It's a fine day for a revolution, Kiers thought as he put on his coat. It was barely three in the morning, only the smallest sliver of light making it past the fog and cloud cover. A warm humidity had already settled over the city. Kiers Keller looked out his open window. He could already imagine the smoke, the fire. The panic of an old regime dying and a new one being born of it's ashes. The gatekeepers of the decadent, wasteful city would drown in the hysteria. He smiled, not at the impending destruction, but the new life that would rise from it. He actually didn't care for bloodshed. It was messy, he wanted this occaission to be neat, orderly; a celebration of sorts. Kiers didn't want people to die, but one had to break a few eggs to make an omlette, so to speak.
And what an omlette it would be.
The antiquated Authority council was simply holding Arkoma back. The deep reverence of the Whirlpool, the Everpool, the strict implementation of martial law, all things of the past. Keirs' way was the future, he knew it. He just had to convince the rest of the world.
Daesh had never seen canyons on fire before. And not any canyons- canyons of metal and brick, clay and stone. They were the most imposing walls Daesh had ever seen. He wondered how the flames could engulf them, burn them to the ground. He looked to the gray, angry morning sky; how could the Suunh build these glorious canyons of stone, only to destroy them. The Suunh was being very mysterious indeed, these past few... Hours? Days? Daesh couldn't remember.
He looked around him, and realized that Asashi had wandered off. He screamed her name, calling her back. Nearby small creatures gazes upon him in horror, and fled. Perhaps, he thought, they would lead him to Asashi.
As he followed the strange creatures, he observed more of his unfamiliar surroundings. Groups of the creatures were chanting strange phrases, holding metal torches and throwing stones at the panes of glass on the canyon walls. He slowed, what was happening, he wondered. What were these long metal rods, propelling tiny stones forward. Some had smaller versions of these rods. Daesh was confused; the stones, the stones were hitting other creatures; The creatures fell! They cried in agony, falling with a swift thud to the ground. They were... dead? They were taken so quickly, without occassion. Daesh didn't know what to make of this. Death should be treated... with dignity. Daesh gagged, choked back tears, and ran away. Further on, a group of creatures in matching vestments were using their weapon-rods to battle other creatures. More death, more confusion. Daesh felt sick and hopeless. How did these creatures create... Create these weapons that caused instant death. Could they kill him? Asashi, could they kill Asashi? His search intensified.
But still, the weapon-rods... What were they? What were they capable of? He was delirious with awe and gut-wrentching fear.
Suddenly, Daesh caught sight of something familiar; Asashi was hiding behind a wooden hut, crouched, observing the madness around her. He joined her in hiding.
"Isn't is astounding?", She asked of him, obviously as awestruck as he was.
"Is truly is. Did you see those weapons they were fighting with? These small creatures found a way to propel stones through the air with ten times the strength of us."
"The weapons? Did you notice the stone tents?", she snapped back.
"Stone tents? You mean these burning canyon walls?"
"Yes, those. So intricate, so ornate. The stones are set... In patterns almost. They have... Such colors... How? How could the Suunh destroy...?"
"Asashi, I... I don't think the Suunh is causing this. I think it's these, these creatures..."
There was a sudden burst of flame in the distance. The small creatures screamed, and ran. The Soiyas joined them. They marched forward, into a foggy street. The only light was just barely escaping the dust from the mounted metal torches. The Soiyas charged forward to a sprint. They had just barely made it past the street corner when a tiny creature, all in white, careened into them. Daesh fell, Asashi ran back, hiding from the ghost-like creature. The creature, in turn, yelled and started crying out in short, mournful bursts. Asashi paused, staring at the creature.
The sounds downstairs woke Ceras from her restless sleep. It wasn't entirely unusual to hear noises in her father's study, but it was an odd hour, to say the least. Ceras rubbed her eyes and sat up. Her stomach growled, and she figured she might as well get up and get some food.
She heard another crash.
This was peculiar. Even when he was with his... women, her father tried to be as quiet as possible. He didn't want his daughter nosing around, poking her head in his buisness. Ceras was concerned. She slipped out of her bedroom as silently as she could, and walked soflty to the staircase. She tip-toed down, skipping the fourth stair down (the squeaky one), and stopped in her tracks.
She couldn't make out who they were, all she saw was silhouettes. They all looked like men, except possibly one slender one. He (or she) seemed like the leader, whispering unintelligible orders to the others. There was a figure kneeling on the ground, flailing violently, screams muffles by some kind of mask.
The slender figure nodded, and the burliest of the group pulled out a small object.
A gunshot sounded, and Ceras froze. She had never heard a shot so close before. It was so... Loud. Overpowering. Shocked, Ceras' first instinct was to run. Her legs, however, remained glued to the step, as if they were incased in stone. She started hyperventilating, holding her stomach in the back of her throat, chest pounding. The slender figure looked around the silent room, only it's eyes clearly visible. Dark blue and icy, they gazed in her directed, paused for a brief, terrifying moment, and flittered onward.
Letting out a silent sigh of relief, she bolted back up the stairs as quietly as she could, and gently closed her door. She needed clothes... Her night clothes were good enough. And shoes, she needed shoes. She slipped on the first pair she could find. Her robe... She slipped her robe on, tied it at the waist. Put on a pair of leather gloves, and waited in the upstairs hall for the intruders to leave.
After what seemed like an eternity, she heard the raucous voices exit the house. She ran down the stairs to the door... and stopped. She looked at the limp body on the floor. It was a bag, not a mask over his face. Blood was seeping out of his side.
It was her father.
