EarthBorn: First Days

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Mutiny

3rd Day 3rd Quarter

15 Quarters left to sky change

Carving their way unhindered, undeterred , with no remorse or signs of changing course they soon become before the keep, all stop and fall silent before the gate in wait but, The gates do not open , the screams of the people can be heard inside as they run and try to hide, the air stinks with the fear of death and foul misguidance, Gore pushes his way to the front where the knights stand at the head of the mob...“OPEN THE GATES”...Gore cries out, a voice rings down in return from high above the wall...

“WE CANNOT UNDER ORDERS OF THE SHEPHERDS, YOU COME FOR WAR WITH YOUR OWN PEOPLE WITH THOSE ATROCITIES BESIDE YOU! YOUNARE TRAITORS!”... Gore turns to Rune with any thoughts eluding him, he is cast out, Earth Thane steps forward and begins to negotiate with the soldier turned zombie up high...

“ SOLDIER, WE DO NOT COME FOR WAR, WHAT THE SHEPHERDS HAVE TOLD YOU IS A LIE, WE HAVE COME TO FREE YOU OF THE TRAITORS WHO SEND YOU TO YOUR DEATHS AND PLAN YOUR EXTINCTION!...IF YOU DO NOT LET US IN WE WILL USE FORCE”... Gore objects stepping towards Rune,...

“YOU CANT, THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO, IF WHAT YOU SAY IS TRUE THEN SHOW THEM DO NOT KILL THEM, THAT MAKES YOU! NO BETTER THEN WHAT YOU CLAIM THEY ARE, I BEG OF YOU!”... Rune steps face to face with Gore...

“After everything you still don’t trust me?!” ... He walks to Legion who lowers his ear down to hear Runes soft command...

“Get the gate open!”... Legion acknowledges and steps up to take down the gate, Captain Gore rushes to stop him but is stopped by disloyal men of his eager for change, Legion runs towards the gate jumping high clinging to the stone face , his hands make ease of the climb the only obstacles being the spears and stones being hurdled down at him from the frantic and feeble natives, he leaps free hanging helping him easily avoid any projectiles finding their target and it isn’t long before he is at the top, a spear thrust falls dead snapping the shaft as it hits his breast plate, over the top he goes, he backhands the gate keeper knocking him unconscious, a second guard tries to charge Legion down but is absorbed into the palm by his head and lifted from the floor, he holds the guard and stares with emptiness watching the native helplessly struggle legs and arms trying desperately to pry Legions fingers open...

“DO IT...GO ON DO IT HAHA”... Hammers turns around looking for the whoever said it, Looking around no one is there a voice from thin air...

“POP HIS LITTLE HEAD! HAHA! HES NO USE TO US!” ...Legion grows more impatient and starts flailing around knocking objects to see if anyone is behind or hidden within or behind them...

“who is it?, where are you? SHOW YOURSELF COWARD!” ... A loud voice snaps Hammer from his task, he ignores the first fixated on finding the perpetrator...

“LEGION!”... The phantom voice fades with one last word:

“You will see soon enough, Legion of Death! HAHA!”...

“LEGION”... But he cannot reply until he shakes his head violently to erase away his thoughts, he gasps for air as if starved for hours, waking from a picture less nightmare and bringing the atmosphere back in to his lungs and realising the native is still firmly in hand almost suffocated, he drops the helpless being to the ground, the native looks in terror and runs for dear life in the opposite direction , he had no control... Legion walks over to the gate switch that usually takes three to trigger and forces it down opening the gates for the mob below to enter, head down still angered he walks to the edge of the drop and jumps down crashing into the path breaking the cobbles, the guards offer no resistance instead dropping their weapons and fleeing for their inner being, all the battle ready men make up the angry protest...

The gate drops and the troops flood in making all haste to the chamber where the Shepherds are surely in wait for the mutineers, the soldiers sweep aside any standing against them but, they do not pillage or harm under orders and they do not kill, only subdue, this is a movement to remove traitors not conquer their own Keep. Forcing their way through A figure emerges against the current of bodies calling out...

“MAIDON...MAIDON!”... she looks around for the source voice but it is hard, she sees an out of place native causing a reverse flow among the river of rage,,, Airon barges his way through to her embracing her in tight arms...

“Maidon what’s happening? The people are afraid, the shepherds have told us terrible things...Why are you attacking us?”...He asks worried alarmed and distressed, wide eyed and lost is he...

