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Lords of Rock

The Rockaverse

a part of Lords of Rock, by Nulix.

The Land of Plenty

Nulix holds sovereignty over The Rockaverse, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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The Rockaverse is a part of Lords of Rock.

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A Rock Hard Land for Rock Hard Men.

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There were smells in the air and the mutterings of others. Strange looks and a shiver ran up Horik's spine.

"This place really is unbelievable."

She lingered a bit longer even as Seru escorted the doctor away. She could tell the other already suspected her and so Horik did not follow. M'Kama and Tackel also brought interest in their excursion but Horik already felt unease. Too many and it was uncertain whether they would abide by Seru's warning.

There was, however, one sensation that had not gotten its fill yet.

Horik checked the small pouch she carried and found an even smaller pouch. Inside, a nothing. In her stomach, nothing. She sighed and slinked off. Too many people and it would attract too much attention.

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The Knight stepped down from the ship, the townsfolk backing away in fear and cowardice. "I am a weapon, it's important that I realize my actions can be deadly," The Knight said to the Sheriff.

"Indeed they can," Girthfield called, exiting the office with Syra and his fellow guardian Gal. "Did you receive the transmission?"

"I was dispatched on request by General Grimsever," The Knight replied. "I am Sir Jamapipponen, Knight Prefect and appretnice to Grand Master Swipian," The Tryptian Knight introduced. "And you are?"

"Guardians. Of Laurenska. On the Rock," Girthfield frowned. "Right now we have bigger problems. A warlord named Crown Prince..." Girthfield hesitated at the stupid name. "Crown Prince Theory besieged the town to try and get the artillery that's been buried in the dunes outside the west wall. Now, according to my partner, another warlord approaches with men and means."

The Tryptian paused. "Then let's meet them." With that he began to march forward through the town, stepping over the bodies of Theory's men...

***

"This putrid piece of shite?" The smith responded to M'kama, her eyes bugging out of her head.

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The Sheriff frowned at the Knight's unpronounceable name and lowered his gun. All these goddamn invaders, ruining the lives of the people in this town. Making everything miserable. He withdrew his gun and spat on the ground.

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The smith blinked at the shell. "These are common shitnicks 'ere," The smith replied to M'kama, gnawing at some molten metal. "But that blade on ya'... that looks to be worth a shiny penny."

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M'Kama stared concerned as the blacksmith bit in the molten metal, blood and pus popping out of the blisters on her lip and dropping onto her table. "The sword...is not for sale, I'm afraid," M'Kama noted with a smile. "Sorry to say, but my family has passed this onto me through various generations. And besides, it is cursed."

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"Cursed how, snakes'shitter?" The smith asked, leaning in on her bartering table. "Ain't no curse that can stand to Cobran. Ye're new in town but e're... ain't like out there." The smith wiped some blood off her tongue. "E're... it's all for all. All for the Serpent... your family, your past, your generations... it ain't matter no more. Now you're a Cobran."

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"I'm not," M'Kama replied simply. "My place is not here. I'm merely passing through. As for the curse...have you ever heard of Phoenix curses, blacksmith? They may seem like the stuff of myths and legends, but they are very much real. And human beings like you or I are not the only recipients of such curses. Things can be cursed as well. Dwellings, belongings, weapons..." M'Kama nodded back at his blade. "My sword is one such weapon. None may wield it but me, and even I must be cautious."

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The blacksmith stared at M'kama, the lantern half illuminating her face as it twisted into a weary smile. "Have you met the Serpent, traveller? Our leader, Tamil?"

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"I have not," M'Kama replied, raising an eyebrow and wondering where this was heading.

Nothing to see here. Move along, 2767321.

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"...Cobran is a grand refugee camp of people from all over, who believe in all sorts a t'ings," The smith replied, turning away and waddling back toward her forge. "Different gods, different curses... and yet, once they get here, they all believe in the Serpent more." She pumped her foot, heating the fires again. "Welcome to Cobran, traveller. And come back once you're ready to sell that blade."

And with that she began to work again.

***

On the outskirts of the lantern lit settlement Horik and White Hat followed the guards. The caravans they'd travelled with over the Rockian desert rolled lazily on the streets behind them, citizens looking on casually but not taking much note. Traffic in the streets seemed to be a common occurrence here. Cobran had a lot of new arrivals.

"It's been a long time comin'," Grizzle, the elder statesmen of the refugee group, said as he walked beside them, rubbing his hands together. The guards didn't respond. As they moved though could see stone houses built into the sides of the cave, hanging above them like a forest canopy. Walkways hung overhead like vines, children laughing as they chased each other through the cave city.

