Lunging, leaping over logs and trees, the pitter-patter of light footfalls was eerily absorbed by the misshapen flora. Something was running. A huge noise sounded behind the runner, a noise reminding the four-legged runner of the danger. A huge golem-like pillar of stone and crystal, quickly folding its form into a shape that’s strange, and yet relatable to a tiger. The runner was interested, and yet terrified. The runner then made a decision.
Lunging, leaping over logs and trees, the pitter-patter of light footfalls was eerily absorbed by the misshapen flora. Something was running. A huge noise sounded behind the runner, a noise reminding the four-legged runner of the danger. A huge golem-like pillar of stone and crystal, quickly folding its form into a shape that’s strange, and yet relatable to a tiger. The runner was interested, and yet terrified. The runner then made a decision. Veering from its path, it went to an area. Here, the trees seemed to take all hope from most creatures, and the area was forever coated in a thick, sickly green mist. He had spotted it earlier, and had quickly sketched a design on a special medallion that all tribe members took as a precaution. It looked akin to a piece of amber, its center now shining. The golem creature stopped on the edge of this patch of woods. Its bright eyes blazed, a beacon of golden light, with a hint of aqua blue and red, before it padded its way back into the woods.
Ott, for that was the four-legged runner’s name, stopped on the far side of this evil patch and thought about his life. Before he became a fully fledged member of his tribe, the Amberpatch tribe, he had thought of its scout option as perilous, but thrilling. Ott loved what he did, of course, but things certainly weren’t easy. Especially for his species. They were the kornads, and, while very much sentient and intelligent, they sometimes felt out of place. Were the small, weak kornads really supposed to be here? Ott often pondered this question. Now his primary thought was, What was evolution thinking! (Of course, he didn’t think in English. It would be silly to believe that kornads, a species from another world, would think in a language they had not ever heard of. No, the kornads thought ((and spoke)) in the aptly named language kornadin, which will be translated.) His second thought was, I need to get back to the grus (village). Indeed, he did, for he was in uncharted waters, so to speak, and was in serious trouble unless he could get back to the Amberpatch village (grus). Ott knew this full well, and began to navigate homeward.
The sky was pale blue and had a fluffy aspect, and judging by the cloudless sky, nobody would have guessed that the day could have taken any bad turns. A pale orange was peeking over a now purple sky when Ott finally settled down. Climbing up a now not so foreboding evergreen, he thought on the events of the previous week. They were tracking a malfunctioning shape golem. These creatures were ‘tamed,’ so to speak, by the Amberpatch village, by feeding them a magical amber-like substance they called ‘thren.’ This put them into a state of pacification, which was mutually enjoyed. The shape golems loved thren, and could develop bonds with the Amberpatch tribe, and the Amberpatch tribe loved the comforting presence of the giant pillars of earth, and could also bond with golems. The comfort of the golems was normally understandable. The bonds between golems and Amberpatch were often so strong, that they would defend each other with their lives (or for golems, spirits), thus it was obviously comforting to have a friendly, extremely powerful, ever-shifting, mound of minerals and stone, from ages gone by in the bowels of the earth. There were, however, exceptions, occuring before the bonding of golem and kornad. One such exception fled from the Amberpatch village, into the woods. The elders of the village (as well as the inhabitants formed a democratic/oligarchy hybrid government) turned from hope that the golem went to a watchportal (a rift usually leading to the Deren mountains) or ran across a boundary bordering a neighboring village’s territory, to fear of the golem that replaced the peace. Ott and the other master scouts had been sent to monitor the golem. In his nook in the evergreen, Ott now wished he had his golem. Understand that golems are not comforting for no reason. All respectable full members of the tribe had golems, and they are extremely strong, capable of deadlifting over 300 times the weight of the evergreen that Ott was now sitting in. They are only truly destroyed if their heart of thren is removed, this being the reason that they consume so much. The bigger the heart, the stronger the golem (an interesting tidbit could, and will, be inserted here: if a golem reaches a certain age, possesses certain traits, and has a big enough heart, it can ‘ascend.’ This turns the golem a bright amber color, with a tinge of color based on the traits that it ascended with. Only two cases have ever occured where a golem has ascended). Also, their heart can only be accessible if the golem’s body is utterly destroyed, and its traits are somehow reversed. Anyhow, Ott was wishing for an incredibly fast mount and companion, and this was ideal for his golem. Called Goran, Ott’s golem preferred (remember, they are shape golems, they can be whatever shape they are inclined to be, but everybody has their favorites, and golems are no different) to be a huge bird, incredibly quick with the ability to send an electric pulse (Goran was made of a special electrical ore found deep underground) into things he pierced with his talons or formidable beak. He was always shining with a comforting glow, which was, though Ott was denying it, very vital. He was not afraid of the dark.
