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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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"You have one village to worry about?" Palavan questioned. "Well we have thousands. I don't know my leaders, I cannot... requisition the time of the Holy Matranical Empress... there is a long line of command if you're asking why I don't question every order that seems dangerous. We serve the military commanders. We serve the Empress... but these orders, I believe, came from elsewhere."

Palavan glanced down. "Orders that killed us all... and cursed us to this... shit. World."

Tackle looked down.

The lantern fire flickered above them. "Well... suppose here I am now, hidden away with you," Palavan said. "Not much I can do now... the players have made their moves. The Sceptre and the bullets are out of our hands." Palavan nodded slowly to herself, grim acceptance coming over her. A soldierly attitude, even in the worst of times. "I'm here... and to the Empire I am now useless. You've all made it to the refugee home you'd hoped for, deep underground, in safety, ready to wait out your days," Palavan frowned. "Looks like... we're done."

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"Not yet we ain't," Seru stood, "You wont last long on this here Rock if you give up that easily. We're gonna go find that Witch and her bullets, and we're gonna destroy them. Then we're gonna turn that big ol' canon into scrap. Maybe by selling that scrap you can catch a ride back home, hm?"

The girls eyes glinted at Palavan, full of vigor. She was young and lucky. There was no other reason for her to believe in failure, "C'mon. This is your responsibility, offworlder, deaths will be on your soul if we don't try."

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"I saw the Witch for but a moment... and she held me, and caressed me, and made my pain stop," Palavan said. "What else can I give you of use?"

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Seru made a sound of disgust and turned toward the door, "Then stay here. Drown in your apathy. People will die because of you, offworlder, but I'm gonna try to stop that from happening."

She closed the door behind her.

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Seru smashed closed the hospital door. The shock unhooked the lantern from the wall, dropping onto Tackle's lap as he sat opposite Palavan. The shite certainly had hit the man.

***

"PIZZA PIZZA!" Askia exclaimed as Horik burnt to death.

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Several things happened in quick succesion. First his fellow Yyban, Ravioli linguini or whetever his name was had insisted that M'Kama did not have enough pizza, to which he concurred and grabbed another slice. Then Percy insisted that he and the Pizzapasta man knew one another...perhaps due to the fact that they were of the same race and hailed from the same land to which M'Kama shook his head irritably and then one of his companions seemed to have bumbled herself into an oven from the looks of it.

Sighing, M'Kama glanced dully at the nervous Otis, who raised a hand and doused the flames out. "You know the tools of your trade best, friend," he said, speaking once more to Mamamia Calzone. "I'd pull her put safely, before much more of a commotion is made."

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Askia ran up to the oven and did a quick prayer before opening it. Black smoke funnelled out into the forum, the citizens of Cobran casping in fear as Horik's charred corpse fell out. "My deepest fears have finally come to fruition," The Pizza Man explained.

Horik coughed up burn soot as she rose dizzily. "Another friend of yours, Ash old boy?" Percy asked, approaching cautiously...

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Deep inside Cobran through a maze of rock and caverns stood Seru, her arms on her hips and a gaze of determination on her face. The room she stood in was hers, a bed in the corner, a table in another, books and shelves lined with various treasures she had found lining the stone walls. She was packing a bag in her room, filling the brown sack with parchment, ink, maps and various tools for a long journey. She had changed her dirtied and bloodied clothes, throwing hot new threads into the bag, before turning toward a wooden table stacked with ammo and various guns. Above the table was a hand drawn map of Cobran, a maze that made no sense to anyone other than those who had lived here a long time. Her hands moved to a pistol, pulling it apart and then putting it back together again before throwing it into the sack. She counted ammo and pulled apart every gun she owned.

It was a thorough preparation for a long journey ahead.

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Seru's home was a homely perch, on a cliff-side street overlooking the rest of Cobran. Like most of Cobran there was no real lock on the door, instead just a portal looking out onto the lantern lit town. Suddenly there was a knock on the stone of the entrance way of her home.

Seru turned from her preparations where leaning against the entrance-way was a tall man, dark side-burns cutting down the sides of his face. Full lips matching hers, thick eye-brows upward, in a sympathetic matter, all beneath the brim of a hat. The man whispered. "That is quite a collection you've got there," The man hummed. "Goin' for a hunt?"

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Seru swallowed, looking guilty as if she had just been caught doing something she shouldn't. It had only been a day since she had returned and she was already planning to leave again, "Ive - Ive got a lead. I got something big. They told you...about the weapon we found in Schittle, yeah?"

