Series: Beondo's Extra Shorts
Story-Arc: Stand-Alone Tale
Author: Shaun Coates
In this tale, follow a writer as she deals with the everyday strugles of a writer.
Beondo's Extra Shorts were originally a series on Medium. They are all stand-alone tales that have no connection to any of our verses.
The writer entered her dim study and walked over to her desk. She sat down in her chair and set her tea to her left, as she settled into her own imprint. With everything set, she grabbed her pen and began crafting her latest magical tale.
As the desert winds swept across sand that was all too eager to be swept away, a caravan plowed through. This caravan was unlike any other currently traveling through the Monobo Desert, as this caravan was all that remained of the Gro. Short in nature, with rather round bodies, the Gro were not well suited for their new nomadic lifestyle.
As the procession of Gro dragged their feet onward, they carried with them the weight of sadness. This once proud species has been reduced to a shell, their culture gutted from within. After everything they have been through, it is a wonder that they are able to continue forward; wherever it is that forward is taking them.
The writer looked up from her paper, suddenly realizing she had forgotten to work out the full backstory of the Gro. Having been through this before, the writer’s heart sank immediately. A micro moment later, her worst fears sprang forth from her mind and onto the page; a mighty dragon started to claw through the bottom of the paper, easily shredding it to pieces and emerging from the newly created hole in the page.
The writer initially jolted backwards, but stopped herself from going further. The dragon looked up to her and let out a glorious roar. The writer knew she did not have much time before the dragon unleashed its flaming breath upon her, so she quickly conjured up a shield in her left hand to defend herself from the vicious beast. The dragon roared again, heralding its own flames. The writer had to react instantly in order to get her shield up to protect herself.
As flames poured over the sides of the shield, the writer could feel the heat increasing rapidly. She had to end this, but how, she pondered to herself as the flames grew in intensity. Then an idea came to her, she waited until the dragon’s flames dissipated and then she quickly moved her shield to the side so she could hurl her pen like a spear. The dragon was not about to be so easily destroyed, however. Right as the pen was about to pierce the dragon’s thick scales, the dragon caught the pen with its claws.
The writer watched as the dragon slowly lifted its head, while still holding the pen right in front of its chest. The writer saw the devious look in the dragon’s eyes and she knew the dragon was planning another move. Instinctively, the writer moved the shield back in front of her just in time to hear the pen strike the shield, tink.
The writer was not going to take another chance with this deadly beast, so she quickly moved the shield out from in front of her and launched her next strike. The writer punched her palm out towards the dragon, but instead of making contact, her hands stopped well short. When her hands came to an abrupt halt, a battering ram shot out of her palm, striking the dragon square in the chest. The dragon was sent flying back through the hole in the paper, which the writer promptly started to reseal.
With her page now intact, the writer refocused on the story and almost immediately the writer was flowing with ideas for the Gro’s backstory. With the floodgates now open the writer returned to her tale at hand.
Times have not always been so gloomy for the Gro. In fact, their society had been thriving for hundreds of years prior to their civil war. They were fabled merchants, whose sense of business seemed to be ingrained in their species. In fact, there was no species on the planet Ionnia who was not involved in regular trade with the Gro.
Sadly, no amount of fame or skill is enough to save a species from itself. The other inhabitants of Ionnia were forced to watch from the sidelines as the Gro went to war with themselves. Too afraid to pick a side; for fear the other side would come out on top and they would be left with a new enemy. Truly, the Gro were on their own once the wheels of war began rolling them towards destruction.
The writer was just about to begin the next paragraph when she heard it, “Wuuuup Wup Wup Wuuuuup.” The writer hung her head low, knowing full well that the sound she was hearing was the Wup-Wup Bird. As if the bird was acknowledging the writer’s assessment, it belted out, “Wuuuup Wup Wup Wuuuuup.”
The writer set her pen down before darting her eyes in the direction she thought the sound was coming from. There was only one small problem, literally, the Wup-Wup bird is only as tall as an ant. As the writer contemplated her best course of action, another round of wups rang through the air, “Wuuuup Wup Wup Wuuuuup.”
Desperate to not hear that sound again, the writer leapt from her seated position and pounced over to a nearby bookshelf, frantically searching every nook and cranny in hopes of finding her annoying pest. As she peered behind some books, the annoying bird’s call filled the room once more, “Wuuuup Wup Wup Wuuuuup.” She spun around, certain this time the sound was coming from a plant in front of the window.
She was a bit more sneaky in her approach to the plant, as she did not want to scare it and cause it to find a new hiding spot. When she reached the plant, she did her best to look into the foliage trying to spot the pest. Of course she did not see it, but she did hear it again, “Wuuuup Wup Wup Wuuuuup.”
