A Kicked Cur is an original short story written by Wrychard Wrycthen.
In the walled city of Deskordin, which was in the Realm of Khlarion, which was on the Planet of Raith, all was not well. This was strange, because it was well after dark, in a well-policed capital, and most all of its humayne inhabitants were nestled snugly in their beds by that time of nacht. Those who weren’t were passed out in armchairs by unlit fireplaces or engaged in their customary nocturnal pursuits. In other words, everything was as it should have been. However, in the back yard of a previously mentioned two-story laid stone homestead, conflict itself had taken residence.
“I can’t see!”
“Shut up, Wally! Mur Rayl, you’ll wake the neighbours.”
The only thing truly visible in their current environment was a small rectangle of mid-grey light that appeared on what would have been the horizon, only the horizon would obviously have to have been outside, and our little adventurers were out of doors no longer. No, they were now safely in-doors, in the cramped backyard shed on the Blane family property. Well, maybe not “safely”.
“ACH CRAHL! Wally, what the sheogol are you doing?”
Renita was beside herself. She was in the process of attempting to find her way around the many barely used belongings, pieces of furniture, and general debris in the storage shed, thereby trying to get to the window. As she turned back for his answer, her intense but somehow sensitive oval eyes caught what little light was coming in through the sheet-draped window, the right side of her face becoming illuminated. Wayloch focused on this in the darkness as he squinted his way through the pain, simultaneously clutching and rubbing his right shin.
“AGH sorry, sorry, walked into a hoe or shuvel or something. No mind, go open the window.”
Daralya crouched behind him, one hand on the back of his thigh as he continued to rub the tender flesh and bone, which was fluctuating with even more waves of pain. Finally able to take action, she looked around in the dimness, finding a couple of sturdy crates in the jumble and setting one down for each of them except Renita. She was paying them little heed, grabbing the sheet at the window on the far northern wall by the two top corners where it had been lazily nailed up. Abruptly ripping it away without a second thought, she then paused to look up at the nacht sky, which was bigger and bluer and a millus times more beautiful now that she’d stared death (in humayne form) in the eye… and lived.
“Look!”, she said. “The Lunus. And some siriettes. So, so many siriettes.” As she looked out into its intense beauty, the heaveynely bodyes reflected in her frosted ice blue eyes, and they shone again.
“Mur Rayl, Rena!” Wayloch had calmed down considerably, but he was still highly agitated and all three of them were still trembling. “We just saw an UPYR. HERE. IN THE CITY. I don’t care about the sky. I’m not an astrologian. I’m a student.” He stopped, considering something. “An average student. There hasn’t been an upyr in the city for sixteen annum, and that one didn’t even make it off the walls. What are we going to do?!”
Renita whirled about suddenly, everything now visible slightly thanks to the ample light of the full Lunus. Her expression and the light in her gaze told her half-sister and her boyfriend all that they had needed to know. After a horrible scare, a full-tilt flight, several falls, and one slight but acutely painful injury, Renita was back in control.
Wayloch paused, still perspiring heavily into his light brown half-tunic. He had undone the top two buttons at the neck so that he’d have easier breathing, and some errant chest hairs were poking out as if they needed air too. Renita giggled slightly at the thought. After several stoundes of meaningful eye contact, Wayloch spoke.
“You’re not scared anymore. Why?”
Renita smirked. Squinting slightly, she winked at him with both eyes. Then, after breaking eye contact, she answered. “What you’re going to do is be a man for my sister. What ‘we’ are going to do as a whole is another matter. We’ve got a lot to talk about and not much time to do it in. To start with, tell me what you overheard before I walked into that situation like a total fool. Who was the upyr talking to?”
Wayloch’s expression was very earnest. He looked tired and a trifle withdrawn, like he’d rather be in bed with the covers pulled up over his head so that the droll in his closet wouldn’t get him. He sighed heavily. “An ubyr. Some kind of ubyr. She was wearing black and red, I don’t know what that could possibly mean…”
Daralya spoke suddenly for the first time, making the other two of them start. Her raven dark tresses were badly tangled and her tunic caked in dirt, but the two large, beautiful and deep brown eyes that stared back at them were lucid and sane. “I do. I’ve seen eyes like hers before. Once. Only once.”
