A Chapter in a short(ish) story based on the Clovan empire idea (referances pending)
|The Rise Of Nesphillis
Imagine, for a minute, that magic exists. An unusual start to a science-fiction novel, i know, but just try for me. Got it? Good. Now, working off the principles of magic, say that a magical force exists called 'luck'. Still with me?
Now think what would happen if one individual - no-one too special, no political or military influence - imagine if one individual were to stumble upon the purest universal source of this magical 'lucky force' and bend it to his will. What could happen? hmm?
I'll tell you what. The complete and utter submission of the individual's planet to his will, followed shortly by the galaxy he was occupying, along with quite a few others.
Big jump, huh? Well tough, you don't need to know much more about that right now. But, consider this had already happened, this one person now had half the universe at his feet, no-one was able to resist him, nothing could stop him. And He Knew It. Good for him, yeah? wrong.
This guy now has nothing to do. Everything he wants or needs is already there for him, he has his own super-powerful empire, with super-powerful weapons and super-powerful soldiers. Plus his lucky source, can't forget that.
So what does he do with this super-powerful intergalactic army? Sure, there are other empires out there, other races, thousands of inhabited worlds. But none are any good against him. His troops are kept constantly ready to fight an enemy which will never appear because it knows it stands no chance. But..
All these inhabited worlds, they have people, right, that's kinda a key factor of being inhabited.. Ok? And these people, well, sometimes they ain't quite the best of chums.. they fall out with each other occasionally, form groups against each other, either against their own people or against the people from the next planet over, who have funny noses and smell suspicious.
The point is, these people fight to kill each other, however, they aren't very good at it, they lack technology and instruction. So what use is this information to our 'lucky' individual? Well, if he wanted to, he could take one of his intergalactic cruisers, fly over there and blow everyone up - but that would be boring, you'd loose the thrill after a couple of solar systems, trust me.
But these people who fight each other, they have a lot of mighty interestin' fights, hand-to-hand, gun-to-gun, air-to-air, and all that other nasty stuff we won't go into. But the main reason they are so useless against the lucky guy is because he has more powerful technology than any of them, and so, out of the kindness of his galaxy-conquering heart, and mixed with a kind of sick pleasure in seeing how people use his stuff... he started a... Policy.
Gertrail shuffled his body into the cold sands, his eyes half-closed against the wind as he watched his warriors take position. Tonight was a good night, Gedro (the moon) was bright against the desert sands, making it easier for Gertrail and his scout group to do the job they were here for. Guess what they were doing. Scouting. You never saw that one coming, did you?
He scanned the plains below him, they stretched out for miles away from his partially-grassy knoll, in fact, it was the only rise in the land for- Hey! Gertrail's eyes narrowed. There was a colossal sand dune less than a mile away that hadn't been there last month when he had last been in this district.
The small country of Nesphilla was little more than an independent trading outpost, they were recognised as a country only because they had a large traffic in trade, and merchants were more than willing to use their coin because of some nice value rates. However, despite their actual income, Nesphilla has very little money- mainly due to the fact that their nearest neighbour was one of the largest military forces in the world, the Susensa - and they had to continually pay tribute to prevent themselves being overrun.
For this reason, among others, the Nesphillan warriors were kept to a bare minimum, meaning they were now drastically overstretched.
That didn't explain an entire mountain suddenly appearing on their doorstep. Gertrail tried to puzzle out the mound logically, but it was impossible. True, the sands did shift occasionally, as was the will of the gods, but never to this extent, after a month, he should barely notice a sand dune growing, not have it shoved in his face.
Klepr - one of his scouts, approached Gertrail uneasily
"Sire.." he said warily "There's a -"
"- I know."
"But it shouldn't.."
Gertrail sighed, whatever had happened, it was his responsibility now, and he had to make a decision.
"Gather everyone together, and send Reft back to the city with a message - the Gaart Lord will want to know about this"
Klepr nodded and scurried off to do as he had been asked. Gertrail looked once again at the impossible mound – it seemed the only explanation was that the gods had created it, and what the gods did was not a matter for him, a priest should be here. He shouted something along those lines back down the hill as he saw Reft leaving for the city. Reft was the fastest man Gertrail knew, he could run for miles without stopping, and had once out-ran a horse (or so the tavern legend was) if anyone could get the message home to the Gaart Lord in time, it was Reft.
Right now though, Gertrail had to make his own decisions. He slithered and slipped slowly down the hill to where his men were waiting, uncomfortable in the open. He made a silent gesture and they followed him cautiously toward this mysterious dune.
The dune was even bigger close-up than it was from afar, from what Gertrail saw, it was at least the width of Nesphillis' largest city, and its strangely rounded summit was higher than any dune he had ever seen. It was formidable mountain of sand. His scouts edged nervously around it, and he knew what they felt – something was definitely not right here, the mound was an almost perfect circle. He put on a brave face, made a short mental prayer to the gods, and stepped forward onto the raised sand. He blinked. He lifted a foot – just to check it was still able to move. A sigh of relief escaped the group, and a couple of the bolder followed him. Gertrail took a couple more tentative steps forward. In the midst of his twelfth step, the ground disappeared from under him.
