Equilibrium I: The Earth Lords
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"Master! The meteor is going to fall!"
The young raptor was running uselessly in circles in the clearing between the ferns. Maeriki, exasperated at Terik, thrust out a claw and caught the raptor off guard. Yelping in surprise, he tottered and fell to the ground with a loud crash, tail flaying wildly in a vain attempt to balance.
"Quiet! Let me think, will you?" With his armored claws he picked up the young dragon by the scruff of his neck and shook him soundly. His metallic tail was clinking impatiently against the ground and his footclaws tapping pensively. There had never been an Earth Lord, not for several thousand years, that was as grim and hasty as Maeriki was now, a Nekanon magician and Honor Guard of the Livid Dragons.
"But Master, just look at that thing in the sky! It's going to come down and hit me!" Simple Terik was terrified and pointing at a distant, falling piece of space rock floating in space, nearing the planet's orbit. "I remember your lessons master! It said that if something that huge was going to come down and crash on us, we are doomed!"
"Didn't I just tell you to be quiet, you simpleton?" Dropping Terik, Maeriki sat down, crossed his bladed legs and folded in his silver, metallic wings, the wings of an Earth Lord, and closed his eyes briefly to try and focus. He gestured irritably at the raptor. "If you wish to make yourself useful to me, bring me my contact-link and the two books and the parchment I had finished writing yesterday, you know, the pair of books that tried to entice you to read them?"
"But what if I-"
The Earth Lord swiped the air with a dangerous, hooked claw. "No buts! Just get it here! I specifically told it not to try and entice you, so you will have no fear of that book. That powerful spell of sentience is not meant to serve you, or anyone of our dragon's race."
"R-Right away master!" Terik stuttered and gibbered wildly then fled into the mountain cave that stood like a dragon's open maw just a short distance from their clearing.
When the last of the loud crashing noises of the raptor's footsteps were very faint, Maeriki let out a reptilian sigh as peace descended heavily into his circle of fern trees. He patted a leaf and branch here and there feeling the mental minds of the plants, trapped in seemingly rigid bodies.
Ferns make good armor and weapons, he thought aloud in his public mind, and was rewarded by a leafy rustle and a nearby fern swayed in an imaginary wind. He grinned toothily. Nine hundred years as an Earth Lord had given him more that enough experience to flatter plants, and most of the time it was true. Ferns did make him his special green armor and the sharp, bladed gloves that served him as weapons. Each claw had a long, thin blade of a deep forest green, darker than the ferns themselves. They made his armor and weapon under the ground, starting in their roots and weaving, taking merely a few hours until it was done. Plants held Nekanon energies, more powerful than Metylon energies at times, and were able to use it to create his special accessories.
There had been a price, as many things always did have. He was to guard the ring of ferns from hungry herbivores, the dumb seemingly peaceful dragons with long necks and flat teeth and their scaly skin hues of purple and blue. It had been tough, but he himself was a predator, artificially armed, and the fern-eaters kept well away.
It was too bad they didn't have much intelligence. Maeriki's red eyes glowed with sadness as he thought that the fern-eaters didn't have a true chance of becoming what their small carnivore cousins were now; magic users, spaceship builders, and ironically, nature's guardians.
It's been a while since I've fought a troll for my mountain and the forest, he thought with yearning for adventure. Sometimes, when his luck was good, the Earth Lord could spot a herd of unicorns appearing out of nowhere, graze for a while, afterwards vanishing just as quickly. He wanted to know how they did that, but he could not approach them.
The fire-breathing dragons that were kin to his own kind were however easy enough to get to. Their lava fortresses just a good dig downwards were full of arcane magic being worked on, and usually some sort of funny little creature came running out squealing. When he was maturing into his abilities of an Earth Lord when he had once been just an ordinary raptor, they had taught him his magic, and it was a slow and painful task for he had only a little to begin with, and had to expand on that.
The ferns in front of him suddenly shifted aside, and a being hovered into his presence. It had a harsh face with high cheekbones and a pointed chin, and the eyes were bright green whorls of the sea. Unusually broad-shouldered and bearing a heavy plant-sword with ease, a faint, humorless smile perked up. The wind suddenly thundered down from around the mountain, and as the being's locks of fiery red hair were tossed back, Maeriki saw the pointed ears.