“We are not attacking, we learned a terrible truth at the enemy keep during the hunt!, take my hand and stay close”...Maidon takes Airons hand and pulls him through with her, the betrayed mob shouting anti shepherd slanders through the streets drawing only a few fearless dormant folk to join them, the people are simple not revolutionaries, They sew carve and shiver in the cold of winters, not change the face of worlds...

They power through the doors knocking the two sentries behind the door out they are quickly kept down by soldiers loyal to Rune, the Knights with Gore Anuk and Charge make for the shepherds chamber alone, Rift follows behind trying to stay out of sight as this is undoubtedly beyond his skillty. Legion sees the shepherds hall door, he runs and Rams his way through the doors shattering the bar holding them closed tight from the other side, there are no more guards, only three are inside ,the three shepherds sit still in their thrones with no words escaping their fork serpent tongues or dangerous minds, their anger fills the room like a rotting corpse, the air dense warm and moist you can almost tear it like the fresh loafs made by the hands of their blind slaves who stood idol, the betrayed generals take to the centre of the hall in a line staring down their Shepherds who merely grin sinister in return, it is Earth Thane who takes the initiative...

“Gaia, Mungam , Orin... you have been charged with the highest treason imaginable, treason against your own people who you blind and feed like cattle to whom your loyal to, who you really serve!, you shepherds have committed treason of the highest order, treason against your home... The only penalty imaginable for such a crime can only be death”... Mungam stands and laughs walking over to stand in front of Gaia as she sounds ..

“Dear dear Commander, fallen pathetic commander, finally found your answers? Didn’t take as long as I assumed by your mortal appearance”...our people you say? These pitiful mites are not our people, we are the First born, we are the gods of this world, born from the heart of it... the only reason we exist is to ensure this world remains pure and free from the devastation of these lesser beings! ...and YOU!”...

“ YOU CONFESS, DO YOU ACCEPT JUDGMENT MADE AGAINST YOU THREE HERE BY THE SAPIEN PEOPLE PRESENT, THOSE OUTHERE WHO SLAVE TO PROVIDE YOU WITH ESTEEM?!”...

“AAAAHHHAHAHAHAHA”...The three shepherds laugh in choir Faison, they do not deny , but relish...

Charge steps forward with devastation written all over him, he walks past Rune whose attempt to stop him is shrugged off , staggering to the feet of Mungam he drops to his knees in plea...

“WHY? ...How could you DO THIS TO US?”... Mungam places his hand under charges chin and gently pushes his head back as if to comfort him...

“AHHHHHHH” ... Charge screams in agony and Mungam begins to turn side on, his sharp plated index finger has been driven through the bottom jaw and exits his mouth like a fish on a hook, he looks at the generals who watch helplessly on as their comrade is toyed with, he slowly grabs his weapon without breaking his stare at Rune, he looks back at charge in the eyes...

“BEACUSE WE CAN!” ...time seems to freeze as Mungam with a single blow cuts the lieutenant in half still holding the torso in his hand before tossing it aside...

The knights and Native generals take instant flight towards the shepherds, Gaia promoted to action she gets between everyone in a demonic spread of vines blocking any coming forward to them, using her foul sorcery she fills the chamber in a swirling blinding choking black fog sending everyone into a frenzy unable to see or find their way...”STOP! DO NOT SWING YOUR BLADES”... Screams Rune, the fog second after disperses, the choking slows they can see the shepherds are no longer in the chamber, swept away in the cloud by Gaia to safety, no doubt back to the Rock stacks to follow through with their plan... Gore drops in tears at lieutenant charges corpse , while the rest just watch on as he screams with pain at the loss of one of his dearest of friends...

Rune grabs Gore by the arm and tries to pull him away but, his pain proves too much, Wayke must clench the other arm and they together drag him kicking and screaming in pure rage from the chamber and back to the courtyard where the army await. The troops make a clearing where they drop Gore and back off giving him the space to calm down, he looks up through the tears, his red face raw with anger his veins pulse and protrude his scalp and temples, he wipes his nose and picks himself up and staggers on the spot turning around to see the faces of his men, he sees that they are lost, blank of anything but questions...

“It is true!...they have lead us astray, I have lead you astray”... he wanders over and holds his hand up to direct all’s gaze at the knights...

“These are the faces of those who have freed you from the shepherds chains forged with lies, let these be your guide from here, learn from them, listen to them and may they bring you what I could not!” ...he raises Earth thanes arm high...

