Sparks: pt 1

By gisy

>everyone knows how the monster lord changed the monsters in her image

>how creatures of legend came out of the dark and into the hearts of men

>but not every monster used to incite terror and prey on the weak humans

>one very peculiar monster always chose to be around humans

>they dawned into human society with hardly a word and grew and prospered along side them

>one of the oldest races next to Demons and Angels, but also one of the most illusive

>this is, of course, the Gremlin


>long forgotten to common memory, there was a provence called Hyrcania on the edge of the Caspian Sea

>in that provence lived a blacksmith

>he desended from Greek heritage, his forefathers were ferriers to Alexander the Great

>but that was now ancient history and now a new empire stood to sweep all before it

>shod in the finest armour and lead by the greatest minds

>the Roman Empire was advancing east once again, and there seemed to be no stopping them this time

>the Roman Emperor had decreed that the Selucid Empire must end


>Philip wasn't the person who would be ever have statues carved for him

>a little shorter then his friends, a little weight that hid his muscle, and a dark shaggy mane

>though his mother always called him handsome, he could never seem to catch the eyes of the girls

>the major trade routes between Gorgan in the east and the Empires of the west always brought some Adonis into town

>in the morning another family would find another daughter swept away and Philip couldn't compete

>he knew this since he reshod and boarded the horses and wagons of those handsome straingers


>as a boy he was always fasinated by devices

>he would play for hours with the contraptions brought through from fantastic places like Alexandria

>much to the delight of the traders of course, an enraptured Philip meant a sure sale in Gorgon

>he even had a trader from the far east show him a powder that burned ferociously

>he never saw that trader again, puzzling since the military advantages of the powder were quite obvious


>as he grew into a young man, Philip began to copy those mechanisms in his spare time

>he would spend hours bathed in the glow of his forge creating tools to craft the intracate movements

>as his skills progressed, he was sometmes able to trade his devices for a certain black rock

>when burnt, this rock would get so hot as to be able to melt the hearth of the forge

>however, this rock would make his horse shoes last longer than anyone elses

>it also made his mechanisms tinier and longer lasting

>his creations become smaller and more complex, taking many months to make

>but he was always flummoxed by how he would find his creations disturbed or put together wrong every morning

>when he pointed this out to his father, the old man would always laugh

>the boy had simply caught the attention of gremlins

>attacted to a clever smithy, they would plauge him until he gave up and stopped being clever

>the gremlins would then simply move on in due time to another clever man

>this wasn't news to Philip, the creatures of legend have always lived at the edges of man


>the province has always been known for it's mighty tigers

>the eastern traders called them "Jinko"

>Centaurs sometimes appeared with the Alan of the north, at least according to the stories

>and everyone knows the story of Perseus and the wicked Medusa, even if no one talked of her sisters


>occasionally, late in the evenings, Philip's father would bring wine and sit with him as he created

>as the wineskin would pass back and forth, the old man would regale the younger with stories of a gremlin who appeared to him

>to hear the story, her beauty would shame the gods, the green of her hair would make the leaves themselves envious

>she would poke and prod at him, never leaving him alone at his work, always making him better

>he soon fell in love with her, but when he mustered the curage to take her, she up and vanished

>but as his broken heart started to consume him, another beautiful woman appeared

>she would soothe him, and eventually would make him whole again

>of course, she ended up as the boy's mother

>Philip would always try to head the story off before it entered that part of the story

>Philip's father would laugh and laugh at the boy's embarassment

>one night, after a particularly full wineskin and another story of the gremlin, Philip went to releve himself behind the workshop

>as he walked out he could have sworn to see his mother leaned against the wall of the shop

>her eyes closed and her ear pressed close with a smile on her face

>when Philip returned he could find no trace of her


>of course, the next mornings would find his creation disassembled, moved, or assembled wrong

>so he hatched a plan to see this pest for himself

>taking two of his creations, a water pump and a clock drive he worked frantically to meld them together

>of course, such a thing wasn't possible in a day, but that wasn't an issue

>after making a great show of going to the house he snuck back in to keep watch

>after much waiting he couldn't keep his eyes open and quickly fell asleep

>only to awaken in the hay wrapped in a horse blanket

>night after night went this way

>one night he woke just enough to feel tiny slender fingers tucking the blanket around him

>the next night he had the strangest dream as he lay on the shop floor

>a god appeared to him clad in white with the wings of a dove, the horned helmet of divinity upon her head

>she introduced herself as Geshtinanna as she lay her hands on his and kissed him, telling him that someone was here to see him

>suddenly her features darkened

>her blue eyes fell away into black voids, face grew long into the visage of a bear, double rows of teeth as fine as needles dripping with venom

>Philip screamed into the face of chaos, the bear roaring in return "WAKE UP CHILD"

>he snapped awake screaming as his arms thrashed for anything to grab

>as he came to his senses, a green haired girl appeared over him


>the girl handed him a cup of water as they sat before the hearth of the cooling forge

>"you saw her too didn't you?" she asked as Philip eagerly downed the cool contents

>her pointed, furry ears swiveled at him as he remained silent

>"I'll take that as a yes. Damned gods, it's not fair that we're toys to them."

