This story is set in my fantasy world:
The Iron Realm
Here's a brief overview of the races in the story, (I shall release more info about the Iron Realm and it's lore in the future)
The beast-folk of the south. With the figure of a man, and the features of a cat, the Nemean are a vicious race. They dwell in the uncharted lands to the south, split into different tribes, the Tribes of the Jungle, the Tribes of the Plains, and the Tribes of the Mountains. They date centuries back and had never encountered humans until recently, when the Imperials started sending out explorers.
The Imperials are one of the greatest human nations dwelling in the Iron Realm. An explorative and militairy-based nation, they are often sending out warriors that never return. Considred relatively new to the Iron Realm, they do not know much of it's dangers.
I know that wasn't much, but hopefully it was enough to get you on the right track. Anyway here's the story- (Incomplete). It's very early and I've only done light ediiting, I haven't been working on it recently but that may or may not change depending on the feedback given.
Marko scanned the barren land around him. On the horizon he could see a wall of mountains; a lush forest; a faint blue line that couldve been the sea. The plain he was riding on looked like it had been abandoned for centuries. The ground was constructed of cracked slabs of rock and the air was choked with the taste of dirt.
His horse let out a sharp shriek and trotted about awkwardly on the spot, it was shivering- even in the heat of the boiling sun, and its eyes were wide open in fright. Marko stroked his horses mane and whispered in its ear. Its alright, boy, its alright…
He couldnt blame the horse, the place gave him the shivers too. The dry ground below them was shrouded in mist, giving him the feeling that they were being watched.
The Commander, looking back at his soldiers, noticed his mens exhaustion. Their horses were run down and battered from carrying his mens load, and they desperately needed rest.
Alright, soldiers, He commanded, time to set camp, this land is tough, we must get as much rest as we can. He took a swig from his water flask and jumped off of his horse. His boots sent up tiny clouds of dust when they hit the ground.
This was the Land of the Nemean, a harsh place where no man should be, Marko sometimes wondered why he was there himself.
Marko lay wide awake on an uncomfortable and very dirty mattress. From the light of the dying embers of the campfire and the stars above, he could see his fellow soldiers sound asleep. The horses were tied to a wooden post jammed into the dehydrated ground. Marko gazed at the stars, wondering.
Why did they send us out here? Cant we humans just keep to our own territory?
Marko tried to stay awake, scribbling frantically in his diary, but soon the words blurred and seemed to merge into one. Marko placed the diary on the dusty ground by his armour and slowly fluttered into a deep sleep.
The humans reigned in the north, always wondering to themselves what lay beyond their lands, further south. The humans had heard tales of ferocious beasts that ruled the land to the south, the Nemean, they called them. It was said they had the body of a man and the head of a beast, but then again, they were only rumors.
It was only a matter of time before the humans started to send out soldiers to explore the uncharted lands to the south, in hope to establish contact with the supposed Nemean, but they were oh so wrong.
Marko was and Imperial soldier, he was one of the first to be sent to explore the southern lands, or as they would later be called: The Land of the Nemean.
This is Markos tale.
Marko awoke and a bright light flooded into his eyes. The sun was already high in the sky and cooking the soldiers half to death. Soldiers were stumbling all around Marko, lugging their belongings and fastening them tightly to their horses. Marko stood and started to roll and tie up his mattress, it was covered in dirt and dust.
His stomach let out a violent rumble and Marko realized his extreme hunger. A soldier known as Aden was tending to his horse, but soon looked up and seemed to notice Marko and his grumbling stomach.
He had strong, wide features and his black hair was pulled back into a spiky ponytail. He had a long scar stretching across his face and a black goatee stuck to his chin.
Marko, youre up! Aden said, Marko rubbed his stomach, motioning his hunger to Aden. Oh, Im sorry you missed out on breakfast, I tried to wake you but you wouldnt budge.
It shouldnt matter, Marko replied, I can live with skipping one or two breakfasts… His stomach let out another loud growl.
Aden bent down and picked up Markos tabard, shoving it forward into Markos hands.
Get ready, were setting out soon. Marko removed his shirt, his back was scarred from many fights. He slipped on a thin blue top, and over the top of that a chainmail shirt, the tiny metal rings clinking as he put it on. Next he let his deep green tabard fall over his torso, in the centre of the tabard was a stylized silver sword.
After putting on his silver shoulder pads and other assorted pieces of armour over the top, Marko felt heavy and worn out already, this was no place to be wearing four layers of clothing.
Marko walked over to his horse with his helmet under his arm, his long brown hair was sticking to his hot forehead and his stubble was growing wildly out of control, getting uneven and prickly like the hide of a porcupine.
