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The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) - Literature - Nairaland

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The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 6:15am On Feb 23
This is a stand-alone story set in a fictitious realm: the spectral existence in the world of the marked.

Though it is a part of the marked series, you don't have to have read the previous books in the series to understand/follow it.

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 6:23am On Feb 23
I'm back to my school schedule, so I will be posting once a week.

This first post is going to be uncharacteristically long, because I want to go deep enough into the story to give everyone an idea of what it will look like, but after that, the subsequent posts will probably be a lot shorter.

As promised, I am tagging everyone who commented on the last story.

Dranoid, jupitre, nady94, phoenixchap, GeoSilYe, monalicious, izicky, damon147, ashatoda, tunjilomo, richykemzy, fazemood, ultimategeneral, niwdog, spixytinxy, bluehaven, peaceyw, dztzl, sampz, siralabai, ayodipths, rynne, popeshemoo, godwinfury, mhistahrah, oluwabuqqyyolo, correctguy101, mhistahrah, lukfame, amauwana, lightqueen, aphroditee, botaflica, dhehbhor, elyna, tenniebae

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 6:23am On Feb 23
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PREFACE
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This story is intended to be a standalone novella, so even though it is “technically” part of a series, you don’t have to have read the prequels to understand (and hopefully enjoy grin) this.

Welcome to the world of the marked!

If you’ve visited us before, then you probably already know everything I’m going to cover here, and so you can skip the preface. If you haven’t, here’s all you need to know.

In the world of the marked there are four existences. The first existence is where humans reside. This existence is called the standard existence. Some of the humans in the standard existence have ‘marks’ which give them supernatural abilities. These humans are the marked. When humans die, they go to one of the other three existences. They could go to the supreme existence, where, depending on their ancestry, they would either become a part of Nature, or join the elements (the servants of Nature). They could also go to the fourth existence. But the fourth existence is covered with so much mystery that we don’t fully understand, yet, what happens to humans when they go there. The last option is the spectral existence. When humans die and go to the spectral existence, they become imps.

This story is based wholly on the spectral existence.

The spectral existence is inhabited by creatures called uspecs. The uspecs are to their world what we humans are to ours. Though, the uspecs choose to refer to us as umanis…we don’t know why they do this yet, but that is what they call humans.

What else do you need to know…

Oh…osins.

When imps enter into the spectral existence, they are not welcomed and treated like equals to the uspecs, they are taken as slaves. Some of these slaves have a special relationship with their masters. These special slaves are treated as pets and are called osins.

That is all the background needed for this story.


You may now enter the spectral existence…
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 6:33am On Feb 23
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VOLUME ONE
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Part 1
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In the First Metropolis of Lahooni (the spectral port which coincides with Lagos State, Nigeria)
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I was born de trop and sent to a desolate slum buried deep in Hakute. I did not learn who my progenitors were until long after it could do me any good. Sometimes, I shut my outer eyes and think back on the time. Back when there was new life, back in the days when an uspec could die, back when an uspec could be born. In those few treasured moments, I think of you, my offspring, and see your little eye. I remember your little green face, smooth and startling because it was free of the eyeless holes we formed as we aged. I remember your ailerons, the appendages that give us flight, but in the young were free of the feathers only time and experience could grow. But most of all, what I spend my few carefree moments dwelling on, is the tranquility.

It was a time so different from now. A time when there was peace amongst the existences, when the supreme existence held no claim on the standard. When the dead umanis, the detested imps, were slaves who knew their place. It heartens me to know that in the fourth existence, they still are. It was before the war, before the Kuwor retaliated by creating the marked. We gained our immortality in the process and lost our ability to procreate. It was before Churaya gave life to ensure new young in the supreme existence and by so doing, left the standard under supreme control.

But that is not what I write about now, those are all stories you’ve heard before. No, what I write now is the one you’ve never heard, the one I was always too afraid to tell you. This is the story of how I came to be, how I moved up, from de trop in Hakute, to the Kaiser of Lahooni.

My ears grow wary, the understandings gained from my outer eyes have sensitized them. So much so, that they can pick up the sounds of swords clashing, and umanis speaking the umani tongue. I hear imps scream and uspecs cry out loud. I know who attacks them, but I do not know how an umani could make an uspec cry.
I do know two things.

One. I know that one of the umanis has green eyes.

Two. I know that the umanis are coming for me.

So, I take this time to write this to you, my offspring, explaining how I came to be. Perhaps it will illuminate my many quirks, or perhaps, if Chuspecip permits, it will make you think a little kinder of me. Whatever the effect, I leave you this.

I am your progenitor, the mighty undead, Nebud, the Kaiser of Lahooni, and this is my story.

But where does my story start?

Does it start when I was born? I would hate to bore you with the trivialities that encompassed my early life. It was a time of days filled with nothing but harassing osins. I remember the time well. The slum I grew up in was out of the way of everything. We had no markets, no extravagant dwellings, no mighty uspecs. The ground was sludge, and the air was filled with fog. We had an okun, a small stream with yellow jejas swimming in a murky pink liquid.

If there was one thing that slum could boast, it was the treatment and preparation of jeja stews. If I never see another slimy little yellow creature, it will be too soon. One of the first things I did after becoming Kaiser, was have all the life drained out of the jejas in Lahooni for spectral magic. Blasted bitter things. But we did know how to cook them.

I diverge. Back to the story, back to harassing osins.

In that slum, we woke up to green. Green skin was all around us. Everyone we saw was green. The older uspecs all had the same green features. They had the same green face with the empty outer eye-sockets. They had the same crinkled aileron with one or two wispy cyan feathers. And that was the norm.

You wouldn’t understand this. You were surrounded by the greatest uspecs from the moment you were born and as such, you became a great uspec at an early age. You gained your understandings and filled your eye-sockets long before most your age, certainly earlier than I did. You racked up on the experiences and wonders of life and your ailerons filled and flourished. But it was not so for me. Not so at all.

Perhaps you can imagine how dreary a life I must have lived, when the greatest occurrence, the most abnormal event, was the visit of an osin.

I remember the osin well. It was what the umanis would call a woman – umanis and their genders – and a beauty to them, I think. To us, in our slum in the middle of nowhere, it was nothing but a dead umani. It was ugly, as all imps are. This one though was allowed by its master to stay in the form it had died in. So, the imp’s eyes weren’t taken, it wasn’t drained for spectral magic. It meant it could keep its umani form, it also meant that it couldn’t siphon the spectral magic off its master.

Maybe that is an important story after all. In some ways, my life changed that day, or at least it began the start of events that saw me taken from the only place I’d called home, from a life I had grown content with living. I will tell it then, I only hope I do the memory justice.

I was very ordinary. In those early days, I was not one to stand out. Perhaps there was a part of me that knew what I was, a part of me which knew that I was an abomination. Whatever the reason, I did not stand out. I did not make waves, I simply belonged. I was one out of many young uspecs settling into life in the slum.

How old was I then? We uspecs keep age by tracking the growth of our features. But I’ve come to think of how inexact an act that is. For example, I can say that it was before any of my outer eye-sockets formed, before any feathers grew onto my ailerons. My cyan tail was still just a stump then, as were many of the tails of the other uspecs in my slum. But then tails grow at different paces, and sockets form from different stimuli. You were at least half the age I was then, when your first eye sockets began to form.

I will go with the umani ages then. If there is nothing else that can be said for the umanis, their one good thing is that they have perfected the science of age-keeping. It cannot be exact, but I would say it was at most 17 years after my birth. I was still very young, very young indeed.

There was an uspec, Bentuj we called it. Bentuj was the chief. In our small slum, it was the uspec with the longest and most impressive tail. I remember many days spent crawling into its hovel and looking at the tail with wide eyes, just wondering if mine would ever grow to half of Bentuj’s. Bentuj’s tail reached midway down its legs. A most unimpressive feat, but it was the longest tail and so it was the most respected.

As was the practice amongst most Kaisers, when an uspec is born and unclaimed by its progenitors, the uspec is termed ‘de trop’ and sent to live in a slum. It was the only influx of new life the slums would ever see as the uspecs in the slums could never be progenitors. When I was sent to this slum, I was taken in by an uspec with a half feather on its aileron and a single empty outer eye-socket on its face. The uspec died 2 years later, and another uspec was brought to replace it. Bentuj took that uspec and named it Junte.

Junte was child of the chief. In our slum, Bentuj was the Kaiser and Junte its heir.

Although, it raises the level of our slum to liken Bentuj to a Kaiser. No, Bentuj was more of a chief. For Bentuj to be a Kaiser, it must have, at the very least, had spectral magic, which it didn’t. No uspec in our slum had spectral magic. As you know, an understanding must be gained before an uspec could have and use spectral magic. For an understanding to be gained, an uspec had to acquire two imp eyes. One from an imp who, in its umani life, was born in the same plane as the uspec, and one whose umani life ended in the same plane.

No uspec in our slum could boast that.

Although, as we found out later, Junte was conspiring to do it. A single uspec with a single understanding would make the difference between a slum and a burg. A single understanding would turn an uspec from de trop to a commoner, from inconsequential and powerless, the lowest of the low, to an uspec who was counted, an uspec who mattered, an uspec with the right to own an imp and request to procreate.

