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Train to Ignatz

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Carina wasn't particularly fond of magitech. Magic, in general, was something she was quite unfond of. Back on earth, in her old foundation, they would have called it an anomaly, monitored it, sketched out its rules and limits, then contained it so that its violation of reality's laws would not spread. Some magic systems had rules, true. But for every set of laws there was an exception, and for every comprehensive system there was power that ran by chaos, unbound by rules or limitations. Here in Valucre, conflicting magic systems existed side-by-side, otherworldly technology 

Still, the Lightning Rail was quite a wonder.

The woman made her way through the terminal past the dozens of stalls clustered against the wall selling everything from pearl tea to polished lobster claw pendants. Perhaps on other days, this place would have been crowded. Now that the train was down, only a small, thinly-spread crowd populated the terminal, and she had a clear view of the station. While the rails were mostly a dull silver, (Nth, likely) she could see rosy strips of Auranite at evenly-spaced intervals. Carina knelt down, trying to get a good luck at the underside of the carriages. If what little she knew about the Rail was correct, the rails followed the natural curve of Ley lines along the continent. Nth's anti-gravity properties provided levitation for the train cars, Auranite crystals absorbed and stored magic from the ley lines, and strips of Auryl on the train cars converted the magic into kinetic energy for the forward push. Was that it? I'm not too confident in my knowledge of Terran materials

Carina glanced behind her, hoping neither of her companions had wandered out of earshot. "If there's anything we can do to fix the Rail, we should do it. It's the fastest way to get to Hell's Gate, and-" she hesitated, "We need to leave Casper. As soon as possible."

I hope the hunch that something terrible happens is just a hunch.

 

@ethela penna @ourlachesism

Edited by Csl

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Liir adores the Lightning Rail at first sight.

Granted, he has never seen a train system exactly like this in his travels, but nonetheless: the so-called Lightning Rail, as Carina calls it, is a lovely technological marvel.

He follows the Doctor as she weaves through the sparse crowd, keeping a wary eye on the stranger—Clotho Atropo, according to her. Being a stranger to Carina himself, Liir knows he has no right to complain about other companions. He’s simply here for the ride.

"If there's anything we can do to fix the Rail, we should do it.”

Liir raises an eyebrow in both disbelief and curiosity. Fix the Lightning Rail? “I understand this may be the fastest way to Hell’s Gate, but really?”

From the moment he had spoken the words, he already knows he’ll help the Doctor in this endeavor. Who else can boast about fixing a train?

And it’s something to actually do, at least. He’s already itching to do something substantial, something long-lasting while Jal is nowhere to be found. Ultimately, he shifts his stance, cocks his head to the side, recants his statement. “However, perhaps it would be a good idea.” Liir runs his mind over her next statement, hums as he considers it. “We only just got here, and we’re already leaving? That’s a shame.”

There's something in her expression, her hesitance, however, that sets off a warning at the back of his head.

“If you think we should leave immediately, who am I to question your judgment?” He shoves his hands into the pockets of his coat and smiles. “How do we go about fixing the train, Doctor?”

 

@Csl @ethela penna

Edited by ourlachesism

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“Now hold on here —”

He riffles his pockets real quick (they can’t have made it here in one piece, could they?) digs up a coin, flips it into some transient’s bucket, and looks behind him just in case.

“ — what’s this about fixing the train?”

Bad days in Casper; been a while since the Lightning Rail worked, been a while since the great cities got eaten up in fire and brimstone and hatred. Those vitriolic things which corrode a society from the scum off the ground and eat up towards the high-storied heavens. It couldn’t have happened, an impossibility, those stories flooding into Casper day after day with the refugees: vampires in Tia, androids in Hell’s Gate. Yes, here where everything was steady and life crawled on as usual, here which hardly seemed like the same world and not a single soul cared about the going-ons of the other world. Elsewhere was a place forever in stasis, it had seemed. Then it hadn’t; then the Lightning Rail shut down, its control center elsewhere torched by revolutionaries and maniacs, as if; then Casper was well and truly alone and cut off from the rest of the dark continent.

Well, these are the things that happen when reality moves forward at an unchecked pace. Some people get left behind; those people are thankful when the others throw themselves off the cliffs of progress.

