Odyssey Into 2012
She has awakened before a gate she has no memory of opening. She has no name, and no memory of how she came to be here, at the first station of a fateful quest she does not understand but knows she must continue.Who is she?
Only you will bring her to life.
Only you will tell her story in your words and your art.
How can I contribute to the story?
- Only you will bring her to life and guide her on her quest. Only you will tell her story with your own words and your own illustrations. The story has begun -- but only the prologue has been revealed. Deviant artists and writers are now called upon to complete each of the story's eight chapters with their own storytelling and illustrations.
- Every Wednesday and Saturday in December a new original Chapter and a new original Illustration will be chosen from deviants' submissions in the comments section. Take a look at the Chapter Schedule to see when the next chapter will be published.
- The chapter and illustration chosen and published will serve as the foundation for deviant writers and artists to base their submissions for the story's next chapter continuation.
- Each illustration should illuminate what has taken place in the preceding chosen chapter. The first illustration will simply be a portrait of the story's heroine.
- After each published chapter and illustration there will be a "prompt" to suggest what might need to be revealed in the next chapter.
- Each chapter will end with the opening of the next "gate." The (8th) eigth gate will open upon story's end on New Year's Eve — Bringing... what?
- We will also need a title by story's end.
The Zephyr KeyRead MoreKaylin struggled with doubt. The fear of what she had done set into her thoughts, piercing her with worry. She knew Darus would fight her at every turn, but she had fought off herself from different dimensions. She had absorbed their knowledge, turning it into her own strength.
Powers stronger than any she'd ever known now coursed through her. She knew that this was not Zephyr. She'd absorbed the powers of alternate dimensions. Notus, Boreas, and Eurus. These three powers had been added to hers, and it frightened her.
The light train struggled against her. Darus was trying to fight back. She concentrated her powers, all four, into the next gate. It appeared before her, beckoning her to pass through, but Darus stopped the light train.
"You think you've won?" Kaylin smarted to him.
"I know I've won Kaylin, though, I never suspected you would wipe your own memory." He appeared in the train with her, holding the same sword he had killed countless innocent people with.
"Your tyranny ends here!" Kaylin summoned her energies again, and the light train passed through the gate, flinging Darus from the train.
Kaylin pulled out the book of timelines. Her odds were considerably better, but still grim. She flipped through it, trying to find anything that would help her with her quest. Then she found the notes:
Darus has found the Zephyr key. He sealed the eight gates, rendering it to its weakest state. He plans to destroy it on midnight of New Years eve. Such a trauma to the Earth would cause it to implode, killing everyone. I must report back to others.
Kaylin flipped through to the last entry in the book:
Darus has killed everyone. Kaylin is all that's left of our group. She disappeared a month ago. If I can find her, all may not be lost. I have to tell her that by passing through the eight gates their seal will break, and the Zephyr key, no, the world, can be saved.
She closed the notebook. This is what he had planned. He had hoped she could release all the seals. She only hoped his trust hadn't been misguided. Close
The Zephyr Key's HostRead MoreKaylin struggled with all her might to keep the light train under her power as she willed it to continue on with the correct gates. The use of her power was draining most of her energy and now she stood at the front of the train, beads of sweat rolling down her neck and back. She gasped out once, forgetting to breathe because she was concentrating so much. She balled her fists tightly and then she saw a light ahead, relieved to find the next gate.
Kaylin collapsed, exhausted, and knelt down as the light train turned brighter and brighter . . .
She found herself in a dark forest. Coldness wrapped around her swiftly, making her shiver. The ground was cold and hard beneath her shoes and when she walked the frosted grass crunched. But her footsteps were not alone. Soon she heard others and when she turned around she saw Darus.
"Kaylin," he said with a wicked grin.
Kaylin thrust her hand out and her Zephyr snapped the tree in half and it craned towards Darus. But he swiftly jumped out of the way and grinned like a sly cat as the tree crashed into the ground loudly.
"Such a pity that your power will go to waste," he murmured, walking closer to her. With every step he took closer, she took one step backwards.
"What do you mean?" Kaylin asked. Her zephyr broiled in her mind, at the ready.
"You are the Zephyr Key, Kaylin," Darus spoke softly. "It's your duty to destroy the last gate, not open it. If you open it you will continue this process over and over again . . . No one has ever had the courage to destroy the last gate because if they do they will disappear with it."
"Why are you telling me this?" Kaylin asked, her heart pounding against her rib cage frantically.
"You have a right to know," Darus said.
