Cythera Chronicles: Below Sight: Saturday

  • This is my first (but hopefully not only) Cythera chron, about a minor character in the game. It's set a good amount of time before the game, and features several other familiar minor characters as well. I hope you guys enjoy it. Without further ado, here it is.


    Smoke billowed up from my furnace, burning my eyes and dampening my face with hot tears. Flames danced up at me, stopping just short of me. They warmed my apron and soaked my chest with sweat. I swung my right arm down over and over, my hammer trailing, more of an extension of my arm and spirit than a separate entity. In my left hand, I held the warm iron tongs, and in the tongs, I held a length of steel, as long as a man’s arm. The hammer smashed down on the steel, ringing a sharp beat against the blasting of my forge. Sparks flew away from the steel, dying slowly on the dirt ground, and the steel hissed as air and hammer pummeled it.

    The steel glowed red in the flames of my forge, the air swirling around the heat as the fire battled the cool embrace of night. Its light mixed with the light of the forge, casting dark shadows throughout my yard. Its form was the beginning of a blade, the likes of which I have created for my entire life. In the days of my childhood, I looked to my father, the blacksmith whose position I now hold, and I said to myself that I would do anything, give anything, to do what he did, to take an empty piece of metal and create life.

    It was in my sixteenth year that my father gave me the title of apprentice, and in my twentieth that he called me journeyman. I was not called by master until my father died, the past year, giving me the position of blacksmith and the remnants of my shattered house. And so I keep the art here in Odemia, creating life for the purpose of death, and it is good in my eyes.

    My name is Milcom, of House Attusa. I am in my twenty-fifth year of life, and have seen the marvels of this world from the volcano of Land’s End in the south to the Hall of our Land King, the wise Alaric. And having seen them all, I have decided to stay here in Odemia where my father raised me all alone, his wife having died in my birth. The people in Odemia have respected me as a man and as a smith, and I have been content, my life enriched by my craft, my friends, and my ale.

    I lived for the first, cared for the second, and thirsted for the third, the last more so at the forge than any other point in world and time. And so with a smooth motion I plunged the steel into a barrel of water, and dropped it. Steam hissed up in a great cloud, and I slid my head back in an almost instinctive movement, learned form long hours at the forge. I left the steel in the barrel to cool for now, and banked the fire. It would burn while I was gone, but not so fiercely that it would get out of control. I set the tongs down on my bench and stepped into the dusty streets of Odemia.

    The walls of my city were built of stone and nearly ten feet high. Along the top ran a pathway for defenders to perch upon, throwing spears and loosing arrows at any raiders, not that many still lived in Cythera. They were a relic of the earlier days, of times of trouble and war. I turned to the west, into the setting sun, and walked down the avenues. An open window caught my eye, and I stuck my head in to greet the two women inside.

    Their names were Hebe and Ake, two of the main traders in the clothing business here. They sat near a lit lantern. By the looks of it, they were negotiating some thread sale or whatnot. Hebe was an average woman, with a lean face and mousy brown hair. Not my kind of girl. Now Ake, on the other hand, is beautiful. Blonde, thin, but with a full figure and lips that seem to be made for kissing... Oh, and a great personality. Anyway, Hebe turned to me at that moment.

    "Away from my house, Milcom. We have a business deal to arrange."

    I would’ve turned away and went straight to the bar with a grin at Ake before I left, but then she waved and smiled at me so sweetly I could feel my insides turn to butter.

    "Um, yeah. I’ll get going. By the way, Ake, are you free tomorrow evening?"

    Hebe scowled, and Ake answered. "I am, Milcom. Anything in mind?"

    "Ake, please, we have work to do."

    "Well, I was thinking that we could have dinner, go for a walk, the sort."

    "Away from my house, blacksmith."

    Ake smirked at her business partner. "Sounds nice. I’ll see you then!" With a wave and a grin, I left. Nearly instantly to me in my euphoria, though it was probably more like a minute, I found myself at the Titan’s Head Tavern, run by old Pera and staffed by his son and my childhood friend, Crito.

    Crito tended the bar, and his father was probably either asleep, or creating and sampling the ale he so loved to make. "Welcome to the Titan’s Head, Milcom. Can I get you a drink?"

    "Sure thing. Simple beer, thanks."

    "On the tab, right?"

    "You know I don’t carry."

    "And Pop reminds me of that every time I give you a drink, too." He almost turned around to get my order, but stopped short to regard me with an arched eyebrow. "So, what’s made you so happy tonight?"

    I smiled brashly. "A date with Ake."

    He chuckled. "You dog. When?"

    "Tomorrow evening." Crito brought my drink, and I took a long swig.

    "Will you want another one after that?"

    I set the mug down, wiping my lips with a shirt sleeve. "A date, or a pint?"

    He shook his head slowly. "The pint, of course."

    "No, not for tonight. However bad being drunk on a horse is, being drunk with fire and a hammer is sure to turn out worse."

    We spent the next minutes idly discussing current events. I learned that tourism was on a slow but steady drop, the inn was having problems with thieves in the night, and old woman Gesi fell into the well and had to be dragged out by Thersites, one of the young town guards.

    This story in particular caught my attention. Before she left for Land King Hall, the new Judge Sacas had evidently threatened to curse Calinon Nicander, the Elder, with boils if he abused her absence. Fearing for his safety, the Elder had his son Philinus check his back for boils every three hours, for not knowing what constituted ‘abuse.’ We had a good laugh over that one. But soon the time came when I had to leave.

