View Full Version : A Short Walk in the Woods : Finished
May 19th, 2006, 09:13 AM
I'm not much of a writer, but I thought that I'd share this with everyone, since I read that topic about wanting more fan fiction. I think now I'm officially a dork, but thats ok. If anyone can think up a good title, I'd love to hear it. I was thinking of A Walk in the Woods, but I guess that one is already taken. :? Anyways, there are five sections total, and I'll probably post a section a day, unless people really want to read the rest of it before that. The story is completely done already, but I think keeping people in suspense is fun :twisted:
Oh, also, the main character Julius needs a last name. Give me one of those too.
Commander Julius knelt on the forest floor and checked the marker that he had placed a week earlier. His expression was grim, since his earlier fears were now realized. Just a week ago, Julius had placed this marker at the border where the Volcarren Wasteland met the Forgotten Forest. Now, the marker was inside the forest about a thirty paces, next to trees that were already dozens of feet high. Confronted with this puzzle, Julius could think of only two possibilities. Either someone was playing a mean trick on him, and he very much doubted that anyone would travel two days into this molten wasteland for the sake of a little joke, or the forest was growing into the Wasteland at an incredible rate.
Probably something to do with magic, Julius thought, with a hint of bitterness. Julius was the first to admit that he really didn’t understand magic, and after spending a month in Valhalla, he didn’t think he was really any closer to understanding it. There was no magic back on Earth, and Julius preferred it that way. He had served under Maximus Decimus Gallus as a commander of the armies of Rome. Julius and Maximus were like brothers, and Julius served loyally without question for many years and many campaigns. He had thought Maximus dead when he was pulled off his horse by a horde of Germanic Barbarians. The armies of Rome carried the day, but they were never able to find Maximus’ body. They had assumed it had been torn apart.
Julius learned the truth almost a year later, when a stray arrow struck him in the throat. After some fevered minutes of working, the combat medics gave up and left him alone to die in a medical tent. Lying on his blood soaked cot staring at the point where the pole held up the fabric of the tent, Julius started to think about where his life had lead him so far. He had served Rome well, and was sure that there was a spot in Elysian Fields waiting for him. He would miss Rome though, as well as his wife and son. They would handle the news of his death well, he was sure of it. Every time he left for a campaign, he left them knowing that this might be the last time that he would see them in this life. No, he had no real regrets. He hoped that Marcus would be there in Elysian Fields, waiting for him. Strangely, it seemed that Marcus actually was there in the tent with him. Julius gave a start, certain that he had died without noticing it. But his entire body was still in agony, and the inside of the tent didn’t look anything like he would have imagined paradise to look like. He knew he was still alive, and that Marcus was really there, standing in his tent.
For the next ten minutes, Julius lay there, still dying, but now listening to Marcus relate the most incredible story. Marcus had never died. He was dragged off his horse and pulled to the ground, but instead of hitting the earth and being torn apart by the barbarians, he somehow traveled through the ground into “a realm between darkness and light” as Marcus had put it. Marcus told him of Einar, a Valkarie General who had saved him and brought him to Valhalla. Marcus also told Julius that this wasn’t the end of is campaigning days, but that they were only beginning. Julius was offered another chance at life.
Julius took it. Marcus carried him to another world and Julius was given a drink of water out of something called a Wellspring. Instantly, his wounds were healed and the pain in his throat and chest stopped. It was a miracle.
Of course, if he knew that his first assignment was going to be playing errand boy to a freak, he might not have been thrilled with his second chance at life. Marcus gave him the news a week after his recovery. He was going to be stationed out in the Volcarren Wastelands, under the command of someone called Brunak. The way that Marcus said the name, it made Julius think back to when the two of them had just joined the Legion and were both under the command of a Centurion called Grant. Grant was a large, red faced man with no respect for his soldiers and had little qualms with having a man whipped for no reason at all. Brunak sounded just like Grant. In reality, the comparison was way off. Brunak was a Trolticor from someplace called Wolfin. He was a creature straight out of legend, with a trollish torso sitting on top of a lion’s body. The first time Julius saw Brunak, he was impressed despite himself. But after about eight months of patrolling these wastelands, any awe or respect he had for Brunak was replaced with loathing. Brunak might not look anything like Grant, with the possible exception of the red face, but he shared Grant’s same disrespect for the people beneath him. Brunak made it very clear that he thought humans were very far beneath him, and delegated Julius to a weekly patrol around the wastelands in order to “guard the borders”. Julius knew this was a stupid assignment. There was no strategic value to the wastelands. Come to think of it, there was no value to the wastelands at all. Just miles and miles of cracked blackish red earth, with nothing to break up the monotony except rivers of molten lava and steam vents that could erupt and boil a man alive with no warning whatsoever. Of course it was worth guarding.
