Chapter 1 - revised
A vast desert was lit brightly by the moons that evening - three moons to be exact. A shade of purple, blue, and white illuminates rows upon rows of sand. The wind was blowing mildly that evening and with it lay a familiar scent. Eli was about to enter their house before hesitating for a moment. Her hand was almost at the handle when it suddenly opened.
“Welcome home mom”, said White - a young female wolf was smiling at Elizabeth as it greeted her at their doorstep. “Grey cooked for us tonight. Black and I set up the tables.”
Elizabeth patted her daughter’s head. She kneeled for a moment - looking at her daughter’s innocent round eyes. She returned a bittersweet smile - embraced her before letting go. She walked away.
“White, dinner’s ready”, said Black, running to the doorstep expecting to see their mother. He’s a young male wolf - ten years of age, the same as her sister and brother - Grey. All three of them got their blood from their father’s side. Elizabeth’s human while her children were wolves. The young wolves looked outside. They cannot see nor feel their mother’s presence.
Later that evening, the children enjoyed Grey’s cooking. White did the dishes as Black cleaned the dining room. Their grandfather quietly sips away his after-meal tea. Their mother, Elizabeth, did not return early that night.
Elizabeth and her family are currently the head in charge of a town - stationed between a vast desert and a huge forest. Their town was nothing but small. It was composed of five villages, distanced from each other - connected by walls. It serves as a base of operations, an outpost - between what lies beyond the desert and the forest.
Guarding above the walls were mostly adult anthropomorphic wolves, wearing wooden armor. They were already on high alert as Elizabeth climbed the stairs to meet with the guard’s captain. Their captain was a huge boar standing on its two feet, with huge protruding tusks, with a lot of facial piercings and earrings - equipped with a large wooden shield on its back.
“Archers on the ready. Shielders in front. Maintain vigilance on land and in the sky.” The captain was giving out orders as Elizabeth carefully sneaked in so as not to disturb their rankings.
“Steel, what’s the situation?” Eli asked the commanding officer.
“Glad to have you here, Eli. A group of marauders was spotted three kilometers away northeast. We’ve counted twelve suits and three aerial ships. They are currently in a battle with the ants. We are hoping you could relay a message to the Queen to keep her bees on standby above the town.”
Captain Steel took out a monocular and handed it to Elizabeth. He urged her to have a look at the situation from afar.
“Have you found any signs of the fabric collapsing?” Captain Steel asked Elizabeth.
“Sad to say but none so far … The Queen will have already noticed if the ants are in battle. Her swarms are probably on their way . . . I’m guessing I’ll be coming home late again . . . (sigh)”
Elizabeth handed back the monocular to Captain Steel. She quickly raised a finger in the air - slightly above her shoulders. Four shadowy figures appeared behind her kneeling - each clad in black silk clothing. Their faces were covered with masks to not show their identities.
“Oh, by the way, Steel. Do not alert father tonight. It’s story night, you see. We do not want our kids to miss out on having some fun times.”
“If you say so, Eli. But . . . are you sure? I mean, the chief could probably . . .”
“Absolutely - do not tell father.” Elizabeth stared down at Steel forcing him to back down. She did not want to take away precious time from her kids to their grandfather.
The four units, together with Elizabeth, stood atop the wooden walls’ edges. They spread open their wings simultaneously alerting onlookers. The veteran guards on alert were not new to this scene for they have all witnessed it before. Some recruits, however, were taken aback, in awe of what they were seeing. They were allusive.
Elizabeth and her units are from a clan of the highest order on their planet - Sky. Some of their elites appear to be humans while the majority are a type of anthropomorphic race of winged creatures. Their planet named after them - Planet Sky, is governed by several powerful individuals commanding various races of insects and animals. All fall under one religion - and the Sky tribe is at its head.
“Praise be to God.” Elizabeth gave a bow to the captain.
“May God praise us.” The captain returned her blessings.
Elizabeth and her units flew into the sky to search for the fabric collapse and end the battle before it escalated further into town. She thought of how her son’s cooking would taste that night as she was feeling conflicted between her duty as a mother and her duty to their God.
Later that night, kids of different races would come to sit with the village chief. They gathered in a fire-lit living room. It was the town children’s routine, to listen to stories told by elders. The wolf's elder, the sage, was among their favorite storytellers.
“Once upon a time, when our God was still young, our world was full of endless green. Vast forests, never-ending rivers, and tall mountains. There were four moons that time and dragons roamed in the vast open sky . . .”
