Cythera Chronicles: The Aftermath: A Team Chronicle: Part 1



  • Lightning struck a tree about a mile away. It was stormy and overcast, and Zephyr Sigma knew that he shouldn't be outside, but he always did enjoy seeing dry lightning. It had been three months since the Dark Dragon had vanished from Cythera, leaving Avatara as Land King until Alaric returned. Things were going well in Cythera, the kesh operation was revealed before the Magi and the Great Houses, the forgotten rooms of Land King Hall were repaired, and people could travel the world safely again.

    But...

    There was a shadow looming just over the horizon. Avatara knew it, Zephyr knew it, the Magi knew it.

    Something was about to go terribly, terribly wrong.

    Sensing the evil was closer than ever, Zephyr set out towards Land King Hall.

    Something wasn't quite right in the world, and something told him it was going to hit everybody like a sack of dead batteries.

    -------------------------------------

    Everyone jumped as a loud thunder rolled over the sky. A bolt of lightning, strong enough to blind the poor fool who dared to lay eyes on it, carved the sky. Another bang. Then, silence. It started to rain. Heavy drops of water, and very many of them.

    Suddenly, the sound of an animal drew the Land King Hall perimeter guards' attention. Out of the rain and the dark shadows came a warrior, clad in metal armor from head to toe, carrying a large broad sword which could make the most savage ruffian, maybe even a Crimson Ranger feel great respect. A large kite shield was strapped to his back. The only thing which didn't radiate some respect, was the seemingly extremely tired and dehydrated horse he was mounted on. Both the horse and the warrior was breathing heavily. Apparently, this man had been traveling for a long time. The guards followed his every move until he stopped some seven paces from them.

    "Got any water for my horse, Royal guards?" the warrior shouted to the guards who could barely hear him because of the overwhelming noise of thunder and rain, accompanied by the howls of scared, or hungry, wild animals.

    "Guess you and your old horsy will get plenty to drink now," one of the guards joked, though with a serious look on his face. The warrior dismounted and grabbed the horse by the saddle to convince the tired animal to follow. He approached the front gate, and the three Royal guards.

    "May I please spend the night here in the castle?" he asked, a little more calm in his voice this time. Drops of rain and sweat decorated his forehead.

    The guard captain looked from one guard to the other, then back at the stranger. "Fine by me. We can't simply just lock you out in this fierce thunderstorm, now can we?" he said, "you may pass. You will need the Land King's permission, of course, but I'm sure he will offer you shelter from this ugly weather. Besides, he will most certainly be delighted to have a visitor. Not many strangers drop by, you know..."

    "Excellent." The warrior smiled a modest smile and continued past the guards. He let go of the horse and walked inside as the captain opened the gate. "You can sleep in the barracks. We have an extra bed. Food is piling up, too," the captain said, "and don't worry about the horse. We'll escort him to our stable... last thing I'm doing tonight before I eat my supper." He spit once and then grabbed the saddle and walked towards the stable with the reluctant, stubborn animal behind him. The two other guards were quick to seek shelter within the castle walls as a lightning eliminated a tree, about a hundred metres away.

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    The warrior's footsteps echoed down the marbled hall. He knew where he should go to seek shelter, and that's where he was headed. When he went past the little pool and entered a cross way, the floor carpeted, expensive statues decorated the room, he took a sharp turn and walked up north towards the throne room. The raindrops dripped off his now shiny armor, leaving stains on the carpet.

    When entering the throne room, he knelt before the new king and said: "Noble Land King Avatara. I was on my way to a... hunter's convention when I got surprised by the bad weather. I can not travel any further, and my horse is resting out in the stable. The guard out front told me I could most certainly spend the night... and perhaps the next day, no?"

    -------------------------------------

    Avatara frowned. He was standing before the last planeswalker, Dark Dragon. Dragon was telling him about the need to assume the role of Landking, and handed him the staff, reminding him sternly that the user can control the fabric of the land through it and to not let it fall into evil.

    A flash of light... then Avatara sat up in bed. 'I have done what you requested. I wait only for your signal.' He rubbed his eyes, wondering if it all had been a dream. He looked around, confirmed he was in the late Alaric's former quarters, with the staff leaning against the bedpost and knew it was not. Of late it was becoming hard to tell what was dream and what was not, and over it all a shadow of evil lay... just out of reach.

    Avatara shifted the pillows, so as to not have to sleep on his chill sweat. He suddenly recalled something about a prophecy... one that foretold the end of the world, when the planeswalker would return.

    He knew, this was just the calm before the storm...

