Alice and Finch: Primary Dawn

Alice was always a point of interest in the capital. During her childhood, she passively garnered followers, kids in the neighbourhood and later children from around the entire city. Alice was an energetic girl. She wasn’t entirely logical, but she was very driven and people found value in that. Adults would watch her warily. Some would even keep their children away from her. It was her unusual appearance. Alice had an obvious and striking look to her. Her brightly coloured hair was lighter and had less of the yellow-blonde common in Solune hair. It was more of a sandy orange. Her eyes were usually a clear maroon, but when she got excited or angry they would become an astonishingly bright red. But the real reason why adults avoided her was because of her unpredictability paired with her tooth and nail.

Alice had three sets of canines, longer and thicker than the Solune’s. They often hid behind her oddly dark and loose cheeks, but when she smiled they came out. Two fangs pointing downward, followed by four more, two on each side, pointed up. Her nails were not only long, but animal like. And her free spirit made many worry, what would she do next? Even worse, there were rumors. Rumors that she had committed murder and that worst of all, she didn’t regret it. She didn’t feel remorse.

But those were only rumors, right?

Finch had heard all of these things, and had avoided the southern area of the city because of warnings from his father. Sometimes his friend Artus would invite him along to go visit her, but he always refused. Finch listened to what his father said, and kept away from that “monster.”

Finch was walking home from the library with an armful of books. His father had been homeschooling him; the primary method of education in Murdock city. He’d sent the boy with a list, and Finch had also taken some books the he was personally interested in. Unlike most children, he wasn’t interested in the Prince’s adventure series or Gwenhime’s Tales of Conquest. Finch sought only Natural Studies textbooks. He also liked finding books from outside of the city, from academics such Joss Resz, Bradley Jeremy, and Azure Double.

He was halfway to his house now, and the books were starting to strain his arms. He might have taken too many personal picks.

“Aww man…”

He knew he’d have to rest at some point before heading home. Finch saw a bench and decided that now was as good a time as any. He sat down and put the pile of books beside him. It almost reached his shoulders sitting down. He had definitely taken too many at once. He closed his eyes and caught his breath.

“Hello there!” A voice said.

Finch jolted, immediately tensing up. He turned to his left side, and saw the top of a head hiding behind the pile of books. He didn’t remember seeing anyone there while sitting down, but the person looked so small that he wasn’t sure if he’d missed them altogether.

“Umm,” Like most children, Finch had little sense for pleasantries and got right to the point, “How did you get there?”

“Oh, I saw you sit down, so I came and sat next to you. Or at least I tried. I didn’t want to sit on your books!” The voice replied.

“Oh.”

He could still only see the small person’s hair. It was an unusual colour. Him and his father had black hair, but most of the other people in the city had blonde or light brown hair. This person had blazingly bright orange-yellow hair.

“Your hair looks like a fire.” He said.

“I know. Isn’t it cool?” The small person replied, sounding excited.

“Yeah. Hey, can you stop hiding behind the books?” Finch asked.

“No, you’re scary.”

Finch stopped, confused. No one had ever called him scary. Maybe it was because he was already twelve. He was only three years from being an adult! Maybe that was why. But he wasn’t sure, so he asked.

“How am I scary?”

“Your hair is so dark. And your eyes too!” The small person said.

He had never thought about this. He looked just like his dad, but thinking back now it seemed no one else looked like them. Finch became very confused, but he was still more curious than anything.

“If you don’t show me your face,” He started, thinking, “I’ll just stand up so I can see it!”

“Oh…” The person said, “Okay fine.”

The small person leaned back slowly, peeking from behind the books.

“You’re a girl!” Finch said. It was hard to tell by voice with the younger kids, he found.

The small girl nodded. Finch decided that she was the unusual one of the two. She had darker skin, like she’d been in the sun for… forever! And the bright hair made her eyebrows and eyelashes stand out.

“Hi! Well, what’s your name? How old are you?” She asked the two most common questions a child could ask.

Finch was used to answering them, “My name is Finch Dirge Zeth, I’m twelve.”

“That’s a strange name. Out of all the kids I’ve talked to, you have the most weirdest name.”

“So?” He said, “What’s yours then?”

“I’m called Alice! Alice May Dawngale. I’m fourteen.” She said proudly. “That’s the name my mom told me a long time ago.”

