Friday, June 26, 2009

"Broken Steel" -- Act III

Here's Act III of "Broken Steel".


~ Charles

"Broken Steel" copyright 2009 by Charles Shaver. All rights reserved.


THE MONSTER AND THE MINION: Wherein Faryad, Yele Prin Prin and Sarut Battles the Gigantic Sea Beast Rata Enki Yafuni; Snow Fox is Captured by Silver Wind; An Escape is Made with the Help of New Friends


The people of Tokerau stood at the shore, waiting in the storm. Lighting roiled across the skies. The Living Sea churned with the fury of angry gods.

Closest to shore stood Father Papa with his young daughter Heron. The young girl had become a woman, had bled with life for the first time. As it was also the Time of Feasting, when the little village of Tokerau offered a freshly born virgin woman to the sea in return for a good season of fishing, Heron had been chosen.

The villagers stood now, staring at the sea made angry by the defiant Father Papa.

"Throw her to Rata Enki!" cried out an old woman.

"I will not!" cried out Father Papa. "If he needs blood, then let him take me!"

"No!" pleaded the village elders, "It must be a woman!"

"Then send one of our old and useless hags!"

Heron wept.

The sea came in waves, pounding at the shore to remind the small people of its might.

Far from Tokerau, far from the shore, rowing for their lives with the last of their strength, came Faryad the Exploding Sword and Yele Prin Prin. Little Sarut the Ladybug had taken shelter, afraid of the sudden storm, in Faryad's shirt pocket.

With tremendous ferocity, with tidal strength and fearless hate came the beast Rata Enki Yafuni through the Living Sea churning with foul, wicked creatures of every kind. Long had it been since he had last eaten and now his annual meal was being denied. Hatred filled him, made him hungrier as hate always does, and he swam swiftly through the deeper waters until he spied a lone boat struggling atop the sea. Thinking it a wayward fishing boat from Tokerau, Rata Enki steered himself towards it. He lifted himself from the sea to tower of the tiny borrowed boat.

Yele screamed with terror, her neck craning to look up at the immense beast's face. Rata Enky Yafuni was like a serpent, but its face was that of a thin man's. Where hair should be sprouted long, tangled seaweed. Where a mouth should be extended tentacles that hid giant, snapping mandible claws strong enough to rip a large ship in twain. Where ears should be there were furrowing webbed fingers stretching out to make the creature look far larger, far more menacing.

A large wave caused by Rata Enki's appearance capsized the small boat. Faryad and Yele were thrown into the sea.

Yell cried out for Faryad.

Faryad swam to her side. He held her and looked upon the great beast.

"What is it?" asked Faryad.

"It is Rata Enki Yafuni, the vilest of all that live in the Living Sea. We are dead, Faryad. We are dead for no one has ever escaped his wrath!"

Faryad pointed, "I think the mainland is in that direction, though in this dark storm I cannot see. We will head in that direction and we will become the first to escape this beast."

Yele grabbed hold of Faryad. Her wings worked, beating hard against the choppy sea. At last she was able to lift Faryad out of the water, flying slowly towards land.

Sarut, drowning, climbed out of Faryad's pocket to rest upon his shoulder.

"I was drowning down there!" he yelled.

"I am sorry, little friend," answered Faryad, "but matters are not much safer here."

Sarut looked about to see the giant Rata Enki dive into the sea.

"It will kill us!" cried Sarut.

"Fly away," said Faryad as he swam. "Now's your chance!"

Sarut considered this, but was certain he would lose his way in the storm and so decided to remain with his companion until they reached land, should they reach land.

Rata Enki drove out of the water once more, this time closer. So afraid of the beast was Yele, so exhausted of strength was she, that she dropped Faryad.

"Faryad!" she cried out as he hit the water, Sarut taking to the sky to avoid splashing into the sea once more.

Faryad returned to the surface of the water, swimming.

Yele dived after him.

Rata Enki struck. His tentacles flayed. His mandibles spread wide. He sucked Yele Prin Prin whole into his small, toothless mouth.

Having seen this, Faryad cried out for his love. He then swam at the beast, but it went once more under water before returning right at Faryad's side.

Faryad grabbed hold of the beast's flesh. Though scaly and slimy, Faryad's strength kept him held onto the Rata Enki. He deftly climbed the beast, slipping here and there, trying desperately for the creature's head and ultimately to retrieve his love from its mouth.

