklin added as he saw the look of shock on Thompsons face. Franklin carried on, “I try and rescue your kind but sometimes the king and the monks get them first, or they take their own lives, but I got to you”.
    “You couldn’t have got to me sooner when I was growing up, or before I killed my own Father!” Thompson yelled trying to grab Franklin by the throat but he was hit with a sharp pain to his chest and fell to the ground, nearly slipping over the edge. Tears started to stream down his face uncontrollably, the thoughts of what he had done came flooding into his mind.
    “You only came into our minds after you killed him I’m afraid the pain of the choice opened your abilities to us. Now if there is nothing else, I need to get you settled in”.
    “Settled where? what is to come of me?” Thompson asked looking up at the man before him.
    “You my boy are going to become a keeper, here at the Inn, your abilities will do you well here, everyone is always looking for someone to talk to and know their thoughts” Franklin said a sly grin appearing on his face.
     “What if I don’t want to?”
     “Then the King awaits your arrival”
   That was enough for Thompson and he followed his saviour into the local inn. It was quiet inside and there was just a woman stood behind the bar. She looked up and opened her mouth to say something then closed it immediately, and started again when she saw who was before her.
   “Lord, is this him?” She said to Franklin.
   “Greetings Gretchen, yes this is our new helper. get him running this place with you”. Franklin replied, looking between the boy and Gretchen.
    “He looks okay I suppose, why do I need him here to help” Gretchen asked, folding her arms as an emphasis to her question.
    “Well you wanted some company, and anyway you’ll be here sometime I’m sure and you hate doing everything yourself, and this young man will be very useful to you. Now keep him safe, the King will forget of him at some point” Franklin said.
    “Why here, and not back in the far realms?” Gretchen asked.
    “I thought he would be useful with all your, well some of your customers, he is good at getting in peoples heads.” Franklin said, then he walked out the door. Thompson ran after him but Franklin had disappeared, so he turned and walked back in the inn. He looked up at Gretchen behind her raised bar.
    “Now what?” He asked.
    “You owe Lord Franklin a favour, at some point he will ask of one” She replied.
    “Now we start to teach you to be a true innkeeper” She replied, then through a white cloth at him.
Thompson was sat at the bar, wiping a glass with a new white cloth he had picked up. The years had been kind to him and at the age of forty-five he looked still in his mid-thirties, but time had been better for Gretchen who hadn’t aged a day since he first met her on that strange day thirty years previously. They had married now and ran the Inn as a partnership, and Thompson was content, as much as he had ever been. No one ever questioned where he came from and if they were going to he would move before they had a chance.
    He had learned to control his abilities and blocked out everyones thoughts unless he was feeling inquisitive or curious. Franklin Podge hadn’t ever returned for his favour not had Cal and Jut, but he waited for the time.
   The hurt from his decision was still there under the surface, but he was alive, and that was the decision he had made all them years ago.
Thompson no longer existed, only Fara the innkeeper remained.