Hopwil was a terrifying piece of work. To be able to tame the horrors and nightmares within the darkness, I had never conceived it possible. What was this man? What atrocity did he commit that drove him to these powers?
"Hopwil, you up for a challange?" I asked.
He smiled coldly,"What are we thinking of now Ziyous?"
"The crossworlders have reinforced their grip on that canyon we discussed earlier. Once they see us, it won't be anything less than an all out brawl. And while we explore, I require someone to guard us." I realized asking this would be like requesting someone to stand blindfolded while pikesmen charge at them. But this man seemed to love crossing swords as if battle was a game.
"When we arrive, we will see if the enemy lives up to it's legend." He laughed.
I had requested the other outsiders be brought to the mid-tower docks. I still had yet to talk to the necromancer, Tallia.
Part of my assassin self screamed at me:What bring is this mortal female!
I quelled that outburst before returning, in far more composed and collected thoughts:Simply wait and watch. Not all soldiers take up blades. In fact, most champions of war use only ink and parchment. Poloticians, stratagists, peacemakers. They all use the medium of language and mind to end battles. I have a feeling that her arrival was less fate, more plan.
The Pridean was staring out across the city when I arrived below. I lightly tapped his shoulder to get his attention.
"We're going to move out. Are you prepared?"
A gust sweeped by and tossed my black cloak around, unveiling the suit of ebony armor I had donned for this battle. It had been carefully outlined with the same blue stone that made up our wall, this gave me a slight irridesance.
"I'd say so Aethian."
"Then make peace with your foreign gods, because today we will likely die trying to save Thereafter."
I could see he didn't like how I had spoke his gods in low terms.
"Perhaps respect is something you should learn blue skin."
"Respect! Bah! You want praise? Or pitty? You will get none from me. Prove your worth in battle, then I will accept a cousin of the forsaken races as my equal."
I should have held my tongue, as the words cued a punch that left my gut with a large dent in it. As akward as it was I laughed at that moment, expelling the tiny bit of air that still lingered in my respritory system.
"Haha! Perhaps that was a rather distastfull comment. I appologize."
I stood up, realizing I had deserved the strike for speaking out like that. I didn't have any higher opinion of his speicies, but still, I realized that even a partial feline could be proficient at some things.
"The guards at the stairwell will lead you to the Air-rider we'll be using. I'll see you onboard."
He looked at me for a moment, then nodded and walked off. I wondered how that man would fair in the coming storm.
I looked over to my left, noticing a black haired girl approaching me. I was pleased to see she hadn't run off.
"Well outsider? Is there something on your mind?" I asked.
"I hear we are heading to a place of war. Why do you want me there?"
"I think that the pendent brought you here for a reason."
"You think I'll revive you? If blades pierce your heart and steel bolts load your skull? You believe I can bring you back."
"And awaken me from the glorius afterlife that I would obtain?"
My eyes narrowed. I wasn't sure how to answer that. I nervously slid the tip of my thumb across my palm. Searching for a responce that wasn't ludicrous or vague.
"Perhaps you underestimate how far Reality will go to alter the course of events. As we linger on the edge of a dimentional war, one that is over the whole of creation, people find their way to the epicenter of chaos. You arrived here with all the others in the moment we needed allies."
I removed my cloak and straightend my hair. My gaze sweeped over her, observing the sadness that layed dormant in her eyes. She was like Hopwil in a way, It was as if they both had lost their pecious friends and loves. While one coated this pain in blood, she chose to escape it.
"Do you hear it? The ticking of our cold hearts? The hearts of all below in Actorial? The hearts across the echo-zone? A rythym of life, and if this battle trangresses to a full scale invasion, then our existance is ended."
I paced back back and forth across the edge of the tower.
"So are you ready to accept it? That this is your path?"
She sighed, causing me to raise an eyebrow.
"You currently are the only thing that is willing to guide me away from here. I don't really think I have much alternative other than to come along."
I donned my cloak again, this time with a smile. The fated had gathered. Now it was time to begin our crusade against the alien plague.
