Duden Carslee Chronicles

 

utah-badlands

Benalexia

The idea for this book actually started with the name. When my son was about four years old he was wandering around the house talking some kind of gibberish and he mentioned  a girl named Duden Carlsee. Where or why a child of that age comes up with anything original is beyond me, but after questioning about where the name came from he assured me that it came from his own tiny noggin. I liked the solid sound of the name so I decided to file it away.

I have been a music lover since I could remember, and at the  time, I had been reading a bit about how all of the sounds in the world around as actually make up the texture and color of the planet that we live on. I thought how terrible it would be somehow have all of the those wonderful noises drowned about by a single monotone. That led to the idea of a forcefield around the world issueing from two fixed points. I only then had to figure out the reason why.

Long story short, I created Benalexia, a barren world where nothing grows and the once beautiful landscape has been ruined. A very special girl is related to the events that cause its destruction and she has the chance to set it right.

The only real issue that I had was the age group to which it appeals. My teenage boys as well as my six year old love the story and I have had several grown ups read it that found it fun as well.  I wrote this to be sort of a bedtime story that children and parents could share together. This is actually the first of at least three books, the second is already finished in my brain and is soon to hit the page, with the third following sometime in the near future.

 

 

                                Excerpt from Duden Carslee Chronicles

 

Gather around children and listen to the tale that I about to tell, since it affects each and every one of you. This is as an important a story as you will ever hear and someday you can tell your own children about it. As many of you know many call me the All Father, but you can just call me Papa like my children always have. As a matter of fact, one of my children is very much involved in this story. His name is Badawindu, but many on this planet have simply known him as The Maker.

That is certainly a fitting name because since even the oldest in the universe, myself being among them, can remember, our family job has been to make things. As my children came to be and learned enough about the world around them and how elements and life were interwoven into what we call and ecosystems, they were given various planets in order to put into practice what they had learned. Badawindu was a very good student, and soon enough, we gave him a place called Benalexia as his own.

I see by the looks on your little faces that you recognize that name as this place that you call home. This is the history of not only this planet, but of your place on it. I know there are very few, if any, of you that have ever heard of a young woman called Duden Carslee, and that is a sad fact indeed, since she helped my son right a terrible wrong that just about ruined your home for good. As I tell this story, remember that we were observing from far away, but it is our way to have no involvement with another’s creation once it has been gifted to them. Badawindu needed to find his own way, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t have help.

Listen closely and I will tell you a tale of low times and high adventure. This is the story of a girl much like you who found her courage and decided to make a difference. You in the back there, stop fidgeting and pay attention. Now where was I? Oh yes. Duden Carslee laid very still, her metallic head and flowing braids resting on her sparkling hands. Above the clear, starless night was slowly giving way to day and soon she would be able to see the barren world around her that she had always called home. There was not a sound to be heard and barely a breath of wind about. Soon  Duden knew that the menacing sun would destroy the cool darkness around her, but she was not there on her perch about the sandy floor below for pleasure.

Although the girl was certainly beautiful to look at, especially when the rising sun caught the facets of the gemstones that adorned her skin like intricate fish scales, in no way would anyone that knew her call her fragile. Miss Duden was a killing machine of the highest order and the mission that had been given her was not only very important by highly dangerous. She was not alone either.  To her left lay what appeared to be a dark, hairy stone the size of a beach ball. This creature swayed slightly this way and that, and constantly a low rumble could be heard coming from somewhere inside it. Directly behind them lay a large pile of stones.

They two of them stared down to the sandy floor below them, obviously looking for something of interest. As the morning rays began to make their way across the rocks and dunes before them, there was action below as the earth in front of them began to quake slightly, and then bubble, like a diver blowing air to the water’s surface.  Duden became tense, her skin turning from smooth, supple flesh into hard, armored scales. Her long beautiful locks began to join together in several dangerous spikes. The hairy ball beside her became silent and still.  Right below them, something had made a large hole in the loose soil and was beginning to emerge from it. This was the monster hat they had been hunting, and if you looked real close you could see several large eyes on the very tip of the forked tongue that had popped up from where it had been hiding. The creature underneath was testing to see if any danger lurked on the outside. It repeated this procedure several times, and then slowly began to pull itself up from the ground below.

