A little explanation first. I attempted to mix together the heroic and
frankly graphic nature of an epic with the strong emotions that are expected
in the given situations. Not only do I want the reader to get involved with
the story and feel a kinship with the characters, like Atlak, I also wanted
them to experience the story on an even higher level; I wanted the reader to
feel exactly how the characters in the story felt at the time. Anyway, I
hope you find the tragedy and the joy of my version of this story delicious,
and that it will stand out, looming above all others.
The thundering paused every few minutes; the air rose heavy in anticipation
of the next assault upon the soil. The rhythm was familiar to the groups of
Unarra tending to the various tasks of the day. Some even used the noise to
jolt them back awake after falling asleep from a night spent playing too many
games of hyra. Atlak hated how the dust was stirred into the air, how his
feet vibrated afterward and caused him to pause in his work to recover. Tynel
Mellor and Tynel Atlak were lashing groups of vines together for the
trainers' use. Mellor marveled at his spawn's ability to work
single-mindedly, and had praised Atlak on many occasions at the amount he
could accomplish in one day, even in comparison to such experienced workers
as Mellor himself.
Mellor had hoped the long day would slow the relentless questions from his
curious spawn, but such was not the case. Atlak paused only long enough to
voice his frustration with the rippling ground swells experienced while
taming the Pikatan. Atlak turned his attention back to Mellor and continued
probing, "...but if Tallic had such obvious talent and empathy with the
beasts why did the Tresed relinquish him to apprentice status for so long? Is
that why he left? Some say you were friends. What was..."
"We are still friends." Mellor was thankful for the growing tremors of the
Pikatan. "That is enough about Tallic for today my progeny; the taming
exercises have begun."
Upset that his questioning had ceased, Atlak tried not to cough as the dust
kicked up around him. "Of all the creatures, what is so sacred about the
Pikatan anyway?" Atlak's scowl grew deeper and darker with every leap and
hard landing of the Pikatan.
Mellor was amused. "Keep that up, Atlak, and your face will become etched
"Just once, I would like to stomp through their valley and disrupt them while
they are trying to get work done."
"I suppose you would also want to be revered as the Sacred Atlak too then?"
Mellor smiled. "Perhaps you would teach the Unarra about the patience of
taming as well?"
The reprimand was enough to keep young Atlak from continuing to outwardly
show his distaste for the Sacred Pikatan. Atlak just grumbled to himself as
clouds of dust mushroomed into the air not far from where they worked.
However, the thunderous quakes caused by the Pikatan didn't stop this time. A
telepathic warning was sent to all nearby, but the sudden and chaotic rearing
of the Pikatan distracted Atlak. Something was wrong.
Most of the Pikatan were rounded up before any large amounts of damage were
done. Yet, one crazed animal, its eyes rolling in its skull, careened forward
with its strange loping leaps, dodging all attempts at capture. Atlak's
insides churned, a mix of ice and painful heat as he looked up to see a
silhouette of a figure on a near-distant hill. Atlak began to scream even
before Mellor was trampled.
Atlak, feverishly struggling to hold back the brunt of the shock and
disbelief, bolted towards the still body of his master. Stumbling down onto
his knees as he neared Mellor, Atlak scrambled to his master's side to assess
his wounds. What resemblance of logic quickly left him as Atlak examined the
broken body, vainly trying to keep the gushing green substance inside the
body. Though completely ignorant of any type of physical treatments - he had
never even seen the inner juices before - Atlak concentrated with complete
devotion on anything he thought could help his master, ignoring the entire
disaster around him.
He became quickly aware that the thick dust had grown thicker; the resounding
noise louder, and, finally, as a large shadow began to cover the earth more
with each stressed moment, his psyche was finally convinced to take notice.
Turning his head away from his master for the moment and rotating it around
to observe, his vision caught the body of one of the larger Pikatan quickly
falling towards him and his lifegiver. Moving his face back to his crushed
master, he drapes his own body over his lifegiver's, his dedicated mind
hoping to somehow protect his wise teacher from harm.
Another instant had passed when, from behind, confused sounds boom loudly
into his hearing. However, the loyal Atlak refused to relinquish his
protective vigilance over his lifegiver, fearful the body might come to harm.
