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 pasts forever altered by the times when lands clashed, such is the case with Glave and Uriel. Both have set their lives towards high aspirations. Glave yearns for his lost bloodline. Uriel dreams of becoming her king's loyal patron. Yet their undertakings dissolve as their choices lead further into a path of unexpected threats and struggling values. It would seam that Ambright holds other plans for them.

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11. Chapter 11 - The Red Recluse

 

 

"The Harpies find strength in suffering, the elves in beauty. But if you make an elf suffer, it gets weaker. I wonder what happens if you make a Harpy beautiful."

-Heron-

....

The two huge slabs of wood hinged open as the dungeon gaped its mouth, moving by an unclear mystic force. It was still cold outside even though it was midday. Glave was out first, then Char, and lastly Filvia who said, "There's bound to be guards around here, and I know they don't take kindly to trespassers even if they have clearance."

Glave nodded, sweeping his eyesight across the empty lot. "Yes, but they're not going to mind us when we step out of this restricted area."

Char blinked, wiping his eyes to the light. It had been hours since he had seen the suns. "Where to?"

"Follow me, there's an old well that marks where this area and the rest of Forktown meet, we'll head there. Stay close to the sidewalks, and look out for any wagons or carts. We can use those to hide if a guard passes." As Glave finished, the door behind their backs banged shut, startling all of them except Char.

The clashing of distant factory cylinders gave them a push to go faster, with the sun shining on the tallest buildings making them gleam silver and gold. Their need to look for the nearest vantage point was always prevalent even with their mana being used to detect anyone close by. However, in using mana, a wandering cat looked the same as a Troll; there was no way to distinguish between living things, only the realization of their general presence was sensed.

However, that didn't hinder Char from sensing that two life forms were hastily coming into their path. "Hold up," he stopped; The others did likewise. "Someone's coming."

"How many?" asked Glave

"Two by my count. Get ready."

Two men clad in silver rounded the corner, spears in hand, faces shrouded in that iconic obscure mask housing nothing but rectangular eye sockets, just a slab of hard plaster.

"Hey! You're not supposed to be around this quadrant," one of the men barked, his voice slightly distorted. "The underground catacombs are a restricted area. Where is you documentation?"

Char nodded to Filvia, and she handed him a silver fleeced scroll, and when it was handed to the guard Glave expected it to blow up right then and there, but remembered soon it was just normal paper. He sighed in relief

"Wait a second," the other guard pointed, previously unspoken. "It says that only two of you are qualified to go inside. What's going on?" He turned to the boy. "And isn't that the same kid that escaped from us yesterday?"

Char glanced over at Glave as if the say "You did what?" However, keeping calm, he fluidly responded, "My document had a listing error when it was issued from Typhon. The boy is with me and my assistant."

"You expect us to believe that?"

"Absolutely!" He stepped forth, looking up at them with sabers. "I've been visiting this realm many times for sixty years now, and have made great discoveries on this world's organic life. I recommend that you show a little more respect before I report the both of you to my research facility staff. Understand?"

The guards looked at each other, then carefully at the paper, then lastly at Glave who had his eyes on the ground. "Well, the boy that escaped was wearing a jacket, and I don't see one here. Very well! On your way!"

"So you were really telling the truth," Filvia sighed, a conundrum of bewilderment covering her face. "About how you were almost caught and arrested when you first went down here."

Glave nodded. "And they'll be more coming our way if we stand around."

All three of them streamlined throughout the loud architecture hollowed out by open storehouses. Glave called "left" or "right" and "this way", to signal each turn. From there they trekked the quickest route down the broken avenues, snitching under the noses of the town guards. Nips of cold air skimmed over his skin even as he slowed to a walk. It was about to happen. Gett's would be introduced to his new companions who were willing to help him on his quest for Wilva, his bloodline.

They passed the well, meaning the restricted area was now behind them.

"Filvia, how come you're not frozen already in that dress you're wearing. It's the pit of winter, aren't you cold?" Glave asked the questions more to keep his lips from chapping from the chilled air.

"My kind doesn't get cold," she replied simply. "How long until we get to your place?"

"A bit away, but not too long."