Duden’s jaw set and her teeth clenches as a pointed, snake-like head gave way to a sleek, dark, torso with skin that appeared to be rough, dry, and well armored. Her longtime enemy stood there below, its muscular legs each tipped with three razor sharp claws in the front with two more jutting out of the back of its large feet. As it shook the sandy soil from its body, its long metal, tipped tail swished back and forth menacingly. Unfortunately, the girl knew all too well its destructive power and made a mental note to stay out of its way. The biggest advantage that she had was that the creature had no eyes but the several on the end of its forked tongue, so it couldn’t see very well, and that was weakness that the young woman would use to her advantage.

Hate flashed in her diamond eyes as she sprung at her quarry, never thinking for a second of her own safety. Her fury was not only written on her face, it had changed her body as well since her elegant fingers had transformed into terribly sharp instruments of destruction and her smooth body grew hard, gemstone shaped scales that sparkled wildly as the flew toward the monster below. Her once cascading hair had now created a helmet of nasty spikes atop her head, and her multi-faceted eyes were fixed firmly on her prey.

Watching the transformation was a bit shocking and Duden certainly caught the animal by surprise as she glided swiftly past her opponent, striking deftly at its tongue that flashed out at her in its shock.  With one swift turn of her wrist, the pink, wriggling mass lay severed from its host. The loss of this important limb sent the creature into frenzy, its tail lashing crazily in all directions as it circled and struck at anything and everything.

The tail that the girl had taken note of before the battle had begun was perhaps even faster and more dangerous than she had remembered and the fearless warrior jumped away quickly as it whipped at her.  Somersaulting away, Duden gave herself some much needed space from the wildly churning beast. Blind and frightened, the brute settled back on its haunches, turned slowly around, and belched an orange plume of acid and heat from its gaping maw.  This muck coated everything in its path and the earth sizzled and smoked in a large swath as it turned counter clockwise. Caught by surprise by the nasty vomit, the young warrior performed a series of perfect backflips in order to escape a death dealing soaking. A few drops had managed to find her skin and she quickly wiped the sizzling juice off of her legs where it had splashed up and was foaming and bubbling.

With its reserve of acid spent, the beast became calm.  It then began to moan, quietly at first, then louder, and louder, until the air unbearably echoed with its shrill alarm.  Duden was taken aback by this at first, but soon regained her faculties and mounted a charge at the being, her right arm turning from a blade to a sharpened spike as long as her forearm.  She took a run, jumped over the moat of acid on the ground, turned a tight somersault in the air, and landed squarely atop the creature’s back between its rear legs. Its death was quick as her spike hit home between its shoulder blades, shattering its spine into pieces. With a look of triumph on her face, the victorious warrior pushed off hard with her hands, swung her legs up over her head and behind her like a gymnast exiting a balance beam.

It felt good to be back on solid ground and Duden began to try to control her breathing and the adrenaline pumping through her body, but that action was premature, as simultaneously a half dozen more creatures shot out of the sand in every direction. They skittered quickly across the ground, and within seconds hemmed the flabbergasted girl in on all sides, their bulbous eyes studying her intently. The savage crew began to circle her at a safe distance, and with an unspoken signal, they all began to close the space between, hissing and spitting as they came in for the kill.  Her weapons at the ready and her defenses up, Duden was determined not to go down without a fight. Her heart told her that the odds were too perhaps too much to overcome, but the determined teen would go down swinging.

