Path to the hunting grounds. The first city
MISSION 0 - History Speaks
Location: The hunting grounds.
2414 words - 4.8 OF Standard Post Measure
Sthilg paused as he stepped up the slight hill that lead to the ruined city. It seemed rather quite despite all the legends that he'd heard about it.
Hearing a slight movement of stone he and his daughter wirled until the form of S'hib appeared before them.
"Hello, my friend. Welcome to the first city." the gorn said as he waved his arm around the ancient stone city.
"Well, this is new..." S'hib said as he froze, moving his eyes around as everything came into focus, shapes and shadows seeming to dance around just out of sight.
" I'm sorry this couldn't be a more warm welcome. I'm not on my assigned path and i don't know why. This is my daughter Gedes." He said as the orion warrior woman bowed. " It's a pleasure to meet you S'hib. "
"And the same to you..." He said curiously, stepping towards her and placing his hands tentatively on her shoulders, half expecting them to go right through. "Red sands, this is odd..." he confessed with an awkward smile before bowing and placing his forehead against hers, painfully aware of the smoke that trailed behind his every movement.
"It's the gorn afterlife it's going to be strange for everyone." the doctor replied as he looked at the ruined city. " this was supposed to be the firssst city built by the gorn before the dark onesss followersss killed it. it must have been mighty in it'sss time."
"Things that are built come and go all the time, it is the way of things... but it's meaning still stands, that's what's truly mighty about it." S'hib smiled, reflecting on the ruined structures of his ancestors and what they meant to his kind.
" Indeed. Come my friend we need to head through her to reach the other side." the gorn said as he began to lead the way.
“I take it things aren't going according to plan?” S’hib asked inquisitively as he skipped up the steps of the city, his hooves landing with gentle ripples of smoke that seemed to want to swallow his legs whole. “I only ask because you seem a bit lost.” He added, his ears flicking around at the unnerving silence around them.
"No i'm not on my correct path. I'm on the path of the warrior. " the gorn said leading the way. Gedes drew another blade and handed it to S'hib. " here take this the ruins are crawling with monsters."
"Path of the warrior?" S'hib asked as he took the blade, twisting it around to test its weight and balance, wishing they had given him something a bit... longer.
" Yesss this is the path for warrior for thossse who detiicate themssselvesss to combat. " the gorn said as he climbed over a pile of rubble from a collapsed building. " Do you sssee me as a warrior Sss'hib." the gorn asked.
“Would it surprise you if I said yes?” S’hib asked as he glanced around, feeling his nerves creep up his mane as his ears heard sounds and whispers all around.
" Yesss it would. " the gorn replied with a slight chuckle. " Why do you sssee me asss a warrior?" he asked.
"Because being a warrior isn't all about, well... war," S'hib said as he inclined his head to one side to look better at Sthilg.
"You're a warrior of peace, vowed to save every life you can... And it's why I think you're on exactly the right path, you're just looking at it wrong." S'hib said with a small smile as he turned and pressed on ahead, letting the great lizard take on board what he had said.
" An interesting....." Sthilg replied before he stopped dead in his tracks. Rubble fell from the top of one of the collapsed buildings. " I think somethings tracking us." Gedes said as her green eyes scanned the landscape.
"You think? or you know... because I'm hearing a lot of weird things." S'hib frowned, his ears flicking every so often as if some unseen hand was touching them.
" That confirms it." the orion said drawing two blades. " the creatures in this land can manipulate sound to hunt their prey."
S'hib took a few steps up, his hoof catching a sizable ball of rubble that was rolling its way down with a loud thunk, stopping it in its tracks. "Well," He snorted firmly, turning to look at Sthilg now that the small boulder wasn't echoing down the steps.
"With a predator and prey species working together, your sharp eyes and my ears... hopefully, we will see or hear them coming." He said before turning back to look at the buildings, ready to help the good Doctor through this trial.
Sthilg pointed to a big pyramid in the distance. " If we head to the first temple we can exit the city and then onto the gatesss of the inner sssan...." The doctor got out before he saw it. A trail of dust was being kicked up as something ran towards them. Only it was completely invisible. " Defend yourssselvesss." He yelled to his companions.
S'hib could see the thing approach, or rather... see the veil of dust and mist swirling around where it should be, part as it moved rapidly towards them, his keen eyes and ears tracking it with intense fear. "Doctor! it's heading for you!" S'hib cried out as he lurched into a sideways sprint across the cracked steps in an attempt to get in its way, dagger at the ready.
" I sssee i.... " He yelled as the creature slammed into him. His blade took most of the impact yet the old gorn could feel talons rake his scales.
S'hib was not far behind, still unable to see whatever it was that had so gleefully impaled itself on Sthilgs blade to get at him, its shine turning an oily blackish colour as the invisible creature bled over it and Sthilg. "This was not what I had in mind when you brought us here," He snorted, lurching forward and grabbing at whatever he could, his large hoofed hands grasping hold of seemingly air, though the texture and firmness of the body of the creature affirmed to at least some of his senses that the thing was real.
"But do hurry up and kill it!" S'hib grunted as he pulled, wrapping his long arms around what he believed to be its neck, or perhaps its arm he thought as his hooves dug into the floor, muscled tenses and a battle of rage fought against his stubbornness.
A blow from Gedes sword freed the gorn's sword arm allowing him to thrust upwards and into the creature's chest. A roar of pain came from it as it's oil black blood poured onto the ground. The doctor grunted as it seemed to collapse onto of him as it's strength failed.
"Mind," He snorted heavily as he heaved at the dead thing. "Telling me what in the red sands this thing is," S'hib said with an ounce of panicked fear slipping through as he rolled the invisible mass off of Sthilg "And if there are more?"