Junte was the one with dreams. I just wanted a simple life, like the uspec I’d been given to. I didn’t even aspire to leadership, not even to Bentuj’s status. It’s funny how fate sets the course, pulling on our strings, and we like puppets swing.

But I get ahead of myself. Back to that fateful day.

The imp walked in as it usually did, crossing the boundary from the neighboring burg, which none of the uspecs in our slum had ever had the privilege of stepping into. The imp walked in, carrying a small bucket, and wearing what umanis call ‘clothes’. Why they need such, I will never know, but I have learnt how adamantly the imps cling to it.

The imp’s journey was usually the same. It would walk in, unmolested by the elder uspecs who only looked at it with their single eye, the one in the center of their face which they were born with, and looked away. It would walk past their hovels to ours, and we would taunt it.

Imps with masters learnt the tongues of the spectrum their master belonged to, so we knew it understood us. We would tell it how disgusting it was, then we would form sludge missiles from the mud on the ground and aim it at the imp. The imp would walk past us, head held high, on its way to our okun, the real reason why it came into our desolate slum.

Amid our taunts, despite the mud missiles flung at it, the imp would kneel by the okun and wade its hand into the stream to catch yellow jejas. It would fill its bucket with as much of them as it could get and then it would leave.

This day was different.

On this day, when the group of us young uspecs, gathered by the pink stream, we graduated from verbal insults and mud projectiles, to physical assaults. One of us slapped the imp across the back of its head. The imp fell and half of its face sunk into the mud. I kicked the filthy creature in its back and it screamed. I still remember the way it sounded. It was such a ghoulish noise.

Junte laughed and so I did it again. Looking back at the day, and knowing how small of an individual Junte really was, I wonder what drove me to be so desperate to impress it. I really wonder.

Junte had a prized possession, a sharpened horn which Bentuj had bought for it from a trader who came in from a neighboring burg. It was the distinctive feature of the mejo spectrum, the ones born with a natural inclination towards clouds. When they gained the understanding, they could use the clouds to alter another creature’s body temperature. We’d all heard stories of them. But we’d never seen another feature. We were of the kute spectrum. Our distinctive feature is our tail, and we were born with a natural inclination towards okuns. If we gained the understanding, we could use the okuns to drain any living creature for its spectral magic.

Junte ordered us to hold the imp down and then it said, “I’ve heard imps can’t die. Let’s test the theory.”

We all laughed. Truly we were fools. Not for what we did to the imp, but for the lack of thought we put into it. This was an imp permitted to stay in its umani form. An imp which we knew belonged to a powerful uspec, one at least powerful enough to have its osin walk around burgs and slums, unprotected. We were fools.

Junte ordered us to hold the imp down and we did. I held on tightly to the imp’s arms, kneeling on it to keep them from moving. I distinctly remember the feeling of having the base of my ailerons scratching against my legs and thinking it was uncomfortable. But I held still, so did the others.

Junte took out its fancy horn and dug it into the imp’s stomach. The imp cried. It cried as if it had never known a moment of pain. It cried as if it had never been disciplined, as if its master truly treated it as the ‘pet’ it was known for.

That thought annoyed me.

I was an uspec. Perhaps a poor and dirty one, but an uspec nonetheless and I had known pain. I would not cry the way this imp cried. I was furious at it. I was furious that it would dare cry out, furious that it would shout. And when the imp began to scream for its master and call us names, when it began to insult us, uspecs, I only saw red.

Junte stabbed it, over and over again with the tip of the horn, and the other uspecs laughed. It insulted us, Junte retaliated by carving marks into its face, and the other uspecs laughed some more. But I was too angry to laugh, I heard the imp’s insults and I needed to punish it, I needed to teach it a lesson.

In a blind rage, I ran my right hand over my smooth green face all the way down my neck, and chest. By the time my hand came down to the imp’s face, the imp was screaming. It was screaming even louder than it had when Junte stabbed it. Screaming as if it was dying. It stopped insulting us and began to beg.

You see, I was too upset to know what was happening, to see what I was doing. One moment I was furious, and the next there was blood. Red blood everywhere.

I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I heard Junte’s voice in my ear, but I stayed where I was, my hands moving of their own accord as I knelt over the imp.

Finally, the other uspecs got me off it. They moved me away, carrying me back to Junte’s hovel. They laughed and cheered me on, singing, screaming and jubilating over something. I did not know what, in fact, I could not really hear the words they were saying. I felt very strange, very strange indeed.

I remember that one of them walked up to me, pointed at my face and then jumped back laughing and clapping. I remember seeing that Junte wasn’t happy about something. The uspecs kept pointing at Junte’s arm and then at me, or more precisely at my face. But Junte was shaking its head and yelling. All of a sudden, it was as if I couldn’t hear them.

It was as if I was not a part of their spectrum anymore.

That was a disconcerting thought. My eye closed and I drifted off.

I think I will tell this story, or attempt to tell it, as it happened from this part on. Then, I suppose, this is where the real story begins.

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 6:34am On Feb 23
Part 2
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In a slum in Hakute (the spectral port which coincides with Rivers State, Nigeria)
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I woke up groggy. The sight from my center eye was blurry. My mind seemed to be acting a little slower than usual. There were long strings of a brown material draped overhead. A part of me understood that it was the roof of the hovel I reclined in, but my mind didn’t seem to be able to process that information. It filled me with an awful sense of fear.

That was before the voices and the double faces I saw floating over me.

I drifted off again.

When I woke up the next time, everything seemed to make a lot more sense. There was a myriad of faces before me. The younger uspecs who I’d grown up with, knelt on the muddy floor by the bed I laid on.

The bed was not as strong as I remembered. I could not recognize the soft wool underneath me and the longer length of the bed. Looking around, I saw over a dozen uspecs scattered around, some on their knees, some standing as they watched me with wary eyes. My hovel was not big enough to contain this many uspecs.

My eyes darted over the worried green faces of the younger uspecs, to the disapproving frowns on the faces of some of the older uspecs, and then to the blank look on Bentuj’s face. Junte smirked at me.

I frowned back at it.

There was something missing. In the span of hours, perhaps a day, I had gone from being an accepted member of their society, to being something else. It had to do with the imp. I knew that much, I knew that there was something I was missing. But what it was, I could not say. Whatever it was had changed me in Junte’s mind. I had gone from being just one of the many who followed it, to one that it no longer wanted to lead.

That thought saddened me. I was willing to make amends.

I pulled at my legs, preparing to stand, when I felt the restriction. My panic set in then. I pulled more forcefully at my legs, desperate to free myself from the bindings, but no matter how hard I pulled, the knot held. I imagined Bentuj tied it, no other uspec could tie a knot that well. I yanked at my arms and found them bound to my body.

I looked up, my shocked gaze rising to Bentuj’s face. For some reason, I paused, stopping myself from speaking to really look at Bentuj. Bentuj’s face was just like all the other uspec faces I’d seen. It had the same one open eye in the center of its face, right above the nose. Unlike the others, Bentuj had three unfilled eye-sockets decorating the perimeter of its face. It was the most eye-sockets of all the uspecs in my slum. The rest of Bentuj’s front features were just the same as mine.

I could see pieces of the ailerons, they looked so much bigger than mine. None of the uspecs in our slum could fly. An uspec needed to have its ailerons at least halfway covered with feathers before the ailerons became wings which could give flight. Without spectral magic, an uspec didn’t stand a chance of having its ailerons filled enough for flight.

There was also the tail. When Bentuj was out of hearing distance, Junte would tease it, saying that Bentuj always stood with its legs apart to show off its mighty tail. Maybe the words were true, maybe they weren’t. But at that moment, Bentuj stood with legs spread and I could see its mighty tail. I could see the long cyan tail covered with patches of tougher skin. I compared that tail to my little stub, and I was frightened.

“What have I done?” I asked, my eye pleading as I looked at Bentuj.

“Irira.” Junte spat the word out before Bentuj could speak.

The younger uspecs kneeling on the sludge crawled back.

“Irira.” An older uspec with two eye-sockets on its face joined in.

“Irira.” Another uspec said.

The younger uspecs left. One by one, they stood up, their knees rising from the sludge, and left. I looked at those knees and wondered if the rumors I’d heard were true. I wondered if there really were places in burgs were the ground wasn’t all sludge. A passing trader told us a story once, about a commoner, an uspec just a tier above de trop, whose feet had never known sludge. I couldn’t believe it. An uspec who’d never walked on sludge? Most of my early life was spent sleeping in it. They were good times. The mud formed around my face, as if to cradle me in its arms as loving progenitors were rumored to do, and I slept calmly. But there were uspecs who’d never known it. It seemed impossible.

It was a stupid thought, I knew it. But it was the only thing I could get myself to think of as I watched the uspecs leave. They’d been my friends, they’d been closest to me in age and they were forsaking me.

“Irira.”

Abomination. That was the first time I’d ever heard the word used. We’d been told stories of them. The birth of an uspec was a sacred thing covered in myth as our founder, Chuspecip, wanted it. No one knew how it happened. We only had stories, and in those stories the villains were always irira, the abominations, crossbreeds belonging to different spectrums. Crossbreeding was not allowed to happen. It was forbidding by Chuspecip. It was an uspec’s duty to kill abominations.

