Crossing Worlds 13: Winds of Change

Dec 22nd, 2016
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  1. Byron-Lia is not a happy man. As his coach with his two body guards the Petite Juggernaut, Maki who unlike Amara is wearing armor, and FiFi the blond bunny-girl who can hardly sit still during this long ride back home from the guard outpost his thoughts are back there. The outpost has zero sea worthy military vessels, the Magnus Empire’s northern ships could attack at any time and they would be stuck on land or else forced to use fishing boats against the iron clad war machines. There are some of the Petite Juggernauts as official word has settled on calling them; however it is hard enough for alchemists to create the dark golem cores let alone try and alter their programming. They are indeed strong, but clearly the Precursor Civilization designed them to be spies, infiltrators; something they can’t do now thanks to the Magnus Empire knowing what they look like, and pretty much just designed to fight solo. He can’t help but think they make great solo fighters, Field Enforcers, guards, and what have you but are fundamentally flawed from a strategic view point for warfare.
  3. “Perhaps that was intentional,” thinks Byron, “the evidence does suggest the Precursors had a number of problems with intelligent robots and their chimera creations.”
  5. Unfortunately his biggest concern is not over their weaponry or golems but rather the troop count. Less than a thousand troops showed up, most the reserve Field Enforcers and what town guards could be spared, the rest adventurer parties answering for the job listing of [Liberating Western Towns from Bandit control].
  7. Byron shakes his head and thinks, “Calling the Magnus Empire, the Magnus Militia, has really come back to bite us in the ass. Who’d have thought trying to keep people calm would have been such a bad move.”
  9. Indeed, Stratalia’s Adventurer’s Guild downplayed the threat to such a degree that even those running the guild offices didn’t know the real threat levels. Byron thinks back to adventurers returning from the job, having fled the Sae-Kingdom. They told stories of how the guild said they were to liberate the desert towns from the Magnus Militia, a ruthless bandit gang, and how they’d be greeted as liberators. The mental image plays in Byron’s head of a small band of only four adventurers, a sorcerer in a white cape carrying a white claw rod with a red jewel, two women in holy armor, and a broad shouldered swordsman, all standing on a hill side prepared to fight bandits and instead seeing an army of fifteen thousand men marching towards the town, with siege engines, construction crews, carts, and mechanical golems to sure up their numbers. This scene was exactly what this exact adventurer party reported to him upon fleeing the scene.
  11. “Hopelessly outnumbered,” says Byron Lia.
  13. “One of us,” offers Maki, “is superior to a hundred soldiers,”
  15. “Indeed,” says Byron, “but don’t forget even a toad can fall to ants when there are enough of them.”
  17. He pauses a moment, “and they can still build their golems and use magic inhibitors. Clearly the facilities Rhulan and my sister’s party destroyed were not the only ones out there.”
  19. He *sighs* as he picks up a file sitting next to him. Inside it are reports from the generals, men who were running the Prism Towers and now have proxies in their place, or else were high ranking Field Enforcers. Byron nearly laughs, he knows from the Prism Tower records that there are many more adventurers in this region than showed up for the initial “Liberation” job; word must have gotten out on what was out there, not that he can blame them; but the military job mentions proper training and regular pay and accomidations. He *sighs* again and thinks, “can’t expect people who enjoy their freedom to wander around to really want to join an army. Besides those Prism Towers were just a game when you really think about it, and this is war.”
  21. He looks over the files, inside are recommendations by his generals on how to increase troop numbers. Things like offering pardons to prisoners, and even active; even with bounties on their heads, bandits, pirates, and other criminals in exchange for serving a full term in the military. Another, one already being filled out is offering military service and training to none-adventurers; to those who never got guild licenses. In short something kingdoms to the North do, naturally treating the army and adventurers as two separate classes of warriors.
  23. “Starting an army from almost scratch,” says Byron, “when war is at our doors.”
