The City Of Dusk: Chapter A
Pristontale: The City of Dusk
Chapter A - The Hour of Fate
Navisko. Once a bustling and blooming city, a rest stop for party's on their way to cross the desert. Ever since the War of the Gods, Navisko has been ruined. An evil curse was cast over the city and great monsters with terrible powers advanced. The citizens either fled or were killed. At dusk, when the sun sinks lower to the horizon, a strange fog descends and terrible things happen. No citizen claims to remember the events and warriors seldom live to tell the tale.
Through the ancient war, the world trembled and the Priston Land was left with naught but scars. Surviving tribes found each other years later and they united; for together they were stronger than alone. Strings were attached between magic and technology and the two greatest of nations, Morion and Tempskron, stood together to rebuild the world. Ruinen village was set as a refuge for warriors, though dangerous with the undead ghouls that roamed the land. Morion's magic brought some beauty back to the world, and Tempskron's knowledge strengthened all defences.
Eura remained in the north-east, protected by frozen walls. Meanwhile, the Bellatra, once in the possession of the Midranda, was turned into a battle station and training centre. Warriors from all around Priston rose to prove their strength to the world.
But Majok's curse had not yet been broken. The mystery remained as Tepskron and Morion worked hard to recover their once beautiful lands. Ricarten of Tempskron, a bustling trade city, stood for the main defence as warriors gathered for their battles. As their own personal defence, Morion had created Pillai, a city on a floating platform.
But Navisko, the heart of the desert, could not be so saved. Monsters kept advancing when the stars were lit and the moon high. A devastated brick of stone, defenceless, where only the true brave dared to pass. The city became property of the Tempskron, but because of the long and dangerous way, rebuilding it was merely a dream. Yet warriors from Pillai and Ricarten were sent to Navisko once in every time. They would investigate the events, hoping that one day one would live to tell on. That day had come and once again, the nations sent out their best warriors to the Gathering in Ricarten. A party would leave for Bellatra, located south of the city of dusk. There they would plan more for their future, for Priston's sake. Even though the technology of the Warpgates, a journey to Navisko wasn't as easy as it seemed. How many honest warriors suffered and vanished by an unknown force, never to be seen again. Still the banners moved on the wind, as the portal between Pillai and Ricarten was opened, and the songs of horns echoed against the mountains.
"Father, don't go!"
Melocrie released herself from her mother's grip and into her father's strong arms. Fylla, a beautiful, young kestrel, landed softly on her shoulder as she wept.
"Please don't cry, my little girl," said father in his yet urgent tone. "I will return as promised."
"All of them warriors promised their return," cried Melocrie. "What if yours will not be fulfilled either?"
"It will." Father's brown eyes were deep, but concerned. Melocrie knew he meant it, but still her hopes were low. "Now I must go."
Fylla poked Melocrie on her ear with her beak, as a motion to go. Against her will, Melocrie stepped back and her mother embraced her again. Father smiled kindly and lay a large hand on her hand.
"Will you be alright?" asked mother, still sobbing just a bit. "Do you have everything you need? Provisions? Sheltoms?"
"Of course I do," smiled father. "Don't worry, my dear." He gently kissed his lady's cheek. "It is only a trip through the Warpgate. The meeting will last no more than six days. I'll be back before you know it."
"Alright then," mother nodded. "But still be careful."
"I will, of course I will."
Melocrie didn't feel like speaking anymore. She couldn't believe her father wasn't listening to her. She was fifteen years old, and through the many years, Fylla had been her only true friend. Her mother was a realistic woman, though caring. Father had always been away and had fought many battles. But still he managed to find enough time to spend with his daughter. They would go hunting together, he taught her to master archery and sometimes they even visited Pillai for the view. But those happy moments were about to end. That moment all proved that Melocrie's parents were adult to the bone, and a child's word would rarely be heard.
As father swept one more goodbye to them, he turned to join his party. Melocrie did wave to him from the gate of Ricarten, because she knew if she didn't, she would regret it. Back at home, mother disappeared upstairs, probably for a weeping nap. Melocrie didn't feel at all like staying at home. She packed some lunch, grabbed her bow and locked the door behind her as she went outside. Fylla descended from a tree and soared lightly above her head. Melocrie smiled broadly, threw her bow over her shoulder and began her walk to the Garden of Freedom.
Children those days were taught the history of the Priston land. Even the thought of Majok, the Midranda and the Galantia made them shiver. Melocrie was no different. The Elders said that monsters with the glow of evil in their eyes should be killed, by either children or adults. Melocrie clearly recalled: the red glow is still eatable, the purple is not. She hid herself behind a tree and drew an arrow. With her bow on hold, she watched a group of Hopy's growling at a Hobgoblin. She dreamed away about far off places and remembered her father talking about Eura. "A snowy place, one large icicle. As beautiful and terrifying as the day you were born." Melocrie had never seen anything like snow before, but all those paintings and stories made her long for it even more.