Bentuj walked towards me then.

It bent, its fearful head dropping towards me, and my eyes widened. I watched with bated breath as Bentuj’s right hand went up and came down over my neck. For a moment I feared it meant to choke me, and I had no doubt that it could. Bentuj could do anything. But all it did was run its fingers over my neck.

I worried at first, wondering what Bentuj saw, why it ran its fingers over me. Then it reached a hard part and pulled back as if stung. Its head shook and its previously forgiving eyes turned cold and heartless. That was when I knew true fear.

“Irira.” Bentuj said.

My eyes darted to Junte, the only younger uspec in the room. Junte had not left with the others. It smiled when Bentuj proclaimed me as an abomination.

“It must die, all praise be to the founder, Chuspecip.” Junte said, its eye never leaving mine.

Bentuj sighed. “It must die, all praise be to the founder, Chuspecip.”

Apart from Bentuj, there were two other uspecs in the slum with somewhat long tails. Those uspecs moved forward and came towards me.

“Please.” I begged. “I am not irira.”

One uspec held me down, its gaze determinedly averted from my pleading face, while the other released my feet. As soon as my feet were free, I began to kick. I thrashed around, my feet swinging wildly from left to right as I tried to get free. The uspec just grabbed onto both feet and held me down.

I fought. I had never fought more desperately in my life. In fact, I hadn’t thought myself capable of fighting. That was the moment I learnt how desperate I was to live.

“I am not irira. Bentuj!” I screamed. “Bentuj! I am not irira! I swear on my progenitors, I swear to the founder!” I was mindless. I was so desperate to be free that I did not pay heed to the severe frown which had begun to form on Bentuj’s face. “Mercy Bentuj!” I pleaded. “I swear to the founder, I swear to Chuspe…”

I was not allowed to finish that.

Bentuj punched me in the face. It was a punch so hard that I was dazed into silence.

“How dare you lie on the founder’s name!” Spittle fell on my face from Bentuj’s mouth. That is how irate it was. “I see the proof irira, we all see it.”

I had thought myself timid. Too timid to speak up in the face of such anger, but I learnt that I had an iron will, one much stronger than any other uspec I’d met. In the face of Bentuj’s indignation, mine rose.

“Then show me your proof Bentuj!” I snapped back at it.

The tone of my response was so shocking that the uspec holding my feet momentarily slackened its hold.

I took full advantage.

I kicked its head backwards with my right feet and hit the other uspec in the mouth with my head. Then I jumped to my feet, my arms still bound to my body, and prepared to flee. I noticed the shocked look on the elders’ faces, but I did not let it faze me, not when they were determined to kill me.

I ran.

And ran right into the base of Junte’s horn.

The pain was overwhelming. It was more than just the pain of a hard object colliding with my flesh. It was as if the horn had hit my most vulnerable pain receptors, receptors I hadn’t known I had.

I fell to the floor and Junte knelt over me. Its lips curved into a malicious smile as it turned the horn around and sent the sharp pointed edge back into whatever it was that had caused so much pain. Junte stabbed the horn into a spot on my face and pulled.

The pain was more than I could bear. My eye closed and I drifted off.

When I woke up, I was tied to a tree by the okun. I could tell from the red clouds that it was night. There were no uspecs around, no one outside a hovel but me.

I turned and looked into the okun.

That was when I saw it.

I saw the eye-socket first.

Then I understood the pain. I understood why Junte had been so malicious, why it had been so gleeful at the end.

You could always tell an empty eye-socket, one that had never been filled, from an eye-socket which had been filled and lost its eye. The empty eye-socket was green, the same shade of green as the skin. I’d heard that once an eye-socket was filled, the eye closed, given the body time to adjust to the new eye. That must have been why I hadn’t noticed it when I woke up, why I could only see with the one eye. There were white streaks in my eye-socket, the new one I had formed without knowing. Those streaks were the sign that my newly formed eye-socket had been filled.

I put it all together then.

I realized that I must have taken out the imp’s eye when I’d been blinded by rage. I still didn’t know how. I would have needed something sharp, something like Junte’s horn. But I must have taken out the eye. I’d heard rage was one of the stimuli which catalyzed the formation of eye-sockets. That must have been what happened. In my rage, I must have formed an empty eye-socket and then filled it with the imp’s eye.

Junte, having bragged that it would be the first one in our slum to take and use and imp’s eye must have been outraged that I’d done it first. So, Junte must have formed the lie that I was irira, so that it could take the eye away. Which it had done, before I passed out.

Having everything settled, I felt at peace again. Bentuj was a reasonable uspec. I would speak sense to it. I would convince it that Junte was wrong. I knew Bentuj would listen. But there was nothing I could do till morning.

So, I took my focus back to my surroundings and enjoyed the view of the slum at night.

Hovels were scattered around the area. The ones further off were partially hidden by the red fog. The surroundings were really nothing inspiring. We had three tall trees, including the one I was currently tied to, which provided us with our entire collection of fruits. We had the okun whose pink hue covered about a tenth of the slum and provided us with jejas, our only source of nourishment, until the traders came and Bentuj bought spices, grains and meals off them. We didn’t have any other creatures. Although, on a rare occasion, I believe it was during the celebration of Junte’s tail growth, Bentuj had bought smaller creatures called etkus. We made a special jeja stew with the etkus, some grain and some of our fruits, and it was the most succulent meal I’d ever had.

A cyan glitter from the pink okun caught my eye. I turned to face the okun, and again saw my face reflected in it. This time though, I didn’t just see my face, I saw my neck.

My lips parted in shock.

‘Irira’ the word echoed in my head like a taunt as I stared at the reflection of my neck in the stream.

Now I could see it. I could see what Bentuj had run its fingers over. I could see what made my old friends run away from me.

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 6:34am On Feb 23
Part 3
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Irira.

They had been right. It was there, in my reflection. I was what they’d accused me of being. I was an abomination, a crossbreed.

I looked at my neck again and I saw the rough cyan scales. They were little, just three lined up on my neck, forming a row across it. Three cyan scales, and I was mesmerized by them. I stared at the scales on my neck and watched the way they contrasted against my green skin. I thought about all the other uspecs in my slum, uspecs who had bare necks, because, unlike me, they were not abominations.

Still, I couldn’t stop staring at it. That was my first sacrilege. I should have turned my eye away in disgust and poured down insults on the heads of my progenitors, the uspecs who allowed me to happen. I should have mourned, I should have been grieving and I should have tried desperately to throw myself into the okun and drown in the liquid.

But I didn’t.

I didn’t feel any shame, all I felt was an absurd amount of curiosity. I moved closer to the okun to look at a better view of the reflection. Then I struggled with my restraints, so that I could kneel. I wanted to see both of my features together.

It was hard to see the tail, tiny as it was, but I’d seen the tail many times before. It was the scales I was drawn to.

As the tail was the distinctive feature of the kute spectrum, the neck scales were the distinctive feature of the hooni spectrum. The hooni spectrum had the uspecs with a natural inclination towards quicksand. When they gained the understanding, they could use that quicksand to teleport. Having both features meant that I was both of the kute spectrum as well as the hooni spectrum. I was a crossbreed, an abomination, irira.

That wasn’t all the okun had to show me. I had developed another mark of age and experience, I had grown a feather. I stared, shocked at the single cyan feather which had formed on my left aileron, and a slow smile crept onto my face. My feather was the most dazzling in the entire slum. It wasn’t broken in half like the uspec who I’d been given to at birth. It wasn’t wispy or thin like Bentuj’s. It was full, and it shone.

I looked at it all and I finally understood what had happened with the imp.

In the stories that the passing traders told about the hooni spectrum, they’d always said that the hooni scales had to be dug up. The hooni spectrum was made of passionate uspecs driven by anger. These uspecs had to rip out their first neck scale in a fit of anger, before more scales could grow. That was what I’d done with the imp. When my hand passed over my neck, I must have dug out my first scale and ripped it off.

That was why the imp screamed. The stories had it that the scales were sharp, so sharp that just touching the edge would tear the skin. I must have used the scale to pluck out the imp’s eye. That was why there was so much blood. And the other uspecs hailed me because they saw my newly formed eye-socket. They saw the imp eye I had collected, and they saw the dazzling feather on my aileron, but they didn’t see the neck scales, because these new ones must have taken some time to grow.

Now they were out, and they showed what I was, a hooni – kute crossbreed. An abomination.

I spent the rest of the night just staring at myself in the okun.

I grew that night. Something very fundamental changed in me. And as I watched the red clouds in our sky give way for the orange dots which illuminated the day, I knew that I had to leave the slum. I knew that they would kill me, it would be a sacrilege not to. If the fates were reversed and another uspec was deemed irira, I would have joined to kill it. So, there were no ill feelings, not for Bentuj who as leader of our slum would lead the ceremony, and not even for Junte. Junte may have been jealous, but I knew it would not have done anything else with its jealousy if I hadn’t been irira.

I looked at the okun under the light of the orange dots and saw it turn from friend to foe. The kute spectrum were okun uspecs. The okun gave us our ability to drain for spectral magic. That was why all sacrifices made in a kute spectrum were made to the okun. If Bentuj and the other uspecs succeeded, I would be drowned in that okun.