>"I don't think I'll ever forget that bear." Philip mumbled in return

>the girl smiled at him "My name is Aziz."

>"Philip" some colour reappearing in his cheeks

>she smiled again "Yes, I know who you are. You're that woman's son."

>Philip looked at her questioningly but no further answer was forthcoming

>she slid off the table and over to the basket of charcoal that supplied the forge

>Philip found his eyes wandering down her back to her round butt that bounced just the right way as she walked

>he always understood that gremlins were pretty, and this girl was no exception

>but his father had neglected to mention that they don't wear much clothing

>she was wrapped in a cloth to make a gesture at concealing herself

>but sheer enough to reveal her nude body in the right light

>and by the gods, her body really would put the them to shame

>Philip's thoughts were interuppted by Aziz throwing a couple lumps of charcoal into the forge

>the soft red glow lapping hungerily at the new fuel

>"There. Nights are getting colder, ya?" she turned to Philip

>"Dressed like that, sure" he replyed with a grin

>she blushed slightly as his provocation, "Well I don't always dress like this, actually mostly never."

>"so why...?"

>"Shut up! That damn god told me to that's why! Idiot!" she cried, tossing a hammer in Philip's dirction

>Philip raised his hands in surrender "Alright, alright, I'll leave it alone."

>Aziz ended up pacing up and down the length of the shop, her fists clenched at her sides muttering

>Philip busied himself pulling down more blankets from the stables and fetching wine from the house

>wine that he found conveniently in a jar sitting on the table with two small cups

>returning with his haul to the shop, he found Aziz sitting on the table again with one the blankets wrapped around herself

>she seemed to have settled down a bit but when presented with wine her smile soon reappeared

>the two spent some time getting to know each other, even if the gremlin had him at a disadvantage

>the rules of her people left him baffled

>even when the two seemed to need each other, why would they forbid relations with humans?

>why the fasination with smiths?

>why would a gremlin heroine barter with the chief god Ishtar for love?


>the first rays of light were igniting the sky when Philip and Aziz fell asleep leaned against each other

>but when the sun crept around corner of the shop to wake Philip, Aziz was nowhere to be found

>stumbling into the house, Philip found his father and the big trader from Gorgan sitting at the table

>his mother setting a meal before them

>"Oh ho! There's the boy of the hour! Or I should say man!" the big trader exclaimed

>"You look like she wore you out! Ha ha!"

>Philip's mother and father squinted at the man, "What happened?" asked the elder

>"Oh, your boy spent the night with a girl, and not just any girl by the sounds of it!"

>he winked at Philip, "Tell me, did she enjoy the wine?"

>Philip blinked at the man, "That was your doing?"

>"Oh yes, yes! It's a mediocure gift, it sounded like you needed it after that hammer hit the wall!"

>the man issues great peals of laughter through the room

>after the big trader and Philip had eaten their fill, the man sat back and watched Philip's mother working in the kitchen

>the two smiths busied themselves clearing the table for the day

>Philip's mother still had her hands in the dishes when she turned to the trader

>the man had been watching her with interest in his eyes, his hands clasped over his great belly

>"Why are you here Anu? I thought retired gods would have better things to do."

>Philip and his father exchanged a glance before turning to the woman

>the trader's smile never faltered but the rest of his complextion grew serious

>"Dear girl, I have no desire to be the messenger, but Ishtar is a busy woman and I've been asked to collect."

>a silence fell on the house as his words sunk into her

>"It's too early for that" she replied suddenly

>"Oh no dear, I'm not here for you, I'm here for your son."

>"NO! Ishtar will not take MY son!" her eyes flashed at the old god

>"Wrong again dear, I'm simply here to ask him and his girl to look at something." Anu's smile got bigger

>"Even the chief gods wouldn't cross such a dangerous creature as you."

>He leaned forward and took his cup and filled it again from another jar of wine on the table

>nodding at the flustered woman and her husband, "You might want to explain a few things to him you know."