By now the sound was causing her brain to feel like it was being punctured. Desperate to make it stop, the Writer quickly opened the window and tossed the entire plant through.
Looking a bit disheveled, she straightened herself out, as she gazed through the window giving a brief moment to contemplate what she just did. With her very brief moment over and feeling like she was once again in control of her domain, she returned to her desk. Seated once more, she closed her eyes and took in a deep breath before continuing.
It’s like the old saying goes, “When the sun is shining, darkness is on its way.” These words hold true for the Gro, just as they do the other species of Ionnia. For the Gro, their darkness came in the form of a disagreement over how the poor should be dealt with. One side called for more programs to help the poor, saying that it is as the goddess would want it. The other side however, had fallen out of love for their goddess and they no longer saw helping those in need as being their problem.
With two sides pulling in opposite directions, it is a shame that society is not made out of rubber. For Society was strained and strained until the point of noe return happened, society snapped under the tensio…
The writer slowly sat straight up, cursing at herself as she did. How could she be so foolish to let this fiend sneak up on her like this, she asked herself as she tightened her grip on the pen. Her eyes were completely transfixed on the fiend, waiting for the inevitable attack. As a bead of sweat started to drip down the side of her face, the fiend made its move.
First, the letter e jumped off of the paper so that it was standing on the desk. It then went into a front flip, before finally launching an attack directly at her head. Even though the writer was ready, she was just barely able to dodge the attack by the letter e. Wasting no time, the writer spun around to face the attacking e just in time to watch the letter drive a kick into her chest.
She crashed into the closed door behind her and used the impact to take the attack to the letter e. They met half way, with the letter e going into another kick jump and her driving a fist downward.
The impact was enough to send both of them crashing backwards, with the e hitting the floor and the writer slamming back into the wall. This time she needed a second to shake off the impact, which was fine because the e was still picking itself up off of the floor. When the two were standing on their feet once more, they once again squared themselves off to face each other.
The writer had no intention of fighting the letter e; instead, she planned on banishing it from existence. Waiting for the right moment to strike, the two warriors circled around each other. Before the two completed one orbit, the letter e made its next move and again lunged towards the writer. It was the exact move the writer was looking for and she greeted it by spraying a white substance out from the fingers of her now outstretched hand.
The closer the flying letter e got to the writer, the more the letter e was coated with the white substance, which in turn started to dissolve the letter e. By the time the letter e would have reached her, it had completely vanished. The writer collapsed to the ground, once more scolding herself for making such a foolish mistake. She briefly lowered her head so she could issue one final lecture. Then lifted her head, ready to resume her task at hand.
Seated once more, she again went through the process of getting comfortable. When she was ready, she continued with the story; albeit with a bit more alertness this time around.
War is never good, but war between two groups of people who both possess magical abilities, is a recipe for outright destruction. While not every Gro was willing to take up arms against their own kind, there were still plenty of willing participants; more than enough to destroy everything their species has built over the course of their existence.
Fields that once saw Gro children running through them, were now nothing more than a playground for the heralds of death. The largest cities ceased to be places of commerce and growth, instead donning the mantle of wretched ruins of despair. Even those who were against war were not safe, many kind and good Gro were forced to become future dirt. War is never good…
The writer’s mind started to wander away from her story and into a war torn environment in her own world. As she started imagining her town being transformed into the epicenter of a modern war, her room faded from view. In place of the comforts of her home, she was surrounded by chaos and fear.
The main street in her town was lined with buildings covered in the scars of war. Missing roof here, blown out wall there, and of course the occasional pile or rubble. She looked around and saw the undoing of society. Decades upon decades of a town’s growth, destroyed in moments of destruction. The writer could feel the sense of emptiness that came with such a sight, a sense brought about by a species acting against their nature.
The writer strolled down her once busy main street. She could see scared eyes coming from within the remaining buildings; eyes that once upon a time were welcomed sights, but now served as evidence that hell can be brought to the world of the living. The writer was nearly halfway through the main street when she heard a terrifying sound; it was a whistle-like noise that grew in intensity. She looked around for the culprit, as the sound grew even louder.
The writer was knocked to the ground from the unexpected and unyielding force of the explosion. If her senses were working, she would have seen one of the buildings at the end of the main street was bombed. Her senses were not working however, as not even the piles of rubble crashing to the ground around her was registering.
She started to slowly push herself off of the ground as her hearing started to fade from a steady ringing to the sounds of screams and crying. The writer stood to her feet and tried to orient herself once more. She looked around until her vision and thoughts were able to sync up, at which point she saw a little girl running towards one of the remaining buildings.
“Don’t go into the buildings,” she muttered to herself, realizing that the buildings were not safe to be in.
