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An Elements story http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=62611.msg1239885#msg1239885
« on: August 02, 2016, 06:45:00 AM »
Recently ARTHANASIOS started up some more polls on what the actual world of Elements is like, which got me thinking. So I decided to write a short story set in such a world, but when I wrote it ended up more like the prologue to an actual novel. I have no idea if I will actually write more of it, but I probably will.
Any specific feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Also, please note, this is the first piece of non-school-related writing I have ever done. So I have no idea if it's good or not. Please tell me what you think.

Prologue

Date - 15th of Glome

Dear T.G.,
They rejected it again. I thought it would be wise not to overstay my welcome, so I've made my way to the outskirts of Aredrane. I strongly doubt that my room at the inn would still be open after the meeting with the representative from the guild. Word gets around this place faster than a diving wyrm.
I am now making my way to Dristol, a small town off the main road to Neno. Hopefully, they won't have heard of me there yet. The journey should take about eight days, so I bought another packet of meat crackers. I hate them, but at least they preserve well. Not much money left now, but I should be able to restock at Dristol.


The writer stopped for a moment to flick the sweat from his grimy dark hair. As he did so, he glanced at his possesions. A ragged backpack full of holes, a faded brown overcoat, a handful of dusty coins, a packet of crackers, some left over tea, and his life's work. He sighed and returned to the letter.


If all goes well, I should be in Neno by Medim. The device is still functioning, though one of the compartments on the quantum compository appears to be broken. The other eleven remain suitable for use.
Neno is the last hope for our proposal. I've heard they're more open-minded to new ideas over there. Hopefully they'll accept ours.
I'll write more when I arrive. It has been a pleasure working with you over this. If it's well recieved, you'll know before you hear from me again.
May the False Gods be with us.
- Marloc


« Last Edit: March 03, 2017, 10:13:11 AM by 1011686 »
How wonderful that we have met with a paradox.
Now we have some hope of making progress. -Niels Bohr

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Re: An Elements story http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=62611.msg1240107#msg1240107
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2016, 06:59:22 AM »
1

The sun was low in the sky, and most of the streets were deserted in the evening heat. Many of the schools had already finished for the day, their hallways empty like the streets around them. Their classrooms were more like ampitheaters, with rows of chairs in front of a speaker, easily seating hundreds of students at once. Many teachers took up work in other cities once they could afford it, for the schools were always dry, dusty, and smelling of sweat.

"All right, all right, settle down," boomed the teacher. His voice had acquired a slightly raspy quality after years of shouting, and this, combined with his condescending attitude, gave the impression of a wizened senior telling a story to his grandchildren.
His stature was tall and straight, his tidy shirt clothed in the grey coat that was teachers' wear. As he spoke, he kept his hands clasped behind his back, and never let his gaze linger on any one part of the room. Many a miscreant student had been happily misbehaving, only to be caught off guard by a steely gaze asking them to quote the Oracle Scriptures of 1403.

"It's been a long day and i'm certain you're all eager to to get out of your seats," he said, "So keep quiet just a little bit longer." He turned to a blackboard and wrote, in large capital letters, "WHAT WAS THE PRECURSOR TO ELEMENTALISM AND WHY DID IT FAIL?"
As the scratching of pencils started to fill the air, the teacher walked over to stand by the doorway. "You may leave once you answer the question, and don't forget to write your names!"

Over the next half-hour the classroom emptied, until only a few of the seats remained filled. One of the remaining students raised their hand.
"Sir, Mr Chessben sir!" the pupil wailed. The teacher sighed and walked over.
"Yes, Allen? What is it?" He looked over at the student's work. It was small, neat, and evenly-spaced. It also covered two whole pages. Why must there always be some, he thought, to whom everything is an essay?
"Well, uh, sir," stuttered Allen, "I was just wondering, um, since magic is, uh, is what liberated us to Elementalism, why, uh..."

"Yes? I don't have all day you know." Mr Chessben knew he sholdn't take his impatience out on Allen, who was nervous at the best of times, but he was looking forward to seeing the unveiling of the new exhibition at Glass Hall, and he'd get stuck in the crowd if he didn't leave within the next few minutes.