Julius put those thoughts behind him. Right now, he had to report to Brunak that every day approximately ten feet of wasteland was covered over with this rapidly growing forest. Nothing in Julius’ experience could explain this phenomenon, but then again, in Valhalla, none of Julius’ experience counted for anything.
May 19th, 2006, 09:57 AM
Nice - give me more :)
May 19th, 2006, 10:09 AM
Thats cool. I really like this a lot.
May 28th, 2006, 10:38 AM
Hey everyone. Sorry it has been so long between the first and second insallments. It was an unlucky combination of moving (and waiting a week for the DSL modem to show up) and work installing a new firewall that prohibits me from posting (major bummer). So I'm going to just go ahead and post the rest in a couple sections. Here goes.
May 28th, 2006, 10:40 AM
A week later, Julius found himself back at the marker, which by now was easily a hundred paces inside the jungle. Brunak hadn’t taken well to the news that his precious wasteland was being overgrown by “green stuff”. The only positive thing that came out of this whole thing was that Julius was given command over some soldiers. Of course, most of his troops were freaks too. He glanced over at the ten Marro Drones standing in a loose circle, all staring blankly around, looking not at all alert. In the center of the Marro circle stood a creature obviously different from the rest. He (It? Julius wondered) was obviously Marro, but he had a level of intelligence greater than the Drones.
Marcus had explained to him a bit about the Marro before he was sent off on assignment. The Marro were creatures much like a swarm of bees or ants. Each colony of Marro lives in a single structure called a Hive, and is all under the command of a single Hive Overlord. All the Marro in the hive have a link to this overlord, who they remain in direct contact with at all times. Marro aren’t individuals, so much as they are a large single body with many individual parts, all being controlled by the same mind. The farther that the Marro travel from their hive, the less contact they have with the Overlord, and the longer it takes for them to react to sudden situations. These Marro were very far from their hive, and in order for them to be worth having in these kinds of small skirmish situations, they had to have a Marro Controller with them. The creature in the center was a Controller, capable of hearing the Overlord even across great distances and relaying the messages to nearby drones.
Also in Julius’ band was three of Marcus’ Legionaries. Julius was grateful that Marcus saw it fit to send some humans along. He didn’t know what he would have done if it had been just him and the Drones. All three Legionaries had served in Marcus’ Legion and were taken along with him to Valhalla. The Romans were all armed with their tower shields, as broad as a man and almost as tall used to hide behind from enemy arrows. Each carried a sword at his side and was wearing their bronze armor. Julius knew from experience that wearing the bronze armor out into the Wastes was uncomfortable at best. Sometimes, it felt like you were cooking in it. He tried to remember their names. Trajan was the youngest of the three. Obviously he had also been in Valhalla the shortest amount of time, judging from the nervous look he always had and the relative freshness and lack of dents in his armor and shield. Gaius had the look of one who knew what he was doing, and could be counted on in a tight spot. Justinian was bald and wore no helmet, and was always being picked on that his skull was so thick it could turn any blade. The three had obviously worked together before, and didn’t seem to find him much of a commander, but Julius was still glad for the company.
Brunak’s instructions were to find out what was causing this sudden increase in the growth of the forest, and put a stop to it. When Julius asked exactly what he was looking for, the only response he got from Brunak was “something magical”. Like that did him any good. All he knew about magic was that it made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end when he was around it. That wasn’t much to go on, and the forest was getting bigger every day. Julius sighed, and signaled the advance leading the party into the jungle. It was going to be one of those days.
May 28th, 2006, 10:48 AM
After three hours, Julius was ready to scream. They had been walking around in this accursed jungle all morning, and all they had found so far was a bog filled with nasty biting bugs, an overturned tree that was home to about a million bees and a new type of plant that if you touched gave an awful rash that made moving about painful. Julius glanced over at the Drone walking beside him with a measure of envy. With no minds, the drones didn’t care that this whole mission was doomed to failure and that they were wasting their time running around in the woods. Julius knew that the ten drones under his command were from the same spawning pool, since they had matching head fans with the similar markings. He idly wondered if he stepped on the Drone’s foot next to him if he would cause pain to all of them.