After shooting some Hopy's, Melocrie could only bring one back home. Mother said that now father was gone, she had to do the hunting. But only just outside the city gate, of course. Melocrie sulked about those words as she walked up the stairs. Moher was delighted by the sight of their dinner, though in her eyes the pain and fear of loss were clearly visible. Melocrie couldn't help thinking the annoying thought that her mother loved her father more than she loved her.
A few days passed, with only Hopy for dinner, and Melocrie just came back from the market. She earned some extra money with chores for the neighbours and she had decided to go shopping. She rarely went to the market alone, but together with Fylla it almost seemed to be more fun. She had bought herself a nice Sheltom: a sereneo. Her father had learned her how to use it. She pulled a little string through a hole at the top of the purple stone and hung it around her neck. Dusk was approaching and time again to hunt for dinner. Wrapping up her equipment, Melocrie set off to the Garden of Freedom again, with Fylla at her side.
Again she hid herself and held her arrow at the ready as a Hobgoblin hit his head against a low branch.
Suddenly Fylla cried and Melocrie startled. Her heart pounded in her throat while the kestrel soared overhead and screeched loudly.
"Fylla!" Melocrie cried out. "What is it?"
She had barely finished her question, when a loud growl right in front of her stopped her heart from pounding, and completely lay it still. The Hobgoblin stood one foot away, his noserills trembling. Instead of shooting her arrow, Melocrie only wanted to scream, but no sound came out. As the monster raised his axe, Fylla cried out a warning and Melocrie ducked away just in time. She quickly stood up and hit the goblin on the head with a branch. It cried out and coughed. Blinded by pain, it swung his axe through the sky, nearly hitting Fylla to the ground. The kestrel cried irritated and Melocrie attached an arrow to her bow. High-pitched squeaking sounded behind her as a group of Cuepy's tried to poke their horn at her. Melocrie had never before been attacked like this and she tried to run, but monsters were blocking her way out. Suddenly, far in the distance, a roar echoed, and another one. The Hobgoblin turned, and when the third roar filled the sky, monsters all around appeared from their hidings. Melocrie stood nailed to the floor as the roar came closer. Monsters everywhere cried out to something unseen, and even Fylla was getting hysterical. A strange golden-red glow appeared over the hill tops, and smashing flames of fire were shot into the sky. Melocrie gasped and felt the strength returning to her arms and legs. She drew another arrow, more determined this time, as her heart rocked like a Bargon's roar. A giant hand covered in flames reached out to the heaven from behind a hill top and more flames gathered in its palm. Melocrie's fear rose as the hand threw itself forward and a large fireball was cast. She covered her face with her arms and cried out like she had never cried before. The heat was overwhelming and it made her throat soar, but it only lasted for a second. A vile stench rose around her, and when she opened her eyes, the fire burned on the flank of the hill. It was man-shaped, but with four flaming talons and a pointy head. Blue eyes pierced through the fire as it scanned the area. The advancing monsters, including the Hobgoblin, lay burning on the floor. Melocrie covered her nose with her sleeve against the smell and felt like throwing up. But what a relieve it was when she heard Fylla's cry above her head. The kestrel landed on her shoulder, but extended her feathers as she gazed at the creature in flames.
"Hey! You there!" A man came running from the hill and strangely enough, the flames followed. "Are you alright!?"
It took a while for Melocrie to occur he was referring to her. "Oh, yes I am fine," she stuttered. But then she noticed she was breathing heavily, and stepped back as the flaming monster came closer.
"Don't be afraid," said the man. "He's on our side."
"What?" Melocrie couldn't understand, but Fylla took off to look more closely at the flaming creature. She squeaked a bit at first, but then turned back to Melocrie and landed on her arm. She lowered her feathers and softly pecked her mistress' cheek.
"I guess it's okay then," smiled Melocrie. "But who are you? And what.. is that?"
"I will explain!" The man suddenly turned urgent and stepped forward. "Are you from Ricarten? Please take me to the council immediately!"
"Y-yes," said Melocrie a bit startled and confused. "Yes, of course!"
The stars twinkled in the sky and the moon was full, but Melocrie could not care. Fylla cried his song of lament, but Melocrie could not hear it. She gazed out into nowhere, as disbelief grabbed her heart. Behind her she vaguely heard upset voices coming from the Elder's cabin. The Figon that had saved her with his flames was nothing but a dream now, a less important event. The man who had came to Ricarten was a messenger from the Ancient Dungeon. He brought bad news to the village of the Tempskron. Another one was sent to Pillai. The party, the brave warriors from both nations who where sent to Navisko, had gone. Disappeared. All excuses, Melocrie thought. Why wouldn't they just called it 'dead'? Because she wouldn't believe it, that's why. She was angry, furious with the council. Again and again they had sent warriors to the city of dusk, but everytime the mission failed. Had they learned nothing at all? Must they send warriors, again and again, only to disappear? They had sent her father into the hands of doom itself, fully aware. The reason was hope, but hope so thin that Melocrie couldn't see it.
