Sunday, November 23, 2014

The law of the plains, chapter 5

(This is chapter 5 of the Law of the plains. In the previous chapter, Yahnee stumbled on a stopped wind train and Spirit Walked to it to understand the situation. Also, please note that the words pʉetʉyai [ghost] and morlock are equivalent, the former being the Nʉmʉ word for the latter)

Suddenly, he noticed a few humans that were different from the typical civilian passenger. They were dressed and equipped like warriors. They moved with supernatural speed and agility and their weapons seemed like an extension of themselves. They managed to stand up to the morlocks, it even seemed that they mowed them down with ease. It did not matter if the wretched humans perverted by Tanasi-pʉetʉyai  seemed bigger and stronger. It did not matter if they had bone blades protruding from their arms or the fangs of a carnirat or if they had razor sharp claws instead of fingernails or, for the weirdest ones,  if they had long prehensile tails with a stinger… Every single pʉetʉyai was a different travesty of a human being, each one was more alien and more frightful than the next, each was a vicious, enraged killing machine but against those warriors, it did not seem to matter. They fought back fiercely and their feats of courage were almost more monstrous than the pʉetʉyai themselves.

One of them, a tall wiry soldier with dark hair and a black bezainted leather armor, rushed to the aid of two passengers that were cornered by morlocks. Unfortunately, the beasts were faster than him and tore the poor fellows to shreds before he got to them. As usual, they started fighting among themselves for the remains of their preys. The dark-haired soldier seemed to blank for a second, just enough for Yahnee to take a good look at him. He was only slightly older than Yahnee, but he exuded something special, an intensity that was rarely seen, even in the greatest shamans of the tribes. He seemed more "real" than everything around him. Then Yahnee noticed his eyes: his irises were pitch black, but there was something else. A golden ring circled his pupils and as anger started to swell in him, that ring changed color and glowed a fiery red.
Suddenly, somebody started to call for help at the front of the train. The dark warrior turned around and started running in that direction. Intrigued, Yahnee followed him. Sadly, once again the soldier was too late: another civilian, a boy not 14 revolutions old, was laying under a pʉetʉyai, screaming in pain. Yahnee realized that nothing could have saved him now, he was too badly wounded. The dark soldier did not even pause. He ran past the terrible spectacle and threw a dagger that lodged itself up to the hilt in the cranium of the poor lad, as if it the bone was made of butter. In a flash, Yahnee understood why: the dark warrior was indeed a shaman, or as they said in Gond, a Shaper. He was blessed with the greatest Gift there was: he could change the very reality around him, which was probably how he made his daggers and his swords impossibly sharp. Yahnee had been told that his own Gifts were essentially the same thing, but he had never believed that. He was just a young brave that enjoyed riding in the plains and making war to the pʉetʉyai .

Yahnee regained his wit. He had drifted off for an instant and he had almost been sent back to his body. Being the witness of such a great Gift was so incredibly exceptional that despite the savagery of the battle, Yahnee was in awe. At the speed of thought he gained back on the dark warrior. The man had reached the front of the train and, a blade in each hand, had launched himself on a mass of morlocks that had cornered another combatant against the shield of the train. On the tracks laid a dead kʉtsʉtoya.
It made sense, that was why the train had stopped! Satisfied that he had elucidated at least that mystery, he turned back to watch the Elites fighting. What he saw defied everything he had imagined about the famed soldiers. The Nʉmʉ were no cowards. On the contrary, they had the reputation of being fearsome fighters, the very best on the planet. Yahnee himself thought he was a great warrior... But these two men were in another league entirely.
The dark man moved so fast that the eye could barely follow his hands. Since his blades cut through flesh and bones as if they were not there, pretty much each of his strikes killed or maimed a morlock. His companion, a giant man with a crazy Mohawk, was equally fearsome, perhaps even more so. Each of the blows of his enormous hammer killed a pʉetʉyai and sent it flying backwards, knocking down several others. It did not matter if it was a small, hungry, snarling demon or a hulking, seven foot towering monster, they seemed light as feathers all the same. He had seemed in danger of being overwhelmed by the sheer number of pʉetʉyai despite his terrifying strength, but with the assistance of the dark haired warrior, he started to push back the mass of attackers. It was impossible!

Once again, it occurred to Yahnee that he had to leave and warn his band, now that he knew what was happening. The people on the train would or would not manage to escape the pʉetʉyai, it did not matter to him. His duty was to make sure the band was safe. Then maybe the braves would lead a war expedition. They would ride their horses and find and destroy the beasts, cleansing the purity of the plains from this foul evil. Such was the Law of the Plains: insure the survival of your own first. If you lived another day, you could always avenge the dead.

Once again, his thoughts were interrupted. The dark warrior had picked up an oil lantern that was lighting the scene and had thrown it far into the mass of morlocks. The lantern exploded in a huge ball of fire. As a spirit, Yahnee should not have felt the heat, but he did. More than that, he felt that the very fabric of reality was mangled ; he was pulled and pushed and sheared and punched and choked… He jumped back, propelling himself high in the sky, above the clouds. It was a common mistake for Spirit Walkers, movement occurred at the speed of thought and fright could send you anywhere. Yahnee calmed down and jumped back towards the train. The warrior had just used a very powerful  magic, changing the small flame of the lantern in dozens of phantasmatic fire spirits that jumped from one morlock to the next, burning them horribly. The reprise enabled the two warriors to help a civilian that was hiding behind Mohawk's large back to escape to the safety of the train.

Above them, in the train's pilot deck, Yahnee heard somebody bark orders. The train's crew had mostly reintegrated the safety of the steel compartments and started raining projectiles on the morlocks. The train's chimney started billowing smoke. Mohawk rushed to the huge body of the kʉtsʉtoya. It was half-cured, the crew had apparently been busy working on it in order to be able to clear the tracks, and food, especially meat, never went to waste on Yaghan which was probably why they had stopped for so long. Once again Yahnee felt the fabric of reality tremble, only on a much smaller scale than when the dark haired one had created an explosion. The great warrior started the titanic task of moving what was left of the carcass out of the tracks. It should have been impossible, the remains of the great body probably still weighed as much as a couple horses, but these mens were not bound by the laws of reality and inches by inches, the corpse of the animal moved out of the way.

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