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The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) - Literature (44) - Nairaland

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 7:01am On May 14
cassbeat:
Ghostly reading.... Meanwhile I think u made a lil mistake its Marc instead of "Mara and another smoke bear"...
Now we await Chuspecip's return....

Thank you for the correction! I'll look into it

NoChill:


Please where can I find The marked: white sight

I'm working on finishing up the editing now so it should be out in a few months. Thanks for the interest!


EVERYONE

The next part is pretty short so for this week I'm posting a little extra extra before Saturday
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 7:23am On May 14
Part 15
----------

=============================
In the First Metropolis of Lahooni
=============================

In most respects, the task of saving Chuspecip was not at all what I had expected. It was at the same time surprisingly quick and painstakingly long. It was cheerfully easy while being exasperatingly tedious. I have come to think that perhaps all work involving the Chus happen that way. Long ago, I made an oath to the founder that I would never disclose the secrets I learnt on that journey. There was so much that was invalid and incomplete about our knowledge of the Chu. All the things I had thought I’d known for sure turned out to not quite be what I had expected. But I will not set the record straight because I swore never to do so. I will not say how it was that Chuspecip was trapped because doing so could see our founder imprisoned again. I will not say what it was that caused the weakness I felt when I carried it with me on the inter-port trail, and I will most certainly not disclose how close it was to death’s door and what it would take for a Chu to be killed.

In all honesty, my thoughts of that journey have been so thoroughly scrambled that I doubt I could decipher and explain as much as would make sense. To me, thinking on it, it all makes perfect sense. I see that trip with Musa as if I was back in the day, living it. But whenever I try to articulate it, whenever I wish to word it, only in the comfort of my mind, I find the pieces scrambling. Perhaps that is the way of the Chus. Perhaps their secrets are not meant to be held by the things they created. Often times I wish it was possible to speak to Musa about that journey…or really to speak to the imp about anything.

When I think about Musa these days, I find myself remembering that journey more than anything else. I did not know this at the time, but that was the last journey that Musa and I would ever make together. There was so much I wanted to say to the imp, and so much distance to say it, but then it felt as though there was not enough time. Or maybe it was the opposite, maybe I thought there was too much time and that was what made postponing our conversation so much easier. I should have talked to the imp. I’d wanted to speak to it about the reason that it had transitioned to the harsher tongue when the imps from the wrath tried to attack me on the inter-port trail. I trusted Musa too much. In some ways, perhaps that was one of my biggest failings at the time.

If there was one thing that the betrayal of my honoraria taught me, it was the repercussions of trust. I’m much older now, too old not to trust. I trust often and I trust many. I am now in a position where I can do so, and I have been blessed with many people, uspecs and imps alike, who’ve taught me the benefits of trust. I am still betrayed, but those betrayals do not hurt as much as my honoraria’s. And if they do not hurt as much as my honoraria’s then they certainly do not hurt as much as Musa’s. But Musa had chosen to stay with me. Or so I had told myself on the inter-port trail, and even later when we journeyed to save Chuspecip. Musa had been ‘renounced’ by its people. It had chosen to stay with me. Now that I am older and have learnt a great deal more about people and their intrigues, I know how easy it would have been for Musa to ask those imps to ‘renounce’ it in the tongue I could hear, while they said other things in the tongue I couldn’t.

I should have spoken to Musa during that journey. It sulked. I did not understand much of imps and their loves, and so I could not understand its infatuation with its lover. I know now that imps seek to love as they had in their umani lives. Uspecs are different. I have loved many. If I had been asked on the day I left my paradise in the Isle of Brio I would have said that the only uspec I loved was my offspring, Nebula. But I would have been wrong. Very wrong. Now I know that I had loved Fabiana as well. I loved Fabiana deeply in a way that surprises me now to think back on it. I loved Arexon too, but in a different way. And Juke. That crazy young uspec, I loved it sublimely, because it loved me so much more. It was not the only young Lahooni noble to idolize me, but it was the first, and its love was pure. Then there was Marcinus. Even after all that Marcinus did to me, after all the pain it caused, I loved it still, a twisted, broken, love. There were imps too. I have heard many now say that I hate imps, but I do not understand how they could say such. I am descended of Calam, I was born with a gene for loving imps. I just did not give them my trust or respect as blindly and freely as others did. And I certainly was not quick to forgive when they showed me disrespect. I know now why I am so affronted by the insults of imps. I know now how much I had truly despised being locked in a slum for seventeen years, unable to leave, while I watched imps come and go without much thought for the de trop uspecs they left behind. But I know, without a shred of doubt, that I do not hate imps. I know I do not, because I loved Musa. Perhaps more than any unrelated uspec I’ve ever loved. Maybe less. I do not know. Even now, I cannot properly articulate how I felt for that imp, but I had loved it deeply and dearly and I wished that I had spoken to it during that journey to save Chuspecip. Perhaps if we had spoken, so many hurts could have been avoided.

There were two surprising things that occurred during that journey. Two things that always spring to mind when I recall that moment. The first was not so impactful. But the second was life-altering. I will start with the first then.

Chuspecip had been trapped in the standard existence. At the time, there had only been the one portal left to the standard existence and it had been so well hidden that Chuspecip itself had had to lead me to it. And in guiding me, it had revealed several secrets of the Chus that I know it shouldn’t have. Musa and I had journeyed through that portal to the standard existence. That was my first visit, but it certainly wasn’t my last.

Umanis. In that time, they were ordinary and weak. Now, they are not so much so. Not since the creation of the marked. The marked. Many had cursed their creation. But the imp of a marked umani has eyes that do not expire. Other imp eyes taken by usepcs have to be replaced. But not the eyes of an imp formerly marked. In that regard, we uspecs celebrate the marked. But recent encounters have given me cause to despise the marked.

I get ahead of myself.

We found Chuspecip living in a hut in the standard existence. It was in the body of a little umani girl. I’d had several conflicting feelings about Chuspecip before the first time I laid eyes on it. But the moment I saw it, I dropped to my knees, placed my head against the ground, and hailed it as ‘my god’. That was the first surprising thing that happened. It jarred me. I had not expected to supplicate to Chuspecip in that way. I had not expected to bow. But I had knelt, and bowed, and prostrated in a way I have never done to any other. Chuspecip was weak. A weak Chu in the body of an umani. But even in its weakness, I felt its strength. The strength seeped out like an aura from it. And in the presence of that strength I had no other choice but to kneel. I had not thought I was one for gods. I love Chuspecip though, despite myself, I love my founder, my god. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I think it loves me a little too.

It had taken both of us, Musa and myself, to transport Chuspecip back to its existence. I will not say how, only that it had been done.

The second shock did not come until after we returned to the spectral existence and one of Chuspecip’s uspec forms was revealed.

There are certain things that you see clearly in hindsight. One of which was Musa. So many things were wrong with Musa. It was a smart, well-educated imp, who’d chosen to serve and teach me, an irira just emerged from the pits of Hakute. That was wrong. It was the wrath’s firstborn, an imp leader to a group that sought to invade mine, yet it had clung stubbornly to me, even when it had appeared to lose the respect of its own kind. Time after time it chose me. And its choice was wrong. It was wrong because it made no sense. Musa’s love for its imp Halima far outweighed any love that it bore to the uspecs of my line. Musa was a liar, and it was wrong. Its actions and inclinations, its loyalty, the fact that it followed me into danger repeatedly, it was all wrong.

By far the most wrong thing about the imp was that it was able to travel through a portal back into the standard existence. Imps cannot do that. Once they are dead, they cannot return. They must live in the existence their souls departed to. For imps, that meant that they were bound to spend eternity in the spectral existence. But Musa was different. Musa could leave.

If there is anything the ancestry has taught us, it is what happens to umanis when they carry a Chu’s lifeform. Again, I get ahead of myself.

Musa was wrong. And as soon as Chuspecip returned to the spectral existence and revealed its uspec form, Musa’s wrongness suddenly made sense.

“Master Chacip!” Musa had yelled upon sighting Chuspecip’s form.

Chuspecip was too weak to acknowledge Musa’s greeting. As soon as it returned it left us. It went into its uspec form and it left us. It disappeared and took itself from me in the process. Chuspecip is a god. The Kuworytes will only call it founder and that is their won’t. But it is a god, and god’s are mercurial. It is kind as far as god’s go, and merciful in ways that I could not be in its shoes. But it is still a god, and I know now that I wounded it. I wounded it by attacking it, by fighting against its presence in my being, by refusing to come when I was afraid to leave my offspring in paradise with uspecs I wasn’t sure I could trust. I wounded it in even more profound ways after our return. But again, I get ahead of myself. I had wounded the founder.

And I found out then, that it was my ancestor.

‘Master Chacip’

Chacip was the first uspec of my line. The first Kaiser of Lahooni. As soon as Musa called out the name, I remembered my first vision when I’d put the imp eyes in. I realized in that moment that it had been a vision of Chacip. Chuspecip and Chacip were one and the same. Chuspecip had watched Musa’s umani death and had been stirred to pity. It had born Musa into the spectral existence in its own arms, giving Musa one of its lifeforms in the process. That was why Musa had been so drawn to me, and I to it. That was why the imp had fought so desperately to save my life and train me. Not for me, but for this, to bring Chuspecip back. Once Chuspecip returned I quickly learnt the truths of my bond with Musa.

Chuspecip was first of my line.

As the founder it had created uspecs and so all uspecs were made by its hand. It had drawn them into existence. Or wished them into existence. Or routed them into existence. I do not know. It had done whatever it is that Chus do to create more of their own. But for me and the uspecs of my line it was different. We were not merely gifted with Chuspecip’s lifeforms, we were its brios, created from it. Maybe I should have put it all together, but I could not have. The moment I learnt that Chuspecip was Chacip, the first Kaiser of my line, I recalled Juke’s tale from the night that my offspring’s ailment on the inter-port trail had taken a turn.

A disseminator told me the tale of Chacip’s procreation, how its intense desire to create one out of its own form, led it to forsake the usual bout and instead make itself the offer in the hatch.

Chuspecip made itself the offer. It created my line from its very self. We were direct descendants of the founder.

It brings me shame now to think back on the ways that I had fought so adamantly against Chuspecip’s voice in my head. I had carried the founder in me, and instead of seeing it as the blessing it was, I chose to look on it as a burden. I was young then, and foolish. But I am ashamed. It had been trapped because of its love for my line. My sire had been used as a bait to lure Chuspecip in…

I know now that Chuspecip takes many forms and I know for certain that it visited every single uspec in my line. It lived with them, trained them in some ways, loved them always. My line is special. We are the only ones who can visit Chuspecip’s home at will. It gave us so much, and asked so little of me in turn. What it asked was really my duty as Kaiser of Lahooni and as an uspec. And I had chafed at it the whole way.

Thankfully, Chuspecip is not the kind to not forgive. I had wounded it, but in the end, I am an uspec of its line. It is not a distinction I brag about, but it is one that is known, by some.

When Chuspecip left us, Musa and I returned to our paradise and the people we’d left behind. Both of us were changed. I no longer had Chuspecip’s voice in me. I am a brio, I will always be, but Chuspecip decides how much or how little of itself to share. I wish more than anything that I could go back and react differently to having the honor of its presence in me. I wish that I could have known that I was being guided by my god. Wishes are pointless. Yet, I find myself swimming in them.

We returned to the paradise, both the same, but both much changed in ways that were not immediately apparent.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 9:36am On May 14
HotB:
I thought the Undead means that Nebud has birthed children. It has Nebula, hence it is undead already.

