[left [pic http://i.imgur.com/IYv2X0N.jpg?1]] Khal is a place balanced between the natural and spiritual planes and there is a constant struggle to maintain that balance. The keepers of this balance are Dreamers from another world who's thoughts resonate with the portal to Khal. These dreams guide them to find the portal when they are awake.
The Dreamers are powerful beings that always appear when Khal is in crisis. They can manipulate space, transform, and even conjure things out of thin air.
The Dreamers have always stopped one power from becoming too great and swallowing the other. But the return trip back to Earth has never been guaranteed. Not all survive the battles they fight. Not all find themselves dreaming after.
[left [pic http://i.imgur.com/Vs8ZTH0.jpg?1]] The Khalian are of the natural world and share the same physical features and attributes as humans. (below)
The Khalori are of the spiritual world and consist of benevolent and malevolent creatures. (above)
This is the year of the Solar Eclipses. Khal's 14 moons will each pass in front of the sun every month, starting from the smallest, Jol, and ending with the largest, Fol. Fol will completely block out the sun for the last month of the year and the Khalori will take full advantage of this.
They are building an army under the banner of The Dark King, a demon of cold fire. But he is not alone. A Dreamer from the past has joined his cause and has gained immense power.
You will send me your character's skelly in a message as well as a sample post. If I approve your character, your first post will be your character in their worst nightmare. They will overcome their nightmare in any way you see fit, but don't make it too easy. After you post your nightmare, I will discuss with you through PM your character's abilities .
[b Addendum]: Your dreamer character does not have to be from Earth, but I'd like them to be humanoid.
1. [http://rp.eliteskills.com/vc.php?c=347668 Yui Azii] by Darien
2. [http://rp.eliteskills.com/vc.php?c=395199 Justin Matthews] by Urizen
3. [http://rp.eliteskills.com/vc.php?c=395289 Asma Hakim] by Tesla]
Please do your best with grammar and spelling I now use Grammarly. It's a godsend.
If after [b three weeks] of no reply, I will be forced to kill off your character in the most embarrassing manner possible.
In the subject line of the PM put dreamers don’t sleep.
127 but looks 30.
Iolani is one of the most kind and just rulers in the history of Khalian, but she is not without secrets or dark desires. She has mostly kept them in check but the up and coming invasion of Khalori has put her on edge. Iolani is the queen of Khalian in all but name due to the last will and testament of her father that she be married before given the title. It's a fact that deeply irks her but tries not to show.
Aleka is the younger brother of Iolani. He is a fun-loving puppy-like character who is adored by everyone he meets. He is usually light hearted, but recent events have forced him to set aside childishness in order to prepare for the battle to come. However, he does try and lighten up the mood whenever he can, pulling small pranks and make jokes when appropriate.
You don't have permission to post in this thread.
The flinch was all the answer Asma needed to her question. If not for the signal having cut out she would worry about the fact that an enemy seemed to follow her into this strange new world. Now instead she could just be anxious about an even more unknown threat that could be lurking for her out in this place called Khal.
When Iolani gathered her skirts to approach them it was the act that finally let Asma relax in her presence. The act was simply charming, and it led to Asma slowly dropping her arms back to her sides. Plus if they had wanted to attack her they almost certainly would have done so earlier.
Asma considered a response but the sight of the young birdlike humanoid losing feathers in surprise at Iolani's approach she held her tongue. She was not sure that she would be able to keep the laughter in if she opened her mouth, and she thought it best to remain silent. Especially now that things were finally comfortable. It made her especially thankful for the full face covering that her suit provided for her.
She remained thankful for it as the birdlike humanoid turned down an invite to help show them around, as even with her experience the surprise might have been visible on her face. That or the anticipation of finding out more about the primitive place she found herself in. Either way, the security of a guaranteed poker face was worth some of the strange looks she had gotten so far.
Asma just nodded along as Iolani explained that she was going to go put on some shoes before giving them a tour. The simple fact that the woman was so set on meeting them that she had foregone shoes in the first place helped Asma to relax even more, as it was something that she had done herself on at least one occasion. This warm welcome from Khal helped her feel comfortable even as she was left alone with the strange humanoid dreamer. That is until he asked a very loaded question.
[b “Potential enemy. I won't claim to know every one of the creatures, and so it could very well be that if this one was summoned for a reason that they could live up to that expectation,”] Asma reiterated. [b “The reason I know of them and their location is because they sent up something like a signal flare that my senses could pick up on. A signal flare that is used to call in military support, which is why I wanted to give a fair warning about them.”]
This one seemed less primitive by the way that he was eyeing her suit. It made her wonder if she should give a better explanation of the signal that her suit was capable of picking up, but if he were to then spread that information it could lead to difficulty explaining all of her technology. So she decided to continue with the not wholly untrue statements and let him be the one to press if he chose to do so. Which based on his sudden wandering of the throne room she doubted he would.
The strange man even went so far as to go to venture out of the throne room but was stopped in his tracks by a wounded man and what looked to be a member of the military.
[b “Are you in need of assistance?”] Asma asked as soon as she caught sight of the wounded man.
Afraid, defensive and biased. It would seem Asma had plenty of experience in discrimination, a trait so human, Justin wondered whether the suited lady was one herself. Was the ruler of Kahl also a human? Now why would he go and dream that? In a world where harpies were a thing, large castles could exist near towering waterfalls, where a dozen moons kept the tides in check, why would he go and imagine humans? Wouldn't it be more fun to dream up dragons and more exotic creatures?
Perhaps that would come.
Military. Justin's eyes alone betrayed his sorrow at hearing that word. Weapons and violence. Was that why they had been summoned to a place as precious as this? Dreamers without a dream. Evil without a cause. Weapons of mass-destruction threatening the world of Kahl. Justin wasn't sure whether this wondrous dream was a nightmare yet.
At the ruler's approach Justin stood a little straighter, fingers slowly letting the downy feather of the harpy slide free into its natural position. He had not minded the harpy's greeting; it at least was unmarred with false emotion, fear and thoughts of violence. Justin felt his current form suited him more than his human self. He felt ashamed for his heritage.
Impressionable as the young creatures was, she jumped in surprise, the displayed earnest hesitation at a respectable offer before declining it out of obedience to what Justin surmised would be the young harpy's flock. He smiled at the youngster reassuringly.
Curious as he was to these other races, he would not keep her there. In a world throbbing with life, one such creature was but one in a million. Attachments could just as easily grow into burdens.
Shoes, hmm? Justin found a smile playing across his lips at the sight of the ruler's bare feet. He himself wasn't as bothered with the ruler's state of undress, but he could appreciate it wasn't exactly how a woman of her stature ought to present herself. Politics were precarious fights after all.
Once she left the throne-room, and the feathers of the youngling twirled from the heavens to which the young harpy had departed in a strong gust of wind whipped up by her wings, Justin looked at the woman called Asma.
"How is it you know of this enemy dreamer?" he asked calmly, tone even and neutral.
Justin cocked his head. The suit she wore looked futuristic to him and not just compared to the palace they were stood in. His keen golden eyes could see there were layers in the suit, fine and intricate metal decorations that might not be that decorative at all.
She had seemed preoccupied during the conversation. Asma had hesitated before reporting the creature's 'sign' was now faded. Sign? Signal?
Justin smiled at Asma, though kept his distance. Perhaps he too would be regarded as a dreamer that was deemed 'unfit' to be chosen. There had been a great deal of negativity in her phrasing as well. Justin wasn't about to become the next victim of fear and superstition.
"...or his location?" Justin added complacently, distracted by the intricate way the throne room was constructed. He stepped across the marble floor, closer to the door. Would any care whether they left and explored a little further? The armour-clad guards had been dismissed, but how far? There would be no telling. Justin carefully pushed open the doors and found himself staring into the face of a young, wounded man, with what appeared to be a soldier at his side.
"The night is certainly very lively," Justin breathed with a smirk.
When Yui finally started to come awake, it was to her body being dragged across the forest floor. Slowly she opened her eyes to a blur of shadows and light. Slowly the canopy of the forest began to come into view. Overhead the dark trees showed a dark cloudy sky heavy with the threat of persistent rain. Slowly she looked around and felt a pressure of pain in her shoulder where the steel bar had pierced her. Glancing back she saw she was being dragged by the back of her flight jacket. Trailing behind her and her captor was their accomplice. This was not the figures from last night at the Kassak crash site. These two were tall, lanky and dressed in black ragged robes with hoods drawn up to hide their faces. The one following behind looked down and realized Yui had begun to come awake. She saw it carried her bags while the other dragged her. She couldn’t make out its face or find its eyes, and Yui knew she was in a bad situation. She’d been found by Natives and there was no telling what these Natives would be like.
