|kitsune_wolf (kitsune_wolf) wrote in lg_chronicles,|
@ 2007-08-04 13:26:00
|Entry tags:||royal sisters|
TCoLG: The Royal Sisters. Chapter 1
The Chronicles of Lowerground – The Royal Sisters
Chapter one – Uigat’o
Word Count – 4065
In which a long journey ends…
Two thousand earth years ago, many races of beings lived on one planet. They had mastered the combustion engine, and thought that they understood nuclear physics.
They had national borders, and the countries tried keep peaceful national relations, although sometimes they felt the need to descend into petty tribal warfare.
They were at the dawning of a new age, which would either evolve into a utopia, or descend into a chaotic world; a self inflicted apocalypse.
But when Nidoligh, the end of days appeared in the sky, the twin fates were denied them, and thus ended the time of light.
Age of Darkness. Year 4116
A cloaked figure walked though a tunnel, with a leather bag over one shoulder. A yellow orb of light glowed in a delicate hand covered in white fur. There was a small spring near the water bubbling up from a crack in the ground and flowing down the tunnel.
The figure pushed the hood off her head, revealing a being that resembled a humanoid Fox. This vixen had white fur over her face, and the true length of her hair was still hidden by the cloak. It was also white, save for a black streak that flowed down the left side. As she knelt by the bubbling spring, the light orb floated by her side; and she pulled a metal canteen out of her bag, filling it with water. When she was done, she splashed some water on her face before pulling her hood back up, placing the bottle back in her bag. She sighed before she got back to her feet, and she took the light orb in her hand and started to walk again. After another hour of walking, the cloaked vixen reached a part of the tunnel that was paved, not just left as rough-cut stone like all that she had passed so far. The walls and ceiling were carved too: they were made and painted millennia ago, and were beautiful to look upon.
Now the paint had faded so much that it was impossible to tell what had once been painted on the massive walls. Some of the carved slabs had cracked; a glowing blue green moss clung to stone. Every time she passed this place, she tried to see what was hidden on the walls. So far the only thing she could recognise was the Nidoligh, hanging red burning and angry in the sky, just waiting to fall and wreak its destruction on the world of light.
Any other secrets the wall held had yet to be deciphered.
The vixen closed both hands over the orb and whispered something in an odd language, and the light was extinguished. She walked a little farther, using the glowing blue moss to see the way. Taking bend as though she had walked this way many times before, she found a pair of metal doors, with the head of a wolf on one and the other a bear. Both doors were rusted and dirty, more victims of time and neglect.
She held her palm outwards and spoke again.
As the last word echoed off the walls, a pink aura surrounded her, and she vanished from view.
However, there were still footprints in the dust of the tunnel floor.
They moved from where she had vanished to some broken stones. The rubble shifted as if a weight had been put upon it, and then all was still.
After some waiting, people started to arrive at the doors. Rats, mice, cats, dogs, rabbets, foxes and others; some were dressed and rags that should have been thrown away in favour of the newer, though rudely made, clothes, that the others wore.
One being, a rat, was dressed in better clothes that had not yet been worn away to rags or swapped for the rough made clothes. He left a group dressed in home-made clothes, limping his way over to the same rubble of rocks as the invisible Vixen.
“You around, Uigat’o?” he whispered after he had sat down. “Of course you’re not, it’s not as if you’re going to appear out of thin air.”
“Oh, I could.” A voice came teasing out of nothing. “Well maybe not appear, but I am here.”
The rat hid his surprise remarkably well; biting down a yelp of fright, all he did was sit a little straighter and slap his tail on the ground.
A quiet giggle. “Weren’t expecting an answer, were you.”
“Now, now is that any way to talk to Uigat’o the grey lady?” All traces of humour vanished when she spoke again. “How did you get out here? When I left, you were still inside the city.”
“How else? I got caught stealing food- do you know they raised their prices again. Don’t mind though, I’ve got family out here, and we actually eat better out here than in the city. I can still be useful.”
