Immortal Lament (chapter one)

Fantasy written by Listopher on Wednesday 18, March 2020

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An immortal girl with no memory awakens to a shitty life. The only key to her past is a strange machine embedded within her abdomen. The journey to answer the question of her life will lead her to the other end of the world. But the land and it’s inhabitants threaten to unlock the madness dwelling deep within her.

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Stench. Even before Perri opened her eyes all she could think of was the stomach-wrenching smell that seemed to seep into her skin. The mix of molded excrement and fresh blood burned her nose and caused her to stir uncomfortably on the cold ground. She raised a small hand to shield her eyes from the blaring sun, but unknowingly caught the attention of the griffin, whose enclosure she shared. It wasn't a particularly large enclosure, especially for such a magnificent beast, so with one strong lunge, it closed the distance. With a taloned foot, it pinned Perri to the hay-covered ground and unleashed an ear-piercing screech. Even though she could barely breathe from the weight on her torso, Perri struggled to free herself from her inevitable fate. But with no advantage, Perri was powerless to stop the griffin from tearing her head off with one pull of its massive beak. Perri's body spasmed for a brief moment before the creature continued its meal, soaking it's pale brown feathers in her blood. The beast spread its mighty wings and looked to the sky, wishing to return to its nesting ground as it always had after a hunt. But thick steel bars created a domed ceiling that prevented such dreams from happening. So with, what seemed like, a deep sigh, the creature closed its wings and returned to the opposite side of the enclosure to lie down. Later that night, after the sun had dipped below the horizon, Perri found herself lying on her back in a puddle of, what she hoped to be, thick water and smooth sticks. She began to move, but remembered being in a similar situation and decided to remain motionless. The memory felt dazed to her, as if it had happened in a dream, or more likely a nightmare. So with a great amount of hesitation, Perri slowly began to open her eyes, hoping to see something that put her at ease. When her eyes were half-opened she glanced at her blurry surroundings, unable to make out much more than rusted walls. To her dismay, she heard the movement of something large beyond her sight, and her breathing began to quicken as adrenaline surged through her veins. The sound of approaching steps caused her mind to drift back to the memory, but this time she recalled the immense pain of her last moments. Tears began to streak down her face as she struggled to remain quiet. She didn't know where she was, what was happening, or even who she was, all she knew was she didn't want to experience the nightmare again. So, after pushing the questions about herself to the back of her mind, Perri began formulating a plan for what she needed to do. Without knowing much about the area around her, it only took a brief moment to contemplate a simple plan. Make sure the monster was gone, and sneak away. As is with most things, however, her plan was easier said, or rather thought, than done. Perri opened her eyes and slowly turned her head to the left to see the rusted walls curve around with no sign of an exit. Unfortunately, it also allowed her to see the puddle she was lying in wasn't water, but a dark liquid she didn't want to identify. As tears continued down her cheeks, she turned her head to the opposite side, and her heart flipped at the sight of a large barred gate a little ways away. Her first instinct was to spring for the gate, but the fear of the griffin kept her motionless. She began to raise herself onto her elbows and made sure to keep an eye out for the monster as she did. She began to believe the creature was no longer around, but as she sat up she noticed its hulking form lying on the ground several yards across from her. Though it was a violent beast that could devour her easily, Perri couldn't help but admire the way its feathers blended seamlessly into the fur that covered its backside. Since she had yet to wake the monster, she turned onto her hands and knees so she could crawl out of the puddle. As she raised herself up, the thick liquid dripped from her taut body and splashed lightly back into the puddle. The small noise caused Perri to freeze in fear of the monster noticing. But after a moment of nothing but the occasional drip of liquid to break the silence, she felt certain she was safe for now. She crawled forward slowly, ready to be out of the monster's cage. To Perri, it felt as if it had taken her hours to reach the gate, but