The one she could see suddenly began to talk, and pointed towards Yui. She frowned as the one dragging her stopped and dropped her. They both came into view and Yui blinked through her hunger, exhaustion, and wounds. She couldn’t understand a thing they said, it sounded more like whispers and hissing.
“Where am I? Who are you?” Yui managed to ask as she attempted to sit up. They only responded by hissing at her and stalking closer. Yui watched as one of them picked up her plasma rifle and raise it. She knew exactly what its intentions were, when she saw the butt of the rifle come swinging at her face. She reacted just quick enough to grab the rifle and hold it. They hissed in irritation to see her fight back. She wondered if they’d ever seen weaponry like what she carried. She struggled with the Native over her gun, and managed to flick her finger over the plasma settings and lowered it enough to give the creature a flesh wound and fired it. Thankfully she didn’t strike the native but it was enough to make them recoil and drop her things. Once they realized they were unharmed they began to inch closer, and Yui had to force herself to her feet. “I’m sorry I had to scare you, I mean you no harm,” She attempted, but they suddenly drew something like swords and Yui blanched. She hadn’t been expecting that. If she could just grab her phaser pistol she could stun them, but they were in her bags that had been dropped, and they were just far enough away from her she didn’t think she could reach them in time.
Her mind raced to formulate a plan, she looked up and around to gage her surroundings. She had no idea where she was, and those [i things] had her research. She cared more about her research than her own life, and while Yui was exceptionally intelligent; her obsession with her research could make her do stupid things. She did not want to kill these native creatures, but with swords drawn they weren’t giving her much choice, so she was going to have to find a way to stun them. The longer she stood trying to figure out a plan, the closer the two creatures moved towards her, the less time Yui knew she had. She couldn’t make contact with them, and her UT couldn’t make heads or tales of their language. They wanted to block her way, and in turn blocked her from her bag and research. Yui knew she was in a bad way and would only be able to run so far, but run where? where was she? Where was her ship? She wasn’t about to submit either or face their wrath, possibly become food? She wasn’t sure and she didn’t like that. She grit her teeth, knowing that this was about to hurt, but it was the only course of action she saw.
Yui waited until they were right on top of her, and one of the creatures raised its sword to strike her down. They must have thought she was already dead and wanted her that way. Too bad. She raised up her rifle and used it as a block against the first and swung it around to knock the second back. Back and forth she went with them, and they were stronger than she was anticipating. She knew she was losing strength and time, if she didn’t get her pistol soon they would overcome her. Her sluggish movement from her wounds, and lack of food and blood were getting the better of her and finally she was struck back by one of the creatures. It backhanded her with a force so strong, Yui was seeing stars, but she landed right ontop of her bag. She shook her head and reached into the back quickly, and rolled out of the way before she was picked up by one of the creatures. This time she had her pistol in her hand and before the creatures could utter a word, Yui shot them both. One after the other they seized and crumpled to the forest floor. Yui fell as well, and attempted to catch her breath. “Sorry,” She murmured. “You’ll wake up soon,” She told them, even though both creatures were not unconscious. She turned collecting her bag of gear and research, put her weapons back on and raised her wrist to check her coordinates. She frowned, she had no idea where she was and neither did her GPS. Now she felt like a fool for having shut down her ship -she had no way to track it and find her way back. Yui wasn’t deterred though, she knew where she didn’t want to go, and that was in the direction the creatures had been dragging her, so she turned and started back the way they had come.
Yui trekked for hours, eventually grabbing a lean stick to help her walk. It wasn’t until just after midday she found herself reentering the Kassak crash site. She had smelt the scent of burning fuel just gone out and followed it. Oh good, finally something familiar. She could track her way back to her ship from here, and track she did. She hobbled back to her ship, and it took her another good two hours to do so as she was moving much slower than she had been the night before. So when she saw her beaten up ship just before sunset, it was clear the landscape had changed from the mountains back to the swamp she was greeted with upon arrival. She dragged her feet through the muck back to her ship and pried the doors open. The moment she made it into her damaged ship she collapsed and struggled to catch her breath. Feeling slightly safer she tore into her bag and removed a nutrition bar from its sealed wrapper and began to munch down on it. She looked around at the primitive landscape and frowned… it was going to be Hell getting off this planet, because there was no way she was going to let herself die here.
By nightfall, Yui had managed to start a fire just outside her ship, and had cleaned out a lot of the fallen debris to see what she could salvage and repair and what she couldn’t. The threat of the Kassak was no longer imminent and she could return her focus to her ship and her survival. She kept her fire low though as to avoid those creatures again, she kept it up long enough to boil some water, and heat up some meat from an animal she’d found scampering through the swamp. Then she put it out and fortified herself back inside her ship, where she spent her time rebuilding with what little supplies she had, her own distress beacon, and for a power source she tore apart her plasma rifle and took the ammo to creature a sort of battery that would run her beacon… for a little while at least. Her ship was most certainly beyond repair, but it had a bed, doors that locked, and provided shelter for the time being. At least for now she was safe, but once the sun finally went down and it was dark once more, Yui closed the blast doors of her ship, locking them manually and waited out the night by trying to repair her work station in-between short pockets of sleep… until a noise outside would shock her back awake. Eventually she did fall asleep entirely, curled up on the floor of her ship surrounded by cut wires, computer chips, and the gentle glow of the plasma battery she’d mad for her distress beacon. She wondered if anyone out there would find it…
[center [h3 [b Aleka]]]
Aleka ducked behind a tapestry just as his wet nurse and his nurse-nurse came barreling into the hall. He held his breath but the light pressure in his chest was too much for his bruised ribs. Aleka let it out as quietly as possible. Thankfully, the loud slapping of the women’s shoes against the stone floor swallowed the sound.
This was ridiculous. It was like he was ten years old again, hiding from his wet nurse, his tutor or his sister. He was a grown ass man—the Prince of Khalian for Khal’s sake. But even as he berated himself for hiding, he stayed behind the tapestry until he could no longer hear the women in the hall.
Quickly, he took a peak. The hall was empty. The prince limped out from behind the tapestry and continued his way to the throne room. No doubt, Iolani was already there, greeting the Dreamers without him. When he felt the first pulse, it woke him from his sleep. Then the second pulse came and the third. The entire infirmary was shaking with it. He debated waiting. Waiting to see if Iolani would come get him or send for him. But, again, he reasoned that he was the Khal-damn crowned Prince and didn’t need his sister’s permission, summons or blessing.
It had been a couple of weeks since the attack and while he was recovering quickly due to the best medical technology available in all of Khal, his neck throbbed, it hurt to breathe too deeply, and his left hip ached something fierce.
Aleka counted his steps through gritted teeth to keep his mind off the growing pain. He was so preoccupied, he didn’t notice when General Mason entered the corridor.
“You know,” the General spoke, causing the Prince to start. The sudden jolt of his muscles fired immediate protest from his already sore limbs. He glared at the man who ignored the look. “you prolong your recovery by ignoring the professional opinion of your doctors.”
Aleka rolled his eyes. “Are you here to escort me back to my bed?”
“Then shut up and help me get to the throne room.”
It was Mason’s turn to roll his eyes, but he came to the slimmer man’s side to offer support. Together they made their way to the large double doors at the end of the hall.
[center [h3 [b Iolani]]]
"Justin. My, name.”
Iolani smiled and nodded.
At Asma's question, the ruler of Khalian couldn't help but flinch. Khalian's checkered past was not one she was proud of. Even though the fate of their world is to always fall into turmoil, the fact that since her family came into power, they have been the cause of seven out of the last ten imbalances.
“Evil? No. Allies to Khalian? It depends.” Iolani sighed. She gathered her skirts and approached her guests, her saviors. “Either way, En-ae-tee, can handle it.”
She stopped just next to the young harpy who was curiously sniffing at Justin clothing. When she noticed that Iolani stood next to her, she jumped in surprise, loosing feathers in the process. So close, Iolani could tell that the harpy was smaller than most her age. It explained the skittishness. Harpies valued strength and anything considered weak was usually dealt with by the First Hunt. However…
“Would you like to help me show our guests around, young one?”
The harpy’s eyes brightened, but she hesitated. She looked up at the open skylight she came through. “I really should be getting back.”
