After a few days, the temple was cleared out of all the people. Eysin and Seals had returned to Ceremony when Imogen had summoned them, asking if they could still salvage anything of the remaining parts of the Titans that were blown up. “Maybe you can make out what happened here?”
Eysin picks up a shard that once was the part of the dome of the titan, weighs in it her hand, “I should be able to get something from here. If not to make out what happened, at least find some fixes… The Titan in the Temple is about fixed. Could I also get some piece from the other one?”
They walk their way through the park and back to the Pits Terratorium wall. A large hole had blown into it. They could see into the Pits from where they stood. It was all full of sand and dust. People were in there, trying to clean up and see if they can get it back to work.
Looking around, the atmosphere was pretty grim. It was still that time in Spring where trees were sleeping. Now the one bit – the grass, that had been green – was covered in muck, too. But the weather that day was spectacular – the sky was speckless, the sun was intense. They could feel how it was roasting their skins.
“Wonder if that’s what it looked like back in the start of A.C.E…”
A large scale experiment had gone wrong – someone came up with an idea to put a lot of chalk in the air, attempting to dim out the sunlight. Had the swarm come around sometime earlier, this could never have happened. The experiment took an unexpected turn, and the chalk in the air turned into a strange kind of blob. The whole region became a lifeless spot of muck.
And it had been the worms that turned the tides here – they’d gone to Siberia and sprouted a very fertile forest, a very large patch – this, in turn, started gathering a lot of water, and finally, that water came back to this region, rained down – very heavy rain – and washed all the muck away. Nature was healing, people could return.
Then this whole swarm and lockdown thing started – twice, every year, no one can walk outside, 2 weeks in the spring, 4 weeks in the autumn. And another one of those was going to start within the next week.
“We’re staying in the mansion near the Temple this year,” Imogen comments, “you guys are welcome to join if you like,” she tells Seals and Eysin.
“Who else is going to be there?” Seals had a very specific person in mind, and Imogen must have guessed what that was about.
“Well, yeah, Bartel will be there.”
“And there’s your answer. Eysin, you can still go, if you want to.”
Eysin was looking around the ground, trying to pick the best piece for the job. She wasn’t paying attention to what they were talking about. “Nah, I’m good,” she mumbled.
“It’ll be fun, we have a whole programme worked out for the 2 weeks!”
“Oh, for the lockdown?” She stopped looking for the piece, looked at Imogen and weighed whether she wanted to get involved in some programme. She knew there’d probably be really good food, because before they met with Imogen, she had met some pirates, and these pirates were bringing in some exotic foods. There would probably be some music and talking, a warm bed to sleep at, drugs and alcohol. “Nah, I think I wanna work on the Titan…”
“Then we’ll stay in the Temple, together,” Seals picks up some piece and shows it to Eysin. “This any good?”
“This looks perfect.”
“Well, then you better get out from here now, no one can know I gave these to you. If you can, please, find out who else besides Daegan was here – because it took two to do this… And still, if you guys happen to change your mind about the lockdown, you’re still invited. I promise you, the food will be great!”
* * *
A few hours later, Eysin and Seals have made it back to the Temple, they are setting up the garage for work, stacking up on some canned food. Seals also insists on bringing some candles and some extra nice soft blankets – so, she disappears for another hour and brings them. When she returns she offers some of her stuff to Eysin, and she accepts.
The blanket is fantastic, so soft and pleasant. But she didn’t return alone. A half an hour later, from the other side of the temple – he must have walked through the whole thing – Vinu Laos appears.
He does a slow lap around the garage room, looks around, thinking of something, knocks on the Titan and then stands in front of the door. He was happy to see that it was fixed. “Did you know, I was the one who broke it?” He said, meant for Eysin to hear.
Eysin hadn’t noticed he was there, she got startled for a bit, then stood and attended to him. “How did you break it?”
“Took my hand away too soon. When I put it back, it wouldn’t move anymore. Some strange bug. It was this way for a long while. It’s good that it’s fixed now.” He fell back into thought, took a look at Eysin, nodded for a greeting, and finished the slow lap around the room. “I heard you were interested in returning to Reval, Eysin.”
