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A Story for Japan – Day 3 March 21, 2011

Posted by techtigger in A Story For Japan.
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A Story For Japan BannerThis story is a stand-alone Nox and Grimm tale, being written to raise funds to help the Red Cross Japan relief fund.  For every dollar donated, I will add a sentence to the story.  Go on, make me write. I dare you!  To see the original post, Click Here

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To read Day 1 –  click here

To read Day 2 – click here

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“Armed caravans aren’t too unusual around here,” Nox said. “Now that the Chimaera have been beaten back, traders are starting take shortcuts through the wastelands. It shaves a whole week off a trip between the Storm and Hail territories, which is more than enough to offset the risk.”

Loki scrubbed at the neatly trimmed beard on his chin. “Yes, but this is not the most direct route. I have never known a trader to go a single mile out of their way if they could avoid it.”

“What elements do they represent?” Grimm said.

The ghost turned his head and assumed a listening pose. “Markus says they are predominantly fire.”

“Ah, Hel,” Loki cursed, “none of my allies would be out here.”

Grimm padded over to the edge of the parapet, his nose lifted to catch whatever news the night air could bring him. “Still, we cannot assume that they are hostile – innocent until proven guilty.”

“That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t check them out.” Loki got to his feet and gave Nox and hand up. “Can you two hide our heat signatures from them?”

“I think we have enough Ice and Air between us to manage that, as long as you cool down a little,” Nox said. “We’ll have to go on foot though, the horses give off more body heat than I can cover.”

“They would be too noisy anyway,” Grimm said, as he led them down the curving stone stairwell to the ground floor.

They moved quickly through the tall grasses that covered the plains around the guard tower.The ghost floated ahead of them, visible only as a darker spot against night sky.  Grimm padded alongside Nox, their powers meshed through the soul-bond they shared to summon a barrier of cool wind around them. Loki came last, dropping back every so often to make sure they were keeping their shield even with the ambient temperature.

The land rose up into rolling hills as the miles passed, and the shifting lights in the sky grew closer. Thin streamers of them reached down to touch the earth, and the ground trembled as they struck.  It was like watching lightning in slow motion.  Thunder rolled past, and the shockwaves hit them in the chest with a bone-rattling thump.

The ghost of the second Wind Knight, Markus, stopped them before they got close enough to see clearly where the ribbons of light touched down.  He floated to a kneeling position in front of Grimm, and motioned them all to join him. They had to lean in and strain their ears to hear his breathy, sepulchral voice over the noise.

“There are thirty four fire elementals over the next rise and one other whose element we do not recognize.  He has just left his tent, and the rest formed up in ranks behind him. If you stick to the left of this ridge, there should be enough cover to allow you to observe them without being seen. Jerome and I will continue to scout ahead, with your permission, Captain.”

Grimm nodded. “One to each flank, warn us if any patrols come our way.”

“Sir!” “Yes sir!” The knights saluted and disappeared.

The three friends crept up to the top of the ridge, and Grimm hunkered down so far that his belly brushed the ground.  He tilted his head and canted his ears forward to listen.

“They are chanting, that’s never a good sign.”

Nox pulled a pair of magnifying glasses out of her pocket, and twisted the brass ring around each lens to let her view the scene more clearly. “They’re wearing red robes. So much for my innocent trader idea, no one hires the New Dawn for anything wholesome. How am I supposed to study this phenomenon with a horde of foaming-at-the-mouth cultists in the way?”

“Carefully, and at a great distance,” Loki quipped. “Can you see their leader?”

“Hold on,” she said, and fiddled with the lenses again.  Another ribbon of light struck the ground nearby, and illuminated the plain below them. A pudgy, balding man stood at the head of the cultists, waving his hands in rhythmic patterns, as if gathering the light and weaving it together.

Nox made the slight mental shift that allowed her to view auras and other energy fields, and the whole world was filled with brilliant colors. Her jaw dropped as she realized what the man was doing.

“Your uncle’s batshit crazy technomancer is down there creating a portal out of the energy fields, with no base to contain it!”

<-Back to Day 2

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