Tag Archives: fantasy

‘The Fall of an Ancient’

A meteor shower foreshadowed the incoming impactor.  Many people took some time from whatever they were doing that evening and night to admire it – if only for a moment.

At the Academy, the same phenomenon, read into by the Witchdoctor, was determined to be an omen of some kind of destructive event in the near future.

Five days later, the thing itself came falling through the atmosphere leaving a long tail of ash and dust and fire in its wake.  Its trajectory appeared to be towards the Peregrine Academy.  With the Watchers yet to be reunited, the best that could be done at the time was to hunker down and prepare.

Its wake was spotted midday by those still living on the Academy grounds.  It could be seen trying to maneuver, eliminating it as a meteorite.  It’s an entity under intelligent control.

For the first time since the Five Waves, and to be the second time ever, Akei and Aguyu retreat to the resting room, that R.E. had found them in years earlier, to enact what they called “Athskeilon.”  The others watched as the two Valkyries sat kneeling and facing each other inside an ornate symbol carved into the floor, holding each other’s hands cross-wise, touching their foreheads together, then finally bringing their etherial wings out that quickly expanded to beyond the walls of the Academy and into a dome-shaped field covering the entire grounds and a portion of the surrounding forest.  Akei’s white wings blended into Aguyu’s black wings at the dome’s surface, creating a swirling pattern of light and dark akin to a dome-shaped vortex of ether that began at its apex and disappeared into the ground.

The incoming entity drifts slowly towards the ground, but as it approaches close enough its true speed can be glanced at.  It’s actually moving quite quickly, as evidenced by the sonic boom that sweeps the Academy prior to its inevitable impact with the earth.

That impact eventually did come, the being just missing the Academy grounds.  An almighty earthquake erupts from the collision, and in the distance forest can be seen uprooted and thrown into the air quite a distance away.  Copious amounts of earth were also torn away from their original home, some pieces even falling onto the Athskeilon.

Moments later, the commotion falls away into silence.  An uneasy silence, it was.  The Academy’s residents, the Valkyries, the Witchdoctor, the Merry-maker, Bharkou, Princess, Raac and Raghul, and two new recruits acquired since the Peregrine’s party left on their quest, seize the moment to finalize preparations.

Elsewhere, the lone, traveling Freemen were alerted to the falling object as well.

Amid a street performance near Hullheach, Arregz and his band-mates were the second-nearest Freemen to the impact site.  The final maneuver made by the beast was clearly visible in the sky from their vantage point.

Meanwhile, in Appathall, Freemen tending to an aid booth in Appavell were the first among the Freemen to see the incoming entity.  The locals there were afraid it was another terror attack underway.

Thiere, despite being well away from the trajectory of the thing, was also just able to catch sight of the trail of smoke and ash being left in its wake.  She had only just joined a rag-tag group of misfits calling themselves “Banon and the Rainbow Girls Squad,” and upon seeing the smoke received a nagging feeling that she should return to the Academy to help out there instead.

She fought against the feeling.  She’d only just arrived here, and her homeland required her help as well.  Besides, the Academy had other, equally capable, individuals residing there; the Academy was in good hands.

Finally, following the burn-up trail is an ancient starship piloted by a very deflated Alien girl.  She had hoped to beat the calamity to Eyaye, but the Forces of Darkness made sure to be ahead of schedule.  She hadn’t expected the calamities to begin so soon.

The Ancient of Eyaye had already crash-landed some distance away from the Peregrine Academy when she settled her own ship down just outside the Academy’s secondary gate.

Unable to enter through the barrier now, her best chance of being useful to the Academy now was to take her own stand against the incoming monsters.  Inside, she’d been building a ship, loaded with all the ancient relics and weaponry she’d gotten her hands on, just for such a purpose.  Those monsters won’t stand a chance.

There’s gonna be A LOT of them, though.  Their biggest advantage right now is their sheer numbers.

All the monstrosities that were caged up forever, after the great wars of yore….

In her newly-built warship, she hovers over the Academy.  There, she can see the sky darkening in the distance.  Over what can be seen of the remains of the Ancient, what mirrors a large cloud of colonial insects, or a swarm of Adversarial war-drones, billows out from the Ancient’s body.  Soon enough, there’s enough of them able to blanket the entire sky here in an artificial dusk.  Those ready to fight brace for what’s inevitably to come….

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‘The Second Test’

“The Second Test,” Cɪrthsta activates the portal, and passing through it brings us to another dungeon doorway.  These doors appear as large and robust as the first dungeon’s did, but these doors have a different scene etched onto them.

the second test

The depiction here takes the form of a humanoid figure lying on a table surrounded by what appears to be clutter.  Special emphasis has been made on select items (these items have higher relief than the others), and a couple areas in the humanoid have been “made hollow” perhaps implying parts of it are “missing.”

“Are we putting something back together in this one?” Esscie asks Cɪrthsta.

“In a way, yes,” she replies.  “Mr. Apothecarian will have the best idea what to do once we enter.  Basically, we gotta retrieve a handful of parts strewn across a floor full of clutter in order to return the android shown to a complete state.  He’ll reactivate, and then open up our way out of there.”  How Durittal is gonna “know what to do” if his specialty is apothecary, but I guess we’ll find out once we begin for real.

“I suspect the rest of us will have to stay still and quiet, like last time?” I ask.

“I think that’d be best, to avoid accidentally dooming us all,” she affirms.  I can do that.

“I should state beforehand,” Durittal speaks with a serious tone.  “While I’m an Earthling, I haven’t touched a mechanism since before I became a Watcher.  I can’t guarantee I’ve retained anything from when I was growing up.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” Cɪrthsta reassures him.  “You’re our best shot at this one, so be sure to do your best!”

“What’s an ‘Earthling’?” asks Kess.