Iolani just nodded understanding.
“Asma, Justin, I’d be honored if you’d let me give you a tour of the Castle Eden. However, your arrival caught me a little off guard.” She lifted up her skirts a little more to reveal her bare feet. “It will just take a moment for me to grab my shoes.”
She then turned and made her way to the back of the throne room, through the doors she entered, one of her personal guards following her.
[center [h3 [b Nat]]]
Nat flew as if she were trying to beat the sun to the horizon. She was losing. The last light of the day finally slipped below the curve of the world. Although she had decent night vision, she could no longer see the trailing smoke coming from where the Dreamer crashed. Luckily, the night sky was clear, and the moons were bright enough for the Harpy Queen to still make out the remnants of smoke tails that came from the falling ship. Nat noticed, as she kept studying, that there were multiple smoke tails that smeared across the sky. One veered off toward the southern swamps, two smoke tails danced intertwined as they continued toward the forests near the southern Gorgan Mountain pass.
She didn’t know what to make of it. Did three Dreamers enter through the sky? Why did they come through the sky and not the portal in the throne room? What did this all mean?
Nat made a quick decision. She would continue toward the forest and search for the two Dreamers there. If...when she found them, she will order Van to guide them back to Eden while she went after the wayward crash to the south.
They had to move faster. She had to move faster.
Then an explosion erupted just beyond the Khalior side of the mountain range. Panic rose up in Nat’s throat. She and Van were still too far away.
“Mala, be the strength in my wings.” she prayed and flew harder.
Asma noticed that the leader seemed to pause before giving a response, but they were interrupted by the sudden appearance of a birdlike humanoid. One that seemed quite young given they seemed to have yet to get a grasp on the act of flight as they unsteadily landed between her and the leader. Although they were polite enough to give a formal greeting after their clumsy interruption. Throughout this, Asma made certain that her hands remained up in a peaceful stance to avoid any misinterpretations of her presence.
[i “Gracious Iolani, I have come with a message from Queen En-ae-tee.”]
Iolani. A word that would have to be recorded as by context it was either the name or title of the leader that stood before her. While she was not involved in the conversation she made sure to pay attention to it for any other details that might be of importance. Although her senses were more focused on the birdlike humanoid as she had not seen a creature quite like it back home. Something that she seemed to have in common with the monstrous humanoid as he stared at the other.
She flinched as the man suddenly moved, just enough that someone with keen senses could tell. The involuntary movement caused her a bit of shame as she realized she reacted with fear to a man that had not done anything to warrant it so far, but she justified it some by accepting the fact that she was alone in a strange place. Being afraid was perfectly reasonable especially as she was not a soldier.
When the leader turned her attention back to them Asma made sure to perk her head up to signify she was paying attention. She was aware that her eyes could not be followed, but she had practiced her body language for creatures that were picky about things like that. Just a little something of value from her time as an ambassador for her people.
[i “There is much to discuss and explain and the hour is late. Unfortunately, I am very unprepared to tell you everything right now, but I can tell you two things: one, you are not the first to arrive in Khal. There has been a multitude of generations that have come through the Dreamer’s portal before you. Two, you are not here by accident, you were chosen. Not by me or anyone in particular, but by the portal itself,”] She then gestured to the marked circle embedded in the floor. Paused, and then added, [i “Well, I’ll let you know a third thing. My name is Iolani and I rule this realm of Khalian.”]
It caused Asma to double-check her memories just to be certain that there was no record of this place in the database that made up her mind. If a member of her species had been here before there would be records of it given their love of research, and given the type of report it would be she could be certain that it would have crossed her desk even if only out of personal curiosity. The lack of information made her confident that while there may have been other members of the alliance through here before, that she was the first Homo Evolutis to make it here. A fact as thrilling as it was terrifying.
[i "Justin, my name."]
Not in response to her former introduction nor to the introduction of the ruler of the realm, but to a messenger so that he could continue to fondle feathers. Too similar to some of the members of her species, although they would not have apologized for introducing themselves in such a way. Especially not to individuals from primitive societies like the other humanoids in the room.
[i “Asma, you said? Is the creature you spoke of to the south west of here?”]
Asma raised a finger on her right hand as she went to respond, but stopped herself as the signal suddenly cut out. Her eyes widened as she racked her brain for an explanation.
A. The ship was damaged enough that the distress beacon could not maintain the signal. Slim odds of survival for the Kassak, and thus the best possible result. B. They have successfully been recovered already. Odds are poor given no sight or sound of any further ships, although still the worst possible result. C. Kassak was wounded and overtaken by local fauna. Decent odds for a decent result. D. Someone else has the ability to track the distress beacon, possibly one of the former 'Dreamers' Iolani mentioned. Odds are solid, but the result could be good or bad depending on the individual or individuals involved.
It only took her a couple of seconds to go over the possibilities before she responded to the initial question. [b “That is where I felt their sign coming from, but it seems to have faded now,”] Asma replied with a sort of half-shrug given her hands were already up.
It was then that Justin made another addition to the conversation one that she could understand since it came from someone who had never interacted with a Kassak. She had seen the alliance attempt to negotiate and had even offered her own services to the process before. There was no headway to be made dealing with the imperialistic slavers.
[b “I won't claim to know every one of the creatures, and so it could very well be that if this one was summoned for a reason that they could live up to that expectation. However, based on why I could sense them I do not believe that to be the case,”] Asma replied as she pondered what to do about the sudden change in circumstance. [b “They were attempting to call in their military for rescue, and given their imperialist bent they would have almost certainly attempted to enslave everyone on this planet.”]
She then focused on whether or not to see if there was another person who could pick up the distress beacons by activating her own. Given how they reacted to an armored 'Dreamer' odds were good that the castle was secure. Especially when you consider the number of soldiers that she had seen so far in the throne room alone. Ultimately she decided against it though to avoid the possibility of an undesirable result, as she could not guarantee the safety of the innocents in the room let alone herself against an armed soldier from her world. Just the thought of a fight like that made her shift uncomfortably. Something that became more noticeable as she pondered the possibilities.
[b “You say that we are Dreamers and that we are not the first of our kind here,”] Asma said as she focused on Iolani. [b “The ones that came before us, were there any that were, for lack of a better word, evil?”]
Like little tin soldiers, the soldiers heeded the woman's call -a mere wave dismissed them whence they came and Justin minded very carefully through which exits they ventured. Much like the tin soldiers, the space-suit wrapped female backed up. Justin gave her a slightly confused smile at realizing she might actually feel safer backing up from him than staying near. For someone who would rescue flies by cracking open windows, the experience was fairly novel indeed.
An enemy? Of course a person who would be afraid would have enemies. That explained her behaviour. As someone never at threat from anything but stray socks getting lost in the washing machine, Justin just got served a whole other perspective on life. He was okay with the space-suit lady -Asma apparently- being a tad afraid. Fright could at least be mended.
How ironic she introduced herself as something not to be afraid of. Did she perpetually live a life in fear?
For some reason, that was a sad thought to have.
And then their conversation went from formal to full-blown interrupted. Justin would call the creature a harpy, but he wasn't sure that was the proper term to go about in a fantasy dream. Perhaps they had another curious name to go by, though creativity in that aspect was not his strong-suit. Either way the harpy was stunning; feathers, large as his arm and larger still, talons that could rip any small and medium animal to shreds with ease, eyes that were coloured in a bright hue. Justin couldn't help but stare and smile.
She too was nervous.
Was he something to fear?
Or perhaps it was being in the presence of a Queen that pushed this harpy into unease instead. A dreamer breaching the sky?
Was this the scaled creature Asma mentioned?
Justin took an apprehensive step forward, away from the portal that had chosen for them to be in Khalian, to investigate the winged messenger a little more closely. Those feathers looked so soft, they looked so detailed, rich in colour and texture. Her scent -all scents- were novel and almost overwhelming, though the sensory stimulation was riveting. Like a blind man seeing colour for the first time, all Justin wanted to do was run around and explore everything, now please and thank you.
Iolani, the Queen, spoke up to distract him from giving in to that desire.
Justin listened with half an ear, undeterred from his wish to at least test if he was actually seeing this, taking another step forward. The harpy's unease grew to pretty uneasy, though curious too, and she tried to scramble back a little, unsure. Yet he must have been as new to him as he was to her, because the apprehension was soon overtaken by curiosity.