    "Good night, Milcom."

    "And you, Crito. Farewell."

    I nodded, and walked out into the dusty streets, now dark in twilight. Crepuscular shadows crept down the broad empty streets, and light peeked out from shuttered windows, frightened by encroaching darkness. Down the road, the Judge’s manse stood tall against the night, looking out over the moonlit waters that I now knew well. I had spent the last two evenings in the manse, looking after it as had been requested by Sacas. She had given me a key to the door, and so I had stood by the window, gazing out over the softly rippling waters, entranced by their infinity of secrets. I reminded myself to visit later, after my forge work was done.

    And that’s when the bandits came. They had been quiet, careful not to make any sound with the scuffing of feet on dust, and stealthy, not letting me catch so much of a glance of them. I felt a sharp smash to the back of my neck, and I toppled face down into the dust. The soil pillowed around me, catching in my eyes and forming tears. I reached out a hand to rub my head, unaware of the danger, when one of them placed a boot on my back and pressed down, driving the metal grip into my spine. I stifled a whimper.

    "Give up your money." The voice was harsh, unfeeling, like steel being scraped across gravel.

    I tried to speak, but the dust in my nostrils made me sneeze. I stopped and spoke, though, when the man on my ground his boot in. "I don’t have any oboloi."

    "Filthy liar." For a moment I was relieved when the boot lifted, but then it smashed into the back of my head and drove my face down into a slightly sharp rock. It hurt quite a bit, as I remember. Then the boot was back on me, and I tasted the metallic blood seeping into my mouth, and felt the burn as it entered my eyes. "Where is it?"

    I could barely choke out words, sobbing as I was. "What gods do you want me to swear by?"

    The robber sighed. "Frisk him." I felt a pair of gentle hands patting down my body, searching for coins. As I expected, they found none.

    A new voice sprang up, this one like a cat being scraped across gravel. "No cash, boss."

    "Damn." I could imagine the main robber turning back to me. "What else do you have."

    "Steel. I’m a blacksmith."

    I could hear the man grinning, it was so obvious. "Any swords?" His foot eased a little, presumably a gesture of good will. Of course it merely lowered my condition to ‘in pain’ from ‘in danger of having a heart attack from all of the stabbing pains in my lower back.’

    "None in stock. I... I’m making one now."

    "Good. We’ll come for it in a week. I’d suggest not telling anyone of this, or your bill will be that much steeper."

    His foot lifted, and I started to rise, intending to fight because of some small insanity, but it was only for a boot to the head again. I hit the same rock, too, this guy had good aim. I lay cursing for a good while.

    When I rose, the streets were clear. The windows stood as before, lit through small cracks. Ake’s window was closed oblivious. I briefly considered going to her, but decided against it. Instead, I went straight to the forge. I extinguished the flames, and set the piece of steel out on the slightly warm working surface. I wrenched open my door, and slammed it behind me, the wooden frame rattling. I glanced in the mirror. Sweat and blood caked my black hair, and two gashes ran down my forehead. I reached for a pail of water, washed my face off completely under its cool caress, and stripped down to nightclothes, and tossed my other garments haphazardly.

    I strode to the bed and flung a copy of some minor historian’s works to the side, and plunged down into the soft covers, pulling their safety over me. Without a second thought to the world, I slept.

    (This message has been edited by moderator (edited 09-30-2002).)

  • Excellent work, Celchu! This is one of only a handful of chrons that relate directly to the game. It's a nice change of pace. I hope you continue this storyline.

    Slayer's guide to Cythera:

  • Sounds fun. I'm sure Milcom just loved getting beat up like that. Nice job!

    (Y'know, that makes a theory! Whenever we write something about Cythera, it happens there! ;) Of course, Celchu, that means that Milcom probably hates you, but I think my characters hate me too. :p)

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  • Quote

    Originally posted by Slayer:
    Excellent work, Celchu! This is one of only a handful of chrons that relate directly to the game. It's a nice change of pace. I hope you continue this storyline.

    Thanks, and I'm working out the week (Saturday to Saturday) rightnow; the rest is more complicated. :)


    Originally posted by Mr. Somebody:
    **Of course, Celchu, that means that Milcom probably hates you, but I think my characters hate me too.:p )


    Don't worry, he gets the chick later, so it's all good.

    Consider. If passion rules our reasoning, and we are ruled by logic, we are all simply unwitting slaves to emotion, pretending to be greater than what we truly are.

  • Excellent start, Celchu! I must admit, I never seriously considered using a character from the game as the central character in a story. I thought briefly about doing something with Timon's search for his sister, but was too concerned about stepping on Glenn's toes. Treating each day as a single segment is an interesting idea, too; are you going to continue the series in that fashion?

    I look forward to the next part :)

    The e-mail of the specious is deadlier than their mail
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  • Quote

    Originally posted by cache22:


    Thanks for the comliments, cache, and yes, I will do one day per cron, at least until the end. The climax and resolution (Saturday and Sunday) will be posted as one so as not to keep you guys waiting too long. ;) By the way, your Timon's sister ideas sounds interesting; I'd have liked to known where that one ended up.

    Consider. If passion rules our reasoning, and we are ruled by logic, we are all simply unwitting slaves to emotion, pretending to be greater than what we truly are.

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