The plants in the palace garden were more vibrant and larger than any plants in any garden I had ever seen. Small gravel pathways interlaced the plant filled area, allowing visitors to peruse the many flowers and green flora at their leisure. Maybe in a different time I’d have the chance to feel the serenity that I could see in the few nobles enjoying the garden.
I navigated my way through the palace garden, making my way deeper into the seemingly endless plant-life. I was lost, but I didn’t care. It was not like I had any reason to find my way back into the city or even the palace. The farther and farther into the garden I went, the larger the plants were becoming.
I knew I was getting closer. The ambient mana from the Capital's Nexus was likely the cause of the giant overgrowth. Large trees could barely hold some of the plump exotic fruit that hung from some of the branches.
Eventually, I came across a large fence made of heavy metal. Small slits ran across the sign, only showing more vegetation within the blocked off area. If I didn’t have any idea of what lay beyond the fence, I’d have no desire or reason to find my way over it.
It was too high too climb so I pulled forth magma from the ground beneath me. I felt ill as the hot magma erupted from the ground, slowly melting the heavy iron fence. Small fires were beginning to spread as the thick oozing magma touched the dense foliage on both sides of the fence.
I stumbled forward, pushing my way through the liquid fence. The plant’s were thick so I slowly pushed my way through the wall of plants that suggested I stay away. I was worried. I knew I didn’t have long before someone spotted the fire and alerted the authorities. That’s assuming palace didn’t already have defenses within their heavy metal gates.
Twigs, thorns, and rocks tore through my elegant cloth robe and eventually my rough skin. If wasn’t feeling so drained from my mana exertion I would happily have activated my obsidian shell. I gritted my teeth and suffered through the stinging pain that was growing around my legs.
I desperately wanted to stop but knew I couldn’t. If I did I would surely be dead. Whether I was killed onsite for trespassing or sent to the execution block, I knew my life would be over. I pushed onward into the never ending greenery, desperately hoping to find open space, where I could breath-in fresh air.
A peaked up into the air, seeing a faint blue glow. “This must be it.” I thought. What else could it be. I frantically moved towards the blue glow that peeked out of the many leaves above me. Eventually pushed through the last of the bushes and branches, stumbling onto gravel that scraped my already bloody knees.
When I looked up I didn’t see the trans-dimensional portal I had thought so much about. I was close enough to hear the whirring of whatever laid inside it; what made it tick. The giant stone golem looked at me with indifference. Its face was devoid of emotion.
I could tell it didn’t understand the mixture of sadness and resignation that I was going through, or at least it didn’t care. I knew it was here to guard the true nexus; to stop people like me from escaping to the next plane of existence.
I slowly stood.
A guttural came from within the stone construct, before it hurled itself at me. I sprinted along the edge of the gravel, trying to keep my distance from the giant. As I peeked back, I realized that I was losing ground. In seconds, it would bring down its massive arm and turn me into pulp.
As the giant reached me, I abruptly pivoted in the direction of the nexus and activated my obsidian shell.
Thud. The golem’s hand crashed into my back, sending my ragdoll body flying into the air. Eventually my body hit the ground and when it did I felt my leg crack. I winced in pain. I dragged my body across the floor. Twenty feet away a modest pedestal stood. Perched on top was a thick book it pages open.
I dragged my body across the gravel, occasionally looking back at the golem distracted by the breach in the gate. If i had been anyone else, the golem would have pulverized me so it wasn’t a surprise that it stopped paying attention to me once I was hit.
It was a slow and painful process but the pedestal was my only chance of living. I didn’t know whether this was a nexus or not. It certainly wasn’t what I imagined what the nexus would look like, but why would it be there if it wasn’t?
I pulled myself up to the pedestal too look at the pages. They were covered in some sort of gibberish writing I had never seen before. I flipped through the pages becoming more frantic with each one I flipped.
In the distance, I heard the loud crashing of footsteps I could only assume was the golem. My fingers moved faster, desperately looking for something in the book I would understand. As I made it to the last page, I noticed familiar words. I wasn’t the best reader but my comprehension skills had improved since learning from Cloud.
I heard a loud roar behind me and the thundering of steps quickened.
“Ascend!” I screamed after frantically saying the incantation on the page. Darkness surrounded me.
“Was I dead?” I thought to myself, as I turned my head seeing nothing in every direction.
My vision blurred and whirled as colors danced around my eyesight. I heard the patter of lightning and the thunder of rain droplets screaming in his ears. Or was it the other way around? I could hardly think. An intense pain slithered up my neck. I screamed in agony and fear. In seconds it was gone; all of it. Numbness overtook me. I groaned as I felt a foot kick the side of my face.
“You dumb or somethin”
“What?” I said looking up at a young boy who stood over me. He looked… well... ordinary. His browns robes were modest as well as clean. The hair on his head was sheared around his forehead and was a brown color.
“Where am I?” I asked.
“I found you passed out. You’re in the town of Waldagorf.”
“Know I mean where am I?”
“If you’re asking what kingdom you’re in, this is Belgam. The Peak Mountain Conglomerate rules over the country.”
That sounded familiar. I thought back to simpler times while travelling with Crom. He said he was was a scout for something similar.
“Do you mean The Peak Mountain Sect?” I asked.
The boy snorted. No one has called it that in 300 hundred years.
------------------------------- “Are you certain?” Nick asked the black eyed mage.
“Yes, it seems the boy has reached the nexus.”
“And you’re certain he was affiliated with Crom?” “Yes. It took some time place where I’d seen him, but now I’m certain he accompanied Crom back in SunkenCrest.”
“Well, I’ll gather a group to eliminate him. Any word of where the Duke’s nephew went?”
“Yes, my spies believe the boy is staying near Hamgrig with a local farmer.”
Nick sat back on his throne, the one he’d taken from the King. He still remembered the shock and horror on the poor man’s face as he was eaten alive by Nick’s maggots. Most people would find the site gruesome but Nick enjoyed watching his spawns feast.
There was turmoil but Nick knew one thing for certain. Soon, he’d reenter into the second realm with an army no one could stop.