"This place is one hell of a sight," White Hat laughed as he looked up the vertical cave network.

"Yes, it is," The guard replied. "Lots of hard work... lots of... courageous leaders." The guard grinned under his termite helm. "And a lot of good people... wantin' a better world."

Then the guards reached their destination. A tunnel broken on the outer wall of the main Cobran cave, lit with torches, and leading to a smaller side cave. "This is where the refugees wait until we have housing sorted," The guards explained. "We'll arrange meetings for all of you with Tamil... but for now, park your caravans and setup tent."

The caravans manoeuvred inside the refugee cave where they were greeted by dozens of other hitched ants and arranged tents. Refugees from all over occupied the place: Sudeans, Skylanders and more all occupying the same small camp. In the centre of the side-cave a pond had formed from a stream of water coming through from the rocks. White Hat rose an eyebrow at the area as the caravans moved in. "Damn, they really accept people from all over."

"Hey gorgeous!" A Skylander voice said. From one setup camp along the wall a tall-hatted man had called out to Horik, his friends joining in. "Let's see what those LONGBAON YAMS can do!"

"And they don't seem to judge much on quality," White Hat frowned at the drunken Skylanders...

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M'Kama turned to Tackel and shrugged. "Interesting people," he noted. "Not too sure of this...Serpent, but I'm interested to see what it's all about." He glanced around. "Should we find the medic's office, then?"

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"Interesting is not the word I would use," Tackel muttered, warily watching the Smith hammer metal to her sternum with sharp grunts and cackling laughter. "More like disturbing."

Shaking himself, Tackel nodded to M'Kama. "Yes, let us find the medic. I don't want to wander these halls alone. And my curiosity has been stifled."

***

Entering the Bright was like passing from night to day. A gradual dawn gave way to a constant and almost malignant heat, as if the earth itself had a sunburn that blistered and broke. Into one of these breaks, Ash and Otis moved forward, Otis keeping his eyes and ears open for any sign of the wayward group that must have passed this way earlier.

***

Galneryus did not leave the Guardian building, instead eyeing the Knight forces from the doorway, a grim expression on his face.

Further away, on the crest of a high dune outside the city, a figure with a mask resembling a hawk slowly raised their rifle, and without being noticed, slid down the opposite side of the dune, their feet leaving no imprints in the sand as they began to run in a southerly direction.

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Character Portrait: Syra Onnet
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Syra let out a sigh as the Knight's ship landed. "Great...we can be rid of Theory...turn him over to these Knights and be done with it. I'll even see his capture through to his death..." She muttered, following Girthfield outside as the Knight emerged. While he spoke, she couldn't help but notice the armored figure standing in the dim light the airlock provided. Why hadn't they followed their superior from the ship?



***

"Onyx, we've landed on The Rock. The Knight's that serve under Commander Swipian have been most helpful in getting me here after I was attacked...by the way, you and I will talk about your lack of help there when I return home." Azure sighed, the ship touched down and the Knight, Jamapipponen dropped the ship's boarding ramp, making his way to greet the people.

"Anyway, the mission is about to commence. I'll be radio silent until it's complete, as you asked," Azure began, making their way to the boarding ramp, helmet concealing their identity. "Over and out," they said, eyes resting on the dirty girl with auburn hair and tattered clothing.

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Horik glanced over, raised an eyebrow, and smiled.

"Well, why don't you guys come on over? For a good look, you gotta come up close don't ya?" she said as she waved them over.

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Girthfield frowned as more Knights exited the ship behind the Tryptian. "If you're here to bring peace I suggest you get to it," Girthfield called. "Zambob and his soldiers are approaching. We need a plan."

The Tryptian glanced back as Azure and the other armoured figures exited the craft. "We meet them."

The Tryptian took a step forward only to be stopped by Girthfield's hand. "Unwise... Sir Knight, many of these warlords do not have a second thought about killing offworlders."

The Tryptian stared at Girthfield, his eyes hidden by the sun-reflecting off his spectacles. "Of all the states on the Rock Zambob is one the Matran views quite favourably," The Tryptian explained. "I understand the Guardians have had a hard time here, but never fear. The Matran is now here."

And with that they began their march again. Girthfield frowned before following with Syra. The Sherriff too joined the route to the crash-site.

***

Outside the town the battlefield where the ship had crashed lay buried in sand. Theory's men had begun digging the weapon, the top of the metal artillery sticking out of the sand and casting a long shadow up a dune, where, standing in unison, were over a hundred masked figures, each with make-shift armour and animal feathers decorating them.

Girthfield squinted at the army. "Think you can take a hundred men?" He asked to the Tryptian.