"Melocrie?" It was mother, standing behind her. "Melocrie, I am so sorry."
Melocrie heaved a sigh and was irritated that she couldn't just leave her alone. "Yeah..." Her voice trembled from grieve and anger. "I bet you are. I bet you're all sorry."
"Melocrie.." Mother lay a hand on her daughter's arm, but Melocrie moved away and turned. Tears suddenly sprang into her eyes, tears she didn't want to have.
"It's all your fault! Of all adults!" She had never been so angry or sad in her life. "You never listen! I was right, weren't I? Then why? Tell me why!"
"It's hope, my child!" Mother's eyes were also wet, but Melocrie couldn't care less. "Hope to rebuild our world!"
"By loosing the best warriors we have?" What was mother thinking? "By sacrificing our loved ones?"
Melocrie had expected a counter word, but nothing came from her mother's lips. Instead, she sobbed and turned away. As she ran back inside, Melocrie felt guilty immediately, but remained with the thought that it was all her own fault. It's no good sense to make your own mother cry, but making your child cry isn't either. And making your own heart break, your own heart to crumble, is your one and only death sentence.
Then it hit her. She would go to find her father herself. Of course it would be madness, but curiosity overcame her. Together with Fylla, her only true friend, she would cross through the portal to Navisko, and experience the mysterious events herself. There she would find her father and maybe all the other warriors who were sent to Bellatra. As if reading her thoughts, Fylla cried out softly and sat down on a barrel next to Melocrie, singing her song.
Later that night, when mother was fast asleep, Melocrie opened her father's chest downstairs and rumbled through his stuff. She searched for a Golden Wing, and she eventually found it at the bottom. She once more gathered her equipment en set off again. Not to the Garden of Freedom, but to the Warpgate at the other side of Ricarten. Fylla followed quietly as she ran through the dark ally's to the market. Surprisingly there were still people around, but none of them seemed to know her. Melocrie feared that she would be spotted by guards, so she decided to take the long way. The Warpgate itself was strangely unguarded, but all the more convenient. Melocrie knelt down on the platform and searched for the hole in the dark to fit the wing. Her heart began to pound faster and faster as she couldn't find it, and when she did, it wouldn't fit.
"Come on!" she growled.
When the wing was finally stuck in the hole, nothing happened. Why not? Why didn't it work? She hit the platform with her fist from irritation.
"Who goes there?"
Melocrie turned and looked directly into the light of a torch. For a moment she was blinded, but she knew it was the guard. She was busted.
"What were you thinking?" Mother's voice sounded furious. "This is no moment for rash actions, and in the middle of the night! What if you had made it to Navisko? Have you not heard the tales? You could have been killed! Look at me, Melocrie. Look at me!"
But Melocrie had fixed her gaze to the fire in de fireplace as she sat in her own chair, and did not intend to look at her mother. She had always been rash, and mother didn't understand why. The flames licked the wood, like the Figon had cast his fireball over the monsters.
"I could have lost you too!"
"It's broken." Melocrie sighed. "The Warpgate is broken."
"What?" Mother now sounded surprised.
"I fit the wing into the right hole, but it didn't response. Why do you think the messengers came on foot? Because the Warpgate is broken."
"No.. it isn't." Mother took a deep breath and sat down as well. "Only the portal to Navisko has been shut down. But not by us. It's working fine in Ruinen, but the way to Navisko is blocked..."
"Does this happen everytime?" Melocrie felt she was hot from the fire, but still her gaze was fixed on it.
"Yes.. it does." Mother sniffed once. "It always is. We have to fix it everytime."
"I can't believe how stupid you all are."
"Excuse me?" Mother rose again and her voice was angry. "Don't you dare take that tone with me!"
"I'm going to bed." Melocrie stood up and without looking at her mother, she went upstairs.
What should she do? No doubt another party would be send to Navisko, in order to find the last one. Of course this one would also vanish, and another one would be send. It all went on and on in a circle.
"I'm going too," she said out loud to Fylla on her bedside. "I'm going to go along with the next party, and retrieve my father from whatever it is that haunts there. I know mother would never let me, but neither can she stop me. I'm going."
Fylla squeaked happily as if she agreed. As Melocrie lay in bed, she stared at the ceiling, thinking about her decision. It may have been a rash one as well, but at least safer. And she knew it was the right thing to do.
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