I can understand ur sentiment Fabia... Sorry Fazemood... grin

I also smelt the betrayal till I heard that Musa was involved in the pansophy scan.

NB: Permafrost has not betrayed Nebud, yet.
Permafrost is already an opposition to whatever uspecs holds and believe in. So theirs can't be termed betrayal rather it's an expected confrontation for Nebud.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 10:27am On May 14
obehiD:
Part 15
----------

=============================
In the First Metropolis of Lahooni
=============================

In most respects, the task of saving Chuspecip was not at all what I had expected. It was at the same time surprisingly quick and painstakingly long. It was cheerfully easy while being exasperatingly tedious. I have come to think that perhaps all work involving the Chus happen that way. Long ago, I made an oath to the founder that I would never disclose the secrets I learnt on that journey. There was so much that was invalid and incomplete about our knowledge of the Chu. All the things I had thought I’d known for sure turned out to not quite be what I had expected. But I will not set the record straight because I swore never to do so. I will not say how it was that Chuspecip was trapped because doing so could see our founder imprisoned again. I will not say what it was that caused the weakness I felt when I carried it with me on the inter-port trail, and I will most certainly not disclose how close it was to death’s door and what it would take for a Chu to be killed.

In all honesty, my thoughts of that journey have been so thoroughly scrambled that I doubt I could decipher and explain as much as would make sense. To me, thinking on it, it all makes perfect sense. I see that trip with Musa as if I was back in the day, living it. But whenever I try to articulate it, whenever I wish to word it, only in the comfort of my mind, I find the pieces scrambling. Perhaps that is the way of the Chus. Perhaps their secrets are not meant to be held by the things they created. Often times I wish it was possible to speak to Musa about that journey…or really to speak to the imp about anything.

When I think about Musa these days, I find myself remembering that journey more than anything else. I did not know this at the time, but that was the last journey that Musa and I would ever make together. There was so much I wanted to say to the imp, and so much distance to say it, but then it felt as though there was not enough time. Or maybe it was the opposite, maybe I thought there was too much time and that was what made postponing our conversation so much easier. I should have talked to the imp. I’d wanted to speak to it about the reason that it had transitioned to the harsher tongue when the imps from the wrath tried to attack me on the inter-port trail. I trusted Musa too much. In some ways, perhaps that was one of my biggest failings at the time.

If there was one thing that the betrayal of my honoraria taught me, it was the repercussions of trust. I’m much older now, too old not to trust. I trust often and I trust many. I am now in a position where I can do so, and I have been blessed with many people, uspecs and imps alike, who’ve taught me the benefits of trust. I am still betrayed, but those betrayals do not hurt as much as my honoraria’s. And if they do not hurt as much as my honoraria’s then they certainly do not hurt as much as Musa’s. But Musa had chosen to stay with me. Or so I had told myself on the inter-port trail, and even later when we journeyed to save Chuspecip. Musa had been ‘renounced’ by its people. It had chosen to stay with me. Now that I am older and have learnt a great deal more about people and their intrigues, I know how easy it would have been for Musa to ask those imps to ‘renounce’ it in the tongue I could hear, while they said other things in the tongue I couldn’t.

I should have spoken to Musa during that journey. It sulked. I did not understand much of imps and their loves, and so I could not understand its infatuation with its lover. I know now that imps seek to love as they had in their umani lives. Uspecs are different. I have loved many. If I had been asked on the day I left my paradise in the Isle of Brio I would have said that the only uspec I loved was my offspring, Nebula. But I would have been wrong. Very wrong. Now I know that I had loved Fabiana as well. I loved Fabiana deeply in a way that surprises me now to think back on it. I loved Arexon too, but in a different way. And Juke. That crazy young uspec, I loved it sublimely, because it loved me so much more. It was not the only young Lahooni noble to idolize me, but it was the first, and its love was pure. Then there was Marcinus. Even after all that Marcinus did to me, after all the pain it caused, I loved it still, a twisted, broken, love. There were imps too. I have heard many now say that I hate imps, but I do not understand how they could say such. I am descended of Calam, I was born with a gene for loving imps. I just did not give them my trust or respect as blindly and freely as others did. And I certainly was not quick to forgive when they showed me disrespect. I know now why I am so affronted by the insults of imps. I know now how much I had truly despised being locked in a slum for seventeen years, unable to leave, while I watched imps come and go without much thought for the de trop uspecs they left behind. But I know, without a shred of doubt, that I do not hate imps. I know I do not, because I loved Musa. Perhaps more than any unrelated uspec I’ve ever loved. Maybe less. I do not know. Even now, I cannot properly articulate how I felt for that imp, but I had loved it deeply and dearly and I wished that I had spoken to it during that journey to save Chuspecip. Perhaps if we had spoken, so many hurts could have been avoided.

There were two surprising things that occurred during that journey. Two things that always spring to mind when I recall that moment. The first was not so impactful. But the second was life-altering. I will start with the first then.

Chuspecip had been trapped in the standard existence. At the time, there had only been the one portal left to the standard existence and it had been so well hidden that Chuspecip itself had had to lead me to it. And in guiding me, it had revealed several secrets of the Chus that I know it shouldn’t have. Musa and I had journeyed through that portal to the standard existence. That was my first visit, but it certainly wasn’t my last.

Umanis. In that time, they were ordinary and weak. Now, they are not so much so. Not since the creation of the marked. The marked. Many had cursed their creation. But the imp of a marked umani has eyes that do not expire. Other imp eyes taken by usepcs have to be replaced. But not the eyes of an imp formerly marked. In that regard, we uspecs celebrate the marked. But recent encounters have given me cause to despise the marked.

I get ahead of myself.

We found Chuspecip living in a hut in the standard existence. It was in the body of a little umani girl. I’d had several conflicting feelings about Chuspecip before the first time I laid eyes on it. But the moment I saw it, I dropped to my knees, placed my head against the ground, and hailed it as ‘my god’. That was the first surprising thing that happened. It jarred me. I had not expected to supplicate to Chuspecip in that way. I had not expected to bow. But I had knelt, and bowed, and prostrated in a way I have never done to any other. Chuspecip was weak. A weak Chu in the body of an umani. But even in its weakness, I felt its strength. The strength seeped out like an aura from it. And in the presence of that strength I had no other choice but to kneel. I had not thought I was one for gods. I love Chuspecip though, despite myself, I love my founder, my god. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I think it loves me a little too.

It had taken both of us, Musa and myself, to transport Chuspecip back to its existence. I will not say how, only that it had been done.

The second shock did not come until after we returned to the spectral existence and one of Chuspecip’s uspec forms was revealed.

There are certain things that you see clearly in hindsight. One of which was Musa. So many things were wrong with Musa. It was a smart, well-educated imp, who’d chosen to serve and teach me, an irira just emerged from the pits of Hakute. That was wrong. It was the wrath’s firstborn, an imp leader to a group that sought to invade mine, yet it had clung stubbornly to me, even when it had appeared to lose the respect of its own kind. Time after time it chose me. And its choice was wrong. It was wrong because it made no sense. Musa’s love for its imp Halima far outweighed any love that it bore to the uspecs of my line. Musa was a liar, and it was wrong. Its actions and inclinations, its loyalty, the fact that it followed me into danger repeatedly, it was all wrong.

By far the most wrong thing about the imp was that it was able to travel through a portal back into the standard existence. Imps cannot do that. Once they are dead, they cannot return. They must live in the existence their souls departed to. For imps, that meant that they were bound to spend eternity in the spectral existence. But Musa was different. Musa could leave.

If there is anything the ancestry has taught us, it is what happens to umanis when they carry a Chu’s lifeform. Again, I get ahead of myself.

Musa was wrong. And as soon as Chuspecip returned to the spectral existence and revealed its uspec form, Musa’s wrongness suddenly made sense.

“Master Chacip!” Musa had yelled upon sighting Chuspecip’s form.

Chuspecip was too weak to acknowledge Musa’s greeting. As soon as it returned it left us. It went into its uspec form and it left us. It disappeared and took itself from me in the process. Chuspecip is a god. The Kuworytes will only call it founder and that is their won’t. But it is a god, and god’s are mercurial. It is kind as far as god’s go, and merciful in ways that I could not be in its shoes. But it is still a god, and I know now that I wounded it. I wounded it by attacking it, by fighting against its presence in my being, by refusing to come when I was afraid to leave my offspring in paradise with uspecs I wasn’t sure I could trust. I wounded it in even more profound ways after our return. But again, I get ahead of myself. I had wounded the founder.

And I found out then, that it was my ancestor.

‘Master Chacip’

Chacip was the first uspec of my line. The first Kaiser of Lahooni. As soon as Musa called out the name, I remembered my first vision when I’d put the imp eyes in. I realized in that moment that it had been a vision of Chacip. Chuspecip and Chacip were one and the same. Chuspecip had watched Musa’s umani death and had been stirred to pity. It had born Musa into the spectral existence in its own arms, giving Musa one of its lifeforms in the process. That was why Musa had been so drawn to me, and I to it. That was why the imp had fought so desperately to save my life and train me. Not for me, but for this, to bring Chuspecip back. Once Chuspecip returned I quickly learnt the truths of my bond with Musa.

Chuspecip was first of my line.

As the founder it had created uspecs and so all uspecs were made by its hand. It had drawn them into existence. Or wished them into existence. Or routed them into existence. I do not know. It had done whatever it is that Chus do to create more of their own. But for me and the uspecs of my line it was different. We were not merely gifted with Chuspecip’s lifeforms, we were its brios, created from it. Maybe I should have put it all together, but I could not have. The moment I learnt that Chuspecip was Chacip, the first Kaiser of my line, I recalled Juke’s tale from the night that my offspring’s ailment on the inter-port trail had taken a turn.

A disseminator told me the tale of Chacip’s procreation, how its intense desire to create one out of its own form, led it to forsake the usual bout and instead make itself the offer in the hatch.

Chuspecip made itself the offer. It created my line from its very self. We were direct descendants of the founder.

It brings me shame now to think back on the ways that I had fought so adamantly against Chuspecip’s voice in my head. I had carried the founder in me, and instead of seeing it as the blessing it was, I chose to look on it as a burden. I was young then, and foolish. But I am ashamed. It had been trapped because of its love for my line. My sire had been used as a bait to lure Chuspecip in…

I know now that Chuspecip takes many forms and I know for certain that it visited every single uspec in my line. It lived with them, trained them in some ways, loved them always. My line is special. We are the only ones who can visit Chuspecip’s home at will. It gave us so much, and asked so little of me in turn. What it asked was really my duty as Kaiser of Lahooni and as an uspec. And I had chafed at it the whole way.

Thankfully, Chuspecip is not the kind to not forgive. I had wounded it, but in the end, I am an uspec of its line. It is not a distinction I brag about, but it is one that is known, by some.

When Chuspecip left us, Musa and I returned to our paradise and the people we’d left behind. Both of us were changed. I no longer had Chuspecip’s voice in me. I am a brio, I will always be, but Chuspecip decides how much or how little of itself to share. I wish more than anything that I could go back and react differently to having the honor of its presence in me. I wish that I could have known that I was being guided by my god. Wishes are pointless. Yet, I find myself swimming in them.

We returned to the paradise, both the same, but both much changed in ways that were not immediately apparent.