“My people used to be the blacksmiths of the Gods and their kin, but that was before the Five Waves and the invasion of the Archivists,” Durittal explains.  I remember coming across books recounting people like that, but like other things the Archivists have snuffed out the Earthlings have been considered as mythical beings that didn’t actually exist.

“If it’s absolutely necessary, I guess I could offer any help I can manage,” sighs Cɪrthsta, then winking at him.

We enter to a room whose ceiling is nearly as high as the First Test’s room, but length-wise this room is only half the size.  The room lights up, and a partially-disassembled clockwork humanoid lies motionless on a stone table.  Strewn about the place, on the floor and on various shelves on the walls of this room, are gears, metal rods, other pieces of clockwork, as well as a number of items that seem clearly unrelated to the being in any way (like strips of cloth and pieces of wood).  On the other side of the room is the other closed doorway; this one, though, has a keyhole lock mechanism to it that, I gather, only the android can use.

I spot a section of floor that’s mostly clear of objects, and head over to that place.  The others decide to follow me while Durittal makes his way to the automaton.

He pulls himself up onto the table and proceeds to inspect it thoroughly.  After his inspection, he raises his head up, looks at us, smiles briefly (which I didn’t really expect him to do), and then climbs down from the table.

He begins scouring the floor for the pieces he requires for the humanoid.  He finds one of them fairly quickly, and soon after locates a second.  After some time, he collects a third piece and returns to the android to fit them in.

He hops back down and resumes searching for more parts.  It looks like he knows exactly what he’s looking for, but this time around he’s having more trouble finding them.  He found a piece on the floor near where Dass and Kess are standing, but after several minutes of searching realizes he’ll probably only be able to find the remaining pieces on the shelves.

His stoutness proves particularly difficult on him in searching the wall shelves for the required parts.  He proved capable of surpassing those difficulties, however, and though he took longer than someone my height would’ve taken in the end all the remaining missing pieces had been collected and placed in their proper slots inside the automaton.

Fully completed, the machination suddenly comes to life and sits up.  Without acknowledging our existence, it shuffles down from the table standing on its feet.  It walks in an expected clockwork fashion over to the second door.  It stops before the locking mechanism, and then “coughs up” a unique-looking key from its mouth.  It inserts the key into the lock, turns it clockwise twice, and then stands back as the two massive doors slowly swing open.

We exit, and congratulate Durittal while the doors close behind us.

“To be frank, I hadn’t felt such an interest towards clockworks since my teenaged years.  I was sure glad I could rely on a long-lost intuition more than actual knowledge on clockworks.”  That would probably explain why he seemed so happy after initially inspecting the automaton.  Regardless, we’ve made it through a second Test and again we can relax for the rest of the day.

‘The Apothecarian’s Hideout’

Cɪrthsta did another remote-viewing session while we set up camp inside the hollow of the trunk of what must’ve once been a truly gigantic tree.  She said he’s relatively nearby, to the north of our current position.  It shouldn’t be more than a day’s walk.  She also noted in passing we may need to pass by one or two large creatures along the way.  I asked her about the creatures, but she just shrugged saying at least we won’t die.

Well, okay then….

We set off mid-morning, and actually made some good head-way through the forest here by noon.  We settled at the foot of a mid-sized hill, and Dass and Kess went off in search of food.  Esscie and I set off for some water to fill our canteens.  Rumour was the three Watchers would ascend the hill to get a bearing on where the Apothecarian might be.

Turns out, a stream was conveniently located relatively nearby.  It meanders about between the hill our lunch-spot is situated at and another, twin-peak of a hill just to the north of the first one.  The stream is potable, which is a welcome change from what is typical of Archivist-owned lands.

We decided to check out the other hill, briefly, before returning to the others.  The hilltop just pokes out from the tops of the trees of the surrounding forest.  Oddly, very few trees are actually growing on the hill itself.  Bushes and shrubs are the largest things on it.  Intriguing….

Its summit has a surprisingly clear view of the surrounding landscape.  North of us, fortuitously (or not…), we can clearly see a tenuous column of smoke billowing gently from the trees from a fire of some sort.

We make to descend the hill when it starts reacting out of the blue – starts trembling.  Then, a mound almost as high as Esscie is tall slowly blooms from the ground over the course of a minute or so before ceasing entirely.  Just poking out from the layer of grass and moss and soil is a brown-colured mound.  “Wait…,” Esscie murmurs, “I think it’s alive….

“Look!  There!” she points eagerly to my left.  I look beyond her outstretched arm, laying eyes on a tall, tree-like life-form that has suddenly appeared in between the two hill-like mounds.  It appears to have just risen out from the ground, but now it’s just sitting there unmoving.  What in the World is that?  How did we not hear that thing rise up out of seemingly nowhere?  Perhaps, it did its thing while the smaller mound was appearing before us.

Esscie

Esscie is already descending the hillside when I remove my attention from the brown-coloured, tree-like creature.  I follow closely after her.

At the base of the hill, Esscie then stops momentarily before crouching along the bank of the stream for about a minute.  “What’s up, Esscie?” I try her, and she then stands up.

“A girl?  Maybe?” she answers, and shortly jogs off to the right, hopping over the stream, and stopping near the base of a multi-coloured, cycad-looking, tree-like plant.

When I find her again, she’s already introducing herself to a pale-skinned, eyeless girl buried up to her shoulders into the mossy soil itself.  Her nose is flat, with wide nostrils, and her hair is long, greenish, and matted with what look to be an insect nest situated in the middle of the mess.  Her ears are almost nonexistent.

She and Esscie are speaking in a tongue I’ve never heard of before, but I guess Esscie’s starseed nature is proving to be helpful to her here.

She introduces me to her, and she smiles showing her dozens of tiny, pointy teeth.  Her gums are purple, and her lips are also nearly nonexistent.  A strange-looking girl, indeed.

