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Rhuen

Crossing Worlds 12: Out to Sea

Dec 22nd, 2016
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  1. “What do you mean they are not there!?” demands Queen Thistle over the view screen.
  2.  
  3. “My apologies,” says the captain of the naval fleet, “Sir Gold Wolf, Lady Lia, and Lady Rhulan already departed days ago shortly after they saved the base from a giant monster.”
  4.  
  5. “Days ago?” asks Queen Thistle, however he expression of anger shifts, “wait…giant monster? What are you talking about?”
  6.  
  7. “Lady Thistle,” says the captain, “a giant crab like monster appeared a few days ago…and it could talk. It destroyed several of our ships, putting us behind schedule, during the battle. Thankfully…”
  8.  
  9. “Either Gold Wolf or Rhulan destroyed it,” says Queen Thistle, “yes, it is precisely this danger, and the fact Calif Kingdom is on the other side of the war zone from us that I want Gold Wolf to bring Holly back to Crimdalina for her safety.”
  10.  
  11. The captain can’t be certain, but something feels off in those words, “Actually,” says the captain, “Lady Lia defeated the monster, Sir Gold Wolf…had been incapacitated during the battle, and Lady Rhulan…as well. Lady Lia used a very impressive attack and blasted the monster out to sea.”
  12.  
  13. Queen Thistle raises an eyebrow, the captain looks nervous, she doesn’t know that he is leaving out some details, such as Rhulan flying out to see and the red beam finishing the monster off, but she knows he is leaving something out.
  14.  
  15. Before she can speak however the transmission is interrupted, the screen goes to static and then the face of a woman appears, a woman with long pointed ears, dark red hair, and silver skin, “I am Queen Sylvia,” says the woman, “Queen of the Nocturne, loyal to the goddess Rhulan,”
  16.  
  17. It takes the captain only a moment to realize this is a recording, and he isn’t alone. Across the continent of Ravashira all those able to are picking up on this transmission, Calif Kingdom, the Magnus Empire, Queen Thistle, Stratalia, many communication orbs across the continent and technological systems, even the radios of Agrax merchant ships, the radio at the were-cat preserve, and strangely enough the Dimension Police communicators of Gun-Man and Stratos pick up the signal.
  18.  
  19. “Her enemies are our enemies,” continues the transmission, “her allies our allies. This is a warning to the Magnus Empire. We the Nocturne are the true inheritors of the Great Desert. You will surrender or be destroyed, as will any who defend you.”
  20.  
  21. There is a pause and then the recording repeats it’s self. This short yet threatening transmission would continue for five hours before ending, leaving the powers of a continent to ponder this new player on the board.
  22.  
  23. ******
  24.  
  25. The waves splash against the side of the small ship as they sail out in the open water. The vessel may be small, but one would still expect a larger crew. As Gold Wolf looks around he realizes they may have left with too few people for a voyage across the sea, and yet, it seems a bit bigger than he expected. Something is amiss, over there watching the ocean observing the waves and occasional shadow beneath the waves is Hollia with Lin Lin resting on a crate by her side. Gold Wolf looks not far away to find Rhulan standing, arms crossed beneath her bosom out ahead the way they are going. That should be it, oh wait, below someone is cooking. Gold Wolf had nearly forgotten about his one, the Petite Juggernaut Rhulan forged from the core of the Magnus Empire’s most powerful weapon, the mobile city where they had been held prisoner. Amara, is down below preparing their meals.
  26.  
  27. “Amara, right?” asks Gold Wolf coming below.
  28.  
  29. “Yes,” says Amara, “can I help you?”
  30.  
  31. “You know,” says Gold Wolf while leaning against a beam, “I had completely forgotten about you, what with you not being around till today, and come to think of it you didn’t help out in the fight against that monster…Sensar.”
  32.  
  33. Amara doesn’t speak and just continues cooking.
  34.  
  35. “Why?” asks Gold Wolf.
  36.  
  37. “Why what?” asks Amara.
  38.  
  39. “Oh for heaven’s sake,” says Gold Wolf standing upright, “why didn’t you pop up and use some of that juggernaut power to help us fight that elder god?”
  40.  
  41. “Oh,” says Amara nonchalantly, “I was not summoned. I appear when Rhulan summons me. She had not summoned me during that battle, so I was not there.”
  42.  
  43. Her steady (matter of fact) tone makes Gold Wolf growl under his breath and shake his head. He walks out of the room, looking back only once as she stirs some soup, and goes back top side.