It appeared the scaled creature -perhaps a dreamer, chosen like they were- was a threat far worse than he could ever pose, and held priority. That was fine with Justin. He tentatively reached out and stroked one of the feathers nearly dangling all the way to the floor. The harpy withdrew at that a little, but her eyes were wide with curiosity, talons reaching out for his white hair.
"Justin, my name," he introduced himself to the young harpy.
Her eyes shifted from him to Iolani and Justin realized that perhaps he should've introduced himself to the Queen before a mere messenger.
"I am sorry," Justin started with a smile, calm above all else.
"Why, if the portal chooses, would this creature be a threat? Would he not be a dreamer too?" he pondered out loud, standing his height and looking at the Queen with the same open gaze he had regarded the harpy with. The details he could see were stunning. How was it he could even see the way her gown was woven?
Gods be damned, but her shoulder was killing her. She was feeling lightheaded and nauseas. Definitely concussive. At least for now she’d slowed the blood loss. On her back she carried her bag filled with supplies and ammo, on each thigh sat a phaser pistol, and in her hands she carried her plasma rifle. She wasn’t far from the Kassak distress beacon, and with the sun beginning to set, Yui knew she didn’t have much time. She had to overtake it or risk wandering in the dark uncomfortably close to an enemy camp. The Kassak would have the advantage with its night vision capabilities. If she didn’t find it soon, she could easily end up as Kassak chow.
Yui found a good brush to hide in and checked her wrist com for the beacons signal once more, and realized she was practically ontop of it. That was when she could smell fire and smoke. She surveyed her area as dusk began to settle in and the red glow the sun cast earlier began to die off. Feeling on the verge of collapse, Yui reached into the side pocket of her bag and removed a long syringe. It will filled with pure Adrenaline -the only thing keeping her up at this point, it was her second the last one. She steadied her breathing, opening the front of her flight jacket and shirt, and pierced the needle right into her chest. She bit down on her tongue in pain and the burning sensation that followed as she injected herself. In her mouth she tasted blood, but if she could protect this planet from being discovered it would be worth it. It was do or die time. She released the safety of her rifle and slowly approached. The goal was to disengage the distress beacon to protect the planet. Hopefully she wasn’t too late.
Her boots were silent on the forest floor, and the closer she got the more she could see the light of the Kassak’s fire, and then she heard him speak. It was a series of clicks, chirps and hissing. The camp came into view and Yui saw the downed ship was in shambles, just as busted as hers. They were both injured which was obvious by the way the Kassak was laid out on a knapsack, its grasshopper-like leg wrapped, but looking limp. He lay by the fire attempting to reach out to his people. Yui could tell it was a male Kassak, by the wide set nose and jaw and dark spattering of scales. Yui almost felt guilty for attacking the wounded Kassak, but they attacked first without provocation -they always did. Yui took around step around the camp finding a good place to sneak in and attack, but as she did so her foot settled on a twig, snapping it and alerting the Kassak to her presence.
Sure enough the Kassak raised his own phaser pistol and loaded it, ready to fire. Yui decided she couldn’t play the cat and mouse anymore, and stood up to her full height. The Kassak seeing her was stunned for a brief moment.
“Oukan Female, lower your weapon!” The Kassak warned. Yui smirked, a warning? That was atypical for a Kassak.
“Lower yours. You’re wounded, and I’ve got the bigger gun-“
“You’re wounded too!” He hissed. Yui deciding not to frax around, went ahead and made her warning shot the one she used to destroy his beacon. It sparked with a small explosion, and began to smoke. Rendered useless. The Kassak hissed and growled angrily.
“Not as wounded as you. I can run,” She stated plainly, and walked into the camp. The Kassak fired at her feet stopping her. She grit her teeth. “Drop it!” She snapped. ‘Or I will shoot you!” She warned. Surprisingly the Kassak, hissed and dropped his weapon. Raising his hands he watched with large almond black eyes as she began to approach and kicked his pistol away.
“How are you still alive?” The Kassak demanded. Yui glared keeping her rifle trained on the Kassak.
“How are you?” Yui challenged back. If she wasn’t mistaken, she could have sworn the Kassak just smirked. He wasn’t answering though and laid back on his mat. He did not perceive Yui as a threat. She glared and finally lowered her own rifle just a touch. She should kill him, he’d kill her if the situation was reversed, but Yui saw an opportunity to try and finally bridge the gap between their species.
“What were you doing scouting in the Earth Star System?” The outer systems are protected under Alliance Protocols-“ The Kassak spit at her feet when she mentioned the Alliance.
“Frax you and your Alliance. The Outer Systems are free for conquest. We found a civilization in that Star System. You’ve been hiding over 4 billion sentient lifeforms… 4 billion new slaves…” the Kassak sneered. Yui glared. He was speaking about Terrans. They had no means of defending themselves or their planet against the Kassaks. Too primitive, and had just begun to reach out into their own solar system. “Once I send word to my Commande-“ He was silenced by Yui’s plasma shot. He blinked in shock at the large gaping hole in his chest before falling back into his cot with a thud.
“You’re not telling anyone anything,” She growled under her breath. Well, she was going to let him live -but not with that attitude.
His ship was in a worse state than hers was. She couldn’t let it be discovered though, so she dragged the Kassak back into his ruined ship and rummaged through parts. By the time she had finished collecting the dead Kassak and his things back into the ship, it was dark out. There was enough power in the ship to light a small space that Yui used to build a quick IED. She had to destroy the Kassak and his ship so it could not be identified or speculated. She’d have to go back and do the same to hers soon too if she couldn’t repair it. She hadn’t been able to save anything from the Kassak ship to help repair her own and as she walked out of the ship, she grabbed her gear and dragged it far away from the ship. She turned around at the edge of the camp and turned her wrist. Pressing the face of her com, the display came up and she tapped at a relay signal on the holodisplay. No sooner had she done that did the ship explode into a scattering of warped metal. Since it was already partially buried from impact, the flames that burned up from it were no threat to the nearby ecosystem.
With her job completed, Yui packed up her bag and grabbed her rifle, ready to head back to her ship and begin repairs. Without having to worry about the Kassak she could focus elsewhere. Or so she thought. No sooner had she begun to leave the camp did she hear the flapping of massive wings. Not knowing what she might have attracted with the explosion she took cover and prepared her weapon. In the dark it was hard to see just what it was that was landing, but once they did the light from the fire was enough for Yui to see. Or it should have been, the adrenaline that had been keeping her going this whole time was beginning to fade and so was she. Two women with wings, claws and fangs landed in the scored earth and space of forest. Yui frowned as they conversed -clearly intelligent and sentient beings. She surmised they were members of the civilization she had flown in on, and if that was the case, Prime Directive Order No. 1 Prohibited her from interacting with them. They were pre-FTL, and therefore probably assumed they were the only intelligent lifeforms in the known cosmos. Good thing she destroyed the Kassak ship and body. Knowing she couldn’t be found she began to back away. She was quiet, but clearly not quiet enough -one of the women turned as if able to hear her and began coming her way. Yui cursed under her breath, feeling her heart begin to hammer, and turned. She bolted from the area and full out ran as far and as fast as her legs could cary her back to her ship. She didn’t run far, exhaustion and blood loss finally getting the better of her. She was only made it a meter from the Kassak crash sight before her legs finally gave out and she stumbled down. She then dragged herself to hide behind a tree, her vision fading and eventually passed out on the Forest floor. She could only hope she’d gotten far enough away from the two winged natives before everything went dark.
Nat and Van barely made it five wing beats from Mount Eden when the pulse of a third Dreamer reverberated through the night air. Nat stopped and looked down at the castle.
“Iolani can handle it.” Van said. Nat looked over at her rook sister and nodded. They continued heading southwest.
The sun sank under the horizon. The teeth of the Gorgan mountain range seemed to eat it faster than usual. The dying light cast a deep red glow over the land of Khalori. A sense of urgency settled in Nat’s gut. She signaled to her rook sister and then started climbing in altitude.
[h3 [center [b Iolani]]]
She was sitting at her desk looking over recent scout reports when a strange energy followed by the sound of an explosion fell over the castle. At first, Iolani thought it was an attack. Panic and adrenaline shot her to her feet. She grabbed the double action hidden under her desk then ran to the door. She needed to go get Aleka.
Iolani threw open the doors. Her personal guards salute her. “Come, we must protect the Prince.”