" There will be let's move." The green woman replied as she helped her father up. " They're called Woming and they can only be seen in the dark. They'll be eating the dead one for some time, but we should put as much distance between us and them."
"It went straight for you..." S'hib said thoughtfully as he watched his daughter help Sthilg up. "Ignored me entirely," He continued, wondering if their obsession with the great lizard was due to the trial or something more akin to the living world, scent perhaps he S'hib thought.
" Mossst likely becaussse your not really here. Asss sssoon asss your candle burnsss out you'll be pulled back to the world of the living." the gorn suggested. His side hurt, but not bad enough that he could move.
"Then we need to find something that can tether me a bit more to you," He snorted as he made a cut down his palm, unaware his hand had started to bleed on his lap back in Sthilgs quarters.
"At the very least, it might confuse them while I'm here..." He said as he pressed his hand on the good doctor's chest.
" I'm sssure it will my friend." The gorn said as a shriek made him pick up the pace. The other Woming had found there fallen pack mate and were beginning to devour it judging by the dust being kicked up behind them. " We bessst hurry while there dissstracted. Quickly into the great library. " he said pointing to the big pyramid in front of them.
The sounds echoed unnaturally around them, as if the sound was reflecting off of walls that used to stand but no longer did, this afterlife of Sthilgs was every bit as terrifying as life sometimes was he thought as his hooves clicked rapidly towards the pyramid, wishing he had time to admire its architecture.
The gorn lead the way as the three of them hurried through the massive doors. Turning to see if any were following the gorn was relieved that the Woming were still devouring their fallen packmate. " Looksss like we have a gap. Head for the opposssite doorsss and don't talk to the librariansss."
"Wait, the who?" S'hib said as his hooves slowed to a stop, looking around the decrepit building, towering shelves of books reaching high into the structure.
" Them." The gorn said pointing as a cloaked figure drifted by a collection of books and scrolls in it's hand. " The eternal keepers of the first library. A copy of every book ever made is stored here." Gedes explained as another of the shadowy figures drifted by. One of them turned it's head a boney gorn skull pocking out. Reaching into it's robes it's pulled a book from within and pointed it towards S'hib. " You dropped thissss."
"Uh..." Was all S'hib could really think to say as he reached out on impulse and took the offered item, a rough leather bound journal that upon closer inspection was of his late grandmother, a head matriarch in her day who passed away when he was still a young colt, it had been burned with her on the great ocean and with it a great many secrets.
" That's never happened before. They just ignored me every time i pass through here. " Gedes said in astonishment. " The all mother mussst want you to have it Sss'hib." Sthilg said grasping his friend on the shoulder.
"I don't know what to say," He said softly while holding the journal, turning to glance back at the librarian who had already drifted off in silence. "Probably for the best..." he said to himself as he remembered the gorns words.
Sthilg lead the way through the building which seemed to grow every minute. More shelves rose from the ground as books appeared to fill the empty shelves as the three made their way through them. " If only I could ssstay longer. How much medical information mussst be stored here." The gorn pondered.
"Good luck finding it..." S'hib replied as he watched entire wings of neatly catalogued scrolls and books coalesce out of the hazy fog that permeated this strange reality, only for the impossibly large shelving bend in on itself, moving into corners of space that shouldn't be possible to make room for the next row, the very sight of it seemed to confound and amaze all at once. "Because I have a feeling you'd end up looking like them before you did..." He added as another skull-faced librarian floated by, the wispy contours of its hood fluttering against the reptilians empty dark eye sockets.
Sthilg reached back to take his friend's hand as a massive shelf the size of the enterprise shifted in front of them. " head for the light." he said pointing to a faint glimmer of natural light in the distance.
"You know I've heard humans say that phrase before, But I never thought I'd actually have to do it." He shouted as he picked up the pace, hooves echoing strangely around the grand library as its walls and floor shifted and bent in on themselves, swallowing sounds and throwing them back out at obscure angles.
The gorn lead the way through the ever-expanding library until with a flash they were back outside in the sun of the hunting grounds. " Ah that's a relief." he said as the sun beat down on his scales.
"When we get back to the land of the living, you can explain to me what that was all about..." S'hib snorted as slowed to a steady pace, daring one last look into the way they came and the labyrinthian architecture still growing inside the confines of the pyramid, it was as if all the collective knowledge had someone coalesced into a 4th dimension.
" I'm sure i...." the doctor said before his blood froze. The feeling of absolute evil was running down his spine as a thick fog began to drift into the area as the pyramid began to fade. " He's here." he said softly as he drew his blade.
"Doctor, you gotta stop speaking in riddles... I don't know what's going on." He cried out with a frustrated neigh as the fog thickened and threatened to fill the gap between them with nothingness. "Whos here?" S'hib snorted, rushing over to Sthilg before the fog robbed him of what little vision he had left.
" The dark one. The one resssponsssible for all of the universsse evil." The gorn said as he smelt the putrid smell of rotten flesh.
"Be on your guard and don't....." Gedes began before with a blood curdling scream was yanked from her feet and dragged into the fog. Without thinking Sthilg chased after her into the fog which seemed to get thicker the further he got. Turning back he could see S'hib fading as his time was drawing near. " Enjoy the book my friend," he called to before he turned to chase after his daughter.
"Enjoy the book?" He thought aloud as he looked down at the leather journal dissolve into the fog along with his hand, the sensation perplexing him as opened his eyes to the world of the living, his hand still holding his grandmothers journal, damp from the fog and all as he watched a thin plume of smoke billow from his extinguished candle.
Lieutenant Commander Sthilg
Chief Medical Officer