Ghost Relic: Stray Animal

The urge to write the first arc of Ghost Relic in full came from a couple of 100-word pieces I wrote as a post-a-day challenge. I’m not 100% on the post-a-day deal but I think I’m doing pretty well so far. I figured if I did it for the next arc, I’d get a handle on the characters the same way.

Ally and Ben are two nth-generation millennials about to get caught up in a heap of trouble. Writing Prompt is from here.


 

#121: Stray Animal

Ally tore down an alley, chasing down some dog she had seen wandering aimlessly through the streets. It reminded her of a pup she had seen on a poster or two around the neighborhood, not that she had a good look at it before she took to the chase.

“Dammit, come back here!” her friend ordered as he ran after.

She didn’t have time to respond, having finally cornered the frightened, disoriented animal.

“What the hell is wrong with you?!” he hissed at her.

Ally knelt down, smiling gently at the stray before it finally came to her and nuzzled her hand. She had a way about her that put animals at ease, even if it did nothing for actual people. It finally crawled into her lap, and she flipped through photos on her phone, trying to match the dog to one of the many posters she snapped.

“How did you even do that? You’re scared of everything,” Ben sighed, leaning against a wall. He kept an eye out. It might have been quiet now, but he wasn’t going to be the reason his friend got murdered in some back alley.

“No idea. And I never said I wasn’t scared. Isn’t that right, little buddy?” she cooed, scratching the pup beneath the snout before calling the owner.

“One of these days, they’re just going to turn and bite you.”

Ally shrugged. “Yeah. Maybe. But not today.”

“Then, seriously, what the hell, Ally?”

“Sometimes you just got to get someone home.”

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Chapter 1: Thank You

Okay so that’s the end of that. I’m sort of sorry I killed everyone, except the first post really lead into the fact that I was going to do that. So that’s the last time I’m apologizing for that.

At the point I’m writing this, it’s actually Sunday, July 8th. It’s 11:30 at night and 85 damn degrees in my house. If it sounds like my writing is frayed, that’s why.

My partner asked me what my book was about, and I couldn’t really describe it. I said, ‘Uh, it’s about this guy, he’s a ghost, he gets trapped in a statue that gets sent forward in time.’ So he’s like, ‘Oh..kay.’ Then I said, ‘You know every Asian Drama I watch? It’s exactly like that.’ ‘OH, OKAY.’ Also apparently killing everyone up front is a thing I do so I can avoid doing it later. Believe me. No one dies from here on out. Probably.

The reason why I wrote this out, besides it being a thing stuck in my head since High School, is that I was doing a large application rollout and it burned a lot of stress for me. For the people who actually read that and enjoyed it? Thank you!

Also, this Chapter 1 is definitely more than one chapter. I may split it up into 3 (1/2/3+4), but it depends on what it looks like when I print it out and edit it. I rewrote the end three separate times before just sending Makoto home alone.

The next chapter is going to be about Kesshen, whose name may or may not change, and his reintroduction to reality. I’m getting attached to it so I may keep it. The Darkness is still there, as are the Ninjas and the Temple, who may or not blame him for what happened.

The next week will be some character work along the lines of the short prompts I did before settling on just squeezing this arc out. I basically want to see how far I can go with this story before my brain gives up on it like it does on so many things.

Oh! And one last thing. If you’re into this sort of storyline, basically spirits and time travel and what have you… Here are the things I’m really into:

  • My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (Korean, DramaFever): A demon is trapped in a temple and is unintentionally released by a some rich brat who wants to be an action star. She has no concept of how to act as a person and possibly eats people. She once fell for a soldier who had to betray her and seal her away. She carries a lot of anger for that. And it’s my favorite thing. This is kind of (exactly like) that.
  • Faith (Korean, Drama Fever): Okay I don’t remember this being called Faith when I saw it. But whatever, a Korean Soldier uses magic to travel from the 1300’s to the Future to find a doctor to heal his Queen. He finds a plastic surgeon and hilarity ensues. Also treachery, because that’s usually hilarious, right? I don’t know I love it. I’m so big on time travel. It’s my favorite.

Finding this, I just realized DramaFever went Freemium so all my free time may disappear.

Thank you again! Excuse me while I lose myself in TV for a while.

 

Ghost Relic: Chapter 1

Chapter 1.4: Fading Memories

Well. This is it! That was a whole lot of words. I’m not used to writing this much, to be honest. That leaves editing this monster then reposting it in full. Not that I’d expect you to read it twice, but it’s a good exercise for me.


