Friday, January 24, 2014
Raising Kain: Diseased God Chapter Four
Kain said good-bye to his mother. Celita swept him up into a great big hug, and began to weep into his hair. He didn’t understand why but he went with it.
He said good-bye to his father, and his father dropped down to Kain’s level. Ouranus didn’t drag him into a hug like his mother had just done; instead, Ouranus ruffled Kain’s sunset red hair, and kissed the crown of his son’s head. It was the most affectionate thing Ouranus had ever done for his son.
Kain didn’t understand, he thought he was just going to be off with Gaia for a few days. He reasoned it couldn’t be a very long trip, a few days at most, especially since Gaia told him he shouldn’t pack any of his things or have any of the palace servants come with him.
That had been a week ago today, and, in Kain’s opinion, things had changed for the worst in the last five days.
His tiny cup sized fist slammed into the ground. A puff of dust rose into the air, and Gaia sighed for another innumerable time. This is how it had been for the last one-hundred and twenty hours: Kain howling, shattering trees, incinerating bushes, transporting into and dropping huge boulders from the sky. Now he was reduced to a temper tantrum the level any normal child could throw, pounding his fists against the ground and crying for his mother.
The tantrum started as any other one would have. Gaia had taken something away from the boy. First she had taken him from his home, and then she stripped him of his status, removing everything that symbolized that status. Out here he had no servants, no clothes, and not, it seemed to him, any dignity.
“I’m hungry!’ Kain wailed to the uncaring sky, taking up a new chant among the vast array of others. “I’m cold! I want my bed! I want my mother! I want my father! I want my clothes!”
Gaia sat with her back to him, staring off into the same empty sky as her deft fingers worked a slender silver knife back and forth across a small wooden figure. She carved the figure from the remains of one of Kain’s destroyed trees, and it sat curled in the palm of her hand.
The face appeared, its eyes clenched shut and its brow furrowed into a terrible grimace. She left the mouth open with the lips pulled back showing tiny perfect teeth. If one held the figure up to his ear and listened closely enough, he might hear it screaming into the sky.
The whittling grew hair as tiny bits of wood flew away. Ears small and round, and shoulders with barely enough meat on them to support the figure as it pressed against Gaia’s palm. Its hands were small and delicate, hands that never before held a weapon, hands that never before had to prepare their own food, hands that had never before had to kill.
Something nibbled at the edges of her consciousness, something like a bad dream or ugly memory, as she looked at the tiny figure. It reminded her of something or someone she had known before and forgotten. It reminded her of a child very much like the one crying for his mother behind her.
She shoved the thought away, and admired her handywork for another second: Long enough to know it was an exact replica of the boy who lay crying in the middle of the zone of destruction. Kain curled up into a fetal position, praying to whatever powers his parents had taught him about for relief from this unending torment.
Gaia was about to tell him that there would be none.
She walked down to where he lay, carefully picking her path through the remains of Kain’s five-day tantrum. She held the effigy in both hands so that if she did trip, she wouldn’t damage it. It was important for this first lesson, and it was a lesson Kain had to learn.
“Kain,” she said, with no sign of compassion in her voice. She held out the carving in one hand, even though Kain had yet to look up.
“This is you,” she motioned towards the effigy as Kain began to look up. “It’s pathetic looking, isn’t it? I carved this in under an hour, and in that hour you went from screaming your head off to lying on the ground blubbering for your mother. Is that any way for an Atlantean Prince to act?
“I don’t think it is. I think an Atlantean Prince should act with dignity and respect. An Atlantean Prince is a person whom the people of Atlantis should be able to look up to as a hero and an example of how they should act throughout the day and throughout their lives. You are none of these things.”
Kain looked up at Gaia, his expression petulant and damning, face streaked with tears and caked with five day’s worth of dirt and grime. He looked at the effigy in her hand and anger welled deep within his diminutive form.
