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Æ Firestone's Crimea: Chapter 1

 

Dark Forest by Ivan Shishkin Original Title: Темный лес Date: 1890 Style: Realism Genre: landscape


PREVIOUS: PROLOGUE


Hours have passed, Niko awakens and

gets up with the side of his head in pain.


Niko was frightened that he was all alone and lost.


The moon was full and bright

415but It was still a foggy and dark night.

He heard the owls hooting, the wolves

howling and the bugs screeching.  


He had nowhere to go, so he went

straightforward to whatever his destiny leads.


420 His surroundings were cold and chilly

at point exactly cap-à-pie, thus making

him shivering all over to his hands and feet.  


He kept hearing creepy laughs

all around him, that was startling.


425 Something was moving that it sounded

like it had more than one feet but in a pack

or a group. It didn't sound like horses

because they would've been louder due to their large weight.

This sounded more lighter like a dog or wolf.

430 The creepy laughs keep getting more intense and louder.


"Who is there? Don't be cowardly, show your self!"


One by one dark figures were approaching toward Niko, walking slowly with four feet.


It was revealed that these mysterious figures were a pack of hyenas and Niko counted 5 of them.


These 4-legged creatures are similar to wolves or dogs,

435 their coarse and bristly winter coat is long and uniform

for an animal of its size with a dirty-brownish grey or dirty grey color.

The hairs of their luxuriant mane of tough, long hairs along the back

from the occiput to the base of their short tail as the colors are light grey

or white at the base and black or dark brown at the tips.

440 The muzzle is dark, greyish brown, brownish-grey, or black,

while the top of the head and cheeks are more lightly colored.

They have small eyes, while the sharply pointed black ears are very large,

broad, and set high on the head with has bulky pads on their paws,

as well as blunt but powerful claws.


445 These wild beasts have a fairly massive, but short torso set on long legs.

The hind legs are significantly shorter than the forelimbs, thus causing

the back to slope downwards. Their legs are thin and weak, with the forelegs being

bent at the carpal region while the inner and outer surface of the forelegs is covered

with small dark spots and transverse stripes. The neck is thick, long, and largely immobile,

450while the head is heavy and massive with a shortened facial region.

A large black spot is present on the front of the neck and is separated from the chin by a light zone.


A dark field ascends from the flanks ascending to the rear of the cheeks.

The flanks have four indistinct dark vertical stripes and rows of diffused spots.

The outer surface of the thighs has 3–4 distinct vertical or oblique dark bands

455 which merge into transverse stripes in the lower portion of the legs.

and finally, their short tip of the tail is black with white underfur.


They were growling and approaching him slowly.


"Stay back you foul beasts, back off!"


Niko had no other defense with him,

460 so the only thing he could do

was run and so he did as fast as he can.

The beasts chased after him excited for the hunt.

The boy kept running for life until he saw a medium-size tree that was suitable for climbing.

465 He took this opportunity and climb as fast as he could.

The hyena pack almost caught him and was at the bottom

of the tree trying to climb but they couldn't

because their paws were not designed to climb.


Niko was sitting on a tall branch looking down at savage beasts.

470 He went further up to be more comfortable, he settled on another branch

and was laying back against the tree.


The boy heard something from another tree across from him,

the sound was coming from the branches, but he couldn't see anything.

Then he heard a purr, like a cat, but this purr was loud and intense.

475 After that, there was a deep growl, and seen glowing eyes across from Niko

slowly appearing in front of him, he saw huge paws with razor-sharp claws.

The boy's heart was beating fast and terrified he looked down on his

right the hyenas were still down in the ground, and on his left was the cold river.


This terrifying figure was a huge cat called a leopard,

480 fierce beasts are known to hunt humans for prey.

Despite being terrifying for Niko, it was beautiful,

it's soft fur was dark golden with dark spots grouped in rosettes.

Its belly is whitish, and its ringed tail is shorter than its body.

Its golden pupils were round staring at Niko in the eye.


485 It was huge and muscular, with relatively short limbs and a broadhead.


It approached closer to the boy. A deep-muscular voice was heard.


"Aw, what's a boy doing in the middle of the forest at this time of night?"


Niko's jaw had dropped and he was confused.

The leopard unexpectedly spoke to Niko.


490 "Did...did you just talked?"


"Obviously I did child." the Leopard replied.


"I know I must be insane from my conscience,

but if I may ask. Who are you and what do you want?'


"Me? I am Mugwort. You can trust me, I'm a fiend."


495 "Why would I trust a talking beast,

it's obvious you want to kill me."


Niko climbed further up in the tree away from the estrange cat.


"I'm a being from the nether, though this is not my true form

I possess this creature's form to commit actions

500 in this physical world like tearing you apart."


"It's like you're so obsessed with me. What have I done to you?"


"For years we've tried to bring you into damnation with the most attempts possible,

but your mind and soul is hard like a shield.