    -------------------------------------

    Zephyr reached the entrance of Land King Hall.

    It'd been a year since the Dark Dragon had left. Since he had granted Avatara the power of a Land King. Soon Alaric would reform, and Cythera would have its Land King back.

    Zephyr walked through the tall stone doorway that had been such a friend to all travelers over the past century.

    As he entered, he noticed his old friend Rogan sitting at a table with Talos.

    "Zephyr! Look who I ran into," said Rogan as Zephyr approached.

    "Talos, it's been a while. Where ya been?" asked Zephyr, reaching his hand to Talos.

    "Here and there. Crazy weather eh?"

    "Very. Listen, you seen Avatara?" asked Zephyr.

    "Yeah, he's in the library reading," replied Rogan.

    "Thanks, I'll see ya later." Zephyr walked off towards Alaric's old study.

    Zephyr approached the door and knocked. "Hey chief, you home?" The door opened, behind it stood a man who had seen far too much stress in the past year. Avatara stood, clasping his staff that TheDarkDragon had given him to help him handle the power of being a Land King. "Zephyr, it's good to see-"
    "We need to talk." Interrupted Zephyr.
    "Time's running out, I know," said Avatara, "come and sit down."
    Zephyr walked into the room and sat down on one of the armchairs.
    "It's been a year. He should have been back by now."
    "I know, but we just have to wait, perhaps Dragon missed on his estimate of a Cytheran year."
    "It's more than that. Last night I had a dream. Dragon spoke to me, told me to assist him in opening a portal. He has something to tell us."
    "All right, how do we do it?"

    -------------------------------------

    A lonely road stretched to the entrance of Land King Hall, traveled by an even lonelier man. The tears that dropped from the face of Heaven were matched only by the tears that came from the man's face, and the wails of thunder were surpassed by the wails of his mournful soul. The man was garbed in a peasant's clothing, with cotton pants and shirt covered by a cloak and leather boots. He wore more layers underneath, and carried no visible weapons.

    His head constantly pointed towards the ground, perhaps watching his feet so that he might not trip, but perhaps drooped in gloomy solitude. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his destination, the Land King Hall. His head turned up, and he gazed into the eyes of the gate guards. One called out.

    "Greetings, wayfarer. Friend or foe?"

    "It depends. If you let me in to the warmth, you may most certainly count me as a friend." His voice was the soft rustle of the wind on leaves. "I can pay for my lodgings in the standard way."

    "Which is?"

    "Companionship, and the promise of a tale. I come to hear stories of adventures, tell stories of adventure, and, if I am lucky, live a story of an adventure."

    "Then enter, by the grace of the Lang King Avatara."

    He strode into the hall, taking in the heat of the wall torches. A guard offered to take his cloak, but the man refused. "Instead, good man, could you fetch me a glass of wine? For is it not custom to wet the tongue of a storyteller before he begins his tale, and to whet it too?" The guard hurried off to the kitchen for the requested drink, and the man walked into the room where the two, Avatara and Zephyr, talked. He interrupted, saying, "My lord Avatara, would you grace the ears and soul of an old man with a place to stay, and with the tale of whatever plot you cook up here?"

    "Certainly, traveler, even though you could use manners. But your age must make you dote, so I forgive you on that count."

    And with that, the tale continued.

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    Tlepolemus stared at the spot that his fishing line entered the water, and sighed contentedly. The fishing had been good lately, especially here, at his favorite spot just North of Odemia; he found that to be most gratifying. Thunder rolled heavily in the distance behind him. He glanced up at the dark skies once more, and shrugged; as long as it didn't start raining here, he'd keep at it.

    So intent was he on his fishing, that he didn't notice the small ship pulling in to the beach until its wake disturbed the water around his line. He glanced up then, watching curiously as the boat pulled close to shore. Its sails were rent, and showed signs of hasty mending; several of the upper planks had been stowed in, but on the whole, it appeared seaworthy.

    Two dark-skinned men leaped from the deck to the shore, strode a few paces inland, and halted. Lightning flashed in the distance, followed a few seconds later by a loud crash of thunder. Even though he was growing used to it, Tlepolemus flinched; it was far louder than any previous thunderclap that day. The two dark men seemed unfazed, and stood staring into the distance.

    The smaller of the two men wore long, pastel colored robes, that appeared to be made of silk; on his head was a white turban. The larger man was dressed in strange, studded leather armor, with silken pantaloons beneath. His hat was a half-turban, bound around a spiked steel cap. Both men wore shoes that curled up at the toes. On his back, the warrior wore two huge swords, of a design Tlepolemus had never seen.