And before Darus could say anything else Kaylin summoned the light train, jumped on and disappeared in the next instant, trying to remember how to breathe. Close
The End and The BeginningRead MoreNow is now.
Kaylin is stepping off the Light Train. Its dark and the dry wind scratches at her face. It's the one place that doesn't come to mind when you think of New Year's Eve.
In front of her blooms a different kind of darkness. It's wet and humid. She turns around and Darus is there.
"This is it," he says. "The final gate. The last trial." He spreads his arms, and the wet warm dark spreads out and presses against her dark. He pulls his sword out of the scabbard. Kaylin stands in front of him, tensed to run.
"Running again?" He flourishes his sword. It's giving him an unfair advantage. The sword disappears.
"You should sacrifice yourself now, if you want to win," he says. The fear in his voice is unmistakable. "A fair trade, one life for all, don't you think?"
"I don't want to die," Kaylin says. Her voice is strong and afraid. She closes her eyes, and opens them. A portal of light appears between them. They both blink.
"I didn't do that. You can't do that." Darus says.
"I did." She steps forward, and they're almost nose to nose, almost in the portal. "I didn't make it. I destroyed the dark."
"Sure you did," he scoffs. She steps forward, eyes wide open. He steps forward, and they're inside the portal, and she laughs, because it's all so clear. She reaches out and touches the dark, and it's gone. They're all part of the cycle, and she reaches out and Darus disappears, is inside her. She looks down and sees light, and she touches herself and is gone.
It's midnight. People shout "Happy New Year!" and kiss. A trail of light blows across the sky. Everything is different but no one feels it, except for one girl, sleeping, dreaming of a light that is excited and warm and asks her something.
"Kaylin," she replies. The End
Prologueby $techgnotic She awakes before an open "gate". She does not know her name or remember anything that has come before. She has a sense that she is on a quest of most dire consequence for herself and perhaps the whole world. In her pocket she finds a tattered calendar page for December 2011. Eight dates are circled: every Wednesday and every Saturday. In her other pocket she finds a piece of paper upon which are scribbled two words: "Tokyo" and "Zephyr". She senses that she has somehow opened this first gate, and that she must now pass through it and journey to Tokyo. She must find whomever or whatever "Zephyr" might be, the next important clue to resolving her quest, her fate, her destiny... Read More→
Prompt for Chapter 1
To our writers for Chapter 1:
Does she have a name? Is she human or superhuman or supernatural? A witch, a hunted innocent or a rogue covert operative? She has arrived in Tokyo, but by what conveyance – jet plane, enchanted portal or dragon flight? Who or what is "Zephyr" – an ally, an enemy, a key magical totem, a weapon, a map? Or none of these!!! You must set the genre and tone with your most imaginative kick-off to our story.
Good luck! (Remember: Brevity is golden! 300 words or less.)
To our artists for Chapter 1:
A portrait of our heroine: How old might she be? Is she human or of elfin, fairie or other nature? A ghost? A witch? A spy? Can you illuminate the first "gate" she awakens before?
The Light Train Waits For No OneRead More
It's static -- trapped between her fingers, buzzing in her ears. A heartbeat lost in the echoes of her rib cage. And yes, of course: the intermittent pounding, the thundering, the rush of blood through her veins. Was that fear?
She'd once been foolish enough to believe that no one could lure her in to this. A ribbon of smokescreen smiles, flashes of deceptive lies, and she was sold for the price of forever. As the cold air smacks into her face and turns her hair to tangled strands, she struggles to maintain her hold on the tattered calendar. It's ripped from the wall, December 2011 in bold Serif typeface filling the upper left corner. Eight dates circled in red. Eight trials, none of them easy, and her mouth runs dry at the thought. She folds the calendar and slips it into the right pocket of her jeans.
The scribbles of "Zephyr" and "Tokyo", etched so hard onto the paper that she can feel their outlines, is snuggled in the comfort of her left pocket. She wonders if he is still there, at that place, after so long without contact between them. Waiting for her, perhaps; waiting for this blindsided girl to fall back into the spider's web, one she'd thought she'd escaped many years ago.
A streak of light rushes by. She runs, tumbles, nearly misses; her fingers fumble for something to hold on to. The night is clear. Only the stars watch her struggle to maintain her balance, before she pitches forward to carpeted floors. The Light Train waits for no one. But she's inside, at the very least.
She's inside and going nowhere, fast.
Her eyes close. The train vanishes in the bright embrace of a shooting star.
