Week 223: The Fracture: Amber Forest II

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The Fracture: Amber Forest II
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Thin wisps of smoke trailed off from the remnants of incense Vita lit to meditate while Albinon rested. Hours had passed since the machine replaced the avian's bandages and filled his belly in hopes that when the professor woke his mind would be slightly more pliable than when Vita first met him the day before. While his charge rested the metal man had plenty of time to look around the encampment and investigate things that were itching at his mind. Three months, three months was the amount of time the man came to conclude had passed since professor Albinon and his team entered the Amber Forest to conduct their research. The cave was barren of others from what he could tell and the things left behind by the other researchers had not been touched. However, upon closer inspection personal belongings such as logs, trinkets, and research material were all missing. This was just one thing on a long list of peculiarities the Artificer took note of.

The Professor let out a restful yawn th sound of which marked the end of Vita’s meditation and the start of his inquiry. The metal man opened his eye and for a brief moment was startled by the image of the captured fae leering at him. For a brief moment, his head felt foggy but was quickly dismissed once he stood to take address the teal bird-man. Poised with his arms folded behind his back the mechanical arcanist towered over the prone professor.

“I take it you slept well. Professor Albinon?” A statement more than a question but the thin bit of concern for his subjects health managed to come across his cold tone.

Albinon rose and reached his arms to the sky in a deep stretch that seemed to shake off the previous day's troubles. Renewed vigor flowed through his body as he took account of the freshly healed wounds that had riddled his hands, legs, and feet. He was not new to healing magic but new that it was rare to find a practitioner in it. A sad thought for him in the future that the world would be one less.

“I did, yes, thank you. It must be due to your masterful healing magic that I was able to become so well rested. There is much for us to discuss but my brain is working in overdrive now that it is clear from the fog of fatigue.” Before Vita could even begin to explain that it was not magic but science that had healed his wounds Albinon was already bouncing between supply caches gathering different measurement devices and arcanist supplies in preparation for experiments he had planned for that day.

The Demvir’s eyes darted from corner to corner of the cave as he observed the deliberate movements of the Enlil. While his aura was tempered with a new found vigor it was clear that what took over was still his obsession for his research. Although, Vita did not find this unusual just bothersome for he worked in a very methodical way with a detailed plan, not knowing combined with the lack of control caused his anger to rise usually.

“Professor, it was my hope we might spend the morning going over the last concept we had discussed in our post. The one about “ley-lines” in Araevis where the veil between planes is at its thinnest where theoretically it could allow for planar travel or at the very least bi-directionally looped communication.” Vita was easily dismissed with the wave of a hand. For Albinon, whatever he had been working on was clearly of greater importance than any trans-planar concept he had previously written about.

“No. You don’t understand the small window we have today. This must take priority! Here, you take these things and do your own assessment of the forest and the creatures I spoke of. I have an urgent matter that must be taken care of today! Later. Much later we can talk.” His pitch elevated the longer he spoke and the speed in which he spoke increased with every word.

The Demvir was extremely confused. However, he would take the back seat to the Professor on this matter and lend his time to evaluating the forest first hand so that later he might expand upon their discussion. Frustrated with the way things had progressed he followed the bio out of the cave. He noticed the same off arcane matrix on the wall as before written in a language he did not know and made with what seemed to look like blood that had dried. After a brief explanation of where he would be, Albinon said he should be back by sunset before the moon is full. From what Vita remembered in the research notes the full moon was a very important night to this creature which could be why the professor was so eager about his timeline. Still, something felt off to the robot.

Vita shook off any lingering emotions he had about what was going on and redirected his focus to evaluating the creatures in the forest. The level of mana that poured out from even the simplest plant in this area was staggering compared to its normal counterpart. Several florae and fauna Vita did not recognize littered the forest floor. He did not know whether they were unique to this area or not of this world. Planar energy permitted through the canopy like a sweet perfume which brought more questions to the researcher than answers. He took several samples of herbs he found as he wondered the maze of trees.

The silence in the woods unsettled his gears. He had searched high and low and not once had he seen anything other than plant life. Odd for a forest that should support a robust ecosystem. The small organisms he did find, insects and small mammals no larger than a fist were petrified. Encased in amber and immortalized for all eternity. Vita speculated that the Phantasmal Fairy might have evolved this mechanism to protect it from the effects of the forest or whatever was causing the life in it to petrify.

The warmth of the land was tangible to the Demvir who’s mind's eye was open. He came upon a clearing in the forest where the trees circled and there was a break in the dense canopy above. This was a perfect place to sit and take in the energies of the forest and focus on analyzing what magics were at work here. He placed himself at the center and took a typical meditation pose, legs crossed, hands clasped together, and eyes closed.

Faint orbs of purple energy coalesced around him. Some passed through his being and others simply fluttered around him. More so a group of energies than any one singular. Notably, black tears were scattered through the forest where the physical bodies of the fae creature sat. Vita could feel the planar energy pouring out from them almost like a gateway. Gears hissed in his face as mechanical eyebrow raised. It was truly amazing the world he could see with his arcane eye but what he was not used to was the amount of time that passed when he slipped into these deep trances. He would lose himself in thought and discovery of this second world he could traverse with his mind alone.

The Demvir was pulled from his trance by the shrills of Albinon. The professor darted passed the brush into the clearing Vita had found. His body covered in patches of dark purplish burns. The somewhat docile energy around Vita was stirred into a frenzy. Aggressively, the auras phased through him and he could feel its anger.

“We are late, Vita! Hurry. We must hurry back to the cave before it happens!” The sun was just above the horizon now and the moon was slowly rising in the sky. Glimmers of silver light speckled through the leaves of the forest as the agitated hive chased the two researchers. Vita attempted to recall the research data in his memory about the behavior of the creatures and nowhere did it mention this aggression. In fact, nowhere in the notes he had hinted at any type of hive culture either. The list of inquiry only grew in the thirty-six hours he had been there.

Closer and closer the entities approached as the two could feel their presences precipitate into this world. Panic gripped at Albinon’s throat as another shrill spewed from his mouth. He pulled a gold ball sized copper orb from his pocket, pressed a button the top of it, and threw it behind them as a shockwave of energy exploded through the air bedazzling the creatures that were in pursuit.

Albinon yelled a demonic sounding incantation that opened the void that would quickly swallow them. The professor fell to his knees with exhaustion once in the safety of the cave. Hysterically he laughed, crazed from the trauma that had just happened.

“I made it, I didn’t think I could but I made it! Hahaha” His bout of laughing would not stop as shock began to take him over until the cold reality of metal hands around his shoulders sized his attention.

“Listen here, Professor. You are going to answer every question I have before we leave this cave again or I swear to god the creatures outside will seem like a dream compared to what I am capable of!” Crimson eyes pierced through the bio’s being and bloodlust rip apart at his spirit. His eyes focused solely on what Vita was saying and nothing else.

“Where is the rest of your team, Professor?”

His eyes darted away from Vita nervously as if trying to forget but unable. His shoulders dropped and a solemn mood washed over him. “Oh them…. They're dead.”

Hello, It is me again picking up where I left off. Deployments are hard but I am greatful for the flexibility of this site and its people to allow me to cycle through like I do. On with the story!
 

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