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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3. Chapter 3 - Cross The Iron Curtain

 

 

"The rats, O the rats. Lets drink for their souls,

For letting us sleep in their underground holes.

The rats, O the rats. Down a drink for their souls,

As we cook up their flesh on our burning hot coals."

- A popular Warren song-

....

Glave awoke hours before morning would crawl over the horizon, and tell the orchestra to play its morning bird songs. In the downstairs shop, a glimmer filled a dark corner and the boy swore he caught the sight something bright moving there. A ribbon? No, It was only a candle, not moving, standing alone with flailing light. He stood motionless and allowed the partly lit room watch him from the walls. He was thinking, thinking about what he was about to do, breathing slowly and becoming aware of the great task ahead, about his mother, about Aylwar's, and, although he spent months researching and mapping it, about what the under district would be like, smell like, what kind of people would lurk there, waiting.

A distant, muffled stomping ruptured through the front glass windows from outside the shop. He glanced up to witness the first goblin worker setting up his prodice display from across the dirt sidewalk. Beside the goblin, an orc followed close by, carrying heavy crates and setting them down with remarkable ease. The orc turned to looked at him for a short time, which seemed impossible, for he knew the shop appeared completely black from the orc's perspective.

Glave turned away, and said a final silent goodbye before leaving. The dungeon awaited.

His progress through the early crowds was slow. He stuck towards shaded sidewalks to slip past anyone who turned their head. The book was pouched in his inside pocket, the same one retrieved from Forktown's library yesterday. A leather bag housing flasks of mana and traveling necessities wrapped around his shoulder. It would come in very handy, but the bag wouldn't help him in avoiding the law's patrol routes. There was only one way to that, and that was to get a better view, a look from a daring crow's perspective.

The clock tower itself was not a building Glave had ever climbed on, but had studied in fine detail before. It's ticking face watched over town, and loomed over the entrance leading to the under city. However, he was on his way beneath the under city, towards the dungeon and its foreboding. Sitting on the small roof now, his eyes adjusted to the first sun rising above the skyline, a warm glister that soothed off his outer layer of cold. It wasn't necessary to climb this high just to avoid the town guards and get a better view of them, but even though his warmth was sparse because of winter's bite, he wanted to see this sunrise one last time before he would cross the dungeon gate.

The climb down was short, and it had to be. Before long, more and more residents would be on the roads which would demand more guards. Sojourning into the dungeon was forbidden to most, and if one saw that he had the stolen book, it would spell the end of his long planned journey. He took out the book itself and held it level, searched for the next landmark, nodded attentively, and placed it away. There would be an old well on down his current path, and just beyond that was the boundary where the town's borders kissed the restricted under city sector. Security would be strict, but that was to be expected.

The walk towards the dark world went on. A long span of fridge time passed like a drifting ice cap. Then, there it was, that crumbling well that marked the main district's boundary. No matter what hour, there was always somebody patrolling here. It was so in case a convict that had been spotted wanted to cross into a place where the law held less bounds. Pass the old well, men in mask and plated armour rounded a black gothic fence with a small gateway, with arrowhead tops poking out to take out the morning light. As predicted, it was opened at this time.

Not much room for error, he thought, tilting his head over a lone wagon to see the warden overseer turn a corner, out of view. He had to wait for that split few seconds when everyone had their heads turned away, like trying to evade a plethora of spotlights.

Alright, go!

Glave made sure each tread among the cracked stone floor was silent, spreading the weight across both feet. But there was a miscalculation; there was a guard coming around just in time to see him in the middle of his blasphemous act. He scolded himself for not looking the other way three times over before acting.

"What are yo- stop him!" the man called, voice mechanical under a mask of ivory plaster. Glave threw his body diagonally and ran just four feet past the flat faced man, pressing the book against his side. He was about to slip by the gate opening. Before he could, another guard stepped out blocking the path, sword drawn. He lunged forward and just managed to cut the boy's arm. His skin flared with pain, but he could tell it was nothing to worry about now. The guardsman was about to lunge again when Glave doubled back and ran through a cloak stall he had seen earlier, pushing through the fabrics of all colors with his other unscathed hand trying to avoid entanglement. The guard that followed was having less success. He heard him grunting and swearing as he struggled forward. A few windows down, several wood plates stacked vertically offered an easy climb to the house tops again. It would be quicker than having to maneuver a street filled with obstacles. Heaving up and sliding halfway over the roof's other side, Glave looked back, gearing to continue the escape. He bent his knees to lower and looked.around. Nobody.