“BEHOLD YOUR NEW GODS”...The whole crowd now including many who ran in terror welcome their new elite with thunderous applause, they cheer, loud and long the knights encapsulated by the sound waves it fills them with surges of pride, their new beginning has a beginning and it was won with truth not genocide, Gore waves his arms to quiet the crowd so Rune can address his new people, he takes the courtyards centre...

“My brothers, sisters, we have exposed your shepherds for the betrayers they are , they lead you to inevitable extinction but, no more!. For with truth comes a change in destiny, a change in yourselves, do not worry what comes now for the shackles that keep your minds contained have been removed ....what you see within us lies within all of you!.”...the crowd are fixed on Rune in awe of this new divinity, this saviour who appeared from another life, another plain, Rune begins walking around the inner of the circle looking at the wide eyes of the natives who now look to him for guidance, He drops his tone promoting short sharp grunts and foot stomps between his chants , he fires them up to shade over the recent events....

“TODAY IS YOUR DAY”...OOO...”YOU ARE MASTERS”...OOO...”MASTERS OF YOUR OWN FATE”...OOO...The footsteps do not wait thousands of feet stamping steady and continuously growing more energetic every second....

“ ...THEY WANT TO COME HERE AND WIPE YOU ALL FROM THIS WORLD... WILL YOU LET THEM? WILL YOU FADE AWAY INTO MEMORY TO BE FORGOTTEN WHEN THEY SHIT YOU OUT ONTO THE DIRT? ...YOU ARE MEN, MEN OF OUR BLOOD OUR HONOR ,WE SHALL SHOW THOSE NEANDERTHALS THAT WE ARE THE FUTURE, WE ARE HUMANITY!”...The whole keep erupts into frenzy, the cheers are electrified beyond any so far, a change to the anxious eclipse that cast their mind into darkness it resonates across the entire keep...

“WE HAVE WORK TO DO, PREPERATIONS TO MAKE, GO NOW WE ONLY HAVE UNTIL THE NEXT SKY CHANGE BEFORE WE MUST MEET THEM!, AND WE WILL BE READY “...The people begin to move immediately going off in all directions to start their preparations, Rune joins his knights Gore and Anuk and walks them over to the balcony to look over the keep and it’s new lease of life, Gore speaks freely...

“As grand as this all is, we still do not have the power to repel this invasion as things stand Rune, the numbers are impossibly against us, you saw what happens, our weapons our strength we are simply no match for them on the field”...

“come with me..” says Rune replies to Gore and Anuk as he walks back into the shepherds temple once again, leading the native generals and Airon back to the throne room he takes the stairs up to the platform where the elaborate pedestals that sit in a line where Rune takes pew upon Mungams solid alloy throne and starts rubbing the arm...

“what do you notice here Natives ?”... he says to The captain and Anuk who looks baffled...

“ I’m not following you ...its shiny?!” ...

“ITS metal alloy Gore is what it is, forged metal, metallurgy, ore dug from the ground melted down purified shaped and tempered to form solid shapes and objects, the people who learn this vital trade, we call them blacksmiths, , such who forged our weapons”...

“We have none of this ore that you speak of, what does it look like?”...Rune grins and walks towards the shepherds personal chamber door behind the thrones and boots the door open hard, he holds his arm up ushering in the curious Gore Anuk and the Knights, a long dark set of spiralling stairs leads down into a cellar arch lit only by small flame torches low to the ground mounted on each wall, they arrive at the bottom in pitch black, Rune nudges his way to the front with his torch and tosses it forward to the ground in front of the door, it bears an unknown Man swirled in wealth all kneel beneath him, the shepherds together in true forms at each of his sides, the mans hellhounds, the unlocked door opens easily with little more then a finger shove ,the rooms deep illuminates in a bright blinding flash coming from the ceiling centre, as the high contrast dims you can see a huge single flower of pure beauty white hanging like a star from the ceiling, a seed of Gaia, the light fills the eyes of all present revealing the shepherds trove of wealth, the wealth was not in jewels and trinkets but endless rows of ingots, upon the sides stacked high in iron gold and silver, manuscripts and blueprints to poems fill every shelf above the ground the whole perimeter, it goes on for many many shelves, millions of pages spanning unthinkable times before them...

“How did they get all this without us knowing”...Rune elaborates for Gore...

