Greetings dear readers, and welcome to my humble story!
For the curious who looked in this section out of sheer curiosity, Two Kinds is an online webcomic written and illustrated by one Tom Fischbach of Cincinnati Ohio. The site can be found at 2kinds dot com (can't make a link), and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a well written and well drawn comic. The site's contents are of a Web-14 rating.
That being said, the world and characters of Two Kinds are all copyrighted to Tom Fischbach. I'm simply an obsessive fan with an urge to write something.
And for those fans of my Ratchet and Clank story, I haven't left it by the wayside, and will write more of it whenever ideas for it float into my head.
So, Chapter 1 - Hunters and Hunted
Dranz of the Si'Lin clan crept through the thick foliage of his wooded homeland, silently stalking a large boar through the forest, a spear clutched tightly in his clawed hand. The tiger Keidran stood at a mere fifteen palms high when standing straight up, though his slight frame was toned and muscular by years of hunting and physical labor for the good of his village. With winter fast approaching and food supplies beginning to dwindle, eight year old Dranz, as well as the rest of the fit males in his village, had gone out to hunt for wild game to bring back to the store houses in preparation for the bitter cold.
As per custom of most Keidran, Dranz wore no clothing; clothes were not only uncomfortable to his kind, due to their thick fur coats, but they also hindered movement, making difficult tasks such as hunting stealthily all the more so.
Suddenly, the boar stopped, snout held high to test the air for strange aromas. Dranz froze in his tracks, pointed ears lying flat, praying to the gods that the wind wouldn't shift in direction. Whether it was his prayers or just luck, the large game animal seemed satisfied with its inspection, and proceeded to nibble on a patch of grass poking through the thin layer of dry leaves that covered the forest floor.
Taking care to avoid twigs and disguising his movements in the howl of the autumn wind, the Keidran edged ever closer to his prey, until he was able to hear the soft snorting the boar produced as it devoured its meal. In one fluid motion, Dranz raised the pole-arm above his shoulder and heaved it forward with all his strength, sending it whistling through the air directly at the boar. In an instant the weapon closed the distance and pierced the animal's thick hide, sinking deep into its innards and causing the wound to gush blood. The boar thrashed about madly in pain and shock, seeking to extricate the offending object from its body. Its efforts, however, simply drove the weapon in deeper, piercing more organs and freeing more blood from its veins.
After thirty seconds of loud thrashing and desperate cries, the animal fell to the ground, beaten and exhausted. Seconds later, its torso ceased the regular rise and fall of breath. It was dead.
Dranz stood and strode over to inspect the kill, removing the bloodied spear from the boar and wiping it off on the animal's hide. Smiling, he offered a small prayer to the gods and removed the animal hide sack he carried on his back. From it, he took a section of rope woven from from plant fiber and tied it twice around the boar's midsection, once near the hind legs and once near the front legs. After making sure the knots were secure, he grabbed hold of the rope and began the arduous task of hauling the animal back to his village.
A comforting air surrounded Dranz as he approached his home. Even from this distance he could smell the welcoming scents of meat being smoked over bonfires, and hear the general sounds of busy life. The village was located on the outskirts of Keidran territory, about a mile from the forest's edge. Amazingly, the humans did not seem to know that it existed, despite the close proximity of a large human city, for they would have surely sent a raiding party by now to gather supplies and slaves to be traded.
It didn't matter how or why though. The humans left Dranz and his people alone, for the time being at least, so he put the thoughts aside and focused on hauling his catch back home to be cleaned and smoked.
After ten more minutes of hiking through the forest, the village came into view over the top of a hill; several dozen thatched huts and wooden lodges occupied a clearing in the otherwise thick woods. Smoke rose from numerous bonfires, and sharp clanging sounds emanated from the local blacksmith's shop as he fashioned spears for hunting and axes for chopping wood. Children dashed about at play, giggling as they yanked on each other's tails and tackled each other to the ground, driving dead leaves, pine needles and dirt into their fur.
The parents of said children hurried about the village, preparing themselves and their homes for the winter months; several families were building up mounds of earth around their homes, a measure to keep warm air trapped inside. Others were making cuts of animal hide into various foot coverings, sections of light leather armor, and heavy winter clothing. Though it is true that most Keidran may disdain the use of clothes, they knew that some situations demand its use, and attempted to make it as comfortable as possible while still being practical, though the young ones were always difficult to persuade.
