Colin Frake

Colin Frake is a Sci-Fi / Fantasy series of novels. You can download the first 2 books as a single novel called “Asclepius.” I think the Colin Frake series is interesting because it starts out with a very distinct fantasy tilt, but slowly it becomes more philosophical and the Science Fiction element begins to take over. I am currently working on the third book “Sumava”. I got sidetracked with all the epic and rock music and the Two Steps From Hell tours, but I am back on it. I just finished the first chapter of Sumava, which you can read below. If you have read the first 2 books, this chapter answers big questions and probably confirms suspicions. It’s also heartbreaking like so many of the events in Colin Frake.

Colin Frake 3 Sumava

Chapter 1 Sumava

“I’m coming with you. We killed that thing together. I never gave up, dad,” Ma-ven pointed her finger as she spoke with a furled brow.
     Mabor never enjoyed his daughter when she pointed and scolded him. On this day, however, it just made him feel proud. “I’m never letting you near one of those things again. You were gone, a speck on the horizon, carried away by that foul monster. That image will never leave me.”
     Maven stared down her father. Mabor could see her wheels spinning and a new line of attack coming.
     “So you’d rather I stayed here alone? What if more of them come while you’re gone? I would be scared without you here.” Maven did her best to de-liver her words convincingly.
     “Ha ha. You’ve got to be kidding me.” Mabor’s grin was so wide it hurt his left ear, still on the mend from the battle with the deathbird. “That’s it. I’m not going. Was a stupid idea anyway. Just forget about it Maven.” Mabor crossed his arms with determination.
     “Perfect. I understand. You stay and watch over everyone. They need you here. I’ll make the journey alone. You’d probably just get in the way, dad. I’m a lot harder to spot.”
     Mabor clenched his fists in frustration. “Stop doing whatever you are do-ing. Please just stop. We would be putting ourselves at great risk to travel to Sumava. We are better off here keeping an eye out.” Mabor walked back and forth across the room. He stopped at the window, looking out into a deep black sky.
     Maven came up behind him, her reflection joining her fathers’ in the window. “And you could live with yourself? Another day, another year, waiting around to get picked off by one of those things?” Maven spoke softer now with calm conviction. “Everyone agrees that there is something strange about that thing. That face. You told me that you always had a feeling. You were right. There is something very curious about those things. We have to find out where they come from. What their story is. We’ll be famous!”
     “We’re already famous, Maven. You survived and killed a death-bird…with a little help from you know who.” Mabor’s voice rising in pitch. He turned to face his daughter, her crossed arms and scowl sending out a clear message. Mabor sighed. “Ehh, I guess there is no arguing with you. Better you are by my side, I suppose.”
     Maven and Mabor left Barnis early, a cold fog covering the entire valley. Sumava was a distant mountain range with two spikes sitting comfortably above the rolling hills that lay before it. They walked in silence, clouds of breath trailing them like torches moving down the path. The two walked at a brisk pace all morning and inched closer, Sumava growing in size and chang-ing shape with each hill they passed. No one from Barnis had visited in gener-ations. The valley before the mountain was riddled with swamps and insects, and people recounted how difficult it was to get across. But there was another notable tale from a reputable source. A story of deathbirds in high numbers, awkwardly flying up and down the steep wooded slopes of the mountain. The legend was foul and horrifying, so much so that some doubted that any of it was true.
     Mabor and Maven walked for days, briskly and with purpose. The smell came before the sight. Mabor had visited a swamp as a young man. It was many years ago, but the smell was instantly familiar.
     “You smell that?” He nudged Maven.
     “Yeah, how could I not? What is that?”
     “Swamp gas.”
     “Smells like crap, dad.”
     “I never mentioned? Yeah, it’s been a while. A swamp is like a giant toi-let. It’s damp and everything rots.”
     Mabor could see the end of the forest now. The trees thinning and giv-ing way to whisps of steam and patches of blue sky. “Almost there.”
     Maven nodded, acknowledging Mabor. Mabor sensed concern.
     “We can turn around at any time, Maven. Don’t forget that. We have no duty, no obligation here.”
     “What makes you say that? I’m solid as a rock. Ready to rumble.” Ma-ven flexed her arms and lifted them above her head.
     “Ready to rumble? What…like thunder? I kind of like that. That’s good. Where’d you get that from?”
     “I made it up.” Maven looked herself now, comfortable, a bit mischie-vous.
     “Ah. Okay. Really? Well let’s go rumble, then.”
