Beta Review: Dauntless

I want to first start by stating: throughout this review, I will refrain from making any direct references to Monster Hunter: World (outside of this brief introduction, that is). While comparing and references games to other titles within its genre is unavoidable, and even helpful when assessing new titles, I find that the gaming community is made toxic by constant aggressive comparisons which also serve to make the industry seem stagnant, unoriginal, and even harm developing titles e.i. literally every “difficult” game with a dark narrative to Dark Souls; or, Diablo vs Torchlight (however, understandably so). I’ll save you from my ramblings now.

Dauntless has been under development for three years by game company Phoenix Labs and on May 25th they opened their doors, seemingly permanently, to players world wide. Built within the Unreal Engine 4, this beautifully stylized action-role playing game is scheduled for full release sometime later this year as a free-to-play title for PC and the developers are exploring cross-platform options.

Dauntless takes us to The Shattered Isles, an ever-changing mystical world of floating islands and psuedo-steampunk flare. The citizens of this world are relentlessly terrorized by hulking Behemoths who feed off of the land, consuming Aether, with insatiable fervor. You are a Slayer, a fearless bulwark against the terror of the Behemoths, and others like you have taken up arms into the new frontier where new, ever-dangerous, threats await Humanity.

At character creation you will have the chance to choose your lineage. The system of selecting presets for your character has been cleverly dressed while allowing you a fair degree of variety when customizing your appearance. You get the implication of a legacy system here making one wonder if they have something planned for further customization with players skills or abilities.

Moving through the tutorial, you are given the opportunity to become familiar with the controls . Nothing fancy here: a simple walk-through displaying for you the controls for movement and your basic combat abilities. The game is fairly intuitive and uses an easy to remember “dial-a-combo” system giving each of the weapons a unique feel while balancing timing, damage, and risk for each action. Each Behemoth, monstrous in size, is a tremendous threat to the lone Slayer but these creatures can be studied and their attack patterns learned creating the potential for seasoned player to flawlessly take down their prey. Overall, the controls are simple enough to be played with either a control or a keyboard in its entirety much like other over-the-shoulder action-adventure titles.

Debatably the second most important mechanic of the game: the resource gathering and crafting system allows the player to craft and upgrade their own equipment in order to establish an identity for themselves within the game. Armor and weapon upgrades come from collecting trophies (hides, scales, feathers, etc) from slain Behemoths. The models and textures for equipment are striking and each different set has a unique appearance hinting at what type of Behemoth it was crafted from. Particular sets tend to have bonus stats attached to them and can be improved to increase effectiveness or add new abilities all together. Something I noticed, however, is the lack of different armor classes for a Slayer; although, this is made less of a glaring issue due to the main defensive strategy for a Slayer being avoiding and dodging damage rather than relying on being able to tank hits. That being said, a Slayer’s weapon is their identity in this game and provides the player with a minor role during a hunt whether that be to stun/stagger the Behemoth, apply bleed damage, or knock off parts for extra damage/trophy drops. All in mind, the developers have done a wonderful job with the UI making it clear and concise.

The game relies almost entirely on an online connection and partying yourself up with other Slayers to hunt your overwhelming prey. The main hub, or the players base-of-operations, exists as a town called Ramsgate. This floating city-island doubles as a social centre where players can rest, interact, and build adventuring parties between daring excursions. As of now, the zone is lightly sprinkled with essential NPCs who give quests and/or serve as crafters and traders and was once much smaller than its current iteration. The developers have much in planned here and I look forward to Ramsgate growing into a bustling seat of Humanity for all of The Shattered Isles.

During the first day of the beta, the developers had some issues with their servers as requests sky rocketed and they worked to ensure that all players could enjoy the game at the time of their choosing. This was initially frustrating, having first launched the game and queued up somewhere over a hundred thousandth in line waiting to play. Phoenix Labs earned my respect resolving this issue quickly and before I knew it I was enjoying their heartfully crafted piece. While I have experienced some connection issues when matching with other players, these issues are far and few between and more often than not matches are started and ended within 20 minutes, just short enough to get in a good match or two between your busy life.

