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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9. Chapter 9 - The Green Gallicide

 

 

"There was a time where I was shown around a high security Typhon biology lab. Body parts of all kinds were sewn together, some connected only by a few wires. The Merfolk that ran the place were known to be some of the smartest creature's known to Ambright, and they said that some of the limbs still moved on their own. Understandably, I never went there again."

​​ - Ze'hiraf; Grove Historian -

....

 

At Heron's palace, Uriel was a lone watcher who could see into a different world, into the stars. Peering through the vision pool, her mind uttered unspoken words about all the wondrous snippets she was viewing within the swirls of magic and mythical light. It was a device made to keeps tabs on events far away, and this time, it was locked on Linus and Kugo's journey to capture Glave, and Forktown as a whole. The small chamber let free a slow, shallow aura of violet gloom that illuminated her eyes to reflect their blood red shade. It was like a small room housing only one television which often times produced a blurry picture, because not all images were clear. Some were distorted, as if a sheet of frosted glass dropped in the way nearly every time.

"Darn." Uriel took a step back from the pool and pondered, shifting a hand through her hair, and her long feathery ears drooped slightly. A flash had just sprung up from the endless abyss of visions that almost made her jump back in surprise. It was only for a second, so bright that it made her question if the device malfunctioned, but no, Heron's belongings were perfect in every way, they had to be. After a minute's time to regain her composure, the girl promptly went back expecting to be dazzled by the sudden flash again, but all was calm. There were just the soft, slow moving whorls of green and blue smoke, no flash, no excitement. The pool was unmoving.

She kept an even gaze at the slow moving spirals for a long time in case anything else popped up, before leaning away, more confused than before. She had just been washed with a wave of colors only to be thrown right back to reality before she could fully realize what had just happened. It looked, more or less, like an explosion, a radiant burst of green and orange like a firework, or perhaps this was simply imagination that had no idea what it was doing, just a product of a bored mind with nothing to do.

A conformation was in order, to see if she wasn't the only one seeing this. With a quick turn and a slight grin, she flicked off the intercom mic from its wall socket and spoke loud and clear. "I request a guard's presence at room 44, the vision pool."

It was a short wait. Silver plated footsteps clanked at the chamber's entrance. A man of armour and red clothing stood straight and ready to follow any command. His face was mostly concealed.

The man did a partial bow. "You requested a stand in, Miss Uriel?"

The girl stepped aside, and gestured a hand to the eerie mythical afterglow. "If it's not too much of a bother, please look into the pool and tell me if there's anything unusual."

He did so without a second's hesitation or resilience, bending over the pool's rim to peer into the soup of quiet, motionless tendrils of magic. Through worried eyes, he rose and gave the girl a quick nod.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, Miss Uriel, nothing beyond what is normal."

She waved stiffly. "Fine, leave then."

Again, the man halfway dipped his body, and left swiftly, drowning the room once again in silence thick enough to smother a whisper. A warm breeze touched her cloak, making it ripple, which seemed impossible this far in the palace's many hallways and rooms. In the end, maybe it was just an illusion and no one would know about it except her.

....

It was a still ocean of enchanted water letting out an incessant slow gloom, like a forever indoor swimming pool. No walls showed their face, except the one that led a tunnel from the first floor, the one Char and Glave stepped out of now. There was no sign of a ceiling, but Glave knew there had to be one somewhere up there, for this place was carved well underground. As they strode on this water. It was clear this area wasn't at all natural. Mana never gathered in this quantity, especially not enough to produce an aquatic body of this size. Perhaps Glave had never woken up this morning, and was merely sleepwalking through a world of dreams, unsure rather he wanted to wake up or not because of this fanciful landscape. Unreal as this may have seemed, it was foolish to deny the gnawing pain in his chest as anything but reality. It was a raw pain that made his skin feel paper thin, and he held a hand there as if that would push it more into the background. The searing talons of Strixix had burned through his jacket and shirt, but he managed to get away just as the boiling ink was about to bore through his chest. The heat alone must had caused this inflammation.

They walked forward, quietly and smoothly with Glave's feet feeling as if they hovered above the liquid surface, a magical floor. Not a word was uttered, until something came into view, poking up from the horizon and making itself known. He couldn't tell what it was until the distance to it was shortened, and the shape was fully visible.

