She of many eyes

The halls… they're still empty. We've been inching our way to dock control and haven't encountered a single person, friendly or otherwise. It's as if all personel were focused on the trap set for us.   Fray's anxious, but It's only when I really focus that I understand just how anxious they are. Fray's used to combat. They need combat when that's what's expected. The silence is dense and seems to push against our ears. This isn't good for them. They jitter and jolt, every step taken seems sloppy. They've even moved their finger from the trigger so they don't fire without a target.   I'm relieved, almost casual as I follow behind. We come to a door and it opens for us, as if daring us to step inside. Fraeia takes a deep breath, nods to me, and passes the threshold. It's pitch black, and only one or two lights flicker on when we enter.   Fraeia shouts, slamming the rifle against one of the terminals and shattering the screen. "What is happening?" They ask.   "Does it matter? Let's go." I whisper.   They let out a shuddering breath and head to the front of the room, fiddling with the terminal while I wait by the door.   That's when I hear it, overlapping whispers. I turn my head to the hall, aim my rifle, and wait. Nothing comes. The whispers get louder, growing until it sounds more like they're in my head than outside.   I put my back to the wall and slide down, sitting on the floor as I try to figure out what's going on. I see movement, the slightest flicker of motion like a shadow draped in shadow on the far side of the room. It's big, whatever it is.   I aim the rifle and the whispers stop. There's nothing there, and nothing springs out in my line of fire, either. I see it again in the corner of my eye and turn to find the space on my left is just vacant.   I hear a new whisper, a voice I almost recognize. It's there, and speaks a single word in my ear, "Pariah."   I freeze, my eyes refusing to check the space to my right. I whimper when I see the shadow cast on the ground from the light in the hall. It's huge, almost twice my size. The silhouette is bulbous and malformed, a monster skulking in the dark. I spin around with the rifle, but the sight alone is enough to stop me from pulling the trigger.   This thing, this compilation of tendrils and black wax, stares back at me as if unsure what part it was meant to play in this whole hunter-prey scenario. Tendrils dance along its frame, countless eyes line the body, and there's a face, a bone snout opened wide with needle-like teeth. It hisses softly and stands. It was crouching. The waxy surface of its body has a flow to it when it moves. It stands on two legs, with two hulking arms.   The creature contorts, twitching and writhing as if it forgot how to use its limbs. I turn to Fraeia who hasn't even noticed, then turn back to see the creature… giving birth?   A gloved hand reaches out from the center mass of its body. The hand is small, a human hand. The wax stretches and molds to it as the arm follows, then the shoulder, head, and torso. A woman exits the beast, lightly stepping out in silence.   She wears black garb, a sleek military uniform only worn by a select few. I'm staring at an eden chronicler. Their face is scarred, marks of eden tracing their eyes and along the outside of each cheek.   They're older than they should be. I can see graying hair, but something in me feels like that couldn't be possible.   The woman sits with her legs crossed, uncomfortably close to me. They look at me as if expecting something. I narrow my eyes and after some thought, it all comes together. I know this woman. I've seen them, spoken to them. "Argus?"   Fraeia spins around, rifle at the ready. They scream in fear, then fire into the hulking beast that stands idle nearby.   Argus speaks in a whisper, "Stop."   Fraeia freezes in place, their breathing accelerating as their fear builds. They're fighting it, but something forces them to obey. "Amber run."   Argus stands up and into Fraeia's view with a wide grin. She lets out a contented sigh. "Excellent. I'm so excited. You have idea how long I've waited for this moment."   "You're human?" Fraeia asks.   "Aye, I am."   "What the hell is that?" I ask, pointing to the monstrosity standing motionless behind her.   "Be nice. It can hear you." She laughs and the creature does the same, though it clearly has no idea what laughter is meant to do. The chortleing stops short and bubbles as if fluid fills its lungs... if it even has any. Argus laughs and it has me feeling relieved. When this thing laughs, I can't help but feel deeply unnerved.   Argus sighs when she sees my reaction then says, "The eden never named them, so I did. I call them draugr, a monster from earth's folklore."   "Its terrifying."   She nods, "Good. They're supposed to be."   I rise along the wall, hope rising with me and with such force I can feel it in my chest. "Can you help us?"   "That's the reason I'm here. Let's get you out. Afterwards, we dock with my ship. I've a debt to repay, so you could say I'm under orders here. "   Fraeia manages to break free from whatever bound them, lowering the rifle and stepping forward. "Whose orders."   Argus gives a wry smile and chuckles. They ponder the question then shrug. "Yours."
 
author's note
Sorry if it seems rushed or incomplete. I'll be adding more here but I've been waiting to talk about the Chroniclers for a while now. Shouldn't have too many more full prose articles for a some time so thanks for your patience. Had to get the ball rolling. Now about the disappointment in not having an epic fight here... hmmm...

Comments

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Feb 22, 2022 11:47 by Bart Weergang

Love how you introduce draugr. With the odd movements and detection of nothingness by Amber at first.

Feb 22, 2022 16:14

FWIW, I'm not at all disappointed that there isn't an epic battle - I feel like I've been through a war anyway! And wow, I did NOT expect this!!!

Feb 24, 2022 09:02 by TC

Oh my gosh Argus!! This is all coming together! Also damn I'm so damn curious as to what happened and what will happen. What does this mean that Fray gave Argus their orders? What in the time ***ery is this? No but for real I love this so much !!

Creator of Arda Almayed
Jun 3, 2022 23:23 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Rad introduction here— though I must admit to entirely forgetting who Argus is by now, whoops.

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