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The Downward March

Posted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:23 pm
by Rebecca
Eda dodged through the crowd, eyes watering when a blast of heavy incense caught her in the face from one of the well-wisher’s burners. She caught sight of a clear doorway, and she and the other freshies pilled their way into its frame to watch the procession leave the city.

Alchemical lanterns bobbed above, burnishing the armour of the marchers and glinting off the tips of their spears. At the head of the troops, a golden crown woven about her seven psychomantic eyes, rode the Champion of Sinnheim, Fourth of the Volür, who had only a year since cleansed the Nether Realm of the taint of the Rot. (Absently, Eda touched her hand to the single additional eye above her own brow, wondering what it would feel like to have others bud there). The Champion would relay the situation on the front back to the other Volür. Close behind her came the Gedriht, most trusted of warriors sworn to live and die by their leader’s side. These had swords buckled at their hip and armour that was intricately etched. Finally came the rank and file, a forest of steely thorns.

Eda craned her neck, trying to catch sight of the frontmost riders again. Still very early in her military training, she faced being one of those left behind while most of her friends went off to the Lower Provinces. It just wasn’t fair. What was the daughter of a fungus-farmer to do? She and the ragtag bunch of glory-seekers now crammed beside her wouldn’t have a chance of making anything of themselves if they stayed stuck in Sinnheim. The time was now. Rumours from the front told of a new – or previously unsuspected – threat: creatures now known as the Sightless Ones, swarming up from a great breach in the provinces below. With them a sickness spread through the stone. It blighted the rock, making entire caverns collapse in upon themselves and sink into the depths. With the foundations of the earth continuing to be so undercut, even the surface would feel the sting, sooner or later. Farmsteads were devastated; important land had been abandoned, refugees arriving daily. But this wasn’t the worst of it. For where the stone collapsed there was simply… nothing. Not a hollowness. Hollowness still implied some solid containment. Instead there was an utter lack of real features. A blank.

And these monsters needed fighting. Such thoughts might be frightening, but they were also thrilling to the aspiring recruit.

Further on the great shining mass of the army passed the gates of the city, soon vanishing into the darkness of the First Cavern.

Eda rounded on her companions. “I’ve had enough of waiting around. We either ace our training now, or we decamp and go find our own fights down there. Maybe if we do something really impressive, they’ll even let us join up straight,” she added, exciting herself. “What do you guys think? Up for this?”