Seals pokes her head out of her room, sees him, and heard what he had just said, and then raises her eyebrows in surprise. Vinu nods for a greeting, “good to see you,” he says.
But Seals puffs up her cheeks and blows out some air, and returns to her room. A strange situation. Vinu only seems amused about it.
“Come, Eysin, we have a walk, and we’ll talk about it.”
* * *
“Some while ago you applied back to RESO.”
“Yes, sir…” She was now afraid that he might interpret this application as a betrayal.
“Well, they need someone with your skills, and they are offering to you a position with a considerable paycheck. I thought it best if I handed it over to you in person… Because I have something to say to you, too.”
And because Vinu had said it with a kind smile, Eysin felt delighted at the offer, even before she had opened to read it or see what else undesirable terms there would be in there… She felt like she had won a lottery – and she got the offer she had so far only wished for herself.
“I wished for it!” She cheers, unexpectedly.
Vinu is a little confused by this reaction, he was about to say something else, but now got a little confused. They walk down the stairs around the orb room, and he doesn’t speak until they have reached the ground level. He is curious, “what’s there for you in Reval, Eysin. Did I take you away from something that you held dear, and now wish to go back?”
Eysin stops and tries to understand what he was asking. They stand near the edge of the pool, eyes gazing towards the Orb, but not really looking at it. Eysin was trying to make sense of the answer she was going to give. “If things have changed in RESO, and I, a stray am a welcome sight, there… I’ll take that generic life over what I have been going through, here. I don’t think I fit in here, sir.”
“It hasn’t even been a year, yet. It can’t happen fast,” he jumps to defend. But then realizes he shouldn’t – he should let her speak. Ask questions, dummy, don’t sell.
“It’s true… It has not been such a long time. Now, after the events on Ceremony, however.” She stopped thinking, held her breath, and turned her sights on Vinu, and the old man was looking at her, curious and worried. “This place isn’t safe for me, not the way I am. I wish I could remain loyal to house Atelbaer and all that – but alone – I don’t think it’s possible. In Reval, I’d be an independent contributor, on a salary, in their closed town, safe…”
He wanted to point out that no place was safe anymore, and that at least here she could build herself up for the threats that are coming – he wanted to point out that Reval was not going to be unaffected by any conflicts that come, and the safety she felt in the menial work of Reval guilds was only illusory. Beautifully decorated walls, fake plants and smiling managers did nothing more but distract people’s attention away from what’s happening at the underground, on the sea, over the sea, and in central Evropa. It was going to catch up with them – and those hiding in the comforts, fragilizing their bones with this terrible processed food would possibly be the first to die.
She did feel uncomfortable and anxious. And she hated that she had to justify her position now. She just couldn’t put her finger on it – the way things were, felt wrong. “I just don’t feel safe here. I think I will do better in Reval.” She was getting a little upset but did her best to keep herself from crying or yelling.
Vinu saw and understood the struggle just well. She wasn’t the first person he was having this same conversation with. His kind smile returned – it had always worked when there was a need to make a person feel more at ease. A genuine smile, the warmth of the heart, and sometimes even light jokes. But he didn’t find an opportunity for a joke – and it would have seemed inappropriate anyway – she had confessed she fears she won’t fit in.
“I was going to ask you to stay, because we need you, here. You took it all in so well… You integrated with the technology, like a natural. You discovered techniques unknown to any of us before… And there surely is a lot more to come… You can surprise us… And I sincerely do hope – that we can surprise you, too.”
What she heard, strangely strangled her soul. It felt uncomfortable to keep eye contact. So, she looked away and put some distance between herself and Vinu. She walked closer to the pool, and sat down, putting her toes into the water. She tried to repeat in her head what he had been saying. It had been unexpected.
And when she went through it once again, she felt it less like a strangle and more like a hug. Emotionally, this was a completely new experience to her, she didn’t know what to make of it or how to act. It also made her cry, so she kept sitting near the water, put her hands in her face and processed it for a while.
Vinu sat on the stairs and let her go through what she needed to go through.
“This place, compared to Reval, is very up close and personal,” she said through sniffs and wiping her nose and face. “It is very intense.”
Yes, nothing like that in Reval. Everything and everyone is generic, it has become an expectation – the larger the town, the organization, the guild – the more generic they expect you to act. And this genericness also was like a safety shield. You can’t bother anyone with your true personality, quirks if you act, talk and operate the way everyone else does it.