Clotho had no opinions on the matter, and he did not have family elsewhere. Casper he was born, and Casper he stayed. The Rail was a distant fact, gleaming on the terminal, its cathodes and anodes polished and magnetic in their grace.

He whistled at the emptiness.

“Claustrophobic a bit when it ain’t crowded, huh? Well, what am I saying, you guys hadn’t been here when it was functional. Real sight to behold, all those people packed in like sausages. Where did they think they were going, anyway?”

“So anyway —” he started again. “Fixing the train. Didn’t know I was running around with a couple-a-whatsits, mechanics?”

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Both of her companions expressed reluctance at fixing the rail. Liir, at least, seemed willing to try. As for Clotho...

"Didn’t know I was running around with a couple-a-whatsits, mechanics?”

"I'm a scientist," Carina said curtly. As an afterthought, she added, "Not a magitech scientist, but I know enough." Fixing a train was a far cry from documenting the properties of new plant species, but she was confident they could at least try. Valucre was a world of conflicting systems... but they were still systems- sensible, understandable, comprehensive. At least the ones native to Terrenus were. Mostly.

Carina stood. She started walking towards the station building. "We have to find out what's wrong."

At first glance, the structure seemed empty. The row of windows where passengers would normally be queuing up to pay for passage were bare. Carina stopped at the end of the booths. She cocked her head, listening to something. Her eyes alighting, the scientist closer to the last window, squinted into the dimness of the room, then knocked on the glass.

A weary-looking man emerged. "I'm sorry, ma'am, but the lightning rail is still under repairs," he said, with the practiced tiredness of an answer repeated over and over again. "The engineers in Hell's Gate are working around the clock and doing their best to ensure the syste-"

"Hell's Gate?" Carina interrupted. She knew little about the scope of the problem - if it was too technical, involving programming and computer systems, there was little they could do. "Doesn't Casper have any magitech engineers?"

The man shook his head. "No. Travel is hard these days," he said slowly, as if she may be dull-witted.

Carina suppressed a sigh. She injected a touch of earnestness in her voice. "Do you know what the problem is, specifically, at least for Casper? Is there any way we can help?" If the city needed a magitech engineer, the only way they could help was to transport one here.

The man sighed. He looked very, very tired. "I don't know. I just head this station. The government built it. I make sure the trains leave on time and the schedules are announced and there aren't too many peddlers and that everything runs smoothly." He hesitated. "I do know that when the rail shut down, a train was stranded in the middle of nowhere, northeast of here at the crossrails, a ways from Tia when it was travelling towards Casper. Nearly exploded, the survivors said. Tia got them, had the courtesy to tell us. As far as I know the train's still out there. Probably been looted by bandits already, though."

The train... exploded? Carina thought of the Auranite- the crystal that could store huge amounts of magic, yet exploded when over capacity. She thought of magic in Terrenus dropping because of the Shawnee Glacier, how it must have affected the Ley lines that ran through the continent.

There was a simple map of Terrenus on the wall, showing the stations the Lightning Rail stopped at. Carina studied it for a moment, then turned to her companions.

"We need to get out here," she pointed to a section where the rails between Ignatz, Tia, and Casper intersected. "Around a thousand and a half kilometers away."

She looked at Clotho. "Do any of Casper's... transports... travel at more than a hundred kilometers per hour?" The strange machines looked like crude, steam-powered cars, but managed to travel at ridiculous speeds. More magitech. Still, if it were capable of travelling that fast, they could get there and come back in a day. "If not, what's the fastest way to get here?" she jabbed a finger at the intersection.

Then, she glanced at Liir. "You have any more interesting gems on hand? We may need to buy Nth and Auranite. Which, by the way-" she returned her attention to Clotho, "-do you happen to know where we might find some?"

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Liir watches Clotho dig into his pockets, give a coin freely, and he thinks that perhaps he might have underestimated this man.

“Didn’t know I was running around with a couple-a-whatsits, mechanics?”

He lets out a snort, because really. Of all the plentiful things Liir can do with his hands, mechanical work is not something he particularly excels in.

"I'm a scientist. Not a magitech scientist, but I know enough." 

Magitech? Liir only knows the barest skeletons, the faintest hints concerning magitech, although he has dealt with them before, the Eliordelian technology he might or might not have stolen from the royal vaults a prime example of this.

