The Romano and Julia

Author's note: This story I'm actually rather proud of, though it's really incomplete. I promise more chapters at the end, and I might still make good on that promise, too. I started writing this because I was fed up with ill-written stories of the same type, i.e. love at first sight, and wanted to turn one into something readable. Really, watch this spot, I might actually update it! ;D

Prologue

    Long, long ago in the old times when the Grendels were considered evil, there were no cobs, and the hand knew not half the things she knows now, there lived two Norn families, the Monterays, and the Cantaloupes. These two families lived peacefully together and shared in the rich bounty that this young Albia produced, and so prospered these two families together.

    The Cantaloupes lived close by to the Monterays, in the computer room above the kitchen, while the Monterays lived below. Because of where they lived, their professions varied widely. The Cantaloupes, having easy access to the computer, were very intelligent and so they taught the Monterays. The Monterays, having easy access to the oven and the stove, were excellent cooks and bakers, and so shared their food and taught the Cantaloupes how to cook also.

    These things made the two families very happy with each other, and many arranged marriages happened between the two, and continued to take place while new norns and families were hatched or imported into Albia. Things went on peacefully for a few generations until one fateful day, Joseph, a dashing and rugged Monteray, caught his to-be mate Melanie, a lovely Cantaloupe, kissing another norn ... who was not even a Monteray!

The news spread like wildfire throughout the two families, and all of Albia even, and both sides raged at each other, the Monterays accusing the Cantaloupes of deceit and lowliness, and the Cantaloupes accusing the Monterays of being ugly stupid beasts. It was an awful fight and it lasted for months, until one day, properties and families were divided, and the two families split. The Cantaloupes, being the more intelligent of the two, managed to get the kitchen and the computer room, while the Monterays were forced to live in the only large enough spot available: the submarine bay.

After the split, both clans felt the effects and fell onto hard times, now that things were not shared as they used to be. Eventually, the Cantaloupes gathered their pride up and worked their way back to the top, also gaining back most of their losses, but the Monteray’s lives were never the same. They fell into bitter loathing of the Cantaloupes and their wealth, while the Cantaloupes looked down on the Monterays like they were the scum of Albia. Neither side tried to reconcile with the other, a pall hung in the air. The feud had been struck.

One

As far is Gnanzi could tell, Romano was dead. And Gnanzi was scared. Romano’s short lived days had come to an end and it was all his fault. Gnanzi could barely remember the party the night before as he carried his limp cousin in his arms. It was all such a dim blur. Oh, it was a good party, as far as Dock Parties go - which usually wasn’t very well. A few weeds had been brought in, but no more than usual; there were always weeds at the Docks. No, this time it was the Hooch. This was Romano’s first Dock Party and his father had told Gnanzi to watch out for his younger cousin. And he had failed miserably.

Hooch was something new to the barely-adult norn, and because of his tender nature, most others would not think Romano to be the "swiller" type. But on that night, with the wild, electric vibe of the party coursing through him, as well as a new-found independence, he and the little green can soon became good friends. Far into the night, overloaded on Hooch, and too tired to stand, Romano passed out on the end of the dock, and no one noticed him for several hours. It wasn’t until the party was broken up by the Fuzz, the police, that Gnanzi had discovered his cousin. As Gnanzi carried Romano home to face the music, he shook his head in amazement. How could such a young norn manage to down 14 cans of Hooch in one night?

Two

Romano had no idea how he had gotten here. The way his body ached could only be logically justified if he had rolled down the side of Purple Mountain. It would have made a lot of sense to him, if he hadn’t downed all that Hooch, since this place slightly resembled the jungle at the foot of the peak. But he had downed the drink, and he hadn’t rolled down the side of the Mountain, and he had no idea where in Albia he was. He had played on the edges of the Jungle back home when he was younger, it was nice in there. Always warm and sunny, and it had an overall friendly look to it.

This place looked more like a swamp than a jungle, and was nothing near friendly. A dank, stale smell hung over everything, and most of the trees were dead or dying. The ground was covered in a wet moss, and mist was laced between trees and bare branches. The air was thick, and moist, everything seemed damp, and all around him it was dim. He broke out into a cold sweat. Where was he?

He began walking, maybe he could find his way out of the Shee-forsaken place. Muck oozed out of the moss every time he set a foot down onto it, making a squelching, bubbly noise. After a while, he found himself trembling, despite the humidity, and if it hadn’t been night-time before, it sure was now. Above him, the moon rose high, high up. Too bad it wasn’t a full moon, at least then maybe he could see where he was going.

