2119: Away from the City and imprisoned behind rings of mines, deprived of resources, settlements battle famine, natural disasters and despair. The companions of Ellen’s Tale and The Storyteller’s Tale have moved south to settle in Belacot and to open new trade routes. This land to the west and north of the City has been untouched by any form of law and order for over 50 years and soon our companions face new conflict and danger.
As they begin to liberate mined settlements they discover some of the survivors of the Great Wars live by violence, banding together to exist by means of terror and murder. Undermanned and lacking the resources of the City, Bix’s Comrade is almost overwhelmed. Disasters threaten the close knit comrades and relationships begin to founder under the stresses of war.
2165: Karina Morgan determined to discover what has happened to her friend and fellow archivist Maia continues tracing the story of the Sefuty Chronicles. With the assistance of Clemens Sands they begin to uncover the lost wars of 50 years previously.
~ Chapter One ~
I heard he had run out of luck. Well that happens, even to the best but somehow I never, none of us I think, thought it would happen to him; we thought him invincible. The malevolent devils this side of hell wanted a laugh I guess, life boring by the pits. Shouldn’t have happened, of course, he was retired out of the fighting, if you’re thinking of the mine clearing no one dies of those injuries anymore, we are all too careful. This could have happened because he had been away from the battlefields too long, even the kind of luck he had a comrade needs well-honed reflexes and trained muscles. Probably he’d lost his edge. Damned shame though, he was a good Feral and we’ll need everyone for this round of fighting. Can’t afford to lose the best like that. How are his comrades dealing with it? Stupid question, forget I asked.
I’m not sure how I can help really but if you can get up here in the next week I’ll be happy to try, in any way. Have to get back to the City after that. I’ll be your end of the trail later, next month, but you may not wish to conduct the interview around his comrades so soon after the event.
How is she managing the loss? Erin says she must be the worst affected but then Erin is all woman so maybe that is her world view as they say. Me, I think it will be comrades; they’ve been by his side for many years through so much together. We don’t show hurt, that’s not a Feral way; could be it’s not a soldier’s way but the hurt goes down deep into the guts of us.
I’m sorry if this letter is not so well written I don’t often have need of writing, apart from reports of course. There are a great deal of those these days as you can imagine with all the troop mobilisations and re-arming, organising rations and equipment. The City authorities are tail-spinning in overreactions; just as well we have the ordering of things out here. How are the settlers there at Belacot taking the news? They must feel very much in the thick of the chaos with the camping right there by their land.
Erin sends her best wishes and says if there is anything she can do to help at this time not to bother with niceties just shout and she’ll come. Reckons she doesn’t need an escort, will travel down the forest walk. I think she’d be safe enough, so I agree with her; just send word if you need help.
Karina Morgan’s Journal
I had picked this one piece of paper at random from the box that Clemens had indicated – read it and showed it to him.
‘Who ran out of luck? There’s nothing to show. Do you know who this Gair person is talking about?’ I was already regretting I had ever put forward this stupid idea. The overflowing box of papers on the tidy desk seemed to overwhelm, drain the life force from me.
‘Gair? He is or was a Feral Commander of some note. He is mentioned often in the Feral accounts of this time. Respected and honoured many times. As to whom he is talking about, well that is something maybe you can discover as you go through these papers.’
‘Other references in other papers, it is like a puzzle which you have to put together.’ He stared at me and frowned. ‘Would it better maybe if this task was given to someone else to undertake?’
Oh the temptation was there, who was I trying to fool? I was no Archivist but it seemed the only way to find out what had happened to Maia. To maybe unearthing what it was that had led her to stray away from the safe paths and vanish. I shook my head at my new boss. Picked up the box, with some difficulty, bade him a civil enough goodbye and slowly made my way back to my room.
Staring later at the still unpacked box I felt despondent and very tired.
I’m not sure I’ve made the right decision saying I wanted to finish Maia’s work. For a start I can’t stand that Clemens they’ve put in charge of me, he’s taken over Ris’ position; so smugly self-satisfied and pompous. Urgh, he and I will clash I’m sure. It’s obvious he doesn’t approve of the powers-that-be allowing me to sully his precious Archives. I wanted to throw the papers at him he irritated me so much.
When I was summoned to his office this morning to be presented with this large box of assorted papers and a couple of notebooks all I could do was stare at them then at Clemens. What, I asked, were these and what was I supposed to do with them? He smiled, oh so politely, informing me these were copies of all the papers that the Archives possessed that were relevant to Ellen and her companions. Most Maia had researched for her work but some were newer, sent up from Belacot for safe-keeping. They were for my task. My task! It’s obvious he thinks I will fail. I’ll show him. Dreadful man.
I had to go back to that man, ask what I had to do to make any sense of the pile of papers he had handed me. How could I possibly turn these scraps into a chronicle for all that’s good?
He was silent for so long I thought he was ignoring me. That irritated me and I began to tell him not to be so rude when he asked if I was serious about undertaking the work. Did I realise what was involved? Really! I told him I wouldn’t have asked for his help if I wasn’t serious. I hope I implied he was the last person I would have wished to ask for assistance however, as they say in the Hallowed Hall, needs must. Not diplomatic I grant but I was in despair not knowing how to even start. His eyebrows went clear to his hairline at the tone of my words but he never changed his demeanour. Cold.
He started to explain about sorting, taking notes, referencing, cross-referencing and collating. My head buzzed with it all. With a small tsk tsk he began to write notes for me, written in the neatest handwriting I ever did see. He is a very neat man I admit. Everything about him is so stationary, as if painted on him. From his body movements and facial expressions to his clothes. Never moving from rightful place. I also acknowledge his notes make sense and now I see the path ahead. I’m beginning to suspect this Archival business is a tedious, boring path. I vowed to the missing Maia I would do this and I don’t renege on my vows.
I’m sitting here wondering how much of my life this will take; already, after a few days, I am missing my craft. Then I remember Clemens’ eyebrows and I laugh. He has a beautiful head, I wonder if I could reproduce it. Would it be possible to portray such a still life form, his character and neatness? My art is usually wilder. Clemens is so contained; I have visions of the completed work enclosed within a box. The thought pleases me.