As the day went on and the fog grew clammy, I became the slum’s biggest attraction. Every uspec in that slum came at least three times to look at the irira. The younger ones at least looked sad for me. I appreciated it, I really did, even though I didn’t show it. I was too busy trying to think of a plan to escape. I knew it had to involve overwhelming force, only that would make the uspecs release me. But every time I thought of the amount of force required, I despaired.


Then the moment came, and I saw them. Bentuj stormed towards me, Junte and some other uspecs following closely behind it. I watched them walk through the fog and with each step closer towards me, I became desolate.

Until they reached me.

“Irira.” Junte spat out.

His cry was picked up by other uspecs and soon every single uspec in the slum was out of their hovels watching. Most of them joined in, yelling ‘irira’ as loud as they could. They watched me from hovels. The really daring ones moved closer. Close enough that they could see my death first hand, but not so close that they got into Bentuj’s way.

The two uspecs who’d tried to hold me down the previous day came forward. They reached behind me and cut off the rope that bound me to the tree. As soon as my body was free, I tried to fight. They seemed to be expecting it, because they both took turns slamming their fists into my head until they were sure I got the message: they would not be caught unawares again.

I got the message.

They pulled me up. Lifting me off my feet, each holding onto my arm.

Bentuj cleared its throat and the chants of irira went away.

“Irira must die. All praise be to the founder, Chuspecip.” Bentuj intoned.

“Irira must die. All praise be to the founder, Chuspecip.” Junte repeated in a more gleeful tone.

The uspecs holding onto me took their turn saying it next. Then every uspec in the slum said it. That was the custom, it was how they washed their hands free of my abomination. Each uspec had to give praise to Chuspecip, had to call on the founder and declare their innocence in the crime of my birth.

Every uspec, myself included.

Once the last uspec was done chanting, all eyes turned to me and they waited in silence. I stubbornly kept my lips glued together. By my religion, by the beliefs that I had been raised on, I was an abomination, a sacrilege. By my religion, it was an insult, the most despicable insult to refuse to proclaim the words. But I refused. Even when Junte walked forward, its prized horn in its hand, I refused.

I was held still as Junte maliciously drove the pointed tip of that horn into my single outer eye socket. It was painful, but nowhere near the amount of pain I had felt when Junte had used that same horn to pull out the imp’s eye I’d gained.

I endured it.

“Say it, irira.” Bentuj ordered.

I shook my head.

“Do you want to be damned?” One of the uspecs holding me asked. It shook, shivering because of the damnation I brought on myself and the entire slum by my refusal to declare my own death sentence.

Junte pulled out the horn and drove it deeper into my outer eye-socket. “Say it, irira.” Junte’s voice was laced with disgust.

It is often said that the kute spectrum is tied to pain the way the hooni is tied to anger. The kute uspecs preferred to think of that as untrue. They considered it a fault, to bask in pain. As Junte continued its torture, I learnt the true value of the emotion that uspec spectrums hold. I absorbed the pain. I didn’t fight it, just as I hadn’t fought my anger, and as I absorbed it, I felt myself go groggy. I could tell that the change was upon me again. It felt just as it had with the imp. I closed my central eye and welcomed the mindlessness of the black void. As my mind drifted out of consciousness, a smile formed on my lips. I realized that I would live another day and my deliverance had come from Junte.

I woke to the same position I had found myself the previous night. Red clouds covered the sky giving the daytime dots a red hue. And I was alone, just me and the okun. It was night and the okun had become my friend again.

I stared into the okun and smiled when I saw another eye-socket on my face. Two eye-sockets had formed in the span of days. While the first eye-socket had formed on my forehead, the other one formed by my nose, on my right cheek. I stared at the oval depression and the green within it.

Then I turned, maneuvering in my position to get a better look at my ailerons. At the rate I was developing, I expected to see two more dazzling cyan feathers.

I was disappointed.

I just had the single feather.

I kept turning, as if a feather would appear by sheer force of will and then I saw it. I saw the tail. My tail had grown. It had grown from the little stub barely protruding from my back, to a long, endowed, cyan appendage. It reached almost midway down my thighs, more than half the length of Bentuj’s.

I waited with smug defiance for the start of the next day. I watched as the red clouds moved slightly giving way for the orange dots. And as I watched the celestial bodies prepare, I wondered about another rumor I’d heard, one that was just as absurd as the idea of an uspec whose feet had never known sludge. I looked up at the red sky and wondered if hail could truly fall from it. I decided it was impossible. Hail in the spectral existence was just as absurd as common uspecs with sludge-free feet.

The day passed in a blur. The uspecs came to watch me and marveled at my new eye-socket. I tried to spread my legs as Bentuj did, to show off my tail, but it was pointless while I sat. So, I waited for Bentuj and its entourage.

I smiled when they finally came.

The uspecs released me and held me back as Bentuj went through the proceedings again. I bid my time, waiting for each uspec to declare me an abomination and then state my fate. Then when all the eyes turned to me, I spread my legs as Bentuj did and showed off my mighty tail.

Junte gasped in shock.

Bentuj’s eye widened and then narrowed with hatred. I could tell what was going through its mind. Bentuj hated that an irira, a hooni irira, would dare grow a tail that, even though was half the length of its, was double the girth and ten times more impressive.

I smiled.

I sentenced myself to death with that smile.

“We cannot wait another day Bentuj.” Junte said, its eye reluctantly fixed on my tail.

“I agree.” Bentuj replied.

An eye that had looked on me with kindness for the duration of my life, turned on me with spite. “Feed him to the okun.” Bentuj gave the order.

“All praise be to the founder, Chuspecip.” Junte chanted with a smile on its face, as the uspecs holding me wrestled me to my knees in the sludge. One of them put its hand behind my head, forcing my face into the okun.

“All praise be to the founder, Chuspecip.” the chant from the other uspecs was the last thing I heard before my head was forced into the water.

I struggled. I tried to fight them off, tried to push with my arms and feet, while I kept my nose shut against the liquid. I kept pushing, my feet digging into the sludge and my knees forcing the rest of my body forward. As I pushed with my legs, I wriggled with my arms and my body, I could even feel my ailerons flap from side to side. Every part of my body worked together for a single purpose.

To live.

I didn’t win, but I got a respite. I pushed myself into the okun. I waded through the pink liquid desperate to outswim them. Where I would go, I did not know, but I knew that every moment I lived was an extra moment to plan. I couldn’t leave the slum; the Kaiser had made sure of that.

There were boundaries that surrounded slums. Those boundaries were enforced with thick fogs, fogs so thick an uspec couldn’t see through to the other side. Once an uspec stepped into those fogs from the wrong side, they would die. Unless they had the special contrivances which the traders and imps used. No uspec born de trop was given one of those. Still I swam in the okun, I swam as fast as I could to the other side of the stream, hoping to outrun the uspecs chasing me and buy myself a little more time to live.

I had swum the length of the okun countless times throughout my life, and so I wasn’t surprised when I reached the other end.

Bentuj and Junte stood there with evil grins on their faces.

I turned, prepared to escape the other way, but the two uspecs were already behind me. They latched onto my arm, their fingers digging viciously into me, as they pushed me down into the water.

I pushed against them with my body, thrashing and fighting.

Bentuj and Junte walked into the okun. Junte grabbed onto my head as Bentuj wrapped its fingers around the back of my neck. They held me so securely there was no way I could break free.

I knew my life was over.

The sum total of my entire life was a short tail, a dazzling feather and two empty outer eye-sockets. It was the life I would have lived, they were all the features I had ever planned to have when I died. In fact, they had exceeded my expectations. But as death came knocking, I realized that the events of the preceding days had changed my expectations. Now I wanted more.

I wanted to see if an uspec could truly live without staining its feet in sludge. I wanted to see hail drop from the red sky and feel the cold against my skin. I wanted to go to metropolises and see powerful uspecs, uspecs whose tails swept the floor, whose ailerons were filled with feathers as dazzling as mine, and whose eye-sockets were filled with eyes. I wanted to fill my sockets with eyes and gain an understanding. I wanted to feel the power of the spectral magic I had heard so much about.

But most of all, I wanted to know if there were others like me, other irira, abominations who should never have been born.

Sadly, all the things I wanted would never come to pass. I would die, just one more unknown de trop in a nameless slum no one cared about. My entire existence would sum up to nothing. It was a bleak thought.

I exhaled and prepared for death.

I was just about to close my eye when I saw the reflection in the okun. And suddenly, the okun was my friend again.

The okun showed me my salvation.

3 Likes

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Bluehaven(m): 8:25am On Feb 23
Welcome ObehiD!!! Is this different from the promised Reckoning?

1 Like 1 Share

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Bluehaven(m): 8:25am On Feb 23
Welcome ObehiD!!! Is this different from the promised Reckoning?
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Aphroditee(f): 9:21am On Feb 23
obehiD:
I'm back to my school schedule, so I will be posting once a week.

This first post is going to be uncharacteristically long, because I want to go deep enough into the story to give everyone an idea of what it will look like, but after that, the subsequent posts will probably be a lot shorter.

As promised, I am tagging everyone who commented on the last story.

