Myth: of Men and Monsters. Part 1: Echos. S2
this was started yesterday and finished on my phone. Edits will be made soon and this message will be replace with a much better one. As for the story, it leads from where the last part left off… they are different scenes in the same chapter.
Green eyes glittered, peering down on the little soldiers battling on the scarred wooden table. Jax always wondered what they thought, if they thought. He always wanted to know if they were just mechanical toys or if there was something more to them. His friends would disassemble their old General Hiltas and Lieutenant Garundi figures, no longer enthralled with them without the exclusivity they once brought. He would watch, amazed, always expecting blood and organs to spill out of the back panel. Strange flashing circuitry dashed the dream every time, but not for long. With each new immature surgery the idea that they were alive instilled itself once again.
Jax had taken part in a few of the destructions. He’d had an especially old Motana his aunt had given him for some reason or another. He couldn’t care about it too much, it wasn’t even an Aelphi model. It was some beast they fought, created to provide an opposite for the more sought after soldiers. It was new at the time, issued during the hundredth anniversary of the Jil war. It was a right true demon, the leader of the group of creatures his current batch was charging into below him. But, as toys do, it had become tired very quickly. He could have sworn to hearing the thing gasp when the fastening pins were removed.
His newest gift was far more appreciated. Andial had always been a great hero of his. The only lament Jax could lay claim to, the version he received. He had asked, pleaded for the General Andial. This monument of artistry came with his legendary golden armor and mask. It made him god-like, second only to lord Obeiron himself. What had been sent into his room that morning, though, was the simpler and less coveted Captain figure, an homage to the man who had led charges through the most hopeless battles and always succeeded. It was the cause to the general’s effect.
Jax knew he’d shown his displeasure. He could see it on his father’s face, the man who had received special permission to come from the front lines, the general who did everything in his power to involve himself in every one of his son’s birthdays. It brought tears to Jax’s own eyes to see any guilt or sadness coming from the barrel chested officer. He sent his disappointment away and grabbed the saluting soldier from the ground, hugging it tightly. He shared that embrace with his father, much to the little fighter’s chagrin. He adored his fah, even more than the heroes that covered his room’s walls. He was the hero at home, when he was at home.
The exquisitely crafted warriors stopped. They started to look around. It was a laugh that was catching their attention. He wished the craftsmen would make it harder for them to lose concentration. It was almost impossible to wage a mock-war in a public place, especially in a pace like the Shining Gem Inn.
He looked up, beyond his playthings of virtual-death, resting his gaze on the source of the booming hurrahs. He had to smile. He had to let his annoyance break way for a smirking curiosity.
He saw his father standing on a table across the room. The tall, powerfully built man, already a little old for his bones, was readying a deadly blow, ready to strike out at an empty barrel with his trusty lamp snuffer. His old subordinates had encircled him, chanting and laughing. None were quite as loud as the effigy hero himself, chuckling at the irony that the man he was so animatedly mocking was his younger self.
Jax barely noticed the Jilia beasts’ counterattack against Andial’s men. He opened the flap on their case and piled them in, inadvertently saving the great captain from sullying his perfect reputation.
There was no reason to keep them out. They’d just become distracted again, no matter how high he set the levels on his new arena set.
He shoved that in with the figures too, folding it haphazardly so that it just barely didn’t fit. He pulled and stretched the cover to make it fit around the bulging corners. He felt a twinge of guilt for the minuscule militarists squeezed together inside the case. As twinges go, it was equatable in size to the figures themselves and went into passing quick enough.
For the first time since the other children had been escorted home, Jax took a look around. He hadn’t noticed day turning to night. He’d been too engrossed, to focused on ensuring his men had victory. He took in the worn wood and the cramped corners of the elitist accommodations. This was a high-blood tavern, a gathering for nobility. When he had been told he was allowed to go to the reunion, he’d imagined a castle-like structure with winding halls and armory. This was, after all, the place where great war heroes came to tell their stories over a meal and drink.
It was far more like a cave. Not that it was dark or uncivilized. It simply reminded Jax of some tiny alcove in a subterranean passage. To most others, he could imagine, it might seem like a little temple, with extravagantly etched windows and a singularly mesmerizing gem coated light that hung from the ceiling. For all of its beauty, the namesake of the establishment wasn’t illuminating anything with much force. Even the candles were practically unnecessary. They seemed to serve only a single purpose, to shift the color of light from blue to a more palatable orange. The bright full moons congregating in the East would have been more than sufficient had their surface reflected bronze instead of a cold nightly aura. Even through the immutable, mottled-gray storm clouds and ground fog that began to form when Jax hadn’t paid attention, the light was enough to cause a show. It refracted past the outer buildings through the segmented glass of the windows into thin wisps of silver dancing along the tables. He watched the movement with increased enchantment. With his young, focused eyes he brought the photons to life. Set to the soundtrack of his father’s soldier’s reunion, the light began to seize itself into shapes formed from nothing. As he lost track of the world around him, again, the shimmering beams became a pool of ethereal energy where the spirits of old dwelt.