Have Musa been aware of who chuspecip is all these time? I doubt it didn't know, from this part I can tell that it was the first imp to step into the existence and also the first to gain pansophy. To walk through existences is another revelation of how powerful Musa may be. Hmm, Nebud has realized that it may not be as important to Musa as it thought. The Imp has been with and served greater beings. It's isn't simple by any means.

This short and concise part is much appreciated Obehid. Gratitude.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Madosky112(m): 10:38am On May 14
What a pleasant surprising update , couldnt have imagine chuspecip is nebud Great grand mighty daddY. Does this means we wnt get to know his mission ,why and how it was trap inthe standard existance.?
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by tunjilomo(m): 4:29pm On May 14
Good thing I checked.
So, does this mean the ancestry has Churaya—Duraya lifeforms in them?
Gratitude, Obehid.
Hope we aren't at the end?
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Tuhndhay(m): 9:01am On May 15
BOP Daddy......can't believe Chuspecip is a BOP Daddy..... Obehid, this is wonderful
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by eROCK247(m): 11:47pm On May 15
This update has got to be the most enlightening update so far. So Musa too is special since he has a part of Chuspecip with him. But what I still don't understand is why Nebud still harbours regrets concerning Musa. Hope Musa didn't betray him again...

Thanks for the update. Hope we'll still get something tomorrow?
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 7:34am On May 16
Part 1
---------

--------------------
The Isle of Brio
--------------------

Neither Musa nor I said a word as we made our way back to the paradise where the others awaited us. There was something different about Musa. The imp had not looked at me once since we’d returned with Chuspecip. When we’d made our journey over, it had been sulking, but it had still looked at me several times. Now, it just rode beside me with its bead bowed and its gaze fixed on the warm fur of the smoke bear it rode. I took my troubled expression from the imp to the welcoming beast beneath me. I could always count on Marc for comfort.

I found the corners of my lips inching to the sides as soon as I sighted the canopy trees that marked the entrance to our paradise. I could not wait to see my offspring. Night and day had all merged into one during our journey. I frowned, contemplating this. It was obvious now that the orange dots beamed down on us, that it was day. But for some strange reason, I could not clearly recall seeing orange or red illumination during the journey I had just embarked on. There had been blue and yellow, the odd colors of the umani world, but in this realm, before we’d left through the portal…I frowned, how many days had passed? I could not recall, but it could not have been more than a week. A few days longer than I’d told Juke we would be gone. However long it had been, I longed to peer into my offspring’s eye.

“Salve,” I said the words and let my breath carry them to the invisible fogs I knew lay between the hail trees. As soon as my words reached the seemingly empty space, cyan fog appeared. It drifted apart and granted us entrance.

Paradise was a sight for sore eyes. Marc let out a loud trumpet as soon as it stepped in. I felt the coolness of the falling hail combined with the warmness of drifting red fogs. Clouds hung low and I could see the turtles rolling around in them. Winged cobras flew within the drifting fogs and a draco or two popped out of the quicksand underneath us. A sense of peace filled me. We had returned, but the ones we’d left behind had not marked our presence. I saw no faces, imp or uspec. Then I heard the clashing of swords and knew that they were sparring. My smile widened. It was good to know that even in my absence they had kept up with the routines I’d instilled in them on the inter-port trail. Granted, it had only been a few days, but I was proud of their industry all the same.

I pulled my thighs together and urged Marc in the direction of the sounds of clanging metal.

“Master!” I heard Musa call out in shock. Its gaze on me was wide and rounded, but Marc was in full speed, the animal would not be stopped. Whatever Musa intended to say would have to wait.

The sight that greeted me when I reached the sparring contest was one that filled me with several different emotions all at the same time. There was of course the casual approval of an uspec watching a good match. Two uspecs fought. They were both young, barely in their prime. I would guess they were about nineteen or twenty. One of them was lean with a musculature that reminded me of Marcinus. The other was bulky, a brawler. But the way they moved, I gaped, I had never seen uspecs move like this. They combined flying with fight, and the grace in their movements made them look as if they were dancing and not really fighting. But they had the agility of uspecs. It was a beautiful thing to watch. The smaller one flew in the air and then descended on the brawler who turned quickly in time to parry an attack. The brawler fought with two short swords while the lean one fought with one long sword. I was so amazed by their skill that it took me much longer than it should have to realize one very important fact.

They were strangers.

I had never seen either of these uspecs before. They were not part of my honoraria, so who were they, and how had they come to be in my paradise? With my offspring. Alarm bells sounded in my head. No. This was what I had feared most about leaving. I wondered who in my honoraria had betrayed me, and let this uspecs in. I could tell from the golden bands on their arms that they were nobles. One had a single band the other three, a majestic. I had been betrayed. Someone had let these uspecs in.

“Master!” A voice screamed. “The master has returned!”

The chaos that followed that statement had my head swiveling. First, I noticed that it was the imp Chike who’d yelled out to me and announced my presence. It stood on the opposite side of the sparrers, watching them calmly. Did it not have the sense to attack, to drive these foreigners out? Or had Chike betrayed me too?

The uspecs stopped their fighting. They both had sweat dripping from their bodies.

“Sirga!” The strange brawler called out to me. Its swords dropped to its side and it smiled a wide smile. The uspec had formed and filled all of its outer eyes. The lean uspec was the same. It was rather impressive to meet a noble uspec so young who had already had enough stimulus in its life to form all of its outer eye sockets. Its neck was filled with cyan scales and I had seen before that its ailerons were fully filled. I was baffled to see young uspecs so well endowed. Who were they? And why did the brawler have tears in its eyes as it gazed at me? There was something about its smile. It was strangely familiar, which made absolutely no sense to me as I had never seen the uspec before. Yet it gazed at me almost as an offspring would its progenitor. I was dazed.

I cleared my throat and turned to the one person I did know. “What is going on here?” I demanded of Chike.

The imp frowned at me. It appeared puzzled. “I do not understand master?”

What did it not understand? Why were there strange uspecs in my paradise? I was just about to voice this last thought when I heard another uspec voice call out, “sirga!” I was relieved when I heard this voice. It was Fabiana’s. Praise the founder, Fabiana was present. I felt my fears subside. Perhaps these uspecs were new recruits to the honoraria. If Fabiana trusted them, I would too.

I jumped off Marc’s back and laughed when it wrapped its trunk around me. I had to force that heavy trunk away from my body as I turned to face Fabiana.

I gaped. “Fabiana?” I asked. It was not really a question. I knew it was Fabiana, but it was… “you are old.”

“As are you sirga,” Fabiana replied.

I gaped at it. I immediately turned to face Musa and then remembered that imps do not age. The smoke bears did not appear any older, but smoke bears did not change much after they’d reached their prime. I turned back to face Fabiana. There were two uspecs standing behind it. I recognized Matiu. It was the other old uspec I’d left behind, the quiet one. Another uspec stood beside Matiu, but it was unfamiliar.

“My god!” I exclaimed. “Fabiana, you look at least four years older.”

“Five years,” it clarified.

“Five years.” I repeated the words in a daze. Five years. I turned back to face Musa. There was something about the imp’s gaze when it met mine. Something so different. I could not name it exactly, but it was there.

“I tried to tell you,” it said simply.

It had not looked at me the whole way back. But when it had looked at me it had called out to me. I recalled the look of shock on its face. I frowned. “But I was only gone for a few days.” I said to Fabiana.

“More like a few years, sirga.” Fabiana replied.

Five years. But how was it possible? How could five years go by without my knowing it? And exactly when had the years passed? On the journey there? In the portal? In the standard existence? On the journey back? Surely that had not all been five years. It could not have been. But the evidence was there, staring me in the face. Fabiana and Matiu had aged.

“Ma-mater!” I heard the call before I saw the uspec.

“Master Nebula,” I heard giggling sounds coming in the uspec’s wake. “Master Nebula you still have bath salts on you!”

I only had a few seconds to wait before my offspring came bursting out of a canopy tree. Only, the uspec that came vaulting towards me was not the little Nebula that I had left behind.

It leapt into my arms and I felt the bath salts burning against my skin. It must have been years if my skin had become so sensitive to the salts. But years. How could I doubt it when my offspring was living proof? The young uspec wrapped its arms around my neck and pressed its sweet-smelling cheek against my ear. It was big, much bigger than I’d left it.

It was five years old now. Five years.

I could not believe it. I wrapped my hands around its body and was jarred when I heard the cry of ‘pansophy’ fill my head. If it was not my offspring I was holding, I would have dropped it. When had it gotten pansophy?

“Ju-juke, I to-to-told you that my-my mater wo-would re-tu-turn. I to-told you.”

I heard Nebula’s stammered words and turned around to find the brawler grinning at my offspring.

“Yes, you did, Ula. And I never doubted you.” The brawler replied.

I was stunned. “Juke?” I could not believe it. The scrawny uspec I had left behind had turned into this brawler. I studied its muscles with pride. Then I recalled the way it had fought and I was doubly awed. Binna had predicted this. On the inter-port trail it had predicted that Juke would turn into a great warrior. My gaze turned to Chike and I nodded at it, I could see its work in the uspecs who’d been fighting. It bowed to me with a smile on its face.

I hugged Nebula close to me and then released it. It stood tall by my side. How had it grown so tall? The top of its scalp now reached my waist. Thankfully, it had not yet grown old enough to form outer eye-sockets or any of its features. It was irirakun so it would have a lot of features to form.

I walked towards Juke. The uspec stood tall. It was not my height, but its head reached my shoulder, which was tall enough. I grinned at it. Then I found myself laughing. I could not even say why I was laughing. I knew it had to be Juke when the brawler threw its arms around me, clasping me in a hug that no uspec, other than my offspring, had ever dared to do before. It was not an uspec’s greeting embrace, but a hug, a filial hug. I hugged the uspec back and was again jarred when I heard the call of ‘pansophy’ when my ring touched its flesh.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 7:35am On May 16
“Let me look at you,” I said, after we hugged.

The uspec took a step back and beamed up at me.

It had grown. It was an uspec fully grown now. Eighteen and already in its prime. I was beyond proud.

“Do I please you imperial one?” it asked.

I laughed again, and this time, several others joined in my mirth. “Yes, Juke,” I sighed, “yes.”

“Did you see our sparring?” Juke asked.

I laughed and then turned my gaze on the other uspec it had been sparring with. This one dropped to its knee in front of me.

“Rise Gamble.” Truth be told, I was not sure that was the uspec’s name. There had been three young uspecs when I’d left, Juke, Gamble and Matina. This uspec could be either Gamble or Matina.

The uspec rose. It smiled at me. “I am honored that you recognized me sirga.” It bowed. “Salutations, and welcome back. You have been greatly missed.”

I walked over to the uspec and grasped it on its shoulders. It was the first time I had touched the uspec. We had not been close before I left. But now I had only five uspecs left in my honoraria, five that had proved loyal. I intended to get close to them all. Then I heard, the call of ‘pansophy’ and became suspicious. All of these uspecs had not had pansophy when I left. Gamble grasped my shoulders in turn.

I greeted Matiu and its younger, Matina, the same way. Both of them had pansophy. Matina had grown well. It was not yet in its prime as Gamble and Juke were, it still had two outer eye sockets yet to form. It was older than Juke, but I did not fault it for its delay. Juke was a rare case. This uspec was painfully scrawny. Not a fighter, much to my chagrin. But I thought of Cantonia and decided not to be too judgmental. Matiu was as it had been before I’d left; filled with somber gravity. It bowed formally to me and exchanged the casual embrace with our hands grasping each other’s shoulders. Then it said the words of salutations and welcome and said no more. Standing closer to it I could see that it was bulkier than it had once been. I felt its strength in its arms.