Dranoid, jupitre, nady94, phoenixchap, GeoSilYe, monalicious, izicky, damon147, ashatoda, tunjilomo, richykemzy, fazemood, ultimategeneral, niwdog, spixytinxy, bluehaven, peaceyw, dztzl, sampz, siralabai, ayodipths, rynne, popeshemoo, godwinfury, mhistahrah, oluwabuqqyyolo, correctguy101, mhistahrah, lukfame, amauwana, lightqueen, aphroditee, botaflica, dhehbhor, elyna, tenniebae
Thanks for the mention

1 Like

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by GeoSilYe(f): 11:47am On Feb 23
obehiD:
I'm back to my school schedule, so I will be posting once a week.

This first post is going to be uncharacteristically long, because I want to go deep enough into the story to give everyone an idea of what it will look like, but after that, the subsequent posts will probably be a lot shorter.

As promised, I am tagging everyone who commented on the last story.

Dranoid, jupitre, nady94, phoenixchap, GeoSilYe, monalicious, izicky, damon147, ashatoda, tunjilomo, richykemzy, fazemood, ultimategeneral, niwdog, spixytinxy, bluehaven, peaceyw, dztzl, sampz, siralabai, ayodipths, rynne, popeshemoo, godwinfury, mhistahrah, oluwabuqqyyolo, correctguy101, mhistahrah, lukfame, amauwana, lightqueen, aphroditee, botaflica, dhehbhor, elyna, tenniebae

ObehiD I missed you!!!!

1 Like 1 Share

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Peaceyw(m): 12:15pm On Feb 23
I have never been more confused in my life. chai, but the way the story started shows a promising and awesome story, I was even smiling for most part of my reading. I like the way the upsecs are explained. Quick question obehiD, is there no gender in the spectral existence, that is why you are using it to describe the upsecs? I like the beginning of this pre prologue though, it was thoughtful of you to set another series out to explain more of the spectral existence.��

1 Like 1 Share

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Peaceyw(m): 12:15pm On Feb 23
obehiD:
I'm back to my school schedule, so I will be posting once a week.

This first post is going to be uncharacteristically long, because I want to go deep enough into the story to give everyone an idea of what it will look like, but after that, the subsequent posts will probably be a lot shorter.

As promised, I am tagging everyone who commented on the last story.

Dranoid, jupitre, nady94, phoenixchap, GeoSilYe, monalicious, izicky, damon147, ashatoda, tunjilomo, richykemzy, fazemood, ultimategeneral, niwdog, spixytinxy, bluehaven, peaceyw, dztzl, sampz, siralabai, ayodipths, rynne, popeshemoo, godwinfury, mhistahrah, oluwabuqqyyolo, correctguy101, mhistahrah, lukfame, amauwana, lightqueen, aphroditee, botaflica, dhehbhor, elyna, tenniebae


Thanks for the mention. I was not even logging in to nairaland after your story was completed, cuz nairaland was boring. I don't even know what made me to login today, but I am sure it must be because of the story, my spirits must have sensed a new update from you.*wink wink*

1 Like

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by siralabai(m): 2:03pm On Feb 23
Thanks. Bring it on.

1 Like 1 Share

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 2:07pm On Feb 23
obehiD:
I'm back to my school schedule, so I will be posting once a week.

This first post is going to be uncharacteristically long, because I want to go deep enough into the story to give everyone an idea of what it will look like, but after that, the subsequent posts will probably be a lot shorter.

As promised, I am tagging everyone who commented on the last story.

Dranoid, jupitre, nady94, phoenixchap, GeoSilYe, monalicious, izicky, damon147, ashatoda, tunjilomo, richykemzy, fazemood, ultimategeneral, niwdog, spixytinxy, bluehaven, peaceyw, dztzl, sampz, siralabai, ayodipths, rynne, popeshemoo, godwinfury, mhistahrah, oluwabuqqyyolo, correctguy101, mhistahrah, lukfame, amauwana, lightqueen, aphroditee, botaflica, dhehbhor, elyna, tenniebae
I got your call hon. Thanks for the mention.

This new story seems quite deep. I think we will be seeing more actions than talking in this part as it seems to be about the survival of an uspec tagged "ABOMINATION" by procreation and how it later became the great uspec of lahooni. The same one that gave power to the imp to vent its revenge on Osazele for siding its murderer.

Telling stories of the other spectral planes helps us get better understanding on what you the author have been trying to tell us the readers about creatures of these planes. How they thing and behave. How they see us the "umanis"( haha kinda funny like "inhumans" ). Now I know that we aren't that admirable and attractive as we assume we are. That something somewhere actually view us as ugly and disgusting grin.


Well I can guess that its a mutual feeling as I can bet that they sure are ugly creatures with their green smooth empty multi-eye socket head with patch feathers and tails like a lizard's.

Obehid I am definitely going to enjoy this series. Pls update quickly. THANKS wink
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by phoenixchap: 4:57pm On Feb 23
Oh my wow what a piece, this fiction is truly scary but I believe ObehiD would do justice to this also
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by phoenixchap: 5:00pm On Feb 23
EkopSparoAyara, Oroolorun come and check this work out and also go through her earlier works and be amazed..
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Oroolorun(m): 6:53pm On Feb 23
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phoenixchap:
EkopSparoAyara, Oroolorun come and check this work out and also go through her earlier works and be amazed..
Thanks for the invitation. Coming back to check out the work. Once again, thanks.

1 Like 1 Share

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by tunjilomo(m): 11:35pm On Feb 23
Thanks for the mention, Obehid. This is an eye-opener, and you are doing a good job with it. Well done. At least, we will manage this one before we get bored to...
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by spixytinxy(f): 11:22pm On Feb 24
Dis is interesting, thanks for pouring more light on d spectral existence. Pls don't make d update more shorter. Thanks for mentioning me @ obehid

1 Like 1 Share

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Niwdog(m): 11:56am On Feb 25
I am on board
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by MiaB(f): 3:24pm On Feb 25
obehiD:
I'm back to my school schedule, so I will be posting once a week.

This first post is going to be uncharacteristically long, because I want to go deep enough into the story to give everyone an idea of what it will look like, but after that, the subsequent posts will probably be a lot shorter.

As promised, I am tagging everyone who commented on the last story.

Dranoid, jupitre, nady94, phoenixchap, GeoSilYe,miab monalicious, izicky, damon147, ashatoda, tunjilomo, richykemzy, fazemood, ultimategeneral, niwdog,cuddlebear spixytinxy, bluehaven, peaceyw, dztzl, sampz, siralabai, ayodipths, rynne, popeshemoo, godwinfury, mhistahrah, oluwabuqqyyolo, correctguy101, mhistahrah, lukfame, amauwana, lightqueen, aphroditee, botaflica, dhehbhor, elyna, tenniebae
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by MiaB(f): 3:24pm On Feb 25
obehiD:
I'm back to my school schedule, so I will be posting once a week.

This first post is going to be uncharacteristically long, because I want to go deep enough into the story to give everyone an idea of what it will look like, but after that, the subsequent posts will probably be a lot shorter.

As promised, I am tagging everyone who commented on the last story.

Dranoid, jupitre, nady94, phoenixchap, GeoSilYe, monalicious, izicky, damon147, ashatoda, tunjilomo, richykemzy, fazemood, ultimategeneral, niwdog, spixytinxy, bluehaven, peaceyw, dztzl, sampz, siralabai, ayodipths, rynne, popeshemoo, godwinfury, mhistahrah, oluwabuqqyyolo, correctguy101, mhistahrah, lukfame, amauwana, lightqueen, aphroditee, botaflica, dhehbhor, elyna, tenniebae
following
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:42am On Feb 26
@Bluehaven thank you. This is not the Reckoning, it's a pre-prologue to it. So the story is following Nebud and he mentions that he is writing this while umanis (humans) are fighting, and he says one of them has green eyes (possibly one of the twins). And we know from the last book that the twins planned to come for him, so this writing is taking place some time after the events of the last book but before (...and maybe during...) the Reckoning.

@Aphroditee you're welcome smiley

@GeoSilYe thank you! I'm happy to be back. Hope you enjoy this one grin

@Peaceyw HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Wow, are you sure your spirit isn't an augur, this one that it was able to sense my new update cheesy. I'm sorry about the confusion, this story, with the new creatures and the new world is really out there, so I'm trying my best to explain it in a way that will be easy to understand, but I'm worried that it might be hard to get a clear picture of what I'm describing. Yes, in the spectral existence there is no gender, so that is why the uspecs are 'it'. I take it as a challenge to make this story interesting and understandable, because I think I underestimated the complexity of introducing 'creatures' that are soo different. But, it will be worth it if I'm able to do it well, because (SPOILER ALERT) Nebud is coming into the Reckoning. I think the story will be so much more enjoyable if we get a good understanding of the spectral existence and Nebud's character before that.

@siralabai I don't know why, but it seems like siralabia is just sweeting me to type, because that's what I was typing. I had to remind myself that it was wrong lol.

@Fazemood Yes, you are right about the idea of the story. There will be a lot less dialogue, compared with the other ones. This book is intended to be an exploration of the spectral existence, through Nebud's experiences, and so there will be quite a bit of action, but I'm not going to spoil it by saying too much cheesy. That is definitely my intention with this (introducing the other existence). Depending on how this goes, I might do the same for the other existences, in between the other main books. Hahaha, yes, it is all about the POV. The uspecs think they look good and humans don't and, obviously, humans would think that uspecs are ugly. I'm back to school, so that means back to posting once a week. I'll post the next one Saturday morning.

