Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dream Fiction: Jungle Planet

A few nights ago I had this dream that actually ended up being the basis for a good story.

It morphed a bit between when I woke up and when I got to the computer but it got more coherent as it morphed so I think it'll be all right.

It starts with a group of colonists on a jungle planet.  The planet is known to be inhabited, by primitive tribes that wear loincloths, headdresses, etc.  Most of these tribes are not too fond of the colonists, but there are a couple tribes that are friendly.

The main characters are a couple named Jack and Audrey.  Last names unknown.  Also, this is the rare story I write without a main character that's supposed to be me.  I guess that makes it better than my usual stuff.

I have ideas for plot points further into the story, but no inspiration to continue writing it.  I might post the plot points/spoilers/whatever you want to call them at some point, but not now.

Edit: over two years later, I have posted the aforementioned plot points/spoilers/whatever.

The story begins after the break.

While out exploring the jungle one particularly stormy evening, Jack and Audrey happen upon a clearing.  A rather strange clearing, too.  As in, the jungle abruptly ends and it's just a desolate, sandy desert covered with dead trees, like it was some sort of a plague slowly spreading though the planet's environment.  As they walked from the jungle into this desolate area, the storm receded.

Immediately visible in the clearing is a large square building of some sort.  Jack and Audrey have difficulty telling what type of building it is as it's mostly covered in sand.  They explore around it and can't find an entrance.

All of a sudden Jack takes cover and pulls Audrey over as well.  "What?" says Audrey.  "A few tribesmen.  Unsure which tribe.  Let's wait for them to go away just to be safe." Jack replies.  Audrey looks over at what Jack's looking at and sees the tribesmen.

"They don't look particularly friendly." Audrey tells Jack.

Eventually the tribesmen leave, heading off deeper into the desolated area.  "Let's follow them." Audrey says.  "You never know what we'll find."

"Besides us getting killed?" Jack responds with a slightly pained laugh.  They start following the tribesmen along what ends up being a fairly well-established trail through the desolate area.

"Wow, what happened to this place?" Audrey says as they walk along the trail.  "Most of the rest of this planet is jungle."

"Yeah, it kind of creeps me out.  We'd better keep our weapons handy, just in case." Jack responds, putting a hand to his hip to make sure his machete is still there.

Pressing further along the trail they come to a large structure built out of dead wood.  It appears to them to be a wall built around a village.  The whole thing gives off an eerie feel, both from the look of the wood and the fact that Jack and Audrey can hear chanting and see a fire.

Through a gap between two logs, Jack and Audrey peep in on the tribe inside.  The dress of this tribe is the same as the what the tribesmen they saw earlier were wearing.

"What's going on?  Some sort of ritual, it looks like." Jack whispers.  Audrey remains silent.  Then suddenly she pulls on Jack's sleeve.  "There's a girl in there!"

"A girl?  Like, one of the tribe?" Jack asks.

"No, she's not wearing their clothing.  She looks like a captured colonist." Audrey responds.

Jack looks a bit more closely and sees the girl.  "Dark brown hair, denim pants, and a green shirt.  Definitely not one of the tribe.  Looks like they've got her tied up."

"We'd better think of a way to get her out of there.  It's too dangerous right now though.  Perhaps once this ritual is over, they'll go to sleep and we can sneak in."

"Yeah, but we need to be ready to go in should they endanger her."

Jack and Audrey wait.  The ritual doesn't actually seem to involve the girl at all, and after a while it ends and the tribe's people return to their homes and go to sleep.

"Now's the time.  Let's hurry!" Audrey says.

Jack and Audrey sneak into the village.  With the aid of the remaining embers of the fire they locate the girl, who was just left outside with a small shack to cover her.  Audrey comforts her and keeps her quiet while Jack cuts the ropes binding her with a knife.

"Thanks for rescuing me, it felt like I've been here forever." The girl says quietly as they prepare to sneak back out of the village.

"No problem.  What's your name?" Jack asks.

"Mary.  And you guys are?"

"I'm Jack, and she's Audrey."

Audrey walks up, having left briefly to take a look around the area and make sure everything was safe.  "All right, let's go back."

"W-wait!" Mary says, timidly.  "There's something you guys need to see first."

They walk off to one side of the central area with the fire pit.  Before them, stuck into the ground, is a gnarled wooden stick with a clouded glass orb on top, held to the stick by vines that run the length of it.  "What's this?" Jack asks.

"Some sort of staff.  The village elder always regarded it highly.  Though I couldn't understand their language he seemed to always tell stories about it to children.  That's not the reason I wanted you to see it, though."  Mary explains.

Mary walks up to the staff.  The orb starts glowing.  When Jack and Audrey look into it, they can see weather patterns cycling.  First snow, then rain and lightning, then wind.

"I'm able to make it do this, and that seems to be why they were keeping me alive." Mary says.

"Do you think we should take it?" Audrey asks.