it was twenty minutes before she crossed the short distance. With the adrenaline still pumping through her body, she stood and pulled at the gate with all her might. To her delight, it began to creak open at her effort. But a set of thick chains she failed to notice kept the door closed with a loud clang. Perri's eyes widened at the sudden noise, and she turned quickly to see the beast turn its head in her direction. Since there was no longer a need to remain silent, she began to yank at the gate repeatedly with no change. Tears poured down her cheeks as she attempted to squeeze herself through the gate. She was able to see the tunnel that led to freedom, but wasn't able to cross through the bars, no matter how hard she tried. She turned around to see the beast about to lunge, so she reflexively tried to run away. Sadly her actions were futile as the griffin landed only a few feet behind her, close enough that it swung a large foot at her. The jagged talons tore through her in a spray of blood, severing a leg as well as her spine. Perri let out a scream that rivaled the griffin's mighty screech, but only for a moment before she began choking on her own blood. When the sound of thunderous cheering stirred her awake, Perri knew something wasn't right. She wanted to open her eyes, but a fear of the griffin kept her still. She couldn't explain it, but she could faintly recall dying because of the beast. Her breathing quickened as she focused on the faded memories, hoping they were only nightmares. But she could remember the pain of the griffin's talons tearing through her flesh, and the crushing pressure of its chipped beak. It wasn't possible, but she knew she died at least twice already. As Perri lay motionless in a pile of mud and excrement, hundreds of Ravagers and traders crowded around the griffin enclosure. For years the Ravagers had hosted gladiator-style contests, and each year more of the land attended. Originally it began as a way to recruit strong fighters into their ranks, but now it serves mostly as a tournament of entertainment. People from all across the land have traveled to participate in the games, though, more often than not, they hire - or force - others to fight on their behalf. A few brave souls would even offer to fight the griffin for a substantial prize, but none had come close to killing the beast. This year, however, the Ravagers had decided to change the rules and allow projectile weapons against the monster. Needless to say, the number of volunteers almost tripled at the news, many of them confident the task would be much simpler now. As with any good show, however, the smaller battles would take place before the main attraction. Atop the dome, Towg, a thin man dressed in a long cloak made of berbiolette hide, stood on a large wooden platform. The yellow feathers of the cloak began at his shoulders and faded into a deep scarlet as it traveled down his back, before ending in a charcoal grey near his calves. It swayed with each step he took and almost seemed to glimmer when it caught the sun at just the right angle. Towg smiled wide as he raised his arms to quiet the crowd, revealing his shirtless torso covered in burn scars. "Alright," Towg spoke loudly into a chipped microphone, "time to settle down, you filth covered cunt shits!" The noise lessened at his words but didn't cease entirely, nevertheless, Towg laughed and said, "Welcome to this week's games! Biggest fucking show on the island and its even bigger today!" Again the crowd cheered loudly, forcing Towg to wait a moment for them to be silent. "Since you all packed the seats dick to ass, we should make it one hell of a show, yeah?" The masses cheered in response as Towg motioned toward the arena and said, "Well, how about these five cock cozies against our very own, Gossar?!" As Towg spoke, three men and two women were shoved through the open gate of the griffin enclosure, into view of the cheering spectators. Each of them stood naked in the ring, their hearts pounding in fear at the predicament they had been sold into. Ygelle, the larger of the two women, stood tall in an attempt to show no fear. But her sunken eyes betrayed her as they filled with tears. Still, she was coping better than Essyree, the small woman shivering beside her. Unlike Ygelle's fit worker’s body, Essyree was a plump woman used to a life of leisure. She had been born into a well to-do family and therefore wasn't expected to participate in any physical chores. Whereas Ygelle was born to a nomad community and worked nearly every day for most of her life. Valelon was the largest of the entire group, his immense height only rivaled by his wide girth that could easily fit three people. If, for whatever reason, one wasn't able to identify him by his size then all they would have to look