     The swamps spread across the horizon covering all the land on this side of Sumava. Steam rose from patches of ooze. Tall weeds and tangled brush filled the gaps between dark, misty pools. The mountain was dominated by long jagged lines of grey rock angled steeply. At the top it was more knarled and twisted, trading geometry for artform. Mabor took it all in. Sumavas’ peaks looked more foreboding and mysterious with this otherworldly landscape at its’ feet. Mabor imagined the mountain sinking into the soggy ground that sur-rounded it.
     “Where do we cross, Dad? Path ends here.” Maven kicked a clump of damp sod.
     “Straight across, I think. I don’t see any point in messing about.”
     Without hesitation, Maven leaped across a muddy patch and landed on an island of solid mossy ground. Mabor followed.
     “This is going to be fun,” Maven chortled as she gained momentum for her next leap. She made the jump easily, but lost her balance upon landing. Recovering with a hand to the ground, she looked back at Mabor sheepishly.
     “Yeah, I saw that. Careful daughter. But, I do like your spirit.” Mabor fol-lowed her jump and landed securely. “Not so bad for and old man. Am I right?”
     Maven smiled wryly. “You’re not old, dad. Just past your prime.”
     Mabor kicked a pile of brush and branches and retrieved a long serpen-tine stick. “This will come in handy.”
He moved in front of Maven and tested the waters, poking as far into the murky water as he could reach. The stick revealed a shallow pool only knee deep. “Looks good, but I think we can clear it easily.” He paused, placing his hands on his hips. “No reason to get wet quite yet. But let’s face it, that’s com-ing. We are going to get wet.” Mabor looked out across the vast swampland. He jumped to a small rocky island and then onto a new patch of dry land. Ma-ven followed his movements precisely.
     Shallow pools of water became less frequent as the two moved across the swamp. The ground was higher and pools of murky water were replaced by mud, mud of every imaginable color, smell and viscosity. It oozed and bub-bled and farted with abandon. Steam rose from deep pits of muck, some of it green in color. The world around them disappeared in a stinking haze.
     “We need to stay on a straight path. We don’t want to circle back, no matter what.” Mabor heard his voice rattle around in his head as he spoke. The fog had consumed everything. The mud had taken on a blue tint now. It felt as if they had entered another world. Mabor kept his feelings to himself, but he felt concern and vulnerable.
     Maven pulled her boot from gluey caldron of muck, trailing her father. She shook off the excess. “We can watch for our footsteps. I’ll do that.” She took a slow breath. “It really stinks here and the ground is blue. That’s really weird.”
     “Yeah. Let’s keep moving. It’s bound to get better. We are doing well.” Mabor wondered if he came off a sincere.
     Mabor led Maven across the swamp maintaining as straight of a line as he could figure. The mud was everywhere now. Thick undulating basins of funk separated by an occasional boulder or patch of weeds. It vascilated be-tween brown and blue. They drudged through it, scraping it off their legs when there was a reprieve. The green mist wasn’t letting up either. Mabor was si-lent, but felt like throwing up on more than one occasion. His head buzzed a little. It was an odd buzz, something unfamiliar and alien about it.
     “Dad, I’m stuck.” Maven sounded a bit desperate and out of character.
     “Again? I’m coming.”
     Mabor made his way towards his daughter, his head buzzing more now. He felt something similar in his feet as well. “Take my hand,” he said, groaning as he spoke.
     “I’m really stuck! It hurts, Dad.”
     Mabor could see panic in his daughter’s face. It was uncharacteristic. “You’ll be fine. On three.”
On three, Mabor pulled and Maven screamed.
     “What the hell?” Mabor exclaimed. “What’s got you so stuck? Is it rocks?”
     “I don’t think so. It feels….like a trap.”
     “A trap?” Mabor’s heart raced like mad. It couldn’t be a trap. “Who would set a trap all the way out here?”
Mabor jumped in the mud and began digging around Maven’s foot. Something hard and smooth surrounded her leg just above the ankle, smooth, metal. It was indeed a trap. His heart sank.
     “I can’t…We…” Mabor threw up the contents of his stomach. He wiped his mouth.
     “Dad, What do we do? I’m not getting out of here, Dad. I can’t fight this thing. I’m stuck. Go and get help.”
     “I’m not leaving you here, alone. It’s days there and days back. I don’t even know if I’d find my way back here.” Mabor considered all options.
     “My head feels weird. Like it’s vibrating.” Maven put her hands over her ears.
     “I felt that too.” Mabor replied.
     Maven jerked suddenly. “It’s pulling!”
     Mabor grabbed Maven by the arm. He felt her sinking slowly into the mud. Shock and dread hit him like a hammer to the head. “What kind of trap is this? This is ludicrous!” he screamed. He dove into the mud once again and began to claw and pull on the metallic device. Maven screamed. She sank a few inches further and then suddenly the pulling and odd vibrations ceased.