When at last I returned to Fabiana, I found myself asking, “how do they all have pansophy?”

Everyone laughed.

Fabiana smiled at me. “It is a gift of this paradise sirga.”

It took me a while to understand. There are two things needed for one to gain the understanding of pansophy. The first was one already well versed in the magic. The second was a golden-cyan liquid called bio. The bio was the reason why the pious owned pansophy, they were the ones the founder had entrusted the liquid to.

“Bio is here?” I asked.

Fabiana nodded. “There is a never emptying bowl of it in a tiny canopy room Juke found in its excursions.”

I gaped at Fabiana.

I could gain pansophy.

After all this time, after wishing and hoping and being at a loss for not having it, I could finally have the magic. It took me a while to realize that the Fabiana, in its softness of heart, had probably given it to the imps too. It was unfair of me, to become instantly distrustful of all of these imps, in a way I had not been of the uspecs. But I could not help it. I stared at the imps as if with new eyes. That was of course the moment that I noticed the imp Halima standing by my offspring and wiping its body with a wet towel.

“Be still, young master,” I heard it chide softly, “I am almost done.”

I clenched my jaw. Five years had passed and I still disliked the imp as I had the last time I’d seen it. It became immediately obvious that my offspring did not. It laughed and squealed and spoke in a foreign umani tongue with the imp who laughed back. My offspring did not stammer when it spoke to the imp. I frowned.

“I gave no pansophy to the imps, sirga,” Fabiana whispered to me. “I know they are your slaves and thought you would not approve.”

I felt relieved. I could not forget what imps with pansophy had done to me in Permafrost. I did not want to be surrounded by imps with pansophy again. I glanced at Halima and knew that I did not want to be surrounded by imps at all. They had all come out now. All twenty-four of the imps. They outnumbered my honoraria. And they had taken good care of my offspring, I remined myself. They had taken care of it and taught it a tongue that Musa had never seen fit to teach me. I thought of how best to reward them and was instantly calmed. I would finally be rid of the lot of them. I would not mind Chike remaining, especially not when I knew that Musa would leave. I did not know much, but I knew that whatever duty it had owed to me was gone, somehow severed by Chuspecip’s return. Perhaps that was the difference I saw in it. I remembered the year we’d spent on the inter-port trail, when it had taught me how to fight. Things had been so much different then.

I walked over to my offspring and placed a hand on its head.

“Ma-ma-ter.” It stammered, but it grinned at me in a way that took all my misgivings away. I rubbed my palm over its scalp and felt new depths of happiness. My offspring was alive, and strong. It had not spasmed once since I’d returned. My gaze turned to the imp I so thoroughly disliked. It had knelt to wipe my offspring’s body, now it was kneeling and looking up at me.

“Welcome back master,” it said.

I took my annoyed gaze from the imp back to my offspring. “I am famished.” I said.

“Ea-ea-ting t-time!” Nebula screamed.

It was so strange to see Nebula so grown and speaking in full sentences. I nodded and then gave instructions for all but Fabiana to go. I took Fabiana aside. If there was one thing I had learned in my life it was the importance of seizing opportunities the moment they presented themselves. I found that now that I had the possibility of pansophy so close to me, I was eager to gain it. Fabiana took me to the bio.

“My offspring no longer spasms.” I stated.

Fabiana smiled at me. “It still spasms just not where you can see. Ula learned motion and appearance quickly. It is that way with the young. Spectra can make learning pansophy harder, but when an uspec is introduced to pansophy before any other form of magic, they can take to it quicker. It transfers its spasms inside, sirga. When it feels it coming, it moves it inside of itself. It is not yet an expert at it, especially not in the middle of a fight, but…”

I stopped walking. “It fights?” I could not believe it.

Fabiana nodded. “Chike teaches it. It is quite good sirga. If not for its spasms, it would be better. But it’ll take time for the uspec to learn to use pansophy while keeping its attention on the fight. Only time and experience will bring that knowledge. I would give it two or three more years of training with Chike. When it is done,” Fabiana whistled, “you will have a young warrior that will make the entire existence quiver.”

I laughed. I could not remember a time in my life when laughter came so easily. I thought of my offspring as it had been on its sickbed in the inter-port trail and I laughed. I was overjoyed. My offspring would be a great young warrior. I knew that it would be like Juke, reaching its prime when it was still young. It would form its outer eyes much younger than I’d formed mine. And when it was grown, with all of the magic that it would possess, when it was grown, it would make the entire existence do much more than quiver. My offspring would be great. I knew it. After all that it had already been through, it deserved that.

Fabiana stopped in front of a set of drooping fronds. It picked up a frond and held it aside for me to precede it.

Under the canopy tree was indeed tiny. There was nothing in the small space but a bowl that extended from the stem of the tree. The bowl was an extension of the tree, and the liquid in it appeared to be gushing from the very innards of the tree. A stone cup bobbed on the surface of the liquid. Fabiana reached for that cup and filled it with the golden-cyan liquid.

I don’t know what I expected. A prayer maybe, or an explosion of light, but there was nothing. Fabiana touched the stone cup and then it handed it over to me.

“Drink, sirga,” it said.

I took the cup from Fabiana’s hands and stared at its contents. I thought of all the times that I had been subjected to pansophy and how desperately I’d wanted a chance to even the field. Now it was here, the moment I had waited forever for. I placed the cup against my lips and I drank. I gulped the liquid down, then I handed the empty cup back to Fabiana.

“Well?” I asked, when, I felt no different.

Fabiana shrugged. “Now you have the understanding of pansophy. It is in you, ready to be wielded once you are able to start training. It will be painful the first few times you try. Not so painful for you, since you already have the magic of emotions, but painful enough that you should not rush into it until you have time to learn.”

“And if I wait years to train?”

“Once given, it can never be removed. You have the understanding sirga, it is up to you to decide when you want to train.”

I smiled. “Gratitude majestic, just having it is enough. Gratitude.”

We left the canopy tree. Fabiana informed me as we walked that they had made a special canopy room into a dining place for them. It said they all ate together, and I approved of that. I liked the idea of the uspecs in my honoraria eating and living as closely as Fabiana described. If I had to leave my offspring for five years, I was grateful that I had left it with one such as Fabiana. And I said it.

“Nebula does not stammer when it speaks the foreign umani tongue.”

Fabian shrugged. “It is a tongue it shares mostly with the imps, Halima especially. The two have grown very close sirga. Perhaps it does not stammer because it does not think too much on the words when it speaks with the imps. Its relationship with them is different…I cannot explain it sirga, it is just different.”

I frowned at that. First Calam and Calami and now my offspring. What was this infatuation that they all had with imps? Then I remembered a fact I had not dwelled too much on so far. Chuspecip was my ancestor, the first of my line, and it loved imps. Perhaps that was why the others did too. But I did not. I was not sure yet if I would cure my offspring of that affliction. The imps had proven loyal. I sighed. I would not think on it now.

“How is my offspring otherwise?”

Fabiana smiled at me. “Ula is smart sirga, smarter than any uspec its age I’ve ever seen. You should see the way it’s taken to its lessons. Pansophy and fighting, reading and writing. It excels at them all. It is serious when it needs to be and playful when there is cause. It is kind, but it also has a strength of spirit which is beyond baffling in one so young. You should be proud, sirga, very proud. You have an heir that uspecs would vie for the chance to serve. Ula even got Matiu to sing. Can you believe that? Quiet Matiu becomes another person around your offspring.”

There was awe and love in Fabiana’s voice. And I was proud, but I was also sad. My offspring was five years old. I had missed the first five years of its life. I had missed when it had learnt to form full sentences. I had missed when it had gotten pansophy and learned the magic. It had wielded a sword already and it had not been me who placed the weapon in its hand. It had grown up to an uspec others respected and I had been absent for it all. No more. I swore to myself. I would watch it blossom from this point on. I had fulfilled my role with Chuspecip, I had played my part. Now I could spend the rest of my life as Nebula’s proud mater, and watch it grow into the uspec Fabiana gushed over.

We walked into the dining canopy and I stopped dead in my tracks. When Fabiana had said they all ate together, it had meant all of them, uspecs and imps. They had been in the middle of a riotous round of conversation when I’d walked in. They stopped speaking.

“Shall I send the imps away?” Fabiana asked.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 7:35am On May 16
I clenched my jaw. There was a crestfallen look on those eyeless faces when I turned my gaze back on them. Halima was lying beside Musa next to my imp. There was foam all over the floor so the whole thing was like one large bed, like the room I’d shared with my offspring before leaving. I thought of the way I’d watched my offspring sleeping, worrying about its convulsions and took my gaze back to it, wondering if it still suffered from those convulsions. These imps made Nebula happy. I swallowed down my true feelings and shook my head at Fabiana. I could tolerate them for one more day.

Palm fronds had been cut off in some parts of the tree and tables had been placed on the sludge ground. I walked over to one of those tables and filled my platter with food and my cup with wine. I sat beside my offspring’s lying form.

“My-my mater is back, Hali-lima. My-my mater is ba-back!”

Everyone cheered at that, imp and uspec alike. Halima bowed to me and I surprised myself by managing to nod at it.

The conversations returned. Gamble and Juke teased each other about their last bout. Every once in a while, my offspring would chime in, and make some boasts of its own. Some of those boasts were so outlandish that I found myself laughing. My little Nebula made a bet with Juke and Gamble, that when it was their age, it would be able to take the both of them on in a fight and win. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt.

“My-my mater d-d-doubts me. I-I wi-will pr-pr-prove myself.”

“Let us make a gamble,” I heard the deep richness of Matiu’s voice, and I was stunned. I had never heard the uspec speak that loudly.

“You want to make a me?” Gamble asked.

Everyone laughed.

“You should sue your progenitor for naming you thus. Your name has no bearing on the one that bore you.” Juke said. Gamble’s progenitor was named Hanaion. I could think of several preferable names than the one it had named its offspring.

Gamble threw a piece of fruit at Juke’s head and Juke caught it with its mouth. “My upbringing is not as auspicious as yours, majestic one,” it teased, “my banneret, pater, named me in honor of a noble friend it hoped would endow a patronage on me. It did not want me to grow up impoverished.”

“How did that work for your progenitor?” Juke laughed in a way that made it clear it already knew the answer. Gamble launched another food projectile at Juke.

“Surely, you must be wealthier than a halcyon.” Chike teased. “Badly named but so wealthy you can throw pieces of worth at those who would laugh at you.”

Everyone laughed and I knew this was a ritual of some sort. Gamble threw a piece of candy at Chike, who caught it, laughing.

“If you must know,” Gamble began, furrowing its brows, “I am both badly named and poorer than a pauper. Why else would I be here with you unfortunate cast of misfits?”

I roared with laughter.

The teasing continued in that fashion. They never went back to my offspring’s boasts, the conversation just went on. I realized that this was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Imps and uspecs all together, laughing and teasing each other. There were no differences made. It reminded me of how it had felt in the early days traveling with Musa. I found myself unusually happy. My offspring was teased, but it gave back as good as it got. It went smoothly from one uspec tongue to the next and then added several umani tongues that even some of the imps did not understand. I could tell from the way it interacted with Halima, that it was the imp who’d taught it so much of the umani tongues. I ate fully and freely and with a smile on my face. My gaze darted from Juke who ate shamelessly with its mouth open, to my offspring who managed to look both young and dignified, and then to the others. To Fabiana’s somber form and Matiu’s laughing face. Gamble’s name was teased at least three more times and each time the uspec found new ways to make us all laugh. I looked at my offspring again and wondered what my life would have been if I had grown up surrounded by love and friendship like this. If anything I had done in my life had guaranteed this life for my offspring, then I was proud, and I would do more yet. It would never know the hardships that I had. If it wanted imps, then I would endure their presence, anything to make Nebula happy. A million meals like this. I had to admit, I was enjoying it too. This was what happiness felt like.