  25. Byron thinks back to when Magnus attacked before, and how lucky Osopika was that Rhulan was there to sink their ships. Otherwise they very well may have gained a beachhead that day. Word came fast of other nations wanting to send ships then to guard such an important port and their own merchant vessels. Tyros was very strict at the time about not allowing any foreign nation’s military ships to dock or occupy the city; they could guard their merchant vessels but he could not allow a foreign nation to establish a base on their soil.
  27. Byron has received word also of Stratalia building flying ships and other war machines based on lost technology, as a merchant of a port town he is all to aware of the rumors that is causing through the foreign merchants and their military liaisons. Rumors that Stratalia has always had these weapons, and has always been secretly building up their power. He can only imagine that some are even pulling students from Stratalia as a result; he hasn’t heard any word of that though.
  29. However despite all this things must be more dire, for he has received word that they may start to allow some foreign troops into the major cities to sure up the troop numbers; but only if a conference between kingdoms coming soon goes accordingly.
  31. ******
  33. The Magnus Army, a sea of green and brown uniforms broken up by siege engines that seem to boats amidst the murky waves of soldiers and mechanical golems. The army stops short on its westward march towards the looming mountains in the distance as the sound of rolling thunder approaches. The sky above the mountains turns black as the thunder approaches. The soldiers look up at the strange moving blackness, not a cloud, not the veil of night. Upon its approach the source of the sound is clear, tis not thunder but the beating of the wings of thousands of black dragons. The army of a foreign world, a continent’s worth amassed upon the mountain tops around an ancient ruin known as the Dragon’s Gate. Nocturne ride the backs of the scaley beasts as they blot of the sky. The stunned army has no time to react as the sky of black becomes a sky of fire. Death rains down upon the army, where once was a murky sea of men broken up by towers of wood is now a sea of flames. Those that do not burn flee, those that manage to keep their wits about them enough flee not to the barren wasteland but back to their bases, one nearby barely ahead of the expanding sky of dragon fire as the army of the Nocturne spreads out to destroy any and all military complexes it can see from the sky; thise one base burned to the ground. No catapult, no gun shot, not even the Thunder Arrow cannons built by their scientists and placed in the siege engines can reach the army of the sky that rides above the clouds.
  35. ******
  37. If the Magnus’ military could see what else was being prepped to fight them back in Stratalia one would hope they’d have the sense to surrender. The docking station of the school, where once merchant ships would land is now filled with flying battle ships clad in metal and weapons unseen for over a thousand years thanks to access to the Ark ship deep beneath Stratalia. A fleet, and an army has been formed, the country side filled with those who had been trained at Stratalia as enforcerers and adventurers now joining the formal military that has been formed.
  39. “Unbelievable,” says a tall woman with blond hair and bountiful boddice standing amongst the large group assembled for the orientation into the fleet, “eh, Miriam?”
  41. She nudges the woman next to her, a woman who is practically a carbon copy of her except for having platinum colored hair.
  43. “Yeah, Maria,” says Miriam.
  45. “To think,” says a man not far behind them, “not that long ago we were bandits.”
  47. “You were lucky,” says a woman walking up to them with pink hair and wearing a strange bronze colored outfit with all manners of straps and thick yellow tinted goggles over her eyes.
  49. “Fri…Friska.” stammers the man.
  51. “What’d you learn?” asks Maria and Miriam in unison.
  53. “Well,” says Friska, “for starters I found out that the woman who defeated the gang was apparently Rhulan the ancient dark empress.”
  55. Maria and Miriam look at each other and back at her.
  57. Friska indicates the fleet, “it would seem Stratalia has been getting ready for this whole war…maybe even officiating being a proper nation for some time now. At least that is what the rumors say. According to what I’ve heard Holly-Lia, the princess, awakened the ancient Empress, and all this technology is long buried secrets from below the catacombs of Stratalia. Secrets that were beneath the Castle of Rhulan that once stood here a thousand years ago.”
  59. “Wait,” says the man, “so the woman that torched me…and sent the whole gang all over the country side with that teleportation spell…and didn’t she also break those fancy locks…that…that….was The Dark Empress?”
