Fissures (Minibit & Finch)

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Minibit, Sep 16, 2014.

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  1. The city of Stirling was starting to wake up as the sun peeked over the hills surrounding the medium-sized municipality. A stiff Autumn breeze blew leaves off the trees and sent them rattling along the trees as cars started to populate the highways as drivers dragged themselves to work; the birds that hadn't flown south yet began their singing and cawing and croaking, and one by one, businesses buzzed to life with bells ringing, machines working, pens scratching and keys typing. Meanwhile, one of the centerpieces of the city, the Globe Museum was silent. Light filtered in through windows, landing on polished displays of solemn historical busts, exquisite paintings, and intimidating dinosaur skeletons. A few security officers wandered the grounds, looking bored and sipping their morning coffees, and another set of footsteps padded across the floor of the only room still hidden from the sun and the buzzing outside world; the Unsolved Mysteries room.

    The footsteps came to a stop, and shortly afterward a slim bar of light sliced across the floor; slowly growing and illuminating the room with the early morning sunlight as the heavy curtain which had been blocking it rolled toward the high ceiling. The newly lighted room was a wide circle; in the middle was a glass box containing a strange skeleton held in its assumed shape with metal rods and plaster. Around the walls were some smaller exhibits - mostly plaques with writing on them describing the mysteries of the ages, from the Bermuda Triangle and the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, to skeletons that seem to resemble small dragons, and ancient cave painting that appeared to depict sorcerers performing works of magic. Beside the window, tucking the heavy pull-rope onto its lock, and looking over the impressive collection of mysteries, stood Isaac Connolly: night janitor.

    Pulling up the second curtain, Isaac could feel the toll of the night's dusting, sweeping, mopping, polishing, and wiping up on his bones. He rolled his shoulders, feeling a stiffness in his neck and back that the twenty-six year old couldn't help but feel himself a few decades too young for. Stifling a yawn, he tucked the last rope away, probably foiling the plans of several field trip students to amuse themselves by messing with the curtains. Finished with his work, he returned to the entrance of the room where his cart full of cleaning supplies stood, sparing a glance for the centre skeleton exhibit. It resembled a large salamander, although its skull was shaped more like that of an alligator. There were also protrusions and shoulder blades above the spine that could only resemble the bases of wings; which had been estimated with plaster bones. The exhibit was titled "The Glasswater Dragon." It was the remains of a creature which had been found washed up on Glasswater Lake, a small body of water not far from the city the museum stood in. It was definitely the most eye-catching exhibit, Isaac noted as he passed it. There was artwork on the explanatory plaque below it with a fantastical creature of a slim dragon with bat-like wings protruding from its back. It also recounted the anecdotes about the "dragon", as told by Glasswater locals.

    Shaking his head a bit, Isaac reached the waiting cart. A bit too much of "The Glasswater Dragon" was constructed of plaster and speculation for the amateur cryptozoologist's liking, although what it lacked in credibility, it made up for in advertising. He was certain a fair share of patrons saw the dragon in it's case through the door, and entered the exhibit as a result. Pushing his cart through the adjacent rooms, he parked it in the janitor's closet, and took his cell phone out of the pocket of his work sweater before shrugging out of it and leaving the sweater and the Globe Museum ball cap hanging on the cart handle. He checked it for messages quickly before slipping it into the back pocket of his worn blue jeans. Locking the closet behind him, he stretched, reaching one arm toward the ceiling and working his fingers through the tight curls of his brown hair with the other, working out the press from his work hat. His hair wouldn't be back to it's full level of super-saiyan curliness until it saw a shower, but at least it no longer resembled a 1980's perm.

    Cracking his neck, Isaac started toward the Museum entrance; morning staff would be coming in to set up the opening in a bit, but Isaac was clocking out and then making a bee-line for the cafe outside; he couldn't sleep off this grave for a few hours yet, he would require the help of the one they called Cuppa Joe.