“What do you mean a long time ago?” He was curious now.

“Well, my mom has passed away.” She said almost robotically.

Finch had a feeling she had said this sentence many times, to many people. But he was more interested in what was said than how it was said.

“Wow. Mine too,” Finch replied looking forward, “It’s just me and my dad.”

“Hey, that’s cool though!” She said, excited. He noticed that she always seemed a little excited.

“What do you mean cool? Almost everyone has a dad.”

“No…”

Finch couldn’t believe what she was saying.

“You have no parents?!” He yelled, surprised.

Alice pulled her head down into her chest, “No… It’s just me.”

Finch felt bad. He started to think what it would be like without his dad. How would he get food? How would he learn? Just read? Who would he talk to? Who would take care of him? It would be all him, he’d have to do all of those things. Finch thought about Alice doing that all alone, with no mom or dad. He thought about her going into the forest all alone, hunting mobile moose or finding emango trees and climbing them for the fruit, without anyone to catch her. He wondered where she lived, did she sleep outside in the rain?

“Hey, are you okay? Are you crying?” Alice asked.

“No.” He replied, wiping his face.

“Well, it was nice meeting you, but I have to go.” She said.

“Okay, goodbye.” He replied.

“It’s not goodbye. It’s see you later! So, I’ll see you later!” She said and then jumped up.

The girl was really small. Finch didn’t believe that she was two years older than him.

He stood up too, watching Alice as she left, heading south. South.

“Oh no! My dad!”

Finch had remembered the monster from the south. That was it! She was the monster! Alice Dawngale was the monster that he was supposed to keep away from! He grabbed his books and ran home, worrying.

Every child lies to their parents, even more so if they know they’ll get in trouble if they tell the truth. Finch slowed to a walk as he neared his home. He could see it at the end of the cobblestone road, right on the corner. He wasn’t sure if he should tell his dad. He didn’t know if he’d get in trouble, what he would do. Finch knew that his dad always knew best though.

“Right. So if dad always knows best, then I can tell him and he will do what is the right thing to do.” He said, stumbling over his sentence nervously.

He got to the door, pulled the latch with his elbow and nudged it open.

I know this is a weird place to stop, but hopefully I’ve built some decent tension. The second part will come later this week, hopefully Tuesday, but you never know. Anyway, tell me what you think of Finch and Alice!

Daniel Triumph.

P.S. Secondary Dawn is here!

Resz Sickness I

The first entry in the Dawngale RP Rewrites.

Some call it Resz Sickness, after the month that it struck the capital. Where I come from, we call it death sickness, because it spreads around corpses, making people die faster.  When you become afflicted by it, you’re struck with accelerated death at the microscopic level. It causes you to die of what is technically old age, despite the fact that you look exactly the same physically. What, I know a bit about biology. I learned from Azure, you know her? Anyway, back to the point. If you can cure it and your cells will be fine, they heal as long as you don’t actually die.

Someone brought it in from the East, from where the East Metch fight Death’s demons, her creations. It’s obvious that they’d be laced with it, death sickness. The East Metch are immune to it, in fact they can’t even carry it. Me, an N’Tarial, I’m immune but I can still carry it. So, someone brought that sickness into the Solune Kingdom, right into the capital. People are dying, you know. The instant I heard that there were fresh bodies, I headed over.

It was surrounded by a wall, just like the rest of the kingdom, a wall inside a wall. The gate was still open at that time, so I was able to enter freely, but by then the streets were empty. Even the bravest shopkeeper had their store closed by then. It was pretty bad. I started my search for the dead, keeping my eyes out for anyone who might give me information. I headed forward, to the most empty looking place.

This part of the city had taller, nicer looking buildings. I searched but the streets were clean, empty. Then, I immediately noticed a figure on the rooftops. I crawled into the alley adjacent to my silent watcher then leapt onto the wall. I clung to it and climbed up a wooden support beam. I peered over the roof and saw him, a Riley man with black hair and dark eyes.

Hanging off the edge of the roof, my head peeking over it.

I yelled, “Hey!”

The man turned to me, “Where did you come from?”

“Down there. What’s going on here?”

The man motioned for me to join him on the roof. He looked fairly weak, so I did.

“There’s a sickness going around. We don’t have a name for it yet, but a lot of people are dying. Even the guards.” He told me.

“Where?” I asked, my mind focused.