“Sirga.” Fabiana prompted.

I shook my head and turned to the uspec. “Apologies majestic, I was carried away.”

“We were asking about the founder, sirga.” Juke said.

I nodded. “It is back.” I stated.

There were loud rounds of jubilation. Even my offspring celebrated. Its love for Chuspecip could only come from one person. I turned to Fabiana and nodded at it. It bowed back to me.

“Then the high Arexon is not lost!” Gamble exclaimed.

It was as if someone had just poured a pail of okun over me. I had walked into my paradise and immediately been blanketed by the joy that surrounded me. I had forgotten about the world that I had left behind. I had forgotten that a five-year absence, meant five years of the plenum’s war. Five years.

“What is the status of the war?” I asked.

It was Juke who replied. “There have been heavy casualties on all sides, sirga. The plenum completed their bridge into Lahooni and they have taken control of all parts of our port, except the palace in the Acropolis. What is left of our army and the nobles that lead them stay fortressed in the Palace. One of the plenum Kaisers commands the troops left in Lahooni. They’ve laid siege to the Palace for the last two years. With the bridges destroyed, the plenum has no way of reaching the palace. They are not of your line and they do not have the special tokens and so they cannot teleport in, which is the only other mode of entry with the bridges gone. Which means the plenum is forced to wait for the supplies in the palace to run out.”

“How many Lahooni uspecs have died?” I asked.

“Too many to count.” Matiu stated sadly. “Including the great Fabian.”

I jumped, startled. My gaze turned to Fabiana. “I am so sorry. Why did you not tell me?” Fabiana had now lost not just one but two uspecs of its line to this war. Its progenitor was dead.

“It died three years ago sirga.” Fabiana stated.

“Still, you should have told me.” I replied. It said nothing. I could feel its pain and I wanted to do something more than offer condolences, but what could I do? “How many plenum troops in Lahooni?” I asked.

“About five thousand.” Gamble stated.

“And ours?”

“A few hundred left in the palace.”

“What about Chiboga?” I asked.

“The battle has been one for the ages. Somehow, the high Arexon has held its ground. The plenum has taken far more casualties from Chiboga than anyone thought was possible. But we got word a week ago that the high Arexon only has enough troops left for one big showdown. One final stand against the plenum. They still have about twenty thousand soldiers surrounding Chiboga, and the high Arexon only has about two thousand of its soldiers left. It sent us a missive sirga, letting us know that it will fight the plenum head-on, with what is left of its troops.”

I swallowed. “When?”

“Tomorrow.”

I sighed.

“But the founder is returned now sirga, so we are all saved. Right?” It was Gamble who asked.

I stared at the uspec. “It is weak. The founder will take time to recuperate.”

“How much time does a god need?” It was Matina who asked this.

I frowned. “More time than Arexon has.”

“Then what do we do sirga?” Juke asked.

I looked at them. “I will go to Chiboga. I gave my word to Arexon that I would be there to fight with it if Chuspecip could not. It is an oath I must keep.”

Fabiana gasped. “You cannot be serious. Arexon will lose. It has fought well, and generations to come will learn of the great Chiboga war, but it will lose. You cannot go down, sirga. Think of your own port.”

I looked to my offspring and forced myself to smile when I saw the look of worry that crossed its face. “How long can the troops in the palace hold out?”

“Weeks sirga.”

“Chuspecip will be restored long before then. Lahooni will survive. Chiboga does not have weeks.”

“You are our Kaiser, you cannot leave us leaderless.” Fabiana stated.

I turned to my offspring. “I do not. I have an heir. An able heir. And my heir has you, great one.” I looked at Fabiana. With its progenitor dead, it was now duke, duke of the first metropolis of my port. It could guide my offspring if anything happened to me.

“N-n-no ma-mater, n-n-no. You j-just returned. N-n-no.”

“Shh,” I hushed the young uspec. “Have no fear,” I forced myself to sound confident, “I will return.”

“Do-do not le-leave me ag-gain. Please.” It begged and its bottom lip shook. It was still so young and, in my eyes, very old. It was older than it was in my brain. Old enough to speak, to understand what my leaving this time meant. It was old enough to know that if I died it would be without a progenitor. It would be Kaiser. Kaiser at five years old. It was not what I wanted for my offspring. But I had no choice. Arexon had risked its life for me. It could have joined with the plenum against me, but it had not. It had stayed my friend. It was Kuworyte, but it had chosen to stand with Chuspecip for me. What kind of person would I be if I abandoned it to its fate now that it needed me the most? I was only one uspec, not nearly enough to really tip the scale in Arexon’s favor, but I would die trying. That much I owed to the uspec who had given so much for me.

“I will accompany you.” Juke stated.

I chuckled and shook my head. “You will stay here. You will stay safe.”

Juke stood up. It was still strange to look on the uspec and see so much brawn on it. Juke had become a warrior. “I am your honoraria. It is not my job to be safe, it is my job to ensure your safety, sirga. I have trained tirelessly for five years so that I could be worthy of the trust you placed in me when you allowed me to join your noble honoraria.” It went on one knee and bowed its head. “Let me fight for you now, imperial one.”

“And I,” Gamble said. It went to its knee too. “Let me be your sword and shield, your scale and spike.”

Matiu rose and went on its knee. “I will guard you, imperial one.”

“As will I.” Its younger sibling Matina joined in.

I tried to gainsay them, but they would not be swayed. In the end, I had no choice but to give in. Fabiana would remain with Nebula. It would keep my offspring safe, and if the worse happened and I died, then it would ensure that Nebula took its place as Kaiser of Lahooni. The rest of my honoraria would go with me.

We had no time to waste. I tried desperately to reach for the bond I shared with Chuspecip, but it was not there. I felt nothing but emptiness inside me. The founder would not be coming to our aid, it was just us, and we had no time to waste. Though I did take some time to talk with Musa. It was not the talk I had expected and it did not go at all as I had imagined. Chike had insisted on accompanying us. It recommended two other imps, both who had pansophy, both who could fight. I agreed to bring them along. When I spoke with Musa, I of course expected it to insist on coming along.

When it did not, I was taken aback.

It stood in my canopy room watching my preparations to leave again and it made no offers to accompany me. This imp who’d sworn that it would protect me until I reclaimed my port, made no attempt to keep its word when I was going into battle. That was when I really knew that my ties with Musa were forever broken. I left the imp with fifty pieces of worth and writs of emancipation for all the imps left behind. They would have their freedom and the wealth required to make lives for themselves, away from me. That was the promise I’d made to myself before I left. I said that if they were loyal, I would free them. And good riddance. The other uspecs might miss them, but I would not.

I said goodbye to my offspring. It begged me to stay, but I could not. I tried to explain to the best of my ability, but in the end, I did not think it truly understood why I would rush into sure death for an uspec that it could not even remember. Arexon did not mean much to my offspring, but it meant so much to me.

I did not truly believe that Musa would not ask to come along until the eight of us said our final goodbyes and Musa stood by its imp Halima and stared evenly at me.

I left. Musa remained.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by tunjilomo(m): 8:13am On May 16
Musa and Nebud friendship? Gone.

This Uspec could be either Gamble or Matina.
I think Nebud gambled right.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by cassbeat(m): 9:20am On May 16
Wow wow wow... Musa is pursuing his destiny as I can see... I hope Arexon lives..
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by eROCK247(m): 3:37pm On May 16
5 years! Wow!! How could 5 years have passed without Nebud noticing? I guess Musa's unwavering loyalty was as a result of the bond it shared with Chuspecip even without knowing it was in Nebud. I don't pity Nebud though...it has done enough to lose Musa's affection.

I hope Musa doesn't lead the rebellion against Uspecs. Cos recalling the introduction to this story, Imps will have the upper hand over Uspecs.

1 Like 1 Share

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 5:52pm On May 16
Better this way, I think Nebud and Musa love tale has come to an end. Musa needs it's own life, it has served and have given its time and service unreserved. It is time it lived it's own life with its own kind. Nebud deserves whatever it is getting from that imp. I hope to see them back together soon. It will still be fine.


Obehid if I may ask, hope you are fine? You have been bit different lately. I may be over thinking it, but it is like you're stressed. I think I am wrong too, just stay well okay?
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Madosky112(m): 8:42am On May 17
I feel 4 nebula, he shouldnt be afraid cause very soon Nebud will sent him to the pits at the bring of war ,i believe thats were his going to be fearless and strong cause thats were Nebud was forge........so much mystery in this story i cant unravel...Gratitude Obehid
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Tuhndhay(m): 7:25pm On May 17
Musa tried honestly, Nebud really did need to prove himself worthy of the loyalty and I still don't understand why It(Nebud) can't just be tender at heart like chuspecip, I hope he learns now.....

Musa did well standing by the ones who needed him more than ever now.....

Obehid this twist is nicely churned out....
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by eROCK247(m): 5:37pm On May 19
Madosky112:
I feel 4 nebula, he shouldnt be afraid cause very soon Nebud will sent him to the pits at the bring of war ,i believe thats were his going to be fearless and strong cause thats were Nebud was forge........so much mystery in this story i cant unravel...Gratitude Obehid



So you didn't read where Nebud said Nebula won't go through what he went through? Nebula is growing around warriors, he will definitely be a warrior too.


Tomorrow na Wednesday!!!!
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Madosky112(m): 8:22pm On May 19
eROCK247:




So you didn't read where Nebud said Nebula won't go through what he went through? Nebula is growing around warriors, he will definitely be a warrior too.


Tomorrow na Wednesday!!!!
.His wish wnt come true ,,that means u skipped the part he apologise to Nebula 4 his misgiving as a proginator by making him experience the argonies and glories of the pit and being absent almost throughout the first ten years of his life. Check under Page2 .nevertheless the might be a twist .
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:02am On May 20
@tunjilomo Musa and Nebud's friendship is well, maybe gone, maybe not, we'll see. What 'uspec' could be either Gamble or Matina?

@cassbeat Lol @Musa pursuing its destiny

@eROCK247 Yeahp, five years passed and it shook Nebud. I won't say much about their relationship just yet

@Fazemood I;m doing fine, thank you so much for the concern cheesy

@Madosky112 Gratitude for reading

@Tuhndhay what twist...you mean Musa and Nebud's relationship? Well, we'll have to see how that one turns out smiley
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:58am On May 20
Part 2
--------
------------------------------
On the Inter-port Trail
------------------------------

We emerged from the hangar into the parts of the inter-port trail that surrounded Hakute. The soft ground was empty, but I could not help but remember the last time I’d seen it, when it hadn’t been so empty. I thought of that war, of the uspecs that had died right on the grounds we stood on. It was as if I could see them again. I doubted I would ever forget it, the look of over hundreds of headless corpses. Some of them dismembered, some no doubt done by my own blade. I thought of the blood that had stained their bodies and the look of despair that had filled their eyes. And as I thought of this, I could not help but wonder what their final thoughts were. What did one think in the moments before death? I knew what I would think of. Just the thought of death made me see it in my head. It’s little green face, not so little anymore, I reminded myself. Nebula. My entire world had changed when my offspring was born from the hatch. I had not known before that love like what I felt could be cushioned in a heart like mine. But now I knew, and now my entire existence seemed dependent on my offspring. Its happiness brought me joy. I thought of it and knew that there was nothing I wouldn’t do to ensure its safety.