“Boo…”, children booing interrupted the sage’s monologue.
“We all know the history, gramps, can we move on to the heroes, please? Tell us more about the heroes”, exclaimed a young wolf - Grey.
“Yes! Yes! Tell us more of the heroes”, seconded by a cute small sheep.
“Please!” all the children were in unison pleading with the elderly to change the topic.
The sage gave in to their pleading. Most of the children are composed of little pigs while some have horns like goats, cows, and sheep. Among the crowd of children were three wolves - Black, White, and Grey. They were all anthropomorphic animals belonging to the town’s variety of animal residents.
Different anthropomorphic races all live peacefully in the town. They all live in the town bordering the forest and desert. The nearest lake where they mainly get their fresh supply of water was due west, inside the forest. Their main food sources are farming, gathering, and fishing. Their houses are mostly made from wood with a foundation built by stacking stones and clays. Their roofs are made of dried stringed leaves.
“Be quiet younglings. If it's not for God, we would not be alive anymore.” The sage paused and sighed looking defeated as the young villagers looked at him with esteemed eyes.
“Oh well, I guess the story of our mighty God will be for some other time then. Hmm… which hero would you like to hear then?” asked the sage. Each child quickly raised their hands - asking for their favorite stories.
“I want to hear the story of the lost dragon.”
“I want to know about the forbidden forest where the majestic spider lives.”
“Ooh mine, I would like to hear more about Killah - the giant whale”, asked a young piglet. “He can devour thousands of fish with his big mouth.. and…and…and,” asked away by a piglet as he drools in his mouth.
“All you think about is food, silly. As for us girls, we would like to hear the alliance of the queens.”
“You all know the queens are all bugs, right?”, asked Grey.
“Nah ah, Grr, even though they're bugs they all are majestic”, all the girls glared at Grey with fiery eyes. Defeated, Grey slumped in a corner tucked his tail in between his legs.
“Settle down children”, exclaimed the elder. “Instead of those you already knew, why don’t I tell you about the hero of the desert? It's a super secret story known only by few.”
“Oooh” all the children suddenly sat closer to the sage. All attention is on him since they have not yet heard about this super secret story. Only the wolves among them were not as eager for they had all heard the story from their mother.
“...there was a huge explosion of dust and smoke all around the battlefield. The air was stifling with the stench of blood - both from the God templars and the invading marauders. The marauders were powerful - templars fell one by one as a rain of metal spears came crashing from the sky. The marauders' metal spears explode when in contact with our templar’s shields. Their metal arrows were so small and fast and were too many . . . ”
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
BBB RRRTT! BBB RRRTTT! BBB RRRTT!
Elizabeth and her squad were dodging machine gun bullets and intercepting missiles with her units - throwing small objects to missiles to trigger them out of range. The marauders’ flying vehicles relentlessly chased them as they - were also being chased by a swarm of giant winged ants.
Elizabeth did not engage the marauders in battle because the number of giant ants in pursuit was growing by the minute. The remaining numbers of marauders were desperate. They need to stop Elizabeth’s squad from reaching the fabric collapse. Once the collapse is closed - there will be no hope for the marauder’s reinforcements and no way for them to return. They were entities that came entirely from another world.
BBB RRRTT! BBB RRRTTT! BBB RRRTT!
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Elizabeth was through. She had successfully reached the fabric collapse. Her squad quickly falls into formation as they guard her against incoming projectiles and enemies. She reached for a device in her inventory to seal the collapse. It took mere seconds for the fabric to close. They successfully sealed the fate of the remaining marauders.
“We’re falling back.”
Their mission was accomplished. Elizabeth left the remaining troops of the marauders to the giant ants. Their demise was inevitable. As the ants were having a feast with the marauder’s remains, Eli thought of her kids at home enjoying their dinner. She also thought of her husband and eldest son’s journey - if they were also eating properly.
As she flew across the desert, she saw how beautiful the moons were lit and how the sands of the desert sparkled in different hues. Elizabeth flew westwards, where a huge tree majestically stood overlooking the canopy. Its branches swayed as if speaking to her - urging for her return. Its leaves sparkle while being brightly lit by the moon’s grace as if welcoming her with arms wide open.
She felt nostalgic as she remembered the days she spent living peacefully within the tree. A solemn vow she would also want to give to her children - to her precious family.
