Across the Universe

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Across the Universe

Post  Jarod on Thu Sep 10, 2009 9:05 pm

This may or may not be the first and last chapter of the story. It all depends on how much I get myself into, and how much I can get out of it. That said, I hope that what I do manage to excrete is enjoyed.

Humbly,

Chapter 1:
~ Across the Universe ~

"Words are flowing out like
Endless rain into a paper cup"

"Paper cup? What's that nonsense?"

Mjrn cocked an eyebrow and stared up at Jarod. He slowly pulled his gaze away from the sapphire blue sky and looked down at the face in his lap. "Well," he began, his words tumbling over his lips like a slow, distant whisper of thunder, "it's like a flagon, only made out of wood pulp." Mjrn closed her eyes and shook her head, as if trying to shake the concept into position. "That doesn't make sense. If you poured anything into a paper cup, it would disintegrate." "Yeah.." said Jarod, his head leaning back against the rock, his blue eyes drifting past a cloud and back into the deep, rich sky, "I think, maybe that's the point." Mjrn closed her eyes and shook her head once more, letting the concept fall out of her ear and resuming the comfortable feeling she had a moment ago.

It was a sleepy Sunday in Darkdale, the afternoon sun had allowed a bit of shade that Mjrn and Jarod were hunkered down in. They had claimed their favourite spot of grass, by the cliff just under the Blacksmith where Mjrn worked. It was always an interesting arrangement, Jarod thought. He, the one most interested in creating things, was a doctor at the small hopsital tent on the other side of the city, whilst Mjrn, the one with the natural soft touch and bedside manner, was pounding away at red steel. He smiled, amused at their oxymoronic idiosyncrasies, and let the words slither pass his mind and slip away.

Footfalls on the rough, tiled grounds brought Jarod to his few remaining senses. He looked down to see a lap instead of a Mjrn, and looked up to see her talking to Liah. Slowly the blue sky which buzzed in his ears melted into a droll beat, and he could make out their hushed voices.

"We sent a team looking for them, they're under orders to retreat at first contact."

Strange. Why was Liah so serious? Ah, this had something to do with Eversun. Jarod blinked a few times. The stone, the grass, the cool shade, the sweet air, came crashing down upon him. Reality, what a-

"So it looks like a rescue operation."

Ok, enough of that. Jarod stood up, his eyes fixed. If anything could bring him back to earth, it was a friend in need. He walked up to Liah and Mjrn. Neither of them turned to look, though they knew he needed no recognition. Mjrn did cast a very quick sideways glance at him, which he caught, and knew her unspoken command: "Stay put." Good advice, rushing off to help someone usually landed him in trouble, if not from the antagonist, but from Mjrn.

"Yes," continued Liah, "but it all depends on the report. They are under strict orders not to engage, but to collect any sort of information and run. I just can't believe we've gotten to this stage so quickly..."

A brief silence fell, and they all knew why. The moment the darkness had consumed Eversun, the guild heads had gotten together and planned their offensive strategy. The first, which won the popular vote if not the safest, was to send a very small peaceful investigation. That team did not return within the allotted week, so began Phase 2: a tight platoon of seasoned fighters, under orders to measure the offensive capabilities of this unknown enemy, and to retreat if pressured. Not one word. Phase 3 was the one no one wanted to get to. It was the last stage before they knew an all-out war was inevitable: no more talking, no more fighting: find out what it is, and then destroy it.

"And how long have they been gone?" asked Mjrn, the tone of calm command in her voice as practiced and natural as her small but authoritative frame. "Five days. A round trip to Eversun should have only taken one." replied Liah. A muscle in Mjrns eye twitched. The same question flitted briefly through their collective minds: What came after Phase 3? There was no Phase 4, the committee had decided to wait on the reports before formulating a fourth strategy.

Five days. The three of them could hike the distance to Eversun just for a brief lunch, and make it back before tea. A scouting party with specific orders to run away could not possibly have been gone for five days. Mjrn was right, there was only one thing they could do. Send in one more team, a team of the best of what remained, to collect anything that was left and return. The question of how to beat this thing was, as of that moment, moot. Now, the only thing left to determine... was fight or flight.

The silence which fell upon them this time was deafening, not only by the weight of the issue, but by the buzzing which had picked up among the citizens. Suddenly, a small blue faerie fluttered amongst them. It landed on Mjrns nose, and spoke in a magical voice that only Mjrn could hear, after which if flew off. "Figures. They're requesting a council. We should go."

They marched up to the central podium of Darkdale. The Careers Advisor was temporarily relocated to make room for a large marble table, and several chairs. It was Mjrns idea: let the people know that decisions were being made, and that would ease the panic, thus they formally debated in the middle of the city. The guild leaders were arriving quickly from each direction. Zuzu was already there, standing off to the side, ashen but determined. Jarod stood by him, which seemed to bring a bit of colour back into his face. Mjrn sat down near the head of the table, Liah stood properly behind her. "You got my Whisper," said a voice, desperately trying for some form of small talk. Mjrn looked up as Grey sat down at the head chair. He was whiter than Zuzu, and seemed to have aged ten years in the past two weeks. "Yes," replied Mjrn, "and I'm sure we all know what's coming. My team is prepared." Grey aged another few months as his face fell into his palms. "Don't worry," said Mjrn, "you won't have to ask us." She tried to sound reassuring, but she knew it wasn't the asking that had worried him.

The chatter died down as more people arrived. Interesting, since one would think just the opposite. However, as the area began to fill with guild leaders, more and more conversations were being dropped in anticipation for the next phase. Eyes began to wander to the head of the table, but were not met with any. Greys eyes were closed in forced thought, as were the heads of the other major guilds. As the silence fell amongst the guild leaders, so did it amongst the crowds milling around the platform. When it became almost a ringing in everyones ears, Grey stood up.