A flush island of metal climbed its rust upward to a very odd shape. The unusual platform was situated in the heart of this ocean of soft light, and it contrasted with dirty oranges and browns, a grand focal point as if the entire area was artwork crafted from careful hands. A ring was what Glave recognized the odd shape above to be. Yes, and this ring was connected by a pole to a small landmass of metal perfectly level with water's surface. It was only sized enough to have maybe nine people standing on it, small, and strange, a marvel indeed.

"My assistant should be nearby", said Char. "If not, it probably means she's off doing her own private research again."

"Your little helper is a she?" Glave asked.

A small nod. "Yes You might know her kind as a Snow Sprite, and she can be quite a handful. You'll see, and she'll properly fix up your shoulder."

Soundless was the air, with the surrounding space so open any noise was reduced to nothing by the vastness alone. It wasn't anything like Forktown, Grove, or even the rest of the dungeon. It was an area that didn't quite belong anywhere. Glave tried to press his heel down on the water but it didn't act like water. It was a jelly that gave way but never ruptured. In this short time, the boy's world had expanded tremendously, from the crowded Forktown blocks, and now to the steam filled under city, to the dungeon and Strixix, and Char. And now, he was walking in this glimmering world yet to meet another person. A thin wisp of clothing drifted into view, bleaching against the aquatic halo backdrop. It was a girl.

"Here she is," said Char, fondly. "My long life companion and assistant."

Her sundress was silver, with wavy blue hair tumbling just past the shoulders, with some of it knotted back. Blue hair? She appeared to only be a few years above himself. When they got close enough, the girl turned to see who was there, her vivid dark blue eyes contrasted her simple yet easily precious form, fragile like a thin sheet of ice. At first, her eyes were only at Glave, lingering at his shoulder before they tilted at Char. Snow Sprites had slim and snowy faces and this was no exception. He didn't notice all of her features at first though, not all at once, but rather what was cradles in her arms - a wood tray housing flasks and other instruments he couldn't recognize.

"I didn't know you were bringing help," she said, with a voice of feathers "Does he bite?"

Char spoke. "Filvia, this is Glave, and no he doesn't bite."

The girl just smiled lightly, in purest expression Glave had ever seen, then went back to her tasks which at this point were somewhat unknown.

More of the strange type of glassware in her arms made their presence known all over the fold-out tables idly standing all around in scattered rows. This small unnatural island was littered with them. The tables had syringes, needles, paper sheets with charted graphs, and strange containers of all odd sizes sprawled about. A laboratory? The maps in his stolen book showed no documentation of anything like this existing. He circumnavigated the strange metal island again and again while Char appeared to be helping this Filvia character with organizing and taking samples of the gelatin mana surrounding the island. His shoulder was starting the throb crashing waves of pain again. Even so, Char said that his assistant would take care of that, but they looked preoccupied in their strange routine of what looked like research. Then, there was this burn hole where Strixix pinned him down...while it was still partially on fire. Completely, Glave felt out of place, like a square block churning through a triangle opening. Even with his injuries, he once or twice tried to assist Char and Filvia, but was often caught putting this or that in the wrong place, the wrong container, the wrong tube or box. In fact, Filvia was normally the one to call him out on it, but she it so politely that he didn't immediately realize it at first. It was best to just stay out of it.

And of course, there was the begging question about what was all this science equipment was even doing here in the first place. It was for research, yes. But of what kind? He also found himself looking towards the center of the island where the rusted ring stood. He had no idea what its purpose was. The more he thought on it, the more questions surfaced from his mind.

"Filvia", Char called her kindly. "This may be a very strange question, but did you happen to see a hag-like creature come through here. It was blue skinned, and really thin."

"And had really sharp hands", added Glave, looking away from the ring.

​​ The unusual question made Filvia stop and look around, as if the monster they just described was nearby. "You're right, it's a ridiculous question," she replied, bringing the soothing note of chimes to shame.

​ "So, that's a no," Char's reply was distant. "That means Strixix came here before us, or simply entered through the dungeon's front entrance without anyone noticing." He shook his head. "No, It couldn't have gone through the front entrance, I would've definitely known about it."

Filvia stepped forth. "I don't understand. What exactly happened?"

In the time that Char re-laid to Filvia what happened, about Strixix, about what all happened. During this transfer of information, Glave watched her face change expressions ten times over. He was still uncertain about who these two really were, everything happened so fast, like being drove into a bright colored loop that exploded into a new form every second.

