Posts tagged ‘toxic’

War Journal – 2-3-4 Bane-War-Aftermath (ep10)

“May I ask just one question, other than to send me home somehow?” still left speechless over the ignorance they were left in Cylus just nodded. “You had a spying eye out in the world all the while. You must’ve known of the orb, later revealed as the fiery eye of the crystal serpent, the location of a glass root, or roots, in the world and the honey from the sandtree nectar. Why then didn’t you take action?” shamed to silence Cylus glanced over to Myranda. “We can’t see all little serpent, we see actions, people, stirrs in the currents of destiny. But to distinguish the orb from the eye, or the roots from lighting tracks when they lie idle in the sand, is beyond our,” she mused a moment, “eye in the world, as you put it.” Disliking the tone Myranda chose to speak with her Fathala had to restrain herself not to reply in kind. “How unfortunate. Especially since it would have improved the chances of banning the Sphinxes, having the powers of Dorei at our side.””Please!” Cylus voice boomed across the clearing, twigs trembling from his thunderous voice. “We can’t start fighting amongst ourselves now.” he knew Myranda would dislike him including Fathala and Lilly on their side. To a small degree it was intent that had guided his tongue. “These tidings you brought to us are important, and we are grateful that you brought them to our attention.” he continued in a much calmer and gentler tone. “Where might one find the bane?” “Stillwater sea.”Pines swayed in a strong wind, gusts foretelling of an approaching thunderstorm, blackened skies spelling the same prophecy. Two weeks had passed since Fathala and Lilly had departed from the thorn hills with Cylus and Myranda. Others in the robes of the shadow binders had joined them, as well as a few people in boiled leather, like Garlon. From time to time a group of people attached themselves to them, all in cloth, simple folk like farmers, herds and hunters. Avoiding any villages they encountered, these groups came and went, coming from these settlements, going to them. If we are to returm to the sweetwater sea to find the bane, we should travel there here, then switch over. Making the journey in times of war, across oceans and lands, is a bit dangerous. Fathala dared not voice her doubts to Cylus, he and his had the power or at least the knowledge to return her home. “Where are we going?” Fathala had asked Cylus upon their departure.”Orchara shipyard.” Taking ships across dry saltflats isn’t going to do us any good.Beyond the swaying pines a town of stone hugged the shore of a natural harbor. Giant ramps to equally giant structures told of the shipyard. Galleys, and other tall and mighty ships were lying around the dry harbor bed, a few masts stood upright in the basins of their construction. “Well, I hope your ships can fly, there canyons out there in the saltflats you couldn’t otherwise cross.” it was Lilly voicing the concerns Fathala harbored as well. Apparently deaf to her words Cylus went on towards the shipyard undeterred. It had been days since Myranda stopped paying the strangers any mind, so turning to her for answers was going to be even less fruitful. As in the pines, the wind roared through the alleys and chimneys of the town, which did not sway with it though. Peopke greeted them, there were differences in the tone of their skin, Fathala was curious how those different shades came to be, but didn’t ask. “That building over there!” Cylus pointed to.one of the buildings in the harbor, just above what would.be the waterline if there had been an ocean. For a moment Cylus, and Myranda as well, seemed disoriented, due to finding themselves in a world that is a mirror image of the one they knew. “What will we find there?” almost afraid of the answer Fathala couldn’t help but ask anyway. To her astonishment it was Myranda who replied.

War Journal – 2-3-4 Bane-War-Aftermath (ep9)