This, however… this is nothing natural, he thought somewhat wryly, on an occasion when he almost succumbed to this dark, halfway through the night. He was far too close to the evil, hope-sucking glade. Touching his amber necklace, a gift from his family, he drew hope from it, even as it grew warm and started to glow. His thoughts unclouding, he shook the last strands of drowsiness. He began moving away from the glade, back toward his village. The darkness drew back, surprised that its prey had not succumbed, and realizing that it never would. Then that malicious presence fled back to the evil places of the world, having come to the conclusion that it had no power over Ott. Ott realized, as the presence was lifted, that he had won a small victory. He also realized, somewhat discouragingly, that he had still not attained complete safety. Complete safety would only be attained when he made it back to his village. Poor golem, he thought, remembering the chase that led him into the glade. What a great honor it had attained, but so lost. He remembered its coloring. It let me go. I know it’s an ascendant, it let me go.
Thinking about the rank of the golem, he suddenly felt saddened. Based on studies of golems, he agreed with most of the Amberpatch scientists that an ascendant golem with no kornad bonded to it was incredibly sorrowful, and as shown by its behavior, would flee, becoming aggressive toward all creatures. It only wanted kindness, but when finding none or little, it became enraged. Ott, once or twice in the night, thought he faintly saw a golden glow, and a glint of aqua blue eyes. He had already thought about bonding with it, however, it was very rare that anyone could have 2 bonds. They were called the golem-loved, and by the nobles of the kornads, were thought of as greedy. Nobody really thought of the nobles well, as eventually most of their golems turned orange with an access of exposure to its master’s powerful greed. However, the nobles somehow managed to retain power, and often doubled as famous merchants. This was most likely why they were tolerated, thought Ott, as the sun began to glimmer through the dew laden forest. His kornad eyes noticed the beauty of the sight, and he made a decision. He drew out a large portion of thren from a nearby crystal using a pick that all scouts needed in order to provide for their, in this case nonpresent, golems. He delicately broke the slightly cylindrical golden substance in two, then cut (yes, cut, with a knife he had on him for precaution, thren is of the consistency of gold, and can be cut) it into smaller pieces, spending hours carving them into snowflakes, and leaves and drops of water as well as other nature related objects he could recall from memory. This was for two reasons. One, golems perceive time and effort, as well as emotion, as caring and happiness. Two, golems always want a specific shape. This is a way they learn, and there will always be at least one emotion (or element, the two are interchangeable when it comes to the heart of golems) that the golems will have at any one point, and they enjoy canceling it out, as it gives them peace. Ott carved an access of snowflakes and mini fires. He did this for a reason, too. He felt that anger and sadness could be combated with ice and fire. He faced toward the last position he had seen the ascendant golem, and layed out the pieces, making sure to put the fires in the back. He didn’t need an ascendant following him that was angry. After laying them out, he continued his journey picking up a few more bars of thren (thren, unlike gold, is very light. Also, if you were thinking he was foolish to add weight to his pack, then hush yourself. Remember, Ott is a professional. If you ever doubt him, try not to, as there is an equal chance for you to be wrong as to be right).
Over Ott’s next few nights, he felt the golem following him even more closely. He kept feeding it and he began to feel its anger lessening. As he neared the mountains (Ott was too far away from his village in order to go back the way he came, and therefore, went to the mountains in hopes of finding a watchportal), he felt the air becoming frigid, and a layer of frost began to coat the rocks and the wind started to pick up. He now had a requirement for fire.
