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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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The two men clasped arms in front of Otis' confused face. Percy looked over Ash, the lantern light reflecting off his features. "My god you are a ghost of the past. You've aged, old boy..." Percy rose an eyebrow, giving a buck-toothed smile. "Just don't hold the mirror to me." Percy wheezed a laugh and glanced down at Otis. "Well hello son, what are you doing here?!"

Percy laughed again before turning to Ash, immediately dismissing the youth before he had time to respond. "I can't believe this! I can't believe you're here, I haven't seen you since... well, since things went all sideways with the occupation." He turned. "I've traded in a legionnaires uniform for another, but it's all right. Here, here! I have to show you about!"

Percy waved toward the city down the cavern path. "Welcome to Cobran!"

There was something strange. Two Sorillian boys from the legion, here, in what could only described as a magical place. "Trust me, old boy," Percy whispered as they looked over the city. "It's unlike anywhere you've been before."

***

The woman simply swayed down the city path. And Horik, for lack of a better option, followed. The underground city swayed in a stale airflow, and up some rock steps Horik spotted the woman again. She was standing over the pit of a forum, eating and merry-making in the light below. Tables of families entering the public spot, water flowing from fountains, warm bread available for all.

"Do you see that man," The woman whispered to Horik, her finger raising to a one eyed bald man sitting alone. "He was once a raider in the Badlands. He wanted all the gold in the world. And now he wants for nothing. All of these people here are at peace." The woman turned to Horik. "All have found a greater purpose here... in Cobran."

The woman shifted. "You've been taught all your life that things have a price, that ambition is security. That the more you gain the less you can fall... but they have traded everything, their ambition, their possessions, for if they stay here..." The woman turned to Horik. "They are forever safe. You still hunger... they have found their meal."

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Ash let our a hearty laugh. "I think I feel older than I look Percy, the warm weather didn't do everything the doctor promised." He joked.

"I can't believe this! I can't believe you're here, I haven't seen you since... well, since things went all sideways with the occupation."

The smile remained on Ash's face and he nodded along, but below that he felt considerably... Bad. He hid it well enough, but that was a subject that bothered him immensely, and truthfully not one he wanted to get into. Ash allowed himself to follow Percy, and Otis followed suit for the moment. Admittedly, the city was quite impressive, even more than Ash remembered last time. Then again... His stay in the city last time had probably lasted less than a half hour.

He quickly noted the diversity of people he could see in the city, both in caravans and those who must have been 'locals' by this point. It was strange, that small greeting party he had had last time barely scratched the surface of what the city really was. Being able to see the traders, the shops, the people milling about, it was strange, lively, more so even than some places on The Rock.

"Percy, as amazing as this all is, I still can't wrap my head around how you ended up here. I mean, Cobran is such a hard place to find, and the journey itself... What could have made you come out here?"

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Syra made her way over to the oak desk and picked up one of the many scrolls that lay on top, "Continue to monitor...." One began, "Provide aid to rebels in the capital, only if asked, do not offer assistance, play both sides..." Another read, talking about a war on a distant world.

"What am I doing here?" she questioned out loud, her small voice echoing around her as the hum from the instrument panel filled the silence. "Girthfield didn't mention wanting anything, and I could have taken this ship off world the second I boarded, so why am I still here?" She collapsed in the desk chair, scattering scrolls to the floor in frustration. "Am I that meaningless that I'm to just sit here and wait to be captured? Out of Girthfield's hair? I never asked that man for a thing, and yet now he treats me like one of his subordinates? Is that all there is to life, bouncing from one form of master to another?" She closed her eyes and fought back the tears. Memories of her homeworld played in her mind, her reasons for fighting, for ending up on The Rock.


"You know, there is another way..." A man's voice called over the radio by the pilot's chair. "You don't have to serve that Guardian if you don't want to, he can't make you, after all, it goes against what the Guardians stand for."

"Who, how?" Syra began, walking over to the ship's radio.

"You can call me Onyx," The man began, "I'm not a Knight, and I'm not a Guardian, but I have an interest in your world. My associate should have landed there with the Knights, maybe you've met," he chuckled. "Tell me, young lady, what is your name?"

