The Broken Ring.
The Darklands – Present
Current Affairs: One cycle before high season..
Divergence Point: An inter-dimensional sub-realm linking Argo 3 and Yrth.
Worldline Data. TL: 3 Mana Level: Normal
Quantum: 4 to 5 Infinity Class: R2 Centrum Zone: Inaccessible.
The Darkness permeated everything, there was a thick clawing quality to it almost tangible that hungrily consumed their lights beyond two yards from their caravan.
Hate was too strong a word for Luther’s feelings as to the Darklands, however dislike or distain was fairly accurate an interdimensional wasteland that lay between Argo and Yrth and Infinity’s only reliable way of accessing the latter. The fact that from portal to portal it involved 3 leagues of travel on foot through hostile terrain in almost pitched darkness surrounded by nocturnal monsters with no modern technology reliably working was undoubtably a compelling reason for his distaste.
Still it was a pay check and his employer MythTech Inc paid well, he surveyed the scene according to the last marker stone they were less than a league from Argo side, making their way across the Broken Ring this concentric area made up of a blasted jagged landscape.
Fortunately, prior travellers had worked a road through the treacherous terrain, caravans were frequent at this time it was one lunar cycle before High Season where the predatory fauna of the Darklands entering their two cycle mating season, The Patrol and White Star had tried to continue routes during this time however they’d paid for every yard in blood, every league swarmed with predators in such a frenzy they forgot their usual fear of light.
It was one of the two annual periods where travel grew too perilous the other being Shard Storm Season where some form of mysterious hurricane like swell swept in from the outside and blasted the landscape with dimensional energies whilst whipping up razor sharp particles from The Broken Ring.
Of course, there were other times, being as the Darklands connected to the Quantum Sargasso called Yrth a Worldline periodically ravaged by Banestorms the pocket dimension was often subject to sandstorms and magically induced weather patterns.
The trip usually took 6 hours to a day end to end, the caravans consisted of 2 to 3 escorted heavily fortified wagons pulled by Giant Scarab Beetles, the creatures eight foot long were as tough as small tanks, fairly docile if fed and largely impervious to magical energies.
White Star Trading plied the route, contracted by Infinity to safely escort Patrol, Paralabs or Sheldrake personnel in addition to their own merchants to the Trading Posts and clandestine bases on Yrth whilst bringing said personnel, interesting trade goods or research materials back.
Magically versed personnel, notably security was provided by Mythtech Incorporated a joint Homeline/Ranoc venture. Whereabouts Infinity was obsessive about maintaining the Secret and very mistrustful of Magic, it still had to deal with it and try as it might there were inevitably times where it couldn’t avoid the Secret being compromised, especially where magic or psionics were involved!
One such instance was on the Magical Worldline of Ranoc where an enterprising Merchant happened upon a visiting Homeline Entrepreneur and before they knew it, said Merchant had deduced the Secret and entered into a partnership with said Entrepreneur and MythTech Inc was born.
The businesses Main Office based on Infinities colony world Galileo (as it wasn’t permitted on Homeline), whilst its main centre of business was in the City of Rul on Ranoc, provided magical and occult support services to Infinity and provided a home for waifs and strays from fantastic Worldlines. Which was infinitely better than exiling valuable personnel to Coventry…
Neither Infinity nor Homeline governments were happy with its existence and its surreptitious recruitment of personnel, however it was another of those necessary evils especially in light of growing encounters with fantastic Worldlines, which they couldn’t always close down…
Luther watched as the wagons alchemistic lanterns swayed amidst of growing dust laden wind, he lowered his goggles and pulled his scarf up over his face, he noted Folkes, le Cogneur a Yrthian born warrior do the same whilst looking skyward. She raised her flechette wheelgun and switched on its light beam, their dwarven companion Kilmak did the same whilst Luther and the other guards followed suite.
The beams struggled to penetrate the perpetual gloom, however at their edges they noted the ghostly rag like winged creatures ‘Darkwings’ one of the Darklands worst creatures, drawn to body heat and able to drain a man to the point of cold induced death.
Each guard fired a volley, the wheelguns were purely mechanical with no chemical munitions, a large wound spring mechanism released a high velocity volley of alchemically infused flechettes each flaring with a burst of light once fired.
The loathsome creatures flittered in agitation and aversion before shrinking back into the darkness.
It was a further 5 hours having left the Broken Ring, clearing the River Rings bridge of Black Eels, stopping for a sandstorm to pass in the Hill Ring, cautiously traversing the Web Ring bridges whilst culling some of its small car size spiders fortunately once inside the Inner Rings their small arms regained functionality, before they arrived at the relative safety of the Central Circle.
Here White Star had set up a small fortified guard post build around the portal, guarded by three meter tall enchanted constructs, the Central Ring was largely spared the worst of High or Storm Seasons ferocity however the small castle keep was still a solid stone fortification.
As they approached listening to the distant shouts of the Billets, another of the Darklands wildlife, small jet black creatures that appeared to be a cross between a chihuahua and a mink Largely harmless although possessing a nasty little warning nip if provoked, their most unusual trait was their ability to imitate a single person’s voice and phrase.
Once they had the phrase they repeated the it continually although they were known to latch onto a new one occasionally, although they could be regarded as another Darklands pest they were of interest to both Infinities Paralabs Parachronozoologists and Sheldrake researchers as they seemed to be able to find voices and phrases from any number of people from a multitude of worlds. Suggesting that they either possessed some form of Cliodynamic clairvoyance or the interdimensional space around The Darklands eavesdropped on other Worldlines and the Billets were able to hear the transmissions.
As always Luther breathed a sigh of relief as they passed through the Posts outer gates and into its courtyard, powerful motion sensing searchlights swept the surrounding gloomy terrain, its construct sentries ever watchful.
The caravan leader a stalwart veteran called Medea Thais, an Argo native clambered down from the lead wagon, patted its beetle and headed into the main building, denoted by the large White Star emblem above the door. The building sat to the left of the large three-meter-tall by four meter wide archway, the portal itself currently sealed by two significant oak doors.
A short while later the Posts master Mírë Hlolth stepped out gregariously conversing in Ancient Greek with Thais who for her part feigned impatience, Luther smiled both were long time friends.
Hlolth stepped to the stone framework of the gate and its keystone, tracing a series of Yrthian characters etched deeply into the stone, in response a faint light shone between the gates, to Luther’s sixth senses Oz particles surged with its alignment.
Satisfied the Post Master dialled a combination into a safe type combination set on top of a large mechanism, a serious of heavy metal movements ended with the gates slowly swinging open allowing the caravan to pass through.