Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Crux: Revelation 4
Note: some parts are missing because I don't want to give away my whole novel. These are samples which I'm publishing for the people who enjoy my writing and short little fantasy stories in general, so don't try to count the Revelation titles. They won't be published in order or entirely. Have fun!
Dawn leaked through the ruffled golden clouds above Bastion, bringing with it a salty breeze from over the hills in the distance. Arlo and Tesla had camped in a clearing beyond the forest and through the large mounds of grass-covered earth that lay east. The whole area looked like it was artificial, designed by a computer enthusiast, for as the eye scanned the landscape, it could find no flaw; everything perfectly green and alive and not even a bush or a tree disturbed the curved horizon, not even the smallest patch of dried grass. It brought clarity and a distinct feeling of inner peace with it, and Arlo followed her expert companion with complete trust.
“Have you ever been to Bastion?” she asked, breaking the silence that was hanging in the air for quite some time now.
“No, never” said Tesla. “I don’t feel at ease around these kind of creatures and, Meka or not, I don’t know who could sleep at night with all the fighting and mayhem that goes on in the streets. Don’t care how much profit you can make there, I rather negotiate with your kind, Arlo.”
She nodded thoughtfully. In truth, she had never been anywhere that was more than a day’s walk from Enoch. Not that she wasn’t curious, but because she really didn’t see the purpose of it. The High city and the surrounding area was an oasis of peace and beauty, thus she preferred to remain in a safe and comfortable zone, where werebeasts and soul reavers wouldn’t threaten her existence.
“What do you reckon we should do when we get to Genesis? I’m not the negative sort, but if what we suspect is true, then it won’t be easy getting the support of your people.”
“Leave that to me,” he buzzed electrically and threw her a glistering emerald gaze. “If it comes to force, then I shall call in a few favours. I’ve been a Tolgarim for a long time and that kind of position doesn’t come without some perks. Don’t worry, half-angel. I’ve got us covered.”
Arlo smiled at him with her perfect doll face and she could have sworn that he smiled back. Somehow she couldn’t help but think that so much time spent in their presence has rubbed off on the little fellow. Sure, he didn’t have feelings (or so he claimed) but liking someone or something had nothing to do with that. And Tesla definitely had a soft spot for her – that much Arlo could see quite clearly. The red haired Nephalem wanted to ask something but the air boomed like lightning hit somewhere very far away.
“What do you imagine was that?” she asked.
“No idea. Maybe those monsters in Bastion blew themselves up.”
“One can only hope” Arlo jested. Before she could add something else, the same boom exploded mere feet in front of them as the air rippled and a figure, screaming like a man plummeting down a rollercoaster line, came flying in out of nowhere. They barely jumped away in time as he crashed and rolled on the soft verdant carpet. She instinctively pulled out her blade and pointed it at the pile of messed up midnight blue garments.
“Put that away,” said Tesla in a gentle tone. “I don’t think he’s a foe”.
“How can you tell?” she asked, eyes locked onto the moaning man who struggled to get up but had a hard time struggling to get his robe off his head and arm.
“…You’re seriously asking me that?” the Meka snapped cynically.
Andrew finally managed to get himself together and stand, but what he saw, he couldn’t quite believe. The landscape was flawless and so simple his eyes had a hard time adjusting. There were no tones of colour, just an endless green meadow that went up and down, bordered here and there by the slopes. He looked up and his peoples dilated as he gazed in wonder at the spectacle above; a light orange horizon through which the white shimmer of a small sun protruded, yet behind it all, a shade of violet took over as far as he could see, pierced here and there by baby blue stars, spread in patterns not even an experienced astrologist like himself could recognize.
“I can’t believe it worked,” he mumbled and spun slowly, eyes locked on the sky.
“I say,” said Tesla. “Are you looking for your luggage? Because we heard something fall beyond the hills. Think it arrived here before you landed. You should work on that – seemed rather painful.”
“I’m okay” he replied automatically then immediately realized that the voice addressing him was not Thomas. He glared at the creature that watched him with big emerald eyes and froze.
“Yeah, well, not for long if you don’t tell us what you’re doing here” Arlo warned, spinning her blade expertly. “We don’t appreciate people crashing on us. Who are you?”
The mage twitched and snapped, finally noticing the beautiful young woman standing by the green-eyed alien. He also noticed the weapon and swallowed hard.
“Yes, well, that’d be classified information” he declared, standing up straight and regaining his confidence. “What you need to know is that I’m here to find someone and my intentions are good.”
“Can I kill him now?” Arlo asked the Meka. “I know it’s not something we usually do, but we only spent a moment in his company and he managed to annoy me beyond words. What the hell is ‘classified’ anyway?”
“Okay, okay!” Andrew conceded. “I’ll tell you! Just put that away before you poke someone’s eye out… Considering how big yours are, buddy, you shouldn’t stay so close to her.”
“You’re not helping your cause, friend,” Tesla replied and patted Arlo on the shoulder. “He has a point though.”
“Fine!” she declared and sheathed her weapon then folded her arms to her chest. “Start talking!”
The mage looked around like he had just lost his dog. In fact, he had lost himself in the process as well.
“Look, I need to find my friend. You said you heard something beyond the hills-“
“Yes,” said Tesla helpfully. “It came from the direction of Bastion. We’re headed that way.”
“Why don’t you tell him we’re also on a secret mission?” Arlo growled at her companion.
“Why would I do that?” the Meka answered promptly. “Look,” he said to the mage. “If your friend landed there, then he’s in big trouble. Bastion’s a dangerous place. We better get moving if you want to find him still in one piece.”
“Oh,” Drew replied with the hint of a smile in his voice. “For the sake of the people there, whatever they may be, I hope we arrive quickly. That is if your want them to still be in one piece.”