He walked on and on, for what seemed like hours, and eventually the swampy jungle gave way to forest land. If he thought the swamp place was bad, this was worse.

The foliage here grew so thick that he could hardly see a foot in front of his face. He stopped to rest, gasping for breath. Here, the air was even muggier and damp, and there was a tense vibe all around. Like an elastic band stretched to breaking point, something was about to snap. It was so dense around him, that he could not even see the sky. He wondered how long he had been walking, how long he had been gone. That party last night seem like it happened last year, it seemed so far away. Romano sighed, would he ever get out of here?

Suddenly, a wave of nervousness came over him, and he glanced around quickly. It was too quiet here, way too quiet. He began to feel jumpy. The imaginary elastic band snapped, and Romano began running for his life. He didn’t quite understand why he was running, it was a sudden urge that just came over him. And then he heard it. Something behind him, pounding, hard and fast, after him. Coming. Straight. For. Him.

It was snarling and drooling and growling and snapping and coming straight for him. Romano struggled to run faster and faster while trying to push foliage and branches out of his way. Only pure fear kept him going on and on through that hopeless place. And it was coming for him. He could smell it now, an awful choking smell, rancid and thick. His breath was coming in ragged gasps and he knew he was losing speed. And it was still coming for him. And then he tripped. Down, down he fell to the ground with a thud that seemed to echo throughout that jungle in all it’s finality. He was a goner. He waited. Nothing.

Slowly he raised himself and chanced a look behind him. The jungle was still. Once again, no sound could be heard. He sighed and began to breath easy, deeply. And then he smelled it. That rancid, choking odoriferous smell. He whipped around, but could see nothing, and still nothing could be heard. Panic began rising in his chest, and the odor grew stronger.

Jumping up he tried in vain to push his way through the jungle, away from the smell, gasping for air that was rapidly growing short. Terror, fear, panic welled up and made him tremble uncontrollably, churning and gnawing inside him Collapsing to the ground, he writhed and gasped like a fish out of water, groaning and wailing in turn; helpless in his final hour. He could barely breath at all now, and then it hit him with a fury previously unknown to him.

His body coursed with a searing pain, running through every nerve and vein in his body. His mind exploded into hot white sparks, and despite the lack of air, he screamed. The jungle turned red, a deep burning red, and then it all went black...

Three

"Dad! Dad come quickly!" Gnanzi cried as he burst through the front door of his apartment home in the submarine bay. It was cool and drafty here, and the air was damp. Gabe, Gnanzi’s father, poked his head through the door in the kitchen and reprimanded his son,
"Gnanzi, don’t yell! I’m right here. The neighbours will start complaining if we don’t keep it down ..." He paused a moment to study what Gnanzi was carrying in his arms. "Is that Romano? What happened to him? Oh my Shee, is he dead?" Gabe dashed over in an instant and took Romano’s limp form from Gnanzi’s arms and carried him into a dingy bedroom.
There was little furniture in the room, the bed was unmade and the floor was littered with newspapers and cigarette butts. He laid Romano down onto the bed, bent over and quickly checked for a pulse. Gnanzi stood by and waited anxiously. Gabe sucked in a breath, stood up again and sighed,
"He’s still alive, thank-Shee, but no thanks to you. You were supposed to be looking after him, Gnanzi!" He snarled at his son.
Gnanzi shrugged his shoulders,
"He’s an adult now, dad, he can take care of himself too! He’ll have to learn sometime, why not last night? I didn’t mean for it to happen!"
"Of course you didn’t mean for it to happen," Gabe shot back, "But he’s still young and vulnerable. He was your responsibility, you should have taken care of him better! I trusted you. Just like I was trusted to look after my brother’s kid when he died..." He sighed and looked down and Romano, who was twitching a bit and sweating profusely.
His cousin was shocked,
"What’s happening, can’t we stop it? We have to have something we can give him, or else he’ll die! We can’t let him die dad! I didn’t mean it! How was I supposed to know he would have that much hooch?"
Gabe took in a deep breath,
"There isn’t anything we can do, right now. Keeping him cool and looked after is about the only thing that’s going to help us now." He paused a moment, then spoke, "You say he drank a lot of hooch? No weeds?"
"Yeah, he had at least 14 cans of the drink, but as far as I know, he didn’t take any of the bad stuff."
Gabe thought for a moment, drumming his claws on the mattress. He looked from Romano, to Gnanzi and back again, and then finally spoke,
"Then he has a good chance of living after all. We’ll just have to wait and see."
Gnanzi sighed deeply. Maybe things would turn out fine after all. Before his father could say another word, he left the room and came back with a damp cloth and a cleaner blanket and sat down on the edge of the bed. He looked up at Gabe,
"I’ll take first watch. He was my responsibility, remember?"

