Small Beginnings- LOTA Part 1

Well, I think it's time I placed the latest version of what I've written on here. I'm starting a new project, and I'd like people to know where I got with the old one, just, you know, because. This is a working title, any suggestions let me know. Thanks guys :)

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12. Chapter 12

The cave suddenly, in a tremendous crescendo of grinding gears, sprang into life. It was a beautiful spectacle to behold.  The entirety of the long tunnel was instantly illuminated by lamps that had, in the space of a second, been lowered from the ceiling from small holes, invisible until the immense quantity of light coming from these lamps had caused them to appear. It was strange, the whole cave, the stalagmites and the boulders all beautifully, intricately expanding and folding back, glimpses of the huge, arduous machinery in place just flitting in between the walls of the cave as they continued to retreat back.

This was the point that the ground on which they were standing split into eight places. It folded delicately down, and, like the entirety of the immensely, perfectly fabricated, supposedly cybernetic natural cave around them, began to retract. This had a number of annoying effects on the five people around them. Firstly, they all became instantly split up, and secondly they became instantly lost. It meant that, as they all dropped to their pieces of fast-moving floor, that they were clinging on for dear life as opposed to looking for each other.

The huge hydraulic pistons, gears, winding cogs and rods and huge, entombing masses of rails were suddenly in view. It became apparent, the true scale of these machines. There must have been a thousand tonnes of copper there, all twisting, winding, spinning, pumping, with enough force to shatter the Earth. It was all illuminated with a deathly glow by the hundreds of fires, flames and furnaces, tonnes of molten ash being poured into huge chambers near the completely unseen base of the construct. All that could be seen closely resembled what Arián imagined were the fires of hell. She had regained her footing, as thankfully her piece of ground was face-up, flat, and not moving too fast. Having re-oriented herself, she began to look for a way out of this tangle of machinery. All of a sudden a large rod came into view, swinging round in a horizontal circle close by. The floor she was on would miss it by about an inch, but she wouldn’t.

Childhood memories of a skipping rope began to flood in. She used to love it, always moving around, bouncing up and down, sometimes doing the odd show-off flip. She was naturally very agile and light-footed, and enjoyed beating her friends at games like that.  Suddenly, she was extremely thankful of the skipping ropes, and jumped it expertly. Another came, and she repeated the previous action, with more prowess than the previous. Then, without warning, not a rod but a huge counterweight pendulum came into view. It was completely, randomly, mangled. It was like a piece of one of those extremely complicated puzzle cubes that sometimes come with Christmas crackers. Menacing though it looked, the real danger was the sharp edges that could possibly send her tumbling into a fiery oblivion, thousands of feet below.

What was she thinking? Those weren’t thousands of feet below. They were so much less. All this was happening inside the underground of one large Atland. It couldn’t have been that far. The thought sidled out of her mind, and took a back seat to the more pressing matter at hand. Namely, not dying.

 

~

 

Krenclire wasn’t so lucky. He was tumbling, as his panel had flipped to a vertical angle, rendering it useless. He was lucky to have not been crushed or killed yet, and suspected that he was not supposed to be there. His next thought was how irrelevant his purpose here was, in face of him currently falling at a high speed through the air. It was an Erichnae thing, something they all did. Thought the most irrelevant thoughts at the most irrelevant time. Like the time that he had managed to get himself-

He cursed loudly. He’d done it again.

He was still falling. How big was this place? An opportunity, however, interrupted his train of thought. A steaming pool of water, about ten feet deep. Perfect. Krenclire made for it, as much as he could while falling through thin air, and approached the water. Too late he realised. Steaming pool. Oh no.

 

~

 

Vellian had found his piece wasn’t really going too far. It had vanished maybe ten feet downward, but then stopped as he crashed into it. At least he hadn’t missed. But it hurt like hell, and he didn’t need that. Still, he pushed the pain to one side as his panel began to climb, slowly, but evenly. He found a grip in the upper half of the rock, and waited as it began to fit back into the jigsaw.

Jiro was proud to be the only one who had the sense to jump. He had quickly began levitating, and was quite pleased with himself. The scene erupting before him was immense. He watched as the entire cavern was thrown into disarray, divided into a hundred million miniscule pieces. It was a tremendous sight. The floor sunk away into bronze machinery, and the parched gears and pulleys whistled away to themselves as they continued in their task. Jiro had a clear view of the entire cave, and could watch what the huge machine was doing. However, he couldn’t be sure.

Without warning, the huge metallic doors at the near end began to grind open.

Of course.

The Sky Ship.