When the word "Scroll Bomb"exited the Peacock's tongue, it was like shooting a dart, because her complexion slipped down and drew a frown, like a bright candle that had been lit for too long and finally reaching the last bit of wax. He also told her about the halo ring that was hovering above the white Strixix's head. However, It seemed that Filvia wasn't at all convinced of this Outbreaker-like behavior, mimicking the appearance of a Valkyrie of Mejis. Infact, her eyes rolled when Char got to the part about how they were committing blasphemy by mimicking Valkyries. It was a ball being tossed back and forth between the them, showing their contrast, showing the differences in their mindfulness.

"The white Strixix had a ring above its head."

"That doesn't mean anything," Filvia would keep saying.

"It means a lot!"

"Please." Her voice was only slightly louder. "It's just that Mejia hasn't appeared yet, so, maybe that ring was all for show."

Char was quiet, resting the swollen topic for now, and veered his attention at Glave who was sitting at the fold out table next to her "Alright, time to spill out some answers, like I promised," he said. "Glave, I'm sure you have questions about who we are, well here it is."

The boy leaned forward.

"...Filvia and I often come here in this dungeon to collect samples of the mana from this area, because a natural build up of this size is very rare. We were granted access inside here by other Typhon researchers since Forktown guards normally patrol around the dungeon entrance. Glave, you came in through the dungeon hours later after we did. That's when you found me on the first floor."

"So, you two are scientists?" Glave questioned.

"Almost", said Filvia. "I'm just his assistant. You see, this ring behind me is actually an old portal, and it leads to a place far away. I'm sure that has something to do with your mom."

"Wilva most likely used it to travel." The feathers shimmering down Char's arms pulsed light as he said that. "It's an old waypoint that leads directly to Farrow, but I'm not sure if it works anymore. Obviously, we don't use it ourselves but I was thinking that if we got it working, it would let you closer to the area where she might be. I'll elaborate more on the subject after you get your injuries treated, and get some rest."

"It's something", Glave emphasized. "First clue I've had since starting this journey."

"But it IS something", said Filvia.

He laughed. "It is. It still is. But what's a thing like this doing here?" He waved at the portal, to its old chipping metal that sat centered in this strange world.

"It's been here since forever ago." Filvia leaned against its base, her lapis hair tilting idly like a newborn waterfall. "Forktown guards once used it to check up on the so called bad guys a long time ago when this place was used to lock away criminals. Ever since this part of the dungeon rose above sea level with all this mana, well, they kind of left it sitting around. It's super hard to get in a dungeon without the right papers if there's a relic like this inside." She sat on the ledge of the portal, feet dangling. Wavy sellouts reflecting off the water climbed over, making her skin and dress shimmer endlessly. Glave stood watching her, like one would watch a stalagmite crystal about to fall. Whatever she said lingered around his interpersonal bubble longer than normal. She chose the structure of her phrases carefully, her arms motioning to accompany her voice. She wasn't using long words to make herself sound smart, but just using the right ones.

"So, here we all all," she finished. "All together on this weird island in the middle on nowhere, with a portal that may or may not work."

Glave couldn't help but to smile at her, because her words were comfortable, happily entering his ears and staying there like a nice song. When the girl was done talking, she even did a polite bowing gesture, excused herself respectfully, and went to go about her tasks. It was a whimsical sight, watching her go about her tasks. She flowed all around the island, moving, picking up, setting down the bottles and tubes and papers. Char sometimes told her what to do, other times not. It was some sort of routine they did, their coordinated study on the glass horizon surrounding them.

"Filvia, hold those flasks carefully."

"Absolutely, I'll make sure not to drop them."

"Are the charts done yet?"

"Almost, please give me five more minutes."

"The samples in those beakers are empty."

"I'll collect more mana, be right back."

It was order after order as the two worked, using tools Glave Had never seen before. One appeared like a clock except with many hands, while others popped and poofed bits of smoke into the perfectly clean air, staining the white paper with a small vile of spilt ink. He thought that if he stepped in again to help them, even a little, the integrity of this well oiled system of multitasking would be compromised and fall to rubble. Before, he didn't think Char was actually a researcher from another realm. It was more than that, he could somehow use mana without driving it in from the air. Aylward rarely talked about other realms, he didn't know what to expect. Even at Jin's foster home, there was no one that looked quite like Char or Filvia. She looked a bit like his sister Milos, considering her face and eyes, although they were not the same color.

He craned his head and blinked. Thoughts about Milos were almost too much to bare because it only served to remind him of the day when Formtown was caught in the war raids.