Cylus said, more as an introduction than a genuine question. “We have, although he had given us not his name.” courteous bowing Fathala smiled. “We Doreians are not exactly open to strangers.” Garlon also bowed, but before Cylus and Myranda, rather than the strangers. Without further word he left. “Help yourselves to some food, we are not exactly known for hospitality, if we are known at all.” Cylus sat down near the fire and took one of the birds. As bid by their host the two women sat down near the fire and reached for the food. “I’m sure you.have questions.” Cylus looked at Fathala, gnawing on a leg. Grabbing another one of the roasting birds Myranda sighed loudly. “All our pople are capable of magic, yet we’re not as zealous as the creatures the Coatl have left in the south.” Bats and Owls. I’ve heard the stories. These people know about them as well? “Good thing we all are capable, otherwise our land and all its denizens would still lie idly for the Coatl to destroy.” Cylus added, not turning his gaze from Fathala. “We know of them. We know you’re a sweetwater Naga. We know about most of the tidings in the world. Yet we avoided the world learning about us.” startled Fathala dropped the food in her hand, jumped back a few meters. “Don’t you ever do that again!” she didn’t want anyone entering her mind again. That was Eric’s privilege, and his alone. “Forgive my intrusion.” Cylus indicated a bow, much to Myranda’s dislike. “Until a few years past we kept a close eye on the world, yet, when the signs of return grew, we diverted our attention elsewhere.” he picked up Fathala’s food with his magic, the dirt it had on it fell to the ground as if washed off, while all the spices and fat remained. Slowly it floated towards the Naga, who folded her wings with care to not brush them against the thorns again. In her startled shock she had cut herself in various places. “Effortlessly we worked to finalize our preparations, and then we left.” he spoke looking at Lilly, but was clearly addressing Fathala.”I would much rather want to know where to put you.” Fathala thankfully took the still floating bird. Knowing what she meant to ask Myranda rolled her eyes, while Cylus smiled. “Our ancestry is Doreyah, Albin and Demonic.” confusion on Fathala’s face made his smile broader. “The Doreyah were the ancestors of the people who dwell on the pole, and everywhere else on the world. Humans came from them, as well as Batpeople, Owlpeople, the anchors and some of the Albin blood.”So they had a name for themselves after all.Calmed by answers and food Fathala sat down again. “You are also of demonic origin?” it was Lilly who raised the question that Fathala almost had forgotten. “During the last invasion a group of demons were stranded here, they had lost their powers, some were even dying from the lack of sorcery in the world. The Doreyah and Albin helped them survive, and after the Coatl were successfully banned again these demons vowed not to turn on them. Over time their descendants and the descendants of the Doreyah and Albin mingled and became us.” he left out the hardships that rose from these unions, the wars, the purity laws that once had been raised, but were abolished again after purity became questionable fir either factions. Mere twenty years earlier a group of purity obsessed Dorei had been subdued. Their aims of creating a pure bred Dorei demon were as questionable as they were foolish. “Now, why do you wish to return?” Myranda asked, the annoyance in her voice was apparent, she loathed the outlanders, like most Dorei. “I want to rejoin the fight. The Sphinxes need to be stopped, turned back, or better yet, killed off.” with her teeth, Fathala tore off a piece of flesh from the bird in her hands. “They’re going to follow you here eventually, once they’re done with the rest of the world. Let me be an additional instrument of their downfall, and you can be left in peace.” she mused staring off in the thorny distance. “Useful enough for your likes yet?” Cylus and Myranda exchanged a look. “Why would they follow us here?” whenever Myranda spoke, arrogance swung with her voice. Careful not to enrage the shadowbinder Fathala and Lilly explained he reasons why they thought the Sphinxes would follow the land of Dorei. Satisfied to see his colleague lacking of an answer to the reasoning of the two strangers, Cylus asked how Fathala would want to destroy the threat of the Coatl. “The bane.” she replied, shutting both Myranda and Cylus up for good. “It has been recreated, it was ready, but agents of the Sphinxes stole it. I know where it is.” Or likely is.Seeing the both still lack for words Fathala felt a slight hint of pride. Their inward bound attention these last years has left them ignorant of the tidings of this conflict.

War Journal – 2-3-4 Bane-War-Aftermath (ep8)

