I've got chapter eight done, as well, so expect that soon. Probably not tonight as much as I want to post it. But probably in the upcoming days.
This chapter is revving up for the shitstorm that's eight, so prepare yourselves.
Chapter list: http://tanadin.dreamwidth.org/382.html
Map of the continent: http://tanadin.deviantart.com/art/
Also, in case you missed it, I wrote Zekara and Claire's backstory, which is called Frostborn and can be found here: https://saladlove.dreamwidth.org/65751.
Kingdom of Illian, Minecraftia. March 29, year 788. Time instance 483Z.
Vengeance sat next to Ujhin, looking over his shoulder at the map.
“It’ll be several days before we reach New Vexia. Close to a week, I’d estimate.”
“Damn. I want to drop off Rend and just get going already.”
Ujhin raised an eyebrow. “What’s wrong with Rend?”
“Nothing. He’s just unnecessary.”
“Hmm.” Ujhin traced their path with a finger. “I’m worried about the prophecy.”
Vengeance resisted the urge to groan. Of course you are. “What about it?”
“There’s a lot of worrying stuff in there. I’m wondering how we’re supposed to use that rib that we were given, for one. How are we going to get into the deeper levels of the Nether without dying horribly? Or even at all? I don’t want to bring Eclipse or the valk’vanor down there.”
“No,” Vengeance agreed. “I don’t either.” He drummed his fingers against the rock they were sitting on, running his eyes over the map absentmindedly while thinking of what they could possibly do. He paused, however, when his eyes traced the mountains in central Dalania, near the southern tip.
“Ujhin,” Vengeance said slowly, “I think I know how we’re going to get to the Nether.”
“No,” Nessy said immediately. “I am not trusting Kaltaerion to build us a nether portal.”
“It’s not Kaltaerion. It’s Baltbee using the knowledge of Kaltaerion, who he happens to have trapped in a necklace,” Vengeance reasoned. “And don’t worry. You’re not going in. It’s just me.”
“And me.” Ujhin crossed his arms. “I refuse to let you go alone and since I am already dead, the Nether has little it can do it me. The rest of you will carry on to Dalania and speak to Phyren about obtaining a boat. Taking a Dalanian crew with us would be unwise, so make sure it’s a small boat. Drop Rend off and wait for us. If all goes well, we’ll show up with the final member of the prophecy and we can head east.”
“And if things don’t go well, then we’ll be dead and the world will end,” Vengeance said cheerfully. “Isn’t that great?”
“You’ll do fine,” Endira told him. “But do not make the wrong decision. Do not allow your emotions to cloud your judgement of who can help us.”
I hate how they always know what I’m thinking. “I won’t, I won’t, geez. I’m not emotional.”
Endira raised an eyebrow. He stuck his tongue out at her.
Nessy groaned. “Where’s Samuel when you need him? We’re seriously lacking in a babysitter.”
“I’m the adult now,” Ujhin announced. “Now behave or I’ll ground you.”
Rend snorted. “I’m older than you.”
“I’m a corpse. I believe I have seen more stages of life than you.”
“Do you remember them?”
“No. Am I the one constantly starting childish arguments?”
“It’s not constant!”
“It’s constant,” Eclipse put in. “You’re older than me and a huge baby.”
“Oh, you be quiet.”
“Don’t feel like it.”
Vengeance and Ujhin set out from the group on their horses, pulling ahead and making a beeline for Baltbee’s home. Time was of the essence when it came to curing this plague, and Vengeance felt every mile as pangs in his heart as he thought of Kaepravah.
You’ll get out of this alive. We’ll cure this damned plague and I’ll have you back.
It took them four days on horseback to reach their goal, only stopping to rest the horses and to not push them too far. Vengeance was impatient to get there, but Ujhin was more practical, insisting that they slow down and lead the horses to allow them to rest. Despite Vengeance’s protests that they were taking too long, they reached the mountains early in the morning, just after dawn.
Ujhin found a tree to tie the horses to and let Vengeance lead the way up the mountainside to the stone building. He took a deep breath and knocked on the door. It swung open several seconds later, revealing Baltbee.