“Her name is Kienow, and she’s over a thousand years old now!” Esscie informs me happily.  “According to her, we’ve been walking all over her recently,” she adds, and returns to talking with her.

Could she mean…?  Those two hills?

I wonder….

“Oh, good!  People I know!” I hear the voice of Kess from behind me, and I turn my head to see him and Dass looking frightened and having ran a mile.

“Well, I stepped on something weird and then it started growing – like, a lot,” admits Dass, panting.

“I think Dass stepped on a giant dildo,” Kess butts in again.  “I mean…, that’s what it looks l-aah-hah-ha!  That’s a corpse!”  He jumps abruptly, making Dass jump as well.

“She’s alive, actually,” I correct him.  “Apparently, her name is Kienow and she’s over a thousand years old.

“Hopefully, Esscie can tell us more about her soon enough,” I finish, and turn back to her.

“Look!  See?  I told you’s we should come this way!” enters Peregrine’s perky voice from ahead of us.  I lift my head up to find the Watchers trio approaching us.

“The Apothecarian seems to be relatively nearby, folks,” says the Way-farer.  Cɪrthsta lights up with exileration, for no apparent reason.

“It’s a Sentinel!  I’ve NEVER seen a Sentinel face-to-face before!  Sorry for disturbing your naughties, by the way,” she addresses the mostly-buried girl.  She leans in over the girl’s head and starts speaking to her in her language.

“In a former Age, Sentinels were more common on Eyaye,” explains Way to myself and Dass and Kess.  “They are born as twins, and one buries themselves into the earth, providing nutrients for the forest around them, while the other, sometimes mistakenly called ‘Forest Giant,’ wanders about meeting with other buried Sentinels.  Beyond a certain age, the primary cause for meeting is to mate; these mating rituals also help keep a forest healthy.”  Well, that’s quite an interesting creature.

“I guess now they’re a relic, only to be found here on the Forbidden Rise,” I remark.  Way nods.

“There may only be a handful of them left, now,” she says.

“Today’s our lucky day, folks!” Cɪrthsta stands up and faces us.  “Kienow says she’s about ready for mating, and there so happens to be a suitable mate coming our way right now!”  She then returns to Kienow, talking to her some more along with Esscie.  Looks like we’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

If that brown, towering thing just visible through the trees and between the vegetation-covered…“breasts?”…is indeed some sort of phallus then how tall must the approaching “Forest Giant” be in order to “accept” such a massive organ?

Sounds like we’ll find out shortly.

Almost an hour later, the ground begins to tremour very softly and rhythmically.  In the passing minutes, the tremours steadily grow larger.  It must be gigantic, indeed, as I can sense it coming clearly from downstream already.  I look over in that direction, and the silhouette of something enormous and humanoid can be seen from above the trees and things.  It’s approaching from beyond Niemow’s head, so it’ll need to round her breasts in order to reach her phallus.

Its skin looks scaly, and its humanoid form is covered, in places, with vegetation and various other wildlife.  It head is animal-like, with four large eyes on the front of it.  It has no mouth nor nose, but instead possesses several gill slits along its neck.

Minutes pass, and the footsteps shake the ground around us more and more heavily.  We can see it slowly coming our way, and once it finally comes close enough that we can see its body in detail it side-steps and then passes around her left breast.  Once it eventually stops moving, it lets out a resounding, earth-shaking call.

We have to cover our ears to try to dampen the noise, but Niemow’s clearly gone through this thing before.  She tells Esscie something, and Esscie faces the rest of us and relays that we’ll need to watch out for potential falling trees and running-scared animals.

Makes sense…; when two very large creatures try to mate, things are bound to get stirred up pretty good.  Thankfully, there is a large, purple tree, with no leaves but a very sturdy-looking frame, that we can take cover under while the mating ritual takes place.

Several bat-like flying creatures take to the sky in a panic, screeching as they do for having been forced away from their preferred place of rest and socialization.

Two giant, seven-fingered hands, disproportionately large even for a being as colossal as it is, reach over and each grabs hold of a hill-sized mammary and it positions itself carefully over the phallic organ.  It slowly lowers its gargantuan torso over the penis, and I can hear Niemow starting to breathe more heavily.  A four-eyed, six-legged, deer-like creature scampers madly past us.

While squatted, the Forest Giant proceeds to dig its long fingers into each of the two hilly mounds before it.  The sounds of greenery and earth being uprooted can be heard, and Niemow’s breathing quickens.  A minute or so later, its grip loosens and Niemow settles down a bit.

It’s repeated several more times over the course of the next half-hour.  The massage, at that point, ceases while Niemow sounds like she’s climaxing.

The Forest Giant eventually stood back up, and Niemow returned to her usual state.  The Forest Giant promptly walked on away, with rumbling footsteps slowly fading off into silence.  We thanked Niemow for the opportunity, such as it was, said goodbye to her, and we headed off towards where we hope the Apothecarian has set up shop.  I guess those two Sentinels were the “large creatures” the Peregrine predicted we’d meet, from her remote-viewing session earlier today.

The smoke inevitably led us to a shack, and inside the shack is the Apothecarian himself.  He’s on the stout side, pudgy, and starting to go grey.  His home is covered in herbs and apothecary supplies, with only a small loft for a bed and a door, perhaps to a restroom, directly beneath it.  On the other side, a fireplace and well lie.  The only other things visible are a seat and table – where he’s currently at work drafting a tonic.

“I figured you would return, Peregrine,” he murmurs as he concentrates on his cuurent task.  He doesn’t look to see who’s arrived.  “I knew, inside, it was only a matter of time.”

Ooh!  You’re so smart, Durittal!” Cɪrthsta squeaks like she’s speaking to a child.  He doesn’t react.