But Rata Enki dove once more. Seeing the churning sea coming at him, Faryad quickly breathed deep and held his breath as he continued his climb even under water until he was, at last, able to grab hold of one of Rata Enki's fingers at the side of his head and hold it firm.

Rata Enki appeared out of the water once more. It cried out in pain as Yele Prin Prin fought back from within, digging her sharp talons into the gums of the creature's mouth, fighting a wicked, forked tongue grabbing at her to pull her down into the creature's belly.

Sarut swarmed around the beast, afraid to leave lest he get lost, afraid to remain lest he be killed. He spied Faryad crawling his way across the face of the beast and flew to him.

"Faryad, what is it that you do?" he asked.

"I'll retrieve Yele!"

"You are foolish! Surely she must be dead!"

Then the beast opened its tentacled mouth and Sarut caught sight of Yele battling the tongue.

"She lives!" he cried out.

"You saw her?" asked Faryad.

"Yes! In the mouth! She does battle with the tongue! Go, Faryad!" Sarut urged. "Go to her! She lives!"

As Faryad crawled to the mouth, weaving through slimy tentacles towards the mouth, Sarut flew directly into the eye of the great beast.

The sudden pain made Rata Enki blink. He lost his concentration upon swallowing the girl and turned to eye Sarut flying away. Rata Enki cried out in fury.

As the beast cried out, Faryad drew near the mouth. He was able to reach into the deafeningly loud, screeching maw and grab Yele by the arm. He pulled her free of the tongue and she came flying under her own power out of the mouth.

"Thank you, Faryad!" she called.

Seeing Yele freed, Rata Enki grew angrier still. He felt Faryad crawling amidst his tentacles and worked them to grab at the interloper.

Faryad struggled to get free, the mandible claws snapping beside his head. A flood of memory then came to Faryad, a memory of a murder on a beach, of a fist breaking the steel of a sword.

Faryad stopped fighting the tentacles. He instead turned towards the mandible claws, considered them.

Yele flew into the face of Rata Enki. She clawed at his eyes until green jelly poured from them and the beast was blind.

Faryad swiveled his shoulders, making a fist and punched at the nearest mandible claw. It shattered into pieces causing the beast great pain and woe. A few of the pieces fell into the beast's mouth and it began choking.

Yele dived after a large piece and grabbed it.

Sarut returned, resting on Yele's shoulder.

Faryad wriggled free from the tentacles and climbed the face to the top of the head where he punched repeatedly. With each punch came a loud crack like thunder. With each punch, the great sea beast drew nearer death.

Yele said to Sarut, "Hold fast, little one."

She dived at Rata Enki, driving the bit of claw into his forehead, striking Rata Enki down with a killing blow.

At last Rata Enki Yafuni fell floating face down atop the sea. Faryad fell into the sea with him and swam from the beast's side.

The sea calmed. The clouds parted and let daylight shine upon the world. Rata Enki Yafuni's body petrified, becoming stone. In many more years, after the sea had spent time bringing silt and soil to the body, plants would grow and the village of Tokerau would expand from the shore to the newly made island named it Papua Prin after the two that had caused its formation: Father Papa who defied the beast Rata Enki Yafuni and Yele Prin Prin who had killed it.

Faryad swam to the small boat, checking it to make certain it was still sea worthy. He flipped it over and climbed in.

Yele flew into the boat, saying, "I checked everywhere, but I cannot find the oars."

Sarut took flight to look once more. He called out, "Hey! Over here!"

"Have you found them?" asked Faryad.

"No," answered Sarut.

Yele and Faryad steered the boat the best they could with their hands until they found little Sarut resting upon the overturned back of Faryad's violin. Floating nearby was Yele's guitar.

"At least we can have some entertainment as we drifted in the sea," said Sarut with a smile.

Faryad and Yele laughed, grabbing up their weapons.

They floated for some time until Etain flew overhead, bringing the day and they were able to catch sight of land. Sarut then flew to the village of Tokerau and retrieved help from the villagers who, in turn, rowed their boats out to Yele and Faryad.

The three were welcomed into the village as heroes and were fed well and made to tell the tale of their victory over the beast Rata Enki Yafuni.

A day came and went before Faryad approached Yele to say, "We must leave this village."

"Why?" asked Yele. "We are accepted here."