    The alarm sounded, a sharp contrast to the blissful silence that was the onset to James's deep slumber. Already, light was starting to pour in from his second floor apartment room blinds, making little bars here and there that greeted his bloodshot eyes with a sense of mocking laughter. A slender hand reaching to the side of his twin sized bed and onto the accompanied night stand, he swatted at the clock until he finally reached his goal, stopping its infernal sounding. Bleary hues of blue-teal trying to make sense out of the message that was written plainly on its digital, unforgiving face, he let out a heavy sigh. It was 5:15 AM, indeed, time to wake up. He took a minute to lay flat against his white sheets, loose raven black hair, matted and sweaty from the night before, covering his face and closing his eyes for a brief period of time. James was not a morning person, and most certainly did not look forward to coming into work as a research scientist at The Globe today. Rubbing his eyes once more, taking about another 5 minutes of time all together, he sat up and reached for his glasses that were on the foot of his bed next to a notebook and pen. Last night was unforgiving, he'd spent far too long researching the topic of electromagnetic fields that he encountered while studying the "Glasswater Dragon" (or as he liked to call it, "The Big-Winged-Bitch"). Last night, he felt he was on to something, charting examples of 'The Crystal Skulls' and how their "energies", per say, were directly related to the field that the skeleton exhibited. But that was James, always the skeptic, always the overlooked, always the crackpot. While these feelings didn't normally get to him, he was feeling especially lethargic today; not in the mood for all of his colleague's discriminatory judgments.

    As he rose from his bed in his small apartment room, stretching out his 6 foot and lanky frame, he rubbed his belly and let loose a heavy yawn. He wasn't in the mood for breakfast this morning, so he skipped ahead and went to his morning shower. Hot water drenched him as he stared at the shower head with closed eyes, drinking in the feeling of warmth and comfort. Grabbing a towel from the rack adjacent to the tub, he dried himself off and looked in the mirror that doubled as his medicine cabinet. He noticed stubble starting to grow on his face, noticed his demeanor portraying this young man of 26 to looking much older than what he was. He smiled briefly at his reflection. "There's just no time to look young anymore" he thought, with vague amusement before drying his hair and slipping on his usual under shirt and over-sized lab coat uniform.

    The commute to The Globe Museum was short from where he lived, a few blocks to right of his complex and then a only about a mile straight ahead down Sounder Street, located to the left and two streets up if he was driving straight to from his apartment. As he drove his gray Honda Civic down the bustling city streets, James noticed how lively Stirling was so early in the morning; business men getting their morning coffees from the local Barista, high school kids walking that had presumably missed the buss, and the general commotion of a busy industrial sector. The crisp autumn air blowing through his windows, a jazz station blaring on his radio. James was in a much better mood now that he had finally woken up, he realized, as he pulled his car into the parking lot directly in front of the museum; his workplace. He took a second to reach into his the back pocket of his slacks to fish out a cigarette, the first of the morning. James didn't smoke much, but always before and after his shift. It was just a way of cooling off and releasing stress. And today, especially, he needed the nicotine, he was to present his findings to the rest of the scientific community, hopefully persuading them that there were several artifacts (not just "The Big-Winged-Bitch") that displayed magnetic fields under pressure, a topic that fell flat among his colleagues and superiors. Thinking about how he was going to approach the topic, James lit the end of his smoke with a silver Zippo, leaning back in the seat of his car and taking in a moderate sized drag. The time was 5:45 at this point; he was comforted by the fact he didn't have to be in the conference room in another 15 minutes. Exhaling a large put of smoke and putting his cigarette out in the ashtray, he stepped out of his car and adjusted the wrinkles in his lab coat and slacks, staring at the big glass doorway of The Globe, and smirking. "Knock 'em dead, tiger" he heard his mother chant in his mind, as he walked up the stairs.

    As he was about to push the sliding glass door open, he noticed Isaac leaving, looking worn from his previous shift and happy to be relieved. He gave a friendly expression and a whimsical gesture with his hands to the nightly janitor (or "curator", as he liked to call him). He'd always liked Isaac even though they hardly spoke, the look in his eyes betrayed his sense of wonder and he related to that

    "Good morning Isaac. I hope the dust bunnies and puke stains weren't too much for ya last night!"

    he said, cheerfully, assuming his joke would be well received
    #2 Finch, Sep 16, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2014
  3. Step by step, Isaac marched toward the museum's entrance. One thought repeated in his heavy head like a metronome.

    Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.

    The chipper tones of one of the exhibit experts interrupted his mantra, and he blinked, looking past the taller man for a second or two before what he said clicked.

    "Oh! Haha, morning. Wasn't too bad actually, except there's ants in the Botany wing." He added absently. Ants weren't James' problem or his area, but he felt like he had to admit some kind of trouble in his shift after a greeting like that. "Uh, how's your morning?" He asked as their paths closed the distance between them.

