NaNoWriMo is upon us again, and what better arbitrary excuse do I have to get my creative butt in gear and make strides towards my dream of writing fiction? Hopefully many, by the time I'm done here!
I'll keep this prelude brief, but for a little bit of context -- I am using this event as an exercise to get myself to commit more narratives to digital paper, to see how close I can get to the event's standard goal of 50K words. I'm not going to give this series as rigorous an editing process as I do with most other things, as my objective is to spend less time worrying about how PERFECT my ideas are and more time actually creating things... so be prepared for a few flubs. More flubs than my last creative writing blog had, anyway.
The idea is that this story is one of a few passion projects I've let simmer in my mind for some time, but have never committed to actually creating. So, hecking... I'm tell this story, one chapter at a time! Whenever I post a chapter on the blog here, I'm considering it and its word count set in stone. I don't even expect to hit 50K words, and that's not the point -- I just want to improve my fiction-smithing ethic and actually get stuff out there!
So, without further adeiu, let's get the props in place for today's shenanigans~
Chapter 1: Vigilance
Two armies lined up against the outskirts of the kingdom. Thousands of soldiers of the Knights of Armergida pointed their weapons out from the border, basking in the shadows of a handful of giant beasts whose skin glimmered with the same make as their infantry’s ivory armor. Hundreds of maomaoian invaders raised spears of fang and bone with a snarling battle cry.
With a flutter of my wings I leapt onto a nearby amaryllis, yanking off one of its petals for a quick snack.
The maomaoians trampled over squadrons of infantry with their sheer size, only to be rapidly overwhelmed by their numbers. The still yet more imposing commander-beasts howled viciously, mobilizing their forces as their bodies hummed with light and power.
I nibbled a little at the flower’s stem. It tasted sweeter than the petal, oddly enough.
The battle was waged just like any other maomaoian invasion defense. The proud kaijufolk commanders stayed behind their vanguards of smallfolk and lesser kaijufolk, invoking their explosive powers to lay seige from a safe distance. Commanders who were not blessed with the literal ability to fire explosions had instead armed themselves mostly with oversized ballistas mounted upon their wrists like arbalests. The maomaoians gathered around crowds of knights and ferociously batted them about with blades and fangs, only to be swarmed from all sides by heavy-armored infantry.
I was starting to wonder why they bothered to hire me to play scout. Supposedly, this tribe of maomaoians had been seen consorting with foreign powers. Yet I saw no foreign banner. Heck, all of the maomaoian’s troops were native feline folk -- not any other races in their ranks. At least, not any I could make out in the literal army, but any half-notable power’s commanders would stand several heads taller than the maomaoians. Maybe I was wasting my time.
After stuffing myself with a couple more leaves, I turned the battle towards my back and I marched back down my hill to find another vantage point. But I stumbled a bit. A heavy rumbling tossed myself off balance. I felt a heavy thumping of footsteps, far closer than the distant shouts and stampedes of the warfare behind me. From the opposite direction, actually. It was in front of me, concealed in the thickets of forests.
A couple of maomaoian lions pushed aside the branches at their heads, oblivious to my tiny presence as they motioned back inside the thicket. They marched past me and took position at the flower I abandoned, yet the rumbling still rolled closer. A pointed metal spike emerged from the forest’s depths. Then a curved wooden hemicircle. A spiderskein spring. Ornate woodcraft. And the unlucky cat tasked with moving this ballista by his lonesome, muttering curses against cumbersome Katacalisan engineering.
I stretched my arms and cracked my knuckles. My job had begun.
I approached the ballista through the thickets of grass as my cover. My adrenaline had started to surge against my own control -- and the maomaoians took notice of my aura’s increasing presence, as they suddenly grew alert in the relative silence of the hill. They darted their eyes across the hill, but knew not how to pinpoint my presence amongst their own. To eyes like theirs, my wings appeared no different than a stray leaf caught in the wind.
I clambered hastily aboard the weapon, wringing my hand around the ballista ‘s spring. Too strong to tear apart by my tiny hands. It was worth a shot -- I didn’t really like getting directly involved in fights against the maomaoians. But my big hands were needed for the job.
I leapt into the air and roared ferociously, cracks of light forming on my carapace as I fluttered higher and higher. The lions, naturally, noticed the obnoxiously glowing butterfly that hovered just above their payload, and thrust a spear out at me.
Their spear was deflected off course by the explosion of chitinous dust that flew out from me, rapidly enveloping the area in an ephemeral storm of evaporating glitter. Their arbalest was consumed within the blinding cloud, quickly abandoned by its escort.
I sprawled my massive wings out from the cloud, and cleared the air with a single flap, allowing my assailants a good look at my kaiju form… and a split-second glance at the empire’s arbalest before I slammed it down atop them like an improvised maul. Rubble clouded the scene again as the siege bow collapsed into splinters and scraps. The warriors furiously rallied themselves against me. I struck back using my larger upper arms to overwhelm them with brute strength from on high. Their spears jabbed and prodded into my lower torso, which my smaller lower arms could not deflect so easily. But for every few hits they would land against me, I would rake them with claws thick enough to snap trees in hakf. I might have accidentally knocked down a tree or two in the ruckus of the fight, that would explain the splinter I had later that day.
As my rivals recognized my size advantage, they called for a coordinated strike, charging at me from all directions. I growled calmly, and crystals of black glass propped up in a broad circle around me, right in front of all of their feet. All of them tripped meters before me, allowing me to sidestep with a heavier roar. A massive pillar of obsidian crystallized in my upper-left hand, and I brought it down upon their pile with a thunderous crash.
The dust cleared again. The sounds of the hill were once again deafened by the distant battle. My skirmish had concluded.
I looked down at the thicket again, finding a familiar bumblebee and beetle flying towards my wrist.
“Don’t mind me,” I nodded at the two of them. “Feilit, mobilize the caravan. There must be more of these snipers moving into position,” I ordered, picking up a broken imperial emblem atop the arbalest’s rubble.
“On it,” the bumblebee responded, stealthily buzzing back over the woods. I turned back towards my wrist to find the beetle had already left it, his aura hovering over the arbalest’s wreckage instead.
“Hmmm… I can only make a vague estimate with this mangled pile of junk,” he informed my not-so-architecturally inclined mind. “But it looks like the ammunition was coated with a potent venom. It might even come from the imperial generals’ own fangs. Judging the vantage point, the length of the spring, and the scarce ammunition, it appears this was meant to snipe the Armergidan commanders.”
“Thank you, Noach. I’m reporting this to the general immediately. They’ll want to know the Katacalisan Empire’s up to shenanigans with the maomaoians.”
Reverting to the same inches-tall height as my friends, I took to the skies on my wings. The battlefield grew quieter underneath me as I hastily darted towards the campsite sitting on the outskirts of Armergida…
+1148 WORDS GET!
WORD BANK: 1148