“You in Reval is a waste,” he says. “I don’t expect you to change anything about what you do to fit in here. From what I’ve seen – you are a good person, and we need more good people, okay?”
Eysin thought these people are unusually adamant about this. She’d thought about her last interactions with Arkion, too. Not for a second did she believe this man had been sincere with her. Why was he trying to convince me to stay?
“What are you getting out of this?”
He could have said this has nothing to do with his interests, but arguing against having any in her alliance would have made it seem like a lie. He crosses his arms, looks up and seems to think for a while. “You were interested in the Swarm, yes?”
“I’ve been trying to look into it, but it’s expensive.”
“And if you figure out what you wanted to figure out under EESO sponsorship, you would share that knowledge with me, is that correct?”
“Sure, I would, but there are no guarantees I will ever figure anything out. I know I can read them with a blue, but I need to test things, I need to build some kind of a device… But experimenting with the blue is difficult, and it’s expensive. I earned some in the tournament, sure, but… The rudimentary device I have made just sucks it all up and accounts for nothing more than a fart in the wind.”
“And you still ask what I’m getting out of this?”
“I don’t guarantee you any good news, Vinu. What’s that worth?”
“More than enough. I’d rather you do it here and with us – regardless of the outcome. What can I do to make you feel safer here, then?”
She did not like that question at all. Right now she just wanted to go back to Reval, dust off her tiny apartment, forget about all this. Her sigh expressed it accurately.
It made Vinu a little impatient. “You integrated here, bit by bit, not too much novelty at a time – made sure you can handle it. But this event must have knocked you out of whack. Now – you’re not so sure anymore. I can understand that. You are not the first person to be in a similar situation.”
“Did you convince all the others who were, to stay?”
“Sadly, no. I can’t convince for shit. I can offer what I have to offer, and you’ll either be satisfied with it or not. It looks like you need some kind of security.”
“How can Reval offer you that security?”
“The shielded city will keep me safe, I won’t go looking for trouble.”
This conversation wasn’t going in a productive direction, “okay, look, you will be free to go to Reval, we won’t bother you anymore, but the price for that – you hear me out and think about it. Okay?”
“Not a terrible price,” she mumbles, a little tired of all this pressure.
“I think we should keep walking, you take in what I have to say, and then you’ll come back and do whatever it is that you were doing, you sleep on it. You’ll have a whole lockdown to process this because you can’t go right now anyway, how about that?”
She shrugs, stands up and they keep walking. They go to the right- wing hallways of the temple.
“You asked me if I convinced the others to stay – I tell you again, I did not. I’m just a guy who oversees things. Even though I try to participate in these wild suppers as much as I can, I cannot replace the function of your fellows. I understand you fell out with your Pits group, but I also heard you found another. And as I understand it – Arkion made his introductions, and he’s sure to return. Now, why I am saying all this – yes, this place is up and personal, as you said. Back in Reval, do you know how to they attempt to ensure the loyalty of their soldiery?”
“They are brought up at the respective houses that they are to guard, fight and die for,” she remembered.
“Do you think it works?”
“Have there ever been any breaches of loyalty among their rank?”
“Not that I know.”
“But these… People seem soulless. In that regard, I’d say it doesn’t work. I’ve met your model gladiator, Arkion – and he was quite the opposite. “ She thought of him even as “incredible”.
Vinu smiles and nods, “I don’t do the convincing because it has to be him, or Cassius, or Seals – or whoever you have allied yourself here. In my years here I have seen something interesting play out. There are many Zerkers here who are locals, and they tend to keep to themselves. And some while ago we took in many people and schooled them into Zerkers, from Reval. They also tend to keep to themselves. The outsider groups and the locals even have some antagonistic relationships with each other.”
“That can’t be good for keeping Osel safe.”
“You’d be surprised. None of those groups are particularly loyal to house Atelbaer or the Regalion. If Theogenes attempted commanding them to go die against the Nords, to stop the invasions once and for all – they’d not go because he commands them.”
“The Regalion dodged a bullet then, huh?”