Long seconds passed - the thundering of the ground continued - but no harm
came to him. Finally, he heard a voice call from behind him. "Get Mellor's
body and hurry! Come with me, now!" the voice screamed frantically. Mellor
murmured, between his voice's groaning and gurgling, the name, "Tallic."
Forcing himself not to ponder or inquire on the new information, Atlak
collected Mellor's body and, carrying the limp mass in a firm grip, dashed
behind his recent savior. Atlak realized, glancing behind him, that in the
chaos several of the larger Pikatan had escaped and were now quickly over
taking them, which only drove him to run faster. However, after only after
running a short distance, Atlak's curious mind overpowered his logic and he
spoke up, inquiring, "Who are you? What's going on? Why are the
Pikatan…"-however, speaking up quickly and to the point, the savior said, "My
name is Tallic, I've been investigating a recent disturbance in the Pikatan.
The Kompa are quickly disappearing, and it's not because of the Pikatan.
After searching, I found out that…" The high-pitched screaming of Atlak
suddenly interrupted Tallic.
Though keeping up with Tallic, carrying the body had exhausted Atlak and,
slowing down gradually, he was now within the deadly reach of the nearest
Pikatan's horns. Atlak, seeing the distant cave ahead and feeling the hot
dust, tossed up by the Pikatan, whipping around his legs, screamed, "I'm not
going to make it!" Tallic, turned around and screamed to Atlak, "Yes, you
are! Keep running, you'll be safe in the cavern ahead!" He then whipped two
trainers vines from his side, lashing them around the horns of two pursuing
Pikatan. The prideful and roped pair of Pikatan, rather than gouging their
current prey, pulled and jerked against the vines in a struggle for
domination with Tallic. Having control of their horns, Tallic was able, with
quite a bit of aggressive staring into the eyes of the pair, to prove his
superiority as a pack leader. The other chasers, seeing the display of
dominance, slowed down in fearful reverence and awe of the solitary Unarra
able to overcome two of their strongest.
A high-pitched cry resounded distantly behind Tallic, causing him to turn his
head. He saw Atlak, covered in dust and dashing with all his strength, and
the limp body of Mellor, limbs flowing along in the wind lifelessly. A very
short distance behind the two, he caught sight of one of the largest of the
Pikatan herd, the same beast that had trampled onto Mellor's body, lower his
head to thrust his horn into the back of the young spawn, Atlak. Tallic
instantly reacted, screaming from his holding position, "Behind you, Atlak!
Tallic watched with an incisive gaze, feeling slightly at ease as Atlak began
to use his last bit of strength to get further ahead of the brutal beast and
nearing the cave. Tallic smiled, until a cold, cruel weapon pierced quickly
through his side and upwards, creating a sickening, squishing sound. A
nearby Pikatan had apparently taken Tallic's loss of concentration as a
moment of weakness and struck viciously at the vulnerable side. A Pikatan
always puts domination over honor and opportunity over justice. Green matter
spewed forth, spraying the nearby sands with droplets of life-relinquishing
juice, as the dreadful Pikatan, holding the body high for his herdmates to
marvel at the sight of his wonderful instrument of death and his prized
trophy. Tallic's limbs and hands strained, gripping the horn in immense
pain. He looked up, seeing Atlak his delicate package disappear inside the
cave, the death beast stopping at the entrance. He looked back down at the
Pikatan, together yelping at their successful kill, and smiled, always hoping
he could die as he had lived. His strength gave out, his body went limp, and
his killer, holding him for a few moments longer, tossed his to the ground,
allowing the surrounding Pikatan to stomp and rend his body to bits. Tallic,
with all of his green life-juice, pieces that once contained life, and his
selfless courage, laid strewn across the nearby ground, covered in the
indifferent sand and dust.
Tallic was gone.
Atlak could only watch with horror, almost ignoring the Pikatan, pacing in
front of the entrance, as he saw his savior horrendously murdered and his
remains dishonored. He was filled with a fear, but suddenly his fear shifted
to hate. He scowled and snarled at the Pikatan and began to advance forever.
