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Mani and the Unknown World

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Our world is full of amazing wonders and creatures some of which nobody really cares to know about. But there are some things that don’t want to be seen or known about. That is where I fell in a few years ago. I don’t remember how or why I began to work against these hidden entities but it has become my life. It may have had something to do with my brother’s disappearance a few years ago. He was only four and I was eight, his name was Korumali. We just called him Koru though. I searched for him for many years after our parents died but I never found him. I was contacted many times during my search to join a secret organisation of warriors who prevent those who wish to disturb the balance between then known and unknown world from doing so. They’re name Dengeleyici, the Balancer. When I gave up my search at the age of fifteen they contacted me again and this time I joined them. They put me in charge of my own team and for the past two years we have been fighting to bring peace to the unknown world. My team mates Ince, a tall but wiry boy of fifteen with dark hair and blue eyes, and Kalin, a strong muscled man at the age of twenty-three who has long blonde hair and green eyes. We work together pretty well although they were born into the unknown world. And I, I’m Mani, I may be young but I have more experience in the unknown world than most. My drive, well you’ll just have to figure that out for in these times of despair and pain, no matter the modern conveniences, you are on your own no matter how many people claim to be on your side.
Ince, Kalin and I have been given a new assignment; we are to search for the Ulmut Elmasi, the diamond of hope. We do not know the extent of its power but we need to retrieve it before someone accidentally stumbles upon it. Our search has led us to an old abandoned building.
We entered through the side entrance which led to a long passage. Carefully and cautiously we made our way down the dark passage. At the first door we stopped and Kalin broke it down. Nothing. We made our way to the second door, and again nothing. We went on like that for maybe ten minutes. When we got to the tenth door, before Kalin could break it down, it opened and strong hands pulled Ince and I into the room. Shutting Kalin out and trapping us with the stranger. I stared at the stranger taking in every detail I could to try and determine who or what he was. The stranger was a man in his thirties, he had shaggy brown hair with a few silver hairs here and there. His eyes were almost a musty grey. All of this indicated that he was a wonderer. Wonderers are extremely rare, because they put themselves in danger where ever they can. Not to get themselves killed, no. Just for the experience. Most look down at them for doing this, but I admire their knowledge in the unknown world no matter how they got it. But why there was one here I had no idea. The wonderer suddenly spoke to us in a surprisingly harsh tone “What were you thinking, those creatures will hear you” Looking back through the large window that we failed to see before. We could see eye-less creatures wondering around the passage. Their skin was a murky grey, their noses just two small holes in their skulls, their mouths filled with long serrated teeth and if you looked at them from behind you would have easily mistaken them for humans. They stumbled around sniffing the air. I could only then see that this window only went one way because we could see Kalin trying to break down the door to get to us. “We have to let him in” I said to the wonderer.
“No, if you open the door the creatures will know where we are. And they already have his scent. There’s no hope for him” the wonderer said sternly. But I couldn’t accept it. “I’m in charge of Kalin. Me, he IS my responsibility and I will help him. No matter what you say wonderer” I said to him. He didn’t make any move to stop me. So I opened the door and pulled Kalin into the room while I ran up to the nearest creature, which snarled and hissed as it caught a whiff of me. I ran to the closest room and luckily the door wasn’t locked. I went in and slammed the door shut. The creatures howled as they caught my scent and one by one they threw themselves against the door in an attempt to break it down. I scrambled around the room searching for a weapon. The room was full of chests. Some of them were carved with the most intricate and careful designs while others were just simple and plain. I searched as many as I could. Most contained scrolls or gold. But I couldn’t find anything that I could have used to defend myself. The door began to break. I got to a small chest that most would have overlooked. I opened it and within it sat a tiny yellow stone with runes carved all around its otherwise smooth surface. I recognised it almost immediately it was the Ulmut Elmasi. I picked it up and everything became silent. The creatures stopped snarling and they no longer slammed themselves against the door. I looked out the window and they were gone. Footsteps sounded against the hard stone floor of the passage. Peering through the window, I couldn’t see anything. The door burst open and standing in the doorway was the wonderer. He peered at me through angry slits. He gestured for me to follow him I did. We walked to the opposite end of the building from where we entered. Kalin and Ince were nowhere in sight and when I asked the wonderer where they were, he grunted and walked even faster. We eventually ended up in what seemed to be a warehouse that was attached to the house. Inside was a large truck. Only then did he speak to me again. “Your team mates” he said with a snarl, “have left you for dead. They gave up as soon as the creature snarled. They have no honour. Their quest has failed and they lost their leader, they are a disgrace. But you have done the imposable you found the one thing that repels the Acimasiz, the merciless. My name is Louis, I have sworn to teach the one who can repel the Acimasiz and so I shall.” I stared at him amazed. He had no respect for the Dengeleyici or my team mates but seemed to have some small bit of respect for me. He regarded me highly enough to train and to teach me the many secrets of the unknown world. That in itself is unheard of because the wonderers do not speak let alone share their secrets with others. I was dumb struck. Clutching the Ulmut Elmasi I climbed into the front seat after he got into the driver’s seat.
