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The Lion's Heart (Ch1.)

Lore, history and other content by the citizens of Underlight preserved for posterity.
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Mandus
The Chosen
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:50 am
Character Name(s): Mandus

The Lion's Heart (Ch1.)

Post by Mandus » Tue May 14, 2019 3:02 am

The night sky was clear save the rolling winds spinning sand over the silver moonlit dunes. Large wheel-trails marked the sand for miles, leading away from the tiny orange glowing spec on the horizon – the capital city of these lands known as Anxana. A small caravan, two men and two women, breathed heavily as each dragged a large metallic cart behind them, the wheels dragging in the sand. The canvases tied over each cart fluttered in the desert winds.

“How much further?” A male called out from the last cart to the front.

“Almost there.” A female voice replied, yelling over her shoulder.

They rounded two more hills and stopped for a moment, looking at the next, giant hill ahead. “There it is.” A male voice said, barely audible over the whipping wind. He pointed to the base of the giant dune. A few flickering orange lights pierced the sand. They approached with renewed vigor, and found the sunken entrance covered by a sand-soaked tarp. They dusted the hidden railway with their feet and each latched their carts to it. They hopped on their carts and rode them into the hidden sanctum in turn.

The carts slammed to a halt and each member of the caravan grabbed their carts, unlatched them, and hurridly moved them out the way for the next incoming member. The only sound in the underground sandstone halls was the scraping and bouncing of the wheels as they went over unlevel bricks.

The hallway opened up into a massive laboratory. Huge cylindrical tubes filled with sloshing red liquid lined the central platform, each adorned with an etched thorn-ringed infinity. Small hunched and twisted forms scuttled around from tube to tube, heaving buckets of liquid, grabbing metallic tools, and muttering harsh, short words to each other. The four caravaners looked around in cautious awe as they brought in the carts. The squealing wheels made the muttering little operators stop and deafen the room with their lopsided, ghastly stares.

“Uh, we’re here… for our pay?” the woman up front said in a nervous but loud tone, unsure whom she was addressing.

A voice rang out from the shadows on the far side of the room, “Bring them forward.” The voice was deep, commanding, and feminine. The operators shuffled aside and the caravaners brought the carts to a small, semi-circular table where eight people sat. Regally clothed in reds and golds, the members of the council looked over to the caravaners. “Do you have it?” the same woman said.

The man holding the second cart turned behind him and said, “Daxxos, get it?” He complied, reaching under the cart hood and pulling out a golden-encrusted canopic jar with the letters “GXA” embossed under the head of a lion. Daxxos stepped forward and placed the jar on the table in front of the woman, nodded, and stepped back after an awkward moment.

The woman ripped the lion’s head off the jar and reached in, pulling out a rotting, green heart with her bare hand. She held it to her nose and sniffed it, but instead of being repulsed by the fetid flesh, she smiled. “Ah… That’s his all right. How many guards?”

The first woman of the caravan stepped forward, “Nineteen soldiers, six priests, and four scholars.”

“And…”

“Yes, Commander Gerontia.” She nodded to the other caravaners and they ripped the canvas off the carts in tandem, revealing the bloody mess of ripped limbs and corpses piled upon the metal.

The regally-dressed woman snapped her fingers and a horde of the malformed workers swarmed the carts, grabbing the flesh with their long, thin hands. Despite their size, they managed to heave corpses three times their size over their shoulders and drag them back to a pile where they undressed the bodies and hurled the clothing into a wet, crimson-dripping pile.

Commander Gerontia’s voice rang out again, “You’ve done well. Your pay will arrive to your homes. You will leave this region immediately and speak not a word of what you’ve committed. I entrust you’ll enjoy your new lives well enough that this won’t be an issue?”

Daxxos stepped forward, dusting sand from his shoulder onto the floor, “I think stealing the heart of the greatest king this realm has ever known and killing this many guards is worth a bit more, don’t you?”

His only response was a ruffling of clothes from the shadows and the whistling of metal before his head left his body. The smug, negotiating look on his face remained as it slammed against the stone. Within moments, the operators grabbed his body, stripped it, and added it to the pile. Commander Gerontia whispered something under her breath to the council member next to her, whom nodded abruptly.

“And now his entire family is dead. Next negotiation?” The caravaners were silent. “Fantastic. Leave.”
User avatar
Mandus
The Chosen
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:50 am
Character Name(s): Mandus

Lion's Heart Chapter 2

Post by Mandus » Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:49 am

The scraping of metal against bone rang through the dimly lit room. Small, malformed operators moved their bony, ill-proportioned limbs in concert over the opened body in front off them. Various needlemarks and bits of twine sealed together limbs, fingers, knees, and dotted vertically along the arms and thighs where larger bones had been inserted and cast. Occassionaly, the operators would look up from their work, making brief contact with their asymmetrical, bulbous eyes with a brief nod and a sigh. Kox, the lead chirugeon on this operation, held open the ribs with his long, twisted fingers.

"H-here... N-n-now," he said, making fleeting eye contact with the assembled team. One of the members fell back into the shadows for a moment, her wispy, patchy hair shining in the soft green glow of the room. A moment passed, and the operator returned, holding a cleaned, but still obviously rotting heart with both of her hands. With the grace of a shaking leaf, she placed the heart in the cage of the subject's chest. A moment of unease wafted its way around the table, each of the members tensing quietly, some clenching their ill-fitted teeth together.

Kox nodded and let out a breath, easing the tension. He nodded to himself and took up a needle and thread. He sewed elongated tubes of flesh onto the heart. Another held a cannister of bubbling red liquid over the chest. Kox pulled an artery out of the subject with a bloody, twisted hand and pinched it to a small opening on the cannister. Another pair of knotted, gangly hands wrapped around the heart and began squeezing, imitating a pulse. The liquid drained from the canister. A gasp came from the subject, its open chest rising quickly and shaking the out of place ribs. The table reacted in kind, some jolting back, others' eyes widening.

"No! No no no! Sleep now. Sleep now!" Kox yelled as the subject looked around, his brown eyes darting fearfully in various directions. Kox quickly put a bloody hand over the subject's eyes and whispered a few arcane words through clenched teeth. The subject quickly went limp. Kox let out a sigh and nodded to the team, "Q-quickl-l-ly now. M-move bef-f-fore he wakes ag-g-gain." The team took a collective breath and went back to work.
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