>"Philip and I have to check on a wagon."

>He rose and gestured at the boy to follow and in stunned silence Philip did so


>the insects had started their songs in the heat as Philip and Anu propped the doors of the stable open

>Anu's wagon was filled with large earthen jars, sealed with cork and clay

>these amphora would take four men to lift but Anu simply grabbed it's ears and set it gently on the ground

>"Two seasons ago a great rift crack in the ground formed in a land beyond the Nile and this water came out."

>"Any who drank it died in a fasion even I wouldn't inflict on anyone." He laughed again

>"Didn't stop a whole tribe of the black men from drinking it though!"

>"At her insistance, the priests of Ishtar obtained these jars at great expense."

>"So why are they here?" Philip replied, pointing at the stable

>"This water melts metal and men. I don't think I need to tell you what would happen if this was used in war" Anu turned to the boy, the smile gone

>"Since you're the most clever smith outside of the capital, Ishtar has asked for you by name."

>"By heaven boy, you are on speaking terms with a gremlin, never mind your lineage!"

>"I want to know all about this water, Philip. What it can and can't do, and how to stop it."

>Philip nodded dumbly at Anu, he had no idea what to say or do as the god hoisted the amphora back up

>though he didn't go back to the house, the god waddled past as if listening

>nodding in satisfaction he ambled across the road and into the neighboring grove of fig trees

>leaving Philip to contemplate this turn of events


>as Anu walked through the lush grass and trees he came upon a woman leaned against a tree

>although motherly in form, her eyes betrayed the glint of calculated intelligence

>"Will she do it, Anu?" she asked

>"Her son will, and I have hopes for his girlfriend, a young gremlin as well."

>Your deal should be satisfied well enough" Anu grunted in return

>"...she has a son?" asked the very surprised Ishtar


>that night Philip retreated back to the shop

>his parents were acting very clingy and they climbed to their room right after the meal

>opening the stable, Philip broke open one of Anu's amphora

>the stench of rotten wine assaulted his nose

>he carefully dipped a small earthen bowl into the water and scooped a small amount out

>as he entered the shop, he noted that Aziz had preceded him and was again sitting on the table

>at least this time she was more modestly dressed in a functional robe and headscarf to cover her ears

>after explaining the situation as best he could to the disgust of Aziz, they set to work on their task

>various metals were tested against the water, and many failed, rotting away to nothing

>toward the darkest of the night, Aziz had gotten efficient in her testing

>picking up the ends of two remaining chunks, she let out a surprised yelp

>dropping the pieces on the table she jumped back, pawing furiously at her arms

>Philip bolted up to her with a bucket of water but she waved him off as she stared at the bowl

>grabbing two more chunks of copper and iron from the pile she wrapped her robe around her hands

>the two pieces of metal went into the bowl but she slowly brought the two top ends together

>just as the pieces were about to touch, a spark of the bluest fire leaped between them

>Philip couldn't believe his eyes, after blowing out the lamp, Aziz did the experiment again

>and again a small blue spark crackled between the metals

>all night this went on, with bigger bowls of the water

>Philip hammering out the pieces of metal into different shapes, resulting in larger or smaller sparks

>until Aziz' robe couldn't prevent her from getting shocked, the blue spark racing through her

>in one hand and out the other as she collapsed on the floor

>she was alive, Philip could hear her heart, but it was a long while before she woke up

>with sleep creeping into their minds and the shock of discovery wearing off, the two collapsed into the hay

>the creak of doors woke Philip to find Aziz wrapped around him snoring peacefully

>light streamed into the stable, silhouetting Anu against it

>a grin formed as he closed the door and turned back to the house

>"Both of you come to the house for breakfast when you get up."


>waking a gremlin is a challenge as Philip found out

>her grasp got tighter and tighter as he tried to pry himself up

>her face buried harder into his chest "why do you hurt me?" she would plead

>finally she relented and both stumbled into the house, but took some pleading and dragging from Philip

>they both entered the house to find his parents and Anu sitting at the table

>both were completely unprepared for his mother, who was most decidedly not human anymore

>gone was the elderly woman who raised him, in her place was a seemingly ageless gremlin

>her hair turning slightly white at the tips was the only sign she was older than Aziz

>turning to Anu, Philip demanded to know what he had done to his mother

>this earned another laugh from the god, "This is your mother Philip!"

>"She has simply decided not to be human anymore."

>"To give your father what he wanted, I would have to leave my kind behind" began the older woman

>"I would have been run out, so why not become a human? I made a deal with Ishtar to be made again as a human."