"...Um, why isn't magic taught, uh, at school, sir?" Allen looked at him timidly, and Mr Chessben felt a twinge of sympathy for the boy. Allen was bright, and meticulous, but unless he could overcome his crushing shyness, he'd never do anything great with his life. Talking skills were vital for the success of any individual, and Allen sorely lacked such skills.
"Well, because the class would only have a few pupils in it," said Mr Chessben, "You see, Allen, elemental magic is decided at birth. If you don't have the potential for it, you will never be able to use it. It's not something you can learn. In this whole school, there are perhaps two praedyrs who will become elementals. They will be apprenticed to others like them and gain control over their magic under such guidance. Everyone else will learn the basics, but nothing beyond that. There'd be no point."

As he explained, Allen furiously wrote a few more paragraphs on the other side of one of the pages. Mr Chessben looked around and saw most of the other students had finished their writing as well. They handed him their papers and ran off with a hurried parting. He placed the answers to one side on his desk, and was about to leave through the back when he noticed a pupil standing just by the entrance.
"You can go now, the lesson's finished" he said. She stared at him with strange look, then walked through the doorway without another word. Mr Chessben stared after her for a moment, then shook himself. He left the classroom and headed towards the exhibition.
How wonderful that we have met with a paradox.
Now we have some hope of making progress. -Niels Bohr

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Re: An Elements story http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=62611.msg1240111#msg1240111
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2016, 07:26:12 AM »
Enjoyable read. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
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Re: An Elements story http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=62611.msg1241013#msg1241013
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2016, 12:30:05 PM »
2

As he navigated his way through the streets and intersections of Neno, it occured to Mr Chessben that he didn't know the name of the student who had waited before leaving.Perhaps she was in one of the other classes, he thought as he strode through the entrance of Glass Hall.

The building was well named. 100 tonnes of crystal-glass imported from the major cities of Straspalyn, flattened into window-pane thickness and enchanted to remain sturdy under its own weight. As the sunlight sparkled through the glittering roof, Mr Chessben idly wondered how much money the council had spent on this place, and how much on the poor and homeless.
"Arthur, Arthur! Look at this! It's outrageous!" The voice belonged to a small man standing by the entrance to the middle wing of the hall. His short fair hair covered his head like a wig, and a pale green trench-coat billowed around his arms as he strode angrily in Mr Chessben's direction.
"It's defacing the very principles of elementalism! I won't stand for it!" He waved the offending pamphlet under Mr Chessben's nose."These derfs should know their place! We give them power, food, comfort, yet they always try something like this! Why, only earlier today, one of them asked me to cure some disease without even offering any payment!"

Arthur looked at the pamphlet. It was, in fact, the notice for the exhibit he had come to see. The device appaently enabled non-elementals to use magic, and as he had predicted, large crowds were building up in the east and west wings. This would be something to see.
"Next thing you know, they'll ask to be let on the council! I won't stand for it!"
"Calm down, Joque, stop shouting. This is a public place you know." And indeed, many bystanders had overheard the bellowing and were looking in their direction.
"They're mostly derfs," said Joque, "who cares what they think?"
"Look, it probably doesn't even work. Just wait until the demonstration before voicing your protests. And they're not all derfs." He pointed.

Joque gasped beside him as they beheld the newcomer heading from the northern entrance. His head was strangly flickering, as if the light couldn't decide where it was, and the air around him buzzed as if he wore a coat of electricity. He noticed Joque's staring and headed in their direction.
"The name's Syracuse. Its a pleasure, I'm sure." He extended a light-blue hand. Joque managed to pull himself together somewhat and grasped it in his own.
"Joque Pyznir, and this is my colleague, Arthur Chessben."
"You're First Order, i see," said Syracuse, glancing at the sigil on Joque's trenchcoat. He flushed, as he always did when someone mentioned his rank.
"Yes, well, we all have our place. It's not up to me." He paused before continuing. "But clearly, some derfs don't realise that! Have you heard, they made a machine that lets them use magic! What is the world coming to?"
"I don't know," said Syracuse in a slow voice, "They might finally be useful for once." He turned away and began to walk off. "Good day gentlemen. I hope we meet again soon." Joque stared at his back for a moment, then turned to Mr Chessben.
"Did you see his sigil? He was Third Order! With all that power, what was he doing here?" Mr Chessben didn't answer.