For the next two months Louis taught me the many different fighting stiles in the unknown world. He also taught me about the different creatures throughout the unknown world. Most of them rare, but they were still extremely dangerous. During one of our lessons Louis asked me “Has any one ever told you the story of the Koruyucular, the protectors?” I knew this story. My mother used to tell Koru and me this story before he disappeared. She used to sit in her rocking chair in the sitting room while Koru and I sat, huddled in blankets with cups of hot chocolate, in front of her on the floor. She used to say “Long ago, when Vlad Tepes ruled Walachia, there was a young girl at the age of only ten summers. She was a very clever girl. People did not see this as a good thing because it was an outlandish thing for someone of her gender at the time. Her father did not think that however and by the time Vlad Tepes ruled Walachia for the third time, she was an accomplished swordswoman and strategist. She helped those in danger, and formed a society the Koruyucular, who protect the innocent. The girl’s name which you are named for, Mani, was a feared and respected figure amongst those who knew her. During her twentieth summer, Vlad Tepes had her father impaled for a crime that he did not commit. She was furious and swore vengeance against him. She rallied the Koruyucular against him and slew him, the rule of Vlad Tepes was over for good and Walachia was safe from the tyrant. Although many did not see this as a service and they punished Mani for what she did. Vlad Tepes enemies rejoiced and since Mani could not vouch for what she did, they each claimed to have done the deed themselves. Her story was not known to any but the descendants of the Koruyucular. Who passed the story down the generations. Just as I am doing” I am proud to be named after her although I do not want to follow in her footsteps. I told Louis what I knew and he said “It is good that you know some of the story but you do not know all of it. Mani did slay Vlad Tepes but his supporters in the unknown world did not wish him dead and brought him back. In much the same way Mani was brought back by the Koruyucular. She was brought back from as an infant though, while Vlad escaped in his previous form. The infant Mani has been born many times over the centuries but has yet to send Vlad to his final death. Do you understand, Mani, what I’m telling you?” It sounded as if he was telling me that I was Mani, The Mani, it seemed right in a way but wrong in others. I have no memory of the story other than what my mother told me. The uncertainty must have been obvious on my face because Louis said, “You are Mani, and in your very being you know this. Only Mani could have found the chest wherein the Ulmut Elmasi lay hidden. It is the only thing that can destroy him and prevent him from returning. You are Mani, the slayer of Vlad Tepes”. It struck me in my temple and I crumpled to the floor. The last thing I saw as my vision faded to grey was the wonderer’s large grin as he caught me before my head struck the floor.
