Sleep is the greatest gift afforded to the mortal race, it is a divine blessing that allows us to recharge our bodies and clear our minds from any built up stress suffered during the day. Christian Ddraig was unfortunately not enjoying this gift through no fault of his own, or maybe it was his fault for using a van as transportation.
He just wanted his friends to see much of the Avalonian country side. The serpent road went through many tourist style natural attractions like the Olnake waterfall and the ruins of the old fae city of Irongard.
His neck felt cramped from how uncomfortable the seat he was resting on was. It didn't allow him to sleep properly and then there were the nightmares, every time he fell into the realm of dreams he was mentally assaulted by the same vision over and over again without change.
He was always standing in frozen tundra that extended for miles without end. the area also looked like something been detonated in the area recently by how large and deep the crater that was a few feet away from him was.
Inside the crater appeared to be a piece of obsidian the size of a full grown man. Something about it though unsettled Chris to his bone, perhaps it was the swelling dark inky shade that was it's surface or perhaps it was the whispers emanating from it, they sound old and distance and Chris couldn't quite discern their word's.
But with each passing second the words became louder and faster and Chris just wanted to grab his ears and shut out the sound but his arms were no longer in his control.
He tried thrashing, he tried screaming some more and he tried to divert his eyes but that accomplished nothing as the reigns of his own body had been ripped away from him, making him an alien in his own flesh.
It was a terrifying experience, and then the earth under him rumbled and Chris felt a presence behind him like eyes digging into his back but not looking at him as strange as that sounds. At this point he was always yanked out of his dreams and back to his sore neck in the van and Mulengu's rather dangerous driving.
His eye's opened to the grey van that while moving slower than Chris could at his maximum was still moving too fast for anyone's comfort. He felt something heavy resting upon his shoulder, he turned to his left and saw it to be Pyrrha who like him had fallen asleep and she was using his left shoulder as a pillow.
"She looks a little bit cute " the moment those thoughts materialised in his head Chris cursed himself over it " Thank Deus i didn't say that out loud ".
In the front seat's Mulengu and Ursa were arguing about his driving and Thor sat next to Pyrrha. He looked at Chris with a pointed look like he was seeing something on Chris's face that Chris couldn't know.
"What?" He asked Thor who seemed taken aback as if he hadn't realized that Chris was awake and had caught him looking.
"Nothing... its just that you look... never mind" Thor dropped the conversation but Chris wouldn't let that happen. He wouldn't have Thor's mysterious nonsense, not with what happened last time.
"Hey, stop ly...".
" Watch it you road hazard!" Ursa shouted at Mulengu who narrowly avoided a Spriger upon the road. The large lizard hissed at the van that it neared in size as Mulengu swerved past in on the road.
" Oh, stop being so over dramatic Ursa, i have got this. So sit down and simply enjoy the wonderful ride" Mulengu didn't seem to bother much as he turned the car into such a sharp curve that Chris felt that the van would almost tip over .
"Over dramatic!" Ursa sounded outraged and she looked like she was breathing out steam " You not only came cross to running over that overgrown lizard but you almost tipped us over because you can't drive like a normal person!".
The two devolved into a shouting match that coupled with Chris newly developing headache from his nightmares and the pain in his neck was enticing him to join in and yell at them both to shut up but thankfully Thor stepped in.
"Enough!" Thor's voice always held this power that made the sky's tremble from thunder and made lighting streaks flash across the very clear skies.
"That's still some of the best sky magic i have seen " very few people had this level of skill and control.
Mulengu and Ursa managed to shut up though they shot quick glares at each other before Mulengu started driving normally enough to not send the car veering off the road or hit some poor unfortunate creature.
An awkward silence fell upon the van as they passed a large sign indicating that they were nearing their destination. Chris looked at Thor who looked at Ursa who looked at Mulengu who looked at the sleeping Pyrrha and cursed as the duty to start a conversation fell upon him.
"But Pyrrha was the last person i looked at" Mulengu complained.
"Come on, she's asleep" Chris wasn't going to let him worm his way out of that "Don't be a chicken and just do it".
"What's the matter Ddraig, loving the feeling of Pyrrha's head resting upon you're big manly shoulder" Mulengu taunted him with large grin and Chris could feel his face heat up while his stuttered.
"S...stop... Stop stalling... S...stalling... Already" Chris felt like throwing himself out of the van with how Thor and Ursa were looking at him.
"They don't genuinely think that i am enjoying having her rest on my shoulder, right? ".
" Fine!" Mulengu shouted back before he began to think as his eye's shifted from the left to the right, up and down in a way that made look like one of those slimy information brokers Chris had dealt with before.