for was his thinning grey hair pulled into a long ponytail. He grew up on one of Etrela's many farms, and from a young age he had been forced to participate in intense manual labor. Geselus was nearly as tall as Valelon, but the differences between them were their hair length and body type. While Valelon was balding and obese, Geselus had a head of thick hair cut almost to his scalp and was sickly thin. Had he not been born a slave, Geselus could have been a great warrior, but nevertheless he was only provided enough food to survive. Bemor was the youngest of the group, but stood as proud as Ygelle, despite the tremble of his bottom lip. Thankfully his unkempt hair casted a shadow over his tear-stained cheeks, hiding them from view of the crowd. Though not muscular, he was athletically fit from spending several months as a messenger. The crowd erupted into cheers that shook the very ground when Gossar, a mountain of a man with intricate tattoos covering one side of his face, entered through the same gate as the others. A short beard covered his square jaw, but a few small gaps in the hair signified scarring from previous battles. He was naked like the others, but unlike them he carried a steel pipe in one hand, and in the other a small wooden shield painted dark red. Essyree,Valelon, and Bemor backed away from Gossar as he approached, but Ygelle stood her ground. Geselus, being the coward he was, had tears and mucus streaming down his face as he clasped his hands together and slowly stepped toward Gossar. "Please," Geselus pleaded in a shaky voice, "please spare me. I'm a good servant, I can-" but before he could finish speaking Gossar struck him hard across the head with the edge of the shield. The audible crack of breaking bones resonated throughout the enclosure as Geselus fell to the ground with a deep laceration across his temple. With renewed fervor, the crowd cheered on Gossar as he lunged toward Ygelle with the pipe raised high above his head. At the last second Ygelle dove to avoid Gossar's attack, causing him to stumble slightly. Instead of continuing after Ygelle like she hoped, Gossar rolled forward and swung the pipe horizontally. With a sickening crunch his strike connected with the side of Essyree's knee, which caused it to bend at an unnatural angle before she dropped to the ground with a cry of pain. Without wasting any time Gossar slammed his shield into her throat, and as she began to gasp for breath, he turned to Valelon. Deciding he didn't want to die like the others, Valelon clasped his hands together over his head and swung in a downward motion with all of his might. With a quick smirk, Gossar raised his shield in defense, but to his surprise he was knocked onto his back by the force of the blow. Hoping to take advantage of the situation, Bemor sprung onto Gossar and started swinging at him wildly. Deciding there likely wouldn't be a better time to strike, Ygelle rushed to help in the attack. Before she could arrive, however, Gossar flipped Bemor into the air and rolled to avoid a panicked blow from Valelon. Ygelle tried to catch Bemor as he fell, but was unable to react in time and instead was knocked hard to the ground. To gain the upperhand, Gossar swung the pipe hard into Valelon's leg, missing his knee by mere inches. The strike, however, was still more than adequate to topple the large man. As Gossar rose to his feet with an arrogant smile, Ygelle and Bemor scrambled a few yards away. With Valelon screaming on the ground and all but incapacitated, Ygelle felt her chest tighten in panic. She had heard of Gossar's achievements on the battlefield as well as in the games, and knew there was no hope for any of them. They watched in horror as Gossar swung the pipe hard against Valelon's head, knocking him out with the first strike. Each strike that followed was essentially pointless, but the spray of blood caused the crowd cheer, and that was what pleased Gossar. Feeling confident in his superiority, Gossar left the pipe embedded in Valelon's skull and tossed the shield on the ground between himself and his final opponents. "Go ahead," Gossar said in a deep voice, "take it." Ygelle knew it was bait to catch them off guard, but Bemor lacked such foresight and lunged forward. When he reached the shield, however, he was tackled hard to the ground by Gossar. Bemor raised his hands to defend himself, but he was still barely able to endure the strength of Gossar's heavy strikes. Hoping she found her advantage, Ygelle sprung into action and bolted to retrieve the pipe from Valelon's corpse. To her surprise, Gossar threw a hand out and latched onto her ankle tightly. She fell onto the ground and tried to struggle from Gossar's grip as he let out a loud war cry and pulled her towards himself. Luckily Bemor realized the