@phoenixchap hehe, thank you! I really appreciate your confidence. I'm going to try my best to make sure I do it justice

@tunjilomo hahaha, thank you! I really intend for this to be an eye-opener. It will certainly help make some things in the next book clearer (or at least that's my intention). I definitely don't want anyone getting bored for too long.

@spixytinxy thank you. Honestly, I will try my best with the length of the updates, but it will all depend on how much writing I'm able to do during the week

@Niwdog yay! welcome back cheesy

@MiaB Welcome!!! I really hope you enjoy it!
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by dhehbhor(m): 8:29am On Feb 26
Well done ma, Been eagerly waiting ever since the last book ended.
Looking forward to this ride.

1 Like 1 Share

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by spixytinxy(f): 7:00am On Mar 01
@ obehid hope u r good, came for early morning tea or is it no longer on Fridays
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:02am On Mar 02
@dhehbhor thank you. Hope you enjoy it!

@spixytinxy I'm good haha. Sorry oh, I'm going with Saturdays, just to match up with when I started posting. So the tea is served now, you can come and drink grin
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:02am On Mar 02
Part 4
-------

It was the single most awing thing I had ever seen.

They appeared like dots in the sky, green dots which became larger the closer they got to us. I could only see them through the okun, as Bentuj’s vice grip remained fixed on the back of my neck.

Bentuj, its hand still around my neck, tilted its head backwards to get a clearer view of the red sky. Bentuj’s mouth opened, gaping in shock as the green dots grew into creatures with arms and legs.

They descended on us. One of them landed in the okun, right in front of me.

The uspecs who’d been holding me down took their attention from drowning me, to staring at the intruders. In their distracted phase, their hold on me slackened. It was a testament to the level of shock they were in, that they didn’t even notice as I slipped out of their hold and stood on my feet behind them.

Finally, I could see with my own eye who the intruders were.

I blinked, my dazed eye darting all around me. They were everywhere. There were at least twenty of them, and they had landed all over our tiny slum. My gaze fixed on the one standing in the okun, and my mouth parted as I stared at it.

It was the biggest uspec I had ever seen. The uspec towered over Bentuj. Its arms seemed, to my dazed eye, to be about the thickness of the stem of the tree I’d been tied to the night before, and its legs were even thicker. It stood with its legs spread and I gasped.

My eyes widened.

I had imagined it, as Bentuj implacably guided my head down into the okun, I dreamt about what a great uspec would look like. I imagined the tail, I imagined it being a little wider than mine, and going all the way down to sweep the floor. This tail exceeded my imaginations. This tail was much wider than I’d pictured, at least as wide as my arm.

As if sensing my perusal, the tail twitched. It flapped in the water and the end of it rose, coming out of the okun for seconds before sinking back in, slapping the surface of the stream in the process.

Junte gasped and jumped back.

Bentuj shivered.

I smiled. The corners of my lips crept up as I captured the image of the tail in my head. In my mind, I took a mental picture of the split end and the sharp points. The tail was not at all what I had expected. It was even longer than I had imagined, and it ended in two points, not one. As a kute, I knew that once my tail grew fully, it would turn into a weapon. The end of it would eject a poison which could paralyze anyone it touched. But I had never seen a fully-grown tail.

My gaze inched up, voraciously devouring the great uspec’s body. It had a thick red belt around its waist. One side of that belt held a red sword with a finely carved hilt, and the other end held a wound whip.

My fingers stretched forward, moving of their own accord towards it. I imagined what it would feel like to hold the whip, to own one. I imagined my fingers curling around the head as I pulled it out from the belt and snapped it. The whip was the badge of a master, an uspec who owned an imp slave. It was a mark of distinction in the spectral existence, one I hungered for. I shook my head and pulled my hand back to my side. De trop did not own slaves, everyone knew that.

My eye continued its hungry appraisal. I looked up, past the uspec’s impossibly large chest, to its bare neck, all the way up to its face.

I gasped.

The uspec had all six of its outer eye-sockets formed, and three of them were filled. Two of the outer eyes were black. From the stories I’d heard, I knew that those had to be the imp eyes. The other eye was red. It was on the uspec’s forehead, above its central eye. The outer eye was a lighter shade of red than the central eye. In the middle of the outer eye, there was a small green horn. That horn showed that the eye had belonged to an uspec of the mejo spectrum. That, in combination with the two black imp eyes, showed that this uspec had spectral magic.

The uspec turned around, and again I was awed.

Bentuj stared at the feathers on the uspecs aileron, and then it turned around to look at me. I knew exactly what it was thinking. I allowed myself to indulge in a moment of pride. My chest puffed out, and my face brightened with a smug smile.

The uspec’s ailerons were over three-quarter filled with cyan feathers. That was why the uspec had been able to fly into our slum. The uspec’s ailerons were covered enough to be wings which gave flight. But as impressive as the uspec’s ailerons were, none of its feathers were as dazzling as mine. That was what Bentuj thought, and that was why I smiled, a smug self-satisfied smile.

As I studied the many feathers on the uspec’s ailerons, I fantasized about what mine would look like when they filled. Suddenly, I was no longer an irira destined to die, I was an uspec who’d been giving another chance to live. I didn’t know who these great uspecs were, and I didn’t know why they’d come to my slum. But I was determined to leave with them.

Just as my mind swelled from the astonishing view of a great uspec, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.

The uspec who’d been standing in the okun walked out of it, stepping into the sludge. As soon as the uspec was standing in the sludge, the spot in front of it rippled, like waves in a large sea.

Then it hardened, and sunk in, creating a hole in the ground.

It wasn’t the only one. Holes began to form all around the slum.

Imps came out of those holes. Unlike the osin which had come to our slum for our jejas, these imps wore nothing over their skin. It was the first time I had ever seen the naked umani form.

The imps were also eyeless. Unlike the osin which had come to our slum, none of these imps had their eyes. All they had on their face were two empty eye-sockets. And their skin looked even more different from that of the osin’s. Their skin was cracked with black streaks running along it.

The first thing I noticed was the difference. The osin which had come to our slum had a light brown skin. I had imagined that all imps had the same color skin, as all uspecs had the same color skin, but I was wrong.

Some of the imps were brown, but even the ones who were brown were not consistent in their brownness. It was as if every brown imp was a different shade of brown. Then there were the imps who seemed to have a somewhat milky skin and there were the ones with white skin. None of them looked the same. But that wasn’t the only difference, just the most striking.

The other difference was in the features they had on their bodies. These came as less of a shock, as uspecs also had different features depending on our spectrums. I imagined that the different imps with different features where of different spectrums. If that was the case, then from the features I could see, the umanis only had two spectrums, unlike us, who had five.

The two umani spectrums had different features. The first umani spectrum seemed to have two odd mounds coming out of their chests and a triangle covered with hair on their pubis. I had heard stories of an uspec spectrum with spikes that covered their chest. Those spikes were for protection. I wondered what the strange umani features were for. Surely those mounds on their chest couldn’t be hard enough to stop a sword. The other umani spectrum had a flat chest and a small, strange looking tail, dangling from their pubis. Unlike our tails which were formidable and emerged from our back, theirs appeared feeble and emerged from their front. I could not even begin to imagine the purpose of such a short front tail.

The imps populated our slum. They knelt, their knees sinking into the sludge, and sunk their hands into the mud. Their backs bent as they made some strange motions with their arms. It was as if they were massaging the mud, as if they were trying to form the sludge into something more. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what they were doing.

But as the imps worked, the great uspecs stood still, their gazes fixed impassively on their surroundings. They didn’t look around the slum, there was no curiosity in their gaze. I could see why, uspecs such as these, with so many imp slaves, would not care for our slum. They must have come from an even greater place. They looked so great, I was sure they came from the first metropolis, the capital of Hakute. The uspecs stood straight, with their feet spread and a hand on the hilt of their cutlasses. Standing as they were, they looked like warriors, like the troops of a great uspec. That thought puzzled me. I could not think of an uspec who could be greater than them.

The imps’ labors finally reached fruition. The ground changed.

In my entire life, I had never seen a ground which was not covered in sludge. But as the imps worked, the sludge gave way to a harder surface. It was as if the floor was being covered with a fine mat. Suddenly, I could picture how a common uspec would not know sludge. With slaves such as these, who could transform the mud, I could see why any uspec, not born de trop, would never know sludge.

In that moment I despised the imps even more than I had before. These imps had spectral magic. It wasn’t the noble magic which uspecs had when they gained the understanding, but it was still magic. It was magic I had never had.

The ground was filled completely from the imps’ magical ministrations, and all the sludge was gone. In its place was a much lighter brown ground which seemed to form around the uspecs’ legs.

I walked out of the okun and stepped onto the ground. I gasped in shock as the ground sunk slightly to fit comfortably against my feet. There was none of that wet stickiness which came with the sludge. I frowned, shocked as I watched pools of pink liquid form around my feet. It took me a while to realize that I was dripping from the okun. I had grown so used to walking on a wet floor, that it never mattered if I was wet.

