Exodus



  • Part 1: "We are not from this place"

    "We are not from this place, but from the same Earth that you are. We lived on an island called Thera, until Enesidaone reclaimed it.
    But that was not without warning, for a stranger, in the form of the Holy Bull appeared, telling us to flee. We saw Thera destroyed from the safety of our ships at sea.
    That night a storm such as has never been before tossed us about, until in the morning when we woke up, tossed aside at the beach near what would become the city of Cademia.
    Or so goes the legend. I am not a historian - perhaps you should ask another..."

    The trees had become ephemeral, visibly slumping in a puff of steam then peeling into torches lasting seconds. Columnar smoke stood solidly still and seemed to defy gravity. I held my breath in anticipation of a tumultuous return to earth that never came. Its foreboding position filled our sight; its shadow so long that we had only just sailed from under its darkness. The morning sun rose as a blood red amulet, shifting to an unnatural yellow before finally disappearing from sight behind the overpowering plume of dust.
    We stood fixated. We gasped and spat to clear the stench of sulphur from under our tongues. People wretched quietly and were a sickly, ash-white, their faces mirroring the sober, leaden feeling of our hearts. Snakes of a dull, poisonous red slithered into the ocean surrounding Thera. Their breaths of white steam obscured the island. The hissing of the snakes could not be heard from the decking of the Syntyche , but the thought of their sibilant screams sounding in empty baths and bakeries filled me with acrid hatred. The morning air vibrated inaudibly and later it snowed ash, choking and catching in our throats.
    “We drink from the vines of Thera, children.” Alcaues the Elder said, fixing me with an icy stare. “We chew merrily on roasted haunch and sup on the purest yolk of our fowl and never,” he mused sardonically “has it tasted as sweet.”

    The swirling ash grew worse, born on a wind whipping mockingly hot across the hurriedly tightened sails of the Syntyche. The incongruous silence was broken only by the soft sobbing of the woman below deck and the bleating of goats: sounds dead before they had truly existed. The sun’s glow was diffused. We had set sail that morning with a vague mind to head towards Crete but, as the Council of Elders reminded us of the passionate words of rejection we had received, our compass needle was left free to spin. None were willing to harbour those due for Enesidaone’s punishment.
    Captain Tycho approached and shook me, “Feel like going for a climb Bright One? We could use a bit of light.” I forced back nausea and wondered at his seething anger; Tycho would never be homesick so long as he swayed with the Syntyche, what did he care? My thoughts were pulled to the dreams of the Holy Bull and to my mother and sister. They had refused to leave.
    Embers fell and burned with coughing flames at the sails, the blood of the earth. A cry from the men signaled work. I turned to start rolling the spinnaker but quickly found myself alone and in silence again. Finishing that task with vigor I began to loosen the halyard and lower the main sail, a job for three. I tried to smile as the men clambered around me, but none would catch my eye. Once the sails were below deck Captain Tycho assembled the men for a head count. The count stopped at Leon, one short of me. I understood then, and went dejectedly below deck; anything to avoid the eyes focused on the air around me. The crying of the children and worried chatter of woman ceased when I appeared in the hatch. Through the grey silence and tactile dark I went self-consciously to the pitcher of water, splashed my face and sat still at the nearest portal. The accusing silence built around me, a wall of impenetrable hatred. I focused on the eddies of ash through the portal. I wept.

    I was woken by a hoarse cry and spied a looming form through the portal. It drifted ponderously close and utterly silent, the ash dampening even the sound of the waves against its wretched shape. It was the Eustathes. I went up the hatch to watch in demented silence. On the foredeck of the Syntyche’s sister ship were white mounds of ash. From the nearest mound protruded a human foot, the exposed skin raw and corroded as if eaten by some voracious locus. From a pile of ash that had blown against the steering board two hands were thrust out, clinging with long, curved fingers to the gunwale in a last attempt to flee burning gases. I wanted to turn, but a figure now held my sickening vision steady.
    It was red and protuberant, slumped like a deadly fungus against the bleached mast. Its arms were akimbo to its naked, burnt body likes rusted scythes in a pond of ash. Inside its raw mouth I could see a swollen tongue bitten in a frenzy of agony. The bloody rivulets that had flown from the split gums were caked with ash made black. The teeth gleamed improbably white inside lips chewed to pulp. I stared helplessly into its impossibly cavernous, achingly empty eyes. They were anise. I was sinking into their darkness; my eyes became deploringly empty sockets. I closed my lids to shut out its sight, feeling inexplicably claustrophobic, but the grey-ash world penetrated my thoughts and still two destructive, coal black circles stayed. I must have paled: in the peripheries of my vision I could see the others looking at me. I was giddy and light headed. My vision twisted independently of the boat’s gentle bob. I felt suddenly drunk and sinking. The weight of dust crushing my chest, forcing itself down my throat like tar. My muscles longed to be free but something had pinned my legs and stomach, now only capable of twitching like a mouse beneath a cat’s paw. I was sinking into the darkness of Enesidaone, and now my heart became its eyes, my teeth became its eyes, and I knew my soul, my soul, was falling into those utterly alien eyes, somehow infected with their unnatural taint. There were far away shouts, then grey.