    James was something of an enigma to the humble Janitor. Isaac didn't talk much with the day staff except some of the security officers who worked both shifts, and a few of the opening crew who came in early, but they were all entry level like him; your guides, receptionists, phone answerers. He knew bigwigs were people, too, but he couldn't honestly say if he got degrees and stuff to become a smarty pants that he wouldn't want to remind people from time to time. James however, didn't seem to fit that profile.
  4. "Ants in the plants huh? Well, we'll go ahead and let that be a problem for the botanists. It's another morning man, I've got this conference I've to attend. More about that Glasswater Dragon skeleton, you know, the displacement observable from the charged ions seem to indicate.."

    James trailed off slowly, hand reaching to rub the back of his head and flashing Isaac another smile

    "Ahh, don't let me bore you with the details. Suffice to say, I'm probably in for another ass-chewing or two. You go home and get some rest, partner. You look like you've earned it"

    James said, lightly and with sincerity. He knew he could talk all day about this subject to willing ears, but he was going to get more than enough of his fill as soon as he entered that place. Flashes of how it would go raced through his mind in a split second; "Mr. Whittaker, are you completely off your rocker?", "James, when you're done prattling, you think you might want to do some *actual* research?" "Oh, not this again". James could hear their mocking voices before he even saw them. Doyle would be sitting there, chewing on his pen like some sort of rodent, eyeballing him with contempt as he let his little underlings trounce all over James. Finn would probably be in the forefront, eyes full of ridicule, demanding from James proof. Bobby, Floyd, Terry, and the rest in the background, cracking their juvenile jokes. It was going to be a long day, James knew it. What he wouldn't give to say "Screw it all" and go grab a beer or two with Isaac, but that was just fantasy. It was time to make some magic happen, and James rather liked the title of "Magic-Man".
    #4 Finch, Sep 18, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 18, 2014
  5. The corner of Isaac's mouth curled up a bit when James called him 'partner'. He didn't think he'd been called that since he was five or six and told his dad he wanted to be a cowboy.

    "Haha, yeah. End of the work-week for me, at least. Have fun at your meeting" he replied, raising a hand in farewell as he continued toward the large glass doors of the main entrance.

    A few of the other suits of the museum were filing through the doors. For the conference, Isaac supposed. He slipped past them almost invisibly, simultaneously resentful of their lack of interest, and relieved at the clear path to the cafe.

    A short line had formed at the small coffee shop attached to the museum; its patrons at this hour were almost exclusively composed of lower level Global employees. Isaac's mind wandered as he waited his turn, tuning out the mumbling and chatter around him.

    It was a decent morning for mid-fall. The breeze had a tinge of snowy chill to it, but clear skies and the speedily rising sun belied the winter omen. Isaac shifted a step to the side, so that he stood in the sun instead of the shade cast by the museum, and felt the sun warm through his tee shirt and bare arms. He didn't mind the windchill; the museum was colder at night - probably to save on the hydro - but the work sweater he combatted the air conditioning with was stifling. The cool morning was a refreshing switch; Isaac felt he could just lean back on the museum's steps and doze off right there


    "Huh? Oh, sorry" Isaac apologized to the clerkas he stepped forward to order "night shift ya know. Large coffee two sugars, please."

    The clerk nodded, handing a tall paper cup to his coworker behind him before taking the custodian's offered debit card and loading the machine.

    The brew landed in front of him before his payment was even done, and he scooped it and its heavenly aroma off the counter, waving off the receipt with the other hand. "Thanks" he said, taking a sip as he started toward Employee Parking. His Oldsmobile was parked in his usual spot. Global didn't have assigned parking, but at nine in the evening, he pretty much had his options open. He shifted the coffee carefully to his wrong hand to search his pockets for the keys, only to stop dead in his tracks, scarcely two meters from his transport home. His keys were in his jacket pocket in the janitors closet in the East wing. He groaned, taking one hand through his hat-hair curls. Taking in the fact that he had to walk back up the steps to the building, and then across it to his closet (the key to that was on a smaller ring in his pocket), and then back again made his legs feel like lead. Still a shorter journey than walking home, he reminded himself, turning about and starting back.
  6. "Oh yeah, it'll be a blast"