 

Makoto had made the trek to the old battlefield. It had been three months since the Priestess and her companions had left the capital city, and three months since the flash of light cleared the blight from the countryside. In that amount of time, everything he expected to happen had come to pass.

When the light had faded, the demons were gone without any trace allowing the armies to close in. Where the vortex once swirled, the air was unnaturally still and the land had gone barren. There were few remains to tell of what had happened there. There were three bodies, impaled by stone spikes. One of those was a woman whose neck was slashed. The artifacts that survived were damaged and drained of their former power. There was no sign of any Ghoul or any Summoned Spirit and no one had any reason to think they had even existed.

Still, the Golden Temple had taken it all. The bodies of the fallen and those they could not recover were given funerals befitting heroes. The battlefield was cordoned off. After a while, the land was forgotten.

By the time he came to pay his respects, the land had grown over. New life was pushing its way through the cracks of dry land. In no time at all, all evidence of a battle would have been buried. He was sure that was what everyone else wanted. All memories of the horrors of the Darkness and the alliances forged to defeat it lost to time. This way, everything could return to the status quo.

He knelt down towards one of the piles of rubble and looked through. He had no idea what he wanted to find. He had already searched several other piles to only find more dirt. He dug down and felt something solid. He narrowed his eyes and fished out small stone statuette. Makoto looked down at it. It was warm to the touch and made of no material he had seen before.

He slipped the statuette into one of his pockets and headed back where he came. Both clans had been dismissed from the capital, leaving little else to do but return home and prepare for the day that memory of this battle had faded. He had a feeling it would not be long.

Ghost Relic: Chapter 1

Chapter 1-3.3: Broken Bonds

This is where everyone dies. I’m sorry.


 

Mei watched it unfold before her. The Light began to turn the Darkness as the Darkness once blighted the land. A smile formed across her face.

“WATCH OUT!”

It was Keijiro’s voice calling from behind her. No. She couldn’t be distracted. The bond between Kesshen and her could be seen as a beam that connected the two. They were moments away from it shattering forever.

Hrk…

Mei finally looked down. A stone spike had ripped out of the ground and thrust its way into her back and through her chest. She tried to scream out, but blood had filled her throat and snuffed her voice.

Why wasn’t she dead?

The spike was marbled with veins twisting through the stone. She didn’t notice it before in the dark, but it was hard to miss them now. They were glowing a sick green. The stone was blighting her flesh, rotting it black. The same green veins were now twisting its way through the blight and into her chest.

The plan was never to kill her. It was to poison him.

She realized it too late as she saw the bond between them start to flicker and turn, the light shifting to a similar green.

Kesshen, who was a giant compared to his a usual human shape, turned as the corruption also caught his attention. He turned away from the rift, letting it continue to burn away the darkness.

“Mei!” Keijiro was the one screaming out and ran to her. Before he could move a step, another stone tendril shot out of the ground, this time coiling around and shattering the Ninja’s leg. All he saw was white before he crumpled to the ground.

Yan tried to look past Mei to see the new source of screams. The tendril apparently did not need to corrupt him the way it needed the Priestess, it simply needed him out of the way. He saw a figure emerge from behind him. It was their apparent traitor.

“Tomoe.” Yan could barely hear himself breathe the name.

It couldn’t have been her. It must have been an imposter. After all, they had found the body, lifeless and alone. Not that they had any means to investigate that further. He moved closer, past the impaled Priestess and the fallen Ninja.

It wasn’t her. It was a ghoul. Or perhaps at one time, it was. They buried her in the forest, meaning to come back for her body once the crisis was resolved. The corruption must have taken her. It must have killed her, and once they had gone, taken the woman as its host.

I am already in your Realm.

It was the right choice. As much as Mei was the soul of their group, Tomoe was its mind: strategic, logical, and privy to all of their collected knowledge.

He couldn’t think of when the corruption even began. Even if he wanted to, he didn’t have the time. The ghoul’s cold, lifeless eyes stared through Yan. There was a moment of recognition before the ground began to quake, even more tendrils shooting out and piercing Yan through his limbs.

When the ghoul turned its onslaught onto the two companions, the green glow in the stone veins started to waver. It was the chance Mei needed to pull herself off of the spike. It had missed her heart. After all, it needed her alive. She looked upwards at the glowing giant coming towards her, trying to fulfill its purpose and protect her.