"Syra. Syra Onnet."

"Well, Syra, it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance," He sighed, "I don't have much time, the Knights are beginning to figure out that I've commandeered this channel, I've sent my associate, Azure with a strict list of orders, one of those orders was to find someone she could trust. I think you will do just nicely. A young woman wanting her freedom, to be in control of her own destiny, perhaps you and Azure have that in common? Find her, help her and we will help you. Now, that isn't to say you shouldn't trust the Guardians, work with one another to better that world, Syra." The radio filled with white noise for a second, "We will talk again..." then the transmission was cut.


Without a word, Syra exited the ship as silently and unnoticed as she'd boarded.

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"Excuse me," Tackel said, raising a hand politely. "I have a question, a serious one. As the sole survivor of your ship's crash, I have to ask, maam... what caused it? I admit, I don't know much about ships but it seems they generally don't fall out of the sky unless there's something wrong, yes?"

***

Galneryus watched Girthfield with distaste and contempt, having nothing to say to the man and very little respect for his (on paper) superior. Instead, he busied himself accompanying the strong melodies of Zambob's hymn, his guitar strumming out a simple tune that seemed to carry on the wind, strengthening the workers as they cleared the sand and debris from the giant artillery cannon.

When Syra exited the craft, Galneryus' eyes narrowed, but he said nothing, instead waiting to see what would happen.

***

Otis followed Ash and Percy at a slight distance, giving them a respectful distance while staying unnoticed among the crowds of Cobran. Regardless of how they might perceive strangers, Otis had a knack for disappearing in crowds, of being unseen and unheard when he wanted. Perhaps it was part of his Phoenix powers, or perhaps it was something he had picked up elsewhere, but Otis was able to observe much without drawing any attention to himself.

What he observed... concerned him. After all, the city was beautiful, indeed, but there was something about it, a darkness that seemed to whisper from the shadows. The eyes of the citizens were bright, but not in a delightful way - the energy was not pleasant but almost feverish. And the snakes were everywhere - not real snakes, but carvings, designs, and more. The people had even begun to look like snakes in some cases, as if they were slowly transforming from human to reptile themselves.

The effect made Otis shiver. It reminded him too much of the Eight and the nightmares they had left in his head.

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Palavan swallowed. The hospital room was built with a foundation of dry woods, clay and rock hardened together around it to make the overarching pillars of the room. It made it have almost a skeletal appearance. Everything in Cobran had it, something almost too biological in it's construction. Even out the hospital balcony the construction of the town, with it's levels and hanging walkways like pasta strains, seem to be built naturally, not out of design, but of a body.

Palavan glanced over to Tackel. Both he and Seru had introduced themselves earlier, and had gotten her comfortable. But now, of course, were the answers. She did not fully trust them but understood the gist of the situation. She was alive, in some form or another, because of them. "There was... discontent among the crew. I was among the cabin staff so I'm not sure... how it started," Palavan paused. "All I know is that we were somewhere we weren't meant to be. We were following orders that... weren't ours to follow."

***

Girthfield wondered why Galy hated him so much for no reason as he watched over the dig site at the edge of town. Suddenly Syra had appeared beside him, silently, unnoticed. "Ah, my lady," Girthfield grinned at the girl. "Anything you found of interest- notes, orders?"

***

Percy walked them through the busy streets of Cobran, the stone walkways caved in from the volumes of traffic the stone city had. Below the hanging lanterns and streets they got looks- not too many strange ones, as it seemed the city had no one people, but instead souls from across the Rock itself. "Well, I was found I was," Percy explained, leading them to a side-street and walking up a stone stairway. They reached the top and began to walk over a rickety bridge, hanging diagonally over another. "After the occupation we Sorillian's weren't too popular, but I wasn't about to go to banditry or anything of the like."

A voice called out to Percy as he reached a cliff-side street on the other side of the bridge.

"Kalafar!"

The Sudean word for guard or guardsman. A fruit vendor perched precariously close to the drop-off threw a mango Percy's way. Percy grabbed the fruit and gave a jiffy three finger salute to the man. "So I tried to be a hired gun for a bit, security," Percy explained as they walked, children running passed them into the open doors of one of the clay-rock houses. "But uh... well, you know how hard it is to find decent work here. You're one man's security for a few jobs too long and you become a member of his gang, as it were."