“They kept you busy with combat and fear of attack so they could work the peoples and horde the wealth of knowledge, infinites of power, you were too distracted and enchanted to ask ,none of this is your fault you have to understand that Gore, this seems to be a common trait in species even where I am from... and you Anuk...The same ideas and execution that led to the destruction of our world had hold of you too, We use this to fight back, forge new weapons new armour”... Gore still cannot see a victory at the end despite the Knights consistent victories’ and truths...

“We simply do not have the force to win even with new blades, you said they number almost thirty thousand , we don’t have anything close to that women and children included!, we cannot win engage them on an open field, it will be the end of us all!”...

“We will re-forge the alliances with the Giants and Colonians!”... Gore laughs with disbelief at Runes plan...

“Re-forge the alliances....they’ve been dead for generations, we don’t even know if any of them still stand... Or where they are for that matter!?”...he says...

“WAYKE HAVE YOU FOUND IT?”...he calls over Gores shoulder like he doesn’t exist...”Gore if there were none left then where did the dead Star Father found the day we set out come from? They don’t just live, they thrive!“... Wayke walks to them from a shelf deep at the back bearing a rolled up tatty piece of paper...

“I’ve got it!” ...he says, together and eager they walk over to a table and wipe all of the jewels and hammered gold coins of no use from the surface so Wayke can roll the paper out...its an ancient rough edged map showing locations and fortresses of old long forgotten...

“The shepherds always told us there was no knowledge of the old world?”...Rune adds without looking up...

“So did ours until it was too late and all was lost!”...they scan the sheet looking for the what could be the keep they seek, fortresses nobody has seen for many ancestors past...

“There”... Rune points to a faded ink location, a sketchy structure remnant of an ant mound marked Sub-terra on the map, it’s annotated at the side with a scribbled note...”Those beneath you!”...

“Those beneath you ?...what does that mean?” ...Maidon think out loud...

“I’m not sure, it could mean a great many things....as for the Star Fathers, we know where they will be the signs are obvious, Titan Peak!”... The task ahead is not for the weak for Runes plan is of not merely danger, but a journey to the unknown and each must go alone, two must travel to each of the races if they still rest where Thane thinks and persuade them to unite under one banner against the Rock stacks and their Old Gods.

Maidon of speed takes the longest of the travelling and volunteers for the journey to Sub-Terra, she must venture to the Colonian stronghold and convince any who dwell there to join the cause, no easy feat for an outsider to try and rekindle long dead allegiances across a world they have never laid eyes upon, a bold and brave task only for the highest in courage...

“Who will go to Titan peak?”...Legion without hesitation immediately steps up looking at all other to remain un-volunteered , he long hungers to meet these formidable beings face to face, to test himself against a true challenge in mind and might, to dance with death once again...

“It is this then, Maidon will go and see if the Colonians live and convince them if they do to join forces, Legion will bring the Star Fathers to heel, remember you only have until the next sky change... then we fight for our survival!”...Rune rolls the Map up and they all make their way back to the outside courtyard, Maidon joined by Airon still awaiting her outside asks a request of Gore...

“ I will need a beast to ride, it will be quicker then my self alone, I can use the legs as far as they will carry me”...Gore nods and calls over the Hillsider chieftain...

“Anuk take her to the stables and give the lady our fastest steed, quickly now!”...Anuk walks ahead at haste, Maidon stops to bid her friends and fellow knights farewell...

“ What will you do while I ride Thane?”...She asks...

“ I and Wayke are going to get the men into shape and get them ready best we can, do not let me down Maidon, you have been a great asset to the order and you are among my best of friends, please bring back anything you can, we have not much time so do not linger!”... Maidon lifts her chin makes a promise...

“ I will be as lightning , I will return with more men and if I cannot, then no matter what I shall see you on the field”... Maidon salutes then bows to Rune , saying nothing to his friend he is giving her something to come back for, a yearning for closure a d acceptance, something to hold on to, Anuk then leads Maidon away to the stables to attain her beast, Airon walks fast behind until out of the rest of the Generals ear reach...

“Maidon I’m coming with you!”...she does not stop only denying him with her back turned..

“You can’t Airon, it’s too dangerous for you to come!”...he grabs her arm and spins her to face him and looks into her eyes holding each cheek with his roughed hands and firmly states...

“I am coming with you Maidon , you cannot stop me!”...they stare into each others eyes in defiance of the others wishes and law of the knights Order, like two love-struck teenagers they hold for their own eternity just them, Maidon breaks the gaze and nods in gesture for him to follow her which he does without further hindrance or questioning...

