April 9, 2000
.. it had been a full year since the fall of human civilization. What remained of it consisted of tribal organizations that had taken hold on the mainland, with the rest selling themselves into protective slavery to the minotaurs on the island of Naera`mae.
.. it had been a full year since the earth yawned about Castle Medievia, and swallowed it whole, before spewing forth a countless swarm of monsters upon its population. The ensuing battle, lasting only a few hours, was a loss for man, and a victory for the darkness. What few escaped from the ruins fled to neighboring populations, like the city of Riverton, or the Academy of Braneri, and told how, at its last moments, before Medievia fell, a great spire rose from its ashes, shimmering obsidian in the firelight.
Weeks later, no word arrived from the inner cities. The local regents of the outer cities, such as Trellor and Tanvisport, tried to calm the people, told them that there was nothing to fear, and everything would be well. Strangely enough, fear was the only power that kept the people from running, as they knew they had nowhere to go.
It has been a year now since I've called the forest my home, as no bed waits for me in the ruins of Medievia. Over me, I can see the dragoons training, the wing-beat of the beasts caressing the clouds as the riders line their mounts to formation. We try. We can honestly say we try. While others give up and die, or sell themselves to the cows of Naera`mae, we still try-try to win back our homes, for the dream of returning to our rightful lands, under the warm smile of the Gods, is the only thing we truly have left.
"It's a cold winter," I remarked, hugging my arms tight to my chest, glancing out from a veil of brown bangs, toward the morning sky, copper slashes of sunlight pouring in from the horizon. The riders, they still trained, practicing formation after formation, weaving their way through the clouds.
"Yeah," replied Roli, resting hand and knee upon the earth, digging fingers through the dirt as he searched for a re-agent. I hadn't known Roli that well before the world ended. I hadn't known many of my now-close friends before that day, one year ago. They are all my family now.
".. too cold for anything to grow," he complains, drawing himself up to his knees as he brushes his hands off against his slacks, before folding his arms to his own chest, and turning his green eyes toward me. To me, he didn't look alive anymore. Not many people do, when you've lived in exile this long. "..and the earth, she's losing her energy," he remarks, shaking his head in disappointment, curls of blue sweeping along his brow. "Mana is growing dim."
"You're too doom and gloom," I remarked softly, curls of breath shimmering past my lips. My head tilting away from Roli, and back toward the skies, I noticed the riders now practicing on strafing, thrusting high to the sky, before wheeling about, and striking low to the sickly waters, where they would jet their flames. "Maybe you're just tired. I heard you up late last night, man, wi-"
"Maybe I'm just tired," he cut me off, giving me that -look- as I turned my startled eyes toward him.
I didn't care much what he did. We were friends, practically family - but I didn't care what he did, and who he did it with. I simply wanted that reassurance. I wanted to be told that the land was well, and that we still had a chance at living.
"I'll be back in a bit," I finally murmured after the long silence, with him having returned to his diggings, and myself have turned back to watch the sky. "Going for a walk." I didn't wait for his response - didn't even wait to see if he had one, as I was already off, away from him, away from it all. I let the world envelope me, let the sounds of the forest comfort me, with the whispering words of the wind through the trees, and the sound of my boots against the carpeted floor.
I walked for most of the morning, letting nothingness hold to my mind, not wanting to dwell on what was happening to our world. About me, the forest began to thin, and I could smell the touch of salt to the air, and the gentle wash of the waves from a far-away shore.
I hurried myself there, down to the beach, so it might be the waves that held me, instead of the air..
.. there, on the shore, struggling itself from the pale waters, was something which would haunt me for the rest of my life. It came, this day, by itself, its legs twitching and clawing at the shore, trying to gain some purchase as it continued to rise up. I could hear its mandibles clacking, the harsh sound rising over the gentle wash of the waves. What I did, it came from instinct; I rose my arms to the air, and recited those few magical words, whereupon an arc of flames lowered from the sky, to consume what was soon to be a flaming carcass.
It did not foil death. It had no need to. It only had one purpose, I found out later, and that was to find us.
We fled a week later, born upon the backs of dragons, with the image of our flaming village ingrained to our minds. Where we would go, only the Gods could show us. What we would do, only time could tell.