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"They told me Bones is gone. Khada too," The man said, chewing tobacco on the left side of his cheek. He shifted his weight. "Also told me about the new amputee in the ward. And the caravan of Skylanders you came in with."

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"Wait, gone?" Seru slowly put down the box of bullets she was holding, her expression shocked, "But I thought - I thought they were safe."

She sat down on the side of her bed, chewing her lip with a frown, "Oh. Oh. That changes things. You don't know then...that there's a weapon of mass destruction on the Rock."

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"Make way, make way!" A short, elderly man screamed urgwntly , pushing past his fellow Cobranites to approach Horik. "I have to see to her immediately, she's been through immense trauma!"

"How can you tell?" A Cobranite asked of him.

"I am after all.............a Doctor," the old man flashed a toothy grin.

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The man kept chewing, a pained expression on his face. "Yeeeeah," he said. "I heard that too." He pushed his weight off the wall and took a strut into Seru's room. His hand hung off his belt as he stood above the the bag of equipment. He nudged the toe of his boat into the bag, revealing her rations. "What is this, twelve days, at best?"

The man sighed and went to the bed beside her. He hunched, his hands in a fist on his chin. "Deerlob took a party out to find out more about Schittle- and find out what happened to Bones, to Khada." The man blinked, grey eyes beneath long, aged lashes. "I heard it's a gun. Now a big gun, mind you, but still a gun."

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"A canon, more like," Seru stared at him, "Ive seen it, Tamil. It's horrible. One bullet into the side of Cobran's walls could collapse the whole damn mountain. The worst part is that our friend Crown Prince Theory has it," she paused, "But he don't have the bullets. The Witch of the Waste does. I was gonna...well I just thought I'd help out, y'know? I'm gonna go get those bullets and destroy them."

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Tamil let the tobacco hang from his mouth a moment. "A big gun," He said again. "And the Remnants might have it now but they didn't make it, did they? Who did?" Tamil chewed. "Who did, Seru?" He let a pregnant pause sit in the air. "The systems." Tamil answered his own question. "Doctor Skelward say the amputee is an Ulfirian. Now we take their gun, or no we disable their gun, as you want to, and you think they leave us alone?" Tamil blinked. "You think we take out the gun and the systems stop looking our way? Whats the plan then?"

Tamil laughed. "Come on, I asked you a question hotshot." He punched Seru's shoulder, though light enough that a baby could not feel it. "We gonna start disablin' their ships from the sky? Start burning all their guns before they even get to firin' 'em?"

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Seru frowned, feeling like a child again. She always felt like a child around him, "So what, should we just let Theory and our one hundred enemies fight over the gun, deciding whose gonna shoot us first?" she pursed her lips, "The gun ain't worth nothing without the bullets. I mean fuck the systems let them take their stupid gun back, but God we need to destroy those bullets."

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"Now who the hell are our enemies? Can't shoot what you can't find." Tamil pursed his lips. He let his thumbs sink above the bridge of his nose and massaged the skin. "Come on, girl," Tamil said, rising up from the bed slowly. He began to sway forward, taking a big step over Seru's bag toward the entrance. He turned back toward her from the green light of the doorway. "Come on, now. Let me show you somethin'."

Tamil led Seru out onto the cliff. He stepped across the road- they'd carved them out by hand, once upon a time. Each rock-face broken down and moulded into structures, levels, houses, stairways. And all through the underground town names were etched, messages, symbols and every body of rock they'd touched. Even carved on the road in front of her house. Symbols for Scabber, Dothlabar, Sand-Dweller, Bones. Seru knew every one of them.

At the cliff's edge Tamil began to sit slowly, his hand clutched on his back as he lowered. He played much older than he was. He'd not always, but since Mohan's demise, since their mother's... he'd seemed to gain thirty years in ten. He looked over the caverns: it's twisting walkways and roads, it's hanging bridges and tunnels. The lantern lights reflected in his eyes. "Old man wouldn't believe this, if he ever lived to see it," Tamil breathed, the tobacco loose between his molars. He turned to Seru who sat beside him on the caves overlook, but only a passing glance. They knew each other's faces. But the view of the caverns, bustling, and the thousands of lives within, never grew old.

"Time gets funny down here. Hard to tell when a days passed, when a nights began. Suppose that's what the... the clock is for," Tamil said. "We try and fight we're not gonna win. We're hucksters, Seru, not warriors. Cobran Caverns knows there ain't no honour in a sudden death."

He paused.

