DIVA: The Captain's Prize #2

deucexm deucexm at gmail.com
Sat Jan 22 15:44:26 PST 2022

I have several people rather anxiously waiting for this, as it turns out. 
Fortunately I was able to salvage the rolling trainwreck that a Saturday work
shift turned out to be, and made a chapter out of it instead.

I love making progress; it gives me hope.


The Captain's Prize: A DiVerse Alpha Chronicle
by Felix



Consciousness came back with a jolt, and a shudder of the ground underneath her.

Captain Seraya Shadowharper winced involuntarily at the lance of pain through
her right shoulder as she pushed herself to a sitting position.  She'd be
feeling that even more later, for sure.  Fortunately her spellcraft had taken
the brunt of her little accident, as it ever did - but a quick look at the
battery pack at her waist told her what she needed to know: she couldn't afford
to take any more falls like that, at least not without a good recharge.

A snap of her fingers ignited a field of softly glimmering pinpricks to
illuminate the impenetrable darkness around her.  As the field expanded,
spreading in all directions, the Captain rose to her feet, dusted herself off,
and surveyed her new environs with eyes as sharp as any bird of prey.

Fortune seemed to be on her side, at least in her landing spot; the broken-off
rock column she found herself on was the largest one she could see sticking out
of the sea of... bubbling... something... that occupied the deepest part of the
chasm.  With only dim aetherlight to aid her, she couldn't tell what the stuff
was, exactly; and the Captain knew better than to go testing unknown liquids
when she couldn't see properly.  Well, outside of a bar, anyway.

With nothing else to go on, she'd probably be lost down here; but of course
she'd come prepared for today, in more ways than one.  With extra care, the
Captain reached into her jacket pocket and slid out a small metal case, about
the size of her wallet but much more slim, and opened it with a little *click*. 
For a moment she simply gazed at the heart-shaped necklace resting on the
protective padding, and then took a breath and looped it around her neck. 
Closing the clasp, then putting the case back into her pocket, she waited.

The silence grew thick and heavy, enough so for the Captain to hear her own
heartbeat thudding in her ears, and the aetherlight seemed to twinkle, fading -
or was it her imagination?  Nerves?  She never found it easy to invoke memories
intentionally, not like this, for a spell.  But she had a good reason this time.
For /her/-

"-bound to me," the Rose Princess whispered in her ear, as golden light flooded
the world, tracing the outlines of the rocky pillars and the sunken ruins.

As though it was yesterday instead of years ago, the Captain felt those delicate
hands on her neck, adjusting the necklace - the Princess's warm breath - and
instead of the saucy grin she gave the Princess back then, she felt a fiery
flush hit her cheeks.  A good thing no one was around to see it, or she'd never
live down the embarrassment.

"And don't you forget it, okay?  Don't you forget /me/, no matter who else
crosses your path," the Princess's memory admonished her, gently.  "No matter
who throws themselves at you - you belong to me, my brave Captain.  And I belong
to you - no matter what my parents may say."

"I could never forget you, my Princess," the Captain murmured softly.

The light of memory faded, but at her chest the necklace gleamed with golden
brilliance; and it chimed softly in time with her own heart, a faint silvery
aethertrail starting to stretch out of it into the darkness, across the rubble
and ruins and rocks.

Steeling herself once more and checking her battery out of habit (it was still
low, but not empty), the Captain fitted a set of grip-talons to her gloves and
boots, then backed up and took a running leap!  Off the broken pillar, into the
darkness, following the trail - floating a little, as she drew on her spellcraft
just enough to cushion her landing - and crashing onto the side of another rocky
pillar, this one at a sharp angle.  With most of the wind knocked out of her by
the rough landing, she dug in with all her claws and hung on, gasping for
several breaths.

Composing herself, the Captain clawed her way to the top of the angled pillar
for another look to see where the trail led next.  Breathing heavily still, she
felt her own heart beat intensely - and heard the soft chiming, and saw the
silvery trace brighten briefly each time.  It still led into the darkness, but
in the dim yet persistent field of aetherlight, she could just barely pick out
how it weaved its way from one pillar to the next, using partially sunken
architecture here and there.  A ruined building in one spot, a worryingly
dilapidated bridge across another... there was no path ahead, it seemed, that
would be either simple or direct.  And her battery was dangerously low

Well, no one ever said journeys of the heart were easy.

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