“Well, Theo would not have had any significant influence as a king in any case. But indeed, those who voted for him were under the illusion that he was commanding quite a large army.”
“What’s the use of an army that can’t be commanded around then?”
“Every member in that Zerker army has made this place their home. They don’t give two shits about house Atelbaer, apart from their funding – but most have been crafty and found other sources of income, anyway.”
“Can’t be commanded, and likely disloyal, too. Sounds like the Westmost of Regalion has become utterly fragile.”
“You’re not paying attention, are you? The small groups that have formed within the Zerker army is the key – a very passionate camaradiere within the teams. Each member has a home to protect here, within their, almost organically formed teams they have learned to collaborate in ways the Revalian soldiery can’t even dream of.
You find yourself a place here, within a team. The Zerkers wouldn’t die for Theo, but they’d do it for you. That’s how we roll here.”
“Yeah right someone would ever…” What she heard the man talk had always seemed like something truly unattainable to her.
“This is about the people… You don’t like the people here?”
She had a bitter expression on her face. “I do like them…” She cringes, tries to hide her expressions from her, “but they all also seem settled.” Everyone seemed to have their place, and when she should try to find hers, there are people actively fighting against her to make sure she won’t get there. She couldn’t remain with Denea, Daegan was way fucked up, Raynar has some long history with Seals.
“As discussed before, we agreed that integrating takes time. It hasn’t been painless for anybody.”
“Everyone here nearly lost their lives, trying to?” She thought she was a different case!
“Well, no… But it hasn’t been peaches either. Yeah, there are small feuding factions forming – people who came here 10 years ago, people who have always been here, people who came 5 years ago, people who come now. I wasn’t initially happy about this fragmentation, but as I just explained – this is how it works. Besides, there’s nothing I or anyone can do about it – trying to force people to drink and fight together just won’t turn out the way we intend to. So, we must allow for some kinds of freedoms. You are free to associate with whom you want, and you are free to not associate with whom you don’t want.”
“Well, not anyone would accept me…”
“Hey, their loss!”
“Can’t think of myself that highly.”
She has no answer. “Just a habit, I think.” But that’s not what she thought. She thought of herself this way because of her experiences with people. But it was complicated and gloomy, she didn’t want to bother the wise old man with that kind of problematic thought. Best to go back to a generic life – the best way to not end up in anyone’s destructive path.
“I can’t imagine what it is like for you, or any stray, what makes you think this way. What experiences brought you to such conclusions – I think, even if you told me in detail, I wouldn’t know what to make of it. But okay, if it feels wrong for you to stay here, you must do whatever your gut is telling you.
I am handing you a document – the offer I am forwarding from RESO. I hand it over to you, and it is up to you if you sign it within… The next two weeks, or never. You are free to return to Reval if you so wish, but I prefer that you’d stay.”
* * *
Three days into the lockdown. Eysin and Seals sit behind the titan, a large candlelit between them, facing each other, eating some canned beef. They had discovered that it doesn’t taste all that good. They thought back to Imogen’s offer and fantasized about the food, they had some regrets. And then Seals remembered why she didn’t want to go, she cringed and threw the empty tin can to a bin, with a rather disgusted expression.
But she kept sitting around until Eysin was finished eating. “We should eat together,” Seals had already proposed on the first evening. “Eating alone is so fucking useless I’d rather not eat at all.” And she even put some effort into each dinner to make the atmosphere a little nicer.
“I’m sorry about this whole Raynar thing…” This one had been nagging Eysin.
Seals thinks, and then smiles a bit, “do you like him?”
Should she be polite or open? She thought for a while, looking like she can figure that one out. “Eh,” Eysin shrugs, she didn’t have any strong feelings. “I don’t care to make this about him, really, just to clear the air between you and me.”
Seals sits up more straight and now looks into her eyes, more investigating. “I wasn’t mad at you!” She blurts out and rambles, ”I thought I was a little mad at him – and he never even fucking told me! I never asked about it and he never brought it up! Like it’s a no big deal he aims to bang some other chick when I’m gone?”
“Am I not equally to blame…”
“I didn’t even know you existed, lady!”
“Why are you making up excuses for me…”
Seals pulls back and makes herself smaller, falls into thought, gaze stops into the candlelight. “Well, it’s not about you or us, it’s about Raynar, really.”