"Yeah, we probably should.  Some of their rituals have involved it.  Earlier today they got the cycling weather patten to stop on the storm, and a few minutes later there was thunder off in the distance."

"A staff that can control the weather?  Strange, but worth keeping hold of." Jack says.  Mary picks up the staff and they sneak out of the village.  As they leave the village the orb glows again, this time brighter.  The weather pattern has stopped on the snow.

"What does this mean?" Audrey says.

"I- I don't know." Mary responds.  "I was thinking of how warm it was though..."

Soon the glowing of the orb fades and it returns to its clouded state.  Dismissing it, the three press on.  They stop again when it begins to snow.

"Snow, in this area?  Could it be..." Jack trails off.

"It's probably the staff." Mary says.

Jack sets down his pack and gets out a coat and a sweatshirt.  Audrey sets her pack down and gets out a coat.  Jack hands the sweatshirt to Mary.  "It's getting cold, you'll need this."

"Thanks." Mary says as she puts on the sweatshirt.  "It's a bit large on me." Mary says with a laugh.

Jack and Audrey pick up their packs and move on.  Soon they're back at the mysterious building they saw earlier.

"This place...  We investigated it earlier but couldn't find an entrance.  Have you seen this place before, Mary?" Jack asks.

"Yeah, they took me past it when I was taken to the village.  It wasn't covered with sand then, though."

"Geez, how long ago was that?  No matter how much sand I push aside I can't find the actual structure.  It must have been buried ages ago." Jack says.

"I- I think I've been in the village for about a year now.  It's hard to say." Mary replies.

"A year?" Jack and Audrey both respond, surprised.

"Though they took me out periodically and it was uncovered as recently as a couple months ago." Mary adds.

"Weird.  The work of the staff, somehow?" Jack asks.

"Probably.  I remember the staff having fixated on the wind a few times in the past, but I never saw the results."

"Do you suppose you can make that happen again and blow the sand off of it?" Audrey asks.

"I can try.  It seems to respond to my thoughts." Mary says.

Mary holds the staff in front of her and concentrates.  The orb begins glowing again.  The cycling weather patterns are once again visible in the orb.  After a while the cycling slows down and eventually stops on wind.  The orb glows brighter and a gust of wind rushes past.  Jack and Audrey turn to face the building.

"Amazing, the sand's being blown away.  It's actually working!"

Eventually the wind subsides and the building stands clean before them.  The snow also stops.

"Maybe now we can find a way in..." Jack says.  They walk around the building and sure enough, there's a door.  As they slowly push it open, a light can be seen from inside.

"Hello, hello, come on in!" A voice says from deep within the building.  The building turns out to be a market and almost looks bigger on the inside than the outside.  They walk in and find an old man wearing tribal dress standing behind a table.

"You live here?" Audrey asks.

"Well, I was forced to when the building was suddenly covered with sand one day and I couldn't leave." The man responds.  "But now, thanks to you guys, I'm free!"

"Glad we could help." Mary says, drawing attention to the staff.

"That's-  Where did you find that?" The man asks, surprised.

"It was in the village where I was being held." Mary replies.  "We took it on the way out.  I seem to be able to use it."

"Ah, so I see.  A village... out here?  It must have been them, which explains why my store got covered in sand.  You see, I used to live in that village, but after making that staff it was stolen from me by the elder and I was exiled.  I think he sensed the power it was capable of."

"You made this staff?" Audrey asks.

"Yes, yes I did.  I was a wizard in the village you came from.  After being exiled I pretty much had no choice but to open a store, just to support myself."

"Aside from being able to control the weather with it, how is it powerful?  It seems like, though nice, weather control isn't all that useful in a fight." Jack asks.

The man responds, "That staff is capable of controlling much more than just the weather.  In the proper hands it can conjure any of the elements.  Hand it to me and I'll show you."

Mary tentatively hands over the staff.  The man takes it and the orb begins glowing.  Rather than a weather pattern appearing in the orb, a ball of fire appears.  It glows brighter and a ball of fire flies out from the staff, landing in a nearby fireplace and setting the log within ablaze.

The old man hands the staff back to Mary.  "Thanks, it was getting cold in here."

"Oh, sorry about that.  It seems I made it snow on our way here." Mary replies.

"Be careful with it now, it's capable of far greater power than even I demonstrated." The man says.

"You're giving it to us?" Jack asks.

"Yes.  It wouldn't get used here, and you're good people.  Don't let it fall into the wrong hands, now!" the man says.

"By the way, Mary here mentioned your tribe has its own language.  How is it that you understand our language?" Audrey asks.

"I dealt with many of your kind before my store got covered with sand.  Through that I slowly learned your language." the man replies.

They continue making light conversation for a few minutes.  Eventually it dies down and Jack says "Well, we'd best be on our way.  I'd imagine the others are wondering what's keeping us."

The man waves as Jack, Audrey, and Mary leave the store.

"Where to now?" Mary asks.

"Back to our colony, I suppose." Jack says.  Audrey gives a nod of agreement, and they head back into the jungle.

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