Renita nodded a bit, slowly. “Go on.”
Daralya caught her eyes. The extreme concern the two sibling teen girls felt for each other at that moment was undeniable, and this reassured Wayloch somewhat as he struggled to hold his composure in the face of this unforeseen terror. Daralya raised her right hand to her bangs and swept them out of her eyes, then smoothed her hair down at the sides, as if for her own reassurance. She answered her half-sister simply. “The shunned shack, Rena. In Rouchol. Remember?” This recollection made her go from just trembling a bit to really shaking.
Renita blinked abruptly, as if in surprise. “Remember? I’m still trying to forget. Can’t control one’s own nightmares, however.”
Wayloch followed the bond of eye contact from one girl to the other, then back again. He looked very perplexed. His round, pinkish face was quivering and his eyebrows were turned downward at the outer ends; it was almost a look of mongrel helplessness. He spoke. “I’m sorry…? I don’t gather what you both are talking about. Rouchol? That’s a town, right?”
Renita cast him an almost annoyed look. “Yes, far to the northwest of here. It’s a little farming town. We… used to live there. Listen, we can talk about that later. What did this ubyr exactly say?”
Wayloch started, then paled. He was sweating again, as he was wont to do in times of great stress. “She said a lot. She said… she said she wanted the Queens mord.”
Renita’s eyes narrowed, that crahlun line drew itself anew between her brows, and she grabbed the back of a dusty nearby chair for support. Her fingernails scraped the wood, leaving slight trails. “She said WHAT? The crahlun hag! How DARE SHE plot against our beloved Queens! Ach crahl, what else? It can’t possibly get worse than that.”
Daralya chimed in. “It does.” She sighed deeply and audibly. “She said she wants to raise Leuthlaren, Rena. Whatever that means.”
Renita began to chew her pale, pink lower lip slightly. She mouthed the words Daralya had just said, apparently considering them in her mind. Then she answered. “Leuthlaren? That makes no sense. You can’t just summon a Rayl. They aren’t at anyone’s beck and call, certainly not to anyone humayne.” She almost laughed at this, then turned to Wayloch. “What do you make of this? The blood witch can’t be serious.”
Wayloch paused for a few stoundes before answering. “Blood witch? Her name is Gwen, that’s what the upyr called her. No surname was mentioned. But Leuthlaren? BOISTERISH! Leuthlaren’s not real, everyone knows that.” Pulling a chain out from around his neck, an amulet left his chest and heart and became visible to the two girls. A small symbol, cast in gauld, was attached to this small piece of jewelry. The symbol was intricately lined and obviously had great spiritual meaning to Wayloch, for he was now gazing at it reverently. “The One True Rayl is Mangranol.”
Now it was Renita’s turn to sigh heavily. “Ok, Wally. This ‘Gwen’ certainly doesn’t seem to think so. Anything else? This is looking worse and worse by the minuet.”
Daralya answered, in a small, tiny little voice. “There’s more.”
Daralya’s head was hanging down towards her knees at this point, with her thin arms wrapped around herself. Wayloch, seeing this occur, edged a wee bit closer to her and wrapped a strong arm around her dainty and small-boned shoulders. “It’s not one upyr. It’s three. And to ‘get to’ Leuthlaren, as she said, she needs to raise a shade. A wizard of some sort, she didn’t say who. But that ghastly, grey… thing said that he’d been dead over sixty annum…? This is a lot to process even for me, so I know how all this sounds…”
Renita rushed forward suddenly, closing the space between her and the young couple. She fell to her knees, clutching Daralya’s right shoulder with her left hand and squeezing it slightly, while her right one caressed the left side of Daralya’s temple. “No, Darry. Stop right there. I mean it. I would never misbelieve what you say in a situation such as this. We are in this together, the three of us, and we’re going to deal with it together.” She found eye contact with her half-sister and held it until Daralya smiled a little; it was slight and tremulous, but it was there.
Rising to her feet again, Renita let a huge breath out through her mouth in a whoosh. Her patterned tunic was slightly dirty as well from the kicked-up dirt of the run. “So. A witch, three upyrs, a long-dead sorceror, and a water Rayl. Anything else, or is that all? We do have to get to bed in a timely fashion. I know school will be out for the season by the end of the weke, but it isn’t quite yet.”