The drones weren’t dealing well with the terrain at all. The controller seemed to be having a hard time keeping them all walking around trees, over holes and not letting them walk into the vines with the large thorns. More than once a drone would walk beneath a tree, only to have his bladed staff that was strapped to his back catch between two low hanging branches, leaving the drone stuck until the controller could pry his attention away from the other nine for long enough to have the drone free himself. It was like watching an adult shepherd around a bunch of uncoordinated kids.
The three Legionaries were faring better, although only barely. One had suffered a nasty gash on his leg right above the boot when a rock gave way and caused him to stumble. They seemed to be held back by the large tower shields they carried, and were arguing over whether they should leave them behind or not. Julius had insisted that they carry them, because nobody knew what they should expect once they are inside. After a couple hours and nobody seeing anything larger than a squirrel, Julius was starting to rethink his position.
“Company Halt!” Julius called out. He was sick of this assignment, sick of Valhalla, sick of Brunak, but right now even more sick of this damned forest. The drones came to a halt following an unspoken command from their Commander. How do they communicate? Julius thought to himself. I’ve never heard them make a noise. I know that they understand me, but what are they going to do if one of them finds something? Will they even think to let me know? Julius swore under his breath again. He took a sip from his water and looked over to the Legionaries. One was sitting on the forest floor drinking from his water skin, while the other was leaning against a tree, looking like he was dozing. Julius didn’t see the third, but he did see the large tower shield leaning against a stump nearby.
“Gaius, where did Trajan go?” Julius asked the Legionnaire leaning against the tree.
“He went to relieve himself, I think, Sir.” Gaius answered. He looked uncomfortable. Apparently they had been in Valhalla long enough that they had forgotten that nobody should have gone anywhere without the permission of a superior officer. If they were on Earth, Trajan would be beaten, and possibly Gaius also just to make an example.
But this isn’t Earth, Julius thought, and besides, I don’t know that this counts as a war situation. As long as something like this doesn’t happen again, I’ll let this one go. “Very well,” he announced out loud, “Next one who leaves without permission gets lashes. How long has he been gone?”
“A minute or so.”
“Go find him.”
Julius sat down on a log. I need to rethink my approach. We aren’t getting anywhere just wandering around. I think that we need to press in deeper to the forest. I’m not even sure that the part of the forest we are in now was here a month ago. If something in here is causing this rapid growth, it has got to be in the center of the Old Forest, which existed before the Wastelands.
Julius glanced over as Gaius entered the clearing, alone. “I searched all over in the direction that Trajan left in Sir, but I didn’t see him anywhere. I didn’t call out in fear of giving away our position.”
“Very well,” Julius replied grimly. So far, nothing gained and one soldier is lost wandering out in the woods somewhere. “Controller, have your drones spread out at 30 paces and make a sweep in that direction.”
The controller started at him with his eyeless sockets. Damn, this is unnerving, Julius thought, I don’t even know that they understood me. But his fears proved groundless, and the drones spaced themselves out accordingly and marched off into the forest. The drones were great searchers, since when one made a discovery, they all became aware of it. Plus, with their ability to communicate with the Controller over a wide area, the minute that a drone found anything, the Controller would let him know. Of course, he had never heard the Controller or any Marro speak, so he was just assuming that the Controller could let him know…
Julius’ thoughts were interrupted by a light tap on the top of the head. What in the world… he thought to himself as he glanced up to see what had hit him. It was the Controller. Now that the Controller saw that he had Julius’ attention, he started heading off into the woods, stopping ever couple of steps and looking back. It was obvious to Julius that he was meant to follow. He hesitated only a moment and then started after the Marro, beckoning the two remaining Romans to come along. He sure wasn’t getting lost in the middle of a magic jungle with only an alien for company. They had traveled only a couple hundred paces when up ahead they saw a Drone that seemed like it was doing a strange kind of dance. After some thought and a mean comment from Gaius about the Drones obvious need to relieve himself, Julius saw that it was trying to point a the base of a nearby tree, but obviously was mimicking the pointing motion it had seen before.
Stupid Drones, Julius thought as he knelt down to investigate. What he found made him gasp in astonishment. At the base of the tree he found a brown boot.
May 28th, 2006, 10:51 AM
Julius swore and pulled his sword from his scabbard. The Romans immediately closed up behind him and covered them all with their shields. Something is out there, Julius thought. That is definitely a Legionnaire’s boot. He strained his eyes, looking for some trail or mark of passage, but couldn’t see anything. His eyes fell on the Controller and he remembered that he still had Drones out in the forest. “Controller, call the Drones back!” he barked, still keeping his eyes out for trouble.