Gertrail hit the ground with a resounding 'thunk', which was unusual, because the ground didn't usually go 'thunk' when he fell down. After he had stopped his heart from beating like a fly's wings, he sat up. He was in a corridor of some sort, right behind him he could see the large opening through which he had came, and sand was still floating about in the air around it, though the rest of the room was spotless. That was one of many things that were unusual about this corridor, the most obvious one being that it shouldn't be here in the first place. His mind skipped the fact that the corridor shouldn't exist, and went on with its persecution of the corridor from there. First of all, the major problem with the corridor was that it had no doors or doorways other than the one he had came in through, it was just as plain that the corridor was not a cave, because it was made completely from the oddest-looking iron Gertrail had ever seen, it was shiny and silver in the moonlight, and perfectly formed, not a bump or missing edge in sight. There were also shapes in the metal, strange and unfamiliar to him.
Gertrail stood up cautiously and looked back at the hole he had fallen through. It was squared and perfectly formed, with no rubble as from a cave-in. It stretched from the roof of the corridor all the way down to the ground. He thought back, he had walked directly over where that doorway was, up to the very rim. Why had it not given way sooner? A cautious head popped round the doorway
“Sire?” Klepr sounded extremely worried
“You fell through the sand, Sire”
“I know i did” - Gertrail sighed. “I'm not injured, you can come in, it seems safe”
Klepr slowly walked through the open doorway, his eyes scanning the corridor in astonishment, behind him, some more of the scouts tread softly, whispering to each other. They crept silently, like they were expecting an attack, until they were right next to Gertrail.
Klepr touched a wall hesitantly, then recoiled quickly “It's like iron, Sire!, only smoother!”
Gertrail nodded “I already noticed, Klepr, Can you see how it glimmers slightly?”
Klepr nodded as well. “It must be sorcery, sire, it's the only explanation”
The scouts quickly made the sign to avert evil, Gertrail simply stood there, staring round the corridor.
“What is this place?” he asked, mostly to himself.
“This is my temple” -The answer came from nowhere yet everywhere, echoing around them. The voice was strangely accented, but it was clearly a woman, however she spoke with a lack of humility that you never heard a Nesphillan woman speak like, there was no humbleness or submission in her voice, she spoke like she was the one in charge, like she was stating a fact they must accept.
Three scouts bolted for the exit immediately, but were suddenly stopped as if they had hit a wall. One pawed franticly at the air, but to no avail. Gertrail had drawn his dagger and was looking around for the speaker, everyone else seemed to be paralysed with fear.
“There is no need for alarm” came the voice again “I will not harm you”
No-one paid any heed, the men at the door started trying to feel around the barrier that held them in place. Gertrail waved his knife in front of him anxiously.
“Show yourself!” he demanded
“I cannot” came the disembodied reply “My soul is built into these very walls”
“Devilry!” shouted Klepr, apparently having regained his voice
“Yes” came the voice, as if it did not care what it was called. “I am a demon, of sorts”
Klepr turned to Gertrail
“We are doomed to torture” he said, his voice suddenly struck with a spurge of terror, “This place has sorcery enough to kill a man through fear!” Gertrail had to agree with him, it appeared they had walked into a strange demon's roving tomb. However, if there was any chance of dealing with the spirit, he must take it.
“What do you want with us, demon!” - Gertrail's voice seemed somehow detached from his soul, he sounded as mournful as he felt.
There was a silence, then the voice spoke in response
“Forgive me, i do not mean to provoke panic – i said i was a demon of sorts and i am, but i do not wish to cause you harm, i cannot, for you are the ones who have first entered my temple, and as such, my masters”
The men at the doorway stopped their attempted escape and looked round in shock, everyone else was just as affected. Silence stretched for several minutes.
Finally, Gertrail spoke up “We are your masters?”
Silence reigned again, and this time the voice spoke first.
“You may ask me and my minions to do any task we are possible of doing”
Klepr's face showed a glimmer of interest “You will grant our wishes?” he asked the air, everyone stood listening for the answer.
“If your request is within the power of me and my minions, then it will be granted”
Gertrail spoke up “Then I request that you allow us to leave this temple!”
There was a gentle almost-hum, and the men pressed against the invisible barrier suddenly fell over as it was gone. Everyone quickly rushed out of the corridor, though Gertrail saw some traces of disappointment in Klepr's face as he hurried out the doorway.
Once they were away from the sand-covered temple, everyone stopped and waited uncertainly, some seemed eager to carry on back to the city, while a few others (including Klepr) seemed to want to go back to the temple and ask for their wishes to be granted, they expressed this opinion to Gertrail. Loudly
He stood on a largish rock and called for attention.
“We are not going back to the temple” he said sternly, and some seemed disappointed
“Why not?” called one man “You heard the demon, it was going to grant our wishes!”
A cheer went up from his sympathisers. Gertrail waited for quiet , then addressed the man sternly
“And you think that you can trust this demon on its word? Shame, Kreto” a mummer went round, demons and spirits were notoriously untrustworthy, and delighted in tricking humans with clever wordplay or tricks of the mind. At least, that's how it was told, Gertrail had never met anyone who had actually talked with a demon, although rumours and tales were much aplenty.
“Well why don't we leave then?” pointed out one warrior “If it is not to be trusted, we should get as far away as possible” People nodded, that made sense. Gertrail smiled slightly
“Because IF, when Reft returns with the priest, the holy man sees that the demon speaks truth, then we could be looking at the end to all our worries!” a cheer went up. “So we wait, not rushing ahead to fall prey to a demon's trap, but not fleeing from paradise either! just waiting until we know the truth!”
The camp eventually settled down, some people went to sleep, others simply sat there, like Gertrail, staring in mystery at the giant sand dune, and thinking of all the dangers or wonders it could pose.
End of Chapter One