Well, Mikro managed to exceed his word count goal again this year. He's earned his Nanowrimo winner's badge. He isn't done with his novel though. He wants to keep going. So, below, we offer you a short excerpt of his epic fantasy:
[by Mikro Coyne]
I, Enewan, make this record of the sacred quest of the Netarpa Clan of the Qwerastafay for a potion to heal the Kuru Dupal, our sacred home tree, which suffers greatly and may die from the venom of the Fire Serpent set upon it by Seraivin, the last Evil Chieftan of our people, who was deposed by the Elerastapok, our Council of Elders, for his crimes. I have been chosen to lead an expedition to collect the ingredients needed and to make the potion which will counteract the venom.
Today was an eventful day. It started with a semi-public meeting of the 125th Elerastapok. The shaman Sedenka ( who is also my mentor ) was summoned to this meeting . I got to carry his tarran, his books, his potions, and a cylindrical package.
“These tarran are so heavy,” I complained. “What do they do anyway?”
“The tarran concentrate magikal energy,” he replied. “Without them, even the simplest spells would be impossible.”
“But I’ve seen you do spells without tarran!” I shouted.
“That is because I have trained with them so long that they remember my spirit and will do my biding even when we are apart. When you complete your training, it may be so for you as well.”
We lapsed into silence for the rest of our climb up the tree to the House of Elders. It is the largest residence, all the way at the top of the tree. Even though I have been an apprentice shaman for over a year, it still takes my breath away when I come upon the House of Elders. It is carved from the living wood of the Kuru Dupal, which has been polished to a gleaming white.
We approached the door, where we were stopped by the crossed spears of the two guards stationed there.
My master, the Shaman Sedenka, recited his full title and stated that he had business with the Elerastapok. The guards stood aside and permitted us to enter. We bowed our heads in respect as we passed through the doors.
I was amazed by the beauty of the interior of the House of Elders, which I had never seen before. Usually mere apprentices are not allowed inside. An escort lead us to the meeting room, where the Elders had gathered.
Lenaratan, who has a wooden leg from the knee down, was the most senior of the Elders. Binarim, the unusually tall female Elder, was second eldest, and Rotonaka was the youngest, and most junior Elder.
“Ah, Sedenka, have you have brought it?” asked Lenaratan.
Sedenka reaching for the cylindrical case I was carrying for him. “Yes, I have it here,” he said.
“Good. Then let us see it!” Lenaratan commanded.
Sedenka opened the case and removed a scroll of bark, and unrolled it carefully, setting it down on the table. The elders crowded around it and touched it, reverently. From my spot behind Sedenka, I could see that it was a peculiar looking map, and its contents appeared to change depending on who touched it. Finally, it settled down into a stable formation of glowing dots.
In the center of the map, were seven great trees, the seven home trees of the seven clans of the Qwerastafay. Above them, hovered two spheres, representing the Upper and Middle Realms of the spirits. Below was another sphere, for the lower ream of the damned.
Sedenka pointed at each glowing dot in turn. "These are the things we need to heal the Kuru Dupal. There are nine ingredients to the potion, and 8 are in the Realm of the Living. One is in the Lower Realm."
“Anyone who can read a map can see that,” scoffed Rotonaka.
“Maybe so, but what can you see when you hold it?" Sedenka asked.
Rotonaka picked up the map. The dot pattern shifted and several disappeared. “It’s not the same!” he said.
"No, it wouldn’t be. This quest is not your destiny, Rotonaka. My vision was clear. It is Enewan who must lead our people to a solution."
What? Did I hear that correctly, I wondered. Surely my master did not mean to put the future of our people into the hands of one as young as I.
“Enewan!?! Surely you jest! This child? What proof do we have that Enewan-- You would send this child—“ Rotanaka sputtered.
“Silence, Rotanaka. Sedenka sees true visions. You will not question his wisdom. If it is Enewan he says must do this thing, thmn it is Enewan we send.”
“Thank you, Lenaratan. I am honored by your faith in me. Enewan, come here and touch the map and settle the doubts of others.”
As if in a dream, I walked forward and lifted the map. It did not change.
The Council appointed three warriors to be my companions: Benaret, Shiran and Retenotar. Roanaka would not hear of permitting us to go without an advisor with more experience than a boy like me, and pushed his way onto our team.
The ground began to shake. I backed up and watched in horror as a horrible thing burst forth from the earth. The thing was long and thin. It had black scales and large red eyes and sixteen black spines emerging from its neck.
"It is murkotos!" Rotonaka shouted.
"What?" I yelled back. Then I remembered: the murkotosalerochoenall (murkotos for short) is a creature that burrows. It moves aboveground just like the way it moves undveground. It slithers.