The forest is quiet, Julius noted. We have been hearing birds and other animals almost continually, but now, nothing. It is almost like something is out there, hunting. Julius shook his head, trying to banish the fear and mostly succeeding. One by one, the Drones came into sight. After eight had made it back, some unspoken signal made the Drones suddenly all drew their weapons and became very alert. They all turned to face north, and crouched down low.
“The last two drones aren’t coming back, are they?” Julius asked the Commander. The Commander returned a look that said volumes.
We need to get to a clearing or something, Julius thought, I can’t see twenty paces in this jungle and I don’t even know how many we are fighting. We need to move.
“Everyone follow my lead! Controller, have two Drones wait here as a rear guard. Tell them to stay out of sight and report anything that is following us. Gaius, Justinian, watch our backs. We are moving to a clearing where we can fight.”
Julius didn’t even check to see if the Commander was able to understand his instructions for the two Drones that were staying behind. The party formed up quickly and Julius led the column away from the direction that he believed the enemy to be. “Are you sure that there is a clearing up ahead? I don’t remember seeing one,” Justinian asked. Julius ignored him. If we ever get out of this forest, Justinian is getting lashes, he swore silently to himself. Straining his eyes ahead, he gave a gasp when the drones all gave a simultaneous twitch. Now that he had been around them for awhile, he knew that the rear guard had met an untimely end. I guess they do feel each other’s pain, he thought, and then an absurd thought popped into his head, I guess I shouldn’t step on their feet.
Up ahead, Julius saw a clearing. “All right everyone, just a little farther!” he shouted over his shoulder as he broke into a jog. He could feel the fear start to rise up, clouding his mind. He tried to fight it, to keep a clear head, but the thoughts came pouring in. I would give anything to be out of this forest. I can’t fight what I can’t see. I’m not trained for this kind of battle. I can’t communicate with my troops. I can’t see my enemies. Never have the armies of Rome run from a battle that needed to be fought, and here I am fleeing from an enemy that I haven’t even seen. Behind him, he heard a man scream. Still breaking into a run, Julius didn’t even turn around to look.
With only ten paces left, Julius felt something large swing past the back of his head. The rush of air that followed behind the object was so strong that it caused him to misstep and stumble slightly. He recovered and ran on towards the clearing, his heart pounding hard. I’m never going to make it. I’m going to die out here. A couple of steps later, he was in the clearing. He spun around, eyes searching for any sight of an enemy, anything that he could strike it. What he did find was that the flight to the clearing had cost him dearly.
May 28th, 2006, 10:54 AM
The Controller was gone. Looking quickly around, Julius spotted his body grotesquely twisted in the upper branches of a nearby tree. Also half of his remaining Drones were gone, with the three left looking about, obviously confused by the loss of their Controller. Justinian was alone. The scream that he had heard earlier was obviously Gaius, who fell to whoever or whatever was attacking them.
Julius and Justinian stood back to back in the center of the clearing, looking about warily. Both were exhausted from their flight in full armor, but fear kept them alert and on their feet. The Drones were wandering about the clearing. “You, over there!” Justinian called out to them, but they ignored him. “Drones, form up!” Julius ordered. The Drones did stop and look at him quizzically, but didn’t follow his orders.
It was just then that Julius saw the flying drone. He came whizzing out of the forest, tumbling through the air, like the dead bodies that the armies of Rome used to fling from their catapults to strike fear into their enemies. This Drone was being used for much the same purpose. It hit a tree on the other side of the clearing, impaling itself on one of the branches. Julius felt sick when he realized that it was only half a Drone. The Drone’s legs were missing, torn off by whatever force was assaulting them. As they stared, behind them in the forest they heard something come charging towards the clearing. They felt the ground shake with the footsteps that were getting louder and louder. It took all the discipline that Julius possessed to turn around and draw his blade. Everyone in his little party was crouched there, just waiting for their enemy to enter the clearing. It was only when they heard the loud roar, something like the lions in the Arena only a hundred times louder and full of fury that they realized that their enemy wasn’t a group of people. It wasn’t even human. It was some large creature, and it was coming right for them. Both Justinian and Julius took one look at each other, turned around and ran. They heard another roar, followed by the sounds of the remaining Drones being ripped to shreds, but they never turned around. Into the forest they ran, not caring where they were going, pushing aside branches and leaping over rocks and anything else that would trip them up.