Percy blinked as he strolled, going off-the cliff-side street and onto a curved, residential one. Above them from window to window a crisscross of laundry lines and baskets hung. "In my travels I always tried to find a way home, you know," Percy looked over his shoulder at Ash. "A way out. But... a ship off the Rock is harder to find than a piece of livestock without an antennae here."

Percy marched them up the street to their approaching destination- the stone archway entering into a public eatery, writing Ash and Otis couldn't read carved above it. Warm light shun through as drinking and celebration could be heard beyond. "This is where many of the guard's go after shift," Percy explained, leading them into forum. Inside the stone walls dozens of sits were spread out with families and singles drinking and eating feasts. There was no roof, instead the sky of the cave-ceiling simply stretching above them. No need if it never rained, one supposed.

Percy approached a table and collapsed loudly onto a seat. "Eventually heard about this place enough times that I had to... pilgrimage out to it." Percy looked up at Ash genuinely. "It's hard to find, but once you find it, it's all worth. I didn't find home, but... old boy, I suspect I found something better."

Percy grinned. "Come on boys, sit! The food here is beyond anything you've had for years, trust me! Cobran trades with towns all over, it's all exotic flavours and roasts here!"

***

From above the forum, where Horik and the woman were watching, she'd notice three newcomers entering the festive forum. One of them she'd seen before... the boy, from Schittle....

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"What's this about flavor town?" M'Kama asked, taking a seat at the same table as Ash, Otis, and Percy. "I see you've found some friends," he nodded at Percy. "So the next step...is reuniting with my companions. We have...things to discuss. That you all might be interested in," the card reader continued, his voice lowering to a whisper as he looked form Ash and Otis to Percy. "You too, stranger. You're an offworlder too? Or you used to be, at any rate. You might find what we have to say of some concern."

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"Snaeve's finest..." Percy replied with a small smile. "And if it's concerning the state of home... I've heard, whats left of Sor isn't much to be proud of."

"EH'Wanna'a'pizza'a'pie!" A dark-skinned Cobran said, dancing up to their table snapping his fingers and wiggling his oiled moustache. It wobbled side to side as if it was made of jello as he danced towards them. Suddenly he paused mid-snap, his eyes looking with M'kama's. "...Aye," The man said, pulling his fake moustache off and standing upright, revealing himself to be a tall Yyban man. squinting at M'kama. "You're Yyban. As am I."

"Ah Askia," Percy said, raising a hand to the man. "The finest chef in the forum, you wouldn't believe!"

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"And what Sor's left behind isn't much to be proud of either," M'Kama said ominously, as he leaned back in his seat. Turning his head towards the direction of a...curious, but powerful aroma. He saw the chef stand before him, a Yyban like himself, putting on a ridiculous accent and sporting false facial hair. The idea that Yyban was here didn't surprise him..but somehow the fact that Cobran had drawn in one of their own seemed slightly disheartening.

However any questions he had over this change of allegiance were placed upon a backburner now. For before them lay a circular blessing from the heavens, coated in a blanket of cheese. "What...is this?" M'Kama asked, staring at the 'pie' in awe.

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"Ah, thank you Askia, drinks too!" Percy said, nodding to Askia as he dropped off the pizza. With utensils Percy began to cut the pie, raising an eyebrow at M'kama. "Pizza. It's a pie with cheese, tomatoes, any vegetable you want really. Can put some pork on there if you fancy. Sorillian meal, lots of legionnaires made it." Percy smiled as he swallowed a steaming bite. "Careful," He chewed. "It's hot."

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M'Kama grabbed a slice. "Piz...za?" he questioned fanning the heat away ever so slightly. Mindful that it was hot, he carefully took a bite...as tears began to well up in his eyes. And not from the heat. "Many of the Rock believe Sor brings naught but ruin," M'Kama cried. "But today, we have all been proven wrong. Pizza...A gift to the galaxy. A gift to mankind," he grinned, taking a large bite.