Duden backed up a few paces, dashed forward, and began her tumbling run at the monster directly in front of her. This time the beast was ready for her strike and she sailed harmlessly past, missing her objective by inches. As she spun on her left foot to face her foe, the pointed tail slashed her leg from beneath her and she fell. Stunned and bit disappointed in herself, the young woman fought to right herself, but was immediately pinned to the earth by the massive front paws of the creature.  Its breath hissed foul in her face as she tried to wrench herself free, but the great monster had the upper hand. Duden closed her eyes and waited for the death stroke, but to her surprise, it didn’t come. Instead of running her through, the creature began to flick its slimy tongue all over her writhing body as though it was licking a metallic Popsicle.   Its breath wheezed in and out through its dripping nostrils, blowing her then relaxed braids back with each breath. The others congregated around them, appearing completely relaxed and at ease.

Totally confused, but still quite helpless, she felt a deep rumbling in the earth.  The ground began to quake wildly about her as waves of deep, pulsing sound ripped through her surroundings. Duden glanced to her right at the creature sitting there as a huge pile of rock smashed down upon it, crushing it underneath its bulk.  The ground shook violently as the mass thudded heavily down to earth. What appeared to be two massive pillars of stone thrust up from beneath the heap, forming two solid legs that supported a large, boulder like torso. Colossal arms tipped with gravel studded fists the size of manhole covers grew out of its thick frame.  Its stony face popped up from between its wide shoulders, its chiseled jaw etched into a triumphant grin.

“Hey Duden, I thought you could use a little help,” he said, in a voice that sounded like someone beating on a large bass drum. He laughed in his rich, deep tone then grabbed the tail of the creature that had his companion pinned. He lifted it effortlessly, whipped it over his head, and hammered it down with immense force upon the creature next to it, both of the bodies melding into one mass of twisted flesh.

Free from her captor, the girl was up in an instant, and charging back into the battle, her teeth gritted in anger. She was quite embarrassed that she had been saved by her ally and wished to exact her revenge on the monsters who were now charging the both of them. This time she decided on a new tactic. Running at full speed she slid between the bowed legs of the beast like a baseball player stealing home. As she glided underneath its protruding belly her hands became hook blades, ripping the soft tissue beneath to shreds. She came to a stop, quickly rolling out from under the beast as it fell dead to earth.

“Heads up!”, her companion roared, snatching his large, stony head from his shoulders and hurling it swiftly at the oncoming opponent. It smashed heavily down, splintering flesh and bone. The earth shook as he ran to retrieve his projectile, his mouth still fixed in a devilish grin.

“I never get tired of that one,” he bellowed, now giggling wildly.

Duden found no amusement what so ever in the scene though, she was too busy dispatching the last of the creatures in some gruesome way or another. The once deadly group of behemoths soon lay in tatters, their bodies almost unrecognizable. The victorious pair was severely out of breath as they stood yards apart, each with a look of satisfaction upon their face. They came together and sat down heavily on the hard ground.

“I have never seen so many at once. Matter of fact, we have never faced more than one at a time.  I know we saw many plumes of dust rising last night after the meteor shower, but I never would have guessed that there would have seven of them here,” remarked the giant in his rich baritone.

“Yeah, I don’t understand that alarm either.  They have never done anything like that before,” Duden said, her chin thrust down as she was deep in thought. Her various battle ready features had returned to their more benign forms.

“I wish we knew where they came from. They seem to be attracted to the Northern Mountain for some reason,” she continued.

“All I know,” her friend added, “Is that if there were too many more of them we would have needed more help. I am just a neophyte after all, and not much good to anyone.”

“Pish posh,” the girl replied, irritated “You saved me this time, didn’t you? Without you I would have been a goner.  It sure was strange though. When that thing had me down and could have done me in, it stopped. It was snuffling me and appeared to be confused about what to do next.  I really don’t understand it. It was pretty scary. I have never given one the chance to be that close to me before.”

“And I would prefer that they not get that close again,” the stony giant chuckled, giving his companion a gentle nudge that toppled her over. She quickly righted herself, got nimbly to her feet and brushed the dirt from her behind. Flint copied her actions and the pair turned their attention to the north and began to walk steadily away from the scene.

“Hey we almost forgot Delmo.  Come on Delmo!” she yelled behind them.  A small spiky, furred ball began rolling toward them like a tumbleweed caught in a windstorm.  A deep constant hum came from its core as it rolled merrily after them.