Ultimately, I would say that Dauntless is an up and coming title with a promising future. There is no lack of character in this game from its art style to its reaching concept and I can say that I am looking forward to the additions that the developers have in store for its dedicated community. They certainly have a few issues to iron out but they have already proven themselves responsive and dedicated to planting Dauntless’s banner in history.

Watch the skies, Slayers. It will be a turbulent journey but glory awaits.

Download Dauntless here and brave the frontier.

In case you’re interest, they have an official Wiki page (meaning the developers wrote it so everything you see there is canon to the universe).

Lastly, if you decide to play and are looking for a friend you can find me by my gamertag “younGrandon.”

Keep on keepin’ on and stay true, friends.

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Juxtaposed Liberties

The more they worked to ‘cure’ my condition, the more I felt as a cage animal – a right ornacious* pet: denied vagility and kept after only to give someone else’s life a meager speck of purpose; in this case, it was the all important pursuit to excogitate. I was to eat when expected, sleep when expected, and do as I was told, all within a limited space; other than that, I was at liberty to do as I pleased.

Given my confines, I often pleased to find outlets for my pent up energy. When they noticed this, they provided a facility for me – yet another way to keep their little pet under control. They gave me heavy bags and targets for my rage. They served to sate me for a time, but when I bored of those I sought dummies what could fight back.

In time, dogfights became monetized and a ring was formed. A few bumps and ruffles turned into a war of wards; of lightning reflex and impeccable wit. The lot of us were thrown into confinement and were to remain there until examined, treated, and questioned.

“I don’t understand why you…” Morenner, my guard, huffed and paced in front of the door. He was staring groundward and crushing a small ball in his hand. He stopped abruptly and turned his head to me, “you know what they’ll do if you keep on like this. Please -”

A chime echoed from the walls and a panel snapped open with a hiss revealing a doorway and a short women, her solemn face framed by a spunky bob. She and Morenner traded silent pleasantries and knowing glances as they passed one; she entered and the guard left and the door prompt snapped shut behind him leaving me along with my striking physician.

I could feel her disappointment, like pressure on my chest. She crossed the room toward me, her long sterile coat trailing behind her brisk pace. Wordlessely, she logged away information on her wrist-mounted data assistant then turned her greying gaze on me.

“You’re upset with me.” I declared, away from her ire.

I could have sworn I saw her eye twinge.

“A cognitive response is a start.” She made her way over to me, produced her otoscope, and tilted my neck with bedside manner. The force of her fingers linger on me.

“Interesting…” she whispered, ‘unknowingly’ abusing my neck and ear.

I whinced through the harassment and rolled my eyes, “what? You were expecting me to have suddenly acquired deafness?”

“No,” she abruptly released me, taking a step back. “I was expecting to see the remnants of whatever was going on in your big stupit head.”

Another few moments passed. We both sighed. She belabored over and took a seat at my side. My ego I curled up at her presence, feeling more like how I felt.

We practically raced each other to words. Mine carried through.

“You’re having me moved…” I turned my eyes on her, searching for answers.

Her brow wrinkled, “it’s a precaution.”

My clenched fists bent the ends of the examination table resembling my tortured heart. “You’re terrified of me… ”

“And you don’t know everything, okay; Phoebe!” She slammed down her examination equipment. She beamed at me and stood, defiantly.

Silence fell.

And as she prepared to open her mouth I interjected:

“We could escaped, you know,” I grabbed her arm and pulled her close, “we could manage, Ms. DeVrard. Escape. Elope…” My steel eyes affixed to her.

~~ToBeContinued~~

Daily Prompt: Juxtapose

Word of the Day: excogitate

*ornacious: a merging of the words ‘ornery’ and ‘tenacious’ e.i. persistently cranky

No End In Sight

Sometimes I think I have lived too long…

I used to teach: I would tell my pupils, “Life is long; however, there is never enough time. Tempus fugit – time flies; you must be wise and concise and let no opportunity pass you, lest it be lost to time.”

I used to motivate: I would teach them of passion and strength of will and of sacrificing oneself for the loves of ones life. I would speak to them of their adopted pedigree, of the Paladins that joined before them and the battles they fought.

