Saturday, May 28, 2011

Heroes of The Paragon, vol. 2

" Why didn't you tell me he was coming?"

'I don't know. I didn't want to worry you.'

"Michael! When a threat presents itself you do not ignore it and hope that it chases its own shadow away! Two weeks you've known and I could have been preparing. What is it now.. two days, by your shoddy estimate? They'll take EVERYTHING, Michael." With a slippery mist in her eyes, she mumbled, "They'll even take me."

'Yeah... So. Am I fired?'

Michael looked bored. Lady Volara sat, on the verge of tears, at her desk. Her brows narrowed as fear crystallized into hate. She saw deception behind the man's lackluster expression. Muscles tensing and veins coursing, she rose, with a steady stare fixed upon Michael's face. The fear seeped into him like juice into bread.

"Traitor!" she shouted in a stern and focused burst, "I will not allow you the sacred gift of death among your companions! YOU DIE NOW!!!"

Michael fell out of his chair and ran, making a frenzied dash for the door leading out of the Lady's office. Of course, it was bolted shut, impossible to open. His body slammed up against it with a thubb, and he started banging on the door and walls in a hopeless fury. Volara stepped toward him, pleased at his distress. Her left hand crept up calmly behind his head, and after a moment's pause, she grabbed his skull and crushed it like a cheap melon.

"Asshole," she whispered, "got my hand all bloody."

She turned to retrieve a hand towel from the utility closet. But then she froze, standing perfectly still, drops of blood still trickling down off her arm. Soullivuhn stood in front of her, wearing a sedated half-smile.

She gasped. "Sou--"

'Shh! Call me not by name. Not here.'

He approached her and touched a finger softly against her lips.

"They told me you were coming. Do... do you want to kill me?" she whispered, her eyes finally panning up to meet his perplexing glare.

'No Vola, not this time. Things have changed. I can't expect you to trust me after what happened in Tvet, but... we need you, Volara. The Paragon needs you.'

Her eyes gently danced through Soullivuhn's thoughts, trying to get a reading on his true intentions. All they brought back was confusion, and a strange warmth. She thought of bacon and fried potatoes. But why?

'I have The Box,' he said, penetrating the unusual silence.

Volara looked alarmed. "I should have known. To be playing such dangerous games with space and time... how did you even get here? To the 23rd Sun? I recorded your death personally, Soullivuhn, seventy years ago."

'I am a man of many deaths. But let that not alarm you. My presence in your life is a necessity. Perhaps I am not really here. But you see me. More important still, you hear me. And you can take my words and use them to change the world, if you will follow me.'

"I won't leave my country. But... you must tell me. What is this place you seek to take me to?"

'The place is a time. 1792. Illsbrook.'

"The Paragon Wars. No! Soullivuhn, you cannot tamper with such fragile history!"

'It is out of my control. I have a role to play, and so do you. What you know as the present may never be the same, but it is my great hope that perhaps it could be... better.'

"This is madness," replied Volara in a deep voice, "but you know what? I'm fucking hungry."

"Yeah man let's bounce," replied the Magnificent Moving Box.

Wait... [struck by the sensation that she was now leaving her body, Volara froze up in a state that was unusual, but not altogether uncomfortable. She knew they were doing it. But somehow she didn't care.] The colors and the attributes of being were as they are, and she felt them become what they once had been, on a level of geology coming undone and mountains shrinking back into the land. And this is ok. This is good. There is a feeling of Soullivuhn and the.. shape.. with me. But I am alone.. And the structures, as in a dream, are time.

"And I'm... Im here?"

Drops of blood fell into the sand at her feet.

Soullivuhn lit up with a massive grin. 'Welcome to the Island of Dreams, Volara.'

Friday, May 6, 2011

Heroes of The Paragon, vol. 1

Soullivuhn took a long, thick drag and stroked his enormous beard.

"Luck," he said plainly.

"Bullshit!" the captain replied. "Fucking sorcery! BULLSHIT!! I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!"