“We hope you’d be willing to rejoin the Watchers, now that the Peregrine is back,” I get to the point.  “We could also use someone well-versed in apothecary on our journey to Eyaye’s core.”  At that, his head turns about.

“So, that’s what it’s come to?” he mutters calmly.  “Fine; looks like I’ll have to tag along.”  He then looks back to his work, finishing up a concoction within the next minute.

That’s the last member of our crew accounted for, now.  We’ll still have to camp here for the night; there’s not really enough time to make it anywhere far before night-fall.

‘The Forbidden Rise’

Once Thiere was ready to embark on her own quest to try liberating her homeland, myself, the Peregrine, the Way-farer (who arrived a few days prior), Dass and Kess, and our newest recruit of only a couple days who calls herself “Esscie” (she’s twelve, and was rescued by Aguyu from a child-porn ring in Hullheach; according to Cɪrthsta, she’s a starseed who’s been sent here to help the Light triumph over the Dark here on Eyaye; her “name” is in the language of the stars, apparently) set off on Cɪrthsta’s quest ultimately to the center of Eyaye.

But first, she wanted to trek to the Apothecarian’s place to see about recruiting him for the quest as well.  From the remote-viewing sessions she and the Witchdoctor performed in the days leading up to the quest, it appeared that he was no longer in his usual home but instead hiding out somewhere on the summit of the so-called “Forbidden Rise.”  Said by academics to be a dormant supervolcano, with a very long dormancy period, the Forbidden Rise has, it’s often said, been too treacherous for virtually anyone, who has tried, to have been able to explore its summit.  Its flanks have been fairly well-studied, but even that only really holds for the first two-thirds of its slopes.

Now, we’re off to scale the entire thing.  Cɪrthsta, though, says she knows a short-cut – an easy way up to the top of the 30,000 foot-tall, 30,000 mile-wide flat-topped (supposedly) peak.

M. I. Arregz and his band-members are out “touring,” and Thiere is on her way to the ancient Ten Kings’ land to reclaim it from the Empress. Through Arregz, we were also able to get in touch with a small group of Fae-landers looking for a way to help their people out (we gave them the idea of setting up booths in as many Fae-land cities as possible where locals could go to give and get food and shelter). Everyone else is to remain at the Academy and keep it running and protected while we’re away.

Our journey took us through the Good Kings’ land, where the legendary Black Tower is located.  Legends hold that the Black Tower was built as the original home of Lady Night, and in more recent times has been the dwelling place of the long-time adversary of the Ten Kings:  The Pale Witch.  She should still be long dead, though.

According to Cɪrthsta, the Black Tower has also sometimes been the home to Way – the Hound of Death.  Way, and her counterpart Yaw (the Hare of Life, who has also been known at times to inhabit Lady Light’s White Tower), are spoken of in the oldest tales as being one of the first Etherials created and are the only non-physical entities to have ever joined the Watchers.

We are making a sudden stop at the Black Tower to see if Way is in.  I say “sudden,” though Cɪrthsta, despite acting loony, has almost always done things for good reason.

The Black Tower is currently situated on an island surrounded by a lake, in turn surrounded by the Good-Kings capitol-city of Wirruphenta.  It is an Archivist hub, and has been not long after Hullheach was made into an Archivist city-state.

For the Way-farer and Cɪrthsta, in particular, an outfit change was in order so they wouldn’t stand out as much in Wirruphenta’s streets.  Dass and Kess had to assume a more “natural” state, having to carry some of our bags on their backs and be walked about by leashes (they would only let me have that “honour,” and only reluctantly at that).

We’re still gonna stand out a bit more than usual, on account of Dass and Kess, so hopefully our presence here is as brief as can be.  I’m almost a wanted man now, and I’m hoping to avoid confrontations of any kind.

A city map reveals a nearly ideal piece of “Crown Land” located on the outer edge of the large lake that encompasses the Black Tower.  We can set up camp there while Cɪrthsta and I check out the Black Tower for any sign of Way.

“I sensed your presence here, Peregrine.  I am so glad you are here again,” a voice sounding like some elderly woman’s could suddenly be heard as we were setting up camp.  A dark-coloured wolf-like being appears, clutching an oddly-shaped cane and, on closer look, has a more bipedal form than would be expected of an actual wolf (cane aside).

“Way!  Good to see you!” the Peregrine greets her cordially.  “What’s happened?”

“Yaw,” she answers, “he has been seized and locked away somewhere I cannot go.”  Her voice is rife with worry.

Rightly so.  If, as the legends say, Yaw is tasked with seeding consciousness into living things when they’re born, then his absence will mean things born now will be alive but not conscious.  Instead of a fully functioning life-form, this will result in drone-like, or zombie-like, living things wandering about.  Not good, indeed.

“Where can you not go?” I ask.  Maybe we can go instead.

“It may seem counter-intuitive, but I cannot enter a realm devoid of any life,” she replies.  “In other words, the Undead Realms,” she clarifies.

It makes sense, thinking on it.  If her task is to take consciousness away upon death, then beings that have no consciousness to begin with cannot be reached by Way.

“Good thing we’re planning to trek to Eyaye’s core,” Cɪrthsta says.  She adds, “we can swing by the Undead Realms on our way back up.”

Once our camp is set up, I decide to go on a tour of the Black Tower anyway.  Hidden amid the thicket of bushes and trees, and with this thicket being less readily accessible due to being backed by a small escarpment, we should remain largely left alone by the locals.

The Tower itself is as high as any Archivist skyscraper, but is conventionally said to be a couple thousand years old – the same age as its twin, the White Tower.  If Lady Light and Lady Night are real, though, these two buildings may be much older.  Much, much older….