One legion tries to leave quietly, escaping through the rear of the crowd at Runes back, with no farewells issued or details of Legions plan Earth Thane calls Out to stop him and jogs to meet him and ask face to face, pulling something from his belt he slows to walk the last few steps with something in hand...

“Wait Legion”...he catches up to the fearsome last original and holds out a folded cloth to gift him, it is the token Rune had taken from the Star Father who’s corpse lay rotting even now...

“Maybe this will help”...Legion holds out is hand accepting the giants token, he nods and begins to walk away...

“Legion!....The centre... leave it here please!”...Legion confused turns about square to his acting commander...

“ we don’t know what you will find up there, we can’t risk it falling into the hands of the enemy, it’s safest here”...Rune words warp and fade becoming mumbles to Legion he rolls his lips in defiance his frown explicit...

“DONT GIVE IT TO HIM Hahaha”...Legion steps off with clear conflict written over his face, subtlety refusing...

“Legion, give me the centre!”... pleas Earth thane...

“HES GOING TO USE IT AND DO AWAY WITH IT! KILL HIM!”...Legion is getting irritable, the return of this phantom voice makes all those terrible things he is capable of possible and imminent, now Wayke edges towards him too nervous...

“One Legion please give Rune the centre!?”...urges Earth heart to this most formidable of all his Kind...

“ DONT LISTEN TO THEM, YOUR BEYOND THEIR POWER, IT WILL BE THE END FOR US NEVER TO BE TOGETHER IF YOU GIVE HIM THE CORE!” ...Rune issues his final warning, drawing his blade he shows One Legion he is not afraid or intimidated despite Legions slight superiority, he will engage Legion if the need arise...

“GIVE ME THE CENTRE LEGION! NOW!”...Legions face changes from one expression to another, facial spasms revealing all his emotions and facets in seconds, Wayke kicks his weapon to life and screams at Legion himself.....

“LEEEEEGION!!”... One Legion yields, he snaps himself out of his possession and he finds his crushing weapon drawn in hand with a native clasped in the other, he immediately flusters dropping the native being the second time in hours he has threatened a life of an ally, the circle of fear formed around him shrinks slowly, everyone on guard, ready for it, he pulls the centre out and tosses it at Runes feet, grabbing then snapping the chain around his neck he throws his half of the centre key to rid himself of the burden, a huge sigh of relief ripples the people and Legion himself, he closes his eyes and relaxes , the adrenaline runs from him like a blood a mortal wound...

Thane sheaths his sword and starts to walk over to Legion who himself backs off frightened to be near anyone especially a friend, he turns in a flash and bolts away in strides , he thunders over the closest wall to him leaving the keep behind without a word...

“He better come back!” ...sarcastically Wayke directs at Rune who has remained fix on the exact spot on the wall his oldest friend fled behind...

“Me too, he’s vital!”...Wayke hums unassured...

“come we have work to do”...Rune walks over and picks up the centre key along with the glowing prism, all stand around in gaze at the relic that is the centre, an unknown power with an unknown purpose, he holds the thing staring into it, he has never possessed all three pieces together as all were deliberately kept apart, Wayke star stuck also encapsulated by the power Rune holds, the possibilities endless, the growing cheers from within the keep grabs their attention from the luring glow, its Maidon in full haste atop her beast galloping towards the gate with Airon a top his steed close behind , all applauding them as champions as they trail the streets...

Preparations sweep through the Keep, every man woman and child dashes and collects, the troops set about emptying the shepherds stocks, stacks thirty high and twelve along of ingots start to fill up the courtyard, iron gold silver and sacks of gems by some thousands, Gore looks at the gold and walks over to the pile, he strokes the smooth refined surface...

“What is this ...fascinating stuff here”... Rune shoves his way between Gore and the gold severing Gores touch...

“This is being taken , none of you need this in your lives”...he calls four labourers over from another duty and orders them to...

“Take this back down to the trove, place it at the back of the vault cover it over oust the light then bar the door shut then return this key to me and stop for no one... he looks to Gore...”and let that be the end of it”... The labourer takes the key and they begin to shift the huge pile brick by brick back down to the dark trove to be forgotten, Rune calls out to all in the courtyard...