He strapped down his gear to his saddle and checked the ropes again, his horse let out a small whinny and snorted out of its flaring nostrils as Marko climbed aboard its back.
Marko was cooking inside his helmet, the angry sun beat down at him like a dragons fiery breath. He lifted his helmet and hung it off his saddle, wiping the hot sweat from his brow.
Ready your horses, soldiers! The commander shouted. A whipping sound filled the air as the soldiers pulled their reigns tight. Now, we ride!
Marko kicked the horses chestnut underbelly with the corner of his armoured boot; the horses reared up in a mix of fury and excitement, it flailed its front legs in the air and landed on the ground with a dusty thump, almost throwing Marko to the ground. Marko flicked his reigns, the horse picked up into a steady gallop, bobbing up and down and swinging its tail as it went.
The Imperial Soldiers rode for hours, following the commander, with his green cape flying behind him and his black horses kicking up clouds of dirt. The forest in the distance had grown closer as time passed, and eventually the soldiers were only just a few hundred metres of the forests edge. Marko looked up, squinting as the sun tried to massacre his eyes. The towering trees set an ominous shadow on the dry golden ground.
As the galloping horses slowed to a stop, and the cluttering sound of their hooves died down, a faint knocking sound could be heard It rung in the soldiers ears, like a gong. That was when Marko noticed it, and by the scared look on their faces, the other soldiers noticed it too.
Working by the forest edge, was a group of beasts like no other that Marko had ever seen before. They were eight feet tall, and covered in fur from head to toe. The colour of the fur ranged greatly, Marko saw a beast with a coat of striking white, and another with the darkest black. A swishing tail swung behind the beasts back, but the strangest feature was their heads. In place of their head was the savage face of a lion. An intimidating mane flowed down the beasts shoulders, giving them a fluffy crown. Some had their manes braided or tied up, but they all looked dangerous none the less.
The commander turned quietly on his horse to face his soldiers. Soldiers, I present to you, the first Nemean tribe found by humans. Marko looked back at the Nemean.
They wielding crude axes that looked much more suited to war than work, with them they were hacking away at the forest, Marko watched as a brown furred Nemean made the final swing. A rumbling sound shook the earth and a huge tree was sent toppling to the floor. Leaves and sticks flew up in the sky and dust choked the air like a mini sandstorm. The Nemean began to hack at the fallen tree, bringing back the logs to a coach a few metres off.
Marko thanked the gods that they didnt notice them, they just had to stay still and silent- there were no hills to hide behind in this plain.
Suddenly a flock of squawking birds darted into the air from the forest treetops. They shot into the sky in a huge scurry like a loud feathery cloud. The trees that overlooked the Nemean rustled, the pack of Nemean dropped their weapons on the spot, looking up in horror.
The Nemean turned and ran on their powerful legs, they bounded for their carts but were interrupted by a whistling knife ripping through the air. It came from the treetops, spiraling in a straight line and embedded itself into the back of a Nemeans mane.
The dead Nemean fell to the floor, a look of twisted fear still on its face. Its mane was damp with dark red blood, trickling into a pool on the ground.
The Imperial Soldiers horses were in a state of chaos, they bucked and shrieked, flinging soldiers through the air as the horses loudly galloped into the ominous darkness of the forest. Soldiers were running now, not sure where they were headed, just knowing that they needed to get out of here. Fast. Marko and Aden ducked as a knife whistled over their heads, a soldier met his death a few metres behind where Aden and Marko were standing.
The mysterious deadly knives were being tossed from the canopy every second now, digging into humans and Nemean alike.
Marko looked over at the forest edge, it was shrouded in mystery, seeming to compel him into entering its evil depths. Markos heart didnt want to do it, it wanted to stay and fight like a true soldier, but he knew hat was impossible, if he stayed any longer hed meet the grisly fate that most of his fellow soldiers suffered.
He started to sprint towards the forest, throwing his helmet and gloves on the floor, theyd only get in the way.
Marko! Aden called, but Marko didnt hear him, his mind was far far away. It was his instincts telling him what to do now. Marko! Wait!
Aden followed suit and chased Marko to the forest edge, screaming Markos name as he did so. Marko soon reached the forest, he ran straight forwards, darkness closed around him like a blanket.
Marko ran blindly, sweeping low-hanging branches and vines that barred his path. The forest was eerily silent the only thing that could be heard was the crunching of the undergrowth beneath his boots and the rustle the trees swaying in the wind.
Aden was close behind Marko now, and Marko seemed to be snapping back into reality. He slowed down, leaning against a tree he wiped the sweat off of his brow. His tabard was grimy and ripped, Aden didnt look much better, his ponytail was down and twigs and leaves were weaved through his hair. What are you doing!? Aden whispered angrily.
