Runic - Aeonian Overture

The realms float about in the neon cosmos of mystic forces long thought to be extinct, a universe known as Ambright where mana and technology can transform entire cities into prosperous empires. However, war has left many with a past haunted by those who lost their lives, as such the case with Glave Octus. He, a veterans's child of the same war that took his sister away, embarks on a journey to rediscover his bloodline. It will be a long trek that will take him deep into the underworld dungeons and lawless cities of Grove, the urban realm where he was born.

Novel Website - https://www.crimsos.org/project-yoctillion

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10. Chapter 10 - The Blue Bambosh

 

 

"Snow Sprites look much like a human, and are always known for their pure appearance. Most of them are drafted to a "superior" -holding their stuff, fetching items for them and so on. As for Filvia, I give her a lot more freedom. I even started to teach her basic mana collecting."

-Char; Landscape Researcher for Typhon-

....

 "Snow Sprites look much like a human, and are always known for their pure appearance. Most of them are drafted to a "superior" -holding their stuff, fetching items for them and so on. As for Filvia, I give her a lot more freedom. I even started to teach her basic mana collecting."

-Char; Landscape Researcher for Typhon-

....

Glave was awake. He touched the stitches over and they lashed back with a painful jolt. Was it daytime? He couldn't tell because day and night this far underground was more abstract than the dreams he just had. This was the first time he slept since entering this unforeseen world, so why didn't he feel like his bones were out of sync with his muscles? Filvia was still at work. Now she was quietly filling out a stack of paper charts. He watched her hand make knots and zig zags, writing in script he probably couldn't recognize even if he wanted two. She didn't look like someone who be doing a job like that. In fact, he didn't think he would be sleeping on a metal island surrounded by this thick, energy rich water.

More importantly, now he knew that Wilva was located somewhere within Farrow's unknown abyss. The portal was just a few feet from him, but it sat dormant, not working, not wanting to follow any command. His mind went back to the log entry, the last one he wrote. Twelve hours was the time he predicted to stay in the dungeon before coming out. Now, about thirty graveling hours of fighting monsters, learning about his mother, and meeting new people had come and gone.

"Some plan that was, right?" Glave asked the air. It responded asking him to explain, but it was not the air. It was Char who stood close by.

"Nevermind." He rose and stretched only his right arm, because the other wouldn't let him. When his attention averted to his strange feathered friend, a surprise awaited.

"It seems that I came across something of an odyssey." Char was holding a gear that would fit rightly in a clock, one housing many dials and symbols within its small glass face "As I suspected," he said, as if beginning a grand speech, "this portal will be unable to function until we can find a replacement for this Momentum Switch." He tossed the small gear up and caught it. "Impossible as it may seem, It appears that someone has sapped the specialized gold mana right from it."

"Oh dear, it's another do-dad that broke?" Filvia half-heartedly eyed what her mentor was holding as if the gear was scrap metal. "Make sure you don't drop it just in case it's heavy enough to sink."

Glave had nearly forgotten he was quite literally standing on water, but his new found dismay roughly shoved that thought aside. "When do you mean, unable to function?"

Char raised an eye to catch his words and analyze them. "We can't go on unless we get this properly replaced, or at least find the correct mana needed to replenish its inner mechanisms. To put things into context, this area was a safety measure so that not just anybody could venture down into the more dangerous parts of Forktown's underworld. The portal itself was built much later on. Also, I've learned from my study of this realm that this area also prevents rainwater from seeping to far and flooding the irrigation networks built all throughout the earth, because it completely isolates that part of the dungeon. All and all, I was actually expecting this portal to not work right away, but, if we can find a way to power it again, we can travel all the way to Farrow in just seconds."

"How far away are we talking about?" Glave asked, dreadfully.

"Well, the exit portal is just beyond here on the other side of this one. That's a huge distance crossed in such a short amount of time, and we won't find a naturally built cross way to get there, not in this dungeon. So, this is the only way. A switch like the one I'm holding is what transmits the signal between here and the destination on the other side." He stopped, closed his eyes, and went on. "Actually, it is more appropriate to call this a waypoint rather than a portal, because it links two areas across the same world." After his dialogue, he tossed the little glimmering piece of glass and metal to him.

Glave held the switch up to get a more meticulous look, before turning his attention back down. "Wait, you said 'two areas across the same world?"

A slow nod. "Yes. If my prediction is correct, if we continue the path from where we are, our trail will eventually end at Farrow. At this point, there is no doubt about it."

"But why would anyone be tampering with something this old?"​

"It seems like to much of a coincidence that you came along at around the same time the portal was damaged, because it sure wasn't like this last time I was here," Char replied. "Someone might be working against us. But regardless of the circumstances, it still makes sense that Wilva would travel through here to reach Farrow, that is, if she wanted to do it undetected. Two portals can be synced across vast distances, and again, I think this one's partner is located in the isolated city itself."