Then she took off down the hall, not waiting to for them to respond. As they made their way out of the private quarters more guards arrived. Just as they reached the side door to the throne room a heavy pulse ripped through the air and knocked them all off their feet. The castle shuttered, The waterfalls stuttered and the wildlife in the surrounding forest became quiet. Everything fell quiet. Even lolani's heart.
The panic and adrenaline in her fled her veins as the sweet fresh air of relief entered her lungs. She was weak with it. So much so, her guards had to help her up.
“They are here.” She whispered to herself.
The Khalian ruler quickly straightened herself. She passed off her crossbow to a soldier and brushed imaginary dust and wrinkles out of her night skirt. She was hardly dressed appropriately to meet anyone in any sort of official capacity. She wasn’t even wearing shoes. It would have to do. It made no sense to turn around and get dressed properly. If her father could see her now...Iolani shook the thought from her head.
Before the doors could be opened another concussion reverberated through the castle. Iolani caught herself before she could fall again. “Right. Let’s meet our saviors.”
They paraded into the room like an army. Not exactly the kind of display Iolani would have arranged, but again, there was nothing to be done about it. She settled for an informal stance, stopping just in front of the bottom steps up to the throne. Her personal guards flanked her as the rest of the soldiers took positions lining the long transept leading up to the throne.
Iolani had met one Dreamer years ago when she was little. He was one of the few who survived an imbalance and even fewer who chose to stay in Khal. She remembered thinking how normal he looked and how old he was.
The Dreamers that stood before her were neither normal looking nor old. The one closest to her, a male from the looks of him, was humanoid but wild looking. There were claws were fingers and toes should be.
The one just behind him was wearing a suit that covered them from head to toe.
“Welcome to Khal.” She smiled, hoping to come off as less intimidating than a room full of armed soldiers.
“Fear not. My name is Asma Hakim,” The one in the suit said as they stood. “I am a representative of the Homo Evolutis and I mean you no harm.”
“However, my senses tell me that there is a dangerous creature that means you harm that appears to have come from my area. It is a bipedal creature, about our height, and is covered in scales,” The second Dreamer explained. “They are highly aggressive and do not listen to reason. I tell you this in the hopes that your people can avoid trouble.”
Iolani paused at the thought of another enemy being introduced in this already trying conflict. Before she could respond, a Harpy, one she had never met before, flew into the throne room from the open skylight. She was young and a bit clumsy in her landing as she settled between Iolani and the two Dreamers. She looked around nervously and then curtseyed. Iolani smiled in amusement.
“Gracious Iolani, I have come with a message from Queen En-ae-tee.”
That got Iolani’s attention. “Yes, child?”
The Harpy curtseyed again. “The Queen says that a Dreamer breached through the sky and landed far off in the south-west. The Queen and her second are going after them.”
“The explosion.” the Khalian ruler said in realization. The young Harpy nodded. Iolani signaled to the soldiers lining the transept to return to their original posts. They filed out in professional silence. She then turned her attention back to the Dreamers in the room.
“There is much to discuss and explain and the hour is late. Unfortunately, I am very unprepared to tell you everything right now, but I can tell you two things: one, you are not the first to arrive in Khal. There has been a multitude of generations that have come through the Dreamer’s portal before you. Two, you are not here by accident, you were chosen. Not by me or anyone in particular, but by the portal itself.” She gestured to the rune circle embedded in the floor. She paused, then added, “Well, I’ll let you know a third thing. My name is Iolani and I rule this realm of Khalian.”
Iolani looked at the second Dreamer, “Asma, you said? Is the creature you spoke of to the south west of here?”
The terror that can be inflicted upon you in a short amount of time is truly astounding when you think about it. It was just a few minutes at most, but they dragged on like hours in that senseless oblivion. Asma managed to survive it by focusing on her happier memories, but as the transition dragged on it got more difficult. Only when her senses returned did she realize that most of her extremities were clenched from the journey.
Her senses were slow to come back to her in this new world and it took all of her effort to drop into a crouched position rather than fall over. The strange place she found herself in was apparently different enough than her own world that it required her cybernetics to adjust. Thankfully though they were able to compensate enough to help her keep her breakfast down, and to help her notice the strange humanoid standing in front of her.
As the scene before her sharpened she realized that they were both in the middle of a throne room straight out of one of the many fantasy novels she read as a child. The room was far more beautiful than the offices she was used to dealing with world leaders in as a representative of her species. It was also a great deal more primitive than the offices that she was used to which meant she was almost certainly violating the Exploration Prime Directive.
It also meant that her armored vacuum suit was significantly out of place in comparison to the archaic throne room. The odds of her protective suit looking like the armor of such a simple civilization were slim to none based on her experiences. Not that she minded having to break the directive, but she knew from history how most societies looked upon invaders.
So she made sure that she would be in a better position before making her introduction. She started to back away from the humanoid in front of her until the sounds of footsteps approaching from behind put a damper on that plan. If they were going to flank her she needed to be sure that they were aware she was not a threat as quickly as possible, and that meant putting her empty hands up away from her supplies. All that was left was to hope that they would be reasonable despite the unusual circumstances.
The group that walked in did so with an air of confidence befitting armed soldiers. However, it was the reaction of the other humanoid in the room that drew Asma's eye as she realized that she might not be the only out of place person here. A fact that she felt more confident in as a regally dressed woman addressed them from behind the armed guard.
[b “Welcome to Kahl.”]
A welcome was always better than a threat, but the fact that her entourage was armed kept Asma from celebrating prematurely. Especially as it only took her a few seconds to realize that this was not a place recorded in any of the things she had read from the Homo Evolutis. They had knowledge on just about every primitive species within a year's travel of Gelendria, and Kahl was not listed once in those records.
Her introduction was postponed again as her suit alerted her to a Kassak distress beacon on the planet. It was much too far away for her to do anything about it though, as she had not packed anything for high-speed travel. A fact that she was regretting as she looked at the sharpened blades held by the new group of humanoids.
[b “Fear not. My name is Asma Hakim,”] Asma said as she stood up. [b “I am a representative of the Homo Evolutis and I mean you no harm.”]
[b “However, my senses tell me that there is a dangerous creature that means you harm that appears to have come from my area. It is a bipedal creature, about our height, and is covered in scales,”] Asma explained. [b “They are highly aggressive and do not listen to reason. I tell you this in the hopes that your people can avoid trouble.”]
The smell was different. Everything was different. The sounds, the light, the atmosphere, there was more oxygen in the air. Justin could hear the distant roaring of crashing water and he smelled the scent of fresh vapour on the air. A waterfall? Was this what a waterfall smelled like? If this was what a waterfall smelled like, he'd like one installed in his house, please and thank you.
Justin took a deep breath to properly savour the scent and realized there was so much more; leaves, flowers, plants, fires, oil, roasted meat, people. For once he could breathe. He relished being able to do so. This was already turning out to be a good dream and here he was, just stood breathing in an open space.
Justin took a tentative step forward before he realized there were no shoes on his feet. There couldn't have been, the same fine claws that adorned his fingers finished his toes.
The soles of his feet tickled with the sensation of several lines engraved upon the stone he stood upon. Golden eyes lowered to meet with a strange symbol, which vastness was not immediately apparent from the angle Justin was looking at it. His eyes followed the lines of the architecture to come upon an empty throne, set high, several steps leading up to the majestic seat.
Curious, Justin moved closer, baffled by how realistic this dream felt.
He also wondered what manner of drugs they had him on in order to experience something like this; because whatever it was, more people needed this and stop rushing through their lives like headless chickens.
A smile played across his lips.
Justin's eyes wandered to the single source of light beaming down into the throne-room. Through a circular clear glass port in the ceiling, he could make out a nearly obscured night's sky he was pretty sure would not have any of the constellations trying to predict the future and he almost laughed out loud when he caught sight of the amount of moons.
Tides would be such a mess here.
He imagined that when those moons aligned themselves perfectly, water might actually float. Some seemed too far away to entertain that ridiculous theory and Justin didn't have much time to work out a complete and sane theory regardless. Just as the last of his toe scraped the outer line of the symbol, the lines started to glow. No, not a glow. More like the air above the symbol was vibrating like the baked air hovering above the heated desert sands. For a moment Justin stared, taking hesitant steps back, bringing up a hand to guard his sensitive eyes from the sudden influx of light.
And then things shifted for real. The air contorted, crackling and thrashing above the symbol, lashing out at the structure surrounding it as if the portal was causing a volatile storm to rage in a small confined space. The bubble which contained the storm grew denser with each second Justin stared at it, the air whipping about his frame, trying to tear him apart as well.