“He’s a great fighter, isn’t he?”
“He’s a great this and that and got a big chuck too, but you know what he doesn’t get? A decent fucking personality. He is such a dickhead!”
“Did you… Break up or something?”
“There is no formal relationship between us, I was just being a little, hmm, adventurous one time… And he’s just… Stuck with me like bubblegum.”
“Why not just break up?”
Seals now turns her head up and gasps for air. “Not for a good reason.”
Eysin doesn’t interfere.
“It seems to annoy Bartel.” And that makes Seals giggle a little insane.
Eysin stretches the silence.
“He and I were arranged,” Seals adds, now becoming a little more distant. Her colour disappears, “and I don’t know what got into me…”
“You didn’t like Bartel?”
“No, not that… What’s there not to like… He was awesome. I don’t think that he liked me very much, though. So, why bother?”
“Did he say it?”
“No, you know, but you can tell.”
“He was avoiding you?”
“Sort of felt like that, too, sometimes, yes.”
“Maybe he was just scared of embarrassing himself in front of you…”
* * *
The next evening Eysin takes out the metallic box filled with teas. Seals was unusually happy to see it, she dove right in and picked up a small package. “Ha, I knew it!” She handed it over to Eysin and told her they should drink that tea.
Eysin inspected the package and saw that these were not dried plants. These were mushrooms. “Eh, why not?”
Some hour later they walk to the big hall. “Hey, do you know how to change the Terrains?”
Yes, Seals does. “can we do something?”
“Can you focus enough to get your Kaestus out?”
She does it swiftly like it’s all very natural… It was a part of her now, a part of her body and mind.
“Let’s try building something.” Seals sits down and places her Kaestus against the floor. “Do like I do… And dive in, through the floor – you’ll see the backend, fidget around a bit, get the feel…”
Eysin sits down like Seals, places her Kaestus on the ground and dives in.
Lots and lots of light and lines, bubbles and melodies – she looks around and nothing makes sense. No patterns, no idea where to push or pull, nothing standing out to her in particular.
“I think you scaled in too much,” she hears Seals’ voice in the air… She realizes she can also feel present in the body – and only what was in front of her eyes – was different. Okay, scaling out.
Ah, nodes become apparent. The vision started resembling something like a piano – each key controlling a particular effect – offering the capacity to create a whole landscape – as if one was playing the piano.
“Come, try making a cube…”
Later that day Seals realized it is not maybe the greatest idea to introduce someone, who is tripping balls, to the Terratorium Generator. She had helped her return to her bed, but in her head she must have imagined she’s still in there, pushing buttons and manipulating landscapes… Seals got a little worried, but also thought it might be a typical paranoia, the beginning of a bad trip, thinking Eysin might never come out from that, and she will be forever responsible for putting her into that strange prison! “No one ever dared to look into tricky technology when neurons get a little too active… They’ll see things they can never come back from – and it drives the few who try it – insane. An instinct tells them not to do that – warning – that it can break you. Incompatible, broken by brute force. I hope I didn’t screw up your brain, Eysin.”
“Well, there has been schizophrenia in the bloodline…”
“Let’s hope you didn’t catch that strain of genes then.”
* * *
Not long after Seals left Eysin in her bed, she gets up again and walks to the Titan. She sits down and places her hand on the floor just as she had been instructed to edit the Terratorium. A few hours later Seals start thinking about it, she hasn’t moved.
“You’ve been sitting here like this, a lot… Do you wanna go back to the Terratorium?”
“No, I’ve got it all up here. I’m just practising it in my mind.”
“You sure you’re alright?”
This strikes her, “am I?” This distracted her from the strange editing that had been going on in her head, and she started thinking about herself. What about her was alright, and what about her wasn’t.
“It’s cold, why don’t we get you to bed?”
Seals takes her to her little room. She helps her get to bed and puts on the blanket. Seals feels nice, seeing someone seemingly be pleased about it. She seems to think about something for a bit, and then cuddles up next to Eysin.
“Are you going back to Reval?”
“I can’t think about it, not yet…”
“Or don’t want to?”
“What do you want…” Eysin got annoyed at this question.
“Just a conversation,” Seals feels bored, too.