Nothing to see here. Move along, 2768090.

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Syra shook her head, watching as the people dug the cannon from what should be its grave. "The Knight's are the Knights. They seek glory and nothing else. Stepping in when all seems hopeless and claiming they've saved the day when in fact the world simply burns around them. That ship is little more than a scout, sent to do recon, once the cannon is ready, he will call his superiors and a dreadnaught will fill skies, sending all the mystics into a frenzy, the warlords on a warpath, and the Remnants will try and reason with the Knights, pull them to their side, their way of thinking, since many served the Knights in the past." She sighed, clasping her hands behind her back as she looked into the cloudless sky, "This world won't survive the coming onslaught that this weapon had brought," She eyed Girthfiel, "Tell me, Guardian, do you and yours have what it takes to protect the innocents of this world? To offer them hope?" She smirked coldly and began to walk away, seeking the strange armored woman, who'd arrived with the Knight.

"Azure...what are you hiding?" She muttered to herself as the hot sand blew over around her.

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Ash had followed along with Percy, absorbing the story of the man's time spent on the planet. He admired the city, but did find it to be rather strange as well, something 'out-of-this-world', even more so than most parts of The Rock. There was a strange, nagging sensation inside of him however. At times he looked over to Otis, who almost seemed to fade into the background. Was hard to tell what the boy was thinking, but Ash wasn't even certain what he was thinking himself.

They eventually had reached some kind of public eating area. Percy found them a table and sat down first, with Ash and Otis following, and soon the strange voodoo man joining them as well. Another strange Yyban playing a caricature of some variety of Sorrillian arrived, bringing with him pizza, and with that an emotional revelation for the voodoo man with them.

Ash ate. Quietly. Not typical for him. Things Percy said, things the voodoo man said, and something else beneath all of that... There were many things that bothered the mind of the Captain. He looked above, eyeing up the ceiling and surrounding areas that circled the eatery. While doing so, he spotted two figures in particular peering down. It actually looked suspiciously like they had their eyes on Ash's group. Looked like two women perhaps?

His attention was snapped back to his own group as they all made conversation. "It's a shame this is probably the best gift Sor ever gave anyone." He said coldly, watching his plate as he continued to eat. "I assume most of us are on the same page of The Rock's news and current events." Ash looked up, his gaze going between the individuals seated with him.

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Girthfield frowned down at Syra. The Rock's sun hung blindingly overhead, and below them the sound of workmen in sand as Zambob's army continued to toil in retrieving the artillery. "No, no we do not," Girthfield replied, glancing down and beginning to walk off. Syra watched the man go, down the dune towards the crater of workers. There was something sad about the way he trailed off. Something pointless. He'd been hoping to find something to use against them. Some sort of order. Some sort of directive. Perhaps even the name of a superior officer he could have propositioned. But alas nothing.

***

The final pull on the ropes attached through mechanism by Zambob's men, their shoulders bloody as they finally hoisted the cannon up to ground level from the pit they'd dug out. It smashed down into the sand, painted blood orange by the twilight sun.

"Yaaaaa!" Cheers echoed as Zambob's warriors applauded. Girthfield sat in the dune, in the shadow of the metal tower. The cheers echoed, applauding what was to be the end of their world. From an assemblage of tents overlooking the dig-site Zambob emerged, the Tryptian and the other Knights by his side.

Tea and biscuits while the men bled, no doubt.

Girthfield glanced over his shoulder. Syra and Galy hadn't assisted in the dig themselves, but they'd too been aiding the workers, bringing food and water from the town out to the warriors. Now they stood halfway down the dune from Schittle's destroyed walls, a bucket of water and wet cloths in their hands. The men below were cheering but there was no joy on Girthfield's face...

***

"What?" Percy questioned mid slice. He pulled a piece of cheese off his moustache and frowned. "I mean, the warlords are warring above as they do... once you get down here who is fighting who becomes a lot less relevant, that's for sure." Percy paused. "Is there... other news?"

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"Can't speak about it here, I'm afraid..." M'Kama muttered. "Don't need to worry people. Don't want to panic them. Many seem very content here in the caverns of Cobran. I don't know if I agree with all of their views. You must truly be under wise council here..."