    James said dismissively, bidding Isaac farewell and continuing his march. The large, oval room that greeted him upon entrance was all too familiar for James; a second home almost. The white tile that lined the floors had an almost surreal effect on the whole building, adding a sense of white-washing void to the whole scenic experience. However, as bland as the walls and floors seem, almost comically stood the gift shop (or shoppe, as they spelled it "How fancy") with a dazzling array of colors and a big, gaudy sign. Doors for employees were littered against the walls with less appealing signs, mostly bidding museum viewers to stay the hell out. Black, tread-safe shoes clacking against the hard surface of the floor, James followed the outer wall to a semi circle, entering the Unsolved Mysteries room; his destination, a laboratory within. James was vaguely aware of the other scientists who were shuffling in at this point, presumably following him but he made no effort to talk to them. The way he looked at it, he was paid to deal with them, and James still had about five minutes before he had to go through that headache

    As James stepped through the glass door to yet another oval shaped room, his eyes immediately went to The Glasswater Dragon, pinned up in the center to show off all of its remodeled and plastered magnificence. He quickly averted his gaze though, as it was an unsettling sight for him, making his way past a multitude of other exhibits and to a plain, brown door that was located in the very back of the oval. The door, like many others yet much more flamboyantly, stated "EMPLOYEES ONLY", with small keycard reader on its lock. James reached into his lab coat, finding his ID badge, and swiped it through the slot, an agreeable "DING!" and green light on its screen verifying. Unlocking the door and stepping in, James reeled at the sight that was before him, jaw almost dropping from surprise.

    In the center of the white room was an oaken round table, already occupied by a couple of other scientists. His boss, the lead researcher Doyle Cole, was in the furthest seat from the door, accompanied by Finn Styles sitting to his right. The table was full of paperwork, scattered about in heaps as Finn poured through it. Doyle and Finn were talking, but James's ears were tuned out to the conversation because he realized what they were doing. They were going through James's work, all of his study files, all of his work logs, all of his hypotheses, his labor, his blood, sweat, tears. The way it was haphazardly spread across the table, years of research, is what baffled James at first. Second, was the way Finn was casually tossing files behind him as if they were cached peanut shells. And third, was the cynical smile that was stapled to their faces. James was speechless, standing in door frame with a hand still raised with ID in hand. That's when their eyes met James's, never losing that look, in fact, almost adding another layer of pride to their expressions. Finn spoke up first as he was inclined to do

    "Ah, James. So good to see you"

    He said casually, baiting James to get angry. Which is exactly what James did.

    "What.. In the *fuck* are you doing"

    James blurted out, instinct taking over at this point from pure bewilderment. His whole adult life was in that work, all of his passion and hard work. Not even waiting for an answer, James's motor reflexes now in full gear as he scrambled over to the table, gathering up arm-fulls of paperwork hastily. Doyle slammed his hand down on the table at this point, other hand reaching for his pen in his lab coat. James stopped and looked at Doyle, the responsive stare being one of complete superiority, as a father looks at a child who was just caught coming home late for curfew. His tone was gruff

    "Enough. These are public records for the museum and as your boss, I have every right to do with them as I please. Put that down, and have a seat. We need to talk"

    Doyle said, never losing eye contact with James as if he expected James to do something crazy at this point. James did as he was told, pulling up the seat that was closest to him and sitting opposite of them both, look of confusion and surprise still smeared across his countenance as he plopped down. Doyle continued

    "James, you are a brilliant scientist. Young, full of life and energy and talent, but you're chasing fantasies. Maybe you're overworked, maybe your personal life is suffering, frankly, I don't give a damn. Here at The Globe, we do research into the fields of the practical James. We don't deal with theoretical science here, we deal with what's right in front of us. We're here to give people a sense of wonder in the terms of reality, to research and expand our knowledge of the once living ancestry that we display. There is no room in our team for crackpot theories or crackpot research. I've been spending most of the night, right here, pouring through your files and test papers. Not only have you not abated, it seems you've been holding back just how far down the rabbit hole you've gone. I mean Jesus James,"portals"? Alternate dimensional theories? Charting the electromagnetic fields that surround the building? This is not what we pay you for. Me and the others have been discussing this for awhile now James, and we all think it's in your best interest. Take a leave of absence to pull yourself back together."