"Scatter!" I yelled, and not a moment too soon. A second later it lunged, sinking its fangs into the ground where Retenotar had been a moment before. Shiran climbed up a tree and then he threw himself at the murkotos. His chest was slashed by the first spine and impaled by the second. The creature shook its head and flung his body at a tree.
Beneret was swallowed by the monster and we thought that was the end of her
until the blade of her sword poked out of the monster's chest and she cut her way out. Pieces of the monster’s heart went flying everywhere.
We took Shiran's body with us. We carried him for several miles
until we found a place to camp for the night. I sent Benaret into the woods to find firewood and to take her mind off the loss of
Shiran. Beneret was an orphan and Shiran had been like a second father to her.
Rotonaka set the pyre on fire and I said the blessings:
“May Anazuli bless your journey to the Upper Realm. May Netalian guide you safely to your rest. May our ancestors welcome your spirit home.” I threw three crystals of salt into the fire, followed by three silver coins. The silver coins were a tribute to Netalian for guiding Shiran’s spirit, and the salt is a gift to Grovehstahr, the Guardian of the Upper Realm, for allowing them entry to his territory.
We stood watching in silence as Shiran's body went up in flames. After Shiran's remains had burned to ash, Rotonaka tried to lighten the mood by telling a tale. He said: "The world didn’t always exist, so I am going to tell you how it was created"
THE TALE OF HANUAPI AND ANAZULI
"In the beginning, there was nothing. And then, there was a seed. From the seed sprouted a humongous vine. The vine grew four main sections: The lower realm or hell, the upper realm, or heaven, the middle realm (purgatory) and the realm of the living.
The realm of the living was barren and desolate, covered with dry brown grass. Then one day, a part of the ground rose up. It appeared as though there was a spear sticking out of the earth, and it kept coming out, out, out until it exploded.
Inside the spear of rock was a god called Hanuapi. The god was lonely, so he created a wife for himself. He and his wife, Anazuli, still thought there was something missing, so they decided to create animals such as the crow, the eagle, the ant, the aye aye and thousands of other tropical creatures.
In order to give the animals a home, the God and Goddess created a large jungle. But there was still something missing.
When the god said: “Come forth my friends and come and praise your creators,” the animals came forth but they could not praise their creators. They bellowed, they hooted, they brayed… but they could not praise their creators.
Hanuapi got angry. He wanted to destroy all he had created and start over. But his wife managed to calm him down. She planted seven large trees in the center of the rain forest. And she came up with an idea to create a creature that would praise them. So she created the first of the Tree People, we who are called the Qwerastifay.
The first tree people she created were in her own image, meaning they were female. However the females did not have mates and were not immortal and they started to die out.
So next, she created several males and sent them down to help them. Hanuapi got angry when he saw his wife’s creation. She had not told him about it and he had not had a chance to add anything to it. So he got angry and summoned all his strength and stuck it into seven chosen people from the seven different tree clans of the Qwerastifay, and he put a seventh of all his strength into each of them. Having been greatly weakened, he burned to ash.
The seven chosen ones were the tree spirits, and they were the gods that the tree people worshipped as the go betweens between them and the female god Anazuli. Since then, the female god has retreated into the upper realm and now the tree spirits act as full gods.
On bad days when Anazuli mourns the loss of her husband, which happens often, her tears fall into the realm of the living, but they are not salty. They are sweet and fit to drink. Thus the tree people have water to survive.
And now, my friends, it is time for us to take our rest. Tomorrow, our quest continues and we will need our full strength.”
“Quite so, Rotonaka. You have anticipated my orders exactly,: I said, taking command, since I am the appointed leader for this journey.
I waited until the others retired before settling down in my bed of leaves. By the light of my lantern, in which burned the sap of the sacred Kuru Tree, our Home Tree, I got out the magik map and examined it. It showed me the ingredients that I had already found and those that I still needed to find:
Sacred water from the well of Netalian? Check. That one was easy-- the well of Netalian lies directly below the Great Temple at Kuru. Next, a tooth from the giant sea monster Makatharu. Check. Six flight feathers from the wing of the flying anora? Check . Three flight feathers from the wing of the dimminutive serpon? Check. Five scales from the head of the Murkotos. Check, though those were the most costly so far, since we lost Shiran in obtaining them. Five of the nine ingredients of the potion were already ours, and in just seven days. What remained before us was to collect the final four ingredients: three we knew, and one was a mystery. Had our map not been torn by Rotonaka in his attempts to usurp my authority, we would know what the final ingredient was and where exactly it was to be found. We do know it is in the territory of the Tinao Clan, who are the arch enemies of our people, the Netarpa Clan.