066 Encounters · 1


Encounters · 1
T



he ringed world of Icarus and it’s greater and lesser moons, the Eyes of Icarus. It is a world enjoying the cusp of a steam revolution fueled by magic. Born of a substance called Nectar from a realm simply dubbed Ambrosia, those who can open the gates possessed by all mankind become as wizards next to the engineering craftsmen who make everyday life possible. But the world is not so peaceful and is plagued by an ancient evil. In the skies above, five hundred twenty six silver ovoid shaped structures that stand taller than any mountain, overgrown by nature, drift without direction. They are known as the cities of the Foreigners, an ancient race long gone and eternal enemy of mankind, their wishes carried out by the beings sealed within known as the Poltergeists. Five centuries past the Poltergeists used the cities of their creators and razed the Face of Icarus forcing mankind to start again. Though mankind has recovered, it has not been without challenge from the Poltergeists. Occasionally falling from their heavenly homes, the Poltergeists have rained down monsters capable of turning all they interact with into monsters. Of the races of mankind, those infected yet saved by the Light of Cardinal are known as Sa·B·ers and are tasked with protecting the world from the Foreigner threat. But since the appearance of the sky covering tree of light, the Lucifalz, that disrupted the perception of time, mankind has grown distrustful of the Light and the fall of the Cardinal Church has given rise to an age of adventure born from chaos.

Deep Root Colony
Early Autumn ~ Night
Clear and breezy
A once flourishing abyss
Walls lined with the remnants of a city lost
A factory from an ancient time long forgotten
Anachronistic technology well beyond the current age
A civilization returned to nature, visited by Darkness  

Of the races of mankind, three primary divisions exist. There are the second, the icarans, so named for the belief that they were born of Icarus after the first great war with the Poltergeists. They are perceived as the generic and weakest of humans for all that they lack. Compared to the most plentiful third, the chimeric, they lack any animal features or are best described as naked primates of frail build. The chimeric races, however, are most frequently races that mix the traits of icarans with animals with only rare races being little more than humanoid animals. The first race of mankind, the nāti, however is the most unique. Compared to them, icarans lack the wiry fur that protects their bodies from all weather and environments. They lack the long, pointed, heaven seeking ears and the shielded eyes that serve them in all conditions. They lack the lip and mouth shielding beak and the split prehensile feet. Icarans are naked and physically inferior to the first race of mankind, even as their traits are shared with the chimeric races. But for all the inferiority of the icarans to the nāti, it was a suit of autonomous mechanized armor in the shape of an icaran that brought terror to a group of nāti pilgrims in service to the nature goddess Atheaeldre.

Fleeing down an old mechanized hallway long since overgrown to the point of not being recognizable as manmade at a glance, one particular nāti man garbed in green robes and icaran boots scrambled for his life. Behind him stood a shadow of a man, his body a suit of mechanized icaran armor. From behind the darkness of his helmet the shadow watched the icaran run. Stepping deliberately in pursuit the shadow revealed a sword that had been hidden behind the tattered high collar cape and poncho draped about its form. Glistening in the moonlight that filtered in the bright red blood that coated the blade spoke silently of the terror brought by the shadow.

“Run little one. Run. Slaughtering the defenseless is little sport.”

Mockingly, the shadow commanded his prey to flee from him with the voice of a young, smmoth, icaran man. Stepping before a destroyed segment of wall that joined the hall with the abyss beyond, the shadow was given reason to stop as a screeching voice echoed powerfully off of the walls and all throughout the city forgotten to time.

“STOP RIGHT THERE YOU IDIOTIC TERROR‼ I’VE NO IDEA WHAT IDIOCY GAVE BIRTH TO AN AMBROSIAL HORROR SUCH AS YOU, BUT KNOW YOU ONLY FRIGHTEN ME ENOUGH TO VANQUISH YOU‼”

The claim should have been hollow and amusing at best, but the volume was impossibly loud. It not only echoed off the walls of the abyss, but shook loose ages of dust and dirt, and reverberated to very crippling degrees. The shadow fell to his knees and clutched at his head, bewildered by the powerful acoustic attack.

“What manner of sorcery or technology is this?”

The shadow could barely hear his own voice over the still environment damaging echoes of the voice. Determining that it must have called out from somewhere beyond the corridor he occupied, he looked out through the opening in search of the source of his suffering. There was nothing his eyes could find, but his senses told him something that left him snickering.

“I see. You wear the traces of one possessed of the old Light. You must be quite special to someone I seek to kill.”

Returning to his feet as the echo at last began to fade, the shadow cut away the plants that were beginning to coil around his feet.

“That being so, I must aim to frighten you more and more. Enough so that you call out in search of help to the one possessed of Her Light. It will be a pleasure to again hunt a true Child of Her Light and not just the Light Touched. Hehehehehe…”

Continuing to snicker sinisterly to himself, the Shadow cared little for the bolt of lightning that arced out of the starry night sky and struck him blind. He had little reason to care, for even as the bolt of lightning left the ground glowing from the impact, he remained unharmed, beginning the deepening of the fear he aimed to instill in his prey.