Elizabeth and her crew were closing in on the town. Thankful for their safety, she prayed. She hopes that one day, her whole family will share meals as one.
“. . . our claws and fangs cannot even scratch these red giants.” Back in the town. the sage continued with his stories.
“The marauder’s red giant suits are what made them tough and nimble. They also came with huge flying boats, and from their inside, swarms of small flying objects littered the sky. The marauders were heavily armed and their armies had ten times the number of templar knights.”
“. . . but the templar - even outnumbered, are not afraid, for they are with God. Armed with God’s blessings, these marauders' arrows and spears did not even dent the templar’s shields - while the templars dealt huge damage to the marauders. The spears given by God can punch a hole in these red giant suits - falling one giant after another . . . and another . . . soon the marauders’ lines collapsed . . . arrows made from God shattered their flying boats - one by one - as scraps and pieces kept falling from the sky . . . ”
“Wa-wait, gramps!. . but . . . are we talking about God again?”, out of curiosity, a kid raised his hand to interrupt the sage’s storytelling.
“We all know God’s templars were bad-ass but, where’s the hero?”, another kid asked.
“Tell us about the hero gramps”, the children all followed through.
“Shush, be quiet younglings. Our God is the mightiest. That is what I want you all to instill in those little heads of yours. . . “
“Praise be to God”, the sage suddenly raised both of his hands, looked up at the sky then knelt as if wanting to test the children’s reaction. He glanced a peek at them - realizing what they had to do - all were following his lead - kneeling then praying.
The inhabitants of the town are very religious. Elders of the town are in charge of educating the children about their traditions and religion. Their ancestors built the town in honor of their God. It was their sacred duty to expand God’s dominion and its teachings.
“Without the mightiest of God's blessings, there is no hero. Without God, there is no hero. The hero only became the hero because of God. . . and so . . . the hero’s name . . . (cough) the hero was called . . . Fury”, continued the sage. The children’s enthusiasm reached its peak for they had never heard about the story of Fury. They inched closer to the sage - left the three wolves at the back. The wolves have already known Fury’s story.
“. . . Fury was the mightiest of all. He ran on all fours across the battlefield. He neither carries a shield nor a spear for he has the power to be one with God. Fury can transform into a mystical beast.
“. . . his fangs can pierce any metal. One swing of his mighty claws can tear the enemies’ weapons and armor. His powerful swings can even create winds - shockwaves so strong that he can create powerful tornadoes. His fur cannot be harmed easily by the spears and arrows of the marauders. Fury can jump so high as if he was flying and … BOOM!” The children were surprised when the sage suddenly increased his voice.
“. . . creating explosions when he lands on the ground, defeating the most number of enemies, turning them into scraps. . . Truly a beast made by God on the battlefield, but ...
“. . . Fury was heavily wounded and died right after the war ended. The end.”
The children looked confused at the sudden ending of the story. They had never expected that a great hero would never be seen again unlike the present heroes they all knew that still lived. Most of the heroes they know of in stories and tales from travelers are still alive while some have mysteriously vanished. This was the first time that they heard about a hero’s death.
“He left a message though”, the sage looked at each child as they waited in hope that Fury’s death may have meaning.
“God is great! Praise be to God”
The crowd of children all kneeled silently, raised their hands, looked up, and finally put their heads down on the floor above their crossed palms, praying solemnly.
“Good night children. Be sure to grow well. . . and be nice ok?”
“Good night gramps! See ya.”
The town children went home. Elizabeth’s kids helped clean the place of their grandfather as they got ready to settle in for the night. She had still to arrive home.
“Gramps, I have been wondering all the time. If God was so great, why did he let Fury die?” Black asked as they were being tucked into bed.
“That’s a dumb question, bro”, said Grey, his brother. “We do not die. We respawn.”
“That’s the famous line of the Queens silly.”, said White. “I wonder if mom will be home soon?”
“Quiet now young ones, I believe your mom will be home soon. . . And as I have said again and again, even though how mighty we can be and how wise we become, we cannot understand God for we are not worthy, Black.”
“But why did God give Fury power if only to let him die?”
“Do you believe in God? Black?”
“Yes. I do believe - I mean - we could all see the world tree, right?” answered Black hesitatingly.
“We can all see God’s symbol way beyond here - that is - indeed correct. We could all see the world tree standing great - even greater than mountains. It is an undeniable symbol that our God exists. But, what if - that the tree dies?” His grandfather continued asking.
Black felt silent as he thought of what to answer next.