Ceras could only stare, open mouthed. It... It couldn't be... Despite the gun wound, the body was intact. It was he father's features, his jaw, his open eyes, glassed over. Ceras walked away, into the kitchen. Away from... That THING, the wax-like body of what couldn't be her father.
It was then that she lost it. She threw herself onto the table, screaming violently. Hot, angry tears poured down her face, gushed onto the table top. She yelled again, throwing the cups and plates to the ground, the shattering sounds drowned out by her gross sobbing. Who would, who COULD do such a thing? Why? Why him? Why HER?
She layed on the kitchen floor, soaking in her own tears, her nose too clogged to breathe. A heavy feeling in the pit of her stomach made itself known, rising. Slowly at first, the heaviness built and rose. Ceras sluggishly got to her hands, facing the floor. She shook and heaved, dryly at first, as the feeling made it's way to her throat. Vomit fell to the floor, mixing with the tears and broken china. Crying once more, more morosely now, Ceras rolled back over onto her back and let the fear melt, if only just.
Solomnly, she approached the corpse of her father. At this point, her eyes were red and raw, unable to produce any more tears. She felt empty, hollow, drained of all emotion. Tenderly, Ceras leaned over and closed her father's eyes.
She ran out the door, down the street. She couldn't see where se was going, the fog was so thick. The taste of fire and sweat hung heavy in the air, making Ceras's eyes water. She ran through puddles on the street, tripping on the debris strewn about recklessly. Something awful was happening, Ceras thought. She wondered where she could go? She... She had no friends, no family in the city, and no family who would want her anyways. Where could she go? Who would want her?
Ceras continued on, head down, eyes forward. She wandered down blocks she had never walked alone before, past where the lamp light could make out two tall shadows, also running. She ran into the shadows, jilting them back in shock. The scant light that broke through the clouds revealed tall creatures, with large eyes and ears, covered in short sandy hair. Ceras gasped, barely believing what was in front of her. These things... they were not human, clearly.
"No... No no, no...", Ceras couldn't handle all of this, the mysterious figures, her father... Now these... These...
"Why? What... No. No no no, no, I can't...", Ceras panicked. She began hyperventilating again, sputtering and crying. Tears again fell from her eyes, dampening her night shirt. She held herself, breathing heavily, eyes darting from one of the tall creatures to the other. The one she had knocked over was staring at her, quizzically, pupils growing larger and larger.
The creature pulled itself up, and let out a soft whisper, like wind rustling through the leaves. It was not english, but the tone of voice... Ceras stared at it. It... It had spoken to her...
It had sounded like... It had said... child.
Marka's boot slipped sideways in an unexpected patch of muck and she staggered backwards with a hissed "kack!" Tess caught her arm and steadied her. Though the street that they stood on was empty, the background roar of the crowd permeated the air.
The brittle crash of glass breaking made them both wince. "C'mon" said Marka grimly "we gotta git goin.'" The distant fires cast flickering shadows across their faces as they trudged through the sharp, bitter smoke.
Just get to the West gate, thought Marka, and get home. Home. She hadn't seen it in over two years. The clear air, the open fields, the little huddle of houses that seemed so warm and friendly in her memory. This city was no good for her. She got along well enough here– but she couldn't live here. The muck and grime, the cramped alleyways, the smog so thick that you could feel it coating your throat with soot as you breathed, and the haughty superiority of even the lowliest beggar simply because they were city folk. It was smothering her. Despite everything, she smiled a small, vindictive smile. If Arkem burned to the ground, it would be an improvement in her book.
The distant City Hall clocktower's morose declaration of six in the morning prodded Marka from her reverie. It was followed by a sharp burst of echoing cracks.
"Guns!" gasped Tess, her hands shaking with tremors and one eye twitching nervously. "They shootin' at people!" Marka gripped the handle of her Stratsiner 12-pressure handgun tighter until her knuckles were white.
"They'll regret it if they try shootin' at us" she snarled.
Marka looked around warily at the surrounding buildings. "We're almost at th' West gate" she said. "We jus'– wait, wha's tha' sound?
"Shouldn't th' mob noise git quieter as we head away fr'm it?" Tess queried in a nervous trill.
"I think tha' th' mob may no' be all behind us…" hissed Marka as she sped up towards the bend in the street ahead with Tess's arm clenched tight in her grip.
Marka skidded to a halt as she rounded the corner. "Drown 'em to th' Whirlpool!" she cursed. "D'they thin' they kin git out o' th' city packed in like fish in a crate? Kack-fer-brains, all o' 'em!" The shifting, screaming, sobbing throng swirled in front of her, crammed in from one side of the dirty, cracked cobbles to the other. People were panicking– seeing their city on fire tended to do that. "Wha', in th' name o' th' floatin' celestial orbs, 'as people backed up li' this?" she growled as she craned her neck attempting to see over the crowd.
Then, over the rabble noise she heard a faint but strident call. "Move back! These gates are closed down by order of the high Senate! No passage for any purpose! Away from the gates! Go home, the lot of you!" Marka felt a sinking sensation. Closed? The West gate… closed? Already? By the Senate, no less. Ha! Did they think they could keep people from fleeing this dying city? Well, the Senate certainly couldn't keep her here, if she could help it.
"We can't git out 'ere" said Marka grimly. "We need t' go back."
"Back where?" asked Tess breathlessly.
"Back 'cross th' city. To the harbor."
"Ah! Cause th' Sen-nit can't block 'n entire bay is wha' yer thinkin', en't tha' right Marka?"
"Yes. We're gittin' out o' this Whirlpool-doomed city." Marka narrowed her eyes as she raced along the streets, Tess behind her and handgun cocked at half-pressure.
"An' I don't care how."