Borcorieus of Vorca
Note: This is part of a series of short stories based in the world of Ivanturia. The primary purpose of the stories is to explore the world, so more focus has been given to that than plot.
Sakat sighed deeply and contentedly as he left the dusty trail and moved onto the smooth road of Borcorieus. Sunlight illuminated the green, spongy street and Sakat slowed his pace as he took in the sights. No where feels safe like the ordered streets of a city.
“Watch out!” someone screamed. Sakat jerked his head to the side and saw something huge hurling down the road. He dived to the side, rolling, in a desperate attempt to get out of the way. His fur scraped along the sidewalk as he rolled flat onto his back. Ok, I may have judged prematurely, Sakat thought. I could have sworn they moved slower. Sakat lifted his head and watched as the road rolled up in a wave of organic flesh, carrying a travel coach with four men inside. The driver flashed Sakat an angry glare as he pushed a button to release more hormones into the street, and the wave progressed faster again.
“Are you OK?” someone asked as a hand reached toward Sakat.
Sakat reached up and grabbed it. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“You new around here?” his helper, a tall man with a deep tan — but slightly discolored, almost grey — and shining white hair. A Svartalfar.
“Kind of, it’s been a while. More traffic than when I was last here.”
“Welcome back! My name’s Jel. Yours?” the stranger said enthusiastically.
Jel smiled, his stunning blue eyes and white teeth contrasting with his drab clothing and monotone skin, “Come walk with me, I’m on my way to the tavern anyway. I’ll get you a drink, you need one after that ordeal.”
Sakat nodded his thanks and fell in step beside his new friend, walking along the edge of the street on the more solid sidewalks. Moving his eyes around the familiar yet different thoroughfare, Sakat remembered how he had lived. In a Vorcan city no one had a garden. The entire city was a garden. Beneath his feet, giant appendages of a city tree formed roads and sidewalks. This organism carried the citizens of Borcorieus through the city on travel coaches, using hormones and chemical signals to control the giant plant’s convulsions. But other parts of the city also teemed with life. Sakat watched a girl press her palm to a house tree’s gelatinous doorway, the shaking liquid receding before the sample of her familiar life-thread. Across the way, a vascular mail route pushed a package along the massive tubes. A special organ attached to the package released signals searching for a specific person’s signature life-thread. Life thread, Sakat mused, what could we do without it? Would we face only the metal abominations of the Drotar? God forbid!
“Hey, stop that!” a sudden high voice pierced Sakat’s quiet thoughts. He turned, seeing a young man dash out of an alleyway. Two pointed ears sat atop a head full of thick black fur. His short-sleeved shirt revealed furry arms and neck. In one hand the man, a Karshi, held a small purse creature. The accessory’s long simian tail wrapped around the robber’s hand, before reconnecting to the purse. Probably based on monkey life thread, Sakat guessed. The small creature screamed, disliking the rough treatment. Annoying things, monkey purses, never know when to shut up, Sakat complained.
Sakat stopped, and dropped his bag from his shoulders, quickly undoing the strap. The criminal also paused, watching the two men blocking his path. He snarled, a Karshi’s extra large canines poking out from beneath his lips, then he glowed for a second, before disappearing. Where he had stood but a moment before, a bobcat growled, the purse beneath its paw.
“A Cerelan,” Jel breathed, “you don’t see too many Karshi in that guild.” Sakat shook his head as he reached into his bag, grabbing several small spheres. With a swift motion, he released the containers onto the ground, causing them to split along a seam in their center. Out of each one, a small rodent emerged. Sakat had bred them using mouse life thread, but had made one special addition: scorpion tails. Sakat whistled a specific tune, and his creations scuttled towards the bobcat. Its growl deepened; few in the city carried war creatures.
As the rodent recombinants scurried forward the bobcat batted at each one. He carefully dodged their enormous tails, attempting to slice them off with a well placed strike. Swish, a rodent screamed as its stinger collapsed to the ground. With a quick leap, the bobcat pulled out of range of another, easily dodging the short-ranged creatures. It spared a glance at Sakat, its eyes triumphant.
Crunch. The bobcat howled in pain, collapsing to the ground with something attached to his back leg. Two mice scurried forward, stabbing their stingers into the incapacitated enemy. Sakat quickly whistled a retreat, before the horde killed the unfortunate thief. From behind it, a young Karshi woman bounded towards the group.
“Honestly, he should know better than to rob a scientist,” she muttered. “He’s lucky I had just given my jab stork a break.” She gestured to the bird impaled in the back leg of the Cerelan. Obviously a Vorcan creation, with an unnatural metal beak glistening in the sun. The woman wrapped her hand around the beak and pulled the struggling bird out of the cat’s leg. It clapped its beak gratefully.
“But thank you for distracting him, I doubt I could have stopped him so easily if he had seen my beastie coming,” she said. “I’m Aliz. What’s your name?”
“Sakat,” the traveler replied. “Glad I could help. I wouldn’t normally carry war creatures, but I just returned from the wilderness.” Sakat whistled again to his creatures, commanding them to return to their respective containers.
Jel opened his mouth, but Aliz cut him off, “Really? What were you doing?”
Sakat smiled, “Just selling Vorcan trinkets. Sometimes a rich Cerelan would like a green cat or a mimicking frog.” Aliz simply rolled her eyes.
“My name’s Jel, but I’m not sure that’s important,” Jel injected.
Aliz turned to him, an embarrassed look on her pretty face, and apologized, “I’m so sorry, I’m rather absentminded.”
Below them the bobcat vanished, replaced by the thief’s original form. He groaned, grabbing the wound in his leg.
“Maybe we should call the police,” Jel suggested.
“Or the ambulance,” Aliz replied. Sakat simply laughed.