And then everything coalesced into an explosion almost, which nearly knocked Justin off his feet had he not crouched down.
The silence following the storm was deafening, but slowly the waterfall's distant roar returned, along with the cries of several animals. That, and the breathing of another person, along with the scent of something Justin recognized as metal.
He stood, dusting off his clothes and blinked the dream's reality back in focus.
Ah, another person.
Justin got the faintest clue that his entrance had probably been similar, though he had not experienced his arrival as such. Whichever it was, such trivial affairs didn't matter.
From the door just off to the right of the throne-room several people entered all at once. One of them was dressed in intricate and refined clothes, the luxurious cloth adorned with golden details, her skin a sun-kissed hue. Several others wore metal armour, their faces stern and tense.
Justin cocked his head, curious and at the same time apprehensive. They openly showed off their weapons; long blades bound to their backs and smaller knifes, hidden carefully among the metal distraction. A display of power. But to what end?
"Welcome," the woman spoke with an air of royalty. "Welcome to Kahl."
The trip was nearly instantaneous. Once she entered the wormhole she was engulfed in a swirling mist of light, color and intense pressure. Alarms blared dangerously in her cabin and her flyer rattled until the Kassak Torpedo exploded behind her. The explosion shoved her out on the other side. The alarms continued to go off, and much to her horror, the Kassak had followed her through, and was firing at her. They came out into open airspace, on a strange planet and over what looked like a major city. Well this was great! She’d just broken probably 10 Alliance violations, including the Exploration Prime Directive. Not to interfere or make a presence around pre-FTL societies.
She was rocked forward as the Kassak landed rapid fire at the aft of her flyer. “Frax!’ She cursed as her head was slung forward by the impact.
“Aft Shield Plating at 60%,” The computer informed her. Yui simply pursed her lips and began evasive maneuvers. She was in open airspace over an alien planet, fighting off an incredibly skilled Kassak scout. The kassak laid another set of rapid fire against the back of her ship, and Yui decided it was time to stop running, and slammed her engines into reverse. The Kassak flier went zipping past her, but he’d be turning soon, so Yui pushed her engines back into drive and began to make the Kassak sweat. His flier was nimble and quick, and Yui had to wonder who this Kassak was. Scouts were not generally this good of pilots. They evaded her fire as they flew away from the city they had dropped in on and from there it was a dangerous dogfight. Yui had more to protect than her own ass and research. If the Kassak got away this planet would be in danger of invasion. She couldn’t allow that to happen. They were coming up on a massive forest beneath them and Yui began to fire with real intent. She didn’t want him to crash into a city or village and kill innocents. He released his own decoys though, as well as venting plasma from his engine. It obscured Yui’s view and she zipped right through it, but when she cleared the cloud of plasma the Kassak was out of view. He wasn’t gone though, he came from above her and fired a heavy payload.
Explosions ruptured her console, as electric sparks, wires and smoke began to fill the cabin. Fear finally invaded her, as she realized her ship was in danger of literally falling apart. She was disabled, but not out of the fight just yet.
“Shield plating is down to 20%, another hit like that and the ship will be destroyed. Primary systems are off line, secondary systems running at 45% efficiency. Repairs are recommended…” The AI went on, Yui ignored it, the Kassak had flown ahead and was making a come around to take her head on. Yui saw her chance, and before the Kassak had the chance she launched two photon torpedoes right at him, and watched him dodge the first but not the second. It exploded his ship in a great ball of fire, but not before he launched a final missile at her. It took out her starboard wing, and forced Yui into a downward spiral. She yelled out from the forces pushing against her, and with no way to stabilize herself, she crash landed on the alien planet.
Everything was dark, and fuzzy for Yui when she finally came to. A beeping in her cockpit told her the ship was out of commission, and she felt a rather large goose egg on her head. She had cuts and bruises from the impact and as she looked around she saw her ship was beyond repair.
“Please stay inside the ship, distress beacon is being launched-“
“Belay that,” Yui snapped. She didn’t want other Kassaks to trace her signal. She wanted to figure out where she was before compromising this alien planet. She looked to her side and saw that her wormhole scanner was busted, and when she tried to move she realized she couldn’t as a bit of alloy was bent from the framing of the cockpit and now pinning her to her seat. It was clean through her shoulder, but thankfully it had come from behind. She didn’t move just yet, not ready to experience that sort of pain, and looked out the window as best she could. The glass was cracked and covered in black burn marks from the explosions in here console. Carefully she reached forward and brought up the display. It wavered in and out of focus as the power shorted. Containment of her engine was still in place, and operating just fine. She winced in pain from the movement but flipped the display to another view. It was no luck, the sensors were down and she couldn’t tell if the planet was breathable or safe to venture into. From the readings she did manage to get, she could tell that the Kassak Ship had crashed 5 kilometers away from her own. She highly doubted he’d survived, but she was going to get her ass moving to confirm it.
With a couple of quick breaths, Yui braced herself and unclasped her seat harness and pulled herself up and off the steel that pierced her shoulder. She shouted in pain, but she managed to stand up in the cockpit and stumbled over the wreckage to a first aid kit behind a wall panel. Or it should have been back there. The panel had fallen away spilling everything inside it across the floor.
“Computer?” She asked, but all she got back was a dying beep, even the computer’s voice was going down. “power status,” She gasped and pulled her hand away from her wound to find sticky blue blood covered her hand.
“Power at 20% and declining. Primary and Secondary systems off line. Emergency power has been activated.”
“Reroute power to my work station to begin download,” Yui managed and shuffled over to her work console, dragging the first aid kit with her. She sat down at the console in her sleeping quarters in the back. It was no better than the cockpit, but she placed a tiny silver disk into a slot and watched as her research was downloaded to the disk and she worked to patch up her shoulder. She ripped open her flight jacket, and shook it off carefully. The wound was anything but clean cut, it had left jagged skin, and Yui knew it would leave one hell of a scar. At least she’d have a cool story to tell.. if she ever made it off this planet.
Yui managed to put a foam stitch on her shoulder wound, which would hold it for now, but she definitely needed medical attention. She knew she was concussive and losing blood, but an unconscious soldier was a dead one. She powered through and when the download was complete, Yui pocketed the disk. She had her research and the Computer’s AI on that disk. She then pulled a set of memory chips from the main console of her ship. Star charts, Alliance information, Oukan positions. She took anything of intelligence and importance and stuffed it in a bag. Only then did she don her flight jacket back on and began to grab weaponry and survival gear. She grabbed two phaser pistols, and a plasma rifle. Then she clipped a sword hilt to her hip. The blade was made of light particles, the same particles that made the ammunition in her phaser gun.
Geared up and ready to go, Yui slung the bag over her shoulder and opened with great effort to pry open the side doors of her flier. Oxygen rich air filled the smoky cockpit and Yui noted her luck. The foliage around her was dense and rich in color. The ground was soft from a recent rain, and the air was perfumed with the smell of the forest. Yui actually took a deep breath. Oukan did not smell like this. Oukan didn’t have green flora like this. Oukan was mostly desert with sparse water sources, which was why the blue planet with all of its water had been so lovely to Yui. What must it be like to live on a planet comprised of so much water?
Despite the pain Yui was in, she carried the extra weight and held her plasma rifle as she started to find higher ground. She had to find the Kassak ship and destroy it. Turning her wrist she tapped a small band she wore and a holo-display emerged in blue lines of the nearby mountainous forest. With a red beacon flashing on the west side of the mountain. The Kassak was alive and submitting a distress beacon. She smirked. He must have thought she was dead, or it was a trap. Either way… she was about to find out.
Nat was in the caves of the mountain above Castle Eden with her clan when she felt a ripple of…something pass through the air. The cave walls and the rushing water practically sang with the vibration. The harpy queen looked over at her First, Van. Van never said much, and rarely was she expressive, but Nat had known her since before their first letter. She saw the spark of relief in her rook sister’s eyes.
When the portal circle appeared in the Castle Eden’s throne room six month’s ago, no one understood the danger. There had been peace and balance in Khal for generations, the longest time of peace on record.
Then, news of a coupe and the slaughter of the Khalori royal family reached Khalian. In their place sat a demon made out of cold fire.
Ever since they heard that Dark King had taken over Khalori and that it was rearing its power hungry eyes at Khalian, Van had receded into herself. Nat empathized. It seemed like the two of them could never escape from under the lone mountain.
It seemed, like Nat’s mistake, her failure, would forever haunt her until Mala took her from this realm.