She.rolled up the parchment that she was studying. “I say we drive them off or kill them.” she went on, rising as well. “That is your solution to everything.” the man turned to face others in the room, most of which sat alone at tables, some with a second. “We cannot hide our land forever! The Coatl will figure out where we went, one of them has lived here for ages, they will come here sooner or later. These strangers might be of help!” mumbling rose in he dead silent crowd, swelling to chatter. “Silence!” the woman approached the man. “Alright, let us how they might be of use to us, and our cause.” “One step at a time Myranda, our cause is worth naught if we do not survive.” squinting her eyes she studied his. “So let us see if they are of use in our survival then, Cylus.” “I believe this just another dead end.” Fathala gently touched the wall before them. Three days had passed since they entered the caverns, five since they had reached land. During the march to the thorn grove time seemed to fly by, as if they had made the way in mere hours. To her disappointment Fathala found that time passed not as quickly in the caves. Several forks had led them to numerous dead ends. Sometimes behind thorn covered roots, sometimes well inside the rock. “I do not believe so.” Lilly too touched the wall. “I can feel them, close by at that.” Exhausted Fathala sighed, turned and slithered away again. “What brings you here?” a male voice startled Fathala, the source if it was not to be seen. Was she imagining it? Did sleep deprivation get the best of her?”We are looking for the shadowbinders.” she muttered, uncertain whether she should be replying. “I’d say we found them.” Lilly put an easing hand on the Naga’s shoulder.Out of the darkness of the surrounding cave a man appeared in cloak and hood as purple as his skin. “Allow me to introduce myself, I am Cylus.” his hand pointed to a vacant spot next to Fathala and Lilly, “And this is Myranda.” out of nothing a slightly disgruntled looking woman appeared. Albin invisibility? Could it be they’re related?”We are,” Lilly wanted to introduce, but was rudely interrupted by Myranda. “We know who you are. And what you are.” she looked the strange visitors up and down.A sweetwater Naga from our world and a demon from this world. Myranda will want to kill them right away. Cylus mused by himself. “You came because of our water, and the Naga in the hopes that we could send her back.” Myranda stepped back from the two. “A waste of time, let us be done with them.””Please Myranda, our guests can’t hear you.” Cylus frowned theatrical, immediately after speaking to his comrade the benevolent smile returned to his lips. Maintaining the smile he invited the two to follow him, much to Myranda’s disliking. Nicely cracking flames sput out small flakes of fire from a campfire, above a wide gap in the thorn and leaf canopy allowed for the smoke to disperse. Birds were roasting on the fire, sizzling fat dripped from them. Another man attended both fire and birds, he was in leather garments. “I believe you have met Garlon?”

War Journal – 2-3-4 Bane-War-Aftermath (ep7)

“Who goes there?” a male voice rang from a bush at the side of the treaded path they followed alongside the creek. “People who mean no harm.” Lilly replied before Fathala could. The tip.of the arrow emerged first, followed by shaft, bow, hand, arm, bowstring, hand and man. He wore simple leather, no ornaments to hia clothes. “What do a woman and a Naga want in our lands? More importantly, how did you get here?” “The beach.” beaten to an answer by Fathala Lilly simply nodded. “We wandered the wastelands that once were oceans, and came ashore an hour or two ago.” he eyed them carefully before lowering his bow, gently releasing tension from the string. “You natives?” “I came here roughly seven weeks past, whilst she is native to this side.” pointing at Lilly, Fathala felt a strange homely security with someone from her world, even if just a moment earlier he had an arrow pointed at her. Light of the