“There are things you don’t want to think about…” Eysin was taking a guess there, “so you come here and try to distract yourself from them. Care to tell me that story?”
“Who are you, Seals? Why did you come to this garage? Why are you here?”
“I didn’t come by choice, if I may say so… I fled this place some while ago. I went to Reval… Then got in trouble… And The Brotherhood came retrieved me from trouble… And now I am here, and am being punished for having run away…”
“What did you expect to find in Reval?” Eysin thought, maybe this is a familiar situation.
“A beautiful surprise… A life I could never even dream of here.”
“And… Did you?”
“No, it was pretty damn horrible. It was the worst!”
“What drove you away?”
Seals thinks for a long while. “I used to like it very much. Things started changing when we started taking in more of those fucking outsiders. This changed so much for me that it became unbearable.”
“I’m one of those outsiders… Do you hate me?”
“No, nothing like that. It started earlier. And it’s not really… I don’t think I blame the outsiders. See, I was arranged to marry this awesome guy. I liked him a lot, but I was left with the impression that he didn’t care much about it at all… Then came all these beautiful, interesting girls with exciting lives from Reval. Bartel seemed to like some of them. It felt disgusting, seeing him have the kind of fun with them he’d never have with me.”
“I don’t know about that. But unlike with me, he actually felt very… Free to talk to them at all. I’ve never even had a proper conversation with him.”
“Maybe you should drink that tea with him…”
Seals snorted a laugh and then thought about it for a while. That’s what Arkion had suggested to her when he had helped her escape. But she had been emotionally so freaked out – all she wanted was to experience some imaginary Revalian surprise. It should help her become more like those girls.
* * *
They got bored of waiting around in bed, they gut hungry and started preparing for another nice evening meal.
A candlelit evening, the crew of three – Seals, Eysin and the Titan that had started making some strange kind of bleeps and bloops after Eysin had sat behind it, trying to modify it like she would have to edit the Terratorium.
“Did you access the thing through the floor here?”
“It seemed to have worked. I think it’s booting up.”
“Jeez, no one even thought to do that…”
“This whole building is like the Terratorium… It’s all connected. It’s a lot to take in… I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of the whole thing… I saw some pretty weird stuff!”
Seals leans closer to check her eyes – her pupils were extra-large, “for all I know, much of it could have just been you tripping. Looks like you’re still not done yet.”
* * *
They are eating salted peanuts. Amazingly nostalgic. Going to some dark casino backend room with daddy, everybody is smoking, the guys have beers, and there are peanuts. They always have peanuts! “What for you, little lady?” The old bartender lady asks. “Salted Peanuts!”
The old men were usually playing billiard or poker, some were smoking herbs. Daddy never did, he felt it never made him feel better and was afraid they could damage his throat. He’d had problems before. The old lady was always flirting with them, but it was always for fun. They talked fun smack at each other, there was a lot of laughter.
Seals asks, “Eysin, do you want to play cards with me?”
“Peanuts and card games just go together.”
As soon as they start laying out the cards, they hear steps from outside.
They both stop moving and sit completely still, heads tilted, listening to the steps. How the fuck can that be?
That’s impossible. It’s still lockdown.
They can hear the Titan Garage Door squeak. Seals instantly blows out the candle and soundlessly hops up, touches the wall with her Kaestus and instructs all the lights to gently fade out. She signs to Eysin, while the lights are still dimming, to slip back into her room, and to copy her – they called their suits on.
The door screeches open, lighters point in, they keep their sights on the titan and 5 people rush in. Seals is paying attention to all that, listening to the steps, seeing the change in the air – where they are, how many they are…
Could they be here to blow up the Titan? Seals calls up a whip and engages them. Disappears into the dark, back and forth, knocking them out with a small surge of yellow to put them into a nice little sleep, one by one.
She finds that the last one she knocks over is carrying a strange torch… “Eysin, come see this!” She calls her. Eysin sneaks over, meanwhile trying to listen if there’s someone else around, and sees it.
A Rod of a kind, she touches it, reads it, “It’s an umbrella… They figured out how to bypass the swarm.” She finds some blank marbles around, picks them up and starts making a copy of the rod, right away. It goes fairly quickly, hands one to Seals and makes another one for herself. She hands one of her blue marbles over to Seals.