I spent the next three weeks in and out of consciousness. I had a fever. I was hallucinating but I was also more aware of myself. When I was unconcious it was as if a blindfold had been lifted of my eyes and I could see what I couldn’t remember. Everything except Vlad Tepes, he was still a mystery to me. I couldn’t remember how I slew him in my first life nor could I remember what he looked like or why I did it. But I knew it wasn’t because of the death of my father. When I was awake I saw and felt how I died over the centuries and every time, I was young, no older than twenty-one. It was torment and I couldn’t free myself from the torture until it was over and I would again fall into my memories of my past lives. Louis would watch over me throughout my ordeal. He would feed me and kept me from hurting myself when I went into my fits. I couldn’t help but feel a little affection towards him even if it was just as a brother. When I finally came out of my stupor he was gone. There was no sign of him. The truck was still where it always was but he was nowhere to be found. I wondered the house aimlessly, I couldn’t bear to sit or lie down after so long. As I entered the garage to check if he wasn’t working on his truck, someone broke the window behind me. As I turned to identify the threat the front door was bashed inwards. In stormed three creatures with blood red yes that shone in the dark. I ran toward the truck, climbed in, locked the doors and I drove through the old garage door. I drove as fast as I could toward the nearest alley way where their speed would be a disadvantage. I made it into the alley by the skin of my teeth. The creatures were still on my tail but the truck stayed ahead of them the whole time. Every now and then there would be a couple of those creatures running towards me from one of the splits in between the alley ways. They seemed to be herding me towards the narrower alley ways where the truck wouldn’t be able to go through. Eventually I had to stop because the alleyway was too narrow. I stopped so suddenly that the creatures behind crashed with a bone breaking thud against the rear of the truck. I scrambled out of the driver’s seat and climbed through the small door Louis added to his truck so that we could easily get to the back of the truck where he kept two bright yellow motorbikes. I climbed onto my smaller bike and rammed into the back of the truck which gave way. I sped away from the creatures taking every turn I came upon. After what felt like hours I could see the main street and so I accelerated. As I drove through the last of the overhanging buildings a large, reinforced truck drove in front of me and I applied my brakes. I couldn’t stop and broke every bone in my already fragile frame.
Waking up was painful. Every nerve in my body seemed to be screaming at me because of the abuse I inflicted on myself even if it was by accident. I couldn’t move either. Luckily it wasn’t a result of a broken spine but was a result unluckily of being strapped down. I wasn’t as hurt as I originally thought. I still had use of my hands and my legs were intact. My arms were a mess; each had at least three breaks in each bone. They were not set in casts but were rather bandaged to wooden planks. As far as I could tell I was in the back of the truck I hit, the reason for this assumption is because there is a Mani sized dent in the one side of the truck. As the truck, at its top speed, travelled across who could say, I faded in and out of consciousness much like when I had my fever but this time there was no comforting memories. Although my conscious moments were just as painful because of the jostling I went through as the careless drivers drove in an idiotic fashion. What must have been hours felt like days as we drove to an unknown destination. When we eventually stopped it was at a seemingly abandoned carnival. It was extremely quiet, the wind didn’t even whistle. The red eyed creatures that must have been the drivers came around to the back of the truck and without a sound lifted me up on a stretcher. They carried me to a cluster of tents, where there sat row upon row of boys and girls at the ages similar to Mani’s. They were all strapped to the chairs they sat on, most had their heads hanging while others lifted their heads in a defiant manner towards the red eyed creatures. The creatures did not seem deterred by the many glares they received. They just lifted me up and strapped me to the nearest chair next to a boy maybe three/four years younger than me and left without a word. Sitting was very painful, because of the many bruises I received from the crash. I couldn’t find the strength to lift my head so I just hung limply in the chair until I faded into the painless recesses of my mind.
