by PJ Regnier
The story of Outerlands was based on a video game concept friends and I created. Early in the creation process, we reached a point where all the big picture pieces were in place. It was time to nail down the specifics of the fantasy world.
I wanted to see the world through the eyes of a “local.” I began writing a story set in the fantasy world to get a feel for what day to day life might be like. Admittedly, it was far more fun than work.
Through the characters eyes I was able to interact with the peoples and creatures of the land. Creating the details inside the bigger picture allowed me to experience the adventures, dangers and the thrills of living in an uncharted world.
One of the locations that really came alive for me in the writing process was the thorn forest. The sprawling, seemingly inescapable thorn filled vines almost felt like a character to me. It was alive and moving. The vines writhed and twisted, opening and closing pathways to lead explorers where it wished.
Taken from Chapter 13, in the scene below, Jaret and Kedge, the two main characters of the story, happen upon a clearing in the thorns…
Thorn branches formed a dome-shaped clearing that appeared as if it was fashioned by some gifted craftsman rather than a natural occurrence. A green orb of light hung high overhead, casting a faint green glow over the area.
Jaret stood, his eyes fastened on a lone figure in the center of the clearing. A hunched figure, lost in the shadows of a hooded robe, leaned on a twisted, wooden cane. The figure stood motionless, as if waiting for their next move.
Kedge stood up slowly, moving closer to Jaret. “What now?” he whispered.
Jaret shrugged. Kedge drew a sword and struck several times against the thorns that had closed behind them. The blade left only surface marks in the solid vines. Jaret scanned the dense walls of the clearing. There was no way out.
“Looks like we’re stuck in here,” Jaret said.
“I wonder what that thing is.” Kedge tightened his grip on his sword.
Jaret shook his head. The cloaked figure remained frozen in place.
“We mean you no harm,” Kedge called out.
There was no response or movement of any kind from the figure.
“Maybe he’s dead. Got trapped in here like us long ago,” Kedge said.
Jaret started forward and Kedge grabbed his arm.
“What are you doing?” Kedge asked.
“Getting a closer look.”
“You don’t know what’s under that hood. He could be dangerous.”
“Well, we can’t just stand here all day.”
Kedge looked around as if considering the idea.
Jaret frowned. “You’re supposed to be the adventurous one, remember?”
Kedge cast a scornful look at the surrounding thorns then drew his other sword. “Okay but let’s keep our distance.”
They headed forward, coming within a few yards of the figure. The robe hid the figure in shadow, even the cane disappeared into the sleeve of the garment.
“Greetings, friend. Are you all right?” Jaret asked.
The figure remained motionless.
Kedge leaned over to Jaret. “Ready yourself,” he whispered.
Jaret nodded, his hand sliding behind his back and lighting with a small flame.
“Can you hear us, old friend?” Kedge asked.
The figure’s head lifted toward Kedge, making a slithering noise.
Jaret took a step back, startled by the sudden movement. Kedge shot him a nervous glance. The figure raised its cloaked arm toward Kedge and more slithering sounds proceeded from within the robe.
“Oh, our apologies.” Kedge backed away, his eyes widening. “W-we didn’t mean to intrude.”
Vines burst from the sleeve and wrapped around Kedge’s right arm. Kedge screamed, struggling to back away from the figure, and struck at the vines with his free sword.
The shadowy hood looked toward Jaret and vines shot forward, grasping at his limbs. Jaret shot streams of fire at the vines, but they weaved and twisted away, coming at him from all sides. Jaret backed away, raising up walls of earth to stop their advance. The vines merely slid around them and within moments were wrapped around his arms and legs, holding him still.
Kedge hacked at the vines, freeing himself from the figure. He stumbled backward as vines continued to pour out of the robe. He regained his footing and slashed wildly as they advanced but was soon overwhelmed. Within seconds he was suspended just above the ground, held tightly in place by the vines.