Forgecity

“I don’t understand, what is this place?” Nicoyin asked. Hot winds from the desert traced up the cliff. The sweat that had beaded itself on her exposed skins moments before evaporated as the furnace like like air engulfed her, her lungs burning from the scorching air.

Art by Rob Joseph

“This is a memory,” Alem said. “From the Age of Glory. That.” He lifted a hand to pointed at the enormous structure below. “That is Ah’sal’an’ash. A Forgecity, sworn to the Summoner Saanaren.”

“Sahrin,” Nocoyin said.

Alem turned his dark eyes towards her, hand on the hilt of the blade at his waist. “Summoner,” he repeated, an edge to his voice. “I will not offer any show of respect to the men and women who thought so little of the people they were meant to serve that they would open a gateway to Void, dooming us all.”

“But look what they could do,” she couldn’t keep the awe from her voice, though truth be told she disliked the Summoners- the Sarhin- too. She just didn’t see the point in warning against a people three thousand years dead. “We lost so much when they died. Our ancestors once ruled the heavens and now we play in the mud, the star lost to us.”

“I don’t know why the Singers do this. You shouldn’t be brought here until you understand the truth. But come.” Alem nodded towards the Forgecity below. “See for yourself. Witness the millions of lives taken so the great Saanaren could work on his experiments with the power of the Void.”

Nicoyin gazed down at Ah’sal’an’ash, unease pricking her for the first time. She knew the tales of the daemons and the civil war that destroyed the Summoner’s empire and had broken the world. But they were just stories, weren’t they?

If she wished to take her place as a Singer for her tribe then she had to know the truth of it.

She met Alem’s challenging gaze and squashed her unease down deep.

“Then show me,” she said, and Alem laughed.

The Soulsword

The Font barely held any power. I should have known when I entered the facility and the place had been leeched of all colour. That was the tell, the most obvious sign of all and I had let my excitement get the better of me.

Art by Manuel Castañón

The Six Bitches had left Fonts across the galaxy, each one a monument to their failed experiments at creating life, at imitating the Gods who had made them – and then left them behind. Chasing them like the dogs they were.

Only one of the Firstborn had been successful. Had succeeded at creating life. My master had done what his brethren could not. But they did not praise his glory, or celebrate his achievement.

Instead they had been outraged at his methods. At his use of chaos instead of order. At is refusal to follow their strictures that had failed time and time again. So they had cast him out. Imprisoned him in the Void and abandoned us, his children, to grow and flourish on a godless world, watched over by their ‘Keepers’.

But my Lord had not been idle in his exile. He had called from darkness to darkness and those of us with the ears to hear, heard his call and vowed to set him free.

The energy that was left within the Font coruscated down my arm, quickening the soulsword as I forged it in the energies of order and chaos, a feat that had not been accomplished since before my Master had been exiled.

Behind me came the mewling cry of Romelda. She had lost her toy crystal when my fury at the state of the Font had got the best of me. The portal had closed too but no matter. Once the soulsword was quenched I would be able to use it to open my own portals, tears in the fabric of space time that would lead me anywhere I wanted to go.

I raised the sword, it’s violet glow blazing, almost blue. I turned to Romelda and she began to scream. A soulsword had not been created in millennia but she knew what I was going to do.

After all, it wouldn’t be a soulsword without a soul.

The Font

“There is the Font.” Romelda pointed across the cavern to the enormous stone hand that held the construct of the Firstborn.

Art by @molham.haidar

It was older than I had imagined it would be. Most of the Firstborn complexes I had found were alive with light and colour. But here it was as though the very essence that made the Firstborns machinery what it was, had been leached out of it, leaving only the base minerals behind.

“Well?”

I turned at the impatience in Romelda’s voice. The portal we had stepped through glowed in the air behind her and I could tell she wanted to be gone from here.

“Well what?” I asked although I knew what she wanted. None of the Keepers, the pathetic wretches the Firstborn had left as stewards of the worlds and peoples they had brought into being, ever wanted to linger in the places they were supposed to rule.

“You… ” she swallowed and I had to bit my tongue to keep form laughing. “You said you’d pay me…”

“Oh, you mean this?” From a pocket I withdrew a somast crystal. It sparkled in the light of the portal. The somast had once been powerful relics, but they’d offer little of what she imagined in this world.

I tossed the crystalline sphere to her and she caught it eagerly, wrapping her hands around it as she stared into its depths. And stopped moving. She breathed still but she was effectively trapped. There she would stay until I released her.

It wouldn’t do to have the only person able to port in and out of a Firstborn facility to leave me stranded here, would it?

What if my Master could not be released from this location? I would be trapped as irrevocably as he.

I turned back to the construct. The avatars of the Six Sisters – the Six Bitches – stood around the upper ring, each with one hand raised as though giving permission for the power of the Font to rise. Well, rise it shall.

And when I finally free my Master from the prison in which they had placed him, they would rue the day they abandoned us, their children, to live or die without them.

The Gates of Sia’tai

Tohrein looked across the bay at the Gates of Sia’tai. It had to be them.