I used to believe: There was a time in which I would have stood on the front lines, chanting and marching Revolution’s Charge, shielding common soldiers and hurling Alchemist’s Fire alongside the most steadfast of our Order. I would have died in ignorance, believing in a cause and happy to embrace it. My life should have ended there, with them, at it’s peak.

The war had ended with a bang.

But then a whisper…

“Wake…”

Engulfed in darkness – without feeling, unknowing of space or time – an ethereal flanging called to me through the void. It reached out to me and it pulled and demanded that I returned to my feet. I awoke to a ghastly place of wisps and convoluted space, a world familiar to the one I had known yet twisted and churned into something uncanny – almost familiar.

After what felt like weeks of wandering, I stumbled out onto solid ground, my body finally returning to me. Even so, I was clutch by death once more, stomach aching and muscle deteriorating, it was all I could do to pop the cork off an elixir and gulp down the entirety of the concoction. My once decaying body began the long process of rejuvenation, tendons mending and flesh melding. I had been granted second life..and yet, I saw no other of my pedigree rise from the devastation.

From whence I came, a great and ghastly crater roared with a crackling energy what blended and created a bridge linking The Parallel and our own. Two worlds had begun molting into one creating instability throughout. Creatures from the beyond bled into our realm in physical form, unfamiliar and unadjusted as to threaten our existence.

I used to preach about how all things deserved life and love and passion. Now I know that these are only the things that will lock your simalucra to the infinite. I gave my all to my ideals and since those ideals shackle me to this plane until my work is done.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Pedigree