"But it may not last. I've discovered a few men here know my father and several more trade with the people of Ayiti. It will not be long before they discover the true reason we are here and no long still before Sharif hears of our presence here. We must leave."

With great sighs and sorrowful, silent goodbyes did Faryad, Yele Prin Prin and Sarut slip from the village that night without a single word of farewell spoken.


The prefecture of Li was ruled by the Prefect Silver Wind that likened himself as a mystic and soothesayer. He had no grand powers, but could read tea leaves and palms and was forever searching for signs, omens and charms of luck. He was not any of the Blessed Ones, he was a mere man with an inclination towards those things that give us chills on warm evenings.

Silver Wind ruled pompously. He thought himself a greater ruler than he was, though he was not a bad Prefect. He thought himself well-loved and while there was a certain amiability about him, he was largely mocked for his foolishness and deluded sense of importance. As he rarely interfered with the daily lives of those he ruled, they allowed his rule without hindrance or revolution.

Li was in the southern lands of the world bordered by the Living Sea and north of Tokerau. It was a beautiful land, a productive land and the people were largely happy. It was this land, this prefecture, that Snow Fox came to after a year or more of traveling the world, chasing after rumors of his brother. He had learned much about Comet Fox's antics, his mischievousness, his kindness and his fighting skill. He had also learned he was presently being chased by soldiers of a mad queen's army for some reason. The more he learned of his brother, the more Snow Fox desired meeting Comet Fox.

But an agent loyal to the bumbling Silver Wind spied Snow Fox without his awareness from high on a hill. He ran to Silver Wind and told him of Snow Fox's appearance in Li.

Silver Wind said, "This is an omen of good fortune!" as he often said. He added, "He has come to help our small prefecture in some way. We must keep him here and keep the good fortune he most assuredly brings with him. We must stall him here until our happy lands grow happier still with abundant crops, boatloads of fish and a new generation of civilians are born onto us. We must make him ours."

The servant nodded.

Silver Wind devised a plan to capture Snow Fox.

As Snow Fox came into the warmer climes of Li his fur grew more rough, thinner and lost some of its white, turning to a ruddy brown. He stopped a moment to rest and study his changing fur beneath a large koa tree.

Spying once more from the hill, several servants gathered and descended upon Snow Fox. Only one approached him with a harried voice, claiming, "Please! Help! My wife! There has been an accident and without help she will die!"

Snow Fox immediately followed the servant only to be jumped upon by the others, tied up and netted, his small frame pressed to the ground under their weight. A cage made of steel was brought forth and he was placed inside and he was carried to the large home of Prefect Silver Wind.

"I am most happy to meet you, little Blessed One," said Silver Wind sitting in his koa wood rocking chair upon his home's front porch. "This is a most auspicious meeting between we two. I am Silver Wind, your host."

"You are Silver Wind," mocked Snow Fox, "my captor!"

"I suppose that would be so, but my intentions are not foul. I wish my lands to be far more prosperous than they already are. I want the history books to claim me the greatest prefect of Li to ever have lived. And with your presence, I will accomplish just that."

"What would you have me do?" snarled Snow Fox. "Tend your garden? Babysit your children? I am the son of Coyote and Nyavatalii the Frost Giantess, this is no way to treat me! This is no way to treat anyone!"

"Perhaps not, but I need you and I could not be assured you would come of your own desiring had I simply asked."

"You could have asked nonetheless."

Silver Wind folded his hands in his lap and considered Snow Fox. At last he said, "We are at an impasse. Let us not argue further."

"All I have are arguments for you!"

Silver Wind ignored this. He said, "Here is my offer: You will do for me three tasks that will not only benefit but improve the way of life for my people. When you've completed these three tasks, and not a moment before, I shall free you."

"And the moment you free me," spat Snow Fox bound in his cage, "I'll take your head!"

"Now, now," scolded Silver Wind, "That's no way to treat a business partner."

Snow Fox growled.


Silver Wind had Snow Fox bound in chains and his many knives taken away. He was lead down to the sea where the people of Li were fishing in their boats. Snow Fox struggled the full way, hoping desperately to get free.

"Why should you fight?" asked Silver Wind. "I'll make good on my promise if you make good on your duties."

Snow Fox growled.

"Here, now, are our fishermen. They work so diligently for the fish they bring in each day. Rarely do they falter in their task, but there are times, perhaps thrice a year, these good people return to shore with empty nets and empty baskets which leads to empty purses and empty bellies." Silver Wind turned to Snow Fox. "Can you remedy this matter for them?"