"We can probably find one up in the shopping districts in Forktown. I mean, it's such a big place, there must be gear like the one you're talking about somewhere around there." Glave's mouth slid a frown. "...In Forktown. All the way up there? All the way back. Don't tell me..."

Filvia looked at him worryingly, Char sternly.

"A change of plans is the only way we can get this replacement Momentum Switch." It was a single voice, Char's voice, but it sounded like a crowd, a roaring crowd turning his track off its fluid line. What would he do? Say? Respond? It was all a straight lined mission, until now. Now the line was shifting around, a detour.

"Glave." It was Filvia, looking on with concern.

"Glave." Now it was Char, looking on Calmly. "Are you prepared to do this?"

"Yes, it's just..." Glave swallowed to let his throat work again. "It's just that I'm all the way down here, and now you want us to go all the way back up there."

"Us?" Filvia whispered, too softly.

Char edged closer. "It's up to you. You're the one finding your own bloodline here. Perhaps someone did in fact do this on purpose, but either way, it's the next step regardless."

Glave looked at the ground, around, and back up. "I knew searching for the right clue would take a long time, and this is a chance I'm not wasting. Although, there's always the chance that Wilva was the one who put this portal out of commission in the first place, just a thought." His eyes darkened, as if his words pictured his throat. "For some reason, it makes too much sense."​

Char nodded. "It's certainly food for thought, but its implications seem doubtful. What mostly concerns me now is that a Momentum Switch like this one is hard to find. Portals that only take the user across the same realm stopped being made decades ago. Now, most of them take people across the entire universe and don't use old parts like this one."

"So you're a mechanic and a scientist?" Glave was in mild disbelief, raising his eyebrows.

"I'm old." A very simple response. "Your human lifespan is actually uncommon among the species."​

"So basically, Char is really really old and really really smart and such." Filvia hopped down from her spot standing on the portal's ledge, frowning. "This is all getting a little crazy for me. First, I meet a boy that apparently survived a monster attack, and now, because of this boy, I have to join in on this little treasure hunt for a piece of metal. So it's a new plan, then? We just go back to Forktown, and locate a Momentum Switch, and take it from there?" She sighed, with eyes at Glave. "This is going to be a big deal, and you already cheated death twice now."​

Indeed, the thought of going all the way back to the surface had made Glave lose track of all the bizarre feats he was pulling, one after the other, using explosive scrolls, standing on water, not to mention learning that this Strixix was a creature even Char hadn't seen before. It was a true whimsical nightmare, because his brain was forced to derive from logical reasoning that would have him sinking into the depths, and instead, accept a notion that one could actually defy gravity, or at least realize this was a place that few new of, where common reasoning hardly applied. Now, they were planning a journey to get an old portal working again. Next thing he knew, his body might be soaring over the moon, bouncing off the stars.

"I honestly can't believe we're doing this." Filvia had both hands to her face, and tried to let her breathing carry away something regretful. "How the devil are we supposed to find a place to stay while we search for this thing?"

"I promise you'll be getting extra marks on your report." Char talked to her lightly. "Besides, wherever I go, you have to go."

She rolled her eyes. "So, do we just live on the street or what? We don't have any currency to even get a hotel room. This plan is already falling apart."

"Hold on," Glave called. "I have a friend that can take care of that."

"Who?" Both of them replied in unison. It was time Glave told about Aylward, his adopted father, about how he lived in a shop down next to the main district. Their expressions changed throughout his explanation, mostly Filvia's. His voice was crystal clear because nothing else made noise, with the light from Char's blue cyan eyes mixing in with the emerald gloom rising off the jelly water.

"So, what I'm saying," Glave finished. "Is that in terms of living space, we'll be alright."

"Yes." Filvia voice was a thin bell. "So it seems."

They spent the last hour packing everything inside the portal's latch, all of the equipment used to investigate the build up of mana. The other half of time was Filvia asking questions about what Strixix was like. "How can it regenerate?" "Did it survive?" Char could only say that little was known about Outbreakers. Of course, that never stopped her. Glave's world, his plan was changing on a grand scale, like fitting clock dials inside a overwhelming factory so that all its moving parts could easily conduct. This new approach of locating his mother was less linear, because now he had two people who were willing to help, a scientist from the cold realm of Typhon and his helper. Of course, Char wasn't just a scientist, as he witnessed during the battle with Strixix. Glave imagined how Aylward would react when he would bring home someone who new about the war Wilva was involved in. Truly, his new peacock resembling friend was in a class all by himself.

