Cythera Chronicles: 1 Bloodstone / He Who Giveth

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    What's a dad for dad?
    Tell me why I'm here dad
    Whisper in my ear that I'm growing up
    to be a better man dad

    Father loved to give Athan presents.
    When he was five, Father gave him a tin star, four pointed, shiny. When he was eight, Father gave him a simple compass. On Athan's twelfth birthday, Father spent the day rummaging through the rusty shed in back and came back with a twinkle in his eye.
    "This is yours?" Athan asked, eyeing the sword in Father's hands.
    "Yours, now."
    The sword was old, Father said, hundreds of years old. He traced the outline of the sword with his finger, first along the blade – made of iron, he said, because the sword was forged before steel was invented – then around the unadorned grey crosspiece and the leather grip on the hilt, finishing at the pommel. It was of a dark, silvery metal. "Hematite," Father had said. "Bloodstone."

    On Athan's fourteenth birthday, Father was killed in an accident at the factory, and he received no presents. Father's hand had been caught between two huge gears, then his arm, then his head. "Nothing left of him to save," said the other workers. "Not by the time we could turn them off." They said the machinery was too loud to hear him scream, too huge to see him die.
    We all put on black and tears to see him sent out – Mother never took it off. Athan stood at the shores long after Father had faded into the horizon, watching as if he expected the boat to turn back and deliver him to us. They say it happens from time to time, but that a man's never the same after he's passed on.
    In either case, he didn't come back. Tears and brine are not so far different, they say, and neither will bring back the dead.
    Cass caught Athan out by the shed that night, trying to break Father's old sword. He'd cut his hand, just below the thumb, but the sword didn't even have a nick in it for all his work. He yelled at her – Cass was too young to know what they words meant, but she understood well enough that he was to be left alone. No one was awake by the time he came back in to sleep, but the next morning, the sword stood alone and unscathed in the corner of the shed, a thin red streak of blood down the side.

    And then, next week, Athan was sent out to do Father's old job. Father had contracted for ten years, and with still a year and a half left, the family had to provide the factory with a worker. That was written into the contract; no factory ever wanted to be without workers, even if it was slowly killing off the ones it had.
    So Athan was put in Father's place, doing the same repetitive task for ten hours a day that Father had done twenty years of his life. It was nothing hard – as the metal sheets slid down from the station above, Athan had to rotate them ninety degrees to the right, then guide them through to the rollers, for them to be stamped with the Comana company logo – double chevron facing right – that identified the product as a genuine Comana.
    What was the product? Athan was never quite sure. The only views he ever got were of the flat sheets of metal he turned all day, and the logo appearing at the top of the rollers, descending, disappearing, and taking the sheets off to the next station for the next worker's repetitive task. Every morning, he resolved to walk to the end of the line and see for himself just what he was working on, but by the end of each day, he was able to do nothing but close his eyes and walk away.

    Cass was scared. "When I'm fourteen, what's my present going to be?" Cass was only eight, but she was already seeing a future she didn't like. "What was your present?" She didn't get either answer. Didn't know and didn't want to remember.

    It was within the next week, she said, that Athan resolved not to spend another minute alive in the factory. She heard him muttering things to himself in his sleep, silly things that Cass's eight-year-old mind could make neither heads nor tails nor teeth of.
    Nothing that anyone else would've given much thought to either, without being left alone with the words for a while. "I won't turn any more," she heard him whisper one night while he tossed around in his bed. "Damien is out, am I next?" (Damien, as we later found out, was another worker who had died further down the line, curling up the Comana-stamped sheets of metal into cylinders for the ever-enigmatic "product.")
    It was a Thursday when Cadmus Comana himself came up to our cottage and asked about Athan. Mother didn't know whether to be honored or to be frightened, but Athan knew what was coming. While Mr. Comana told us about the strange red graffiti on the factory walls, Athan was gathering up what he could carry and tying it into a sack to carry away. While he told us that Athan hadn't shown up for work in several days, he was showing himself out the back door and out into the hills.
    Having decided upon fright, Mother brought him into the cottage and called for Athan, but if he heard, he didn't turn back. He'd already run, and he wouldn't come back to be chained again.

    Mother did not wear black much longer.

  • Excellent work, Pallas Athene. This chronicle is short, but it is well written. I hope to see more in the future.

    Slayer's guide to Cythera:

  • Hmm... looks like I accidentally axed the normal "Post Comments..." link :p

    (~%) ssh localhost
    The authenticity of host 'localhost (' can't be established.
    RSA key fingerprint is 93:33:b4:fc:b8:03:b4:45:15:31:99:1a:a3:1f:a5:ac.
    Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?

  • Wow, this is really good, Pallas. I love the style, not sure whose point of view its from, do we find out later? (come to think of it, I'm not sure this -is- continued or not- is there a next part?)

    I'd say the characters seem a bit flat, but for something this short, I suppose it's hard to develop them in any particular depth. ;) Very well written though, rather ominous- oh, and the title font is awesome!

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  • Quote

    Originally posted by iKaterei:
    (come to think of it, I'm not sure this -is- continued or not- is there a next part?)

    To me, this had the feeling of a prequel, so it should be continued. I hope I get the change to add on a chapter before the end of the month.


    ...and the title font is awesome!

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