  44.  
  45. ******
  46.  
  47. *The ship docks on a small island for supplies*
  48.  
  49. Hollia stands before a most intimidating statue, nearly fifty feet tall in a massive stone temple built into the side of a volcano. The statue depicts the nude, save for some strange antenna like head piece holding back her long hair, fire goddess Infernus. In this vast chamber Hollia stands alone before the statue of the goddess thinking back over how fast her uncle’s ship got them here to the island of Pele-Ka. Her uncle…
  50.  
  51. “Uncle,” thinks Hollia her mind drifting back to why she came to the temple alone, “how embarrassing,” her face turns red as her mind drifts back to an incident that first day on the ship.
  52.  
  53. ******
  54.  
  55. The sun was bright, and their battle with the elder god Sensar still fresh in their minds, and yet despite all this Hollia was more taken back with the room arrangements.
  56.  
  57. “Separate cabins?” asks Hollia looking at Rhulan and back at Gold Wolf.
  58.  
  59. “Yes,” says Gold Wolf, “I get the captain’s cabin, and there are two separate cabins made out for the first mate and the cook apart from the main crew, so you two are getting those.”
  60.  
  61. “We…” starts Hollia.
  62.  
  63. “My ship, my rules,” says Gold Wolf coldly, “and you are my niece, not to mention barely qualifying as a woman even by this backward planet’s rules.”
  64.  
  65. Hollia’s cheeks start to turn red as she realizes what Gold Wolf is getting at.
  66.  
  67. “and,” continues Gold Wolf, “don’t think I don’t know. I’ve seen you two cuddling, that was out of my control, but I wont have your mother or my mother for that matter breathing down my neck for allowing that on my ship.”
  68.  
  69. Hollia is now beat red, she can barely manage to look at Rhulan who just looks at Gold Wolf with her arms crossed and a raised eyebrow.
  70.  
  71. Hollia stammers, “I…we…we just…cuddle…we…don’t…not…ye,”
  72.  
  73. Rhulan interjects, preventing Hollia from finishing her sentence, “Gold Wolf, I will have you know I am a perfect…gentle…woman. I would not take advantage of your niece…against her will…I will have you know her virginity is fully intact.”
  74.  
  75. Hollia is so embarrassed her whole face and ever her neck are pure red and she can’t even speak.
  76.  
  77. “I don’t care,” says Gold Wolf, “I don’t want to hear about your relationship troubles, this is my ship and if you don’t like it you can find another way across the ocean. Don’t think for a moment I’m intimidated by you…”
  78.  
  79. Hollia could have sworn his voice sounded a bit cracked in that last moment, but then again her ears were ringing from the rush of blood to her head. The last thing she remembered from that conversation was Rhulan shrugging her shoulders and saying, “men are such perverts,”
  80.  
  81. ******
  82.  
  83. Back to the current day, Hollia looks up at the statue and removes the circlet from her head which turns into Lin Lin. Hollia looks around not seeing anyone as she cups her hands together as though in prayer as her mind once more drifts back to that night in her cabin alone, the first time sleeping alone since leaving Stratalia. She had always had a bed to herself, but now it felt so empty, her only sleeping companion being Lin Lin who coils up on a nearby pillow. That night she spent a good deal of time just staring at the ceiling as the waves rocked the ship. She pondered to herself if Rhulan thought of her the same way she had begun to think of Rhulan, that night she remembered her conversation with Haki back when he was trying to sneak a date with her in Bostonia and how she practically admitted to him she had a crush on Rhulan.
  84.  
  85. “Maybe,” thought Hollia, “she became shy after a thousand years, maybe after watching me grow up she thinks of me like a daughter or something.” a shiver goes up Hollia’s spine on how creepy that sounded and instantly remembers the whole story about her great grandfather Stratos and great grandmother Hyatha-Aria. Hollia shook her head then dismissing this thought, “no,” Rhulan wouldn’t think of her like that, Rhulan’s own behavior during the trip has been more intimate than that. She goes back to, “she’s shy…”
  86.  
  87. She remembered reading books about Rhulan that depicted her practically abducting women into a harem, “she sure didn’t sound shy in the stories,” she thought to herself, “but then again those stories could have just been propaganda by later less open societies to make her sound back.”
  88.  
  89. Her mind reeled that night, and the few nights during the trip to Pele-Ka, several times almost just asking Rhulan outright, but stopping short, not knowing why.
  90.  
  91. ******
  92.  
