DIVA: The Captain's Prize #1
deucexm at gmail.com
Mon Jan 17 16:38:26 PST 2022
Finally, I'm weaving some timelines together! I certainly haven't forgotten
about my brave plumbers, nor their continuing struggles, but for the moment
we're going to take a look at another place on Viral - as I was inspired to
write something a little different this time around.
I think I posted art of the Captain long, long ago. Another age, feels like.
The Captain's Prize: A DiVerse Chronicle
Half a world (roughly) away...
Away from the dust and sand of the desert, away from the family squabbles of the
Lawsons and Leones and the dark secrets buried underneath the surface...
A tiny two-person airship skidded across a flat rocky shelf, its propellers
slowing to idle as it bounced to a halt. From the deck, a dull glint of metal
in the near-darkness - then over the side came a massive gray anchor, following
a small arc before crashing into the surface below. It would have been loud, if
not for the lightning storm already crackling and booming overhead, searing the
sky with bolts of purple and blue and red.
"I don't think this is a good idea, Captain," came the clipped voice of the
First Mate, barely audible over the storm.
"Your objection is duly noted, Miss Domino," the Captain returned cheerily, "but
I shall proceed as planned." Gripping the railing with one hand and checking
the charge on her aetheric battery pack one last time, she vaulted over the side
of the airship and landed with a heavy thud of boots.
Captain Seraya Shadowharper, known to some as Dread Pirate Ser ('but who dreads
a pirate, honestly, we're great people', she'd say), had traveled here - to the
edge of one of the most dangerous mystical disaster areas dating back to the Age
of Chaos - for one reason alone: to give her wife-to-be the gift she'd always
wanted, a gift that could be acquired nowhere else. Well... probably.
There was of course the small matter of surviving the trip down and back, and
then sneaking past the Rose Kingdom's defenses to present the gift to the
Princess. She'd done the latter before, of course, but she was starting to
think they didn't appreciate her visits by how they chased her off so vigorously
with shouts and spells and armaments.
But "challenges invigorate the spirit and temper the soul", as her mentor never
tired of telling her; and so the Captain flashed a grin to her First Mate and
affixed her climbing claws, and started making her way down into the inky chasm
Today would be a test of her ability to balance risk and reward - and the reward
was precious beyond imagining, to her at least, so she expected the risk to be
commensurately severe. As a result the Captain had spared no expense or
preparation for today's jaunt into the unknown: the extra-sturdy boots and
gloves she rarely wore, too bulky and stiff for general comfort, were reinforced
with layer after layer of spellcraft. Her short leather jacket, easier to
manage than her longcoat of captaincy, was similarly woven with safeguarding
charms and wards (albeit less thickly), and even her trousers - and
undergarments - bore similar protection.
And even that might not be enough. The Age of Chaos had scarred the land
(perhaps not as traumatically as the other side of the world, where she'd heard
things were even worse), and here at the Razor's Edge - a massive faultline and
a series of deep chasms that sliced across a solid third of the continent - the
atmosphere was permanently plagued with roiling storms of natural and
supernatural energy alike. Safety, even for the prepared, was not guaranteed.
"But if it was guaranteed," the Captain murmured to herself, with the continuing
crackle of lightning and the slickly grinding sort of sound as her claws
punctured the rock face over and over, "someone else would have stolen my prize
away by now." For there was a chance - however slim - that at the bottom of the
chasm, somewhere along its length, lay her goal: an erstwhile Temple of Desire,
said to grant any wish - if the price was right. But only once.
Another minute or two of stabbing the gleaming metal claws into the rock, and
the darkness finally grew too deep to see anything between the now-distant
lightning flashes. So the Captain tilted her head and snapped her teeth at one
of the spells woven around her, igniting a silvery trail of ancient characters
that hung in the air for a moment; and after they disappeared, a steady glow
began to illuminate her gloves and boots, and anything she touched gained a
brief luminous aura as well.
She wasn't a capital-M Magician by any stretch of the imagination, but the
Captain knew her way around a spellbook or two - enough to suitably serve her in
situations like this. And so, mood bolstered by the cool silvery glow, she sped
up her pace a little - and promptly cursed up a storm as she hit the rock at a
bad angle, her climbing claw rebounding painfully and all of her weight falling
on one arm for a moment before she could squirm back into place.
A fiery ache shot through her shoulder, and the Captain hissed through her
teeth. Not good.
It was salvageable, though - or it would have been, if not for what felt like an
earthquake, the world itself suddenly shuddering violently and shoving her free
of the rock face, sending her plummeting into the void with no chance to react.
'I should have expected this,' she thought, briefly. And then - nothing.
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