Welcome back, HoneyScribblers! As you read from the title, today I'll be sharing yet another piece of mine that holds a special place in my heart. It's a high fantasy short story set in a future, teeming with species of different sorts. Humans no longer exist, but a remnant of their past does...and it plans on ravaging whatever remains of the world if a brave creature doesn't step up and fulfill his destiny. Without further ado, read on and enjoy :) (I really hope you do)
The Beast Within
A Short Story By HoneyScribbles
It was a windless day in Atalium, and spirits roamed the air with hushed voices, seeking sin in the minds they steered. Nethering Woods seemed endless to Arden James, and archaic with the memories of the Dark ages that ravaged the Earth to bits. Centuries later, the mist in bygone days still troubled the heavens, an overcast of twilight over the vast terrene.
His aureate eyes cast over branches that dangled from elm wood, and a variety of flowers spruced up in assemblages of colour. Arden strolled to the Calla Lilies, plucking a mahogany flower from the posy and bringing the sweet aroma to his nose. His nostrils flared, and he released a heavy sigh that slipped past his beast-like lips. In an instant, the features of his face contorted under his command, morphing the thin flesh of skin into muscled countenance. His jaw clenched instinctively, and the frail teeth in his mouth became razor-sharp fangs. The head of a goat prodded from his spine, and a serpentine tail emerged out of thin air. He was in his veracious form, a beast predestined to dominate and rule above all other masses. A fate as a matter of course, Arden thought. A fate I never want to uphold.
The woods were quiet, he noted. Too quiet. Trepidation ran up his spine, and his additional pair of eyes observed the terrain with remarkable precision. His paws dug into the soil as he thrashed them back and forth. A snarl passed from his lips, and an impending growl rested in the back of his throat.
Promptly, a reptile emerged from the shadows, cracking a devilish grin at him.
“Gallan,” Arden breathed out heavily, recasting his animal spirit for a mortal. “You scared the flying devils out of me!”
“That was the intention, chimera. Coursing without me?”
“Picking flowers, actually,” Arden murmured, suddenly unnerved with himself. Gallan only chuckled through his gaping mouth, elongating his tongue to double the average size. Juniper scales laced his skin, overlapping over one another and concealing the ebony flesh underneath.
“Drop the guise, basilisk. The sight is regurgitating,” Arden added, covering his mouth with puffery. Gallan rolled his flaxen eyes, exchanging the brute for warm flesh and blood.
“Alright, beastie. What are you really doing here?” Gallan grilled, slithering to his closest friend. Arden glanced down at the sod clinging to the surface of the ground, taking a gander at his tailpiece that hadn't withdrawn.
“I—” he began, only to halt from the clamour of noise awakening the woods. The sound was deafening against the stillness, which only increased the chimes of menace.
Wailing cries, Arden discerned. It only took a moment for him to grasp Gallan’s hand and wrench him into a full-blown sprint.
“Banshee!” he exclaimed. Gallen widened his muted eyes. They scuttled for a ledge and leaped into the air with sheer strength. The chimera stretched his forearms, coated in thick golden fur and thew, while the basilisk straightened his appendages and revealed epidermal scutes, lethal to the touch.
The spirit was not far behind, and its strides approached quicker than either of them could fathom. Gallan twisted his figure to look back, pinching his mouth inwards. “She’s drawing near!”
Arden huffed under his breath, conjuring up a plan. “Move eastward. Enshroud in the trees and attack on my command. I’ll deflect her attention.” With a nod, the reptile receded from view, and he spinned around, fixing his gaze on the banshee.
They met eyes, and Arden felt a sudden sense of dread. Primitively, her orbs effused a tinge of hazelwood under radiance, but a wicked vermillion assailed the former hue. Devils, Arden thought. Devils have steered her mind.
He blasted towards the ground as a wail of cry shattered the ambience surrounding them. Finches ascended into the air, startled by the scream, and creatures of the sky realm, Via, presented themselves in search of prey.
Without warning, the banshee hurtled into Arden as he lurched towards the ground, tussling with celestial strength. She attempted to raise her charged hands, but Arden seized her wrists, changing to a mortal once again.
“Stop,” he forced out. “What is your business in the Nethering W—Phoebe? ...Phoebe Allister?”
The banshee bristled, recoiling under his touch. “Do not speak my name from your muzzle, ever. How do you know my name?”