“I will forever believe in God, grandfather. Mom always told me stories about how she lived with God when she was still young. Even if the tree dies, our mother will not lie to us - God is real”, answered White, sitting on the bed puffing her small hairy white chest.
Grey just silently nodded.
“Good answer White. Your mother was sent here by God and your father and brother are on a pilgrim - a journey towards God. They too will soon meet with God. And when you three grow up and are ready, you will also receive from God ... I hope then - you all find your answers.”
“What does God look like, gramps? Did God give you any blessings?” asked Grey.
“Ha ha ha. I believe God can look like whatever God wants to look like. Oh, and by the way, God gave me a wooden mystery box.” Their grandfather chuckled.
“Wow! So God definitely exists if God gives away blessings, right Black? I hope I’ll get cool sets of armor and weapons. So I can protect the village like mom and gramps”, said Grey.
“Why not ask for a beast power too? So you could be a hero and die on a glorious battlefield.” Black answered back.
Grey was unable to make a verbal comeback to Black’s retort. He sat on the bed and aimed to punch Black when their grandfather stopped them. White was also aiming to slap Black’s back - wanting to jolt their brother’s pessimism.
“Enough of that. You three should go to sleep or else.”
The children went back to bed. Their grandfather tucked them in and silently walked away from the room. Black had many questions he wants to be answered - about their religion, their town being in the desert, the marauders - who and what were they after?
Black was staring blankly at the ceiling thinking to himself when a small voice broke his line of thought. He felt a warm hand stroking his forehead.
“Even if God does not exist, Mother will always be here for you ... goodnight my children.”
Eli came mysteriously as she also left the room in total silence. Black felt blessed to have a mother as caring and loving as theirs. He stopped asking questions and went back to sleep.
It was late in the evening. The sage was brewing a drink when Elizabeth came into their kitchen. Eli grabbed some leftovers and sat down with her father-in-law. She was meticulously scanning the kitchen - the floor, the table, the utensils, the sink - all were properly in place.
Eli happily chewed her food - savoring its every delight. She’s feeling proud of her children for finally taking good care of the place while she’s away on duty. They were becoming more responsible by the day.
Not too long ago, she had to do house chores after work. Her eldest son did not do his chores often, and her husband was working shifts. The three children were still toddlers who always - always made her daily life more challenging. And when the year came when her husband and eldest son both became pilgrims, her remaining three children stepped up.
Elizabeth clapped her hands after she finished her meal - satisfied. She prayed and thanked God for the meal. As she was taking the dishes into the sink, the drink her father-in-law was brewing was done.
“Leave those dishes at the sink. Your children will do them in the morning.” The sage suggested to Eli.
Eli refused, “No father. I am still their mother. I must always set an example for them to follow.”
“Still strict to yourself as ever eh? Anyways . . I’ll take these with me downstairs.”
“Yes, father. I’ll be there once I finish these.”
The sage went ahead to the living room. Beneath it - a secret passage that leads to their house basement. He brought with him the drink he just made and some condiments. He set up the table for drinks, teacups, and plates. Elizabeth went down not a moment too soon.
Inside the basement were a desk and chair, a sofa, a table for tea with chairs, and on the corner - a mysterious wooden box. There were also books lined up neatly on the wooden shelves. Beside it was a stacking cabinet for documents. On the other side of the wall was a network of tree roots conspicuously embedded.
The sage sat on one of the chairs at the tea table. Elizabeth went to the desk to get a small rectangular box - within it, a black needle wrapped nicely with silk cloth. She sat beside her father-in-law. They both drank their respective drinks - it was for the sage to revert to his roots while for Eli to numb the pain.
Eli felt euphoria as she stood beside the wall covered in roots. She took the needle - nailed the back of her left hand to the roots. The needle impaled - her bleeding left hand. The roots covering the wall eerily crawled and wrapped around her bleeding left hand. Thoughts and voices quickly went into her mind. Her being was virtually transported to another dimension while her physical body remained stuck to the wall.
The place was overflowing with nature. The light was always illuminating the place despite there being no sun. The skies are blue with various shapes of white fluffy clouds surfing across it. The greenlit field was decorated with intricately designed rows of flowers and plant sculptures. At the center of the field stood an open-air teahouse - where a young beautiful girl awaits Elizabeth’s arrival.
The first chapter of the novel. Hope I can finish the story before I die. For now, enjoy. Will be releasing monthly new chapters.