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Old 11-17-2020, 11:02 AM   #40
Stomoxys
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Default Day 181 since leaving The Homeland

Telling the child to go inside, I followed and went down in the cellar to wake the others. I was about to tell the humans to close the hatch when I heard them talk about Ajaw and climbed back up. Ajaw seemed to be hanging motionless above the horizon in the west and was blazing with a dark orange hue and bands of crimson was streaking across the sky. Turning the corner and looking to the horizon in the east, the sky was turning an unnatural, starless black. Climbing back up on the chicken coop, I spotted Kama and Taxini dashing towards us faster than I have ever seen them before and ran with them. We were hunting and all my senses were strained to their limit while my heart pounded in my chest. It was not normal prey we were hunting, but fierce predators and a single misstep would be fatal, even for gods.

Finding myself back on the roof, I looked down and saw Grogg and Wolfram wrestling. Wolfram wanted to drag me down, but Grogg had held them at bay. My heart was still pounding as I jumped down. The crimson bands was becoming brighter and looking to the west, it felt like standing in front of a bonfire. Letting Wolfram drag me along, we made it to the cellar and Grogg closed the hatch above us. They were not going to let Palongi go unchallenged. While we settled in, we could hear Grogg pounding their club into the ground and chanting the name of their ancestor god, Orga, with increasing intensity. Touching the hatch, I could feel that the temperature had increased even more and tried to meditate. However, I was interrupted by a huge explosion followed by a sudden silence. Nujan wanted out to see if Grogg was still alive and I started to lift the hatch, but Wolfram was on the verge of panicking and grabbed both of us, shouting that there was nothing to we could do for Grogg. As if to prove them wrong, Grogg roared out a challenge Palongi, calling the dragon a coward that did not dear come and meet them. Through the small gap I had opened, I could see red light and dark shadows flickering, turning the inside of the little farm house into a bizarre and fascinating spectacle. Grogg's roars were loosing their rhythm and was becomming increasingly deranged, sounding more like animal screams than a sapient creature and the ground shook every time their club came down. Between Grogg's howls, I could now hear the answering roar of the wind. Palongi was there. Bellowing a last scream, Grogg thundered away from the farm towards the east.

This was the spur Wolfram needed to get their act together and they finally let us go. Rushing up the ladder I saw bands of crimson fire and black clouds forming a maelstrom above us, battling for control of the sky. Lightning bolts flashed over the plain surrounding Ur, hitting the ground in huge explosions that threw dirt and rocks high into the air. In answer, whips of flame lashed the air and ground, leaving black scourge marks and smoke were rising from several fires, as well as from Ur itself. Through the pandemonium, Grogg stormed eastwards, waving their club and fist towards the black clouds, ignoring the lightning bolts striking the ground around them.

The furthest part of the chicken coop was simply gone, replaced by a blackened crater where the lightning bolt we had heard earlier had hit. Feeling a sudden increase in heat, I dived for cover and crashed into Nujan while a ribbon of fire scoured across the farmyard and set the remains of the chicken coop on fire. Shouting for Wolfram to bring the beer, we were able to put out the fire before it spread. In the dry heat, the farm house would be ablaze in seconds if the fire caught on. To the south west, I could not see the army clearly, but occasional white flashes burst out from the slum. Whatever was going on there, it was interrupted by a whip of fire blazing through slum, leaving a burning inferno in its wake. Looking over to Nujan, I saw the fires in the sky strangely reflected in their eyes and they started uttering words as if in a trance; "Mir is defending the city. We must give them the spear to keep them grounded.". Whatever they meant, I had no time to reflect on it as an intense lightning bolt struck Grogg, making their black silhouette stand out against the intense beam of the bolt, even though they were several hundred meters away by now. It looked like their left arm was completely ruptured by the lightning, but their remaining arm grabbed after after a black ribbon lashing towards them. Somehow, they were able to catch it and throw it eastwards before collapsing in a heap.

Running towards them, I felt the temperature start to increase behind me while Wolfram turned into a bear. Above us, the ribbons of flame were fanning out, driving the black clouds before them. Reaching Grogg, I saw that their arm had turned into a blackened stump. The lower part seemed to be split in two, giving off a sickening odour of burnt flesh while their hand was completely gone. Getting them back on their feet and over Wolfram's back, we slowly made our way back to the farmhouse, Grogg looking like they might fall over at any time, but still triumphant. By now, the heat was sweltering and the whole sky looked like it was on fire.

Reaching the house, we eased Grogg down the ladder to the basement and put the needle in them. Needing space, Nuur-Karif insisted we had to stay upstairs and I agreed reluctantly. Even though the heat was increasing, the burning ribbons were mostly lashing the retreating clouds, leaving the ground unmolested. Not wishing to be in the house in case it caught fire, I sheltered outside behind a small stone fence with Nujan. The slum was still on fire and, judging from the smoke, scattered fires were also raging inside the city walls. Outside the slum, I could see at least parts of the army, but it was too far to see what they were doing. Nujan claimed they had no idea what they were talking about when I asked them about their proclamation and looked so strained I did not push the issue. As the last clouds disappeared in the east, the light and heat started increasing rapidly. It was quickly becoming unbearable, but before we could reach the shelter of the cellar, the heat spiked. For a moment I thought I would be roasted, but the air cooled again almost immediately and the crimson ribbons in the sky started to dissipate.

A strange calm fell over the landscape as Ajaw dissolved, leaving a black, starless sky. The only source of light was the scattered fires still burning, the largest of them in the slum. Thankfully, they were all far enough away to not be an immediate concern. After a few minutes, the stars started to appear, nervously making their way to their familiar places. I could not see Kama and Taxini though. I considered going to the city to scout out what was happening, but decided it was more important to get some rest. Grogg would not go anywhere soon anyway. Nujan offered to hold the first watch, but the jaguar looked drawn and haggard and I sent them to sleep, taking the first watch myself.

Climbing into the tree were I found the child earlier, I considered our position. The dragons had been a truly awesome display of power, but Grogg had somehow been able to send Palongi back east. Nefalonia had said something about giants keeping the dragons at bay and Grogg had rambled about someone not doing their job while riding Wolfram back to the farm. I do not think we can do anything about that right now and we have more immediate concerns. Nujan's strange proclamation had disturbed them and they seemed unwilling to talk about it. I have not heard anyone talk about dragons possessing anyone, but who knows. Perhaps jaguars have a similar connection Ajaw as we have with the stars. Either way, I'll be happy to get rid of the stupid spear, though it certainly had not grounded Lunari. We still do not know where Mir is, but they would not leave large amounts of supplies in such a risky place if they did not intend to use them soon. Consequently, our best course of action is probably to wait here instead of wandering off on a wild goose chase in the desert. Nothing happened in the night, except the fires were still burning in Ur and after three hours, I woke Nuur-Karif and went to sleep.

Last edited by Stomoxys; 11-17-2020 at 11:34 AM.
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