“You went to the School of Bestial Creatures, correct?”
She narrowed her eyes, “I do not have to tell you a thing about myself. We are not the same, nor will we ever be. I will spare you ten seconds to scamper before I hunt again. Ten. Nine. Eight—”
“You’re not serious—”
“Six. Five. Four. Three—”
Arden broadened his eyes. Run, feline. Run. His legs jerked upright in a rush, stripping into a coat of furskin and travelling faster than the speed of light. Leaves crunched under his paws, and twigs hindered his slowing momentum.
Phoebe raced on his tail, drifting closer and closer until her ashen palms clutched his tail. He soared backwards, stumbling onto his rear with a grimace.
“I must say...I’m not impressed. From my standpoint, it seems like my gran could last longer than you,” she hissed, grinding her heel into his leg. A growl emanated from Arden’s lips, and the banshee gnashed her deformed teeth against one another.
She extracted a claymore sword from her hip, fiddling with the tapered edge. Phoebe smirked to herself, skimming the alloy across Arden’s brisket. “My voice is a dangerous, lethal weapon, as you are aware. Even so...I do rejoice in a slow, agonizing death.”
She upheaved the sword, unsuspecting of the chimera’s intention to make himself and his reptile friend scarce. “Not today you won’t,” he whispered under his breath. “Now!”
Gallan latched himself onto her back and she capsized, falling headlong into the dirt. Arden hauled him up, and with a prompt glance, they bolted for the apex of the woods. A screeching cry reverberated through the air, shattering whatever serenity remained amongst the vegetation.
The boys stared at one another, timidity apparent on their faces. Gallan yelled mid-sprint, “We need Renald!”
Arden wavered, shaking his head, “It’s too risky. Remember the last time we—”
“Distinctly, but there won’t be a next time for us if he doesn’t get his rump out of the seven seas,” Gallan snapped, and Arden agreed with a reluctant nod.
They spotted a vast heathland miles away and approached it swiftly, catching the subdued racket of a banshee close behind. “Here,” the chimera said, and Gallan backpedalled in haste.
Arden scoured the grasslike area, idle of animals that once roamed the plains. With a gulp, he advanced forward, suspending midair, and towered the ground for several seconds. Paws knocked the ground as he descended, and his golden mane reflected every shaft of sunlight in the upper regions. Truest form, Arden thought. Doesn’t feel like it.
His mouth resonated a thunderous roar, tumultuous and piercing enough to be heard throughout every realm in Atalium. Gallan forced his eyes shut, sheathing them with flaky skin. Tobias Renald. We need your help.
In an instant, the aforementioned one surfaced from natural forces, appearing in a gust of vapour. He straightened his incorporeal form, sharing gazes with his summoners.
“Arden James and Gallan Ramsey,” he drew out, “What have you brought about this time?”
“Stop it! No! Why must I do this?” Phoebe groaned to herself, jerking forward and clutching her hands over her slender ears. The tips pricked her fingers, staining dark crimson that seeped through her hair.
“It is your legacy,” the voices purred, vehement and beyond the banshee’s control. “You were born to succour the second sight, the prophecy of your birthright.”
“W—why?” she croaked out.
The spirits hissed with anger, “Do not question us. We are the only thing sustaining Gens Banshia. Yield, or face the same fate as the multitude of Ethuria.”
“I will, your eminence,” Phoebe says, uncoiling her spine with a curled upper lip. She clenched her fist until trickles of blood splattered onto the ground, a sign of her everlasting genesis.
“Remember your divination: The golden chimera must cease to exist before the prime female of Gens Banshia takes her final breath. Act in accordance, and we shall never merge with your soul again.”
“How will I find them?”
“Leave that to us. Now, prepare yourself to do what must be done.”
Phoebe bowed her head with compliance, sallying forth. The words of her master dwelled in her mind. She set out with a single intention in mind: Kill the golden chimera or her lineage.
She chose the former without a second thought.
The realms around her disappeared in a cloud of smoke as she soared past tones of green and brown. Her body may have belonged to her, but her mind was taken hostage by the very people she once loathed. Now, she relished in the glory they bestowed her with, and wondered why she ever obeyed the commands of her old school.
“Those who deny themselves will never pluck a strand off a beast’s tail,” the evil spirits said to her.