breaking dawn brought more and more detail to the man’s face. Skin nighing on.purple he had features distinct of Albin, but was also of human descent. “I better bring you to the shadowbinders.” he stated, turning on his heels. Not talkingat  all for the rest of tge way he led them towards the village, but took a sharp inland turn less than hundred meters from the village. After a few meters through dense undergrowth another beaten track became visible. Between shrubberies she didn’t know Fathala spotted Pixieberries, a fruit the Albin loved and feared near extinct when magic vanished from the world. After sunrise the woods of Dorei displayed what Fathala had expected, autumn colors, although it should well be winter. “In case you’re marveling at the season,” the stranger had noticed Fathala’s gaze, “somehow Autumn stalled when we arrived, we noticed new leaves growing, others returning to form.” “It is spring here now.” stating that obvious fact Lilly confused both the stranger and Fathala. Please don’t ask me how that can be. From the trail in the forest they entered a less visible trail in a prairieesque field stretching on to some distant  mountains in the one direction and to he horizon in the other. They followed the path heading towards a range of hills, covered with a thorny growth of gnarly bushes about four meters high. Between two hills someone had cut a sort of entrance into the bushwork. Forming a perfectly round arch above them, the thorny bushes closed off most of the sky. Only a few rays of sunlight reached down into the passage, creating an eerie light. Beneath them the ground had a sand like quality, clouds of dust drifted through the rays. Except for their own, there were no other noises. Birds and creatures won’t tread in this thorny forest. That’s bad. Uneased by the lack of life Fathala worked hard not to show her feelings. Judging by Lilly’s expression Fathala assumed that she was at unease as well. “Through here.” their strange companion stopped in front of a small opening. Without noticing it they had went around several hills, stood now on a circular spot. Above the canopy of leaves and thorns couldn’t quite close, thus more light reached the dusty ground. On the other side of the thorn tunnel was a rock of sandy color, with a natural opening. Roots covered the opening on all sides, by the look of them they were as hard as the stems and branches of the thornbushes around. And just as covered in thorns. Fathala observed.”What will we find there?” “Shadowbinders. Might be they can help you.” He departed without further words or greeting, confused they stared after him. On their way they had passed intersections and forks, without a propper guide the way out of the gnarled thorn bushes could take some time. Crisp air breathed out of the cave, as if the land itself was breathing, exhaling the cold of winter that was falling on the world it had come from, inhaling the late spring warmth and life of the world it was in now. Their path lit again by the Naga light, nothing much was revealed. Gnarly roots, sandstone.”I wonder who these shadowbinders are.” Fathala stopped at a fork in the caves. “They’re like the human circle. If what little I know of your world is correct.” the two of them tried to spy down each of the corridors, with little success, other than more sandstone and some nitre they looked the same. No tread marks in the ground of either.Behibd them their own footsteps in the dusty dirt vanished, blown away by the breathing of the caves. Reaching consent without word, they wandered to the right.After another hour they found themselves at an opening that was largely covered by roots. In annoyed silence the two turned around, turned into the other way at the fork. “I sense powers that are native to this world.” a man in robes and hood as violet as his skin rose from his place at a table. An oil lamp flickered on it, throwing dancing shadows on the walls. “But also powers that are from ours.” a woman in similar garments replied from another table.