I had escaped death more times than any other uspec I’d known. I thought of the slum I’d been raised in and how I’d escaped death there when it was found out that I was irira. Then the pits. And my life after. My entire life seemed like an endless cycle of facing death and somehow surviving. But then I’d had Chuspecip. The founder had been in me, it had needed me, and it had used me and used others around me to ensure my safety. Now the founder was returned and it no longer had use of me. This was the first time that I would be facing death completely on my own. And I was afraid. It was not the fear of pain that filled me, or really even the fear of death in itself. It was the fear of leaving my offspring alone. It would have Fabiana, but Fabiana was not its mater. I had grown up without a line and I did not want that for my offspring. I wanted to ensure its safety, I wanted to raise it, to spar with it, to play with it. I wanted an entire life with my offspring, and if I died, I would never have that. Nebula would grow up alone.

“The bodies haunt me too, sirga.” Matiu intoned the words with the solemnity of a prayer.

I turned to the uspec and I nodded. Matiu, Fabiana and I were the only three uspecs left who’d witnessed the battle. Juke, Gamble and Matina had been too young to fight with us. Now they were older, and we were headed to another war against the plenum, only this time, our odds were far worse than they’d been in the battle to get to Hakute.

“Are you ready?” I asked the uspecs. “Once we embark on this journey, we must fly hard to reach Chiboga before nightfall.”

Juke nodded gravelly, but Gamble grinned and said, “I was born ready, sirga.”

I took a step back, stunned by the words the uspec had said. The memory of that previous fight came back to me with an alacrity that left me shaken. I saw Binna in Fabiana’s arms and in my head, I heard the sounds of Fabiana’s lamentation. It had wailed loudly over its sibling’s corpse.

“What is it sirga?” Gamble asked.

I was too filled with my own memories to respond. It was Matiu who spoke up in my place. “Those were the majestic Fabinna’s last words.”

Grief and understanding filled Gamble’s eyes. The uspec looked down. We all did. The younger ones would not see what Matiu, Chike, and I saw. They would not see the pool of corpses that had died here. I had to shake my head vigorously to pull the gruesome thoughts out.

“Let us go,” I said.

We had packed lightly. There were three imps with us. The younger uspecs would carry them during flight. Matiu and I would carry the satchel bags we’d packed. We hadn’t brought much. I had two pouches of worth, merit and value, enough food to last us a night, pouches of okun and wine, and sharpeners for our blades. There were a few extra belts and an extra neckcloth for me.

We had to walk till we got to the road for flyers and canoes. The inter-port trail was not how I remembered it. There were too few people about, and each one we came across eyed us warily.

“It is the war, sirga,” Juke explained to me, “this side of the inter-port trail is ravaged by it.”

I nodded grimly. The chasm. The plenum should know that they had already lost. Whatever happened in Chiboga, they had lost. They might beat Arexon, but the founder was back, when it recuperated, it would destroy them all. How long would it take for it to recuperate though? I had felt its weakness, and carried that weakness inside of me. I did not know the way of Chus. Chuspecip was the founder, our god, but it was still just an uspec. It was an immortal uspec, a powerful one, perhaps in many ways much more than the normal uspec, but still just an uspec. It needed time, time that Arexon did not have.

We emerged from the slow lane to the faster one and then we were off. We let our ailerons flap, bearing us high in the air, higher than the scattering of canoes steering below us. There were not many people sharing this road with us. I thought as we flew. I did not want to, because all thoughts inadvertently lead back to worries about my offspring and its safety if anything happened to me. I trusted Fabiana implicitly. Yet, I worried for my offspring. I was paranoid, and I could not help but think of all the ways that things could go wrong for my little Nebula. When I was not worrying about Nebula I was plagued with thoughts of this new emptiness I felt. I had not thought much of what it meant to be brio and carry Chuspecip with me. There had been a peace to it, knowing that the founder was with me, that I had a link to it I could draw on. Now with that link gone, I felt different, lighter. In some ways that lightness felt like freedom, but most of the time it just felt like emptiness, like I was hollow. I still did not understand how I felt about Chuspecip. I was much changed by my journey to it, and much changed by being in its presence. But it had not spoken to me. Not a word. It was my ancestor, it had used me, but I did not think it liked me much.

I tried to take my mind off Chuspecip but I could not. I could not forget the sight of it in the moment that it had stood before me as Chacip. It had been tall but not much taller than I. I had seen giants that were taller. I knew Chacip was just one form that the founder had taken and that it could take on others. I could not help but wonder if it knew what I was about. Would it come to my aid? Did I want it to? I was its subject. I belonged to it. I had dropped to my knees on sighting it, there could be no more doubt in my mind that it was my god. I sighed. I did not like thinking on Chuspecip, and I was a good enough warrior to know that I should not go into battle expecting to be saved by the founder. That was not the right mindset to have.

We flew hard. A fast canoe speeding by on an empty road could make the journey in a little over an hour, if the steerer was willing to exhaust a great deal of motion. We were not speeding canoes, but we flew as fast as we could, and we reached our destination in three hours. When we descended, we were all sweating. We stopped well away from Chiboga, not so far that we needed to fly to approach the port, but far enough that we wouldn’t be seen.

Still, the moment we emerged into the slow, walking lane, we saw a troop of plenum soldiers. Five of them. They were marching in the direction of Chiboga. These soldiers wore armor, which the ones that had stood guard outside Hakute had not. They seemed like the normal issue, slight bulk, medium height, no fine specimens amongst them. Two of them were of the kute spectrum and the last three were mejo.

“Halt!” A kute called out in the kute tongue.

“Do you think they’re talking to us?” I asked in the hooni tongue.

Juke grinned. “I hope so.”

I looked at the uspec and approved of the way it clutched the hilts of its swords. It was travelling with a matching pair of shorter cutlasses. I knew without being told that it had chosen cutlasses to match my weapon of choice. My Juke. I smiled back at it and nodded. But I gave orders for it not to lose its cool. We kept moving, ignoring the call from the soldiers.

“Halt in the name of the plenum!” The cry in kute was much louder this time.

I gave orders of my own and we stopped. “Is there a problem?” I asked, speaking kute back to the soldiers. They wore metal headguards over their heads and necks, all the way to their shoulders. Their belts were an odd mesh metallic contraption that fell slightly past their waists. The plenum had not spared any expense in covering their soldiers. The headguards for the mejos had holes cut out for their horns.

One of the mejo soldiers frowned when it was close enough to peer into my face. “You look familiar.” It said.

My eyes narrowed. “I cannot imagine why.” I stated seriously.

“Where are you headed?” A kute soldier asked.

“North.” I replied.

“Where north?”

I’d instructed my honoraria to remove their golden bands. I appeared as the only noble in the group. “Damejo,” I replied.

The soldiers eyed us all. “You are heavily armed for uspecs going to Damejo.” One of them said.

“We are mercenaries. We are always heavily armed.” Gamble chimed in. “You know how it is.”

The soldiers glanced at Gamble before turning back to face me. “What business do you have in Damejo?”

I was just about to respond when the mejo uspec said, “I remember how I know you!”

As soon as it said that, there was chaos. Juke killed it before I could even begin to process an adequate response. The rest of the plenum soldiers immediately pulled out their swords and the spar that followed was quick and ended in their deaths.

“They should have had the foresight to cover their chests as well as their heads.” Juke stated calmly, pushing its bloodied cutlass back into its sheath.

I stared at Juke, dazed.

“I did not even get to wet my blade.” Gamble complained. “You should have left the last one for me Juke. Why did you have to be greedy and kill two?”

Juke scoffed. “The first one didn’t put up a fight.”

It took me a while to get my bearing. I stared at the brawler standing beside me, grinning with its face stained with blood splatter, and I struggled to reconcile it with little Juke. “You have killed before.” I said, when I could finally form speech.

Juke nodded. “We fought in Lahooni, or at least we tried. We only left a few of us at a time and we attacked the troops on the inter-port trail around our port. It wasn’t enough to make a difference, though.”

I nodded. I sheathed my sword and then nodded for us to leave before we were seen. Gamble and Juke teased each other the entire way there. Gamble kept complaining about the lack of action and Juke groaned about the fight not being exerting enough.

“They are young.” Matiu said.

I turned to find the uspec walking beside me. Its sibling walked on its other side. It had not drawn its sword. I could not begin to imagine why it had asked to come along if it did not want to fight.

“They are bloodthirsty.” I replied.

Matiu shook its head. “We have all lost many to the plenum. Gamble lost two of its siblings in the war, and Matina and I lost our progenitor. Juke did not lose any in its immediate family, but several of its cognates and agnates were slain by the plenum.”

“I cannot believe that that is Juke.” I shook my head. The Juke I remembered would not joke about a corpse. It troubled me. Juke’s behavior, its bravery and callousness in the face of death, it was something I would have admired in any other, but not in Juke.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:59am On May 20
“War has changed it. We did not fight well, your honoraria, the first time, because we had not trained for war. This time, we trained for war.” There were no inflections in Matiu’s voice, just a steady conviction.

I looked at Juke again. It had its arm over Gamble’s shoulder and Gamble’s arm was over its.

“I swear to the founder that when we reach Chiboga I will kill two uspecs for every one you kill Juke.” Gamble said.

Juke laughed. “You will need to make yourself into four people to keep that oath.”

I smiled. “They arrogant.” I stated.

Matiu smiled. It was a tight somber smile. Everything about the uspec seemed to be grave. “You are arrogant, sirga, and they are taking their lead from you. They want to impress you.”

I was shocked by the uspec’s words. I stared at it, and I saw its age on its face. It was older than Fabiana and I. About as old as Arexon, I guessed, which put it a good ten years older than I was. “I am arrogant. Perhaps it is for the best. A warrior must be arrogant to stare death in the face and survive. And they must survive, I do not intend to outlive anyone else in my honoraria.”

Matiu bowed to me. I took a deep breath and turned my attention back to the two uspecs in front. Juke was eighteen now, and if I remembered correctly, Gamble was twenty. When I was their age I had already killed many.

The closer we drew to Chiboga the more we drew to the fringes. When we were close enough that we could see tents pitched and large troops of soldiers milling about, we pulled away from the main path and walked into a resting place. This was the closest resting place to Chiboga that the plenum had not commandeered. It was empty. When Chike dropped the form card we’d purchased into the sludge, the dwelling that rose was the only one there.

“What is the plan sirga?” Juke asked.

“Go and clean the blood off your face first.” I ordered unwittingly harshly. Its smile went away. It bowed and walked into the dwelling. It would find a faucet. I tried to force my mind to reason as I normally did, but I could not reason properly where Juke was concerned. I knew that I should be proud, but I found it hard to be. I did not want Juke laughing with the blood of uspecs it had slain still on its body. I did not want it to be like me.

When it returned its face was straight, it no longer smiled. I looked away from its face to uspecs that did not mean to me what it did. It was unfair, but I could not help my reactions. I was not even sure I understood them, I just knew that I had not liked what I’d seen today. I had not liked it at all. Juke was meant to be a fighter, not a killer. For some reason I found myself remembering the conversation we’d had five years ago, in the entertaining room of the large dwelling Arexon and I had owned.