  93. Hollia wipes away a tear, and realizes that at some point she went to her knees before the great statue, a force of habit from her white magic and priestess training at Stratalia where they’d kneel before a statue meant to depict the goddess. Hollia looks up at the statue of Infernus, she shakes her head as the thought that this statue is more beautiful than the goddess statue enters her mind. Then again the thought isn’t that blasphemous as she remembers that there are no statues of the main goddess in Stratalia that depict her with a proper face or alluring appearance. She is depicted wearing a white woman’s mask with no mouth, long black wavy hair, and a flowing body that could be a dress or some ethereal form. As Hollia admires the statue and Lin Lin floats on the stone rail looking down at the glowing moat filled with glowing water weeds that separates the marble platform from the brown stone wall the silver statue looks to be embedded in, her mind goes back to earlier this same day.
  94.  
  95. They had been at dinner at the inn where they were staying while preparing the ship for the much longer trek along the chain of mostly desert and deserted islands they would be hopping from to reach the other end of the Great Sea or Grand Sea as the locals call it on this island. She had been about to ask Rhulan but for the first time she realized how intimidating Rhulan truly is, with her dark blue eyes practically and at times literally glowing against her pale mature face, dark red hair, and incredible build held tightly by dark black clothes, her amazing frame back dropped by her cape, she truly is a sight to behold. Hollia felt foolish about to spill out her feelings to a woman older than the current civilization, older than anyone else she has ever met, who has seen and done things Hollia can barely begin to truly imagine or understand, a woman who once sat on the throne of power over the entire world; which Hollia is just beginning to realize how vast it really is. Besides her uncle was sitting right there. She had excused herself, saying she wanted to see the Fire Goddess temple, surprising Rhulan when she told her she would be alright checking it out by herself.
  96.  
  97. Hollia shakes her head now, thinking that perhaps Rhulan felt like she had pushed her away.
  98.  
  99. “Miss Hollia,” comes a woman’s voice behind her.
  100.  
  101. For a moment Hollia expected to see Rhulan before realizing it was Amara’s voice, and it is indeed Amara standing by the entrance to the temple.
  102.  
  103. “Miss Rhulan sent me to accompany you while she attends to other business on the island,” says Amara.
  104.  
  105. “How strange,” thinks Hollia.
  106.  
  107. “I know how you are feeling,” says Amara surprising Hollia.
  108.  
  109. “You…do,” chokes out Hollia.
  110.  
  111. “Indeed,” says Amara looking away a moment back out the door as if expecting someone to appear, “the mistress is wise, beautiful, and while she may be strict and…well…terrifying at times, she is also a loving caring person. Many a girl like you as fallen for her charms, as have of course many men, and other life forms…however…she can be surprisingly shy at times to those she truly cares about. You could just ask her…”
  112.  
  113. “No!” shouts Hollia, her voice echoing off the walls, “sorry, I mean how can I just ask something like that? What if she says no? What if she says yes? I…I have to know…before I ask…oh, what if I embarrass her? What if I hurt her feelings?”
  114.  
  115. She sits down, Lin Lin flying over to her lap.
  116.  
  117. “How can I know what she feels? That’s silly.”
  118.  
  119. “The oracle of Infernus,” says Amara, “they specialize in affairs of the heart, especially the burning emotions. Infernus is a true goddess she can know what others could not.”
  120.  
  121. “What?” asks Hollia as she looks around, she doesn’t remember seeing anyone in here.
  122.  
  123. Hollia pauses a moment wandering how Amara knows this before remembering that she wasn’t recently made, she was recently revived, made from a core over a thousand years old that belongs to Rhulan.
  124.  
  125. “I sense someone needs guidance,” says an old woman coming from a door hidden in the stone off to the side of the marble platform.
  126.  
  127. The old woman steps towards them, “young lady, I have heard…*cough*…I mean I sensed your distress…or would detected sound better…no, no…sensed…”
  128.  
  129. She looks up at the two of them looking at her quizzically, “Yes, I am the oracle of Infernus, grace my palm with a single gold coin and all your puzzlements will be solved.”
  130.  
  131. “Things have certainly changed,” whispers Amara to Hollia, “a thousand years ago the oracle of Infernus was always a young woman, at the end a Homunculas actually took over the role, I was honestly expecting her…I suppose though it would have to be a descendent given the circumstances, to be here.”
  132.  
  133. Hollia wanders what she means before the oracle says, “*ahem* do you want to ease the burden of your heart or not young lady I am a very busy merch…er…oracle you know.”
