Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Center Cannot Hold: Letters to Othebea 2

Part 1 of this flash fiction series can be found here.  Dr. Lyam Kyringer is stuck in Crux, a city he despises- he dreams of home, he dreams of Othebea.

My Dearest Angela.

Perhaps what makes the City of Curses more palatable, at least for one more day, sits upon my
writing desk at this moment.  Your photograph makes each day a little brighter in a city of smog, slaves and amorality.  It reminds me of Othebea, of a land that does not provide suckle to monsters and infidels.  A place where those gifted with the Arcane do not ride roughshod over those without sorcery.

Thank you for passing along my father's letter as well.  I am glad to hear that the Reds in Ainesia have stayed their bloodlust long enough that I might still dream of seeing him once more.  These are pieces of sweet relief, Angela, and I must thank for that.  For the things... the things I've been compelled to act accomplice to...

As I had written before, Professor Maxmidan of the Necromancy department has managed to leverage my father's predicaments in Ainesia.  I've served as his Doctor and assistant on three ventures into the Skullmount.  I've not had to commit any blasphemies... not yet.  But I've borne silent witness to a more subtle horror.

Our journeys crisscross ancient temples that honor one of the infidel faiths of Crux, one of the many faiths the Ithic see fit to allow worship.  The Demon Princess, forgive me for writing down her name, Shraxes, is born on all the images of the areas Maxmidan takes us to delve in.  He refuses to explain what he is seeking, only certain that he'll have need of my skills and associations.

The true horror is not the places we've walked.  They are mostly places of the dead, where Maxmidan finds the vaguest lingerings of ghosts and haunts, which I stay with my oracular gifts.  I do not know why or how he knew that I was Oracle and not the Pyromancer I pretended to be, but that doesn't matter now.  The necromancer has me under his thumb.

Her heart does not seem that artificial to me, Angela.
Upon the end of our last Delve together, I witnessed the True Horror of these delves.  It makes me cringe each time I stop to think of it.  No, not it.  Her.  She takes the brunt of it.  'She,' love of my life, is a Android that Maxmidan keeps.  He treats he like some treat a disobedient dog.  He has not even given her a proper name.  He only refers to her by her serial numbers: 8511.

I made haste after our time delving had been done.  Maxmidan never said a word, but 8511 kept her silence.  The Android girl could be a wizard, or rogue or anything, but Maxmidan never allows her to advance to the next step, to obtain the basic part one needs in order to obtain their Class.  He beats her.  That too haunts me, my love.  Her wax skin always shows marks of repair, where she tries to cover it up.  Maxmidan beats her, and I just walk away.

Perhaps my disgust with myself had wanted to become manifest.  I do not know why I sought to go to the meeting that night after the Delve.  I walked into the local Chapter of the Eternal Order, feeling as though I had betrayed my membership as a Eagle.  It was another meeting, like all meetings of the Eternal Order of the Eagle and the Crow.  Crows asked for repentance of their sins.  Eagles proclaimed the victories the Order had obtained.

"A Patrizo died last night."  That news made all of us grow quiet.  A Fish-Vampire had been slain?  One of Ith's Monstrous citizens had died?  Did one of the Order slay it?  We listened, as some of the order explained.  "Our newest Eagle, slew the Patrizo in a duel last night."

An Android strode to the front of the hall, dressed in the colors of the Paladin of the Summer Rose.  He addressed us, surprising most of the assembled Eagles and Crows, for seeing an Android that was a Paladin and a Free Android at that, seem quite the unusual sight.  Half his wax face had been replaced, damaged so much that a piece of red metal replaced the right side of his face.

"'ello."  The Android spoke with a lowborn Cruxite accent, something I could forgive him once I heard his tale.  "My name is Oddfellow.  The fire choose me, and I bear her fire."

Eagle Summer Rose Paladins bowed their heads automatically, repeating his words.  The prayer of the Paladin.  The Fire's Prayer. I must tell you Angela that this Android surprised me.  So many in Crux use Androids for slaves or act as though they are mere machines- the Police mistreat them, newspapers revile them, and they are sold day in and day out.  But here stood a Android who took up the most charitable of Classes, a Paladin of the Summer Rose.  Oh, how I wish you could meet him and see his singular character!

Oddfellow continued to speak.

"When he refused to release the children I challenged him to a duel as according to the Code."  Oddfellow's eyes grew somber.  "He had taken five children, all with no magic to their name.  He chained them like cattle, keeping them floating in the river for almost a whole day by the time I'd confronted him.  I wish I could've been quicker..."

The Android paused, clearly perturbed.  Older Eagles cried out encouragement, Crows shouting for him to continue.  He did, although he seemed humbled in the process.

"Then we fought.  The Vampire stank of fish as I cut him open.  Too proud, too dark a create to not burn at the touch of our Lady's Fire."  Applause filled the chamber.

I felt my guts tighten.  Here was a being who could help me, I thought.  I had hesitated to drag anyone else tied to the Archbishop with me into Maxmidan's trap.  But here was a Android!  An Android Paladin!  How could he see this coming?  The Necromancer wouldn't suspect a thing: if anything, he'd think I'd fallen into Ithic culture, taking an Android of my own.

I shuddered, however, when I truly thought my thoughts.  I was an Eagle.  I should've leapt up to the stage and proclaimed my problems to the whole room.  This chapter of the Order had men and women of all kinds, all united in the just cause.  But I felt small.  I felt weak, Angela.

To ask for help, to let any of them know what I had become for Maxmidan.

My love, I must hurry the end of this letter.  I will explain more in another as soon as I can.  Events are going faster than I suspect.  Perhaps I have found a Crow to help me this day.

I give you all my Love,

Doctor Lyam Kyringer of Othebea


Thanks for readin' my fiction.  This story takes place in Crux, the City of Curses- a RPG setting I've been muddling around with the last three months or so.  Comments are welcome, as are suggestions.  Good ideas are praised, bad ideas ignored, and the truly Great ideas are stolen outright.  See you around the bend.