War Journal – 2-3-4 Bane-War-Aftermath (ep6)

More endless salt-flats opened up above the canyon.

Far behind them they could make out the island where they had entered the enclave’s territory. “Night will be upon us soon. We better make haste if we want to reach Dorei.” Back on salty ground Fathala felt the impact the salt had left on her skin immediately. After only a few meters her underside ached and burned tremendously. “We can’t reach it by nightfall.” she remarked, suppressing squirms of pain.

“That much is true, but I don’t want to stay in this desert for longer than need be.” Lilly had fastened her face cloth again, although currently no wind was blowing. “It keeps moisture close to your breath, keeping you from dehydrating.” ghostly Naga Eric appeared to remind her of why she too should fasten the cloth.

 

“If none here had cause to kill or banish the Sphinxes, why was the bane created then?” musing on a riddle she had posed herself Fathala flinched away as Lilly cleansed the wounds. “They themselves made it.” mentioning it like it was only natural Lilly took great care with the raw wound on Fathalas underbelly. “Giving it to the people of this world was their way to show their trust in the people. And gain theirs in return.” after washing away the blood the wounds kept weeping pus, carefully Lilly washed over them again. closing them with her powers. “Please stay off the ground for a few hours, I can heal you again, but it would hurt more.”

Fathala looked up into the night sky, “Won’t be hard, I’m tired anyways.” Six weeks! Had i flown I’d be there by now. Gently smiling Lilly sat down next to her Naga companion. “Good. Three weeks since the Florals, we should be there soon.” Against the shining marble that was the rising moon the treetops of the Dorei coast presented a relieving sight for the wanderers from the desert. Returning to safe spots amongst the trees, a few evening birds crossed against the marbled spot of light in the skies, some shrieking. “Say,” Fathala ascended the gentle slopes of the coastline next to Lilly. “I have been wondering how you knew of their arrival.” Both women had taken off the cloth from their faces as they started approaching Dorei, Lilly smirked plainly visible. “I came into existence when my counterpart Lillian became what she is today, the first of the Succubi. Some traits she has, I also possess. One of which would be to feel the presence of men to seduce. Florals can’t be killed by a Succubus, which is why I can’t feel them. But when Dorei arrived,” she didn’t ned to finish her sentence for Fathala to understand. Fresh air gusted down towards them. It carried scents Fathala thought she had forgotten and would never smell again. Wood, sap, grasses, blossoms, flowers and fresh water most of all. Honing in on the smell of fresh water Fathala led Lilly across the beach. Huge obelisks seemedto seam the  coast line, tall hewn from granite, with inlays of jade, forming words neither of the two could decipher. “I guess that is how they transfered everything here.” Loosely pointing at a difference in the ground, running in a straight line between the closest obelisks Fathala didn’t stop on her way to the fresh water.In the ground native to the Dorei of the world was a dry depression left by a creek, Fathala turned inland. The dry creek bed continued, but less dead, the ground was moist.After a few minutes Fathala found a small artificial lake, and an artificial creek bed leading back inland. They knew before coming here that water was scarce, and made sure their rivers and creeks didn’t spill into the vacant ocean. In one fluent motion Fathala took off her clothes and slipped into the waters of the lake. Having sweetwater wash.over her scales and through her hair was refreshing and rejuvenating.Pure bliss.”Do you.think this wise?” Eric floated before her. Unlike a living person, his ghostly image left behind in her mind, could talk beneath the waves. But only to her. Why would it be unwise? Fully aware she was talking to herself Fathala made a mental reply.”You are encrusted in salt, this might be drinking water.” Or irrigation. The salt I brought in here is not going to affect this water.Above the water Lilly awaited the Naga with the same arguments Fathala had encountered below, never the less she washed the skirt and top she wore before arriving in the saltflats. Slightly damaged by her disgraceful landing, but still well enough to be worn, she donned them again immediately, still feeling uncomfortable without, like a Naga normally would be. “Are you done polluting the water with salt?” agitated Lilly paced around the lake. Constant murmuring of the natural running creek and the less calm gargle of the artificial one, drowned out most other noises, although the breeze caught in the trees and occasional sounds of nightly birds and animals still reached the ear. I never knew how much I love the gentle tingle of grass blades against my skin. Slowly the two followed the artificial creek. Dawn broke as a village appeared in the green fields. It’s late autumn, but this seems summery.

War Journal – 2-3-4 Bane-War-Aftermath (ep5)

For what felt like a day they followed narrow tunnels, most natural caves, south east. In the beginning of theor journey these tunnels had been filled with the soft noise of the boiling sludge, after an hour or two the pools vanished, and their journey was accompanied by complete silence.

Pale blue light signaled an opening, a narrow crevice in some rocks, once far below the waves of the ocean. As the water had spilled out into the abyss through the broken rim, it left salty earth, below a certain level, too low to drain, it evaporated, leaving behind a salt desert. Outside the crack was deep canyon below, steep, almost vertical, walls above. Narrow steos had been hewn out of the rock, both leading up and down from the opening to the tunnels. On the other side of the canyon similar steps led from the depths brlow upwards. “This rift lies only three weeks away from Dorei, when the Chimera’s return, please kill yourselves before you give away our secrets.”

Lilly smiled kindly, from beneath her cloak she produced a her waterskin and the cup, poured some water in it and emptied it above Beecha.

Stunned by her waste of water the man stared at her wide eyed. “What?” he felt the cool touch of her finger on hus lips. “I gave you hope. And time. Close this portal to your place, it is important.” she turned, letting Fathala see what was happening to the Floral. His bark skin turned softer, and softer by the minute, until only his normal skin remained.

Baffled he stared after her as she already descended the steps, their destination was beyond the other side of the canyon. Amazed Fathala bowed before him, then turned to follow the shrinking figure in brown-grey cloth.

 

Tears burned hot in Fathala’s eyes, refusing to believe the cruelty of what she saw. Mummified by salt, Naga and Naga eggs littered the ground of the canyon. Hot air vents from underground volcanoes heated the deep, like most breeding grounds the saltwater Naga had. After the water had drained from the oceans above the canyon was filled with water for long times, but both the heat from above and the heat from below dried it out. Subsequently turning the shrinking ocean into a dead salty lagoon, then into sludge, finally into completed dry salt.

For as long as they could the Naga came to lay their eggs, until none escaped, none returned, none lived. For all she knew, she might be the only Naga on that world.

Amongst all her dead people she felt their despair. Hopes of having a healthy brood, of surviving the hardships of the salty deeps, all crushed. Mummified with the ines who hoped and the unborn hoped for.