Someone slapped me, and it couldn’t have been the first time because my face felt raw. As I opened my eyes I saw one of the red eyed creatures standing in front of me with his hand prepared for another round. He also wore a large grin on his face as if he was enjoying what he was doing. He didn’t hesitate to slap me again after he saw that I was awake but just before he struck, another hand grabbed and broke his wrist. The creature roared in pain, clutching his wrist. The voice that followed must have come from the hands owner. The faceless voice spoke to the red eyed creature “Why do you insist on going further than you should when you know you’ll suffer for it?” The red eyed creature just whimpered and crawled away as best it could. The faceless voice spoke again but this time to me “I’m sorry for the rude greeting but you refused to wake and I need to speak to you before anything else. Will you answer a few questions for me?” He was in the shadow so I couldn’t see his face. I said in a pleasant but mocking tone to the shadow “Why should I answer your questions when I don’t even know who or what you are, never mind where I am.” The shadow burst into a very load guffaw and replied, “Very well, I am the one people have feared and have never been defeated in my new life. Welcome to the Carnival of Past Fears. I hope you enjoy your stay.” As he said the last sentence he broke out of the shadows revealing a broad grin along with long dark hair, dark eyes and shockingly pale skin. The grin gave his appearance an even more menacing appearance that made me shiver. He chuckled when I did and asked “Will you answer my questions now?” I didn’t respond. I just stared at the wall. It wasn’t an act of rebellion. I just couldn’t think or move. I felt as if I wasn’t in control of my body anymore. My captor didn’t find it bothersome instead he seemed to find it amusing. He clapped his hands and the broken wristed creature brought a golden goblet towards me. It pushed my head back and poured the foul liquid down my throat. I coughed as it went down my throat but the creature would not let go until I finished the all the liquid in the goblet. When the creature finally released my head I glared at him until it left. My captor seemed amused at my outrage, but asked me the same question again. I had control over my thoughts and muscles again. I spat in his direction and he chuckled again. He spoke again “Your spirits commendable. No wonder Louis chose you as his protégé” The mention of Louis name outraged me. I said as defiantly as I could “What is it to you?” He replied with a smile on his face “Oh, no reason. He was just down here three days ago. I let him go but not before he admitted to having a student. Quite by accident and he tortured himself for it afterwards. He must have made it back to where you were staying by now. Oh how much he must loath himself for what he did to you” He chuckled again when he saw the grief in my face. “If you answer my questions I will release you and you can go on as before” I couldn’t stand how he insinuated that something was going on between us. He was my teacher nothing more. If he was anything more it would be as a brother nothing more. That hurt even more than what he was insinuating. I’ve lost two brothers now. Seeing my distress my captor continued “Or are you searching for someone? Ah, you are. Could it be a parent? No. What about a brother?” I flinched and he laughed again. “So it is. You will answer my question but I can wait another day. Goodbye” he said, and then he bowed and left. A few minutes later two of the red eyed creatures carried me chair and all to the tent they left me in when I first arrived. There were fewer girls in the tent than when I arrived, but there weren’t any fewer boys.
The boy I was sitting next to before was still there. So I tried to start a conversation even if it was hopeless. At first he ignored me but I persisted. When he finally spoke to me he said “Why are you talking?” This shocked me a little but I got over it and replied “I refuse to submit to that freak” This made him smile, but he kept staring in front of him. “I’ve been here for years. I don’t know why I’m here or when I arrived. All I know is that I have a sister and I was taken when those red eyed freaks tried to get her. That’s why most of the guys are here. They’re complete and utter dullards. But that’s what happens when he brakes you” this time when he spoke there was a hint of loathing in his voice as if he blamed his sister for not being taken. “Do you blame her?” I asked in a small voice. He replied instantly appalled by my question “Of course I don’t. I blame him for trying to take her and I’m happy he didn’t get her. It’s the only thing that scares him. That’s why we are here even though he knows none of us is this mysterious girl. He is trying to lure her in with a brother or a sister. I’m not so sure about why you’re here though. He takes us when we can’t defend ourselves, in our early childhood” His certainty upset me, because it meant that all these boys and girls were suffering because of ME. But it also gave me hope that maybe my brother was between those trapped by that pale idiot. On a whim I asked “What’s your name?” This shocked him but then he smiled and said “Now I know you’re not a spy trying to interrogate us without us knowing it” and he uttered a small almost silent laugh. Then he continued “My name is Koru” The utter shock and joy must have been obvious because he said “Why are you so happy?” I started crying and I looked at him again. It was him, my little brother. He had our mothers eyes and nose but our fathers jaw and cheek bones. He looked at me as if I was mad. When I spoke again it took him completely by surprise. “You’re alive” I said through my tears.