Wayloch answered.”Umm… yes, Rena. About exactly what in Mangranol’s Name we are going to do about all this madness…?”
Renita smiled again, her fair face suddenly glowing. She shook her long, tight braid from side to side in delight, putting her right hand to her chest as if to feel her own heart beating. “I want you two to follow me.” She edged past them on the left, finding the shed’s rickety grey wooden door and lifting its flimsy and awkward latch. Kicking it open with the hard, black little shoe on her right foot, she strode out into the dark and humid nacht with a new sense of purpose; she seemed to be expecting our young hero and heroine to follow her, so they did, slowly breaking out of some form of reverie. Outside it was far less stuffy and musty, and the two of them found that they could breathe far easier and that they were beginning to calm down substantially. That was definitely to the good.
Approaching the main house, they walked, avoiding huge stones and clumps of weeds as they went. The yard was a wreck, with not one but two overgrown gardens that hadn’t been tended for years before the Blanes had even taken residence. A couple of scrawny, black trees were permanent fixtures; one on each side of the rundown shed, their long and skinny branches entangling each other more and more the further up that their sleek trunks went. The home itself had no back door, just a bunch of stone steps that they now descended to a larger and sturdier wood door than the one opening the shed, this one made of a healthy and robust light brown wood with reddish overtones. The slats were clearly some form of iryn, as was the lock embedded in the wood on their right hand side.
Darayla, now stabilized, was adamant. “It’s locked.”
Renita smirked. Her intense, ice blue eyes fixed on her sister. “So you think. Pappa gave me a key to the basement moneths ago.”
Daralya clutched loosely on Wayloch, who seemed dazed, but now rather relaxed. “He did? I thought we weren’t allowed down here. Not adult enough, and all that.”
Renita smirked once more. “So you thought. We’ll see.” She reached into her tunic’s largish pocket, producing a huge, rusted iryn keyring. Finding the correct metal key, she thrust it into the clean lock, then turned it to the right, releasing the thing’s chambers. With a tug, she wrenched the heavy wooden door open, gesturing the two of them inside.
As they walked forward, dust motes flying to and fro, Renita slammed the heavy wooden door shut behind them. Wayloch’s right arm was still perched upon Daralya’s shoulders, and his left hand still held her own respective left one loosely. Renita seemed to be leading them to the also dusty, debris-covered basement’s far upper left hand corner. Frankly, it wasn’t much of an improvement over the cramped darkness of the shed, but at least the windows on each side weren’t draped and the three of them could see enough to place one foot in front of the other.
Renita was several feet ahead of them. “So… where were we anyway? It was a tavern, but I can’t remember the name.”
Wayloch piped up, now quite calm. “Ahh… it was… an r-word, and then a c-word, I think. Um… or a c-word, then an r-word… ah… The Roman Candle? The Crazy Raven? Barely saw the crahlun sign, I was running so fast…”
Renita turned, chuckling; her pale, cloudy eyes were now full of confidence and mirth. “No, it definitely wasn’t either of those. The sign sure was a blur… dark grey with something red on it though. Three-headed dragore, maybe?” She then continued on slowly, avoiding more assorted dark furniture and clutter as needed, still heading in the same general direction.
Wayloch looked down at the raithen floor, puzzled. His heavy eyebrows were pointed up between his eyes and down at the ends again, almost an expression of resignation. Then he suddenly brightened, looking back up sharply, releasing Daralya and drawing his round little hands into fists towards his body’s centre.
“Ach crahl! I’ve got it!” His eyes gleamed madly and he was almost shouting. Renita turned to regard him again dubiously. She had one thin, light brown eyebrow raised as if ready to burst out laughing.
“The Curious Ram! Absolutely!” Wayloch gave an odd, high-pitched giggle that kind of told the other two that he wasn’t quite truly recovered from the scare. He then looked at Daralya for support and reinforcement, but her deep and thoughtful brown eyes were staring off into the basement to her right; they were still rimmed in tears. She spoke quietly, not looking at him yet, as they continued to make their way through the dim, stone-walled basement.
