The Candle People/ Sci-Friday
The Candle People
I was home at the time. So was my father, and Elis, my sister. Mother was visiting our closest neighbours, some three days north, to borrow some sugar, delaying the cup of tea I had standing on the sink by upwards of a week.
To take my mind off the tea I went to see about the rumours of these damn candle people straying closer to our home. Elis insisted on coming with me. She’d often dealt with fey, and while the candle people certainly aren’t fey, I’d feel better for having Elis with her sharp wit and silver sword with me in the search of the vast, strange, ancient forest which surged around our family home.
We spent a day and a night searching, without luck. The second night we camped on a rocky ledge peering as a granite island over the sea of trees extending in every direction around us. We sat on our bedding while the colour drained from the sky and night fell upon us, a soft, cool wind churning the higher branches of the trees, so indeed the forest moved like the restless surface of the ocean.
Night is the best time to hunt the candle people. And night is when they are at their most terrifying.
We sat there that night, Elis on watch, me drinking wine from a goblet enchanted to be unbreakable* and reading to Elis from a small hide-bound book I’d found whilst abroad. Elis didn’t much care for tales of romance between gents, but she would do her best to enjoy it, as it was damn well all we had.
One moment we were sitting there, the cool wind licking our boots, and the next, the next, my words fell loud and flat as the wind fell still. A stirring in my marrow prompted me to guzzle down what wine was left in my goblet, and read a little faster, because we were up to the good bit and there would be no distractions from that.
“And Senaius leant into me, and brought his lips up to mine, so that our moustaches tangled-”
“Charl.” Elis’s voice was urgent and full of warning.
“Don’t fight it, Elis. You’ll like it eventually, it’s an acquired taste. Senaius growled-”
Elis hissed, “Not that, you dolt. I see them. The candle people.”
I dropped the book to my bed and was immediately by her side. I followed her gaze out over the treetops, and though the cloak of night robbed us of a horizon, I saw in the very great distance a light, then many lights. A trail of them. Wan, and amber, and drifting from cave mouths lost to the night, punctured into some black unseen slope, a giant’s staircase of eroding slate reaching into the dank swirling vortex of the fitful clouds above us.
“It’s far,” I cautioned Elis, seeing her clutch the silver hilt of her sword. “We won’t make it tonight.”
She nodded, her eyes never leaving the faint lights now cascading down the remote hidden mountain. I counted a dozen, then fifty, a hundred. The strange candle people, with their bowls of burning oil carried atop their flat heads. In the day their moulting olive skin hid them perfectly in the forest, but in the night they were a beacon, a river, a flood of alienness across the sleeping land.
And though we did not know it then, they were a herald, of war.
Baron Charl Groan of the Barren Green, freelance adventurer and international man of mystery. He has a curly moustache and a hammy way of speaking. While he’s usually out travelling the world in search of adventurer, here he shares a little of his ridiculous home life in the Barren Green. It’s a bit fantasy. It’s a bit swashbuckling. It’s a bit Jonathan Ross. Anyway, it’s been swirling around my head and now it’s swirling around your screen, so that’s a happy transition.
Listen up, chaps! On Saturday, or possibly Friday depending on where in the world you are (Carmen Sandiago), we’re having a bit of a drink and some music and some really wonderful entertainment. The fantastic Anna Herlihy has agreed to let me feature her story, Clarity, and I’m hoping to add some more to the line-up as well. We’ll have a great bash with some choice science fiction. D. James, I hope you’ll be part of this too. I’ve run a few features and fingers crossed I’ve learnt from it. There’s some damn good science fiction out there and it’s begging to be taken advantage of.
So whatever you’re doing on Saturday, don’t. Well, go and buy Pokemon X and/or Y, but then come back to your computer or your phone and have a rousing time with us. Stories, drinking and music. It will be just like the 1920s, except on a space ship.
If you’re wondering: Pokemon X, starting with Froakie, then going with Charmander for that sweet, sweet Mega Charizard X. Also Noivern, because yes.
Posted on October 8, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged candle people, fantasy, fantasy writing, fiction, monster story, night, pokemon x, saturday, sci-friday, science fiction, science fiction writing, serial fiction, short story, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.