opportunity and clasped his hands together before bringing them down hard on Gossar's ribs. An audible crack of bone caused Gossar to release his hold on Ygelle as he screamed in pain. While Ygelle scrambled for the pipe, Bemor raised his fists to strike Gossar a second time. This time, however, while Bemor's fists were above his head, Gossar struck Him hard in the jaw. Wasting no time, Gossar reached forward and twisted Bemor's head a full ninety degrees. The crowd was ecstatic at the performance of their champion, and their cheers at his latest kill fueled him even more. Gossar had routinely fought multiple opponents to showcase his skill, and the more he fought the more he could charge for his services. Even as Ygelle stood with the pipe poised for an attack, the crowd had no doubt Gossar would succeed as he had so many times before. Gossar stood and revelled in the adulation as Ygelle began to take slow steps backwards. She had experienced fear before, but even facing an attack of raiders didn't frighten her as much as the man before her. Not only was he physically superior in every way, but he was also one of the most sought after mercenaries in the wasteland. Her mind raced to find some way she could fight such an opponent, but with each bad idea she had, she took a terrified step back. Finally Gossar turned his attention to Ygelle, and the sadistic smile on his face sent a chill down her spine. Gossar began to walk toward Ygelle, but with every step he took she backed up the same distance. Already not amused by her cowardice, Gossar sprinted forward, which caused Ygelle to turn and run as tears began to stream down her cheeks. To the surprise of Ygelle, and everyone watching, after she ran only a few steps she tripped over something hidden in the ground. A small scream was heard as Ygelle fell to the ground, but what stunned the audience into silence was Perri springing upright. None had known she was there, and even Gossar stopped and stared at her in bewilderment. "Well great solar-flaring orgasm of the creator," Towg exclaimed with genuine surprise, "it seems we got an unexpected guest!" Perri stood quickly as Towg motioned toward her and continued, "now would you fucking look at that. The gods have seen fit to send a play-thing for our champion's victory!" As Perri turned in a small circle to finally get a look at everything, Ygelle scrambled to her feet and exclaimed, "Get back! He'll kill you!" Perri faced the woman giving her orders and opened her mouth to respond, but before she could even begin speaking she felt a hand grab her tightly around the back of the neck and another around the back of her leg. In a shocked silence Perri was lifted high into the air by Gossar who then threw her out of the way. She traveled several feet through the air before landing in the mud and sliding another few yards. Perri looked up from the mud expecting to see someone or something about to kill her, but instead she saw Gossar lunge toward Ygelle. Not wanting to waste her moment, she stood and sprinted toward the shadowed exit. As she ran, an unintelligible whisper tickled her ear as if someone were right beside her. Panicked by the sensation, Perri swung an arm wide to her side but connected with nothing and threw herself off-balance. Naturally her escape wasn't as simple as she hoped, for the closer she came to the gate, the more she could see into the shaded tunnel beyond. Half a dozen men, dressed in thick leather cuirasses, stood defending the tunnel with hand-held weapons. The three men lined side-by-side in the back held spears ten-feet long that reached nearly to the roof of the tunnel. The two men infront of them held a metal bludgeon in each hand and looked strong enough to swing them easily. The man in front, who Perri assumed was the leader, stood proudly sporting an iron cuirass as well as a metallic whip dangling from his hip. Perri stopped in her tracks when she was a few yards from the gate, but the leader still stepped forward. With a flick of his wrist, a motion that had obviously been practiced to perfection, the man uncoiled the metallic whip and gave Perri an 'I dare you' glare. She stared at the man for a moment before turning back to see Gossar rising above Ygelle's motionless body. The crowd praised their champion as he raised a bloody fist into the air triumphantly. "What a hell of a fight," Towg exclaimed, "five opponents and he barely has a fucking scratch on him!" His words seemed to invigorate the crowds cheers as he motioned toward the arena, "Let's hear it again for Gossar, the unkillable!" As the crowd chanted Gossar's name, Perri looked to the guarded exit and hoped for a miracle. She knew she couldn't fend off the men guarding the tunnel, but she shivered to think what her alternative choice was with Gossar. Gossar