“The place is called The Red Cur. I used to walk over there before we met, Wally. Just walk and think, walk and think about my life. I wasn’t happy.” She paused there, finally regarding him with a look of surpassing, all-encompassing tenderness. They had stopped walking and had reached the far left-hand corner of the good-sized lowest level of the home. “But I became happy with you. So, so happy. And now this! We can’t keep quiet, you know that. We have to tell someone, tell the sheriffs, tell the Queens if we have to.”
Wayloch embraced her. “I know, Darry. I know.” He was breathing loudly and he sighed a bit more into her long, dark, and still sweetly perfumed hair. Renita had taken up near a desk on their right, which was large, sturdy and wooden, much like the basement door itself. An olde iryn lantern and some kindlings were on its work surface, and she fidgeted with them for several stoundes while Wayloch and Daralya continued to just hold each other, murmuring sounds of comfort. Finally, the relic was lit, and the illumination made that entire corner of the home’s level brighter and more visible. They could now see many boxes and crates lining the walls, most very worn and weathered, as the Blanes had moved around a lot for several annum. Renita scanned these, crouching, her braid running down her back like a long exclamation point without the point.
She began, as the lovers finally released each other once more and turned to her in their curiousity. “Listen. I may have been bending the truth slightly when I said pappa gave me a key moneths ago. Or mayhaps a lot.” Renita giggled at that, running her hands over what appeared to our young couple to be a mid-sized wooden chest. “Truth is, I sometimes snatch pappa’s keyring after he retires for the nacht. Now you know. That’s what I do when I want to think, Darry. I come down here and go through our olde things, our olde memories. I think about the past, and why things are the way they are, and then I wonder about our future. Wally, you wanted to know why I wasn’t afraid. Well now, I’m going to show you why.”
There was a metal handle at the center front of the chest, which Renita now grabbed; she gave a dainty version of the grunt as she dragged it away from the stone wall, leaving deep dust trails on the floor. It was indeed also wooden, with an iryn frame, and apparently kind of heavy judging from the strain evident on Renita’s face. Consequently, she got it within a couple of teythes from Wayloch and Daralya, and then stopped, straightening up and wiping her brow with the back of one small hand. Producing the rusted keyring once more, she found another, smaller metal key and jammed it unceremoniously into the corresponding lock. Turning it clockwise, she pushed the top open with her other hand, her right. A high-pitched creaking sound was emitted, echoing throughout the basement as she did so.
With this accomplished, however, Renita suddenly took on an air of reverent delicacy as she pushed a few, topmost items out of the way in search for her true prize. “Pappa doesn’t know that I know about this. He’s mentioned it sometimes but never actually shown me. You really should listen to his stories, Darry, instead of always just breezing out the front door. Our pappa was a soldier, Wally… in the War of the Tigthes. He actually fought upyrs, many many times. And what he used to do so, was this. He told me one time that he received it as a gift from a famous lieutenant as he lay dying from a mordal wound that he’d received from an upyr in a great battle.” She found her object, a long metal case with ornate runic markings all over the top, bottom and sides. This was not locked, but it had buckle-like closures at three points along one side. Renita undid these with ease, as if with long practice, and gently eased the case to an open state.
“Hann tyne, beautiful.”
Inside it, secured by two black tye-tyes and reposed against a formed cushion of plush burgundy fabric, was some form of sword, which gleamed brightly in the fiery light from the relic lantern. In spite of themselves, Wayloch and Daralya found themselves physically drawn in towards it. Renita picked up the case with some delicacy and placed it on the hardpack raithen floor, now crouching again.
“It’s amazing!” Daralya intoned, her voice only now musical and melodious again, after almost an hayure of disturbance and monotony. “I’ve never seen a single sword like it. It is some sort of sword, isn’t it?” Wayloch just stared, the thing reflected deeply in his sapphire-blue eyes like an optical illusion.
Renita looked back and up at them, smiling only with her narrowed and bejeweled eyes like a truly affectionate pet. She suddenly seemed to the other young heroine and hero to be very tranquil and in a state of utter peace. “It is indeed. This is one of the legendary Pyrian Blades. It’s a weapon designed specifically to kill upyrs. Wally… Darry… meet Tethrayl. The God’s Tooth. Aaaand now I have to go get into my noctunic.”