That was more of the trap. The closer he got, the faster the corruption moved along the bond. She would not let it have him. I’m sorry, she mouthed, before coughing out enough blood for a final order.

‘SAVE YOURSELF!’

Razor sharp shards had littered the ground where the tendrils had grown. She grabbed one, the edges digging into her palm. She took one more look at her fallen comrades and dragged the stone across her throat.

The blighted land and twisted sky shook as the Darkness screamed out, watching the bond disintegrate before the corruption could reach the enraged spirit.

It was already too late.

Without the Priestess to anchor her magics, the rift was now uncontrollably. Light poured out from the heavens and burned away the darkness. It was blinding, draping itself over everything it touched as it grew outwards and flooding the summoned Spirit.

When it reached out as far as it could, covering all of the blighted lands, time froze again.

Then, in a blink, the light receded back to the rift, leaving in its wake ground scarred from the accursed energies. For all those outside of the vortex, it all happened in a breath.

Within the vortex, all that remained was Kesshen.

His mortal allies had fallen. The ghoul that wore a familiar face was being penetrated by light from the rift. Then, the light started to return. He saw the edges of the vortex start to draw in. He looked between the Ghoul, where every instinct he had said to strike it down first. Then he looked at the rift.

Save Yourself.

No, he reached out with his sword drawn. He raised its edge, ready to end this once and for all.

SAVE YOURSELF.

The compulsion halted him in his swing. He could advance no further. The bond was severed yet the orders remained within him. Kesshen was full of the rift’s light. When it began to call the light back, it pulled him with it.

No. NO.

He tried to fight it. He felt the pull dragging him back. He thrust his sword into the ground and tried to keep hold.

Nothing worked.

He turned to the rift, just moments before making contact with it. He knew what lied on the other side. The Spirit Realm. Beyond that, the Heavens. If he let it take him, he would no longer be alone. He looked to the ghoul, who seemed to be resisting the Light’s influence. He needed no convincing. He turned his sword and sent it flying at the rift.

The tip pierced the rift. A ring ran through the vortex. Again, there was an explosion of light. And then, there was nothing.

Ghost Relic: Chapter 1

Chapter 1-3.2: Broken Bonds

Ever get that feeling that you can’t wait to finish just so you can go back and fix everything? I feel like that right now. But, I’m almost there!


 

Her eyes glowed again, piercing in the deep darkness of the vortex. The Tome and Mirror were both tied to her back. When she pulled the strap, they fell but never made it to the ground. They suspended in mid-air before flying to arm’s level. The Tome opened, and the text glowed. The Mirror’s surface glowed in kind.

This got the full attention of all of the demonic creatures who turned to the now empowered Priestess. Even those engaged with the Soldier left to throw themselves into her glowing shield, letting out an unholy shriek as they hit.

“GET BACK!” she ordered. Mei drew power from the staff and the shield sent out a pulse of her own, knocking the cursed beasts to the ground. The display of strength was out of character for anyone who had met her, with the exception of her traveling companions. They saw her grow into this warrior who, for the rest of the world, was still a timid Temple Maiden.

“Time to end this!” she called, reading the glowing words before her, the mirror’s surface filling with a pure, golden light. The light shot a column into the sky, fighting to pierce the billowing clouds.

A roar shook the very air, screaming the party down in a demonic tongue. For the Soldier and the Ninja, the words were indiscernible and scratched at their very bones. She understood, thanks to the knowledge gathered in the Staff.

The only end to be found here is yours. Close this door, if you must, but others remain. I am already in your Realm. There is no escaping me. It is already too late.

Mei did not waver. She knew there was some truth in what the Darkness declared, but she realized in that moment she had always known. This was her one journey. She had already made peace with that.

With her free hand, she raised it over her head. The ribbon that held her small statuette to her wrist slipped away. The statuette too joined the other artifacts. She pointed to the Darkness’ Heart and the statuette whipped away. It tore through the beam of light, still pouring out of the mirror, giving it an otherworldly glow, brighter than it had ever been.

She pulled the dagger from her side and sent it flying after. It was going to do more than a mere blessed pebble. When it struck, it was going to cut the statue clean through and unleash the whole power of Kesshen and his small pocket realm.

When the dagger did hit the statue, time froze, causing a ring to reverberate through all realms. There was the light burst from which Kesshen would be born from. This time, the light blinded and burned the darkness away. Kesshen was still a swordsman, but this time he was still more Spirit than Man, made up only of the pure Heavenly Light. His sword formed of the same stuff and he cut a line down through the Darkness’ Heart. The rift that opened tore the vortex apart and the demonic howl that emerged was an unadulterated pain.