He raised an eyebrow. “Hey, Tarsen. Didn’t expect to see you for a couple hundred years. Looks like you found Samuel. Come on in.”
“This is Ujhin. He’s not Samuel.”
Baltbee raised his eyebrow further. “If you say so.” He stepped away from the door and let them come in, shutting it behind them. “I’m assuming you need something?”
“You can access Kaltaerion’s knowledge and abilities, yes?”
“We need a nether portal to the sixth level of the Nether. We need to get to the Doors of Death.”
Baltbee raised the other eyebrow. “What the high fucking fuck do you need the Doors of Death for?”
“We can bring someone back to life and we need to for some stupid prophecy.”
“Ah man, no way. Another prophecy?”
“And you’re all wound up in it again?”
“Oof. Glad I’m not involved.”
“Can you help me or not?”
“Oh, yeah, sure. Whatever, dude.” Baltbee shrugged. “I’ll need a few days, but I can do it.” He paused. “Maybe a bit longer if Kal doesn’t behave. C’mon, Kal, lighten up. You get to build a nether portal.” The amulet glowed. “Isn’t that your favorite thing? Opening portals and burning down towns?” The glow faded. “Thought so. Let me guess, Tarsen and not-Samuel- gotta cure the plague?”
“Yep.” Vengeance crossed his arms. “It’s annoying. But Kaepravah’s been infected, so I just…”
“That’s rough, buddy. Well, make yourselves at home I guess.” Baltbee absentmindedly waved to them and left the room, going up the stairs past the fountain and vanishing through a doorway.
“He’s a bit…” Ujhin searched for the word.
“Off his fucking rocker?”
“...odd,” he finished. “But that works too.”
“Well.” Vengeance sat down in a chair at the edge of the room. “Time to relax, I guess.”
“Great.” Ujhin sat down beside him. “I just love waiting.”
“I hate waiting,” Vechs complained, leaning back in his chair.
“Wow, really? I had no idea.” Zisteau rolled his eyes as Vechs stuck out his tongue.
Aureylian patted Vechs’ shoulder. “It’s gonna be a few more days. You might as well get something useful done.”
“Useful? Like what?”
“I don’t know. Work on something with Iirkolav. Talk to one of the injured Davions.” Aureylian shrugged. “You’re a worldbuilder. You have options.”
Vechs groaned and leaned further back in his seat, disbalancing it and spilling him out onto the floor. He groaned at the laughter of his friends and rolled under the table.
Blame and Zisteau started jokingly kicking at him and he finally left the room, informing his friends that they were jerks before vanishing down the hallway. He heard Iirkolav’s mismatched footsteps and turned to intercept him, almost knocking him over with a friendly shove to the shoulder.
“Stop doing that.”
“Stop coming into my room when I’m sleeping with ideas.”
“I did that once.”
“Ask Aureylian, it was twice.”
Iirkolav considered that for a moment. “I’ll take your word for it. I’d rather not remind her.”
Vechs patted his shoulder. “Wise choice. Where are you off to?”
“Medical wing. I wanted to talk to Nozvalu about what’s been going on between the Creators.”
“Can I come with?”
“Are you going to be obnoxious?”
“Is that a question?”
Iirkolav looked him over before slowly shaking his head. “No, I suppose not. We’re pretty obnoxious.”
“Let’s go.” Iirkolav led the way to the medical wing, Vechs tailing along behind, and had to duck under a projectile as he opened the door. The lamp shattered on the wall behind him as a Davion shouted something incoherent.
Iirkolav roared a demand to know what was going on and the room immediately silenced. One Davion- Xero, Vechs remembered- was standing on a table holding a lamp. Another was on her feet, bandaged wings against her back, with a bowl in one hand and the other frozen in a throwing position in their general direction. Several other Davions had things to throw and sheepishly put them down while Nozvalu held his head in his hands.
“Isken was being mean to me!” Xero put down the lamp and pointed to another Davion.
“Fuck you, I didn’t do shit!”
“Well, you were the one who threw the-”
The Davions quickly dissolved into bickering and shouting. Vechs and Iirkolav exchanged glances before they jumped at another voice.