Several minutes passed as they waited for the middle wing to be unlocked. They could see through the glass, of course, but the exhibit itself was encircled by a scarlet curtain, and the inventor could be seen peeking in and out.
Mr Chessben blinked. For a moment, he thought he had seen a flicker of motion around the curtain. He moved to clean his glasses, and as he finished he heard a chime. The doors had unlocked.

As he fought to get a view of the curtain, Mr Chessben looked around for the inventor, but couldn't see him.Must be making last-minute adjustments, he thought. He finally made his way to the front, and waited for the show to begin.
And waited. Five minutes passed until someone walked up to the curtain and pulled it open, and revealed the exhibit.
Or rather, where the exhibit should have been. There was nothing but a small empty table, and on the ground, the inventor, a large smoking hole in his chest, his blood seeping into the curtain that matched it so well. The first screams began.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2016, 11:32:30 AM by 1011686 »
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Re: An Elements story http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=62611.msg1241086#msg1241086
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2016, 05:20:22 AM »
Great work, keep it going.
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Re: An Elements story http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=62611.msg1241746#msg1241746
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2016, 07:20:55 AM »
3

While the rest of the city went to sleep under the rising moon, the Bazaar stayed open and busy. Many visitors to the city liked to do their business at the odd hours of the night, so when the sun finally set, it only indicated the lighting of the lamps, nothing more.
Within the Bazaar itself could be found a great variety of stalls, businesses, booths and emporiums, selling all manners of things from leafy creatures that fed on sunlight to stoppered flasks filled with distilled anger. There were also a great number of seats and flowerbeds, scattered around a central fountain.

"Look out, mister!" A man standing by the fountain looked up and ducked just in time as a small orb whooshed past his head and smashed into the marble framework. He surveyed the devestation, then turned back around. A young boy was standing in front of him, looking worriedly at the fountain's destruction. The man opened his mouth, then closed it again. Having apparently decided something, he set off from the square, leaving the boy, who was trying to pry the orb out from the marble, behind him.

~

Mr Chessben stopped in front of his house and breathed a sigh of relief. It had been a long day. After the murder had been discovered, security had been called and everyone in the room had been held for questioning. He'd recounted what he had seen before the murder, including the flcker of movement, then left. There was nothing more he could do.
Yet it continued to weigh on his mind: the smoking hole, the shocked expression, the way the blood spread out from the body... Mr Chessben shuddered. The experience by the fountain hadn't helped matters.

As he walked up the front path, a voice rang out.
"Mr Chessben? Mr Chessben, is that you?" Mr Chessben squinted into the gloom. The voice sounded familiar, but he couldn't quite place it.
"Who's there?," he asked.
A young man stepped out from the darkness. He wore a short-sleeved shirt and was coated with sweat, despite the cool temperature. As he walked up, smiling, to Mr Chessben, a memory surfaced.
"Gracen? Praedyr Theodore Gracen?"
"Second order, I'll have you know," said Gracen, "After all, I was your best student."
"But...that was years ago! What are you doing here now?"
"Well, me and a friend, we were working on something, he said he'd show it here, so I rushed over to see how it went. Apparently his exhibition was today, did you see it by any chance, his name was Marloc...?" Gracen's voice slowed to a halt as he saw Mr Chessben's expression. "What's wrong?"
"You'd...you'd better come inside."

The lamp was dim, and it barely illuminated the scene in the room: two men, sitting on opposite sides of a table, cold cups of tea in their hands, and a letter in between them. One of them spoke.
"So, until the investigation is complete, we won't get to know anymore?"
"I'm afraid so."
They sat in silence a while longer.