"Cytelisin, what are you doing abroad the land in times like this?" he hissed a greeting, keeping still. His abilities as a dragon Earth Lord were a match for the female Light Elf's, but her speed was quicker yet, and she was a dangerous warrior in her own way.
"You know why," answered her breezy voice, low and husky. Carefully she thrust her blade point first into the earth and leaned casually on it, all the while hovering a few inches from the ground. Her gaze unusually cat-like and defied Maeriki's. "The time of the Dragon Epoch is ending to a new age. We must all get away from here; fern-eaters meat-eaters and all life as quickly as possible."
"Humph," he snorted as he thought it over. "Surely the meteor won't do that much damage. Would it?" He asked when she looked at him in silence.
"It is not the only meteor. Your battleships are depleted of all power. The dark-nuclei cannons stand silent, no longer firing up into the atmosphere.
That meteor," she grimaced, "just happened to be the lone one on the front.
I've heard from your radar that there are four more, slightly bigger than the other, and yet just as fatal as this one up front. What we've done to destroy that long string of asteroid rocks belched out from the influence of the gravitational pull at that belt is all in vain if it comes down to this. These cursed metal rocks will fall and do the damage I think it will."
Maeriki's eyes glazed, and the pulsing red fire in them dimmed. "I thought it was only a passing, which would only tear up the ground for a few mere years."
They passed into an uncomfortable silence, with Maeriki deeply brooding and slashing the air occasionally with his scissors-claws, frustrated by the futility of it all. "Do you know just how this bunch of spacerock came to be?"
"There has been speculation," she instantly answered, as if she had been waiting for him to ask, "that they had were suddenly shifted away off course from the belt. But I'd say that the truth is," he voice lowered dangerously, "that a world blew itself up."
"What!" he roared, and would have gotten up if Cytelisin hadn't gestured for him to restrain himself.
"Listen closely, Earth Lord. You know that out there, this is not the only habitable planet of our Sol. Beyond ours is another, and after that also a planet of equal size. We have had enough information to know that on that planet lived a dangerous, dominant race that was so blissfully ignorant of peace and at war with each other that for so long that no solutions have ever reached the planet. We had tried in the past to ease the pain of suffering, but all in all, it was shallow and barely even healed their madness. They even tried to kill some of us while we attempted to help them, a thousand years ago."
"Are they magic-users?" he asked sharply.
"Well…not really. But they have found out how to make Metra…"
The Earth Lord groaned and slapped his claws on his forehead. "Oh, wonderful. Don't tell me that while you were on the case of bettering their lives into peace, you had to give them the secret of Metra. If they have figured out just how to charge it and use-"
"Yes they have," she interrupted grimly, leaning on her sword. "They have done the unthinkable, what our races on Earth would have banned a long time ago. They know how to use Metra as a weapon, and so-"
"They blew up their planet, and the ensuing debris was that their apocalyptic explosion had shattered the planet into the rocks that were going to pound this world, and still will." Maeriki's voice was flat. "Foolish! What race was this, to have done so? I utterly curse their name forever!"
"They do not know any better," she replied softly, and tried to soothe his temper. "The Pasa'lashi knew no other way. It would eventually have led to their own destruction the moment they had sunken into war. Her voice turned criticizing. "This is not a mere passing, as you should know by now. Have you not learned anything in your nine hundred years of serving? Have we elves given you Earth Lords our blood in ignorance?"
"Don't you dare say that," he growled, pupils narrowing. "Your descendants and my descendants had a time-honored deal, and it's lasted us for aeons." Realization struck him. "If this is to be so, that this will be a cataclysm unlike any other, am I to be the last Earth Lord? Have I written the books in vain, blind to all this?"
"Oh, noble Maeriki." Cytelisin landed abruptly on the loam of the ground and reached out to grasp the raptor's armor-plated shoulder, no longer the aloof Light Elf. "The legacy of the Earth Lords cannot continue in your race's blood. It must carry on to someone else's."
"To whom? No other race wants the responsibility." Claws scratch the dirt in ill-concealed contempt. "No one wants to have this power. They know too well that responsibility and perhaps a possible loss of sense of whom that you were had always been followed by this power. It is a wonder I have not gone insane myself. Light Elves, Dark Elves, dwarves and dragons, none want it."
