• Lucid Dreaming - Dream Views

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    1. #1
      Il Buoиo Siиdяed's Avatar
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      Nov 2007

      Post Singapore - The Volumes




      Gideon - Warrior-Judge Resurrected
      Harry Barkle - Confidence Man
      Pollux Angelos - Chronic Hero
      Saint Peter - Agent of the Kingdom Eternal
      Sean Halvorsen - Squire of the Gasworks Order
      Silas Balder - Adventurer
      The Man in the Blue Suit - Arbalest-Errant
      Vi Kalek - Waif and Circus Hand

    2. #2
      Il Buoиo Siиdяed's Avatar
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      Nov 2007

      "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, to live and reign over them as sovereign divine for all Eternity."
      John, 3:16

      Sean Halvorsen, The Gasworks in the Northern Parts of the Iron Wastes

      The land is white, and vast. Chalky sands drift in sudden clouds from time to time as the winds of the wastes scatter them in sharp, angry spirals.

      Every so often the monotony of this chalk desert is broken; broken as the dark steel girders stand churned from the depths of the world, stabbing into the air, harsh and angular. Old metal, aged to a dry blackness that groans and croaks when the wind brushes past. They seem to point crudely at the powder blue sky above, which watches benignly, cloudless and vacant.

      Two figures stand out on this tepid landscape. One is a squire, a lithe youth stood with his cloth shirt clinging to his skin, his leather jerkin strapped with his pack over his shoulder. A salty dribble of sweat stings his eyes, and he shifts, raising a hand to shield his gaze from the desert sun above.
      There is a slender blade bound to his leg. A long-handled dagger on his hip.

      He is a squire, a servant to the Order of the Gasworks. It is the order's namesake that he stands before now.

      The Gasworks. The other figure on that barren desert-scape.

      It is towering in its stature. Sean Halversen stands level with its jointed knee, and must tilt back his head to look into its face.
      Steel. Black, aged steel. Much akin to the rotting girders that stab unmoving through the chalk sand around them. Black steel that was fashioned - once, a long time ago - into the effigy of a man. The chest is a great steel drum, from which thinner, girder-like arms and legs are hinged. Stamped across the chest is one word, in tall imprinted font - GASWORKS.
      Its head is a cage. Bulky, it boxes in a glass orb, which sits snug against the wire mesh of its cage. The orb was perhaps the size of Sean's head.

      Sean kneels. He draws his epee and stand it before him, as he was instructed to do. To show deference before the Gasworks. Before the steel golem of the Iron Wastes.

      There they stand for a time, Sean saying nothing, the Gasworks unmoving and unliving. Silent as steel.

      Then, a bubble. A stirring in the orb. Under a thin layer of dust and chalk, blue fluids bubble. A weak, transparent, still thing, stirs.
      Pinkish, the things within the orb bobs, gently, in its waters. Thin, trailing tentacles wriggle, sluggishly. The thing pulsates, almost glowing, suddenly.

      Sean Halversen recognises the jellyfish only through stories, through tapestries and engravings from the hallowed tomes of his order's library.
      He looks up at the orb, still knelt, patiently. Curious. For once he does not have anything witty to say.

      The jellyfish bobs. There is a whirring from within the great steel drum of the Gasworks' torso, and then it speaks. A grating tone, that stops and starts with the irregular regularity of a cog beginning to turn. It struggles, and Sean knows that the tall golem is pushing itself even as it rots within.

      "Valued customer. You come from far away. We at the GASWORKS thank you for your loyalty and dedication to our services. What specific service do you require?"
      Sean choked, suddenly. His throat felt swollen, and all too dry. The Gasworks. What every serape-clad knight of the order must seek out to ask guidance. What steers the course of the order through dark and confused times. What every squire must make pilgrimage to before they can prove themselves worthy of the order...
      "Valued customer. Are you unable to place an order?"
      "No!" he stuttered, finding his voice. "I am not unable!"
      "Then you have chosen a service to request."
      "Yes!" Sean shouted. He was sure. He had always been sure.
      "Then what service do you require?"
      Sean braced himself. "I am Sean Halversen, a squire unto your Order. I have made pilgrimage to yourself and now seek the means to prove myself worthy!"

      A pause. Unhealthy churnings tick-tocked within the steel drum. The jellyfish bobs.

      "Custom program. Order of the Gasworks. Squire. Ritualistic rites of passage. Searching."
      A clanging sound. It rings metallic and sends vibrations shivering up the thin blade of Sean's epee.
      "Random quest selected. Valued customer - SEAN HALVERSEN - is to travel south of THIS LOCATION. Valued customer - SEAN HALVERSEN - is to challenge the MACHINE GOD and defeat him."
      A whirring. The sounds of the Gasworks churn faster, the jellyfish bobs more urgently.
      "Bring down the Girders of the Machine God. Sever his cables forever. End the reign of Empty Steel. Destroy the Hollow."
      A jarring sound. A cog is stuck. A mechanism broken.

      The Gasworks falls silent. Sean Halversen kneels for a time more, waiting, but nothing more comes.

      He rises, slowly, and steps away from the lifeless form. He turns his head to the south. To the deep, deep Iron Wastes. Where the rising girders are thick, and there are forests of the metal spikes and some still rise, driven upwards and driven onwards by some thinking steel, some animated machine.

