Cythera Chronicles: Beyond, Chapter 1

  • Melgor of Darsh's chain mail clinked against his battle-axe as he stepped over a piece of fallen debris.

    The sky was brown and acrid, a far cry from its crisp brightness earlier. It was rank with smoke and the clouds of impending rain. Evening was upon Surmourdac, in more than a literal sense.

    The remains of what was once a massive fire-type elemental lens were scattered in the near area, the oxidized bodies of it's operators lying among the long metal rotors and works of the machine.

    A testament to the fury of a plague beast attack, the metal of the weapon's frame looked as if it had been under the sea for fifty years, and the pungent smell of the breath of the beasts hung in the air.

    Melgor knew there would be no survivors here.

    He ascended a nearby hill just as rain was starting to fall on the parched, decimated land. As he reached the top of the hill, Melgor surveyed the landscape. What was left of it.

    A few fires consumed what was left of the Confederate forces, and the charred corpses of plague beasts were surrounded by the bodies of the soldiers who'd died attacking them.

    He quickly counted about two dozen dead monsters. There had been over a hundred passing through, their counterattack had only slowed down the horde.

    Melgor was rightfully gloomy. The result seemed inevitable - The Confederation would be driven from Surmourdac, and the large island would be quarantined.

    Of course, the central-empire farmers would be happy, people would want to buy things at their exuberant prices again. But Melgor could see no other good in the whole dank affair.

    What could motivate the creatures to so ruthlessly and decisively bring destruction on the people of Surmourdac? What could convince the beasts, in such numbers, to leave the sinkhole from whence they evidently came to go kill innocent people?

    Clearly, the creatures were possessed of some intelligence, evidenced by the fact that they coordinated their effort, used elaborate tactics, and had strategic talents rivaling that of the Confederation's best tacticians.

    They were not just pack animals fighting without reason, so something had to motivate them to come here, and face danger. Feeding perhaps? Melgor speculated for a moment, and arrived at the conclusion that the creatures, having exhausted whatever they ate in their world, had moved on to greener grass.

    As Melgor wandered through the grisly battlefield, he caught sight of something that brightened his spirits - two human figures, in confederate-issue armor.

    The thought of more survivors heartened him, and he ran to meet them. The soldiers did not even question his identity as he walked up alongside him, any humanoid here was a friend.

    No words were needed for the two soldiers, they knew what Melgor wanted to know.

    "No other survivors."

    Melgor gave a stiff nod. The battle was lost, as were over three thousand confederate troops.

    The threesome silently headed away form the grim graveyard that was once a fertile plain, towards the coast of the stricken land.

    "The situation is grave, your excellency. Our troops are outnumbered two to one or worse, and each plague beast is twenty times the size of a man!"

    The exasperated consul exhaled. He was plainly nervous in the presence of the Leader Maximus, despite himself being of elevated status.

    "I will order a legion of our best air battleships to move to Surmourdac. We routed the foul creatures sixty years ago, it will happen again. You worry too much, consul."

    "But your excellency, the local forces of Surmourdac of course attempted to attack from air, but were quickly crushed by the strange breath-weapon of the beasts. They lost sixteen airships in the first hour of war!"

    The young, blonde Leader Maximus reclined in his throne, his characteristic arrogance shown through in his indifference.

    "Bah, consul, you worry too much. If you insist that the aircraft cannot do it, then I will send foot soldiers."

    The consul shifted his stance.

    "Foot soldiers are of no use either - anyone who gets close to one of the creatures falls ill in hours. I've seen it firsthand, Leader, it's terrible what those beasts do to people. If they don't die right away, their hair and teeth fall out, they can't keep food down... no, it's just horrid. We can't send foot soldiers... It would be signing their death warrants. Furthermore, what troops we have there, even those who have not directly encountered beasts, are already starting to experience signs of disease - It is as if just passing through the lands where the beasts have traveled causes a mild case of plague. It's not something we can stand up against, and it's taking its toll on morale, as well."

    "What, do I put healers and medical schools in place for nothing? If it is a plague, why can they not cure it?" The Leader asked, still seeming unconcerned.

