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Prologue

In the world of Zantyra

Visit Zantyra

Ongoing 1771 Words

Prologue

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As it was every five hundred years, the great tree-city Velpraxa and the meadows that surrounded as far as the eye could see were filled with Velpir, Aguan'di, Praetorim, and Hypsignathan that numbered in the thousands. They gathered in the great meadow for the convergence; the moment when the great crystalline spire-moon, Yaanshidd, would align with the mighty blue sun, Teriztrad.

For Tiat, it was the first convergence of his lifetime. He had listened, for his few young years, to the stories the elder warriors told and longed to see the sight for himself. He followed along behind his father as they made their way through the unending crowd that milled around booths and tables, seeking out the array of delicacies served at every convergence feast. Naturally, the Hypsig dessert tables were among the most crowded with their sweet smells of pastries and preserves prepared by the overweight, winged, furry beasts with their oversized snouts. 

It was difficult for Tiat to keep up with his father but, he tried to maintain speed while emulating the great shaman's poise. Many heads nodded as they passed by with some Velpir bowing or even taking a knee in respect. His father gave each of them a nod before moving along through the crowd. Tiat wasn't sure what was more exciting, the impending convergence or getting to spend the day with his father, the archshaman. His hands kept nervously patting down any potential wrinkles in his long teal robes and flicking away any bug that dared land on him. He had to be as proper as his father, it was required, he was sure of it. 

Stopping abruptly, his father sniffed at the air for a moment, his eyes scanning the crowd. Had he sensed some impending evil? Tiat instinctively stepped up closer to his father where he would be safest from danger. "I smell Rambutan," the shaman said after a few excruciating breathes.

The boy perked up immediately, "From the jungles?" His father had spoken frequently of the fruit he had eaten during the misguided war against the Praetorim millennia ago, saying that one day he would make sure Tiat was able to try it.

Without warning his father started toward one of the booths and soon had procured two large pieces of Rambutan Crisp. He guided his son over to a small area on the grass near where a group of massive black shelled Praetorim were demonstrating a series of dances. Their large claws held high in the air, they danced in circles, their eight legs stepping in an intricate pattern to the beat of a group of blue and red scaled Aguan'di in a drum circle. Tiat's father spoke in length about the meaning of the dance and the beats of the drums, but the boy's attention was more into the display and his dessert than his father's words and he missed most of what was said.

"We should walk if we are to make it to the Velpraxa," his father pointed toward Yaanshidd as he spoke. The moon was indeed drawing close and the two resumed their journey. It would take them an hour to be under the shade of the mile-long branches that stemmed from the top of the tree once shaped by the archmage Varsis into the massive city that was home to thousands of the sentient plant people that guarded Zantyra. For untold time, the Velpir had kept watch from atop their tree and protected the life of their world. 

"Must we walk the whole way father?" the boy asked as they resumed their walk. 

"If we can make it to the shade, perhaps, I will take you the rest of the way by earth. For now, there are still things to see."

The pair walked for a time before Tiat stopped, distracted by an opera being performed by several Hypsig. Their voices resonated in their oversized snouts and soon the boy was swaying along to the music. When he looked around again, his father was gone. Panic struck him and his heart raced.

He spun around twice, eyes darting around before the familiar deep voice sounded from behind him. "I'm here, sprout. I'll always be here." At once he calmed and wrapped his arms around his father's waist. "Come, boy, the convergence starts soon," he pointed toward the sky. "Are you ready?"

Tiat jumped with excitement, it was rare that his father took him with when he traveled by earth. He jutted his arms up in the air and his father picked him and clutched his child to his chest. Tiat leaned his head onto his father's shoulder as they started to sink through the grass and into the dirt beneath. It was dark and the boy couldn't make out anything in the darkness but in moments they were emerging and soon stood at the base of Velpraxa. Above them, thousands of the plant people stood on balconies and terraces, eyes turned toward the skies.