Now if I timed this right, he thought, glancing at the sun eclipsing overhead, because right now he couldn't see the clock tower's face anymore, the one he was climbing on earlier.

Three bongs resounded from its massive brass bell, a trio of loud clashes that tumbled the air end to end. He smiled, for that meant everyone in the law division had to change shifts.

Embracing a moment's fresh successes, he leapt down onto the barrels that stood next to the wall and vaulted over, landing in a dark courtyard. It was out the back of The Whistling Jackdaw, one of the more down market taverns in town. His sprinting slowed to a jog, then to a brisk walk. A few more steps. He checked his bag to make sure its contents were undamaged.

The next bit was to be be the most interesting, as the world would soon change into a mouth of metal and fumes. He flipped the book out and checked it again. This path was right. This was the easternmost sector of Forktown. Beyond this point, turning back would be difficult.

Into the slums he swept. Rusted metal laddered the ground beneath. Fumes hissed from cracks barely visible on the steel panels underfoot. The cast glow given by the lantern posts gave hazy light on the narrow gloom ahead. He took out the book again and used it like a map to navigate these twisted unfamiliar streets, and tried not to trip on the ground pipes when he wasn't looking directly in front. When a page directed him around an abandoned sawmill, the sky disappeared from view. A metal canopy enclosed him in a tunnel and it led straight for a clearing on the other side.

It was a world of steam and vents, coaxed in morning light, and backstabbers

"Say there lad," came a call that winded painfully. "Whatcha doing down here?" It was a withered old man who sat against the wall. He waved his empty wine bottle at him. "You going for a drink?"

"Dungeon," Glave replied simply, and pointed ahead.

The man merely chuckled. "A bit too young to be doing that don't ya think?"

Before Glave could walk out of earshot, the man spoke to him again.

"Wait, you were serious? I'd give it two hours before you come back yelping like a dog."

The boy turned, his ears somehow numb.

"It contains the most vile criminals that ever lived."

He frowned at this. "Not all of them are criminals. You don't know that."

"You think I don't?" The man got up and started to wobble away, obviously drunk from the swill he just ingested. "I've been forty years inside that rotten cellar, and it's not a place for little kids like you. Looks like I won't be seeing you around anymore." He laughed as he stumbled off in the darkness.

The boy walked on, slower this time. This part of town was unlike any other. It seemed as though all the water and oil pipes spilled into this one sector of dew encrusted pavement. The rising fumes burned his nostrils so he dared not to breathe in too quickly. The slowly rotating gears moved under the ground, vibrating through his skin. He stayed close to the wall where the shadow were darkest, his head inches above broken signs and windows of buildings long since left to rot. He was close, close to the large gateway leading into the strange subterranean world. It did, however, make him pause at the lack of wildlife. Even in the pit of winter, crickets chirped among the warmer combine factories, and stray pets always winded through empty courtyards. Not here, for some reason no life stirred, or moved, just insects too small to be distinguished.

The book was opened again, checked, and put back.

From here, all he had to do was follow a thin trailing water that threaded its way inside the sidewalk. Frost flies glowed like blue particles all around that water, like the fireflies of summer floating among the grass. This would continue on until he reached the dungeon's closed mouth, a contrast of calmness and utter mystery. He looked into the cracks, between the metal vents beside him. Even the ants were absent. The paneled boardwalk fanned and it was at that point when Glave looked up to see the incredible door that looked fit for giants. The brass buckled handles were too high, but the slivered opening trailed down the door panels, enough for a hand to slide in. This was it.

Slowly, he pulled at the heavy frame. At a hand's width open, his skin prickled and the tingling popped across his arms. Glave withdrew, sliding a hand on his forearm, trying to swat off imaginary cobwebs. Breathe in. Lean away from the door as you pull on it. Breathe out. The door heaved open and its rattle shivered the air. Now it was open enough to slip through.

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