Art by Sylvain Sarrailh

It had taken him all day to make his was down the mountains. None of the bloody maps he’d found talked about that, did they? Oh no. Bloody cartographers just left lines on parchment and neglected to tell you anything about the region at all… of course the maps were old. And Nalesan thought they might have been made before the Sundering, when the gates lead into the city of H’juuni instead of the sea.

Tohrein snorted. It was possible, he supposed. After all it wasn’t as though they’d come across any people this far south of the Say’sarn Peaks. In fact, they hadn’t come across much of anything. It was kind of creepy. There was game aplenty, just no people – or any signs of them.

In which case Nalesan was probably right, the Void take him, and those maps had been made before the Sundering. Well if he though Tohrien was going to admit he’d been right he had another thing coming. The man would be crowing about it all the way back to Jarov if Tohrein admitted that!

The sun continued to lower itself to the horizon and Tohrein considered returning to camp. It was going to be a long day tomorrow. They had to make their way onto the headland and see if the walls connected to the shore anywhere. If they did they could climb over the things and checkout some of those… Towers? Buildings?…the structures sitting along the top of the wall.

Then they could start searching for the treasure left by the Summoners. They were all going to be rich.

Incurison

The guardsman was blissfully unaware as Dalmanes pushed himself out of the wall and back into the material plain. The light of Telumisere rippled around him and if the man had been paying attention that should have given him ample warning that something was amiss. The only light in the courtyard was from torches – none of which were green.⁠

Art by Anna Podedworna

But the guard wasn’t paying attention. Truth be told the courtyard within the keep should have been secure. Any normal attack would begin from the outer walls. But the man was a guard, it was his duty to be vigilant. Dalmanes had little care for anyone who was so complacent, so lax. That the man was about to lose his life for his failure was a fit punishment.⁠

Dalmanes had judged his incursion care and he emerged from the stones just above the guards head. He pulled his arm back, sword in hand, and focused the strength of the Earth through his veins. ⁠

Without a sound he swung the sword down and across the guards body, the blade slicing through the chainmail and piercing the mans heart. The guard let out a gurgle and Dalmanes, pulling himself more fully into the physical world, caught the guard as he slumped and lowered him to the ground.

Across the courtyard more guardsmen fell as the Emerald Knights began their assault.⁠

Flash fiction set in the world of my #WiP⁠

The Dream

She had dreamed of this tower before. In the nights of Culling, when the Whispers first rode the winds through the street of Sambredo, she had slept uneasily and dreamed of this ancient, crumbling room.

Art by Bagriel Gray

In the days and weeks that followed she had dreamed of it again, and again. The cobwebs that floated light gossamer strands of light, swaying with the smallest movement of air. The shafts of sunlight, and moonlight, entering from an unseen window high above and igniting motes of dust as they shifted in the air; painting runes and then words, and then sentences with their twisting grains of memory that she couldn’t quite read.

And the pages. Always the pages, hanging just out of reach, illuminated by the shaft of light but always out of reach.

Each night she felt as though she stepped closer to the room, as though she reached across time and place to this tower that was calling her and the knowledge it must contain to fight the Whispers. She had done it before. Moved through the world of dreams, but never with such purpose, such need.

There had to be an explanation for these Whispers that killed entire cities. A way to fight them though no army, mage or priest had been successful. But this dream, full of its symbols from the past and forgotten knowledge, had to hold the answer.

Slowly, carefully, she stepped onto the ledge that stretched into the open shaft of the tower, moving towards the papers. As she walked across the emptiness the pages began to move, rotating and and shuffling as though ordering themselves, forming a book for the ease of her very human comprehension. Coming to the end of the ledge she reached out, her hand touching the shaft of light. And just as her finger touched the paper that glowed in the light, she woke up.

– Flashfiction

Arrow of the Gods

Ostel stood before the tip of the Gods Arrow, Fallen to Earth and stared. The summons had touched him with an energy he did not recognize. It had not been the power of anyone he knew, neither mage nor Ciralys. He had never felt such a powerful Call. But he hadn’t imagined this.

Art by Jorge Castillo

He had followed the summons out of the southgate and into the Ah’bashen plains, the darkness of night and his lack of a lantern hiding his identify from any who might be watching.

The strength of the call had led him to the broken ruins of a city destroyed in the Sundering, the devastating climax to the War of the Summoners, that had destroyed the great civilization they had built. He had slowed as he approached the bright white light, the skin at the back of his neck tingling and his stomach twisting.

Elder gods save us! he thought as he saw the sign. The tip of the Gods Arrow, Fallen to Earth. It was a warning to any who could hear, to any who could see, that had been set in place by the last Summoners before their deaths. It was a simple thing and would be a source of wonder for any who did not know what it meant. But he knew. All of his line knew.

The Sahrin – the Summoners – had returned. Somewhere, somehow, a man or woman with the Mark of the Eye of Eternity had come into their dreadful curse and used their power.

He had to warn the council, the Ciralys, the king! But if the Arrow of the Gods had fallen, it was already too late.

Set in the world of my #WiP