Chrysanthemum stepped lightly through the Datascape. The data below her feet billowed and splashed like water, and then slowed down to hang suspended in mid-air, until it dissipated back into the aetheric data of the Scape. Each footstep created this effect.
Kasu didn’t walk. She floated, moving a few feet above the pathway. She moved, wraith-like, leaning her body. “Shouldn’t be too far now,” her voice resounded. The data bobbed and moved along with her voice, like visualizations of sound waves, blossoming in technicolor scintilla. “I made sure my pathway to his Datagrove isn’t too long.”
Chrys followed along silently. As she walked, the liquids dissipated back into data; her footfalls blessing the ground with her consciousness. She realized that the pathway she walked on was but one of many, crisscrossing like an intricate loom of webs superimposed onto one another, endlessly crisscrossing above the desert of data.
Kasu turned and walked down a path that led them underneath another, and she followed.
She would be there, soon. She knew that much.
Rexza was surprised when Oberen launched himself at her. She didn’t think anybody would be stupid enough to get in her way.
She grunted, and quietly flickered, paws extending in the unbeatable martial art. She was surprised to conclude too that the man she was fighting seemed to be a Magicker, what with the weapon summoning and all that.
He flung himself at her with such a speed that surprised even her, but her jab was unstayed.
Oberen grunted as he lunged forward and the hulking mass of a Knight Vigilant casually lifted a paw. She didn’t even see him as a threat.
He frowned. He’ll make sure to change that preconception.
His straight, rapier sword flashed, and her jab met. The jab was too short, and Oberen wove down, twisted his rapier, and stabbed up. Thick hide met his blade. The belgar yelped in surprise as the rapier dug into her underarm. With a grunt, she seized the blade, wrapped a forearm about it, then kicked Oberen away. Oberen dodged the kick by jumping backwards and dematerializing the blade. He landed on his feet, and then summoned his rapier once again.
Blood dripped from it.
Shit. Rexza was surprised. She stepped back and turned, dashing into the hallway. Oberen raised a rapier and waited.
Surprising, Rexza said, her voice all too calm. This should prove interesting.
Oberen wondered if he should chase after her. He took another step back, and he felt Chrysanthemum’s limp body behind him. He cursed. He knew who she was after. Of course it was the Siddivata.
That meant he had to take the belgar out of her vicinity, to assure her safety. He sighed, looked out into the hallway, and peeked out.
He saw the belgar leaning against a window at the end of the hallway, blood seeping down and drenching her lune-iron armor in crimson. He peered out, took a step, and then breathed. He called down the Field of Force. “Transmute…” he said, for that was the highest Technique he knew for that Field. He performed a quick hand gesture, drawing a geometric shape in the air, before stepping forward and calling — “Transmute, Matter into Energies!”
He targeted down the air all about him, transmuting it into a burst of speed, force pushing him forward. In the next step, he reappeared in front of the belgar, but she had already opened the window and jumped out as Oberen’s rapier crunched into the wood of the wall underneath the window.
He cursed, dematerialized the rapier, and then materialized it again. He jumped out of the window…
And Rexza was there, a flurry of whirling fists, sending him back and forcing him into the defensive. She was fast, too fast for Oberen, and three paws met with his chest, sending him sprawling backward and against the railing of the steel staircase complex on the side of the building.
Oberen cursed. He had to do this quick, or else Chrys would be gone. He wouldn’t want that.
He liked Chrys. She was endearing, and… pretty.
Those were always worth fighting for.
Of course, he also had to survive. Sygmun was waiting for him back home too, of course.
Getting a bit desperate, Oberen gripped his rapier and lunged forward, summarizing all his protective and killing intent into a piercing strike.
Rexza frowned and stepped back, her paws quickly flurrying into the defensive. Oberen’s lunge speared through, and Rexza sprang like a trap, her paws twisting about the rapier, she then crouched down, pulled the rapier toward her and subsequently pulling Oberen along. She snapped her closed fist with the whipping movement of the Seven-Headed Dragon’s tail.
The fist crunched against Oberen’s chest, and Rexza continued the assault. Oberen flew backwards, bounced against the railing, and Rexza twisted, pouring her energy into her right paw turned into a fist. White and black strokes of power, resembling the strokes of a paint brush, swirled about that fist. She brought that fulminating mace of power upon Oberen as he bounced back towards her, shouting, “Draconic Fury Assault!”
Oberen’s eyes widened, and he swore he could’ve seen Chrysanthemum, lying unconscious and dead before her eyes. He cursed.
