This is about where the writing gets sloppier. sorry bout that. Duarume Prime, Officer Cale Haphenschein could not sleep. The tristlen slab may be therapeutic but that didn’t make it comfortable. The hard, smooth surface just didn’t take the place of a current mattress. The air within is driven in currents, giving the illusion of a bed of water without the feel of sinking from the weight. Tristlen slabs were one of the few things he actually disliked about the beautiful country of Grae. Cale sat up haltingly, massaging his back muscles. He had been in the capital, Shieya, for two days already, both days being filled with official business. He had yet to enjoy the city, and nothing was better than flying through the Garden Naeothal at night. He stepped out unto the floor and walked over to the hook on the wall where his anorak was hanging. As he pulled it on and fastened the clasps, he spoke: “Awake.” Instantly, the overhead lights flickered to full brightness, the windows opened bringing in the fresh breeze, and the visi-display appeared in front of him. The holo projectors were designed to track the movements of the tenant, so the display followed, went before, or stayed to the side of wherever the lodger went within the confines of the room. One could deactivate or activate said feature whenever they wanted. Lumen tapped in the code for the door and closed the display. He fastened his belt and pulled on some boots and an overcoat; it was cold outside. Walking to the window, he pulled out a small silver sphere, pressed it to his lips, and blew. The surface of the sphere began to vibrate sending ripples out from contact point to the side. Where the ripples met, the metalline shell opened forming a small hole. Out came a barely audible trill, followed by a piercing screech. The great hippogryph came from around the top of a spire fifty buildings away. With her black wings spread full she appeared as a silhouette against the clear, night sky. The charger of the sky swooped down to the elongated terrace, landing gracefully in front of Officer Cale. Cale reached out and stroked Athastynese for a moment, speaking softly to her, before leaping up to her bare back. Her soft feathers provided comfort enough for a pleasure flight. Speaking to her by way of the whistling sphere, he told the winged steed to fly to the gardens in the third farthing of Shieya. Crouching down, Atha gathered her strength and leaped. She soared upward, moving with just the momentum from the jump. Then, right as the energy of the thrust dissipated, her body curved into a downward arc and she threw out her feathery sails. Her wing caught the wind and she rocketed into an airstream. Cale and Atha sailed past glowing lights and gothic towers weaving in and out of old style buttresses, fixtures designed after structures seen in ancient broadcasts intercepted from the left spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy. The architecture and design was beautifully ornate, each piece of each façade telling a story; stories of the earliest recorded times of the history of the planet, specifically the land of Grae. Atha sailed so close to some of the buildings, her wings grazed the stone fixtures. Cale looked down to the traffic ways. The sky lanes were buzzing, vehicles after vehicles, zipping in and out, weaving around each other. Several speeding hovercrafts looked as though they were about to collide, when at the last second, they zipped around each other. Passengers sat in their seats, practically obliviously to the seeming chaos. The sky lines were monitored and controlled to some degree by a network grid. All sky crafts had sensory systems that kept track of all other crafts in its proximity. The sensory systems responded to signals sent out by the grid. If a craft is on a potential collision course with another craft, the grid will enhance the link it has with both crafts, and change their course for as long as it takes them to clear any possible collision courses. Passengers don’t have to drive themselves. They simply input the coordinates and the grid will carry them. However, the system was not perfect. There are still many who choose to misuse the grid, and such have caused accidents. For this reason, Cale didn’t like using the sky lanes. By hippogryph, he could fly above the traffic and get to his destination quicker. The only flying vehicle he ever went by was windship or an agitaen transport vessel. His thoughts were broken by Atha’s loud screech. Looking ahead he beheld the most beautiful site ever known to him: the Sky Forests of Naeothal. The vast body of tristlens and canetinburies stretched out across the entire horizon. Even in day light one could not see the ends from Cale’s current viewpoint. Cale had spent over three fourths of his childhood and teen years in these forests. Those were the good years. The forests were also special to Cale and Atha as a pair. Cale had found her there. He had found Athastynese while exploring. Hippogryphs are strange creatures. After a hippogryph mother gives birth to her young, she will stay with her offspring for three weeks, and then she will leave never to return. But before she leaves, she makes a gash in the backs of her young ones. The wounded gosling then has use what its mother has taught him, and the surrounding environs, to heal itself. A young hippogryph will then either form a bond with its siblings, or go off on its own and learn to live. Hippogryphs are incredibly intuitive creatures, most learning of the function of their wings within four weeks of being born. Cale’s parents were Tristecion researchers who had built an observatory in the Cavasian sector of the forest. When he was eight, Cale had been camping near his home when Atha flew into his tree tent. The equisquilan quadruped suffered no injuries, save for a bruising taken from being rendered