  61. “It might be a good idea to just call her Rhulan.” says Friska, “from what I heard she is in good with the Lia family, even tutoring Holly-Lia and part of her party on some quest that I couldn’t find anything more about.”
  63. “How’d the princess revive Rhulan?” asks Miriam.
  65. “Apparently,” says Friska, “as the story goes she was turned to stone, and they had the statue this whole time. Holly-Lia performed some powerful cure spell on her and revived her. Although the rumors say she could astral project the whole time she was a statue; which would explain how she knew about us…and likely many more secrets…I could speculate on that assisting her in getting in good with the Lia family.”
  67. “So,” says Maria, “I take it from all that, that Rhulan isn’t here right now…and neither is the princess?”
  69. “That is correct,” says Friska, “best I could find out neither of them is likely on the continent anymore, or at least are far away from the war. However rumor has it Rhulan destroyed several Magnus bases and a chunk of their naval fleet before leaving.”
  71. “You seem well informed,” comes a woman’s voice surprising them. One of the enforcers, a woman in a black combat suit with shoulder length blue hair.
  73. “Just…chatting,” says Maria.
  75. “You look familiar,” says the woman, “oh yes, Maria and Miriam,…and Friska of course…”
  77. She looks at the man, “not a clue who you are. Are you the man I heard Maria and Miriam both married?”
  79. The man looks shocked, “,”
  81. “No,” says Friska, “He…didn’t pass the entrance exam for the fleet. Guess we aren’t THAT desperate for soldiers.”
  83. “Friska,” says Maria and Miriam in unison.
  85. Friska ignoring them addresses the blue haired woman, “Morohi, it has been awhile. If the special defense captain is here it can’t be just for looking over the troops.”
  87. “Clever as always Friska,” says Morohi, “Maria, Miriam, and Friska, you were sent to this general entry orientation by mistake. I am to take you three to a special squad. Remember though Friska, secrecy is of the utmost importance, so please reframe from spreading rumors about our secret super weapons that can devistate whole armies while around the general troops. Spies could be
  88. anywhere.”
  90. She gives Friska a brief smile before she says, “follow me.”
  92. Maria, Miriam, and Friska follow her away from the orientation living their old bandit gang lacky standing there confuses as his life takes a turn to being a crew member on a ship and their’s to something grander.
  94. ******
  95. *Meanwhile in Delca*
  97. Magistrate O’Bish, the wealthy and rather rotund man of great wealth in the city of Delca, is a very nervous man right now. He has been a rather nervous man for sometime now, barely able to sleep a wink since the discovery that the eye candy golem maids he has wandering his property and been oggling since he got them each have enough power to level a city, never sleep, and are fully self aware. No, today he is more nervous as he paces about in a lab that was built rather quickly in the old Dark Tower ruins but a crew he has no idea of’s origins. Strang men in lab coats and uniforms sent by Stratalia to excivate a device from the ruins, a weird little platform with four arms on it as he would describe it. He is here with two Petite Juggernauts as bodyguards listening as the men explain things that are way over his head about the device and making grounds thanks to the databases from Stratalia on repairing a circuit board with a hole in that was with the device. O’Bish’s brain is swivvilng at how fast the world around him is suddenly progressing. It felt like only yesterday there were wooden sailing ships being built in the dock yards, however now they are seeing to the construction of massive metal ships, the likes of which normally only seen in major cities and used for the merchant caravan that goes off world.
  99. “Soon sir,” says one of the Petite Juggernauts, “Stratalia will become a true nation,”
  101. “Yes,” says the other, “and the Magnus Empire will never threaten you again.”
  103. A sweat drops drips down his forehead as he tries to laugh through his nervousness.
  105. ******
  108. *The Werecat preserve*
  110. “We’re too close to the front lines,” says Stratos to Vondroncha.
  112. Vondroncha listens as she sits at the table with Tia to her left and Hyatha-Aria to her right, Gun-Man standing in the corner pretending to pay attention as he watches something else, something for which Vondroncha’s psychic tail halo is at full effect to her mind focused. For the sight of Nata the were-cat and the two Nipponian cat-girls Mika and Mina all cleaning each other in the next room would most certainly distract her.