But a scientist, she says. His guess was right: definitely an intellectual. Liir grins widely as she continues to speak.

"We have to find out what's wrong."

Carina stands and starts walking closer to the station. Okay then. Liir shrugs at Clotho and trails behind the Doctor, hands leisurely tucked in his pockets.

While Carina busies herself with inspecting the building and conversing with the haggard man in charge of the station, Liir takes notice of a map stuck to a nearby wall.

Map of Terrenus, it says in bold print, landmasses foreign to Liir’s knowledge sketched onto the paper. Lines that must represent the Lightning Rail connect various dots across the map, the city names in small scrawl: Ignatz, Casper, Blairville, Tia, Last Chance.

Oh, what a vast world for us to explore, partner.

The thought stirs up the image of bright yellow eyes, sparkling and curious: childlike eyes to see and explore the world.

A gaze like the sun.

The world is wonderful, isn't it, brother?

Blinking rapidly as he banishes the thought, Liir commits as much of the map as he can to memory, makes a note to sketch it onto his journal when he meets up with Jal.

“We need to get out here. Around a thousand and a half kilometers away.”

That’s a long way away, he notes. “What's over there?” Liir follows Carina’s finger to look at the section of the map she highlighted, intersecting lines on the paper. “We’re going to the stranded train?” There’s probably something the Doctor wants to acquire, but the distance can be a problem. A hand perched against his face, he absently taps his cheek with a finger as he assesses the situation, listens with half an ear as Carina questions their other companion about the speed of Casper’s transportation.

“You have any more interesting gems on hand? We may need to buy Nth and Auranite.”

“Oh, so I’m the financier of this project, then?” Liir raises an eyebrow at the Doctor, faintly amused at the idea. Sure, he has plenty of trinkets, but when it comes to buying foreign magical materials to fix a defunct train—well. “I get that we need to fix the train, but doesn't the government—or whatever form of authority you have here—have jurisdiction over that? Can’t we just ask for a commission?” He leans against the wall, stifles a yawn with his fist before continuing. “Do correct me if I'm wrong.”

 

@Csl @ethela penna

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Scientist, she said — pshaw — the learned people really owned the world, didn’t they? Clotho scuffed his shoes on the concrete a little, looked at Carina with the appraising eye. Clothes and hair down to code; with something of eccentricity, something of expectation, Crook hanging jaunty, with low dignity, in a way that gateways to All-Knowledge should not have been. But those were the norm for the learned people. Who’d afford a Crook otherwise, in this day and age? Personal libraries were on the way out in favor of the peculiar machines, but they were all the same otherwise. Badges so typical as to be common, of elevation in social altitude correlated purely with knowledge. As if it made those learned few more able, and in that way gave them authority, made them better, made it so they owned the world.

Well, they thought they did. And they thought they could save it, if only they wanted. Fix a train for goddamn fun, huh?

Clotho couldn’t say the idea didn’t appeal. Only a select few could be heroes, after all.

“You know what, sure. Fire away, missus scientist. No one’s time being wasted except ours,” he said. “Gaia knows mine ain’t valuable enough for this shit. You say road trip, I’ll find you a car. But we sure as hell ain’t going to find one here. Let’s head back to the inn and see if the more fortunate can’t cough up a pair to spare for the shining future of this city.”

He offered a few more words for Liir: “If you wanna do something, do it all the way yourself. Governments are useless in times of duress. Ashville has been eaten and Last Chance sieged, see, and that’s just not right. Count your blessing it hasn’t come to Casper, but if it does it’ll be Casper that saves itself. You can only count on people to save themselves.”

And sometimes, people couldn’t even do that. He stuck his head out the gate for good measure, scanned the streets for tell-tale signs of sharklike men.

“By God, all the good I’d do if I had money…”

Edited by ethela penna

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"We're going to the stranded train?" Liir asked.

"We're going to the stranded train," Carina repeated. "And yes, since you're the one casually pulling gems out of your pockets, you're the financer of this project. For now. There was something about not being a burden that was discussed earlier, if I recall properly, and it'll take too long to route this through the government, which is also dealing with their own problems..." A city in ruins. Swords raining from the sky. Rivers of flesh. A woman with crescents on her wrists. Carina swallowed, forcing back the afterimages that burned on the back of her eyes. Not yet. "It's up to us." Not yet. We have time.