"You all know the situation, there is no need to repeat it. This council was called to determine what should be done now that our initial attempts have failed." His voice softened as he spoke, as if he was trying to avoid what was coming. "A few ideas have been passed around but it is only proper to have a formal vote. After much deliberation with my council, we've whittled down our choices. The first," here he took a deep breath and steeled himself, "is to raise an army-" cheers from several guild leaders and their support staff rose up, they pounded the table in approval and stamped their feet, "- and lead a full charge." Grey raised his hand to silence the cheering guild leaders, whom eventually did. "The second," Grey continued, "is to run. There are places in the Longstone mountains we can hide," Mjrn and Liah shuffled uncomfortably, but no one noticed, "and the great beasts and gods of the Mirror World will eventually destroy it for us." This suggestion was met with fierce, vile looks and fervered murmuring, although more than one at the council seemed to think it had merit. "The last option is to send one more team-" Grey was interrupted again, as those who had initially were cheering were yelling and arguing. Grey paused a moment, then continued, "- send one more team to investigate and possibly rescue the previous teams, and give one last go at determining what we're up against." Greys last sentence seemed to be forced from his throat, and most of the arguing died down. "What's the point? It killed three teams already, we should just march down there and destroy it!" shouted Enforcer. A rousing cheer rolled through much of the crowd, swords were banged against shields, arc lightning flew from eager fingertips.

Grey stood up. The lines in his face seemed to fade, and he stared down at Enforcer. "I will not send my brothers and sisters to die recklessly. We have tried only once to obtain information on what we're up against. We will try one more time before I am satisfied that the only bit of information we can gather is that we cannot gather any information. At which point," he spat, "we will NOT march off to fight. We will send envoys to the heads of the Monster tribes and begin talks with them." The crowd showed a deep dislike for that idea. Before the grumblings could turn into screaming, Grey spoke up, confident and powerful, "I don't care if you don't like this idea, but I assure you, the major guild heads are all in agreement on this course of action, and none of them will lend you troops or support if you do not wish to follow us. You all know," here, he glared intensely at Enforcer, "that you will not succeed without the backing of the major guilds."

Grey sat down in silence. No one spoke, even those who had so much to say a moment ago. Grey took a deep breath and searched carefully for the right words, but they were not to be found. Without so much as opening his eyes, he whispered, "Mjrn?"

Mjrn stood up, and all eyes turned to her. She spoke with the same air of confident command as she always did, "I'll be leading the last team myself. We will commit one day to the following tasks: approach Eversun, investigate the possibility of remaining life, rescue any intelligent being which we deem fit to rescue, and return if at all possible. If we are not back within the day, as Grey said, we will declare a state of war and proceed with forming the army." Her voice slipped into a bit of sarcasm as she grinned across the table at Enforcer. "And don't worry, I'll be choosing my team from my own guild, so you won't have to risk any of your precious cowards." Enforcers face turned as red as molten steel. He raised a fist and slammed it down on the table, splitting it neatly in half, the crack forming in a direct line between him and Mjrn. He reached into the crack with both hands and pulled the table apart, forming a path, which he walked quickly toward Mjrn, his knuckles cracking audibly. Liah tensed and Mjrn reached for her saber, but as Enforcer hit the halfway point, a soft voice behind them spoke, "First Aid." The crack glowed a gentle blue, and the two halves snapped back at each other, trapping Enforcer between them. As the blue faded, the crack disappeared. Enforcers lower half was sealed within the marble. A number of curious eyes drifted toward Jarod. Mjrn spoke in a stunned whisper, "You know you can't heal an inanimate object.." Jarod looked toward her, his face turned up in light confusion. "Really? Well, that's interesting..." His eyes wandered around aimlessly, as if lost in thought.

Spotting an opportunity, Grey spoke up again. "Any objections?" The silence came as expected, as most people were still wondering what the hell just happened. "Good. Mjrn, prepare your team. We shall await your return tomorrow afternoon. If you do not return, then as of midnight, we will be at war. I hereby dismiss this council." His eyes met the eyes of each guild leader on the stone podium, and his voice lowered to a near whisper, reflecting his tired eyes. "I think we should all make whatever preparations we deem necessary." With that, he walked off through the parting crowd, and down the podium stairs. Conversation began to pick up the moment he left, and many curious and fearful eyes were looking past the struggling Enforcer to Mjrn, who in turn was talking softly but anxiously to Liah.

"So that's me, you, Jarod," "Hm?" murmured Jarod, coming out of a daze. Paying no mind, Mjrn went on. "Vamp, Sylpha and Lux. I do wish we had a good thief, it would give me peace of mind on a mission like this." "I know," said Liah, "but we've got a good team. We leave tomorrow?" "Yes, before dawn." "Bright and early... well, the early bird gets the worm." "The early worm gets eaten." "Jarod..."

They spent the day in the Dragons guild cottage, holed up in Mjrns office with maps, sketches and notes strewn about the table and floor. The six of them discussed their means well into the night, but a gentle nip from a tired Livane reminded Mjrn that good sleep makes for good soldiers. She ordered her Dragons to bed, all but Liah and Jarod followed suit.

When the rest had departed and the Cottage was still and quiet, Mjrn took them both into the Master Bedroom, her high-raised bed and silk sheets shining in the moonlight streaming in through the thin windows. They sat down on the edge of her bed, their arms around each other, gentle sobs emanating from the broken Chairperson.
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Jarod
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Posts : 150
Join date : 2009-01-29
Age : 33
Location : Nutopia

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