But she didn’t idly sit by and wait. The moment she heard the news, she told Iolani everything she knew. Advised how best Khalian could shore up defenses. She even went back the other harpy clans to request their aid despite knowing they wanted nothing to do with her or the impending war. Nat didn’t blame them. The last time the harpies got involved in an imbalance, they were almost annihilated. On top of that, they had faced this enemy before and lost.
A harpy's pride could only take so much damage.
A loud boom reverberated across the evening sky, drawing the harpy queen’s attention away from her First. Frowning, Nat rushed to the cave entrance. To the south, a burning light streaked across the sky away from the castle and toward the southern forest lands.
“Too small to be a meteor,” Van confirmed Nat’s conclusion.
[#C71585 “Nothing is ever easy.”] Nat grumbled and turned to a century, [#C71585 “Se, grab mine and Van's gear, we are going after it.”]
Se nodded and flew deeper into the caves.
The harpy queen and her First unfurled their wings and stretched them. It was going to be a long and flight even longer if one of them pulled a muscle.
Another ripple concussed through the air. This one was more intense as it came from the castle below them. It shook the whole mountain. Debris fell from the cave ceiling, shattering against the floor or plopping into the rushing river. Her clan began to emerge from their homes, smaller caves within the main cavern. When they saw her and Van standing by the mouth of the cave with their wings ready, they flew toward them.
[#C71585 “We need to send someone to let Iolani know that we’ve got an unorthodox entry and we are going after it.”]
Van nodded and barked an order to a rookling who had yet to complete her First Hunt. There were two untested rook classes in their clan at the moment. It was a frustration and a disgrace and the main reason Nat and her rook sisters set out to Mount Hai to see if their temple to Mala was still intact.
Now there were two generations who might never know their True Name and Nat was to blame. After they returned back to the Eden caves, she and her clan had been hard at work constructing a new temple. It wouldn’t be as grand, nor hold as much of Mala’s essence as the last temple, but it was something. Nat prayed that Mala would find their tribute worthy.
[#C71585 “Lor!”] Nat called out into the accumulating crowd. A moment later, her Second jogged over. [#C71585 “Van and I are going after a stray Dreamer. You are in charge.”] Nat nodded to the elder harpy. The harpy bowed her head in acknowledgment. [#C71585 “Keep working on the temple, we will be back as soon as possible. Two weeks at most.”]
Then Se appeared with two small packs, a belt of knives and a long sword in its sheath. Nat took a back and the longsword and Van took the other set.
Without much fanfare, the two of them turned and leaped out of the cavern and into the night air.
[h3 [center [b 17th of Phel[sup 3rd month] 9:42pm]]]
The dark ruddy red silhouette of The Void Evermore sat peacefully in the middle of Riordan's Lake. Its bow pointed directly at the dying light of the sun beyond the Gorgan Mountains. Nine of Khal’s moons hovered above, casting their various soft colors across the calm waters.
Broll was lounging a hammock in his quarters when a pressure wave sent his ship rocking violently. It almost knocked him out of the hammock. Shouts could be heard from his crew outside. Then a sound like thunder erupted from above. The pirate captain sat up, alert. Broll could hear his crew crying, [i “Look, in the sky!”]
He got up then, striding to the door and yanking it open. It seemed like all of his crew were standing at the port bow pointing up at the sky, mouths agape.
He put his hands on his hips, [#556B2F “Well don’t you all look like a fresh dumb bucket of wineye fish.”]
They jumped at the sound of his voice and spun to look at him with wide eyes: some in fright, others in awe. Broll laughed inwardly at how accurate his insult was. He was about to throw another insult when what they were looking at entered his field of vision: a burning object falling from the sky. He watched as it disappeared over the southern horizon.
[#556B2F [i Interesting.]]
After the curious object was out of sight, his crew seemed to snap out of their awe struck silence. The rushed toward him, all speaking, shouting really, at once. Broll raised his eyebrows at them. They quieted instantly.
As the pirate captain opened his mouth to call out orders, another pulse wave hit his ship. He stumbled forward but caught himself. Broll didn’t miss a beat. He turned and ran up the stairs to the quarterdeck to get a look at Castle Eden. Sure enough, the beacon on top of the tallest spire was starting to glow a warm green. He heard his crew clamor up the stairs after him. They all gathered around, watching as the beacon grew brighter and brighter.
“What should we do, Captain?” He heard one of them ask.
Broll cursed under his breath. No doubt, Nat felt and heard the first Dreamer breach. The harpy would waste no time in retrieving him or her. Even though Broll had a head start, he would be restricted to the waterways. Nat would beat him to the first Dreamer by days, possibly weeks, depending on where the Dreamer crashed.
Another pulse rippled through the air. The beacon showed brighter. It was shining brighter than the moons now. Even though The Void Evermore was anchored out in the middle of Riordan's Lake, he could see the City of Riordan come alive as its citizens turned on their lights to investigate the strange occurrences.
He turned to his crew, [#556B2F “Hoist the anchor, and turn us about.”]
They responded in a chorus of “Aye Aye, Captain” and dispersed to their stations.
The city of Riordan sits on the east shore of Riordan's Lake and 23 miles west of Castle Eden. It is the center of all Khalian culture and Dreamer influence and is home to some of the tallest, nonresidential structures in Khalian. Other than the warehouses and ship building sites, buildings near the docks show the most Deamer influence. The architecture is simple but most are made out of metal, glass, and brick. This section of the city also uses the most electricity, as it is the hub of commerce. The farther away from the lake, the buildings are made out of wood, stone, and in some cases, clay.
By the time they arrived at the docks, the sun was gone and the streets of Riadan was crowded with onlookers. The Riodanians were standing around speaking in hushed tones with their neighbors. Though everyone tried to stay quiet and calm, a fever of hope and excitement was building. The stress of impending war and the news of the attempt on the prince’s life had had everyone on edge.
Broll left the ship after giving the crew instructions for the rest of the night. Then he made his way to the dock’s stables where he retrieved his horse, Stoick, a gelding just as ruddy red as his ship.
He slowly made his way through the streets of Riordan as more and more people began to gather outside to point and stare at the beaming green beacon on top of the castle. Its light was reflecting off of the waterfall Castle Eden sits in, turning the water so green, it looked like a living forest.
By the time Broll arrived at the castle, it was well into the night. When the guards at the entrance saw the pirate captain, they sneered but signaled to call the bridge. The entrance to Castle Eden was hidden behind the waterfall and located across a 30ft gap. The bridge extends like an accordion across the gap and a triangular truss made out of metal protects the crosser from the tons of falling water.
Once the bridge locks in place, Broll throws the guards his trademark smirk, which they return with a vulgar gesture. He does the same with the guards at the other end and their response the same as the other guards. He dismounts Stoick when he arrives in the inner courtyard. The dimmed lamps on the walls, just barely light Broll’s way as he guides his horse to the stables. He then proceeds to make his way to his room by taking as many servants passages as possible.
Ever since Iolani dangled a pardon in front of his face, Broll had taken advantage of being allowed to come and go from Castle Eden as he pleased. While the room he usually stayed in was not technically his, the servants, Iolani, and Aleka treated it as such. It was a fact he loved to rub in Nat and General Mason’s face.
Broll collapsed into his bed the moment he laid eyes on it. He hadn’t realized how tired he was until he saw the light green sheets and the shushing sound of the smaller waterfall outside his window met his ears. The room was a thoughtful gesture as Broll, being a pirate, was more used to sleeping on his ship and letting the rocking of the waves the lapping of the water against The Void Evermore lull him to sleep. While the bed wasn’t a hammock, the sheets were made out of the same weaved cloth as the one in his cabin.
It was the little things like this that made Broll hate the fact that Iolani was in power during an Imbalance. The woman was a giver and a stern but loving ruler. A ruler better suited for a time of peace and balance. A ruler that deserved better allies than a washed up Harpy Queen and pirate who was only in it for the payout.
In the morning he would scope out the new Dreamers and learn if Nat did indeed go after the one who entered through the sky.
Asma waited for the coffee to take effect before she sat down with a second cup to have her breakfast. Her dining room was sparsely decorated just like the rest of her apartment and the building it was located inside. The one thing sitting on the table was a white plate with a pale colored brick sitting on top of it. A concoction that was designed to provide a third of your necessary nutrition in a simple borderline tasteless package. It had become her breakfast of choice as it allowed her to focus on things other than the taste while she ate.