Her tone was sharp, acrid. This wasn't like her, not usually- the sarcasm remained in her head, expressed in silent sighs and eye-rolls, but rarely did it spill out of her lips. The unease in the pit of her stomach was growing. We have to get out of here.

Clotho's snark, for once, wasn't shrugged off. Carina's shoulders stiffened, and she only managed to bite back the remark at the mention that he would, indeed, help them find a way out. "Fine. Let's go back to the inn."

Clotho seemed wary, though for different reasons than hers. For now, Carina focused on putting one step in front of the next, forcing her attention to remain on the journey back through the marketplace, back to the inn where she and Liir had had breakfast.

Idly, she wondered what had happened to the halfling girl. I hope she makes it out.

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The harsh tone of Carina’s reply startles him for a moment, slowing Liir’s footsteps as he tilts his head to gaze at her curiously. There is something bubbling beneath the surface of her stoic veneer, something ominous in the depths of those sharp eyes.

He decides not to ask.

“It's up to us.”

Liir gives Clotho a mock long-suffering look which slowly turns into a lazy grin. “Alright, tough guy. Thanks for the offer to help.”

Plunging his hands in the pockets of his coat, he mentally takes stock of the trinkets hidden within the folds of the dark fabric. A few of the baubles he can bear to spare for their expenses: rough-cut sapphires from the Torjo mines, silver-hewn jewelry right off the necks of the Kinnarian noblewomen, the intricate golden anklets of the Eliordelian princesses. Perhaps it will be enough for whatever the Doctor needs, whatever Nth and Auranite are and how much they cost.

Despite himself, Liir can’t stop the sigh building in his chest. He’s always hated giving away what he considers to be his own, especially those that have meaning to him.

He carefully does not think about the secret little box hidden in the deepest pocket of his coat, its contents long since untouched.

Suck it up, partner, the voice of reason, Jal’s voice echoes in his mind. It’s not like he has much of a choice.

“I believe I have enough to finance the project, Doctor.” Liir takes out one of the golden anklets, the metal shimmering bright in the sunshine. He remembers very clearly the circumstances that brought it to him, and the fond smile on his face is nostalgic. “Here I am not being a burden.” He puts it back into the depths of his coat and smiles at his two companions. “After we get our means of transportation, I’d like to exchange these for money. You don't suppose there's a pawnbroker around town?”

 

@Csl @ethela penna

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[A short while later.]

“Really,” Sharon remarks, “I should know better than to loan Chloe anything. But this, I suppose, is a special occasion.”

They’re standing around in the early-afternoon lull of patrons, just after the workers have cleared away their fragrant lunches and before the doors are packed full in happy hour. It will be an especially bad one today; the thunderheads are assembling out at sea, beating their war-drums together, and the air is ponderous with moisture. Where there is shelter from the rain there are people; where there is alcohol there are people. Logic supplies that tonight will be doubly so for the Stately Hero.

Logic, however, neglects premonitions of disaster, while the waitress does not. So she looks far from happy, though not upset; she’s just looking far, far away, as if waiting for the storm-clouds on the horizon to sweep across the sea and break on the city. Waiting for that downpour to arrive.

“Well, we’ll make sure it gets back to you safe and, um, whole,” the handsome young man offers, looking askance at his female companion. “More or less. Would you like to take some down payment, if you will?”

They were nameless patrons this morning, but now Sharon finds them doubly interesting. Least of all because they purported to wish to fix the Rail. One wore the Crook on their waist; the other was now offering her a shining gem, in the way those men do who have bought everything they ever wanted. Sharon laughs. “Downpayment?” The waitress shakes her head. “No, I don’t need any money. The service you will render Casper will be more than suitable repayment — assuming, of course, that you do fix the rail. But this is one of my personal cars. So it will come with some personal stipulations.”

“Such as?”

“Nothing that will strain your formidable wits too harshly.” Sharon’s voice dips into a murmur as she looks again towards the distant seashore visible through one of the windows. “You’re to leave the city by evening tonight, preferably before. And you’re not to return for, minimum, ninety-six hours. That’s four days. At least. Maybe never.”