The room immediately silenced as Skera stormed in, blades on her back gleaming in the light. “That is enough. I am tired of you arguing all the time. If you’re well enough to do this, you’re well enough to go back into the battle. Does anyone want to go back out there?”
“I thought not. Now behave.” Skera stormed out. The Davions settled back down and studiously ignored each other.
“Wow.” Vechs blinked. “She’s scary.”
“She is our mother,” Iirkolav reasoned. “And Kaltaerion’s daughter.”
“True. I hadn’t thought of that.” They made their way over to Nozvalu, who still looked extremely disappointed with everyone in the room. He perked up slightly upon seeing them, however, disappointment melting away.
“Greetings. What do you need?”
“We were wondering how the battle between Creators is going, if you’ve gotten any updates.”
“None, I’m afraid. None of my siblings have shown themselves here and I’m not yet ready to head out there.” Nozvalu stretched his wings, irritated red membrane obvious against the bronze. “Another potion more and some of the other Davions and myself should be able to head out once more. Two went back yesterday, and the rest should be ready to later today. I don’t know how many more wounded will come through, or how many are dead, but…”
“You’re doing your best,” Vechs assured.
Iirkolav drummed his fingers on the table. “I wonder if there’s a way we can help more directly.”
“No. You are not strong enough. You would be destroyed.”
“I don’t mean going out there and fighting. But maybe we could build something to help.”
“Like a weapon?”
“Yeah. Exactly. We have the power of pretty much all of the Davions that are alive as well as a son of Norazdomu and the Hostiles. We’re one of the most revered and well-known worldbuilder clans. If we can’t help, then no one can.”
“What’s doing the most damage out there?” Vechs asked.
“Alvaria,” Nozvalu said immediately. “She and her voidclaws are devastating.”
“So, if we could find a way to take her out- just knock her out of the battle long enough to win, not kill her- you could get somewhere.”
A grin slowly spread across Nozvalu’s face. “That...just might work. That could work. You two really are geniuses.”
The two bowed. “It’s all genetics,” Iirkolav said. “Got it from Skera.”
“She is a highly intelligent woman,” Nozvalu agreed. “What kind of weapon were you thinking?”
“Something like a cannon, but bigger and with more power to it, maybe.” Vechs let a familiar grin break through. “I’ll get the blueprints.”
It took three days for Baltbee to build the portal.
Day one was spent carving out a hallway and a room below the rest of his house with magic and building the frame. Day two was spent carving the runes for a basic nether portal. Day three was trial and error to get the portal to lead straight to the sixth level of the nether. It was almost dusk when Baltbee finally climbed the stairs, covered in ash and singed around the edges, and announced that he was done.
He pointed a finger at Vengeance and waited for him to stop highfiving Ujhin before speaking. “You better not die in there unless it’s really awesome and I get to watch. I put a lot of work into that portal and I’ll need to deactivate it after so that Kal doesn’t get any ideas.”
The amulet pulsed angrily.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever dude.” Baltbee motioned for them to follow him down the stairs. Vengeance felt excitement and a spark of terror in his chest. He was going to walk right into the Nether and defy death then stroll right back out. It was probably the second craziest thing he had ever done, only behind throwing himself directly into the Heart of Pain.
The gem pulsed faintly at the thought and he ran his fingers over its warm surface. How are you going to feel about this? How will you react to the Nether? He wasn’t sure he wanted to find out, but here we was, following Baltbee down a flight of stairs with a faint red glow at the bottom.
He opened the door and shivered at the sight of the portal.
Red and purple swirled within the frame, sending chills through his veins and he felt like he might throw up. He shook his head, trying to dismiss the feeling, and moved aside to let Baltbee and Ujhin file into the room with him.
“I’m closing the portal behind you so that Kal doesn’t try anything. You’ll have to find your own way out,” Baltbee warned.
“Thanks for the heads up. We’ll figure something out.” Ujhin focused his eyes on Baltbee and not the portal.
“Thanks for all the help, dude. Once this is over, I’ll come over and we can play a game again. Just stop using Kaltaerion to cheat.”
Baltbee smiled slightly. “No promises. Get going, asshole.”
Vengeance saluted and turned to face the portal. He glanced at Ujhin, took a deep breath, and strode directly into hell.