He knew she was right. He asked himself what his father would do in this situation, and he knew the answer was not lying here feeling sorry for himself. Or calling out for his mother. Or praying.
His father would not care about Gaia stripping them of their clothing, and if no one had brought him food, he would go and get his own. Kain knew that was how his father would act. He didn’t care, though.
Kain lashed out at Gaia’s hand, using his own frail palm to try and knock the wooden figure from her grip. He didn’t get the result he wanted.
Instead, Gaia struck him across the cheek with the back of the hand that held the effigy. The wood representation of Kain hung in the air as her arm stretched across the distance between her and Kain.
Her movements were fast, Kain couldn’t tell what happened until his cheek stung and he lay sprawled on the floor several feet away from Gaia, facing the wrong direction.
“Rule number one, child,” Gaia said. She held the effigy out and it popped into nonexistence before she continued. “You will not strike at me if you have not been given permission. Punishment for this will be far greater than the punishment you just received. Rule number two: You will no longer destroy things that are of my creation. I overlooked the destruction of this forest because it was necessary for you to learn you will not get your way out here. Should you do so at anytime in the future, whether it be a forest or a whittling, your punishment will be eighty lashes with a rod. Do you understand me, child?”
Kain stood up; his flesh had paled over the last five days and the white tone of his skin caused the streaks of heavy black dirt to stand out in drastic comparison. He turned toward her, his eyes filled to the brim with not so veiled hatred.
His eyebrows furrowed, pulling together and creating creases along the center of his forehead. His tears dug trails through the dirt on his cheeks. Gaia’s heart didn’t flutter for a moment, and she knew what needed to be done.
Kain’s head and back arched, a great snort welling up from deep within his throat, and he spit a globe of phlegm right at Gaia.
Gaia snorted, just a little entertained by Kain’s act of defiance. She intensified her aura at the point where the globe of spit and snot would impact. It disintegrated, but she knew the flying ball of phlegm had not been Kain’s attack.
It was a distraction, and now the boy was starting to change.
Kain’s body lurched forward, his spine starting to lengthen, preparing to grow a tail out of the tiny form he now held. Twin nubs of flesh and bone pushed up right in between his shoulder blades. His mouth and nose lurched forward, becoming a short snout. The flesh of his upper lip and nose hardening as the lip started to sharpen to a point.
Prefect white teeth began to grow, incisors first, then the rest, all becoming sharp and deadly. They were now in the infancy of becoming the greatest predator in the world’s teeth, the dragon’s teeth, each like tiny steak knives, designed to rip and tear through flesh no matter the protection it had.
His eyes shifted, taking a more predatory and lizard like position on the sides of his head: Ears withering to nothing as three rows of spikes burst from his forehead, and another pair of spikes growing out from the ridges that were now his eyebrows.
All the spikes started out small at the point where the line began, and then grew to a maximum length of six inches as they crested at the crown of his skull and began to work their way down his back.
At first Kain’s skin became like goose bumps, but then began to section themselves off into tiny triangles. They took a sickly green appearance and started to harden, within seconds the tiny scales were as hard as diamonds. His body started to grow; his rib cage forced its way out, making room for larger muscles and additional organs.
Three hearts began to beat inside Kain’s chest. Two regular lungs, in addition to those already there, began to force oxygen into his blood stream faster and faster, and the specialized dragon lungs began to develop. He was a young drake, but his body was advanced for his age, a condition of prime breeding, and both the lung that contained a unique type of chemical in it that froze water vapor on contact, and the lung that superheated the oxygen in his blood to create fire were completely ready to use.
Even the specialized vent that allowed Atlantean Acid Drakes to inject their stomach acids into a jet of superheated air so they could exhale a cloud of acid (which was almost guaranteed to stop their opponents in their tracks) and didn’t develop until well into their adulthood. Kain had one though, and that was what he wanted to use against Gaia right now.
