One of the goals of SPFBO is to give a chance to self-published authors to get more exposure. This year I’m taking part in the competition with my own team. You can keep updated on our progress and all of our content on my SPFBO 5 page!
Tales from the Asylum is a new feature I came up with for SPFBO. I wanted to create a unique opportunity for the authors to show off their story telling skills by taking their characters and putting them in an asylum room to see how they would deal with the situation. A lot can happen in a closed space…
Noor Al-Shanti likes to write epic length fantasy and science fiction novels, but hates writing author bios.
When he opened his eyes, Dorakion was staring at an old stone wall. The left side of his face was on the cold, muddy ground. He blinked a few times, trying to remember where he was, how he had come to be here. His head felt like it was going to split open. A strange buzzing sound filled his ears. He lifted himself up to a sitting position and found that his arms were full of bruises and cuts.
Dorakion looked around at the stone walls. This room was so tiny he felt like he was in a tomb. Like his breaths would run out. There was no window. He stood up and examined the door. It was closed.
A chill crept up his back. Dorakion had no idea how he had come to be in this small prison. He closed his eyes against the rising panic, but his mind suddenly filled with a series of horrifying images.
His father dead in the middle of his shop. A huge demon standing over him with two huge weapons drawn: an axe that was dripping blood and a huge club. The demon’s muscular arms looked like they were going to rip the leather armbands that covered them. Armbands the colour of blood. He tried to get to his father, to shake him awake, to hold him, but his body would not obey his commands. He was frozen. He could not speak or move. The tears streaming down his face were the only relief that he had from this terrifying imprisonment.
Tears streamed down Dorakion’s cheeks as the memory faded. But one thing from that memory did not fade as easily as the others. The bright, unnaturally blue hair of the Sorcerer that stood before him, hands held out. And that grin. Dorakion remembered it vividly. The Sorcerer was relishing his pain, relishing his inability to move.
Finally, the Sorcerer’s image faded and he was left staring at the heavy door. He looked down at his hands. They were much bigger than they had been in the memory. Much more muscular. Powerful as they had not been back then. He tried forcing the door open, but it was useless.
Just as useless as his father’s powerful blacksmith’s hands had been against the Sorcerers and their Demon bodyguards. Just as useless as his mother’s elaborate escape plans had been as the Sorcerers roamed wild in their village, killing some and leaving others to witness their crimes and suffer the anguish that they seemed to relish. They had tried escaping several times and the plans had been good, but the Sorcerers could sense their movements. Every time they reached the outskirts of the village the Demons would suddenly be upon them.
“You think you can escape us?” The green-haired Sorcerer said as he approached Dorakion’s mother. She was frozen by his Sorcerery, but her words were too strong to contain.
“It is you who will not escape justice!” His mother said. “You think yourselves above all with your powers, but you do not understand a thing about the people you are hurting. You can kill us now, wipe out this entire village, but you will not win in the end. You will always have to flee from the justice of your victims.”
The Sorcerer laughed.
“Flee? Is that not what you were hoping to do. You and this tiny, helpless boy here…?”
“I know all about you,” his mother continued, ignoring the Sorcerer’s frightening power even as he set his magically floating arrows on her, their tips touching her cheek, her neck, one hovering above her heart. With one thought the Sorcerer could order those magical weapons to kill her. But she did not seem afraid. “I know all about the lands and Kingdoms you had to flee from before you came to ours. Your so-called Sorcerer king is just a madman who-”
She fell. Suddenly and simply. Dorakion screamed as he looked down at her, the arrows embedded in her body. Her blood streaming to the ground.
Dorakion heaved a deep, forced breath. Why hadn’t he died? Why hadn’t they killed him then too? He closed his eyes and searched through his memories, but all he could see was a terrifying and confused jumble of blood and pain. He retreated from the door and sat down on the muddy stone floor. He looked down at his hands. Strong, powerful hands.
How had he come to be here? How long had he been here? He had no memories after the ones where his parents were killed. No memories outside of his little town and the much larger Bridgetown where his mother used to take him when she went to get new sets of ink. He tried to remember the things she wrote and drew in her books. The only thing that came to mind was a series of drawings of Demons. Had she been writing about the Demons and Sorcerers? Had she learned something important before they had killed her? Some way to defeat them?
Dorakion closed his eyes once more and tried to dredge up any memory that might help him understand why he was here, but there was nothing. And even as he tried he came to the realization that he had done this many, many times before. He had grown in this cell, had spent years casting about looking for memories, for explanations, but he did not even have memories of his time in this cell. It was all a haze. A far-away sense of dread and fear and pain.
He examined his feet and his clothes and his hands. He ran a hand against his face, feeling his very grown-up features. But the only memories that he had, the only ones that made sense were the memories of a child. Dorakion banged his fist against the cold, hard stone floor. He ignored the pain and looked down at it. There must be a way to use this strength to get out of here. He was grown now, he had strength to rival a demon. This must be why they kept him locked away, so he could not stand in their way.
Suddenly, a cold dread spread across his insides. He was wearing a leather armband on each arm. They were red in colour, red like the colour of blood. He fought his revulsion and fear and tried to take them off, undoing the straps of the left one with his right hand. On the inside of his arm underneath the strap was a huge, unsightly wound that had begun to scab over. Dorakion looked down at it. He could not remember how it had come to be here, but he could read very clearly what it said.
Dorakion of Tower Hill
His name. His village. The old stone tower that marked their place in the world. Suddenly the memories came rushing back. Good memories. Memories of playing in the ruins of that tower. Of learning to ride a horse. His mother teaching him to read. His father teaching him to light the forge and test the balance on a newly made sword. A friend whose name he could not remember smiling at him. The girl who lived in the house right under the huge tree racing him up the path.
Dorakion smiled and re-laced the armband tightly against the scab. The Sorcerers had destroyed his village. They had put him through torture and pain. They had killed his parents. They had taken most of his memories so that he could not even bear to imagine the things that they had done to him and made him do, but they had not yet won because they could not make him forget who he was.
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Noor Al-Shanti entered Children of the Dead City into SPFBO and got sorted into BookNest‘s group.