“move the rest of these ingots and sacks to the barracks and bring all the wood you can spare!” ...the natives form a line from the courtyard down the path ending at the barracks, passing the ingots two by two along the chain it moves swiftly, while they work the children the old and the sick collecting every piece of wood they can find, abandoned shacks, disused bowls and all the old redundant weaponry, Rune allocates the generals tasks...

“Wayke get the forges working, I want half the men armed with spear the other with sword and accompanying shields for each, as many arrows as you can tip with those sacks of stones”...Wayke leaves grabbing two heavy sacks with him as he heads to the barracks to get the forges fired...”Gore...you will!?!?..where has he gone?”...Gore is no where to be seen at all...”Anuk tend to your families then see Wayke, he will have use for you no doubt”...the chieftain turns and heads to the hill at the furthest edge of the keep where his people await his return and of his warriors...

With everyone busy around him Earth thane retreats into the temple picking up a handful of gold blocks to take with him, he walks the corridor with natives heading back and forth to collect more, he enters the long staircase down to the trove and finds a figure in the dim light standing over the Gold at the very back, Rune says nothing, he walks slowly towards the hunched figure startling it with sharp loud words...

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING DOWN HERE?”...The figure turns and falls over onto his back...

“I’m not doing anything I promise...” it’s captain Gore, he’s oozing saliva and completely tensed up full of tears, Rune drops the bullion onto the heap and helps the captain to his feet...

“o gore...I told you let it be...come on get up, let’s get you cleaned up”...Rune begins to usher Gore from the gold, he cannot help but turn his head and fill his eyes as much as possible , two natives coming down take him from Rune and lead him away...”See that he is fed and watched”...turning he closes the doors binding them tight ending by locking the warped lock and taking the spiral stairs out...

Returning to the throne room he does not leave, he walks around the alter circling the thrones in continuous figures of eight observing every inch, the hard cold of Orin’s rock chair, the cold sharp points of alloy that protrude Mungams pedestal ,a seat in Gaia’s godly living pew he takes, he fills it to every dimension comfortable the vines embrace and cushion, he tilts his head back taking in the elaborate artworks that cover the ceilings revealing myths and legends of old ,the constellations and eons past in colourful glory, he clinches his fingers into the roughed bark wood and Ivy leafs that make up the godly pew, he sees the ash floating from the summit of the flames that line the chamber in threes and takes a deep breathe closing his eyes he is completely at ease, the centre of his forehead begins to throb he relaxes back before opening his eyes again...

The air as water once again, the chamber is transformed to a place he does not know, the complexity of the outside tests his eyes and frays his mind, it carries him inside the gates taking in everything around him, giants rock stacks and Colonians all co-operating enjoying each others company, the out town bustles with market activity trinkets of beauty crafted traded and sold all bathed in prosperity, food aplenty with wine being passed and spilt over conversations and stories of the world, the walls carved and decorated in floral pattern wrapping all of glee, gilded decoration highlights and embellishes it glistens in the sun bringing the art to life with each step further, he walks through the people long passed passing through them like a lost spirit the joy seen unrecognisable to what he found when he arrived, all people begin to fade and warped becomes the vision leaving only the entrance to the kaleidoscopic temple accessible, he follows the path into the black door and as his foot passes the arch line torches begin to light from front to back alighting a glorious feast, with it appears static figures that animate once the whole room is completely illuminated, behind him the exit now blocked by darkness only leaving only one way forward...

Greeted with the sight of even happier celebrations his attention is drawn to the alter at the head of the tables where a small lone figure sits as ruler, to their right is a sole guard standing with pride making himself known as protector, ever watchful he scans constantly at the ready for any attempts...

Rune walks towards the alter and starts to walk up the stairs to gain a better look of the one who sits as prime, with the last five steps before him the protector draws his blade and violently points his blade at Thanes face in a blaze of prowess forcing him to halt at the point of a sword, even in a vision the intent and instinct to protect emanates from this formidable appearance, the guardian breaks his gaze at Earth Thane turning his head towards the exit, an instance after the ground begins to shake with screams of peril filling the chamber at such a pitch it forces Thane to cover his ears, the guardian stands to attention and takes a knee facing the Glowing ruler that he so fiercely defends, she takes to her feet placing her hand upon the guardians shoulder permitting him to leave her side and see to whatever threat it may be, the formidable champion sprints for the exit with weapon drawn and vanishes into the dark of the exit, ne tunes his attention back to the ruler and finds she is staring at him like they share the same air as if both were there...