"And if the systems are coming back with guns- and ships, well we can't fight that neither." After a final chew Tamil spit out his tobacco. It plummeted between his feet, passed walkways and houses until landing at the base level almost eighty feet below, a silent plop into the river that streamed through the caverns. "If the world above is getting bloody again it's time we start closing our doors. Hibernating for the winter," Tamil said with a self-affirming nod. "We gotta... get who we gotta get before it gets dangerous letting strangers in, and then we go dark. We continue with the trade routes, we continue with the secrets, but we hide the entrance-ways... we hide the path to the caverns. If there's a war we'll emerge when it's done with and not a minute before."

He had that sound to him. That tone in his gentle voice. It was a chirp, a high-pitched pop in his diplomatic drawl, but Seru had known Tamil long enough to tell when his mind had been made up. She could hear the resolve. If the Rock was plunging deeper into war Cobran would have a long sleep. And awake again on greener days.

"Of course, if destroying these bullets delays the systems and keeps our gates open to the hopeful for a few months longer," Tamil continued, rolling his shoulders in a slight shrug. "Well I don't see nothing wrong with that." Approval. Confirmation. Tamil didn't seem the type, but every decision in Cobran was his, one way or another. "Of course if you're off after the Witch you're gonna need a lot more food. And a new scouting party."

From the walled forum in the centre of town there was an eruption of smoke, as if someone had fallen into one of the fire-ovens that cooked and flooded smoke out to the surface. Whatever it was it faded quick, just a momentary blip in their view.

"The newcomers you brought, have they been given a choice yet? Have they been looked after, healed?" Tamlin stopped. "By her?"

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Seru glanced down at her hands, folded on her lap, "One has. The Ol...Uhl - Ulfirian. There is no other choice for her. The others....no, they haven't. She doesn't trust them, told me not to trust them either. She told me -" her words stopped for a moment and she looked up at Tamil, her leader yes, but most importantly her brother. To hear the serpents foretelling would bother him. "She just told me not to trust them," Seru lied, "So I don't. One of them seems to have an idea on the whereabouts of the Witch at least, so that's good I s'pose."

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Tamil squinted as he looked out over the town. "We'll deal with them and get you on your way tomorrow, think that oughta-" His words stopped. At a tunnel entrance a guardsman could be seen tending to the long legged red-cave beetle that knelt beside him when suddenly a figure ran up, warning about something. Tamil watched over. "Something's happening in town... I think in the level two forum."

The two siblings rose in unison, ready to stop whatever trouble was being cooked up in the Cobran Caverns...

***

"My pizza!" Askia exclaimed as the two entered the forum, a crowd now gathered around the scene. Askia, the renowned chef, was attempting to wrestle a doctor to the ground. And standing in the centre of the chaos were the new arrivals.

Tamil frowned at the scene.

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"Rob me of my patients, will you?!" The Doctor screamed in the midst of strangling Askia. "I'm going to rob you of your spleen!" He cackled as he drew his scalpel from his back pocket.

M'Kama ate the last row slices of pizza.

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Character Portrait: Syra Onnet
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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?"



"I see the hard part is done, now, we will be taking The Sceptre for Crown Prince Theory!" Uriah's voice called from the other side of the cannon. Remnants on antback rode up beside her, blades and guns drawn. "We don't appreciate the Matran sending her dogs here to take what is rightfully ours, Knight!" She howled. the men an women beside her erupting in a battle cry, "Nor do we think it right that you have sided with these, savages!" She then gestured at Zambob and his men. "They have no claim here, and you will all perish in order to make way for the true revival of The Rock!"



"Uriah, The Bold?" Azure whispered, "Listed as AWOL after the Sorillian massacre, yet she's ready to fight for a busted cannon and this world that she has no claim to?" She sighed, "These Remnants are every bit as stupid as I was warned."






***

"Where might you be going, Thrall?"

Syra's blood ran cold as her eyes darted left and right, seeking any open doorway she could escape into.

"Answer me!" Theory called again, his hand grasping her shoulder, forcing Syra to her knees, her back to her former master. "Never forget who saved your life, girl, and who has graciously allowed you to remain alive as long as you have. But a child when I saved you, and a child still, you never learn!" He spun her around before slapping her across the face, sending her into the glassed earth that was once Shittle's roads. "Laughable that you believed the people of this town would allow me to rot in some cell!"

She looked into his ice blue eyes and saw nothing but madness. He believed himself a God, a savior of the people, the only one who could tame such a lawless world, and she knew well what would become of anyone who dares to cross him.

'Now, let's show these pathetic fools who their King will be!"