There's no turning back.Close
Just Like Old TimesRead More
This isn't the Tokyo she remembers. The hilltop view is chaos. Fires consume miles around, wind stirs the fumes, skyscrapers crumble. She gasps. Memories, however scattered, tell her this is wrong. They fixed this. Prevented this. Hadn't they? She'd made a deal once to forget all this, to move on. Was her mind clearing? Behind her, a rustle. A man. Tall fit. Dressed simply, holding a tattered book.
"Who are you?" She steps back. "I trained you. We were... partners. For a while..."
"...Jackson." She eyes the city. "Didn't we... fix this?" "We did. We fixed everything, actually."
"What happened?" "Darus."
"You left. We made the world perfect. Fixed history. Then sat. We had thought we were working towards going home. Cycles passed, Darus soured, believing we were all fated to traverse the gates without true course, forever. But you... You left with the only ticket out. Then Darus devised a plan: undo some of our greatest repairs…"
"And bring me back…" She whispers.
"Because once you're back and we're all dead, he thinks he can leave."
"But this was destined... So... I left for nothing, just to serve as instigation." She sighs. "Darus, I can't remember him well..." "Perhaps that's best, you two have history that isn't pretty. It'll come to you, I'm sure." "This calendar, these dates…?" She asks. "The dates he will undo. I've been to the end of this, I've seen how this plays out, Kaylin..."
Her real name... Why did it feel wrong? "Numbers…?"
"Good to see it's coming back to you..." He opens his book. "3,722 different end scenarios, of those, you only survive in four. Of those four you only actually defeat him... in one. "I have one chance?" She turns away. "Yes... and you'll have to do this without me. In every scenario... I die."
She turns back but it's too late. The Blade protrudes from his chest. Blood Seeps. He drops. She looks for the assailant but she is alone. The wind stills. The static crackles. Light blinds. Pressure grows. The gate opens, she grasps onto hope...Close
Labyrinth Of DreamsRead More
Another clumsy jump and a stumble with outstretched arms... Kaylin was back on the train. "Light is faster than words" the book had said, and she swore it was being cynical. "But not thought!" she shot back. That should shut it up for awhile.
They said the Light Train waits for no-one, but it waited for him. Or as long as the speed of light can wait. But it was enough for Darus. And as soon as he stepped in she knew the threshold had been crossed. She was no longer safe. The traps were set. The game had begun.
Her mind was invaded. He brushed everything aside light as a wind, rushing through memories she didn't know she had. She only caught snatches: a sad smile, a blue-white ribbon (it had to be lost), and a burning heart.
She was thrust into his mind. Memories trapped her. At every turn she had to shield herself. A labyrinth of dreams. They pressed in on her, overwhelming, and she fought back with every fiber of her being. But he was stronger, they threatened to erase her very essence. Her soul was chocking, losing, burning and morphing away.
Silence. She didn't have to fight. She accepted them, the memories a waterfall that sated her parched mind.
Knowledge. The bane of existence. It filled the recesses of her mind and fit like a key.
Zephyr. The power of knowing, of being a searching wind, intangible, invulnerable, no-one can stop. Now it was hers.
Her eyne were open and she could see. The Light Train sped on but she reached for the dark. The twisted knot that sucked in even light pulled them through into the next world. The next gate awaited, the next trial demanded. The judge had left, and nothing was right.Close
Why did he give her this power? Did he want her to save the cities?
She looked around for him, but he was gone. His imprint clung to the air: Until the next time, kitling. Prithee hark the sweven.
Where The End BeginsRead MoreThe breeze brought the scent of pine needles to her before she got off the train. She touched the bark of a tree.
The breeze suddenly picked up. Her eyes did not widen in surprise this time-- they stayed solidly open as she saw a shadow form in front of her. She had time only to jump to the side before the tree whose bark she had touched was impaled by a sword-- his sword. The tree quivered, sighed, and then there was nothing where it once stood.
His eyes met hers.
She knew how he fought. Everything about Darus-- the timbre of his voice, his unforgiving eyes, his majestic fighting style, his laugh-- everything came flying to the front of her mind. He would cut her down, but not if if she kept moving. Speed was her forte, her game to play, the only one she was sure she could win.
Hunted, panting, determined, moving. The endless circle of predator and prey continued, but she knew it had to end. Eventually, one would give up, and the other would triumph.
He wants me to be scared of him, she thought, because if I am, I will not notice how scared he is of me.
She remembered pushing him off a cliff had been the first time she used her Zephyr. Making the cliff he had stood on fade away beneath his feet.
His Zephyr was to create. Hers was to destroy.
And now he wanted to change their roles.
She stopped. Turned. Saw his startled expression.
