From the first book in the Woods of Edir setting, Fearsome Devils, here is the second chapter. This chapter sets the stage for who the characters are, how they depend on each other, and what the village means. I wanted to give the readers a snapshot of village life in Edir. It is not primitive, just simple. Joon really is a strong part of their lives.
The most important thing introduced are the 3 talkers, and what talkers really do for this society. Their role in village life is foreign to us, but the value of relationships is so indispensable to the Children.
Edir is a forest hidden away, behind seas, and mountains, and valleys. It exists in solitude simply because it has yet to be discovered. It exists that way also because the denizens of the forest would never leave and be cut off from their precious Joon.
I know that these words find only the minds of the common man because not even the printing press has graced our primitive lands. The newest advancement to the people in Edir is farming; mastery of it is a process of discovery. Knowing in what state my audience exists, an explanation of life here is necessary.
In order to understand, you must first know what Joon is. The best that you may see in your lifetime is a glimpse of magic. Magicians and sorcerers reach into a void and bring back a bit of magic in their hands, but all creatures in Edir have hearts that beat in tune with the magic of the forest. We all have a special connection to the Joon.
The woods breed life. Life powers the mills of Joon. Behind what you can see in the forest is where the magic comes from. Life, death, rebirth, and a person’s will all feed into an ethereal mill that produces Joon. The creatures of the forest channel this energy to release their magical influence onto things around them.
Of all the creatures in the forest, only one resembles you. Not a perfect match, though. The Children of Edir are the keepers of its balance. The Children are the only creatures in Edir born with free will. That is because the mills of Joon need this balance, and only those with the will to preserve it can do so.
To tell this story complete, the story would need to grow along side each villager from their birth; but yet, there exists a moment in time where the causes of grief are birthed and the intervention of the Children is necessary. That is conflict. The disruptor of harmony. We begin with one of the many conflicts in this village.
Many Children are found in this village, and I’ve said already that I would not reveal who I am, but my actions in this story will be frequent. Guess away at my identity. Keep in mind that I play no small part in my own story, a fact I remain proud of. We start with a villager named Merg.
Merg was not a particularly glamorous talker in Fol, the village of the sunny breeze. He minded the connections between the villagers as well as the other talkers, but his own will never seemed to be behind his powers. What good is mending broken relationships when it’s the hunt for food that lets the village thrive?
Merg never thought enough of himself. His talents at mending emotions were impressive, his ideas for betterment were better yet. If there was a path he should have travelled apart from being a talker, it was as a preparer, but his road was traveled and a talker he was.
All of the talkers spent their days in the paths of the town center. A water flow, a ceremonial campfire, fine art carved into the trees themselves, and a roast ready each noon made this spot the perfect place of meeting. Talkers keep a keen ear open here to find hurt relationships and help mend them.
On this particular day a question caught Merg’s attention. The preparers bucked at each other with words like the majestic struggle between two male deer. They could not agree on who should sow the crops for the season. Each read the scrolls, consulted the whisperer, and drew their own plans, but none would yield. Eloo, a talker, tried his best to calm the crowd and choose the sower.
Unhappy with the stubborn preparers, Merg stepped in. He slammed down his club of meeting onto forest floor, which kicked mud onto everyone’s feet. Commanding their attention, his head relaxed and eyes went wide to channel his Joon. This magic subdued the anger of each of the squabblers. Like gentle fawns watching their mother, the group perked their heads to hear.
“Tell me, why do we plant only once? What of this mud makes the fruit grow only there?”, Merg inquired commandingly.
Each preparer started opening their mouths but only Stellaut was given a nod of approval to speak. “It’s the enchanted life, Merg. Our healing pool blesses the plants to grow quickly, but only in this area can we sow the seed,” she explained.
“Can we not spread out this pool? You skilled preparers have done so to protect us. The cursed trench was once only a dried well. You stretched its power to cover more ground. Can this pool not do the same?”, Merg posited.
