Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Writing Wednesdays: The Absurdly Epic Tragedy of Oscambria 1.6

If you've missed any of the previous Cantos to this absurd epic, click here to catch up. Once again, sorry about the length, but I hate splitting up the parts. This Canto is exactly 100 words less than last weeks. I've written a huge, completed outline for this story, so it looks like it'll be going on for quite a while. This is the first story in a long time that I've actually focused on and made a full-fledged outline. I hope you enjoy. Feedback/Criticism is appreciated.
Presently cursed, Oscambria made his way from the cave,
Avoiding all manner of men he met on his way.
He was in the hill country near Athins still,
Which is mostly populated with sheep and their caretakers.
He knew he would be banned from returning to the city and avenging himself,
Banned from entering towns in general,
As his curse made it nearly unbearable for living ones to be around him.

“My exile must last until I rid myself of this curse,” he cried aloud,
if only to hear his voice.
“But I shall seek to find the wondrous woman Koesan,
she of my visions. She will help me reach the second pillar.”
And so he walked aimlessly,
Without thought of where he trod
Or where his feet took him.

Days passed without incident,
Through rain and heat and despair,
Across the hill country and through the flats.
Alone and hungry,
The Hero walked without destination,
A speck in the winds of the Sisters blowing breeze
To arrive where it would arrive.

As one particular day neared its end
And the sun was low in the sky,
Oscambria spied a commotion in a nearby valley.
A gang of thieves and thugs appeared to be harassing a traveling merchant,
And the loud and raucous laughter of drunk men echoed through the hills.
“They’re trying to steal from that poor wagoneer,” said the Hero.
“I must go to his aid.”

Like a wraith moving through mist and fog,
The Hero headed towards the ruckus.
He was unarmed, having only to himself the ruined clothes,
But he was unafraid.
“It is not in my destiny to die here at the hands of these vagrants,” thought he,
“and I will be protected by my fate.
What the Sisters have woven is woven.”

He was near enough to the gang that he could hear them speaking.
“What is that horrible smell?” one of them asked.
“It smells like someone ate an entire boar
and relieved themselves without wiping.”
“No,” said another merrily, “I think mayhap our victims here
have upset bellys from the unfortunate turn of events of this eve,
and their loss of profit is driving out gasses from their rumps.”

Oscambria leapt from the shadows,
Crashing loudly into a man with his back turned.
They toppled to the ground and the Hero brought a swift hand to the man’s head.
He rolled up to his feet in a second,
And in the commotion he stole the downed man’s halberd,
Bringing it up in an offensive position,
snarling viciously at the remaining four thieves.

“Look what we have here,” said the crook nearest Oscambria,
“a hero has come to your rescue, peddlers.”
In the darkness of the gloaming, Oscambria’s grey-skin was hidden,
His ruined garb unnoticed by those surrounding him.
But the stench was there, strong and full,
And Oscambria knew it would quickly drive the men to fear and madness,
Or at least he hoped it would.

One of the men stepped forward and Oscambria slashed without thinking;
The blade of the halberd connected with the man’s exposed arm,
hitting the hard bone of his foe and then proceeded to pass through.
The limb fell freely from the body,
Like an autumnal tree sheds its limbs after a cyclone.
Blood as dark red as those leaves spurted from the open wound
And the man screamed out in pain.

And then the full weight of the curse arrived,
Opening the crooks darkened eyes and setting revelation in their minds.
“The man is cursed!” shouted a stocky man.
The gang immediately abandoned their victims,
Running swiftly from the cart and the cursed one,
Leaving their unconscious comrade in the road.
Even the injured man had enough wits to flee, taking the severed arm with him as he did.

Moments later the Hero looked about the bloodied scene,
Noticing for the first time that there were five bodies on the dirty ground.
One belonged to the unconscious criminal,
And the other four presumably belonged with the wagon.
One was definitely dead,
As evidenced by the jagged cut across his throat
And the puncture wounds on his chest.

The other three were tied up to the wagon wheels,
A small child, an old man, and a woman with dark black hair.
They were all gagged and scared,
But did not appear to have any wounds.
Oscambria stared at them for a long moment,
Deciding how to approach the situation,
And finally knelt down before the old man.

“Sir,” said he gently, “I am going to untie you.
Know that I am cursed, and I will try not to touch your skin.”
The man’s eyes were clouded and white, Oscambria noticed,
And he was likely blind, but his nose probably worked.
Soon he had them all freed and on their feet,
And they stood awkwardly in the growing dark,
The pale moon peering between the shimmering Twin Planets.

For a long moment Oscambria waited,
Uncertain what to do or say.
He wondered if the people he rescued would scorn him,
If they would beg him to leave them be,
To take his curse and go.
He tried to think of something to say
But instead found himself staring at the dark haired girl.

She was young and full of womanhood,
With sharp eyes and very brown hair.
She wore a simple traveling tunic,
Brown and white,
Stained with dust from the roads,
But he found it complimented her pale skin.
“She looks familiar,” thought he.