    "I do not know - they have tried everything, but the healers can only treat the nausea of the troops, they can not protect against the plague. They fall victim to the symptoms along with their patients."

    "The scientists of Mevren? What of them?"

    "They claim to know what the plague is. They call it 'radiation sickness'." The consul sounded skeptical.

    "And, what do they plan to do about it?"

    "They say they can make special medicine that will protect soldiers from the beasts, but they say it is far too difficult to make enough of this for our entire army."

    The Leader Maximus put his head between his hands in thought. Cunning had gotten him elected, and he felt his cunning would save Surmourdac.

    "Well, consul, I suggest Mevren hurry its production. Go there, and have them send two or three of their most trusted scholars to Patjer. I will send a messenger to Surmourdac to gather our best warriors from the front, ones who do not yet have the plague."

    "But your excellency, what good will such a small team do?"

    "You will see, consul. Away with you."

    The consul scampered away out of the new Air-Castle throne room, his blue-striped tunic nearly snagging on the pointed fire holders illuminating the dusk light of the throne room.

    Though he would never admit it, there was trouble in Surmourdac.

    The Leader stood up out of the marble throne, and walked over to a bell cord. Yanking it, he summoned a stout gray haired man to the room.

    "Yes, your excellency?" The man inquired.

    "Fetch me a messenger. Be quick about it."

    "At once, Leader!" He said, as he bowed and left the Leader's formidable presence.

    The Leader walked over to the throne room's panoramic windows, and gazed over the land. The sunset was always awing, even to him.

    Little impressed him anymore, but this was an exception. He viewed the awesome majesty of the sunset with fascination, meditating on its wisps and clouds.

    How they captured the evening light so stunningly...

    "Messenger reporting, your excellency!"

    The leader suppressed a frown as he turned to the source of the intrusion, a young woman wearing the tunic of a messenger.

    "Very well. Scribe!" The Leader called, beckoning a elder elven savant from the shadows of the royal court.

    "Yes, exalted one?" He said, in a dignified tone.

    "Take a recording. On this, the two-hundred-sixty-ninth day of the first year, the exalted Leader Maximus Eronitus Cladalmex, of Tatrinas proper, hereby decrees the following edict: The supreme general Lardal Drax commanding the conflict against the so-called plague beasts invading the Confederation state of Surmourdac is to select six of his best warriors, who have tasted combat against the beasts but are not undergoing the symptoms of the plague, and ship them to Patjer at once. Further details will arrive by post. End of edict!"

    The scribe, the speed of his writing honed by years of experience, pulled his recording from the tablet and handed it to the messenger.

    "To the supreme general, messenger. Off with you," ordered the Leader.

    "With haste!" said the messenger. She bowed and departed.

    "Your excellency, may I inquire as to what grand plan you propose for our salvation?" the wise-man asked.

    "Are you acquainted with the battle of Buruj-Hac, in the third year of Tarja?" he asked, turning to face the elf.

    "Of course, exalted one."

    "And, what strategy did the Planarist Rebels find most successful there?"

    "As I recall, they sent spies into the enemy camp and poisoned the water supply."

    "We shall do something similar to these beasts - we shall send a small elite team to spy out their base of operations, and inflict sabotage there. We will cripple the beasts, and turn the tide of battle our way."

    "Most wise, Leader. You reputation of wisdom is not undeserved!"

    The leader nodded. "We now must see if the claims Mevren makes about it's protective medicine are valid. On this hinges the plan's success."

    The climate of Surmourdac, however pleasant to plants, was not conducive to running around. That much I'd decided five minutes after I got off the zeppelin. It was sweltering, I could not fathom how the soldiers put up with wearing padded armor in this humidity. Still, I had a job to do - delivering a edict from the Leader Maximus himself was not a responsibility I take lightly.

    - Messenger Sia Koshira, in a letter to her father.

    (This message has been edited by moderator (edited 09-16-2002).)

  • This is a pretty good chronicle. I look forward to seeing what will happen next.

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    Slayer's guide to Cythera:

  • I can't wait either. should be good.

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