If we cannot break your mind, we will do physically.

505 We prey upon those of the weak and claim the souls of the fallen.


If you don't want to die, I can offer you the contentedness of your wildest dreams,

you can even rule your homeland of Mingrelia, takeover the lands of your foes,

make other people do your bending, even worship you for your endeavors.

If you come with me, but the only toll to pay is your soul."


510 Niko thought about his offer and the consequences of his actions.

Deep within Niko's heart, he knew what the right choice was.

Balancing himself on the branch, standing straight and tall, he said.


"I've had my answer on your proposal wicked beast.

I shall not make nefarious deals with fiends"


515"So you have chosen death...so be it." replied Mugwort.


Niko fell off the branch and landed in the cold river.

He was underwater then quickly swam back up to the surface coughing out the water,

he saw the Hyenas and Mugwort on land in front of him, it was obvious he couldn't go that way.

He turned around and seen a small island in the middle of the river.

520 There was no way the animals would reach him there.

He swam towards it as fast as possible to get out of the water and finally made it to the island's bound.

Niko was shivering cold he took most of his heavy clothes off and squeezed the water out.

He tried to keep himself warm by rubbing his hands and arms together and run around in circles to produce heat.  

As a spoiled higher-up boy, he had no idea how to start a fire;

525 he gathered thick branches with leaves and bushes to try to stay warm as possible.

Tired and exhausted, he found a spot and fell asleep looking at the bright full moon for the night.


                        Twilight by Ivan Shishkin Original Title: Сумерки Date: 1883 Style: Realism Genre: landscape


It was 10:30 AM July 19, 1854, the sun was bright and shine.

The poor prince woke up not feeling cold anymore.


"I guess I'm lucky, this was like I had a crazy dream."


530 Niko got up and put his dry clothes back on.

It was a warm sunny day and the water wasn't as called as last night.

He saw a big pine tree that fell connecting the small island to the other side of the river.

this was an opportunity to not get wet and cold again.


The time struck twelve, he walked on foot on an old dirt path in the forest.

535 The boy kept walking until he saw a man wearing a Burka, a traditional Caucasian dress.

Niko was twelve feet away from him and he asked.


"Good afternoon."


The strange man kept looking at him, he had dark

brown hair with dark brown eyes. He spoke.


540 "Ua, mšy bzia , uara yárban?"


"What? I'm sorry I do not understand what you said."


"Aṗsšəa ux̢əuma?"


"I don't believe I share the same tung as yours."


"Ah, you're a Mingrelian. What brings you here in this neck of the woods?"


545 "I'm trying to find my way home."


"Well, your long lost pal."


Out of nowhere and a surprised,

someone hold Niko from behind with a dagger in his throat.


It was another man in a Burka and he was identical to the one in front of Niko.


550 He said, "Don't move boy or I'll cut your jugular."


"Wh- what do you front me?" Niko asked.


"I'm Eni and that's my twin brother Ini"


"Salutations," said Ini.


Niko nodded.


555 "After our father died in the peasant fields of the 1806th year aetatis 96.

We ran away and became thieves stealing from everyone's pocket from food to cash.

for the first 15 years, we kept going ever since."


"Your thieves and cowards."


"On the contrary, you see we're both 59 years of age and want to retire from this life of crime.

560 We are wanted men, just escaped from jail as we were both sentenced for 7 months and 5 days.

Our deviation was necessary as we were treated like segs. We must vie in the world, that is the norm."


"Listen you don't have to be thieves, you can be good men and earn your wealth."


"But you didn't, you inherit it. A privileged boy like you don't know anything about being a peasant.

Yes, I know who you are, Prince Niko of Mingrelia.

565 You and your fancy clothes, mansions, servants telling us what to do"


Eni dual-wield two pistols toward Niko and said to his brother. "Check him"


Ini checked Niko's clothes and pockets.

He found a bag of money and shook it.


"We got some loot brother!"


570 "Please I need that to go home!" Niko cried.


Ini threw the bag to Emi and caught it.

He looked inside and had a handful of coins.

He was happy to have them in his possession,

until he looked closely and released it a different currency.


575 "These aren't rubles, we need rubles! Eni cried.


"What?! Not rubles?"


"These are Abazis, they are useless here!"


Niko said."If they are useless to you, give them back!"


"You know what I will do, I will take your money anyway just for spite,

580 for you to experience what is like to be poor and wretched.

And also because we as Abkhazians, we don't like Mingrelians very much."


"But we're both children of God!"


"It doesn't mean we're the same."


Eni nod at Ini and Ini punched Niko in the stomach and fell to the ground.

585 They both kicked Niko while he was still in the ground multiple times,

both spat at him and left him in the ditch on the side of the road.


Niko was looking up at the trees,

his vision was blurry and quickly faded unconscious.


To be continued...


©2021 Æ Firestone 


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