The fur on the rat’s shoulder depressed as if a hand rested there. His tail flicked.
“I don’t doubt you, Riz. You always land on your feet, but I’m still sorry. If I had been there, I could have stopped it. I failed you, Riztarah.”
“Don’t say that, Uigat’o, I wouldn't want you to risk yourself for me.” Riz’s hand skittered over the rocks until he felt the furry warmth of another hand close around it.
“Thank you anyway. Although, if you could do me a favour?”
The pair fell silent as a pair of other beings wandered within hearing distance.
“What favour?” the fox asked as soon as they had wandered away again.
“My Sister, if you could possibly get her out.”
The hand holding Riztarah’s tightened it’s grip. “I’ll do what I can. Now, how long was I gone? I don’t exactly have a calendar on me.”
“A whole season, I think.”
There was a gap of silence where neither said anything. Riztarah wondered what was going though his grey lady’s mind.
“That long?” the fox sniggered. “Certain people won’t know whether to hug me or punch me.”
Another span of silence elapsed before Riztarah shook his head. “Uigat’o, you are impossible.”
The pair talked a bit more, and then the event that the others had come from occurred.
The giant doors opened. A badger, his black stripes starting to go a grisly grey with age, sat on a two legged lizard covered from its neck to the base of its tail in black feathers.
It snarled and rustled its leathery wings in irritation and warning.
“Since when did this warrant a riding dragon for the old codger?”
“Since some stupid cat tried to force her way back into the city.” Riztarah answered. “She slashed him up good before the blond fox finished her. That male fox, the one on the codgers left, blond with red markings and red eyes, with a Smkia in his hand and a sneer on his face.”
Riztarah could have sworn that he had heard his lady gasp.
“I think his name was ‘Mace’.”
“Really?” Riztarah could hear the smirk in Uigat‘o’s voice. “Mace, you say? Do you know what that word means?”
“See the Smkia in Mace’s hand?”
“That is a Mace.”
“Oh.” Riztarah gulped as he heard the rubble shift as his lady moved.
“Uigat’o...I know you’ve been gone a long time with no one around, but that’s no reason to do something crazy.”
“You worry too much, Riz.”
Riztarah reached out trying to grab the invisible Fox, but failed. A few moments later he saw Mace’s eyes widen and then look right at him. Riztarah was sure he was a dead rat, yet the soldier looked away again, as if having never glared at the rat.
The blond and red fox who, although he was only wearing the plain red shirt of an low ranking enforcer, was here shoulder to shoulder with full Royal Guards. Red eyes also seemed to be looking for a threat beyond the mass of angry people before them, and barely reacted to the feeling of an invisible hand falling on a red shoulder.
“So, you’re a big bad solder now…you’ve done pretty good for yourself, but really, Mace? That’s a human word. I mean, couldn’t you have come up with something a little less conspicuous?”
The Fox allowed a whispered growl escape.
“Now now, you don’t want people to think you’re hearing voices, do you?”
“Do you know how long you’ve been gone?” Mace hissed. “Or does time not mean anything to ‘The Uigat’o’ anymore?”
“I‘ve been gone for a long time, yes.” Uigat’o said, her voice starting to go frosty. “You vanished long before that.”
The soldier didn’t reply.
“I didn’t mean to be gone for so long.” Uigat‘o’s tone turned apologetic for a moment. “There was a cave-in, and I had to find another way back. Now, you see that rat to your left, the one with the torn ear sitting over by, oh wait he's moved, he's stranding next to that big dog now. He was my informant, best damn street informant I’ve had.”
Mace glanced at the rat for a heartbeat: ah yes, that one was a fighter, he’d had several of Mace’s squad in the stomach or other painful paces before Mace had managed to drop him. Mace decided that it was best not to inform the whispering voice what had caused the rat's limp
“What was I supposed to do?” Mace asked lips almost immobile. “I caught him thieving. And I didn’t know he was one of yours, and you weren’t around to tell me. Not that you would have told me anyway.”