Word of the Day: tempus fugit

Warriors Of The Tide

“…and so, with great irony, sith we refused to stand down, they sought to destroy us. In doing so, they destabilized the great ebb and tide between our realm and the Parallel and ushered forth a preternatural cataclysm…” 
– Felknight Detritus

~~~~~

Atop The Tallest Hill, the deep sun cast long shadows across the training field. Sweat trickled into my eyes and my arms and legs reluctantly responded to my persistent pleading. I tracked the clanking golem in front of me, its form little more than an amalgam of junk. It circled me, and I it, it’s ghastly gaze locked onto me, unabating.

A quick change of trajectory telegraphed an impending assault and the golem rushed toward me, a single heavy fist cut a thin line into my cheek as I narrowly dodged barely out of reach.

We clashed briefly, trading strikes, until I was overwhelmed, again, and  I crumbled into the russet dirt, the wind knocked out of me following a rattling strike to my abdomen. I curled into the gritty grime of the training circle, lurching, and coughed violently, attempting to catch my breath.

“Maybe ya should try hittin’ it with that hard head’a’yers…” My mentor snarked from where he lounged, perched on a fence post nearby. “Quit studyin’ and jus’ hit it – maybe ya won’t keep gettin’ slapped around like a ninny.” He took a slow drag from his freshly rolled cigarette.

I huffed and force myself to my feet again, the shambling golem patiently waited for me to take a stance. I allowed my limbs to hang limp by my sides. I was nearly too tired to express the frustration I was feeling.

“It ain’t workin’,” I steadied my breaths. “I can’t touch it.”

He rolled his eyes and took another drag. “S’cuz you spend too much time standin’ around tryna guess what’s comin’ or thinkin’ about what just hit’cha. Watchin’ yer opponent’s all well and not, but yer wastin’ energy when ya should be feelin’ it through the Veil.”

I twisted my mouth, “so, what then? Close my eyes?”

“Well, it ain’t like yer gettin’ much where with ’em open,” he mocked and shrugged his broad shoulders. He took a final drag then lifted an arm, “That’s’nough rest. Ding ding ding, round five!” A large grin spread the thick whispers of his peppered beard as he chopped his hand downward through the air signalling the golem to encroach on me again.

“Scraffer? You up there?”

A women’s voice trailed up the hill. I turned my head to see who was coming, however, the golem dashed toward me and began swinging again. I was forced into a backward stumble and scramble to gather myself again.

My mentor barked following me poor show. “Stay focused!”

The woman’s voice again, “I shoulda figured some poor soul – voids abound!” The lady rushed to the edge of the training circle, her scarcely tattooed face wrought with concern. “Look at the boy, ya gaf! Give ‘im a damned rest and pick it up in the mornin’. I come up here to tell ya the Commons’ got a handsome batch of mulligan stewin’.”

A warm stew sounded magnificent to my bruised muscles and aching bones. Even as I drifted off into a day-dream my eyes never left the golem. I heard a simple ‘hmph’ before the animated garbage began to close in on me.

It happened in a blink, right before my eyes, or perhaps time was convoluted in my worn down state. Before the golem had a chance to attack me again, my lady guardian angel was behind it and in the next moment its ghastly eyes faded to naught and it crumbled, unceremoniously, into a heap of rubbish.

She stepped over the fallen golem in one long stride and stood before me. A hand extended toward me, she offered to support me in walking and I reluctantly accepted, her height causing me to awkwardly cling to her side.

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome, but no worries.”

I could hear my mentor scoff as he lowered himself from the fence and dismissively started down the hill toward the community field below.

She grumbled and huffed and I could feel her muscles tense if not but for a moment before she addressed me again just as we made it to the edge of the circle and she began to help me over the fence.

“I’m guessin’ you ain’t been his protege’ for long.”

“Nu-uh.” I grunted past my pain, leveraging myself over the fence and recuperating on the other side. I then chuckled which caused some pain and a short-lived wince. “You could tell?”

She smirked and shrugged gently, “a little. But, really, I mean ta say, I doubt anybody can put up with him for long.”

“He ain’t so bad.”

She scoffed and took my arm again, “he’s an asshole.” We began again, down the hill. A few moments passed before she added, “but I guess you’re right.”

I perked a brow, “have you known him long?”

She shrugged again, “practically raised me, he did – well, the community raised me but he’s kinda the elder around here, ya know? Anyway, I used ta be in yer shoes prob’ly at half yer age though. How old’er you, anyway?”

I pondered in earnest and considered fudging the number up a couple years closer toward her age. “Seventeen by now, I reckon.”

“Older than ya look.” I twisted my mouth at that. She continued, “yeah, I was about six when we started. ‘Course he wasn’t slappin’ me around jus’ yet but the physical trainin’ is the easy stuff.”

She continued to talk to me as we reached the bottom of the hill and joined the rest of the commune for supper. Many of the other transients seemed to know her well and from their passing conversation it seemed she had been gone and only just returned.

