Loki looked out across the moldy ruins imbued with the moon’s light, he could not sleep even if he needed too. Ever since the titan had consumed his older brother Harlequin, disturbing visions and maddening thoughts had plagued him, swimming though his head like a whirlpool. Even as the creature’s mind broke and frayed, two images always chose to linger, sticking in the sea of thought burned an image, a red angel, adorned with wings of ruby fire. A sight that made his breath race, the other image was colder, deep, and purple, a melancholic raven flying low, illuminated by a full stark midnight. For some, these visions would prove a curse, but Loki saw them as a gift, a gift which his brother had never accepted, to the point of squandering, leaving the trickster no choice but to take what he deserved.
“Ah, wonderful” Loki clapped to himself, giddy, smiling like a child, eyes flickering to the milky beasts that watched him from the darkened woods. “We have to make the best of our failures” he said, jumping down like a fairy on a flower, “and these failures are going to be so much fun.” His violet eyes looked out into the night with titanic violence, as a sheer cackling spread through the trees.
Amber daylight streamed, ebbing through pinhole cracks, slipping, swimming as a curtain of nectar. Fairies of dust, fluttered about in clouds, illuminated as shining specks hanging in the air, glittering in the light. Wood creaked, a boy stirred, rolling in a bed of hay, and animal furs. Warm sweet honey caressed the young man’s rich dark skin, illuminating drops upon his form, casting tiny rainbows over a sugary haze. Creaking again, the logs shifted as the young man rolled over, ears honed to the sound of busy work, and clamoring outside. The young man shrugged a thick brown animal fur, slotting it to the side, as he twisted his body, planting feet on dusted wood planks.
A stretch rumbled through the boy’s form, one arm, and then the other, pulled to the heavens as the pains of the night all lifted, venting from loose fibers and toughened skin. Yawning he stood, a steady breeze lifting his loose off-white shirt around his muscular frame, knees creaked with a latent pressure, as the world spun into focus. Fog of morning, and dusted sunlight illuminated the boy's path, his feet padded over straw, over hay, he waltzed half-awake towards a glowing shape that had caught his eye.
A reflective, yellowed
square of parchment laid, basking in a curtain of sap, bathing in the light
from the above window, as it sat upon a short chopped, end table.
Moving closer still, the young man pulled his body over, sliding chipped nails
across thick wood grain, the smell of dew and opened pores only alluding more
to the status of morning. He picked up the parchment, pulling the papers in
twain with a shearing screech, unfolding the item into
its larger form.
“Dear Albatross, I hope this note finds you well, just kidding, don’t sleep in too long, you remember what happened the last time. Don’t worry either, I went out with the herbalist and the apothecary, you know the Jack twins, we’re going to collect medical supplies in the woods, so I’ll be back late, hopefully before you guys start. Anyways I’ll see you soon, stay safe, I promise I’ll make it back in one piece, and I hope you promise the same. Love your sister, Avva Fowle.”
Interesting Al thought to himself, moving shaggy hair, blowing the strands as the sweat laden mop licked the sides of his face. Well, if everyone is doing their part already, then I got to get moving, Al thought once again, his own mind reading through like a script. Al's feet carried him to the center of the room, their family’s quaint little lumber shack, shaded in, illuminated only by the pinholes and curtains from grubby glass. Space was an issue, but it was only the two who took solace in their abode.
A clunking emerged, Al fiddled with a large, rotted chest at the foot of the bed, which sat snugly against half a mannequin, housing a dully glittering mass of iron. Al pressed his arms and chest forward, slipping free the stained yellowed undershirt, like a snake bearing skin. Light shone against the young man’s upper body, pouring over each crest, and valley, touching, kissing each pink and white scar that marred his whole form. Some deep, some long, some spanning the entirety of his chest, the scars were all a lesson, a story, Al kept them as a reminder. He pulled on a semi-fresh under tunic, pulling the strings at the apex. Bending the young man slithered out of his wool pants, replacing them with leather and canvas leg coverings. Winding arms and cramped limbs brought a hammered piece of iron into the equation. Pulling the chest plate together to staunch the man’s body as thick cracked leather straps were pulled taught. Al shimmied in his cuirass, pulling the shoulder openings up to adjust the raised gorget in kind.
Glitter filled the room, cutting through the oil and grime that caked the armor, which was almost as beaten and scared as its wearer. Metal surfaces shook, marred with large cuts, scratches, patches, and more stories to speak of. Thick weighted gauntlets were pulled onto dark wiggling fingers, shin and thigh guards were pulled along pointed toes. Al stood, shifting, jumping up and down as he stomped and wrapped the bands tight, suiting up in well-worn gear.
When all was said and done, the young man stood tall in full battle attire, appearing as a glinting ray of coal, an obsidian knight, minus some quality-of-life options like upper arm guards… or a helmet. Clanking, Al made the surprisingly easy march over to a cumbersome support beam. Mounted upon said beam, sat a silvery rectangle, a face high mirror, shattered and faded, offering the viewer a ghostly visage of themselves. Al peered in, studying the large trenches cut across his skin, biting deep into his face and over his left eye, yellow orbs staring back at him, shining white against his mocha skin. He pulled at his face, obscuring freckles, moving the large tuft of mildly wavy hair out from in front of his eyes. Hands found the mop, pulling out on the sides, twig pieces sticking up along the crest, all with a salt and pepper gradient. Dark at the tips, speckling, wobbling towards a lighter, paler, gray, brown as his strands reached their origin.