“Who are you?” inquired the old man suddenly.
The Hero tore his vision from the beautiful girl
And faced the man.
“I am Oscambria of Athins,
the cursed and exiled son of Oscar and Reane,
actor of the Round Theatre and Masque of the Courte du Gods,
at your service, sir.”

Oscambria?” blurted the girl. He quickly looked back to her
and could see the blush rising to her cheeks.
“I mean to say, the Oscambria? The acclaimed performer of ‘Gilgon the Great’
and recently starring in ‘Sing to Me, Cadem!’
You are that Oscambria?”
The Hero could not help but smile,
Bittersweet from his recent departure from the stage and the meeting of a fan.

“Yes, my lady, I am the very one.”
Sadness filled her eyes as she spoke again.
“How very unfortunate for your exile and curse.
We were on our way to Athins to deliver our merchandise
And then we were going to watch ‘Sing to Me.’
How very unfortunate, indeed.”
At a loss for words, Oscambria nodded.

“Mind yourself, girl,” said the old man.
“Of course it’s unfortunate, do you think he is unaware of that?
Bah! But tell me, Oscambria, how you came to be cursed,
As I can only assume it was the curse that led to your exile.”
So, standing in the roadside valley, the Hero delivered his tale,
Starting with the challenge to Zzizgarg
And ending with his visions in the cave.

The three stared at him open mouthed,
Like children salivating for a caramelized apple slice,
Astounded at his amazing tale. (An amazing tale, I do say.)
Again the old man spoke, “Well if that ain’t a dandy.
And you’re apparently pretty good with a blade, too, eh?
You chopped off that one man’s arm after all,
And you scared off all of ‘em but that one that’s still out.”

“Yes, I did do that, but I had the element of surprise.
Plus, it was my curse that scared them off, not my skill with a blade.
Which brings up a question. Why have you all not ran from me
And from this affliction I bear?
I know the smell must be difficult for you.”
The small boy’s face was a shade of green-yellow-blue,
And Oscambria assumed he was trying not to breathe very often.

“Indeed, you are a smelly lad, but not completely unbearable.
And you saved our shipment and our lives.
Twould be rude of us to run off like that,” spoke the old man wisely.
“And we know of your great destiny.
If you are to become a Hero, I’ll wager you won’t get there on your own,
And you could likely use some comp’ny,
And we’re willing to ‘comp with ya.”

“I don’t know what to say,” muttered the Hero,
“except thank you. You’re the first people I’ve met since I’ve greyed
that haven’t ran off screaming. What are your names?”
The old man spoke again, answering for the group.
“I’m Columbus, the girl’s Koesan, and the lad there’s Arca.
The dead man over there was Villay,
A dear friend and business partner in our endeavors.”

Koesan…” thought the Hero. “Of course.”
“Are you hurt?” asked Koesan suddenly,
her melodic voice as wonderful as a Siren’s song.
She pointed at the juice-blood stain on his ragged outfit, and Oscambria shook his head.
“No, this is the very garb I was wearing in my final performance.
The curse struck before I had time to change,
And I was forced from Athins without a chance to return to my home.”

“Well, we should deliver our merchandise and then see what we can do.
Will you travel with us, Oscambria?
We could use a hero, another defender that is, as our last one met the Twins a bit early,
Taipeos rest his merry soul.
You can tarry outside of Athins while we barter in the city,
And we’ll pick you up as we leave.
What say you?”

Without hesitation, the Hero nodded.
“Aye, I will, though I’m not sure how much of a fighter I’ll be if we meet trouble.
How far are we from Athins?
What should we do with the sleeping one?”
Columbus answered him, wrinkling up his nose.
“We should kill him, of course.
He tried to steal from us, after all, and the Law is the Law.”

The matter was settled before Oscambria could protest.
The child, Arca, seized the halberd from the Hero
And plunged it deep into the downed ones skull,
Splitting asunder the bone as easily as butter splits ‘neath a blade.
Red blood flowed from the wound,
And when Arca pulled the blade from the dead man
There were bits of pink and bone stuck to it.

Oscambria was stunned at the boy’s animosity, at his hatred,
At his suddenness, yet he said nothing.
The boy handed the blade back to the Hero with no words.
“Very well, let’s go. There’s been enough bloodshed now.”
The Hero agreed with the old man,
Feeling slightly sick from the bloodshed
And the death.

Soon they were off, headed back down the windy roads and toward Athins,
The Hero riding in the back of the wagon, no longer alone.
He had not told the travelers that he’d seen Koesan in his vision,
Afraid that it would scare them away.
As the wagon wheels bumped and jostled him,
He faded asleep,
Dreaming of the beautiful, pale woman.

Next week's segment is much shorter. I may post the map of Oscambria's world up with the Canto next week, too.


Crystal said...

Sorry I didn't comment yesterday, things were crazy at work.

I like the progression of Oscambria's destiny and I also like the bits of humor you weave in the poem. I can't wait to see Koesan's character more.

Excited to see the map!!

logankstewart said...

Crystal, thanks for the compliments (as always). The map is done and will be up next week. Take care.