     “I think it’s stopped.” Maven spoke in whispers.
     “Yeah, it seems like it,” Mabor answered softly, not wanting to trigger any more movement.
     “What do we do now?” Maven’s voice calm and even.
     “I’m going to have to get that thing open. You can’t stay out here. We can’t stay out here.” Mabor pulled out his pocket knife and knelt down in the mud at Maven’s feet. He dug and clawed at the mud that surrounded her legs. He felt the trap and slid his hands from side to side tried to locate an opening in the device. He felt what seemed to be a hinge of sorts behind her calf and positioned the knife at the opening. “This might hurt.”
Mabor jammed the knife in the gap and twisted the blade, looking for some give in the grip it had on his daughter. It was solid, unmoving. He tried again, this time jamming the knife into the gap successfully, straight through into Ma-ven’s leg. Maven screamed or more accurately screeched. It reminded Mabor of a hawk. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Maven.” Mabor yanked the knife back immediate-ly, eliciting another shriek for his daughter. “Are you ok?” Mabor spoke softly, now looking upon Maven’s face. He fell back in horror at what he saw.
     “I’m alright, dad. Dad? Why are you looking at me like that?” Maven’s voice shifting from restrained to panicked.
     Mabor gawked. Within seconds, Maven’s nose had turned black and shiny, her perfect beautiful face suddenly looking twisted and vulturine. Mabor shook his head and blinked profusely. He stood up and stepped back.
     “Oh my god!” Mabor howled. He dove back into the mud and began to work the hinge with his blade. He felt the blood rush to his head as he worked the small opening. His head felt as if it would explode.
     “Dad, what’s going on?” Maven yelled, her voice cracking like a 12 year old boy.
     Mabor was silent, his face streaming with tears. He worked the blade through the gap and towards himself. He pryed the metal with all his might, the handle of his blade ripping and piercing his skin. He dislocated his wrist and felt a snap as he pushed his hand into the trap. He grabbed Maven’s calf pulling it free from the apparatus. Maven pulled herself from the mud and dragged herself, settling on a nearby island, holding her leg.
     “What happened?” She yelled, her voice unfamiliar and wheezy. “What’s happening to me?”
     Mabor looked at his daughter closely. Perhaps this could be undone? Maybe it would pass? Her neck was wider now. Her nose longer, more beak than nose. Her forehead bulbous and her posture contorted and curved.
She coughed and spit up thick purple mucous. She groaned and twitched. Her eyes bulged.
     “Dad, I’m dying,” she gurgled, curling up into a ball.
     Mabor racked his brain. He was powerless to do anything for his daugh-ter. She had been poisoned or cursed somehow. He stood over her hoping that this would pass, now that she was free. Looking down now he noticed something else, something so deeply disturbing that he lost his balance, the whole world tilting before his eyes. He picked himself up and approached Ma-ven. Her back was pronged and something angular was protruding from her shoulder blades. Her face was turning black and fuzzy hair covered part of her neck. Her nose was almost gone now, a shiny double edged horn taking shape.
     Mabor looked up at Sumava. How could he have come here? What witchcraft had convinced him that this was a good idea?
     Maven sqwalked in pain and began writhing on the ground. Her feet curled up into little balls and her ears becoming angular and hairy. Her eyes were still there. She looked up at him in terror. But the rest of her disappearing into a dark monstrous shape.
     “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry.” Mabor wailed. He had a thought. It took over his mind and drew him into a place of such utter despair and darkness that he tried everything he could to shake it. He spoke to himself aloud. His mind split-ting in two. He could not do it. He could never. He would rather die.
     “Just do it.” Maven’s voice was rough and tortured. “Just do it, Just do it!” She yelled.
     Mabor could not even recognize her voice now. It was that of a demon.
     “Kill me! You have to kill me…before it’s too late.” Maven’s shirt was torn now, boney, black, folded wings protruding from her back.
     Mabor understood now. Deathbirds were human or had human origin. That explained everything. Something or someone here at Sumava was be-hind it all. This filthy swamp was a breeding ground, a ruse, an evil ploy. The deathbird curse was more insidious, more unnatural than Mabor could have ever imagined. He looked at Maven. She was larger now, lying mute, a para-lyzed bat quivering in the mud. He had to kill her. He had to do it quickly be-fore she become a dangerous monster. But, he could not. He could not plunge his broken dagger into her heart. He looked down at his blade, its’ handle snapped off at the root, the curved metal edge caked in mud. He turned away. He could no longer look at Maven or acknowledge that she existed. He would only remember his daughter the way she was, the beautiful person she was, the pretty face and sharp wit, the strong will. He began to run, holding his throbbing hand, retracing his steps back home.