However, the voice from his master stopped him. "Atlak," it called, "Come
here." He quickly stored away his anger and knelt down to his master,
holding the limp body, which was now covered in green and seeping into the
nearby ground. Atlak spoke, "Yes, teacher?"
"Atlak," Mellor said, weakly, "I don't have much time left, so, please,
listen closely." Atlak nodded, though never learning about death, he did not
want to question or interrupt. Mellor continued, "Remember these words.
Grow, spawn, and protect the Pikatan." Mellor groaned and Atlak shuddered,
feeling the pain of a thousand needles pricking his skin for a moment. "Only
these tasks you must do. Protect the Pikatan." Mellor groaned again and
Atlak, feeling the pain, groaned with him, the needles jabbing into his body.
"Protect the Pikatan from others. But, more importantly, protect the
Pikatan from themselves." The pain of needles now increased in intensity,
the pain shooting through Atlak's body constantly, ripping through his mind
as well. "You now lead our lineage. I am proud…" Mellor's voice was
suddenly stopped by a loud gurgling as the green juice, dripping from his
wounds, flooded into his intake cavity and filled his mouth, but Mellor
stared up into Atlak's eyes and Atlak knew his meaning. However, the pain
only increased. The needles were shooting through his body and his mind,
putting Atlak through indescribable, insufferable pain. It completely filled
his body as he watched his lifegiver slowly release what he had given him.
The pain peaked. Atlak screamed.
Mellor was gone.
Atlak sat there, knelt over the corpse of his master. The seconds of
horrible pain seemed to him to have lasted minutes, but the ephemeral moments
of complete emptiness that followed seemed to him to have lasted hours. His
eyes were focused, his mind was calm, his body was relaxed and his hands held
gingerly the training vines, which Mellor always kept a fresh set of all his
life. Atlak took the vines from his parent's body and rose, turning to the
cave entrance where he could see the Pikatan gathering around in a small
semi-circle around the cave entrance. The few trainers that weren't busy
holding the majority of the herd near the camp were running up now towards
the cave. Atlak walked slowly out of the cave and, as the Pikatan stared in
bewilderment, he stood in the exact center of their semi-circle, ignoring the
advancing trainers. Tallic and Mellor were both dead, their deathbringers'
horns now both tainted green, but Atlak felt no hatred or desire for revenge
for them. He understood now.
Flicking his arm, he caught Tallic's killer by the horns, and gazed at the
creature. He didn't tug the vine at all, but pulled it taut and stared at
the beast, overpowering the creature's mind instead of trying to dominate its
body. Suddenly, a horn stuck up inside of Atlak's body, just as it had
Tallic's. Atlak gripped the horn with his free hand, refusing to scream or
show weakness. He looked to the side and saw Mellor's killer, Mellor's green
life juice still dripping from his killer and now mixing with some of
Atlak's. As he stared quietly at the beast, proving his superior strength
and tolerance, Atlak slowly pulled the horn out of his body and pulled the
animal back, more with his mind than with his body. The two once-dominant
beasts now lowered their horns and their knees in submission to Atlak, their
master. The smaller Pikatan, one after the other, each began to follow in
the example of their superiors, acknowledging Atlak as their leader. The
trainers, approaching, were awe-struck at Atlak, a gaping wound in his side,
standing calmly in the middle of a completely loyal, silent group of Pikatan.
The trainers led the Pikatan, one by one, away from the area. Atlak refused
to budge from his place, rejecting any help from the trainers until, after
all of the Pikatan had gone out of view; he finally collapsed into the sand
as a cloud of dust rose up around him. Everything went black.
Two of the largest of the Pikatan, their bodies stained green, walked
side-by-side delivering two corpses up to the front of the stage, lowering
them to the ground. An especially honorable funeral was given to the two
bodies, with a huge attendance of Unarra. Among the most honored in
attendance, one was seen to be gripping his side, where there was a bandage
of vines, soaked with some organic brown paste. At the end of the funeral,
the cocooned bodies with together hung on one of the highest branches in the
grove and their cocoons, some of the most exhilarating colors ever produced
shown brightly on the material. The investigation into the disturbance was
started the next day, and Atlak was chosen to lead it. Even now, Tallic and
Mellor, hanging in one of the tallest trees in the funeral grove, are looking
down, watching over him.