Rexza’s fist connected. Brush strokes of power warping reality itself exploded out of Oberen’s chest. The hammer force sent him flying through the railings, the rusted steel of it shattering as Oberen’s own bones cracked as well.
He was dead before he hit the ground, a gaping hole in his chest, as if it had been melted open.
Rexza sighed, watching the dead Magicker. She turned and slipped inside.
Chrysanthemum followed Kasu down the path, which swirled down like a slinky. The web of information criss-crossed in a confusing kaleidescope and Chrysanthemum lost all track of direction. Space suddenly became an illusion in this world of pure information and data and colors and timelessness and illusions and…
“Chrys,” Kasu’s voiced boomed through reality, and Chrys came to, her trance shattering. They stood in front of a large… castle? It was made of bricks each of a different color, and it was shaped like a castle, but there was no entrance. No doors, no openings that could act like windows.
It was a lone, data castle in the middle of the web of all things.
Kasu floated forward, pressed a few of the bricks in a sequence, as if a password, and the walls crumbled down. Kasu floated through, into the data castle’s courtyard. Chrys followed suit, her footfalls still making informational splashes.
Soon enough, they were both in the middle of a deserted courtyard, the lone ornament being the fountain made of hazy, gray blue data. Kasu walked toward it, examined it, and then nodded. “I remember now.”
She turned and walked into the throne room. Chrys opened her mouth to protest, and raised a finger, but shrugged and followed. She took deliberate, carefully placed steps, as if afraid to anger the castle itself.
The throne room was completely empty. Chrys’ memories told her of long throne room’s decorated with gold and platinum and aurichalcum. The throne rooms of her memories resembled more of hallways, stretching twenty feet long, with a red carpet embellished with woven diamonds and glass on the sides. Pillars and columns of Thrapodian architecture, the great accomplishments of the zaretrych race.
This had none of that. All it consisted of was a throne, lone and cold and filled with webs, in the middle of the room, and doors on both sides.
Kasu was unfazed by this. She leaned forward and floated toward the library to the left, or the right-hand side of the throne. Chrys followed. The doors opened automatically, revealing a huge library that has to be five floors high, with stacks upon stacks of books, shelves filled to the brim, looking like the books want to get out of it because they hated being sandwiched with the others. The digital dust had settled upon them, causing them to glitch and haze.
Kasu walked up to the tenth stack to the right. Chrys followed. When she caught up to Kasu, she had already pulled out a book. Actually, no, it would be more right to call it a piece of folded paper.
“What is it?” asked Chrys, “Is it the contract?”
Kasu nodded. “Sure enough.” She folded it open, and she handed it to Chrys.
Chrys furrowed her eyebrows, reached for it, then pulled her hand back. Kasu shook the contract, urging her to get it.
Chrys sighed. “What will happen?”
Inhaling, the Siddivata took her contract and read it.
“THIS CONTRACT HOLDS SWAY. FOLLOW THE CLAUSES, OR BE PUNISHED BY FATE.
THIS IS THE CONTRACT OF THE DWARF COURT TO THE MATERIAL OF EARTH.
GEMS, SOIL, ROCKS ARE SUBJECT TO THIS CONTRACT.
EARTH SHALL BE OUR FAMILY FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES. BREAK THIS CONTRACT, AND EARTH SHALL BE DESTROYED AND BANISHED FROM AVALON, REVOKING THEIR HIGH DUKE STATUS.
ALL OF THE DWARF COURT ARE SUBJECT TO THIS PRIVILEGE.”
It was finished off by a signage at the bottom, written in soil glittering with fine jewels, “All the Anima of the Earth.”
Below that, was signed, “He Who Lives To Uphold and Destroy, King of the Court of Dwarf.”
“Well?” Kasu leaned forward, trying to peek into it.
Chrys stood, blinking, and then she closed her eyes. As she did, she folded the contract and gave it back to Kasu. “M-my head hurts.”
Kasu tsked. “Let’s go back.”
Chrys opened her eyes, and her irises glowed an emerald sheen. “Yes.”
Chrys’ eyes flew open in the real world, and Kasu began disconnecting her from her rig. Chrys’ leaned forward and looked about her, her eyes still glowing a terrifying green. “Wh-where’s Oberen?”
The Siddivata saw a huge, hulking shadow come into view from the frame. Soon enough, the shadow broke away, revealing itself to be a large belgar wearing lune-iron.
Rexza inhaled, and all the world seemed to inhale with her. “Dead.”