  114. “Queen Thistle,” says Stratos, “sent us a letter inviting us to Crimdalina for safety.”
  116. “Another kingdom invited us?” asks Gun-man not really looking away from the not really erotic but to him it is scene in the next room.
  118. “No,” interjects Hyatha-Aria sipping her tea, “Queen Thistle is a light elf, the Queen of a land far from this world on the planet Juhn. Her daughter however is Jasma, queen of Stratalia.”
  120. “Yeah,” says Stratos flipping the letter on the table, “you’d think she’d invite us there…or Tyros would have. This is odd.”
  122. “So…not her kingdom?” asks Tia.
  124. “No,” says Stratos, “Crimdalina is a neighboring nation, in fact if anything Postorina, its next door neighbor is on better terms with Stratalia than Crimdalina.”
  126. “You suspect ulterior motives?” asks Vondroncha.
  128. “Nothing hostile,” says Stratos, “they may not be great buddies or anything, but they are trading partners. Its just weird Queen Thistle of all people would be the one inviting us.”
  130. “Perhaps the Light Elves,” says Hyatha-Aria, “want to meet this princess here of an elf race, these Ecliar, they are likely unfamiliar with."
  132. “How’d she know now?” asks Gun-man.
  134. Stratos *chuckles*, “Holly.”
  136. “You mean Hollia?” asks Vondroncha remembering their adventure in the desert with that other band of adventurers.
  138. “Yeah,” says Stratos, “Queen Thistle is her great grandmother…on her mother’s side. Yeah she’s a princess, guess both officially and un-officially.”
  140. “For now,” says Hyatha-Aria, “but the winds of change are coming.”
  142. “I leave this to you your highness,” says Stratos, “we may be your bodyguards but this is a matter of a meeting between two royals and likely a first contact situation.”
  144. “Yes,” says Vondroncha, “I will meet with her.”
  146. “Uhm,” says Tia, “not to get off topic or anything but If we’re doing this I’d like to invite someone else along.”
  148. “Got someone in mind?” asks Stratos a bit confused.
  150. “Why yes,” says Tia with a smile, “Viana the Gun Slinger, she’s at Byron-Lia’s home right now in Osopika.”
  152. “I agree,” says Vondroncha, “if Viana is available we should invite her along too.”
  154. Stratos narrows his eyes, “how dud you know?…”
  156. “Psychic…remember,” says Tia.
  158. Something in her eyes, something weird tells Stratos not to pursue questioning her any further.
  162. ******
  164. -a few days later-
  166. “Sir” salutes the captain of the iron-clad warship heading from Osopika to Sae-Kingdom as Byron-Lia walks on deck.
  168. “So that’s them,” says Byron looking across the waters at a metal warship of unknown design.
  170. “Yes sir,” says the captain, “they are calling themselves the Nocturne, and…”
  172. “I read the report,” says Byron, “our mysterious allies defeating the Magnus Empire one base after another, and right beneath our
  173. noses took over Sae Kingdom. I trust you overheard the radio signal they sent out.”
  175. “Yes sir,” says the captain, “I…if I may speak freely sir, I don’t trust them. It is one thing to liberate Sae-Kingdom from the Magnus Empire, its another to conquer it themselves and make a naval port out of it…and so quickly.”
  177. “No more freakishly fast so than our own forces.”
  179. “Indeed…I mean yes sir,” says the captain, “although it does have us all a bit on edge at just how quickly…”
  181. “Well that’s Rhulan Empire technology for you,” says Byron as he heads down to greet this foreign ship that agreed to meet them out in neutral waters.
  183. ******
  185. The crew of the Osopika war vessel don’t know what to make of the two people who litteraly have just flown over from the Nocturne battle ship to their own. A tall man with stark white hair as long as his neck and piercing red eyes, and a tall woman with dark blue eyes and long blood red hair; not to mention both have silver skin and long pointed ears.
  187. “Elves,” whisper the crew members, “what kind of elves?”