"I can't take them, but I can use them." The Tryptian began to walk down the dune alone, toward the artillery's cannon tower, acting as a sort of no-mans-land between the two forces. "Hail!" The Tryptian called, raising a hand. "We wish to speak to your leader!"

***

One of the Skylanders punched himself in the crotch eagerly before skipping over towards Horik. White Hat grunted at the scene...

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Horik smiled at the man and placed a hand on his chin, making sure to push her chest forward so he had a good look. She leaned in close, their lips a couple inches apart, as she purred, "So you wanna know what these yams do, huh? You really wanna know?"

The puckered lips became a sneer and she dropped her hand to his chest, pushing him back.

"They press against my boyfriend," Horik spat as she pointed at White Hat. "Now scram, asshole. Calling a girl out like that? How disgusting."

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"How is she?" Seru frowned down at the barely conscious Palavan, lying still on a canvas stretcher pushed to one side of the stone room. The medic's office was one of the largest caves in Cobran, adjacent to the main cavern of the town. It was filled with ramshackle canvas beds and crude medical instruments, empty save for a few sick children and men recovering from bullet wounds, but Seru remembered a time when the room was piled with bodies across the floor, stepping over dying patients to get to the old doctor who was lost in a sea of sick, sweaty humans hacking up pieces of lung upon his apron. Thankfully those days were long gone, a memory she chose to forget.

The old doctor pushed up his spectacles with the back of his hand, a black mustache wriggling underneath his nose as he fought to find words, "Well. She's alive. Not for much longer, though."

"There's nothing you can do?" Seru fidgeted. He shook his head slowly, but before he could say anything Seru leaned forward with big eyes, "What about Mhyra?"

Doctor Jones squinted at her, "Don't be silly girl. She ain't strong enough. That kind of ordeal will kill her." Both of them stared down at Palavan, her breathing soft and hollow in her chest. Seru pursed her lips, "Shouldn't we try? She's dead anyway, yeah? Let's give it a go."

"Let her have peace, you fool. She don't need to be in agony for her final hours," the doctor stood, blatantly rejecting her suggestion with a disapproved scoff,

"But that's what Cobran is known for, right? Curing the sick, helping the helpless - we're good at that! Let's try to save the one person we need the most!" Seru stood as well, her plea loud and desperate over Palavan's dying corpse. Suddenly there was a knock at the wooden door and the two turned to look at whoever had entered.

"Oh - hello," Seru cleared her throat awkwardly upon seeing Tackel and M'Kama.

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"Is she dead?" M'Kama asked bluntly.

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The heat was starting to be a bit much for Ash. He wasn't necessarily unused to heat on The Rock, but The Bright was something different. His eyes were starting to drift around mindlessly, looking at and for nothing in particular. In the midst of his mild delirium though, something caught his eye, a few feet away and noticed completely by accident.

"Otis! Footprints!" Ash nearly shouted as life returned to him. He quickly made his way over to the tracks, taking a quick look around to see what all was there. "Looks like a few sets from humans, some ants, and wheels from caravans. Can't tell how old they are, or how far behind them we might be, but this looks like a lead."

Ash turned to the young guardian with a grin. "I do believe we may have a breadcrumb trail."

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The other Skylander laughed as the boner brother crawled away from Horik in disgrace.

"You uh... you ain't any type of a lady at all, are ya?" White Hat said, placing his hands on his belt. "Now I don't recall us ever comin' together in wedlock, do you?"

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"Wedlock?" Horik raised an eyebrow. "Now that is a funny word. Isn't that a permanent thing there? I don't recall trying someone out leading immediately to being shacked up for life. That would be stupid."

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"Well that's what a woman does. Gets married, gets some babies in her," White Hat said, squinting around the refugee cave as if it were an alien planet. "Thats why ya' got them hips. Where you from, Horik? You ain't no lady of the sands."

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"That's because I'm not of the sands," Horik answered, her tone making it sound like that was the most obvious thing in the world. She put a hand on her hip and pointed to the space above them. "I'm from the skies and I'm trying to get back home. And this..."

Hork pointed to her stomach, "Isn't going to be adding any more miserable souls on this here rock, including mine."

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Suddenly White Hat's smile dropped. He adjusted his suspenders and rose to his full height, towering over Horik. "Now listen here," He began, pointing a finger into her face. "If you make it to the skies you make sure you never come back. The Rock was a virgin beauty... once upon a time." He paused. "Now ya' bastards can't leave it alone."

White Hat sighed and glanced down. "Hell, in my daddy's time things used to be simple. Us against the Suda's... now ain't nothing clean. Ain't no one innocent anymore..." He frowned. "You one of them Sor-illians then? Left here with... the Remnants or the like?"