“How would I have known to tell you anyway?” the invisible Fox asked. “I didn’t even know you were working with the Enforcers.”
“Maybe, but I have been looking for you. I think you would have heard of me if you had been around to listen.”
There was a puff of air, like a sigh. “It’s still annoying, though.”
“Back up, back up!” The old Badger shouted. “I’m sure none of us want a repeat of last time! Now, bring out the prisoners!”
The guards parted, and six different animals weighed down in chains were pushed though the gates. The old badger read out a list of charges: a bat, two mice and a rabbit were convicted with thievery. A badger and fox were convicted of aggravated assault against the Queen’s men.
Their punishment was exile.
“They tried to stop us from arresting the thieves. Things are getting worse.”
Mace’s lips still barely moved as the words whispered though them. “Two seasons ago, they would have been locked up, not exiled like this.”
“Two seasons ago they probably didn’t have any need to steal food.”
“Mace!” The Badger barked. “Remove their chains!”
The Fox walked forward and unlocked the chains, and pushed them into the watching crowd. If any of the new exiles heard a whispered ‘I’m sorry...’ from the red hared, yellow furred solider, they thought they had imagined it.
When the Enforcers re-entered the city, the invisible tag-along followed.
The heavy metal doors closed again, sealing those outside to their fate, and the one’s within to their own.
The Uigat’o sighed as she left the army men and hung around the doors. Mace didn’t say goodbye, and nether did she. After all, Uigat’o was never there in the first place - the Grey Lady was just a myth to most people.
The grey myth looked over the city of the Black Queen Midnight.
It was all built within a huge mostly natural underground cavern. Stone buildings rose up from the floor and down from the ceiling. The Roof buildings had walkways connecting them at various levels, although winged beings flew between them with little regard for the walkways unless they were tired. Buildings were starting to be built on the horizontal walls of the cavern. There were tunnels leading to other caverns, where crops that were no longer able to provide enough were grown, and other tunnels to 'the cracks' where the dwindling game was hunted.
“At least the core stone is still bright.” Uigat’o muttered, looking at the large glowing stone, suspended in the centre of the cavern by a tower from the ceiling, and a larger tower, which took most of the weight of the stone rising up from the cavern floor.
The core stone gave off heat as well as light, and the constant temperature, rather than the too-hot-or-cold variance of the Tunnels beyond the city comforted the white fox.
Hell, she was just comforted to be back home, even though at this moment she was horribly hot and itchy under the grey cloak.
As soon as she was once again used to the warmth of home, she could start getting on with her plans for life, even as the city of the Black Queen Midnight was slowly dying.
The doors of the city behind her couldn’t be opened after the old Badger and his men had closed and locked them, and no guard had been left behind. She was alone. With a whispered “Buphwil”, the invisibility spell was dropped, and the Uigat’o walked the wide road that once was never used, and now was used far too much.
In the city market, a black and white cat, dressed in the leathers of a hunter, stalked the stalls to see if there was any food he could actually afford. Game had been low the last time he had visited the back tunnels, and he had run out of his own meat.
So, could he afford to buy more meat to last him until his next hunting trip?
The answer was no.
A figure in a grey cloak, who had also been gazing at the food muttered under their breath, “No wonder so many people are being exiled for stealing food.”
“I’m sorry, Viril, and… Ui-um…sir, I would reduce the prices, but the royal treasury takes almost all of our profits.” One of the stall keepers spoke to the cat and cloaked stranger regretfully. “I barely make enough money to feed myself.”
“Does the greed of the Queen know any bounds?” Viril asked, as a white paw ran though his patched hair, bushing back a pointed black ear.
“Take that back.” said the cloaked figure.
“Why? It’s the truth and the whole city knows it. She feasts as we starve.”
The figure growled.
“What is your problem?” the cat asked surprised at the person’s attitude.