The ship I had chosen had been a tradeoff between armor and speed. I balanced it out, and was granted use of a medium size, millitary air-rider. The crew had been condenced down to only essenital navigators and a veteran captain I had hand picked to fly us.
Air-riders are very distinct in their design, baring only general similarities to human airships. The main difference is power. While humans have just started with steam engines, we opted to use a superior type of propulsion. On the back of our ship is a very large device called a Material Movement Condenser. If I had to compare it, I would say it shaped closely to a teardrop. When activated, it folds out and looks much like a pinecone, with layers running all the way to the tip. Under each of these sections is a fuel rod made from a combustable element that is in a solidified state. As the ship accelerates, the core begins to dissolve and fuse to an outer shell. This energy is then released out the sections and pushes the ship forward. This is far faster than standard mechanical devices human's conceived. But there are downfalls, like the fuel rods being overheated and burning through the outside skin.
And to accomidate for such power increases, the dirigable itself had to be greatly modified. It is shaped like a rounded trapazoid if you look at it from the front, and is tapered downward at the front. There is quite a bit of rigging across the top, giving it's silhouette a "spiky" appearance. This balloon is connected to the ship's body via many chanes and wires.
And of course the body varies greatly depending on usage. Barges are elongated and flat, and explorer vessles are short and sharp nosed. But ours was very unique to say the least. It was tall, and had at least three internal floors, each level having hatches for arbalists. The whole body felt very nautical. At the base were two sets of downward slanting wings with the control wires stretching up into the back of the ship where they conected to the pilots seat. This was located in an aft compartment above deck.
"Demon's Bane." Tariq read allowed as he stepped onboard.
The flag sagged and rose repeatedly as the wind picked up and settled.
"She's pretty, I'll give her that." I said crossing my arms and looking at the black floor boards.
"Da! Paladin Ziyous! Wondered when ya would get here." Came a voice from the control cabin.
The speaker emerged from the darkness. He was fairly short, but extremely burely. His grey hair grew wildly past his neck, and a stubbley beard coated his entire chin. His left eye was no more, and had been replaced with a brass contraption that was clearly human made. His coat reached to his ankles, adorned with silver crosses and ribbons. His teeth we're alined with silver.
"Captain Sorous Ses-Idous! Your ship is of fine construction." I greeted raising my hand to shake, only to recieve a tight embrace.
The Captain was a reveared man. On his first year in the royal air patrol he fought off a malicious banshee using only a broom and a pail of water. This feat alone made him a worthy canidate to fly into the heart of chaos.
"Ahaha! It's good to see you boy! So these are your friends." He said, quickly releasing me and walking over to Tariq.
"Hmmm. I've met your kind before. Nice really, but not the best quisine." He then shook his hand and moved onward to Hopwil.
"My gosh, I had a wife with that creepy smirk on her face," he shuddered,"But hopfully you're not as clingy, welcome aboard." He saluted and walked over to Tallia.
"Now this one I like! Whats ya name love?" He grinned causing Tallia to move back a little.
"Ahem. I will introduce you properely later." I said pulling him away.
"Oh yeah, we 'ave a job don't we!" He waved for us to follow him.
We entered to control room to several navigators who were hard at work choosing our path. Sorous slumped into his pilots chair, which was like a velvet throne with wires and gagues welded on at every angle. He reached up and pulled a on a group of wires. The ship growled as the condencer began to turn. I leaned out to see the massive construct pulling apart. Blue light began to shine from each section, brighter and brighter.
"And now we break off." Sorous annouced, throwing a lever.
Their was a loud groan from the wooden exterior. The ship literaly was tossed forward, knocking me off balance. It shook violently as it broke away from the docks, then it stabalized and stated to pick up speed. I stood back up and closed the cabin door. The others were being led down a hatch to below decks.
"Your quarters are prepared, just choose one of the rooms on the right." Said a navigator, pointing.
"Thank you." I replied, shaking my head and climbing below.
This was going to be an interesting ride.