Four

Romano opened one eye. It was light out, and he could see the sky.
Oh great,he thought, I’m alive. Now, where am I?
He was laying on a long lounge chair-type bed, and all around him sweet music was playing. He looked up, and he could see a pristine blue sky, dotted here and there with fluffy white clouds rolling gently on their way. His head still hurt, but he felt much better rested, and more relaxed.

Romano wondered some more about where he was, and looked to his right. Blue sky and clouds could be seen, and a flock of birds could be seen fluttering by. He looked to his left and saw yet more blue sky and clouds. This worried him only the slightest bit; perhaps he was on a hill. He told himself not to think about it anymore, and try and wait quietly until this all was over.

Romano sat peacefully for a while, listening to the enchanting music playing, and watching the clouds and birds fly by, carefree and happily. He began drifting off, when he thought of something. He was high up in the air, with sky all around him, no land in sight for miles. Something wasn’t right here, either. This place was too good to be true... was he on Purple Mountain? Maybe he was dead after all. He steeled himself, then laying flat on the bed, he took a peek over the edge, thinking he would finally see the towering peak of the seemingly topless mountain. He looked down, down, down; there was nothing there! He was floating!
Slowly and carefully he rolled himself onto his back, and began to panic. He was floating in the air, Shee-knows how high up, and he had no way of getting down. Gulping down air nervously, he did the only thing that came to mind...
"Help! Someone please help me! For the love of Shee, Help Me!"
The music stopped, and nothing but Romano’s shrieking could be heard.
"Please, you don’t need to shout, I’m right here. Please calm down, I can’t stand to hear you shouting that way" Said a quiet, sweet voice from behind.

Romano turned carefully around, but no one was there. He whipped around to face forwards and there standing before him was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Her hair was pure golden silk, flowing gently over her shoulders, her fur a delicious honey-brown colour. A long slender tail came out from an exquisitely molded body. He had never seen a norn quite like her before. He found himself not able to look her in the eye, so he stared at his toes.
Seeing this, the female Norn (for that’s what she was) frowned.
"Please, look at me. That bothers me so much, and makes me feel ugly and insecure. It would make me less ill at ease if you did." She said it so softly, that Romano barely heard her. Slowly he lifted his gaze until their eyes met, and immediately, he was taken aback. Her eyes were most unique, he had never seen anything like them.

As it is common knowledge, horse norns (for this was the female’s particular breed) have green eyes; deep and clear. This norns eyes were the iciest, boldest shade of blue he had ever seen. One moment they seemed a deep shade, the next the seemed light and cool. Not an ocean in Albia could compare to those eyes, many faceted and probing. They seemed to study his every move. He couldn’t help but be held captive by these enchanting eyes, as they looked into his own.
"Pardon me for saying, Miss," he said finally, trying to catch the breath he needed, "but you are anything but ugly."
She smiled, obviously pleased by the complement. She moved over to his side and stood above him looking down.
"Thank you. Most people do not have nice things to say about my eyes, they say they are bewitching and do no good for me. But never mind that, lay back; I can see that you’re strained. Maybe I can help you."

And with that she began stroking his head, across his brow, to behind his ear. Soon he found himself relaxed and being lulled into sleep. The female stopped her stroking and spoke, her voice sounding distant and far away.
"Goodbye, sleep well..."
"Wait!" Romano cried, "Will I ever see you again? What is your name? Wait! No don’t go! No!" He began thrashing about, and everything becoming dark again…"

Five

Gabe came into the room to relieve his son from looking after Romano again.
"How is he?"
Gnanzi looked up from wiping his cousin’s forehead,
"He started to tense a while ago, but ever since then he seems very relaxed. He stopped sweating as much."
Gabe nodded his head,
"Good, good. I can take over now, you can get some sleep. Go on, git."

As Gnanzi stood slowly, Romano’s body began to twitch again, and he began thrashing about. He broke out into renewed sweat, and he began to murmur,
"No...no...don’t...no..."
Gabe dashed quickly to his nephew’s side, and took the cloth from Gnanzi’s paw. Dabbing Romano’s forehead, he spoke,
"Romano, Romano, wake up! It’s Uncle Gabe, and Gnanzi, c’mon boy, wake up!"