Julius had never been so terrified in his entire life. His legs burned, but he knew that if he didn’t keep running, he would be killed. He didn’t even have a plan. His mind could only think of escape. He ran, desperately looking for a place to hide, but he was running too fast and the forest was like a blur in front of him. Up ahead he saw a clearing and turned towards it, losing sight of Justinian. The creature was behind him, he was sure. He could swear that he felt its breath.
Julius burst into the clearing, his eyes taking in the sights without even meaning to. The clearing was large, with what looked like a magnificent fountain in the center. The fountain was in the shape of a great dragon, and water was pouring from its mouth and claws like a river into a great basin. But this water was nothing like Julius had ever seen. It seemed to fall in slow motion, perfectly clear and sparkling. As he looked at it, the hairs on the back of his neck started to stand on end. The water was magical! He was sure that this was another Wellspring, like the one that had given him back life when he was sure to have died. It must be the source of the forests rapid growth. If it had the power to return the forest to life where there once was wasteland, surely it had the power to get him out of this situation. All these thoughts flew through Julius’ head in a second. He had no idea what he was going to do when he got there, but he was sure that this Wellspring was his only hope. His body turned and started the sprint towards the fountain.
Only fifty paces left! The thoughts seemed to fly through Julius’ head of their own accord. He would make it. He was sure of it. Forty left! He heard the creature behind him enter the clearing, knocking over trees in pursuit. Thirty! He heard the roar and knew that he was going to make it. He had too much of a head start. He was safe. The fear started to melt away. He could think clearly again. Twenty! Julius’ feel felt light. He wasn’t sure how, but he knew that the Wellspring had the power to save him. He was ready to leap into the basin and drink of the lifesaving water. Ten!
With ten paces left, Julius was struck from behind by something heavy. It knocked him completely off balance, tripping him over and causing him to hit his head on the basin. His vision went blurry, and he was sure that if he wasn’t wearing his helmet he would have cracked his skull open. Shaking his head to clear it, he got to his hands and knees and looked over at what had hit him.
Justinian’s sightless eyes stared back at him. Whatever it was that was attacking him had flung the corpse across the clearing. The fear came back, rolling over Julius like a wave. He pulled out his sword and rolled over onto his back, only to see a huge figure standing over him, blocking out the sun. A large green claw came crashing down, with a huge talon piercing his protective chain mail and stomach, pinning him to the ground. The pain was more than he had ever experienced before, and his sword dropped from his nerveless fingers. The last thing that Julius ever saw was a great green head with a large mouth full of teeth descending on him.
Charos, the great Dragon, sat alone in the clearing with his Wellspring, surrounded only by the couple of bodies of the intruders that dared to enter his realm. It’s good to be King, he thought idly as he watched the magic of the Wellspring repair the damage he had done to the trees at the edge of the clearing and flow further on, expanding the Forgotten Forest further and further into the Volcarren Wastes.
May 28th, 2006, 10:55 AM
Ok, there you go. Hope you enjoyed it. I'll post the cards for Julius and the Marro Controller as soon as I finish painting up the minis that I'm going to use.
May 28th, 2006, 11:11 AM
good story bobbo I liked it.
May 29th, 2006, 01:12 PM
Great story bobbo but section 1 "He had served under Maximus Decimus Gallus as a commander of the armies of Rom" mispell of Rome :P :wink:
May 29th, 2006, 01:16 PM
Ya,and at first I couldve sworn they were being attacked by venocs and that was their warlord approching Julius, but It happened to be charos, good turn around.
June 2nd, 2006, 12:23 AM
Left me wanting more.
The only thing that would make this cooler, would be illistrations from H.E.H.
June 4th, 2006, 09:59 PM
Great story bobbo but section 1 "He had served under Maximus Decimus Gallus as a commander of the armies of Rom" mispell of Rome :P :wink:
Oops. Freakin editors. What do I pay you for?
Oh wait, I don't pay them anything.
Oh wait, I don't even have any...
Good catch. I try to edit it the best I can, but you know how you read something so many times that you stop really reading the words? I think I hit that point.
Thanks guys. I don't think that there will be anything else to add to this story, but maybe inspiration will strike and we will figure out of Brunak will stand for this invasion of his wastelands. :wink:
June 17th, 2006, 07:47 PM
great story I really enjoyed reading, can't wait for a new.
Keep up the good work.
Makes me want to make a board with a wellspring and rules for the forest to expand, have one team control the dragon or something along that line.
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