The Border Bog
Somewhere on the border of Ayalia, and Jalerno... 1439 ATC
The swampy marshland was never that quiet, even at night. Animals called, croaked and ululated. Things bubbled in the unquiet waters. Vegetation rustled, often with ominous intent not normally found in plant life. The area was often rife with fog. The desolate marshlands were never-the-less home to many creatures and beings, and in this area in particular, once, there was a great battle between Wild Elves and the Jalernoese people, which ended with both sides abandoning the area.
Whilst paralized from his own anti-freeze seasoned steak, he saw Rauri draw the knife Nuikia used to skin her kills before he lost consciousness. And then, his accursed serpent green eyes fluttered open and his vision soon swam into focus, staring up at a dark covering.
Was he in bed? No. It certainly didn't feel or sound like it.
He sat up and threw off the blanket covering him.
He was on a crudely made raft shich landed on a small island of sorts surrounded by a swamp. Barely an island, covered with small patches grass and moss, a large tree grows from the center of the raised, earthy area of the ground. The tree itself is adorned with vines, small holes where insects have burrowed into it over the years, and many different types of fungi, all of different colors.
"Oh. Fuck. Yeah... The old let's knock him out and put his bed in the lake and then he wakes up and falls in the water and thinks hes drowning trick." Venser mumbled to himself as he let out an annoyed sigh, realizing he had just drifted for who knows how long until he wound up here. In the middle of nowhere.
Other large trees dot the huge pool of water that surround the tiny plot of dry land, each with the same features as the tree on our island. A heavy mist hanging in the air, causing the man to lose lack of visibility further down the swamp.
Simple. Venser could teleport away. All he had to do was close his eyes, think of home, focus, draw out all the mana from the air, and bam.
Only he could not taste a lot of mana in the swamp.
And he was wearing anti-magic shackles. The handsome bearded man recognized the magic draining crystals embedded within them that were similar to the bracelet Kari gave their daughter to repress her magic when she was younger. Looking down at them he was happy Ro and Nuikia left his wedding ring, as well as Nadine's bracelet.
They did not however leave his clothes, and he realized he was covered in clumps of hair.
"They had better not... Fuck!" Venser raised his arms above his head and felt up his face, and his head.
They had shaved him completely clean. He gnashed his teeth and let out a frustrated sigh, turning to the side to peer down at his reflection.
Still handsome as ever, he still had his thick attack eyebrows, the hair he had a problem with but the beard... Now, the bruises and faint scars and stitches on his cheeks near the lips were visible. He could no longer hide them.
And Venser had grown to hate looking at his scars. He brought his hands up, and then smashed the water, distorting his reflection as he got up atop the raft and hopped to the island, looking around.
No time to waste. The metal was rusted, brittle, an antique. All Venser had to do was find some way to break through, wandering around the tree on the small island and finding absolutely nothing that could help, aside from a large stick he could use as a makeshift oar.
"Go back the way I came..." He muttered watching the makeshift raft began to float away now, and Venser began to wade into the cold murky pool of dirty water, noting it was only a foot of water.
"Fucking void... Alligators, poison frogs, biting and stinging insects, and who knows what else is out here?" He asked aloud to slosh through the shallow and cold waters of the foggy, and strangely unnerving bog, climbing atop the raft and balancing on it. All that mattered what that he kept moving.
Soon, he heard loud, mechanical stomping noises followed by the sounds of battle and wind rushing. A network of pale, glowing blue eyes and familiar white armor was visible in the distance.
WHOOMP. WHOOMP. WHOOMP.
In the distance is a large...creature. A tiny head supported on a long stalk, its body covered with white porcelain and scrap metal, with six massive limbs, four to keep it up and two long, sweeping arms meant to capture. On it's back a massive cage that looked like it was made of bone, and a few corpses inside. It was backed up by a few broken Luektorem drones.
Porcelain monsters of every shape and size, many of them already broken, and many new conversions, charging at the strange men who lived in these swamps, rabid as wolves.
Venser jumped off the raft onto a rather large island, taking a path changed as a short flight of stairs led down to an ancient burial ground. He was fascinated by the sheer number of tall tombstones and monuments alike. The graveyard stretched on for acres, and was now a mess by the massive Luektorem Bone Shambler that seemed to be collecting all the metal hidden away in the tombs, and capturing the Grave Guardians that lived nearby who defended the graves of their fallen ancestors.
