Soul Balance

Ed DeMichaelis, Staff Writer

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Issue 1

Discovery

Prologue

In a world where murder, crime, and monster attacks are part of the daily grind, you can probably guess that the ones pulling the strings have become very desperate for entertainment. They watch as the mortal realm crumbles to what they once held deep underground. But how long does it take to get boring once again and go back to a world where war is the only violence to worry about? Only a mere 100,000 deaths from a war, an insignificant number, not even a third of a single orc raid. War has others cleaving and stabbing one another. Then take a colossus, a stone and earthen giant, which sucks the skin off of a living victim before swallowing the poor soul whole to be burned by stomach fluid. Just tell which one is a worse way to go?

Start of Issue 1

The group trudged onward, sweaty and tired. There were nothing but hilly plains and a dense forest to the far right. The rumors of the demon attack had to have been true. Lumber Fall was ripped apart. The weakest, the newest of the gang of the Blood Blade plunderers, could  barely keep up with the ones carrying the weapons. The leader of the Blood Blades scowled as he looked forward at the path ahead. He rode a horse stolen from a stable. The man was huge with bulging arms and chest, very short blond hair, and a face that said, “ I have an army, move or we’ll tear you to pieces.” Over the horizon, they still saw smoke drifting into the air.

Once they reached the source of the smoke, they stood in awe at the giant mound of charcoal. Nothing remained from the fire. The leader turned to the crowd and yelled at the top of his lungs.

“Start digging!” He continued in a booming voice, “I didn’t come all the way here for nothing.”

Without any hesitation, the men scrambled for the shovels on the backs of the donkeys. Anyone who was too slow dug with their bare hands. Charcoal went everywhere; foot after foot was put into separate piles. The leader yelled at them all as they worked. Hours went by, and the last shovelful was all that was left. Nothing was recovered, and the leader was furious. He yanked the spade from the hands of the man next to him and drove it into the pathetic pile of ash, only for it to stop in its tracks and hit something hard.

The huge beast of a man’s rage was doubled. He could break bone and rocks with his bear hands but not a lump in the ground. He struck the ground over and over again to no other outcome. The now broken spade was flung to the side. The only noise was the sound of heavy breathing of rage. All of the other men watched in fear, covered in soot. Their leader plunged his hands into the soft ground then grasped the lump that had been the source of his anger.

The thing was flung through the air as the weak and panting new recruit leaped out of the way. The men all shared a mental sigh of relief, as the small young man was not hurt. Then something caught their eyes. A red glow came from the rock that was in the ground. The recruit lifted himself to his feet and slowly walked over to it and stared at the large vein-like structure on the circular stone. It pulsated and gave off a sinister light with every pump.

The now cooled off leader yelled at the scrawny excuse of a man, “You, what’s your name again?”

“Arthur, Mr. Fortuc,” he said in a small yet firm voice. “You want me to pick it up, correct, sir?”

“What else would I ask you to do, maggot!” Fortuc turned red once again.

Arthur saw this and quickly grabbed the rock and lifted it up to his chest. It was the heaviest thing he had ever lifted. The light was blinding from the short distance away from his face.

 

Night had fallen, and Fortuc ordered the men to set up camp near the site. None but Fortuc got any food. He claimed they didn’t work hard enough to earn it. The field was riddled with small tents with one large one in the center. Arthur was on the outskirts of the circle and was a good ten feet away from the outer rim. He lay awake, staring at the strange rock. He was allowed to keep it for himself. Fortuc said it was just some garbage left behind from the Eldrics. He hated the thought of people smarter than he was. This was especially the case for the race that died out thousands of years ago.

Arthur let out a sigh and looked up at the moons, blue and red respectively. He waited patiently for the moons to cross, like they did once every year. Arthur started to drift to sleep, slowly closing his eyes. Only a glimpse of purple was witnessed before he finally fell to bed.

 

Arthur jolted up and knocked over his pathetic tent. Images of the nightmare still flashing in his head. Fire, as far as the eye could see. Endless pain for all beings. Arthur was sweating. His breathing was heavy, but he began to come to his senses. He fell back in relief of being anywhere else than that place.

The sun had risen. He stretched his arms out. His hand scraped on the rigid rock and tore the skin. He felt the small wound drip, nothing that hadn’t happened before. Arthur turned his attention to the jagged rock. He was shocked. There was no glow, and now there was a huge crack down the middle. He watched in awe as his drop of blood slithered into the crack, disappeared, and split the crack enough to peer inside. Arthur slowly moved his face over the cavity. He had never seen anything like it. It was an egg made of stone.

Arthur grabbed the shell with its contents from the ground. He ran as fast as he could toward the center of the tents. He burst through the sheets that acted as a door and was instantly scolded.

“What gives you the right to just blast in here? ” yelled Fortuc. “You are so inconsiderate. I give you food, water, and shelter, and you strip me of privacy.”

This, of course, was not true. All the recruits supported themselves. The only thing he gave anyone was small amounts of money for hard work.

Arthur cowardly held up the geode and said, “Look, look at this.” He held it up to the now curious Fortuc.

He peered into it and sneered, “What is this abomination?”

“It’s some sort of baby, sir.”

Fortuc leaned toward Arthur. The look on his face was one of hatred, “Then its name is Scratore.”

Arthur stood up straight and said firmly, “He, not it… sir,” he stated. “Oh, and… what does Scratore mean?”

Fortuc scowled and spat out the words, “Scaled freak.”

Attention all artists!

Want to see your art on the cover of the next part?

Just post your work in the comments and get recognition

and a quote if you want. Be sure to put your name, grade, and

optional message. Remember that you can only submit one

piece per issue. Be seen as a master artist, or choose to remain

anonymous.

Good luck

 

P.S. Students aren’t the only ones who can participate.

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Soul Balance