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The Cinn group, one of the most powerful business organisations in the galaxy, want control of all the Children of Myth machines for their company Delve Mining. Only the draoi ársa stand in their way. The draoi ársa are intent on destroying all the Smide machines and ending the merciless cloning for the purpose of slavery.
For the Children of the Forest the machines are their beginning. And this is their story…
(Children of the Myth Machine series)
Enslaving others is for the weak…
(Children of the Myth Machine)
Enslaving others is for the weak…
“One-seven-ten generations to make us what we are,” Sylvia sang in the darkness of the forest as she collected strawberries into a wicker basket. She looked up into the endless branches of a redwood cedar at the early summer sky. “Stories of our ancestors no bigger than an adult hand,” she continued to sing, looking down the laces of her yellow cotton shirt, past the hemp belt that held up her matching linen skirt to the soft brown fur that covered her feet. “Then we grew and grew until our great-grandfather stood as tall as a badger.” A flying red squirrel glided from one of the redwood’s lower branches to an adult maple. Nearby she could hear the sound of bumblebees and the hurried thrum sound of a hummingbird.
“Two-six-nine are we fully grown yet?” Her lilting voice travelled through the trees as she headed back to the hamlet. “Grandfather was as tall as my knee, and father stood up to my waist. How tall will my children be?” She sang as a strong wind pushed against her back. Darkness followed casting the early morning glimmer into shadow.
She turned around and blinked as loose dirt, leaves and her own long golden brown hair whipped into her face. She had seen this once before. Two silver coloured lights the shape of a trillium hurled out of the sky. She placed her left hand onto the rough bark of a sugar maple tree and saw her pupils reflect off her hand. She remembered the first time she saw her eyes in a stream. The pupils black and shaped like a birch tree without its leaves. The iris green like grass that sways in an endless wind. Her mother once said the tree-shaped pupils of her eyes grew harlequin green when she was excited, just like her sister’s.
She sent warning pheromones into the sugar maple’s bark and waited for them to reach its sapwood. The Children of the Forest would know where to run. Since her sister was taken she had made sure they were prepared. Her father and mother had given up since Miya’s capture. She didn’t know where they had travelled to but the Children of the Forest had named her Abnoba in her mother’s stead. She looked down between her breasts where pebbles of onyx and quartz rested, held in place by a silver necklace made long ago by one of the dwarves.
Her hand stayed on the maple until her lapine ears heard the heavy equine hooves of Laurent enter the forest followed by the lighter sound of his young son Galen, and his father Hettle. She saw Laurent duck his trim human torso under low branches. His slick ringlets of raven hair fell around his bare chest. Galen came next, only ten seasons old and nearly as tall as his father. Lastly, Hettle arrived, shortest of all and huffing from the exertion.
“Them?” Laurent asked in his deep voice.
Sylvia nodded. She hurt so much inside she could hardly talk. She looked along Laurent’s cloven hooves and the reddish brown fur of his legs that reached to his abdomen. The hooves were much larger than a deer’s; otherwise, Laurent would not be able to walk on only two legs.
“Go to the safe place!” He commanded his son.
Galen looked around with wild eyes. “Go!” Laurent said once more.
“Come,” Hettle said in a high voice from below.
Sylvia took her hand from the bark. “Find Daryl and get his family to hook up the nets,” she said to Laurent.
“If I can wake them up,” she heard Laurent reply with a grumble. She saw eight dwarves coming towards her with granite hammers attached to oak shafts and held together with sisal.
“Lana told us you called. Them again?” asked the lead dwarf in his deep, rumbling voice that sounded like he spoke through his teeth as he ran his thick fingers through his long black beard.
“Yes, Rumbleton,” Sylvia replied, still looking into the distance where the lights had been.
“They must be in collusion with the orcs,” Rumbleton said taking a sip from a skin pouch that hung from his side. Sylvia could smell huckleberry ale.
“You could try peace,” she replied reaching down for the skin. Rumbleton and every other dwarf smelled of sweat and their bare, bulging chests were covered in rock dust.
“We were made to fight orcs,” he replied as he handed the skin to her, “and goblins.”
A song Sylvia’s mother use to sing to her and her sister echoed inside her head and she sang it out loud: “The mad creator made us in a machine; made us from living creatures; made us from Nature’s own children.”
“Don’t start on that again,” Rumbleton said with a heavy sigh but the others were listening so she continued.
“Made to hate; made to please; we are the Children of Myth,” she continued.
“There you have it,” Rumbleton said with a grumble. “We were made to hate.”
“Try not to,” Sylvia said, her birch tree pupils radiating harlequin green so brightly she could see their image shining on Rumbleton’s forehead.
“Another day,” he said pointing his hammer in the direction the two lights, “but first we deal with them.”
“We do it my way!” Sylvia said, her lilting voice stern.
“Aye,” she heard Rumbleton reply with another grumble, “We hide.”
Sylvia smiled at him and turned with a flourish, her long golden brown hair whipping across her face. She alone headed in the direction of the lights from the sky.
She missed her sister so much these days. They had played catch within the forest. Miya always tried to get her into the prickly bramble shrubs of blackberries and raspberries so her hair would get caught. “Grind the wheat with a pestle,” she sang quietly, “Add water and roll it into dough”. The wind in the forest had died down as she moved from one tree shadow to the next. “Add berries or slice the apples thin.” Her lapine ears could make out human voices. “Roll a top and you have a pie!” She stopped singing and moved closer to the voices.
“Thrain thinks he knows where the machine is,” she heard the metallic voice that sounded like a hated human’s say. She glanced around a sugar maple tree and through a cluster of sumacs. Two humans in shiny grey suits with white helmets looked around through an auburn visor that made their faces impossible to see. Ten paces behind them stood a huge and strange looking metal object with a very tall cylindrical centre surrounded by four smaller tubes. From the central cylinder a plank descended and an opening appeared. The ground was scorched all around the object. Sitting against the trunk of a beech tree she saw a very tall man in a grey suit with bound hands and feet.
“You heard what he said on the ship,” said a short, stalky man as he glanced at the tied man while he removed his helmet and gloves. He ran his thick fingers through stubby blond hair that glistened.
“I heard him say,” the taller man said as he too took off his gloves and helmet. Raven coloured hair fell thickly around his shoulders, ‘You want to go where I come from.’
“We know he is or was the King of Terra Cataractarum on that planet Terra Verte,” said the shorter man. “When we ask his name he only ever says he is the King or that we may call him Your Highness. Thrain should have cut his tongue off after he cut the jewel out of his belly.”
“No matter,” the taller one said. “We just need him to show us where the Smide machine is then we can let him go.”
Sylvia saw a vicious smile cross the shorter man’s face. The taller one whistled and four more men dressed exactly the same way came out of the giant cylinder. They all carried lethal looking metallic cross-bows strapped to their backs. In sheaths on their left side she saw swords with plain looking hilts.