turned his gaze upon Perri and licked his lips hungrily, ready to use his prize however he saw fit. When Perri noticed the look in his eyes she took a step toward the gate. "Now look at this," Towg said with an amused tone, "our little mouse is scared!" The crowd joined in Towg's laughter as Gossar sauntered toward the panicked Perri. Again a whisper tickled Perri's ear, and again she turned to see nothing and no one beside her. Along with the whisper, however, came a feeling of unreasonable confidence that washed over her and made her forget her fear entirely. Her once terrified expression twisted into a devilish smirk as she strolled to meet Gossar. Perri's sudden change in behaviour caused Gossar's smile to falter as he slowed his steps. Unable to make out the details of Perri's face, the audience assumed her smile to be a sign that she had accepted her fate. Everyone watching seemed to hold their breath as Gossar approached his prize, ready to see the rough sexual display they knew was coming. To the surprise of all, however, when Gossar reached out a hand to stroke Perri's face she reacted by grabbing his arm and slamming him hard into the ground. A collective gasp emanated from the spectators, including Towg, as Gossar cried out in pain. Perri had dropped onto his elbow and forced it to bend the opposite direction with a chilling snap. She was surprised at her actions, but was nonetheless thankful. Gossar sprang to his feet and faced Perri with a menacing scowl. In that moment she knew he no longer wanted to use her body for his pleasure, but she wasn't sure it was a change for the better. With a loud warcry Gossar lunged at Perri, and with a confident smirk she attempted to throw him to the ground as she had before. This time, however, Gossar was ready for a fight. As she tried to avoid Gossar, he was easily able to wrap his thick arm around her neck. The crowd began to cheer as Perri struggled to free herself from Gossar's mighty hold. She tried flailing her arms around wildly, but that only seemed to agitate Gossar. As a show of his physical superiority, Gossar raised his broken arm into the air and began to slowly tow Perri around the enclosure. The crowd grew even louder as Perri began to cry out in panic. Satisfied he still had the audience's admiration, Gossar jerked Perri's head to one side with a sickening crunch. The spectators began to chant for Gossar when he dropped Perri's motionless body into the mud. "What a way to go," Towg's voice echoed over the crowd, "could've had a fuck but chose a fight! At least the bitch put on a show, am I right?!" The audience shouted in agreement as Gossar began to stroll toward the guarded exit. Before Towg could say anything else, however, Perri shot upright with a small scream, shocking everyone into silence. Even Gossar turned and watched in stunned silence as Perri's twisted head struggled for breath. Never before had anyone seen a person arise after having their neck broken, and the sight of it was quite disturbing -for most- to behold. "I don't believe it," Towg mumbled, mimicking everybody's thoughts. "It appears the little mouse is still alive!" Unsure how to respond to the new development, the crowd remained silent. Gossar stared at Perri as she struggled to return her head to its normal position. With a shrug of his shoulders, Gossar decided it didn't matter and he just needed to do better. As Gossar walked to retrieve his pipe from the ground, Perri was finally able to straighten her head. If she hadn't already woken after being devoured, Perri would have most likely been bothered by how quickly she regained consciousness. But there was no time to indulge her existential curiosity. Gossar picked up his preferred weapon and was making his way toward her with a glare that sent a shiver down her spine. Her heart raced as he approached, but she couldn't bring herself to run and didn't know why. A devilish grin crossed Perri's face as Gossar raised the pipe over his head, and as he brought it down with all his might she lunged forward and struck his throat. The impact caused Gossar to fall hard to his back as he gasped for air. Perri may have been over a foot shorter than he was, but it didn't take much to deal a significant blow to him, especially in such a fragile spot. The crowd watched with bated breath as Perri stood over Gossar's writhing body. They had seen Gossar fight, and kill, over a hundred different men and women - not counting those he's killed outside the enclosure. So to see him at the mercy of a woman, that could very well be an adolescent, was an unexpected spectacle. Certainly they would miss Gossar once the fight ended, but excitement over a new Ravager would quickly quell any mourning. Even as Perri brought the pipe down onto Gossar's head in a spray of