    He said almost calmly, James and Doyle staring each other down the entire time. James knew what this meant through all of the sugar coating, he was basically being fired and the decision had already been made, against his knowledge and behind his back. James felt, at first, that he should be angry, but that emotion never came to him. He simply sat there, still shocked, watching as Doyle chewed his damn pen between sentences, watching the way Finn sneered at him, watching the way all of his work was trounced upon and ridiculed, a sense of wonder taking him over. It was then he realized, fully and truly, that these men weren't idiots, unwilling to see things outside of their tunnel vision. It was then he realized; these men were afraid of him. Doyle continued, but James wasn't listening at this point, only half catching the synopsis that this wasn't a termination, and that he was welcome back in a few weeks after he "cleared his head". James rose mid conversation from the table, a smile now touching him, eyes still wide from surprise, but demeanor displaying exasperation.

    "James, please, this doesn't have to end on bad-"

    was the last thing James heard from Doyle before exiting the room, leaving all of his hard work, his colleagues, his job, behind him. Still smiling, James closed the locked door behind him, fishing his ID badge back out from his pocket, and dropping it in front of the door. As he walked away, in no hurry, he began to unfasten his lab coat with the intention of discarding it as well, passing through the Unsolved Mysteries room. It was about halfway through his stride and buttons that he realized a strange burning sensation from inside of the pocket of his slacks. At first, it seemed to be cold and fabricated by James's distraught mind, then he felt the sensation grow to become white-hot. About ready to cry out in pain, that's when James would see yet another shocking display of reality's games being played on him.

    Almost as if he were standing in front of a giant magnet, James watched with wide eyes as the pennies (3 count from the 58 cents he had in his pocket) ripped straight through the front pocket of his pants, hovering in the air curiously in front of his face for a split second, before slamming into the glass display case that surrounded The Glasswater Dragon exhibit, and it was then that James's attention was drawn to the phenomena.

    White-blue lightning was shining bright and slow from within the case of the dragon, glass cracking from the force of it all. James wasn't aware at this time if anybody else was in the room to witness this event with him, his eyes were locked onto the display case. He watched in wonder as the pennies from his pocket turned a color of red, then white, and started to fuse with the glass making a sort of triangle against the side of the display. James noted absently that there was no sound coming from all of this, it was eerily silent. As the light intensified within the case and the glass started to fracture further, James started to back up, ignoring the pain on his upper thigh from the burn and at that moment the display case exploded, sending out a shockwave that made ripples of wind flow through his coat and hair, almost knocking him down. The light was the brightest James had ever seen, like the Sun was suddenly in the room with him, and where the dragon once was was an opaque oval shape, dimensions inside wavy as if he was staring into a pool.

    This time, James's jaw did drop
    #6 Finch, Sep 21, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 21, 2014
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  7. The woods around Zereth were silent, save for the carolling of songbirds high in the trees. A breeze rustled the green leaves, and moved the shadows over a ticket of starflower where Darius lay hidden, ears pricked, and keen grey eyes focused straight ahead. Before him on the grass was a short bow, and in his hand a ready arrow.

    Before him was a small clearing, a deer grazed on the shrubbery. His short bow may not fell it in one shot at this distance, and so he waited, breathing in time with the motion of the leaves; waiting for it to come closer, just a little closer.


    Isaac kept his head down as he speed walked back through the building towards his closet. His feet hurt, but with the sun and the coffee he wasn't as sleepy as before; it was mostly just annoying to re enter the workplace when he was already in 'going home' mode.

    There were a few people hanging around the front room, but the rest of the museum seemed to be empty still. Isaac reached the closet quickly and wrestled his keys out of his work sweater so vengefully that a passerby would think the sweater had killed a loved one.

    He tossed them to himself as he walked, watching lights come on as someone somewhere started flipping breakers. They came on almost in time with his steps, lighting before him as he walked. As he passed the Unsolved Mysteries room, a light came on that was way too bright; despite his haste to leave, he stopped and hung back. The light threw sharp shadows back from everything around it: it was in the centre of the room, and as Isaac squinted from the doorway, shading his eyes, he saw the glitter of shattered glass on the floor. There was a narrow, tall obstacle between him and the thing that was definitely not a normal floodlight; he had to take several steps into the room before he realized what it was.


    He called, quickening his step as he recognized the man. He was staring at the source of the light with a dazed look on his face; leaning toward it a bit, his hand rising so slowly it seemed unconscious.

    "Don't touch it!" He shouted as he approached at almost a jog; a sense of foreboding clouded over him as he looked at the thing, only to tear his eyes over to James, who was starting to step toward it.

    "Don't!" He stretched an arm out, intending to pull him back by his shirt, but as he stepped forward, his front foot slid on the waxed floor as if it were glass, sending his body tumbling forward against James, and through the Portal.