  189. “So you are the Nocturne,” says Byron approaching them, “I am Byron-Lia…although I suppose given how things are going I am supposed to now address myself as Prince Byron-Lia. It is a pleasure to meet you…although you do look…awfully familiar. But I doubt…”
  191. “Rhulan,” says the woman, “I am told I have a striking resemblance to my mother,”
  193. “Mother?” says Byron, the crew hearing this are a bit nervous.
  195. “The mother goddess,” says the Nocturne man, his dark red and blue uniform hugging his muscular frame as he walks, “she told us to ally ourselves with Stratalia and to make war against this Magnus Empire who infest the land promised to us by her from the ancient pact.”
  197. “Indeed,” says the woman, “however it would seem our hails to Stratalia its self have gone under-answered.”
  199. “That…is odd,” says Byron forcing a smile.
  201. “Do not fret,” says the woman, “we have detected a jamming signal near there that went up shortly after our initial communication. I…we, have a good idea of what is causing it. We wish to make a formal alliance with your nation, to do so however
  202. would require a meeting of royals at your capital. As a sign of good faith I…and my general are willing to go alone with you there.”
  204. “Oh…kay,” says Byron, “very…to the point, very much like Miss Rhulan I must say, from what little experience I have with her.”
  206. “Very little I imagine,” says the general.
  208. “Enough,” says the woman her look silencing him, “we need only your word of safe voyage and I will signal the ship to go back,”
  210. “Excuse me,” says the captain, “Sir Byron-Lia, I will do as you say but I must advice against this, we don’t even know who they are.”
  212. “My apologies,” says the woman, “It would seem we did neglect to introduce ourselves prior to these discussions, it has been a very long time since I met with anyone who was not brought into my throne room. General, I blame you for not performing this duty here.”
  214. “My apologies highness,” says the general, “May I present her highness Queen Sylvia, Queen mother of the Nocturne race, daughter of the mother goddess Rhulan.”
  216. “well damn,” thinks Byron, “I did hear right the first time.”
  218. “It is a pleasure to meet you your majesty,” says Byron, “as it happens I myself and a few other nobles will be heading to a conference between kingdoms soon, including those from Stratalia over the situation with the Magnus Empire. Your presence there would certainly prove enlightening on the situation. We would be honored for you to accompany us.”
  220. “Signal the ship,” says Sylvia, “we will be staying.”
  222. “Sir,” whispers the captain to Byron, “no offense but can we really trust them, they aren’t even sending for any luggage or anything. How do we know…”
  224. “Shhh,” says Byron, “they’re elves, pretty sure they can hear you whispering. Besides I’ve met Rhulan before.”
  226. The captain goes wide eyed, not able to comprehend this.
  228. “Yeah,” says Byron, “some of the rumors are true, but far as I can tell she’s on ourside. But this is a pretty major card she’s pulled. Better to bring them along and see how this plays out then to piss off a woman who really looks like the daughter of someone who practically handed us the keys to her armory, including the ship we are standing on.”
  230. “Understood sir,” says the captain.
  232. ******
  234. The sun beats down as Gold Wolf’s ship floats slowly through the waters.
  236. “What are you doing?” asks Gold Wolf as Rhulan is doing something that what she is doing is perfectly obvious if a bit out of place, fishing, with a pole, over the side of the ship.
  238. Rhulan just looks over at him, “well, open water fishing for some dinner.”
  240. “Why,” asks Gold Wolf.
  242. “Uncle,” says Hollia as she comes around the corner with her own pole, a white pole given to her by Rhulan, “we have almost nothing left to eat.”
  244. “So,” says Gold Wolf turning to Rhulan, “why don’t you just pull something out of that magic cape of yours?”
  246. “one,” says Rhulan, “my cape isn’t magic, its technology, and second I don’t normally store food in there, so yeah those canned drinks and those gobglarkus slices we have had the last few nights finishes off what edibles I had in there…normally yeah I do have a great deal more stored away in case of emergency, but havn’t really had any reason too…we really should make port and get more supplies.”