When the sun rose I had already come up with a plan to get us out of this messed up carnival. I was lucky that they didn’t search me for weapons. Ever since the day I met Louis I’ve kept a number of small weapons on my person at all times. There is a small dagger sheathed in my sleeve. I wouldn’t have been able to get away with this if I hadn’t had that drink. It healed me completely within an hour. Unfortunately I was going to injure myself again. As soon as the creatures left, I started working on my sleeve. Slowly but surely I got the dagger out. Then I began slicing the rope that tied my hand down. I took longer to remove my first hand than I originally thought but I managed and the rest were easier and faster to remove. Next I cut Koru free, he was asleep. I went to the other captives and freed them too, they were all sleeping. When I was done I woke Koru who looked at me in shock as he realised his bonds had been cut. “How?” he asked and I motioned for him to be quiet. I showed him the dagger and the hidden sheath in my sleeve. He nodded and stood up. It was midday and the silent carnival had an ominous atmosphere. The tents and rides all had bright and cheery colours but the silence was all encompassing. We got to the truck, which still had the dent in it, without seeing another soul. As soon as we got passed the ticket booth that signalled the entrance to the carnival, my limbs started to feel heavy. It was as if gravity increased tenfold. I collapsed unable to hold up my weight. Koru rushed to my side. “What’s wrong?” he asked. I replied in a weak voice, “I don’t know, but go. Run. I can take care of myself.” He started to protest but then he stopped. He walked away from me only looking back once and I could see then hurt in his eyes. As he disappeared from my sight, I started to laugh. At first it was soft giggles but it grew and became almost psychotic. The creatures showed up soon after the sun set. I did not fight nor did I stop laughing. They didn’t take me back to the others but rather took me back to the room where my pale captor interrogated me before. He was waiting for me with a frown on his face. That just brought on a new set of giggles. Tears streamed down my face as I laughed. He just stared with the same look on his face. He waited until I stopped laughing, and tears streamed down my face before he spoke, “What did you hope to accomplish?” He was serious. I only then realised where I was again. The creatures had chained my legs to the wall and I was curled up into a ball. For the first time something I said or did, didn’t amuse him. So I replied “Isn’t it obvious” He looked at me with a confused expression that distorted his features and made them look even more unnatural. Then he spoke again “You’ve never tried to escape before” That took me by surprise. I had my theories but I never thought they were anything but my hatred of him that distorted my judgment. Then I spoke without meaning to “I never had a reason to try” Both of us were shocked by what I said. Then he said in a shaky voice which seemed wrong and atypical of him “You remember?” I didn’t speak my head just bobbed on its own accord. I had no control over my body I was forced to reply and I couldn’t lie. A sudden flash of realisation struck me. I know how to kill him, for good this time.
The reason I died wasn’t because Vlad Tepes supporters were angry. No, it was rather because I found out how to kill him. The Ulmut Elmasi is more than a piece of stone, I knew that all along but now I remember how to use it. You just place it between your teeth and break it. As I thought it I place the stone in my mouth. It tasted dusty even though it’s as clean as it will ever be. I know I will die for the last time if I do this. It’s the reason why I’m reborn and it is tethered to Vlad’s life force, so if goes so does he. The stone became soft as soon as it entered my mouth. Everything and everyone was non-existent. His tyranny will end today. No one will have to suffer because of his selfishness anymore. Louis and Koru will be safe.
Someone struck me on the left side of my jaw, dislocating it. I looked up and it was my captor, Vlad. He looked distraught, as if he could do nothing to stop me. The pain in my jaw, for there must have been pain, felt non-existent. I lifted my hand to my jaw, clamping my teeth together where the stone still lay. That small action crushed it. A small comforting heat engulfed me. Vlad must have been experiencing the heat as well for he yelled and shrieked. A bright light filled the space and then everything went silent.
Koru returned to rescue Mani the following day. He found her in the room with Vlad, dead. He didn’t understand her but he realised that he must have meant a great deal to her. He stayed at the carnival for a few days helping the other captives leave and find somewhere to stay. Most went to the Dengeleyici and through them he met Louis, Mani’s teacher and friend. Koru told Louis of her fate. Louis fell into a depression not common to wonderers, but it was short lived as wonderers don’t dwell on the past. Koru joined the Dengeleyici and lived a long and happy life.



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