"Is there any possibility of rebuilding the device?"
"No, I don't think so. Marloc was the one who knew how the machine actually worked and built it, I just provided the magical knowledge." Gracen sighed. "He was a once-in-a-century genius, without a doubt. I don't think anybody alive today could understand how it worked." He paused before continuing. "He could've changed the world, you know. It would've let derfs finally be equal to elementals, let them finally sit in the courts and councils that govern the world. How could someone just take that all away?"

Mr Chessben stood up to say something, but before he could speak a clock chimed in the kitchen. Gracen brought himself to his feet. "I should probably get going." He turned to leave. "I'll be staying at The Miracle. I was nice meeting you again, Mr Chessben."
"Please, call me Arthur. I'm no longer your teacher."
They parted, and as Gracen walked down the street, Mr Chessben felt that he wouldn't sleep well tonight. He stayed up long after, thinking about the murder, the device, and Gracen's words.
Eventually he went to bed.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2017, 10:29:37 AM by 1011686 »
How wonderful that we have met with a paradox.
Now we have some hope of making progress. -Niels Bohr

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Re: An Elements story http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=62611.msg1241835#msg1241835
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2016, 10:27:06 PM »
Very fun read. Following this :D
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Re: An Elements story http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=62611.msg1259825#msg1259825
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2017, 12:02:50 PM »
4

The next morning, as the city gates creaked open, Mr Chessben was already out the door and on his way to the school.
Murder mysteries were all very well and interesting, but he hadn't missed a day of work for five years, and he would need
time to prepare his lessons.
Besides, he'd had trouble sleeping.

On his way, Mr Chessben passed by one of the many government billboards that were scttered throughout the city. Alongside
the usual notices, warnings and announcements was a new poster, its colourful pictures covering a quarter of the available
space. "Join Today", it proclaimed, "For Glory And Wealth". Arthur payed it no heed. There was always some war or another
going on, and if it wasn't them fighting it, it was one of their constantly shifting allies. He would never get drafted
though, unless they were very desperate.

By the time he arrived at the building, a slight drizzle had started, and he was glad to get into his office and light the
fireplace. The rest of the school day passed as normal, although more than once he had found himself deep in thought,only
to be startled out of it by a student's query.
Eventually, the end bell rang. As the final pupil ran out of the doors, Mr Chessben wandered over to his desk and packed
up his things, then stepped outside. Walking over to the side of the road, he put both fingers to his lips and whistled,
loudly. After a short while, a man riding a bicycle came around a corner and rode up to him.
"Where to, good sir?" the cycler asked.
"The Miracle, thanks." said Mr Chessben as he climbed onto the bike's second seat. He normally didn't take the taxi, but
the inn was on the other side of the city, and he didn't feel like walking.

After paying the cycler, Mr Chessben stepped onto the curb and considered the building in front of him. The three-story inn rose up out of the surrounding structures like a monument, and its walls were painted a pearly shade of white. On the sign, beneath the name was a swirl of silver, which seemed to give off its own light. The place looked expensive, and Mr Chessben was surprised Theodore could afford it.

As he walked through entrance, the innkeeper glanced up and gave him an appraising look. He started to move towards her, but before he could say anything, she spoke.
"Rooms are twenty electrum a night, meals are five. If you want a bath you'll have to take your turn." She tapped a long list of names.
"Uh, I'm not here for a room." he said, caught off guard by the hotelier's assertive demeanor."I'm looking for Theodore Gracen. I believe he's staying here...?" As soon as he said the name, the hotelier's expression changed to a scowl, and he trailed off.
"One of his partners are you? Well, I won't be fooled twice. The police got him and they'll get you too, but it won't be on my property!" She began to reach under her desk, and Mr Chessben, feeling befuddled, scurried out the door before she could carry out the threat.
Why had she acted so vindictive? Had Gracen done something wrong? Fear began to bloom in his mind as he recalled her words, and he started to move swiftly in the direction of the nearby police station. He had only been there once before, when a student had been caught in act of shoplifting, and he had been asked to testify. He hoped Gracen wasn't being held there now.

He had been looking forward to spending the rest of the afternoon catching up with his former student, and seeing how he had faired with his tutorship. Gracen had always tried things and asked questions that were beyond the class's scope, and by the looks of things, he appeared to have done the same with magic as a whole.
Recalling the body though, Mr Chessben was beginning to wish he hadn't.