So, their trek carried on, through alleyways so thin they had to walk sideways. Many pipes tubed through the walls so that the brick or stone hardly played peek-a-boo behind them. They were sometimes jogging, other times walking, all the time the anticipation growing and inflating. A marigold sky peered down from above, cloudy, but it was still bombing weather considering it was the tread of a cold season. Swift gales of wind blew across the pavement they traveled on churning up dead leaves and feathers. It was dawning midday, with the first sun trying to catch the second one across a partly veiled sky, with birds cackling away at the gusts that carried them over head. Even more chattering developed everywhere around as they weaved through startled citizens. Presumably, Glave thought they were mostly being startled by Char, with his appearance of an owl, a lizard, and something mysterious all bundled into one. They passed by a clergyman who was captivating a gathering audience. They also passed the open food markets, with their bright, flamboyant colors all around them, going past fruit stands and pumpkin patches. The crisp chills from the northern regions blew past here on a yearly basis, and Milos once pointed out to Glave that the river, no matter how cold it became, never froze over. She told him that it never froze because it was always in motion, never stopping to rest. In a way, movement itself kept Glave's attention on his goal, just as it powered factories and magic everywhere. And perhaps movement was what kept Milos happy all that time.

The enlarged gem logo sign appeared into their vision at the end of the dirt street, secluded and rising above all the structures that flanked it.

"Here it is. The store is just beneath that sign."

"And your father?" Char asked.

"Yeah, he'll be inside. He always stays inside during cold noondays like this." Glave ran ahead, eager, very eager to see his adopted father after going through such a maelstrom of bizarre events. One step, two steps, three up the front patio, and he opened the door, expecting to smell firewood and cooked food, and a man who would grin upon seeing him.

His smile died.

For the first time, he could hear the shrouding thumps of his own blood being pumped across his body, with his knees shaking and fingers twitching without control. What his eyes were trying to process did not comprehend with everything else. He verged on the crux of death. He looked abroad a world of red and a shadow. There was a big lump near the fireplace, a red dripping lump that smelled dead.

Then he noticed Aylward wasn't around.

There was no smell of burning wood, no fire smoldering in its cranny, none of that existed. It was only the withering that ripped the bottom out from Glave's universe and left and stagnate piece missing. There was a pale shadow whiter than the moon standing behind the lump. It moved its head around in swaying arcs hooting, "Majesty is proud" and "Master will be pleased." The same oozing words punctured through Glave's ear canals, just like the last time he heard that ghost white monster chitter him to sleep the dungeon.

Then a continuous screech blistered the air."Don't worry your head about this old sack of human, he's been dead flesh for hours. He kept babbling about how you were searching for what's her face."

The wings, the break, the talons, the face - they all plastered pale horrifying images on the back of Glave's cranium that would live for as long as he walked this life, because now, that same feral monster had infiltrated his adopted father's house, and murdered him cold and dead.

"Thought my other half would kill you first. Took your sweet time getting back here." Strixix screeched these words as Its hollow white ring spun in shaky tremblings above its round face. The more more it wobbled, the more Glave's brain worked to comprehend what was there, or maybe something was preventing him on seeing the reality before his eyes. He looked to the left and right, hoping that what was there only existed in imagination, but not even his imagination could fabricate a scene so paralyzing, a scene where the grip of decaying flesh could sit happily on a gory throne.

White Strixix noticed the comparably small boy backing away, his mouth sliding down, pupils duller then when he first entered, but the beast would not let him escape. The monster lunged with the speed of a trumpet sound wave. Glave's chest burned like flaming bone marrow as a claw full of talons dug Into his chest, and he was thrashed hard across the wood floor. The front door slapped open as his body ragdolled down the entry steps and skidded to a stop somewhere outside, with the dirt and the dust and the blood.

All in just one swipe.

Char was now standing at his side, a saber gripped in hand and prepared to do give this animal a test for its life for a second time. Strixix lunged forward again, stumbling, but it's face only smacked the shield that Glave managed to erect just in time. Shrieking, the owl stumbled back as its eyes swooshed around in their sockets from the immeasurable light. Char saw an opening. A cry agonized from the owl's beak as his sharp energized weapon tore through its wing. The beast fell to the ground splatting white blood everywhere. Strixix was in pain, but only for a moment. The same pale fluids exploded out from where the wing use to be, and formed a brand new one, a perfect regeneration of a lost limb.