Another grin grew on Mulengu's face as he asked " So Chris, tell me more about where we are?".
"Really you want to know about that?" Chris could think about better conversation pieces " I mean you can find out about it when we get there".
"Hey, you wanted a talk buddy so let's talk".
Chris sighed as he tried to remember the best of what he knew about these lands " fine, we are in the Iron lands or province. It gained it's name from the large iron deposits across the province. Infant Iron tear mine is the largest iron mine in Avalon and is the largest source of iron across the entire kingdom. We are going to little Geneva which was a city built for those earth refugees who preferred to be close than mix with the rest of Avalon. We are being stationed with the Iron fortress, that used to be my mother's old post. This way we can work and we can meet Ursa's parents".
Ursa had told them about her uncles invitation to their families festival after years of estrangement. It smelt fishy that everyone could agree on and if Ursa needed any help, they would be there.
" I keep telling them that this is a bad ideal" Ursa complained again showing her displeasure with this as she had done a thousand times before " They want something, i can feel it".
"Anything we should know about them. I mean if we should do this? " Mulengu asked before he cast a sneaky look at Chris and Thor " Any secrets people want to come out clean with, instead of them coming out of nowhere and blowing up in our faces?".
" None that i think of" Thor the most mysterious of them answered with a smile which irrigated everyone, he the pointed at little light pink book in Ursa's hands "Tell me Ursa, what's that?".
Chris felt like punching Thor, he had masterfully dodged a question by doing the one thing universally disliked in their company, giving Ursa the opportunity to rant about something.
" Well if you must ask Thor, i have been enjoying my time reading about the history of Avalon " Ursa looked positively delighted to share this news and Chris felt guilty for treating her opening her mouth with as much disdain as he did before.
" It is a truly fascinating thing, to think that over period of two thousand there have been two Royal reigns and then changes between Avalon and the old kingdom's is truly something else " Ursa said grinning from ear to ear and Chris was sure she stole the book from the Royal library by the little seal on it's cover.
" There are so many thing's that have gone down in you're people's history Chris... Though i am wondering but where exactly did you're grandparents come from ?".
The dreaded question that everyone asked his family every time " They were dimension walkers, those were common. They stumbled over our world back when it was being encroached by the Night and they brought with them the old magic or Coros as it's known now".
"So you don't know?" Ursa sounded disappointed.
"Trust me, i have tried to get a answer out of them" Chris had honest to Deus tried but to no avail " They just say that they came from a reality so far away that they couldn't find it again if they tried to go back ".
" I wish that i could properly learn their Coros magic, i know it's what makes us this" Ursa slumped into her seat " If i ask nice enough do you think that you're parents might teach it to me?".
" Coros can't be taught Ursa, trust me many have tried " Chris had tried to learn as had many grandwizards " My grandparents were best magic caster in Avalon's history. It took them centuries to create Coros back when they were dimension walking and hundreds more here on Avalon to perfect it into what it is. Its one of the most complex magical codes that we know of. The point is that it can be inherited or passed down, not learned, it's too complex for that... though i still want to know why they gave it Nimue".
The investigations into Nimue and the Lunar Nation after the return from the Nexus had yielded some very interesting information. Like the fact that Nimue, a Merlin and a Morgana had inherited Coros like his parents from his grandparents as a boon.
" Wasn't she a good guy back then. She helped in the Lich war and saved lot's of lives back then" Mulengu said trying to rationalise it" I mean it's not like they could see that she going to turn into a crazy person in future".
" Mulengu's right Chris. They couldn't have possibly known that " Ursa added before she returned to her book "There is so much in here, please tell me more Chris".
Chris sighed as Ursa pulled him out of another attempt at sleeping. His eye's felt heavy and he could feel some moisture on his shoulder that was either his sweat or Pyrrha's drool. Chris was praying to Deus that she was just breathing on his shoulder and that was just the sweat built up from her resting there.
" Yes" he answered as he yawned and rubbed his eyes with his free hand "This had better be worth waking me up like this".
"What makes a Sol creature born from the realm of light in compression to a Night terror born from the realm of darkness so different?".
" Same black and white mentally, creatures of Sol are goodish while Night terrors are downright evil bastards" He answered her though he felt tired a bit irritated from his neck and Pyrrha's possible drool that was now rolling off his shoulder.
"Are all creatures on Avalon part of these two groups" Ursa asked and Chris knew that he wasn't going to get any sleep.