The Magnificent Moving Box said nothing, but bobbed up and down in a slow and steady rhythm.

Soullivuhn remained calm. "Be steady, captain. We won't touch land for another several hours."

This kind of tirade was nothing new for Soullivuhn and his crew - few ship captains responded well to piracy. He made sure to bring on board three oak barrels full of powdered oxycodone, to quell the inevitable tensions.

Drew and Lanley were playing hopscotch in the back of the cabin. They had carved the traditional lattice of boxes onto the wooden floor with an old sketchknife, and were taking turns hobbling across, most often tumbling over before they could reach the end of the line. Soullivuhn eyed them suspiciously, wondering how much of his drugs they had taken.

The door swung open and Henry of Higgins stuck his round, shiny head through the opening. Drunkenly, he hollered "IT'S TIME! COME QUICK!"

Soullivuhn flung a bit of radioactive tape over him and pulled him into the room. "Henry," he said calmly, "what seems to be the problem?"

"The LARKS!!! Come quick, men!"

"Ah! Henry, good looking out," Soullivuhn replied in relief, having expected sour news. "Come on Box, to starboard!" He slinked out of the cabin with a sedated excitement common to him. Henry followed drunkenly behind, and the Magnificent Moving Box elevated itself and floated outward behind its companions, swaying gently as it propelled itself forward.

The Larks of Evershoal were a thing of legend to local sailors and enchantors. Mages once hunted the Larks for their golden tailfeathers, which were used in healing rituals and the production of certain fine elixers. But this practice was outlawed during the Tvetic revolution, when the mages of Illsbrook were chased from their schools by the invading Tvetic armies. The people of Tvet considered the Great Lark a mythical and divine beast, and once they had gained control of Illsbrook and the Paragon Empire, they forbade the hunt of Larks and many other sacred avian species.

It could not be denied that the Larks were beautiful. With a wingspan of nine to twelve feet, they appeared like fe athered dragons in the sky, angelic in appearance and monstrous in size. Their feathers gave off a faint golden glow, which seemed to linger in the air even after they had passed. Soullivuhn and his companions stood in silence and awe, watching as the magnificent birds spiraled around and coasted along the sides of the ship, seeming almost to speak to the men through their elaborate and otherworldly dance.

The spectacle was cut short by a sudden burst of gunfire from above. Airships! Airships? In the Paragon they wouldn't be in development until 2014. The Magnificent Moving Box immediately rose into the sky and decentralized the ship's main weapon system. He noted retroflex pumps attached to the engine, which indicated the craft had been built by early 22nd century Glotian mechanics. But who brought it here, to the mid-Atlantic, in 1792?

The Magnificent Moving Box could not make out the figure of a pilot - perhaps this was merely a drone, a scouting unit. He wondered which of Soullivuhn's many foes might have the resources for intertemporal espionage. When he began approaching the ship, it initiated a disintegration sequence, as Box had predicted. Drones indeed. He lowered himself to the men, and explained to them his understanding of the situation, and the perplexities which vexed him. The probability of danger was as real as it was imagined.

Drew and Lanley burst out the cabin door in a flurry, tumbling about, half laughing, half crying. Drew had sewn an oven mit to his right ear, and filled the mit with olives, which he would periodically remove and throw toward Lanley's mouth. Lanley was annoyed by this, but too intoxicated to pay much attention. Instead he stared blankly forward while attempting to keep his balance, but swaying back and forth in a blistered dance.

"Well guys," said Soullivuhn, "I don't know about you, but I'm fucking hungry."

"Yeah man let's bounce," replied the Magnificent Moving Box. Just then a massive island rose from the depths of the sea, peaking above the ocean just underneath the ship, and landing the crew directly atop the newly formed beach.

"Excellent work Box!" spouted Henry of Higgins. Soullivuhn looked worried, but exhuberant all the same. Lanley fell over and broke six bones in his face.