Romano began to thrash more, and he began to scream,
"No! Come back! No!" And then bolted upright, gasping for air.
For a moment, everyone was still, and all that could be heard was Romano’s ragged breaths. Then his eyelids shuttered, and he sank back onto the mattress.
Gnanzi bent over his cousin,
"Romano, how are you feeling?"
Romano’s eyelids lifted slowly, his eyes trying to focus on Gnanzi’s face. Still breathing deeply, he managed in a hoarse gasp,
"...monster chased me...I was a goner...clouds...beautiful norn saved...me..."
At this point, Gabe intervened, pulling Gnanzi away.
"Leave him to sleep now, son, he’s nearly died because of you. Just let him regain some strength before you start talking to him."
Gnanzi nodded solemnly to his father and they left the bedroom together.

Six

As the full Albian moon hung large in the sky over Romano’s home, it shone just as brightly over the home of the Cantaloupes. The house, through all it’s years, still stood as stately and grandly as ever. With three floors, it was the largest in Albia, and there were many rooms to behold. By far, though, the top-most room was the loveliest. From the ground, it was not much different from the rest of the house, with the exception being that it had only one large window.
Rose vines that had been planted years ago grew up from the ground and had encased the whole house in green and red splendor. Inside the room, though, was even more magnificent. Through the open window, a light breeze wafted through, billowing the curtains and brought the scent of the rose vines in.
The room was richly decorated in velvet and lace and was filled with books and stories of far away places. The walls were made from a rich golden wood, and were bare, except for a painting of an old norn, bald and stately looking. He wore a green velvet coat and balanced perfectly over one eye was a crystal monocle, through which he peered down through at whomever was looking up it him. In the centre of the room sat an old canopy bed, draped with sheer satin coverings, which flowed easily with the breeze.
The most amazing feature of the room, though, was the ceiling. The amazing part there being none to look at! It was completely open, so that if one laid flat on their back on the floor or bed, they would have a beautiful, pristine view of the sky. Millions upon billions of stars glittered and winked in the sky above, and below them on the huge canopy bed lay the figure of a sleeping female.

Though her features were fair, at the moment they were pinched and strained and her face showed that she was struggling to concentrate on something far away in her dreams...

It was after him, coming to destroy him. She wanted to help, but she was not able to move. She tried to cry out to him a word of encouragement, but her voice stuck in her throat as though it had been sealed. She was only left be a powerless watcher on the sidelines, distraught with fear and worry about the fate of the norn she was watching below. As the Thing chased him through the forest, he began to slow. She gasped as it pounced upon him, ready to feast...

She lifted her head from her paws, tears streaming down her face, and gasped. She was thousands of miles above her home, and there wasn’t a norn or object in sight. Only miles upon miles of vast blue expanse. For a moment she flailed her arms, panicking. She tried to scream, but her voice was still locked in her throat. Calming herself, she sat for a moment. Alright, I have no idea where I am, or how I got here. There’s no need to panic. She thought to herself as she watched a bird flutter by. Oh what’s the use? I can’t cry for help, and I don’t know how to move. I’m trapped! With that, she began to wail soundlessly.

As she did, a warm breeze began to blow about her, and the birds flying through the air began to sing. This made the poor female wail even more. Suddenly, the breeze began to circle her, faster and faster, blowing up her hair around her face, and blasting the tears right off her cheeks. As quickly as it started, the winded died down, and finally came to a stop. The female was still for a moment, then nearly jumped out of her fur when a voice behind her cried out,
"Help! Help me!"
Gathering her strength, the female jumped up and, straining hard against the force in her throat, finally managed to speak in a voice slightly louder than a whisper, "Please, you don’t need to shout, I’m right here. Please calm down, I can’t stand to hear you shouting that way".
The female wasn’t sure what made her say that, of all things, but at that moment, that wasn’t the topmost thing on her mind. She seemed to have "split" into two, for she began floating away from herself. In front of her other half sat a lounge chair, and in it, a norn lay, panicking as she had when she found out where she was (or wasn’t, for that matter).

As she strained to make out the male’s face, her other half began to speak, but she couldn’t make it out. All she could tell from her own tone of voice, was that she was comforting the male, who she could now recognize as another horse norn like herself. She concentrated on his features even more, and was taken aback. It was the male that was being chased by that Thing!

How handsome he was. Though he was weak looking now, he must look strong when he was rested. Everything began to fade and the last thing she heard was the male cry out,
"No! Don’t go...no..."

Keep watching for new chapters, coming soon!