Excerpts from The Tundra Tales

Seraphina sheds a new pair of eyes

I once read a book about a tribe that mutilated women. For sure, I thought the writer was mad, but the more I glanced at The Sarchen Girl, the more I realized he wasn’t. Perhaps this mad writer’s eyes had seen things I was just beginning to see.

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Foolishness

That night, as I turned, I experienced foolishness for the first time.

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Vulen falls into thought

 I try not to think about the infection that’s spread through my leg, and although the pain’s unbearable, when I hear the tormented cries of others, it makes me forget about my own. Many times, when asked, I reply with, I’m fine.

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Rarity encounters the Commander

"I suggest you ride with Jerry. The man stinks of swine but can navigate through pits like you wouldn’t believe.” The high commander turned around, smiling at Jerry. “Isn’t that right, Jerry!”

“That be right, sir.” Jerry spat on the ground, turning Rarity’s stomach.

“Eww…” Rarity glanced at Jerry as if he was some anomaly not meant for this world. Repulsed by his mottled features, she whipped out her fan as if it alone possessed powers that would rid her of his unpleasantries and those experienced throughout the day as she gathered her skirt, mounting the horse.

 

The road back should’ve taken two nights, but with Rarity’s constant yapping and hunger for food, the journey was delayed, taking The Knights of Elaple out of their way and toward a remote area where a trading post came to view. It was there where Rarity realized she had to part ways with her precious fan for a piece of stale bread.

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A Different Route

I remember the rain falling and the voices of men chatting as we trotted south. I knew not where I was, but at that moment, I cared not, for my head was bursting.

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Stream of thoughts

She glanced at me like The Silver Waters of Katarac, and I, to her, like The Sailor misses the Sea. We were dumbfounded! Time ceased, yet somehow, we were back where it all began. I could hear the revelers, the music, and taste the wine.

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The Rambles of Men

I recall the voices of men around village taverns talking of cowards and how they'd rather die by the sword, and I wondered if I’d become one of those cowards? 

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The Rose Falls

He fed upon my face like a creature of the night, sinking his teeth into my thighs, and although I was not his prey, and he was not a creature, we played the part.

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Fists of Courage

From afar, villagers welcomed me with fists to their hearts, but this time, a different gleam unveiled. Rumor has it the night air has brought a great sickness. Rash-like marks with blisters have taken over the bodies of men.
 

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Count Millicent hovers over Ernoldus

The end of the month arrived with much laughter and drink in The House of Elaple, as the garden was adorned with flowers and ribbons for the long-awaited Knotting Feast, but inside, a dispirited Ernoldus grew gloom as Count Millicent stood beside him in delight.

 

“Must you hover over me like a shadow, or is it to amuse yourself with my torment?” Ernoldus sighed, parting the drapes as he peered out the window and toward the garden.

“Glad to see you’re in such high spirits.”

“The only high spirit I desire is the one in that jug.” With a deep sigh of despair, Ernoldus glanced at the guests when seeing someone he recognized. Drawing the drapes shut, he placed his back against the wall, sneaking a peek from behind the curtains as he moved back and forth, hiding between the corners. “Is… is that… no… tell me you didn’t?”

“Oh, yes, the beautiful Annabelle LeFranc, in the flesh.”

“Beautiful? A swine covered in sludge looks better than that… that thing. I can’t believe father invited her. We both know her brows touch to no end and that… that thing on her lip. The gods sure had no mercy on her. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she was birthed by trolls.”

“Annabelle LeFranc is the third richest maiden in the feast. Her dowry alone could supply this kingdom with enough gold to house one of the biggest armies.”

“Oh, how I miss my little crumpet.” Ernoldus leaned against the wall.

“Your little crumpet will no longer be tending to you. I made sure of that.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“I’ve removed her from the premises.”

“You’ve no right to remove my girls.”

“My job is to ensure everything runs smooth. Your little crumpet, as you call her, was pestering where she shouldn’t have been.”

“This, for sure, has got to be the worst day of my life. The gods are laughing at me, Millicent, the gods are laughing at me.”

“I suppose there are worse things than bearing heirs that resemble trolls,” said Count Millicent.

“I need a drink.” 

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The Dirty Rope

On the north-eastern part of town was a place known for the side-walk beauties of the night, the pleasure queens, the tails, and men who delighted in them, otherwise known as ‘The Dirty Rope.’ It was a place where passersby took a moment’s rest before saying their farewells

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Leeks journeys into The Boggy Waters

The whooshing leaves feel nice, like a trance at first, but inside, my bones rattle something terrible. Perhaps darkness has a role to play? Perhaps not? One thing I do know is my beloved friend Balki will no longer carry me, for the whines and neighs have become endless.

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Pyro encounters Aphid Redcurl for the first time

Long and white was his hair, like the mountains of the north, with a towering beard that had aged with time. Shrouded was his cloak, and of yew was his staff, and atop his head, a braided crown made of silver decorated it. Wrapped around his furrow neck hung a horn, and perched high atop his olden shoulders, rested two ravens resembling the color of a wave’s crest.

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Desperatio: The scent of the Hopeless

Catherine glanced at the filth-ridden boy who wore the same scent as she. It was the scent of pure desperation mixed with a bit of dirt and some tears. She knew this scent, and she knew it well, perhaps too well.

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King of The South

King Elimear was short and burly, but his voice and strength made up for it. His hair was a golden wheat of waves with a stiff beard and broad shoulders. He wore a crown made of precious metals and jewels, carrying a distinct shade of amber. On one hand, he bore tokens, and on the other, he held a sword, and as he alighted, a velvet cloak dressed his back, depicting The Burning Flame.

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The Mirror

From rock and stone, it hung. A peculiar mirror displaying glimpses of The Outside World. Deceitful and cunning, it played the most captivating music. Victims fell paralyzed, unable to turn from its sight. The Mirror allowed one to see their desires, but in turn showed a great darkness. Unable to be destroyed, The Mirror can torture a man. The only way to escape its grasp is to stain its glass, but remember, The Mirror will always win as it forever keeps a part of you.

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A prisoner's escape

Deep beneath the castle floors where the minds of men grew dark, and chains rattled day into night laid a man who groaned and panted as he awaited death. During this time, a masked stranger, hooded and cloaked, skulked the halls, slipping in and freeing the man. He led him down a secret corridor leading toward an old, hinged door. In his hand, he held a note, which he gave the man before parting. The man took the note, which he folded and tucked within his pocket as he waited for the guards to switch post, and when they did, he made his escape, vanishing into the forest.

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The story of The Gaglus

It has been said The Shamazen Dancers belonged to a great and mighty people whose empire lay surrounded by a moat of crystalline waters and whose lands lay far beyond the green hills. Stories claim, within the waters lived strange beasts called Gaglus. They carried one eye and resembled giant worms with many teeth and funnel-like mouths. For many years, the Gaglus guarded the kingdom well, not allowing anyone through. However, when the sun’s light came to a fade, the creatures lost sight, returning to the waters.

 

One evenfall, as the last of the rays set over the hills, a mass of armed men marched over the fells. They came in swarms, carrying vials of a dark matter as they waited for night to rise and when she did, and the creatures lost sight, they ran across the fields, dumping the cursed vials into the waters, taking everyone by surprise.

 

Tales spun by spinsters say that night, the waters ran dark; the fields ran red, and the sound of metal rang through the sky. In the end, The Shamazen Dancers were the only remaining people of this great kingdom.

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 Tundra | A Wanderer's Tale into Darkness is a tale full of passion, betrayal, adventure, and unimaginable cruelty