Athera Mountains
Early Autumn ~ Late Morning
Scattered thunderstorms and cool
Magestic and towering
Tree lined roadways following spring rivers
Ruins long ago picked clean, monsters dwelling within
Home to shadow and light both
A fledgling adventurer’s first steps  

For as hostile as the Athera Mountain range was, the mountain range was also a dividing line of the continent of Athecia. From the highest towers of the abandoned castles from ages unknown one could see down to the sea to the south and well beyond the eastern and northern valleys. Having managed to reach the top of one such tower, a maid named for the suit of chainmail that might have well been her skin from her jawline down and all she wore looked out. Standing atop the tower, the Chainmaid’s long brown hair, along with a sheer black cape that grew from her shoulder blades, was blown about obscuring its typically wild state as she stared out with wonder at the world that awaited her with massive sea gem green eyes. The sword she carried by a strap in her right hand over the accompanying shoulder marked her as a warrior despite her light and fair skin and childish face that was nigh too young even for her fifteen springs of age.

“The view is amazing and fills us with such desire to see all below it, that it leaves us unsure of where to go.”

Swimming in the air next to the Chainmaid’s, Chain’s, head, was a sea gem green tailed mermaid double of herself only about twice the length of a human finger. The mermaid, Drop, who was at once both an elemental water spirit born from the realm of Ambrosia and also Chain was overwhelmed by the emotions she shared with her larger counterpart and wore an expression caught between wonder and frustration.

“Heh, heh. It is kind of overwhelming isn’t it?”

Chain smiled as she couldn’t make up her mind either. There was one truth about her eventual descent, however.

“Well, wherever we go we should choose a town that looks like it sees a lot of travelers. We should be able to find an adventurer’s guild outpost there and finally become official adventurers. Wandering this mountain range and all of the old ruins is fun, but they’re all picked clean so it’s only new to me.”

“Well, there did used to be bandits in these mountains so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.”

“No, but I’d rather have surprises I like.”

“Is something wrong? Oh!”

Curious as to the souring of Chain’s mood, Drop followed her gaze to a sight that was at once both unusual yet also frustrating. Further up the mountain roads to the west was a tower that seemed to mix an orphanage, a tiered public garden, and a cathedral. Despite being one building it was effectively a tiny village and large enough to easily house a hundred people and a plethora of jobs for them. What made the building particularly unusual however was that it sat on a great metal bowl that was supported by a series of continuous track treads. It was obviously an amazing piece of engineering, but also demanding high maintenance as the pipes that both feed the machinery within and allowed its exhaust to escape were intricately intertwined with the ivy covered building it supported.

“It would seem that they are still following us.”

“I wish they’d give up already.”

Pouting angrily, Chain dislodged herself from the top of the tower and swung herself back inside. Drop swam after her and kept pace easily enough that she did not have to strain to keep up with what Chain was saying.

“We better get out of here in a hurry if we don’t want to have to deal with them. I saw a dried-up stream bed earlier as well so if we follow that out the trees should provide us cover from above and the cliffs will keep that thing from being able to do anything either.”

There were no reason that Drop could think of to argue against Chain’s plan and the two of them set about retracing their steps. It was not an easy task to accomplish as monsters that had taken up residence in the ancient castle pestered them and harassed their every step. Chain did not mind too much as it provided her ample sword practice even as it increased the chances of allowing her pursuers to catch up with her. As she and Drop reached a massive courtyard or land bridge that connected the different main buildings of the castle, it seemed she had underestimated how much time she had. There were no signs of life out in the courtyard and even the monsters that had been harassing her did not follow her out into the open air. Just to be sure she was not mistaking something else for her pursuers, she carefully scanned the sky before extracting her scabbard from her cape that had earlier consumed it. Sheathing her sword and slinging it over her shoulder she dismissed her cape with a thought, and it disappeared like a blown-out flame. As relaxed as she could be now, Chain rested the back of her left hand on her hip and called out across the courtyard.

“Alright, you can come out now so I can tell you to leave me alone and stop following me.”

At first there was no response, but then two icaran men stepped out of the ruins across the courtyard. They were ornately dressed under great coats that matched the color of the other’s hair and their own eyes, and were armed with a flintlock rifle butt saber for the silver haired man with the long twisting lock beside his left eye and a giant boomerang like blade for the curly tipped red head. Chain was not sure who they were but stepped back defensively as the red head, and seemingly younger of the two light skinned men spoke.

“I do believe that you have mistaken us for someone else. Wouldn’t you agree brother.”

“I would Lute. It seems she has mistaken us for a tiresome pest.”

“Heh, heh. Sorry about that. It’s just I spotted their mobile fortress some ways back up the road and thought maybe you were my persistent pursuers.”

Chain smiled brightly and sheepishly at her apparent mistake. She lost her own smile though as the two men donned amused smiles.

“Oh dear brother, it seems she is prone to making numerous mistakes.”

“Come Lute, we already knew that.”

“What exactly are you two talking about?”

The two men were giving Chain a really bad feeling, but she almost couldn’t help herself as she questioned the meaning of their conversation. Her curiosity was getting the better of her even as her instincts told her she should run. Unfortunately for her, the yet named silver haired man was glad to answer her question.

“What my dear younger brother was referring to if you must know, is that while you mistook us for a group of pursuers that you are seemingly quite familiar with, you were not wrong about us. You see, we may not be the pursuers that you were expecting, but we are pursuing you, Chainmaid.”
.


Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tawater

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