unconscious. When the creature woke up, it at first showed fear of its young rescuer and it flew off awkwardly into the forest. Several hours later, it came back looking for Cale. Cale took up the young hippogryph, bonded with her, trained her, and now she was his most trusted friend. Atha now flew above the forest and it could not be any more beautiful. Cale blew through his whistle, emitting short bursts of air, telling Atha where he wanted her to land. The hippogryph brought her wings forward and slammed them down hard. She and her rider rocketed as she her body arced, pointing downward and to the side. Cale leaned back against her as she dived down into the green ocean. _________________________________________________ It took him a moment to realize what had just happened. He had killed a man. He tore the man apart, took him down to nothing. He didn’t even know the man. What would the man want with me, with my family? What is the Animus? Why did that man think me to be involved with it? How did I get inside this tree? What was more confusing (the most surprising thing) was the euneumatec energy. Lumen wasn’t a wind master, and never had he even tried to produce lightning; he hadn’t even studied it. And was that other, that other energy, the one that left me feeling so, so elated, so great? Lumen’s thoughts turned to the demon’s words. He had called himself the Necroscyse. Lumen had never heard the words spoken before. And why did the man always refer to himself as “we”? What did he mean, ‘this body is just a tool’? If more than one…entities were in that one man, how many were there? So many questions ran through his head and he had no one to answer them. Furthermore, he had no way of getting to anyone. The roots were very thick and there was no sign of any breakage, no roots had been torn apart. Lumen slowly stood to his feet. His strength was still returning to him so it was somewhat difficult. As he stood he noticed something different. He could feel his muscles pulsating in a strange way. It was as if somewhat was reaching through his skin and massaging the tissue within. But it did not sting; if anything it was soothing. His muscles were healing without concentration. As he marveled at this, he noticed something sparking out of the corner of his eye. Lumen turned and walked to the sliver bar on the ground. Picking it up, he turned it over in his fingers, wiping the dust and ash from it. It was an identification bar. His tapped the small touch screen and a display projected out to the thin air. (Refer to attachment) That was odd. The man was one of the highest ranking officials in the Mentanium division of the Collom Branch, or at least had been at one time. Lumen had seen reports on the Visi-Link about the man’s disappearance months before. I found him everybody. But, Lumen was sure that whoever or whatever killed his family and attacked him was not Jamori Camtell. Something had definitely possessed the officer. Even so, Lumen just stood staring at the image. He could not see anything of the monster that attacked him however long ago it was. But, if what the evil inside of Camtell said was true, than the monster was not dead yet. Lumen’s blood began to run faster. He could feel his muscles replenishing and his cranium easing up. His energy was coming back, fueled by his returning rage for this, this Nephylios monster. But his rage was quickly replaced with intense concentration. He couldn’t do anything about it, still stuck in a tristlen. Lumen studied the thick roots, looking like oversized vines, weighing his options. He made a mental list of all the methods he was capable of: Shout out through the few breaks in the enormous lattice, Test the possibility of him having some earth coaxing ability, or just wait for all of his strength to return and blow a hole in the side of the tree. First option was incredibly unlikely. The noise that he and the monster must have made would have alerted anyone who would be around these parts in the beginning. The possibility of him obtaining earth coaxing abilities was a possibility completely foreign to him prior to today, but now didn’t seem so strange, considering what happened with the euneumatec burst. But it would take too long to figure it out. Lumen figured that the euneumatec bolts came with the intensity of the moment, a moment that had passed. Blowing a hole in the side of the tree was his best bet. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Cale ive Haphenschein stood still. He was standing about fifty sparces from a great Hyvaki Tristlen. The gigantic tristlen had its roots above the ground forming a dome nearly impervious to any natural, outside force. During the spring time, a sweet sap would run from the inside of the dome and creep through the cracks. As a little boy, Cale would come to this very tree and drink the sap. This was his favorite tree in all the forest. He began to walk towards the behemoth, Atha close behind him. Suddenly, an immensely bright light shot forth from inside the tristlen, so bright Cale had to shield his eyes. Atha screeched and stumbled backward before taking flight to a high tristlen branch. A shockwave of fire tore through the base of the massive tristlen sending out thousands of fragments and splinters, flying in all directions. Cale tentatively opened his eyes and immediately wished he hadn’t. A giant section of the tristlen, probably a root, was making very close proximity with him, and very quickly. Cale had no time to brace himself. It didn’t feel too good, not good at all, but he didn’t have much time to think about that either. The giant piece of timber greeted him with the least compassion imaginable. Cale’s limp body hit the ground eight sparces from where he had stood moments before. The last thing he saw was Atha swooping in over him, clicking and whistling not so cheerfully.