Filvia watched in horror a few meters back, lips quivering like vibrating strings from the horror playing out before her. It was only an hour ago that she was peacefully making reports in the underground dungeon, and now Char had dragged her along to help this boy, this unknown child who had somehow lived through certain death. This was the result, the most gruesome display of battle she had ever witnessed. Glave grabbed Strixix by its long tubular neck and yank down, allowing Char to get in close enough to cleave his bladed edge like a hyperactive guillotine, gutting off the owl's head. It rolled away leaving a trail of gunk. It stopped by her feet. Filvia looked down at it, and saw that the narrow eyes of Strixix were still wide open. With her hands clenching her dress, she slowly looked up again, and nearly fainted.

The body was still moving.

Headless, decapitated, but the creature made of evil squirmed around kicking its remaining wing and legs, a seizure brought on by some insane urge to keep fighting. One of its wild swipes made contact with Glave's chest. Pain ruptured from they did, but also, something tingling rose from behind the pain. However, he didn't care. He didn't care if this demon gashed his neck or crushed his heart, because deep in his subconscious he new Aylward was dead, and the murderer was undeniably clear. He winced hard, eyes scowling into thin tunnels of vision. He rose shaking. The crimson puddle on the ground from his dripping blood didn't even phase him. Pain, yes, but once more there also existed this tingling buzz under his skin. Again, he didn't care about any of that, and he prepared his bleeding body for another charge, pushing his legs like steam pistons. Thoughts of this demon's death zinged through his core faster than the cerebral hard drive of his mind could read them. Pounding his legs even more now to run top speed, he focused the remaining mana in the air for a forcefield.

I'll ram it so hard there will be nothing left!

Strixix was stunned by electrifying light as the bodily supernova came pounding its way faster and faster. The energy piked through the boy like ballistic tap wires exploding off trillions of times a second.

"You're going to fast!" Glave heard the muffled call of Char, who was racing after him.

It was too late. His skin prickled with numbness, then next came the lightning strike of agony that brought his bones a brittle dose of helplessness. His feet gave out, and the shock of something tearing through his skin halted his charge at the monster who had just destroyed the man who raised him. Red strings of blood sprang out as he toppled down, falling knee level, then falling even more. Glave saw his eyesight vanish as the edges turned dark, the hard cold dirt pressing against his face. In the background, the diminishing rings of screeching went on, but he couldn't see Char or Filvia. Then, the realization of what just happened made his spine an ice column. He couldn't think straight, however, the voiceless words still echoed around the air, in his head, in his stomach.

I've Overdosed.

....

A red splattering burst of light stung Uriel's eyes and she fell back from the vision pool. Her blotted world rolled around a few revolutions before stopping dead, then she was laying sideways. Her eyes squeezed shut like shrinking raspberries, clenching her hip because it flared with pain, waves of heat that rose and fell in a crushing drone, but thankfully nothing would be permanently damaged. This time, there was no mistaken this spontaneous flash for a mere image manifested by her imagination, because not even her mind could have created such a violent strike of effulgence.

Slowly, the girl rose, the plum colored crystals light embedded in the walls casting a soft radiance on her body, making parts of her cloak blacken itself in odd, mangled shadows. She was a pretty little animal caught in a blinding spotlight, not able to fully comprehend what had just happened, at least, for a minute or two, because her mind eventually brought itself back to reality. Never had this pool demonstrated such an event, a pulse of energy so spontaneous that it physically pushed with an unseen force.

Uriel went over to take a second peak with wary footsteps, as if approaching a beastly apperiton. Her eyes sunk themselves into the pool's mist, ready to pull back if the pulse of light happened yet again.

There was nothing.

It was a synthetic replay of last time. A sudden explosion of luminescence would startle her, then crawl back into whatever corner it came from, and stay there, stubbornly. Heron was right, all these images turned out blurry when it regarded Glave Octus, however, if they were blurry to begin with, then one would know that it was indeed him. So, at least that much was for sure, but what could happen to him that could produce this unprecedented event? Perhaps Kugo or Linus accidentally killed the child, a freak occurrence that would have both of them executed upon their return, if they would even return if an act like that were to happen.

Not likely. The thought plunged into her brain. As much as I hate to admit it, Linus is too smart to let himself or Kugo do that.

If she went and told Heron about this, he would probably not believe her, and just account the event as a misconception of a teenager's wild imagination; and a guard would prove no help either.

The girl stuck her head outside the chamber entrance to find no one in sight, and thus, no one to tell about what just occured. So she pursed her lips and waited yet again for another flash to arise, hoping that Heron would also be there to see it next time.

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