The Black Tower’s construction is immediately intriguing to me.  It’s a similar type of stone-masonry construction that was apparently used at the Peregrine Academy:  The stones have been shaped like puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly without mortar or concrete, the only exceptions, upon closer inspection, existing as pinhole-sized gaps at the corners of these stones (talking to Cɪrthsta about it afterward, apparently those gaps are the result of stone ball-bearings placed between the stones to help the Tower survive seismic events).

Unlike at the Peregrine Academy, where rusty plutonic stones slightly larger than the familiar masonry bricks of a century ago have been cut into perfect puzzle-piece shapes have been fit together with perfect precision (no gaps save for the chips made in the stones by plant roots in the time it was left abandoned), the even harder, mafic stones of the Black Tower are absolutely enormous.  Each is larger than a person is tall, yet mainstream science asserts a Lady Night-worshipping precursor culture to the Good Kings built this Tower using wooden constructions and iron tools over a Human lifetime.  Of course, the same theory says a Lady Light-worshipping precursor culture, having little-to-no contact with the Lady Night-worshipping culture, so happened to have built a similar tower using identical stone-masonry and construction techniques prior to the emergence of the Ten Kings a millennium ago.

Inside, the feeling of a heavy Darkness can be felt.  It has been inhabited by Evil recently, and for some time.  Feeling nothing of the sort from Way, most likely she could not have resided here anytime recently.  Given the Pale Witch should have died naturally many centuries ago, it likely cannot have been her either.  In my opinion, the Archivists’ masters are this Tower’s current inhabitants.

Who do the Archivists serve on Eyaye, though?

Lady Dark symbol

The symbol of Lady Night is clearly visible on the floor, in black obsidian amid a background of white polished tiles of local feldspar.  The first ten floors are dominated by a central atrium with a large stone stairway about its circumpherence.  An alcove with an obsidian throne sits at the head of the atrium on the main floor.

The Tower rises 200 floors into the sky, but also 25 floors into the bedrock.  The bottom-most floor is said to house a Gateway.

The top-most floor has no rooms and is comprised of 48 slit-like openings and thick columns rising up in a dome-like shape but are bent in three places (60o from horizontal at floor-level, 45o halfway up, and 30o three-quarters the way up).  The capstone, which meets the columns, has Lady Night’s symbol carved in positive relief, which looks down upon the area below it.

Standing just in front of these columns are stone statues.  I don’t know the faces of them, but their Dark auras suggest to me they are agents of Evil.  Perhaps, they are the servants of Lady Night through the ages.  There are no name tags on any of the statues, unfortunately.

I discussed my notable findings with Cɪrthsta, and she was able to illuminate me on what I saw there.  Some of the things she clarified for me struck me as very interesting indeed.  Meanwhile, Dass and Kess were asking Way how she ferries the souls of the dead while she’s here with us; she replied simply that her staff was the key.

We set off with Way for the Forbidden Rise the next day.  We made it to the base of that gigantic mountain within the week, and we weren’t troubled by the Archivists along the way.  To be fair, however, I had to convince Cɪrthsta and the Way-farer not to be charitable in the Archivist-run cities we passed through.

The frontier and hinterland towns, though, have little or no set central authority, so we can be more libertarian in our actions there.  That’s the best part about these towns, despite their overall impoverished states.

Cɪrthsta led us along a river that flowed at the base of the Rise, heading east until we caught sight of a sea.  “Not much further, now,” she informed us as we made it to the edge of the river, where it fell off the cliff-face many meters into the sea.  “Ah!  Here!” she exclaims after a minute of wandering about the area, and the rest of us, who were admiring the rugged beauty of the scene before us (the waterfall, the waves of the sea crashing against the jagged rocks at the base of the cliff, and the rainbow cast by the sunlight filtering through the mist created by the waterfall and sea-foam), turn about and head over to her.

She then heads straight into a narrow cavern entrance, and I wonder how the pudgy Way-farer will make it through.  He did make it through, though I’ve no idea how he managed it.  Don’t matter….

Once through, the light from outside is just able to illuminate the entranceway that leads to what looks to be a more open area – a cave atrium.  Cɪrthsta stands still momentarily, looking as if channeling an ability.  After a moment, light bursts from her body that dims as quickly as it appeared.  She now has wings and a white aura about her.

She then walks into the threshold of the first atrium, and spreads her wings of white-ish plasma-like material and like that much of the space is lit up for us to see.

The cave floor is fairly smooth, but is somewhat bowl-shaped so traversing it will still not be the easiest thing to do.  We managed, though.

The lack of stalactites/stalagmites makes this cave network seem too out-of-place, but the blackness of the stone and the flow features seen in the rock in places make it clear to me that we’re walking through a lava tube.

The lava tube goes on for a very long time.  For the longest time, there was nothing but the natural formations consistent with a lava tube.  Three days in, this monotonous scenery was broken by an underground city – of sorts.  It looks a lot like an underground city, anyway.  It’s expansive, at any rate.  However, Cɪrthsta says it actually serves as a sanctuary during the transition from one Age into the next one.  It is only used during such times.

However, we will be setting up camp here tonight.  After setting up, I decide to wander about the place.  Dass, Kess, and Esscie decide to explore the place as well.  Dass and Kess wander about one side of the sanctuary together, while myself and Esscie walk about the other side.

It’s well-built, I’ll admit that much.  Quite unlike the Dark Tower, this place has actually been cut from the lava-tube rock itself.  No stone blocks of any sort have been used; here, the whole site is one single piece of volcanic rock.

It’s actually quite intriguing, that this site sits inside a supervolcano yet is used as a sanctuary against calamitous events.  One thing isn’t like the others; or, something else entirely is involved.

Something for another day….