"No, things like the Spriger, Gryphon's, Peguse, Ceffyl-Dwr, Chupacabras annoying little pests and many others. The creatures of Sol are very rarely seen on Avalon and creatures of shadow are mainly just invasive species that destroy everything, they aren't part of nature so they destroy it" he knew that there was more to the topic but this was the best he could manage.
"Ladies and Gentlemen this is your captain speaking. If you could look outside, you can see the wonderful seaside city of Little Geneva" Mulengu declared and Chris looked through the front window where the he could see the city of Geneva along the coast.
Little Geneva might not have been the architectural super marvel that was the capital, but it was still magnificent in it's own right. The city was resting by a slop of a mountain and stretching all the way to the coast line.
It was made of many gray brick buildings with either dull red or purple roof's. The docks of the city were filled with all manner of boats from fishing vessels, to large carrier's to that moved goods across the coast to personal private boats.
The sun over head was beating down hard enough that you could cook an egg just by cracking it open outside. The many people he could from afar were dressed in light clothing like shorts and simple shirts.
Further from the coast and a few miles into the blue waters was a large Fortress with a large iron wall around it, showing the source of it's legendary name. It was resting upon an island with only a long grey bridge connecting the Iron fortress and the city.
As they entered the city itself, Chris could see the flags from old nations of earth resting on the windows of the the houses. The houses themselves looked older than they should be thanks to the grape vines growing across the walls and the faded looking paint on them.
"How do you think they have taken it?" Ursa asked in a low almost meek voice though Chris wasn't sure exactly what she meant.
" To have their homes, lives and their planet torn from them. To have everything that they once thought about existence shattered in such a way that could leave them question just what their place in this world is" she had a haunted look in her eyes, Chris could see them from the side mirror and even Mulengu had noticed.
" Ursa, are you okay?" Mulengu asked her, the snark in his voice when they argued was gone.
"I am fine, it's just..." She stopped talking as her face became grimmer "...All these people, i very rarely think about them. About what they lost to the Darkness, about what kind of world they now find themselves in. And here i am, feeling joy about being here on Avalon while some poor soul would have been better off if it never happened... I just mean that i feel like an awful person".
"Your not" he said to her though he understood her feelings on the matter" A bad thing happened and we had no way of stopping or preparing for it. We can grieve for what we lost but we have to look forward. Like you once told me, we have to roll with the punches".
"That's was too deep coming from you" Ursa chuckled as she cleaned her eyes from the tears built up from her thought's.
"Hey, i have my moments" Chris, Mulengu and Thor joined in the laughter and Chris for a while managed to forget that Pyrrha was busy spreading saliva on his shoulder.
From the windows Chris watched the city alive and active under the midday sun, he watched as the the people who just a two years ago had existed upon a world were all of this was just fantasy went on with lives as if little had changed.
The sound of children playing along the streets or rushing towards the beach and docks gave a energetic voice to the City. The smell of cooked spicy fish from the outside barbeque gave the city it's succulent smell. Chris familiarized himself with every aspect of city using his eyes, ears and nose.
The bridge that led to the fortress island was heavily monitored and guarded. It took them nearly a hour to get through all of the six checkpoints, but finally they reached the tall iron gates of the fortress that toward so much over them that it's shadow almost reached the city.
Mulengu whistled, impressed by the hulking structure " Now that's a fortress, no one is breaking through this thing without some major fire power".
" That's kind of the point " Chris didn't even to bring in the magical wards that existed in walls like these "This thing is meant to be protect this area from any attack. Not even my strongest offensive Alpha-spell could scratch these walls".
" Was it always here?" Ursa asked "After all Sophias reshaping of Avalon has moved important locations from one point to another"
"The fortress always been a eastern coast based object. So yeah, it's stayed relatively the same after Sophia shuffled the world's deck " the moving of certain locations by the elder ancient one had left Avalon in a bit of panic when it first happened.
The inside of the fortress was just as breathtaking as it's great walls. It was an entire mini city in and of itself. Many buildings of every size, shape, colour and purpose. These buildings were made from brick and metal, unlike the completely iron walls that encircled them. He could see a landing strip with multiple large aircraft's upon it.
Their van rolled into the parking lot were Mulengu with the type of driving skills that he used. They finally existed the car and Chris had managed to awaken Pyrrha from her sleep though to his annoyance it did turn out that the elf drooled in her sleep over his shoulder and right down to his chest.
"If you didn't look so cute half awake, i would sock you right now " he thought as he used a napkin from the dashboard to rub away the saliva.
They retrieved their bag's from the car's boot and they began looking for the receptionist so that they could register themselves. Chris felt the self-consciousness that came from people focusing on him building up inside.