Everyone simply referred to her as Sister. Between the constant stops and brief catching-ups, it seemed like an age before we finally received our food. The large bowl of steaming stew taunted me mercilessly until Sister and I finally sat down on a makeshift bench just outside what was her personal tent pitched up underneath a dreary tree with long hanging moss.

“Dunno how long ya been around, but I imagine the ol’ Scaffer ain’t really make sure everyone knows who ya are. We’ll do a proper round in the morn’.” She spoke in between mouthfuls of food and once she was done she rolled a cigarette and began to smoke slowly. I refused when she offered and she responded with a small shrug.

“See, unlike those shady ass Pilgrims, tryna judge and shape folks while standin’ over them, we eat, bleed, and sweat with our people. We’re like family – ” She stopped and tilted her head in response to my own puzzled look and tilted brow. A moment passed before she chuckled, “damn, he’nt even tell you that much? You ever heard of the Paladins?” And when I shook me head she sat up straight as if she had a long story to tell.

———-

Daily Prompt: Tide

Word of the Day: sith

Flaunted Desire

I was infatuated. I can admit that now, knowing what she was – realizing what I had become.

I must have been an easy target – the easiest target, really: a craftsman’s apprentice, wet behind the ears and obsessed with a good time.

We lay in bed, intertwined and sweating, “they harass me; call me trash; look down on me,” she said.

“Who says this?” I vowed to set them straight.

And so I patrolled, a single blade hidden away for my own protection, and cornered those in question. I was careful, quiet and precise. The news went up, the papers screaming murder, but they knew not where to place the blame.

I was just as confused as they.

“I’m being framed!” Her tears graced my cheek as she exclaimed. “They despise me, call me witch, and blame me!”

None of my investigations turned up ought of use. I turned to my father, the wisest man I knew.

“She’s a damned witch,” he spouted as soon as I mentioned her. “One of those cursed Pilgrims dabblin’ in business they’nt no place in.”

A Pilgrim? “She’nt nothin’ ta do with this!”

“And yet, she’s got you runnin’ town bearin’ yer teeth at every women’r’man. She’s got you foggy eyed, boy, over nothin’ more than a few ocellated feathers! just as you come in here with that blade hiddin’ at yer hip.”

I froze. Snarled and huffed. I felt rage build in me and, without good reason, I turned my blade on him.

Neither of us left that room.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Flaunt

Word of the Day: ocellated

New Sleeve Of Thought

I took it upon myself to investigate the rumors in spite of The Council frowning on my initiative. I reached out and let her know of my impending visitation which she responded to in kind; within the next few days I found myself hanging my soaked and tattered cloak in the bustling tavern of Corner Cove. I had arrived earlier than stated and so sought a table and ordered a warm drink.

“You come here for Luffri’s teachings?” The tavern-aid set my frothing drink in front of me looked unto me expectantly.

“I was just passing through. Who’s Luffri?” A little deception went a long way.

“Oh, apologies.” She recoiled but I waved it off assuring her I was not offended. She continued, “most weathered travelers come ’round here’re lookin’ for her. She’s one of those Pilgrims – ya know, that cult of philanthropists or whatever – she come here some time ago, kicked the piss out of some bandits, and the warden labeled her a hero – let her set up a shack and everything. Anyway, she’s been taken on pupils; I hear she been teachin’ them that Planar Truth hub-bub; most folks’re still talkin’ it up as wicked sorcery but the warden ain’t hearin’ none of it.”

I feigned new found interest, “do ya know her much yerself?”

“Not really. She come in here sometimes but mostly she stays around the caves ’round the shore. That’s where her little school is held.”

“Maybe I check it out…” I tapped my chin in faux-thought for a moment before turning my attention to her again. “Probably gonna wait out the storm first, though. I’d like to get her a drink if’n she comes in. Would’ya let me know?”

“Sure. She gets our heaviest mead every time. Honestly,” and she leaned in and lowered her voice, “she’s got quite the tab. I wouldn’t waste your coppers.”

I chuckled and insisted I would cover at least that one drink and she shrugged before returning to her duties, ensuring me she would let me know if Luffri came into the tavern that eve.

I sighed, internally, while sipping at my drink and allowed the warm tavern air to dry and heat me. This was not to be a pleasant reunion; however, I hoped all the same…

I turned to mediation while I waited.

“Mister…erm…” The tavern-aid’s voice.

“You wanted to see me?” A second voice – immediately recognizable. I opened my eyes to see her before me, large mug already in hand, an infectious smile smeared across her face. Her appearance was strikingly different from last I saw her, her hair buzzed down and a sleeve of tattoos covering both arms.

I addressed and thanked the tavern-aid and paid her for the drink that Luffri was holding. The young woman slowly left and Luffri and I casually sipped until she was well out of range to eavesdrop.

