I wasn’t entirely sure how to break these stories up, so for the moment I’m gathering a few together that focus on one particular character, or event. A lot of these are stand-alones - little snippets of a much larger whole. I have two much longer, more linear work-in-progress story arcs that I may post in the future as they contain a lot of the meat and potatoes of how Esar functions as a whole. I’ll try to preface each of these with pertinent details, though I’m going to try and keep the out-of-story explanation to a minimum. Anywho, enjoy.
Demons - Demons exist within Esar, though not in the biblical sense. The Esarians (and Zirans, as Edgar is from Zira, not Esar) both believe that demons are nightmare given flesh, the beautiful and terrible children of their respective gods of death. They largely exist in the “In Between”, a place between the land of the living and the domain of death, and require a tether to someone living (a contract) in order to exist on the mortal plane of existence. Demons may not harm their contractee, or break the terms of their contract, lest they be thrown back into the In Between.
Zira / The Zirans - these first few stories don’t actually take place within Esar, but within Zira, an uncharted landmass that lies beyond the continent of Misk in the far east. The Zirans believe in different gods to the Esarians, and believe that these ten gods play very large and important roles in the day to day lives of their citizens. Zirans believe that every person on Zira is descended from one of these gods, and there are ten major families that govern their society. Edgar, for example, belongs to the family of Hishin, the Ziran god of death and pain.
Six and Dell - unintentional visitors to Zira, this pair washed ashore with their young charge, Tiru, a prince of Aclata, Esar’s main continent, following a shipwreck. They are uneasy guests of the Ziran royal family trying desperately to return home.
It was hard to know how long I had been in the dark. They had put me as far away from everything as they could, squirreled away in some distance corner where barely any light or noise reached me. If I had to guess, all I could have answered would have been “long”. Long enough that hunger clawed at my insides. Long enough that a door opening in the distance blinded me with the light it let through. Long enough to start to forget whether I had ever felt full, or why I had ended up here to begin with.
They had put me in a cage, and I could not blame them for it. They feared what I was capable of. It was well founded, and I could not begrudge them for their caution. I couldn’t recall much of what had happened, but one thing I knew for sure was this: I had killed a man. The blood on my hands had long since dried, and flaked, but clung to the crevices around my nails. The stain of it clung to my soul.
I’d never been a “good” boy. I did what I had to in order to survive, and most likely deserved to end up where I did. But I have never killed anyone. Even the thought of it left my mouth sour and my heart beating in rapid staccato. They feared me enough that they had offloaded me, leaving me here in this dark place. A miscalculation on their part. They thought me meek, powerless enough to control. And I was.
But he wasn’t.
There was something that lurked in the back of my mind, a furious warmth that spread through my stomach, thick and vicious with rage. They had wanted to change me. And they had. But in the process of doing so, they gave me him. A dark gift. A curse. I wasn’t sure exactly what ‘he’ was, only that he hadn’t existed before. He was far, far angrier than me, and much more capable of directing that rage into ripping and tearing.
He frightened me. Much more than the cult ever had, even at the height of their savagery. More than whoever they had left me here with.
I knelt in that cage, legs cramping, clothes stiff and dark with blood. I was so tired, so so tired. I felt like I had done nothing but fight, ever since I woke up here. I struggled with the thing within me, and sometimes I lost. A switch would flick, and I would wake up, some indeterminate amount of time later, sore and exhausted to my core. For a while, the thing was quiet. But that surge of anger always came back.
Long before I saw anyone, I could hear them. Even through the door, which seemed odd. I had never noticed that before. Someone seemed to be protesting.
“She’s all they sent? I thought you said they were equipped to deal with this sort of thing. Fucking thing will get loose and kill us all.”
Strange, it almost sounded as if he was whispering. Whoever the man was, his voice had an angry hiss to it that reminded me of someone greatly pissed off but trying to be quiet about it.
“She paid up. That’s all the boss cares about.” Staring at my lap, I could even hear her turn her head away from the man, to speak to another. “Don’t mind him, love. He’s new.”
There was no audible answer, but they must have been satisfied because the door swung open. I determinedly kept my gaze on my lap, but it was difficult. The thing inside me stirred, curious.
There was a clatter, as if the man had backed up suddenly and tripped on something.
“Where the fuck did he come from?”
They were not talking about me. After all, they knew exactly where I had come from, and why I was there. Curiosity won out over the shame of being locked in a cage at someone else’s mercy. I looked up then, tentatively. It was not hard to guess who they were speaking about. The male was half pressed against a wall, the woman from before beside him with a smug little smile on her face.
They were just inside the room. Wordlessly, the much smaller woman turned to shut the door on the pair outside. She was tiny, especially beside her much larger counterpart. I could see why the man was rattled.Such a man, such a thing, was a surprising sight.
I had never had much exposure to Others - the “Nightfolk” as the cult leaders had adoringly called them. I knew they existed - was hard not to, belonging to a group that was obsessed with things that went bump in the night. But I had never seen one in the flesh before, especially something as unique as this. I doubted many people had. Honest to gods demons were hard to come by.
“They must be scared of me if they sent me a devil.” My voice was scratchy from disuse. I had not spoken since they brought me here. I had been too lost in my own thoughts, too preoccupied with controlling the beastial thing that slept within my skin.
It was much easier to meet the eyes of the demon than I expected. Somehow, I did not fear him the way I thought I would, faced with such a fearsome creature. I doubted a demon would be revolted by the crime I had committed. Strange, cat-like eyes, deeply golden regarded me impassively.
“Don’t mind him. The show was more for the louts outside than it is for you.”
For the first time, she drew my attention, as she hunched down to sit before the cage with a smile. Her eyes were mismatched, I thought absently, as she leaned forward with her hands clasped loosely between us. The demon in question shifted, wedging himself into a corner. Even as I glanced at him, the “demon-ness” started to melt away. The horns, curved and prominent, disappeared like smoke, and the black that stained the man from fingertip to elbow was gone, like someone had wiped the ink clean off him. In mere moments, he looked almost passably human, though improbably tall.
“Dell is my shadow, I bought him along because I doubt they’d actually let me in the door otherwise.” Suddenly she extended a hand, tiny, pale and fragile and reached to touch my knee through the bars of the cage. Her smile was kind. The touch still made me flinch, afraid of what I might do to that delicate pale hand. The thing within me seemed content to just observe though, and made no effort to force my hand towards hers.
“They call me Six. Ms Abnett outside informed me that you are Edgar. Edgar Townsend”
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