“They can be avenged.” Lilly put a hand on Fathala’s shoulder. The florals, or who ever built the steps, had also raised a bridge between the two sides of the canyon. Rope and wood perfectly preserved in the dry heat. “By slaying the one who caused this?” she couldn’t turn her face away from the dead.

“By preventing others to suffer the same.” it was her ghostly vision of her dead spouse who spoke. Still he looked like a Naga man ought to look, if there were any. “Or by preventing the Naga of my world to die like this?” she repeated his words to Lilly.

“Your world’s Naga would suffer a different fate, keep in mind that the Dragons want your world for their own. They have minions in the deep who will cleanse the oceans for them. But yes, by preventing them to be wiped from the face of the world.” unlike before, tears flowed from Fathala’s eyes as she turned her head round to look at Lilly. “Minions in the deep?” with a sigh Lilly turned away and continued her way across the bridge. “Your kind has encountered them in ages past. Tentacles, hungry mouths and the powers of the eel.” a chill ran down Fathala’s spine. The doom that haunted my people from the seas into the sweetwater sea! They were minions of the Sphinxes. I should’ve known.

“The dragon that held me left that knowledge in my mind.” she explained calmly. None of it happened here, so there are no sweetwater Naga. While ascending at the other side of the canyon Fathala regained her composure.

War Journal – 2-3-4 Bane-War-Aftermath (ep4)

Other Florals wih bark for skin greeted them. They had even lesser accommodations than the others, there was a salty note in the air of their quarters. In few words he explained that mostly those starting to show signs of the bark went out to scout. “Beecha. You brought the strangers here?” another man in bark approached them slowly, dragging a limb. “Chessa, old friend, they are harmless.”

Fathala stole a glance to Lilly. I’m harmless, for sure, but this one?

“We ought to be going.” Lilly whispered to the Naga. “Well,” Chessa began, turning to the guests. “we cant offer you much. Cave fungi, Lichen, thats it. And a few drops of water if we can spare them.”

“Allow me to kindly refuse your hospitality, we followed Beecha because he said that the pole was deformed.” it was Fathala who took the initiative.

Laying his stiffened forehead in wrinkles Chessa turned to Beecha, then back to the two women. “It’s true,” he.pointed with an entirely stiff hand at a woman sitting at a table staring at the two. “Daydi saw it with her own eyes.” Weird names. But these are weird people in a weird place. The woman got up, approached them, surprisingly light footed. “Aye. It crumbled to gravel, and then reformed to a shining pillar of black obsidian, and a huge gaping circle in it’s center.” A portal! “That was several weeks ago.”

Again stealing a glance at Lilly, Fathala saw that she maintained her expression perfectly, giving her reason to doubt once more. “The land of Dorei is fertile, it came here trading place with Dorei of this world.”

Stunned silence was the collective reply to Lilly’s surprising news. “Aside of water and healthy soil, they can provide food.” trying to help Fathala looked desperate.

“That is ill news.” was Beecha’s reply, releasing the two from their suspense. “Quickly, recall all and any scouts from the south-west. Tell all others to search for cover too, return here if possible.”

Not understanding why the florals reacted with fear to the news of fertile grounds Fathala watched the quicker ones of the bark inflicted disperse in great haste. “We thank you for this vital information.” Chessa indicated a bow. “But we must ask you to leave us now.” he nodded to Beecha who returned the nod and began wrapping himself up once again, in order to bring the two women back to the surface.

 

“Your enclave’s grounds are quite extensive.” Lilly had explained to her Naga companion that the Florals feared the Sphinxes returning with a vengeance, once they discovered the lifeless Dorei where a fertile one should be. Rightly so. I hadn’t thought of that before, but I merely need them to send me back.

“Yes. They are.”

“Could you bring us closer to Dorei?” Beecha stopped abruptly following Lilly’s request. Bearing an expression that was the non verbal question as to why they wanted that. A short nod in Fathala’s direction was Lilly’s reply.

Raising his eyebrows as good as the bark stricken man could he nodded, turning into a cave tunnel they hadn’t used on their way in.