Before I could get a word out, Luffri reached into her coat and produced a small bundle of flora, a tussie-mussie really. She offered it to me and I turned up a brow to which she chuckled:

“What? One of us’s gotta be the romantic.”

It smelled of the sea air, with a tinge of sweet underneath, and contain many valuable alchemical herbs. It was fresh, specially picked, with particulars I preferred.

“I’d thought you were comin’ ta see me, for once,” she started after taking a long sip of her drink. “but it’s just business as usual, in’nit? Did The Council send you?”

“They don’t know I’m here,” I furrowed my brow, “however; whatever yer stagin’ here, they are catchin’ air of it.” I twisted my mouth in uncertainty, “I’m worried, love. What’re ya buildin’ at? What’re these tattoos?”

She beckoned me to join her and brought her drink with her toward the door where she insisted I leave my coat. I would not need it, she said. We stepped out of the tavern door and into the torrent storm.

“Watch.” She mused.

In an instant I felt the planes shift around her. The sigils embedded in her skin began to glow of ghastly smoke and her eyes turned to a sightless black. A washing sensation came over me and I peered to a faded world; the middle ground; The Veiled Railway.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Sleeve

Word of the Day: tussie-mussie

Planar Revanant

~~A Way Home~~

It was an irksome climb through thicket and turbulent crags until we came to a reclusive cabin wedged amongst the trees and overgrowth of the mountain overlooking the riparian valleys. The sun was now beginning to fall, lighting our path but with a faint orange glow and casting heavy shadows all around us.

The cabin was well-to-do, I noted, masterfully crafted some time ago, but now rested dormant and unkempt covered in leave and fallen stick and the surrounding foliage pushed up against its walls; even so, a well-trodden path stood out amongst the wild undergrowth twisting and leading further uphill until we finally came to a creaking porch. There was no light coming from within; regardless, the overgrown ivy and windows caked with age old grime made it nearly impossible to peer inside.

A sudden thud and splintering crack of wood snapped my attention toward my companion. The boar of a proto-man stood amongst a cloud of dust following a secondary barrage of falling debris and creaking hinges as the door to the cabin had been violently battered open by brutish boot. The sound reverberated in the trees causing a cacophony of caws and fluttering from birds throughout.

“-Any- sorta warning next time ya wanna wake the whole damned countryside!” I turned a brow, scolding, and placed a hand over my thundering chest and sighed. “Subtly to the voids…d’know what I expected.” I mumbled.

I followed after my companion’s weighty steps into the cabin’s interior. For a moment, we stood in a silhouette ridden shroud and my senses were accosted  by the heavy fragrance of pine, chamomile, and other floral notes, a combination familiar to me and produced during ritual by the lighting of incense. Accompanying the smell came the sense of sedation as if stepping through The Veil and viewing the world outside of my own body.

A soft whir and click proceeded the flood of a brilliant glow from the chest of my automatos ally and we were greeted with the sight of a spacious living room. All furniture had been pushed to the walls and the room was adorned with smoldering incense, discarded vials, and peculiarly placed trinkets and baubles. At the center of it all knelt a man, unmoving. Perhaps in a trance?

My companion’s voice containing an uncanny artificial twang, “You there, you are hereby under arrest under the authority of the Imperial Commonality.” My companion stood further steps into the room, taking no care to avoid crushing any of the ritual components under foot. “Surrender yourself peacefully or we -will- take lethal action.”

I reached out an took his shoulder before he could trample any more of the scene. The kneeling man had yet to respond.

“That ain’t who we want.”

“You do not know.”

I rolled my eyes, “besides the fact that anyone would have bolted the moment you battered down the door, that dude’s barely got one foot in this plane.” I gestured toward the knelt man.

My companion peered at the man for a few moments, presumably scanning and processing, before speaking again, “he is alive and unharmed. Admittedly, target appears to be in a vegetable state.”

“Precisely. Though, I wouldn’t say ‘unharmed.’ Gimme half a hike. And do try’n not step on anything.” I took a step ahead of my companion and reached into the inner lining of my long coat. I produced a single vial of blue fog and promptly popped the cork and took the concoction in one fluid gulp.

My nerves screamed one moment then ceased to exist in the next. I tensed underneath the momentary pain then opened my eyes to a world engulfed in a fog and littered with shapeless fragments. I peered amongst the incorporeal and into the ethereal face of the Knelt Man.

“Ah, so there is some of you left.” I smirked. He looked taken aback, initially, and I knew he was naught but a babe to the Planar Arts. He was beyond our concern. “Where is your sire?”

He wrinkled his ethereal nose and brow, “T’was warned of ya. Tyrants. Afraid yet drawin’ strength from fear.  Embracin’ The Veil only ta see it’s end. Traitors.”