Eventually he arrived at the police station, and as he walked through the large brown double doors, a small bell tingled. Before he had waited very long, a short man with long brown hair entered from a hallway. In his hands was a mug of coffee.
"Hey there, how can i help you?" he said amiably.
"I'm looking for Theodore Gracen." said Mr Chessben, hoping the name would garner a better reaction this time.
"Oh, him? Were you involved too? Well, you'd better come along." The officer walked to the hallway and waited for Mr Chessben to follow him. Hesitantly, he did so.
"Name's George, by the way. And you are?"
"Ah, I am Arthur Chessben." he said, noticing with relief that they had walked past the stairs leading to the prison cells. Up ahead was a door with a sign above it titled "Ongoing Ivestigations".
As he stepped through the door, a wave of chatter hit his ears. Within all the bustle, he could see the familiar face of his friend, but before he could move, a shout caught his attention.
"George! What are you doing? Who is that? How many times do I have to tell you this isn't a place for civilians?" A wide man with a look of annoyance on his face was striding towards them, a report in his hands temporarily forgotten.
George saluted.
"Seargent Deren, I believe he can help with the Marloc case sir. He was involved with the device."
"Really? Thats great news!" The seargent turned to Mr Chessben. "Well?"
"Uh...well, you see, I am...a..." Mr Chessben wracked his brains. He had to come up with something, or he'd be thrown out.
Luckily, someone else answered instead.
"Arthur! Arthur, my good friend, thanks for coming, i was having trouble here without you." Gracen interposed himself and turned to the others."If its all the same with you, I'd like to talk with my colleague in private, I'll come over when i need you." With a nod from the police, Gracen took Mr Chessben by the shoulder and led him over to one of the desks.
"Thanks for that Gracen. They probably would have thrown me out," said Mr Chessben, "But where were you earlier?" He frowned. "The innkeeper said that the police had taken you..."
"Oh that." Gracen waved his hand indifferently. "Well, apparently the word got around that I'd worked with Marloc, and the police decided that rather than wait for me to go to them, they sought me out themselves. I should have gone yesterday, but i had things to do, letters to write. Naturally i agreed to come with them. To be honest, I wish the police back in my home had this much inititave."
Mr Chessben felt slightly nonplussed at this, but decided it didn't matter.
"Well, do you still need to stay? I imagine you've already done all you need to do." At this, Gracen's face fell.
"No, I haven't. You see, they've only given--
"Well, this certainly is a coincidence."
At the sudden interruption, Mr Chessben turned around and saw a tall, pale figure. The buzzing that had accompanied him last time was now a high-pitched hum, and had crept up on his ears so slowly he hadn't been aware of it.
"Arthur, Theodore, this is Syracuse." Deren stepped forward. "He is an offical from Straspalyn, and is here on matters of diplomacy."
"Indeed," said Syracuse, drawing out the second syllable. He seemed very calm, the only expression on his face a slight smile. Gracen seemed slightly annoyed at the sight of the newcomer, but turned and began speaking to the seargent.
"Seargent, did you consider what i said yet? This is really, very, important."
Deren sighed."I thought it over, and I'm not changing my mind, okay? We can't send the whole police department after a murderer and a thief, no matter how precious this device is. Two officers is the standard, and thats what you've got."
"This little 'device' could change the very world, for the better, you know! It isn't merely a plaything, it taps into the very fabric of magic itself to bring forth power and energy that could be put to anyone of a thousand uses!"
"Look, if you don't stop prattling on about this, I'm going to start tapping into the fabric of magic, and i have a very specific use in mind." While before, the seargent had been in a relaxed, casual-seeming stance, he had stepped forward and was now very close to Gracen. There was a glint of menace in his eyes, and his hands were raised. "This district has at least three crimes every day, and investigations always take a long time. Between constant patroling, and out-of-commision officers, and renegade half-bloods, and a dozens of other things, its amazing the level of security our citizens feel. I'm proud of my force, truly i am, but we are stretched thin as wire as it is and i will not sacrifice the safety of others for this machine which may not even work!"
As the outburst subsided, the silence in the room rose. Mr Chessben looked around. Almost everyone had stopped what they were doing and was looking at the group. Deren slowly leaned back, his hands down at his sides again. Gracen was staring at him, an unfathomable expression on his face.
"..Sorry about that. I, I just..." Deren trailed off, and shrugged. "Well, there is some other help you can have." He turned. Syracuse stiffened, the smile now gone from his face.
"Gentlemen, i do believe i can offer some assistance in this matter. Its not much to go on, but it should be a start." He crosed his arms. "I was there, outside the hall, when it happened. I heard footsteps, but there was no one there. The door opened as if by itself. I must say, I am sorry for not acting, for i merely stared for several moments before moving. But by then it was too late." He sighed. "I realise that in some way, the death of your friend is partly my fault, and will direct my energies into the the pursuit of whoever has run off with the device."
At this, the seargent started.
"Are you serious sir? You should not hold yourself acountable for this murder, tragic though it may be--"
Syracuse raised a hand. It glowed a slight blue.
"You may be a seargent, but you do not have authority over me, unless you wish to start something."
The seargent slowly lowered his head, the objection faultering on his lips.
"..Yes sir." He raised his head. "Well, i don't think we have anything left to discuss. You'll be notified of any breakthroughs we make." He directed this bit at Gracen."Good day to you." He turned around, and left.
"Well, I'll suppose i'll be seeing you gentlemen later as well. I would like to hear more about your friend and this machine, some other time. Goodbye." As he finished the sentemce, Syracuse's body slowly turned into a wispy cloud of crystals, and his form gradually dissipated into the surroundings. Mr Chessben paused for a long moment, then turned to Gracen.
"Well, I'm glad thats over."
They left the police station together.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2017, 12:52:58 PM by 1011686 »
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Re: An Elements story http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=62611.msg1263111#msg1263111
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2017, 08:16:31 AM »
5