I took another step forward, and again the ground formed around my feet. There was an underlying firmness underneath the surface, which kept me from falling, or wobbling on my feet. I had never felt anything like it. I wanted to run around, just to feel the way the ground formed underneath me. I wanted to lie down and see if the ground would form around my body the way it did around my feet.

Luckily, I was stopped from indulging in that impulse by the approach of an imp. For a moment I thought it meant to come to me, and I imagined myself as a master, as an uspec with enough clout to own an imp. Then the imp walked right by me, without sparing me a moments glance. It was as if I was nothing, as if to the imp, I didn’t even exist.

The imp stopped by the okun and knelt by it. I watched as the imp’s hand disappeared into the ground and re-emerged holding onto a small grey bowl with a white cloth in it. I looked around the okun and noticed that it wasn’t the only imp doing this. In fact, there were several imps who had magically pulled out a bowl and a rag from the ground and were filling it with liquid from the okun.

The imp closest to me stood. It walked right past me, again, and went to the great uspec who’d landed in the okun. It knelt in front of that uspec and cleaned the sludge off its feet.

There was more action around the slum.

About ten imps formed around a hovel, three hovels in front of where I stood. They put their hands on the walls of the hovel and pushed. The hovel came tumbling down as if it was made from flimsy twigs. It was another show of the imps’ magic. My jaw clenched as I watched their display of spectral magic.

They knelt on hands and knees on the ground around the hovel they’d just brought down. Their hands seemed to massage the floor as it had the sludge. Suddenly, the pieces of the hovel went away, swallowed up by the ground and in its place rose a beautiful structure the likes of which I had never seen before.

I stared at it transfixed. I did not think of the hovel which had just been destroyed and the uspec who would sleep in sludge until the hovel was rebuilt. I don’t think any of the other de trop uspecs in our slum thought of that. All of our gazes were fixed on the stage which had just been erected, pulled out of the ground with the imps’ magic.

It was a dazzling white stage, built out of a material I could not name. The edges of the stage were lined with the most mesmerizing crimson gem. The imps carried white rectangular boxes over to a side of the stage. They stacked the rectangular boxes on top of each other forming steps from the ground to the top of the stage. And then the imps moved away from the stage.

Five rippled spots formed on the ground around the stage. Those ripples became holes which sunk into the ground. One new imp emerged from each of those holes.

These imps were different. They still had the same eyeless sockets on their faces and the same streaked skin, but like the osin, they were clothed. They had a tunic which covered every part of their body except for their face. Those imps walked away from the stage, towards one of the thick fogs which marked the boundary between our slum and the neighboring burg.

They formed two rows by the fog. Two of them stood on one side, and three on the other. They just stood there waiting.

I turned, my confused gaze examining the great uspecs. I became even more confused when I saw that the uspecs had turned to face the thick fog too. Even the naked imps stood facing the fog.

I found myself turning with them, my breath caught in my throat as I watched, waiting, even though I didn’t know what I was waiting for.

Then the thick red fog turned black and I knew the wait was over.

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:03am On Mar 02
Part 5
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The pointed edge of a canoe emerged from the black fog. As it came forward, the ground underneath it returned to sludge, which the canoe moved in.

This was not the first canoe that we’d seen in the slum. All the passing traders travelled with canoes. They were the mode of transportation in the spectral existence. But I had never seen one like this.

The canoe was fully covered, as all canoes in the spectral existence were, so we couldn’t see who or what was inside of it. It was large, by far the largest canoe that had ever come into our slum. It was painted white and had the smoothest finish I had ever seen in a canoe. The back end of the canoe was a wide red tail. The tail wagged, propelling the canoe further into the slum.

I knew from the tail that the canoe belonged to the kute spectrum. I’d heard stories about the other spectrums’ canoes. Each spectrum used their unique features as the propellant for the canoe to move through the sludge. I craned my head, trying to get a better look at the vehicle.

I’d been inside one once.

A trader had taken a liking to me and allowed me to go into its canoe. The trader showed me how the tail was controlled using paddles inside the canoe. It had been a lot of work paddling the canoe enough to get it to move from one hovel to another. I told the trader that I didn’t know how it did it, and it laughed at me. I remember it said that paddling canoes was imp work. The trader hadn’t owned an imp, but it had lent one from the burgs. I took my attention back to the much bigger canoe, as it made its last strides into our slum.

As soon as the canoe completely left the neighboring burg, the fog went from black back to red. The imps who’d formed two rows by the fog knelt by the channel of sludge which had formed by the canoe. They put their hands into the mud and continued their massaging motions. Their hands did things in the mud that I couldn’t see, and the canoe came to a stop. The sludge which had surrounded the canoe went away and was replaced by the firm ground which molded so comfortably against my feet. Then the imps stood and moved back.

The entire slum was silent as we watched the magnificent canoe with wide eyes. Slowly, the top of the canoe began to come down. There was a split going along the middle and the two halves pulled apart from the center, down to the sides of the canoe.

I couldn’t see much. All I saw was a flat board seemingly made of beams, lining the top of the open canoe. Then several of those beams got pushed back and a green head emerged from the bottom of the canoe.

The uspec came out of the canoe, walking onto the ground by it, and my mouth hung open. This uspec had five of its outer eyes filled. Five. That meant that the uspec had gained four understandings. The uspec was just one eye away from filling all of its eye-sockets. I had never seen an uspec with that many eyes.

I found myself slowly walking forward. I hadn’t planned to, I just felt an urge to get closer to this great uspec who was even greater than the uspecs who’d flown in. Granted, the uspec wasn’t nearly as big as the ones who’d flown in, but it didn’t matter, because this uspec had more spectral magic than the others.

The uspec walked to the stage, giving me my first view of completely filled ailerons. I stopped just a few steps behind the elder uspecs from my slum who were closest to the stage. As the uspec turned, taking its time to look condescendingly at our slum and the de trop uspecs who inhabited it, I stared at the uspec’s feathers and blinked.

A shock wave ran through my system. For a moment I felt an absurd amount of fear. And then it was gone, just as suddenly as it had come, but it left me feeling shaken. I couldn’t help turning my eye back to the cause of my fear. I stared at the uspec’s feathers and again I noticed what I’d seen earlier. This great uspec, who seemed even greater than the great uspecs who’d flown in, didn’t have a single feather as dazzling as mine.

Then the uspec cleared its throat and the thought, as well as the absurd fear which came with it, left.

The uspec on the stage had on the same waist belt as the uspecs who’d flown in. It had a cutlass hanging from one side of the belt and a whip from the other, just like the other uspecs. Where it diverged was in the arm bands. It had two golden arm bands around both of its arms. I didn’t know what the arm bands meant, but I knew it had to be an indication of great power and wealth.

The uspec spoke. Its voice was so loud and filled with so much authority it commanded every single uspec’s full attention. I heard it speak and wondered what it would take to speak as it did.

It said, “I am the noble undead, Domax, and I have been sent here by my liege, the great undead, Fajahr, duke of the second metropolis of Hakute.”

My mind reeled from the titles. I’d known that the uspec standing on the stage had to be great, but I hadn’t thought that a noble would come to our desolate slum. Especially not a noble sent by the duke of a metropolis. Dukes were just a step down from Kaisers. The most powerful uspec in the port of Hakute was the Kaiser. After the Kaiser, it was the duke of the first metropolis, and then the duke of the second metropolis. I couldn’t believe that the third most powerful uspec in our port, had sent a noble to us. And not just a noble, but a noble undead. The undead appendage to its name meant that the noble was a progenitor, it was blessed by the founder, Chuspecip, with an offspring.

The noble uspec on the stage continued speaking and I forced my mind to be quiet so that I could hear it.

“The great one has found this slum wanting.”

I took a step back. Just like that, every hope I’d harbored of finding a way to escape death, slowly faded away as I realized the uspec wasn’t here just to visit. The uspec’s tone was ominous as it continued to speak. But as it spoke, a wave of apprehension coursed through me.

“A few days ago, the great one’s osin walked into this slum and was molested. This act was performed without the great one’s permission, and the great one considers it a grave insult to its personage. All uspecs responsible must face the great one’s judgement. All uspecs responsible step forward now.”

I felt my heart pounding in my chest. I forced my head to stay still, and I kept my eye from darting nervously towards my co-conspirators, the other young uspecs who’d joined in molesting the imp. A part of me was indignant that uspecs would be called to task for harming an imp, we were after all the superior creatures, and imps were slaves.

That thought calmed me, returning reason, and with it, fear. Imps were slaves. That imp was not just a slave but a favorite, a pet. It was the property of its master, just as Junte’s horn was its property. It would be just as wrong to take Junte’s horn without permission. As the cold logic circled through my mind, I wondered where that logic had been while I’d held the imp down by the okun. And a duke’s osin? How was that even possible? What was the osin of the duke of the second metropolis doing in our slum?

“All uspecs responsible step forward. NOW.” The uspec’s voice was even more awful than it had been before. There was a snap as it said the last word, and I found myself shaking a little from it. But who would volunteer to die?