  134.  
  135. “Okay” says Hollia handing her a coin and then surprising her with a loud, “Oh great and wise Oracle of Infernus I beseech thee, please tell me what Miss Rhulan’s true feelings for me are!”
  136.  
  137. *cough*, the old woman starts to wave her arms around and talk in a weird voice, “ooooh, ooh, oooooh, I am the great and powerful goddess of fire and passion, oh traveler you were wise to seek my council!”
  138.  
  139. “Silence!” comes a very loud woman’s voice from behind and above them.
  140.  
  141. The old woman stops dead in her tracks and looks behind her and up, the statue’s eyes are glowing with blue fire, the hair has become blue fire, and the stone behind the statue has vanished, replaced by a black star filled void, the water of the moat is now spinning. The statue raises her hand and points at the old woman.
  142.  
  143. “Be silent desecrator of the sanctity of my temple.”
  144.  
  145. “I..I..I, I, I, I,” says the old woman crawling backwards, “I’m outta here!” and in a dust trail burst of speed she flees the temple, or would have if not for Amara grabbing her and saying, “as caretaker of this temple you must remain to see this through”
  146.  
  147. Amara sets the old woman down by the wall where she just looks up and nods, shaking in fear.
  148.  
  149. The statue looks down at them and focuses on Amara, “Amara, servant of Rhulan the goddess of Cataclysms.”
  150.  
  151. She turns her head to Hollia, “and you a divine maiden who is the focus of Rhulan’s affections.”
  152.  
  153. Hollia practically jumps with joy shouting out, “Really?”
  154.  
  155. However the fact the statue came to life and is poking out of a black infinite abyss does have her a bit alarmed at the same time, this mixture of apprehension and joy is very new to her young mind, not sure if she is about to have to fight, flee, or if this is like back on Los Rodos…which could also mean she may have to fight.
  156.  
  157. *Pakoom!*
  158.  
  159. Rhulan explodes through the temple wall above the door, her body glowing blue as she levels off right at the eye level of the statue. Rhulan and the now living statue look at each other, the eyes of both glowing with an intense blue inner flame, matching nearly perfectly.
  160.  
  161. Gold Wolf *zips* in through the doorway and stops dead in his tracks looking at the strange scene before him.
  162.  
  163. “What is going on here?” demands Gold Wolf.
  164.  
  165. Amara turns and says matter-of-factly, “Rhulan and the one known here as Infernus are having a conversation on a higher plane.”
  166.  
  167. “Of…course,” says Gold Wolf eyeing the scene above them, and raising an eyebrow at the old woman sitting by the wall.
  168.  
  169. The fire in Infernus’s eyes begins to burn brighter.
  170.  
  171. Rhulan surprises everyone by suddenly moving, putting her hand out as she shouts, “Spirit Shield!”
  172.  
  173. Her barrier is met head on by an intense blue flame blast from Infernus; and just as quick as they moved they are back to being still.
  174.  
  175. “Should we help?” asks Hollia.
  176.  
  177. “No,” says Amara, “Rhulan is fine.”
  178.  
  179. Hollia looks at Amara’s eyes which are focused intensely on the two above them. Suddenly the dark space shifts back to stone, as does Infernus. Rhulan’s eyes return to normal and she lands right in front of the barely coherent old woman.
  180.  
  181. “caretaker,” says Rhulan, “go to your mayor and tell him that Infernus will return on the festival of fire to select a proper oracle for the temple. The old woman nods and leaves.
  182.  
  183. Gold Wolf is about to ask Rhulan about what is going on but takes a look at the statue and back and Rhulan and just shakes his head as they all leave the temple; only Hollia pauses a moment to look back the statue wandering about the meaning of what Infernus told her and pondering what Rhulan was saying to this goddess of fire about on a higher plane.
  184.  
  185. ******
  186.  
  187. Night comes, the party is back at the inn, Rhulan and Hollia sharing a room as Gold Wolf spends most the night trying to figure out how or even if he should tell Queen Thistle about what he witnessed; not even sure what he actually witnessed. Elsewhere on the island something else is going down; in the temple of Infernus a bright *Flash* of light disrupts the darkness. Corinth the demon priestess appears. She taps the ground with her spiral cane and takes to the air in a silent levitation spell. She floats close to the face of the statue.
  188.  
  189. “The likeness of the Infernal Goddess Sahralia,” says Corinth, “and recently possessed by her as well.”
  190.  
  191. She floats down and *Flash* she is gone.
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