“Tell me, have you ever lived in the palace? Have you even seen how the queen lives with your own eyes? No, I know you haven’t so you can shut up.” The cloaked being snarled, the feminine nature of which gave away the fact that the cloaked being was female.
The cat shook his head. “Stupid freak, you don’t have a clue. Given the chance I would show the queen what I think of her prices.”
“If only you knew.” The cloaked one shook a hooded head and walked off. Then stopped for a moment, then kept walking.
Viril looked at the overpriced food, then at the retreating back of the stranger. He was intrigued, and following the stranger would certainly be more interesting than gazing at what he couldn’t afford. The cat shadowed the cloaked female as she walked past the Mage’s school, Magehome, seemingly to give a message to one of the students, and then turned towards the palace.
The cloaked figure stopped for a few seconds. The stalker stopped; did the figure know he was there? The answer seemed to be no, the figure had started moving again.
Viril let out the breath he had been holding.
The cat kept following the figure as she pulled a small glowing green stone out of her bag and tossed it over the palace wall. A few moments later a hidden door in the palace wall opened, and out stepped a red vixen. She was dressed in gardening overalls, which were covered in dirt. The long red hair on her head was braided with gold beads dangling at the end, what looked like a heavy ring of gold adorned with green stones weighed down her tail. There was space for a final stone, and she was holding the stone that had just been thrown over the wall in her hand.
The red fox all but threw herself into the cloaked figures arms, almost sending the pair of them sprawling. A white furred hand shot out of one grey sleeve to grab the hood before it fell. Viril frowned. What could be so wrong with this person that they would hide their face, even with an armful of friend?
The pair talked, but Viril was to far away to hear what was said exactly. It seemed like they hadn’t spoken for a long time, and the red fox was downright ecstatic to see the hooded one again.
The hooded one hugged the Fox close again, and the conversation seemed to turn darker, and then red fox ran back in though the secret gate, gone long enough to think the two may have finished their meeting. The cloaked figure was merely loitering when the red fox came back, followed by a rabbit. Both were carrying several large boxes, far too much for the hooded one to carry by herself. Then the rabbit vanished and brought back even more boxes. These he didn’t put down.
The red fox turned to where Viril was hiding.
“Hello, Mr. Cat! Aren’t you going to help the lady with her luggage?”
Viril let his head drop. So much for being a hunter, his prey seemed to know that he had been there the whole time.
He walked closer to the three, but not truly joining the group.
“And why should I help you with anything?
“There’s some meat in it for you.” The cloaked one answered.
“You’ll give me food, simply for carrying some boxes?”
The rabbet smirked.
“Oh, do this and you’ll get a meal all right, What’s your name, cat?”
“Viril.” He answered. He really didn’t like how the rabbit was looking at him, as if the long-eared ‘friend’ knew something that he didn’t.
“Okay then Viril, lets go. I think that Lady Ugiat’o customers will be most disappointed if we don’t get this moving.”
“You people work for the grey lady?” Viril frowned. “She’s just a myth, a story that parents tell their hungry children to give them hope.”
“You’ve certainly found a cynical one here.” The rabbit said.
“Stop picking on him, bunny boy.” the red fox said, and then turned, pointing at the cloaked one. “And you, visit again soon…please.”
“Of course.” A white furry hand ran though red braids. The owner of said hand turned to address the cat and Rabbit.
“Okay, Viril of the Hunt’s clan and ‘Bunny boy’, let’s get moving.
“Don’t call me that.” The rabbit moaned. “It’s bad enough with green claws over there doing it.”
The red fox smiled and waved.
“Whatever you say…bunny boy.” The cloaked leader of the trio laughed.
With a last glare from the rabbit, the three started walking though the streets.
Viril was waiting for someone to confront them, but they walked past street children and even a patrol of red-shirts, and no one so much as looked at them.
It was as if no one could see them.
Finally, once they had retraced their steps so they were once again in the shadow of the Magehome they reached a small building. It was near some other collapsed buildings, the stonework and city-cave wall having weakened over the years, probably from the Mages exercising their powers.