War Journal – 2-3-4 Bane-War-Aftermath (ep3)

“Word n the salt pans is the pole has been deformed, perhaps with the same purpose?” it was Lilly’s turn to shrink, the Sphinx had been working with Leif and the bane, transforming the pole, but she had kept her motifs to herself. “So there are more?” Fathala tried not to sound as she felt. Instead of a reply the floral waved them to follow him. Not far behind the position where he had stood a crevice cleft in the rocks, giving way to a cave. After several meters light grew scarce, Fathala made her Naga light appear. In front of her the Floral man made a squirming sound. “I’m sorry if my light hurt your eyes.” immediately she sought forgiveness. If thw Dorei should prove to be a dead end to her intentions to get back home, he and his people might be an important stop along her way back to the sweetwater sea.

“I should’ve thought of that,” he replied, “you have not adapted to this sort of darkness.”

After a few minutes the cavern had gotten eveb hotter, basins of salty sludge softly bubbled beside their path. Vapor rose from them, collected at the ceiling above and subsequently condensed, trickled down on the sides into small shallow trenches, designed to carry the water off.

Alhough they can make their own water, they won’t share it freely. After about an hour more they reached a large dome in the cave. Several dozen people wandered about. All florals, most looked malnourished, most eere far younger than the man who had found them. “We die young mostly.” he had caught Fathala’s slightly terrified look as she had glimpsed a girl of about thirteen years, carrying a seedling. “Yes, it is her own, not her little sibling.” he sounded as sad as Fathala felt terrified. “Florals in my world have a seedling patch to nurse their unborn.”

“For now. Maybe that will change, the Chimera who is responsible for all this,” he pointed around, “has returned to there, and with her countless others like her.” he eyed Lilly carefully, still uncertain whether she wasn’t the Chimera.

Soft daylight streamed through the large dome, where it touched the ground the florals stood in tightly packed groups, drinking it in, their feet dug into the ground. On firat glance it.looked like regular soil, free from salt.

No food. They can go without it. Not very well though. “We scout the desert, over time we had learned how to conceal ourselves.” he sighed. When he removed his cloak his skin turned out to be as hardened as bark, other florals avoided him. “It’s the curse of age.” thoughtfully he examined his hands, stiffened fingers, his joints made cracking sounds when he wiggled his fingers. “Some believe it to be contagious, but I know it is just age. And the conditions we live in.” he lowered his hand and waved them to follow him.

War Journal – 2-3-4 Bane-War-Aftermath (ep2)

“Naga died, not by the hand of the sphinx, but what she had done to the oceans. In your world the Sphinxes have set a killer in the seas, so they won’t do the same to your world.” Lilly’s voice was muffled again by the cloth in front of her face, she had given Fathala a hooded cloak and facecloth too. Together they moved westward, what seemed to Fathala as the direction east was in in her home. “Where are we going?”

“Dorei.” was Lilly’s answer, meeting the eyes of her Naga comapnion Lilly understood that she did not know Dorei. “It lies south west of the pole, in your world it’d be north east. It was destroyed by the sphinx, but the people of Dorei in your world are resourceful.” she smirked behind her cloth, only visible at her eyes. “Most people who come here from your world come here by accident. Not the Dorei, they have switched the devastated land of this world with their own from yours. They are here with all their people and all they need to live.”

Fathala stopped dead.in her tracks, Lilly turned around, her ataff whirling, gave her smack on the bottom, and before Fathala realized, both of them were.moving again. “Don’t stop. At all!” she pointed back, the ground they just had left had become slightly darker. “Some nasty salt sludge lies buried beneath the surface. It can swallow you whole.” recalling she spoke with a Naga Likly eased her tone slightly. “Maybe you could escape, but better not test your luck.”

Before them the flat salt pans went on to the horizon, making Fathala long for a change. The salty ground made her raw, more than rocks did.

“How did the Sphinx miss out on the people of Dorei coming here?”

“That bloke Leif was pulling her over into your world, she was almost completely gone from me when they arrived.” How did you know of their arrival? Though feeling curious she couldn’t afford losing Lilly as an ally.

 

Grotesquely shaped dry branches reached from a massive tree skywards as if to beg the heavens for help. Roots, thicker than the two women combined had dug into the soil ages ago, in order to find some source of water. “I’ve met a floral girl once on Naga’na. She was a brave young woman. And she would’ve loved to see this.” Nicodia. Where ever you might have gone, I hope you’re far from the Sphinxes.