  248. “What about all….” Gold Wolf stops, the food they got at Pele-Ka wasn’t really much, and he does have a very large appetite. They have practically been feasting each night.
  250. *sigh*
  252. “Okay,” says Gold Wolf, “there are a good number of island chains to the south, not as quick as just going straight across the sea; but I suppose we really should island hop so we at least have fresh water and food.”
  254. “Fresh water isn’t a problem uncle,” says Hollia.
  256. Gold Wolf shrugs remembering that they have been bringing up buckets of salt water and doing some alchemy on them to filter out everything but pure water to drink.
  258. “Anywho,” says Rhulan, “something to drink besides water, and food besides just fish would be the best way to go. After all, its not like this is the fastest way to travel across such a vast ocean.”
  260. Gold Wolf would argue, given it’s his ship, but truth be told he’s never used it here other than going up and down the coast. He’d rather have flown across the ocean back in his own world if not for two large problems, one that Rhulan and Hollia could never get on a plain with out any form of identification; and the whole issue with the Ju-el now occupying the United States on his world.
  263. ******
  265. *far away in a hidden underground location*
  267. Darkness envelops this room.
  269. “How is this possible?”
  271. “My apologies sir, but the reports are true, we have seen the video ourselves.”
  273. “So it seems the Magnus Empire is once more just the Magnus Militia, did we back the wrong horse?”
  275. “No! do you doubt our lord? He told us to provide aid, arms, if…”
  277. “If the emperor found out we tried to aid an enemy of a friendly nation…”
  279. “I said, how is this possible? How is it possible for Stratalia to build up weapons in such a short time? And how in the thousand hells is it possible for an Empire using both our provided weaponry and precursor weapons to fall so quickly!?”
  281. “Sir, the capital of the Magnus Empire, Cocotoroko was located in the mountains of Western Ravashira, not far from where according to the reports this new enemy emerged.”
  283. “Emerged?”
  285. “Yes, they appear to be silver skinned elves calling themselves the Nocturne. Their army, complete with an aerial force of countless black dragons swept over Cocotoroko. Our spies tell us they did suffer losses thanks to the Precursor weapons…however…”
  287. “A woman claiming to be the dark empress destroyed the greatest weapons Magnus had.”
  289. “On that sir…”
  291. “Spit it out!”
  293. “Our spies…the ones watching the delegates for this alliance summit, tell us the queen of the Nocturne is alone with her general on a ship with Byron-Lia heading for the summit.”
  295. “You thinking assassination?”
  297. “Well sir, there is more, she is claiming to be the Empress Rhulan’s daughter.”
  299. “Bull shit!”
  301. “Silence…all of you. We must think clearly on this issue. Our deity the great Daiyakisar tells us to align with the Magnus Empire and they shall have the power to overthrow Stratalia and create fertile grounds for our Manifest Destiny. However someone claiming to be the mythical Rhulan for all intends and purposes juggernauts her way through the Magnus Empire on her way to the coast. She destroys their greatest weapons, and stops short of the capital…only to go around it and as we all saw from the video our spy gave us…defeats Sensar the elder god of safe passage in battle.”
  303. “Kills him…”
  305. “No… as I said, defeats. Remember the passages, death means nothing to the elder ones, his body was destroyed but we must have faith he lives on. Then in the mountains a new enemy emerges who claim allegence to the very woman who…is it not obvious at this point. It is written in the passages, Rhulan was a goddess of Cataclysms, a mother of demons and darkness. So, an army of nocturnal elves, Nocturne, and she herself supposedly returned destroying all in her path. Not to mention as we saw, turning one base into the beginnings of a temple for her.”
  307. “Are you saying it really is Rhulan?”
  309. “What I am saying is, in a world where gods and spirits can be found in abundance we should not be surprised that the old order of dieties would rise up to oppose the true gods among gods as they reshape this world. As blasphemous as it may sound Sensar was a lesser of the elder ones, and we saw in the video that he alone stood his ground very well against them. Should it come to it, our mighty lord or one of the other elder gods will no doubt dispatch this woman with little to no effort.”
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