They were all caught off guard, but they fought valiantly against the abhorrent results of alien science on living flesh and whatever the massive walker was. It was their duty.
For long ago, there had been a great battle between the oriential men of Jalerno and the wild elves of Ayalia, and legend had it some bodies of the warrior still laid openly in the swamps pools, and their spirits dragged anyone who disturbed them down into the depths of the ancient battlefield.
A Grave Guardian wearing a distinctive orange face mask, named Seinen, flew over the invading drones and swept down upon the porcelain monsters with devastating might. His spear tore through porcelain and metal, spilling bright blue blood across the stones. If today was his day to die, Seinen would die with honor with his ancestors smiling down upon him. And he would make sure to take down as many as these doll monsters as he could.
He and his fellow guardians were mostly wearing leather and cloth with a gray knee-length coat on top with armored shoulder pads and weaved conical hats. All of them carried a long weapon consisting of a wooden shaft topped with a curved blade, with a round handguard between the blade and shaft. It appeared to be an extremely versatile weapon that could be used to stab, bash, or hook enemies with good reach as Venser observed.
''Sorera no mono no taku!'' A Grave Guardian with a distinct female voice yelled out. After slicing off the arm of a Luektorem Drone, she twirled her spear about, made rigid motions with her arms, and controlled the swamp water around her, forming it into a whip and smacking the drone away. She yelled out and jumped into the air, manipulating the water and firing a torrent of strong water at the crowd of incoming enemies.
He noticed with the destruction of the graveyard, many of the various bodies and their treasures spilled out. Items that would greatly help him. He noticed an ancient scattered skeleton that was wearing a fine kimono that was a wonderful shade of gold with a subtle pattern of hexagons in the steelsilk weave and a pair of thin pants that matched. On his finger a dull grey ring with two layers and coated in glowing lilac patterns that resembled both runes as well as chemical compounds. Obviously a Kundalandian artifact. Worth a lot, and probably pretty powerful.
Beside the corpse, a katana sword. The hilt of the blade was bared, shining like gold, wrapped away in braided, ebony cord wrap for protection and affording its user a grooved grip.
It was all perfect. All there for him.
The man rushed forward and in the chaos of combat Seinen turned his blade on the shackled, naked intruder. He lashed out, attempting to strike Venser down.
Venser braced himself and raised his shackles hands. The curved spear crashed down on her as it was stopped by his own reflexes, and the bar that linked the two shackles together, allowing the man to move his arms around finally, though still preventing him from casting spells.
The guardians needed help, and fast.
"Koko de nani o shite iru no? Koko de nani o shite iru no?!" Seinen asked quickly, aiming the spear towards Venser's chest, he repeated the question again to get the naked bald man to identify and figure his purpose. The Masked Guardian was baffled as one would have to be absolutely mad to navigate the border bogs in the nude. Perhaps he was an escaped prisoner?
"I'm here to help! HERE TO HELP. Look there's no time!" Venser shouted gesturing to the shackles that were still on his wrist. He made more gestures and then to the Luektorem Bone Walker stomping around attacking the sacred graveyard.
Susumi let out a sigh and smacked the brittle shackles with his spear, allowing Venser to pull them right off, the left one easier with the added strength of his porcelain metal hand.
Finally. Now with magic flowing through him again, Venser gathered all the power he could absorb from the air into him. Letting out a sigh of relief, clenching his left fist.
"Ah! Thank you!" Venser gave a bow and then made haste for the clothing and the sword first. Only to be chased after by a Luektorem drone.
"Fuck fuck fuck..." Venser held out his left hand and his mark flashed greenish white, the handle of the katana was trapped in a greenish aura and then was called to his hand. As the porcelain, doll like drone swiped at him, he leaped high and caught the sword. Disappearing in a puff of thick red smoke and reappearing back at ground level, throwing his left hand out again.
The Luektorem drone was thrown at high speed by a powerful gust of supernatural wind towards the gravestone of a fallen samurai. A sickening crunch was heard and bits of porcelain flew everywhere. It's shoulder popped out of place as it limped forward. Meanwhile Venser grabbed the noble's robe and hurried to dress himself, tying the knot as tightly as he could and hiking the long robe up. It would be a challenge to run around in this kimono. Reaching for the ring, he felt a strange magnetic resistance, using his flesh and blood hand to slip it on instead. He sipped a long lungful of air as the drone came at him to strike with metal claws, and Venser defended himself.