“The residential area.” He pointed west, “It spread fast because all the houses are close together.”

I waved to the Riley and went on my way. The residential district. That made sense. It only took me a few minutes to cross town. At that point I could smell it, the earthy smell of bodies killed by Death’s hand. All the life, the fluids, and that which made bodies smell rank, was taken in by Death when she took a person’s life. It was eerie, but it was also welcome by me. I didn’t want to have to deal with that.

I looked left and right as I walked down the dirt street. The alleys seemed to have bodies piled in them. After a while I noticed a pattern, only the alleyways without windows had body piles. These people were smarter than I expected. I still couldn’t find anyone though. I was sure there were people in the houses, likely told to stay inside until the situation was under control. I just… didn’t want to get caught taking a corpse.

Then I heard it, voices around the next bend. First an authoritative sounding woman.

“Okay. Tell Vinth we’re locking off the city. Close the gates, don’t let anyone out or in.”

“What about me?” A man replied, “I’m really no good in situations like this. I thrive in ambush combat and seeking knowledge. You can’t ambush or learn from a sickness.”

I skulked across the road and into a dark alley, peering across the corner diagonally. I’d be harder to see me from this distance, and in the dark.

“Fine, if you don’t want to help than I don’t want you here.” The woman said.

She was tall, very tall, and she was wearing a grey jumpsuit. Her blonde hair was cut just below the shoulder. She must be a Solune, with height like that. The man was also wearing the same jumpsuit. It must be the guard uniform. He was shorter though, judging by the black hair and pale skin, I could tell he was a Riley.

“Okay, what do I do then?” He asked.

“Stand at the gate. Make sure no one enters, explain about the sickness. If you encounter anyone who would brave the hazards and is willing to help, send them to me. I’ll put them to work in your stead.” The woman explained, taking charge.

I hugged the wall, standing in the shade, my eyes closed. I could have hid in the bodies, but they were in the light and my clothing would have stood out even more there. The Solune wore pants and frilly shirts and had fair skin. The Riley dressed in darker clothes, often preferring vests. Traditional N’Tarial clothing generally looked like a green or blue dress, separated at either the waist or hips by a brown cloth belt. The dress was split on the sides, almost like a wide loincloth. Personally, I like purple, and I wear the battle version of the dress. Higher splits and shorter sleeves enable a greater degree of mobility.

The Riley man passed me without noticing anything. For someone obsessed with undercover work, this surprised me. Afterwards the woman, the leader, continued to work. She piled bodies into alleys, I guess to keep the streets clean. She wore gloves too, unusual for anyone who wasn’t East Metch. What, I notice clothes okay?

I watched, waiting for her to leave. I’d be willing to wait hours, until dark even. I’ve been looking for bodies for a long time now. I really don’t like having to murder people in order to get their body, it ruins the quality.

After an pace (the Solune call it a sixth or a tetra, others call it an hour) I decided to sit down, but I kept an eye on that woman as she worked. Another pace passed and I decided to save my back. I stood up and crept further into the alley, to the other side. I skulked under windows, just to be safe, and then found a crack running through the building up to the roofs. Anyone who knows about climbing knows that a crack makes the task far easier.

As I climbed, pulling loose chunks of building out as I went, I heard more voices on the other side. I couldn’t understand them, but I sure wanted to, so I sped up my ascent. When I got to the top, I crawled prone until I was close enough to the other street.

“That’s an unusual task.” One of them said.

It was another woman, but her voice wasn’t hard like the first one. She had the sweet voice of a mother, although she sounded too young to have bared any children.

“So he’s just standing outside the gate? He’s a gatekeeper!” She laughed.

“Okay, whatever. Listen Natasha, we piled more bodies, and we’re keeping people inside just like you said. Now what?” This was a man. He sounded similar to the other woman. I figured that they’re related.

“Now we have to figure out how to stop it. To end this… quarantine, to use an East Metch term.” The leader replied. I guess her name was Natasha. “Look, since we started using gloves no more of the guard have died. I need you to craft a report, write everything you know for sure about the sickness and submit it to the Academic tower. Tell them that they are to be working during this quarantine. We need a cure, or anything they can come up with.”