Brain washed. Useless. His sire was long gone and he was left here as a conduit.

“We’re done with him.” I spoke aloud between realms. My companion made his way over to the Knelt Man and I produce, from my belt, a sigil and vessel for containment.

“Traitorous cur!” He spat and his ether lunged at mine. With a flourish and gesture and quick incantation his simalucra fizzled and spiraled into the metal vessel; simultaneously, my companion snapped the neck of his physical.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Cur

Word of the Day: frugivorous

A Way Home

It seemed safe enough, tucked away in that small valley, surviving off the rapid water and its rivulets. The fish were plentiful and I had learned enough of moss, mushroom, and vine to survive the common ailments of the wild. My greatest fear, despite my loathing of the society from whence I was raised, was loneliness. Though, even as I wept, cold and wet, the sprites of the forest provided a shoulder on which I could lean.

I had always known they were there, flittering just beyond our realm, above our head and in our faces, but it was not until I ousted myself from the limited minds and confines of common society that they opened themselves to me and I was finally able to see. The Veil was exposed to me and to me alone.

Or so I had thought.

I had met no other that could dance with the sprites, hear their weary whispers, or employ their ghastly sight. Naturally, I was skeptical of him when he first introduced himself, clad in the garm of the common folk and speaking in trained tongue. The Veil, as I knew it, seemed to thin itself around him but was strongest at his core. I asked the sprites but they revealed nothing of him. And so, out of curiosity, I sought he and spoke with him in what I remembered of the common tongue.

He said to me: “you think yourself alone but in truth you are one of many. We are attuned to a plane beyond this meek existence.” He question if I often communed with sprites. I answered honestly. He complimented me. He offered me a way to strengthen my connection; a way in which I could embody The Veil and transcend life as I knew it.

~~Follow The Tale: Planar Revanant~~

Daily Prompt: Rivulet

Word of the Day: feint

Wrought In Strife

We raced into the smallish room, I just before my mentor, and he promptly shut and latched the door. When he turned to face me, he spoke with smoldering chagrin barely contained in a biting hush.

“What the hell happened?”

My chest tightened. I stood frozen, heart still pounding, and every inch of my form trembled with anxiety. My vision blurred but my eyes were locked onto his bruised and tarnished hands and I felt a chilling shudder coarse through me.

“I told ’em – ” I started though I could barely hear my own words. I did not shift my gaze. “I told ’em to leave us alone. They..,” the words left me following the sudden sting of blood trickling into the corner of my eye. I reached a hand up to wipe at the wound over my brow only to mirror my harrowed gaze unto my own flesh; it was soiled with grime of blood and dirt. I could feel the flesh underneath my nails.

I recoiled when he stepped toward me and he hesitated briefly before gently guiding me with urgent care toward a desk chair at the opposite end of our rental. He bid me sit while he disappeared into the bathroom to fetch pail and water. No sooner was I alone did restlessness well within me and I rose, fidgeting and pacing the room, unable to quiet my mind against the sudden and frightful events of late.

“Aly,” I practically jumped at his tone reentering the room, “sit.” He motioned back to the seat and I silently did as requested.

He knelt his towering frame in front of me and pulled a cloth from the pail of steaming water. He wrung the water from the rag and placed it over my hands. I noticed that his weathered hands had been thoroughly rinsed of the grime what plagued them; even so, those stains remained in memory. I clenched the cloth feverishly in my hands taking care to keep them hidden from my own admonishing gaze.

With a second cloth, and a first aid kit at his side, he tended to my other wounds – the cut on my brow, my scrapped and bleeding extremities – with as gentle a touch his rough hands and curt bed-side manner could muster. Silence hung between us as he worked and I simply stared at the patterned wallpaper until my eyes dried and burned forcing me to close them if only but for a moment.

“I got ‘er killed…”

My mentor shook his head, finishing a wrap about my elbow. “You did whatcha could.”

“I did nothing.” I turned my eyes toward him but his gaze was preoccupied cleaning up spare bandages and discarded disinfectant wipes. “I tried to tell ’em off but they just laughed and…she pulled at my arm to run but they were all around us. They came all at once and I’nt do a thing.” I was trembling again but this time it was through clenched teeth and hot tears. “I hesitated and she’s the one who paid for it…”

He looked up at me then and our eyes met and I saw beyond his besaddened expression into the disappointment he felt.

“Aly, listen, ” he placed a hand over my covered fists, “what happened to yer friend isn’t yer fault. She was taken by the immorality of those mens’ hearts not by yer pursuit of happiness. A Pilgrim must always remember that she cannot control the cosmos.”