Preparing to run off to the mansion, Eysin stands still and tilts her head. Fully suited, she starts seeing some very interesting signals. “They weren’t the only ones to come here. There’s more entering from the front.”
“We will use this device to get to the mansion,” Seals reminds her, “we’ll tell about this to Imogen, and she’ll decide what we should do.” Seals turns around to see if she is ready to leave and sees that Eysin has instead gone to the Orb room. “Shit…”
* * *
As long as you have stood here barefoot, we are connected. Old friend, this temple is in danger. They want to do to me what they did to the titans. They imagine they can make a copy of me, but the result will be the same. It will destroy me.
Eysin is standing in front of the orb, listening to it, through the floor.
You can control the house from here… When they reach the Terratorium, trap them in a box. That should buy time for the others to return.
“Why don’t you do it yourself?”
I am not in command here, this isn’t my temple.
And what the Orb told that would happen – did. 2 more bands appeared and Eysin trapped them both into the Terratorium. She had to actively keep the walls up, though – because she didn’t know how to save the shapes.
She managed to hold it up only until someone approached her. The intruder was about to smack her head into splinters with a heavy weapon – her suit as if reacted, calling out her polearm and blocked the hit. She rolled back, landed on her feet, dodged a few more slings – and realized that against her was one of the people Seals had knocked out – they are waking up.
She had disconnected from the ground and the orb – the other 2 parties must have gotten loose, too – and most likely were headed in this direction.
Eysin leaps towards the Terratorium and has the sleepy intruders chase her. That’s just another way to buy time. She reached the Terratorium, recognized the landscape setting and made her way to a safe spot where she could catch a breath and attempt to screw with the two bands for a bit.
But they quickly lost interest in her, and she had to start provoking them more aggressively to prevent them from going to the Orb hall. She held up a remote wall. They figured it out by discussing it among themselves and started looking for her, again. She trapped them for a while and could hold it up until someone else caught up with her and was about to kill her.
She escaped the approaches, and this repeated for several rounds. In what seemed like a whole hour, someone made it near her hiding spot and flushed her out one last time. Another chase began, and after a few minutes of running and jumping, she could sense that 12 people were chasing after her, from different sides. They’ve trapped me like a game. I am finished! She stops running because she can also feel someone is approaching her, pretty fast.
One of her chasers from behind catches up and confronts her. Eysin surprises the pursuer with her disappearing and re-appearing polearm manages to knock him out. They are all approaching, I could handle one, and I got lucky – but I can’t handle more.
She sighs, moves away from the body she knocked out, a small patch of artificial moss and spring-like sunshine. She sits down and thinks about what she’ll say when they catch up with her, the door is open, I won’t bother you anymore. She had nothing else left.
Then a strange, rustling sound comes closer, the big steps of a machine, and in the artificial woods from the direction of the Orb Hall, she could hear a scream. The tops of trees start disappearing – the terrain is falling over as the machine approaches. Guessing at what it is, Eysin gets up again and starts running in that direction.
* * *
Seals moves around like an amazon acrobat, she’s using a strange whip to trap and knock out, strangle a few of the enemies, she approaches Eysin just a little ahead of the falling trees. Then cheek-cheek-cheek, stomp stomp stomp. The Titan, with Imogen possibly sitting inside it, walks over them both, stops just before another treeless patch ends, takes a strange pose, and bursts out a frontal wave. Everything in front of it starts collapsing. The Terrain dematerializes and that situation confuses the intruders.
Seals grabs onto Eysin’s head to make sure she hears every word she says, “it’s not safe here, get back to the Orb, help control the room for us.”
When she returns to the Orb Room, another intruder attacks her. That person appears significantly more skilled in combat than she is. Or maybe she’s starting to get worn out. The enemy is leading her closer to the edge of the pool, she slips into it and he intends to keep her underwater until she’s drowned.
But as she struggles, her suit is changing form – fins grow on her – and soon it becomes apparent to the strangler that she might just be pretending to struggle. To make him forget that he is under the water with her, too – and likely to run out of air soon enough.
But as she waits for him to pass out, the chokehold stops her blood circulation and it makes her pass out, too.