"All of this still sounds a bit iffy. I don't even know Aylward," Filvia muttered, while Char appeared to muse it over. "You said he owns a store, so I bet it's pretty big compared to the other rent estates Forktown has up." She stretched and groggily laid her head on the table, face curtained under her hair. "But I can't complain. I have to go wherever Char goes anyway. It's up to him."

The Peacock nodded. "And I already said yes. We just have to make sure to bring my documentation so that the guards will not arrest us for being down here in the first place."

"So we're going back the surface, and meeting this Aylward character?" Filvia thumbed her eye tiredly. "Then, we start the search for this gear."

Char said yes, Glave said yes, and she said, "This is not how I expected things to go."

"Aylward is nice to everybody." Glave threw his arms up. "He's been dying for new company anyway!"

"It's going to take time." Char's eyes increased their glow. "The damaged gear inside that portal is not an easy find."

The boy had his eyes set to the ring floating above them. "Easy or not, after we find it everything will work. It's that simple."

"And I stay in the back, away from all the potential death traps that might kill us all." Filvia exaggerated a pose with her arms like giant claws. Char gave a look somewhere between annoyance and acceptance.

One final hour was spent resting, thirty minutes on making sure everything was stored away snugly, ten minutes on planning a route to the surface, and five seconds of Glave gazing at the Char's assistant who had healed him. He wondered how Filvia fit into the universe, her place as a whole among the great vastness of the Ambright dimension. He took a last lap around the portal and thought about Farrow, thinking of what it would be was like, imagining a larger clone of Forktown, which seemed impossible. To imagine how something unimaginably gigantic possibly be thought the tiniest bit bigger? Then there was his current location. It felt astoundingly peaceful, this amazingly simplistic underlayer area beneath the surface. If only there was more places to stand without getting his shoes soaked. All of it was striking to the eye, and to the mind.

"I almost don't want to leave," Glave said.

"This floor gets to you, doesn't it?" Char gestured to the unforeseen sky. "It has its merits in beauty, that's the sure. We'll be back soon enough."

"I really hope so."​

....

The first floor was more alive upon their ascension. It would only be half an hour before they would cross the bridge again, like how a journey back home flew by as opposed to the other way around. Glave felt at odds going back to Forktown, to put this trek of his in a different direction. But they would be back, and hopefully him and his new diverse company would be able to find the portal switch before long. Not knowing the time frame was really starting to drive in and scratch his brain. This was going to be big.

And perhaps, someone was actively working against them from the all along.

They made careful progress across the bridge. Filvia broke stride many times at the tar rotting under her. The wing which Char had severed off laid motionless near the exit way, blocking half of it. She inhaled sharply upon seeing it, with a hand clawing at her hair as if to keep a panic from flooding out. Then there was the pit where the scroll's detonation turned sides of that battle, when Strixix burned aflame while it fell into the abyss.

You've got to be kidding me. Her arms dropped straight as she turned her frantic eyes wide at Char. This is what happened?!

Char paced near Glave. "Seems that everybody's over the fear of the Outbreaker. Be ready for anything."

Glave nodded while Filvia stayed in the back. She hadn't been on the first floor in a while. There were more lanterns than she remembered, but the air was still filled with a living glide of danger.

"Someone's coming," Char whispered.

It came much quicker than she thought.

Goblins emerged, red skinned, converged with killing glares. The two of them lunged their barbed axes. Char stepped in the path and stopped one before the weapon's momentum could increase. He hooked his hand to swipe the axe to the goblin's possession, and broke it in half. The second goblin arced his own axe down at Glave. Focus. The shield emerged, and all who was close forced the eyes shut from the light. When it faded, the goblin looked dumbly at the wooden stub where its weapon was, and both them snorted away.

"Let's keep moving," Glave said. "By now it's an hour away from morning on the surface. If we hurry, nobody will notice us as we exit the dungeon."​ Char and Filvia struggled to keep up momentarily, because they had temporary white spots in their vision.

Clean irrigation water flowed from pipes above their heads, running on walled stone ledges while some of it trickled ground level making puddles along their path. Even the thinner hallways split into even smaller channels. As they meandered through, backtracking the same path twice was a near impossible task to follow. Tunneling through this dimension twisted by metal aged horribly by time was daunting to navigate in. After they made a sharp turn left, a staircase ascended them closer and closer to the beginning.

"There's the lake!" Glave threw a hand at it, the spot where he had met Char. It meant they were drawing near the exit way to the surface. They continued on, faster, faster still, wanting to finally reach the end of this subterranean world. Their path around the lake would take several minutes, so it was best to get it over with and quicken the pace. It was fine if one had enough energy, but not all did.

Filvia couldn't use mana to draw more stamina into her system. It was why her knees trembled at every sudden turn as she desperately tried to follow them. Her limbs burned as she was panting heavy. It was impossible to keep up. Her chest shifted between cold and hot, whichever one came first in the thumping rhythm of her heart.