We press onward the next day, coming upon a well-built bridge of obsidian and an in-built outpost.  We camped that evening in the largest cave atrium we’d come across thus far.  Potentially as deep as the Dark Tower is high, this particular atrium looks akin to an open-pit mine.  The pathway spiraling down to its bottom is accompanied by text that has been chiseled into the wall-side.  It’s a script I’ve never seen before, but Cɪrthsta informs us that it says the sanctuary we stayed at is back where we came from.  The text is actually written from the bottom up, since its makers apparently made the route from inside the mountain top.

Looks like we’re traversing this pathway in reverse, with respect to this pathway’s builders.

That said, much of the way so far has been entirely natural.  But beyond the bottom entrance/exit of the pit-shaped cave atrium appears to have largely been dug out by the hands of long-ago masonry experts.  The tunnel beyond this atrium is perfectly cylindrically-shaped, with stairs present at the steeper parts of this tunnel.  The tunnel is large enough for a grown man to comfortably walk through it without needing to duck or shimmy – or the like.

After nearly a month of traversing, we finally see sunlight again.  Props out to Cɪrthsta for being able to be the light during our traverse, without draining of energy.  Her body (well…, her wings mainly) only stopped “shining” when we were sleeping, though I wondered whether she switched back to her normal form then as well.  I never saw if she did or not; I only saw her in her upgraded form.

The mountain-top entrance was decorated by a stone temple structure about the size of a house.  Once again, it was made by carving away the surrounding stone to produce the desired design.  Quite an stone-masonic feat, if you ask me.

“Welcome to the summit of the Forbidden Rise, folks!” Cɪrthsta spreads her arms out wide, as the rest of us move to get a view of what lies before us.

An incredible view awaited our eyes, in fact.  Plants and trees of various forms I’d never thought possible of plants and trees abound here.  A couple hares hopped by us, and though they were a tad larger than the familiar hares from back home they were by no means extraordinary.  The handful of insects buzzing about were also a size larger than their kin back home, but aside from that they, too, weren’t too abnormal.

We’re here for the Apothecarian, though.  If he really is hiding out somewhere up here, then depending on what route we take up here it may take quite a while to find him.  Let’s hope the search ends sooner rather than later.

‘To Reunite the Watchers’

As eager as Cɪrthsta was to embark on her quest, too few people were eager to tag along with her.  She had to concede for the time being, instead directing her attention swiftly towards coaxing as many Watchers back to the Academy as possible.

To that end, she made use of the Gateway Gazebo.  She sat herself down, cross-legged, eyes closed, and everything, facing the three ancient Gateways that remain in various degrees of decay deep below the Gazebo.  She remained there for three days straight.  When she reappeared, she informed us that a handful had heard her call – after complaining about being so hungry and thirsty.

In the meantime, M. I. Arregz and his band members departed again to do their traveling wake-up band thing and I resumed teaching Thiere about the Iron Jacket and a couple other important meditative practises.

The Academy also received two new visitors that day, when Cɪrthsta re-emerged from the Gazebo.  Two Anthropes named Dassan and Kessen.  Apparently, they’d just stumbled across the place.  Cɪrthsta, though, was sure happy to see them; they had met previously, briefly.  I noticed the first thing the duo each did when meeting up with her again was to fist-bump one of her mammaries and say to them, “good to see ya again!”  I almost laughed.

On catching sight of me, Kessen, the steppe-wolf, blurts out, “dude, you’re overcooked!”  I let out a chuckle, but inside I was laughing so hard.  These two will be perfect for comedic relief around the Academy.

Days later, the first Watcher to return was an eccentric-looking woman called the Witchdoctor.  Her skin’s as dark, or even darker, than mine, her hair is wild and conceivably uncombable, and her slender body is covered in feathered bracelets, necklaces of shells and bones, and garments from leopard skins that serve only to cover the bits that need covering.  A purse of leather is slung over her shoulder, and her hands clasp a wooden staff topped by the skull of some creature that I personally have never seen alive.  She can speak our language, but with a heavy accent.

The next day, a girl dressed like a jester arrived and shortly proved to be more eccentric than the Witchdoctor and Peregrine combined.  The Merry-maker….  She and the Peregrine were quite a sight together, arms wrapped about one another and hopping happily in place; so much boobage could be seen bobbing about and being smooshed together that I was actually shown proof that there really was such a thing as too much.  The Merry-maker also showed she could bounce about the halls of this place more than Princess ever could.

A week or so later, a third Watcher made it to the Academy.  Bharkou, he calls himself – also known in lore as the “Mortal God.”  He is often depicted in old artworks as a lion-headed king clad in spectacular armour, but generally this is seen as symbolism – his courage and fortitude were like a lion’s, as a mainstream scholar would say.  I’m sure, though, this man really does have a lion form that he can shape-shift into at will (since the mainstream believe he’s long dead, yet obviously he isn’t).  He’s more composed than the other Watchers, it seems, which I’m glad to see.

After shaking Cɪrthsta’s hand, he immediately requests an assembly so he can discuss some important information he received while on his way here.  Within the hour, he had his assembly.

“First and foremost,” he begins as the last of us takes a seat about the center of the Great Hall, “I heard the fragment of a message from Azhseg, that Alien you were friends with for a time during the Five Waves, Cɪrthsta, saying the Dark are planning something massive.  Even the Librarians are unaware of what is happening.  There was also some mention that forbidden relics were recently stolen.

“Next, the Way-farer said he was going to make his way to the Academy though it will still take him another week or so to make it here.  I have yet to hear anything from the Tinker or the Apothecarian.  Unfortunately, our dear friend Ashtanni, who was devastated by your disappearance, committed suicide despite over a century of trying to convince her otherwise by the rest of us.”  He then takes a breath.  “Also, we fought one last battle against the Archivists after your absence; but, we lost the fight and we lost my dear little brother in that fight as well.”  He then takes a seat by the Witchdoctor, and the place goes very quiet for some time.