>"I thought that would make my husband happy to not have to hide his wife" she paused

>"But I was wrong to do that, so Anu kindly broke the will holding to human form"

>Anu waved her words away with a hand, "A childish mistake, hardly one worth mentioning."

>"And Ishtar is still calling in her side of the deal?" Philip interjected

>"Yes, a deal is a deal after all." replied the god turning to the boy "I cannot void her arraingements."

>"Tell me, have you had any interesting discoveries last night?"

>Aziz hissed slightly under breath, "We're being used as toys again"

>Anu's eyes drifted to the girl, "My child..." he began before being cut off by Aziz

>"We are not your children!" she huffed

>"You're right, dear Aziz, your origins are blocked to even us gods. But you still inhabit this world."

>"As such, the gods are still responsible."

>"Being that, I was told that I'd find love here! Instead I'm being used for payment!" Aziz defiantly rebuked

>Anu started rubbing his eyes, as if tired "Can you honestly tell me that you haven't found love here?"

>Aziz' mouth dropped open, her ears flattening to the side "N... No. I can't say that."

>two stood in silence, Aziz cowed and Philip still lost in the news

>Anu cleared this throat and kicked the bench toward the two "Sit, let's share a meal."

>as the five emptied their bowls, Philip gave a condensed version of the events of the night

>including the blue sparks effects on Aziz

>Aziz' theory was that the sparks were, in fact, lightning

>Anu listened with rapt attention until the two were done and thanked them for their work

>while the four cleaned the kitchen, Anu seemed lost in thought staring into the remains of the fire

>Philip's mother grilled Aziz endlessly for news of their homes

>after a while Anu turned to Philip "I have a quest for both of you, if you desire" he nodded at Aziz

>Philip gestured at the man to continue

>"You know of the roman empire, yes? Then you know that they have declared war on this kingdom."

>"If they win they will not hesitate to put this kingdom to the torch and enslave anyone who poses a threat to them."

>"The gods are torn, we don't get involved with what humans do to each other, but the eastern kingdoms have always worshipped us well."

>"I'm retired and can do what I want, so I'm going to get involved."

>"I want you to build a weapon with what you have learned. I need to stretch my legs again. Discuss it, let me know when I get back."


>when Anu walked back in, he found Philip sitting by himself at the table

>"She wanted no part of it." Philip muttered "she was very upset at being used."

>Anu stooped over the table, "What do you plan to do then Philip?"

>the boy shrugged, "To be honest, I'd need her to do what you've asked."

>"Even if you don't build a weapon, I can always find another to do it. But it's a shame to let a girl like her go."

>Philip smiled, Anu was right. She was worth chasing. "I don't know where she went, I've never even seen a gremlin before her."

>"She's got a camp right over the hill behind the stable" Anu gestured casually as he reached for the wine again.


>Philip found Anu's dirctions to be extremely accurate as he stumbled, out of breath, into a very small camp set in the trees

>Aziz sat hunched over a small, smouldering fire, her ears pinned flat against her head at the sight of Philip

>"Anu sent you didn't he?" she snarled

>"In all honesty, no he didn't, but he did tell me where to find you." Philip gasped in between breaths

>Aziz groaned as she continued to poke at the fire, "Then why are you here, Philip? To convince me to go on some grand adventure?"

>"No. I was wondering if you would still be willing to come visit me after this is over." he countered

>her ear twitched slightly "Why?"

>"You're far better company than a certain god I know."

>that got a smile out of her before her sour demeaner reasserted itself

>"...and besides, you're kinda pretty." Philip gulped.

>her ears stood right up, "oh, did you finally notice?"

>"Well, your outfit the first night made it pretty obvious."

>Philip's face turned a light shade of pink

>"They got us good didn't they?" she sighed

>"Yeah. But it wasn't all bad."


>"You should know something Philip, we've had dealings with gods before and I'm worried that that we might not have a choice but to go along."

>Philip nodded in response, "If it happens, it happens. You know my feelings on it already, but it won't be me who forces you to go."

>The fire flared slightly catching Philip's attention

>"Why do you have a fire awyway?"

>"Keeps the monsters away, but I was hoping that it'd keep the gods away too."


>The next day Philip's mother went to see Aziz at her camp and returned with the girl and her handcart in tow.

>It was explained to Philip that while his father was invlaid with a broken hip, the girl would be be staying to help.

>Philip was momentarly excited to have help in the shop, but his hopes were promply dashed.

>Aziz was going to learn to run a home instead.


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