 

“Hello.” startled the two women turned to the source of the greeting. Just like themselves the shape that had emerged from the cracked, and washed rocks was wrapped in hood, cloak and face cloth. The voice was smoky, like Fathala had heard from humans and Albin who had a long history with the pipe. “Greetings.” Lilly finally replied, shoving herself between Fathala and the stranger.

“May I ask what brings you to the floral enclave isle?” the man asked, revealing himself as a Floral when he removed the hood. “We’re bound for Dorei.” curious how the florals survived in the salty desert Lilly lowered her staff. “Ah, water business.” his voice indicated a smile beneath the cloth. “We come from the sweetwater sea.”

As far as they could see the eyes of the floral man squinted. “The Chimera lives there.”

“Lived. She was pulled through to my world.” emerging behind Lilly, Fathala removed her own face cloth. “If she’s truly gone, why didn’t you stay?”

“She knows the passage through, if she and her brethren decide to come through, where do you think that’ll be?” Lilly gave up on shielding the Naga. Where am I to pass back? Dorei in my world will be a desert. Discouraged by her own thoughts Fathala noticeably shrank.

Again the vision of Naga Eric appeared, smiling benevolent, trying to encourage her, but this time he uad little success.

War Journal – 2-3-4 Bane-War-Aftermath (ep1)

Grey hard crystalline ground stretched in all directions. From horizon to horizon, just the flat grey unforgiving salt desert. No trees, shrubberies, grasses.

Winds gusted, whirling up clouds of dust, dust that consisted solely of salt, and traces of other materials. Hooded, wrapped in several layers of cloth, and a cloth in front of the face, a lone figure wandered through the saltpans, that once were the ocean floor.

Carefully placing steps, probing for unsafe ground wih taps of a staff the figure was not the fastest, but didn’t want to.break through the hard salty crust to get stuck in a puddle of salty sludge.

The sudden sound of a splash, accompanied by thunder as if huge waves broke above, the figure looked up, finding another figure in the air. The second figure had wings, but seemed to be unconscious, flying onward but in a steady decline. Might be some time until she comes down. If it truly is a Naga. After an hour the supposed Naga came down, landing unpleasantly on the salty ground. A cry of pain followed. That woke her.

Still taking care.not to cruah through he surface into sludge the hooded figure continued on. Guided by the Naga’s cries the hooded figure navigated through the salt pans.

 

“You were flying eastwards, you crash landed westward.” the voice of a woman reached Fathala, it seemed distant, all of her body was burning, in every scratch there was salt, her left wing was dislocated, her right wing broken, her right arm didn’t feel much better. “Mirror world?” only now, after crying in pain for a while, did she notice how raw her throat felt, how dry she was.

“Yes.” a hand white as snow appeared from underneath the cloaks. Fathala felt like crying but was too dried up to shed tears. The alabaster woman! She is going to kill me! Another figure appeared above her. Wings like fire, garbed only to hide his private parts. A male Naga, Eric’s ghostly Naga shape. “Do not be afraid of her.” he said in a calm voice. A cold, yet warming touch sent shivers through Fathala’s body, the burning vanished, and the pain in her extremities eased. A healing touch?

“I take it from your reaction to me, that you have heard of me.” the alabaster hand withdrew beneath the cloaks again. “Or rather, of her.” as she removed her hood more white skin was revealed to Fathala, framed by streams of fiery red hair. “The Sphinx had taken possession of me, used me. Not so long ago a young, handsome man had come here, to the sweetwater sea. She used my body to seduce him, to make him bend to her will.” she helped Fathala stand up. “I am Lilly.”

“Fathala. I suppose you don’t carry any water?” Lilly produced a skin and a cup, poured some water into the cup. “We need to ration it.”

Eagerly Fathala gulped down the water.

Upon defeating the sphinxes the last time, one had been left stranded in the mirror world, with her counterparts. Life giving benevolent creatures, who saw no danger in the new arrival. One by one the malevolent sphinx killed her benevolent counterparts, met with no oposition by the people of the mirror world she wreaked havoc on them, murdered them, tore holes in the rim and let the oceans drain into the depths. When she had nothing left to destroy, she turned on Lilly, occupying the immortal anti Succubus, biding her time until she could slip back into the world she belonged to.