Snow Fox made a last valiant effort to wrest himself free from the shackles. He fell, exhausted, to the ground. Silver Wind said nothing of this as Snow Fox lifted himself from the ground, tired and defeated. He looked to Silver Wind.

"You will make certain I am freed if I help you?" asked Snow Fox.

Silver Wind merely nodded, smiling.

Snow Fox sighed. He sat, cross-legged at the rocky shore. He studied the tides for some time, the movement of the fish in towards shore where the rocks formed natural barriers against the sea so they may rest in their swimming. At last an idea came to Snow Fox and he said, "You should make a breakwater of stone, something that is just as high as the tide is normally. Make a small hole in the wall, like a door. When the fish tire of swimming, they will swim behind the breakwater where the waters are calmer to rest and breed. Then, when the tide lowers itself, they will be trapped there for you to feast upon. When the tide rises again, they will be able to come and go as they please."

Snow Fox nodded at himself. "Yes, make this. Make for the fish a well-made home. They will spawn and live there and happily give of themselves in return for this home."

"Brilliant!" cried Silver Wind. "I knew your presence here was a blessing."

Silver Wind ordered such a breakwater be made. To the pleasure of all, it worked just as Snow Fox had said it would and the fishermen never went another day without a load of fish for market and their families.

Many days passed before Silver Wind returned to Snow Fox shackled to a massive banyan tree. A servant brought forth a stool upon which Silver Wind sat. He eyed Snow Fox and said, "Recently, one of my messengers was sent forth to deliver a message to a nearby town with whom my people often conduct trade. This messenger was young, new to the task, and he fouled up the message that was sent. Now my people have an abundance of fish and no one to sell them to. I must make an amended message to send forth. Could you help me in this?"

Snow Fox thought on the matter. He said, "The problem was the message was befuddled by the messenger. What is needed is a way for you to convey your message exactly as you intend it. If you had written the message down on something and have it delivered to your fellow traders, this problem would not exist. Have you people here that are literate?"

"Not many in this entire region are literate. In fact, in all of Li only I am able to read and write," Silver Wind lied. He could not read or write.

"I could make a system by which you could communicate."

Silver Wind ordered a wood tablet be brought forth to Snow Fox along with many sticks of charcoal. Snow Fox worked swiftly. He drew out several symbols, first based upon numbers as he knew the language would be used primarily by traders that needed to know quantities and prices. Next he drew out several basic drawings for items of trade. As he was a fox, all of the symbols looked like foxes or trees, a favored hiding place of foxes.

"Have you scholars or wise men in the area?" asked Snow Fox.

"Only myself," bragged Silver Wind, "but there is a visiting scholar from the north."

"Bring him to me."

This was done and Snow Fox taught the man his system of symbols. Soon the man was sent with a new message, a written message, to all nearby towns where he taught tradesmen and merchants the system. Never again did Li or the other nearby prefectures have difficulty with trade or communications.

Silver Wind smiled on Snow Fox. "You've only one more task to perform for me, then you will be granted your freedom."

Snow Fox wished for the day to come swiftly. As he was left alone, vulnerable to the elements outside, shackled to the banyan, he found a stone protruding slightly from the ground. He dug it out. It was sharp on one end, like that of a finely honed blade. Snow Fox smiled, determined to used the stone should the opportunity rise. But then he thought he may need more than one weapon as Silver Wind had several servants and he was therefore surrounded at any given moment by many enemies.

Snow Fox took the stone and used it to peel away small bits of the roots of the banyan tree. He carved then into pointed sticks weight rightly for throwing. He worked all night and made five such wooden throwing knives. By dawn, he hid them under the root of the banyan with the stone before falling asleep.


Faryad, Yele Prin Prin and Sarut traveled northwest, skirting the coastline, until they came into Li. There they were confronted by three men, servants to Silver Wind.

"What is your business in Li?" asked on servant.

"We are merely passing through," answered Faryad.

"You must meet with the local Prefect first, it is only cordial."

"I would rather not," said Faryad.

"Oh? Have you something to hide?"

Yele whispered to Faryad, "Perhaps we should go, simply to avoid confrontation. We are still weak from our battle upon the sea."

Faryad nodded at this. "Lead on," he told the servants.

And so they followed the servants to the side of Silver Wind who was chatting idly with the shackled Snow Fox.