“Do you subscribe to the annihilates or the adjudicates theory of sparring?” Binna had asked. I could still recall Juke’s studious explanation of the differences. “Annihilates believe in fighting to kill while adjudicates believe in fighting to win.” It had been on the floor playing with my offspring when I’d asked it, “Which theory do you think is superior?” In the end it had decided that we should all fight as the Fabricates theory demanded, as if in the creation of an epic. That young uspec, the one who’d wanted to fight as legends do, now fought to kill and laughed at the bloodshed. Arexon had warned me once that those who followed me would emulate me in ways that I could not begin to comprehend. I had not imagined this, that my Juke would grow into this, into me. It was jarring.

“Apologies, sirga, I did not mean to displease you.” Juke’s voice was small. In that moment it reminded me more of the young uspec that I’d left behind, than it had since I returned. I put a hand on its shoulder and squeezed.

I shook my head. I wanted to say something, but I could not find the words. Could I send it back in time to be that sweet kid who was eager to please and dreamt of being a warrior. It was a warrior now.

It was a warrior now.

I shook my head again. There were no words. But I did not release my hand from its shoulder.

“We need to get a message to Auxa.” I stated.

“I will deliver it.” Juke rushed in.

I could not help but smile at that. “Auxa fights for the plenum. It will be deep in the plenum’s camp, close to the Chiboga border.”

Juke tipped its chin upwards and stared me square in the eye. “I will deliver it.” It stated firmly.

I laughed and drew the uspec close to me. I hugged it. It was not a warm embrace, it was a rather rough one, and very unlike myself. Juke brought out things in me that only my offspring had. “You grew up too fast,” I whispered into the uspec’s ear, before pulling it back.

The smile on its face was so wide that I caught another rare glimpse of the young uspec I’d left behind five years ago. The one with the single outer eye and the smile that touched that eye. It still had the eye, but the smile no longer seemed as funny as it had on the young face. The young Juke was still there underneath all the brawn. It was still eager to please me.

I released my hold of it. I could no more send Juke alone into enemy camps than I could send my own offspring. I just could not do it. It did not matter how strong it had grown and how well skilled it was. I could not risk its life like that.

“I will deliver it.” Gamble said.

Juke punched Gamble in the arm. “You will not steal my glory, my friend.”

Gamble disappeared.

I gaped.

Juke scowled and grumbled “show off.”

“I am well skilled in appearance, sirga, I can sneak into the camp. And, unlike Juke, you can be assured that I will return.” Gamble’s voice sounded but there was no appearance to show where it stood as it spoke. “What is the missive?” it asked. I swiveled to my right and found it standing between me and Juke.

Juke scoffed. I laughed. I was ashamed at how eager I was to send this uspec into danger in Juke’s place. It had appearance, it was a magic that no one else seemed to have mastered as well as Gamble. I pulled out the tube I’d had Fabiana make before we left and placed it in Gamble’s hand. Then I gave the uspec a pouch of merit. “For bribes and such, if you need it.”

Gamble bowed. “I will be on my way sirga.” It winked at Juke and then flew off before Juke could react. It took its appearance away before it flew out of sight.

“I am close to proficiency in appearance,” Juke said to me, “I will be ready next time.”

I shook my head at it. It was so eager to fight. Now that I had so much to lose I was not as eager for battle as I had been when I was younger. If the war in Chiboga could be settled without bloodshed that would soothe me just fine. All I wanted to do was get myself and my honoraria safely back to Lahooni. We had already lost too many Lahooni lives to the plenum.

I pulled my cutlass out of my sheath. “Why don’t you show me the skill you’re so eager to use.” I said to Juke.

The uspec stared dazed at me.

I pushed the rounded edge of my blade against its chest, deep enough to welt, but not to break the skin. That was all the prodding Juke needed. It reached for its cutlasses and drew them out of their sheaths.

I had never sparred with an uspec who fought with two blades. I was curious as to why Juke had chosen these weapons as its instruments.

I urged Juke on, and it leapt at me. There was nothing of the young one I’d left behind. This Juke fought with skill and cunning. It had strength behind each blow it threw. It brought both swords together and I deflected them both with my cutlass. It chuckled and then leapt back. It was light on its feet. It had a quickness baffling in one so bulky. It came at me again, this time it swung one cutlass low, one cutlass high, and it swiveled around as it advanced. It moved as if it was dancing and I was hard pressed to keep up. I slammed one cutlass away and then went into its space and knocked it back with my shoulder. I forced it back with strength, not skill. Juke advanced again and I deflected its blows. I focused on its sword and did my best to ignore its fancy footwork. In the end, even I had to admit that I was not skilled enough to best a skilled swordsman with two blades. I just did not have enough experience. I was just deflecting one sword when another one appeared lower, and I felt a sharp prick against my lower stomach. If this had been a real fight, I would be dead.

I conceded the fight to Juke with a loud guffaw. “And the student becomes the master.”

Juke bowed, turned on its feet and then leapt backwards. “Only because you have never faced an opponent with two swords before. It is not a common thing for uspecs to learn.”

“Because it is hard, domina, and it requires a great deal of effort.” Chike stated.

Juke bowed flamboyantly to the imp. “I am only as good as I am because I have been blessed with a great instructor.”

Chike smiled.

Juke sheathed its sword and then turned back to face me. “Shall we brawl, sirga, in that you can most definitely best me.”

I laughed and I knew it too. But I did not need to best Juke. I looked at Juke’s face and felt suddenly old. I was only in my early thirties, not quite as old as Arexon or Matiu or even Fabiana, for that matter. No, I shook my head. I was proud to have been bested by Juke and I told it so.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon sparring. Juke faced off against Matiu, I against Chike, and the last two imps sparred with each other. Chike could not resist the urge to instruct me. It found flaws in the way I moved my feet, in the swing of my cutlass, it even found a way to criticize the trajectory of my eyeline. I realized at the end that I still had a lot to learn about swordfight. I was a brawler, in that I was assured of my proficiency. There were few who could best me in a fight with only fists. But fights with fists were rare.

We wore ourselves out that afternoon and fought until the daylight dots went away and not even the faintest sign of orange light remained. We went indoors when night fell and the red illumination of the clouds was all the lighting we had.

The dwelling was nothing fabulous. It was a simple one. Big enough to have a compound with a fence around it, but not nearly as big as the one I’d shared with Arexon and our entourages. We took turns with the faucet and rinsed off the sweat on our bodies. We had not had the foresight to pack towels, but we did not mind. The pink liquid would dry quickly.

We all reclined onto the lounging beds in the entertaining room, imp and uspec alike.

“Why double swords?” I asked Juke.

“It is unexpected sirga. Only a handful of uspecs fight with it and so very few are trained to parry against it.” Its eyebrows pulled together, and it took on the studious look that I had seen so many times on its younger face. I could not help but smile at the familiarity. “Chike asked us, right before we started training, to take a week and think about the type of swords we wanted to fight with. So, I did my research and found the most uncommon type.”

I laughed. “Still the studious one, I see.”

Juke grinned at me. “Always sirga. I must remain studious if I am to one day be one of the advisors you count on most.”

I stared fondly at the uspec’s face, remembering the conversation we’d had in my canopy room the night that Darlin had showed itself to be a traitor. I had told Juke that night that it would grow to be one of the advisors I counted on most then I had promised to make it a duke. It was a promise I had every intention of keeping. I wouldn’t even need to make a new dukedom for it. Its progenitor had already proved itself a traitor. As Juke was the only one in that line I could trust, Juke would inherit once I reclaimed my port and separated its progenitor’s head from its body. “Yes, you must.” I said finally.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 4:00am On May 20
“I fear for Gamble.” The voice that spoke was one I had not heard since the journey began and so it took me a while to place Matina’s voice. “Perhaps we should have taken one of its scales before it left.”

I frowned at that. “Why would we take one if its scales?”

“When a Lahooni noble dies outside its port, it is customary to have a piece of the noble’s feature left to return to its line, so that they can inter it in quicksand with others of the line who’ve passed as well.” Matiu responded in a low voice.

Juke’s eyes hardened. “Gamble is not going to die. It will return.”

“Of course, it will.” I stated. I had no doubts.

Juke nodded, relaxing a little. I decided to steer the conversation away from talks of death and my gaze fixed on Matina, the uspec that had brought Gamble’s death up in the first place.

“You did not spar with us this afternoon Matina.” I stated.

The uspec froze. Matiu looked calmly at me, and Matina seemed so scared I thought it would collapse right there on its lounging bed. To think I had only asked a simple question.

“I…I fear I am not skilled with swords sirga.” Matina confessed. “I cannot fight.”

I turned to Chike. “You did not teach it?”

The imp prepared to talk but Matina cut it off. “It is not Chike’s fault. It tried, but whatever it is that makes a great fighter, I desperately lack it. Forgive me sirga.”

I frowned at it. “You are skilled in pansophy then.” I said.

The uspec shook its head. This time I did frown. “I…I have no head for magic sirga, forgive me, I am not a fighter of any kind.” It confessed. This was no Cantonia. At least Cantonia had pansophy and it had a backbone. This uspec looked like it was going to faint because I was staring at it.

“So, what can you do?” I asked, irritated.

“Matina is an artist, sirga.” Juke said gently. I looked to its face to see if it was joking, but it was not. There was actually fondness in Juke’s voice when it spoke. It was happy with Matina.

“An artist?” I inquired. Perhaps artist meant something different than I thought.

“It is very skilled in playing many musical instruments sirga. It has blessed fingers. It can pluck a string as beautifully as any maestro I’ve ever had. And it paints and words poems sirga. It has even written several poems in dedication of your life. They will sing the songs Matina has written all over Lahooni, and they will know your glory as they sing it. Your tales will live on forever.” Juke said all of this with a peaceful smile on its face. It was content with Matina’s ‘skills’.

I was not.

I sat up and glared at Matiu. “Why did you allow your sibling to come with us?” I roared. “Have you lost your mind?”

Matina trembled in its bed, but Matiu just stared calmly at me. “We are both here to honor our line, sirga.”

I almost threw a dagger at Matiu’s neck. “I do not need artists. Do you not understand that we are going to war in Chiboga! Your sibling’s blood will not be on my hands!” I yelled.

“I swore an oath to you sirga!” Matina screamed. Its eyes were closed. The uspec was so scared it could not even look me in the eye as it responded. I would have sent it back to Hakute if I thought it could survive the trip by itself.

“Your oath is useless to me if you cannot fight. You are nothing but a burden if you cannot fight!” I yelled at it.

“It will be fine sirga, it is never too far from its sibling, and Matiu can fight enough for the both of them.” Juke teased.

“I should send you back.” I knew I could not, but I did not want to take it to Chiboga with us. I should have inquired as to its skill before I permitted it to come.

“Please, sirga, it would be a shame to our line if Matina joined your honoraria and did nothing to protect you.”

I stared at Matiu as if it was insane. Protect me? Was it going to sing my enemies away? Or perhaps it hoped to poke them in the eye with its writing pen. Protect me. I would be the one protecting it. I did not mind travelling with children when there had been many more fighters around, but there were only four of us, and we were going to war. How could Matiu not see that a warzone was not the place for an artist?

“It will be fine, sirga, we will care for it. We all have a duty to perform sirga, and this is Matina’s. You dishonor it by asking it not to perform the duty it has sworn to.” Juke spoke softly.

