Saturday, July 7, 2012

Blog-Epic, Part VI

I was a bit rushed to write this, but instead of turning out short as I intended, it turned out to be rather lengthy. 

Not sure how that happens, but here we go...

Oh, also!  We have two words of the day:  stalactite, which is a rock formation that hangs from the ceiling of a cave, and stalagmite, which is a rock formation that rises from the floor of a cave. 


The end of Part V

“We are at the source of hope for our city, the lair of those who have sworn to exterminate the Order." Cayden stepped into the doorway. "Come and meet them."

Marianne pushed herself to her feet and brushed dust off her purple gown. She stepped to his side and looked into an enormous cavern.

Great dripping daggers of stone hung from the invisible, dark ceiling and slippery spears rose to meet them. Torches in nooks and crannies and metal barrels holding bonfires cast flicking light over the great space and spread a little warmth in the damp chill of the cavern. And
among the spears and swords of stone and the barrels and torches moved the strangest crowd Marianne had ever seen.


Part VI


 
A small fraction of them looked perfectly normal. The kind of people Marianne could meet at a party or see selling fruit in the market near her house. 

 But the rest of them—the majority of the crowd—were like nothing she had ever seen.  She got a closer look as Cayden led her and Anthony deeper into the cave.  Their skin was pale and grey as a cloudy sky, their round eyes flickered eerily in the firelight, and they wore clothing of a light, shimmery substance that was even paler than their skin. 

"Fish scales,” said Cayden, following her line of sight.  “The native Underworlders, those who have lived here all their lives, clothe themselves in the scales of the cave fish.”  He lowered his voice.  “We’ve offered them every kind of fabric you can think of, but they don’t want it.” 

Anthony stepped out in front of him.  “What the hell is going on?” 

Cayden smiled as if he were about to make a joke, then clapped Anthony on the back.  “Come along, you two.  I promised explanations.”  He made a sharp turn and led them under a row of stalactites that seemed to mark out a street.  “And speaking of explanations, how did you get away from the Order’s men, anyway?” 

Marianne cut in.  “You mean you weren’t sure he would get away!”  

Cayden looked annoyed.  “As I said, they didn’t want Anthony, they wanted you.” 

“Well, they did want me, as I'm sure you knew,” said Anthony bitterly.  “To use me as ransom or something.” 

“But then how did you get away?  You were sorely outnumbered!”  Anthony had been trained to fight, but Marianne had never really see him excercise that ability. 

“Well…it was Janth.  He vomited up some really impressive lava.  Which freaked out the horses of the Order’s men enough that we had time to get away.”

Marianne glared at Cayden.  “You said….” 

“Ah!” Cayden's face lit up.  “Here we are!” 

The cave opened up into a slightly brighter area—the frequency of torches and fire-barrels increased, casting the slimy rock formations in a red-orange glow.  People sat around on chopped-off stalagmites, and a bar had been erected in front of a dripping rock-face. 

They settled on three of the stone stumps together—Marianne found hers hard and cold, but less uncomfortable than she would have thought.  She understood that there wasn’t a need for a roof, but it made the place feel open and bare.  She shivered, part from the cold draft that blew through her dress and part from the way the place made her feel. 

Cayden held up a lazy hand.  A man wearing an apron of pale scales came over to him.  “One Larrish Nectar and…”  He eyed Anthony.  “Two Night Whiskeys.” 

“Yes, sir.”  The man walked over to the bar. 

“Now,” said Cayden, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees, “as to Anthony’s question of what the hell is going on, these—“  He jerked his blonde head at the general populace.  “Are a secret group of people, known to themselves as the Underworlders, known to me as the Underwearers, who have pledged loyalty to the cause of exterminating the Order.  Some of us are trained as assassins, some of us simply support the group, and some of us—mostly the native Underworlders—are skilled miners who make places like this possible and are currently working to tunnel secret access into many of the Order’s headquarters.  Some of us also perform all three functions.” 

Marianne suspected that Cayden fit into the last group. 

The man in the fish-scale apron arrived with their drinks.  Anthony and Cayden had stout glasses of pinkish-orange liquid.  She watched Anthony’s face as he took a drink and gathered that it was something strong. 

She herself received a stone mug of something warm, sweet, and spicy.  She smiled contentedly into the steam. 

Anthony swallowed hard and looked at Cayden.  “You haven’t explained why the Order wants Marianne.” 


Cayden sighed.  “Well, that’s more complicated.  For many years, the Underworlders imprisoned the member of the Order who killed your parents.  Recently, however, the murderer broke free.”  An angry frown crossed his face.  “The Order was trying to extract some sort of information from your father, and right before he died, he said that his daughter—“  He gave Marianne a piercing look.  “Had the information they were looking for.  So once the murderer got out of prison, he told his superiors that you have this information.” 

Marianne has no idea what this could mean.  “But I was just little when they died!  I didn’t know anything!” 

“Perhaps you didn’t realize it at the time, but it seems that your father imparted something to you.” 

Anthony broke in to the conversation.  “I thought it was just a personal vendetta.” 

Cayden smiled grimly.  “You were wrong.  That wasn’t even the first time the Order acted against our family.” 

Anthony and Marianne stared at him. 

“What?” he said.

“You said ‘our family’,” said Anthony. 

“Oh, well,” said Cayden, brushing it away.  “I meant your family, of course.” 

Marianne wasn’t sure about that excuse, but Anthony seemed to accept it.  “So what’s in this?” he said, holding up his almost-finished glass. 

Cayden savored another sip and smiled.  “Whiskey, and the blood of a cave-fish.” 

Anthony gagged and spit out the last mouthful behind his stalagmite seat. 

*****

That's it for today!  As always, you can view the preceding installments by clicking on the "Blog-Epic" tab underneath our beautiful header.  Thanks for reading!

6 comments:

  1. Intersting, very intersting. I see some red herrings and other intersting, and apparently tasty, creatures for me to chase.

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  2. Some great descriptions. I enjoyed reading and look forward to next instalement.

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    1. It's funny you say that, because I tend to have trouble with descriptions... But I'm starting to think it's just the initial mention of the setting that is so hard for me...since Tyler-Rose conveniently set that up at the end of part V. :)

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  3. Slowly starting to catch up (thanks to my "OMG, I have no time for anything!!!! Internet fail month) Can't wait to keep reading this!

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    1. Thanks for reading! And yeah, we all have months like that--glad to have you back!

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