"Prefect, we have brought to you three interlopers: a man, a bug and a Blessed One."

"Ah!" gasped Silver Wind. "Another Blessed One! How fortunate for our little prefect!"

"I am Yele Prin Prin, daughter of Kompa and the Owl Mama Mara."

Silver Wind's eyes glowed with delight as he coveted her presence.

Yele eyed Snow Fox. "Why have you shackled this poor dog thusly?"

"I am no dog!" snapped Snow Fox.

Yele gasped in horror. "He is a Blessed One! And you have him shackled!"

"We have a matter of business worked out between us. He remains thusly until he completes a task for me."

Afraid, Faryad said, "You'll not do the same to Yele!"

Silver Wind smiled. "I'll do as I wish. I am the Prefect here and I rule everyone that passes within. You are my honored guests now, much like this one." He pointed at Snow Fox.

"We'll not remain your captives!"

"You will or I will issue a mandate for your head. I may not be able to do so for her, but I certainly can for you. You are mortal, are you not?"

Yele grabbed Faryad's arm to restrain him.

"Remember the island," she said.

Faryad breathed deep, gaining control over his temper. He then walked to Snow Fox's side. Snow Fox eyed him and Faryad eyed Silver Wind. With a cry of fury, Faryad bent low and punched at each of the shackles about Snow Fox's wrists. Each one exploded into a symphony of clanks and tinkling metal as the chains fell away from Snow Fox's wrists in small pieces.

Snow Fox eyed his hands, felt at his wrists where the shackles had rubbed away fur from his skin. Despite the wicked blows, Faryad had not hurt Snow Fox. He eyed Faryad a brief moment before quickly reaching for the wooden knives he had hidden beneath the nearby root. He deftly threw one at the servant standing closest to Silver Wind. The knife struck in the throat, the servant gagged as blood poured out of the wound and around the wood. The servant fell dead.

Silver Wind stood in haste, backing away in fear.

Snow Fox said, "I've four more and a stone. That's enough for the rest of your servants and the stone for you. Or, conversely, I can deliver them all into you. Which would you rather?"

Silver Wind swallowed hard. He straightened his clothing in some attempt at dignity. He stood tall and said, "I have decided your service to me has been met and hereby decree you free from bondage." He then nodded at Snow Fox, urging, "You may go."

"Where are my weapons?" demanded Snow Fox.

Another servant brought them forth wrapped in cloth. He did not wish to get too close to Snow Fox, so he threw the knives to Snow Fox's feet.

Snow Fox smiled as he gathered up his knives. He ran from Silver Wind's home.

Not knowing what else to do, where else to go, Faryad, Yele and Sarut followed him. They followed him until they left the prefecture of Li, they followed him until Kalavata flew high over head, bringing night upon them.

When they at last stopped to rest, they made a small fire and spoke.

"Thank you for freeing me," said Snow Fox. "Your prowess is unequaled. Lesser men would have broken my arms in two with such punches."

"It is a matter of control and directing your anger, your energy into precisely the right point. I didn't want to harm you, so I directed the energy of each punch into the shackles only."

"You must be a fighter of magnificent skill!"

Faryad sighed. He said, "I am no fighter."

"Your punches say otherwise. And I thank you once more. I am Snow Fox, son of Coyote and Nyavatalii."

"I am Faryad, this is Yele Prin Prin."

Sarut climbed to rest upon Faryad's shoulder. "And I am Sarut," he said.

"Well met, friends. Where are you heading?"

The three companions looked to one another. At last Faryad said, "North." He thought a vague direction was an appropriate answer.

"And you?" asked Yele.

"I seek my brother, Comet Fox. Have you heard of him?"

Faryad and Yele shook their heads.

"I wish to meet him. But he has been difficult to track. I think now I am closer than ever, but I have been delayed many days by Silver Wind."

"In which direction do you go?" asked Faryad.

"Northwest. I am told he is on the run from some tyranny."

Faryad looked to Yele. She nodded.

"May we accompany you some ways?"

Snow fox nodded. "I would like the company."

The four companions shared tales they had heard, jokes they had learned, bonding as friends. Eventually Yele began playing her guitar and Faryad accompanied her on the violin. Snow Fox sat back, listening to the music and enjoying his new friends before the instruments were put aside and all went to sleep.


I hope you enjoyed Act III of "Broken Steel"! Check back next week for Avt IV!!!

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