And worse, as well as being in the shadow of the Magehome, it was in the shadow of the failed growing cave. It had collapsed so long ago, killing the king and his two eldest sons, leaving Prince Oun-Nroyest the sixteenth as history’s youngest king. When he died soon after from the same illness that had clamed his mother, the king’s twin sister, Princess Midnight, became the accursed Black Queen, and the city started to decline. Now with Queen Midnight an adult, the city was quickly reaching crisis point.
Viril shuddered, he was walking right to where the crisis had been born.
“You live here?” The cat asked, the disgust evident in his voice.
“But it’s a dump!” Viril complained. “It’s unsound and isolated, not even the red-shirts dare come here. It‘s a cursed place.”
The rabbit grinned. “That’s the point.”
They walked towards the door, a rickety contraption made of tin, rusted and broken. A gust of wind blew past them and opened the door.
Viril stopped dead in his tracks.
No one else did.
“Silly cats.” The rabbit spoke as he followed the cloaked one. “Always so superstitious.”
“I’ll give him ‘Always so superstitious’.” Viril snarled. “Damn rabbit servants getting above their station.”
Inside was a room of bare rock, with the only thing in the room a pile of rubble, blocking the stairs to the first floor.
“Is this where I’m meant to be impressed?”
“No,” said the cloaked one putting her boxes on the ground, with the rabbit and Viril following suite. “This is.”
The cloaked one held a hand to her chest, the sleeve falling enough to show a white hand. Words were spoken if a soft voice, but Viril didn’t understand their meaning.
“Th-werg, Glitph Atwith Phqitx Visst Buphwil” Uigat’o dropped her hand.
“She’s speaking wolf, or close enough to it: all our magic users have to learn it.” the rabbit whispered in the cat’s ear.
“Dichwith” she finished.
“Why? What do you mean all of your-” Viril cut himself off when he heard the sound of rock grinding against rock.
Amazingly, with a green glow most of the floor started to descend. What lay below was unseen from where Viril was standing, but there was the sound of a great many people working, and orders being shouted.
Suddenly a small being ran up the curved stairs. It was a shrew, and she wore un-dyed clothes, showing that she had no chosen clan, guild, or profession.
“It’s about time!” she shrilled, shooting a death glare at the rabbit. “Don’t stand there like a lame runner dragon, this food won’t sort itself, and the grey lady apparently has enough work cut out for her with this mangy cat.”
“All right, all right.” The rabbit sighed, picking up the boxes again. “But I hope you don’t expect me do all the work. The palace workers will notice I’m gone, eventually.”
Viril moved to pick up his own boxes again, mostly so he wouldn’t attack the shrew. ‘Mangy Cat’ indeed!
“No Viril, I want you upstairs.”
The cloaked one was already standing next to the collapsed staircase that was once the access to the first floor of the building.
“I’ve carried your boxes and swallowed enough insults. Why should I follow you?”
“Because you have earned one meal. Follow me, and you may earn enough food to last you until you have bought enough supplies to go on another hunt.”
“You’re the grey lady, aren’t you, a ghost who gives whatever a person desires, for a price.”
A white hand waved over the rubble, and it vanished as if it had never been.
“Do you see anyone else in grey robes? And has what I’ve asked of you so far been so arduous that you do not wish to see what else you could earn?”
Swallowing and wondering if he should just run in the other direction, free food be dammed, Viril followed the grey lady up the stairs, through a door into a room that reminded him of the hunt-guilds main hall before the start of the hunt season. A large table in the centre was covered in parchment and inscribed leather-pages. Three chairs sat around it.
On two of the chairs there were an old hedgehog, his spikes turning grey, and a young orange and red fox. Both looked up as they entered. Viril recognised them from the ‘Wanted’ posters the red-shirts had tacked up on the news column in the centre of the market.
They were Heg the clan-less and Kel’at, formerly of the Magehome.
The cat’s mouth opened and he turned to the Grey lady.
“You’re the resistance?!”