As they slowly walked through the afternoon air, Mr Chessben waited for Gracen to say something. He hadn't spoken since the sergeant had blown up at him, but had dragged Mr Chessben by the arm down streets and around corners to a neighborhood that was unfamiliar to him. None of the buildings on either side looked the same, and many had a blocky feel to their construction, as if they had been dropped from the sky by a child. It was towards one of these rectangles that Gracen was leading them now.

"Gracen, where are we?" said Mr Chessben, finally tired of the silence. They had stopped by a large metal door, of the kind that opened up instead of sideways.
"Well," said Gracen, grunting as he pulled up the entrance, "I guess, I was going to show you this anyway, but i was pretty angry, so I wanted to show you the prototype."
"The prototype? Of what?"
"The Quantabulator, of course." And he wrenched opened the shed, allowing the sunlight to illuminate up the the thing inside. Mr Chessben slowly stepped through the  door and stared in amazement at the machine before him as Gracen continued talking.
"I actually used it to travel here, or at least partly. I rented out this place once i arrived, the inn didn't have anywhere to keep it, and the residents here are okay with this kind of thing."
Mr Chessben was barely listening as looked at contraption, slowly walking around its metallic bulk. It was roughly the shape of a large pipe, except for a cavity in the middle that had been smoothed into a flat surface. Along one side was a railing that had nailed into the metal. In the front end, he could see a plank of wood on a rod that disappeared into a series of gears along the bottom of the cylinder. In the back end, a small box made of what appeared to be glass was embedded into a cluster of axles, each with several pedals attached. Along the bottom, was four wheels.