"Stop, let me go!" Syra protested as Theory grabbed her wrist and pulled her from the dirt, "You just don't get it, do you girl?" he started, dragging her despite her best efforts to free herself. She was nothing compared to his strength. Memories flashed in her mind before she stopped struggling and allowed herself to be pulled along. Next thing she knew, she was being thrown against the oaken desk inside of the Knight's ship.

The engines whined and as Theory began to run through a system check on the ship. Dust clouded the windscreen as the ship began to rise from the ground. Before she knew what had come over her, Syra lunged for the controls.

"What are you doing?" Theory cried out as they struggled for control of the ship as it rose into the sky and then dropped rapidly. She felt his fist against her cheek, and her nose began to bleed as she struggled to hold on, throwing the stick down, and rejoicing as her stomach flew into her throat, and the nose of the ship pointed toward the ground. The Sorillain ship that had carried The Sceptre filled the viewscreen as the small Knight ship awkwardly plunged to its demise.

"You bitch!" Theory howled, throwing Syra from the controls. He managed to pull the ship upright, but it was too late. The screech of metal on metal filled their ears as fire bloomed from the control panel. The Oaken desk and chair flew into the air before bouncing off the shattered windshield, and splintering into millions of tiny pieces. Glass flew around them, cutting flesh with eas as the air left their lungs, and the world went silent.

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Ash was utterly and thoroughly confused. What had he been nipping at? He could quite clearly see this young lady (who seemed like she might have been the one from above that cliff edge he saw before) had sat down right beside the strange voodoo man (who's name he was fairly sure he had not been given yet), and yet beside them he could clearly see the same woman tripping into a oven, with the deranged pizza man dancing around before a self-proclaimed 'doctor' came in to do something.

"This reminds me of that bloody time with the bald fellow with those hideous goggles..." He whispered to himself in contemplation.


"Another friend of yours, Ash old boy?"

Ash turned to Percy and gave a slight shrug, trying his best to hide his total bafflement. "I ah, couldn't say old friend. Don't know that I actually know her..."

He trailed off as he saw more of the commotion between the doctor and the pizza man. Ash pulled out a flask and took a small swig of its contents (about 65-70% proof) before walking over to the two strange men. He grabbed the pizza man, picked him up, turned, and sat him down away from the doctor.

Ash pointed a finger at the pizza man. "No." The captain said parentally.

He turned back to the doctor, pointing at the spot on the ground where the woman's second self was. "Yes." He said, once more parentally.

The captain sat back down at the table when all was said and done. "As of late, I've been spending considerably more time in caves than I am accustomed to." He said aloud as he tried to diagnose what was wrong with himself.

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Tackel calmly placed the lamp back on the wall, and turned to Palavan.

"I reckon I don't really have any right to say anything to you," Tackel said, sighing. "That girl can spout whatever, but you're not from our world. This ain't your fight. You don't belong here, and you shouldn't have had to come here. This place is not for you."

Tackel glanced down at his dirty hands, and slowly clenched them into fists. "But I want to change all that. I want to bring law, order, justice to this godforsaken place. I have a dream, you see. Maybe it's unobtainable, but still, it's my dream. And I'm going to fight for it." Tackel shrugged. "Sorry, I'm probably talking too much. I just want to say though, you stick with me, and I'll try my hardest to make sure you get off this planet safe. You at least deserve that after what you've been through, and I don't know if these Cobran folks will do much for you in that area."

Tackel paused. "If you need time to think it over, that's fine. If you say no, I'll leave you in peace. All up to you."

***

Otis shivered and disappeared into the crowd. He had a bad feeling...

***

"Special ammunition?" Zambob said, stroking his beard thoughtfully. "Perhaps..." His thoughts were interrupted however by the extremely rude proclamations of what remained of Theory's soldiers.

Zambob glanced at the woman calling herself Uriah, and then back to his men. "It seems we have our first contestant for the weapon, fellow servants! Please, all of you, test their resolve."

Galneryus smiled grimly as Zambob's army, outnumbering Uriah's forces five to one, drew weapons and began to attack, showing no hesitation and no fear as they charged.

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A hand came down on the card man's arm, making him put down the pizza he was about to bite into. Beside him stood Horik, burned flesh peeling, who reached down and grabbed a little bit of charred skin that had fallen on his pizza.

"You can, uh, you can finish that now," she said simply as she sat down . Underneath the peeling charred skin was new, baby soft skin that made Horik look 10 years younger.

"It is rather different from the sand," Horik said to Ash with a small smile. "I'm used to wanting to go above the sand, never thought I'd be below it. Name's Horik by the way."