blood, the crowd cheered for the surprising outcome. Gossar was motionless after the first strike, but the action filled Perri with an odd glee that made her not want to stop. By the time she regained control of herself, there was nothing recognizable left of Gossar’s head. Perri's breathing grew heavy as she looked down at the blood that had splattered onto her. She knew it was self defense, but for the briefest of moments she felt sorry for what she had done. With a wave of his hand Towg began to lower the platform he was standing on, a simple magic he learned his first week announcing. As he raised a hand in the air he spoke in a booming voice, "How about that! This mini-fuck is our newest Ravager!" Perri had no idea what the man was talking about, she was only happy nobody and nothing was trying to kill her. Towg motioned Perri to the platform as it neared the ground, but she remained where she was with a skeptical expression. After all, her only experience with another person was a fight to the death. "Don't worry," Towg said with a convincing smile, "you've won. You're done! We just have to know, what kind of magic are you using?" Perri responded by staring at Towg with a blank expression. She didn't know how she acted the way she did, and she didn't think 'I don't know' would be a suitable answer. A minute of silence passed before Towg accepted that Perri wasn't going to respond and decided to ask, "Okay, I get it. You like your damned secrets. At least tell us your name, for fuck's sake." Perri opened her mouth to answer, but immediately realized she had nothing to say. After closing her mouth, Perri wrinkled her nose in confusion. She felt certain a name should be the simplest thing for her to remember, but her effort proved otherwise. "Well I guess her brains are still broke from that break," Towg said with a roll of his eyes, evoking a small chuckle from the crowd. "I bet she just needs to clean all that shit off her!" Towg looked toward the armored men guarding the gate and motioned toward Perri. Knowing what Towg was wanting, the men marched forward in trained unison. Perri assumed she was going to have to fight again, and began to panic. As the men approached, the leader in an iron cuirass raised his arms in a non-threatening motion. Perri thought the way they approached was strange, but quickly realized it was to show themselves as peaceful. "As the sentries take our littlest berbiolette to have a bath," Towg began with a chuckle, "who's ready to see some fuck cunts take on the griffin!" Towg waved his hand and began to raise the platform at a slow rate, already moving on from Perri's surprise fight. Perri relaxed as the men approached, but still felt it necessary to ask, "So you're not going to kill me, right?" "No," the man in iron replied with a deep voice, "you're one of us now. And you need a bath."

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    It is interesting, I am curious about what is going on in the matter of death. That part was a bit confusing, whether Perri died or not.
    Something about a griffin's bite comes to mind ...

    A good story. Please continue.
    Wow. Hair raising. I like it. Or, at least I like where I think it's going. A victim secretly endowed with a hidden power to overthrow a vicious chaotic dystopia. Hopefully to not replace it with same.
    So, feedback. Regarding concept, I admit my own prejudice colors this comment, but it still might be worthwhile to note what you said in the preface 'the madness dwelling deep within her'. I can see that in the descriptors you use for her fights, "expression twisted into a devilish smirk" and "with a confident smirk" and "A devilish grin crossed Perri's face". It seems to telegraph a picture of a girl whose new power also shapes her to be a nihilistic punk psychopath. So she can go on to ravage this world that deserves a good ravaging. But it just seems the story would be stronger if there was some evidence that she cared about the broader injustice instead of just the childish "for the briefest of moments she felt sorry for what she had done". How about, "stunned, relieved and for the moment horrified by the insanity of what had happened." Just saying.
    Regarding text, again my prejudice drives this comment. Like too many cooks spoil the broth, I think too many words spoil the impact. Could be wrong. Anyway, maybe 'Stench. The stomach-wrenching smell of moldy excrement and fresh blood oppressed her before she even opened her eyes. Her nose burning, restless on the cold ground, Perri raised her hand against the sunlight blaring through the enclosure. The motion caught the attention of the griffin locked in with her. Unleashing an ear-piercing screech, the griffin lunged, one taloned foot pinning her to the ground.' Things like that. Or not.