"…Of course, only the cube does any actual quanta storing. The rest is just there to show
off its effect."
"…What is it?" said Mr Chessben as he tried to work out its function. "What does it do?"
"It goes fast." said Gracen, pride in his voice and a smile across his face.
"Fast?"
"Very fast. Marloc called it a 'Car'. I think it stands for something. Watch this." He placed his hand on the cube in the back, and it filled with a small amount of deep-blue liquid, that slowly flowed back and forth in the cube, despite being at rest.
“Right, anywhere you want to go? I can set this thing to release automatically.”
Mr Chessben returned a blank look.
“Well, I’ve got an idea.” Gracen’s voice was suddenly more serious. “I’ve thought about what Syracuse said, and I think the thief must have had a Cloak, if he could hear their footsteps. We should have a look around the Bazaar, see who bought what recently. Come on, get in.” He stepped into the opening, sat down and grasped the piece of wood. Mr Chessben slowly followed him, taking care to position himself against the rail.
“Gracen, I’m not sure your plan is a good one.”
“Mm?”
“We don’t have the authority to just demand information like that, and besides, the thief could have already had their own Cloak, or they could have been covering themselves using magic, or Syracuse could have misheard, or any one of a hundred other things. Can’t you just let the police handle it?”
Gracen, rather than give a reply, raised his hand in the direction of the cube. It glowed, then a large stream of water began to spray out and run along the pedals. Slowly, the wheels started to turn. As they crawled out onto the road, Gracen turned to Mr Chessben.
“This machine is important, Arthur. Just see what it can do.”
Mr Chessben opened his mouth to reply, but was jolted as they went over a bump. They were picking up speed.
He looked back at the cube. The stream had turned into a jet, and the pedals were a blur. The level of blue liquid had barely dipped. Out of the back end, a fine mist of vapour was being ejected.
Turning back to face Gracen, he saw a group of pedestrians hurrying out of the way of the oncoming vehicle. Normally, the only thing on the road was a few cyclers, but this metal juggernaut rumbling towards them at a high speed must have seemed like a legendary beast. Speeding past, he made out their startled and fearful expressions, and wished he could have been on the solid, steady, still ground with them. Every turn they took made Mr Chessben’s heart jump, and more than once his trembling grip was the only thing saving him from tumbling out of the Car at a speed that would surely splatter him across the sidewalk.