“Well, I suppose that can be arranged.” The man looks thoughtful. “Is there…something we need to know about?”

“No.” The answer is short.

After a little while, she continues. “All you need to know is that you’re out there to fix the light rail, so there’s little reason to come back. And if you manage to find a reason, don’t. Go somewhere else.” She fiddles with the buttons on her apron absentmindedly. “I am rather fond of Chloe. My second personal favor, I’ll ask you to try to make sure he stays happy, healthy, and hearty. Or as close to it as possible.”

Sharon removes a small, circular device from a drawer behind the counter and sets it in front of them. “I’ll let you know if you can no longer return to Casper. The car should have enough power to take you at least halfway to Ignatz.”

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Carina stared at the innkeeper, following her gaze to the darkening skies outside. Ironic.

She let Liir do the talking this time. The exchange went by surprisingly smoothly, with the woman even refusing to take the offered payment. That's good. Carina thought distantly. Not that she was paying close attention to their words, not particularly. Her gaze flickered back to the woman. This was the same one who had served them, the same one who seemed to know Clotho in a way that could be considered friendship. People like these were tied to the places they moved in, tied to their roles, perfect fits for their niches, providing purpose and familiarity in this great, mad, world

"You're to leave the city by evening tonight, preferably before-"

"We will," Carina broke her silence. She directed her attention to the woman. She realized she had never known the innkeep's name. Perhaps she never would, when they had gone and left and whatever dark wave that would sweep through this city had passed.

"-And you’re not to return for, minimum, ninety-six hours. That’s four days. At least. Maybe never."

"We won't." She said, in the same cadence as her first statement. Liir, observant as he was, put forward a hesitant question. The answer was curt. Decisive. The following words caught Carina's attention, and she studied the woman, studied her gaze that seemed fixed on something beyond those dark clouds.

"We'll take care of him." That much, they could do. That much, she would do. She palmed the device, testing its weight. "Thank you."

Carina had never been a religious woman. Still... "Gaia bless you," she said, before turning to go.

[a slightly longer while later]

The car wasn't too dissimilar to cars from Earth (thank goodness) aside from the fact that its engine contained several glowing crystals. After a few false starts, the machine sputtered to life, and the trio was heading down the road, a sizable amount of supplies stashed in the back of the car, quickly purchased from the marketplace.

It took only three hours of driving at full speed for the rain to come pouring down. Barely a quarter of the way to the crossroads.

Carina groaned, hands on the wheel, staring at the near-opaque curtains of water falling outside. She was forced to drive slowly, peering through the darkness to make sure they were still on the road. There didn't seem to be any shelter nearby, as far as she knew, and if she were honest, it was probably time for a bathroom break. Should we set up camp... or...?

She turned in her seat, eyeing her traveling companions. 

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In the hours spent traveling to the crossroads, Liir dreams.

 

He is in a white field, crimson-shattered skies, a cold and coarse wind blowing through the flaps of his coat.

Liir’s head turns from side to side, his heart trembling in its cage in his chest. He knows this place, he knows what happens here, he must get away, get her away—

Brother.

A heart-wrenching scream breaks the silence, and he is running and running and running, yet the figure is forever out of reach; the dissonant syllables cut through the very marrow, and it shakes him down to his core.

What is happening to me?

He reaches out, arm outstretched—

 

—and grasps nothing.

Liir quickly lowers his hand, blinking the sleep from his eyes as he takes in the pouring rain drumming against the windowpane of the car, the sound of mechanical whirring and purring from the car, the inquisitive gaze the Doctor is giving him and Clotho.

He lifts a hand to his chest. His heart is still racing.

"Sorry I fell asleep," Liir drawls, half-breathless, voice still rough from drowsiness and the faintest echoes of panic tainting his words. "I was a bit tired."

What is happening to me—

He leans against his seat, stares straight and unseeing into the wall of rushing water against the glass, trying to banish the image branded into the back of his eyelids. His grip on the seat tightens for a few moments before he relaxes his hold.

"What now? Are we taking a break?" Liir peers at Carina’s face. "Or are you tired? I'd offer to drive but you'll have to give me a couple of minutes to figure it out." He turns a smile towards Clotho. "You're welcome to drive too if you want to." Liir hides a yawn behind his hand. "Unless we're doing something else?"