“YOU!”...the face is that of Gaia’s aid, bewildered and confused he backs off down the stairs ,with her staring at him the whole way, he turns to make for the exit filled with the revelation and staggers through the darkness back outside only to be greeted with chaos and confusion, people lay dead, slaughtered, giants Colonians rock stacks and sapiens felled like animals limbs litter and blood redden the stone paths, the market lay flattened from siege and all joy had vanished crushed by seven attackers each bearing unique appearances, one of Rock and one of Alloy those who smash and butcher through all, one of vivid lush green who crumbles rock and strangles aplenty with the wrath of nature at her will, one of fire who’s fury whip incinerates any at a touch, instantaneous cremation, of water he will drown the heart and flush out any who hide , the last two remain plain skinned although inevitably as monstrous hiding their true form from sight, only revealing half their divinity here, Amidst the chaos Rune can see a lone warrior battling the seven titans , through the fire whips and howling winds the champion fights true cutting pounding and slamming the seven in turn as they attack, he hits harder then anyone of them but their supernatural abilities prove too much for the guardian as he tries to keep his position between the shepherd and the temple, he rolls from the killing circle facing down his enemy alone who now stand between him and his purpose, he digs his heels in and readies himself for a second skirmish when the Aid reveals herself from the temple...she raises her hand high gesturing the guardian to hold, to leave her, to save his own life, at this moment he is torn between his inner pride and the word of his ruler, he grinds his teeth, he takes a look once again at the Titans who in monstrous form and effort defeat him that day, holding his stare long enough for his eyes to burn deep into the titans memory, letting them know he is not to be forgotten...he turns and flees from the complex...

“commander...commander... wake up...are you alright?”...Rune is roughed awake to see a native guard standing in front of him...

“You looked like you were having a bad dream”...he does not reply, he stands and staggers down the stairs mumbling under his breathe...

“where is her aid....GAIAS AID WHERE IS SHE”... The guard retreated confusingly replies...

“she hasn’t been seen since the shepherds banishment, she must have gone with them....why sir?...Rune, he darts from the chamber down the corridor barging past all to the courtyard and sprints to the barracks where Wayke has the men digging moulds into the dirt and two large bonfires burning big and bright...

“Wayke come I must speak with you at once”... Wayke acknowledges and tells the men to keep working and follows Rune who leads him to a quieter spot where he turns fast ...

“I must go!...Wayke is taken back..

“Go?...what do you mean go?!” ...

“ I’ve had a vision, it’s Gaia’s aid, she has the answers, there was someone else too...a Guardian...someone who I think can help us, I must travel to where he stood tallest and find him”...Rune says to Wayke rushed...

“What if this, Guardian doesn’t want to help? what if you saw only what Gaia wanted you to see? She did swirl you in her shall we say, mists when we met?”...Earth heart replies...

“All i saw is that he gave all to her and would of happily courted death that day if it was not for her word! I must try!...you must finish what we started and get the army to the battlefield, I will rendezvous at the sky change”... Thane stops a passing native ...

“Take me to the stables at once”...he turns back to Wayke and raises his hand in embrace and pulls Wayke in for a hug...

“ I will see you soon brother! May the old Fathers guide your thoughts so that they point true!”...Wayke sniggers to himself...”I hope so, or it is only i who shall be guaranteed a victory that day, be it a life or deaths hand that take me!”...After a silent gaze into each other they break, after one last look of smiles Thane heads off to acquire a steed for his Ride to find the lost Guardian...

He arrives at the stables, where natives tend to the beasts who show affection by rubbing scent onto their riders and lay close to each other licking wounds they cannot reach for others next to them, all similar except each unique like the tigers of earth, they polish the saddles and sew any wounds they suffered from the battle not long ago some look like they will not see out the night, they only came back to assure their owners safety... Rune dismisses his guide with a bow and walks through the middle path into the sheltered portion, he sees they are all valiant and formidable, noble creatures seen as companions not only tools of war, he sees many all equal in all but colouration, a glance towards the end he takes interest in a pen wrapped with rope tight and unkempt dark and dust webbed, approaching he finds emptiness, apparently an abandoned cursed paddock until, a scuffling reveals the rear leg of a forgotten unattended beast in the back , pure black in colour it ripples from snout to tail with pulsations of pure white waves that break on the deep scars that litter her hide, scaled like a serpent with a main of spine she hides half in shadow making a deep rattle as warning, standing at the rope bound paddock looking in a native looks over and notices approaching with warning ...