He could see them stopping and looking at him with confused and awed faces as if he was some kind of rear never before seen beast. He watched them whisperer to each other and pointing at him as if he was some sort of exhibit. He breathed deeper and he could feel his heart beating faster as well as his knuckles getting soaked in his own sweat.
The five minutes walk to the receptionist building felt more like a twenty minute walk and Chris hated every Deus forsaken moment of it. He could only take a proper breathe on the inside of the little receptions office.
To be more specific it wasn't too small, but it looked old and worn down as if no one had refurbished it in decades. This could have explained it's funky smell that reminded Chris of coffee that was wet and exposed to the hot sun for a long time. So all in all it did not smell good.
And the receptionist seemed to agree with him. She was a Fae in her early thirties at least physically from what Chris could tell. Her black hair was tied into a neat bun and a pair of glasses rested upon her face, she wore a silver and yellow armor.
Her facial expression gave away that the smell had gotten to her and most certainly put her in a foul mood. Chris knew how to tread on thin ice, after all his mother was Natalia Ddraig master of the thin ice.
"Greetings and salutations milady" he bowed hopping that his charm might worm his way into her better graces " I am Prince Christian Ddraig rank Aeris of the second class and leader of team Phantom. My unit has been stationed here and we hope to register our arrival for duty".
He reached into his pocket as he spoke and pulled forth a folded document written by the office of the knights core confirming his words. The lady took it and began to read it but her scowl still remained and Chris wondered why she just hadn't opened the window and relived herself of this putrid smell.
" Arumu second class Hathor Sycamore " She introduced herself, even her voice sounded annoyed. She reached for something under her table and she said "And before you ask Aeris Ddraig i am the second in command here under Imparetor Astrapios ".
" Imparetor Astrapios " Chris couldn't help but sigh as he knew that name. The Imparetor in question was a legend, everyone knew the Lightninger who singlehandedly defeated an army of mountain golem's and was one of the few people who would gain paladinhood if an opening existed.
When people heard of Imparetor Astrapios, they thought a wise veteran. But Chris only knew him as a strange fellow, even by his standards.
"That would be me, my young friend" a silky male voice answered him from behind and Chris turned to a man.
The man was human with a tanned skin complexion that indicated that he must have enjoyed his time in the Geneva sun a lot. He had curly black hair and a thick beard that had Chris not been attentive enough would have tricked him into thinking that the man was older than he truly should be.
His wore a brown suit with white gloves and with a wooden walking stick in his hands. The walking stick had red engravings etched into it. Upon his shoulder was a big bird with yellow, blue and red feathers.
Ursa tagged at his hand and she whispered "is that a Chalkydri?".
" Yes" he answered her as he easily recognized the birds that were small living suns.
"Imparetor Astrapios, it is a pleasure to meet you once again" Chris placed his fist on his chest in military greeting " allow me to introduce my team, this is Aeris Mulengu, Aeris Falcon, Aeris StormCloud and Aeris Ulster. We are the Phantom Cell reporting for duty sir".
" Very good" Imparetor Astrapios looked very pleased, in fact he even clapped in shear excitement " It is very wonderful to have some new recruits, isn't it Arumu Sycamore? ".
" Yes sir" Sycamore didn't seem to mean it with how sarcastic she sounded " Here are you're identification cards and the keys to you cabin. Remember daily inspection is a thing here prince, i don't a like dirty slobs, i make them rip out fields of grass with their bare hands. Understand?".
Sycamore might not look that intimidating under her armour that showed that she had more of a lean figure, but her eye's reminded Chris too much of his mother's cold eye's and their power to sup out whatever strength he thought he had.
" I understand, yes ma'am " Chris could feel him sweat building up once more.
"Oh now Hathor be kind to our new members" Imparetor M had a sly grin " You never know what exciting new mysteries our friends bring to us ".
Chris wasn't sure if he was correct, but he saw imperator Astrapios looking directly at Thor.
"Of course, thank sir i...we promise not to let you down sir" Chris once again placed his fist over his chest in respect.
"Of course, of course" Imparetor Astrapios clapped his hands joyously, this made him better than than scowling Sycamore in Chris's books " Now i suggest that you go to you're room and settle in".
"Yes sir" they all answered at once and Chris walked out of that office to the great fresh air of the rest of the fort with his eye's set for the future, after all, what could possibly go wrong.
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I am a 21 year old law school student at the National Institute of Public Administration. My dream is to one day publish my story phantom ddriag and hopefully get a show made from it.
I also have a youtube account that hundels web fiction content, here is the link https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCFz-mHywXBJnLF8uyofcLAw/videos