Panicked, she started running towards the girl while yelling, “DON’T GO INTO THE BUILDINGS,” just as the whistling noise returned. She tried to pick up the pace but no matter how hard she tried to run she just could not reach the girl in time.
The writer jolted herself out of her daydream and allowed herself a moment to reacclimate to her actual surroundings. With the comfort of her own walls once again around her, she grabbed her tea and took a sip, before running her hand through her hair to try and cleanse herself of the negative thoughts still lingering in her mind. Unable to fully cleanse herself, she decided to free herself of what remained by expressing herself through the story.
The truth about war, is that it does not go away when the war ends. In fact war remains well after; it remains in hearts forever reminded of the loss endured, it remains in the lands poisoned by the consequence of hate filled acts. This was a truth that the Gro were experiencing first hand.
Their souls are harder to carry around now, made heavier by the burden of loss. Loved ones, friends, and even people they had grown accustomed to seeing regularly, forever gone. The responsibility of growing as a species, now falls to a much smaller number. This alone is enough to allow the effects of war and therefore the war itself, to persist much longer than the act of war.
But this was not the only factor at play, for their lands also suffered heavily as a result of war. Magic spells leave behind dust, which in small doses is completely fine; but in large doses, it is toxic. Battlefields of magical warfare are known to become places of desolation. When your entire home is the battlefield, your entire home becomes a place of desolation.
Heavy hearts now faced with the added challenge of finding a new home to rebuild their species’ civilization back up. These Gro now know what they did not know before, the war for them is far from over.
The writer was pulled from her story by a far more pressing matter. She could feel her body melting, trying desperately to become nothing more than a puddle on the floor. She looked down to her elbow and could see her melting arm drooping to the floor.
How could she let herself get this bad, she asked herself, as she contemplated her options. Feeling like she was going to slide right out of her chair, she decided to get out of it herself; forcing herself to try and stand on her own accord in the process. With wobbly legs and a torso that was becoming more and more difficult to keep in an upright position, she tried to focus on regaining some rigidity. She was unsuccessful.
By now she was half puddle, half solid, and melting fast. It seemed like no matter how hard she tried to stop her degrading state, she was simply unable. Her upper torso dropped down into the pool of her body’s remnants until only her arm was sticking out, desperately trying to grab a hold of something. Just as her forearm became one with the puddle, her desperate hand found what it was looking for, the leg of her chair.
With only her hand still a solid and the rest of her now a puddle, she clung to the leg of the chair with everything she had. Knowing that she could not let go and she could not hang on forever, she started to pull herself out of the puddle.
At first there was no movement whatsoever, but then something broke through the mirrored surface. It was her other hand now reaching out of the puddle trying to grab another leg of the chair. With both hands now pulling, she slowly started to pull herself back up. By grabbing higher and higher on the chair legs, she was eventually able to grab the seat of the chair.
Once both hands were gripping the edge of the chair’s seat, she made one final effort to pull herself from the depths of her own mess. As soon as she was high enough out of the puddle, she swung one of her legs out and onto the floor around it. From this position she was able to roll off the side of the chair and onto the safety of the floor below.
Exhausted, she rested for a moment while lying on her back. As her breathing recovered, she made a mental note to herself to get back in the habit of going to the gym. “Healthy body, healthy mind,” she muttered, as she scraped herself off of the floor.
The writer took a few extra moments to collect herself and her thoughts, before she sat once more on her chair. Once she was seated, she took another sip of her tea and forced her brain to stay engaged, even though she knew it was desperate for a shutdown. Despite the need for a power down, she was determined to reach her writing goal for the day, so she grabbed her pen with the resolve to finish.
Every Gro that still yet breathes, is thinking the same thought, what happens next? Even though they are all focused on that one question, they are no closer to the answer. Some aspects of that question are easy to figure out. Such as, where will they settle; because everyone knows they need fertile land and access to the sea. But other questions, such as what will their society look like moving forward, or what ideologies will win out over others; these aspects to that big question, are not so easily answered.
There is one thing that they are now fully united on, that is a strong desire to live lives of peace. War and conflict marked the lowest points in their species history. When there was no war and they were able to explore peace, those were the periods of economic growth and societal evolution. Regardless of how everything else shakes out, each of the Gro marching towards tomorrow, are eager to return to the better trajectory.
The writer’s own words are causing her to contemplate her own trajectory. She wondered to herself, if she was ever going to find the success in life she has been dreaming of finding. As she contemplated the thought, her office was flooded with darkness that eventually consumed all signs of light. The darkness caught her off guard and she quickly found herself alone and unable to see the path forward.
“Hello!” she called out into the darkness.
At first nothing, but then a faint, “Hello,” could be heard in the distance. The writer walked slowly towards the source of the sound, as she again called out, “Hello!” Again, a hello was received in return. The writer picked up her pace, but only slightly as she was terrified she would trip over something in the darkness.