He looked up at his father, "Can I go inside, up to the top?" the young Velpir tried to straighten himself as tall as he possibly could, trying to seem like he was mature enough to take off on his own despite the panic he'd felt earlier. This was Velpraxa, the safest of safe havens.

His father raised an eyebrow and looked down at him, "You think the top of the tree is close enough to make the view better? These are a moon and sun, the top of the tree would be no different than down here." He made a point of looking stern for a moment before smiling and nodding the boy away.

Tiat was almost instantly running toward the entrance of the tree as he adjusted his robes, pulling them up a little so he could run up the stairs faster. He bobbed and ducked in and out of the crowd that filled the Grand Spiral, the stairs that led from bottom to top. When he finished his ascent, the light was beginning to change as the edge of Yaanshidd was starting across the face of Teriztrad. In moments, the Convergence would shine down on them and bless Zantyra once more with its radiant light. Tiat climbed to the end of one of the outer branches and sat down. He flattened out the front of his robes and made sure he looked sufficiently proper. His hand sank to his side when he noticed the rambutan juice stain on his leg, how long had that been there, surely father would have seen it and chastised him by now.

His attention was brought back to the moment when some of the nearby children gasped, their hands jutting quickly upward and pointing. Tiat didn't have to look hard to see what the commotion was about. To the east, a large red comet was visible and looking larger by the moment. Below him the crowd also stirred, thousands of voices suddenly talking all at once, the volume raising as the comet drew closer to pair of celestial objects.

Tiat glanced toward the moon and sun, the convergence was almost complete and the light in the sky was changing dramatically. Yaanshidd spun and each of its eight sides shined their colors in turn. The colored rays of light cascaded down on them, suddenly bathing the planet in millions of colors.

Tiat's eyes now darted from colors to comet to convergence, surely the comet would miss them. Screams erupted from below and he tore his eyes from the sight only long enough to look down and hopefully spot his father. He wished he hadn't come up here, he could run back, he was fast, Father would keep him safe. His eyes turned back to the heavens in time to witness the comet strike Yaanshidd, splitting the tetrahedron into two equal pieces. 

Beneath him, a great commotion broke out as thousands of voices raised up in an alarmed cacophony. Children gravitated toward their parents, the parents gravitating toward the elders, the elders left in as much wonder as the rest. Tiat stood up on the branch and started making his way toward the trunk. He had almost made it when the volume raised once again. The boy turned his eyes back to the sky in time to see the comet strike Teriztrad, the great blue sun and it moments it started to go dark. Tiat ran.

His heart pounded in his ears as he weaved his way through the panicked crowd, repeatedly bumping into fellow Velpir with almost every step. His hands, more out of comforting habit, tried to smooth his robes as he repeated unheard apologies to unhearing people. He was halfway down the grand stairs when the last of the light faded from the skies. To his right, he could make out a doorway and tried to edge his way out onto the balcony that was now vacated. The only light that shone was that of the comet, Teriztrad's brilliant blue currently reduced a gentle orange engulfed in a sea black.

As hard as he tried to fight them, the tears came to Tiat's eyes and he screamed out for his father, a scream lost in the din of panicked masses. He started to sink to the ground when he heard a noise from behind him and, as he was about to sit down and give up, a pair of hands grabbed him and pulled him close.

"I will always protect you," his father said and soon they were moving down the stairs once again. Several minutes passed before they exited the great city and into the darkened world. They came to a jolting stop, "No," his father whispered, so quietly that Tiat barely heard.

The boy turned and saw the comet growing larger by the moment and heading for their world. Its fire intensified as it broke through the atmosphere. When it leveled out, it started to tear a great gash into the land. The planet shook and Tiat and his father were thrown to the ground which cracked and started to split. Before them, the comet pushed increasing tons of dirt and stone into the air as it sank deeper into the land. Tiat felt as much as heard when the first boulder landed near them. His father whispered a curse and closed his arms, clutching the boy as close as he could. Tiat nuzzled his face into his father's neck and closed his eyes, knowing he would be safe, Father would take care of him, he always took care of him, but, in a thunder of stone, the darkness came forever.
 

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