“Let’s make sure those losses aren’t in vain, then!” says Cɪrthsta with a go-get-‘em kind of attitude.  The Merry-maker then assumes a similar attitude, in agreement with her.

“Azhseg’s message, however incomplete, bothers me most,” Akei speaks up.  “Aguyu and I were taught, once, about the so-called ‘forbidden relics,’ which are weapons that were made by some of the Universe’s oldest races and are arguably the most destructive relics in all of existence.  For them to be stolen by someone, or entity, or race, that even the Librarians do not know exist, is potentially very worrying indeed.  Especially if that someone, entity, or race has Dark intentions….”

“Thankfully, Azhseg is on her way as we speak,” adds Cɪrthsta, giving a thumbs-up.  “She also so happens to be piloting the Archivists’ worst enemy, which will prove to be crucial, tide-turning asset for us.”  How she knows that…; I have my guesses, but I’m glad regardless.

“Wot’s next, dehn?” asks the Witchdoctor.

“We need an army of Light-bearing souls,” I state the fact of the matter.  “We need such an army, that has no authority figures leading it yet is organized enough to stand as one, when it matters most, against the Dark and, by acting as Light-bearers, vanquish the Forces of Darkness from Eyaye – perhaps for good.”

“How are we to build such an army?” asks Bharkou.

“The army has already been assembled,” I answer.  “Our only task now is to coax the members of this army into realizing that is what they are.  This is why I founded the Freemen.  The best way to coax the army of Light-bearers into their own power is for them to be coaxed by people who were once like them.  Once they see how easy it is to wield their own Light, the dominos will fall such that the Dark cannot stop it.  Best of all, not a single shot need be fired in the process.”

Aguyu jumps in.  “I am quite concerned about the stolen relics, and what might be done with them.  I hope Azhseg will be arriving soon.”

“I’m sure there are already tools available to us, that we can use against such relics if that is what must be done,” I look over to Cɪrthsta as I speak.  A knowing smile forms on her pretty face.

“I smell a quest!” she cheers excitedly.  “Once the Way-farer arrives, I think I’d like to lead a team to the center of Eyaye so we can get our hands on those ‘tools’.”  The Merry-maker claps her hands together, while giving a sense that she doesn’t fully understand what’s been planned.

The center of Eyaye…?  An interesting proposition….  Eyaye’s interior is taught nowadays to be completely solid, with a core that’s too extreme in temperature, density, and composition for anything to survive exposure to it.  However, what Cɪrthsta is implying throws that into question.

I should join the quest, so that the Freemen can learn to operate in my absence and so I can see for myself how Eyaye is actually put together.

‘Dassan and Kessen’

>Previous chapters of the Freemen…:  https://roamingeopeton.wordpress.com/fantasium/

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“Such a beauty…!  The curves…, the thighs…, the freshness…!  I would love to have my way with her…,” I mutter to myself as drool tries to leave my mouth.  My eyes narrow, “if only that busty redhead would leave her alone.”

“Tryna fondle yer food again, Kess?” Dass whispers into my ear, as I watch a wild cow being petted and talked to by some random, teenaged, red-haired girl who, really, shouldn’t be here.  We’re in the depths of the Great Plains, leagues away from even the most adventurous people.  Why’s she even here?

“I wish,” I whisper back.  “Say, won’tya distract miss boobage and draw her away so I can have some quality time with my future meal?”  I nudge him.

“I dunno, man…,” he sighs, sounding very apprehensive, “she’s not really my type, ya know…?”

“Come off it, man…,” I retort.

You know….  A long moment of silence for us gave way to an idea popping up in my head.  A plan, so cunning, I wager, you could call it a coyote and chase after it for having kidnapped your prized possessions.

I start to walk away, and before Dass can turn about I reach over and rap his butt with my open palm.  The sound echoes through the trees, and both the cow and the girl straighten up and jerk their heads in our direction.

I’m already making my way around them, though, so they’ll only see Dass.  For his part, Dass was trying real hard not to make any more noise.  He gives me a look while I creep around the little opening where the two females are.

As hoped, the teen rushes over to Dass and starts fawning on him.  I divert attention back to the cow, eager to take her down and taste her succulent flesh.

“Kess, you bum!” blurts out Dass as I set up to charge the cow.  I see him scamper over to me, with the girl hot in tow behind him.  “I sure as hell never asked for this!”

“Aww…!” I mock-pity him.  I glance back through the opening to find the cow has gone away.  “Great, you scared her away,” I sigh, deflated.

Eeeeek!!  Two Anthropes!  Together!” squeaks the girl while bouncing on the balls of her toes, causing her ample bust to bounce equally happily.  “I’m the Peregrine!  I’ve always wanted to meet two Anthropes in one place!”

“Good job, Dass,” I pat his head, frowning, “why’d you hafta go flap yer gums in front of her?”

“Says the git who spanked me…!” huffs back Dass.  His large eyes narrow.

“So, are you, like, lost or something?” I address her.  “There aren’t exactly any settlements anywhere nearby, ya know….”

She doesn’t respond within a suitable length of time, instead just staring excitedly at the both of us with her little hands clutched to her massive chest.  The sack-like garment draped on her body looks uncomfortable.

“Uh…, yooooo…?” I thrust my head towards her, so my muzzle sits just inches away from her pointy little nose.  I raise my left paw and prod her cheek with it, several times.

“Oh!” she starts, “I’m sorry!  I’m looking for my Academy.

“Hey!” she cheers happily again, “won’t you two help me find the place?  I’ve been searching and searching but it seems things have changed here so much I just keep getting lost!”  She giggles like a girl, and I, at least, roll my eyes at her.

“And why’d we do that?” prods Dass, who now shoves his muzzle into her face, in my place.  “What’s in it for us?”