I looked between Matina’s trembling form, Matiu’s emotionless face, and Juke’s smiling confidence, and I cursed all three of them. And Fabiana too, for letting me bring an artist on this quest. An artist! I cursed them three times over. I glared at Matina as I said, “The only reason you are staying is because you would die if I sent you back on your own and I cannot afford to send any other with you.” Then I rose from my lounging bed, grabbed a pouch of heavily fermented wine and stormed out of the dwelling.

I paced the compound, drinking heavily from the wine as I did. Matina was not going to survive this war and that was going to be my fault. It would not return to Lahooni. It would die here. It would die. I wanted to hate Matiu for doing this, for creating another corpse that would haunt my conscience. It was Matina’s sibling. It should be protecting the uspec not sending it to fight with me.

I thought of my offspring, of Nebula. I would not let it fight if it could not. My mind filled with the moments we’d shared. With its smiles, its laughs, even its spasms. I’d only had few moments with it, not nearly enough. I wanted more, but I would not risk its life for anything in the world. Why was Matiu willing to risk Matina’s? My mind filled with thoughts of my offspring again and I took a gulp of the heavily fermented wine. I had not had enough time. Not nearly enough.


Little bubbles float on by
Filled with the moments we shared
Silent whispers make me sigh
At these happy thoughts in my head
Every little bit is twisted
Every smile, every tear
Every part of me addicted
To the one for whom I care
Life’s cruel teasing touch
Has given me only a taste
Now there’s only memories to watch
While I shrivel in waste



While I shrivel in waste. The thought echoed in my head, and I saw myself dying on a hard fog Chiboga road, making my offspring an orphan in the process. The words seemed so in tune with my thoughts of my offspring that it took me much longer than it should have to realize that the words had been spoken. Not spoken, but sung. They’d been sung by a singer without instrument.

I turned and found Matina standing several feet behind me. It was the one responsible for the song then. I frowned at it. How had it said words that resonated so closely with me? Was this an artist’s magic? I was not one for music or art in general, but even I could tell when I was surrounded by greatness. Matina was skilled, I could not doubt that, but it was not skilled in any way I needed.

It knelt before me. “I did not mean to displease you sirga, only to serve you.”

I scoffed. I was going to say something, but the words stayed in my throat because at that very moment, a green dot appeared in the sky and it descended on our compound.

Gamble had returned. I walked away from the kneeling uspec without giving it any further thought. Gamble had not seen me and so it walked into the dwelling. I followed in its wake.

When I entered into the entertaining room, Juke and Gamble had their arms around each other’s shoulders. Gamble laughed at whatever Juke said.

“You have returned.” I said, without prelude.

The uspec turned to me and bowed. “The great Auxa sends its greetings, and this.” It handed me a tube.

Once I held the tube in my hand, it dissolved. Auxa had sealed it with my identity. I spread out the scroll and quickly perused its contents. Then I smiled. “There is a way.” I said to the eager faces that looked on me. “The plenum lost a skirmish a week ago on a little street around the aft side of Chiboga. Auxa says that the plenum has ten soldiers guarding it. If we can overpower the guards, we can reach the Chiboga hangar.”

Gamble scoffed. “Ten guards. Why don’t you relax sirga and let Juke and I handle the guards for you. We’ll make a game out of it, see which of us can kill the most plenum soldiers.”

“A game you’ll lose.” Juke stated confidently.

“I guess we’ll see.” Gamble replied just as confident as Juke. I laughed and patted Gamble’s shoulder.

“You have done well Gamble.” I praised.

The uspec beamed. It bowed. “It is my honor to serve, sirga.”

I smiled and nodded. “We leave in five minutes.” I announced.

After that the preparations were made quickly. We did not have much to pack. We simply returned the things we’d removed from the satchel bags and then we were ready.

It was easy to follow the path that Auxa had laid out. It took us two hours on foot to get there, but we chatted the whole way. I’d even forgotten about the nuisance of Matina by the time we reached our destination. But I had not forgotten the song it had sang. The last two lines haunted me. Now there’s only memories to watch, while I shrivel in waste. They felt oddly like a premonition. And I had the thought again, of myself dying on hard fog Chiboga roads, only this time I could see my last moments were filled with memories of Nebula. Its smile, its spasms, its stammered words. The day it was born, the week it was sick, the look on its face as it had begged me not to leave. Now there’s only memories to watch, while I shrivel in waste

I forced my mind away from thoughts like that.

The street was as Auxa had said. It was empty and it had nothing but the ten soldiers loitering about in front of a wall of clouds. That wall looked like the gate we sought. The soldiers were so unprepared for a fight that they did not even have armor on. I was suddenly feeling very charitable. I would give them a chance to live.

By the time they saw us, it was already too late for them. They all had the chest spikes of bogas.

“Stand down and I will let you live.” I said, magnanimously, speaking in the boga tongue.

One of the uspecs laughed at me. It actually laughed. I shrugged and then reached for my sword. The others did the same. Then there was a whistle and I suddenly had a very bad feeling. I heard the sounds of heavy marching.

“Master.”

I turned around. There were at least seventy soldiers standing behind us. These ones were dressed in the same armor as the plenum soldiers we’d killed earlier. We were surrounded.

“It’s a trap.” Matius stated, gravely.

Yes, it was. Auxa had tricked me. Which meant this wall was no entry to Chiboga and we were trapped between a wall and over eighty plenum soldiers. More than ten uspecs for each fighter I had with me.

“How about we make you the same offer, last brio?” One of the original uspecs who’d been there taunted me in the boga tongue. “Stand down and we will let all of you live.”
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Madosky112(m): 5:32am On May 20
OneChance 4 Nebud oya dissappear make i see
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by cassbeat(m): 8:19am On May 20
Ohhhhhh why did u stop here na Obehid? This is where the war begins....
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by tunjilomo(m): 8:22am On May 20
Yawa dey. Nebud has finally met his doom. Or not. I pray no one of them dies. Please, Obehid.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 11:00am On May 20
obehiD:
=============================
VOLUME ONE
=============================

Part 1
--------
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In the First Metropolis of Lahooni (the spectral port which coincides with Lagos State, Nigeria)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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.

I had to go back to refresh my memory about the whole turn out of this novella. I suddenly realized that there will be a great change yet to happen. The change that will alter the fate of the uspecs. Uspecs becoming immortals, that is how Nebud came to become undead shocked . It could no longer die. And it's offspring Nebula could not reprocreate for the Chucep line to continue . The line stops with Nebula. This is really a hit.

Obehid, does this mean that Uspecs who survived the war would remain and not increase in population?
That the spectral existence will become more than it is at the moment?
Here also I realized that kuwor created the marked and they are humans with supernatural abilities.
Also the two imps, I remember them as osazele's cousins who could live in the spectral existence and are too powerful for uspecs and imps alike.

My question is, in this part, Nebud says it was hunted by them, what did Nebud become to be hunted by the marked?

Why did the kuwors create them? What was their end game? I am seemingly very curious and will like to get some answers.

I think there is still so much we have to read to get to where we all want.



Thank you Obehid.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 5:10pm On May 21
@Madosky112 lol, it's really disappear

@cassbeat continuation coming soon, I agree the war begins

@tunjilomo we'll see what happens...lol, for what it counts I really hope none of them dies too

@Fazemood many many great questions. I'm actually not going to answer most of them now because they are either answered at the end of this book, or they are spoilers for other marked books. But, Nebud never said it was hunted by them. It said they were coming for it, but it did not say that it was being hunted. The cousins btw are not imps, they are still alive umanis. But that scene, is actually the prologue of white sight the Reckoning, so it's written (it will be written) properly there, from the viewpoint of the green eyed attackers. Nebud's part in it all and some of Nebud's actions in In Between will be explained by the end of this book, but this story really isn't meant to be a part of the marked series, it's Nebud's tale of its life. That's why it tells its offspring that the story it's going to tell is one it has never heard. The questions about what happens to the spectral existence and their immortality, that is not going to be in this book at all, except for maybe a little commentary on it from Nebud at the end. The Kuwor creating the marked is also not covered in this book, it's part of what Nebud tells its offspring it already knows. That story actually comes in the next marked book not in the standard existence (that one will be in the fourth existence). But it's not Nebud's story, so it's not in this book. Also just to clarify, 'undead' is a title given to progenitors. So every uspec that survives the battle in the hatch and gains an offspring, becomes undead. Nebud is already undead because it has an offspring.

1 Like

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 5:15pm On May 21
So, after a VERY VERY long "novella" I can FINALLY see the end in sight. I am about five-six chapters away from being done with writing this book and so I am now ready to start posting a bit more. I'm going to start with posting 3 times a week until I'm done writing. Once I'm done writing, I will start posting everyday until it's all posted.

My question for you guys is what do you want the new posting schedule to be. I was thinking I should keep the Wednesday and Saturday posts and add another day. Maybe Sunday? Or I can completely change the schedule and post three different days more evenly spaced out. Please let me know your preferences

1 Like

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Rynne: 5:58pm On May 21
obehiD:
So, after a VERY VERY long "novella" I can FINALLY see the end in sight. I am about five-six chapters away from being done with writing this book and so I am now ready to start posting a bit more. I'm going to start with posting 3 times a week until I'm done writing. Once I'm done writing, I will start posting everyday until it's all posted.

My question for you guys is what do you want the new posting schedule to be. I was thinking I should keep the Wednesday and Saturday posts and add another day. Maybe Sunday? Or I can completely change the schedule and post three different days more evenly spaced out. Please let me know your preferences

Personally I had prefer 3 different days that are evenly spaced out. Thanks in advance for wetting my appetite...�
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Madosky112(m): 6:36pm On May 21
obehiD:
So, after a VERY VERY long "novella" I can FINALLY see the end in sight. I am about five-six chapters away from being done with writing this book and so I am now ready to start posting a bit more. I'm going to start with posting 3 times a week until I'm done writing. Once I'm done writing, I will start posting everyday until it's all posted.

My question for you guys is what do you want the new posting schedule to be. I was thinking I should keep the Wednesday and Saturday posts and add another day. Maybe Sunday? Or I can completely change the schedule and post three different days more evenly spaced out. Please let me know your preferences
Mon,wed and saturday...

3 Likes 1 Share

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by cassbeat(m): 9:08pm On May 21
obehiD:
@Madosky112 lol, it's really disappear

@cassbeat continuation coming soon, I agree the war begins

@tunjilomo we'll see what happens...lol, for what it counts I really hope none of them dies too

@Fazemood many many great questions. I'm actually not going to answer most of them now because they are either answered at the end of this book, or they are spoilers for other marked books. But, Nebud never said it was hunted by them. It said they were coming for it, but it did not say that it was being hunted. The cousins btw are not imps, they are still alive umanis. But that scene, is actually the prologue of white sight the Reckoning, so it's written (it will be written) properly there, from the viewpoint of the green eyed attackers. Nebud's part in it all and some of Nebud's actions in In Between will be explained by the end of this book, but this story really isn't meant to be a part of the marked series, it's Nebud's tale of its life. That's why it tells its offspring that the story it's going to tell is one it has never heard. The questions about what happens to the spectral existence and their immortality, that is not going to be in this book at all, except for maybe a little commentary on it from Nebud at the end. The Kuwor creating the marked is also not covered in this book, it's part of what Nebud tells its offspring it already knows. That story actually comes in the next marked book not in the standard existence (that one will be in the fourth existence). But it's not Nebud's story, so it's not in this book. Also just to clarify, 'undead' is a title given to progenitors. So every uspec that survives the battle in the hatch and gains an offspring, becomes undead. Nebud is already undead because it has an offspring.
Yes ma anticipating jejently obehid.....

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