Merg’s neck retook regular posture and his eyes came back to normal. The once angry mob drifted back to discuss and left the talker to his post. As he failed to recognize the importance of the idea that he laid, the hunting party returned.
Walkers choose the road of the animals. Animals in this world are the lowly creatures that live beneath the Children in stature. They drive the mills of Joon with their lives and are compelled to roam as beasts. Unlike Children, they have no free will of their own, only instinct. With this focus, walkers use their Joon to borrow the likeness of an animal to become great hunters for the village.
Merg noticed that the poles had no animals tied on them. He pushed his way through the crowd to meet the hunting party. The two fellow talkers, Eloo and Loy, also noticed and approached. Almost in unison, they asked about the hunt. “What happened?”.
Each walker covers themselves with pelts and feathers to focus their minds to their craft. Alladeck, the leader of the hunters, adorned with the most colorful pelts, spoke for the group.
“We had our eyes on one of the docile beasts, grazing and secretly preparing for his life to end at our hands. Weetle ran forward to chase the beast to us when we heard a howl. I turned to see a pack of wild dogs. They did not go after our food, they came after us!”, he exclaimed with concern.
Children tend to forget that those who have focused their magic to other uses, whether it be talkers, whisperers, or masters, do not understand the craft of the others easily. This concerned question of why wild dogs would attack people instead of the easy prey was not grasped by the three talkers.
Loy responded quickly, “We should hunt the dogs.”
“Hunt the dogs? That means we must track down everyone,” Alladeck informed back.
Again, this concern did not affect Loy who foolheartedly reinforced his idea, “Then we will have enough for a feast!” His hands raised in the air to encourage the hunters.
Alladeck’s face did not change as he opened his mouth to rebuke this, but his men cheered over his attempted speech. Knowing his place, Alladeck withdrew from attempting the comment again. In his stern years leading the pack of hunters, he learned the futility in arguing.
Loy leaned towards the stone silent face of the hunter and whispered, “Take with you a number of lightfoots. Their quickness should make light work of the animals.”
Alladeck spoke the word and his men shouted to the sky. Quickly, their legs borrowed forms like a horse and rushed ahead to gather the lightfoots.
A stone’s throw from the town center, the huts of the villagers circled the area. Each family builds their own hut as they need. Some sit between trunks of trees, others lie on cold stones. Each a unique and quaint sight.
Past these huts are the labor fields. The fields are nothing more than small clearings in the forest where crops grow or caves open. The lightfoots and masters only call upon their Joon to protect the village. While these important skills hibernate, hard labor becomes their calling.
Busy drying clay for a new hut, three of the lightfoots wiggled the wooden frame into place around the wet brick. Syrel looked up to the sun shining down through the leaves, observing how it harshly punished the clay to become bricks. As he looked back down, he first saw the hoofed legs of the walkers. His eyes readjusted and he saw Alladeck’s regular scowl.
“How goes the hunt?”, he asked, attempting to make conversation.
“You are to come with me and find out.” the hunter shot back.
Syrel jumped to his feet and wiped the dirt from his knees. He glared at the faintly azure skin of the hunter. Each villager tends to be friendly with the other, but at some point in his life Syrel decided that Alladeck did not deserve the gesture.
“Might this idea have grown from you?” Syrel started his challenge.
A moment passed, and the hooves of the other hunters clopped while they kept their balance. “Loy wants us to kill off a pack of dogs. They stopped our hunt today,” the hunter said as he kept his composure.
Realizing that he must oblige the request, Syrel decided to stop the tension. Mist leaked from the palms of the lightfoot. He raised his hand and held it out to greet Alladeck with a friendly grip. The Joon of the lightfoot made the hunter forget about the exchange and their grip turned into a hug. For a moment, they were friends.
“Let’s waste no more day then!” Syrel conceded. The other two lightfoots jumped to their feet and began running.
©2014 Caleb Abbruzzese