After what felt like an eternity, the emission of water finally began to slow, and the wheels grinded to a stop. Mr Chessben managed to let go of the railing, got out, and promptly fell over. Laying on the ground, a clockpost in view told him it had been less than ten minutes since they had left the shed, meaning he had traveled over twice as fast as he would have on a bike. Compared to the smooth movements of a cycler though, the trip had been like getting dragged over a field of gravel. During an earthquake.
Gracen hadn’t appeared to have suffered nearly as much, although Mr Chessben could see that his hands were shaking. Apart from the start, Gracen hadn’t so much as turned his head around, and an audible crack sounded as he stretched his fingers. He reached down, grasped Mr Chessben’s hand, and helped him to a sitting position.
“I suppose it still needs a bit of work.” said Gracen.
“A bit?” Gracen just smiled.
“Like a way to stop, that would be a good start. It’s a bit troublesome to have to keep going until you run out.”
Mr Chessben looked around. They were, indeed, already deep within the Bazaar. The area around them was abandoned, except for a few curious individuals peeking over tables and around corners. Turning back, he saw Gracen extracting the cube from its position and placing it in a pocket.
“Can’t work without this.” He said, seeing Mr Chessben’s look. “Right, let’s go.” He began to walk in the direction of the nearest store, but stopped when he noticed Mr Chessben wasn’t following.
“I still don’t think this is a good idea, Gracen.”
“Look, Arthur… I have to do something, ok?” Gracen’s voice cracked a bit. “You didn’t know Marloc, but i did. I’ve known— knew, him for four years. It wasn’t just a matter of business or work, we were friends, and i can’t stand the idea of just waiting around, it just wouldn’t feel right. You know how powerful his invention could be now, don’t you understand how important this is?” He sighed. “If you don’t want to do this, I understand. But I don’t know anyone else in this city, and i’d really like a friend.”
A long silence followed. Mr Chessben tilted his head, shifted his weight, looked at the sky and straightened his shoulders.
“…Okay.”
Gracen’s grin zipped back onto his face, and he grasped Mr Chessben’s hand and began tugging him along.
“Great! Now, let’s find that thief! He’s got the full machine, you know, and it can do a lot more than the prototype.”
“It might be a she, you know. Anyway, how long did it take you to build that thing? It’s incredible, if a little bumpy.”
“Oh, not too long, I think. Money was no problem, so once we had the cube, the rest came along in no time.”
Mr Chessben opened his mouth to query further, but a high-pitched, blowy sort of noise caught his ear. He was certain he’d heard it before, and wrinkled his forehead. Where had it been?…
Recollection dawned, and he shoved Gracen to the ground, following himself an instant later. In the same moment, he felt something brush through his hair, just missing his scalp. A loud THUD sounded as something hit the dirt near them, spraying them with dust and pebbles.
After a short pause, Gracen spoke.
“…What was that?”
Rather than replying, Mr Chessben stood up and looked around. The few people who had stayed were now nowhere to be seen, except for a familiar boy was running towards them from a nearby alley. Inspecting the ground, there was, as he had guessed, a shiny orb embedded into the turf. Reaching down, he picked it up and almost dropped it. It had a strange feel, like it was trying to slip out of his grip, and no matter how he wrapped his fingers around it, he couldn’t quite manage to keep it still.
“Well, hello again. Am I right in thinking this is yours?” said Mr Chessben to the boy who was now panting in front of him, hands on his knees.
“I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced. I’m Mr Chessben. You are?”
“Ed-Edmund Amicus, sir!” Answered the boy, who had just about managed to get his breath back. ”I’m really really sorry about almost hitting you, I really didn't meant to sir! And… I’m really sorry about last night too, uh, I’ll really try not to do it again.”
Mr Chessben gave Edmund a stern look.
“Do you know what this is, Edmund?” he said, holding up the globe.
“Yes Mr Chessben, it’s a Momentum Sphere.”
“Correct. Now, this object is used in many complex machines and factories, as it’s properties allow it to provide extremely efficient transferrals of energy and motion. It is also, with the right additions, used as a way of delivering objects long distances very quickly. And another use, of which i’d like you to take extra note of, is as a weapon of war. Now, what it ISN’T, is a toy. You could’ve seriously hurt or even killed someone, throwing it around like you were. Understand?”
“Ye-yes, sir.” At this point, Edmund was so downcast that even stormclouds probably would have brightened his face. Mr Chessben felt a bit of pity for the young boy, who probably wasn’t used to being berated.
“Where’d you get it anyway?”
“Uh, my dad gave it to me. He works at one of the big stores, said it was leftover and wouldn’t sell. You can have it if you want.”
“Oh, no, I would never need one of these. You can keep it, just promise me you won’t play with it.” Passing it over, he felt again it’s slipperiness, and guessed it hadn’t been up to safety standards. It was irresponsible to use something so defective, much less give it to a child, but as long as he didn’t play with it, Mr Chessben supposed it would be okay.
“Yes sir, thanks Mr Chessben!” Edmund put the orb in a pocket and turned to run, but a firm hand on his shoulder arrested his escape.
“You know, my friend is really being quite generous here, especially after you almost hit him twice. I’ve got an idea for how you could repay him, though.”
“How’s that, sir?” said Edmund, almost keeping the startle out of his voice.
“You said your father works in one of the Centers? Well, could you ask him if any Cloaks have been stolen or bought recently? They’re pretty rare, so it shouldn’t be hard to find out if it happened. Also, could you keep an ear out for any rumors of rare and powerful machines, or unusual uses of magic. Okay?”
“Uh, okaay, sure. Can i go now?”
“Yes, but in two days, I expect to see you here. Don’t forget!”
As the boy ran off, Gracen turned back to Mr Chessben.
“Hey, any help at all is better than none, and I’m sure he’s full of gratitude for getting the ball back. Best make use of it.”
“Its not a ball, that’s what i was trying to tell him, and anyway, do you really think he’ll show up?”
“Eh. If he doesn’t, we’re no worse off. Now then, shall we begin making our inquiries?”
Mr Chessben rolled his eyes.
“Let’s go.”
They began walking to the nearest stall.
How wonderful that we have met with a paradox.
Now we have some hope of making progress. -Niels Bohr

Brawl #6 Pyrocloaks

 

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