I had allowed my eyes to trail down to his hand again. That hand, knuckles swollen and scars embedded in the flesh, embodied heft and strength I had failed to exude; the strength and unwavering will to protect others when it mattered most, to make a choice and step forward and rather than cower in self-defense until there was no other option.

Just then, a knock came to the door and my mentor, with one final empathetic glance and a pat on my leg, stood and made his way across the room to answer the beckoning.

“Monsignor Moth-hound.” It was the Inn Keepers voice, to which my mentor quickly assured the stout man that he could ‘save the honorifics fer someone who ain’t but a glorified hobo.’

Unsurprisingly, the news of a crime in the streets had spread through the small town like wildfire and after my mentor and I had been seen, by the Keeper’s young assistant, fleeing to our rental as if some danger were haunting us the Keeper had come to check on us to ensure that all was well.

“‘Tis,” my mentor assured him, “however, it was my charge, Alheart, and a friend of her’s, that were assaulted by vagrants in the streets. Damnable wretches threw their lives away for indecent desires.” He presented the information with a matter-of-factly tone what danced the line of indifference.

I noticed the Inn Keeper lean in and angle a view past my mentor and into the room. “And what of your charges’ friend?”

“Nadaline.” I added abruptly which caused the Inn Keeper and his assistant some alarm.

To answer the question, my mentor somberly shook his head, an action what was quickly followed by The Assistant pushing his head into the room to look toward me.

“Nadaline Ormons? Tomboyish? Short sandy hair? Perpetually speckled with sand?”

I could feel tears welling again. I wanted to scream at him to shut up but bit my tongue and scrubbed at my hands with the since cold cloth provided to me.

My mentor started again, “I wanted to get Alheart out of the streets first. I mean to go back’n’take care of the bodies. If you knew her, we can confirm her identity and inform her relatives – ”

“I’m comin’ with you.”

Moth-hound gave me a weary glance but reluctantly nodded his head.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Elaborate

Word of the Day: velitation

The Conveyed

It was a moonless night and an ominous low rumble filled the steppes. Thick clouds loomed heavy overhead warning of an impending storm.

We had only just concluded the days trek and pitched a tent to weather the coming rainfall. It was my job to set a suitable fire while my mentor prepared our nights rations. With flint and steel, and a little determination, I made quick work of setting a small fire.  I triumphantly congratulated my work and looked up to my mentor with a grin splayed across my face, in hopes of catching her approving eye; however, she seemed preoccupied, her aged eyes fixed on the sky.

Her lips parted – half hushed, “put that out.”

Curious, I mirrored her skyward gaze. “But I just – ”

“Now, Ealora.” She practically hissed just as the underbelly of a massive vessel pushed aside the nebulous sky and an array of searching lights bathed the steppes in streams of revealing white.

In urgency, I did what I was told. I haphazardly kicked arid dirt over the kindling flame and rushed to scrounged what salvagable wood remained.

Over my own haste and the pounding of my heart, I did not hear my mentors words until she grabbed me by the arm.

“Listen.” She commanded and pointed into the night at a distant outcropping amongst the flatlands. “Go. Wait for me there.”

She freed me and I offered little more than a nod before taking up my survival stick and slingpack. I could hear her working feverishly to dismantle our campsite in the wake of my fleeing stride.

I skid and slid through the dirt and low bushes in a barely controlled scamper down the small hill of our abandoned campsite. The low rumble from before had crescendoed and the massive vessel loomed ever closer, its flood lights methodically hunting. It was nearly overhead.

I cast a wary eye over my shoulder in search of my mentor but my sight was obsured by the glaring white of a search light looming ever closer, following the hazy cloud of coarse sediment left floating in my wake. I barely turned my head forward in time to recognize the thin crevasse cutting through the drylands, still, I toppled over its brim.

Down I tumbled against the loose sand and eroded rock until I finally came to a stop at water’s edge. My dust covered boots quickly became encrusted in mud from the slow flowing stream and as I looked up and caught the prowling eye of my titanic pursuer beaming down on me, a figure vaulted across the crevasse an drew the attention of it seeking flare. A thin mist of dust showered over me and the light shifted away from me.

“Ealora”

Her voice came to me from the edge of the crevasse. My mentor seemed to bleed into existence where she had not been before. She beckoned to me.

Hand over hand, with the aid of my stick, I clambered up the wall of the crevasse and she pulled me up and onto my feet.

“Stay close,” she said just as the world around us turned bleek.

Her calous brown locks turned ashen and her eyes emptied to a sightless black. I felt life leave me – the thundering of my heart ceased.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Conveyor

Word of the Day: fenestrated