"You are Earth's people," she soothed. "The four you have just mentioned are not born unto this world and we have traveled from our own worlds fleeing trouble. It seems that it also follows us wherever we go. So it is only fair that we leave as soon as possible. This legacy of yours and your forefathers will be continued by another race, that much we know, Earth-born. But I fear that they will have only one, for this race is a hateful, violent lot from what the scryer had gleaned, but who knows?"
"I see the point of them having an Earth Lord, in the future," he replied wryly, "but I live for the here and now just at the moment. Now why did you come here?"
She sighed, and bowed her head. "We need the books you have written, the book of magic and the book of Earth-Lord lore, to pave the way for the next Earth Lord. We will add some of our own words and include some more word-spells. Then we seal it in a time-proof chest of stone, to preserve it against time itself from tattering to pieces and falling apart in the elements. We had seen just how to make the books look like to suit them as well in the future, so that they will not be so hesitant in taking it. Scroll-books and cube-shell books are of our time, but of theirs?" She smiled wryly. "Who knows, maybe I can get the dwarves as well to write a little."
"Consider it done," he exclaimed, "let's just wait for my servant. He should be along soon with them both-"
The earth suddenly shuddered, and it rocked with tremors and shook. Wild reptilian cries rented the afternoon air as the earth continued to shake.
Plumes of smoke shot up out of the ground. The plants were terrified and their mental calls for help pleaded with him, begging to end the pain as the life-giving earth hissed.
When it stopped, Maeriki was pale and ashen. "What was that? A quake, here and now?"
"The Ember dragons are opening their portals to flee back to the forgotten Old World." Cytelisin's voice wavered. "Most of the earth and fire elementals have fled with them. Only the air and water remain, with a few of both earth and fire."
They were suddenly tossed to the side as a powerful roar vibrated out of the mountain cave mouth. It was a loud call, full of pain and longing as the dragons were saying farewell to a beautiful habitat. Fern-eaters darted underfoot as they ran in all directions, panicking.
"That was a powerful blast of sound," Maeriki muttered. "Must have echoed from the old ventilation and excavation shafts in my mountain."
"Master!" an eager voice cut the air and little Terik bounded up. "The dragon's roars and the earth's dance frightened me, but I managed to find your books. Here they are!" Proudly he presented him with two large heavy scrolls. Inside, indescribable glyphs were written and waiting.
"Give them to me." Half-heartedly the Earth Lord thrust them in front of Cytelisin. She nodded distantly as she took them and made ready to leave, pulling up her sword. "Good. Now quickly, your ships are getting ready to fly to a system they have charted out across the galaxy. You must go."
"I will not leave." She stopped in mid-step and gawked at him, an unfamiliar elven expression. "I cannot and will not leave this Earth. This shall be my final resting place."
"Master?" Terik was alarmed.
Maeriki smiled warmly, an unusual sight. "Terik. Though I have called you simpleton, there is more to you that just that, loyal one. You need not stay with me. Leave me here to die. Earth is my life, and my grave. You have a future out there in the stars."
He nodded dumbly, eyes wide. With one last look around the clearing he was off, heading northwest towards the shuttle field were probably thousands of Elder dragons, his race, now refugees were already boarding.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Cytelisin asked him softly. "You have a hundred years to go, you know. You could spend it out in the stars to your new home. A marvelous exodus-"
"I stand here and will remain here," he told her firmly. "I stand for the life that had been birthed in this world, and if this life is to be snuffed out, so shall I. Get going to your portals elf, before I decide to wallop you across your tender behind with my blades." He held his scissors-claws half-menacingly. She backed off disarmingly, her smile that of resignation. She waved to him one last time before she hovered away into the forest.
All alone, the reptilian Earth Lord looked up at the clear blue sky, imagining that the speck of dirt that was the first meteor was not there at all. It didn't work, for it stubbornly insisted in staying all the way up in orbit getting steadily closer.
"My fate," he murmured, and prayed to the Creator to make it painless in the coming cataclysm that would shock the land apart, the dust and flying earth blocking out the light of the sun, and the age of Ice would begin.
To him, it was nothing but his gate to the path of Netherdale.
Note: This is a mere sample from a finished manuscript of mine. Eventually I may post up all eight chapters of Part I. Hope you had fun readin'!
I-Guardians[The Earth Lords]: rough draft 100%
II-DeathWitch: rough draft 100%
III-Time Fire: rough draft 5%
IV-Pangaea: rough draft 0%