Polite Temper Boy Book One: The HermitJustin Gedak / Fantasy / Horror
Polite Temper Boy Book One: The Hermit
Written By Justin Gedak
Cover art By Justin Gedak
Copyright © 2013 by Justin Gedak
More information about Justin Gedak's artwork and writing can be viewed on his website: www.justingedak.com
Table of Contents
When she emerged from the poisoned black waters of the South Fellekon Sea, there was only one man who gave witness, one man who saw the woman arise from those strange waters like a ghost from a starless midnight sky. He was a soldier out of thousands of others in a battle which had flared across the nearby forest’s edge, and then down to the field by the sea–flared like blue fire across a once innocent winter morning, drenching the dry grass and leafless trees in a path of crimson. Even the surrounding wilderness had not seen the woman, had not even sensed the stranger born from an ocean which held no colour.
Time fell back into reality as a Backlanton axe soared past the soldier, clipping the edge of his black metal shoulder guard, and sending sparks out into the chilling, lifeless air. The sound was deafening. The light overwhelming and blinding. This man, who had witnessed the woman with an expression of both confusion and disbelief, responded to the attacker without the knowledge of even doing so, and his katana swam through the nearby barbarian’s face, splitting it open like a rotted pumpkin dropped from high above. If steel through skull made a sound, he wouldn’t have known, couldn’t have known. All sound was lost to the height of that final battle.
He instantly looked back down the cliff, down to those black waters. The woman was now waist high, moving slowly. Her long dark hair clung to her skinny body in thick chunks, contrasting her pale skin, and inky beads of water ran down her face and white dress. Even from a distance the soldier could tell she was beautiful, could tell there was an elegance radiating from her features like a candle rising into a world in which it did not belong. A world in which honesty and purity were merely faded memories buried beneath unmarked tombstones.
The soldier found himself trying to remember the last beautiful thing he had seen, but could recall nothing. His mind was frantic. His heart thudding in a dull ferocity. His stomach in a knot. The sound of war was overwhelming, like being swallowed by the gaping mouth of an indifferent, stone-faced sky. Suffocating, like trying to suck in air while drowning in a world of shattered glass. There was also a dark, hollow loneliness to the fact that out of all the years he had spent in this world, he could not recall a single memory which could be described as beautiful. Nothing but a tarnished grey muddling into what was, like the long, dirty arms of monsters embracing a corpse. Old memories etched into indefinable images, things so long past that they were no longer alive, no longer real. Things turned to ash, and then blown away by the winds of an empty life. A pointless life. The loneliness–which was now suddenly closing in on him like four brick walls; all with individual grudges, all with one purpose, one destination–and the emptiness, which had a weight beyond all else: these were dilemmas the soldier had not noticed until now. Hadn’t thought of until the sight of her.
She looked up at him.
Directly at him.
The weight of her eyes settled upon him like a burden she refused to tolerate, an encumbrance she could bear alone no longer, and so decided to share, decided to give away to the first and only bite from that onerous hook, the first and only victim to that dark and heavy gaze.
He reacted in dumbfounded silence, unable to move.
His senses lost somewhere far away.
An arrow pierced the man through the shoulder, sending him off his tall black horse and onto the bodies of his fallen comrades. It knocked the wind out of him. Blinking white stars littered his vision, but faded quickly. Only lingered mere seconds. As he lay there, gasping and reaching out towards the dull white sky, the screams and crashing weapons swirled in and out of each other, danced in a slow but heavy spiral.
Cold rain began to fall from the sky like blunt arrows cast down from a disappointed god, turning the dirt under the trampled grass to thick sticky mud. It came down so hard and so fast that it seemed to want to flood the world and wash away the ugliness taking place below it. Wanted to rid itself of humanity and the trail of filth such a monster left behind.
The soldier in black armour climbed to his knees, reached for his sword, found it, and then gazed out at the battle in front of him. He felt as if he weren’t a part of the bloodbath, as if he had died long ago and hadn’t even realized it, had merely gone along with this strange idea of life only to find himself here at the edge of the world, only to find himself faithless and soulless in a place which promised madness to all. He was like the shadow of the man he was supposed to be, one who had lost his way on the path to the afterlife, and found himself here on the outskirts of hell, staring down into it like a drunk child.
Then he felt the rain.
Battering him relentlessly.
He felt the coldness of it run through his short, dark hair like the long, bony fingers of an old woman, felt the water crawl down his face like little spiders with icy legs, and then remembered the arrow through his shoulder. Remembered the pain. It sucked him back into consciousness.
He closed his eyes a moment, and then looked forward, confused. How long had he been gawking at the bloodshed? How long had he been kneeling here within the mangled remains of his fallen friends?
The battled had passed by. Had forgotten him, but still thrived in the distance like a bloated worm. Those who once lived in the safety of Vellanon had rolled over top of him and the rest of the bodies, pushing further into the Backlanton infantry lines like a carriage of corpses on their way to damnation, plowing into those who had come from the mountains, those who strayed from the snowy peaks of Gallanock only to find themselves at this terrible end. To find that they would die at the edge of the world, a place in which they would only be remembered by the trees, grass, and sky–but forgotten by all else. Seeing the carnage from a distance had an eeriness to it, and had a way of appearing smaller and bigger at the same time. Obviously, it was smaller because it was further away, but it was bigger because he was detached from it. It was as if he were watching a painting which moved–a painting which bled. This made it seem even more massive than it had been before, as if the battle was a living thing which couldn‘t possibly be real, but somehow existed. Somehow lived on like a nightmare lurking in the memory of a man on his deathbed. A stain which stood before him bright, blaring, and true.
He used his sword as a crutch to stand up, and then looked down at the weapon clenched in his muddy fingers. Rain poured down the cold metal seeming as if wanting to cleanse the tool of murder, wanting to heal it somehow. But it was incurable. The thing used to steal others' lives was something which could never be healed. Never forgiven. And being the sword’s wielder, the soldier supposed that he too would never be healed or forgiven. Never have the stains of his mistakes washed away from the guilt which harboured in the pits of his heart like crumpled flies stacked in the corners of a frozen windowsill. No, the emotionless tool clenched white-knuckled in his tired hands had taken something from him over these long years. Had stolen his hope. And although he sensed the guilt of such a life tugging at him like a little one wanting to ask a question of which he had no answer for, he really held no remorse. Regret was something left behind a long time ago, like a snakeskin shed as another useless item during the trip across a wasteland of worthlessness. Or so he thought. So he hoped. For if he ever had to face such a thing, ever had to face the guilt and regret possibly hiding somewhere within himself, he would crumble like a tower with a weak foundation. He would fail, and fall forever.
The katana had a worn, smoke-grey hilt, the color of hate seen in old memories, and had otherworldly oldness to it, as most weapons used for warfare did. The long wide handle was wrapped in faded leather, and was beginning to fray in some places, making the thing appear even older. It was a plain weapon, but practical. Simple, but efficient. Something which could be relied upon without getting in the way–and that was a rare thing in this world. It was, in fact, so odd and so foreign that he suddenly found himself wondering what else had such reliability. Could anything else be so lifeless, yet so faithful? Could anything else be trusted?
Sound was something which made no difference anymore, like a dream of something he never understood. Endlessly surreal. He wanted to call out to the sky and ask if this really was all just a dream, but couldn’t. Realized it wouldn’t make a difference. If heaven had ears, his cries would never reach their abandoned chambers. Never make it through to those who cared. He felt like a one armed man trying to draw