I am the first female of Gens Banshia, Phoebe mused, and I will destroy the chimera with a deathly welcome.
“Devils, I leave you fools for a minute, and a banshee is broiling on your tails?” Tobias asked with incredulity. Arden ducked his head, while Gallan clawed at his blemished flesh.
“Just about,” Gallan mumbled.
The encantados shifted his eyes into the distance, analyzing details that only he could notice. After a lengthy pause, he cast his eyes over the creatures, crinkling the features of his half-dolphin face. His eyes reflected his home, waves of unfrosted blue and crystalline rock.
“Prowlers approach. Whom exactly, I’m not sure. All I know is that they are dangerous.”
Arden furrowed his face. “What should we do?”
“We can make use of the subterranean tunnels,” Gallan suggested, but Tobias shook his head.
“The underground realm, Nava, is presently at war with the sky realm. It would cause further disruption and attention we do not need.” He observed the pasture, shutting his eyes briefly and opening them with an afresh sight.
“They are advancing from the Hama desert. We must leave now—”
Howls echoed the field, a raging uproar that sent the metamorphs sprawling with agony. Tobias heaved heavily, seeking the solace of water in the sodded region. Arden panted under his breath, a quiet murmur in comparison to his wheezing friend on the ground.
“Gallan, are you all right?”
“Never been better,” he choked out, fluctuating from mortal to reptilian. His face contorted shades of green that troubled Arden, however he was aware that an impending danger was a far greater cause for concern.
Tobias stirred upright, regaining his balance. “I will conjure up a portal—”
Arden piped up with worry. “No. The last time you did that, your energy depleted and nearly left you perished from existence.”
“We will perish here and now if we don’t retreat. Have faith in me that I’ve control over this,” he urged, and the chimera nodded with hesitance.
“Skinwalkers!” Gallan hollered, and they stared into the eyes of heinous creatures. They seized the form of loved ones, every individual the boys distinguished from memory. Arden staggered back at the sight of his parents, their manes striking golden brown and eyes bloody of forsaken. Gallan bowled over as well, taken aback.
They hadn’t seen their parents since they passed the age of ten and joined the School of Bestial Creatures. It was proscribed that they were to never return to their home, the Village of Ethuria, until they desired to settle down. Until then, the beasts populated the Nethering Woods, one of many left to survive in the wilderness for decades.
Tobias shook his friends firmly, recovering them of their delusions. “Arden! Gallan! This isn’t real. Regain yourselves. You must pull through.”
They juddered from side to side, alternating personas and ultimately conquering their inner conflicts. Arden quivered in his mortal form, “Thanks, Tob. We need to leave now.”
Tobias angled his head, pinching his eyes as soft noises emptied from his mouth. The words brought oscillations that shuddered the land, sending a temporary state of inertia in the skinwalkers. Their limbs rumbled to the beat, inducing tremors that disintegrated them to ash.
Arden helped Gallan to his feet, latching onto his scaled arm as the magical creature forged a dewy portal, raised by the underwater realm.
“Where to?” Tobias asked.
“The Island of Nurium,” Arden suddenly thought aloud. Gallan glanced at him in confusion.
“Because I know what needs to be done to defeat the banshee, once and for all.”
Ahh, okay you're probably going to kill me for stopping you there, but I have something to share with you!
You can now find the last 2000(ish) words left of the short story on my Patreon! It is available to both tiers, and I can't wait for you to read the ending because it's EPIC and there's a final battle and two sides preparing for a large battle that CHANGES history and—well, you get the point.
Anyways, can find it by joining either the Bronze Scribbler Patron or Golden Scribbler Patron! All support is appreciated (and returned if you send me a message on Instagram telling me you joined)!
Also, on my Patreon, I don't only post my short stories—I create new templates weekly for all patrons that are essentials for writers and a HUGE part of their writing process. Not only that, I'll be doing commissions for your story characters because I want to see your work come to life :)
Okay, this is a pretty long post so I'll end it here by saying thank you to everyone who's made it this far! If you don't want to join my Patreon but want to support my blog (which would mean the ABSOLUTE WORLD), you can send me a donation by clicking the button the top right-hand corner of my page! It's not set at a fixed price or anything, but any and everything is welcomed <3
Alright, I'll see you in the next post, HoneyScribblers! Until then xx