    A crack of sound, like dry lightning, sent the deer running and Darius' eagle eyes skyward.

    A lingering glow at about the height of the canopy told him what happened, as did the hiss of smouldering leaves and the thin rain of ash filtering through the canopy. It probably wasn't an attack spell that collided against the wards around Zereth; those would have been louder, and more numerous. It was probably a seeing-eye spell, or some other scouting mechanism. Probably, there was a Rizibel spy near here. Darius moved his head by degrees, observing the glow near the treetops: it wasn't more than ten meters from where he lay, and he was considering skulking closer to see if he could discern anything about it, but changed his mind very quickly, griping his bow and re-docking an arrow. He aimed for the legs of the two men who had just tumbled through.
  8. James was only vaguely aware of Isaac's presence in the room, completely in a trance as he outstretched his hand toward whatever it was in front of him. The beauty of the portal was more than just enthralling, it was intoxicating, and he heard only light murmurs of someone saying something behind him. Nothing was more important right now, nothing was more attention grabbing. Completely on auto-pilot, James was moving toward the oval shaped distortion, slowly as if time had slowed tremendously from James's point of view. That's when Isaac stumbled into him, sending them both head first into the portal

    What happened next was surreal to say the least; it felt as if James was being spaghetti-fied and ripped apart all at the same time. Time stood still, and in a brief second that felt simultaneously as a year, James felt the ground beneath him give out and a harsh, foreign sun greeting him rather abruptly as he was suspended in the air. At the moment James's mind was done with its fugue state, reality flooding back with a sharp sense of fear as he plummeted to the ground. Though the drop wasn't far he hit several branches from surrounding trees that were cutting and tearing into his coat and slacks, landing roughly on his side with Isaac dropping on top of him.

    James's first reaction was to moan from the surprise of it all, arms flailing about in the grass that surrounded him and very slightly aware that there was someone on top of him. What lay around him was beautiful scenery that went completely unappreciated by the young scientist. Isaac's head was laying on his rear with his body, both of them sprawled out ridiculously under the clearing. Finally, words started to come to James as he started to grasp the situation and figured out his partner and weight

    "Isaac..? What in the.. How did you.. Who.. What?!"

    he exclaimed incoherently, wriggling his body out from underneath him and taking the time to observe his surroundings. Somehow he'd been transported to some kind of forest, one he was not familiar with. James's analytic mind was reeling
  9. "Tsk!" Darius hissed through his teeth when one of the two men started raising his voice; there was no way to tell whether the caster who fired that spell was fifty or five hundred meters away, and he didn't need any attention brought to his hiding place.


    Isaac's equilibrium didn't settle until they fell with a thud that knocked the wind from his scrawny chest. By the time the stars cleared from his vision, James had already shoved him off, leaving him blissfully ignorant of the position he had landed in, however accidentally. His first thoughts were of confusion; they had fallen way too far to match the distance to the floor in the U.M. room, which actually made sense because the last time he checked, the U.M. room was not located in a forest. Dizzied, he struggled to his feet, looking up. He squinted for a second, his head whirling, trying to discern whether the shining above them was the sun, or that thing from before. Before he could focus, it disappeared, shrinking rapidly into nothing to reveal a clear blue sky above. The sun, he saw, turning, was behind them, about halfway to its zenith in the sky.

    James' exclamations brought him back to the ground, and he hurriedly checked himself for injury; no broken bones, and though his chest was sore from taking the brunt of his fall, he felt like breathing would be slightly less painful with some rest. But how had they gotten into a forest? He didn't remember losing consciousness at any point; and anyway that thing they had fallen into was there two seconds ago. Isaac pressed his palm to his forehead; nothing about any of this made sense.


    Clenching his jaw, Darius slowly drew himself up behind the bush he'd been hiding under. His moss-coloured shirt was smudged with dirt, and blended in almost perfectly with the foliage around him. Keeping his arrow nocked, He waited several seconds standing still, listening for any movement; it was difficult with the commotion those two were causing. Either way; he had two objectives at the moment: calm the ruckus currently drawing attention to the ward's exit, and report this incident to his commander. Raising his aim to the head of the louder one, he moved forward out of the bush as soundlessly as a snake through grass, drawing the shot back the full length of the arrow's shaft as he did so. "Stay where you are." he ordered, baritone voice bringing Isaac whipping around to see the stranger.