Dranz made his way through the village's bustling inhabitants, being careful not to get in the way of anyone's work. Several familiar faces greeted him as he passed; he waved back and smiled in return.
Eventually, he made it to his family's home, a mid-size rectangular wooden lodge. Homes such as this were reserved for families of higher status, due to the amount of time and intensive labor that was required to construct them. Most Keidran in the village lived in simple thatched or earthen huts; much simpler to construct, but also smaller and less solidly built.
The interior of Dranz's home was divided into two rooms; one for cooking and general living, and the other for sleeping. The floor of the building was kept earthen, a measure used to preserve the claws on its occupant's toes. In the middle of the living room was a large fire pit made of molded bricks, filled with soot from the previous night's fire. A rack of various metal tools hung on the wall; a spade, a long knife, and an exquisitely crafted steel sword, all skillfully made by hand. Next to the fire pit was a large iron basin, used as a surface to skin and clean animals caught during hunting expeditions.
Dranz hauled his catch higher and carried it over to the basin, carefully setting it down. After untying the ropes and placing them back into the sack he carried, he walked over to the tool rack hanging on the wall and removed the long knife, examining its edges to make sure that it was razor sharp. He picked up a small piece of parchment and ran the knife lengthwise down the center; the parchment split cleanly into two halves, one fluttering slowly to the floor.
Satisfied, the young Keidran knelt over the dead boar, carefully puncturing a small hole in its hide with the knife, and slowly sliding the implement into the hole while trying to avoid tearing it. With cautious sideways sliding motions, the knife blade slowly began to separate the boar's skin from the rest of it.
Sudden, rapid footsteps sounded behind Dranz. Instinctively, he drew his knife out of the boar and spun to meet his attacker, only to be met by the glint of cold steel; a sword was leveled at his throat, the very sword from the tool rack he had taken the knife from.
"Hmm," snickered the sword's wielder, "Your reaction time seems to be slipping, Dranz."
Dranz cracked a grudging smile, "Hello, Valen. I see you've still not tired of catching me off guard at every possible opportunity."
Valen lifted the blade and placed the flat on his shoulder, "Nor will I ever, brother," he said, smiling broadly.
Valen was a full two palms higher than his younger brother, and well as three years older. Since he turned four he had been training to be a soldier in the army of the Tiger Tribe, and planned to travel south to the tribe's capitol city when he reached the age of thirteen. His life of military training was reflected in his highly muscular physique, built throughout years of lessons in swordplay and survival.
The older Keidran knelt down to examine Dranz's kill. "A fine specimen, little brother," he said, "Did you slay it yourself?"
"And hauled it back here," added Dranz.
Valen looked impressed, "Well done, Dranz," he said, slapping his brother's shoulder, "It should provide at least a week's worth of food for the winter."
He stood, "Anyway, before I forget, father requested that I come and get you. He says he needs you to perform a task for him. I can finish skinning this boar for you."
"Very well," replied the younger Keidran, handing Valen the long knife.
As Dranz was about to leave, his brother caught him by the shoulder.
"Oh, and one more thing," he said, offering the sword's leather-wrapped pommel to Dranz, "He says you should take this."
The young Keidran gave his brother a puzzled look, but took the weapon anyway, holding it up as beams of sunlight scattered off its angled surfaces. The blade was nearly nine palms in length, with razor sharp edges and a tip finely crafted to a perfectly tapered point. Two symmetrical metal handguards signified where the blade ended and the hilt began, the latter of which had a core of hard oak wood and a wrapping of leather to ensure comfort to the wielder. The hilt, which allowed room for the use of two hands if the wielder so desired, was topped with a flawless blue gemstone, which gleamed and sparkled magnificently in the daylight. If one looked closely, one could sense a strange quality in the jewel; something ethereal and unearthly. Despite the sword's unnatural aura, Dranz always felt exceedingly confidant when he wielded it, like it somehow belonged in his hands.
He knew better though, as Valen had always been the one striving to live the military life; ultimately, the sword would be passed from father to him, so Dranz did his best to detach himself from that feeling of belonging that began to encompass him as the gripped the weapon tightly.
"You should go quickly," urged Valen, "Father seemed anxious when he last spoke to me."
End of chapter one. I hope you guys enjoyed it.