Breathe in. Don't think about it. Breathe out.

After a while of Glave watching them work, Filvia turned her attention to him, her eyes tracing his injuries, the red gash on his chest where his jacket ripped, and where the talons had almost seared into his skin.

"Alright," she said while doing another slight bow. "I've come to a good stopping point. Char told me to fix you when I had the time. So, let's get started before those wounds get infected." She opened a rusty latch spreading across the portal's base, a door that was almost hidden beforehand. Her hands fiddled around a bit inside the darkness.

"Finally, here they are", she said. "We come here so often that I began storing items in this latch for safekeeping." The girl took out something that shined, and it was easy to tell what it was. The sight of the needle with spiral thread only reminded Glave of how serious his injuries were. Adrenaline had mudded most of the pain until now. He nearly yelled to be careful when Filvia touched his skin where it was raw.

While she tended to the boy, Char was sticking his head inside the other latch on the opposite side, mumbling something about a broken switch. It soon became impossible for him not to ask questions about Strixix, as if to release the swelling from his head. Are there more Outbreakers? How did it Strixix come from the hag? Where did the hag come from? Char didn't know, and that startled him, with Filvia giving look after worried look preceding each unanswered question, so he stopped, almost afraid.

"Sorry that I don't have a drug to numb all od this", Filvia said gently, her fingers threading stitches to his skin. "Char and I can only carry so much on the go. Oh, and you probably want a new shirt after this."

Indeed, red drips blotted the ocean from Glave's shirt that was hanging folded beside him. She did one last tug of string through his skin, and a last muffled grunt escaped. It was done, and the boy felt the left side of his body thin and tender with a pinching ache. Filvia still wore a smile as she stuffed everything away back into the portal latch. Glave got up to feel his arm asleep, not wanting to think about stitches, or Strixix, or how tired he was. His trusty bag containing all of his supplies had gotten lost somewhere along the way, leaving him without something to eat.

Filvia completed her careful healing work by applying a sealing aid to his shoulder. It was cold and slimy. However, the way her words skipped of her tongue could make anything she did smooth out and become less distasteful. Her face was a platform in which calmness could land on and rest. Her hands rose from his sealed wound, like a Snow Bird leaving its disfigured nest. She even asked if he was tired, like a nurse would, and next, she went over the slash wound on his right forearm and carefully untied the torn clothing that acted as makeshift medical wrapping. Glave didn't feel much of anything, because the laceration had already scabbed over.

"Where'd you get this one?" Asked Filvia, fetching a pair of scissors.

"A guardsman's sword," he replied simply. "Had one chasing me one the way here - not my best moments."

Her eyes widened like growing lapis stones. "So you're not in here by law?"

"Is it legal to swing a sword at a fifteen year old?" Glave had an answer predetermined if anyone asked a question like this, and for every question that pertained to him constantly creating tension with the law. "I thought Char was the one who cared about the rules?"

​ "He is. I was just curious. Now hold still." She covered the damaged skin with a kind of glassy oil. It was ice cold, like winter water just before it would freeze. Again, like a nurse, she asked if he was tired or felt uncomfortable, again and again.

"Thank you for doing this," Glave said, but that was a minute later after she had already left to help Char again. His arms felt heavy with ware, drugged with an urge to rest. He closed his eyes, and wasn't sure how much time passed before he dozed off, sitting against the portal base, maybe a few hours, he didn't care. His thoughts drifted to an earlier, more ethereal point in time. That Phoenix - maybe it was all made up after all. He saw it twice - once at the foster home, the other sighting not so long ago. The torches that were knocked away could have been him, but it wasn't.

It wasn't! A stabbing thought.

His eyebrows twitched. What was Aylward doing right now? Perhaps he was off fishing at Wynding river that trailed through Forktown. He reached for his bag but remembered again that he didn't even have it anymore. The Strixix must had fallen with it during the fight.

Wouldn't that be funny, he thought, before sleep to over. Strixix wakes up to the bag and starts eating from it.

Was that funny? Maybe not.

In the end, it was in some ways liberating seeing so many out of place things all in one area, an enchanted ocean with a small metal island, lab chairs and tables, a Peacock, a girl, and himself, just one big disjointed group in a convoluted world. Now, Glave could say he had actually witnessed such an odd scene play out right before his eyes, and sit there, watching it unfold like an everyday normality. This dungeon felt farther from home than places farther still, but at least he was not here alone.

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