Producing a small copper dish, Al pushed two fingers into cold thick butter. Wiping the goo around his eyes in a splayed radiating pattern. Using his hands to rub the paint in, shading his eyes as it flecked out across the tops of his cheeks, like the feathers of a bird strong and dark. Al made his way back to the side of his bed, retrieving a long straight sword in its leather riveted scabbard. A once elegant weapon, tempered with prolonged use and history, having had its blade reforged many times now. Pommel, hilt, and guard all ornate but heavily tarnished, nicked and burned, a gift from his father.
A gift to use, not a trinket to gawk at, Al had harbored his father’s wishes, even after all this time. Al strapped the shard of hope to his hip, pulling the bands tight around his waist, cinched to the armor. With that, the boy was set, he followed the subtle sound of busy work and squawking birds, thumping across hollow chested floorboards. A door flung open hammering against veined timber housing, an armored figure bathed in the green emerald, smiling yellow morning sweat. Stepping out into a dirt laden road, sabatons squelching in sopping mud, brushing heavy against dew laden blades of jade.
Surrounded Al stood, flanked by a multitude of timber and stone huts that comprised his quaint little forest village of Shaded Grove. A logging town, hewn into the very earth itself, held firm by green armies. Located on the very edge of the Kingdom of Paars, the thick Darkened Woods offered protection from the elements, and the things that called the elements home. Yet the little mud spot sparkled, paradise, hovels lined with timber, others with stone, some raised, some wallowing in the mud.
Al watched a horse drawn carriage pass by, pulling a creaking cart through squelching mud. Tracks cut deep in the earth from a weighted burden of lumber and stone, most likely going to the front lines for wall repair or things of that nature, Al thought to himself. A deep, drawing, shaking breath graced the breast of the fit young soldier. Sucking in the stagnant stenches of damp air and wood, the mixed mud of animal manure and turned earth, the sickle that was rotting hay. A headache to be sure, but a good morning for this lad, who trotted through the goop, past cloth bound workers hoisting full severed trees. Past tailors and smiths, rapidly patching armor as fast they could. Past citizens sat in circles performing their usual rituals of protection or safety. Hammering could be heard, the small hovel bound town was alight, doors were reinforced, sideroads were blocked, troughs were cut. Al jogged, his well fit armor clanking together, as he dodged a haphazardly swung beam. Making his way down the red main road, past the squat wide little tavern, and the horses’ stables. The wind filled with a melancholy pang of anxiety, trees rustling dark in their coveted little shadows.
With two piercing yellow eyes, Albatross spied the edge of their encampment turned home, marked by large vertical timber and mudded stones, making up most of their rather humble border wall. Walking up, feet touched by the late morning light, Al spotted the unusual human-height shrub of yellow locks that signaled Datron. Running up to the man, Al proposed his own greetings, causing the similarly clad young, pale, skinned male to turn in kind, dirty eye level hair swaying as Darton looked up slightly.
“Al! I almost thought you’d sleep through this one, you’re usually the first one up, what did Avva forget to wake you up” the young man gave a quick barking laugh “you Fowle kids are something else.”
Al followed dancing in “yeah right, don’t forget who helped make you captain of the guard? What I did was no short of forging town votes” the taller man said, in a smoother song like voice, like the call of a bird.
Darton grated after “yes yes, don’t remind me, I suppose you’ll be wanting to know your assignment for the day? Well lad, I ain’t got anything for you right now, the edge is looking pretty good, why don’t you help the townsfolk with reinforcement.”
Two gazes cast to the nearby underbrush and thick forested cave darkness. “Lad?” Al began “you have rank, but you don’t have age, so be it, I’ll report back in a few hours captain, lemme know when Avva is back, will you?”
Darton nodded to the young man’s words, turning his pale hazel eyes to the edge, resting two palms on a rather uncomfortable pommel. Al jogged back, barely breaking a sweat while still warming up, or at least he felt like he was warming up.
Thus preceded the young man’s day, clad in full armor (well almost full) poised to fight at any given moment. Albatross Fowle set about helping his town, his friends, and to a certain extent his family. As they set about reinforcing and reigniting their quaint little grove’s rather measly defenses. Crushed hair and burnt metal, followed the rhythmic pounding of smiths at work. Subtle rumblings and ramblings ebbed their way through wind swept passages, pulling sound and the gradual livelihood of the few, through the forest for all to hear. Al aided in the hustle and bustle, conversing with the bread baker Marie while hoisting a wall bound log.
“Where’s your sister been all day, Al?” The older, wider woman had asked, “she went out to go collect herbs, you know she’s been training to be a potion maker” the young man replied. “Aye she’ll make a right doctor at this rate” the woman said, her words met with a coarse little laugh from Al, “yeah I hope.”
A day fraught with conversation and work, whether it was soldier work. Or waiting to pick up a pile of sewn clothes from Frederick, so they might be delivered to the other side of their quaint establishment. A mob or so of people steadily working, milling about under the beating sun, a busy anthill, slithering and skittering with life. Eventually, after all was said and done, the sun began waning from the sky, shooting shocks of purple and amber rays across the plateau of blue, in an attempt to signal the coming of evening. Al laid upon his straw mattress, wholly dedicated to only resting his weary bones for an hour or too, but as soon as he had started, the heavy hands of fatigue set upon his eyelids.
Thank you for starting The Midnight Breaker, a fantasy romp following a group of adventurers, fueled by magic and sheer determination, taking on titans, cultists, and crazed mana addicts, will the world be saved, or fall into the chaos it was meant to revel in. All feedback is appreciated, please remember to subscribe to support the project if you enjoy it.
(Mature episodes marked for general fantasy violence, story contains acts of war against monsters/ in-humans.)