On one of his firewood-gathering expeditions, he saw something gold glint in the trees. He went stiff, not sure whether to expect caring or another chase. The ascendant golem walked close to him. Unsure whether to run, he put an extra bar of thren in front of the tiger-like golem, the golem merely nudged it back to him with it’s tiger-like head. Returning to his senses, and realizing it did not mean harm, he drew a few large snowflake shaped pieces of thren. He had spent an entire day on it, ending up leaving behind only two. It nudged his hand and his hand tingled with heat, and an electrical feeling filled them. He fed the thren carefully to the huge tiger of earth and a sound not too different from purring rumbled from its throat. He wondered if his doubts about forming a bond with two golems were well-founded. From that point forward, the golden golem came closer and closer to his campsite, and by the time he reached the base of the huge mountain, covered in dark green forest that faded to a pearly white snow, with blotches of orange and brown from the softly curving rock formations lining the peaks, the golem was staying in his campsite. He fed it thren, and whenever he fell asleep he could feel the now calming warmth of the ascendant golem, and a soft buzzing filled the air (akin to bees, but not quite as violent). This humming and waves of heat coming from the pines and sturdy aspen (though not of the species of earth, mind. Remember – different planet, different plants, you get the idea) around his fire and shelter. Also, Ott excelled at shelter building in the wild, only using natural resources. Here is a description of a more long term one. He took a piece of a crystal (not thren, and yes, the crystal was on the ground, and the base is only shale, a fairly brittle rock, and easily broken) and flintknapped (to put it primitively, banged rocks together to make sharp rocks) a long slice out of the sturdy crystal (called yunzite) and cut (with his knife, the knife is very well made) wedges out of the slice, and attached it to a stick, making a saw. Then he cut down the aspen (different genus!) nearby to make the base of his structure. Then he laid more logs on the base (he pounded the base in upright) to make an elevated structure to which he added fern walls and a roof. He headed along the base of the mountain range until he figured he was in the middle. He then made a more elaborate structure, a small log cabin, using tools he made out of kunzite. He was, however, worried. Extremely dangerous things that had no name, or were too dangerous for their name to be used casually. Things that could easily tear through 12 feet of metal, much less 10 inches (or 30.48 centimeters, or 18 olges, which is the form of measurement in Ott’s world) of wood. At least, he thought, I have a golem around my campsite, and an ascendant golem, no less.
On the 7th night into his wait for a watchportal, he heard an unearthly gurgling outside his cabin. A rumble shook the structure. Ott went outside through the back door, and as he prepared to peer around the side, another gurgle came from whatever was outside and a snort, a short ragged one. When his eyes almost peeked around the wall, he heard another snort and was pinned to the ground. A nameless fear overtook him as a giant shape slithered out and distinct fangs began to draw closer to him. He surely would have been finished if not for one factor. A golden glow began to shine, quickly coming closer, and the dark shape turned and lunged at the light. The light grew almost blinding and Ott could make out the shape of a golden tiger, or something that looked like one at least, slashing at the dark shape. An unearthly howl arose from where those awful fangs were and the shape went limp as it was blasted across the campsite. Ott, reeling from the light, approached the dead creature. He had a vague memory of seeing one before. It had killed the golem it was attacking. It was one of the few things that could truly kill a golem. This golem defeated something that nothing is meant to defeat.
In the next few days, he allowed himself to be outside at night, recognizing the danger was removed. This allowed him to gradually improve his shelter, until the point where it felt like a cabin in the woods. He made a small shelter near the edge of his camp, which was now well defined, and used it as a place to make and store food for the golem that was always nearby. It occurred to him on the 12th night that the golem was developing a bond with him. He did not feel bad about it. His other golem, Goran, back in the Amberpatch village, was of an accepting type, and as he began to discover traits of the ascendant, he learned that they were similar in more ways than he first thought. Goran and the ascendant would be close friends, that much was apparent. In the evening of that day, he heard the humming associated with watchportals. The ascendant golem’s golden ears (or what looked like ears) perked up and he bounded forward, curious. Ott followed him. When Ott caught up, they began a small hike to the source of the humming. As they passed through the trees, Ott thought it would be alright to tell the golem about Goran. As they came closer to the humming, Ott realized something.
“I just now realized something,” he said curiously. “I’ve never asked what your name was.”
Gradually, the golem responded, “Roont.”
The golem said this cautiously, as if these were his first words.
“Roont,” Ott responded, trying to hide his moderate astonishment. He was not too surprised, as he already suspected strongly that he had bonded to Roont. However, only golems with bonds can speak, and only with the kornad they had bonded to. This was his final proof that Roont had bonded to him. Coming upon the watchportal, he noticed something strange about it. The land beyond it looked unfamiliar. Putting this off as simply distortion, he walked through, Roont trailing behind him.
To Be Continued…