"Wait," Filvia was hardly able to speak. Glave halted first, pulling at Char to do likewise. "Wait", she repeated, and asked the two of them to slow down. The response was something about a horrible monster being able to come up the bridge. Char's expression twisted in anxiety, but made up for it with an apologetic smile afterwards. She looked over Glave's stitches again, still painting, moving the air softer than fabric, trying to catch an easy breath.

"Well, if we're taking a break, might as well make use of it," said Glave. The lake, and its moving light slithered among the rock tiles - he asked Char if drinking from the it was safe, because he was out of mana, out of shields that were very bright, and thirsty. It would taste bitter and sloshy and would still juggle in his stomach even after swallowing, but he must do it. Since there was no mana to take in from the air, the only way was to consume it directly.

Filvia watched the boy's hand cup in and lift out the glowing water, her complexion soft and curious as she watched him, and not knowing the feeling. Char's cyan glinting eye raised ridiculously at him, knowing the feeling of ingesting mana directly.

"I bet it feels good to stick your feet in, right?" asked Filvia, wanting to at least feel this mysterious lake on her skin. Glave shrugged, so she gave up the pursuit of questions and plopped down beside him anyway, legs halfway dipped below the surface. Glave copied casually.

"Kids", Char mumbled.

It lurked underneath.

"People don't really talk about places like these," said Filvia. "We have caverns in Typhon where I'm from, so whenever I asked about them, people would ignore me, or sneak away, leaving me talking. Even if these places aren't really meant to be stumbled upon, I think they're at least worth the trouble."

"The trouble of what?" Glave shrugged.

"Exploring them." She sighed back happily, tilting her eyes at the ceiling. "Perhaps some places in aren't meant to be explored to begin with. Maybe I'm sounding a bit much."

"The only way I found out about this dungeon is through books."

Her eyes widened. "Nobody just told you?"

"Not really."

"Oh they must! Unlike on my world, there's so many people where you live! One could know where anything is just by word of mouth." Her jingling words echoed like bouncy balls. Char motioned to keep it down.

The stiff water began to swirled around Glave's ankle, and he noticed a rough crease brush the ends of his toes. He looked down. There was white muck, buddied by a splayed blue apparition, more blue than the water it was squirming in. Five fingers gripped his foot, tighter, it was moving more. Filvia yelped and sprang away all at once. He heard Char call for him as he was being dragged in the water, pulled in by a hand, and just a hand. ​

The same hand Char had severed. ​

"Hag!" Glave cried, half the word cut off because the blue bumpy hand yanked his leg so hard it knocked the wind out. He was on his back sliding across the rough stone tiles, being pulled down, the lake growing bigger. The skin surrounding his chest constricted, forcing air out. Filvia hurried over and wrapped him desperately, heaving back and trying to counteract the amazingly horrible force pulling the other way, both of them yelling and kicking as this little hand was seemingly stronger than both of them. Suddenly it let go, and then it jumped the water, crawling around with its fingers like wild spider legs. Char reeled back his saber and seethed down. White blood or ink or whatever it was splattered about as the hand's lacerated fingers shot off everywhere, a light shower of warty skin. Glave was up in a nanosecond, looking at the sight, a sight that he wanted to forget immediately. ​

"These things just don't quit!" Char had never raised his voice above normal speaking until now. Glave quickly found out why. Still alive, the broken hand was still trailing pasty fluid from the spaces where there should be a thumb, an index finger, a pointer finger: a disfigured appendage with a mind of its own. Char slashed again at it, destroying what was thought destroyed. Now it was just fingers and no wrist, those fingers floundering like worms on searing hot pavement, twitching, but no longer dangerous. Glave breathed out, not remembering when he breathed in. He asked if it was dead, but no one answered him​

"That was part of Strixix" Char looked at his assistant and the boy who just experienced something that no one should had experience. "I've almost forgot that I gashed off this hand when the hag attacked." ​

"Aylward is never going to believe this, ever," Glave said, then his head tilted at Filiva....at Filvia. ​

Filiva, cautiously, boldly, reached onward to one of those fingers that still throbbed movements. Smiling? Glave watched her poke it, streaming curiosity touching it, looking it over with careful steps going in and out as if approaching something utterly fascinating. ​

Until she picked it up.​

"Stop it!" Char smacked it away, and the girl watched it bounce on the ground, still moving, still breathing with the white ink trailing from its stump. She made the motion of holding her hand like it hurt, like she was sorry, but her mouth did not slip or drop.

"I was just...!" Filvia stopped, and looked away.

Char turned toward the exit. "I know what you were doing, but we'll talk about this later. Let's just keep moving before morning slips away."

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