I peeked over the rooftop. There they were, standing in a triangle, all wearing the gray uniform. Natasha, the tall blonde. The other woman, shorter also blonde, but with odd eyebrows and inward titled eyes. This must be the Djeb race that my sister kept telling me about. The man was the same, but bulkier. He held an large, flashy looking sword. I wondered how he was allowed to use something so unwieldly and foolish while on duty.

“Not a problem,” The Djeb woman smiled almost forcefully to the man, and he reluctantly followed.

After another pace, Natasha finished her work and then left shortly after herself. Finally, it was barren. I hopped down into the alley and started moving bodies, looking for one I wanted. I always shop the bodies if I’m presented with more than one. Then, I saw the one I wanted, it was a fallen guard. He was not a child, but still young. The sun was low now, the alley darkened. I felt the privacy I needed there in the alleyway, and so I didn’t bother to pull the dead person up onto the roof.

I pulled the corpse’s jacket off. I took out my knife, ready to cut, and then-

“Hey, what are you doing over there?”

I stopped and immediately bolted to the other end of the alley. I rounded the corner banking right, and then ran back into an adjacent alley.

It didn’t work, I wasn’t fast enough, caught red handed.

“What?” I challenged my pursuer. “What do you want.”

He was an N’Tarial, just like me. He wore the regular green garb. His skin was darker though, like he spent a lot of time in the sun, on the plains. He was likely some form of warrior, but… not a guard. I eased up.

“Umm… what were you doing in the alley?” He asked.

And then, another from the rooftops. He dropped down behind me. I turned, back to the wall, so that I could defend against both if I needed to. The second man was another Riley, the one I met before actually. I’m surprised he came all the way out here.

“I’m taking one of those bodies. You’re not stopping me. I’ve run out of patience today.”

On the other side of the alley, behind the Riley, I heard footsteps. Lots of them. I sprinted up the wall and climbed to the roof.

The two men didn’t say much about me. It seemed they were interested in the bodies themselves. They wanted to open one up and investigate what the sickness did to people. Interesting, but I already knew. It gave you highly accelerated old age. You wouldn’t learn anything from opening someone up, since most of the effects were too small to see with the eye.

“What is this? Look, it looks like these people have been rotting for days!” One of them said.

What?

“How long has it been dead?” The Riley asked.

“We only made this pile last night when the sickness started to spread.” That was Natasha. She was back, ever the hard worker.

Why were there more side effects of the sickness then before? Did it… mutate? I wanted to investigate myself now. I can’t use a body that’s still diseased after death for my purposes. I needed to know what was going on, and hopefully find a clean body along the way. That couldn’t wait for too long.

As they were leaving I asked the N’Tarial warrior to throw me up one of the bodies. He did.

“Thanks. And, as far as I know you should be immune to the disease. This death sickness.” I told him.

“Really? Why?”

“Us N’Tarial and the East Metch are surrounded by death, and this afflicts about…” I did some quick math in my mind, “Five in every hundred victims in war.”

They moved on from the alley, heading to what they called “Ground Zero” where the first people died. I didn’t follow them. I needed to investigate this one. I took out my knife again, a tanning and skinning knife, and I delved into this poor soul’s viscera.

It was unusual. It really was like he’d been dead for days rather than hours. It didn’t make sense. I wished… I wished that Azure was here. She actually knew about this stuff. All my information was second hand. I couldn’t learn on the site like her. I lay back as the sun set. In the distance, where Natasha’s group had gone, I heard the sounds of battle. Metal on metal, the thunk of dart launchers. That wasn’t my problem. I had a lot of problems.

I needed to send a letter, and maybe a flesh sample to Azure. She was from the Djeb. It wasn’t the closest place, in fact it was the neighboring kingdom. I lay back and listened to the fight. I knew the Solune kept their prisoners alive, so I didn’t bother investigating the aftermath. As the skirmish ended, I just went to sleep.

So, as you read at the top, this is the first entry of an experimental format. There’s a lot of original content here, but a lot of it is based on the scenarios and characters (NPCs?) used in my RP campaign. As the creator of the campaign, technically this is all original except for the player characters.

This story follows Jade Sing, the N’Tarial. She is the sister of Jin Resz Sing. You might notice the name Resz is in the title of this piece. It’s only a minor connection though, but I can explain it later in the series, if there’s interest.

Daniel Triumph.

P.S. I had a member of my group proofread this for me. Watching the ‘aha!’ moment on his face when he saw his character was a cool feeling. What an interesting narrative form.