    "Please place your hands on top of your heads and don't say anything." Darius continued, stepping closer until he was only a couple meters away; he was confident a shot released from this distance could pierce the skull.
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  10. James was barely on his feet and considering his environment before he heard the low, rough voice from behind him, beckoning him and Isaac to stay where they were and to put their hands up. James wheeled on the balls of his heels to face this newcomer, observing his clothing and noting his archaic hunting device. James delivered a cocked eyebrow to this new threat, but immediately obeyed and placed his hands on his head, interlacing his fingers through his hair. He was moderately convinced at this point that he was either dreaming somehow or that some very elaborate joke was being played on him. With this new rationalization brewing, James lost most of his fear and returned back to his sarcastic, often called "smart-ass", side, casually turning his head to where Isaac was standing

    "A friend of yours, Isaac?"

    He said, jokingly in the beginnings of his tone, then dropping flat when he saw the look of bewilderment on Isaac's face. He decided at that time, maybe this wasn't the best time to be joking around. He quickly turned his attention back to the adversary before them

    "We uh.. Mean you no harm. You could say that we're um.. lost"

    He said, more hesitant now, hoping that the man didn't have an "itchy trigger finger". From the looks of him, he could handle a bow and was used to stalking through the woods.
  11. Isaac gaped at the stranger, his jaw almost touching his shirt as he pressed his hands against the curls on his head.

    "I do not wish to harm you either" Darius clarified in a quiet tone, sparing his eyes for a few seconds to scan the woods around them. "But silence is necessary for the moment; this place cannot be discovered. Come with me."

    Having already spoken far more words that he was comfortable with, he motioned with his still-nocked arrow to his right, indicating that the flabbergasted strangers should walk ahead of him. Although, if their tumble a moment ago, and subsequent shouting was any indication, they had little if any woodcraft. It was entirely possible that the commotion from the two blundering through the bushes would be just as noisy as speech, if not louder.

    Frowning at this realization, Darius glanced toward the sky again, looking for any evidence of another flare. His eyes adjusted to the direct sunlight just in time to watch the portal disappear, like an eye blinking shut.

    Isaac also caught the disappearance of the thing, and moved his mouth to express his shock when the armed stranger in his peripheral reminded him to keep silent. He shut his mouth with a snap and swallowed, moving forward in a straight line. He guessed he would have to be indicated to take any turns, and had the feeling of being in water far over his head. This person didn't seem especially aggressive, or even angry, he seemed almost nervous, and it caused knots to form in the pit of the janitor's stomach as he wondered over the cause.
  12. The grass crunched beneath his feet as he forced one foot in front of the other, sweat trickling down his brow despite a cool breeze flowing through the green scenery. James decided that he should take the stranger's advice of keeping quiet, as he had the weapon and they were completely unarmed. The sense of fear was starting to trickle away from James's mind like hot water down a drain at this point and his rational side was overtaking at an exponential rate.

    Slick eyes darted back and forth through the clearings. No sounds of cars. No visible buildings. Nothing looking even remotely like it was in the 21st century. James let his mind reel for a moment;
    "This is it, this is the link I've been searching for. This is the secret. This is what's underneath all that plastic molding, this is time travel, this-"

    Lost in cloud nine, James tripped over an exposed root on the ground and landed face first in the mud, flailing frantically from surprise and terror, and making a cry that rang out like a siren throughout the forest
  13. Darius flinched as though the sound had physically struck him, freezing to stone as Isaac, who was similarly startled but - having bitten his lip - quieter than his companion, offered an arm to help James to his feet, murmuring a soft inquiry to his wellbeing.

    "Shhhhh!" he hissed through his teeth - too late. He stood frozen, only praying that the foreigners wouldn't produce any more sounds before he could ascertain whether they'd been heard. He listened for five heartbeats; if someone was chasing their position, they were doing it quieter than these two hoodlums could be expected to. No, if they were being followed, there would be almost no way to tell, and so they could only keep moving.

    "Hurry!" he urged, still whispering as he gestured desperately with his firearm that they keep moving. Isaac shot him a dark brown glare through his loose curls. What was this guy's problem? Still, there wasn't much else to do but keep moving; it was really very good luck the first person they'd encountered was a self-proclaimed friendly, Isaac wasn't willing to risk letting him go and hoping someone more compassionate came along.