    Two crewmen dropped a gangplank, and led a lively white horse down onto the sand. It was rather smaller than the horses found locally, but its lines were nevertheless graceful. It had no saddle, but bore instead a silken rug on its back.

    "Definitely not from around here," Tlepolemus thought to himself.

    "My lord, are you certain you wish to do this?" the smaller asked of the larger.

    "I must, Omar. I cannot shrink from my destiny; and this is where it lies, I am sure of it!"

    Tlepolemus tried hard to place their strange accents, but soon gave up.

    The warrior glanced around, and seemed to notice him for the first time. "You there, good fisherman! Would you be so good as to tell me, where I may find your king?"

    Tlepolemus pointed northward. "Follow that road, stranger; it leads nowhere but to Land King Hall."

    The stranger bowed, one hand to his chest, and the other held out before him in a graceful gesture. "I thank you, good sir; may the day grant you good fishing."

    Tlepolemus bobbed his head and smiled at the odd salutation. He couldn't take his eyes off the strange man as he leapt astride the horse, and made for the road; when the fisherman turned back, the ship was already well on its way back out to sea.

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    The guards came to the ready, at the sound of a horse galloping up the road. Within sight of the gates, the rider pulled up short and leaped to the ground. He strode forward, silken cloak streaming out behind him in the wind of his passage; the horse seemed to be well trained, as it remained where it had stopped.

    "Greetings," the stranger called. "I am a stranger, from a far distant land; I come seeking an audience with your king."

    "Wait here," the guard captain replied. He sent a messenger to Avatara, who returned quickly and bade the dark man enter.

    "His majesty will receive you now; the guards will take care of your horse."

    The man strode through the hallways of Land King Hall, facile eyes darting every which way, missing nothing. He was soon brought before Avatara who, since an audience was requested, received him in the throne room.

    The dark man strode boldly forward, then dropped to one knee with his arms curved gracefully out from his sides, palms held upwards. "Your majesty, I am called Saracen. I come across the waters from a far distant land, seeking my destiny, as was foretold in an ancient prophecy. I believe that here, I will find it."

    Avatara glanced meaningfully at Zephyr, who was lounging almost unnoticed against one wall, then stood up and pulled Saracen to his feet. He shook his hand warmly. "Welcome, Saracen. This is indeed a significant time in the affairs of Cythera; all who are drawn here because of it should be made welcome. Please, join the rest of us at dinner."

    -------------------------------------

    From the back of the room, a silent figure was watching, noticing everything while remaining unseen. She had chosen this spot intentionally, having figured out the function of the room, and had waited patiently, listening to the conversation of the two guards placed at the entrance of the hall. It had ben of little use other than giving her a better understanding of their language. The only other relevant information she had gained was that something important was apparently about to happen, and that the people of Cythera were ruled by a "Land King" named "Avatara". But her long life had taught her that patience always paid off, and this time it was no different. Her wait had even been particularly rewarding this time, though she was not too pleased with what it had revealed: a High Elf, posing as the ruler of Cythera. Great. Just great. Instinctively, she reached for her sword, but reason prevented her from doing something she would surely have regretted afterwards. It would not do to upset these people by killing their king. Additionally, experience showed that High Elves never hid alone.

    So she decided to wait and observe. The human man who called himself Saracen had left, and the other man had stepped forward from the shadows. Avatara remained unmoving for a moment, then turned towards him. "So, what do you think?"
    "He looks capable enough." The man replied. "And he seems trustworthy."
    "And what about you?" Avatara asked.
    The man frowned. "What do you mean, I -"
    "He was not addressing you." The woman in the shadows remarked quietly. The man whirled around, surprise on his face and hand on the hilt of his sword. The elf turned towards her, seemingly unconcerned.

    Zephyr couldn't help but wonder how Avatara had noticed the strange woman, even with his elven senses. Though her skin was pale as that of most elves, the rest of her appearance surely wasn't. Her eyes were golden, flashing like those of a cat in the darkness surrounding her, and her hair was black, like onyx, and worn in a long braid. Her clothing was black as well, and she was wearing a short chain mail, finely crafted and made of an unknown metal that seemed to absorb light... or maybe it was just drawing the shadows closer around her. The hilt of the long sword at her side was just as finely wrought, though it was impossible to say anything about the quality of the blade itself; the sword was sheathed. Otherwise, she was only wearing a quiver with arrows and a short bow on her back. She stood no more than five and a quarter feet tall, and she was obviously, unmistakably elven.