I turned my head slightly then, my curiosity to search out Junte eviscerating my self-control. Junte was staring at me. My eyes crossed from Junte to Bentuj and to the okun they would drown me in after the great uspecs left. Reality returned as I remembered that I was irira. I didn’t know what the great one’s judgement would be, but I knew what Bentuj’s was. If I stayed in the slum, I would be drowned in the okun. If I went and threw myself at the great one’s mercy…I didn’t know what would happen, but an uncertain future with the possibility of life, seemed like a better choice than a certain death.

I took a deep breath and walked forward, past the shocked faces of the elder uspecs, all the way to the base of the stage. “I am responsible.” I announced.

The de trop uspecs from my slum gasped.

The noble uspec looked down, tilting its head so that its eyes could focus on me. It was the first time that I’d had so many eyes, from the same face, concentrated on me. It was disconcerting.

“What is a grave sin?” it asked.

“A grave sin is a sin against the founder, Chuspecip.” I replied. My response was automatic. I’d had it memorized for as long as I could remember. It was one of the tenets of my faith.

“Is it a grave sin to lie?” the noble uspec asked, its voice emotionless as its eyes rolled over me, scrutinizing every inch of my body.

I swallowed nervously and then I nodded. “Yes, noble one.” I replied.

The noble uspec pursed its lips and then it nodded. “Did you commit this crime alone?”

My first instinct was to say yes. It was an instinct that had come from a lifetime of friendship and loyalty to the other young uspecs in my slum. But I found myself thinking instead. I thought about what I would gain if I lied, and what I could lose. The young uspecs who’d been my friends wouldn’t embrace me for lying on their behalf. They may be grateful, but they would still call me irira and kill me. I had nothing to gain by lying for them.

“No, noble one, I did not.”

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:03am On Mar 02
The noble uspec nodded and walked backwards. It took its gaze from me, back to the rest of the slum and announced, “ALL uspecs responsible step forward, NOW.”

I looked behind me and saw that no one else came forward. The noble uspec’s gaze turned back to me, and for a moment, I thought that I would be asked to point them out. It was one thing not to lie for them, it was another entirely to point them out. Could I do it? The last few days could not wash away the years that preceded them. In my mind, these younger uspecs were still my friends. Even Junte, even the one who’d tried to kill me.

“Have it as you wish.” The noble undead said, its tone ringing with a certain sense of finality I couldn’t decipher.

The noble uspec turned to the slaves dressed in tunics and nodded at them. Those imps walked towards the canoe the uspec had come in. One of them climbed in, walking down into the canoe, and disappearing from sight. It reared its head a few seconds later, carrying a creature I had never seen before.

The creature was big enough to fit fully into its arms. The imp placed it on the ground, and it stood on six legs. It had a long, streamlined body with a tail that ended in a single point. The creature’s face was tiny with two small eyes, dots for noses and a line for a mouth. It had spots allover its tough skin.

The imp bent back and brought four more of the creatures out. Then it reached into the canoe and brought out a bowl. The imp put its hand into the bowl and pulled out what looked like layers of an imp’s skin. It threw the flaps of skin at the creatures and they caught it, revealing a mouth filled with the most unnatural teeth. The creatures chewed the skin, turned around, and ran into the slum.

I had never seen a creature move that fast. The creatures ran on their six legs into the slum. They mingled with the other uspecs, sniffing them with their tiny dot-noses. The great uspecs who’d flown in moved then. They formed around the creatures, following them as they sniffed the de trop uspecs in my slum.

I wasn’t sure what was happening, until one of the creatures got to Junte. It sniffed Junte and then let out a loud shriek. Before Junte could move, one of the warrior uspecs flicked its tail, bringing the sharp points at the end of the tail forward. It stung Junte, piercing the uspec’s chest with the end of its tail. Junte fell to his back on the ground. The warrior uspec nodded at the imps and they carried Junte forward.

The other young uspecs, reaching the realization that I had, began to run. They probably realized that the strange creatures were somehow able to hunt them. The creatures were able to tell their guilt by sniffing them. It was the most bizarre ability for a creature I had never heard of to have, but I couldn’t deny what I’d seen with Junte.

The uspecs began to run. They ran, trying to avoid the sniffing of the creatures, and the warriors flew with their filled ailerons and caught them. They held them in place, regardless of the uspecs thrashing, while the creatures sniffed them. When the creatures shrieked, the great uspecs stung my friends, paralyzing them with their poison.

One by one, my co-conspirators were found and brought forward to the base of the stage. They were paralyzed, and so the imps who’d carried them forward, manipulated them into a kneeling position. I saw the fear in Junte’s eye as it stared at me. I could not imagine how it would feel to be paralyzed and have no control over my own body. I felt sorry for it, sorry for all my friends who knelt by me. But a new fear was starting to rise in me. If the noble uspec took my old friends with me, then the news that I was irira would spread wherever I went. I would be damned allover again.

After sniffing everyone else in the slum, four of the creatures went back to the canoe. One came for me. I stood, frozen to the spot with a certain fear of the unknown, as the creature’s nose brushed against my skin. It shrieked. I closed my eye and waited to feel the poison, but nothing happened. Warily, I opened my eye, daring a peep around me. The creature had turned around and was headed back to the canoe.

I looked behind me. Some of the warrior uspecs had formed a line behind us, the young guilty uspecs. But none of them made any move to paralyze me. I exhaled, trying to calm my racing heart, as my attention spun back to the uspec on the stage.

“It is a grave sin to lie.” The uspec said. Then it turned its attention to the warrior uspecs and said, “gift them to the okun.”

It happened so quickly, I just stood there watching with an unbelievable amount of shock. One minute, my friends had been kneeling paralyzed beside me, the next they lay on the floor, their heads cut off from their bodies. I had never seen so much blood in my entire life. My mind spun. I blinked staring first at the noble uspec who’d given the order, and then at the warrior uspecs who’d carried it out and the blood-stained cutlasses they’d used. They’d killed my friends without a single thought, over the beating of an osin, over the suffering of an imp who could not die. The imp would recover, it may be marred, but it would recover. My friends would not.

I blinked, staring in shock as the imps came forward and carried the remains of my dead friends to the okun. They threw them into the okun as carelessly as one would toss a twig into the stream. To the imps, to the great uspecs, my friends were nothing.

My eye turned to Bentuj. The uspec’s face was contorted with pain and grief, but it did not move, it did not do a single thing to avenge the loss of one it had taken and treated as an offspring. That was when I learned just how small and inconsequential Bentuj really was. That was when I learnt how inconsequential I was. I was de trop, unwanted by my progenitors, inhabitant of a nameless slum. I was nothing. Like my friends, I could be killed, and no one would raise a hand to stop it. Even worse, I was irira, which meant everyone who learnt of my abomination would be required to kill me. It would be a grave sin to do otherwise.

The noble one spoke. “For the insult to the great one’s personage, this slum will be phased out. There will be no new life brought here until the last of you dies. There will be no more visitors to this slum in your lifetime. No traders will come here, no uspec or imp will visit. That is the great one’s vengeance.”

My mind was still reeling when the noble uspec walked down from the stage and stopped in front of me. “Since you did not lie, you will face the great one in person and receive its judgement.” Its eyes roamed over my body and then it snapped at two imps. “Clean it.” It said. The words dripped with disgust, but I couldn’t concentrate on that. Not when I would face the great one.

The great one had phased out my slum, which meant that the uspecs left alive, our elders, would see no new faces until they died. After they died, the slum would be filled with new uspecs, ones unconnected to our crime. I could not even begin to imagine how well connected an uspec had to be, to have the power to phase out a slum.

From what I’d been told, only Kaisers had that level of power. The Kaiser was the overall sovereign of a port. It was the final voice on all matters concerning the port. For the uspecs in a port, the Kaiser came second to the founder, Chuspecip. There was no external body which could interfere with a Kaisers control of its port. None that I had heard of at least. So, the great uspec I was about to meet, had to know the Kaiser, it had to have gotten permission from it to deal with our slum.

The imps cleaned me. They used a soft rag and a warm scented liquid, but I could not enjoy it, not when my hope was suddenly turning into something ugly. I’d thought these uspecs would save me from death in the okun and they had, but now I feared that whatever the great one had planned for me would be worse than death in the okun.

I was led forward, towards the noble one’s canoe, and I followed, walking mindlessly into it. Suddenly, I wished I could go back in time, back before I took the imp’s eye, back when I had just been one out of many young uspecs in a slum that cared for me as much as it could. Back when no great uspecs came into our slum. But I knew I couldn’t, and as I was led deeper into the canoe, something akin to hope came alive in me.

There was still so much unknown in front of me, but I was alive. After everything I’d seen that day, I was even more determined to feel the spectral magic the imps used so casually. I yearned to fly, to show off dazzling feathers which surpassed that of even a noble undead. I wanted my tail to grow into the weapon it was intended to be, and my scales to enlarge and cover my neck. I wanted to be what I had seen; I wanted to be great, to matter.

So, even as my mind filled with fear, my heart swelled with hope. It was a dreadful combination.

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by GeoSilYe(f): 1:28pm On Mar 02
Following smiley
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by tunjilomo(m): 2:37pm On Mar 02
Clap, clap �. I am interested in what will happen to it next.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 7:18am On Mar 03
And so it shall become, the great uspec of lahooni well done Obehid, keep it flowing

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