Archive for July, 2009

Vacation (Part Three)

Aeryliss was crouched at a small rock formation on the outskirts of Netherstone, hacking away at a small Khorium vein when she heard it. The earth beneath her trembled slightly, and her ears twitched as the booming footsteps from behind her grew closer. She grinned.

It had been less than half an hour since she’d swindled her employer out of that extra mana injection. Her senses were sharp. Her legs felt lithe and unbreakable. Her fingers tingled restlessly, begging to release a torrent of arcane energy or a mass of deadly flames.

She rose to her feet and spun around with unnatural agility to face the the colossal Farahlon Breaker. The giante towered nearly two stories above her, the violet crystal spikes protruding from its surface adding to its formidable appearance. She’d encountered something similar in her work for the Kirin Tor and was well aware of their brute strength and durability.

The beast didn’t scare her one bit.

As the Breaker swung its giant fist down, she dove to the right, landing with a somersault as the rock shattered and sent bits of stone flying every which way. Between the adrenaline and the synthetic magic flowing through her, she didn’t even notice as one of them shot right by her, slashing through her right shoulder. As the the colossus rose back up, she took advantage of its sluggishness, thrusting her hands out in front of her.

She had no idea what she’d just shot at the giant, but it certainly wasn’t the arcane missile she’d intended. It was off-colored and much, much bigger than anything she’d ever conjured up before. She flew back from the force, slamming against the face of a small cliff. As the mutant bullet collided with the towering rock giant, it burst in a flash of blinding light. It took her a second to realize that the stinging sensation on her face was from the wave of purple sand flying out from where the Breaker used to stand.

Aeryliss trembled for a moment, staring at pile of dust a few yards in front of her in a daze before crawling over to and throwing herself over a small shelf protruding from the face of the cliff. She clutched her stomach with her left hand, swung her blood-soaked right arm over the edge, and began to heave.

With nothing in her stomach to expel, Aeryliss continued to dry-heave until she could barely breathe. Her head was heavy. Her eyelids drooped. Whatever she’d just done had drained every bit of energy she had. The sudden lack of mana had her practically paralyzed. When the heaving stopped and the ringing in her ears subsided a bit she dropped her head, rolling to face the rocky cliff surface. In the sudden silence, she could hear her heart beating unnaturally fast despite the fact that the blood flowing through it felt like mud. Her injured arm hung limply across, and she noticed her skin had taken on a bit of a greyish tint. But before she could dwell on the thought, her eyelids became too heavy. The heat from the Nether and the volatile magic that permeated the region felt heavy as well, as though it draped over her like a blanket.

Aeryliss’s eyes rolled to the back of her head as she lay there, curled pathetically across the jagged rock and allowed her consciousness to slip away.


Vacation (Part 2)




The steady sound of metal on stone had become about as familiar to Aeryliss in the past few days as the feeling of parchment between her fingertips once was when she’d spend days at a time with her face buried in arcane tomes. She felt a certain sense of release every time the steel pick would break through the solid earth with a loud CRACK, yielding bits of raw ore and the occasional precious gem.

She let out a heavy sigh as the last few pieces of Khorium tumbled down the rock, landing at her feet with a rattling sound. She looked up at the sky – the Twisting Nether soared above the broken planet for what seemed like eternity. Looking at it made her head spin. Has it been six hours already? She lifted herself to her feet and wobbled for a moment. Gritting her teeth and leaning against the rock formation for support, she stole another quick glance at the sky.

Only three? How odd. The day before it had been six. Come to think of it, it had taken nearly all day before that. She wondered for a moment if the Consortium was ripping her off – diluting it so she’d have to come back more often. No, no. That didn’t make any sense. She wasn’t actually paying for it, just working. Besides, she’d be able to tell if the solution was any weaker.

A small part of her thought she should be worried by the fact that she was becoming dependent, but to be honest, she didn’t feel much at all. Except maybe a little annoyed.

Aeryliss bent down to pile the last of the ore in to her bag. As she swung the bag over her shoulder, the weight nearly sent her face-first in to the ground. Strange… it never felt that heavy before, and she didn’t have nearly as much this time.

Her stomach turned as she straightened herself out and looked back toward the Stormspire. The distance had seemed much smaller three hours ago, when she’d decided to go without her wind rider. She vaguely recalled the feeling. The mana injectors hit instantly, filling her with an incredible energy and a strange sense of invulnerability. It was as though she had pure electricity running through her veins rather than blood.

But now, the electricity was gone. As she began the walk back, she was very much aware of the unnatural Netherstorm heat on the back of her neck and the way it seemed to intensify the haviness of her head and the churning in her stomach. When she finally arrived and stepped off the lift, she dropped her bag and headed straight for the engineer she’d been working for.

“Back so soon?” He eyed her curiously.

She nodded. “And with about forty power cores worth of Khorium.”

“Impressive,” the Etheral shook his head and chuckled, “I don’t know how you do it, kid.” He gathered up the bag and piled it next to his other materials and engineering gadgets.

Aeryliss looked up at him wearilly. “Those injectors certainly help,” she replied suggestively.

He blinked. “You just had one a few hours ago. Look, since you’re back so early, why don’t you get some rest? You haven’t slept since the night you got here. There’s bread in the back, too. Haven’t eaten much, either.”

Aeryliss frowned. She didn’t want to rest. Too much room for her mind to wander. And the thought of eating made her feel even sicker. She grinned at the engineer and raised her eyebrow slyly. “Bet I can get you forty more.”

Just as she’d suspected, he couldn’t say no to extra profit. He tossed her another injector. She swirled it in front of her face for a moment, watching as it sloshed around inside, almost appearing to be several colors at once – kind of like the way oil is, depending on what angle the light is hitting it at. She popped off the protective covering and expertly plunged the device in to her neck. She didn’t even flinch this time. She just closed her eyes and smiled, allowing that sweet electricity to flow through her once again.

And with that, she headed back toward the lift.

I think I’ll walk this time. It’s not that far.


July 2009
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