“Because you’re not Evil…?” she tries us tentatively, shrugging uneasily.  Of course, she’d expected us to just oblige her; we’re not your average folks, though.

That said, she steered clear of the usual kinds of reasons Dass and I were used to receiving from females when we were growing up.  Her attempt was actually more thought-out than that.  Not by much, though….

“Still don’t help us out, in the end,” I emphasize Dass’ second query.

“I’ll feed you during the trek, and I’ll do my best to do all my own walking every day of the trek.”

Dass and I then exchange looks at the same time.  She’s offering more than I’d expected her to, but we both still feel not quite convinced helping her is worth our while.

“Yeah, still not feelin’ it,” we both chortle simultaneously.

“Wow!” she perks up yet again, amazed, “that was, like, perfectly in-sync!”  Almost immediately after that, though, her expression turns to that of being deep in thought.  “Maybe I should ask you two what I can do to make your accompanying me worth-while?” she poses to us after a moment.  It’s the best query she’s asked so far….

But, she’s still missing something important.  “Yo, don’t matter what makes it ‘worth-while’; we ain’t gotta clue where yer stupid ‘Academy’ is in the first place!  Can’t help ya!” Dass practically reads my mind (something we can usually do with each other now, having been life-long, best friends).

She suddenly gasps, perhaps more exaggerated than one would expect of her in this situation.  “Goodness!  You’re so right!  My apologies, guys, I didn’t mean to trouble you like this.”

Is she for real?  How scatter-brained is this “Peregrine,” anyway?

“Well, good luck,” I wave as I turn about and walk off.  Dass doesn’t even give her that much as he does the same.

“Wait!  Pretty-please, can I have your names?” she begs, and we stop.

“We’ll give you our names if you’ll give us some time with that huge-ass rack,” I reply back to her slyly.

“Well, I guess that’s fair enough,” she shrugs and obliges us.

I walk back over to her, and quickly jerk down her garment so that it falls over her breasts but stops short of her hips.  Dass and I meticulously inspect the “goods” for several minutes, concluding at last that the experience is well worth us giving her our names.  Embarrassed, yet complacent, she hikes her sack of a garment back up when we finish.

“Right:  I’m Kessen, the awesome-est steppe-wolf alive,” I introduce myself rather flavourfully.  “People who know me call me ‘Kess,’ though!” I quickly add as Dass tries to open his mouth to speak.

“And, I’m Dassan, ‘Dass’ for short,” bows Dass, “and I’mma steppe-deer…, that can talk.”  The Peregrine giggles, thinking we’re so cute.

“Thank you,” she nods to us.  “I hope we’ll meet again sometime.”

“Sure…,” I shrug, then head myself on out again.  Again, Dass keeps quiet as he follows suit.

“Goodbye!” she cheers us on, which is the last we hear of her.

I still gotta eat….

Anime Spotlight #33

When you’re playing a dying VR game, and you fail to log out when its servers all go offline….

Image result for anime overlord

While the game was still active, Momonga and his guild comprised the highest-level, most skilled players the game ever had.  The mansion their guild inhabited was set up as a dungeon to end all dungeons in the game, with NPC’s (the “Pleiades”) patrolling each level that were usually more powerful than most every other player in existence.

Then came the day the VR-supported MMO game was to close its servers for good.  After fiddling with Albedo’s programming, Momonga decided to sit about to wait out the shutdown just to see what would happen.

Unexpectedly, he became the Overlord of a whole new world within which his mansion was plopped into.  NPC’s now had their own will and character, and now Momonga had an Albedo who will forever be madly in love with him (and no way for him to undo it).

As the only remaining guild member, Momonga changes his name to “Ains Ooal Gown” — the original name of the staff that embodies his guild.

The remainder of Overlord is his adventures in this new world….

 

Anime Spotlight #30

Government and Law made interesting through Anime fiction:

Image result for gate anime

It’s another “…star gate appears in Japan and fantastical beings pop out…” kind of Anime.

The impact this Gate’s existence has on Japan’s government and bureaucracy, as well as how governmental and bureaucratic procedures are tested to the limit, was primarily responsible for holding my interest in GATE overall.  What should a nation do when it is suddenly faced with a whole new world, and are shortly forced to interact with it?

That said, my biggest highlight of the show was probably when Rory Mercury slams an overly outspoken activist for being too ignorant for her liking — during the time the four misfit protagonists spent on Earth together.  Epic burn!

It’s not just Japan that has to deal with new applications to old procedures.   The lands on the other side of this Gate must also find a way to cope with a foreign force that’s leaps and bounds more advanced than they are.

Basically, if you’re really into Rory Mercury and/or into interesting political and foreign policy applications and concepts then I highly recommend watching GATE.

 

Anime Spotlight #16

So…who’s “Zestiria” anyway?

Image result for tales of zestiria
It’s not any of these people, I know that much….

“The Tales of Zestiria (the X)” is primarily about Sorey and his friend Miklio going on adventures and trying to redress the imbalances caused by the influences of Dark Forces on Human souls in the world.  Along the way, Sorey has a King Arthur moment and becomes a near-messianic figure charged with cleansing bodies made impure by the evil spirits that have inhabited them.

And then there’s Alisha…the REAL reason I enjoyed this show!

While most other people we meet have a neutral or grim outlook on human beings in this show, Alisha becomes a kind of “light in the darkness.”  Her greatest contribution to this series is her libertarian nature — outstanding, considering she’s a princess.  While everyone else wants to start a war, she orders her army instead to stay defensive and only to fight if an enemy picks a fight with them first.  While the other nobles and politicians selfishly stay safe behind the walls of the palace, she’s out there on the front lines risking her life with the men and women who serve her.  She’s the kind of person voters keep hoping for when they vote on election days.

There definitely needs to be a second season of this series, since there are still loose ends in Season 1 that could use some conclusion to.  That’d be great!