      The deep realms of the Machine God. A deity that exists only in rumour to the living folk. Sean Halversen has read tomes on the unseen ruler of the Iron Wastes in the libraries of the order citadel.

      If such a thing exists, it is powerful, and it lives to the south. Sean looks to the Gasworks again. A quest. A quest to the south, and to battle.
      Of the squires that leave to make their pilgrimage to the Gasworks, few return unbroken if at all. Some are sent on foolish errands - child's play - while others are thrown about the world chasing lands or artifacts that may not exist outside the wisdom of the Gasworks golem.

      To bring down the Machine God? Impossible. Perhaps. Sean Halversen does not relish the challenge.

      He shakes himself. The heat of the high desert sun and the slow talk of the steel sentinel have made him slow, docile. There is a caravan, working its way towards him. Not close, but not far off, either.
      He wasn't concentrating.

      He lies down in the chalk, squinting. Two pack horses, maybe, pulling two or so heavy wagon-carts. Too far away to spy individuals. Maybe some on horseback following on. Can't tell.

      He looks back to where the Gasworks stands, mere feet away, and then to an outcrop of four girders which rise from the desert wastes perhaps twenty minutes walking away. They're thick and close enough to hide among, if he so chose.

      He looks back to the caravan making its way towards him. Coming from the west.

      Squints again. The caravan has stalled. Something is happening. Dots that might be horsemen wheel around it.

      He weighs his epee in his hand. Encounters on the sands. And a quest at hand.

      The Man in the Blue Suit, The Forest of the Sun God

      The lone figure pirouettes, fitting another bolt to his arbalest as he does so.

      Shouts below. A roar, the crashing of undergrowth.

      He spins the windlass with one hand and jabs the iron prow of the thing at the shapes below, which flail and spring about the jungle floor. Some of the shapes are human, and are running. The rest of the shapes are something else, and they are moving faster.

      He smiles absently as he squeezes the grip and the arbalest recoils, digging into his shoulder. The bolt spirals through the air without a whisper, shredding a five-pointed leaf as it spins.
      It passes cleanly through mottled leathery hide and lodges in the fleshy mess underneath.

      The raptor screams.

      From the treetop canopy, the Man in the Blue Suit reloads, his feet dancing about the branches as he does so.

      Life is good.

      Harry Barkle, The Northern Parts of the Iron Wastes

      Harry Barkle sat back, allowing himself to doze slightly in the desert sun. The chalky sands around him glared in the sunlight, stinging his eyes and making his head swirl and throb.

      He groans, hoping that his travelling companions can't see him now. What they need to see is a cheery smile and a hearty appetite for jokes and jibes...a fellow that is instantly likeable and instantly above suspicion.

      Travelling blacksmiths, on the long road towards the Dolmine coast. To sell their wares and serve the local lords for a time, if possible. If not, then to move on beyond there into the Porcelain Lands, where the Chattle folk are said to pay highly for good steel...

      Harry Barkle is not a blacksmith. He can, however, forge a neat enough coin if need be. With this and a cheery grin Harry Barkle ascended onto the humble travellers' caravan and soon became a welcome fixture, enjoying his share of the meals and of the water barrels when need be, and appearing to work hard when they came across a potential customer.

      They had not seen a potential customer in some time. They had not seen anyone in some time. The white desert rolled on, unbroken but for the random array of black girders that stabbed into the air, frozen in the deed.

      Four blacksmiths rolled with the two wagons. With them came four wives, thirteen children and two wiry mongrel hounds who chased the pack horses with shrill yips and yaps.
      Then there came the hired guard. Three savage-faced ruffians who lived in the hamlets that were dotted about the very edges of the Iron Wastes much further north. Men who said they could guide the caravan and protect it, if need be.

      No-one asked what from. There were bandits in the Iron Wastes, true, but it was not them that the people feared when they crossed the Iron Wastes.
      It was the thing to the south. The machine that moves the girders.

      Harry Barkle stirs. The wagon jumps, and he bounces, spilling out from his perch and landing sprawled on the sands. The horse whines and skirters, uneasy, skidding to a halt.

      One of the blacksmiths has shoved a head through the canvas of the wagon's front. He yells something.

      A twang and his head jerks back, and then drops limp. He slides slowly from the canvas interior and crashes onto the sand.

      Harry rolls onto his back. The three horsemen - their hired guard - are riding around the two wagons, shouting. One holds a crude, ugly bow and fires it unexpertly at Harry. It thuds into the wood of the wagon's wheel and shivers there. Then the archer is gone, riding around the other side.

      The other two yell. One is dragging a heavy-set man behind his horse - one of the blacksmith. A dispute, perhaps. Over pay? Over food, water? Over one of the blacksmith's wives? No time to find out.

      The other two blacksmiths have emerged. One hefts a longsword up and grunts as he lands on the sand. The other pokes a head from the canvas of the other wagon and points a crossbow out, a bolt notched in the waiting.

      The three ruffians wheel about them, shouting. Two hold heavy axes, the other his bow. Harry feels the knife tied up under his armpit and squirms.


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