It all came to him in an instant. Orcum Municipus was supposed to be secret, so they couldn’t just have a giant hole in the ground somewhere for the ships to fly in and out of. They needed to be kept secret. This was probably the most elaborate way on the planet of making something secret, but hell it worked. The cavern looked very inconspicuous, but now, as it began reforming; Jiro could see what was happening. The top of the cavern was folding away, delicately, intricately, powered by a million tonnes of metal. It was amazing, like a paper plane being made in record time or the like. It was truly beautiful.

Jiro’s eye was momentarily caught by the sight of a strand. Pure white. That wasn’t right. Jiro turned, and found himself face to face with Vellian, who had gained control of himself and was now holding on for dear life as his piece of rock climbed further. Jiro knew Vellian wasn’t a problem. The problem was, however, the other two.

Jiro hadn’t mastered flight. He wasn’t good at propelling himself, and he certainly couldn’t do others. It was the reason why back at Mukashien he didn’t want to “Magick them up”. He couldn’t, and was rather embarrassed. But this was different. Krenclire was in danger. And so was Arián. Arián. He needed to find her.

That sounded pathetic. He knew, had Vellian heard, that he wouldn’t hear the end of it for weeks. But Jiro wasn’t shouting this out to anyone. It was his thought. Which, he realised, he was wasting time on.

Levitation wasn’t Jiro’s thing. Embarrassing though it was, he just couldn’t deal with the whole going upwards thing. But just then, the adrenaline seemed to have kicked his magic in. It actually seemed to make it more powerful. Maybe, Jiro thought, it would be possible to utilise the talent further, and find Arián. Worth a shot, anyway.

He let himself briefly drop. It was enough. The principle of levitation was based on an anti-gravity policy. The science of it was that his weight became literally nothing, and so he could propel himself around at will. The danger of it was that a small wind could theoretically blow him anywhere, maybe even past the cloaking field, and into the depths of Big Blue. It wasn’t really an outdoors-y kind of spell. But it was sufficient for the task at hand, so Jiro used another useful spell to begin to move.

Morphus aquas!

The small jet stream was quickly brought under control, and gave Jiro a method of transport. He simply allowed the water to flow in the opposite direction to the one that he was facing, and then he began to move. He had the qualities of an airship. Jiro ducked in through the gap two plates had made, and was met with the utter chaos seen by the other three. Jiro was taken aback, but quickly overcame this, and took to frantically searching for Arián.

It didn’t take much ducking and diving to spot her. Amidst all the chaotic browns and golds and silvers and blacks, one fiery streak of red shone out. It was only fleeting, though. Jiro quickly turned to the direction he saw her, and was met by a horrible sight- two enormous plates of rock sliding together. Jiro looked-he couldn’t get through any other way. So he knew there was only one thing to do.

He sped up to a ridiculous pace, the jets turning to gushes, torrents of water flying from his hands. It only took a quick mental calculation to realise that it would be very tight.

The torrents of water turned to huge, pulsating surges, as he began flying at a speed unparalleled to anything. Hitting a gear or lever at this speed would instantly kill him. It wasn’t a thought he liked the idea of.

The gap was closing fast. He was so much closer now, and yet it seemed more hopeless. His arms were now against his sides, and the surge of water was emanating from his waist down. It was killing his legs, and drenching them, but it was working. Jiro was nearly there, but the gap was just too small. It was now or never. He closed his eyes, and turned onto one side. Come on. Now or never.

There was a crack.

 

~

 

Vellian had heard the cracking noise. It was absolutely tremendous. It made the kind of sound Vellian suspected ten matches made when they were all splintered at the same time. It wasn’t pleasant trying to imagine what would have caused a sound like that. In fact, Vellian was only beginning to contemplate exactly what it was that made a sound like that. The only idea that popped into his head was bone. It wasn’t a nice idea. He was now on the mostly reformed ground, and looking around nervously. It couldn’t be that though. Just hang in there, Vellian.

 

~

 

Jiro sighed a loud sigh of relief. He had just made it. In fact, one tail of his cloak had been caught in the sliding plates of rock, and was ripped off slightly. He had broken a rod with the jets of water, producing a horrific cracking sound. But, most of all, he was alive, and really that was all that mattered. Except getting Arián. That was rather important. And it was why he nearly killed himself just then. But, nevertheless, Jiro pushed on, and brought the streams of water under control once more. He headed off in the direction that the streak of red could be seen in, and threw himself toward it. She couldn’t be far.

 

~

 

Arián was truly, very scared. It was an emotion she had forgotten, the harsh ways of the Dojo taking their toll on her grasp of danger. It was useful in combat, but beyond that more a curse than a blessing. The worry that now overcame her was almost throwing her off balance in itself. But it would do nothing compared to the boulder of a brass instrument that was now swinging towards her with the force of an earthquake. Its edges had a gleaming, flickering light playing upon it from the fires below. It was petrifying.