Felt the sword pierce through her before either of them could scream.
And then she destroyed the pain. The sword shook, and then faded away.
Her half-lidded eyes snapped open. Darus laughed, and then the Light Train was back, and she knew by the sickening plummeting into darkness that she had passed another trial.
Zephyr. The knowledge that was life and death, existence and nothingness.
She had traded that for freedom.
But she was destruction. Even her temporary ignorance could not escape that part of her. Close
The Rainbow ConnectionRead MoreThe Light Train took on a new timbre around her. Her knowledge unlocked, she did not ride, but drive. The Train bent around to her command. She yelled in triumph! Backwards, to before it began. She could stop him at the start. Kaylin steered the Train, her body, soul, one with the Light. Then it fought her, bucking and twisting.
Her eyes opened. Kaylin wasn't alone. She was there. Kaylin, in purple. Kaylin, in green. Kaylin, in blue, yellow, orange, and violet. Each one steering, fighting. Yellow died first, a possible future snuffed out, and it's Light joined the Train. The others, alerted to the danger, fought back, but her Zephyr sang as their's did not. Their numbers nearly took her, but she dodged and twisted, bending the Train around her. The other Kaylin's Zephyrs spent themselves uselessly on nothing. The purple clad Kaylin stood last and best. Purple seemed to draw the powers of the defeated to her, growing in strength with each death. Face to face, sweat poured, her every grimace and groan of exertion mirrored a foot in front of her. Finally, the other Kaylin faltered, and the Zephyr took her, fading away to beams of Light. The Train moved, and Kaylin arrived at her destination. She stood, seeing herself, in red, standing at a shelf, scanning book titles. Kaylin grabbed a scrap of paper, writing Tokyo, and Zephyr. She ripped the page from a desktop calendar, circling the dates. She strode to herself, and shoved the scraps in her own pockets. As the unknowing Kaylin turned, the empowered Kayin raised a hand, her Zephyr destroying; memory, purpose, her world around her. Back on the train, Darus' laughter filled her ears, and as the Train shifted again through the gate, doubt crept into her mind. Close
Frequently Asked Questions
- Artwork submissions should reflect the chapter previously published. The chosen artwork will then be published alongside that previous chapter. Yes, any art that illuminates the story is accepted, including photography. Creativity rules! (Ice sculptures are a bit of a problem – you'll have to photograph them.)
- The 300 word limitation does not mean you will be "disqualified" for submitting 320 words! I read all submissions. This is not a "contest" in the sense of rules and tricks determining "winners". It's simply that the whole point of the exercise is to see who can put the "most" into the "least"! So submitting a Dune-length chapter, while possibly brilliant, doesn't serve the purposes of this project. Write what, as the writer, you know is just right. If one less line of text will dilute something that is magic, then – don't delete that line!
- PLEASE don't be shy in offering your ideas, opinions and suggestions on how to make this first experimental "community collaboration" even more successful, even cooler and more outrageous, in future editions. Oh, yes, we will be doing this again! Your feedback on this project has been not only gratifying but absolutely essential in helping me figure out how to do this next year in the most compelling way possible.
- Yes, multiple submissions for a single chapter are acceptable. If you have more than one great idea as to where to take the story, or more than one idea for a chapter's illustration, bring it on!
- There will be a poem chosen to reflect the beginning of our tale, and a poem chosen to reflect the ending. There may be more chosen as we proceed, judging by the amazing submissions so far.
- Yes, we do need A TITLE for this adventure. Submissions will be accepted up to NOON of New Year's Eve (Dec.31) and published with the final chapter at midnight.
- Remember, this creation is not (just) about the most professional, most polished syntax and prose, nor the best command of vocabulary or grammar, nor the cleverest wordplay or most abstruse allusions. All great things, to be sure, but: I'm looking for that evocative, resonant, epiphanous something, expressed in an imagery powerful enough to transcend the limited word-count – the short straight-right Gina Carano knockout punch that ends a fight quicker than a dozen weaker, though visually-pleasing and crowd-wowing, haymakers. Narrative Haikus that spark up the brain, warm up the heart, and make a lasting phytocrystalized imprint on the ghostly artistic soul.
- Just because your chapter wasn't chosen doesn't mean you should stop writing your version of the story! Keep submitting chapters for the ongoing main story, of course. But don't end yours! You might even find a collaborator (or collaborators) among the other deviants submitting chapters. Keep alive the living organism that is taking shape in our minds via these submitted words. The seed is planted. Let a thousand new worlds, I mean words, explode and flourish!