 

@Csl @ethela penna

Edited by ourlachesism

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Chloe was troubled.

By what? By any number of things that he could have been chosen to be troubled about. By the marathon rain which had started up and despite its ferocity showed no hint of tiring; by the grim flat country they were traversing on a helter-skelter mission undertaken by people he knew to be strangers in a strange land; by the vast, immeasurable distance that still lay to be traveled across the same, and the prospect of sitting in continued silence as had the past three hours gone, Chloe devoid of words.

But no, men are only ever troubled by the same thing. Chloe chose to be troubled by women; by a certain woman, who was yet more, the cause of his silence. He touched the spot on his cheek that Sharon had kissed as they left. It was still ice cold; the same as he had felt when he froze when she had come in to give him a quick, tight hug. No, it had been warm at that time, her heartbeat pressed up against his arm in assurance. But all too soon it grew cold after, almost instant like the snuffing out of a candle.

All things uncharacteristic shared between the two friends, and this was a concern that went beyond love. No, it wasn’t love which closed up his throat, they were not children at play any more. Something more important was at stake; it was a crushing sense of worry. The darkness which the rain beat into the Earth outside only thickened the mire into which his heart felt like it sank. Say something of the magic that connects human souls, because Chloe felt then the full fatal weight of the future bearing down on him. And he felt that he just might never see her again. That prospect wasn’t what made him fear. Rather it was the fear that made that prospect seem so real. Fear of what?

Who knew? But the blackness of the skies fused with the ground, the primordial return in which the car was alone, shaking and bucking as if it was being pulled apart by the uncreated and primal forces around them, was something on hand to fear. Hardly could he recognize the surroundings. There was nothing to recognize through that desperate windowpane. Only to be acknowledged in the old depths of the human psyche, the instinct that was made when the world was younger, uncertain, and ashy.

“Say —” he swallowed heavily, leaning on the median between the two front seats, looking up at Carina. “How long d’ya reckon this whole thing might take? Say, uh, fixing the Lightning Rail and all. We’ll take it back to Casper when we’re done, right?”

He nodded fiercely at Liir’s words. “Yeah, if you’re tired, I can step in and drive no problem. Sharon — “ His breath caught in his throat suddenly, swallowing again. “Sharon’s lent me plenty o’ times so I’ve got the hang of it.”

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The rain slowed, if only by a minuscule amount. Carina pressed her foot to the pedal and the car lurched forward once more, albeit slower this time. Carina peered through the rain, searching for something other than hill and tree in the blurry grey expanse beyond the glass.

Liir had stirred from his slumber, from what seemed to be a vivid dream. He had been clutching at... something.

"Are we taking a break?"

There was a pause before she replied. "I need to relieve myself." Best be honest. Still, I feel like I'm giggling at a funeral, something inappropriate. Especially with what we've left behind.

There was still the matter of finding shelter of some sort, at least somewhere.

After a while, Clotho spoke up as well. “Say — how long d’ya reckon this whole thing might take? Say, uh, fixing the Lightning Rail and all. We’ll take it back to Casper when we’re done, right?”

Carina thought for a moment. "The crossroads is around one and a half thousand kilometers from Casper. This car goes at a hundred kilometers per hour, so we're nearly a quarter of the way there. I can drive for three to four more hours, then we either set up camp for the night or someone takes over driving for me. Six more hours of driving, and we'll arrive. A total of thirteen to fourteen hours of driving. Half a day. Possibly more, depending on how we fix this thing."

She hesitated, mulling over the next question. "We'll return if we can. If the rail's fixed, that will be easy enough." Though I'm not sure there'd be a Casper to return to.

It was an hour later when they finally happened across a copse of trees that provided some sort of shelter from the rain.

Carina killed the engine, then gave the trees a good look. "Welcome to the Blue Hills."

Carina reached for her pack, tucking a few items in the folds of her vest. Light flared in a gauzy halo around her, two ethereal wings taking form, folded above her head in a makeshift umbrella. The ghostly appendages extended through the car's top as if they were intangible, yet when the woman opened the door and stepped out, the rainfall stopped short inches above her head, sliding off the wings.