    Darius waited for James to find his footing again, and with a whispered warning to be careful, marched them farther along the route that barely qualified as a trail. As they plodded on, Isaac tried to decipher this person - their apparent rescuer. He was tall, taller than the both of them. His shoulders were broad and his dark hair was tied back in a thin ponytail with a cord. His face had been stubbly, with a strong jaw and thick eyebrows - the kind that came more from neglected shaving than an actual attempt at growing anything. His clothes were more what interested Isaac. His shirt was a brownish-green colour, fit loosely and seemed to be gathered with a drawstring-like tie at each wrist, and lacing beneath the collar. His pants looked like ordinary slacks, except the fabric seemed courser, and didn't have the faint reflectiveness of the polyester that most of Isaac's clothes had. Did he escape a renfaire or something? No, Isaac shook his head, with what had happened, that portal or opening or hole or whatever it was, he had to stop thinking in normal earth science terms.

    Eventually, they came upon an especially thick - er - thicket of trees, and after blundering through with many an annoyed sideglance from their guide, found themselves slap up against a wall made of some huge stone; Isaac coudln't see any bricks or joints, the entire massive thing seemed to be one piece. Literally a monolith. He felt his narrow jaw gape as Darius rapped his knuckles on a section, whispering soemthing against the surface before a patch indented itself and then rolled aside, revealing a door.
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  14. James scrambled to his feet, split lip throbbing, and wiped his face of mud and spatters of blood. Sharply aware of their guide ordering him to be quiet, James pushed aside his pain. He wasn't necessarily afraid of this man, but was more afraid of the dangers that HE was afraid of. Something told James that he did not want to be heard by the wrong people, shock and awe aside.

    As they approached the towering thicket, James couldn't help but look in wonder. He'd never seen anything like this before and imagined that if he were in any way interested in the biological sciences, he'd be taking samples. The sheer size of these trees was astounding, dwarfed only by the monolith of stone set in front of him

    As James watched Darius summon the door, he took time to monitor the stone walls. Nothing was visible from the sides. Nothing visible as far up as the eye could see. The stone was cut in a way that was crude, but remarkably precise. Whatever trap door was called upon must've taken months of lever and pully work, yet James noticed no ropes and no wedges. And even stranger was this feeling growing in the pit of his stomach, something that started out as a tightness and now grew to a clawing.

    This wasn't just an ordinary time loop, James was starting to realize. The sneaking suspicion of familiarity was creeping its way up into his spine

    James turned to Isaac as Darius was fiddling with the door, unlatching the heavy bolts and momentarily distracted. Whispering

    "Hey, partner. I have a bad feeling about this"

    Was all he could muster to say, with a look of bewilderment in his eyes before Darius gruffly announced that the passage was open and beckoned them both through.
  15. Isaac stepped into the entryway first; the stone was wide enough to form almost more of a short hallway than a door; he took three steps through the shade of the stone with James close behind before stepping out into daylight. His eyes grew wide and he froze in place; James had to squeeze past and Darius had to push him forward a little to get out of the doorway, themselves.

    "Welcome" murmured Darius behind them, a note of pride touching the serious tones of his voice. "to the city of Zera"

    Stretching up to the sky on all sides were magnificent buildings, each built as the wall were; seemingly solid pieces of stone in grayish shades of purple, green, and blue, many of which seemed to gleam in the light; they were made of outcroppings and terraces and some sharply to their right had towers coming off the top; watchtowers, presumably, from which bannerets of bright purple with a winged symbol Isaac could not quite make out fluttered in a breeze cooled by mountain snowmelt. The street, which stretched away uphill before them and disappeared around one of a thousand corners, was bustling with people; most of them dressed as Darius was; loose shirts of various colours, some of them girded with belts and swords, some wearing long hats that draped down their backs. Women in long skirts of layered fabric of differing hues, the occasional warming cloak swaying behind its wearer, and in the air; just as much activity. A multitude of birds flitted from top to top of impossibly high rooftops, and bigger things; thin creatures that looked like snakes with clear, batlike wings and curling antenna that streamed out behind them as they flitted back and forth - Isaac caught his breath as he realised what they were. "The Glasswater dragon" he whispered, breathless as one zipped down in a manner reminiscent of a dragonfly, buzzing briefly in front of James' face before flitting back to a child, who shouted after it and began chasing it down the street. The smell of something that reminded him of fresh croissants drifted on a breeze back down the street to them, but Isaac had no time to savour it before the edge of Darius's bow poked the small of his and James' back. "come on, we're going to the capitol" he said, deeming thirty seconds more than enough time to take in the shock.
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