Donnerstag, 14. Juli 2011

Something completely different: A short story

Like about everybody who ever got a nice remark by their primary school teacher on their creative writing, the idea of writing a book myself has always fascinated me.
Well, with age there came experience and probably I don't have it in me to write a novel, but I humour myself not to suck too bad at short stories.
So, if you're interested in a bit of nice, no depth fantasy, here you go.

I was lost. I know what you're going to tell me. That wouldn't be just a disgrace, but also quite impossible, since after all I'm a Bayona*, born with the gift to find my way wherever in  Z'anad I'd be. But that's the point, I wasn't in Z'anad anymore. As a faithful Runner, I'd been sent to the Free City by the Prodnik to deliver an important treaty to their Prodnik.
I had acomplished my duties and so nobody would even notice I was missing. Runners lead a lonly life. Some of them have a partner in all the major cities, or at least somebody who acts like on for a few days for pay. Others, like me want to retire some day with the savings from their hard work and start anew. This should have been my last mission, paid for in advance. The Prodnik wouldn't wonder if he never heard of me again and neither would anybody else in Z'anad.

So there I was standing in the middle of the Wilderlands and couldn't even tell anymore where I'd come from. You laugh? I'm a Bayona, I never needed orientate like ordinary people. Stars are pretty and yes, the sun changes its position during the day and yes, there's more moss on one side of the tree than on the other. What did I care? You could drop me anywhere at night  with my eyes covered, turn me ten times around and I could still tell you wher Zasul is. As long as I myself am in Z'anad. So I went on walking. I would arrive somewhere or die of thirst in the meantime.

By the end of the second day I was lucky, I heard a dog bark in the distance, a real dog, not a mean coyote, and where there are  dogs there are people. I licked over my cracked lips with my dry tongue once more and paced up. Soon I could make out the first huts in the flimering twilight of the steppe. Somebody aproached me who in spite of the warmth was wearing a heavy cloak with a hood. When he got closer I saw it was a man, not very tall but moving gracefully and smoothly. His hair and beard were of a strange white, tinted with grey, like an old man's, but his face didn't show any signs of old age and his eyes shone with a peculiar power.
His eyes, yes they radiated with a blue I'd never seen before, not even with the Icepeople you see from time to time in Zasul. He greeted me in the guttural dialect of the Wilderlands that sounded almost like growling in my ears:
"Be welcomed, stranger. Seldomly do wanderers visit our village"
I answered his greetings and asked for food and shelter for the night. He nodded and let me to the village. It wasn't big, maybe 50 houses built around a small court with a well. The man must have seen my glance, moving fast he hauled up a bucked full od water and passed me a wooden scope to drink.
I've drunk the melting water from the mountainsides of Paklot and the sweet wine of the Bar Valley, but never in my life did anything taste as delicious as this stale water from a well in the Wilderlands.

When my thirst was quenched my host led me to one of the houses. It was similarly built to those I'd seen in the Karsteppe, but it seemed to lack stables. Never mind, I was too tired to wonder about that, too tired for anything. I almost fell down on the bedding I was offered and slept like a young kitten.
The next morning I took farewell from my host. Now I noticed that I had hardly seen any other villagers, especially no children playing in the court like in any other village. When I asked my host he answered something alon g the lines of digging out root and suddenly wanted to get rid of me quickly. They gave me a kind of sausage, made from dried sweet tree-juice and a big bag of water. He explained me the way to the next town from where I should not have any problems to return to Z'anad and I was glad for the thought of having the soil of Z'anad under my soles again and especially of having the feeling to know where I was in my head again.

So I thanked my host for everything and set off towards the town. Three days they had said. Only three days. Three days are nothing for a Runner like me.
They don't call them the Wilderlands for nothing. Their stepps host more than just thirst and it came when dusk arrived. Probably it had followed me for a while already. Its first attack pushed me over and made me crashing against some rocks. Its own momentum had carried it away from me, but when it landed on its feet some steps away from me, it immediately turned around to me again. Back in Z'anad, the brasuli belong to the mythical monsters grandmothers use to intimidate little children. Here in the Wilderlands they are real. Whatever your grandmother told you, she didn't exaggerate. Its teeth were as pointed as the palisades of a fortified village and its claws shone like the miners' pickaxes. And it wasn't alone. Three smaller creatures appeared on the scene when it prepared to jump. I could hear its growling and hissing as pushed its hindlegs into the ground, simultaneously with the others.
Instinctively I shielded my face with my arm. I heard the teeth cut into the flesh, I felt the warm blood dripping on my legs, but it wasn't mine. With a dumb thud, the brasul fell to the ground. Tentatively I lowered my arm and looked into those radiant blue eyes. The hood had slipped back over his head and revealed two pointy, hairy ears that stood out over his white grey hair. His two companions weren't less outlandishThe man had huge pointy horns and her beak was dripping with the blood of the brasul.
I don't know what stories your grandma used to tell you, but in the tales on mine, the Animal-Men were even worse than the brasuli. With a weak smile I accepted my fate.

That was more than 6 years ago. I have learnt to fine my way in the steppe, to interprete the wind, to read the stars. Kamik, my husband and partner taught me how to do it. He didn't need to teach our children. As long as they are in the Wilderlands, they'll never lose their way home, but may some day they may show it to somebody meandering like I did.

*Some remarks on translation and pronounciation.
This was originally written in German, which has clearly distinctive male/female forms, so the sex of the narrator is revealed within the first sentences. It was interesting for me to see whether it would change my own perception of the protagonist if that was probably not the case.
The story features names and terms from a fictional world.
Writing this it acquired a kind of Russian flavour (or whatever counts as Russian in Germany). So the pronounciation of those names is mostly short and "hard"
Z'anad: Ts' -u-'nud. Both Us are pronounced short like in but or bus
Bayona: Bu'yonu. A is a signifier for the female form.  Again, U like but, yo like yoghurt
Prodnik: think sputnik, only with O like some.
Brasul/Brasuli: Brrrusool. I indicates plural. The r is a guttoral rolled r. Think of Russian spies in James Bond movies. Oo like in spool.

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