"I'll be back in a while. If you see organized groups of people with swords, drive away. If bandits appear, drive away. I'll catch up"

Of course, as soon as she left, the soft glow of her wings fading, torchlight appeared in the road ahead of them.


Progress: 4 hrs travel, 400 km out of 1300 km traveled

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Torchlight flickered- or no. Upon further observation, it appeared that this light did not carry the familiar golden glow of fire, but rather burned with a piercing sapphire light. The glowing bright object in the distance fluctuated, its shape and size amorphous. To the two men in the car, the portal was a vague spectre viewed through the blurry film of rain.

To the pair of bandits on their horses, it was a explosion of astral energy that made their mounts take a few steps back, snorting.

To Calabi Yau Maksur, who was bound and gagged in the back of a small cart pulled by a third horse following the first two, it was a high-pitched crackle of something that sounded very, very dangerous. The teenage girl jolted at the sound. Her weak grip on the blade she’d managed to slide out of his back pocket failed completely, and the knife fell with a clatter. Yau winced. She dared a peek at the third robber sitting at the front of the cart - the man was facing forward and hadn’t seemed to notice. Awkwardly, she leaned backwards against the cart’s side so his hands could feel around on the floor for the blade.

The bandits were talking ahead, their voices inaudible over the thunder of the rain. Her legs were getting stiff. Whatever it was that had stopped the band of robbers, it wouldn’t last for long.

Her fingers met cold metal. Yau sighed, shoulders sagging in relief. Fumbling, she tried to position the knife to saw at his bonds. Suddenly, a sharp pain ran up her fingers. Yau gritted her teeth, swearing silently. Already, the cart driver was turning around at the smell.

“Got a knife there, kid?” the man snarled. Yau glared at him. Vampire. The man stood, roughly shoving her to the other side of the cart. No! The man picked up the knife, scowling, then pocketed it. He looked at Yau, fingers curling into a fist, lips curling to reveal fangs. 
A shout from one of his companions gave him pause. Yau strained her ears- car… stopped… ahead… Casper. The cart driver gave her one last scornful look, then returned to his seat. He tugged on the horse’s reins, and the creature started moving.

“Quit trying to escape, or I’ll make you.”  the man’s voice was cold. “Someone’s up ahead. Sanders and Eth are going to check them out. You’re supposed to be tech from Tia, so stay bloody still, or I’ll drain you.”

Yau tried to breathe as lightly as possible as the man threw a tarp over her.

The pair of men rode up to the car. The older one raised a hand in greeting. “Oi, fellow travelers. Awful weather today. Do you need any help?”


Progress: 4 hrs travel, 400 km out of 1300 km traveled

Edited by Csl
changed yau's gender to a girl because future plot things. disregard all mention of her being a dude

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The Doctor disappears into the rain—those wings are even lovelier than he had first imagined them to be—and Liir finally lets out the chuckle he’s been holding in ever since Carina had mentioned wanting to relieve herself. It hasn’t even occurred to him once that she might want to stop for such a thing.

The parting statement she gives them, however, makes him pause. Drive away without her? Surely she can’t be joking. What’s the point in this venture without the ringleader?

Turning to give Clotho a shrug and a commiserating grin, Liir ushers him to move and take the driver’s seat, and what follows is an uncomfortable dance around each other as they shift towards their current positions: Clotho at the wheel, Liir sitting next to him.

He gives the sudden glowing object in the distance a moment of consideration, then shakes his head. It may quite possibly be the portals he and the Doctor have encountered when they had first met each other before. No big deal.

Liir opens his mouth, about to ask Clotho something about Casper when the sight of two men on horseback coming towards them through the hazy glass stops him in his tracks. His gaze locks onto them as they ride closer to the car.

“Oi, fellow travelers. Awful weather today. Do you need any help?”

Liir gives his companion a wary look that speaks volumes about the situation at hand, and then turns to wave back at the strange men, a bright smile on his face. “Hello, friends, we’re quite fine sitting here out of the rain.” He sends a grimace at the overcast sky, the rain pouring down over them. “Well, do you gentlemen need any help?”

@ethela penna @Csl


Progress: 4 hrs travel, 400 km out of 1300 km traveled

Edited by ourlachesism

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