I reached for the door and placed my hand on the door knob. What am I supposed to say? What am I supposed to do? I thought with my hand stuck to the black and shiny door knob as if my hand had been stuck to it. Jeremy, you need to do this. I thought to myself. I turned the doorknob, and opened the door wide enough to see my visitors. There were two people outside my home. My brother, and a woman that I didn’t recognize. She had patches of skin that were kept together with stitches, two pillow-like horns on the top of her head, and her hands were massive. Her hands must’ve been at least twice as wide than her head. The woman clutched Matthew’s right arm with her left.
There are laws in just about every human country that are anti-male. For example, there are laws that state when a woman accuses a man of a crime such as rape, the man will be punished for the crime even without evidence. I thank whatever deity out there that a bachelor’s tax doesn’t exist yet. This stuff is why I’ve just about given up on dating.
‘Magic’ turned out to be the appropriate term, as an encounter with a pack of Kobolds revealed that the Cargo you were transporting were highly potent magical focii, being borne to Thealiss, an ‘Outpost’ of the Hells in the Mortal planes, legally speaking.
Upon reaching Thealiss, you were led by an Incubus (To your initial FERVENT objection) to your mysterious ‘Buyer’, who turned out to be none other than The Lilim Telia, White Queen, Daughter of Maou, Light of the Evenstar, and other suitably intimidating titles befitting a being just shy of Godhood. Upon learning of your Resonant ability, Telia presented to you an offer, take your promised payment with her gratitude, or turn it into a far greater sum by fetching a mysterious object from a foreboding region of Thealiss known only as ‘The Gap.’
After much consideration, you agreed and set out, only to be confronted by a fragment of God-Before-Tyris, the Mamonocidal Goddess Ilias. Bulling past that ancient power more by sheer luck than any kind of planned skill, you found Her Immortal Guardian in the person of Bella, a Griffon who had been thoroughly brainwashed into Ilian worship by years of systematic abuse and psychological manipulation. Eventually, you managed to convince Bella to let you explore the ruins under her supervision.
The eons-old facility held many mysteries of the amazingly technologically advanced Antient World, most of it well beyond your ken. You did, however, manage to free a Gremlin named Emmy from within the object Telia had described to you, and recognising her as the true goal of your quest, you prepared to leave… That process rapidly expedited by the awakening of a Dis Anima, an amalgamation of undead energy left to ferment in the magically potent atmosphere for thousands of years.
Upon your eventual escape, you were surprised by the appearance of Raoul, Cally’s erstwhile guardian. The Master Resonant declared that a Matrix of Resonance had been sensed in the area, demanding to know what you and your new companions knew about it.
Upon revelation that the matrix had in fact been used as some kind of device for storing information Emmy termed a ‘Server’ and had not been disturbed by any of you, Raoul seemed to relax, before the Dis Anima broke from the facility and began to pursue you again. Raoul Ordered you all to flee as he faced the terrifying amalgam, destroying it, the Matrix, and the entire ruined facility in a cataclysmic explosion of unimaginable power.
Returning to Thealiss, you were greeted by the enthusiastic joy of your Companions, yet all was not to remain so blessedly peaceful. Using your Resonant ability to break up a fight between Morrigan and a Mana-Drunk Bella had the unexpected side-effect of revealing to Raoul your hidden abilities. In the resulting argument as to where his greater duty lay, Telia inadvertently revealed him as Lord Dumat, Left Hand of God, and Star of The Morning. The revelation of the Wrath of Tyris Personified sent you into a shrieking near-madness, and you were forced into convalescence, your loyal Kobold Blue remaining by your side as she nursed you back to health…
Successfully negotiating with Juni, the Tanuki Agent of the Underwriting firm Tenno and Goldstein, you have increased your transport capacity, and secured a job transporting coinage to the Mining city of Boulder, two weeks travel inland. You had secured the services of Chun-Hua, a taciturn, deadly Jinko mercenary to protect the precious payload, and had agreed to transport a mysterious passenger, revealed in a hot-tempered argument to be a Manticore, an endangered and oft-maligned species of Mamono.
The revelation of your Resonant ability to your new acquaintances was a touch rocky, Chun-Hua reacting with utter terror. Her own experiences with Resonants, known as ‘Sifu’ in the Aestenlands were much less than cordial, and it took the bonding experience of a hunt with Blue for her to gradually come to realize that you were not the same as those she had encountered. A short, ugly fight with a trio of raiders from the IMFC had served to bond you somewhat closer as well, and the remainder of the trip was blissfully dull.
Morrigan, the manticore, however, presented you with a new conundrum, as her ‘mate’ turned out to be a turncoat Paladin, who had abandoned his post with the Faith Militant to live as a simple Townsman, blessedly anonymous amongst the populace of Boulder. The question then was… what to do from here?
Groggy and uncomfortable, John awoke. This was a mistake, as the fierce glare of the fluorescent lights above him burned into his retinas, making him instinctively roll to his side and tightly shut his eyes. The after image remained, as did the dull pain, and in his half-awake daze he swore never to open them again.
Naturally, it was a promise he couldn’t keep. You can’t just lay around on the floor all day, especially when the floor in question is hard, cold – and as it dawned on John once he had become more wakeful – not his usual sleeping arrangement. Coming to the conclusion that he’d passed out in the kitchen after a night of drinking, he slowly opened his eyes once more, taking great care to shield them from the blinding light with his arm.
Squinting and still hazy with sleep, he sat up and assessed the room around him, slowly adjusting to the light. Both the walls and floor in this tiny room were grimy and worn, as if the place was abandoned long ago. That ruled out the kitchen then, this place was far too clean.
Still unsure of his whereabouts, he staggered to his feet, becoming increasingly aware that something was very wrong. Maybe it was the old television monitor and camera fixed to the wall, maybe it was the strange machine sitting and humming ominously in the centre of the room…
Or maybe it was that the only door to this windowless place was a closed steel shutter.
“HELLO!?” He called out, faintly hoping this was some sort of prank. He was new to his job and for all he knew this office could have some really advanced hazing traditions. “IS ANYONE THERE!?”
The ancient monitor burst into life. A pretty, yet emotionless pale face filled the screen. It stared impassively at John with red, slightly glowing eyes. It’s mouth opened mechanically and began to talk in a distorted growl:
“Hello, John. I want to play a game.”
“You!” she shouted angrily. “Do not think to soil me with your touch again Human!” she railed at him. But Arawn’s attention wasn’t on the outraged Dragon, instead it was still fixated on Jenny’s current actions.
She reached up and with a twist, removed the now useless cannon from her chest. Then she casually cast it aside. As he watched, Arawn noted that her chest-armor automatically began to cover the hole within seconds.
“As per my programming, any non-human threats will be exterminated, *bzzt*.” She intoned, then paused as if in thought.
“Please remain still while I commence your extermination, *bzzzt*.”