Well I dont see us surviving out there! Marko replied.
How do you suppose we survive, then!? All our gear was lost with the hor- Aden was interrupted when a sharp thistle landed in the back of his neck. Wirh a quiet groan he collapsed limply on the ground and Marko inspected his friend in worry, the thistle was slender and carved of wood. An almost transparent green ooze dripped off the end.
A poison blowdart Marko turned to look up when another small thistle shot into his own neck. Marko could see blood seeping down his neck in a thin trail, he clutched his throat, his face turning pale. He fell on the forest floor, trying desperately to keep his eyes open. He heard a thud behind his head; a quiet voice. He tried to turn and look at the figure behind him but inky black blotches started to obscure his vision. He tried to move his eyeballs, but they were dead still, a great pain rippled through his head.
He let out a gasping breath as his eyelids slowly closed.
Marko Awoke with a ringing in his head, he felt hot and fevery liked hed been stuck in a furnace, a cool breeze skimmed across his face. Markos eyelids fluttered open, he was staring up at a swaying roof of leaves. His back was aching and throbbing, he turned over to realize he was lying awkwardly on the wide branch of a tree, hundreds of metres off the forest floor. Aden lay further along the branch, groggily waking up with a quiet groan. Marko looked down into the green abyss below him, branches and sheets of leaves blocked his vision, he slowly stood, concentrating on keeping his balance. He drew his sword and the hiss of metal scraping against metal rung in the air.
Where the hell am I? Marko said to himself, he tried to look for ways to get down, but his leafy prison.
Marko hadnt noticed Adens awakening, Aden sat slumped against the main trunk of the tree.
The best bet would be to look for vines, I dont want to meet the creature that took us here so wed better move fast… Marko swiped a low hanging bunch of leaves away with his sword to find a gangly vine hanging several metres off.
Right, heres our only chance, he ran, picking up pace until he lept with a powerful kick from his back foot.
The wind whipped against his face as he soared through the air; his hair was thrashing in the wind. He leaned forward and outstretched his arm… His fingers clutched hold of a skinny green rope. He found hed closed his eyes during the jump, opening them, he stared down. The vine hung all the way down to the brown forest floor. He was free.
All of a sudden Marko felt the vine elongating, the vine became thinner when… TWANG!
He started to cascade through the air, sword still in his sweaty grip and screaming in terror, just when he thought it was the end he came to a sudden stop. He was dangling by his sword, which was embedded in a mossy branch.
Marko looked down, sweat gathering in pools on his forehead. A pack of orange figures growled and ran across the forest floor. They wielded spears and blowpipes, whip-like tails swung behind them like a pendulum.
Marko saw a terrified horse gallop through the forest, but it was too late. The orange figures sprinted ahead of it, sinking their spears into the horses neck. The horse collapsed on the floor, sticky with its own blood.
Marko looked away, a single salty tear slid down his face. He heard a rustle in the trees, and instinctively looked up. To his horror, an orange silhouette scampered about in the branches above him.
No… he thought. It flickered about like a tongue of fire, darting gracefully between the trees and gradually getting lower. He screwed his eyes shut as a huge leopard- like face emerged from the bush and swept him into its grip. He lay limply with his eyes in darkness, waiting for the fatal bite that never came.
The creature hauled Marko back up to the high branch, knocking the wind out of him as she did so. Marko looked pleadingly at Aden, who had his eyes wide and paralyzed in shock, he opened his mouth, inhaling deeply and about to let out a scream, but the nimble creature darted towards him and covered his mouth with her paw.
The creature was obviously a Nemean, but much more slender and swift than the bulky males Marko had seen earlier. She had features that resembled those of a leopard, spots dotted her fur and a white patch run from the bottom of her waist to her neck. She wore a simple green sash covering her breast and a loincloth, her sharp features were complimented her by many beaded chains and charms.
Ssshh! Foolish human! Theyll hear you! Marko gawked at her as she whispered fiercely in his friends ear, his eyes couldnt move away from the blowpipe hanging on her belt.
Y-y-you can talk… Marko said, his hands quivering as he kept his firm grip on the hilt of his sword. The Nemean removed the paw the covered Adens mouth.
Yes, I can speak human tongue, now shut up or theyll find you! Aden looked suspiciously at the Nemean.
What do you mean theyll find us? After all, I think it should be right to say that you were the one who shot us? The Nemean looked guiltily at the mossy floor of the branch
As I said, it's a work in progress. I'd like to know what you guys think of it, and some constructive criticsism. I hope it's better than my last attempt at writing, thanks!