His eyes refocused. He’d been entranced for a long while.
When a boy his age can find nothing better to do than watch light on a stained and wounded wood plank, it would be needless to say that he had surpassed apathy. Children have an uncanny ability to recognize boredom. They have an even more potent power of expressing it. Jax’s method was subtle. It was simple. It was mischievous. It rarely ever worked. Which is why he’d suffered through so much that day. The other children had complained and practically pulled their fathers through the door.
Not wanting to seem spoiled, he waited. This was his lashing out. He preferred to go with guilt. He would look at his father, pleading by way of his expressions and slumped over posture. The man was illiterate to body langauge.
Jax had started trying to calculate the probability of who was going to go next. He would run numbers and equations through his head but eventually rested on a basic assumption, a 100% chance that every one of them were going to leave one less peer in the group.
Once the last one scampered away, when the night was but a promise yet to come, Jax began to listen in on the adult’s stories. He’d grown disinterested after the first round of strategy talk and discussions of feminine conquests gone by. When the drinks started rolling out faster, stories were repeated with less and less coherence. They were five rounds past unintelligible.
He watched as his father’s men filed out of the room, one at a time, few and far between. He gathered his things and table-hopped his way closer. He’d been told to keep his distance with the other youths but without their incessant chattering, he didn’t see much of a reason for the restriction. He pounced on a bench separated from the main table by a half-height wall and waited to be collected.
“The eastern scouters are talking, Kayle.”
Jax’s ears didn’t fare well against the dark grit of the early arrival accents so popular in this city. Only a few rotations had past since his family had been assigned to this world. Those who were more accustomed to the land and the natives almost seemed to be speaking another language. Through his powers of perception, more to the point; because he peeked over the barrier between the two tables, he deciphered that the speaker was Yarthiss, an older and far more grizzled man who had been his father’s second in command.
The higher ranking officer spoke in the same tone he would use when trying to dismiss the nightmares and fears Jax used to bring to him late in the night. His voice was even, smooth and had the slightest hint of an edge. When Jax heard his father speak, an image of a wonderfully crafted blade spinning elegantly in the air would appear.
“Scouters talk, it’s their station, they’re trained to do just that.”
Yarthiss shook his head, forcing his red and purple hair to slap against his face. With the color coming out on his nose and the compounded slurring above his peasantry and alien dialect, it was easy to see he was drunk.
“They’re swearing they’ve seen it watching from the outposts near the shore. They swear it’s been testing the walls.”
Kayle smiled, though it wasnt like anything Jax had witnessed before. It was a frigid and authoratative smirk. It was something he would expect from a teacher ready to hand punishment on an unruly child.
“You wait until the rest leave to bring up these bedtime stories? Why? Im sure the others would have enjoyed talking about the great Prince of–”
Yarthiss sat straight up, against the curve in his spine. He spoke quick, in short statments. Jax was surprised at his speed, both in movement and thought. He was old enough to be twice Kayle’s height and was every bit as large as he had been when he was useful on the battlefield.
“I beg your forgiveness. Please dont say it. The dreams are already threatening to return. I dont want to make them too strong.”
He had, it seemed, surprised himself as well. His dilapidated bulk shuffled back into its place on the bench. He started to shake. Jax could only imagine his face, the one good eye staring into nothing as the frosted dead thing in the other socket was treated to the worst of his imagination. Yarthiss tried to speak again but only brought stutters and grunts. His stammer was cancelled by Kayles nonchalant wave.
“You can’t be serious, Yarthiss. It’s a story! A legend! This shadow you’re seeing, the dark figure that you think is following you, it’s yours alone.”
Jax watched the wrinkled, overgrown Aelphi warrior squirm against Kayle’s smooth, hushing tone. The boy didnt know what was happening. He had no idea what they were discussing. He just knew he wasn’t bored anymore. That was confirmed by the poor old soldier’s almost inaudible snivel.
“It wont just be coming for me, Sir. The others are terrified, for themselves, for you.”