A trio of successive rips sounded along Kain’s back, the first was his spine ripping through the flesh at the base of his torso and lengthening out nearly as long as he was tall. The second was the skeletal left wing. The third and final rip was a fully formed wing ripping its way out of Kain’s right shoulder blade. Muscle started to creep up the skeletal left wing, and another set of muscles and tendons started to grow on his exposed spinal column.
Spikes grew at the end of the tail, right out of the bone, and a new set of joints began to appear at the end. A spike formed on the very last vertebrae, just before the joint, and as it reached out of the bone, it curved and slid down so that it fit easily inside the joint. Another scythe like spike grew on the opposite side of his tail and fit into the joint just like the other.
Scales and flesh covered the tail; an odd leather like substance grew to cover the great gaping spaces in the wing, and the joints in his leg reversed. His feet and hands split apart in some places and grew together in others. Talons grew out of the fused spaces and his entire body weight almost tripled.
Kain, as an Atlantean Acid Drake (one of the fiercest types of dragons), his scales a sickly color and his eyes a smoldering emerald, glared at Gaia. He was as he had been born now. He came out of his mother as a dragon in an egg, and he would always be most comfortable in this form.
He snorted once and leapt into the air. His wings caught air, snapped once, twice, and then pulled himself higher into the air.
Gaia watched Kain’s flight, noting things about how he moved. Many of those things she noted were purely strategic. How Kain tipped and showed the joint where his wing connected to his back. How when he flapped, his legs jittered, giving any good shot with a ranged weapon the chance to plant a bolt right into his joint and incapacitate or kill him with that shot. How his emotional state showed clearly in how he flew through the air with starts and stops, and how any intelligent being using only sticks and a rock to fight him would be able to overcome him if they taunted him enough.
These were the things Gaia took note of, because these were the things she was going to have to teach him in the long years they would be spending together.
Kain spilt air from his wings, tucked them in close to his body, and dove towards Gaia with a look of maddening glee in his eyes. His speed increased and she stood waiting.
He took a quick breath, filling his inferno lung with the oxygen needed for the assault; the mental clamp his body held on the vent that would allow the acid to enter his windpipe began to loosen.
At fifty yards his wings spread, his body jerked backwards, and his mouth dropped open. He spewed forth a cloud of hyper heated acidic vapor, and he smiled with his eyes. He hoped to watch the vapors eat away at Gaia’s form. He was denied.
Gaia moved a second before gravity brought the vapors down to her level. Quick as the blink of an eye, and she now stood at eye level, seemingly on nothing, with Kain’s stunned draconic features.
Gaia snapped her fingers; Kain’s hyper sensitive hearing picked up a slight pop as something materialized in Gaia’s hand. She jerked the new item forward in a single thrust, and Kain’s childish mind supposed that it was a knife. When he felt whatever it was press against his neck, he supposed his life was over.
Kain’s mind slowed, reeling around the possibility of dying at a young age, and he blacked out, hoping there would be no pain in the end.
Gaia caught Kain’s unconscious form, believing that it would just add insult to injury if she let him drop to the ground, especially when there would be no lesson learned from the pain when he woke up. Her methods were unique, and Gaia knew her sister considered her training techniques to be cruel, but Gaia believed in pain with a purpose.
She lugged the acid drake over one shoulder like he was an oversized sack of potatoes, and looked at the item she had materialized. It was a rather plain wooden spoon, something else she had made while he was crying over not getting his clothes, his food, his way, or whatever it had been.
She intended to use the spoon as a disciplinary tool, not unlike the rod she had mentioned earlier. The spoon was not meant to bring physical harm like the rod would though.
The spoon was a far more psychological instrument than the rod. The spoon was an item any person in any house in any village, city, or even a traveler’s pack would have.
She had seen his thoughts, and was glad that he had associated the spoon with a knife. That association would make him fear it that much more, and with the knowledge that he would be disciplined by something every living being on the face of the planet had, she would teach him equality, and anybody could get lucky enough to get a knife, or a spoon, in his back or throat.
Copyright Ryan M. Smith 2014