Day 29: Disguised Terraforming

Author Jenna Eatough's Flash Fiction Story from Fyrecon's Fyretober Writing Prompt 2023-10-29

During October I am bringing you extra flash fiction or poetry in celebration of the season and inspired by Fyrecon’s Fyretober!

Enjoy my twenty-ninth entry into Fyrecon’s Fyretober!

Fyrecon's Fyretober Daily Prompt List

1. New neighbors
2. It’s Alive
3. No Exit
4. Walk in the cemetery
5. Door in the wall
6. Mirror
7. Space visitors
8. The Monster Is
9. Anti-magic costumes
10. Skeleton’s battle cry
11. Djinn party
12. Space dwarves
13. Zombie fireball
14. Possessed guild house
15. Lorekeeper’s mask
16. Dragon sight
17. Alien scryers
18. Trick-or-Treating Shapeshifters
19. Disguised spellbook
20. Screaming trapdoor
21. Ghost weaponsmith
22. Jack-O’-Lantern avatars
23. Phoenix light sail
24. Sparkle castle
25. Graveyard pocket universe
26. Sentient wand
27. Haunted Skyhook
28. Pirate space elevator
29. Disguised terraforming
30. The Witches’ Laws
31. Precognizant cats

Bonus Fanged griffin

Albin ran chased by the clatter of hooves and the baying of far hounds. They were too close now. He thought he would have lost the chasers a week ago. He thought they would have given up on hunting him. He was no one. Nothing. Certainly, the moldy loaf of bread shouldn’t have brought this attention to him. Glancing back. He looked over the dry sands hardened into a crust, cut through with ravines, and saw them on the rise behind. Too close indeed.

Gulping, Albin turned and continued running. He glanced about trying to find some other direction to flee. He was too close to the Undal Valley. Only death awaited those foolish enough to descend into its depths. No one ever returned from there. Perhaps he could make it to Sintel. Swinging to the left, he skidded to a halt. More chasers were on the ridge over in that direction as well.

Forward into the Undal remained the only path open to him. They would have closed that off if they had dared enter it themselves.

Album stumbled. His sandals slid over scree and rocks which yanked his feet from beneath him. Landing hard on the rough surface, he felt the skin on his elbow tear and the gravel ground its way into the wound. He felt himself sliding further over the ground.

Albin screamed and flung out his uninjured arms, raking his fingers over the ground, grasping for anything which might slow his slide, for while he’d determined to enter Undal Valley, he had not meant to enter it this quickly.

His fingers clung to a rock beneath the sand for a moment and he flipped, landing on his stomach. His fingers scrapped off the rock and he continued his slide down the hill. Albin supposed this method into the valley would have to do, by force of gravity. Or was it the force of stupidity?

Stupidity certainly had worked throughout his life. Stupidity which had made him choose the wrong profession. Stupidity which had earned him his supervisor’s ire within his miss chosen profession. Ire which had wormed its way into his mind and skin, until he crawled and itched with it and made a mistake his haste to be gone.

One mistake.

One mistake which had caused the collapse of the Tervel mine. The greatest mine of aqualine in the lands. Aqualine, the necessary component for the magicians’ spells. Spells which held the wasting world at bay. A desert which spread ever further and which only the magicians and their spells kept their city at paradise within an oasis of despair.

Albin drew in a breath as he continued to tumble down the hill, and his mouth filled with grit. Coughing. Choking. He felt the air rush out of him as he smacked into something unseen. Against the dry and barren ground enough he should have seen easily for leagues upon leagues. And yet, thus, he could not see.

Albin had smacked into it, nonetheless. His whole body hitting striking a thing which crashed over his skin engulfing him with a sensation frigidity he had not felt since he had been banished from the mines into the light of the sun. Even in the city’s paradise, coolness was a luxury. Albin had chosen the mines for their temperate air. An escape from ever present heat, and again for a moment, he felt the chill and reveled in it.

The moment passed, and he continued tumbling. The harshness of Albin’s fall slowed, and he still felt himself striking against the ground with a lessoning intensity as if the ground had become cushioned with fabric which tickled his nose with scent.

Prying his eyes open, he gasped. He tumbled over a green he had not seen beyond the city’s walls. A green which cushioned him until he came sliding to a stop at the base of the hill and well within the Undal Valley.

Albin lay on his back, staring at the sky above. A sky that was cut through by branches. Strong, healthy, filled with green leaves. Branches which swayed in a gentle breeze groaning with age and speaking of truths that Albin could not begin to guess.

The groaning increased to his left, pulling his attention that way. Rising on one elbow, Albin wincing at the pain as grit ground into the wound. Pain he couldn’t spare a thought for with three people standing in the shade of the trees and watching him.

Their clothing was not that of the city. Not that of the magicians. Not that of the chasers. Albin had never seen the like before. The cloth clung snugly to the individuals lacking the flow of the city’s clothing which allowed heat to pass through it. They stared at him, their gazes narrowing.

Albin raised his other hand, holding it before him in supplication for mercy. Whoever they were, if they were not chasers or with the city, perhaps he could find a reprieve here. One among them, a female, grabbed her bow and raised it, pulling an arrow against the string. Albin cried out, curling against the ground. As the plink of the arrow being released cut through the air.

Pain did not follow

Opening his eyes, he saw a chaser sliding down the hill behind him. More arrows sang through the air. More chasers fell.

Albin heard their cries, heard them wheel about and made to leave. Heard the far hounds baying. And still the arrows cut through the air until no more chasers remained and the hounds lay silent.

“And what are we to do with this one?” a man said breaking formation to approach Albin. He nudged Albin’s tender side with the end of his bow. The man glanced back to his compatriots. “He has seen too much as well.”

The woman, the one who had fired first, nodded and planted her own bow against the ground. “Aye, but he was being chased and not the chaser.” She walked over to him and held out her hand.

Hesitantly, Albin took the woman’s hand and felt himself hauled off the ground. He rose abruptly beneath the strength of her tug and stood face to face with the woman. She grinned at him as he stared at her, cross eyed. “Of course, if he’s foolish enough to speak of what he’s seen here…”

She didn’t finish the sentence, but Albin heard the threat in it and felt her unrelaxed grip still hold him. She turned about and yanked him behind her, yanked him into the Undal Valley which should have been dead and lifeless, but which was lush.

An old story rushed back into his mind of the magicians who had sundered themselves from the rest. They’d rejected the mines and ways of the city. They had been the magicians who first turned the world into a paradise. Their abandonment had caused the withering of the world and left them with only a scant fragment.

Albin stared at the Undal Valley. The story had been wrong. They had not given up terraforming the world. They had just hidden their acts, and he had just fallen into it. Albin gulped, wondering what else he had fallen into.

Be sure to check out all the #fyretober creations.

#fyretober2023 #fyretoberflashfiction2023 #fyretoberprompts2023 #fyretober2023day29

“Fyretober is for everyone who loves to create, and this month we’re looking to see your flash fiction, poetry, and illustrations every day. We’ll be providing daily prompts for the month and want to see what new concepts and wonders you can make with them.”

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