Venser pushed the converted drone back with another gust of wind, breaking more porcelain off it's partially armored body. In a split second, he slid the blade of the ancient katana across his palm, coating the blade with his blood. His mark glowed greenish white and reinforced the blade was coated with unstable magical green energy.
Now the handsome man was ready to cut the invading Luektorem down like they were nothing.
"Hyah!" Venser swung his sword, slashing through a broken drone like a reaper amongst wheat, the lightning melting right through porcelain, metal and flesh with no effort, and soon abandoned himself to the slaughter, moving like a combination of fire and water.
The skirmish raged on between the men who guarded the graves of their fallen ancestors, and the massive Bone Shambler loped closer into view, its heavy body moving disgracefully as it swooped and tried to grab anyone nearby. A single swipe from one of its arms could toss a full grown man as if they were skipping stones.
A Guardian grunted, the Shambler had seized him with a crushing claw hand and exerted enough pressure to subdue him completely.
"Sore wo down sa seru! Ima sugu mashin wo kowasu!''
Spinning his lightening blade around, his mark burning and emitting steam, Venser dashed forward, passing Seinen as he fended off more broken drones and the other sentries quickly closed in around the Shambler, aiming for its four main limbs.
AH WHOOMP. WHOOMP. WHOOMP.
Drawing all the mana from the air and focusing, Venser shot out his hand and released all of his power in a single exploding burst, and a concentrated beam of bright green lightning flashed through the air. In an instant, a boom rang through the swamp and one of the front legs of the Shambler shattered and exploded, a few of the guardians running for cover. Causing the creature to let out a shriek, falling over on its side, knocking down a tree and shattering several of the Luektorem beneath it, and the guardians took advantage of this to throw high powered jets of water to slice the behemoth to pieces. With the Shambler downed many of the drones began to splash around in the collapse before being cut down. Acting quick, Venser tried to dodge behind a grave obelisk to avoid the incoming shrapnel. Several pieces managed to fly directly at him with incredible speed, and rather than piercing him, something unexpected happened.
The lilac ring Venser had taken glowed brighter and projected an electromagnetic field deflected the shards of metal flying at him. Causing the bits to simply fly back and lose nearly all the momentum as if they had bounced of a wall.
"Amazing! Thank fuck for magnets." Venser hopped to his feet and pumped his fists, looking to the glowing lilac ring that sat atop his wedding band. These were two items he would never take off again. A ring that showed his devotion for his lovers, and the other a personal shield that would insure shrapnel nor arrows would ever harm him again.
So much wreckage, debris, pools of bright blue blood. The small horde was vanquished, but the sacred graveyard was a pile of rubble now, and the Guardians were tending to the desecrated graves of their warrior ancestors. The mood was somber, hopefully, and then all turned hostile again as Venser found himself surrounded by a circle of spears.
"Ken wo otose! Nusun da mono subete wo torinokoku! Ima!'' Seinen shouted at Venser again, thrusting his spear in intimidation. The stranger had helped them defeat the Luektorem, but that did not excuse his pillaging.
Venser dropped the katana, the masterpiece clattering against the stone. He couldn't understand their language but knew they wanted to strip him and then him captive, being a strange outsider in their lands. He breathed slowly, looking around at the aftermath. Yes, he recalled now. He had crashed Doulocel's Floating Temple nearby, and he deduced the stragglers that the Vorland Army and Pryldahnian Legion didn't mop up escaped east, and were now hiding here. Somewhere in the Swamps of Jalerno.
Perhaps Doulocel survived? Nadine? They never recovered either of their bodies, and if that four armed monster was still alive, Venser wanted them dead. The handsome man wanted to search the swamp for their lair, cut off Doulocel's head and mount it on his wall. With that in mind, he had to leave this place. Now.
With the shackles off, the handsome man gave them a smug smirk. Breathing deeply, he held his arms higher in the air and visualized home.
The fields of cannabis outside his farm, now bare in preparation for winter. His villa and his family in the distance. A magnificent, two story structure built with polished stone, wood and brick... The atrium. The small pool and fountain in the middle. The statue of the nude fertility goddess.
"Hopefully those were thank yous. All of you are welcome." A final bow of respect. Venser's stomach lurched, eyes closed, his mark flashed greenish white and he disappeared in a puff of thick red smoke. The man was gone, having simply teleported away and taking home a couple of priceless souvenirs.