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"You may try asking Knight Commander Swipan for answers, Guardian," Syra called over her shoulder as she turned to leave, watching Girthfield make his way sullenly to the dig site. "A lot of documents bore his name...a former member of the Organization may help make or break this world."


She strolled off in silence, dragging her feet through the soft sand that blew around her ankles.



****


"Can't say this is going so well," Azure chuckled, wiping the sweat from her brow as the young Knight toiled away beside her. "I've been meaning to ask you, why did they only send you? A job like this should require an entire platoon, but Xane, excuse me, Commander Swipan only sent you?"

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Horik's senses couldn't stop roaming. The smells, the sights, the sounds of people amicably talking and laughing... Her own stomach rumbled and the hairs on her arms stood. The warmth of the scene enveloped her where the heat of the sand had stifled her before. She was famished.

"I...." Horik began when her line of sight came across a familiar face. "He was with our group..."

Horik turned towards the woman besides her with sudden hostility in her tone, "Ya'll just bring the whole damn surface down here, huh?"

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The smells, the shites.

"Those who are lost find themselves here," The woman whispered. "They find their wounds healed. Was he wounded?" She murmured. Her gaze focused on Horik. "Are you?"

***

Askia frowned at M'kama. "Whatcha' talkin' about, brother!" He exclaimed. "Maybe you haven't had your fill of 'za!"

***

Girthfield watched as Syra began to drudge off back toward the town of Schittle, away from the dig. Girthfield shifted his attention back toward the newly excavated artillery. It was big- monstrous, in fact. At the controls the Knights and Zambob had reached the built in metal platform at it's base. Something was wrong.

"Galy," Girthfield ordered to the man behind him. "Something's off... follow me."

***

The Tryptian's tall form bent over with his hands held behind his back, examined the loading barrel of thee artillery tower. "The cannons go here, very specific rounds... crafted by factory on Raejo." The Tryptian rose and turned to Zambob and the other gathered knights. "The cannons it needs aren't here."

"Whats going on here?" Girthfield's voice called from below as he and Galy approached the sceptre. From the railing the Tryptian looked down at him. "Our gun has no fire." The Tryptian turned to Zambob. "Your opinion, lord Zambob?"

***

"Thick as thieves, like brothers you two are!" Percy pointed out, sticking a thumb at Askia and M'kama.

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Horik's eyes narrowed.

"I think he was," she answered as she began to take a few steps away from the mysterious woman. "Y'know, I think I'm just gonna go down there and say hi to my pal there. It was uh, it was good talking to ya. Thanks for showing me around."

She began to walk of to talk to M'Kama.

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Everyone began to stare as Horik began to climb down the stone wall, intruding from the rooftops...

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Horik found the wall to be surprisingly secure and hopped down for a smooth landing. She walked over briskly, eyes still darting around. Something, something had to be off.

"Hy, uh, hey pal," Horik muttered as she slid into the seat next to M'Kama. "You, uh, you get let down here by a hot babe too?"

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Horik tripped on her way over to M'kama, falling forward and sliding into the brimstone oven. She flew in as the oven cover slammed closed behind her.

"Now that's a tasty pie!" Askia exclaimed as she was cooked alive in the forum...

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"That seems strange," Seru leaned forward, her eyes locked onto Palavan, "Transportin' such destruction and not even knowing why."

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Palavan blinked, her gaze riding up Seru's form. They were covered in a cold sweat, like the stalagmites that rose from Cobran's ponds. A stillness to their moisture, a static to the air. "These so much world beyond your caves," Palavan whispered. "Do you ask when your leaders give you an order?" Palavan's eyes were coated in shadows from the green lantern light. "Or do you accept that the home you love is built on the orders you're given."

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Seru narrowed her gaze, "Yes, I do. I do question his orders. Always."

A faint dripping sound echoed in the cavern. A man groaned quietly in the corner. Seru leaned back and let out a breath of air, "Y'know, maybe that's why he keeps me in the dark all the time. But without us questioning orders Cobran wouldn't be where it is today. Tamil knows that. When we question the orders we're given it shows that we care. That we truly care."