This morning she spent the time going over the details of the nightmare. Her memory allowed her to replay the nightmare in such a way that she could notice details she completely missed the first time. Beneficial in this instance given the strange occurrence; however, it could just as easily be considered a curse given the terrible things she could recall from her life.
Going over the memory a second time caused her to notice there were more changes in the minutiae than she had before. A number of allusions to doorways, gateways, entrances, and the number thirteen. It seemed the dream wanted to be subtle about drawing her attention to the mysterious doorway on the thirteenth floor, but due to anxiety, she missed most of the admittedly small signs. Still, it was enough to make her want to investigate further.
Once she was done with her breakfast she moved over to her computer desk and loaded up the camera feed for the hallways on the thirteenth floor. Most tenants only had access to the floor that they lived on for security purposes, but thanks to her position she had been trusted with administrator rights. The door that she had seen in her dream though was not visible on any of the cameras, and even changing the angles did not seem to help. She still had a nagging feeling about it all though, and so she decided to go look in person.
She slipped on a jacket before she left to be a bit more presentable and after that, it took no time at all for her to make it to the thirteenth floor via the stairwell. Just like before she could see it through the window in the door, but this time it seemed to actively call out to her. Before she could open the door to the hallway though she recognized one of her neighbors coming with their pet and managed to force herself to sprint upstairs. Her desire to avoid her neighbor outweighed her desire to go to the door at least for the time being.
Now that she was sure that the door was there in reality she knew that she would have to investigate further. Before she could do that though she would have to make sure that she was properly prepared for what could be on the other side. She already had a go bag for both emergency purposes and her job necessitating travel, and so she had a solid base already. First things first though she wanted a shower to make sure she was presentable for whatever was on the other side.
Once she was clean she took components of both of her go bags to assemble one that would work for a dangerous adventure. She made sure to add some extra rations, her favorite knife, and some protective gear she had received for her work as a diplomat. After that, she set up a message system to send messages to her various superiors in case she did not return from the trip. They were layered to give more explanation as time passed and set to send after 12, 24, 48, and 72 hours respectively. It might not do her any good but it helped calm some of her nerves.
While the door seemed to be calling to her before, the effect when standing in front of it was on a different level. She had no hesitation as she reached for its handle and was ready for whatever came her way. However, the handle barely budged as the door was locked.
[b “Because of course it can't be that easy,”] Asma whispered to herself as she slumped her head against the door.
Just for a second, she wondered if she was even the one meant to go through the door, but that possibility faded as another thought struck her. She quickly pulled out her key that she had brought along and placed it in the lock. The click of the mysterious door unlocking was music to her ears. Once her key was safely tucked back away she turned the handle and watched as the world faded away.
A sharp inhalation signalled the end of dreams. Reality slowly filtered back in: the faint scent of warm water mixed in with shampoo, the fluttering of his curtains in the gentle early afternoon breeze, the rattle of something rolling away on the floor on the very same breeze and the clanking of a kitchen pot being abused. Going by the smell of things, the kitchen pot's cry was for an unwanted participation to a late lunch. Justin burrowed a little further under the blankets, not at all inclined on joining the waking world yet, until the door opened. His lazy brown eyes found the woman he'd come to know intimately and love. She stepped on whatever had been rolling away, cursed and kicked it away.
"I'm going to have to do some cleaning," Madeline muttered at the stray object and finally caught on that he was awake and watching. "Or actually, why don't you ever clean anything, hmm?"
Justin shot the woman a languid grin and turned onto his back, tousled curls a mess on the pillow.
"I think it's perfectly fine for that item to live where it is...it's free to roll around and everything, sounds ideal," he countered.
Maddi just rolled her eyes and sighed, a gentle smile on her face at Justin's antics. She favoured it when he was calm and relaxed like this, far more than when he was in pain, suffering or pulling one of his pranks with her brother Mark.
"You have a good rest then?" Maddie asked, sitting down on the bed. Justin's arms wound around the still too-thin woman and pulled her closer for a kiss.
"I had the weirdest dream..." he started.
"When don't you?"
Madeline pulled away and opened a drawer that had several socks pouncing from it upon opening and sighed, picking out a pair that looked like hers. The drawer subsequently refused to close and Madeline surrendered. Most all things in Justin's small apartment seemed to lead a life of their own alongside the man -which was to say, a life of structured chaos and disarray.
"Emily was in it," Justin ventured, stretching out.
"Was she? She was crying all night again last night, poor thing," Maddie remarked and sat at the end of the bed to pull on her socks. Justin watched her back, her spine fairly prominent when she was bent over like that. He didn't remark on it; they both knew she needed to eat more to recover what weight she'd lost being out on the streets.
"There's food on the stove you will eat, mister," Madeline stressed, prodding his chest. Justin grabbed for the finger that had no right to be so intrusively right and brought the digit to his lips. A playful smile danced across his lips, "could always stay home and be lazy?"
She only pulled away in response and moved to the livingroom. Justin debated whether he wanted to leave the warm comfort of his bed, which he'd spent far too much time in regardless. That said, neglected beds made for bad sleeping partners, so the internal debate was on.
Maybe he'd stay for a while longer.
At long last he dragged his weary limbs from the warm embrace of his comforter and surrendered to clean clothes instead, floundering to pick up what dirty clothes tried to escape a deadly encounter with his washing-machine. Postponing their plight by leaving the clothes to fester in the laundry-basket, Justin shuffled into the livingroom as well, catching Madeline as she was putting on her shoes and getting ready to leave for work.
A distracted peck to his cheek, a glance around the exploded chaos that was his livingroom, a fragile smile and soon Madeline's pattering had all but silenced inside the house. Justin folded his arms around his stomach, one hand experimentally tipping the lid off of one of the boiling pots to see what monster lurked inside, but all that rose was an genie of vapour and the scent of fresh pasta. Again his recollection of the dream he'd suffered through crept to the forefront of his mind, distracting him enough to burn his fingers on the lid of the pot. The lid fell back with a loud clank when his fingers decided they were ill-equipped to deal with boiling hot temperatures and please let go, thank you.
As an apology, Justin sucked at the affected fingers and ran the tap, the sudden rush of cold water pushing back the wispy thoughts and allowing reality to slip back in. He couldn't be daydreaming all the time. There were things he needed to do.
"So how've you been doing, Justin?"
Justin looked up from his scorched fingers and stopped worrying the red skin, producing a faded smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
"I- I'm doing alright," he managed.
Justin had come to know Kingston, his physician, well enough to know that his results weren't anything out of the ordinary. He nodded whenever the man stopped talking, letting him know that he was sort of listening, nodding along even while his gaze drifted back outside, watching the sun vie for dominance between the rain-laden clouds.
A hand touched his shoulder, "so let's just keep this up and we'll see you back in a few months, okay?"
Justin looked up and nodded.
"Yeah. Yeah, sounds good."
The hospital smelled familiar; a nasty blend of disinfectant, perfume and paint he'd come to associate with death. At least he was on his way out and while grateful for their services, he'd rather not be undressed by another nurse ever, thank you.
Justin mindlessly pushed the elevator-button several times, as if admonishing the device to please not be broken this time around, which was a weird fear to have considering the elevators in hospitals were nothing like the brute metal tormentors back at his apartment. Before the ping of the elevator could announce it was boarding time, Justin's attention became ensnared by something shimmering in the periphery of his vision.
The elevator's ping fell on deaf ears.
Justin pulled away from the elevator and rounded the corner, curiosity reeling in the bait. In the end they turned out to just be stairs...? Justin blinked, confused and baffled at the same time. Not only was he fairly certain the hospital did not grow random stairs to suddenly go to floors that didn't quite exist, but these resembled the ones from his dreams with an accuracy that was frightening. Justin carefully put his hand on the railing and guided his feet to take the first step. He wasn't even sure why he would -the stairs were going up, not down, stairs were still a general pain to climb and he was worn already.
But two steps in had his legs fall into a rhythm, the third step made the railing disappear entirely and soon reality dissipated in the same way the dreams from before had been chased by the pain of a pot having it out for his fingers. Justin felt the world around change along with his body; breathing became easier, his clothes melted as reality dripped away around him and exchanged itself for a marvellous throne-room. His feet were bare, slender nails where his human feet would be, the same claws that were at the end of his fingertips. Justin reached up and pulled a pluck of white hair down in front of his eyes and smiled.
Was he dreaming?
All posts are either in parody or to be taken as literature. This is a roleplay site. Sexual content is forbidden.