She looked round. The metal boulder had maybe eight seconds to wait before it collided with her. She scanned the surrounding area. Anything was better than this, but it was all too far away. It was completely and utterly hopeless. It was jump off herself or be pushed off. Five seconds. There must be something! There was something in the distance. It looked like a sprinkler. Four. She realised it was coming toward her. Maybe it would get to her in time, and she could grab onto it. Three. No, she couldn’t. It would be soaked, and almost impossible to grab onto. Two. Wait, hang on. That wasn’t a sprinkler. She waved, and threw her arm up high. One.

Jiro caught onto her arm just as the enormous implement passed over the place where she had been, moments earlier. He knew that this machine had almost completed its work, and that the only way was up. But up was too far away. Maybe, just maybe, down would work. The Atland had to end somewhere, and it wasn’t hugely deep. So he dropped.

 He simply let himself go, and, holding onto Arián as tightly as he could, he began trying to focus on not hitting any stray rods of pistons.

He had just about dropped for four seconds before he saw it. The end of the line. This was a moment Jiro had only begun to plan, but he already had a very good idea of what he would do.

 

Arresti Atomicus!

 

The SpellCaster had taught Jiro that magic was just a physical manifestation of scientific theory. Magic had, over the years, proven so much about science that it made the Eastern Atlands, with the highest concentration of magical population, the forefront of scientific knowledge. One piece of this knowledge was that everything is made up of “Atoms”, tiny, tiny spheres that formed everything.  So, by breaking up the spheres, Jiro could momentarily cause a solid rock to be broken up, in such a way as somebody could pass through it. It was a very clever idea, and worked perfectly. Jiro popped out the bottom of that Atland, and experienced an insane sight. Big Blue. It wasn’t completely blue. There was a lot of green there. And varying shades of grey. There did seem to be a streak of blue there, running through the grey like a ribbon, but it too was bisected by strips of grey in certain places. The entire place was insane, and like nothing Jiro had ever seen before. God, it was a sight. Arián had seen it, too and, hair billowing above her, she was transfixed by it.

Billowing up. Falling.

Jiro reacted almost instantly. He realised how fast he was falling, and that he would hit that shield that wiped memories in just seconds. He knew of only one spell that might just do it.

Scopus Vividus! Morrphus Feiran!

It wasn’t one spell, it was two. The first disoriented Jiro slightly, as he blinked and saw flat land. The second allowed him to focus and take him there. It worked to perfect effect, and Jiro, albeit disoriented, found himself next to Arián on the floor. Then, as if the sight of a grey and green Big Blue wasn’t enough, he saw an insane spectacle. The last vestiges of grass were turning and flipping away, and, as Jiro sat there, a mast appeared. It was a pure black mast, and the sails it flew were pure white. The beauty of the spectacle was that the entire ship appeared out of the ground at a 45 degree angle, and the still chopping and changing grass looked like green waves.

Jiro ran in for a closer look, momentarily leaving Arián behind, and saw that the hull was a pure black, too, with golden fixings, supports and even nails. The entire ship was such an insanely, astoundingly brilliant combination of colour, all, from where Jiro was now standing, flying out of the huge hole in the top of the ground.

The ship was moving extremely slowly, and Jiro could now see why. The ship, as it left, was being blasted with steaming water at a phenomenal rate, to the point that the ship was actually steaming as it went up. Jiro watched, and as the ship neared its halfway point in the exit, one of the jets stopped abruptly. Jiro peered over the side, to where he thought the nozzle might be, and, sure enough, he was met with a huge hose. Problem was, though it was occasionally spurting the odd bit of water, it was mainly just stopped. There was a faint sound, though. Like a shout of agony, but with the volume turned down. As the occasional gurgle got more and more frequent, the shouts became louder, until it was a full-blown scream of agony.

Then, the strangest thing that could have possibly happened at that moment happened. Krenclire’s head popped out of the end of the pipe. His face was covered in bright red, bulbous burns, as was his body, when that began to emerge. They looked like someone had put a very clever Hallow’een mask onto half of his face. It wasn’t pretty.

Krenclire fell out of the end of the piping, and as the normal jet stream resumed, Krenclire rolled down the temporary sides of the cavern, coming to a halt on the flattened bottom. His clothes were ripped up, and he was clearly in mortal pain. Jiro slid down the cavern sides on his feet, a move which could have so easily gone wrong, yet surprisingly didn’t, and he ran over to where Krenclire was curled up.

Zen numnulus!

The spell availed Jiro naught, save the numbing of Krenclire’s pain.  But, as Jiro hefted Krenclire up and walked towards the door, now accompanied by Arián and Vellian, it would have to do.

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