“You can’t ride her sir, she hasn’t been since Lieutenant Agro was slain”... Rune looks harder and sees there is a skeleton in rags still attached to the rusted tired saddle...

“She wouldn’t let anyone near her after the battle so we could not bury him, she just came back and stayed in there, we throw food in for her but that’s all we can do, she’s the last of her kind”...Rune nods in appreciation, he then proceeds to undo the rope to the paddock...

“SIR DONT!”...

“Be calm, come over here and lock the gate behind me”...the native scrambles over ready to bind the gate shut behind Rune, Earth thane steps in to the paddock and the gate closes immediately with the native staying put to peer inside in anticipation at what happens next ...

The beast grows more agitated with every step he takes in her small kingdom pen, the ripples in sync with her heart beat speeding up and more frequent until she’s almost pure white with rage, holding his arm out to try and show peaceful intent only intensifies her aggression towards him hissing becomes a croaky growl, the ripples appear to reverse they wave with such an intensity, Rune takes one more step pushing his luck to the limit the rattling dims , her skin swirls out and she fades indistinguishable to the shadow without her active camouflage he freezes and braces for the inevitable strike to come, he reaches for an old rolled up rope hanging on the side, just as he lifts it the strike comes... She leaps for Runes head taking a full swipe with her huge claws, she tumbles over his head and slams into the wall, Rune takes the rope and doubles it over forming a loop, he backs off as the beast circles preparing for another attempt, the light reveals her despicable appearance a smooth mosaic scaled slithery body, her four legs that bear human like hands nails of razor claws with a tail equipped for thrusting better then any spear, her skin violently ignites swirling in all directions like the dye of death been dropped in her heart now her cover is broken, she no longer hides, she takes flight...Rune side steps leaving the lasso mid air where he stood, her head goes through ,Thane yanks it tight and puts all his weight back on to his left boot digging in holding strong, her strength is beyond Runes by a long way, trying to avoid her tails attempts and control her head that be too much for any normal mere man, only by controlling her head can he bring her to heel...she pulls harsh and whips her neck dragging Thanes feet across the cobbled ground with each wrench of her muscular neck he relaxes to soften the power, with perfect timing he loosens his restraints running towards this mighty her, taking to the air he in a double foot kick dismounts the dusty bones still saddled replacing himself as her new master, she struggles hard bucking and violently thrashing he is nearly thrown off several times...

“OPEN THE GATE AND MOVE AWAY!...the stable keeper hesitates...”OPEN THE GATE AND STEP OFF! QUICKLY NOW!”...the stable man undoes the rope lock and runs leaving the opening of the actual gate unfinished, Thane pulls the rough harness hard right to direct the monstrous steed at the exit then, he gives a firm kick to the hind thigh with his heavy booted heel she reacts in tune, she charges down the gate crashing from the pen shattering the wooden gate to lumber and fine splinters, all the workers and others steeds move as far to the sides as they can to avoid their predator, hissing in submissive postures they climb atop each other to form a hydra of heads and defences Thane, using great efforts he gets the beast to leave outside without harming any man or other beast, the instant the sunlight hits he skin her natural gifts become clear, the skin changes pigment rendering her in a warp of spectrums that match her environment, pulsations imitating the natural movement in her surrounding she’s almost perfectly invisible against the keeps backdrops, unable to completely control her prehistoric nature Rune keeps the pressure up to keep her moving at pace towards the gate before she gets too aggravated by the sudden changes...

Wayke can hear the commotion and fretting from the barracks and comes outside to the path to see what’s happening, people run past and slide down the small alleys between the shacks in panic followed by Rune cascading from around the bend atop his monstrous beast causing mayhem, Thane halts his new steed feet away to address Wayke who keeps his distance at a safe measure...

“Do not come too close, she is a woman!”... Thane informs his friend, the Impatient steed wiggles and roars at all around her including Wayke itching to be free of the saddled invader...

“Well that’s obvious, although I have to say your standards have certainly improved...what do you plan to call this one? And will she fair any better then the last!?”...

“I’m not sure yet, only time will reveal such things , I will see you on the field brother make sure they are ready for both life and death, let each of them make their own choice on fate!”...he kicks his steed back into life granting her permission to once again let loose, lastly calling back...”KEEP AN EYE ON GORE!”...he vanishes beyond the gate bounding into the forest towards the First complex in search of this Guardian who holds the fear of gods...

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