    "I would have expected less... considering his ancestry." She put an odd stress on the word 'his', indicating she was not referring to Saracen. "Though his race has apparently lost much of their edge since I last fought them."

    The Land King's reaction was immediate and predictable, though not overly excessive. His expression hardened, his eyes narrowed, and he seemed about ready for a sharp reply, before he caught himself... maybe remembering his nonexistent dignity. The woman had not had so much difficulty keeping her face neutral for a long time. Still laughing inwardly, she continued. "But relax, both of you. I'm not interested in a fight."
    "Then what are you interested in?" Zephyr asked suspiciously.
    "Shelter, food... the usual." The woman shrugged nonchalantly.
    "Right, and I'm the Land King..." Zephyr muttered under his breath.
    "We were about to have dinner, anyway," Avatara replied. "You can join us, if you wish." Better than having her walk around unobserved. Somebody who could sneak past all the guards to the throne room without being noticed needed to be watched.
    The other elf nodded politely, and took a few steps toward them, though she seemed reluctant to leave the shadows.
    "By the way... what's your name?" Avatara asked, trying to assign a memory to the stranger. She claimed to have fought High Elves... but where? Maybe a name would help.
    "Onyx." The woman replied, with a slight smile.
    "Your name's not elven."
    "Speak for yourself... Avatara." Again, the Land King showed little surprise, though he hadn't introduced himself. Onyx sighed mentally. She was apparently expected to be good at her job.

    -------------------------------------

    "A pleasure meeting you, I'm sure. Avatara, I'm afraid we won't have time for pleasantries. Time is of the essence, and we must head to the Spire," said Zephyr.
    "Very well, we'll be on the way," Avatara said as he cast Zephyr a heartwarming smile, while still studying him strangely with his eyes. Before the two left the dining hall, Avatara spoke. "The time draws near when the true LandKing will return to assume his role. Zephyr and I leave to attempt to welcome the one who will guide us all. Talos, I leave you in charge." Avatara turned and slipped away, before the guards could so much as absorb his words and follow him.

    Zephyr and Avatara traveled north a distance, through rocks that were rarely tread upon. Once they reached a clearing, they turned west and headed into the edge of the Demon's Spine range. For hours, they hiked passed tall boulders. Further and further south they traveled.
    "It's more than the dream you know," said Zephyr.
    "What is?"
    "This lightning storm has been going for nearly a week now. I've never seen it last this long. But then again, I'm only about 30, how old are you?" asked Zephyr.
    "I'm older than you can imagine, but this storm does seem rather odd."
    "And there ya go. There's a kind of energy in the air as well."
    "I feel it." responded Avatara.
    "It's as if- look, The Spire!"
    As the two passed around a large boulder, they saw it...

    (to be continued)

    (This message has been edited by Slayer (edited 05-21-2002).)



  • Good job, though the story does seem a bit (url="http://"http://www.AmbrosiaSW.com/cgi-bin/ubb/postdisplay.cgi?forum=Forum5&topic;=000815")familiar(/url). Keep up the good work, Dragon. My previous comments about grammar and the like still stand.

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    Slayer's guide to Cythera:
    (url="http://"http://www.macclassics.com/cythera/cythera.htm")http://www.macclassi...era/cythera.htm(/url)



  • Hehe... Sack of dead batteries. Funny it was.
    Good was the writing, tDD. Up you will keep it. (/yoda)

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    Meh, it's just a little mushroom creture, it won't hurt us...
    (Famous Last Words #512)

    Where do you want to (url="http://"http://www.macclassics.com/cythera/tricks/rJade.htm")teleport(/url) today?



  • Slayer: Shh! It was Avatara's idea (he forced me! I swear!).

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    -TheDarkDragon
    Existance is simple: find the food, press the button, hit the treadmill.
    If you're a follower in a group of one, you're in deep trouble my friend.
    (url="http://"http://homepage.mac.com/thedarkdragon/")Visit the Dragon's Den(/url)



  • I think he intended that you leave out the new characters, though ;)

    Never mind; given that this is a slightly different Cythera, I give you carte blanche to do whatever's necessary with Saracen :)

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    Kobayashi Maru!



  • (malicious grin) :D (/malicious grin)

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    -TheDarkDragon
    Existance is simple: find the food, press the button, hit the treadmill.
    If you're a follower in a group of one, you're in deep trouble my friend.
    (url="http://"http://homepage.mac.com/thedarkdragon/")Visit the Dragon's Den(/url)

    (This message has been edited by TheDarkDragon (edited 05-22-2002).)


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