It worked.

IT WORKED.

Ghost Relic: Chapter 1

Chapter 1-3.1: Broken Bonds

I keep calling this ‘Chapter 1’ but now I am convinced this is a 3 chapter arc because each ‘scene’ is so damn long. I don’t know. We’ll see how I feel after I edit it. but I’m pretty sure. If anything, this story has taught me I can’t spell the word, ‘Traveled.’


“The heart,” she whispered, “The heart, I can see it!” Mei was nearly in tears, exhausted from the trek. The distance was shorter than others they’ve traveled, but fear and anxiety had a way of draining whatever energy one had managed to hoard. Nothing really brought about a prime vintage of fear and anxiety than pushing through a whirling darkness that slowly degraded everything it touched.

But not them, thanks to their Sorcerer. He called himself Dukun, but they could never tell if that was his name or a title he had given himself. Either way, the man was nothing if not benevolent. Something drove him deep into the wilds and took away any reason he would have to want to leave. However, even he could see the damage the Darkness was doing to the land. In a matter of time, it would find him too. This was why he agreed to accompany them.

One of the last things he did was prepare the philter. He made enough for the party. With their casualties, it was split among the three of them. Blessed at the temple, when they ingested the mixture, it protected them from the worst of the degrading energies. Otherwise, entering the twisting winds would have eaten away at them until they were ghouls.

But, so far, they survived. They had made it to the Heart of the Darkness, a central vortex from which the cursed energies emanated, changing the world around them. It was that which had to be destroyed. It was likely that doing so would not heal the damage already incurred, but it would at least remove the poison from the land and the air, allowing life to grow again.

She looked to her friends for support and frowned. They weren’t there. No, of course, they were fine. They promised that so long as she lived, so would they, or something similar. Yan was ahead of her, blazing the trail and attracting any danger to him. She could see the outline of him, cutting down the small demons formed from the Heart, while the more battle hardened had already breached the vortex and engaged the armies at the edge.

Their Ninja had kept to the rear, picking the stragglers off who attempted to scratch at the Priestess from the shadows. She hadn’t seen him in some time, but she could feel whiffs against her robes, proof enough that he was still there.

She clenched her fist around the Staff, magic flowing from the core and into her arm. The Staff passed along the knowledge of wizened gurus and brilliant scholars, allowing her to see the vortex through better eyes. For her, parts of the vortex began to pulse like a heartbeat but flash like lightning.

The clouds began to bear down, turning towards them. For a moment, it looked as if it was staring back at them. Studying them. Then, it moved. It cut through the sky directly to them. She leaped forward, thrusting the staff outwards. A field of light pushed the clouds back, shielding them from a barrage of sharp black crystals.

“Now or never,” she muttered to herself.

Cheap Book Covers

As much as I like Text Heavy Sites, this is turning into a real Text Heavy Site. Also, I am having genuine guilt over framing this as a Pure Period Fantasy work when it’s actually really not (hence why I’m padding so much before I legit kill everyone). So I thought it would be nice to make a book cover for a bit of context. You might notice that all of the Ghost Relic posts suddenly have fancy pants images. Then at some point during this process, I realized I have no idea what I’m doing because I am a Programmer in real life. Where there are usually Publisher marks, I should put a Gold Star.

So I initially wanted Book Like Covers, so I used the image sizes used on Upliterate, a place you can upload original works as books. I don’t use it, but it’s an interesting concept and I might use it later. This is what those covers ended up looking like.

Then I looked to see how it viewed in a post. It was LONG. So, so long. So, I made square versions. It might also look nicer or format more cleanly in a grid.

I have to admit, they look nicer to me.

Then when I went to look at them on the actual WordPress.com Reader Feed, it turned out they use a completely different aspect ratio. Because of course they do. And since there’s no way to explicitly say which images are for what, I made new ones.

I like this much less. But whatever, by this time I’ve spent hours on it and now I’m sad and it was hot that day.

Then I looked at the WordPress mobile feed, WHICH USES A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ASPECT RATIO. At this point, I gave up. So that’s the story behind that.

Sidenote: This may be the only Ghost Relic: Extras post I make that doesn’t have the cover image. Because I figured in this post you would have seen it enough times to need to see it one more time. Am I right?