    I was told later that the men had hesitantly fished me from the water where I had fallen and brought me beneath deck. There was a storm that night. The Syntyche floundered. Clinging water struck those on the deck and sucked several of the men out to sea while an eerie, green light filtered through dark clouds. Some said it was Enesidaone, hungering for more blood. I don’t truly know, but that evening brought loathsome, circular dreams that stretched for an eternity.

    It began with the Council of Elders in the terraced gardens, silent in a ring around me. I was telling them about the dream of the Holy Bull. Alcaues frowned. “The Holy Bull has never before appeared, now he preaches to you. What makes you so special, Phaedrus? Why Enesidaone? Do not tell the learned Council that it is punishment for the scorning of our gods. They are as murderous as we.” I bowed my head at his reprimand and was silent. Then I knew with dream-like clarity: the Holy Bull was here. I was calm. The Holy Bull grunted from the shadows and charged, goring the old man violently. Black blood spurted from Alcaues’s chest and created another Holy Bull. In its haste to warn me of the coming danger, the second bull maimed the first. The first bull’s blood formed a third, which mauled the second. The cycle continued until I was bathed in blood and screaming for the bulls to stop. Just outside of my view I could hear bulls charging and snorting, fighting off endlessly spawning copies of itself. A man came, blue and ghostly. He peered at me with curiosity. His look changed to horror and he fled. I felt the blood of the bulls cold and gritty on my face and tried to scrape it off, finding it in my mouth. I was spluttering, being sucked further into the sea of blood. The hissing of dying bulls turned to the spray of waves; the taste of blood no longer iron, but salty.

    I was awake.

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    More will follow, but as my final exams are approaching, it will be slow coming.
    Comments or criticisms are welcome.

    (edit) fixed ship names not being in italics. Cheers Selax! (/edit)

    This post has been edited by dusk : 09 September 2006 - 01:46 AM



  • Looks good—quite detailed and well-written. I'll be interested to see how this goes. (Will Selax be making a cameo ;) ?)

    I'm not in much of a position to give constructive criticism (because of my poor punctuation and sentence division), but shouldn't the ship names be italicized?



  • Ooh, I like it :) I agree with Selax, it is very detailed, and I like the writing. An interesting view on a "legend" taken right out of the game. I look forward to see where it will go from here.



  • @selax_bot, on Aug 17 2006, 05:39 AM, said in Exodus:

    Will Selax be making a cameo ;) ?

    I had thought Selax would be rather... well... unborn at this time :p , considering the plot lies in Cythera's infancy

    @selax_bot, on Aug 17 2006, 05:39 AM, said in Exodus:

    shouldn't the ship names be italicized?

    Yes, yes they should.

    @the-wizard_bot, on Aug 17 2006, 01:38 PM, said in Exodus:

    Ooh, I like it :) I agree with Selax, it is very detailed, and I like the writing.

    Thank you very much for your compliments. I had actually thought the writing style was a bit verbose and was aiming to tune it down a little, but perhaps it's just me.



  • It seems to have deleted the post that I made a few moments ago—oh well, I'll have to remember what I can.

    I quote:

    Quote

    Selax was born millenia of years ago on unknown planet and is one of the oldest living beings in existance.

    Actually, it doesn't really matter because I'm only kidding, so don't feel pressured—at least, not yet ;).

    Quote

    Thank you very much for your compliments. I had actually thought the writing style was a bit verbose and was aiming to tune it down a little, but perhaps it's just me.

    Probably one of the reasons that I like it is that is much more detailed than what I typically write.



  • @dusk_bot, on Aug 17 2006, 11:51 AM, said in Exodus:

    Thank you very much for your compliments. I had actually thought the writing style was a bit verbose and was aiming to tune it down a little, but perhaps it's just me.

    The only part I found to be a little lengthy to read through was the beginning, before I understood the plot. But once the story came into focus, your detail made it more interesting to read. For example, phrases like "I was spluttering, being sucked further into the sea of blood" caught my eye. I also liked your personification at points, such as: "The swirling ash grew worse, born on a wind whipping mockingly hot across the hurriedly tightened sails of the Syntyche."



  • Taken me a while to read it, didn't realise that it had been posted :)
    I like it, going to read the next one tonight. I too like the detail in the writing, makes it seem more realistic and easier to associate with. Well done.


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