“I think I like his friend better” Arlo commented as they flanked the stranger. “He seems like the kind of guy that doesn’t put up with his attitude either.”
Tesla ignored her. For someone so old, she could sure act like a hot headed teenager sometimes. It dawned upon him then that he didn’t quite know how old she really was. After a certain age, the Nephalem didn’t really give signs of growing old. The only clue about one’s years was that they were either children or white haired elders. In between it was anybody’s guess.
“My name is Tesla” the Meka said mechanically and nodded at the mage. “She’s Arlo of the High Nephalem, but you already must know that.”
“Not really” Andrew shrugged. “I’m Andrew, of the Greenwich Order. I’m a wizard.”
“Really…” she mocked. “I thought you were a vacuum salesman.”
“How do you know vacuums?”
“She wasn’t born here” Tesla replied in her stead before she’d whip up another snide remark. “Arlo’s been on Crux for a very long time, but that has nothing to do with her experience on Earth-“
“The crossroads of space and time” Andrew interrupted. “I can cope with that.”
“No. Her acting like a… shrew.”
He wanted to say another word but he imagined the girl with the wicked sharp blade, which appeared to be magical as well, wouldn’t take it as a compliment. Not that ‘shrew’ was much of a compliment.
“You’re wearing a dress” she replied in a tone that could freeze an ocean. “You’re the only shrew here. And you’re still telling us nothing.”
“Alright…” he sighed. “To be honest, I was reluctant about telling you this, but you two don’t seem like you would interfere with my mission. My colleagues and I came across a prophecy recently, one that spoke of a human who may travel to this realm and restore the balance among light and darkness. It also mentioned that he or she would face great peril in trying to achieve her goal, thus my friend – the one who crash landed yonder – convinced me to help out. So…”
“You hitched a ride and ended up here. You have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into…” Arlo spoke evenly. “There are thousands of Nephalem hunting down that human you mentioned. Granted, she has someone with her who so far managed to keep her alive, but we believe it won’t last long. We’re on our way to even the odds as we speak.”
“I thought we wouldn’t tell him about our plans” said Tesla. “No offence, friend.”
“None taken” Drew replied with a polite smile. “And thank you for helping me out.”
He paused and placed his hands inside the large sleeves of his robe like a monk, looking at Arlo quite attentively.
“What?” she asked with a curious look in her eyes.
“Well, for one… You’re quite amazing. I’ve always wondered how a Nephalem looked like. We only get written descriptions of your true form back at Greenwich.”
She didn’t know how to reply so she just shrugged. A hand went to the pommel of her blade, just in case he decided to make a pass at her. In reality, the thought did cross his mind briefly – she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, though he suspected all High Nephalem were.
“And… you were right” the mage added. “I don’t know anything about this world or the events that are happening as we speak. Frankly, I had no choice but to interfere. My friend can be quite stubborn, you see.”
“I do. Who do you think convinced me of joining this quest?” Tesla replied and, even though he had no mouth, Andrew was certain the brown-cloaked creature was smiling.
They walked together for a couple of hours until they reached a cliff overlooking Bastion. During their trek the mage learned many things about Crux and Enoch in particular, and he was surprised to see that neither of his companions had much interest in his home world. The Meka fascinated him and was determined to investigate the race further when, or better said if, he returned to Earth. The half-angel, on the other hand, had a fairly simple story. As she described it, the Tolgarim were ambassadors or consuls and she was acting like a middle man, negotiating with their race on behalf of the High capital. She had been with Tesla for a long time and they came to trust each other, thus there was no surprise she agreed to follow him back to his home city of Genesis. When he had informed her of the many deaths he felt, for his race was connected by an energetic stream, Arlo did not think twice. For quite some time she had her doubts about her own people. Although the High worshipped Innanna, the Mother of Crux, it seemed peculiar to her that some of the important individuals in Enoch had secret meetings with lesser angels. Even more questionable was the result of those meetings, which most of the time ended in engaging the Fallen in battle, while there was no particular provocation from the dark ones.
“So you think there is some conspiracy here?” Andrew asked in a tone that he immediately regretted.
“Something just doesn’t feel right,” she said, focused on the city bellow. “I felt that when they mentioned the Nillithar – the human you and your friend are searching for” Arlo explained. “I knew we were supposed to destroy this menace as soon as it entered our realm, but nobody ever mentioned why. A danger to our people – they said. Yet killing someone without knowing exactly why, especially a human…”
“Yes” the mage agreed. “It is strange that the progeny of angels would be so, pardon my saying, bloodthirsty.”
“Nothing to apologize for,” she answered calmly, surprising him somewhat. “You’re right. It doesn’t fit and that makes it all the more suspicious. That’s why we must reach Genesis. I know we will find answers there.”
“There is also the matter of the Wanderer” Tesla added. “We have heard stories about the Fallen who rebelled and left Babel to find answers. It is rumoured that he did…”
“A half-demon? Fascinating!” Andrew said with scientific curiosity in his voice.
“Quite. They say he had travelled throughout Crux to learn how Innannas’ creation works. They also say he had found her and that’s why every time the Nillithar arrives, he’s there to guard him. Or her.”
“He disappears for ages” Arlo added. “When he’s not guarding the Nillithar, he shows up in all sorts of places. They say that he was even allowed in Enoch once… After the battle of Uruk’uay, I can’t believe that though. So many died and not all of them soldiers…” she trailed on.
“We’re here though,” Tesla declared from his mechanical chest then flinched as one of the buildings in the centre of town exploded into hundreds of pieces of wood and stone. The mage sighed deeply.
“He’s here as well, that’s for sure. Come on… before there’s nothing left to call a town.”