When she called out hello for a third time, she was surprised to hear two voices reply, each coming from opposite directions. Excited that there were now two voices, the writer stopped walking forward and added, “I am right here!”
From behind her, she could hear an old woman reply, “So am I,” which sent chills down her spine, as she spun around to try and see who spoke.
“Who are you? Show yourself,” she demanded.
Now there was another voice coming from behind her, this time it was a little girl who said, “You show yourself first,” before she started giggling.
“Who are you?” The writer again demanded to know.
The old lady was the one to reply however, “Ahh so you want to know who we are? Then we will show you.”
The writer spun around again to find an older woman, who was far to close for personal comfort. The woman looked strangely familiar to the writer, but she just couldn’t quite place her. Then she heard the little girl giggling behind her, so she spun around again and saw the little girl, whom she definitely knew.
“You are me?” she asked.
“No, we are you,” the old lady corrected.
“How?” The writer asked, with confusion dripping from her lips.
Again the little girl giggled, before saying, “The how is not important, silly.”
“Yes, the why is what is important. We are here to make sure you make the right decisions,” the old lady stated.
The writer was now even more confused; why did she need such guidance, she pondered to herself. The little girl knew what question was swirling through the writer’s head, so she tried to distract the writer.
“Think about it, with us managing your decisions, you will be free to focus your thoughts elsewhere,” the little girl stated.
At first the writer was nodding her head, as the initial sound of that was appealing, but further questions remained.
“But why do I need your help?” She asked them.
“Young lady, you have not achieved your dreams yet and without us you likely never will. You must trust us, give in to us, and we will free you to find the success you have been searching for,” the old lady stated.
The writer thought about the proposition a bit further, before making up her mind.
“No!” she declared.
The little girls smile disappeared before she asked, “What do you mean no?”
“I mean no. I am in control of my life and I will find success my own way. I do not need you two,” she stated proudly.
“Oh, so you think you are strong enough to do this? Then let’s find out,” the old lady stated, as purple smoke started to billow out of the old lady and little girl.
The writer started to back away from the two, as they transformed into much larger creatures. The writer looked on in amazement as the skin of the two went from being normal, to skin that looked like it was rotting. The forms of the two beings in transformation was also becoming more extreme, the little girl sprouted two horns that curled behind her and her face became much more elongated. The old lady on the other hand produced spikes that protruded from various parts of her body.
Despite their horrid looks, the writer was not going to cower to them. She knew that she had two choices, she could fight her demons in hopes of keeping them at bay, or she could face her demons and accept the pain they will surely bring. Since she had no desire to fight these two for the rest of her life, she decided to take whatever they throw at her.
Once the demons were in their final form they both let out a hellish roar. The writer took a few steps towards them and held out her arms, before saying, “I accept what you have to offer”.
The demons started to turn into the purple mist that was emanating from the old woman and small child before they transformed into demons. Once the two demons were nothing more than two swirling streams of mist, they dove into the nostrils and mouth of the writer.
Instantly overcome with an intense amount of internal suffering, the writer dropped to the ground and began to curl into herself. At first she was regretting her decision, as the pain felt like it was too much to handle. After a few moments however, the pain became a bit easier to manage. It never went away, but eventually it got to the point where she was able to deal with it and accept that the two demons were a part of her.
With that acceptance came a sense of relief over her body. As she got herself up off of the floor, she could feel something else as well, a sense that she had become stronger as a result of the ordeal.
So close to the finish line for the day, she allowed determination to outweigh exhaustion. She sat once more at her desk and took a final sip of tea, before grabbing her pen to finish the last of her writing for the day.
The Gro’s journey through the desert can best be summed up as, one sand dune after the next. It has been all they have known since their journey began; they are either going up a dune or down one. The elders in the caravan have been telling the younger Gro during the journey, when they get to the top of one dune, there will always be another dune waiting for them. Even if they decide to take the easy route and walk around a dune, there will still be another dune waiting for them after that.
The elders have of course been trying to prepare their younger folk for the very real challenges that await them. Their hope being that when the challenges of tomorrow present themselves, everyone will be ready to face those challenges head on. It is a test they will in fact be facing sooner than they realize. For the next dune they walk up, will be the last actual dune they face. From there, the Gro will be able to follow the coastline north or south, as each direction leads to undeveloped fertile river basins.
When they reach this point, they will all find out if they are ready to face the next sand dune of life that awaits them.
The writer set her pen down before rubbing her now closed eyes. She was exhausted and emotionally drained. She grabbed her tea and stood up from her seat, so she could head towards the door to her office. Before she walked out however, she turned around and looked into her office before saying, “Until tomorrow.”